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God and King : The Devaraja Cult in South Asian Art & Architecture

 
Book Details

Author: Sengupta, Arputha Rani (Ed.)
Year: 2005
ISBN: 8189233262
[ 26 cm., pp. 170, ills. ]
[ Price: RS. 1,200.00, US$ 22.22 ]


 
About the Book :

God and King : The Devaraja Cult in South Asian Art & Architecture

George Cédes and Ananda Coomaraswamy made astute observations on the cult of deified royalty in South Asia for the first time. The cult of devaraja or God King was the Cambodian state religion, while it may have originated in Java under the great Shrivijaya Empire at a time when it exercised some control over Cambodia and Siam. Of the thirteen temples attributed to the Khmer Kings in Cambodia six were certainly dedicated, between the ninth and eleventh centuries, to the royal linga. A seventh, Angkor Wat, became the mausoleum of its founder Suryavarman II. And, finally, Bayon, built at the end of the twelfth century was installed with an image of Jayabuddha, named after Jayavarman VII. The focus of the new cult instituted by Jayavarman II was a deity known in Khmer language as 'the master of the world who is the king', the equivalent in Sanskrit being devaraja. The Cambodian version is similar to the Hindu cult of the World Ruler, the Chakravartin.
In Asia the king did become god, and all power, religious and secular, was centered in him. The task of tracing the Devaraja Cult is simplified in a series of Temple Mountains where the consecrated image is associated by its name with the kingly founder, thus revealing ‘several devaraja’ in a flourishing cult. In the cult, a unique image created in a particular era was passed on to the successor. The hypothesis of a single devaraja venerated as a deity throughout the centuries ought to raise some difficulties. The devaraja cult in India as elsewhere in Asia is unique when considered as a philosophical and religious conception that coincides with the veneration of ancestors and guardians of the soil. It seems that the originality of the devaraja cult lay in the integration of the personal cult of the king into a system in which the deification of the eternal principle of royalty was adopted to ensure stability, peace and prosperity. On 27th and 28th March, 2001 distinguished scholars gathered in The National Museum, New Delhi, to discuss the influence of the royal cult in Asian art and architecture, which merits greater attention. The proceedings is published in this volume with eleven colour plates. It is hoped to be a befitting tribute to Dr. Grace Mac Cann Morley, who encouraged advancement of knowledge in order to place the material culture of India in its historical and cultural context.
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