Lakulisha-Pashupata (Philosophy and Practice)

by Geetika Kaw Kher | 2012 | 86,751 words

This study discusses the dynamics between the philosophy and practice in the Lakulisha-Pashupata order. According to the cave temples of Elephanta and Jogesvari (Jogeshwari), Lakulisa was the 28th incarnation of Shiva, and Pashupata Shaivism his doctrine, of which the Pasupatasutra represents the prominent text detailing various ritual practices (v...

Introducing Lakulisa-Pasupata philosophy

The only way to reconstruct the theology and ritual of the Lakulisa-Pasupatas, the highly diffused sect of early Saivism, is to resort to their basic texts, the Pasupata-sutras[1], along with its commentary, the Pancharthabhasya by Kaundinya and Ganakarika[2] with the Ratnatika by Bhasarvajna.

Prior to the publication of these basic texts, the only systematic account of Pasupata theology and ritual available to the scholars was Madhava’s Nakulisapasupatadarsana [Nakulisapasupatadarsanam], the sixth chapter of his Sarvadarsanasamgraha (SDS)[3], Moreover there are sporadic references to their practice in Sanskrit katha literature and dramas and also a brief but fairly accurate information in the commentators remarks on the Brahmasutra 2. 2. 37, where the Vedantin refutes Pasupata Saivism

Based on such cursory information the system was commented upon by stalwarts like Gopinath Kaviraj[4], S.Levi[5], H.T Colebrooke[6] R.G Bhandarkar[7] E.B. Cowell and A.E.Gough who translated the entire text of SDS. Levi in his work on SDS in 1889 had earlier lamented the loss of Pasupata-sutra and Ganakarika because it was realized that Madhava’s account owed a lot to both these texts and its commentaries. Hence when finally these texts were published many scholars like K.C Pandey[8], J.Gonda[9] and others took interest and tried to either refer to them or translate portions from them. It was finally S.N Dasgupta[10] who in his pioneering work on the history of Indian philosophy first gave a brief but very useful outline of the system, based on the Pancharthabhasya of Kaundinya. He also discussed various problems of Pasupata Saivism and studied its connection with other schools of Indian philosophy.

Footnotes and references:


Pasupata Sutra, Ed by R.A Shastri, University of Trivandrum, Trivandrum,1940
Pasupata Sutra with Panchartha Bhasya of Kanundinya
Trans. by Haripada Chakraborti, Academic Publishers, Calcutta, 1970
Pasupata Sutra, Pancartha Bhasya with commentary, Ganakarika of Bhasarvajna, Vayusamhita
Siva Purana,Brahmasutrasankarabhasya, Sankaradigvijaya and Nakulisapasupat darsan Ed. by Alokmani Tripathi, Delhi, 1998


Ganakarika of Acharya Bhasarvajna, Ed by Chimanlal D. Dalal, Oriental Institute, M.S.U, Baroda, 1966


E.B.Cowell and A.E Gough Ed. And Trans: ‘The Sarvadarsanasamgraha or Review of the Different Systems of Hindu Philosophy by Madhava Acharya, Trubners Oriental Series, London (1882)


Kaviraj Gopinath, ‘Notes on Pasupata Philosophy, Antiquity of the Pasupata Sect, The Princess of Wales Sarasvati Bhavana Studies, Vol 9, sec II 99-106, 1934),


Levi S. ‘Deux chapitres de Sarvadarsanasamgraha’, Bibliotheque de l’Ecole des Hautes Etudes,Sciences religiouses, vol I 281 ff, 1889)


Colebrooke H.T. ‘On the Philosophy of the Hindus, Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, vol I, 569-574, 1828


Bhandarkar R.G., ‘Vaisnavism,Saivism and Minor Religious Systems,Strassburg, 1913 pg 121-124


Pandey K.C. ‘Bhaskari,vol 3 no. 84,The Princess of Wales Saraswati Bhavana Text, (Lucknow, 1954)


Gonda, J. Visnuism and Sivaism: A Comparison. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1976


Dasgupta S.N. ‘Doctrine of the Pasupata Sutras, A history of Indian Philosophy, vol V, Delhi,1975 pp130-148)

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