Hindu Temple Traditions of Draksharama

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This book is a study of the Draksharama temple in South India, commonly known as the Draksharama Bhimesvara temple. It is a temple dedicated to the worship of Shiva. Draksharam formed the spiritual metropolis of Andhra Desa in ancient and medieval times and is celebrated in epigraphy, literature and legends as the most famous of the five pilgrimage centers of Andhra Desa. The study examines the origins of the temple, the mythology surrounding it, and the role it played in influencing the religious, social, economic and cultural life of the people in the region. It examines the meaning and purpose of the temple, and the roles played by philosophy, theology, mythology, art, and the social organization in the temple, the joint-product of royal patrons, skilled architects, and the learned Brahmin priests and scholars of Vedic learning. The findings are based on published and unpublished manuscript sources including mahatmyas (praise literature), inscriptions, interviews, and numerous secondary sources. With color illustrations.


“…beginners will find on these pages an illuminating introduction to the Hindu experience while scholars will find reference to political patronage, artistic expression and doctrinal disputes which will invite further research and reflection. Professor Srinivas Chary is to be congratulated for making the fruit of his years of labor available in these pages.” – Fred W. Clothey

“…a labor of love – but also one of intelligence and insight. Using published and unpublished manuscripts, interviews, and a host of other sources, Chary has painted a richly textured picture of the historical development of the Draksharama temple, its religious practices, and its impact on Hindus especially Andhra Desa. What is revealed is a living tradition – the continuing vitality of the Shaivite tradition in its embrace of the cycles of life and death…. For the expert, the book is a great ‘case study’ of the Shaivite tradition, showing its special form and manifestation in the culture of Andhra Desa. Insightful and enlightening, it deserves a place not only in the libraries of scholars but in those of general readers eager to know more about one of the most ancient and rich religious cultures.” – Donald J. Mrozek, Kansas State University

“Draksharama is a significant sacred site, and Andhra temples up to now have been neglected by scholars. I particularly admire Professor Chary’s comprehensive approach, which combines religious studies, art history, archeology, and social history to paint a full picture of the temple. He brings to light fascinating materials from the local sthalapurana and from temple inscriptions” – Richard Davis, Bard College

“…of inestimable value to scholars and students interested in the practice of religion in South Asia. Based on interviews with scholars and pundits, reviews of literary, epigraphic and artistic materials, and numerous visits to the temple itself, the book enriches the reader’s understanding of the forces that guided and influenced the development and practice of Shaivism and its sub-sects Vira Shaivism and Pasupatism…. Well researched and detailed, the work is a mine of information regarding the living traditions of Hindu worship.” – Naseem Banerji, Weber University

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Foreword by Fred W. Clothey
1. Amazing Grace: The Sacred Environment of Draksharama
2. Auspicious Wisdom: Draksharama and Shaivism
3. Faith and Belief: The Mythology around Draksharama
4. Sacred Texts: The Search for the Origins of the Draksharama temple
5. Sacred Art: Symbolism of the Draksharama Temple
6. Purity, Power, and Canon: Brahmins, Vedas, and the Caste Structure of Draksharama
7. Wives of the God: The Devadasis of Draksharama
8. Gods and Men: Rituals and Temple Traditions of Draksharama
9. Yoga, Immortality, and Freedom: The Mathas of Draksharama
Conclusion; Glossary; Plates; Bibliography; Index

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