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Religions 2017, 8(10), 212; doi:10.3390/rel8100212

The Cross-Cultural Kingship in Early Medieval Kāmarūpa: Blood, Desire and Magic

Italian Institute of Oriental Studies, ‘Sapienza’ University of Rome, Circonvallazione Tiburtina, No. 4, 00185 Rome, Italy
Received: 30 June 2017 / Revised: 31 August 2017 / Accepted: 25 September 2017 / Published: 29 September 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Society for Tantric Studies Proceedings (2016))
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [291 KB, uploaded 29 September 2017]

Abstract

Kingship in early medieval Kāmarūpa (Assam) was influenced by the collision of orthodox and heterodox Brahmanic traditions with various tribal cultures. Since the last part of the Śālastambha period (seventh–tenth century) the royal tutelary deity of Kāmarūpa was the menstruating Kāmākhyā, an ancient kirāta goddess. According to the Puranic tradition, the cult of Kāmākhyā was absorbed within Hindu religious folds by the mytho-historical king Naraka of Kāmarūpa. According to textual and epigraphic records, Naraka was conceived by Pṛthvī (Earth goddess) during her menstrual period, through a sexual intercourse with varāha (boar form of Viṣṇu). All early medieval dynasties of Kāmarūpa traced back their origins to Naraka, connecting their lines to the divine power but also to the menstrual blood—a substance considered extremely impure though powerful in Vedic and post-Vedic traditions. The king operated as a cross-cultural mediator: he was the only actor who was able to harness the produced polluted forces, through the Tantric rituals, in order to strengthen the political power. Thence, this essay aims to demonstrate, through inter- and intra-textual evidences, epigraphic records, and ethnographic data, that in Assam throughout the early medieval ages, the kingship grounded its roots in an osmotic cross-cultural process which was influenced by tribal traditions and orthodox and heterodox Hindu sects. View Full-Text
Keywords: Assam; Hinduization; Kālikāpurāṇa; śākta; supernatural; Tantrism; tribal; yoginī; yoni Assam; Hinduization; Kālikāpurāṇa; śākta; supernatural; Tantrism; tribal; yoginī; yoni
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Rosati, P.E. The Cross-Cultural Kingship in Early Medieval Kāmarūpa: Blood, Desire and Magic. Religions 2017, 8, 212.

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