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Title: Les Sauras de l'Inde
Subtitle: Le brillant échec d'une identité religieuse inclusiviste?
Author(s): CHENET, François
Journal: Journal Asiatique
Volume: 281    Issue: 3-4   Date: 1993   
Pages: 317-392
DOI: 10.2143/JA.281.3.2006125

Abstract :
In spite of so many valuable contributions made to the field of Indian Sun-worship research and in spite of the tremendous progress made in our knowledge of Sun-worship over this century owing to the unflagging works of scholars, Indology has indeed paid relatively little attention to this fundamental question: why Sun-worship, which during the first millenium of the Christian era developped into one of the leading religions of northern India, did eventually vanish? In order to throw light on this hitherto unsolved enigma, it is of course necessary to present an adequate sketch of the origin and development of Sun-worship showing the developmental sequence of this cult and dealing with the problem of the Maga influence upon indigenous solar cult, on the combined basis of textual evidence, literary references, iconography, epigraphy, numismatics, onomastics, study of Sun-temples, etc. It is also necessary to determine, in the perspective of the inter-relation of cults ans sects, what kind of religious group the solar sectarians did form, what was the relation of the Sauras to their social background, the caste-system, whether their former ascriptive caste identity was still extant, and which were their beliefs and practices. But looking down the long corridors of history from the early stages of India's past is not enough. We ought to probe more deeply. If we want to puzzle out the enigma of the Sauras' failure, it is necessary to ask what Sun-worship has meant to those who have sought to live by it and to scrutinize the tensions, problems and dilemmas that confronted their religious identity within the context of the religious system of Hinduism. To be sure, as other devotionalist movements, the Sauras showed a predilection for an ostensibly egalitarian and emotional style of religiosity, but that their religious identity involved a paradox is also patent. Consequently the very paradox inherent in their religious identity, on a par with the interplay of multifarious factors, could have eventually conduced to the 'brilliant failure' of such a devotionalist movement.

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