Das Puskara-Mahatmya: Ein religionswissenschaftlicher Beitrag zum Wallfahrtsbegriff in Indien.

Author:Rocher, Ludo
 
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By ADITYA MALIK. Beitrage zur Sudasienforschung, Sudasien-Institut, Universitat Heidelberg, vol. 155. Pp. xiii + 408, maps, photographs. Stuttgart: FRANZ STEINER VERLAG, 1993.

In a recent review I introduced Roland Jansen's Die Bhavani von Tuljapur as "probably one of the last dissertations inspired by the late Gunther-Dietz Sontheimer" (JAOS 107 [1997]: 699701). The volume presently under review, published two years prior to Jansen's, is yet another example of the immense impact Sontheimer has had on many young scholars at Heidelberg.

"Die vorliegende Arbeit hat eine religionswissenschaftlicheindologische Untersuchung des beruhmten Wallfahrtsortes Puskara in Rajasthan zum Ziel" (p. 1). The indological part of the book consists of a critical edition and translation of the Puskaramahatmya (henceforth PM), a text which, in the chapter colophons, claims to belong to the Padmapurana (cf. pp. 103-6). The religio-historical part results from insights which a thorough examination of the text provided on the concept of tirtha.

The town of Puskara is situated ca. eleven kilometers northwest of Ajmer, in a valley at the foothills of the Aravalli range (maps and photographs are provided at the end of the volume). Even though Puskara has received relatively little scholarly attention so far, it is in an important site because, notwithstanding a fairly widespread Brahma cult in west and north India from the fourth century B.C.E., today Puskara is the one and only remaining all-Indian tirtha of Brahma (pp. 15-16).

Even though "[m]it der Absicht, eine Studie des Textes durchzufuhren, wurde zunachst eine kritische Ausgabe des Mahatmya erstellt" (p. 1), the first part of the volume (pp. 799) is devoted to the "religionswissenschaftliche Erorterung." This section draws not only on the PM, but also on data collected in the course of eight months of fieldwork: pamphlets circulated locally in Hindi, Rajasthani, and English, plus information provided orally by a variety of residents of Puskara and its surroundings.

Of particular interest in the first part is a detailed, critical survey of different approaches to the study of tirtha (pp. 22-30), based, but not solely, on E. Alan Morinis' Pilgrimage in the Hindu Tradition (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1984). What distinguishes Malik's own approach from those of all his predecessors is his emphasis on "die Verbindung zwischen yajna und tirtha" (pp. 30-32). There is no doubt, indeed, that, notwithstanding the...

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