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MC9.2 Changing Sacred Waterscapes

Changing Sacred Waterscapes: Religious and Scientific Knowledge Systems in Varanasi

Koordination: Jörg Gengnagel

Zusammenfassung

The map Śrī Kāśī Paṃcakośī Tīrthadarśana. Kāshi Panch-Koshi and it’s Temple depicts at the bottom the river Gaṅgā with a view of the city’s riverfront. The two tributaries Asi and Varuṇā demarcate a circular territory called kāśīkṣetra that contains numerous temples and waterplaces. (Published by Upasana, Bhadaini, Varanasi, 20th century. Private collection Jörg Gengnagel)

The map Śrī Kāśī Paṃcakośī Tīrthadarśana. Kāshi Panch-Koshi and it’s Temple depicts at the bottom the river Gaṅgā with a view of the city’s riverfront. The two tributaries Asi and Varuṇā demarcate a circular territory called kāśīkṣetra that contains numerous temples and waterplaces. (Published by Upasana, Bhadaini, Varanasi, 20th century. Private collection Jörg Gengnagel)

The waterscape of the north-Indian city Varanasi (Benares, Banaras, Kāśī) is central to the perception of the city as one of the most important Indian pilgrimage centers. Various types of water places form an integral part of the topography of Varanasi. The river Gaṅgā and the tributaries Asi and Varuṇā demarcate the “sacred field” of the city (kāśīkṣetra). The cityspace itself is dotted with ponds, tanks (kuṇḍa, tālāb) and wells (vāpī, kūpa). The whole territory is therefore perceived as a ford or crossing (tīrtha) promising liberation.

That this waterscape has its environmental history where technological, scientific and religious knowledge systems interact, will be investigated in case studies of the 19th and 21st century based on textual and cartographic sources as well as field research. In close cooperation with the other members of the interdisciplinary research group “Waterscapes” and the Cluster’s Research Area C “Knowledge Systems” we will therefore look at interacting knowledge systems and overlapping semantic domains of environmental, scientific and religious discourses in specific historical and regional contexts.

Resources

Banaras Bibliography (Jörg Gengnagel & Axel Michaels, July 2011).
http://www.sai.uni-heidelberg.de/abt/IND/publikation/bibbanaras/bibbanaras.php

A New Mirror of Kāśī. A HyperImage representation of Kailāsanātha Sukula’s Historical Map Kāśīdarpaṇa (1876). Jörg Gengnagel & HyperEvaluation Team (Matthias Arnold, Peter Gietz, Eric Decker, Giovanna Niebler, Wen-Ting Wu), Cluster of Excellence „Asia and Europe“, Karl Jaspers Center, Heidelberg University 2011. http://kashidarpana.uni-hd.de/