The present monograph of Professor S.R. Goyal, an eminent authority on religious history of India, seeks to delineate the fundamental features of the Pauranika phase of Hinduism which is still the main religion of India. Pauranika Hinduism acquired dominant place in the life of the Hindus only gradually in the post Upanishadic era which was earlier enjoyed by the Vedic religion. As a result of this change the two great Epics, the Gita, Dharmasastras and the Puranas became the chief texts of Hindu religion though a belief in the apaurusheyatva of the Vedas was never fully given up. In the Pauranika age new schools of Hindu philosophy, specially Vedanta evolved. The pantheon of the Pauranika religion in many respects was different from the pantheon of the Vedic age. One of its main characteristic was Avataravada, the doctrine of incarnation, which was almost unknown in the Vedic age. Similar was the case with the Pauranika form of worship which gave emphasis on bhakti and image worship (puja). With these new features Pauranika Hinduism advocated a different social philosophy also. All these fundamental features of the Pauranika Hinduism have been discussed in detail by Professor Goyal in the present monograph.
Dr. S. R. Goyal is the retired Professor and Head, Department of History, J. N. Y. University, Jodhpur. Described as 'one of the five best recent historians of ancient India' by Professor David N. Lorenzen, the great Mexican Orientalist, Professor Goyal combines all the qualities associated with scientific scholarship. He has authored about forty-five voluminous works and over 150 research papers which cover so diverse fields as political history, religious history, literature, biographies, numismatics and epigraphy.
Among the major works of Professor Goyal are included his doctoral thesis, A History of the Imperial Guptas, three' corpus- like' volumes on ancient Indian inscriptions, two volumes respectively on Kautilya and Megasthenes, a three volume authoritative study of ancient Indian history in about two thousand pages, a three volume study of ancient Indian numismatics, four volumes on great rulers of ancient India and a monograph on the recently discovered inscriptions.
Professor Goyal is deeply involved with the study of the history of Indian religions. Apart from the present monograph he has published A Religious History of Ancient India (Vol. I, 1984; Vol. II, 1986), Harsha and Buddhism (1986) and A History of Indian Buddhism (1987). AU these works of his have been highly acclaimed and admired both in India and abroad.
Professor Goyal was honoured with the General Presidentship of the Silver Jubilee Congress of the Epigraphical Society of India held at Udupi in 1999 and was elected the Honorary Fellow of the Society. He is also to preside over the 90th Annual Conference of the Numismatic Society of India to be held at Santiniketan (West Bengal) on December 1-3, 2006. He has also been honoured with several festschrifts, including Reappraising- Gupta History for S.R. Goyal ( I 992), S. R. Goyal: His Multidimensional Historiography (1992), Rajasthan Bharati in two volumes (1995) and a four volume festschrift entitled Reconstructing Indian History tor S. R. Goyal (2003).
The present monograph, which we proudly present to the scholars of ancient Indian history, has been authored by Dr. S. R. Goyal. Dr. Goyal is the retired Professor and Head, Department of History, JNV University, Jodhpur. Described as 'one of the five best recent historians of ancient India' by Professor David N. Lorenzen, the great Mexican Orientalist, Professor Goyal combines all the qualities associated with scientific scholarship. He has written over forty voluminous works, mostly research monographs, and over 150 research papers which cover so diverse fields as political history, religious history, literature, biographies, numismatics and epigraphy. He was honoured with the General Presidentship of the Silver Jubilee Congress of the Epigraphical Society of India held at Udupi in April, 1999, and was elected the Honorary Fellow of the Society. In 2006 he became the General President of the 90th Annual Conference of the Numismatic Society of India held at Santiniketan, West Bengal. He was also invited to be the General President of the 2006 Annual Session of the Indian History and Culture Society held at Gwalior which he could not accept because of the clash of dates.
Professor Goyal' s doctoral dissertation, A History of the Imperial Guptas ( 1967), was acclaimed as 'the best analysis of the Gupta period which I have ever read' by Professor A. L. Basham (National Professor of Australia) and as 'imaginative', 'well- written' and 'a model of historiography' by Professor Eleanor Zelliot (Minnesota, U.S.A.). The various theories propounded in it were described by Professor R. C. Majumdar as 'deserving very careful consideration'.
In the 'seventies, Professor Goyal created a great stir among scholars by propounding the view that the Brahmi script was not the result of evolution; rather, it was created or invented shortly before or in the early years of the reign of Asoka. His paper on the topic was adopted by the Indian History and Culture Society, New Delhi, which circulated it among eminent epigraphists, historians and archaeologists inviting their reaction papers on the same which together with the lead paper of Professor Goyal were published in a book form (The Origin of Brahmi Script, ed. by S. P. Gupta and K. S. Ramachandran, Delhi, 1979). Since then this suggestion of Professor Goyal on the origin of Brahmi has been a matter of intense discussion among scholars.
Similarly, his paper on the identification of king Chandra of the Meharauli prasasti, advocating the identity of Chandra with Samudragupta, became the nucleus of another monograph to which over two dozen scholars contributed their reaction papers. Among them some scholars, including Professor S.B. Deo, Shri M. C. Joshi, Professor B. Ch. Chhabra, Professor K. V. Raman and many others, expressed their agreement with the suggestion of Professor Goyal (King Chandra and the Meharauli Pillar, eds. M. C. J05hi et al, Meerut, 1989).
Professor Goyal has given a new direction to the study of political history of ancient India by advocating an integral view of political history instead of looking at it as an account of only deeds and dates of kings. On his seminal paper on this subject over fifty scholars of India and other countries sent their reaction papers which were edited by Professor G. C. Pande and published in the form of a book (Political History in a Changing World, ed. G. C. Pande et al, Jodhpur, 1992).
Thus, Professor Goyal is probably the only scholar of India on whose three seminal papers three books containing reaction papers of other scholars, Indian as well as of other countries have been published.
The most noteworthy contribution of Professor Goyal to the epigraphical studies are his three 'Corpus-like' volumes on ancient Indian inscriptions: (1) Prachina Bharatiya Abhilekha Samgraha-Prak- Guptayugina, Jaipur, 1982, (2) Guptakalina Abhilekha, published from Meerut in 1984, and (3) Maukhari-Pushyabhuti-Chalukyayugina Abhilekha published from the same place in 1987. These three volumes familiarize the students of epigraphy with about 300 major inscriptions.
Professor Goyal is deeply involved with the study of the history of Indian religions. He has published two volumes entitled A Religious History of Ancient India (Vol. I, 1984; Vol. 11, 1986), Harsha andBuddhism (1986), A History of Indian Buddhism (1987) and Sramanism Early Indian Religions and Religious Life (2007). Recently he brought out a monograph entitled Pre-Pauranika Hinduism (2008) followed by the Fundamentals of Pauranika Hinduism (2009). These two constitute the first two volumes of his ambitious project of writing a comprehensive history of Hinduism through the ages.
Professor Goyal's other major works include three volumes on Kautilya and Megasthenes, a three volume study of ancient Indian history in about two thousand pages, a three volume study of ancient Indian numismatics and four volumes on Great Rulers of Ancient India Series. He has also edited several works including Indian Art of/he Gupta Age.
The post - Vedic phase of Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma is usually called Pauranika Hinduism, though there are some sects of Hinduism which do not accept, fully or partially, the authority of the Puranas just as there are a number of religious and philosophical schools which do not express their full faith in the authority of the Vedas. Further, the Puranas are thirty-six (eighteen Mahapuranas and eighteen Upapuranas) and even more in number, but all the Puranas are not accepted as authoritative collectively or individually by the followers of every sect. But there are numerous characteristic features which are more or less common to all the Pauranika sects and cults due to which this phase of Hinduism is usually and justly called 'Pauranika'. A study of these features forms the subject-matter of the present monograph.
As I explained in the Preface of my Pre-Pauranika Hinduism, I propose to write a comprehensive history of Hinduism, my Pre- Pauranika Hinduism and the present monograph being its first two parts. Hinduism is my own religion and I am, like my most co-religionists, extremely proud of being a Hindu. But unlike many others I am also acutely aware of many of its shortcomings. Some of these are, however, no shortcomings at all-they appear to be so to mostly the non - Hindus and to those Hindus who are brought up and live in western atmosphere. Such persons sometimes genuinely and honestly fail to understand and appreciate the principles and beliefs on which our religion rests. By this, however, I do not mean that there are no shortcomings in Hinduism. There is and has been indeed much scope for improvement and reforms in Hinduism as in any other religions. These shortcomings have been sought to be rectified by our saints, reformers and thinkers constantly since ancient times. They have always been frank in pointing them out to the masses; it is another matter that their view-points and suggested ways and means for their rectification have differed from region to region and from time to time.
But despite these differences, there are a large number of fundamental beliefs and principles on which the various Pauranika sects agree. These constitute what may be described as the historical threads on which the underlying unity of Hinduism rests. I propose to discuss them in the present volume, for without understanding them in depth and detail it will not be possible to comprehend the nature of different sects and cults delineated in the Epics and Puranas which I propose to study in my next work. Therefore, this volume may be regarded as a sort of prologue to the nature and principles of Pauranika Hinduism which is still the most popular living religious tradition of our country.
As I pointed out in the Preface of my Pre-Pauraniks Hinduism and have discussed in detail in the first chapter of the present monograph the Hindu religion is by nature sanatana but of pravahi sanatana or 'changing eternal' type, not of kutastha or unchanging eternal (nitya) category. It is, therefore, easily understandable that with the passage of time much that was agreeable and desirable to the Hindus of earlier ages has become out of date and that in many ways the thinking and aspirations of modern Hindus are not the same which inspired their forefathers. What Sri Aurobindo called Time Spirit has rendered a part of our religious heritage out of date. Therefore, now we must reinterpret, and if the need be, reformulate our religious ideals in the light of the needs of the modern age of science and technology. In fact this process is going on since the nineteenth century-since the days of Raja Ram Mohan Roy. Our modern saints and thinkers such as Ram Mohan Roy, Dayanand Saraswati, Ram Krishna Paramhansa, Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Mahatma Gandhi and a host of others have very successfully tried to give a new orientation to our ancient religious heritage. Even Jawahar Lal Nehru, who firmly believed in making India a modern nation, tried to discover the relevance of our religious heritage for our own times. His Discovery of India is indeed an attempt for understanding and reformulating our traditional culture in the light of modern ideas and ideals.
But before one tries to reformulate the ideals of our culture one must understand the salient features of our ancient religious heritage. My A Comprehensive History of Hinduism, of which the present monograph is Volume 11 and which when completed I intend to dedicate to my dear atmaja Shankar, is an attempt in that direction. Very soon I hope to bring out its Volume III which will be devoted to the study of the various Pauranika sects and cults on which the edifice of traditional Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma rests. I hope the present monograph will be of some help to its readers in making them understand the fundamentals of our Pauranika heritage.
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