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The Nisvasamukha, the Introductory Book of the Nisvasatattvasamhita

Nirajan Kafle defended his thesis on 15 October 2015

N. (Nirajan) Kafle
15 October 2015
Leiden University Repository

Supervisors: prof. dr. P.C. Bisschop and Prof. Dr. Dominic Goodall (EFEO Parijs)

A single 9th-century Nepalese palm-leaf manuscript transmits what appears to be the oldest surviving Śaiva tantra, called the Niśvāsatattvasaṃhitā. The manuscript consists of five separate books: Niśvāsamukha, Mūlasūtra, Nayasūtra, Uttarasūtra and Guhyasūtra. The Niśvāsamukha, which is divided into four chapters to what the text calls Laukika (lay religion), Vaidika (Vedic), Ādhyātmika (spiritual), and Atimārga (transcendental), serves as the introductory book prefacing the Niśvāsatattvasaṃhitā. The Niśvāsamukha introduces the religious context in which the Mantramārga, the tantric Śaivism that is the subject of the four sūtras of the Niśvāsatattvasaṃhitā, emerged. The conceptual framework of the Niśvāsamukha, called the five streams, is reminiscent of what some would call the inclusivist character of ‘Hinduism’, since it gives authority to all other systems of thought, at least to some degree. Five chapters (5-9) of the Śivadharmasaṅgraha, a work of lay Śaivism, appear to have borrowed heavily from the Niśvāsamukha. In order to contextualize the historical evolution of the Niśvāsamukha as a text, these five chapters are included as an appendix to the edition of the Niśvāsamukha. This thesis presents the first critical edition, annotated translation and study of the Niśvāsamukha.

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