A brief investigation about the views and role of Raghunandana and Ānandabhaṭṭa on the existence of Kṣatriyas and Vaiśyas in the Kali Yuga

Warning note:This post is not intended to argue against varṇāśrama,but is meant as a preliminary inquiry into the how people viewed themselves in an idealized hierarchical setup.

Anandabhatta presented the Ballālacarita to the influential Kayastha landlord of Nabadwip (navadvīpādhipati) Buddhimanta Khan in 1510 CE. In the 23rd chapter of the second part of the Ballālacarita he is clearly aware of various lines with well recognized kṣatriya and vaiṣya status that are clearly lines of the recent Kaliyuga and not some pre-Mahapadma-Nanda or pre-Paraśurāma era.(some notable kṣatriya lines of unambiguously this era that he names seems to be: Mauryas,Chauhans,Paramaras,Chalukyas,Silharas,etc). He lists the kṣatriya lines as Sūryavaṃśin,Candravamśin,descendants of Kadru and Vinātā and from Prithu. He also names a Candravamśi line of vaiśyas and gives a partial contemporary list of famous vaiśya communities before scathingly mentioning the suvarṇa-vāniks,who were reduced to śudra status by Ballālasena in the course of their conflict with him.
Raghunandana is born in 1510 CE with his literary activity centred in Nabadwip(and presumably patronized by the same influential Kayastha landlords’ line) and lived uptil 1580(using Kane’s dating at the time). Given the changing political scenario at that time(Bengal coming under Mughal rule) it is more likely he recieved local Kayastha landlord patronage(which was influential and powerful enough to integrate even Rajputs from outside Bengal into it:The case of Purandar Basu Khan integrating the Rajput chieftains Surasimha and Rudrasimha into the Kayastha samaj of Western Bengal(Dakshin Rarh)) rather than needing to Muslim patronage. He(Raghunandana) likely did not have access to the same resources as Anandabhatta and thus stated,extrapolating from what he saw around him in his specific region of Bengal that there were no varṇas except brāhmaṇas and śudras (and he extrapolates this situation backward to being in vogue since the time of Mahāpadma Nanda the son of Mahānandin). I do not have enough data to speculate on why he did not have more data about jātis of other regions and their statuses or the social setups of other prāntas. I am reproducing his quotation from Kane’s work below(from the Śuddhitattva).

The backdrop to puruShottama:shrI nIlamAdhava [A very brief note]

[I am summarizing HV Stietencorn’s work over here]. I am also assuming that the readers are familiar with the legends and lore surrounding indradyumna and puri

The indradyumna legends,like a lot of other ones of our plays and purANas is a stellar example of telescoping of multiple rulers into the activity of a single figure. Here,the activities of three rulers are telescoped into this indrdadyumna period:

  • A conqueror who builds a temple(yayAti I)
  • Settles down with his ministers in coastal Odisha(yayAti II)
  • Decay of the temple of puruShottama/nIlamAdhava(late somavaMshi period)
  • A [new] conqueror comes,finds this tradition decayed and builds a new temple for puruShottama(anantavarman choDagA~Ngadeva)

About this first temple(build between 949-959CE),we now discuss on the possibilities of the mUrti installed,which are:

  • A shilAmaya(sculpted in stone) image of nIlamAdhava standing(mostly) alone
  • A shIlAmaya image of kamalA-puruShottama(also occasionally called nIlamAdhava)
  • A dAru-rUpi(wooden) vigraha of puruShottama alone
  • A dAru-rUpi vigraha of puruShottama and shrI
  • A dAru-rUpi vigraha of puruShottama,balabhadra and subhadrA

It is found that the deities described as dAru-rUpi start appearing in literary descriptions around ga~NgA period from the 1200s onwards(passages in the skAnda and brahma purANa,tantrayAmala and mAdaLA pA~njI),which leaves us with the first two as possibilities. And out of the first two,it is the first image which is the image most likely to have been established in the first puruShottama temple of Puri,as it is the image of this type which is noted in literary sources(and plastic evidence of such images carved in bluish-black muguni stone also exist). This original nIlamAdhava is described in the brahma purANa thus

pItavastram chaturbAhuM sha~NkhachakragadAdharaM||
vanamAlAvR^itoraskaM padmapattrAyetekShaNam|
shrIvatsoraHsamAyuktam mukuTA~Ngadashobhitam||

He’s also described in the padma purANa as 4 armed,with attendants,but without any brother or sister.

An example of such an image,as in the general template above has been given from that same work to illustrate of a template to concieve of the original nIlamAdhava in the first temple to puruShottama at Puri.

shrIchakrapANaye namaH|

A Pāñcarātrika macranthrophic hymn to Viṣṇu(the hymn to the Mahāpuruṣa)

. (Śrīmadbhāgavata Purāṇa 12.11-1-26)

śrī-śaunaka uvāca
athemam arthaṁ pṛcchāmo
bhavantaṁ bahu-vittamam
samasta-tantra-rāddhānte
bhavān bhāgavata tattva-vit
tāntrikāḥ paricaryāyāṁ
kevalasya śriyaḥ pateḥ
aṅgopāṅgāyudhākalpaṁ
kalpayanti yathā ca yaiḥ
tan no varṇaya bhadraṁ te
kriyā-yogaṁ bubhutsatām
yena kriyā-naipuṇena
martyo yāyād amartyatām
sūta uvāca
namaskṛtya gurūn vakṣye
vibhūtīr vaiṣṇavīr api
yāḥ proktā veda-tantrābhyām
ācāryaiḥ padmajādibhiḥ
māyādyair navabhis tattvaiḥ
sa vikāra-mayo virāṭ
nirmito dṛśyate yatra
sa-citke bhuvana-trayam
etad vai pauruṣaṁ rūpaṁ
bhūḥ pādau dyauḥ śiro nabhaḥ
nābhiḥ sūryo ’kṣiṇī nāse
vāyuḥ karṇau diśaḥ prabhoḥ
prajāpatiḥ prajananam
apāno mṛtyur īśituḥ
tad-bāhavo loka-pālā
manaś candro bhruvau yamaḥ
lajjottaro ’dharo lobho
dantā jyotsnā smayo bhramaḥ
romāṇi bhūruhā bhūmno
meghāḥ puruṣa-mūrdhajāḥ
yāvān ayaṁ vai puruṣo
yāvatyā saṁsthayā mitaḥ
tāvān asāv api mahā-
puruṣo loka-saṁsthayā
kaustubha-vyapadeśena
svātma-jyotir bibharty ajaḥ
tat-prabhā vyāpinī sākṣāt
śrīvatsam urasā vibhuḥ
sva-māyāṁ vana-mālākhyāṁ
nānā-guṇa-mayīṁ dadhat
vāsaś chando-mayaṁ pītaṁ
brahma-sūtraṁ tri-vṛt svaram
bibharti sāṅkhyaṁ yogaṁ ca
devo makara-kuṇḍale
mauliṁ padaṁ pārameṣṭhyaṁ
sarva-lokābhayaṅ-karam
avyākṛtam anantākhyam
āsanaṁ yad-adhiṣṭhitaḥ
dharma-jñānādibhir yuktaṁ
sattvaṁ padmam ihocyate
ojaḥ-saho-bala-yutaṁ
mukhya-tattvaṁ gadāṁ dadhat
apāṁ tattvaṁ dara-varaṁ
tejas-tattvaṁ sudarśanam
nabho-nibhaṁ nabhas-tattvam
asiṁ carma tamo-mayam
kāla-rūpaṁ dhanuḥ śārṅgaṁ
tathā karma-mayeṣudhim
indriyāṇi śarān āhur
ākūtīr asya syandanam
tan-mātrāṇy asyābhivyaktiṁ
mudrayārtha-kriyātmatām
maṇḍalaṁ deva-yajanaṁ
dīkṣā saṁskāra ātmanaḥ
paricaryā bhagavata
ātmano durita-kṣayaḥ
bhagavān bhaga-śabdārthaṁ
līlā-kamalam udvahan
dharmaṁ yaśaś ca bhagavāṁś
cāmara-vyajane ’bhajat
vāsudevaḥ saṅkarṣaṇaḥ
pradyumnaḥ puruṣaḥ svayam
aniruddha iti brahman
mūrti-vyūho ’bhidhīyate
sa viśvas taijasaḥ prājñas
turīya iti vṛttibhiḥ
arthendriyāśaya-jñānair
bhagavān paribhāvyate
aṅgopāṅgāyudhākalpair
bhagavāṁs tac catuṣṭayam
bibharti sma catur-mūrtir
bhagavān harir īśvaraḥ
dvija-ṛṣabha sa eṣa brahma-yoniḥ svayaṁ-dṛk
sva-mahima-paripūrṇo māyayā ca svayaitat
sṛjati harati pātīty ākhyayānāvṛtākṣo
vivṛta iva niruktas tat-parair ātma-labhyaḥ
The Phalaśruti comes in the next śloka
ya idaṁ kalya utthāya
mahā-puruṣa-lakṣaṇam
tac-cittaḥ prayato japtvā
brahma veda guhāśayam

On the decline of Shaiva Siddhanta

There are three main aspects of the decline of Śaiva siddhānta tāntrika systems and confining it to mainly the Tamil lands

 

  1. Loss of patronage in the North due to Muslim invasions+active iconoclasm by them.The last rulers who could do this(patronage) to some extent in the North would be the family in which Rani Durgavati married in.
  2. When Vijayanagara came to power,it elevated the Telugu smārta-s and disenfranchised the Ādiśaivas(replacing them with Telugu brāhmaṇas).
  3. After the very brief revival it enjoyed due to people like Arumuga Navalar,it became a tool in the hands of Dravidianist ideologues who distorted it out of it contexts.

However,the works of Sekkizhar,and the works of Sundarar and Nambiyandar Nambi ensured that the system survived in the popular devotional consciousness in those lands even after their patronage declined.