Thor bu - Curiosia Indo-Tibetica

Textual and visual odds and ends from India, Tibet, and around.

My Photo
Location: Kolozsvár/Cluj, Budapest, Oxford, ibi ubi

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Cult of Trināth

How long before a cult becomes established? Strangely enough, there seems to be an answer: fifteen years or less [see UPDATE below for correction]. Witness the cult of Trināth [Satindra Narayan Roy, "The Evolution of a New Hindu God" in JBORS, vol. II, part I.].

Roy's account informs us that in the early part of the twentieth century the worship of a new god called Trināth emerged in certain parts of Orissa. Trināth was supposed to embody Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Śiva. His worship was very simple, affordable, and there was no necessity of a family priest to officiate. The implements were bought with three paisa and three paisa only: one for some oil, one for some betel leaves, and one for a small amount of cannabis.

The cult, although only fifteen years in the becoming, already had a lengthy scripture (called the Trināth Charita Akhan) with stories of Trināth with marked emphasis on the misfortunes of those who refused to worship him and the returned favours for those who eventually gave in. This article basically gives us two important factors for the emergence of a new cult:

1. The new cult should not be too new, but ought to recycle something from the older traditions. (here: Trināth embodies the three major gods)

2. It ought to have an attractive social agenda. (here: giving the option to exclude the family priest and the affordability of the pūjā implements)

This is most likely not a special and isolated case. Hence, perhaps we should reconsider the unfounded idea that a scripture has to acquire 'vintage' (estimated by some to centuries) before the exegetes come around.

UPDATE: it seems that Roy was slightly misinformed about the dates. There is a report of Trināth worship from as early as 1867. Read here.

Labels: ,

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Tokyo mss. online

Thanks to Iain and Daniel (whom I shall eventually sue for causing me yet more sleepless nights) for this info: the Tokyo University Library Sanskrit manuscripts are viewable online. Click on the link and then enter queries in the Harvard-Kyoto encoding in the upper left corner. Then press the grey button to view the full catalogue entry of that item and the red button to view it. Ah, the joys of not reading Japanese...

Labels: , , ,