Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE credits
This thesis analyses the late-Vedic goddess Śrī and her non-personified precedent śrī ‘splendour, glory, excellence, fortune’. Śrī has not before been studied in the light of the Avestan royal splendour, xᵛarənah, and is often interpreted one-sidedly as a pre-Aryan goddess of prosperity. In contrast, this thesis locates the genealogy of Śrī’s characteristics in the Vedic goddess of dawn. The meaning of light in Vedic poetic and sacrificial terminology is highlighted, especially in the relation between royal patron and priest-poet. Śrī’s relation to terms like varcas and tejas, the “shining fame” of the hero, and epic descriptions of blazing warriors, are discussed. The nimbus in early Indian iconography is compared to descriptions of royal splendour in the texts. A subsistent theme in epics, myths and Vedic rituals is identified: the splendour won, lost and recovered by the king. This paradigm is showed to be dependent on the truthfulness, sacrificial status and asceticism of the king. A new understanding of central events in the royal consecration ritual, in the Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārata are thereby offered. It is argued that a continuous and richly varied concept of royal splendour can be identified, from the Ṛgveda to the great epics, and that it is of considerable importance in the ancient Indian rulership ideology.
Key words: Royal splendour, śrī, goddess Śrī, Avestan xᵛarənah, tejas, varcas, svayaṃvara, ascetic, legitimation of power, fire, sun, dawn, Indra, Viṣṇu, rājasūya, king and priest-poet, Vedic ritual, Vedas, Mahābhārata, Rāmāyaṇa, Indo-European.
2014. , 173 p.