BrahmandaCosmologyDwapara YugaJambudvipaMount MeruVedic Cosmology

Cosmo Graphical Mapping | Cosmographies In Hindu Tradition | 103

The following article on Cosmo Graphical Mapping by JOSEPH E. SCHWARTZBERG is a continuation from the Previous article Cosmo Graphical Mapping | 102. The following article would be describing on Cosmographies In Hindu Tradition, Paintings and Ink Drawings.

Compared with the surviving cosmographies of the Jain tradition-an exceedingly large number-those clearly identifiable with Hinduism are surprisingly few. The reasons for this seeming paradox are provided in the following section on Jain cosmography. With the exception of simple representations of the cosmic egg, all the examples author know’s are hybrid in that they combine elements of two or more of the conceptions noted above in regard to the structure of the cosmos. Simpler views were undoubtedly once made, but they do not appear to have been preserved, and it seems probable from the Puranic texts that compound views originated very early in Indian history. A remarkably striking depiction of the hiranyagarbha, literally “golden womb or fetus,” has been reproduced in a number of publications. Described as the golden egg or germ that “symbolizes the birth of the cosmos. [and the] source of energy for all being,” the hiranyagarbha is shown floating in a field of “primordial waters.” Its upright position suggests that even in this nascent form the universe comprises a vaulted dome and a correspondingly shaped nether region. Somewhat more complex is the conception illustrated by Figure 1, which shows, according to Rawson, the “primary divisions within the fertilized world-egg.” This interpretation is in keeping with an enduring Tantric tradition within Hinduism that is shot through with sexual imagery. But whether or not it is correct, it does seem clear that the nine divisions of the egg that are portrayed are those of Jambudvipa illustrated in Figure 2 (rotated ninety degrees) and Figure 3, with three continents each to the right and left of the central continent, Ilavrta, one continent each above and below, and within Ilavrta, a proto-Meru, the emerging axis mundi. Separating these variously colored continents are bands that are also of various hues, indicating mountain ranges. The outer ring ocean and mountain range (Lokaloka) are missing, however. Here the world egg is lying on its side, in contrast to the vertical position of the earlier mentioned hiranyagarbha and of figure 2.

Figure 1 - Cosmo Graphical Mapping - Mathomathis
Figure 1: Primary Division within the Cosmic EGG: 
Figure 2 - Cosmo Graphical Mapping - Mathomathis
Figure 2 – Puranic Conception of the division of Jamudweepa, the innermost continent of the Sapta Dvipa, Vasumati. 

[About Figure 1: Though this diagram bears no text, it is immediately recognizable as a representation of the cosmographic conception Illustrated by figure 2 above (rotated ninety degrees). It IS. gouache on paper, Rajasthani, and dated eighteenth century. SIze of the ongmal: 27 x 42 ern. From Ajit Mookerjee, Tantra Art: Its Philosophy and Physics (New Delhi: Ravi Kumar, 1966), pI. 43 (p. 70), by permission of Ravi Kumar.

[About Figure 2: Here Ketumala and Bhadrasva retain their positions as the western and eastern continents, but the earlier Uttarakuru and Bharata, in the north and south, have each been divided into three major parts separated by east-west mountain ranges. After Joseph E. Schwanzberg, ed., A Historical Atlas of South Asia (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978), pI. m.D.3, adapted from D. C. (Dineshchandra) Sircar, Cosmography and Geography in Early Indian Literature (Calcutta: D. Chattopadhyaya on behalf of Indian Studies: Past and Present, 1967), pI. V. ]

Figure 3 - Cosmo Graphical Mapping - Mathomathis
Figure 3 – Brahmanda | EGG of Brahma. 

[ About Figure 3:  This gouache-on-paper rendition of the egg of Brahma is probably from Rajasthan, ca. 1700. Here, Brahma, the creator and the first deity of the Hindu trinity, occupies a central position, while Vishnu the preserver and Shiva the destroyer are seated above him (left) and below (also left). Other deities, each with a specific function in terms of world creation, preservation, and destruction appear within the nine fold central world/continent, Jambudvipa, which is in tum within Rajas, the middle major stratum of an essentially tripartite universe. The five innermost circles, those intercepting the seven spokes, represent mountain ranges in the following sequence, from the center outward: Suvarva (Gold), Pu~paka (Flower), Devanika (Abode of Angels), Meru (sic, at the center of the earth, though that is not evident here), and Mandaracala (where the earth joins the rest of the universe).  The colors for these five rings are also said to signify periods of time in the following sequence: blue for the time prior to the earth’s formation, gold for the Satyayuga (era of truthfulness), purple for the Dvaparayuga (era of degradation), yellow for the Tretayuga (when good and evil coexist), and grey for the Kaliyuga (age of darkness). The seven outer circles represent different colors of the cosmos. The four elephants (Diggaja) conventionally represent the protectors of the four cardinal points. The two chariots, pulled by seven horses (upper right) and by a deer (lower left), signify the Sun (day) and Moon (night) respectively. The individual horses symbolize the seven Vedic planets. Size of the original: not known. From Ajit Mookerjee, Tantra Asana: A Way to Self-Realization (New York: George Wittenborn; Basel: Ravi Kumar, 1971), 66 and pI. 37, by permission of Ravi Kumar.]

One supposes, therefore, that east lies at the top of the painting. But possibly the orientation was an expedient one, adapting the painting to the shape of the page in the manuscript containing it, whose nature cannot now be ascertained. A third and still more differentiated cosmography appears in figure 4, which “shows a world … very similar to that described in the Epics and Puranas” The painting is unquestionably in the tradition of Vaishnavism, one of the two principal divisions within Hinduism, characterized by worship of the lord Vishnu in his various forms and avatars with which particular realms of the universe are associated. Vishnu’s most important incarnation, Krishna, for example, is here shown in paradise (Vaikmnha), while Varaha, the Boar avatar, is shown in the cosmic waters from whose depths he raised the earth after it had been cast there by a demon. This complex diagram includes various heavens and hells, above and below the earth, depicted in its middle register; seven protective sheaths around Brahmanda, the cosmic egg; and numerous figures from Indian mythology, only a few of which are identified in the legend. A nineteenth-century Rajasthani painting not illustrated in this work, similar in many respects to the one described above but representative of the Shaivite branch of Hinduism, whose principal deity is Shiva, has been reproduced by the Belgian art historian Armand Neven. This painting, however, though devoid of text, is much more highly structured and symmetrical than the fore going work. The seven heavens and hells are more clearly differentiated from one another, and each is illustrated with its characteristic denizens or objects. The oblong shape of the previous cosmography is retained, as are the seven enveloping rings. At the base of the seven Patalas is a large turtle, sustaining all the higher levels. The principal difference between the two paintings lies in the rendition of the middle band, which represents not only Jambudvipa, in which the nine continents noted in Figure 3 are similarly arrayed, along with Mount Meru, but also to the left (north) and right (south), truncated arcs of the six additional concentric ring continents surrounding it. Most of the cosmography is seen ranged along a vertical axis, but the middle band is rotated ninety degrees, so that we view it horizontally as if from a point above Mount Meru. This device also characterizes many Jain cosmographies.

Figure 4 - Cosmo Graphical Mapping - Mathomathis
Figure 4 – Vaishnavite Hindu Cosmography

[About Figure 4: This painting is gouache on paper, Rajasthani, eighteenth century. Collette Caillat and Ravi Kumar describe it, in part, as follows: “A brief glance shows the cosmic egg, surrounded by seven wrappings. Inside, at the bottom, in the depths of the cosmic waters are the Tortoise, the Boar, and Vishnu seated upon [the Serpent,] Sesha; from Visnhu’s navel protrudes the lotus upon which Brahma sits. The universe is divided into two vast aggregates. In the lower part, are the seven levels of underground regions called Patalas, here very close together. Then barely outlined, is the lowest infernal region, of Naraka; in the upper section are the seven levels, bhar, bhuvar, svar, etc., starting with the earth, continuing with space (which with its wonderful inhabitants goes right up to the course of the sun), and going still higher, to end at their peak in the paradise called Vaikunta, an enchanting spot where Krishna dwells” (Collette Caillat and Ravi Kumar, The Jain Cosmology, trans. R. Norman [Basel: Ravi Kumar, 1981],58). Size of the original: not known. By permission of Ravi Kumar, Basel, Switzerland.]

Yet another cosmography of Rajasthani provenance, from around the turn of the eighteenth century, is presented in figure 5. This illustration includes all three supreme deities of the Hindu pantheon, with Brahma, the creator, occupying a central position and, as in figure 3, a number of lesser deities as well, in various areas of Jambudvipa. The portion of the tripartite cosmos depicted lies within a middle stratum, Rajas (the phenomenal world), below Sattva (the world of superior consciousness), and above Tamas (the netherworld). Since all three major strata (trilokas) are intersected by the seven spokes radiating out from Jambudvipa, the cosmos is divided into twenty-one lokas (zones). Of particular interest in figure 3 is the iconic representation, through color and other devices (e.g., the nature of specific deities) of time as well as space, and the heroic attempt to integrate the two in a two-dimensional field. The representation of Meru by a lotus, a common cosmographic motif, is also noteworthy. Here the lotus has eight petals, whereas in many other contexts it has four. Seen in this cosmography, unlike those previously discussed, are four rivers emanating from Meru and flowing to the edge of Jambudvipa, a feature that is also characteristic of the cosmographic conceptions of Buddhism and Jainism. Other Hindu cosmographies on which these rivers appear include the globes depicted in figures 5, 6, and 7 and in plate 26.

Figure 5 - Cosmo Graphical Mapping - Mathomathis
Figure 5 – Cosmo Graphical Mapping – Cosmological GLOBE

[About Figure 5: This relatively simple globe, painted on wood, dates from the early to mid-nineteenth century. The northern hemisphere conforms closely to the catur-dvipa vasumati (four-continent earth), while the southern hemisphere reflects the sapta-dvipa vasumati (seven-continent). Diameter of the original: ca. 19 em. Courtesy of the Board of Trustees of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (I.M. 499-1924).]

Figure 6(1) - Cosmo Graphical Mapping - Mathomathis
Figure 6(1) – Cosmo Graphical Mapping – Cosmographic GLOBE
Figure 6(2) - Cosmo Graphical Mapping - Mathomathis
Figure 6(2) – Cosmo Graphical Mapping – Cosmographic GLOBE
Figure 7 - Cosmo Graphical Mapping - Mathomathis
Figure 7 – Cosmo Graphical Mapping – Abstract of Nrothern Hemisphere of a Cosmographic GLOBE

[About Figure 7: It is shown in an azimuthal equal-area projection with Mount Meru centered on the northern pole. The depiction is author’s freehand sketch, and the dimensions may vary slightly from those of the original. Since the Sanskrit text of the original has yet to be transliterated, the names of continents, mountain ranges, and rivers provided on this diagram are merely inferred, based on analogy to similarly positioned features in other known cosmographic maps, globes, and texts.]

Also to be noted here, for the first time, are the seven radial spokes. Although Mookerjee does not comment on their material nature and function they do find echoes in some Jain cosmographies. Finally: we may note that the elephants representing the four cardinal directions are placed near the corners of the map, which strictly speaking should represent the intermediate directions (NE, SE, SW, and NW). Presumably this was done for aesthetic reasons, which overrode any desire for exactitude. From an uncertain locality in southern India comes a cosmography that is strikingly different in some respects from others presented to this point, yet remarkably similar in other ways. The similarities include the oblong shape of the universe, even more evident here than in the preceding view, its essentially vertical axis, the exterior sheathing of the universe by ten nested rings, the existence of eleven upper heavens and ten lower hells, two turtles below the lowest hell, a five-headed serpent atop one of the turtles, the positioning of Jambudvipa between the heavens and hell’s, and the placement around Jambudvipa of a number of annular continents. But absent from this view is any addiction to the auspicious number seven in respect to the features just noted. The most distinctive feature of the painting is the grouping in a line above Mount Meru of symbols depicting the planets (including the sun and moon) and their paths, along with associated deities. The two small chariots on either side are said to represent the “eclipse cycle.” Another south Indian cosmography, the largest where author stated that he had seen or know about, is found in the waiting hall of the renowned Minakshi temple in Madurai. Painted in oils on canvas, its dimensions are about 4.25 X 4.25 meters. The work, executed by N. S. R. Regunathan and entitled Bhugolam (Globe/Geography), is one of a pair. The other member of the pair-discussed below-is entitled Khagolam (Celestial dome). The two works, painted in A.D. 1963 and 1966, are said to be replacements for similar productions, made in 1568, that were accidentally whitewashed and destroyed. Painted in a rich palette, with seas and continents in a variety of colors, the work has abundant text in the Tamil script and language and many numbers in the Westernized Arabic form that indicate the dimensions of and distances between various parts of the cosmos. The work includes the central continent, Jambudvipa, with its now familiar nine fold division and a north-south vertical axis. From a very prominent Mount Meru in the center of Jambudvipa flow four rivers, one in each cardinal direction (though not quite symmetrically disposed), and around Meru are nine or ten ring continents (depending on whether one includes Lokaloka, the outermost ring) with intervening seas, much as in figure 3. A survey of other major Indian temples would almost certainly reveal other cosmographies of this and other genres.

There is yet another remarkable eighteenth-century cosmographic painting from the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, which I was allowed to view briefly, but not to photograph, at the Sarasvati Mahal Library attached to the former royal palace of Thanjavur (Tanjore). It is an exceedingly complex work, painted on wood, possibly in oils, in a miniature style (ca. 60 X 40 cm). The painting appears to be either the model from which a very large wall painting was copied or a copy made from the wall painting, possibly to preserve the content of the latter before it was lost through dismantling or neglect. In either event, the small painting has the same content and layout as one described by Adolf Bastian in 1892, but this larger work was not visible in the library in 1984.63 The purposes of the painting, as of many other cosmographies, were obviously both didactic and eschatological. But the emphasis appears to have been more on the world and the actions of ordinary mortals than is the case with other works previously discussed. The painting deals not only with the various components of the Brahmanical Hindu universe and their associated deities, sacred trees, animals, and other denizens, but also with the zodiac, various types of sacrifice, important pilgrimage places (pictured in four groups, by region, for the whole of India), virtuous and evil acts and their rewards and punishments, types of rebirth, and types of hell. Since Bastian provides a very full account of this work and a pen-and-ink outline showing the spatial relationship of its several parts. In several of the Hindu cosmographies described to this point, author have noted the placement of major and lesser deities within various portions of the cosmos; but to the Hindu mind it would also be no less appropriate to show the cosmos within a particular deity. Plate 25 shows one among many similar artistic interpretations of that potentiality. It is inspired by an episode recounted in the Bhagavadgita section of the Mahabharata during which Lord Krishna demonstrates his power to the hesitant warrior Arjuna by making the whole universe appear within his body. In fact, there is much in this illustration-despite what is stated above-that is situated outside the body of Krishna, including what seems to be the equivalent of the oblong sheaths of the universe noted in figure 8.

Figure 8 - Cosmo Graphical Mapping - Mathomathis
Figure 8 – Cosmo Graphical Mapping – The Path of the Planets

That the universe is shown in plate 25 as resting on a snake and in other views on a tortoise or even on a snake supported by a tortoise serves to underscore the variety and inconsistencies within Hindu mythology and the latitude that artists and art historians enjoy in portraying and interpreting it. The tortoise, we have seen, was a minor element in several cosmographies, but it also occupies a principal position, as noted above, in the Kurma Vibhaga texts.

Apart from the reconstruction of the kurmachakra as seen in previous articles, author states that he has seen no cosmography in which the various components of the kurma vibhaga are delineated. But from Nepal we do have a relevant painting Figure 9 from an eighteenth-century illustrated recension of portions of the Bhagavata Purana, a text dating from the eighth century that recounts the life of Lord Krishna. The scene depicts Krishna with his consort, descending from the sky on his avian mount to the palace of the demon Narakasura, king of Pragjyotisa(modern Assam). The palace is here placed on the back of a tortoise, which is symbolic of the earth as a whole.65 A noteworthy feature of the painting is its inclusion of two peripheral ring oceans (one in blue swirls and the other in a white basket-weave pattern) separated by a ring of red mountains as well as an inner ocean (in a blue basket-weave pattern) on which the palace rests. Thus it does incorporate in an altered form some of the elements that have been previously noted in Hindu cosmographies. Innumerable paintings of this type, in which individual cosmographic elements-Mount Meru, Mount Kailasa, the Ganga (Ganges) River, a particular celestial abode, and so forth-form a major component, appear in South Asian art. Comparable works are also common in sculpture. Regrettably, even a general inventory of works that have been published was deemed not to be practicable in compiling this history. From various places in Rajasthan come a group of generically similar geometric diagrams that may be regarded as essentially cosmographic even though the names they contain relate largely, if not entirely, to terrestrial localities distributed over regions that vary widely in extent.

Figure 9 - Cosmo Graphical Mapping - Mathomathis
Figure 9: Krishna and His Consort Descend To PRAGJYOTISA (ASSAM), Situated On a Tortoise Shaped EARTH

[About Figure 9: This delightful painting, gouache on paper, Nepali, eighteenth century, is from one of many printed recensions of the Bhagavata Purana, recounting some of the exploits of Lord Krishna. It combines the cosmographic conception of a tortoise-shaped earth with the idea of concentric ring continents and oceans. Size of the original: 38.1 X 55.8 em. By permission of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (M.72.3.1), gift of the Michael . Connel Foundation.]

Four of these were brought to light by Gole and a fifth was sent to me by Ram Charan Sharma in a letter suggesting that other similar works exist. At least two of the four published diagrams appear to have a purpose similar to that of the Kurma Vibhaga and other cakras described above. One of these appears as figure 10. On this diagram, described as a phalcakra, and on one other, the sacred city of Avanti (modern Ujjain) occupies the center of the square. On the remaining two diagrams the central places are Jaipur and the small Rajasthani town of Sojat. Outward from the central place the squares are divided into more or less evenly spaced registers and also into directional fields corresponding to the four cardinal directions, all of which are named, and either four or eight intermediate directions. East is invariably at the top. Within each register appear a number of place-names, but the actual geographic direction of the place-names with respect to the focal location frequently does not accord, even approximately, with the direction given by the diagram, and similar discordances were evident concerning the areas signified by the various directionally designated parts of the kurmavibhaga. Relative distance relationships with respect to the focal place are also unreliably presented.

Figure 10 - Cosmo Graphical Mapping - Mathomathis
Figure 10 – Square Form Of Divination Chart Centered On Avanti (UJJAIN).

[About Figure 10: The provenance and date of this chart are unknown, but it is probably from Rajasthan. Charts of this type were and still are used to determine when certain named areas depicted in cardinal and intermediate directions from the central point would be under inauspicious influences from various heavenly bodies. Thus they would guide their users not to undertake activities in or with respect to those areas at particular times. East on such charts is invariably at the top, but relative distances and directions of the named places are not as a rule geographically accurate. What is mapped here is a set of relationships between forces operating within the macrocosm and a portion of the earth. Size of the original: 30 x 40 cm. By permission of the Rajasthan Oriental Research Institute, Jodhpur (acc. no. 21277). Photograph courtesy of Susan Gole, London.]

In the second of the two Avanti-centered phalcakras she describes, Gole provides a selective list of places and directions from among the much larger number actually shown. Listed below are the places on her list that could be identified, followed (in parentheses) by the approximate azimuths from Avanti of the directions and places cited:

North (0°): Kedaram (Kedarnath?, 20°)
Northeast (45°): Mathura (20°), Gwalior (35°)
East (90°): no location cited
Southeast (135°): Champaner (250°)
South (180°): Mecca (275°), Hinglaj (285°), Shiraz
West (270°): Dhar (215°)
Northwest (315°): Bikaner (335°), Kabul (335°),
Nagarkot (modern Nagrota, 5°)

This list of places is noteworthy in that in addition to
such sacred Hindu places as Kedarnath, Mathura, and Hinglaj (now in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan), it includes such prominent and distant Islamic cities as Mecca, Shiraz, and Kabul. This leads one to speculate on the reasons for including certain places within such diagrams and excluding others that are closer or more important. Conceivably, the specific content of the chart may be determined by the needs and travel patterns of the client who had it prepared. In the case just discussed, that individual might have been a Hindu trader who was concerned not only with pilgrimages to holy places in India but also with long-distance commerce with Afghanistan, Iran, and Arabia. In earlier days royal patrons concerned about the likely efficacy of military campaigns in directions away from their capital were undoubtedly among those for whom phalcakras were prepared.

The smallest and simplest of the four charts Gole illustrates is centered on the ancient fortress town of Sojat, in the Marwar region of Rajasthan. The map presented by Sharma to atuhor as shown in Figure 11 resembles those published by Gole in some respects and differs significantly in others. Sharma’s letter describes it as follows: “Rare old map of India indicating Mountains, Rivers, Cities in twenty-four sub-directions of main eight directions. 250 years old ‘Jaipur Rashi Chakra’ [rasi cakra = zodiac] is included in this old map. It starts from Ujjain in centre.”68 The dimensions of the work are not known, but judging from the size of what appears to be a window grating against which it was placed for photographing, it might be on the order of 1 by 1.5 meters. Rendered in black and red ink on paper (probably several pieces pasted together), the map proper occupies about two-thirds of the field it was drawn on.

Circular Form Of Divination Chart Centered On Avanti (UJJAIN).
Figure 11 – Circular Form Of Divination Chart Centered On Avanti (UJJAIN).

[About Figure 11: This chart is gouache and ink on paper, Rajasthani, eighteenth century. The general purpose and the manner of its construction and use are presumably similar to those of the more common square divination charts of the type illustrated in figure  10. The number of places named in this example, approximately four hundred, is particularly high. Size of the original: not known. By permission of the S. R. C. [Sri Ram Charan] Museum of Indology, Jaipur.]

Above it are twenty-one lines of Sanskrit text, in two columns. Although these are partially illegible and have yet to be translated, they begin with a conventional invocation to Lord Ganesa, the god who brings good fortune (As per author). A standard horoscopic chart occupies the lower left corner of the field, and in the lower right are three nested squares, with a series of Sanskrit initials written along the sides of each. These initials include both simple letters and vowel-consonant compounds. They are not arranged symmetrically but are partially in the auspicious form of a swastika. The three squares may serve the same function as the successive registers of the four maps previously described. The principal way the map proper differs from those described earlier is in its circular, rather than square, form.

The approximately four hundred names displayed on it are arranged in twelve spoke like fields, radiating outward from the map’s central circular field, in which eight short lines of text are written. This partly illegible text, which has not been translated, begins with the name of the legendary king Vikramaditya, conqueror of Avanti (Ujjain), after whom the widely used Vikrama era (beginning in 58 B.C.) is named. Four of the map spokes are labeled with the cardinal directions, with east at the top of the map. Between each pair of cardinal directions are two spokes, one with a name ending in the suffix -kun (?) and the other, invariably clockwise from it, ending in the suffix -khanda (region). The rest of the name is derived from that of one of the Dikpalas, the gods who preside over the cardinal and intermediate directions. On the map under discussion, only the deities for the intermediate directions are identified. As an example, beginning with the eastern map spoke and proceeding clockwise, we have Purvadishi (toward the east); Agnikun and Agnikhanda (the kun and khanda of the Dikpala Agni, the fire god who presides over the southeast); Dakshina Dishi (toward the south); and so forth. The twenty-four “subdirections” Sharma alludes to derive from the fact that each of the twelve spokes contains two columns of names, a long one averaging about twenty-one names, extending from the center to the circumference, and a short one averaging about a dozen names, adjacent to it clockwise and ending at the map’s outer edge. Apart from length, there is no obvious difference in the nature of the two columns. Next to each name is a number, and there are a few instances where numbers appear next to a blank space.

The numbers occur in no apparent order. Not all names or numbers can be read, but among the great majority that can be, the numbers range from 2 to 400, seemingly with no repetitions. The twelve spokes are also numbered (starting from the east and proceeding clockwise) as follows: 146, 147,147,148, 148, 148, 150, 151, 151, 152, 153, and 153. It seems reasonable to assume that each of the twelve spokes of this map represents one of the zodiacal mansions, that the places named within each spoke are those most affected (presumably malignly) when a particular zodiacal sign is in the ascendent, and that the numbers joined to the names have some sort of numerological or calendrical significance. Inspection rules out the possibility that distances from either Ujjain or Jaipur are indicated. Very likely they are used, in combination with the zodiacal signs and the initial letters on the chart in the lower right corner, in formulas that indicate the auspiciousness or inauspiciousness of given directions and places at particular times. We see here a likely parallel between this map (and others of its genre) and the various divination practices described in the introductory section of this chapter in respect to the kurma vibhaga and the village rItes described by Raheja (p. 339). As in the case of the Avanti (Ujjain)-centered map analyzed above, there is no evident relation here between the actual azimuths of the identifiable places named and their directions from the center of the map. Among the readable names that I could recognize (perhaps a fifth of the total) were places in all quarters of the Indian subcontinent, including a number at present in Pakistan, but none from beyond the historical limits of India.

There is, however, a distinct bias toward the north and the west. If, as might be surmised, a greater number of the unrecognizable toponyms are those of insignificant places in the north and west of India, then the bias just noted would be even more pronounced. Most of the recognizable names are of cities and towns, a number signify specific rivers or other physical features, and a few are regional designations. Among the names on the map are a number of generic designations, the most common being samudra (sea), listed no fewer than nine times and in no apparent order. Parvata (mountain) appears twice and garh (fort) three times. But no case of a repeated proper name was noted. Who might have commissioned this enigmatic map, and why, has yet to be ascertained. David Pingree, who saw poor copies of each of the four charts illustrated by Gole before their publication, expressed the opinion that despite their similarities in appearance and area of provenance, the charts are not all of the same type. The two that are centered on Avanti (and presumably the one transmitted by Sharma as well){ he writes, seem “similar in principle to the cakras in the Narapatijayacarya . .. [while the others] are quite different.” Conceivably, then, the divinatory charts of the former type became sufficiently popular in Rajasthan, and gained enough of a vogue as a medium for portraying spatial data, that their form was copied even when the purpose to be served had little or nothing to do with divination. Additional research on this uniquely Indian cartographic genre is obviously needed.

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