Recent Studies on the Ancient Indian Vrātya
That the ancient Indian vrātya continues to engage scholars, and rightly so, is demonstrated by two recent publications, both with Tiziana Pontillo (Cagliari University) as one of the editors. The first one is "The Volatile World of Sovereignty: The Vrātya Problem and Kingship in South Asia" (2015), the result of a three-year research project financed by the Regione Autonoma della Sardegna and coordinated by Pontillo. This book contains nineteen articles relating to the vrātya and Indian kingship. It approaches these subjects from a broad, interdisciplinary perspective, using a wide range of texts and some visual art. The second book, "Vrātya Culture in Vedic Sources" (2016), contains nine scholarly papers presented at the 16th World Sanskrit Conference in Bangkok 2015. In this volume the authors try to “single out the specific features of the assumed vrātya culture, i.e. those facets which are not included in the core of the orthodox Śrauta culture … or which seem to intentionally be shown in a bad light” (2016:6). We have comparatively little material dealing directly with the vrātya; one of the aims of both volumes in question is to add to the list of sources Vedic passages not previously analysed from the vrātya point of view (2015:3; 2016:1-2). It is my intention to review the two volumes in context of previous reseach and to discuss a handful of the contributions. I will also mention a number of vrātya-related articles published elsewhere.