Acta Orientalia Belgica XXX - DÉTAILS

AOB XXX | Dieux, génies et démons dans les cultures orientales & florilegium indiae orientalis - 2017, xxx + 402 pages

Dieux, génies et démons dans les cultures orientales & florilegium indiae orientalis
Jean-Marie VERPOORTEN in honorem

Édité par

Christophe VIELLE, Christian CANNUYER et Dylan ESLER

Illustration de couverture

Bas-relief de la Grotte de Mahiṣamardinī à Mahābalipuram (Tamil Nadu): la Déesse (Devī) combattant le Démon-buffle Mahiṣa (Art Pallava, 7e siècle ; © Charlotte Schmid).


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p. vii - La Société Belge d'Études Orientales devient Royale

p. xi - Tabula Gratulatoria

p. xv - Christophe VIELLE, Jean-Marie Verpoorten, décrypteur de la pensée indienne. Bio-bibliographie de Jean-Marie Verpoorten.

Dieux, génies, anges et démons dans les cultures orientales

p. 1 - Apolline-Marie HUIN, Séductions infernales, des mythes sumériens aux traditions bibliques

My interest in the relationship between oral and written tradition led me to search for recurring elements, met in narratives from different civilizations and periods, that are all associated to secondary feminine entities whose sexuality is especially exacerbated and taboo. Considered as minor within pantheons, these seductive and enticing creatures, whose role was to haunt the night, bringing fears and deaths, peopled the imagination of the Mesopotamians as well as that of the first Jewish, then Christian populations, and our own, still nowadays. If, in polytheistic religions, these creatures are manifold, in the main monotheistic religions, they seem as if syncretized in one character: Lilith, who is supposed to have been the first wife of Adam, the master of succubi. the significant elements which allow me to establish a link between all the entities I study are: their hypersexual nature, a sexual taboo, the garden, the tree of Life, and the snake.

p. 17 - Christian CANNUYER, Seth, Ba‘al et Yhwh, dieux des nuées, si proches en leurs espaces célestes

This paper traces the evolution of the egyptian god Seth, originally a storm-god and auxiliary of the boat of the sun in its daily fight against Âpopis, the chaos-snake. In its beginnings, Seth presents characters that are those of the Semitic Ba‘al, just like the Biblical Yhwh. As murderer of Osiris, as god of storms and foreign countries, Seth was progressively demonized in the first millennium BC. He became a detested ass-god, to whom the egyptians assimilated the God of the abhorred Jews. Under the name of Seth-Typhon or Iaô, he is omnipresent in the magic rituals of the late period. The Gnostics considered him as an evil demiurge. But the question remains open: since the positive side of Seth has never been totally forgotten, could it have influenced the figure of the Seth the Savior, son of adam, in the Sethian gnosis?

p. 47 - Arnaud QUERTINMONT, Anubis, un démon ?

In 2016, the University of Swansea has launched a new database dedicated to the egyptian World of Demon: Demon Things – Ancient Egyptian Demonology Project. At this occasion it seems useful to present a peculiar representation of Anubis and to identify if he’s only a god or if he can act as what we call a demon. We will also look at other canine divinities and demons.

p. 57 - Benoit CLAUS, L’éclipse du soleil, Ramsès IV et (la) lune

This paper proposes a commentary on a passage from the Great Stela of Abydos of Ramesses IV (line 5-7) which proclaims Osiris’s supremacy. It focuses on some topoi of lunar theology (assimilation of Osiris to the Moon, Lunar phases, Moon’s brightness, rituals as slaughtering the enemies, time computing).

p. 77 - Alexandre TOUROVETS, Le disque ailé dans l’art achéménide

The problem of the signification of the Winged-disk arises multiple crucial questions. Many researchers have proposed to identify this motif with the Fravashi/Fravahr of the king, the Kvarnah/Xvarnah of the king or even more directly with the symbol of the great god Ahura Mazda. The iconography of the Winged-disk shows that the image of the human bearded bust emerging from the disk seems not to be linked to the presence of the figure of the king on the reliefs or in the scenes of the glyptic. The motif of the bust appears in scenes where the image of the king is not shown. Maybe these scenes depict possible representations of a cult to the living king. From the three main interpretations for the Winged-disk, it seems that its identification as the symbol of Ahura Mazda fits better with what we know about the Iranian religious way of thinking. Indeed, the attempts to identify it with the Fravashi is clearly impossible taking into account the real meaning linked to the religious concept of the word. Regarding the Kvarnah/Xvarnah concept, we are in the same matter of reflexion. The human bearded bust has neither connexions with a ceremony performed for the honour of the king’ soul nor any link with the death. Indeed this concept seems to have no direct connexions with a royal ideology. As a result, this study shows the different reasons why the identification as the symbol of Ahura Mazda seems the most admissible answer to the question. In the same way, this article grants that this statement is not completely sure and definitive and takes in consideration the reasons why such consideration must be taken with caution.

p. 101 - Jacques SCHEUER, Entre démons, dieux, Bouddhas : des frontières fluides

The disciples of the Buddha have nothing to expect from gods and nothing to fear from demons. Indian and Tibetan stories of subjugation of hindu deities by Buddhas or bodhisattvas should not be interpreted as the mere display of a superior power. The skilful use of violence can be a compassionate way of manifesting the potential for full awakening present in all beings, including gods and demons.

p. 117 - Jacques HUYNEN, The Nat’s of Myanmar, spirits, gods or devils ?

p. 125 - Marc MALEVEZ, Les anges comme forces positives dans le combat des moines coptes au désert

p. 137 - Jean-Charles DUCÈNE, Le paganisme européen dans les sources arabes (9e-11e s.)

The islamic medieval geographers retained some observations about the pagan practises of Central and Eastern Europe. These observations complete and confirm what Western sources report. The sacrifical offering is at the center of the cult, and the cremation is dominant among the funeral practicises, with the suicide widow.

p. 151 - Motia ZOUIHAL, Al-Ḫaḍir et les karāmāt al-awliyā’, l’univers mystique des soufis dans les kutub al-manāqib des 12e et 13e siècles

Al-Ḫaḍir first appeared in the Muslim chronicles as part of qiṣāṣ al-anbiyyaʾ (“Stories of the Prophets”). Those stories are based on ḥadīth texts. However, the 12th and 13th centuries witnessed the appearance of a number of hagiographic texts which turned al-Ḫaḍir into a central figure within the discourse on al-karāmāt (“spiritual powers”). the present paper is an attempt to examin how hagiographic texts deal with the question of karāmāt when considering al-Ḫaḍir.

p. 163 - Alain SERVANTIE, Avatars de Hizir (Khadir) en Anatolie

The prophet Elias passed from the Bible to the Koran as Ilyas. He is generally confused with al-Khadir, the “green”. Khadir became Hızır in turkish, holy initiator of mystics, also divinity of the spring and the vegetation along pre-Christian anatolian gods, the guardian angel of those who revere him. Numerous places bear his name in Anatolia. Special feasts are organized in his honor -Hidrellez, very popular in central Anatolia and in the Balkans, coinciding the most generally with Saint-George of the orthodoxes. Curiously, certain legends and Anatolian traditions find themselves among Carmelite’s.

Florilegium Indiae Orientalis

p. 185 - Guillaume DUCŒUR, Du mont Potala au mythe du déluge dans l’Asia Polyglotta de J. Klaproth

From the 17th century onwards, research into the historicity of a vast flood, whether local or universal in nature, led European Orientalists to investigate the redactional history of the various mythological versions of the Purāṇas, and induced explorers to record a number of Himalayan oral traditions related to such a deluge. In his work Asia polyglotta, which was published in 1823, Julius Klaproth attempted to sketch a chronology of these various Oriental versions of a flood myth, and put forward the idea that the recollection of a vast Asian flood had been preserved in the Tibetan oronym “Buddala” or “Schiffsträger”. The present article briefly examines this interpretation of the toponym Potala, quite unique in its time, incorporating as it did Indian and Tibetan Mahāyāna Buddhist traditions concerning the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara.

p. 197 - Paul-Émile DUMONT (†), Le Vedânta d’après Shankarâcharya

This article is the edition of a detailed summary (of which only a few rare copies were printed) of a causerie which was delivered in Brussels in the year 1927 by the Belgian Indologist Paul-Émile Dumont (1879-1968). The aim of this paper was to present to a non-specialist audience the main tenets of the Advaita-Vedānta doctrine according to Śaṅkara. The author introduces in a clear manner several important Sanskrit philosophical concepts and deals successively with what he calls the theology – exoteric or esoteric –, the cosmology, the psychology and the eschatology of the Vedānta, even venturing a few comparisons with the Christian doctrine of the Gospels. It appears that Dumont draws here directly from a paper by Paul Deussen, which he merely summarizes in translating and paraphrasing extracts.

p. 203 - Vincent ELTSCHINGER, The Yogācārabhūmi against Allodoxies (paravāda): 3. The Caste-Classes

The Yogācārabhūmi, a massive compilation of the early Yogācāra “school(s),” contains a comparatively short section dedicated to the critical examination of sixteen “allodoxies” (paravāda), mostly non-Buddhist doctrines, practices and institutions, some of which go back to the Brahmajāla- and Śrāmaṇyaphalasūtra of the Dīrghāgama. This section, which could go back to the late 3rd century CE, is a remarkable milestone in the history of philosophy in the Buddhist environment in that it summarizes and updates earlier canonical arguments, adapting them to a new polemical context, and reveals Buddhist philosophy’s profound indebtedness to sūtra literature. The present paper analyzes allodoxy no. 14 (agravāda), the brahmins’ claim to socio-religious superiority, i.e., to be the purest and most excellent of the caste-classes.

p. 241 - Dylan ESLER, L’époque dynastique de l’empire tibétain

This article seeks to provide some indispensable reference points for a contextual understanding of the dynastic age of the Tibetan empire, a significant period in Tibetan history that was to have a determining influence on the Tibetans’ self-understanding of their cultural, religious and political identity.

p. 253 - Emmanuel FRANCIS, La sixième « vacherie » d’Ellis

At the beginning of the 19th c., Francis Whyte Ellis (1777‒1819), one of the major figures of Orientalism, notably as the discoverer of the Dravidian group of languages, wrote in tamil a treatise in order to persuade Indians to undertake smallpox vaccination, introducing it as the sixth boon from the cow. A manuscript kept in the BULAC in Paris contains the only Tamil version known so far. The present paper provides the sketch of a deeper investigation about this manuscript, its Tamil text, Ellis’s project and its historical context.

p. 267 - Marie-Hélène GORISSE, Rāvaṇa empereur universel ? Point de vue sémantique et problèmes de référence chez le jaïn Prabhācandra

In his 11th century Prameyakamalamārtaṇḍa, ‘the sun [that opens] the lotus of the knowable’, Prabhācandra supports the Jain thesis of non-one-sidedness. According to this version of epistemological pluralism, apparently antagonistic sets of justified knowledge statements can coexist. This is due first, to the nature of the object of knowledge, which is essentially complex; second, to the nature of human epistemic faculties, which cause human beings to subsume diversity into unity and to resolve the however essential complexity of the object of knowledge. Jains call ‘viewpoints’ the main types of explanation of the world through the resolution of complexity and they develop classifications of these viewpoints. Prabhācandra is part of a tradition that claims that there are seven of them. The aim of this paper is to display one of the lines of criticism that Prabhācandra addresses to the representative of the fifth viewpoint, called ‘semantic’ viewpoint, namely the grammarians inasmuch as they intend to formulate a unique system of distinctions apt to represent the distinctions active in the language that describes the world. From the analysis of this line of criticism about the meaning of grammatical tenses and the denotation of an expression containing implicit temporal parameters, our aim is to show that what is called into question in these arguments is firstly the possibility to establish in a universal way a system of rules.

p. 279 - Kunio HARIKAI, Mīmāṃsaka Theory of Gauṇa or Metaphor, from Śabarasvāmin to Kumārilabhaṭṭa

This essay intends to describe some of the general opinions on gauṇa, the metaphorical function of the word, from the viewpoints of the Mīmāṃsā school. Specializing in Vedic exegesis, the school has developed considerations on the metaphorical function of words, which can be found gathered within the arthavāda sections of its main works. At first I explore the commentary (Bhāṣya) of Śabarasvāmin on the Mīmāṃsāsūtra, and then examine Kumārila’s Tantravārttika, the critical sub-commentary on the Bhāṣya, thereby clarifying the general conception of gauṇa for these two Mīmāṃsā scholars and at the same time pointing out differences of interpretation between them. The most conspicuous difference is that Kumārila might have, perhaps for the first time in the Mīmāṃsā tradition, documented the āropa (superimposition) theory and attacked it in his Tantravārttika, this being dependent on the condition that Kumārila precedes prabhākara. The āropa theory itself was accepted by Buddhist philosophers. It is possible, therefore, that Kumārila was arguing against Buddhist philosophers, especially against the epistemological school of Buddhism initiated by Dignāga. I could not, however, find any clear evidence thereof. More detailed and comprehensive studies would have to be carried out in order to arrive at this conclusion.

p. 299 - Philippe SWENNEN, Le nom de Yayāti

Although yayāti is a hero well known in the Sanskrit epics, there is no satisfying analysis of his name. in this article, it is shown that no etymological key exists because Yayāti’s name is built on the basis of the beginning of the stanza RV Viii 42,3c. The main texts justifying this hypothesis are collected.

p. 309 - Christophe VIELLE, Les moyens de connaissance valide selon le Rasavaiśeṣika-sūtra et son commentaire par Narasiṃha

This article examines the means of valid knowledge (pramāṇas) according to Bhadanta Nāgārjuna’s Rasavaiśeṣika-sūtra (IV 70), an ancient Āyurvedic work (4th-5th centuries Ce?), and its commentary by Narasiṃha. Following the sūtra, the pramāṇas are six, viz. pratyakṣa (perception), anumāna (inference), upamāna (identification), āgama (tradition), arthāpatti (implication) and saṃbhava (inclusion). These are the same as in the Mīmāṃsā tradition except for the sixth. Quoted and parallel passages for this portion of Narasiṃha’s commentary are found in the works of the buddhist logician Dignāga and in Candrakīrti’s Prasannapadā (a commentary on Nāgārjuna’s Madhyamakakārikās), as well as in the Carakasaṃhitā, the Nyāyabhāṣya, the Yuktidīpikā and other commentaries to the Sāṃkhyakārikās (4-5), and in Vyāsa’s bhāṣya to the Yogasūtras (I 7). Accordingly, the commentary could date to the 7th-8th centuries; its author appears to have been a buddhist physician, like the author of the sūtras.


p. 323 - René LEBRUN, De equo in Anatolia antiqua

In this short contribution, the reader will find an introduction relating to the story of the horsecult and its importance in Anatolia, particularly sinds the second millennium BC. An important place is reserved to Kanesh (Kültepe), Hattusa, Cilicia and later on Lycia.

p. 327 - Pauline DONCEEL-VOÛTE, Un haut-lieu négligé : le fumier de Job à Qanawât/Kanatha/Carnéas/D’nabé en Syrie du sud

Job lived in the Land of Hus (Aramaic, as in the Vulgata) or Ausitides (Greek Septuagint). The City of Job, Civitas Iob, where he lived and suffered what Satan inflicted upon him with God’s permission, is also called Carneas in Egeria’s Latin letters. Eusebios’ Greek indications equally give Karnaia, in Arabia, as the place where Job lived. Moreover, he writes that Kenath-the Roman Kanatha was the ancient town of Nabau/Noba –i.e. in Aramaic d’Nabau/D’Noba ; this explains the Greek name Dennaba in the Septuagint, which Egeria uses when she indicates that Carneas, the Civitas Iob in Ausitides was previously named Dennaba. Her (4th century) pilgrimage report writes about her visit to Job’s tomb, to the memoria of the dungheap which was the place of the Holy Man’s sufferings, to his house, as well as to the fountain where he cleansed himself at the end of his ordeal, according to non-biblical sources. All modern travellers to ancient Kanatha, present Qanawât, have equally been shown there one or several of these places where Job is still worshipped. The grandest and still most visited is the Nebi Ayoub Seray with its two basilical churches, peristyle court, colonnades and paved esplanade, near the city’s southern gate and walls ; the raised podium and crypt of its triconch martyrium, previously enclosed and vaulted, may be suggested as the place of the venerable sterquilinium.

p. 361 - Jan VAN REETH, Ma‘nā, origines d’un théologoumène arabe et son influence sur l’exégèse musulmane : le caractère symbolique du discours révélé

In order to maintain the absolute transcendence of God, the ultimate cause of creation may not come into any direct contact with the corruptible, passable, dissolvable or changeable creatures of the material world. Therefore, some intermediary subordinate level has to be introduced. According to islam however, god may not have any hypostasis or other companion (kufū’ — S 112: 4). So Islamic theologians, basing themselves on a number of sources such as Stoic philosophers and Manichaean theology, invented an intermediary within the sublunary world itself: the ma‘nā or ‘significance’, multiplying itself in a great number of ma‘ānī that are the causes of all contingent beings. In consequence, God creates only the substantial ma‘nā / ma‘ānī and has no influence at all on any of the accidents.

p. 381 - Florence SOMER-GAVAGE, L’intercalation dans le calendrier zoroastrien (suite). Revāyāt d’Inde et d’Iran

The revāyāt, epistolary exchanges that Zoroastrian from India and Iran have sent to one another between the 15th and the 18th centuries, were apparently aimed at levelled ritual and practical disparities between the two communities on the Iranian traditional model. Nevertheless, this business of reconciliation failed due to a major problem: the question of the intercalation in the Zoroastrian calendar. This critical issue for this sacrificial cult based on a temporal philosophy still exists today but we know little about the circumstances of its genesis. In the revāyāt whose original translation is proposed in this paper, Zoroastrians from India and Iran exchanged, once again, on the arguments against the intercalation in the calendar.