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Lecture | Friends of the Kern Institute

The Śākadvīpīya Sun Cult from Ancient Times to the Present Day

Thursday 10 November 2022
followed by drinks in the basement of Matthias de Vrieshof 3

104 (Verbarium)
The arena of the sun temple in Rāṇakpur, in which the The golden sun god preserved at devotees gather for sunrise during festivals.

The Śākadvīpīya (or Maga) Brāhmaṇas are Hindu sun worshippers mainly settled in Rājasthān and Bihār. They claim to have come from Iranian lands in ancient times and brought some Iranian customs and religious elements into their sun cult. According to some sections of the Sāmba- and Bhaviṣya-purāṇa, they migrated from the ‘Śaka land’ to North India to worship the sun god and heal Kr̥ṣṇa’s son Sāmba from leprosy. This talk will explore their syncretistic cult, described in the Purāṇic texts and some later works: it combines Indian and Iranian features, which are also reflected in the peculiar northern iconography of the sun god. The Śākadvīpīya Brāhmaṇas are still present on Indian soil; a particular focus on the contemporary communities will point to their current religious customs and their unconventional status of brahmins having based their identity on being outsiders.

The lecture will be followed by drinks in the basement of Matthias de Vrieshof 3.

The golden sun god preserved at The city palace of Udaipur

Martina Palladino (Ph.D. at SOAS University of London on the Sanskrit version of the Zoroastrian Yasna liturgy) is currently a Gonda Fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies, Leiden University. Her research at IIAS resumes the work on the Śākadvīpīya Brāhmaṇas, as carried out by her during her first Ph.D. at the University of Bologna. Her main research interests include the linguistic, cultural and religious contacts between India and Iran, especially during the first millennium CE.

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