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Research project

The Skandapurāṇa Project

Uniting an international consortium of scholars, the Skandapurāṇa Project comprises a team of researchers working in fields across the Humanities. We are creating a critical edition of a foundational work of purāṇic literature and, in doing so, tracing the dynamics of a textual tradition to better understand the development of religious communities in a pivotal period of Indian history.

Duration
1990  -   2020
Contact
Peter Bisschop

The Skandapurāṇa Project was initiated in the early 1990s by Rob Adriaensen, Hans T. Bakker and Harunaga Isaacson. Since then a great amount of work has been done resulting in a range of publications on the Skandapurāṇa. It is our great pleasure to now share the integrated e-text of volumes I-III of the critical edition of the Skandapurāṇa online, so that it is accessible to anyone who is interested in the text. You can find these volumes under the tab Skandapurāṇa Text. The website will also serve as a means to present some of our key findings and project updates. Enjoy the Skandapurāṇa!

The Skandapurāṇa Project is grounded firmly in the scholarly methods that are the hallmark of classical Indology: philology, textual criticism, and the study of manuscript sources. The heart of the project is a purāṇic text, preserved in manuscripts that date from the 9th to the 19th century CE. Through critical editing we are reconstructing the process of textual transmission and working to situate the text in its historical context(s). But the Skandapurāṇa is far more than just a text, it is a rich field for the study of Hindu religiosity as it was imagined and practiced in early India. Our innovative approach to purāṇic studies considers the text as but one manifestation of a cultural phenomenon that extends far beyond the palm leaf page. Inscriptions, monuments, and images are brought into conversation with the text and considered as varied media through which the theologies of Śiva, Viṣṇu, and the Goddess were brought to life.

The Purāṇic Tradition

The Skandapurāṇa is a Sanskrit Purāṇa transmitted in several palm leaf manuscripts from Nepal—including the oldest known dated Purāṇa manuscript (810 CE)—as well as paper manuscripts from North India. Once believed lost, this source had been known only obliquely from testimonia in digests of Brahminical customs and social regulations. The rediscovery of this tradition affords an unprecedented glimpse into the growth of religious communities in early India—particularly the earliest community of Śiva devotees called the ‘Pāśupatas,’ (that name is derived from one of Śiva’s many epithets, Paśupati, ‘Lord of Creatures’). Together with the cultivation of somatic and mental techniques (yoga), the text’s authors praise the salvific potential of pilgrimage to Śiva’s many shrines and the worship of his phallic emblem (liṅga). These practices became definitive features of the devotional repertoire of medieval Śiva worshippers, as they still are today. Yet, while he occupies a prominent place, Śiva is not the only deity featured in the text. The Skandapurāṇa is a vital source for the history of Goddess mythology and the Vaiṣṇava tradition as well.

Living Texts and Traditions

The research methods that guide our studies reflect the parallel aims of the project as a whole.  The first is to develop an understanding of the textual tradition itself and the dynamics of purāṇic composition and transmission through adaptive and collaborative models of critical editing. The second is to situate the text within the historical and geographic contexts in which it was created, encountered, and disseminated. Understanding the text as a regionally inflected and evolving cultural tradition allows us to use it as a source for examining the development of religious ideas and practices in early medieval India. Taken together, our studies reveal the social complexity and diversity of pre-modern religious communities in practice.

The core editorial team meets twice a year at Leiden University and Kyoto University, where they are joined by other researchers working on various projects related to the text. These meetings guide much of our thinking on the text. To study and situate the Skandapurāṇa within its cultural-historical and geographical setting members of the project team have also undertaken two extensive fieldtrips to North India in 2012 and 2015.

History and Ongoing Research

The Skandapurāṇa Project was initiated in the early 1990s at the University of Groningen when Hans Bakker, Harunaga Isaacson and Rob Adriaensen took up the task of preparing a critical edition of the text. Volume I of the text appeared in 1998. Several scholars joined after this, including Peter Bisschop (Leiden University) and Yuko Yokochi (Kyoto University) who are now continuing the critical edition. Volumes IIA, IIB and III appeared in 2005, 2013 and 2014. The edition published thus far covers about one third of the entire text of the Skandapurāṇa. We are currently working on volume IV of the edition, in cooperation with Diwakar Acharya (Oxford University) and Judit Törzsök (Université de Lille). In addition to these volumes, several monographs, edited volumes, and a range of articles devoted to different aspects of the text, have appeared as well. These texts can be found on the Publications tab. 

The project has received and continues to receive support from the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). Our current research addresses the interaction of Śaiva and Vaiṣṇava traditions. This new project, initiated in 2015, is the focus of a 5-year project, entitled From the Universe of Śiva to the Universe of Viṣṇu, awarded with an NWO Free Competition grant.

We consider fieldwork to be essential to our study of purāṇic religious topography and our understanding of the socio-political milieu in which the Skandapurāa was composed and disseminated. Our approach to the study of the text has been greatly enriched by two joint fieldwork trips.

Critical Edition of the Skandapurāṇa

  • Adriaensen, R., H.T. Bakker and H. Isaacson, eds. The Skandapurāṇa. Vol. I. Adhyāyas 1-25. Critically Edited with Prolegomena and English Synopsis. Groningen: Egbert Forsten, 1998.  (SP I)
  • Bakker, Hans T., and Harunaga Isaacson, eds. The Skandapurāṇa. Vol. IIA. Adhyāyas 26-31.14. The Vārāṇasī Cycle. Critical Edition with an Introduction, English Synopsis & Philological and Historical Commentary. Groningen: Egbert Forsten, 2005. (SP IIA)
  • Bakker, Hans T., Peter C. Bisschop and Yuko Yokochi, eds. The Skandapurāṇa. Vol. IIB. Adhyāyas 31-52. The Vāhana and Naraka Cycles. Critical Edition with an Introduction & Annotated English Synopsis, in cooperation with Nina Mirnig and Judit Törzsök. Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2014. (SP IIB)
  • Yokochi, Yuko, ed. The Skandapurāṇa. Vol.III. Adhyāyas 34.1-61, 53-69. The Vindhyavāsinī Cycle. Critical Edition with an Introduction & Annotated English Synopsis. Leiden/Groningen: Brill & Egbert Forsten, 2013. (SP III)  [LINK]

Skandapurāṇa Monographs and Edited Volumes

  • Bakker, H.T., ed. Origin and Growth of the Purāṇic Text Corpus. With Special Reference to the Skandapurāṇa. Papers of the 12th World Sanskrit Conference Vol. 3.2. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2004.
  • Bisschop, Peter C. Early Śaivism and the Skandapurāṇa: Sects and Centres. Groningen: Egbert Forsten, 2006.
  • Bosma, Natasja, and Nina Mirnig, eds. Epigraphical Evidence for the Formation and Rise of Early Śaivism. Special Issue Indo-Iranian Journal 56.3/4 (2013).
  • Bakker, Hans T. The World of the Skandapurāṇa. Northern India in the Sixth and Seventh Centuries. Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2014. 

Series of articles ‘Studies in the Skandapurāṇa’

  • Bakker, Hans T. ‘Pārvatī’s Svayaṃvara. Studies in the Skandapurāṇa I.’ Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde Südasiens 40 (1996): 5-43.
  • Yokochi, Yuko ‘Mahiṣāsuramardinī Myth and Icon: Studies in the Skandapurāṇa II.’ Indo Shisoshi Kenkyu (Studies in the History of Indian Thought) 11 (Kyoto 1991): 65-103.
  • Bakker, Hans T. ‘Somaśarman, Somavaṃśa and Somasiddhānta. A Pāśupata Tradition in Seventh-Century Dakṣiṇa Kosala. Studies in the Skandapurāṇa III.’ In: Ryutaro Tsuchida & Albrecht Wezler (eds.), Harānandalaharī. Volume in Honour of Professor Minoru Hara on his Seventieth Birthday (Reinbek: Dr. Inge Wezler Verlag, 2000): 1-19.
  • Yokochi, Yuko ‘The Story of the Seven Brahmans in the Harivaṃśa. Studies in the Skandapurāṇa IV.’ In: Ryutaro Tsuchida & Albrecht Wezler (eds.), Harānandalaharī. Volume in Honour of Professor Minoru Hara on his Seventieth Birthday (Reinbek: Dr. Inge Wezler Verlag, 2000): 525-552.
  • Bisschop, Peter ‘On a Quotation of the Skandapurāṇa in the Tīrthavivecanakāṇḍa of Lakṣmīdhara’s Kṛtyakalpataru. Studies in the Skandapurāṇa V.’ Indo-Iranian Journal 45 (2002): 231-243.
  • Bakker, Hans T. ‘The Avimuktakṣetra in Vārāṇasī. Its Origin and Early Development. Studies in the Skandapurāṇa VI.’ In: Jörg Gengnagel & Martin Gaenzle (eds.), Visualizing space in Banaras (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2006): 23-39.
  • Bisschop, Peter ‘The nirukti of ‘Kārohaṇa’ in the Skandapurāṇa. Studies in the Skandapurāṇa VII.’ In: Petteri Koskikallio (ed.), Epics, Khilas and Purāṇas: continuities and ruptures. Proceedings of the Third Dubrovnik International Conference on the Sanskrit Epics and Purāṇas (Zagreb: Croation Academy of Sciences and Arts, 2005): 556-574.
  • Harimoto, Kengo ‘The original Skandapurāṇa, Lakṣmīdhara and Caṇḍeśvara. Studies in the Skandapurāṇa VIII.’ Indo-Iranian Journal 49 (2006): 23-38.
  • Bakker, Hans T. ‘Thanesar, the Pāśupata Order and the Skandapurāṇa. Studies in the Skandapurāṇa IX.’ Journal of Indological Studies 19 (2007): 1-16.

E-text of the Published Volumes of the Critical Edition (Transliteration)

Adhyāyas 1-25 (Vol. I)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25          

Adhyāyas 26-30 (Vol. IIA)

          26 27 28 29 30

Adhyāyas 31-52 (Vol. IIB)

31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40
41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50
51 52                

Adhyāyas 53-69 (Vol. III)

    53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60
61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69  

Adhyāya 167: S and R/A Recensions (Bisschop 2006)

167 S 167 RA1 167 RA2 167 RA3 167 RA4 167 RA5


Download all files: SP_all_transliteration.zip (296kB) 

E-text of the Published Volumes of the Critical Edition (Devanāgarī)

Adhyāyas 1-25 (Vol. I)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25          

Adhyāyas 26-30 (Vol. IIA)

          26 27 28 29 30

Adhyāyas 31-52 (Vol. IIB)

31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40
41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50
51 52                

Adhyāyas 53-69 (Vol. III)

    53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60
61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69  

Adhyāya 167: S and R/A Recensions (Bisschop 2006)

167 S 167 RA1 167 RA2 167 RA3 167 RA4 167 RA5


Download all files: SP_all_devanagari.zip (346kB)

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