Translocal Identities. The Śivadharma and the Making of Regional Religious Traditions in Premodern South Asia


This project aims at examining the impact of the spread of the Śaiva religion on the formation of regional religious identities in South Asia from the Middle Ages to premodern times. In order to tackle this issue, the Principal Investigator and her team will examine the historical evidence connected with a still little studied but highly influential tradition of Sanskrit texts collectively called “Śivadharma” (= “Śaiva Religion”), which have been transmitted in some of the most representative regions of South Asia to exhibit the continuing influence of Śavisim. The impact of this literature can be traced in multiple literary, epigraphical and iconographic sources, making it particularly suitable for a multidisciplinary study in which the analysis and edition of texts goes hand in hand with that of the inscriptions and archaeological context. The regions that will be considered for this project are: Nepal, the Deccan area (with connections to the Andhra coast), the northeastern area of the Bay of Bengal (present-day West Bengal and Odisha), Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The Śivadharma texts, composed around the 6th to 7th century, are mostly related to the institutional and cultural facets of lay religion, thus offering access to information on the material and practical aspects of Śaivism at a time corresponding to its rise to monarchical patronage in South and Southeast Asia. The main focus of the team’s research will be on the process of how these texts were adapted to the different regional contexts in which they are transmitted, as well as the assessment of the impact that their knowledge had on the formation of local Śaivism. We will thus study the manuscript transmission of the texts, along with the texts themselves in their regional variants; translations and commentaries on the texts in Sanskrit and Dravidian languages; and the inscriptions and icons of religious centers that are linked to the texts and the religious current sponsoring them.

Project details

Unibo Team Leader: Marco Franceschini

Unibo involved Department/s:
Dipartimento di Storia Culture Civiltà
Dipartimento di Filologia Classica e Italianistica

Università degli studi di Napoli L'Orientale - SiBA(Italy)

Other Participants:
ALMA MATER STUDIORUM - Università di Bologna (Italy)
Ecole Francaise D'Extreme-Orient-Efeo (France)

Total Eu Contribution: Euro (EUR) 1.499.348,75
Project Duration in months: 60
Start Date: 01/12/2018
End Date: 30/11/2023

Cordis webpage
Project website

Quality education This project contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.