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Visvarupa Iconographic Traditions
- The Archaeological
Reports of Professor T. S. Maxwell
Vaikuṇṭha-Viśvarūpa Vol. III
KEY TO THE MAP
Note: Only selected sites of the Viśvarūpa and Vaikuṇṭha cults (major and formative sites are circled), and certain relevant museum collections, are shown; the full listing of the archaeological evidence found in 1992/1993 follows this section (from p.xvii).
ON THE SOUTH-WESTERN, AND NORTH-WESTERN BOUNDARIES
OF THE Viśvarūpa AND Vaikuṇṭha ClULT-AREAS
The map represents the latest impression of the geographical boundaries of the two cults based on the most recent field research. It should be compared with the map enclosed with my zwischenbericht am doe DFG vom 19. April 1993, which was drawn before the most recent fieldwork, on the basis of which the southern boundary has been moved much further to the south primarily on the basis of discoveries made at Pippaliya-Jatti and Kadvar. The western boundary has also now been drawn, and the north-western region mapped out, on the basis of the research results.
The SW and NW corners can be tentatively extended further to the west on the basis of problematical Saindhava evidence from Odadar on the Saurashtra coast (see above) and the limited Śāhi evidence (Spink catalogue 1982:20; Maxwell 1991:122) representing probable diffusion beyond Udabhāṇḍa. to the Kabul Valley and the Kair Khaneh Pass to the north.
Between these two points, the western border skirts the Rann of Kacch and the Thar Desert on the eastern side. On its southern stretch this conforms approximately to the ancient Mathura-Dvarka trade route as the line of early diffusion but tending southward across the Kathiawar Peninsula from the early Solaṅkī evidence in the Sandera/Anahilapataka area towards Kadvar, thus excluding Kacch and the western half of the peninsula. Toward the north, the important evidence from Rohtak is the turning point. Situated near the north-eastern extremity of the desert, it draws the boundary far to the west of the main trade route, away from Mathura and beyond Delhi, to the southernmost fringe of the Panjab Plain and a location exposed to physically unimpeded (though politically complicated) contact with the opening of all the Western Himalayan valley cultures on the north, including those of the Sutlej, Vyas, and Ravi.
The north-western branch runs along the Himalayan foothills, not deviating into the Salt Range, to Uddiyana and beyond into the Kabul Valley of Afghanistan. Even in antiquity this area, and the connected Central Asian region, represented a combined Hindu-Buddhist culture where Buddhism essentially prevailed, with corresponding absorption and enfeebling of Hindu cults; the returning line passes north and east of the Jhelum Valley and along the Candrabhaga north of the Vyas, and so down to the Almora area, without penetrating farther north.
The southern boundary passes Prom Kadvar between Ahmedabad and Baroda by way of Kathlal in Gujarat, tending away from the River Narmada, up to Pippaliya-Jatti in the vicinity of Dasapura in Malwa, and from there through Tumain, Thuvon and Deogarh to Khajuraho. The archaeological findings suggest that the greater part of the Malta Plateau on the south was excluded, although the evidence found on this stretch of the southern boundary dates from the 8th to the 11th century, indicating the existence of the cults in the pre-imperial Pratīhāra., Candella, Paramāra, and Solaṅkī kingdoms. This exclusion zone conforms roughly to the area of northward intrusion of political power from the Deccan, where the Viśvarūpa and Vaikuṇṭha cults did not exist, as charted by Schwartzberg (1978:225). In geopolitical terms, therefore, the existence of this exclusion zone confirms the identity of the two cults as essentially North (or in Schwartberg's terms, Northwest and North-Center) Indian phenomena which did not, flourish in areas prone to repeated invasion from the Deccan. Only beyond the scope of the map to the east does the line dip southward, running SE from Khajuraho virtually down to the Narmada, in the later Kalacuri territories, indicating that in the 10th and 1lth centuries the area of political instability may have been wider than Schwartzberg's analysis suggests.
In the Northwest (apart from the Panjab for which archaeological evidence is almost non-existent,) there is no exclusion zone for the purposes of this research project, since the cults existed throughout the Northwest and North-Center regions. The area of interprenetration between the spheres of influence of the Northwestern Utpala Vaikuṇṭha cult (9th-century Kashmir) and the North-Center Pratīhāra Viśvarūpa cult 9th-century Uttar Pradesh) was situated between the lower Vyas and Sutlej Valleys, as indicated by the evidence from Bajaura and Nirth. Deeper penetration of both cults across this junction did occur in the 10th century, but the transmission is weak: thus the Viśvarūpa icon in Kashmir (Devsar) is a local formulation, not, derived from the Kanauj type; and similarly the Vaikuṇṭha image on the lower Panjab plain (Rohtak) is essentially Central Indian, showing Northwestern influence only in the subsidiary figures.
Copyright (c) T.S. Maxwell 1992, 1993