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This work is an attempt to trace the life of the Khandagiri- Udayagiri caves located on the outskirts of the city of Bhubaneshwar, capital of Orissa. As of now Khandagiri-Udayagiri has a dual life, of which, one is its status as a religious centre, of some importance for the Jain community and of minor significance to the Hindu community, minor at least in contrast to the great Orissan temples such as that of Lingaraj and Jagganath, Puri. Its other life is as an archaeological site of considerable importance. Though not comparable in terms of scale, artistic vision of architecture and sculptures to the great rock cut cave complexes such as Ellora and Ajanta, Khandagiri is important because of its sheer age value, as its history is traced back to within a century of Barabar caves, the earliest examples of rock-cut architecture in India. Given its age, and contrasted with the other contemporaneous sites, we see that it is one of the earliest cave complexes. Also the presence of an extensive biographical inscription of the patron king makes the site even more important for historians and archaeologists. The combination of these two factors in the post independence years, especially in the year since the 1980s, has given the site a newer life, where it becomes a tourist attraction. Here the tropes of sightseeing, tour, leisure are combined with pilgrimage and informative museological- exhibitionary displays. While its patron king Aira-Kharavela-Mahameghvahana has become a central celebrated figure in the writing of regional histories, it is Ashokas activity in Orissa that is of much more interest to the narrative of national history.

My concern, to put it simply, is to talk about the history of the twin mountain site in the past and its transformation in the present, and to analyse the way it has taken on the different lives and meanings that it now has. What are the kinds of identities and functions that the site takes on today, living its life in the three distinct but intersecting realms of the historic, the religious and the touristic? My focus shall be to take already existing data and historic writings along with ethnographic fieldwork and documentation and combine it in ways that disrupt the standard historical understanding of the site. My history of the site will be as much about removals, destructions and desecrations as it will be about preservation, construction and consecration; it is as much about what is revealed by history as it is about that which remains un-knowable. In the first chapter I shall look at existing archaeological and historical writings on the site and see how the site was framed differently in different ideological moments. The suggestion, drawing on Bruce Triggers work, here is not simply that archaeology is partisan and influenced by external forces ( state, patron, economic benefit) but that it is as much determined by the internal state of the discipline as it is by external forces1.The first chapter looks at existing scholarship on the site and how different phases of this scholarship came to be discursively appropriated into different ideological projects, followed by an alternative historical narrative of the site. In the second chapter I look at questions of inhabitation, proprietorship and usage in light of its functioning as a tourist site. In the Epilogue I shall move away from the institutional archaeological histories of the site and attempt to with alternate kinds of practise that carry over from the pre-modern history of the site and is also not limited specifically to Khandagiri-Udayagiri. With that view my attempt is to

Bruce Trigger, Romanticism Nationalism and Archaeology; Nationalism, Politics, and the Practice of Archaeology; ( Great Britain, Cambridge University Press, 1995)

look at the late 19th and 20th century career of the aniconic movement that emerges from Khandagiri-Udayagiri. Focussing only on the figure of Poet-Saint Arakhit Das, I examine three Ashrams of his sect. In order to present a clear picture of the location, I am attaching several photographs and a map of the site. Before moving to the first chapter I wish to enlist the various institutions and structures on and around Khandagiri- Udayagiri. Udayagiri: the Udayagiri hill is fenced by the A.S.I. and has a ticketed entry. The hill also houses the famous Kharavela inscription in Hathi Gumpha 1) Paaduka Math: this is a Math/ Ashram housing sadhus of the Avadhoot mat. In particular they are in the Order of Sain Arakhita Dasa, who stayed and composed at the site, possibly during the early 19th century. Here his wooden sandals are kept and worshipped as relics. The Ashram is adjoining the site and has two entrances, one of which leads into Udayagiris A.S.I. controlled compound, the other leads out onto the main road. 2) Jain Dharamashala : The Dharamshala is adjunct to the Paaduka Math and Udayagiri but has no separate entry into the Udayagiri compound. Khandagiri: Khandagiri is fenced but has an open entrance, it is not ticketed. 1) Jain temple : located at the top of the hill, it is an early 19th century structure dedicated to Rishabhanatha, houses both medieval sculptural images as well as newer images installed in the 20th century.

2) Barabhuji mandir : The barabhuji gumpha has been converted into a Hindu Devi temple and its adjoining cave, Mahavir gumpha has also been appropratied to serve as a storehouse and kitchen for the temple. 3) Lalatendukesari Ashram: located behind the Barabhuji temple, in front of the Lalatendukesari Gumpha, it is a temporary structure with thatched roof. 4) Shoonya Mandir : called so because it is empty, it is a small single celled structure above Mahavir Gumpha, which had an installed image but the image was removed and the grabha-griha was plastered over and a stone bench installed inside instead.

Apart from this there are several other structures needing mention. There is an inspection bunglow at the base of Khandagiri, also a small cement structure, an Ashram that seems to be defunct now. A public toilet built for the convenience of the tourists. Next to the toilet is a small A.S.I. office which looks after the management of the site. There is a charitable homeopathic dispensary and taps for drinking water, constructed and managed by the Jain Dharamshala. There are several shops in temporary and permanent structures which sell food items, cigarettes, cold beverages etc to the tourists. One section of the forest on Khandagiri hill has recently been turned into a spiritual park, while a on plot behind Udayagiri a new tourist centre is being constructed. Beyond that is the B.K. College of Art and Craft which came up in 1984. Towards the national highway is a Mahima Ashram which has been there for over a century and a half. Apart from the

upcoming residential and commercial buildings this area also has a significant amount of Ashrams which came up during the late 70s and the early 80s.

Chapter 1: The Theoretical En-framing of Khandagiri Udayagiri

This chapter, as the title suggests, looks at the way the site of Khandagiri and Udayagiri has been discursively constructed through the twin disciplines of Indian Archaeology and Indian Architecture during the period of the last century and a half. Through this methodological discussion I intend to bring out, in the first section, certain ideological attitudes that informed archaeological and architectural scholarship (in Orissa in general and around the site in particular). Since it is not possible to cover in detail the scholarship about a site over such a long period, I shall focus on certain important writers and methodological debates which have made noteworthy contributions. By and large, there can be three ideological moments marked out in the history of scholarship over Khandagiri-Udayagiri, which I will group under the heads of the Colonial, the Nationalist and the Regional. However, while these moments seem segregated by these three rather neat categories, we shall later see that all these share some common logical assumptions. Regarding the relationship between ideology and archaeological knowledge, Bruce Trigger says : What archaeologists say about the past is not simply a reflection of their ethnic of class prejudices or what a patron or authority figure wishes even if the latter is in a position to be politically or economically coercive. It is also a product of the state of the discipline in specific places and at particular times2. The implication of Triggers statement is that, while forces outside play a part in determining the kind of knowledge produced, factors inside the discipline also play an important part in enabling or limiting what can or cannot be said. However it should be remembered, as Trigger himself acknowledges later in the essay, that the state of the discipline that is, its inside is also determined to a large degree by outside factors. In the second section, I attempt to

Bruce Trigger, Romanticism Nationalism and Archaeology; Nationalism, Politics, and the Practice of Archaeology ; ( Great Britain, Cambridge University Press, 1995) Pg. 266.

narrate an alternate linear history of the site. While most writers are concerned with establishing a continuous Jain tradition at the site, I attempt to look at the possibility of a historical presence of other sects at the site. My main intention in this chapter is to locate the range of architectural, stylistic epigraphic, nuministic and textual debates that occurred around the site of Khandagiri-Udayagiri within a history of scholarship on the site, and link these debates to a changing chronology of what I label as the Colonial, National and Regional approaches.

Stylistic- Architectural Interpretations

The earliest writings on Orissa include writings like Orissa: the garden of superstition and idolatry by William F.B. Laurie which worked with a clear Christian bias against native idol worshipping3. This was followed by a later antiquarian genre such as Stirlings Orissa : Its Geography, Statistics, History, Religion and Antiquities4; it was only after works like this, that the initial works on Indian Architecture by James Fergusson came about5. By and large Fergussons writings combined the European Christian aversion and the archaeological curiosity of the previous genres. Racial themes which have a religious veil over them in writings such as those of Laurie, appear rather starkly at places in Fergussons writings. Trigger terms the earliest phase of archaeology as evolutionary archaeology, whereby the histories of the European civilisations were

William F.B. Lauire, Orissa, the garden of superstition and idolatry, (Bhattacharya, 2nd edition, 2000) 4 Andrew Sterling, Orissa : Its Geography, Statistics, History, Religion and Antiquities , (John Snow, London, 1846). 5 James Fergusson, Illustration of the Rock-Cut Temples of India. London: Weale, 1845; History of Indian and Eastern Architecture. London: Murray, 1876; Reprint, 2 vols. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1972.

pushed back as far as possible into the period of antiquity and it was deployed in the colonies, within regions like America, Australia, Africa etc, to establish them as barbaric societies, outside historical time. The essential purpose of evolutionary archaeology was to establish the racial superiority of the Europeans6. On one hand, working with liner notions of progress, it tried to trace all civilizational influences to Europe (Greece etc), on the other had it documented and classified the so called native cultures to show that they existed in a natural state, that society for them had not evolved at all. Since they existed at the same state of nature as beasts thus they were beneath the civilised white man. However, in a place like India, it was not possible to argue the absence of civilizational values as material evidence, architectural, artistic and textual would all point to the contrary. Taking a different form, Colonial Archaeology had to recognise the literature, arts and architecture as belonging to an advanced civilisation but one that was long in ruins. Fergusson takes such a position, when, on the one hand, he argued that stone architecture in India was not indigenously developed but rather was imported from ancient Greece and Rome, by artisans who possibly came to India along with Alexander; and on the other hand, he challenged the scholarship of native scholars on racial grounds and claimed that the Hindus as a race were incapable of sound judgement 7. Both these trajectories of Fergussons writings intersect visibly in the case of the Khandagiri and Udayagiri caves or the Katak Caves as he calls them. In The Cave Temples of India he carries out a thick description and a stylistic analysis of the site supplemented by sketches of the sites. Seeing and visuality played a key role in his methodology, he sets up an evolutionary schema, wherein he contrasts several sites and moves from simplicity to
6 7

Ibid James Ferguson & James Beglar, The Cave Temples of India, (W. H. Allen & Co. 1880)


complexity. Regarding Khandagiri-Udayagiri he sets out an elaborate dating of the caves based on their architectural and sculptural complexity - where he located Hathi Gumpha as the earliest, because it is a natural cavern very little improved upon by art8; followed by single celled chambers such as Sarpa and Bagh Gumphas, and complex caves such as Ananta and Rani Gumphas which he dated to the mature period. He dates the caves by comparing them with other similar sites, arguing that Khandagiri-Udayagiri was probably a Buddhist site going by multiple appearance of the sacred tree and Gajalaxmi which are prominently carved in Buddhist sites such as Sanchi and Bharut as well as Bodh Gaya 9. He also puts forward his theory of European origins of the Indian tradition of rock-cut architecture. Observing that facades of rock-cut structures often showed elements that were functional in wooden architecture, he deduces that stone architecture faithfully imitates the appearance of wooden architecture in India, and that elements which would have been functional in wooden architecture become unnecessary decorations in rock-cut architecture. This, coupled his sense of an absence of early developmental stages in the history of Indian architecture, leads him to conclude that the Indians did not develop an autonomous tradition of rock-cut architecture and propose, instead, that this architectural form was brought to India from Europe, possibly along with Alexanders army, prior to which the Indians were capable of working only with the perishable medium of wood. It is because of this he says that as a rule the history of art in India as I have frequently pointed out is written in decay. ......the highest point of perfection was apparently reached in the fourth or fifth century, the decay however set in shortly afterward10.

8 9

Ibid. Ibid. 10 Ibid, Pg 91.


Fergusson dated Khandagiri, especially caves like Ananta and Hathi Gumpha, to 2nd century B.C.; the caves were in all likelihood post-Ashoka. In Fergussons writing, the reign of Ashoka appears as a definitive period for Indian art and architecture. He observes that caves before Ashoka were hardly ever improved upon by art, that stone architecture was unknown in India before the arrival of Alexander, and that it was Ashoka, the grandson of Chandragupta and the patron of Buddhism who first puts it to effective use11. Rajendra Lal Mitra was one of the first Indian scholars to hold an office in the Asiatic Society of Bengal and soon gained a place of eminence as a Sanskritist within the newly emerging institutional production of knowledge such as the Archaeologial Survey and The Asiatic Society. In 1868 the government of Bengal entrusted to him a project for documenting the architectural and sculptural traditions of India, he decided to focus on the temples of Bhubaneshwar. He was assisted by H.H. Locke, the principal govt. School of Arts, Calcutta and his students, who made possible the extensive surveys, photography, sketches and plaster casts required for this work. The two volume tome Antiquities of Orissa was the result of this endeavour. Fergusons claims were keenly contested by Rajendra Lal Mitra, in his book, The Antiquities of Orissa. While Fergusson preferred a stylistic approach, Mitra advocated the sober minded use of epigraphic evidence. He challenged Fergussons claims that the history of Indian art was one of decline and suggested that increasing ornamentation was a sign of progress and not decadence. He also rejected Fergussons theory of foreign origins of Indian architecture and sculpture on the grounds of the absence of adequate proof. While he acknowledges




certain Greek influences, he was firmly of the opinion that it was unlikely that stone carving was imported wholesale from Greece. He argued that the ideal form of beauty was the same for all people and its approximations can produce similar results without the cultures having to have borrowed from each other; he further argued that stylistic criteria do not give any real information regarding nationality and that the virtues of outline, drapery and finished chiselling in sculpture,for instance, were not exclusive to Greece. The theory he said was grounded in the European belief that Indians were not capable of producing so refined an art, as contemporary art-practices were nowhere near that kind of refinement. This was, according to Mitra, because centuries of Islamic oppression had crippled artistic production and idol making of the classical Indian tradition12. Mitra, rejected the claims that the Khandagiri-Udaygiri site was Jain, partly because, in his time Jainism had been dated to only a century before the Christian era. He argues that the caves were Buddhist and that it was not necessary that Buddhist caves had to have iconic Buddhist imagery, arguing that the site belonged to an early aniconic phase of Buddhism. 13 In stylistically dating the caves, while Fergusson follows an evolutionary schema, going from the simplest to the most complex, Rajendralal Mitra argues that it is much more probable that the largest more elaborate shrines like Rani, Ananta or Ganesh Gumphas were all built initially and in the same cycle, that the stylistic difference between them cannot be said to be spread across centuries, and that the smaller, simpler shrines were

12 13

Rajendra Lal Mitra, The Antiquities of Orissa Vol-2, Calcutta, Newman, 1880. Ibid.


the ones which were probably added later. Mitra dates all the caves of Udaygiri and Khandagiri to well before Ashoka, to 4th century B.C.14 In his most polemical text, Archaeology in India with special reference to the works of Babu Rajendra Lal Mitra, Fergusson attempts to retort to Mitras attacks. Shifting his position here, he significantly claims that it was not his intention to suggest, as the Babu makes him out to, that the shift from wood to stone happened in India because of the civilising influence of the Bactrian Greeks and he attributes the process instead to the menace of white ants. He also questions the reliability of epigraphic evidence as there is no way of knowing if an inscription is integral or as been added later, an shows how in many cases the inscription may mislead. However, in this book he accepts the twin mountain caves as a Jain site following, Pandit Bhagwanlal Indrajis translation of the Hathi Gumpha inscription. Most of the book was dedicated to attacking Babu Rajendra Lal Mitra, him being the first native scholar of substance to write on Indian Archaeology; its central assumption lay in uestioning the ability of the natives to make sound judgements. The book was written during the Ilbert bill controversy, where Europeans refused to be tried by native judges in criminal proceedings. Rajendra Lal Mitra served in Fergussons writing as an example of the lack of ability for impartial judgement of western educated Indians/ Bengalis15. E.B. Havell was an influential English Arts administrator and Art Historian, he was the principal of the Goverment School of Art, Calcutta from 1896 to 1905, there Havell worked along with Abanindranath Tagore to redefine Indian Art education. He

Ibid. Fergusson, James. Archaeology in India, with Especial Reference to the Works of Babu Rajendralala Mitra. London: Trubner, 1884. Reprint, New Delhi: K.B. Publications, 1970.


established the Bengal School of Art which sought to adapt British art education in India so as to reject the previous emphasis placed on European traditions in favour of Native Indian styles of Art, such as the Mughal miniature tradition. In his book The Ancient and Medieval Architecture of India, he tries to move away from the narrative of decadence woven around Indian art as well as rubbished the claims for it being a simple derivative of Greek and Roman influences. Rather, he tried to argue that both the Greek and the Indian civilisations emerged from the same Aryan source, and stressed that since it was in India that Aryan architecture was still a living practice, that Europeans could also from this source retrieve and rejuvenate their own classical tradition . E.B. Havell criticized Fergusson for assuming that the history of Indian sculpture was written in decay and also for attempting to label and categorize sites into separate water-tight compartments such as Jain or Buddhist. In his own formal analysis, he gives us the useful insight that the development of hero worship in Buddhism and Jainism was such that the caves of ascetics were held in the same regard as temples, that the house of the ascetic was equivalent to the house of god 16. Because of their sheer age value, the sites of Khandagiri and Udayagiri thus become embroiled in one of the most important archaeological debates of the late 19th century the debate on the question of the origins of Indian architecture and sculpture, with the claims of antiquity and origins irredeemably linked to the canonical figure of the Mauryan Empeor, Ashoka. For the Europeans, the age of Ashoka becomes the definitive moment in early Indian art and architectural history for two primary reasons - one because he is the grandson of Chandragupta

E.B. Havell, The Ancient and Medieval Architecture of India: A study of Indo-Aryan Civilisation, (London, John Murray, 1915).


Maurya, whose associations with the Greeks had been established by Princep; the other, because of Ashokas patronage of Buddhism. While it had some resemblances to monastic Christianity, Buddhism in India became the critical factor to reckon with because it took away the civilisational impetus away from the Brahmanical forces. For the early nationalists what was important was to recover Indias authorship over its own antiquities, to demonstrate that there was something essentially Indian about these art works, and that there were not merely derivative of the Greek and Roman traditions. This one may speculate, was probably one of the reasons behind Mitras insistence for a pre-Ashokan date for the site.

Epigraphic and Nuministic Evidences

Considering that native scholars enjoyed a considerable advantage compared to the European scholars in the field of deciphering inscriptions, given their familiarity with the language, something which even Fergusson admits in his Archaeology in India, it is not surprising that nationalistic archaeology begins mostly by focussing on epigraphic evidence. The first half of the 20th century is when most of this kind of writing was produced by Indian scholars. Rajendra Lal Mitra, while insisting on his preference for epigraphic evidence, actually makes a lot of analysis on stylistic basis as compared to later scholars. According to Trigger, Under the impetus of Nationalism, Archaeology abandoned a primary focus on evolution and concentrated on interpreting the archaeological record as history of specific peoples. Here archaeologists sought to lengthen the pedigrees of


their own national or ethnic groups and to glorify these groups...............identifying a people with a succession of specific archaeological cultures leading into the remote past and drawing attention to special achievements of these cultures17. Notable writers of this period would be Manomohan Ganguly, Rakhal Das Banerji and K.P. Jayaswal and B.M. Barua. While Ganguly, and Banerji were Bengali scholars who were writing histories of Orissa, projecting an Oriya culture into ancient times and tracing its development into the present, Baruas scholarship was nationalistic in the larger sense, that it sought to append Oriya history to the larger history of the nation. In these debates on epigraphy as a source for ancient Indian history, the sites of Khandagiri-Udayagiri and the Hathi Gumpha inscription now begin to play an important part. Being the oldest surviving material- epigraphic record, it becomes a crucial piece of evidence for writing the history of the Orissa province. Hence we have a series of writers obsessively attempting to interpret it and use it to re-construct the ancient history of Orissa. Using epigraphic analysis, scholars have assigned Kharavelas date from anywhere between 4th century B.C. to 1st century A.D. The following is a chart of the epigraphic dating of Hathi Gumpha on Udayagiri by different Indian scholars18 : 4th B.C.- Rajendra Lal Mitra 3rd B.C.- Fleet and Luders, Manomohan Ganguly


Bruce Trigger, Romanticism Nationalism and Archaeology; Nationalism, Politics, and the Practice of Archaeology ; ( Great Britain, Cambridge University Press, 1995) Pg. 269. 18 Taken from the discussion on Epigraphic debates over Khandagiri-Udayagiri, R.P. Mahapatra, Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves (D.K. Publications, 1981).


2nd B.C.- Bhagwan Lal Indraji, Stenkonow, K.P. Jayaswal, R.D. Banerji, K.C. Panigrahi 1st B.C.- R.P Chanda, H.C. Ray Choudhary, N.N. Ghosh, D.C. Sircar 1st A.D.- Benimadhab Barua All the epigraphists who have worked on the inscription acknowledge the fact that the inscription is highly eroded, with much of it impossible to decipher - only the first six or seven lines are in good condition, and the last four lines also considered still readable by some specialists. If we move from the earlier to the later readings of the Hathi Gumpha inscription, we can clearly discern a shift in themes and the amount of historical information contained. The earliest translations of the inscription were by James Princep in the early 19th century19, followed by Rajendra Lal Mitra in the 1870s. In their translations they mention in the third line, a battle in the Kalinga city after which Kharavela or Aira is anointed king20. The rest of the translation consists of garbled phrases, talking about the kings sense of justice and charity or his acts of construction. There is a mention of Nanda Raja in the passing, with Princep, only in line 6 , with Mitra also mentioning him in line 12 which Princep does not translate21. Lines 7 to 13 remain hazy and mostly illegible at this point. There is no mention of Nanda Rajas canal or the Kalinga Jina. The prime historical issues that emerge from these translations of the inscription have to do with Kharavelas lineage; as there is no mention of his predecessors, the question of him being a usurper of the throne of Kalinga is one these writers seriously raise. While Princep believes that Kharavela ousted an usurper, Mitra is

Princep as quoted by Rajendra Lal Mitra, , Antiquities of Orissa Vol-2, Calcutta, Newman, 1880.
20 21

Rajendra Lal Mitra, Antiquities of Orissa Vol-2, Calcutta, Newman, 1880. Ibid.


of the opinion that there is nothing in the epigraph to suggest this. For him rather, the absence of information regarding his lineage coupled with the kind of policy Kharavela pursued is proof enough of his being a usurper. According to him Kharavela had to wage war to become king and pursued expansionist policies to gain acceptance and acknowledgement for his power. He had to appease his subjects though celebrations, festivities and civic repairs and amenities, as well as strengthen his own positions by repairing fortification and patronising various religions that would further his cause. For Mitra, all these activities make sense as the actions of an usurper who had to cement his positions because he lacked the reverence due to a king from a long hallowed lineage22. After Princep and Mitra, it was Bhagwan Lal Indraji who translated the Hathi Gumpha inscription23. It was a landmark transliteration which was to leave an impact on all future epigraphic and historical writings about the site, with Indraji making the claim, for the first time, that the name of the king in the epigraph was not Aira but Kharavela and that Kharavela was a Jain king. After this, the most significant and detailed reference to the site and its famous inscription comes from Mano Mohan Ganguly in the early 20th century, in his book, Orissa and her Remains, which traces the history of Orissa right from the pre-historic period to the early modern period. He pays special attention to Khandagiri and Udayagiri, looking on the earliest architectural remains of the site as indicative of the high cultural achievements of ancient Orissa. Writing after Indrajis dating of the site as post Ashokan, to 157 B.C, Mano Mohan Ganguly, perhaps taking a cue from Mitra, continues to dates the site o the 3rd century B.C.. He bases his dating on
22 23

Ibid. Rakhal Das Banerji, History of Orissa: from the earliest times to the British period, Volume 1, (R.Chatterjee, Calcutta, 1931)


inscriptional reference to other caves but does not take the trouble of explaining himself any further24. He also credits the size of the caves and their architectural modifications not to an evolutionary sequence of stylistic development but to variations in patronage and the economic capacities of those funding these rock-cut cave constructions. In his estimation, the cave architecture of the site was at least four centuries in the making from the 3rd century B.C. to about 100 A.D.25 It was during the third decade of the 20th century that the most important epigraphic debate over this site was carried out, with Rakhladas Banerji and K.P. Jayaswal standing at one end and B.M. Barua at the other. Banerji and Jayaswal shared Gangulys political concern for creating a grand narrative of Orissan history, but they followed it more in line with Bhagwanlal Indrajis epigraphic lineage. For them Kharavela was an iconic king, most definitely post-Ashokan and Jain. His figure was brought out through epigraphic analysis as a cultural hero, displaying the qualities of a warrior king as well as a renouncing sage. Most of their work was also concerned with imbuing the figure of Kharavela with some historical weight. Thus the task was to locate his temporally not through stylistic dating of the caves but by locating references to historic places or personages mentioned in the epigraph26. In the translations of the Hathi Gumpha inscription by Indraji, Jayaswal and R.D. Banerji, it is possible to track a distinct transformations in the tone and content of what the inscription is shown to reveal. There is no mention of a battle in Kalinga city in the third line, but, in these readings, Kharavela, instead of being a benevolent figure, brave, kind,
24 25

Mano Mohan Ganguly, Orissa and her Remains ( Thacker, Spink and Co., 1912). Ibid. 26 Rakhal Das Banerji, History of Orissa: from the earliest times to the British period, Volume 1, (R.Chatterjee, Calcutta, 1931)


religious, dispensing justice when needed, takes on the image of a martial, warring and plundering ruler, waging wars all over the sub-continent, moving towards religion only towards the end of his career. Suddenly; the damaged, un-translatable lines from the 6th to the 13th begin to contain mention of his military exploits and most importantly, newer names of historical personages and locations27. And all the three newly introduced characters in Kharavelas story, Satakarni, Bahastimita and Demitrios turn out to be dated historical characters, contemporaries of Kharavela existing roughly around the 2nd century B.C., dated through recent epigraphic or numismatic discoveries, all of whom were contemporaries 28Satkarni was identified as Sri Satkarni, founder of Satavahana dynasty, from the Nasik chaitya inscription. Barua mentions him as the ruler of the city of Asika29, Banerji and Jayaswal mention it (in line 4 of the inscription) as the city of Musikas30 whereas Mitra mentions Tanasika and Princep, Sakanagara31. Yavana Raja is conjectured to be the Greek kind Demitrios. Barua maintains that there is no reference in the inscription to a Yavan Raja32. Banerji presumes that he was a young man at the end of the 3rd century B.C. and thus met Kharavela somewhere in the first half of the 2nd century B.C.33 Bahastimita is shown to be a ruler of the Sunga dynasty, reigning over Anga and Magadha, his identity corroborated from coins found in Kosambi and Ahichhatra as well as epigraphic references. 34As for the figure of the Nanda Raja, the one constantly mentioned in all translations, there was much confusion. For Barua, there was a debate

27 28

Epigraphica Indica, Vol XX, 1929-30 (Archaeological Survey of India, 1930). Ibid. 29 Benimadhab Barua, Old Brhm inscriptions in the Udayagiri and Khaagiri caves (University of Calcutta, 1929) 30 (Banerji, 1931). 31 (Mitra, 1880). 32 (Barua, 1929). 33 (Banerji, 1931). 34 Ibid.


over whether the inscription said he preceded Kharavel by 103 or 300 years35, while Jayaswal is confused between 113 and 1300 years36. Most popularly he was accepted to be Mahapadmananda. However, B.C. Mazumdar pointed out that Chandragupta was also referred to in textual tradition as Nandendu37, which later led Barua and K.C. Panigrahi to identify Nanda Raja with Ashoka38. While Princep and Mitra claim that line 14 of the inscription mentions Kharavelas marriage to the daughter of a hill-king39, Jayaswal and Banerji claim that in that year he takes up religion and realises the relation of the body and the soul40. Banerji we must remember was patronised by various royal families of Orissa at a time when the struggle for a linguistic identity for Oriya as a language separate from Bengal was going on, and had hence a considerable role to play in glorifying the traditions of his patrons41. Banerji refers to him as a king of religion and a king of monks. In fact, it can be noted that Kharavelas biography, as it is presented by Banerji, is strongly derived from Jain ideas of ideal kingship as are embodied in the story of Bahubali, who was a great king but had to go to war in order to stop the greedy expansionist advances of his brother Bharat. After Bahubali defeats Bharat, he renounces kingship and, by penance, attains enlightenment42.


(Barua, 1929).

36 37

(Jayaswal, 1930). B.C. Mazumdar, Orissa in the Making (University of Calcutta, 1925). 38 (Barua, 1929). 39 (Mitra, 1880). 40 (Jayaswal, Banerji; 1929-30). 41 For a more detailed discussion on this theme please look at Chapter two : Recoviering Orissa: Architecture, Archaeology and the production of Regional Histories, of Sraman Mukherjees thesis: Unearthing the Pasts of Bengal Bihar and Orissa: Archaeology, Museums and History Writing in the Making of Ancient Eastern India, 1862-1936, ( Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Calcutta 2010) 42 Paul Dundas, The Jains (London, Routledge, 1992).


For Banerji, Kharvela initially is a brave warrior king who sets right the wrong suffered by Kalinga because of the defeat of the kingdom in the hands of Ashoka and the Magadhian army. Thus, in Banerjis translation, Kharvela defeats Magadha and makes the ruler Bahastimita bow at his feet - finally, by bringing back the Kalinga Jina, he restores Kalingas lost pride and glory and re-establishes dharma. Later, towards the end of his career, Banerji analyses that Kharavela understood the relationship between the soul and the body, received deeper spiritual knowledge and renounced his kingship43. Banerji also attempts to directly link Udayagiri hill with Mahavira, claiming that Kharavela distributed white cloth to monks on Kumari hill where Mahavira had preached religion, despite there being no evidence whatsoever that Mahavira actually ever visited the site44. He also claims that it is in this sacred site that Kharvela facilitated a compilation of the Angas, the sacred canon of the Jains. Banerji also tries to restore to Kharavela a historical lineage, arguing that his title Aira could be translated as Aida or Aila, meaning the sons of Ila, also speculating hat some form of matriarchy was prevalent among his predecessors.45. Writing around the same time, Beni Madhab Barua takes a strong set of counter positions in his book, Old Brahmi inscriptions in the Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves. He sets out to re-interpret the inscription and establishes ten corrections46 over previous interpretations, with the following among them
43 44

No reference to a Greek king Dimita/ Demitrios retreating.

(Jayaswal, Banerji; 1929-30). (Banerji, 1931). 45 Ibid. 46 Benimadhab Barua, Old Brhm inscriptions in the Udayagiri and Khaagiri caves (University of Calcutta, 1929)


No statement regarding Pithunda being ploughed by asses No reference to league of Tamil powers. No mention of Maurya era. No mention of Nanda era

Barua pays special attention to the personal history of Kharavela, who he says was a Jain but not in the same sense that Ashoka was a Buddhist. For Barua, Kharavela was not a king who took his religion seriously. While Kharavela pursued a policy of tolerance towards all, he did not, rather could not, set up a monastic-bureaucratic framework of governance and public service like Ashoka did 47. Attempting to relegate Kharavela to a position of a provincial figure in ancient Indian history, compared to the national and world-wide stature of monarchs like Ashoka or Akbar,48 he also shown to be lacking in the kind of independent and innovative ideas on religion that made for the greatness of Ashoka or Akbar . For Barua, Kharavela was at best a provincial precursor of Samudragupta in war and valour, and of other imperial Gupta rulers in his patronage of the arts. By looking at refrences of Satakarni, Bahastimita and Nanda Raja, Barua maintains that Kharavela could not have been pre-Ashokan. Barua, in order to translate the inscription, uses as a standard Brahmi alphabets written in scarlet colour in Khandagiris Tatowa Gumpha, which he claims is the alphabet written over and over in six lines. However, the
47 48

(Barua, 1929). One way of looking at the Nationalist preference of rulers like Ashoka and Akbar is cartographic, that is the stretch of land they ruled was seen by the Nationalist historians to anticipate the body of the modern Nation.


problem with his work is that the standard he chooses is itself problematic - the letters are not uniform, some letters have character features of the alphabet of the Maurya inscription, there are 33 letters instead of the required 41 consonants, and finally the last line of this epigraph remains undeciphered even by Barua 49. Epigraphic scholarship had to constantly contend with multiple layers of uncertainty. The first uncertainty related to the physical highly eroded state of the Hathi Gumpha inscription, where a misreading or faulty identification of even one or two letters could radically alter an entire sentence and its meaning. For example the lower storey of the Manchapuri cave contains the inscription This is the cave of the clever, the king, Master of Kalinga, whose vehicle is the great cloud, Kudepasiri where some scholars have read Kudepasiri as Vakradeva. In the Bagh Gumpha, Princep reads the inscription as of the fierce anti-Vedist50 and Jayaswal as The cave of the town judge Sabuti51. The other layer of uncertainty is the alphabet used, as scripts often tend to be fluid and do not conform to notions of fixed periods or rules of historical palaeography. It has been observed in case of the Hathi Gumpha inscription the script may contain letters from more than one tradition. Another major problem with epigraphic analysis of ancient inscriptions is the problem of transliteration. The epigraphist can only translate the inscription after considering it as prose, as an informative notice. However prose writing in the ancient Indian tradtion is unknown - every writing and every utterance was subjected to the laws of Kavya or poetics. One major obstacle in transliterating classical or ancient texts is the problem of shlesh alankar, by which the same word or sentence can
49 50 51

(Barua, 1929). (Mitra, 1880). (Jayaswal, Banerji; 1929-30).


mean different things in subsequent readings. For example we can look at R.D. Banerjis transliteration of Tatwa Gumpha No. IIs inscription, which he reads as The cave of ............ Kusumna, the servant ( or inhabitant) or Padamulika52. Whereas Banerji tends to use Padamulika as a proper noun, there is a strong possibility that it is an adjective, one who is just as the dust on the sole of the great one an equivalent in modern Bangla would be charanodasi. Thus there are two distinct strands in the writing of this period, where scholarship focuses mainly around epigraphic evidence. One is the that of regional nationalism where the impulse is to either locate Kharavela as prior to Ashoka, and where that cannot be done, Kharavela is shown to have undone the military wrongs suffered by Kalinga at the hands of Magadhan army, and thereby qualify for recognition as a more religious king than Ashoka. That Kharavela was a Jain is stressed in this scholarship in order to counter Ashokas Buddhism, and also to compensate for the tantric phase of Buddhism that blooms in the medieval period, which was seen by 19th 20th century historians as an embarrassing sign of civilizational decline. The other strand comprises the work of nationalist scholars such as B.M, Barua who saw the history of Orissa and Kharavela as an appended to the larger history of India, where figures like Ashoka and Akbar could figure as the only major protagonists because their empires corresponded with the geographical extent of the nation. In this body of writing, figures like Kharavela were only provincial and subservient to internationally renowned heroes such as Ashoka.


(Jayaswal, Banerji; 1929-30).


Textual Sources, Debala Mitra, Archaeology and the Jain Authentication of the Site

In this phase, further scholarship proceeds by unproblematically accepting Banerjis account of the site and buttressing it with references to Jain and Hindu religious or Shilpashastra texts. In this regard, I am mainly looking at two recent writers N.K. Sahu and R.P. Mahapatra, both of whom publish their books in 1984 53. Even though there are subtle differences in their positions, both of them try and argue for a trans-historical Jain claim over the site and even go so far as to argue that Jainism was popular in religion even before the Nanda conquest of Orissa. But Sahu and Mahapatras writings were made possible only by Debala Mitras excavation at the site and associated writings in the 1960s. The trend of using textual sources to buttress ones arguments does not begin with Debala Mitra or Sahu or Mahapatra; Barua, for example, in order to date Kharavela, had drawn heavily and rather uncritically from Pauranic genealogies. From Bhavishya Purana he gathers that seven Kosala kings of Meghavahana dynasty and seven kings of Andhrabhrata ruled as contemporaries. Barua stretches his source for his purposes to make the proposition that each king of a dynasty ruled at the same time as a corresponding king of the other. Since Andhrabhrata Satakarni was the sixth, Barua places Kharavela as the sixth king of his dynasty as well. To deal with the incongruities, he comes up with a farfetched theory of dual kingship, where two Chedi kings, a father


The significance of the period in which these works are published becomes more evident in light of the discussion in the second chapter regarding the controversy over Barabhuji Gumpha.


and son would rule in conjunction. By this he also seeks to explain the fact that Kharavelas son Kadampa Kudepa shares the same titles as him54. It was during the 1960s that Debala Mitra conducts an excavation at the site, and publishes what remains to date one of the most authoritative archaeological account of Udayagiri-Khandagiri. In the excavation, a ramp leading to Hathi Gumpha was uncovered and the foundation stones of an apsidal structure were uncoverd on Udayagiri, on Khandagiri hill remnants of several structural edifices were discovered, some of which may still be seen lying around in the unfrequented areas of the hill. While the remnants on Khandagiri indicated medieval architectural activity on Khandagiri the excavations on Udayagiri were for un-problematically dated to the ancient period55. The apsidal hall was conjectured to be the many pillared hall that the inscription mentions Kharavela as having made at the site to house the recovered Kalinga Jina56. Debala Mitras scholarship in many ways maked the beginning of the third period of scholarship around the site. She is keen to recover a Jain ancient past of the site, and create cross connections between the inscription and the material remains to this particular effect; something on which Sahu and Mahapatra later picked up on. Epigraphically, Indrajis reading of Kharavela as Jain, based on the opening invocation and (contestable) mention of the Kalinga Jina, is never challenged. Rajendra Lal Mitras strong objections to such a nomenclature were never substantially refuted, rather later

54 55

(Barua, 1929). Debala Mitra, Udayagiri & Khandagiri, ( New Delhi, Director General Archaeological Survey of India, 1960). 56 Even though the excavated structure does not match up to the descriptions of the structure mentioned in the inscription. Another reading of the structure can be made, it could equally well demonstrate a medieval Buddhist presence at the site.


scholars chose to ignore them altogether57. Debala Mitra sticks to imagining Kharavela as a Jain and as an eclectic who honoured all religions58. Sticking to the essentials of Banerjis narration she recreates Kharavela as a just and righteous Jain king. As regards the architechture, she contrasts them to the Buddhist caves of western India to underline their difference in form and function, attributing their small size and bare functionality to the extreme asceticism of Jains. Several objections can be raised to this first, that the Buddhist caves of Western India were constructed centuries after Udayagiri and Khandagiri and hence mark a different phase altogether; second, that there are also some Jain caves among Buddhist caves in western India and they appear to be made on similar formats. Most importantly, she ignores the fact that Khandagiri-Udayagiri is a small hill and does not have large monolithic rocks from which caves as monumental as those of western India couldn be carved. That the rocks are small also explains the fact of the low height and austere appearance of the caves and not because of the rigours of the Jain ascetic life as Debala Mitra would have us believe. Assuming that the caves were made in the 2nd century B.C., it is not possible that the larger caves such as Rani or Ananta Gumphas functioned as monasteries because in that period monks were under strict sectarian instructions to constantly travel and only seek shelter during the rainy seasons, in which case, established Jain monasteries could not have functioned. In fact, monastic architecture mostly only appears after the 5th century A.D. Regarding the religion of the site, she acknowledges that, looking at the early phase of activity at the site, it is evident

Rajendra Lal Mitra was rather critical of the Jain presence at the site. He accused them of quarrying stone from the caves to build the temple, also held them and the Muslims responsible for any Buddhist figural imagery that might have existed there. Most importantly he brought Pt. Indrajis nomenclature into doubt, he claimed that the opening invocation of Namo Arihantanam, Namo Siddhanam was not exclusively Jain. Buddha himself was referred to as the great Jina. 58 (Mitra, 1960).


that the early phase was an aniconic one, which would make the identification of the Kalinga Jina as an image of a Thirthakara difficult. She goes on thereafter to speculate that the Kalinga Jina was a symbol and not a figure59. Here, another writer must be mentioned in this regard, Nilakantha Dash was of the opinion that the Kalinga Jina was actually Nilamadhava, the proto-Jagannatha, who is also the presiding deity of the main functioning temple in present day Orissa. According to this account, the Jain image was transformed into Nila (black/ dark)-Ma (mother)- Dhava (white/light/creation) by the Sunyavadi Buddhists, which was later then transformed into Jagannatha60. Debala Mitra utilises Rajendralal Mitras approach that the sculpted friezes in their details could reveal much about the social life of that period. For him, the relief depictions of clothing, hair and ornament had appeared like a photographic visual record of historic societies. Debala Mitra picks up on this approach of reading sculpture as documents of ancient social life and customs, an approach that is taken to its extreme by N.K. Sahu, one of the few Oriya writer to write about the site. Sahu in his book, Kharavela, presents a lengthy account of Kharavelas biography, personal history and ancestry. He literally converts each line from the inscription into a chapter of his book. He presents accounts of dresses and jewellery in vogue at that time, deriving details from the sculptural reliefs. He also talks about military strategies and weapons, Kharavelas military career, his religious views, and social and historical conditions at the time. Giving an account of musical instrument and dance, he goes so far as to write an entire chapter on Kharavela, celebrating him as the pioneering Dramaturgist King, as there is mention of him learning gandhava vidya as a prince and because music and dance is
59 60

Ibid. (Mahapatra, 1984).


mentioned in the celebrations he organised for his subjects61. The entire content of these chapters starts from a reference to the inscription or the site and then goes into a discussion of Shastric texts, the Natyashastra in this case. In order to rescue Kharavela from his status as a provincial king who did not take religion as seriously as Ashoka did, Sahu argues that Kharavela was a devout Jain who followed the precepts of Jainism for the lay-community, and did not practice Ahimsa or poverty. For Sahu, Ashoka and Kharavela could be seen to exhibit two very different kinds of religious toleration. He argues that Ashoka was against music and celebrations whereas Kharavela was an avid patron of the performing arts; for him, it is precisely in his cultural activities and patronage of the arts that Kharavela surpassed Ashoka as a ruler. Also he says that while Ashokas military campaigns were of an imperialist nature, Kharavelas military career was propelled by the notion of the Dharma Vijaya62. Sahu and Mahapatra both end up also presenting a detailed account of post-Chaitanya ascetic activity at the site which is mostly Bhakti or Sahajiya, and also enlist the important saints and texts associated with the site. While their overall aim was to prove a continuous Jain presence, this material obviously sits uneasily within their larger narration. However this is the first time that this aspect of the sites history receives any attention at all in historical accounts. Debala Mitra, Sahu and Mahapatra are distinct because they examined the Jain textual tradition to find any reference of KhandagiriUdayagiri. The problem was raised initially by Banerji who tried to like Mahavira with the site63. Debala Mitra clearly states that no where in the Jain tradition is there a mention

61 62 63

N.K. Sahu, Kharavela (Bhubaneshvar, Orissa State Museum, 1984) Ibid. (Banerji, 1931).


of Mahavira visiting a Kumar-Kumari Parvat (Khandagiri-Udayagiri)64. Mahapatra however names at least two sources which claim that Mahavira visited Orissa, however he too is unable to actually connect Mahavira to Khandagiri-Udayagiri65. Mahapatra deserves mention as the only historian in this list who is completely dedicated to the cause of the Jain history of Orissa. His Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves (1981), apart from the usual formalities of talking about the inscription and the architecture, goes on to engage with the medieval phase of construction and icon-making at the site. He enlists each Tirthanker within each cave, presenting detailed sketches of iconography, ornaments, clothing, reliefs, pillars, depicted characters, musical instruments and jewellery66.In his next work, Jain Monuments of Orissa (1984), he tries to trace the historic roots of Jainism in Orissa, he attempts to trace it to the ancient period, but all material sculptural evidence of Jainism in Orissa begins only from the 9th century A.D. onwards. However, he argues that Kalinga was Jain from the time before its conquest by the Nandas or by Ashoka, and that Jainism was already popular when Kharavela was born67. From Jain textual sources he digs up a reference of a pre-Mahavira king of Kalinga called Karakandu who has been described as a Rajasri, an ascetic king, who gave up the throne to lead the life of a Sramana. He assumes that the religion continued with the invasion of the Nandas who were also Jain. Seeing the glory of a Jain Kalinga, Ashoka had to attack and annex it; soon after Ashokas death, however, Kalinga regains its freedom and Kharavela is thus then born a Jain. The Kalinga Jina he argues was

64 65

(Mitra, 1960). R.P. Mahapatra, Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves (D.K. Publications, 1981). 66 R.P. Mahapatra, Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves (D.K. Publications, 1981). 67 R.P. Mahapatra, Jaina Monuments of Orissa (D.K. Publications, 1984).


Rishabhnatha, going by the flimsy evidence that he figures prominently in the medieval sculptures of Khandagiri68. Mahapatra then tries to show through a series of conjectures, referring to inscriptional, numismatic and textual evidence, that Jainsim co-existed with Buddhism during the medieval period. He claims that the 7th century Chinese traveller Xuan Xang mentions many Tirthankara images; however it is unclear if Xuan Xang is also not counting Buddha images as Tirthankara images, because the list he presents has both Brahmanical deities and Tirthankaras. He also tries to show the presence of Jain culture in Orissa since antiquity by pointing out various social and religious practices which he claimed originated from the Jains like vegetarianism, or several dates and rituals associated with Jagannatha69. The problem with Mahapatras scholarship was that it could never support its claims with adequate and authenticate scholarly evidence. Mostly, he would state one thing and go on to draw contrary conclusions in the next line. This is especially evident when he attempts to make a case for ancient Khandagiri-Udayagiri being an exclusively Jain site. To sum up, this section of the chapter has tried to chart the kinds of debates and scholarly interpretations that have surrounded Khandagiri-Udayagiri since the inception of archaeology in India. It has worked at demonstrating how, through various phases of its emerging scholarship, the site came to be imbued with different historical meanings, but almost always at the cost of either suppressing some kinds of evidence or making arguments on the basis on inadequate evidence. In other cases, it has shown how the methodical procedures and protocols of a discipline like epigraphy left scope for
68 69

Ibid. Ibid.


imaginative interpretation or manipulation of the prime evidence of the Hati Gumpha inscriptions. The site of Khandagiri Udayagiri, by virtue of its antiquity and historical value, thus become pivotal to clashes of colonial, national and regional scholarship, each of which stake their commitment to scientificity and the demands of evidence. It will be my argument, in the remaining part of the thesis, that despite these labours and authority of disciplinary scholarship, they fail in the end to encompass or determine the full truth of the site of Khandagiri-Udayagiri.

An Alternate History of occupation:

In this final section of the chapter, in an anticipation of the chapter that will follow, I shall lay out the histories of the occupation of the site, as much as can be reconstructed through surviving historical evidence, from the ancient to the early modern period. One purpose of laying down a linear, but broken narrative, is perhaps to counter the conclusion which Debala Mitra and R.P. Mahapatra draw almost in the same words as each other, but separated by about two and a half decades : It is thus evident that the Jain occupation of the hill was continuous if with occasional breaks, from even before the time of Kharavela down to the present day70. The counter narrative which I present here does not do away with the Jain presence, which would be impossible to do, Rather, it reexamines the obscure or weak points in the Jain narrative of the site, to tease out the presence and activity of various other sects and religions at various points of time, making the history of the site much more complex and multi-textured.


. Debala Mitra, Udayagiri and Khandagiri (Published by the Director General Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi, Third Edition 1992) Pg 7.


In the earliest phase which debatably began from somewhere in between 4th century B.C. and 1st century A.D. and lasted till at least 8th to 10th century A.D. , not much is known about the inhabitants; at least in terms of sectarian affiliations there are no clear cut indubitable proofs that, the site belonged to either the Jains or the Buddhists. However, we can safely say, from the fact that the earliest phase is an aniconic phase that it was probably a nirgrantha centre, that is to say that it could have been either of the Jains or Buddhists or Ajivikas, or all three inhabiting at once. But of this period, no iconic imagery survives, apart from relief depictions on the cave facades of tree worship, stupa worship and images of Gajalaxmi. The fact that these images may be associated with either of these sects points to the fact that sectarian division was not as clear cut and well defined as it is now assumed to be, and that these sects also possibly drew on a shared pool of beliefs and ritual, not to mention imagery. Regardless of the fact that these schools emerged in opposition to Brahmanic ritual, for any of these sects, ritual proved indispensible in order to keep the lay community ( and almost as often the ascetic community) together. It should also be noted that this is the period of time when Buddhist Tantrism is flourishing in the nearby sites of Lalitgiri, Udayagiri and Ratnagiri, and that it is inevitable that religious practice at Khandagiri-Udayagiri would have been influenced by it in some measure or the other. 9th century A.D. is also the broad period ascribed to the construction of the Hirapur Chaushatti Yogini temple, which again is only about 15 kilometres away from Khandagiri and is also the period when Bhubaneshvar itself was becoming a strong Shaiva Tantric centre. It is then obvious that these sites were in contact with each other and also that they probably informed and influenced each others doctrines.


From the 9th to the 11th century A.D. is the high point of Jainism in Orissa; as is made evident from the material remains. All Jain images housed in the Orissa state museum are dated to this period although, it should be emphasised that this is in no way a postulation of the date of arrival of Jainism in Orissa. Mahapadma Nanda, who according to literary tradition is said to have conquered Orissa, is also believed by several historians on the basis of the interpretation of the Hathi Gumpha inscription, to be Jain (The Nandas are anyway considered to be Jain). Inscriptions in the Lalatendu Kesari cave and Navamuni cave inform us that all Jain iconic imagery of Tirthankaras and Sasana Devis was installed after 1047 A.D. during the reign of king Uddyotakesari Deva. R.P. Mahapatra claims that the Mahavira Gumpha was carved prior to 15th century but thebasis of his dating remains unclear, with little proof, as he admits, of any kind of monastic occupation of the site 71. The Jain material evidence from this period, on the one hand, indubitably confirms Jain presence at the site ( at least during the medieval period), and, on the other, brings forth some rather pertinent questions. While it is true that the site contains imagery that is Digambar, to what extent does the Digambar practice here during the 11th century coincide with and differ from what is currently understood as Digambar religion? In that period what was the function and purpose of this site within the larger configuration of Jain institutions? This requires a much more careful and informed analysis of the iconic Jain imagery at the site than has been already done. For example: the Navamuni Gumpha has images of Rishabhanatha, Ajitanatha, Sambhavanatha, Abhinandananatha and Neminatha; below them are images of Chakreshvari, Rohini, Prajnapti, Vajrasrnkhala,


R.P. Mahapatra, Jain Monuments of Orissa (D.K. Publications, Delhi, 1984).


Gandhari, Padmavati and Ambika. While the yakshis depicted are the most important female deities in the Jain pantheon, the male Tirthankaras are not the ones usually singled out for cultic devotion. Conspicuous by their absence are Mahavira and Shantinatha72. Another important point is the status of the female deities. In modern day Jain imagery, Sasana Devis are usually made as supporting background figures flanking the two sides of a Tirthankara image (as can also be seen in the 20th century image of Rishabhanath installed in the Khandagiri temple). Even though the female deities are depicted below them, these figures, by virtue of being depicted in equal size, and in the case of Lalatendu Kesari cave on an equal plane, show the Devis to be more autonomous and not merely assisting figures. They rather seem to be hinting at the Sankhyan pairing of the male- female principles that permeates all systems of Tantrism. While it is generally understood that Sankhya, Buddhism, Jainism and Vedanta were different philosophical schools, it should be noted that Sadhana or esoteric practice which is essentially what the practice of religion is, is based on similar (if not the same) principles in all these systems, all of them acknowledging the duality of the male and female principles within the body. Jainism, it should be noted, is the only Indian religion that has a right-handed Tantric practice but does not have a left-handed tradition73. In such a situation then, the question of the nature of influence of the surrounding leftist (Vam-margi) traditions (Buddhist, Shaiva and Yogini) on the Jain practice at Khandagiri- Udayagiri cannot be ignored. By the 16th century we begin to have written accounts of the site in the Bhakti literature , now known by the name of Khandagiri Udaygiri instead of Kumar and Kumari Parvat. In this period, the main source for information about Khandagiri are the writings of the

John Cort, Mediveal Jain Goddess Tradition ( Numen, Vol. 34, Fasc. 2 ,Dec. 1987) Ibid.


Pancha-Sakhas, the famous proponents of Vaishnav Sahajiya Bhakti who rose to prominence after the arrival of Sri Chaitanya in Orissa. Achyutananda Dasa, for one, makes multiple references to Khandagiri in his writings, He describes it as an important Buddhist centre, at a time when Sahajiya Buddhism was rapidly transforming into Sahajiya Vaishnavism, this also being the time of the persecution of the Buddhists by Raja Pratap Rudra Deo. The Panchasakhas were notable for incorporating Buddhist ideas and practices into the Vaishnava canon. Achyutananda also mentions that KhandagiriUdayagiri comprised of 750 caves 74, a number which was corroborated by other late medieval writers such as Arakhit Dasa. According to R.P. Mahapatra, during the 18th and 19th centuries, Khandagiri was inhabited by several notable ascetics such as Haridasa, Arakhit Dasa, Ananta Dasa, Sidha Baranga Dasa, Mahima Gosain (a.ka. Dhaulia gosain) and Phalahari baba75. It would be important to underline the fact that these ascetics did not represent any one particular school or sect, even as they posed their religious practices as a counter-thesis to high Brahmanical religion. Arakhita Dasa famously flouted all norms of pollution and purity and propounded a non-dualistic, iconoclastic notion of religion. According to Sahu, from 1826 to 1838, Mahima Gosain, the founder of Mahima Dharma practiced Samadhi-yoga at Khandagiri76. This sect gained a large following amidst the lower castes , sufficiently so as to be perceived as a threat by the regional Brahmin orthodoxy; this sect too, was founded on non-dualistic principles and shunned idol worship. In contrast to these iconoclastic tendencies at Khandagiri; again in the 19th century was Phalahari Baba, the identity of whom has not been properly established, once resided in the caves and
74 75 76

As claimed by various sadhus. R.P. Mahapatra, Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves, (D.K. Publications, Delhi 1981) N.K. Sahu, Kharavela, ( Orissa State Museum, Bhubaneshwar, 1984)


worshipped the images of Ananta, Kisori and Vasudeva. He arranged car festivals for these deities every year till his death77. Among others, two important late-medieval early-modern Bhakti tracts that were composed here are Brahma Kundali by Baranga Das and Mahimandala Gita by Arakhita Das78. Even now, in the mela held at Khandagiri during the 7th day of the month of Magh, a car carries an image called Ananta Kesari from a temple in Jagmara village to Khandagiri in order to inaugurate the festival. What is noteable is that Ananta Kesari stays actually as a guest in the Jagmara temple which is actually dedicated to Raghunath. The point which I wish to stress here is that, at least around till the first half of the nineteenth century (till the arrival of archaeological activity that is), Khandagiri-Udayagiri was not merely a site of devotional practices but was also functioned as something akin to what we now would call an intellectual centre, in the sense that it was a site where several important doctrinal texts were written, where important debates regarding religion and social justice were being taken up and several movements critiquing Brahmanic religion and caste society were developed or are associated with this place. The period from 16th century to the beginning of the 19th saw political turmoil in Orissa and the breaking up of earlier political-geographical formations, the Ganga dynasty was wiped out and was followed by the Afgans, the Mughals and later the Marathas. According to Rath and Patnaik , The Marathas encouraged pilgrimage to Orissa from other parts of India, particularly in view of the growing fame of the temple of Jagannath, making pilgrim taxes a good source of their income. Extra attention was paid to uphold


R.P. Mahapatra, Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves, (D.K. Publications, Delhi 1981) N.K. Sahu, Kharavela, ( Orissa State Museum, Bhubaneshwar, 1984)



the sanctity of religious sites and shrines. Grants were allotted for the repair of temples79. This, it should be noted, was not limited to assisting only Hindu shrines, with many cases of Marathas paying financial help to Muslim shrines as well. The Jain temple on Khandagiri was constructed a decade or so before the British come to power in Orissa, so we can reasonably conjecture that it came up against the background of Maratha aid to religious sites and policies of taxation, and that its construction was informed by the sectarian urge to protect ones relics from the oncoming waves of British antiquarians, collectors and plunderers.

In this chapter I have tried to look at Historical- Archaeological scholarship around the site of Khandagiri and Udayagiri, through which I have tried to see how the site was represented and appropriated by various historical imaginings. Combining the contradictions which the various narratives present for each other I have tried to construct a counter narrative, not one which seeks to arrive at any finality as to the history of the site, but only one that makes the popularly accepted historical narrative uncomfortable. I have tried to sketch out the vast period from the ancient, pre-Christian history of the site to the modern period, till the arrival of the British. The British came to power in the beginning of the 19th century in Orissa. Along with them came explorers and antiquarians, creating a fresh interest in objects of history culture and art. In the second-half of the 19th century figures like Fergusson and Cunningham bring about Archaeological practice in India and J.D. Beglar arrives in

Rath and Patnaik, Orissa: History, Art and Culture (Sundeep Prakashan, New Delhi, 2008)


Orissa to conduct his surveys in 1875. The arrival of Archaeology marks a new chapter in the story of occupation and performance at Khandagiri-Udayagiri; thus this shall be dealt with in my next chapter.


Chapter 2: Khandagiri and Udayagiri: Inhabitations, Contestations and Touristic Performance

In this chapter, the main concern is with the production of space at the site by the discursive practices of administration, archaeology and tourism. The first section focuses on archaeology and on a series of contestations over rights of inhabitation of the site between archaeological authorities and different religious sects who staked their parallel, competing claims over spaces and structures within and outside the boundaries of archaeological jurisdiction at the site. The second section looks at the evolving practices of tourism, on its construction of spaces and on the kinds of performances of sightseeing, touring, pilgrimage or worship that are enacted at Khandagiri-Udayagiri.


Arrival of Archaeology
Archaeology and archaeologists arrive in Orissa, following a period of political instability; which lasted from from the 16th century to the beginning of the 19th century during which the of Orissa passed from the Ganga dynasty to the Afghans, next to the Mughals and then to the Marathas who were ousted from power finally with the rise to power of the British within the region in 1803. Given its geographical location and dense forests, Orissa had till this time, for the most part remained wild and scarcely explored. Khandagiri and Udayagiri were first brought to notice in the writings of A. Sterling in 1825, which constitute the first non-missionary colonial writing on Orissa80. He mentions that Bagh Gumpha was occupied by a Vaishnava ascetic and the Jain temple was consecrated to Parsavanath. Mention is also of several small, finely carved Jaina sculptures scattered in the Deva Sabha on Khandagiri. After Sterlings exploration, it was James Fergusson who visited the site in 1836 and, writing about it, he mentions that several fakirs were living in the caves and would not let him examine the caves they had occupied, and that they were ruining the caves by living and cooking inside them81. The Archaeological Survey of India reached the site only during around 1874-76 following which the site is briefly described by J.D. Beglar in the 13th volume of the A.S.Is reports82. Long before that the site had assumed its importance on the grounds of its ancient inscription in the Hathi Gumpha, which had been first copied by the explorer, Lt. Markham Kittoe in 1837-38 and translated by James Princep and it is this inscription, its sheer antiquity and volume, which more than anything else ensured that


Andrew Sterling, Orissa: Its Geography, Statistics, History, Religion and Antiquities ( John Snow, London, 1846) 81 James Fergusson, Cave temples of India, (Allen, London, 1880) 82 J.D. Beglar, Archaeological Survey of India Reports, Volume XIII (1874-75, 1875-76), (Archaeological Survey of India, Calcutta, 1876)


the site, in times to come, would never be devoid of attention from archaeologists, historians or epigraphists. Princep was followed by Babu Rajendralala Mitra, who along with H.H. Locke, Principal, Government School of Art, Calcutta and a team of art school students, conducted a thorough scholarly survey and painstaking visual documentation (though drawings, plaster casts and photographs) of the twin mountain site, alongside the temples of Bhubaneshwar, in an encyclopaedic two-volume work, titled The Antiquities of Orissa, that was produced for a government commission. Writing in about the 7th decade of the 19th century Mitra says that the Jain temple at Khandagitri was a recent construction, made about 80 years prior to his date of writing. This temple, he says, was in the charge of a Brahman from Bhubaneshwar, whos main task was to keep the temple clean, and had to perform only minimal priestly functions83. He mentions the existence of a small thatched government bungalow at the base of Khandagiri and a Bairagi Math as well. He also claims that the caves were often visited by bears and tigers, showing that the caves were in the jungle away from human habitation. As is obvious, by this period, the site had come to the attention of government and was being brought within the custodial authority and possession of the newly establishes Archaeological Survey of India (A.S.I) As early as in March 1856, the Secretary to Goverment of Bengal wrote in a letter to Commissioner of Orissa, requesting him to take steps to protect the caves in the Udayagiri hill84. Receiving instructions from ASI chief Samuells, Executive Engineer Lt. Dixon cleared up the sculptured friezes and statues of Udayagiri Hill and repaired as far as possible the steps and paths of communication between the caves. From a letter from G.F Cockburn to Government of Bengal, dated 8th
83 84

Rajendralala Mitra, Antiquities of Orissa, Vol-2, ( Wyman and Co., 1875) R.P. Mahapatra, Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves, (D.K. Publications, Delhi 1981)


march 1895, we see that the mendicants were prohibited by the Magistrate of Puri from sleeping and cooking at the place, and that, at the Magistrates order, they were evacuated and dispatched to Puri85. From the annual report of the Archaeological Survey of India, Bengal Circle, for the year 1901-1902, prepared by Theodor Bloch, the Surveyor for the Bengal circle, we find that in that particular year the carvings in the Rani, Ganesh, Anant and NavaMuni Gumphas were cleaned, and that the elephants outside Ganesh Gumpha were put upright. A shade was installed over the Hathi Gumpha inscription in a bid to protect it, which according to Bloch had suffered badly from the effects of sun and rain. Significantly, during the same phases of archaeological activities at the site, a modern temple close to Nava Muni Gumpha was pulled down as it had become unsafe. Bloch remarks that the building was of no interest, and its destruction is absolutely no loss86. Sraman Mukherjee, in his Ph.D thesis, entitled, Unearthing the Pasts of Bengal Bihar and Orissa: Archaeology, Museums and History Writing in the Making of Ancient Eastern India, 1862-1936 (Department of History, Calcutta University, 2009) , talks about how both the emerging disciplines of Indian Architecture and Indian Archaeology used Orissa as a launching pad, because the sculpture and architecture there were considered purely Hindu, relatively uncontaminated by Islamic influence. Regarding the emergence of these disciplines he says : The three points of tension the uneasy lingering of the picturesque lineage, the obstacles that the Western scholar had to face in studying the practising shrines from close quarters and the repulsion of the erotic sculptures

85 86

Ibid T. Bloch, Annual Report Archaeological Survey of India, Bengal circle, for the year 1901-1902


defined the very ways in which the Orissan temples would be represented 87. As almost all of the temples in Orissa that were of any historical value were living monuments , in the sense of their being in regular use and worship, hence access to them was denied to the British scholar. The three factors enlisted by Sraman Mukherjee determined accessibility and distance of what would and could be studied. While temples such as Jagannath and Lingaraj could not be entered, the European had to resort to abandoned temples such as the sun temple at Konarak; where the profuse erotic sculpture would assail the scholars delicate Christian sensibilities and Victorian moralities, leading them to either abhor their presence on a religious structure or to study and depict them from a safe distance. The thesis also argues - The de-peopling, and specifically the deritualisation of ancient temples were seen as desirable preconditions for the Western scholars to subject them to their modern regimes of knowledge productions 88. It is in this light that I will look at the eviction from the site of the ascetics in 1895. Khandagiri Udayagiri, It may be argued, became important for colonial archaeology not merely because of its historical value or because of the presence of the Hathi Gumpha inscription, but also because of the absence of any erotic imagery and the absence of popular devotion at the site. While it was populated by fakirs and bairagis the site was devoid of any Hindu worshipped image, and the holy men clearly, did not have as much of a following as the wooden idol of Jagannatha or the stone Linga of Lingaraja. They could be evicted with ease, as they did not have any organization or trust board representing them nor did they, presumably, have any documents of ownership of the site. While there was one temple on the site the Jain temple - that was a site of

Sraman Mukherjee, Unearthing the Pasts of Bengal Bihar and Orissa: Archaeology, Museums and History Writing in the Making of Ancient Eastern India, 1862-1936 , ( Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Calcutta 2010) Pg 127 88 Ibid. Pg 121


continuing, active worship, it did not pose much of a obstacle to archaeological authorities. Khandagiri was itself away from the main city located in the jungle, and the Jain temple was not one that was very active, except of course at the time of the annual festival. Most importantly, there was not any significant number of Jains there, and more importantly no Jains who were living on site in the caves. The Hindu Bairagis had a temple on Khandagiri to stake a claim on - a temple that was there was declared decrepit and demolished by the Surveyor, T. Bloch in 1902 . This state of affairs on site is corroborated by Sraman Mukherjees observation that in the List of Ancient Monuments in Bengal, published by the P. W. D. of the Bengal Government in 1896, the monuments of the Bengal Presidency were classified under three main heads: I. Those monuments which, from their present condition and historical or archaeological value, ought to be maintained in permanent good repair. II. Those monuments which it is now only possible or desirable to save from further decay by such minor measures as eradication of vegetation, the exclusion of water from the walls, and the like. III. Those monuments which, from their advanced stage of decay or comparative unimportance, it is impossible to preserve The monuments falling in the first two categories, which were only deemed worthy of preservation were further subdivided into two classes: I (a) and II (a). Monuments in possession or charge of Government or in respect of which Government must undertake the cost of all measures of conservation. I (b) and II (b). Monuments in possession or charge of private bodies or individuals. Among the major monuments of costal British Orissa only a few- the caves of Khandagiri


and Udayagiri - stood eligible to be classified under sections I (a) or II (a) 89 (emphasis added). Significantly the Jain temple at the top of Khandagiri was exempted because it was under private ownership and under worship; also because, being a very recent construction, it was of no archaeological or historical interest. It was during the Viceroyalty of Lord Curzon that the Ancient Monument Preservation Act was passed in 1904 allowing the government to appropriate the site and as much adjoining land as was required for access, fencing, covering, preservation and inspection of any building or structure of a permanent nature which the Local Government thinks it is desirable to preserve for historical or artistic reasons90. For the purpose of protection of ay archaeological monument and site, the Government was to be entitled to take up the land for public purpose under the Land Acquisition Act of 1894. Exempted from this were any buildings that were still in religious use and worship and any building under private ownership which could be protected by means of a joint agreement between the owners and government. Thus, at Khandagiri, the Jain temple was left alone, considering its low historic value and its ownership by a private body. This was also determined by the injunction to leave alone structures that were under worship - an injunction that later go a long way in deciding the nature of occupation and contestations over inhabitation at Khandagiri Udayagiri.

89 90

Ibid. Pg 305-306 Ibid. Pg 303


Recent history and controversy

After 1902 the archives are silent for some time, and it is not until Debala Mitras excavation in 1960 that there appeared to have been any major new archaeological activity at the site. By that time, the landscape of the site in particular and the city of Bhubaneshwar in general had begun to change at an increasing pace. With the shift of the capital from Cuttack to Bhubaneshver in 1948, there begins a newer period of archaeological activities in the sate of Orissa.. However this is also a period of a controversy which is particularly interesting for in it resurfaces the long and unresolved tension in the relationship of archaeology as a disciplinary and a governmental practice with the historic-monumental site that was steeped in multiple religious and sectarian affiliations. The controversy had to do mainly with the rights of occupation and worship regarding two caves on Khandagiri hill, the Barabhuji and Mahavir Gumphas. While the Mahavir Gumpha has relief images of Jain Tirthankaras and two small chlorite images, the Barabhuji Gumpha has relief images of the Tirthankaras as well as the Sasana Devis, including two large reliefs of twelve armed goddesses on either side of the entrance. At present these two caves are under Hindu occupation and the twelve armed goddesses are being worshipped as Durga and Kali. The matter was taken to court where some years ago judgement was passed in favour of the Jain community, following which, predictably the judgement was appealed in a higher court. The A.S.I., instead of pursuing the matter on secular grounds of preservation and custody over these caves, chose to throw in its lot with the Jain claimants. Thus, in this tale there are three main players: the Archaeological Survey of India, the Jain community ( Khandagiri and Udaygiri Digambar Jain committee) and the Hindus in the form of a collective of 12-15 committees of neighbouring villages, Jagmara and Dumduma to name two. Each group


has a different version of the ancient history of the site, which serve as legitimising narratives on which their claims over the site are based. Based on ethnographic interviews and pamphlets and tourist booklets, I attempt in this section to reproduce here a conflict which has been 50 odd years or so in the making. I shall one by one put forward the narratives of each group. Archaeologial Survey of India I begin with the A.S.I.s version of the sites history. As mentioned in the previous presentation, the archaeological identification of Khandagiri Udayagiri as a Jain site depended solely on epigraphic evidence obtained by translating Kharavelas inscription, where it begins with the salutation Namo Arihantanam, Namo Siddhanam , which is the opening line of the Jain Namokar-mantra. However, Rajendralal Mirta had questioned this identification, saying that both these terms had currency and operation within Buddhism as well91. It must also be noted that the Namokar is more of a general salutation to spiritual masters and contains no sectarian reference whatsoever, as is evinced by the last line of the Namokar which is Namo Loe Savva Sahnam ( translatable as I pay my respect to all the Sadhus. emphasis added) . While currently the term Namokar has a definite sectarian association, this translation of the salutation shows that the term had a freer circulation sometime in the past. While the A.S.I. declared Khandagiri-Udayagiri to be under its control from 1915 onwards, however it is only with Debala Mitras excavation (1958-61) that A.S.I begins its full-fledged activities on the site that have resulted in its current state. It is in this

Rajendralala Mitra, Antiquities of Orissa, Vol-2, ( Wyman and Co., 1875)


excavation that a ramp leading to Hathi Gumpha and the remains of an apsidal structure made from blocks of laterite stone on top of Udayagiri were uncovered. Debala Mitra, while saying that the medieval period was the time when structural temples were made on Khandagiri, going by remains and rubble found and attested by inscriptions, unproblematically dated the ramp and the apsidal structure of Udayagiri to the ancient period. The Apsidal shrine was linked to the many pillared hall that is mentioned in Kharavelas inscription. Debala Mitras A.S.I.guidebook has come to serve ever since as the official version of the sites ancient and medieval history92. The standard official, archaeologically authorised, history of the site can be briefly summarised thus. In it, Kharavela is seen as the third and most famous king of the Mahameghvahana dynasty, who earns glory by waging wars all over India, earns the respect of his people by constructing civil amenities, and who despite being an eclectic who honoured all sects and repaired the temples of all gods. Kharavela, Debala Mitras guide book underlines, was undoubtedly a Jain and espoused with great zeal the cause of his faith, which appeared to have been the state religion of Kalinga93. Kharavelas major contributions are said to be the retrieval of Kalinga Jina, the bringing of the Kalpa-taru sapling and the patronising of Jain ascetics by making caves for their use and inhabitation at Khandagiri. She however does acknowledge that, from a lack of iconic imagery belonging to the early period, it seems likely that image worship was not prevalent in the early period, making the identification of the so called Kalinga Jina with a Tirthankara unlikely94.

Debala Mitra, Udayagiri and Khandagiri (Published by the Director General Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi, Third Edition 1992) 93 Ibid. 94 Ibid.


After the decline of the Mahameghvahana dynasty, according to Debala Mitra, the religion continued to be strong in the region despite not enjoying royal patronage. During the period when Lakulisha- Pashupatas were displacing Buddhism from the region, this site was hardly affected. Under the Somavansi kings, the second phase of activity was carried out which can be seen today in the form of the iconic relief imagery on the Khandagiri caves. This continues till the time of the Gajapati rulers in the 15th century when, Debala Mitra claims, the images in cave 9 or the Mahavir Gumpha were carved95. The date is assigned on stylistic and not epigraphic basis, on the grounds of the crude style and execution of the reliefs. Unlike other medieval inscriptions found in renovated caves on Khandagiri, here there is no inscription, no mention of donor, student or spiritual master; hence no proof that ascetics were living here in the 15th century. From here, Debala Mitra jumps directly to 1825, to Sterlings mention of the Jain temple. Similarly, an A.S.I. leaflet meant to provide general information about the site to tourists says: These hills are honeycombed with excavated rock-cut caves, essentially meant for the dwelling retreats of Jain recluses...On the basis of inscriptional evidences, these caves were first excavated (during the first century B.C.) by king Kharavela of the Chedi dynasty and his successors who were also devout Jains. The Jaina occupation continued here with occasional breaks down to the present day. The Jaina temple on top of the Khandagiri hill, constructed in the late 19th century is under worship even at present, preserving the continuity and tradition of the glorious past of the hill96.

95 96

Ibid. Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves Bhubaneshwar, (Archaeological Survey of India, Bhubaneshwar Circle)


This shows that the A.S.I. is deeply invested in maintaining the fiction ( a word that must be used as long as sufficient evidence to the contrary remains unavailable) that the site is an exclusively Jain site and that the Jain tradition here has been continuous and unbroken. It suggests that the Jainism, as it is practised on the site now, is the same as it was when Uddyokta Kesari installed those images or when Kharavela first made the caves. Thereby it de-historicises Jainism.

Regarding the management of the site and the occupation of caves, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. H.A. Naik, the Deputy Superintendent Archaeologist, and Dr. Sushant Kumarkar, the Assistant Archaeologist of the Bhubaneshvar circle. They said that the job of the A.S.I. at the site and the changes it made were fairly minimal. It had to look after concerns of preservation and undertake activities like re-making broken or collapsed pillars in places where the structural integrity of the cave was threatened, and water tightening of caves to arrest seepage of rain water. There were also activities resultant of opening up the site to tourists such as regular cleaning and maintenance. The horticulture department took care of landscaping and making the site more visually appealing. The pathways were made and broadened to facilitate the smooth movement of the traffic of tourists, and informative signs and a translation of the all-important Hathi Gumpha inscription were installed. In 1996 the A.S.I. introduced tickets for Udayagiri hill and by 2002 fences were installed around both the hills. The Khandagiri hill, in striking contrast, was not a ticketed site, and its main entry gate was left unlocked at all times because, as the two archaeologists explained, it was a


matter of national policy that on any monument where religious activity was going on, that is, on a living monument, the A.S.I. did not ticket entry. The A.S.I officials said that while both the Barabhuji Devi temple and the Laltendukesari Ashram were recent developments, coming around or after 1960, it was not within their power to evict the Hindu encroachers as the A.S.I. could only serve notices which had to be implemented by the district authorities. Since the Hindu village committees enjoyed considerable political clout locally, it had proved impossible to evict them. Despite several attempts on the part of the A.S.I. to serve notices and to initiate action, the local authorities refused to take the required measures97. As the matter was sub-judicial, they refused to comment on the matter anymore. However they were very adamant in insisting that the caves were made for, and belong to, only Jain ascetics and devotees; that anyone else such as Arakhita Dasa or Hari Dasa living in the caves was only accidental, and that they did not belong to the actual history of the site. They also said that they did occasionally evict Sadhus who would occupy the caves, the last one being a Hindu ascetic called Naga Baba who was evicted in 2005. This last piece of information seemed doubtful to me, because I had first met Naga Baba on Khandagiri in 2005 and for the second time in 2007, and at both these times he was living in the Ashram at the bottom of Khandagiri (and not in a cave as the archaeologists claim). However, in this particular visit in 2011, there was no sign of Naga Baba and there seemed to be nobody living in that Ashram. As for Udayagiri, the A.S.I officials claimed that the site was always un-inhabited and that the A.S.I. did not have to evict any Sadhus in order to take control of the caves and the hill.


As both the Jain and Hindu interviewees as well as the A.S.I. official attested, local politicians would block any attempt to remove the Hindus from the cave. The local policemen too, being mostly Hindu largely backed the Hindu worship at Barabhuji cave.


Regarding the legal battle over Barabhuji Gumpha. the A.S.I. did not independently attempt to legally reclaim the cave. Rather, it backed the Jain claim to the cave and appeared in court supporting the Jains. Apart from this, the A.S.I. on site, in several subtle but straightforward gestures, have re-inscribed the monument as a particularly Jain site. In front of the Hathi Gumpha, on a small stone platform, it presents a translation of Kharavelas inscription. It is R.D. Banerjee and K.P. Jayaswals translation (published in Epigraphica Indica) which is, as is argued in the previous chapter, strongly influenced by Jain mythology and ethical values, and presents Kharavela as a Jain monk-king. Behind the installed translation is a large swastika, the Jain symbol par-excellence made by trimming a hedge. The A.S.I. making large reproductions of sectarian symbols using horticultural technology is unprecedented at least within the limits of my personal experience of A.S.I. controlled monuments. A large visible signification such as that clearly stresses the Jain history of the site. However, it is on the notice-board at the entrance, that the A.S.I most clearly articulates and drives dome its Jain identification of the site. It reads : The twin hills contain excavated rock cut caves called lena in the inscription and are essentially dwelling retreats of the Jaina ascetics....The depiction of the 24 Thirthankaras and their Sasanadevis in the Barabhuji cave, Gajalaxmi, Surya (?), Swastika and Nandipada symbol in Anant Gumpha in relief are noteworthy achievement in early Indian art. Apart from the glaring error whereby all medieval images were called achievements of early Indian art, what this notice does are two things - firstly, it states that the images are Jain and not Hindu; secondly, it claims the images not as products of Indian religion but as products of Indian Art; thereby relocating them in a modern secular discursive field.


To summarise, the A.S.I.s stance is a dual positioning, One stance is vis-a-vis the Hindus, where it claims the site to be exclusively Jain, supported by a particularly befuddling claim of a continuous tradition with occasional breaks98; the other positioning is against the Jain claim over the site where it re-locates the antiquities (architectural or sculptural) from a religious to an art historic discourse. As Neil Asher Silberman says in his book, Promised Lands and Chosen Peoples: the Politics and Poetics of Archaeological Narrative, in either case, the battle over archaeological public interpretation must be seen for what it is: a struggle for power between rival groups in the fluid conditions of an emerging nation state. Archaeological remains when preserved and presented to the public, are almost always monuments either to generalised notions of progress or someones inalienable historical and political rights99. (emphasis added) The Jains: The Jain narrative of the history of the site performs several slippages from history into myth and back into history. The starting point is obviously historic whereby the caves are credited to Kharavela and dated to 2100 years ago through epigraphic analysis. An informative notice painted at the door of the Jain temple at Khandagiri claims that king Kharavela spread the boundaries of his kingdom to Sri Lanka in the south, Gujrat in the west and Takshashila (Afganistan) in the North-East. He re-established the image of Rishabha Deva, the Kalinga Jina on Khandagiri. A booklet titled Khandagiri-Udayagiri

98 99

( Mitra, 1960) Neil Asher Silberman, The politics and poetics of Archaeological narrative, Nationalism, Politics and the Practice of Archaeology , Kohl and Fawcett (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, Great Britain, 1995), Pg- 258.


Caves, published by Ladadevi Granthamala, Kolkata; made available at the Jain dharmashala, presents a Digambar Jain history of Khandagiri and Udayagiri. Roughly translated it says Khandagiri and Udayagiri is an ancient and important Digambar Jain site. The patron of Digambar Jain Dharma, the glorious king Kharavela made these caves for Digambar Jain ascetics about 2300 years ago100. The booklet presents a brief narrative of the ancient history of Orissa, crudely derived from the Hathi Gumpha inscription: Magadha and Kalinga were two opposing powers. Even before Ashokas conquest of Kalinga, the state religion was Jain. Kalinga opposed Magadhas increasing expansionist policies as a result the Nanda kings conquered Kalinga, one of the Nanda kings took back the Kalinga Jina image to Pataliputra. Slowly Kalinga became so rich and glorious that Ashoka was forced to conquer it even at excessive costs. Kharavela in turn successfully waged war against Magadha as a result of which the Kalinga Jina and Jain religion was re-established in Kalinga. Interestingly this narrative locates a certain moral necessity in Kharavelas actions, projects him as an avenging hero who rights historic wrongs. The preface of the booklet, stresses the historic and academic importance of the site and how the inscriptions reveal much historically useful information about unknown aspects of Indias history. It also stresses that the inscription should be translated into various languages and the epigraphic and the stylistic aspects of the site should be looked at from the perspective of various disciplines: linguistic, cultural, sociological, geographical, philosophical and historical101. It laments that under the care of the A.S.I. the sites upkeep is being ignored whereas the Jain institution is powerless to take steps for its preservation. While the site has all

T.N. Ramachandran, Babu Chotelal Jain, Khandagiri-Udayagiri Caves, (Ladadevi Granthamala, Kolkata, 2003), back cover. 101 Ibid.


requirements for being an International Heritage site, it is because of the A.S.I.s inaction that the site, in its opinion, is currently in such a bad shape. This writing also claims that the reliefs on the larger caves depict incidents from Jain mythology, without specifying the exact stories which are represented102. A particular relief in Manchpuri where worshipping is depicted is interpreted as the re-installation of the Kalinga Jina after it was retrieved by Kharavela. Ironically, while speaking the scientific language of stylistic analysis, it cannot help but constantly refer back to Buddhist sites such as Sanchi and Bharhut to talk about Khandagiris sculptural reliefs. The text talks about its immediate context and this is particularly revealing. In recent development, the Kalinga Jina image mentioned in king Kharavelas inscription was with due pomp and ritual installed on a new seat on Khandagiri hill, this marks a new dawn in the golden chapter of the history of Jain sculpture and also now proves that king Kharavela installed the image of the Kalinga Jina on Khandagiri by constructing a magnificent temple. ( however that magnificent structure till now hasnt been found, and the image that has been found still awaits analysis and confirmation by archaeological experts)103. Such an example of near perfect appeal to, and rejection of, scientific history in the same breath is rare indeed. While the apsidal structure later uncovered by Debala Mitra was unproblematically proclaimed as Kharavelas Jinalaya, the image installed as the Kalinga Jina in the temple can not, by even the most imaginative of archaeologists, be termed as anything else but


R.P. Mahapatra in 1984 carefully analyzes the imagery, even though his narrative was pro-Jain he admitted that though the story had some resemblances with the biography of Rishabhanatha, the differences were too stark for it to be the same narrative. 103 Ibid, Pg. 9


Medieval. The identification of the Kalinga Jina as Rishabha Deva is something that cannot be arrived at by scientific historic methods. The other grossly incorrect fact was that of Kharavela being a patron of Digambar Jainsim. In fact the DigambarShweatambar split in the jain religion does not happen till after Kharavela104. Bannerjee and Jayaswal also translate him as having donated white cloth to monks.Thus these texts, while claiming affiliation to scientific history, take adequate liberties with it, with the express aim to impose their own cultic identity over the larger history of the site. However the heaviest argument employed by the Jains is that the site has been claimed as a Siddha Sthana. The Jains claim that during his travels through Orissa, Mahavira passed through Khandagiri and here he made 499 disciples, who stayed at the site ( in express disobedience of Mahaviras injunction to constantly travel!!!) and when Mahavira left his body and his soul left for the void these 499 disciples also from Khandagiri left their bodies and accompanied Mahavira. Since 499 Jain monks achieved Nirvana from this site therefore the site has special status as a Siddha-sthal or sacred ground for the Jains. Each of these 499 monks is symbolically represented as a pair of feet inside a lotus and worshipped in the temple. However, while there is mention of Mahavira visiting Kalinga, in Jain texts, there seems to be no mention of Khandagiri-Udayagiri or Kumar/ Kumari parvat in particular and definitely no mention of the 499 monks achieving liberation. Even a writer such as R.P. Mahapatra who was sensitive to Jain textual sources does not mention it, Debala Mitra clearly denies any mention of Khandagiri-Udayagiri in Jain textual tradition. One can say

Historians of Jainism are unclear as to when exactly the split takes place, there seems to be no decisive moment, rather the first clue was an Tirthankara image wearing clothes which could be roughly dated to the 5th century of the Christian era.


that in all probability the story is a latter day fabrication made to serve certain instrumental purposes. As such, there are no Jains living in Bhubaneshvar, with Jains staying mostly in Choudhary Bazzar and nearby areas in Cuttack. Apart from this temple on Khandagiri, there are no other major Jain pilgrimage spots in Orissa. Most pilgrims visit from Southern India or Madhya Pradesh and visit Khandagiri on their return from Parsavanath, Samya Sikhar in Bihar. There is also a fair number of pilgrims who come from Gujarat or Rajasthan. The main temple was built about 200 years ago, and the smaller temples to its side were built after 1940. Similarly the Dharmashala was built sometime 70 or 80 years ago. The charitable homeopathic dispensary was started in 1958. During the Magh Saptami mela, the Jains inaugurate the mela by carrying the so called Kalinga Jina image in a Vimana ( cart) to the Hathi Gumpha under Kharavelas inscription. When asked if the Jains had been worshipping the Barabhuji images before the Hindus had appropriated them, Shree Santosh Kumar Jain , the manager of Cuttacks Chowdhary Bazar Jain Lal Mandir, said that because the images are reliefs and not icons, and are not given the status of deity. A relief images pranaprathishtha ( its animation or bringing to life) cannot be performed. Therefore they were never sacred images to begin with. The Hindus Since there was no printed material regarding the Hindu claims to the site, I had to gather information through interviews, and the opinions did vary from institution to institution.


Lalatendukesari Aashram: The Lalatendukesari ashram is a temporary structure built in front of the Lalatendukesari Gumpha, housing a perpetual fire a dhuni105. The dhuni was attended by an ascetic who introduced himself as Birinchi Baba, he claimed that the dhuni had been burning here since ancient times. He narrated a mythic account of Khandagiris history, which, unlike the Jain narrative, did not use historic facts as stepping stones, but rather used mythology to refer to or even sometimes explain historicity. He started with saying that Bhubaneshvar is another name of lord Shiva, the city is named after him but in truth the city is actually Nemisharanya, Lord Shivas residence which extends to a radius of 22 kos with the Lingaraja temple as the centre point. Khandagiri at the outer reaches of the Nemisharanya is the Ekambrakanan, the meditation retreat of lord Shiva. The Ekambrakanan is mentioned in the Skanda Purana and Siva Purana. Kartikaya was born on the hill, which is why the hill was called Skandhagiri which got colloquialised into Khandagiri. This, incidentally, also explains the medieval name of the site : Kumar Parvat, Kumar and Skanda both being Kartikeyas names. He went on to claim that Kharavela was not a Jain but a Shaivite also that Jainism was not a separate religion but was a part of the Sanatan Dharma. A similar opinion had been voiced by Smt. Bimladevi Jain, the manager of the Jain dharamshala when she identified Rishabhnatha with Shiva, whereas here Birinchi Baba was identifying him with Vishnu. According to him, it was because of the increasing corruption and greed among the Brahmins that lord Vishnu had to incarnate himself as Buddha and Jain. When asked, he said that the famous bhakti poet Jagannatha Dasa had written that Rishabhnatha was an

Which the editor of the Jain booklet : Khandagiri-Udayagiri caves calls a source of pollution.


avatar of Vishnu. Further he said that the Lalatendukesari Ashram was mentioned by Achyutananda Dasa as being a nodal place where the 12 armed goddess protects all. Finally he claimed that Lalatendukesari himself did penance here for 12 years and that he would hold conferences with various other saints. Barabhuji Gumpha: In the Barabhuji Gumpha/temple, I spoke to Baamdeb Das, a priest. He claimed that Hindus had been worshipping the devi at Barabhuji since ancient times. Again, he also claimed that Hinduism and Jainism were not different religions, the Jains, he said, called the devis Chakreshwari and Shankheshwari which was proof enough of them being Hindu goddesses since the chakra and shankha were associated with Vishnu. In the name of the temple several structural changes had been made to the cave, walls had been collapsed and pillar re-constructed. The floor had been opened up and relaid with marble about 20 -30 years ago, whereas the terrace in front of the temple, making a large courtyard is an older construction, possibly around the time of the Jain temples construction. The images of the Sasanadevis and Tirthankars in the Barabhuji Gumpha had been painted black, obviously to reduce their visibility. A stay order from court now prevents further defacement of the images. His claim was that the Jain temple was consecrated in 1934 and prior to that it was a Hindu temple, housing a Vishnu image called Ananta Kesari, which still visits the site every year during the mela from a temple in Jagmara where it stays as a guest. Regarding the small empty temple above Mahavir Gumpha, he said to the best of his knowledge it had always been empty and no one knew about it. When asked if a pranaprathistha was performed for the images before they were worshipped by the Hindus, since the Jains consider that relief images cannot be consecrated, the priest said that since the images


were very old they probably had been consecrated sometime in the past, but no such ritual had been done within recent memory (the Jains at least, if not the Hindus, believe that if an image has not been worshipped for a considerable period of time then it should be re-consecrated before is it worshipped again). During my documentation of the site, I witnessed a Jain householder-priest offering rice grains and obeisance to all relief images. I also witnessed an argument between the Jain and the Hindu priest regarding the covering of the images. The Hindu claimed it was improper to worship a naked image while the Jain claimed that, in case of the Tirthankars, it was their nakedness which signified their holiness. The Hindu priests account was more or less reproduced by Sri Debendra Subudhi the secretary of the village committee of Dumduma village, one of the 15 surrounding villages that consider Barabhuji to be their Ishta-devi. He too said that Hindus had been worshipping Barabhuji since ancient time, but the controversy over the cave was 30 or 40 years old106. Further, to the south he said was Dadhibawan Deb in Ayaginiya village, to the west was Gopal Jew in Syanpur village, to the north Narsinghnath in Tapovan Ashram and in the east was Raghunath in Jagmara village; in the centre of all of this was Ananta Kesari who was established at Khandagiri. According to Sri Subudhi, the Jains took over the Vishnu temple and dedicated it to Rishabhnatha, whereby Ananta Kesari had to stay in Raghunaths temple in Jagmara as a guest. Paduka Aashram: The Paduka Ashram belongs to followers of the sage Arakhit Das and are quite unconnected to the Barabhuji controversy. Unlike the others who always seem to start with 2000 years ago, the Avadhoot sadhus are quite aware of their own historicity

According to the editor of the Jain booklet, Khandagiri-Udayagiri Caves, the occupation of the caves occurred 40 years ago.


and acknowledge that their sect came into being only after Arakhita Dasa, who was a fairly recent figure. The Ashram itself was built sometime in the 1970s during the stewardship of the previous Mahant, late Sadhu Uddhav Das. While the Ashram had a fair amount of land holdings scattered across Bhubaneshvar, it was in this period that members of the trust board betrayed the trust and fraudently sold much of the land for personal benefit, including a piece of land right next to the current Ashram which was sold to the Jain Dharamshala. The Mahant promptly filed a case against the Jain committee as the land contained funerary memorials of previous Mahants. As of now, the samadhis have been demolished and structures have come up on them, however the Dharamshala is not able to raise its boundary wall because of the court case. The current Mahant, Sadhu Dambru Das who has been associated with the site for over 40 years says, that earlier the ashram was a mud structure that functioned like a base camp where Sadhus would report and where Arakhit Dass wooden slippers and manuscripts would lie on a wooden charpoy, whereas most of the sadhus would live in the Udayagiri caves, that too, a numerically significant amount of them. But that began to change 30-35 years ago, when the A.S.I. began to evict the sadhus from the caves, and it is approximately at the same time the ashram was remade with brick and cement. After which slowly one by one various idols and shrines were added to it. Only one shrine is credited to a Mahant previous to Uddhav Das, the Kali shrine is credited to Sadhu Bhalu Das but it is unclear if he built the cement shrine or if he just installed the image there. By the 80s urbanisation had come to Bhubaneshvar and by the mid-90s the city had spread as far as upto Khandagiri.


From all of this we can gather two things: first, that there was a Vishnu temple on Khandagiri but it was not the Jain temple; and second, that Udayagiri was not a secular site devoid of religious activity, waiting for the archaeologist and art-historian to excavate, conserve and recover its ancient glory. For the first, we know from Sterling, Fergusson and Rajendralal Mitras accounts that even in the 19th century the temple on top of Khandagiri was a Jain temple, the consecration that the Hindus refer to as having happened in 1934 was probably the installation of the so- called Kalinga Jina. Ananta Kesari then was probably housed in the smaller structure above Mahavir Gumpha, which would go some way to explain the stone terrace in front of Mahavir and Barabhuji gumphas. Ananta Kesari is again probably the same image that Phalahari Gosain worshipped and carried out in cart festivals .This structure is again, possibly the same structure which was demolished by T. Bloch, however, it can be conjectured that it was not actually demolished but rather de-sanctified and the image sent to Jagmara. Sometime later the temple was renovated but its garbagriha was plastered over, and a stone bench was installed inside in the shape of a L. Secondly, the Archaeological Survey officials claim that Udayagiri did not have a living religious tradition, is largely false. It was, asI have shown, very much a living site, except that the A.S.I.s parameters for religious activity were configured only to Brahmanical idol worship. Sadhus living inside caves never appeared in the A.S.I.s registers as religious activity, it only appeared as trespassing, whereas the Hindu worship of an unsanctified wall relief in Khandagiri was recognised as religious activity which could not be disturbed. Udayagiri was thus, then cleansed and secularised.


Religion in Khandagiri-Udayagiri was pushed back and by definition forced to reside between the priest- idol nexus. This narrative also raises many questions as to the role of Archaeological Survey with regard to permissions and restrictions, inclusions and exclusions, concerning buildings and habitations on the site. What becomes evident is the Survey is not neutral with regards to various sectarian occupations on the site, with some clearly more permissible than others. However we can also see a wide spectrum of inhabitation at Khandagiri and Udayagiri, from institutions backed by the Archaeological Survey, such as the Jain Mandir and Dharamshala, to those backed by local power interests such as the Barabhuji Mandir and to some extent the Paduka Aashram. Then, there are more liminal of occupations, mostly at an individual level, their existence made possible only because of the rifts created by the conflicts between the larger religious and administrative institutions controlling the site. Apart from this, there are a whole range of touristic performance and appropriation that goes on at the site. The construction of space, the politics of inclusion and exclusion and the performance of tourism are discussed in the last section of the chapter.

Tourist performances and the construction of space

This section examines Khandagiri-Udayagiris status as a locus of tourist activity and inversely how tourism through certain modes of ordering space produces KhandagiriUdayagiri. I base my analysis on a theorisation of tourism done by Tim Edensor in his book Tourists at the Taj. In this book, he attempts to put forth a theory of tourism which focuses on specific genealogies of the relationships between visitors and sights and


refrains from any universal theorisation, since tourism itself is a set of constantly changing practices. He says tourism cannot by typified under one motivation, social function or social condition. Rather it consists of a range of practices and epistemologies which emerge out of particular cultural locations107. According to him, global marketing produces a distinct tourist space on a global scale, that is liable to be commodified in distinct ways and organised with particular material characters such as the proliferation of a Mall space, where a space of leisure and consumption is produced trans-culturally on a global scale deploying the same sense of aesthetics and spatial arrangement. The landscaping and beautification of historic and touristic sites may be seen in the same light. He observes that contemporary production of tourism involves commodification of particular spaces and cultures. According to him, in a globalising capitalist economy, the predominant material production of space involves the organisation of built environments that facilitate the flow of profit, goods, money, labour, communication and information108; with these processes coming into play, places are no more configured by a cultural belonging but rather as bundles of social and economic opportunities competing against one another109. For our present purposes, it will suffice to address two major questions that Edensor addresses, the first dealing with the positioning of a site within various imagined geographies whereby the site is prepared for consumption by various kinds of audiences and secondly the question of the regulation of the tourist space and tourism as a range of performances.

107 108 109

Tim Edensor, Tourists at the Taj ( London, Routledge, 1998) Pg 3. Ibid, pg 10 Ibid, Pg 11


Imagined Geographies
According to Edensor, the construction of tourist attractions and the marketing of places entail the production of certain kinds of historical narratives which affects certain kinds of audiences and attracts them as visitors, and only those features of the site that endorse these narratives are highlighted. The movement and duration of visit of the tourists is determined by this packaging. Here it is important to note that one is not talking of any singular narrative of commodification. There are rather, multiple strategies, and at one particular site, different commercial interests may come into opposition; or commodification may begin to contrast with administrative and political objectives. While international tourism in one of the most important sites for the contemporary production of the local, this process of the production of representation may occur at local levels as well. Often global processes must be worked out through specifically local capital, classes and practices. In the case of Khandagiri-Udayagiri, there are various commodifications at work, the administrative and political being just one of them as the discussion in the first section indicated. Its marketing to a global audience is done through the specificity of Orissa Tourism and by clubbing it within the same cultural ethos as the 7th to 13th century A.D. temples of Bhubaneshvar, both being touted as outstanding examples of Orissan Art. While this narrative is questioned by a more local narrative of the Hindu claim over the site, represented by the local political clout and local capital, it is also in turn brought into question by the ascetic element and their connection to the site. However all these co-habit the same space and appeal to different or partially overlapping market segments. While seemingly challenging each other, they also significantly validate and supplement each other. These narratives function by


locating the site within certain imagined geographies, namely the colonial, the sacred and the national. The colonial: the production of tourist space is not a new activity but can be understood as an expansion of inscribing power through the materialisation of bourgeois ideology since the 19th century. Tourism and the study of archaeology both derive from the practice of the grand tour that was prevalent among the 19th century colonialists, it emerges from a western longing to experience the otherness of various cultures. In a neo-colonial setting it is assumed that it is the right of wealthy westerners to travel third world countries in order to experience this otherness. In terms of techniques or representation, seeing and ordering of experience, contemporary tourism finds its roots in colonial technologies. The establishment of colonial cities was always designed around spatial expression of power and difference. They were divided into European and native quarters, where the European section of the town would be well planned and visually ordered, where inter-mixing of races was limited. Contemporary tourism reproduces these tropes of spatial organisation as well. Edinsor talks about enclavic and heterogeneous space which reflects the division of the city into European and native quarters. The spatial arrangement can be seen on site - as Udayagiri is configured as a well defined and ordered space, its historical and archaeological importance flaunted to promote it into a site worth seeing. Another significant carry-over from the colonial approach is the idea of preservation, where some sites were deemed more deserving of preservation than others. In contemporary tourism, this is seen instead as the rating of the monument, whereas caves like


Ajanta and Ellora are considered by the Archaeological Survey as A grade sites and have received the status of world heritage sites from UNESCO, KhandagiriUdayagiri by its rather evident lack of grandiosity has been labelled a B-grade site. Currently a tourist centre is under construction on an empty plot of land behind Udayagiri hill. Built in a circular shape, reflecting the unique architecture of the 64 Yogini temple, the centre is to provide a leisure experience aimed at foreign tourists also at upper class elite Indian tourists, providing for services like shopping, restaurants, cafes etc .An Incredible India tourist brochure for Orissa says Orissa a land of quintessential charm, with its natural bounties, gracefully blends old world splendour with modern day developments. With nature abounds in all its glory with its unspoilt and alluring beaches, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, hills, forests, wildlife, and tribal culture, which is still vibrant with its unique lifestyle , Orissa is impressive with its rich tradition of art, architecture and sculpture. A visual feast of colours varieties and surprises, a cultural journey into one of the oldest civilisations in the world and as a holiday destination, Orissa promises a wonderful experience110. The text obviously filters out all those aspects of Orissa that do not conform to the western tourists idea of a realm of leisure. It also subsumes a lot of different things under the ambiguous umbrella of Orissan culture. Khandagiri-Udayagiri becomes central to this touristic discourse, not because of the aesthetic quality of its architecture or sculptures but only because of its age value. Its age value is what allows for proclamations such as those of being one of the oldest civilisations in the world. Central to the production of tourist spaces is the notion of otherness, where such spaces would be configured

Department of Tourism, Government of India.


as realms of lost innocence111, there then is always the anxiety of the authentic culture being replaced by western progress. This anxiety can also be made out in the brochure quoted above, where it claims Orissa to be a graceful blend of old world splendour with modern day developments. However the desire to present an authentic culture, or a graceful blend of the old and the new worlds, can also go a long way in explaining the presence of the ascetic in the Paduka Aashram at Udayagiri or the Jain temple on Khandagiri, within a space otherwise controlled by the Archaeological Survey. Sacred: As Edensor points out, in the Hindu cosmological scheme, as sacred places are mapped throughout the country, these sacred places are conceived of being located in the earthly realm but as intersections between heavenly and earthly realms. These places are weaved together to make pilgrimage routes. Speaking in sectarian terms there are at least three sacred geographies that intersect at this site. The first being the Jains who claim that not only did the site host a sacred relic (that too one that has supposedly been recovered) but also that Mahavira himself came and taught here, and that 499 of his disciples left their bodies and entered into Nirvana with him as he left his body. For the Jains any place where a Tirthankara visits is considered holy and one from where a Tirthankara or a monk passes into Nirvana is considered especially holy as it may energise the unenlightened to take the holy path as well. Khandagiri, thus is visited by many Jains, pilgrims and tourists alike, it is connected to Parsavanath, Sammad Shikhar in Bihar, the enlightenment spot of Parsavanatha, the 23rd


Tim Edensor, Tourists at the Taj ( London, Routledge, 1998) pg 26.


Tirthankara, from where many visitors from Southern or Western India travel to Khandagiri-Udayagiri. At a local scale, fifteen villages surrounding KhandagiriUdayagiri have begun to worship a Jain Goddess image in Barabhuji gumpha as Durga and consider her the patron deity of their villages, the Barabhuji takeover also allows the Hindus to stake a claim over a symbolic site, which allows for an assertion of the ancientness of their identity also for the considerable economic opportunities that inter-state and inter-national tourism attracts. This takeover has also gone beyond an innocent act of several villages worshipping an ancient image and having attachment and reverence for it but also local power, authorities and politicians as well as local capital has begun to back it. There is also a sacred geography which these local villagers place Khandagiri into when they think of it as the spot where the image of Ananta Kesari used to reside, as a center point in a map of four other Vishnu images located in the four cardinal directions. Every year during the Magh Saptami mela, Ananta Kesari is returned to Khandagiri and worshipped. It is perhaps to keep alive the images connection to the site that it only stays as a guest in the Jagmara temple and has not been re-established in a structure of its own. Finally the site is also important to the followers of the sects of Mahima Dharma and Arakhit Dasa. Mahima Gosai, it is recorded performed Samadhi yoga in Khandagiri-Udayagiri for several years. Khandagiri is also one of the three important sites associated with Arakhita Dasa - it is here, in the Ananta Gumpha, that he was supposed to have attained Siddhi or perfection. Thus the Magh Saptami mela also attracts many of the followers of this sect. The


Paduka Ashram at the base of Udayagiri houses his wooden sandals and manuscripts, apart from ascetics of the order. The National: According to Edensor, The notion of national space is consolidated by symbolic sites, national landscapes and the existence of supposedly archetypal objects and scenes which populate national space112. These national imaginings consist of one monolithic narrative within which certain iconic symbolic sites are placed, mapping out the nation in its historic terrain. For example the Taj Mahal or the Konarak temple, or the India Gate, Lal Quila etc are such archetypically symbolic sites, which in themselves stand in for the nation and also in another respect are symbolic of certain aspects of the nations cultural history. National power appropriates the symbolic sites of Orissa precisely by constructing a narrative of Orissan history and appending it as a part of the larger narrative of the history of India113. This refers back to our discussion about the politics of various kinds of archaeological scholarship in the first chapter. The conjunction point by which the history of Orissa is linked to the history of India is Ashokas conquest of Orissa - whereby the site most important for nationalist history becomes the Dhauli hill and its Ashokan inscription. By that token, Khandagiri-Udayagiri becomes simply the inscriptional site of a provincial king, a poor mans Ashoka, however which compensates for the lack of artistic activity at Dhauli, by giving us a glimpse of artistic activity from a neighbouring historical period. With this line of reasoning, we can also see some logic behind the A.S.Is propagation of the site as a Jain site. Positing it as Jain
112 113

Ibid, Pg 36. All this is of course made possible by positing immortal trans-historical subjects such as Orissa and India whos histories can be written in one straight flowing line.


situates it within a national Jain pilgrimage network, where it commands a fairly important place, for the site within Hindu pilgrimage networks could never be as important, where it would always be a stop-over site on the way to Lingaraja or Puri, but never be significantly important on non-local Hindu pilgrimage networks. As for Buddhism, the site could not be touted as a Buddhist site for that would disrupt the larger Hindu narrative of Orissas history where Buddhism appears as a later decadent Tantric phase, precisely because then one would have to acknowledge an aniconic phase of Buddhism, which would obviously raise questions about Buddhism in Orissa, pre-dating Ashoka. These are the imagined geographies within which Khandagiri-Udayagiri has been situated in order for it to function as a contemporary tourist site. Next I discuss how the physical space of the site itself is ordered and the kinds of performances of tourism it enables.

The Performance of Tourism:

Edensor thinks of tourism as a range of performances, which are always relational to the ways in which the stage, i.e. the tourist site has been prepared, organised through the action of power. Using Foucaults notion of heterotopia, he talks about two kinds of tourist space: the Enclavic and the Heterogenous. The Enclavic space is marked by external surveillance, strict modes of entry, exit; inclusion and exclusion; it is visually ordered towards a particular end and unwanted sights, sounds, smells and people are excluded, to ensure a uni-directed aesthetic experience. A heterogenous space is not so strictly regulated and hence allows for a wider variety of performances and a plethora of sights, sounds, smells and touches. However, an Enclavic space, even though regulated


still allow for transgressions, if not openly then through covert means. However we must also remember that sites of pleasure like theme parks, fairs, sea side resorts, etc, are commodified landscapes which even though seeming to promise infinite variety, but this is a manufactured and controlled diversity rather than a realm of unconstrained social difference114. Merely by a cursory glance we can see that power does not operate homogenously on Khandagiri and Udayagiri - both the hills are configured differently. While it would be all too easy to simply classify Udayagiri as an Enclavic space and Khandagiri as a Heterogenous space, what is actually needed is a closer examination of the kinds of performances and restraints that are in place on these two hills. The idea of a manufactured and controlled diversity over and above a realm of unconstrained social difference then becomes the key to understanding the paradoxical co-existence of contrary institutions such as the A.S.I. and the Paduka Ashram, the Jains as well as the Hindus. While there is opposition, disagreement and difference, it is controlled, managed and tolerated in ways that allows the site to interlink many imagined geographies at once. Udayagiri, is the ticketed hill, and its boundaries are more strictly policed, visitors can only visit and see the site at certain pre-designated timings. The hill his carefully maintained and cleaned, pathways are periodically repaired and broadened to facilitate the smooth flow of visitors. Within the designated area of tourist activity, the natural flora of the hill is removed and is replaced with decorative plants, carefully trimmed and maintained, which infused the site with a semblance of a standardised, landscaped global aesthetic of tourist sites. Even though the Paduka Ashram has a separate entry leading

Tim Edensor, Tourists at the Taj ( London, Routledge, 1998) Pg 48.


onto the hill, they close their gates right about the time Udayagiri hill officially closes for visitors. The Ashrams gate leading onto the hill is for two main purposes. The first is to allow the tourists visiting the hill to come and have darshan of the relics of Arakhita Dass relics and obtain blessings from the ascetics housed there and give them monetary donations, by the virtue of which the Ashram is able to function. The other use for the gate is that since the Ashram does not have a toilet, early morning, before tourists start arriving, the inmates use the gate to go up onto the hill into the wooded regions for their. Since they are careful to respect both the temporal and spatial boundaries of the tourist space, their activity cannot be called subversive but co-exists rather well with the Enclavic touristic agenda of the site. Many people come to see the caves and a natural extension of which is to see Sadhus as well, it is essential to maintain the authenticity of the site. Caves without Sadhus would be as inauthentic as temples without idols. But that this co-existence is Enclavic and mediated by power is evident by the fact that the Sadhus may be seen next to the caves, but the Sadhus may never actually use the caves. The Ashram itself is a heterotopic site, some come there to offer devotion some to conduct business, some to do Kirtan, some to smoke marijuana and then some to drink. Some of those who offer devotion belong to an idol-worshipping paradigm and other to a non-idol worshiping, yogic paradigm. As far as performance of the visitors is concerned, both the hills have marked similarities and differences. On both the hills the caves are sequenced and numbered and most of the tourists follow the laid out pathways. Apart from sight seeing and photographing, there are several other uses that the site is put to by the visitors. First-year and second-year students from the nearby B.K. College of Art and Craft come to paint water colour


landscapes, for which the caves make a rather enigmatic subject115. Apart from them, there are romancing couples who seek privacy in the lesser frequented, wooded parts of the hills and then there are also groups which come to play cards, or drink alcohol or both. These activities, and such other peripheral uses, occur on both Khandagiri and Udayagiri, but since Udayagiri is a time-bound ticketed and site and Khandagiri is not, on Khandagiri these activities carry on well into the night. Groups of people or families on picnic can often light a fire and cook their food on Khandagiri which they cannot do on Udayagiri. Khandagiri by virtue of being a site without policed entry, is more welcoming towards the marginal. Some of the caves are used by beggers to sleep in during the night. Ekadashi Gumpha which is considerable away from the tourist area on Khandagiri is occupied, for the last few years by a local Marijuana dealer. One interesting phenomenon is to see how visitors to the site, engaging in religious performances, invoke an ancient topography of the site as narrated by archaeological scholarship. On the crest of Udayagiri next to the excavated apsidal structure and on the crest of Khandagiri behind the Jain temple, many visitors have begun to tie small weights with a thread onto branches of a specific tree and underneath the tree piling up small stones one on top of another to make small votive Stupas. The tying of the thread onto the tree is an act of making a wish, which clearly refers back to the mention of the Kalpa-taru, the wishing tree that Banerji translates is mentioned in the Hathi Gumpha inscription, which Kharavela brings back along with the Kalinga Jina. On Udayagiri it then marks the site of


This almost institutional exercise, in my opinion a serious impact in framing the kind of questions the students and alumni use to form their work. A noticeable trend among art practitioners emerging from this college is to attempt to locate some sort of authentic Indian-ness in their work; or to juxtapose authentic Indian-ness with modern abstraction.


the Jinalaya which Kharavela built and on Khandagiri it marks the location where the supposed Jina currently resides. Both the hills are covered with and surrounded by a jungle, which in the past served as a source of firewood for the villagers living nearby. To the Sadhus frequenting the site it was a source of many medicinal plants, to deal with which the Forest Department set up a base at Udayagiri and formed vigilance committees .With urbanisation and the city expanding outwards towards Khandagiri-Udayagiri, much has happened in transforming the status of this surrounding land. From being jungle and or agricultural land, much of it has become potential real estate and land prices have in tandem skyrocketed. The jungle immediately surrounding both hills has been fenced off, with the jungle behind Khandagiri recently converted and cordoned off into a fairly large park called Jaidev Vatika : Spiritual Park. Mixing ideas of spirituality, good health and fine living, it has given a further boost to the local real estate pricings. Meanwhile it also adds a whole new local upper middle class segment of people to the list of regular visitors to the site. The nature of power operating at the site and its production of a controlled diversity may become clearer with the following example: the jungle housed several tribes of monkeys (Hanuman Langurs, Semnopithecus entellus), - with increasing urbanisation their habitat decreased and so did the amount of food available. At present, several villagers go to Khandagiri carrying, bananas, peanuts, bread slices, leaves and other edible things in baskets which they sell to the tourists to feed to the monkeys, the tourists buy them as religious duty or merely for the thrill of being able to feed a wild animal. The monkeys would, in a most well behaved manner come and accept this food from the hands of the visitors. In case a visitor would buy this food and attempt to consume it himself or


herself, a monkey would climb onto them and snatch the food out from their hands and then go away; sometimes when tourists dont pay them any attention they would climb onto their shoulders and refuse to let go until the food was bought. However a monkey assaulting or biting a tourist is completely unheard of. We must remember that though these are not pet monkeys but wild monkeys, the operation of power onto their habitat has domesticated them to a large extent. From the point of view of the visitors it is an excess, it is wilderness at the edge of civilisation; but from the ecological point of view, from the point of view of the monkeys, it is a strictly ordered space, a controlled, commodified diversity, where only particular forms of behaviour are acceptable. To sum up, in this chapter I have looked at the spatial organisation of KhandagiriUdayagiri, its multiple parallel configurations as an archaeological, religious and tourist site, and the s kinds of claims and performances that are embedded in each of these configurations. I have looked at certain conflicts and oppositions regarding proportional and inhabitation rights to the site and have tried to argue that this conflict should be seen not as some sort of unmanageable excess caused by the presence of various religious sects on the space of a secularised historical site - but as constitutive of a controlled diversity, where supposedly opposing, ideologically conflictual institutions constitute a structure which has a purpose behind its appearance of disorderliness. Behind all the clashing claims over rights of occupation and worship, there came to exist an implicit order of peacable co-existence between the archaeological establishment, the different religious sects and their institutions, and the new developmental interests of tourism at the site. As Silberman says: What is certain, however is that economic considerations


can open the way to an era in which archaeological resources are selectively exploited, not for scientific or ideological reasons , but according to someones idea of what sells116


Neil Asher Silberman, The politics and poetics of Archaeological narrative, Nationalism, Politics and the Practice of Archaeology , Kohl and Fawcett (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, Great Britain, 1995), Pg 260.


Modern times the Anti-Orthodox religious site:
As has already been discussed, Khandagiri-Udayagiri from the Late-Medieval to the Early Modern period was actively involved in fostering a non-Brahmanical, religious counter-culture within the domain of popular religiosity in Orissa. Moving away from the sort of archaeological-institutional history that the first two chapters have perused, this Epilogue it traces very different processes and activities. The purpose behind this deviation is to illustrate how the above mentioned non-Brahmanical religious counterculture is appropriated within the Brahmanical narratives with the aid of Modern discourses such as Archaeology, Tourism, Indian Nationalism and regional Nationalism. Thus while not being a history of the site itself, it is a history of certain ideas and concepts which were produced at the site, and how they are transformed under the influence of the various discourses of colonial modernity. In this Epilogue, I shall look at three sites three, Ashrams of the order of Arakhit Das at three different locations - to examine their visual culture and associated practices of self representation, juxtaposing these with the profile of the kind of visitors it attracts to see how they project different understandings of religion. The reason why I focus on Arakhit Dass sect is because he is one of the more prominent figures in the popular religious imagination of contemporary Hindu Oriyas who is also centrally associated with the site of Khandagiri-Udayagiri. Another such figure is Mahima Gosain, who was at Khandagiri-Udayagiri for several years. However, since Mahima Gosain travelled a lot,


the site is not so strongly identified with him as it is with Arakhit Das. What is common to both of them however, is that they evoked rationality to counter those aspects of the Brahmanic high culture which they thought decadent, while at the same time also employing the language of Bhakti mystic poetry to propound more inclusive monistic ideas. Arakhit Das was a post-Chaitanya mystic, there are three main sites which are associated with him. The first is Chitrakoot Parvat, where he practiced yoga after leaving his home; after which he established himself at Khandagiri in Ananta Gumpha, which is considered his Siddhi pitha, or the site of his enlightenment, after which he travelled to Olasuni Gumpha near the Buddhist site of Lalitgiri where he finally takes Samadhi and leaves his physical body to merge with the divine. Arakhit Das was a prolific writer and poet, who wrote religious-metaphysical manuscripts as well as many songs - in each composition he mentions the location from where he is writing, and there are only the three above mentioned sites that he refers to. Apart from all these, there are manuscripts which contain magical spells and rituals, which are mostly kept secret, passed only from master to disciple117. There are several legends and myths prevalent about Arakhit Das, most of them involving miraculous feats. Some of these are mentioned in his own writing, which mostly follows an auto-biographical style of narration. However there are many myths which have later accrued onto him, with a noticeable change in content and moral of these later stories. Arakhit Das was extremely popular because he spectacularly flouted all norms of Brahmanism, he was extremely critical of idol worship, and would accept

One Sadhu offered to show me a manuscript which according to him contained a formula to make any desired person fall fatally ill. The same manuscript supposedly contained a recipe to cure a person of a fatal illness. There is a popular belief among devotees who visit Arakhit Dass Ashrams that drinking the rice water kept in these Ashrams will miraculously cure them of all ailments.


alms from untouchables and even eat with them. He employed rationalist arguments to counter the hierarchical rigidity of casteism and idol worship; such as his famous aamish tattwa or the metaphysics of non-vegetarianism, wherein he argues that the universe is composed of the five elements which in themselves do not distinguish between what is vegetarian and non-vegetarian, the fire for example eats wood and flesh alike, living in this world made of the omnivorous five elements how can any Brahmin maintain his vegetarian ritual purity? However the popular myths that disseminate knowledge about him and his views, often appropriate him into the larger Brahmanical fold. For example there is the story of Mirza, a high ranking Muslim official in the kings administration, who upon hearing of Arakhit Dass fame asks his Hindu servant to invite this sage for a meal. Arakhit Das accepts, but Mirza in order to humiliate the Hindu ascetic decides to cook beef and serve it to him. When Arakhit Das sits down to eat, Mirza informs him that since he is his guest, he will have to eat what is generally eaten in the household, to which Arakhit Das accedes. The food is laid out but when it is uncovered, much to Mirzas dismay it turns out that all the food had been converted into Mahaprasaad , that is, the vegetarian meal served to the idol of Lord Jagannatha everyday. This story is particularly revealing, first there is Mirza the rich and powerful Muslim who wants nothing but to humiliate Hinduism. Arakhit Das now instead of being an internal critic of Hinduism becomes now its defender against other religions. He not only protects his own and the purity of his religion by transforming the Beef into Mahaprasaad, but he turns the table by making Mirza eat Mahaprasaad, thereby Hinduising him. This story and others similar to it obviously Brahminise the legacy of Arakhit Das. His own logic operated along different lines, being a monist, he would have argued that all matter and


all souls are the same substance thus beef was as pure or as polluting as Mahaprasaad. In fact even in contemporary times it is not uncommon for devotees to offer a bhog of dried fish to Arakhit Dass Samadhi at Olasuni gumpha. Till recently not much was known about Arakhit Dass background, it was popularly said that he came from a royal family. Recently the Olasuni Ashram commissioned a historian to uncover his genealogy. According to that text written by Sri Golok Chandra Pradhan, Arakhit Das was born in the Barakhemundi royal family in the district of present day Ganjayam118. He was the second son of Padmanatha Deva who ruled from 1774 to 1805 A.D.; it is estimated that Arakhit Das was born sometime between 1780 and 1788 A.D., before renouncing the world his name was Balabhadra Deva, he died in 1833119. According to the popular belief, he did not have a spiritual master and nor did he make any disciples while living. He was an Avadhoot and hence attained self-realisation by himself120. All the Ashrams in his name were started after his death by people who claimed to have been visited by Arakhit Das posthumously in his spirit form when he would give them a relic - the wooden sandals in case of the Khandagiri-Udayagiri Paduka Ashram, and a blanket in case of the Ashram at Chilika. However even within the sect there are disagreements over this history. Sadhu Damru Das, the Mahant of both Khandagiris Paduka Ashram and the Avadhoot Ashram at Khandagiri Bari, says that Arakhit Das belonged to a period much earlier than the 18th or 19th century, to the same period as the Panchasakhas and was a part of the during the post-Chaitanya Bhakti

Golok Chandra Pradhan, Mahapurush Arakhit Das ( Current Edition 2006, Mahant Sri Namananda Das, Olasuni Gumpha) 119 The accuracy of this account can be brought into question by the fact that the writer does not share his sources or his analysis but merely pronounces results. 120 This a specificity of the Avadhoot sect. All other mystic sects place critical importance on initiation given by a master.


initiative. He quotes passages from Arakhit Dass Bhakti Teeka and also from Achyutananda Das to substantiate his claim that Arakhit Das was at least 20 years older than Achyutananda Das and was in all probability his spiritual master. Indeed in Arakhit Dass writings he often depicts himself instructing Achyutanada Das; incredibly Achyutanada Das121 also mentions Arakhit Das several times, the passage quoted most often in this regard being ( its popularity probably due to the prophetic tone of the pronunciation) : there will be a collective of Sadhus at Olasuni hill, where Arakhit the greatest among Bhaktas will outshine all122. It should be evident that there is some amount of mystery surrounding the figure of Arakhit Das and to date him would take an intense analysis of manuscripts and texts. However, what I find more interesting is the kind of ideas that he stood for, and how institutions currently operating in his name acknowledge or suppress his ideology of disregard towards idol-worship and ritual purity. The Arakhit Dass sect refers to itself as the Avadhoot sect, which means one who is free from all worldly bonds. However idol worshipping among them has been going on for some time. In the introduction to the Oriya translation of Avadhoot Gita, done by a Sri Ramakrishna Phadi123, written sometime around 1941, we find the writer talking about specifically this sect. He mentions Avadhoot Sadhus who generally claim to follow people like Arakhit Das and are found in places like Olasuni. The writer is greatly displeased by the proliferation of Sadhus who go about giving Mantra Diksha to various people and then exploiting them. He also claims to be disturbed by the way Sadhus would claim to be quoting from Avadhoot Gita, often saying things contrary to themselves or

It should be noted that Achyutananda Das was at least two centuries prior to the assumed date of Arakhit Das. 122 As quoted by Golok Chandra Pradhan, Mahapurush Arakhit Das ( Current Edition 2006, Mahant Sri Namananda Das, Olasuni Gumpha) 123 Sri Ramakrishna Phadi, Avadhoot Gita, ( Current Edition 1994, Dharmagrantha Store, Cuttack)


their compatriots, many others had no knowledge of the text. To clarify such misunderstandings he takes it upon himself to translate the text, after which he finds that those Sadhus who claimed to be quoting from it were in fact making things up. In the introduction which contained an ethnography of these sects he reports that they would wear the holy thread, a medal with aum or nama written on it, white cloth and chandan tika. So here it becomes evident that the sect had already moved beyond Arakhit Dass call to reject malas tilaks and other external signs. The writer also reports they worship images of various gods. Thus Arakhit Dass call for shunning idol worship had also been filtered out. The writer enlists the castes that are excluded from the sect such as Pano, Kandara, Kela and Pathan (Muslim). Thus even though limited to a few castes and Muslims the Avadhoot sect was also practicing social exclusion. He reports that a substantial number of women belonged to the sect, meaning that at least up till the 1940s the sect had Sahajiya tendencies, which is not the case now, women are not given initiation into the sect anymore. These transformations make more sense in light of the debate for linguistic identity which takes place in the first half of the 20th century. This lead to a growth of regional chauvinism centred around Jagannatha as a rallying icon. By the 1940s right wing organisations such as R.S.S. and Sangh Parivar also establish a presence in Orissa124. I have looked at three sites, Olasuni Gumpha near Lalitgiri, Paduka Aashram at Udayagiri and Avadhoot Aashram at Khandagiri-Bari. Unfortunately, because of limitations of time and resources I was unable to Chitrakoot Parbat, the first site


Harish S Wankhade, The political context of religious conversions in Orissa, (E.P.W., April 17th 2009)


associated with him. I hope this lapse shall be compensated for by the varying profiles of the sites covered.

Olasuni Gumpha Ashram:

Olasuni Gumpha is located on one among three hills near the town of Balichandrapur in Orissa, of the two other hills, one is the famous Buddhist site of Lalitgiri from where a considerable hoard of sculptures was recovered as well as monasteries and stupa with a bone relic encased inside. The other hill contains an un-excavated stupa, and the third, the Olasuni hill, has on its top three underground rock cut caves, probably belonging to the same period. Of the three one, has an above ground sheltering structure, it is this cave which is considered to be Aarakhit Dass Samadhi Sthal . The present day Ashram has come up between and around these caves. Given the location and the surroundings it is not too much of a stretch of imagination to say that the caves were probably excavated by the Buddhist Tantric schools that functioned here. There are several myths associated with the site. Arakhit Das himself mentions that one day in his dream, he was instructed to go to Olasuni gumpha and reside there. Upon arriving there he realised that all creatures on the hill were in terror of the Ulasuni thakurani, a (Buddhist?) goddess idol that was established in that particular cave. When he meditated upon the problem, he was told by a divine voice that he must get Krishnas flute from Vrindavana and play it to calm down the goddess Olasuni. On doing so the goddess was pacified and she agreed to vacate her cave for Arakhit Das and herself residing at the base of the hill, now a beneficial deity instead of a terrible one. This is the story of Arakhit Dass arrival at Olasuni, which he himself has narrated. Like most Bhakti poets he writes in Sandhya


Bhasha or in language loaded with metaphors and multiple meanings. So when he says Krishnas flute or Vrindavan he is in all probability not talking about any real Flute or any physical place. However such language is easily appropriable by the Brahmanical forces, this particular mis-reading becomes all the more easier given the fact that Jaggannath(Krishna) is considered the sovereign of Orissa. Another reading would suggest that in all probability Olasuni was a Buddhist goddess that, despite an absence of worship was still animated and over the years had acquired a rather foul temper. Arakhit Das however pacifies the spirit and transfers her to another location at the base of the hill. However, this story as an origin tale of the site, retains the notion that the site was initially a Buddhist one, the current Mahant of the Ashram, Sadhu Namananda Das, had another origin story to narrate. In his story, when Durga defeated the demon Mahishas army, one general, a particularly weak demon called Virabahu, escaped and hid on the hill. After doing penance for many years he became strong and challenged Devi to do battle. During the battle Devi came to the hill to rest, and there she tied Virabahus right and left limbs separately with two banyan roots, locally called oulha, and tore him into two halves. After this the hill became known as Olasuni. This story attemts to relocate the site to one being authentically Hindu, having a pauranic origin. The Olasuni is the most powerful Ashram of all Arakhit Das Ashrams. However it is not a headquarters of sorts because most of the Ashrams operate more or less independently. According to sources it has been only in the last ten years or so that the Olasuni Ashram and Udayagiris Paduka Ashram have been in collaboration with each other. Most of the task of getting Arakhit Dass manuscripts published has been taken up by the Olasuni Ashram. The major event here is the mela held on the Magh ekadashi, which is attended


by hundreds of ascetics and thousands of householders. It is mostly at the mela that the books, pamphlets and C.D.s are sold. The Ashram has produced at least three video C.D.s themed around Arakhita Das, there are many others not directly produced by the Ashram itself. Of these, one C.D. is particularly revealing in terms of the politics of selfrepresentation. The visual narrative is that of Arakhit Dass life, divided into three phases, first the adolescent, when leaves home and goes to Chitrakoot parvat; then as a young man at Khandagiri and arrival at Olasuni and then finally his mature phase. The visuals are set to music and song, the lyrics utilise phrases of Arakhit Dass own writings but most of it has been written by Sri Mahendra Kumar Singh, a local retired schoolteacher and a member of the Olasuni trust board. He himself plays the part of Arakhit Das as a young man, where as the current Mahant Sadhu Namanand Das plays the role of the mature Arakhit Das, which is noticeable because it is this phase where most of Arakhit Dass miracle working activities are emphasised. The Ashram itself consists of a central temple shrine of Arakhit Dass Samadhi, surrounded by several shrines, three belonging to Jagannatha and one of Hanuman along with the odd Shiva-ling or two. There are multiple smaller Samadhi shrines of the previous Mahants of the Ashram, kitchen, living quarters of the Sadhus, rooms for visitors, taps for drinking water, gardens etc. A new structure is coming which is meant to house more important guests, some rumors have it that it will be a hall rented out for marriages etc. The entire Ashram has been covered with marble flooring and landscaped with various kinds of decorative plants. Almost all of the buildings have been covered with frescos or reliefs of Krishna, Jagannath and Vishnu. Briefly put the iconography shows an ascetic mastery over various entities from the Vaishnav pantheon. On the


facade of the Sadhus residences, Arakhit Das is shown seated centrally above images of Vishnus Dasavatara, while the Dasavataras are painted onto the wall, the figure of the ascetic is given a more tangible, a more real look by sculpting it in three dimensions, emphasising the ascetic as the real world manifestation of these divine powers. At another place we can see a brightly painted relief composition of Krishna playing his flute while sporting with Radha alongside Vishnu with Laxmi surrounded by divine musicians, underneath which is a painted depiction of Jagannath. The emphasis on decorative plants is also significant, until 10 years ago, the Ashram had a serious water problem, it being on top of a rocky hill, there were no wells or ponds. Water had to be manually carried from the base of the top to serve essential purposes of drinking and cooking. Now not only are there water taps with cooled drinking water and gardens with flower beds but also, a walk-in water fountain at the entrance, for devotees to clean themselves before entering, and to freshen up. Outside the entrance is also a small built structure bearing the name Ananta Gumpha, a prominent sign inscribed there claims that it was here that Baba Baliya received a shooyavani that is, received a divine message. Baba Baliya is a famous television god-man of Orissa, and Ananta Gumpha is a famous cave from Khandagiri where Arakhit Das received his enlightenment. Creating another Ananta gumpha at Olasuni and the Mahant casting himself as a miracle performing Arakhit Das in the video C.D., are not mere eccentricities but rather must be looked as attempts to appropriate the magico-spiritual potential associated with Arakhit Das and sites like Khandagiri by certain individuals for partisanal purposes. The central temple follows an elaborate daily itinerary of rituals. From bathing, feeding, offering flowers, aarati etc. One of the Sadhus from another Ashram sarcastically


referred to it as a second Srikhetra, the Jagganath temple at Puri. The irony is that Arakhit Das had an intense dislike of Jagannatha, on his visit to Puri he had been unable to see the famed idol and received no food either, after which he cursed Jagannath and called him impotent, consequently Laxmi herself supposedly came and fed him. The king of Puri also tried to convince Arakhit Das to stay near Puri, offering him generous land grants but that too Arakhit Das turned down. Given its importance, within the popular religious circuits of Orissa, especially among the rural population, the Ashram has begun to receive attention from various politicians. Many local villagers claimed, inside and outside the Ashram, that politicians often came to the Ashram on vacation along with their consorts. Which actually goes a long way to explain why the Ashram had been landscaped in the same kind of aesthetic as an exotic resort. This Ashram presents us with an interesting conjunction what Edensor wouldve called Enclavic tourist site and pilgrimage tourism.

Paduka Aashram:
The Paduka Ashram, as has already been mentioned in the previous chapter is located at the base of Udayagiri hill, outside Bhubaneswar. Its present form as a brick and cement structure was given to it be the previous Mahant Sadhu Udhav Das, who held the stewardship from 1962 to 2007; although the foundations are said to have already been laid by his predecessor, Sadhu Shankar Das. The Ashram was founded by Sadhu Banamali Das, who took Arakhit Dass wooden sandals and some manuscripts and established them first in Khandagiris Ananta Gumpha, from where they were moved to


the base of Khandagiri hill and from there again to the current location at the base of Udayagiri hill. Initially it was only a mud structure that housed the relics and a sacrificial fire. From around the beginning of the 60s various associated shrines were added to it, at present the Ashram has a Kali shrine, a Shiva shrine and one Annapurna shrine, apart from a Jagannath housed along with the manuscripts. This Ashram has a fairly limited litany of daily rituals; incense and flowers are offered in the morning to all the shrines and once in the evening. The sacrificial fire is lit every evening before dusk which is immediately followed by an aarti of the manuscripts and the Jagannath image. In a chamber adjacent to the one housing the manuscripts are kept Arakhit Dass wooden sandals, to which everyday flowers and devotion is offered. In front of both these chambers a large bell is suspended. Visitors come to the Ashram, ring the bell and offer salutations to the same manner as they would to an idol in a temple. Exactly opposite to this is the Mahants seat behind which is the havankund and a seated sculpture of Arakhit Das125. Visitors bow either to the image or the Sadhu and are told to smear holy ash onto their foreheads, some choose to carry a small amount of ash back with them wrapped in newspaper pieces. The vessel containing the ash is placed on a donation box, where every visitor deposits a little money. The Ashram had gained considerable notoriety in recent times under the previous Mahants administration when sadhus there would advocate consumption of meat and intoxicants claiming that the Avadhoot must not differentiate between what common people consider good or bad, as a result of which the Ashram had become quite a popular hangout for local alcoholics and degenerates. The current Mahant has however made considerable efforts to clean up the Ashram and its image, at


The sculpture is recent and is not based on any actual visual representation of Arakhit Das, of which there arent any.


least to the extent that unlike previously these activities are now no more carried out in the open. This Ashram houses many vibrant wall-to-wall frescos, till recently most of these had been done by an amateur artist, a devotee at the Ashram, and represented a wide variety of themes from the Hindu pantheon. However the new Mahant has had them repainted, but this time by a traditional Orissan Patachitrakaar. The central depicted theme is Krishna-lila, or events from the life of Krishna, there are large sized depictions of Laxmi-Narayan, the Jagannath trinity and Ganesh, apart from which the artist has repainted the smaller groups that previously existed such as Vishnus Dasavatara or the Dasamahavidya or the Navagraha. Some of the murals from the previous scheme have been left untouched, all of which are not in the central space, of those remaining are some depictions from the Ramayana and an image of Aardhanarishwara. One of the tasks that the previous scheme of frescos did was to create a sort of pan-pauranic display of Hindu deities, so that Hindu visitors from any part of the country would be able to identify at least some deities that they venerate. The current display tries to preserve that aspect but also much more strongly asserts a traditional Vaishnav-Oriya identity in the Jagannath tradition. Here we can again think of Edensors views on how tourism is the search for cultural difference. Thus the images reassert a high-Brahmanic identity, whereas objects such as the manuscripts associated with an aniconic tradition, begin to be treated as relics and are places in such architectural settings that they too, are drained of their meaning and begin to function in the same way as idols.


Avadhoot Ashram:
The Avadhoot Ashram is located at Khandagiri-Bari, roughly only a kilometre away from the Khandagiri-Udayagiri hills, it is a very recent Ashram, and currently is under construction. The current Mahant is Sadhu Damru Das, who was asked to be the Mahant of the Udayagiri Aashram after the death of its Mahant in 2007, currently he manages both the Ashrams. In all probability it came into being, after the 60s once the A.S.I. began to evict Sadhus from the caves in Udyagiri. Unlike the other two Ashrams discussed, this Ashram hardly attracts any visitors, only a select number of locals visit and are involved in its affairs. The central object of veneration here is not any relic but an icon of Radha-Krishna. However, the icon itself is placed in a room with extensive illustrations and text. The imagery derives itself from medieval manuscript illustrations of tantric traditions. The icon in these images is de-anthropomorphised, in the sense that it is no more displayed as a person, but rather as a map of the ethereal-physical body. The icon itself then functions no more as an image or a representation but rather becomes a code. The wall illustrations show the various chakras and the various mantras and their location in the body. It maps out details of the mystic notion of the body as the universe, of the body as the knower, and that which should be known. However, it would be rather naive to simply think that these illustrations are the hidden doctrine revealed. What these images do is they reveal the details of the mystical knowledge of the body without actually ever revealing the key to comprehending this knowledge or the ways of practicing it. Which are, of course only obtainable by dedication to a master. However what these images actually do is to point out to the fact that there is in fact, a secret. This is something that the visual culture of the other two


Ashrams does not do, in other places the imagery precisely tries to hide the fact that there is actually a secret doctrine126. Such a claim of authenticity of tradition is in part necessitated by the fact that this Ashram does not possess any relics nor is it of much prominence in the pilgrimage circuits. On the other hand it is only because of its marginality that it becomes possible to display the secret doctrine in this manner. Which is to say that, working within its role as a peripheral site it utilises this imagery to make a claim of authenticity for itself. In this Epilogue I have looked at practices of self-representation and spatial arrangement among religious sites of a particular sect that grew out of an anti-orthodox wave of religious practitioners focussed in and around Khandagiri-Udayagiri in the late 18th and early 19th century. My task was to look at how these practices of self-representation allow for the co-opting of the anti-orthodox discourse into the Brahmanical orthodoxy. To sum up, this work has been concerned with the relationship between the secular practices of administration, knowledge production, tourism and the practice of religion at monumental sites. For my purposes I chose to look at the Khandagiri-Udayagiri cave complex in Bhubaneswar Orissa, which houses orthodox, heterodox and ascetic sects, apart from being an important touristic and archaeological site. In the first chapter I examined the existing archaeological and historical scholarship on the site, situating this within larger process of governmental custody and control over the site; as well as within the dominant framework of knowledge that determined the antiquity and Jain nomenclature of Udayagiri-Khandagiri. Finally I attempt to construct an alternate historical narrative that de-stabilizes the standard historical narratives of the site. In the

Urban, Hugh, The Economics of ecstacy: Tantra secrecy and power in Colonial Bengal, ( Oxford University Press, New York, 2001)


second chapter, I attempted to integrate the contending archaeological and religious lives of the site as they unfolded in the modern period; I looked at certain contestations over proprietorship and use of the caves and sculptures between various sects as well as the A.S.I. Then, I go on to discuss Khandagiri-Udayagiri as a tourist site, locating the site within various imagined geographies and the construction of tourist space and tourist performances. In this epilogue, I have gone beyond Khandagiri-Udayagiri to discuss three religious institutions which are linked to an aniconic movement which evolved from Khandagiri-Udayagiri in the late medieval period. Looking at the profile of their visitors, the visual cultural spaces of these Ashrams and the kinds of rituals performed in these, I have looked at the way some of the specificities of tensions between iconism and aniconism play themselves out in these religious institutions.


Articles and Books in English:

Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso, 1983. Rev. ed., London: Verso, 1991. Banerji, Rakhal Das, History of Orissa: from the earliest times to the British period, Volume 1, (R.Chatterjee, Calcutta, 1931) Banerji, R.D and Jayaswal, K.P., Epigraphica Indica, Vol XX, 1929-30 (Archaeological Survey of India, 1930). Barua, Benimadhab, Old Brhm inscriptions in the Udayagiri and Khaagiri caves (University of Calcutta, 1929). Beglar, J.D, Archaeological Survey of India Reports, Volume XIII (1874-75, 1875-76), (Archaeological Survey of India, Calcutta, 1876).

Chatterjee, Partha. The Nation and Its Fragments. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1994. Cort, John, Medieval Jain Goddess Tradition ( Numen, Vol. 34, Fasc. 2 ,Dec. 1987). Dundas, Paul, The Jains (London, Routledge, 1992). Edensor, Tim, Tourists at the Taj ( London, Routledge, 1998). Fergusson, James. Archaeology in India, with Especial Reference to theWorks of Babu Rajendralala Mitra. London: Trubner, 1884. Reprint, New Delhi: K.B. Publications, 1970. - Illustration of the Rock-Cut Temples of India. London: Weale, 1845. - History of Indian and Eastern Architecture. London: Murray, 1876; Reprint, 2 vols. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1972. - The Cave Temples of India, (W. H. Allen & Co. 1880) Ganguly, Mano Mohan, Orissa and her Remains ( Thacker, Spink and Co., 1912).

Guha-Thakurta, Tapati, Monuments, Objects, Histories; 2004 Columbia University Press. Havell, E.B., The Ancient and Medieval Architecture of India: A study of Indo-Aryan Civilisation, (London, John Murray, 1915). Lauire, William F.B., Orissa, the garden of superstition and idolatry, (Bhattacharya, 2nd edition, 2000) Mahapatra, R.P, Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves (D.K. Publications, 1981). - Jaina Monuments of Orissa (D.K. Publications, 1984). Mazumdar,B.C, Orissa in the Making (University of Calcutta, 1925). Mitra, Debala, Udayagiri & Khandagiri, ( New Delhi, Director General Archaeological Survey of India, 1960). Mitra, Rajendra Lal, The Antiquities of Orissa Vol-2, Calcutta, Newman, 1880. Rath and Patnaik, Orissa: History, Art and Culture (Sundeep Prakashan, New Delhi, 2008). Sahu, N.K, Kharavela (Bhubaneshvar, Orissa State Museum, 1984). Sterling, Andrew, Orissa : Its Geography, Statistics, History, Religion and Antiquities , (John Snow, London, 1846). Trigger, Bruce, Romanticism Nationalism and Archaeology; Nationalism, Politics, and the Practice of Archaeology; ( Great Britain, Cambridge University Press, 1995). Urban, Hugh, The Economics of ecstacy: Tantra secrecy and power in Colonial Bengal, ( Oxford University Press, New York, 2001). Wankhade, Harish S, The political context of religious conversions in Orissa , (E.P.W., April 17th 2009)

Articles and Books in Hindi and Bengali:

Phadi, Sri Ramakrishna, Avadhoot Gita, ( Current Edition 1994, Dharmagrantha Store, Cuttack) Pradhan, Golok Chandra, Mahapurush Arakhit Das ( Current Edition 2006, Mahant Sri Namananda Das, Olasuni Gumpha).

Ramachandran,T.N., and Jain, Babu Chotelal, Khandagiri-Udayagiri Caves, (Ladadevi Granthamala, Kolkata, 2003). Unpublished Thesis and Papers:
Mukherjee, Sraman, Unearthing the Pasts of Bengal Bihar and Orissa: Archaeology, Museums and History Writing in the Making of Ancient Eastern India, 1862-1936 , ( Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Calcutta 2010).

Bloch, T., Annual Report Archaeological Survey of India, Bengal circle, for the year 1901-1902.

Pamphlets and Brochures:

Incredible India, Orissa tourism Brochure, Department of Tourism, Government of India. Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves Bhubaneshwar, (Archaeological Survey of India, Bhubaneshwar Circle).