|PhD ceremony:||Ms N. (Natasja) Bosma|
|When:||February 19, 2018|
|Supervisor:||prof. dr. H.T. Bakker|
|Where:||Academy building RUG|
|Faculty:||Theology and Religious Studies|
Ancient Dakṣiṇa Kosala roughly corresponds to the modern state of Chhattisgarh, plus the districts of Sambalpur, Balangir and Kalahandi of Odisha (formerly Orissa). This region is often characterized as ‘marginal’ and, even today, Chhattisgarh – one of the fastest developing states in India – is sometimes considered to be somewhat ‘backward’, due to the fact that part of the state is still a tribal area. It is therefore somewhat surprising that epigraphical evidence, supported by archaeological remains, has shown that by the turn of the seventh century, Dakṣiṇa Kosala was already a rich centre of early Śaivism. At that time, the region was under the control of the Pāṇḍava king Śivagupta alias ‘Bālārjuna’ hailing from Śrīpura (the modern village of Sirpur). Śivagupta had a very long reign of at least fifty-seven years, and from his records it becomes clear that this king was a great patron of religion, and of Śaivism in particular. His reign was a period of stability and economic prosperity, which means that time and money could be invested in religious and cultural activities, such as large-scale temple construction and the provision of charity, et cetera. Several of Śivagupta's inscriptions report on and relate to the construction of a Śiva temple established by himself and the transformation of this temple into an important centre of early Śaivism (to be precise, the Śaiva Siddhānta and Soma Siddhānta traditions). He actively facilitated the development of Śaivism in Sirpur and beyond, and it is likely that he was even granted the Śaiva initiation.