Constructing Sacred Space in Mewar: Text, Temple, and Landscape in the Fifteenth-Century Ekalingamahatmya

Newman, Adam, Religious Studies - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Nemec, John, AS-Religious Studies, University of Virginia

The argument of this dissertation concerns the relationship between regional narratives, sacred landscapes, and historical imagination from the tenth to the fifteenth century in the Mewar region of Rajasthan. In the dissertation I will ask several interrelated questions, all of which center to varying degrees on the Ekaliṅgapurāṇa (hereafter "ELP" and also known as the Ekaliṅgamāhātmya), a fifteenth century regional narrative (sthalapurāṇa) about the mythicohistorical establishment of Ekaliṅga temple, the surrounding sacred landscape, and the royal lineage associated with the region. The overall question of the dissertation can be summarized rather succinctly: what were the political, social, and religious motivations behind the writing of the ELP, and is this text a reflection of the royal court’s desire to establish political and ideological hegemony in the region? I argue that the available historical evidence points strongly to the fact that the ELP was composed during the time of a conscious political “rebranding” of the region after a period of political instability. This rebranding culminated in the composition of the ELP and other lengthy inscriptional texts that served to do the cultural and political work of territorial and social integration of the regional kingdom of Mewar during the fifteenth century. I argue that in order to understand the ways in which the authors of the ELP reimagined their kingdom we have to consider the dialogical interrelationship between religious narratives, the built environment, and the geographical landscape of Mewar. What this dissertation will explore are the ways in which the ELP constructed a sacred Śaiva cartography that was at the same time a very powerful geopolitical claim over the region of Mewar.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Hinduism , Mewar, Sacred Landscape, Purana, Eklingji
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