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Maity, Pradyot Kumar (1962) The early history of the cult of the goddess Manasa. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This work aims at a critical study of the early history of the goddess Manasa, It is divided into eight chapters excluding introduction and summary and conclusion. The Introduction deals with the nature, importance and scope of the subject. Sources are also discussed. Chapter I outlines the history of snake cult in Ancient India, Chapter II traces the socio-religious background of Bengal from the 8th - 12th centuries - a period when Manasa evolved and found a foothold in Bengali society. Chapter III narrates the stories of Manasa written in Bengali, Assamese and Bihari, and found in the Puranas. A comparative study and analysis of those stories is made which helps us to stratify the stories broadly into two categories - secular stories, some associated with divinites, and epic and Purapic stories. Chapter IV on the original location and historicity of the principal legend of Manasa contains two parts. Part I, dealing with the original location, is divided into three sections - (i) discussion on local traditions and on the claims in favour of Bihar, South India and West Bengal as either the residence of the legendary hero Chando or the place of origin of the legend and the cult, (ii) analysis on those points and (iii) consideration of the arguments which favour the claim of West Bengal, as the early home of the legend. Attempts are made here to ascertain the periods of the origin of the goddess and of the various stories of Manasa. Chapter V traces the gradual evolution of the cult of Manasa. The goddess who had her origin among the lower class people, gradually found a place for herself, first among upper class women and then men. Her worship by the Muslims is recorded in the texts. Chapter VI deals with the relations between Manasa and other cult-divinities. we have concluded that the hostility between Chandl and Manasa found in Manasakavyas reflects an earlier stratum of religious history than that between Siva and Manasa or Siva and Chandl. Chapter VII examines the icons said to be of Manasa and considers the views that Manasa originated out of Sarasvati, Janguli, Padmavati, Kali and other deities. These points are discussed and elucidated with charts at the end of this chapter. Chapter VIII on the rites and ceremonies connected with Manasa contains two parts. Part I deals with the periods, days, methods, places and purposes of the worship of the goddess in Bengal, Tripura, Assam and Bihar. Part II describes the vratas (rites) and festivals of Manasa, It is also shovm how the principal legend has served as an object of folk entertainments for some centuries down to the present day. Summary and Conclusion briefly reviews the whole work and the main conclusions reached in it. There are five short appendices on (i) the poets of Manasakavya, (ii) different names and epithets of Manasa, (iii) equivalent English months in relation to Bengali months, (iv) a specimen of a questionnaire and (v) approximate percentage of worshippers. The work also contains 31 illustrations with separate notes on each and a map of Eastern India.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:25

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