1. Five Stones – Four Rivers – One Town: The Hindu Pañcāyatanapūjā
Soulless Matter, Seats of Energy - Metals, Gems and Minerals in South Asian Traditions - Fabrizio Ferrari
Mikael Aktor [+]
University of Southern Denmark
The pañcāyatanapūjā is a worship of five deities, Devī, Sūrya, Gaṇeśa, Viṣṇu and Śiva, in a manner in which the affiliation of the worshipper, e.g. as Vaiṣṇava, Śaiva, Śākta etc., determines which of the five will be placed at the centre of the tray on which the deities are placed. But in addition, the deities are worshipped here not in their anthropomorphic forms but in their aniconic forms as five stones. Each of the stones originates from a particular location, four of them in a river, one near a town. Like the great pan-Indian pilgrimage circuits the geographical extent of these locations covers the whole of South Asia from the Gandaki River in northern Nepal to Vallam Town in Tamil Nadu. The chapter examines each of these stones – their visual qualities and their mythological and iconographical associations with their respective deities, the collection, manufacturing and marketing, as well as their present ritual use. It will bring to light the significance of this inclusive ritual in the historical context of sectarian conflicts, and it will include an analysis based on a discussion of petromorphic aniconicity in the theoretical context of human cognition of the natural world.