Article Links: History, Religion & Philosophy


a) Indus Valley Civilization (or Harappa)
The Collapse of the Indus-Script Thesis: The Myth of a Literate Harappan Civilization. S. Farmer, R. Sproat & M. Witzel. EJVS 11.2 (2004), pp 19-57. pdf 1.2Mb.

  The extreme brevity of the inscriptions and their repetitive nature leads the authors to conclude that the “writing” of the Indus civilization was, in reality, formed by non-linguistic signs used as symbols, like it happened in various cultures of the Ancient Middle East.
-L'architecture de Mundigak. J. Dumarçay. BEFEO 73 (1984), pp 47-66.  pdf/gif.

  Mundigak, in southeast Afghanistan, a site situated in the periphery of the Indus valley, started as a Neolithic settlement to become a true city in periods III-IV (4th and 3rd millennia). The article focuses on the evolution of a large building, the most important of the place, identified initially as a palace.

b) The Aryans, Vedic Period, First States
Autochthonous Aryans? The Evidence from Old Indian and Iranian Texts. M. Witzel. EJVS 7.3 (2000). pdf 0.5Mb.  

  Criticism, based in linguistic and archeological data, of the nationalist theory that proposes the Indian subcontinent as the source of the Aryans.
-Early Sanskritization. Origin and development of the Kuru state. M. Witzel. EJVS 1.4 (1995). pdf 0.5Mb.

  The comparative analysis of several Vedic texts and the epic
Mahabharata give support to the hypothesis that the ancestral land of the Kurus, protagonists of the latter, was located where the first state of India was born (situated in Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh). 

c) Indo-Greeks, Sakas & Kusanas
Campagne de fouille 1978 à Ai Khanoum (Afghanistan). P. Bernard & others. BEFEO 68 (1980), pp 1-103.  pdf/gif.

  The results of one season of excavations at the archeological site of Ai Khanoum, situated in northeast Afghanistan close to the borders with Russia and China. Even to an area so remote reached the hellenistic influence, visible in the city’s design and architecture. Many buildings were typical of Greek cities and are described here: gymnasium, propylaea, the palace, the arsenal, a public building of unknown function, fortifications.
-Nouvelles inscriptions Saka: ère d'Eucratide, ère d'Azès, ère Vikrama, ère de Kaniska. G. Fussman. BEFEO 67 (1980), pp 1-44.  pdf/gif.

  Transcription, translation and extensive commentary of three Saka (Shaka) inscriptions engraved in two reliquaries and in a votive plaque. The Shakas, a people of Iranian stock, known as Scythians in the West, invaded India in the first century BC establishing kingdoms in the northwest of the country. This article, besides considering their political organization, tries to clarify their obscure chronology discussing the various eras of the title.
-Nouvelles inscriptions Saka (II). G. Fussman. BEFEO 73 (1984), pp 31-46. pdf/gif.

  Two Shaka inscriptions, in two reliquaries, similar to those of the previous article.
-Nouvelles inscriptions Saka (III). G. Fussman. BEFEO 74 (1985), pp 35-42. pdf/gif.

  Three inscriptions in a reliquary, partially deciphered.
-Nouvelles inscriptions Saka (IV). G. Fussman. BEFEO 74 (1985), pp 47-52. pdf/gif.

  One inscription in a reliquary, very likely Shaka, though it could also be Kushana as suggested by the use of the title
yagbu (of Turkish origin), frequent among the latter.
-Deux dédicaces kharosthi. G. Fussman. BEFEO 74 (1985), pp 29-34.  pdf/gif.

  Two brief inscriptions, impossible to date, engraved in a Buddhist reliquary and in a statuette of Buddha.
-Un Buddha inscrit des débuts de notre ère. G. Fussman. BEFEO 74 (1985), pp 43-46. pdf/gif.

  Brief inscription in kharoshti writing, engraved on a standing Buddha of unknown origin.
-Une nouvelle contribution soviétique à l'histoire des Kushans: la fouille de Dal'verzin-tépé (Uzbékistan). P. Bernard. BEFEO 68 (1980), pp 313-348. pdf/gif.

  The archeological excavations in Dalverzin-tepe, southern Uzbekistan, revealed one of the main urban centers of the Kushanas. The article, a summary of a book presenting the results of the excavations until 1974, examines urban development, fortifications, private dwellings, artisans quarters, sanctuaries, necropolis and artifacts, presenting plans of the site and of the main structures.

The Yuezhi Migration and Sogdia. C. Benjamin. Transoxiana, Webfestschrift Series (2003). HTML.

  Speculative reconstruction of the migrations of those that the Chinese called Yue zhi, and that later were known as  Kushana. Native, probably, from eastern  Central Asia (a region that belongs now to China), the Yue zhi remained for some time in Sogdiana, (today south Uzbekistán), being that stay and their interaction with local populations the axis of the article.
-Documents épigraphiques kouchans. G. Fussman. BEFEO 61 (1974), pp 1-76. pdf/gif.

  First of a series of articles on epigraphic documents from the Kushan period (1st-3rd centuries AD), presenting various rock inscriptions found in Dast-e-Nawur, Afghanistan (100 km southwest of Kabul).
-Documents épigraphiques kouchans (II). G. Fussman. BEFEO 67 (1980), pp 45-58. pdf/gif.

  Three Kushan inscriptions, the most important of them (found in Kamra) naming the king Vasishka.
-Documents épigraphíques kouchans (III). L'inscription kharosthi de Senavarma, roi d'Odi: une nouvelle lecture. G. Fussman. BEFEO 71 (1982), pp 1-46. pdf/gif.

  The longest inscription in kharoshti script discovered so far, engraved in a golden leaf and deposited as an offering inside a stupa. Its author seems to have been a local chief, protector of Buddhism, nominally subject to the Kushanas, but virtually autonomous.
-Documents épigraphiques kouchans (IV). Ajitasena, père de Senavarma. G. Fussman. BEFEO 75 (1986), pp 1-14.  pdf/gif.

  This inscription, engraved in a reliquary, is not, in fact, Kushana but complements that described in the previous article.

  Two inscriptions engraved on a Buddha and on a Bodhisattva sculpted by the Mathura school.

d) South India, Sri Lanka & Maldives
Écologie historique en Inde du Sud. Le pays des Kallar. J. Fillliozat. BEFEO 67 (1980), pp 103-124. pdf/gif.

  Study of the populations, and the economic and social development of the region extended between the Kaveri river and the extreme south of the Indic peninsula, in a historical context. Main topics are: the evolution of the vegetation and its modification by humans, the progress of irrigation, the origin of different castes and social groups (Kallar, Velallar, Maravar, etc).
-Archaeological Finds in South India: Esâlam Bronzes and Copper Plates. R. Nagaswamy. BEFEO 76 (1987), pp 1-68. pdf/gif.

  Preliminary study of various bronze images, discovered in 1987 in Tamilnadu, and of an inscription of the Chola king Rajendra I on copper plates.

-Études sur la circulation en Inde: I. Les ponts anciens de l'IndeJ. Deloche. BEFEO 66 (1979), pp 31-44.  pdf/gif.

  This first article of a series about circulation and transport in ancient India is divided in 4 parts. The first one treats the bridges of the Himalayas, the second the stone and brick bridges of the peninsula, the third the wooden bridges of the Tamil region, and the fourth and last classifies the bridges of the entire country according to geography.

-Études sur la circulation en Inde: VIII. De la trouée de Palghat et du plateau de Maisur à la pédiplaine tamoule: liaisons routières anciennes et vestiges de chemins. J. Deloche. BEFEO 78 (1991), pp 51-85. pdf/gif.

  The analysis of Roman coins, Chola inscriptions, toponymy, and actual remains of pathways are employed to determine the location of the ancient routes leading from northern Kerala and Karnata towards the Tamil region.

-Études sur la circulation en Inde: VI. Bornes milliaires de l'Andhra Pradesh, réservoirs à eau du Karnataka et monuments religieux du sud liés à la route. J. Deloche. BEFEO 75 (1986), pp 37-46. pdf/gif.

  A number of structures linked to the ancient routes of southern India are registered and described: Mughal milestones, water reservoirs over pillars, and sculptures of protective deities like Ganesha and Hanuman.

-Études sur la circulation en Inde: II. Les voitures hoysala. J. Deloche. BEFEO 70 (1981), pp 11-20. pdf/gif.

  Reliefs of vehicles are unusually frequent in the Hoysala temples of Karnataka, dating from the 12th-13th centuries. Most are found in friezes containing narrative scenes from both epics. They are the main source of information about their structure allowing to discuss the role of the war chariot (if any) in the battles of the Hoysalas.

-Études sur la circulation en Inde: IV. Notes sur les sites de quelques ports anciens du pays tamoul. J. Deloche. BEFEO 74 (1985), pp 141-166. pdf/gif.

  From antiquity, starting with the first Tamil literature (Sangam) and “The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea”, references abound to the importance of navigation and maritime commerce along the Coast of Coromandel (Tamilnadu), but there are few precisions about the location of its ports. The author updates the subject, noting that many ports mentioned in those texts have not been identified yet and others erroneously so.

-"Cael Velho", "Calepatanão" and "Punicale". The Portuguese and the Tambraparni Ports in the Sixteenth Century.  J.M. Flores. BEFEO 82 (1995), pp 9-26. pdf/gif.

  Portuguese documents illuminate the  economic life of the ports of the Tambraparni river delta and of the Gulf of Mannar, in the extreme south of the Indic peninsula, as well as the political and religious conflicts of their inhabitants.
-Études sur la circulation en Inde. V. Le chenal de Pampan et la route de pèlerinage de Ramesvaram: un exemple d'aménagement ancien. J. Deloche. BEFEO 74 (1985), pp 167-182. pdf/gif.

  The main focuses of this essay are the channel of Pampan, that separates the Indic peninsula from the island of Ramesvaram, and the ancient route joining the western coast of Ramesvaran to the great temple of the same name (close to the eastern coast) facilitating its access to Hindu pilgrims.
-Études sur la circulation en Inde. III. Le bateau de Tirupputaimarutur (Sud de l'Inde). J. Deloche. BEFEO 72 (1983), pp 1-11. pdf/gif.

  In a temple, in Tamilnadu, there is a mural painting of a ship transporting horses. Depiction of ships is extremely rare in India, and this is the only one that allow us to visualize how those specialized in the commerce of these animals looked like in the 16th century.
-Études sur la circulation en Inde: VII. Konkan warships of the XIth-XVth centuries as represented on memorial stones. J. Deloche. BEFEO 76 (1987), pp 165-184. pdf/gif.

  Memorial stone pillars in honor of those fallen in wars (
viragal) abound in Karnataka and Maharashtra; they are carved with, mainly terrestrial, battle scenes. A few (found next to Bombay and Goa) illustrate, in contrast, maritime battles that are very useful to better understand ancient nautical technology.
The Pre-Islamic Archaeology of the Maldive Islands. A. D. Forbes. BEFEO 76 (1987), pp 281-288. pdf/gif.

  The Pre-Islamic history of the Maldives archipelago, located southwest of the tip of India, is very little known. This article reviews all the archeological explorations done in this islands, from the first in 1922 until 1982, revealing evidence of the peaceful coexistence of Buddhism and Hinduism before the massive conversion of the population to Islam in 1153.

e) Internacional Contacts
La vaisselle dans les échanges entre le sous-continent indien et l'Asie du Sud-Est à l'époque protohistorique. B. Bellina. BEFEO 86 (1999), pp 161-184. pdf/gif.

  The existence in Southeast Asia of ceramic and bronze vessels of Indian origin, or imitations of them, is one of the few available markers to detect early exchanges between the two areas. From the 3rd century BC., there are evidences of commerce which intensify from the 3rd century AD onwards, particularly in those states where the cultural influence of India was stronger.
-Pre-Islamic Heritage in the Northern Areas of Pakistan. H. Hauptmann. In "Hidden Treasures in the Northern Areas of Pakistan" (2005), pp 21-40. pdf 1.5Mb.

  The extreme north of what is today Pakistan, in spite of the formidable mountain barriers of the Karakoram and Hindu Kush, had established contacts with China, Central Asia and Iran since prehistoric times. A few pilgrim accounts, but mostly the abundance of petroglyphs and inscriptions allow researchers to sketch the history of the region starting with the hunter-gatherers of the Stone Age. In the Bronze Age the influence of Central Asia was felt, and later followed the nomads, the Iranians, the expansion of Buddhism and the penetration of Sogdian merchants.

-The Path of Buddhism into China: The View from Turfan. V. Hansen. Asia Major 11 (1998), pp 37-66. pdf 0.9Mb.

  The discovery of two cemeteries in Turfan, a city-oasis in the Tarim river basin located in the northern branch of the Silk Road, filled with documents (texts, epitaphs, artifacts) showing little trace of Buddhism disputes the long held view that Buddhism entered China through Central Asia.

-Dharmaraksa and the Transmission of Buddhism to China. D. Boucher. Asia Major 19 (2006), pp 13-37.  pdf 0.4Mb.

  Dharmaraksha was one of the greatest translators of Sanskrit into Chinese. Born in the 3rd century AD in Dunhuang, in the Xinjiang region of Central Asia (now in China), his activities and contacts raise questions about the role of the Tarim basin in the transmission of Buddhism from India to China.

  The Yuan dynasty of China favored the commercial and diplomatic exchanges with India with an intensity unseen before, particularly during the reign of Qubilai Khan. Sixteen missions were sent to India between 1272-1296, in their majority to the southern part of the country, which were reciprocated by eighteen missions from India to China. These contacts, little studied up to now, are the central concern of this article.

-Yuan and Early Ming Notices on the Kayal Area in South India. R. Ptak. BEFEO 80 (1993), pp 137-156. pdf/gif.

  The port of Kayal, in the Tambraparni river delta, flourished during the 13th and 14th centuries thanks to the import of horses and the commerce of pearls. Its contacts with China, attested by Yuan and Ming sources, are the kernel of this article that complements the one above.



a) Vedic
El Vedismo. Los Vedas. Lo uno como origen de todo. El orden cósmico. F. Tola & C. Dragonetti. Boletín de la Asociación Española de Orientalistas 39 (2003), pp 217-241. pdf 0.2Mb.

  In the first part, some ideas about the creation of the universe present in the
Rig Veda, specially that of a creator god, abstract and neutral, are compared with Greek conceptions. In the second part the notion of cosmic order in Vedic India and ancient Greece is compared.
-The Creative Role Of The Goddess Vac In The Rgveda. W. Norman Brown. Mahfil 7.3-4 (1971), pp. 19-28. gif.

  Vac, the personification of language, was a minor Vedic goddess devoid entirely of anthropomorphic traits. However, some hymns of the
Rig Veda (in particular 1.164) suggest that for certain elites interested in metaphysic speculation her role was much more important, rivaling even that of  Prajapati or Brahman.

b) Hinduism
Représentations anciennes de Krsna luttant contre le cheval Kesin sur des haltères: l'avatara de Visnu et le dieu du Mahabharata. C. Schmid. BEFEO 86 (1999), pp 65-104. pdf/gif.

  The first representations of Krishna, in the 2nd-3rd centuries AD., were mistaken for those of Vishnu because he appears as a four-armed deity. Another, contemporary, but much rarer, icon is found in stone-weights for athletes in which Krishna is shown with two arms fighting the carnivorous horse Kesin. Both kinds of icons, the two-armed and the four-armed, inspired later images of Vishnu and of his avatar revealing the complex interrelationship and progressive integration between two different cults. 
-À propos des premières images de la Tueuse de buffle: déesses et krishnaisme ancien. C. Schmid. BEFEO 90-91 (2003), pp 7-67. pdf/gif.

  A detailed examination of the early iconography of Durga in the act of killing the buffalo-demon (her most popular myth) suggest to the author that, in that epoch, the goddess was more related to Krishna than to Siva.
-Le Moksavimsaka du Harivamsa: une éloquente illustration de l'Acte de vérité dans un éloge au grand Visnu libérateur. M. Saindon. BEFEO 89 (2002), pp 21-38. pdf/gif.

  Study of a passage of the
Harivamsa, composed of about twenty stanzas, where each one ends with a formula of great power, called “act of truth” (satya-kriya), that allows the agent to reach his goals.
-Contributions à l'étude du Mantrasâstra: I. La sélection des mantra (mantroddhâra). A. Padoux. BEFEO 65 (1978), pp 65-85. pdf/gif.

  Inaugural article of the series dedicated to the mantras or ritual formulae. Mantras can be prescribed without considering the individual or, alternatively, he can choose the most convenient for him. This selection of mantras is not arbitrary, but a complex technique described in a variety of texts.
-Contributions à l'étude du Mantrasâstra: II. Nyâsa. A. Padoux. BEFEO 67 (1980), pp 59-102. pdf/gif.

  Second article about mantras or ritual formulae. This one is about
nyasa that consists in the transfer of the power of a mantra to various parts of the body, a rite employed mostly in Tantrism.
-Contributions à l'étude du Mantrasâstra: III. Le Japa. A. Padoux. BEFEO 76 (1987), pp 117-164. pdf/gif.

  Third article about mantras, this one dedicated to
japa or repeated recitation of a mantra in low voice, or even mentally, according to some strict rules.

c) Buddhism
Lotus et Buddha supramondain. E. Lamotte. BEFEO 69 (1981), pp 31-44. pdf/gif.

  A passage in Buddhist writings where Buddha affirms his own superiority comparing himself with the lotus, has been subject of numerous interpretations. His superhuman character is generally recognized but the nature of his transcendence is a matter of dispute.
-Lumbini et la naissance du futur Buddha. A. Bareau. BEFEO 76 (1987), pp 69-81. pdf/gif.

  The birth of Buddha in the forest of Lumbini, close to the city of Kapilavastu, is accepted as a fact by many Buddhists and historians of Buddhism, but it is rarely and lately mentioned in the Pali Canon. Bareau considers that it is a legend formulating a hypothesis about its genesis.
-Les débuts de la prédication du Buddha selon l'Ekottara-Agama. A. Bareau. BEFEO 77 (1988), pp 69-96. pdf/gif.

  Here, is presented a translation of the
Ekottara-agama, a Buddhist sutra that survives only in a Chinese version, akin in many points to the Mahavastu. It contains a partial biography of Buddha telling events after the Enlightenment until his return to Kapilavastu.
-Les agissements de Devadatta selon les chapitres relatifs au schisme dans les divers Vinayapitaka. A. Bareau. BEFEO 78 (1991), pp 87-132. pdf/gif.

  The goal of this work is to extract information contained in Buddhist texts about the circumstances of a possible first schism headed by Devadatta. With this purpose, the Vinaya Pitakas of six different Buddhist schools were investigated: Theravadin. Mahasamghika, Mahisasaka, Dharmaguptaka, Sarvastivadin and Mulasarvastivadin. As the Vinaya Pitaka is concerned with monastic discipline, it is the most useful source of information for an event that affected deeply the Buddhist community.

Le Bouddha et les rois. A. Bareau. BEFEO 80 (1993), pp 15-39. pdf/gif.

  A number of canonical texts are analyzed in order to better understand the relationship between Buddha and royal power.

-Cures and Karma II. Some Miraculous Healings in the Indian Buddhist Story Tradition. P. Granoff. BEFEO 85 (1998), pp 285-304. pdf/gif.

  In Buddhist literature there are frequent stories of miraculous cures performed by Buddha. Some of them are commented here because they disclose the attitudes of Buddhists towards illnesses. The author considers, also, the possible antagonism in Indian culture between miraculous healings and the law of karma.
-Apologética y Armonía en el Budismo: El Sutra del Loto y Bhavya. F. Tola & C. Dragonetti. Boletín de la Asociación Española de Orientalistas 41 (2005), pp 135-160. pdf 0.2Mb.

  The followers of Hinayana Buddhism believed that the Mahayana works were not the word of Buddha, and that many of its doctrines were a distortion of his teachings. Bhavya, an author of the 6th century, defended the Mahayana ideas trying to conciliate them with the Hinayanas, and this same conciliatory attitude is observed, also, in the Lotus Sutra.
-Primeros diálogos entre el Budismo y Occidente. La diversidad en los testimonios. R.C. Vofchuk. Transoxiana 9 (2004). HTML.

  A variety of epigraphic, numismatic, literary and artistic sources permit to trace the slow process by which Buddhism was known in the West, and how the Hellenistic art influenced the art of India, particularly that of the Gandhara school.

d) Islam
-Un texte du Bengale médiéval: le yoga du kalandar (Yoga-Kalandar). F, Bhattacharya. BEFEO 90 (2003), pp 69-99. pdf/gif.

  Sufis composed texts in Bengali, still little studied, imbued by the theory and practice of yoga. Here, the complete translation of one of them is offered, preceded by a meaningful introduction.


a) Purva Mimamsa & Vedanta

-Le Tripadinitinayana de Murari Misra: un texte d'obédience prabhakara? G. Gerschheimer. BEFEO 81 (1994), pp 295-326. pdf/gif.

  The Purva Mimansa, whose main goal was the interpretation of Vedic texts, was one of the six orthodox philosophical schools of Hinduism. In the 7th century, it was divided into two branches headed by Kumarila and Prabhakara. Some scholars consider that there was a third branch headed by Murari Misra, the putative author of 
Tripadinitinayana. However, this text seems very close to the teachings of Prabhakara and does not support its affiliation to a different branch of the Purva Mimamsa.
-La Disolución de la Realidad Empírica. F. Tola & C. Dragonetti. Boletín de la Asociación Española de Orientalistas 40 (2004), pp 217-242. pdf 0.3Mb.

  The Vedantic philosophy of Gaudapada, who lived before Sankara: an early form of monism (
advaita) advocating the identity of the soul with Brahman (the universal principle) and the irreality of the world.
-Ramanuja. No-dualidad calificada. Realismo, teísmo, panteísmo. F. Tola & C. Dragonetti. Boletín de la Asociación Española de Orientalistas 38 (2002), pp 271-288. pdf 0.1Mb.

  The authors discuss the main ideas of Ramanuja, the founder of qualified non-dualism (
visishtadvaita), who tempered the monism of Gaudapada and Sankara sustaining the reality of the world, and transformed, at the same time, their abstract god in a personal god with identifiable attributes. 

b) Samkhya & Yoga
Yamas y Niyamas en los Yogasûtras de Patañjali. C. Gonzalez Laporte. Transoxiana 9 (2004). HTML.

  The octuple way proposed by Patanjali in his aphorisms, in order to achieve liberation, starts with a series of moral rules grouped in two categories: restrictions (
yamas) and observances (niyamas). The article examines the nature and meaning of each one of these rules.

c) Saivite
Le Tattvasamgraha, 'Compendium des Essences', de Sadyojyoti. P-S Filliozat. BEFEO 77 (1988), pp 97-163. pdf/gif.

  Sadyojyoti, who lived before the 9th century, was one of the first thinkers of the Saiva-siddhanta, one of the major philosophical schools of Saivism. After an extensive introduction, follows the translation of the
Tattva-samgraha or "Compendium of the Essences", a treatise by him about the fundamental principles of the universe.
-Le Tattvatrayanirnaya: «La détermination des trois essences» de Sadyojyoti, avec le commentaire d'Aghorasivacarya. P-S. Filliozat. BEFEO 78 (1991), pp 133-158. pdf/gif.

  A second work of Sadyojyoti is the
Tattva-traya-nirnaya or "Consideration of the Three Essences", an opuscule about mala (“impurity”) which connects the three fundamental principles or essences (tattvas): Siva, the soul and matter. An introduction precedes the translation of the text which is accompanied by the commentary of Aghorasiva, another philosopher of the school.

Les Nadakarika de Ramakantha. P-S. Filliozat. BEFEO 73 (1984), pp 223-255. pdf/gif.

  Ramakantha was another important member of the northern Saiva-siddhanta school that used Sanskrit as a medium. His brief
Nada-karika, devoted to the nature of words, and written in verse in the 11th century, is presented here with its commentary by Aghorasiva.

d) Buddhist
Las Karikas (estrofas) fundamentales de la Escuela Madhyamika. Mulamadhyamikakarikas de Nagarjuna. Capítulo XXV: Investigación sobre el Nirvana. F. Tola, C. Dragonetti & various translators.  Transoxiana 9 (2004). HTML.

  "Verses of the Middle Way" by Nagarjuna is a key text of the Madhyamika or Madhyamaka philosophical school, the most important Mahayana school, with Yogacara, to stem from India. Here, the famous chapter about nirvana is translated, preceded by an introduction where the sequence of ideas expressed in it is traced.


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