This lecture explores the development of the temple concept in the South Asian world affected by the Guptan invention of the structural, in particular focus on the peninsular Indian kingdoms of the Pallavas and the Chalukyas. In the process of ‘adopting’ the Guptan institution of the Hindu temple, these kingdoms did not simply cut-and-paste the new orthodoxy, nor did they produce a regional adaptation, in the sense that they ‘localized’ principles that were abstract and claimed universal. This is not an origins and derivations model. Rather, we have to understand these new adoptions of the Hindu temple as re-inventions, as diachronic and synchronic contestations seeking to re-think the institution of the Hindu temple, in terms of their own politics and aesthetics, not as expressions of localisms, but as a new claims to the ‘universal’.
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