Viṣṇu As a Hunter: Pāñcarātra Saṃhitās on Hunting Procession/Festival

  • Ewa Dębicka-Borek Jagiellonian University, Kraków
Keywords: Pāñcarātra, mṛgayotsava, mṛgayātrā, royal hunt, Vīralakṣmī, mahotsava


The paper examines Pāñcarātra prescriptions pertaining to a hunting procession/festival (mṛgayātrā/mṛgayotsava), chiefly as held on two main occasions: on the 8th day of mahotsava and on the vīralakṣmyutsava, the latter corresponding with vijayadaśamī which concludes mahānavamī/ navarātri. Through equating the god with a hunter, a ritual hunt displays strong associations with royal power. However, these two occasions of sending the deity for hunting seem to deal with different models of a ruler and his relation to his realm: a ruler who enjoys it (as in terms of a hunting game in a garden) and a ruler who subjugates it (as in terms of new territories traversed while hunting in a forest). As I argue, a key issue in discerning those models appears to be an event of crossing the border of a domesticated space, which also makes the presence of Viṣṇu’s wives on his side impossible.


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