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A homage to Hindu civilization.
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    https://tinyurl.com/yaajcnf2

    Akṣarasamāmnāya, "recitation of phonemes". Each of the fourteen verses consists of a group of basic Sanskrit phonemes (i.e. either open syllables consisting either of initial vowels or consonants followed by the basic vowel "a") followed by a single 'dummy letter', or anubandha, conventionally rendered by capital letters in Roman transliteration and named 'IT' by Pāṇini.

    Phonemes with a similar manner of articulation are put together as pratyāhāras (so sibilants in 13 śa ṣa sa R, nasals in 7 ñ m ṅ ṇ n M).

    Examples:

    pratyāhāras, consist of a phoneme-letter and an anubandha (and often the vowel a to aid pronunciation) .


    pratyāhāra aC refers to ALL vowels (i.e., all of the phonemes before the anubandha C: i.e. a i u ṛ ḷ e o ai au); 


    pratyāhāra haL refers to ALL consonants.


    Sūtra 6.1.101 अकः सवर्णे दीर्घः aKaḥ savarṇe dīrghaḥ teaches that vowels (from the aK pratyāhāra) of the same quality come together to make a long vowel, so for instance dadhi and indraḥ make dadhīndraḥ, not *dadhyindraḥ


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BO4GVlJS21k&list=PL6q-PQJVJorxbr8JrPerDIBS2qyQIpJyC (7:13)



    Parvati Vallabha Ashtakam | Damaru | Adiyogi Chants | Sounds of Isha


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otHBhMBv4Gg (2:44

    Damak dam damroo re baje new DJ 2017


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKlL4bJe3Q8 (8:41)

    Lord Shiva Sound of - Damaru


    *ḍaṅka ʻ drum ʼ. 2. *ḍakka -- 4. [Cf. ḍakkārī -- ʻ lute ʼ lex.]

    1. P. N. B. Or. H. M. ḍaṅkā m. ʻ drum ʼ; G. ḍaṅkɔ m. ʻ large kettledrum ʼ, M. ḍã̄kā m.
    2. Pk. ḍakka -- m. ʻ a partic. musical instrument ʼ; G. ḍakkɔ m. ʻ drum ʼ; Si. ḍäkkiya ʻ tom -- tom ʼ.(CDIAL 5525)


     *ḍaṅgara1 ʻ cattle ʼ. 2. *daṅgara -- . [Same as ḍaṅ- gara -- 2 s.v. *ḍagga -- 2 as a pejorative term for cattle]1. K. ḍangur m. ʻ bullock ʼ, L. ḍaṅgur, (Ju.) ḍ̠ãgar m. ʻ horned cattle ʼ; P. ḍaṅgar m. ʻ cattle ʼ, Or. ḍaṅgara; Bi. ḍã̄gar ʻ old worn -- out beast, dead cattle ʼ, dhūr ḍã̄gar ʻ cattle in general ʼ; Bhoj. ḍāṅgar ʻ cattle ʼ; H. ḍã̄garḍã̄grā m. ʻ horned cattle ʼ.(CDIAL 5526)


    डमरु m. ( L. )a sacred drum, shaped like an hourglass, used by the god शिव and by Buddhist mendicant monks for a musical accompaniment in chanting, cf. MWB. 384, 385 Ra1jat. ii , 99 Prab. iii , 14; surprise (Monier-Williams)


    ḍamaru m. ʻ drum ʼ Rājat., ˚uka -- m. lex. 2. *ḍam- baru -- . [Onom. and perh. ← Mu. EWA i 460, PMWS 86]1. Pk. ḍamarua -- m.n.; L. awāṇ. P. ḍaurū m. ʻ tabor, small drum ʼ; Ku. ḍaũrḍaũru ʻ drum ʼ; M. ḍaurḍavrā m. ʻ hourglass -- tabor ʼ, ḍaurī m. ʻ itinerant musician ʼ.2. N. ḍambaruḍamaru ʻ small drum ʼ, A. ḍambaru, B. ḍamru, Or. ḍambaruḍamaru, H. ḍamrū m., G. M. ḍamru m.Other variants: K. ḍābürü f. ʻ large drum used for proclamations ʼ; -- Or. ḍempha ʻ shallow kettledrum ʼ; -- N. ḍamphu˚pho ʻ small drum or tambourine ʼ; B. ḍamphu ʻ drum ʼ; -- Ku. ḍãphṛī ʻ drum ʼ, ḍaphulo˚uwā ʻ small drum ʼ; N. ḍaph ʻ a partic. musical instrument played during Holi ʼ; G. ḍaph f.n. ʻ a kind of tabor ʼ; <-> G. ḍamkɔ m. ʻ drum ʼ.Addenda: ḍamaru -- . 1. WPah.J. ḍõru m. ʻ small drum ʼ, Garh. ḍɔ̃ru m., Brj. ḍaurū˘.2. *ḍambaru -- : WPah.kṭg. (kc.) ḍɔmru m. id.*ḍambaru -- ʻ drum ʼ see ḍamaru -- Add2.(CDIAL 5531)


    Rebus: blacksmith: N. ḍāṅro ʻ term of contempt for a blacksmith; N. ḍiṅgar ʻ contemptuous term for an inhabitant of the Tarai ʼ; Or. dhāṅgaṛ ʻ young servant, herdsman, name of a Santal tribe ʼ, dhāṅgaṛā ʻ unmarried youth ʼ, ˚ṛī ʻ unmarried girl ʼ, dhāṅgarā ʻ youth, man ʼ; H. dhaṅgar m. ʻ herdsman ʼ, dhã̄gaṛ˚ar m. ʻ a non -- Aryan tribe in the Vindhyas, digger of wells and tanks ʼ(CDIAL 5524)

    Mth. ṭhākur ʻ blacksmith ʼ(CDIAL 5488)

    Image result for damaru coin kausambiDamaru, drum of Śiva, which produces the sounds of phonemes of Samskr̥tam


    In the post-Mauryan period at Kosambi (modern Allahabad district) cast copper coinage were found with and without punchmarks. Their coinage resemble the Damaru-drum (hour-glass shaped drum of Ancient Bharat). 


    Image result for damaru coin kausambiKauśāmbi, 4.34g, 24.5 x 20.8 mm,  Damaru coin, 200 BCE

    Obv: Humped bull to left with upraised leg; swastika; taurine and Ujjain type symbol

    Rev: Tree in twelve chambered railing.


    http://www.worldofcoins.eu/forum/index.php?topic=31930.0


    The 'symbols' on this coin are Indus Script Hypertexts:


    1. zebu, bos indicus Alternative (Vikalpa) 1: ḍaṅgar 'bull' rebus: ḍāṅro, ṭhākur ʻblacksmithʼ Alternative  पोळ pōḷa, 'zebu, bos indicus' signifies pōḷa 'magnetite, ferrous-ferric oxide Fe3O4', पोलाद pōlāda, 'crucible steel 

    2. svastika sattva, 'svastika symbol' rebus: sattva'zinc', jasta'zinc, spelter; pewter'.
    3. taurine Four arms: gaṇḍa 'four'; rebus:khaṇḍ'tools, pots and pans and metal-ware'.
    4. tree on 12-chambered railing kuṭi'tree'Rebus:kuṭhi'smelter' (smithy) Ta. paṭṭai painted stripe (as on a temple wall), piebald colour, dapple.Ma. paṭṭa stripe. Ka. paṭṭe, paṭṭi id. Koḍ. paṭṭe striped or spotted (as tiger or leopard); paṭṭati n.pr. of dappled cow. Tu. paṭṭè stripe. Te. paṭṭe stripe or streak of paint; paḍita stripe, streak, wale.(DEDR 3877) Ta. pātti bathing tub, watering trough or basin, spout, drain; pattal wooden bucket; pattar id., wooden trough for feeding animals. Ka. pāti basin for water round the foot of a tree. Tu. pāti trough or bathing tub, spout, drain. Te. pādi, pādu basin for water round the foot of a tree(DEDR 4079)Rebus 1: pāṭaṇ maritime town, port: పట్ర paṭra paṭra. [Tel.] n. A village, a hamlet. పల్లెపట్ర villages and hamlets. H. iv. 108. paṭṭana n. ʻ town ʼ Kauṭ., °nī -- f. lex. 2. páttana -- n. MBh. [Prob. ← Drav. T. Burrow BSOAS xii 383 and EWA ii 192 with ṭṭ replaced by IA. tt. But its specific meaning as ʻ ferry ʼ in S. L. P. B. H. does lend support to its derivation by R. A. Hall in Language 12, 133 from *partana -- (√pr̥ ~ Lat. portus, &c.). Poss. MIA. pattana -- , paṭṭana -- ʻ *ferry ʼ has collided with Drav. loanword for ʻ town ʼ] 1. Pa. paṭṭana -- n. ʻ city ʼ, °aka -- n. ʻ a kind of village ʼ; Pk. paṭṭaṇa -- n. ʻ city ʼ; K. paṭan m. ʻ quarter of a town, name of a village 14 miles NW of Śrinagar ʼ; N. pāṭan ʻ name of a town in the Nepal Valley ʼ; B. pāṭan ʻ town, market ʼ(CDIAL 7705)

    Division of squares on railing: khaṇḍa 'division' rebus:.khaṇḍa 'tools, pots and pans and metal-ware'.


    The tree on railing shown on Kauśāmbi coin occurs on many ancient coins of Eran. On one Eran coin, damaru symbol is shown on the obverse.

    Image result for damaru coin kausambi
    Eran, anonymous 1/2 AE karshapana,  five punch 'symbol type'
    Weight:  5.35 gm., Dimensions: 20x19 mm. 'Ujjain symbol', Indradhvaja, railed tree, river, fishes. Blank reverse
    Reference:  Pieper 482 (plate coin)

    eran483
    Eran, anonymous 1/2 AE karshapana,  four punch 'symbol type'
    Weight:  5.70 gm., Dimensions: 20x20 mm.
    The same type as previous coin but a damaru-in-damaru-shaped-enclosure on
    the reverse.
    Reference:  Pieper 483 (plate coin)


    "The damaru revesre symbol might indicate that this type originates from Vidarbha. The Eran region is close to Vidarbha and a typological link is certainly possible. There even might have been a common rule for some time in Damabhadra's reign in the second part of the second century BCE. Mitchiner (MATEC p.1080) supports such a view...Eran and Vidisha, famous sites of great antiquity, were among the dominating urban centers of eastern Malwa in post-Mauryan Central India. Eran is situated on the south bank of the Bina river, a tributary of river Betwa, and Vidisha is on the east bank of the Betwa, approximately 50 miles away. Other major urban centers of eastern Malwa were Bhagila, Kurara and Nandinagara (Nadner). An early trade route connecting Pataliputra with Mathura passed through Eran-Vidisha lands. And while one trade route went from Kausambi in the Allahabad district to the eastern sea coast, another route connected Kausambi in a south-westerly direction with Bharhut, Eran, Vidisha, Ujjain, Mahismati and finally Broach on the western sea coast.


    In contrast to the more or less exclusive use of die-struck local coins in western Malwa, dominated by the urban center of Ujjain, some local powers of eastern Malwa used die-struck coins, while others issued punchmarked copper coins during this post-Mauryan period. Traditionally, these coins have been assigned to "Eran" but they may have been issued in Vidisha or other neighbouring centers as well.
    The Eran-Vidisha region is the source of an important series of attractive,well executed ancient punchmarked copper coins. These local coins of eastern Malwa developed in the post-Mauryan time when the political control of the region had fallen to local dynasts. The very distinctive local coinages, such as that of Eran and Vidisha in eastern Malwa or that of Ujjain in western Malwa, are an indication that these regions were practically independent when issuing these coins. One cannot fix the start of the local Eran-Vidisha punchmarked coppers precisely but the second part of the 2nd century BC is probable. The series came to an end when the Satavahanas incorporated Malwa into their growing empire around the middle of the 1st century BC.  A few Eran punchmarked coins with Satavahana inscriptions confirm the dynastic change in this region.Usually there are 4-5 different punches on an Eran coin. The maximum amount of punches is six and a few types have only two or three punches. The reverse of most specimens is blank but sometimes we see the remains of an old undertype. The commonest devices on Eran coins are elephant, horse, so-called Ujjain symbol, river, railed standard, railed tree and (lotus-)flower with eight petals. Sometimes we see also a bull,  a six-armed symbol, a taurine fixed in an open railing, a damaru in a damaru-shaped enclosure or a standard in a damaru-shaped enclosure. "


    http://coinindia.com/galleries-eran1.html


    Māheśvara Sūtrāṇi 

    1. a i u
    2.
    3. e o
    4. ai au C
    5. ha ya va ra
    6. la
    7. ña ma a a na M
    8. jha bha Ñ
    9. gha ha dha
    10. ja ba ga a da Ś
    11. kha pha cha ha tha ca a ta V
    12. ka pa Y
    13. śa a sa R
    14. ha L

    . ण्।
    २. ऋ ऌ क्।
    ३. ए ओ ङ्।
    ४. ऐ औ च्।
    ५. ह य व र ट्।
    ६. ल ण्।
    ७. ञ म ङ ण न म्।
    ८. झ भ ञ्।
    ९. घ ढ ध ष्।
    १०. ज ब ग ड द श्।
    ११. ख फ छ ठ थ च ट त व्।
    १२. क प य्।
    १३. श ष स र्।
    १४. ह ल्। 

    देवनागरी 
    1. ಣ್
    2. ಲ್ರುಕ್
    3. ಙ್
    4. ಚ್ 
    5. ಟ್
    6. ಣ್
    7. ಮ್ 
    8.
    9. ಷ್ 
    10. ಶ್ 
    11. ವ್
    12. ಯ್
    13. ರ್ 
    14. ಲ್ 

    ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)





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    RV 10.95.1 Translation (Griffith): 1. Ho there, my consort! Stay, thou fiercesouled- lady, and let us reason for a while together.
    Such thoughts as these of ours, while yet unspoken in days gone by have never brought us comfort.

    It is remarkable that Dr. Luka Repanšek Department of Comparative and General Linguistics, University of Ljubljana Dr. Sabine Ziegler President of the Indogermanische Gesellschaft refer to this r̥ca of speech in days gone by. Evidence for spoken forms of language are seen In Indus Script inscriptions.

    Kalyanaraman

    100 Years of Comparative Indo-European Linguistics at the University of Ljubljana – A “Ljubilee”

     

     
    Dear friends and colleagues!
    In 2019, the University of Ljubljana is celebrating its long-awaited centennial. Since the Faculty of Arts and with it Comparative Indo-European Linguistics (indoevropsko primerjalno jezikoslovje) as one of its earliest fields of study are the cornerstones of this leading Slovenian educational institution, it seems more than fit to pay the long tradition a deserved respect in the form of an international symposium that will bring together a wide array of scholars willing to honour the occasion with selected talks and papers on the issues of contemporary comparative Indo-European linguistics. The symposium will take place in Ljubljana in early June 2019 and is organised by the Chair of Comparative Indo-European Linguistics in Ljubljana and the Indogermanische Gesellschaft / Society for Indo-European Studies / Société des études indo-européennes as the Society’s annual Arbeitstagung.
    Apart from the suggestive paraphrase of RVS X.95.1b there will be no general topic that would steer but certainly limit the creative mind. We welcome all papers that celebrate the inexhaustible power of the comparative method on the entire spectrum of Indo-European linguistics and on every level of linguistic enquiry. Especially appreciated, however, will be the individual contributions on those topics that boast a particularly long tradition of research and teaching endeavours in Ljubljana, viz. Indo-Iranian, Anatolian, Balto-Slavic, Celtic, Germanic, Albanian, Tocharian, Indo-European Trümmersprachen, onomastic languages (incl. Old European toponymy), the laryngeal theory, Indo-Uralic, and pre-Indo-European.
    NB It is a particular pleasure to add that as an integral part of the symposium the XIIth International Workshop on Balto-Slavic Accentology (IWoBA XII) will again be held in Ljubljana, welcoming papers dealing with the diachronic issues of Balto-Slavic accentology. Note that in the frame-work of the meeting a comprehensive workshop on the different schools of thought in this complex field is also planned.
    Proposals in the form of preliminary abstracts (200-300 words) for 30-minute papers in English, French, or German – the official working languages of the IG (for contributions planned for the IWoBA workshop also Russian, as is tradition), may be sent by 15 December 2018 to arbeitstagung@...-lj.si. The proposals will be peer-reviewed and the decision announced by the end of January 2019 at the latest. A publishable version of the abstracts with appended bibliography will be due by 30 March 2019. The conference Acta are planned to appear a year after the symposium.
    Sincerely,
    Dr. Luka Repanšek
    Department of Comparative and General Linguistics,
    University of Ljubljana
    &
    Dr. Sabine Ziegler
    President of the Indogermanische Gesellschaft

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    https://tinyurl.com/y79ps9pk


    Proving the form and function of Indus Script Hypertexts: Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) of ca. 3300 BCE rebus Meluhha spoken metaphor is the cipher Kindle Edition

    by S Kalyanaraman (Author)

    Evidence from a pot held in a market street of Mohenjo-daro and a pot received in Susa from Meluhha provide the clue to understand the function of Indus Script Inscriptions. All inscriptions were wealth-accounting ledgers, metalwork catalogues.
    Proving the form and function of Indus Script Hypertexts: Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) of ca. 3300 BCE rebus Meluhha spoken metaphor is the cipher by [Kalyanaraman, S]

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    https://tinyurl.com/yb9wkzbm

    The hypertexts are wealth-accounting ledgers, metalwork catalogues:

    ibha, karibha'elephant' rebus: karba, ib'iron'
    dula'pair' rebus: dul'metal casting'
    tāmarasa'lotus' rebus: tāmra'copper'.
    कर्णक kárṇaka, 'pericarp of lotus'karaṇī 'scribe, supercargo', kañi-āra'helmsman'. 

    Lakṣmi from Gaya. Śunga period.

    Lakṣmi from Gaya. Showering abundance blessing from her lotus.
    Image result for sanchi lakshmi
    Lakṣmi . Bharhut.
    Image result for sanchi lakshmi
    Image result for sanchi lakshmi
    Lakṣmi . Sanchi Stupa.

    Файл:Coin of Azilises showing Gaja Lakshmi standing on a lotus 1st century BCE.jpg

    Coin of Azilises showing Gaja Lakṣmi standing on a lotus 1st century BCE


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    https://tinyurl.com/y7osutjz

    -- kār-kund'manager'.sãghāṛɔ'lathe' rebus jangadiyo'military guard'; kamaṭamu'portable furnace', kammata'mint'
    -- kār-kunda 'manager'of lokhaṇḍa 'metal tools, pots and pans, metalware'. 


    Gold Pendant. Harappa. National Museum, New Delhi
    Sun's rays arka 'sun, rays of sun' rebus: arka 'copper, gold'eraka'moltencast'. 
    Image result for pendant ndus scriptm1656 Mohenjodro Pectoral. The body of the young bull has the pictograph signified on the body. Arka flipped vertically and signified on the body of the young bull on pectoral, as shown below. The young bull signifies Hieroglyph: kõda 'young bull-calf'.  Rebus: kundaa 'fine gold'; kār-kund 'manager'. The overflowing pot signifies the goldsmith artisan's repertoire of metalwork professional competence: lokhaṇḍa 'metal tools, pots and pans, metalware' (Marathi)

    I suggest that this pictograph signifies arka'sun's rys' rebus: arka'gold' Synonym: kundana 'fine gold'  (rebus reading of kõda'young bull-calf'. Rebus: kundaa 'fine gold' (Kannada).-- as a semantic determinative.


    Hieroglyph 1: sãghāṛɔ 'lathe'.(Gujarati).Rebus:  Vajra Sanghāta 'binding together' (Varahamihira) *saṁgaḍha ʻ collection of forts ʼ. [*gaḍha -- ]L. sãgaṛh m. ʻ line of entrenchments, stone walls for defence ʼ.(CDIAL 12845). Rebus: jangaḍ 'wealth in treasury, accounting of mercantile transaction'; jangadiyo 'military guards carrying treasure into the treasury' (Gujarati). Hieroglyph 2: కమటము  kamaṭamu. [Tel.] n. A portable furnace for melting the precious metals. అగసాలెవాని కుంపటి. "చ కమటము కట్లెసంచియొరగల్లును గత్తెర సుత్తె చీర్ణముల్ ధమనియుస్రావణంబు మొలత్రాసును బట్టెడ నీరుకారు సా నము పటుకారు మూస బలునాణె పరీక్షల మచ్చులాదిగా నమరగభద్రకారక సమాహ్వయు డొక్కరుడుండు నప్పురిన్"హంస. ii. Rebus: kammata 'coiner, mint, coinage'.
    Hieroglyph: खोंड (p. 216) [khōṇḍam A young bull, a bullcalf; खोंडा [ khōṇḍā ] m A कांबळा of which one end is formed into a cowl or hood. खोंडरूं [ khōṇḍarūṃ ] n A contemptuous form of खोंडा in the sense of कांबळा-cowl (Marathi. Molesworth); kōḍe dūḍa bull calf (Telugu); kōṛe 'young bullock' (Konda)Rebus: kõdā ‘to turn in a lathe’ (Bengali) kõda 'young bull-calf'. Rebus: kũdār'turner'; kundana 'fine gold' (Kannada).कुन्द [p= 291,2] one of कुबेर's nine treasures (N. of a गुह्यक Gal. ) L. کار کند kār-kund (corrup. of P کار کن) adj. Adroit, clever, experienced. 2. A director, a manager; (Fem.) کار کنده kār-kundaʿh.  (Pashto)
    kāṇḍam காண்டம்² kāṇṭam, n. < kāṇḍa. 1. Water; sacred water; நீர். துருத்திவா யதுக்கிய குங்குமக் காண் டமும் (கல்லா. 49, 16). Rebus: khāṇḍā ‘metal tools, pots and pans’ (Marathi) (B) {V} ``(pot, etc.) to ^overflow''. See `to be left over'. @B24310. #20851. Re(B) {V} ``(pot, etc.) to ^overflow''. See `to be left over'. (Munda ) Rebus: loh ‘copper’ (Hindi) The hieroglyph clearly refers to the metal tools, pots and pans of copper. 
    The expression signified by the overflowing pot is: lokhaṇḍa 'metal tools, pots and pans, metalware' (Marathi)

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    Sri Ayyappan is dharma Śāstā. Sri Kārtikeya is brahma Śāstā. 

    Śāstā means 'teacher'. Both are students who are teachers of devotees who are artisans. The teaching is that skill and learning should be adored. Every child is a spark from the divine anvil.

    The tradition of Kārtikeya temple in Pehoa (Haryana, near Kurukṣetra), is that women are strictly forbidden in this temple which celebrates the brahmachāri form of Lord Kārtikeya. The devotees observe very strict rules during the months of Chaturmas (the months from āṣāḍha through Kārtik). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kartikeya_Temple,_Pehowa 

    brahmachāri means 'disciplined veda student', i.e. devoted to the sacred duty of learning. Devotees adore the disciplined students in Pehoa and Śabarimala temples. 

    Court has no business to interfere in the celebrations by artisans celebrating a discplined student be it Pehoa or be it Śabarimala. Families adore a disciplined student as a divinity to be emulated in their earthly lives. 

    Namaskaram. Kalyanaraman



    Sabarimala: Justice downsizes Divinity
    by Sandhya Jain on 16 Oct 2018
    Sabarimala: Justice downsizes divinity

    Its inclusive character notwithstanding, Sabarimala has several characteristics consistent with a denominational temple and should have been spared the humiliation that is currently agitating Ayyappaswami devotees across the country. In hundreds of Ayyappa temples, devotees are welcomed without distinction of gender, jati or even creed. At Sabarimala, Ayyappa, born from the union of Shiva and Vishnu as Mohini, takes the form of Naishtika Brahmachari (perennial celibate) and performs eternal tapas(meditation); hence women devotees of reproductive age (10 to 50 years) desist from disturbing him.

    Hindu dharma celebrates divinity in its complex diversity. The same deity has different traits and is worshipped differently according to naama (name), rupa (form) and svarupa (essence). During the Navratras, Devi is worshipped in nine forms. At four major temples in Kerala, Ayyappa takes the form of a ‘kumar’ (teenager) at Sabarimala; a ‘balak’ (child) at Kulathupuzha; a grihastha (family man) with wives at Achankovil; and a ‘tapasvi’ (ascetic) in Aryankavu; these denote the four stages of human life.


    Sabarimala is essentially a denominational temple within the Ayyappa panth (stream); it has special rules and regulations appropriate to the deity in that rupa and svarupa. These rules have been practiced without demur from time immemorial and correspond to settled usage and custom. Violation, as in 2006 when an actress in the prohibited age group entered the temple, defiles the sanctity of the temple according to the Agamas, and requires purification.


    The denominational nature of the temple is established by the rigorous 41-day vrat (penance) that Ayyappa Himself prescribed when he directed a king to build the temple at the spot where his arrow landed after vanquishing a demon. This includes total abstinence, celibacy, and other forms of asceticism. A person starting tapas takes blessings from his parents, elders and Guru and dons a tulsi or rudraksha maala. The aim is to purify mind and body and establish the Oneness of all beings. On the pilgrimage, each devotee is addressed as ‘Swami’ as he has become pure. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud’s view that, “To suggest that women cannot undertake the 41-day vratham is to stereotype them”, mocks at the sanctity of custom. That this has caused religious hurt can be seen from the thousands of women pouring out on the streets of Kerala cities to protest the verdict.


    Only those who conclude the vrat and carry the Irumudi kettu on their heads can cross the Srichakra and ascend the final 18 steps to the sannidhanam (sanctum), to the presence of Ayyappa. Irumudi is a twin bundle with offerings for the deity on one side, and the pilgrim’s humble necessities on the other. Other devotees worship through a side entrance. The 18 steps represent the stages of knowledge and consciousness, to supreme bliss at the feet of Ayyappaswami. The vrat and Irumudi distinguish Sabarimala as a religious denomination or section thereof which, under Article 26, has the right to manage its own affairs in matters of religion.


    It is inexplicable why the Supreme Court refused to accept the balaka god as a minor and a juristic entity, a settled principle in Hindu Law. In the Ram Janmabhumi case, Ramlalla (infant Rama) is a minor and juristic entity entitled to the protection of the law and to be represented by a ‘best friend’. Hindu Gods own wealth and property because they are juristic entities. In 1988, recognising this principal, a London judge returned the Chola Nataraja of Pattur to India, ruling that so long as even one stone belonging to a temple built by a Chola chieftain remains in situ, the temple continues to exist in the eye of law and has the right to own property. Sabarimala is a living temple adhering to distinct agamas; it is incorrect to designate temples as ‘public spaces’ and deny the deity’s constitutional rights.


    We may ask if it is wise to destroy the sanctity of Sabarimala to satisfy the iconoclastic urges (disguised as a quest for equality) of litigants whose locus standi is suspect? The principal activists behind the Indian Young Lawyers Association & Ors Versus The State of Kerala & Ors. [Writ Petition (C) No. 373 of 2006] have admitted that they were inspired by the furore over actress Jayamala’s unlawful entry into the temple.


    The erstwhile royal family of Pandalam, where Ayyappa grew up, and People for Dharma are seeking a review of the verdict, on grounds that it “has the effect of Abrahamising the core of the Hindu faith, namely diversity, and altering its identity”. The organisation laments that the court failed to enquire if the traditional practice “is essential to the identity of the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple”. Instead, it asked if it is essential to Hindu religion, when the Sanatana Dharma has no Book or Canon with uniform beliefs and practices.


    The Sabarimala restrictions have been distorted as derogatory towards women in their fertile years. Different temples run according to distinct agamas. The menstrual cycle of Assam’s Devi Kamakhya is celebrated in the Ambubachi festival; Rajo, symbolising the menstruation of Mother Earth, is a major event in Odisha. The Mahadeo temple in Chengannur celebrates women’s fertility, and transgenders have divine status in Kottankulangara.


    Only Justice Indu Malhotra, the sole dissenting voice, sifted the evidence clinically and observed that the restriction on women of a certain age group was not based on misogyny or menstrual impurity, but on the celibate nature of Ayyappaswami; “what constitutes an essential religious practice is for the religious community to decide”. She questioned the locus standi of non-believers approaching the Court and claiming the right to enter the Temple, even as there was no aggrieved petitioner from Kerala. Justice Malhotra warned that in a plural and diverse country, judges must be careful before labelling a practice as discriminatory on the basis of personal morality: “issues which are matters of deep religious faith and sentiment must not ordinarily be interfered with by courts.” In fact, Courts should not interfere unless a practice is “pernicious, oppressive, or a social evil”.


    The apex Court’s equation of Sabarimala customs with untouchability as defined in Article 17 of the Constitution, which refers to birth-based discrimination against some castes was unfortunate. The Kerala Government’s decision to pass The Travancore-Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions (Amendment) Act, 2018 to allow appointment of non-Hindus to the Travancore Devaswom Board was the last straw.


    The author is Senior Fellow, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library; the views expressed are personal



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    Image result for somnath levitating

    Levitating Shiva Linga Somnath Kazvini Persian Geographer


    There is no end to the skills of the Indians, especially in architecture .
    They use all the principles of Nature.
    One has a Temple where the shadow of the Spire  falls within the Base of the Gopuram.
    Thanjavur Big Temple.

    Shiva Linga ,Somnath,Gujarat,India.Jyotir linga
    Shiva Linga ,Somnath,Gujarat,India.

    Spring water flows the base of the Idol.a,Thiruvanaikkaval.,Tamil Nadu
    Idols in many temples change colors during a day/once in fortnight.
    The composition of the elements that go into the making of the idol is unique and it can not be deciphered even by Atomic analysis-Palani,Tamil Nadu.
    Thirupati Balaji Idol Sweats every morning and His Body temperature is at 110 F.
    Sikkil Singaaravelan Subrahmanya,Sikkil, Tamil Nadu  sweats on Skanda Shashti.
    Cool breeze wafts in the hall while the entrance to the Hall is hot,Thiruvellarai,Tamil Nadu.
    One can go on.
    Now we can  add one more.
    Somnath Shiva Linga at Somnath,Gujarat.
    The Shiva Linga, which is  among the Twelve Jyotir Lingas in India levitated.
    This is recorded , not by an Indian, but by a Persian geographer while describing Ghazini’s invasion and loot of India.
    This is his report.

    About 1263 A.D.

    The famous temple at Somnath, with its celebrated idol which was destroyed by Mahmud of Ghazni, “the Image-Breaker,” when he sacked the city in 1025–1026 A.D., has been alluded to several times in the Mohammedan section of this History. An account of the wonders of the temple and the optical delusion in connection with the idol is given by the Persian geographer Zakariyah Kazvini, who wrote, however, in Arabic, about the year 1263 A.D. Kazvini, though not a traveller himself, drew upon the works of travellers for his geographical materials, and he gives the following interesting account of the famous Somnath shrine, over whose destruction, two centuries before, he rejoices with the Moslem joy that hailed the downfall of a house of idols….

    ‘Somnath is a celebrated city of India, situated on the shore of the sea and washed by its waves.
    Among the wonders of the place was the temple in which was placed the idol called Somnath. This idol was in the middle of the temple without anything to support it from below, or to suspend it from above. It was regarded with great veneration by the Hindus, and whoever beheld it floating in the air was struck with amazement, whether he was a Mussulman or an infidel. The Hindus used to go on pilgrimage to it whenever there was an eclipse of the moon, and would then assemble there to the number of more than a hundred thousand. They believed that the souls of men used to meet there after separation from the body, and that the idol used, at its pleasure, to incorporate them in other bodies, in accordance with their doctrine of transmigration. The ebb and flow of the tide was considered to be the worship paid to the idol by the sea.
    ‘Everything that was most precious was brought there as offerings, and the temple was endowed with the taxes gathered from more than ten thousand villages. There is a river, the Ganges, which is held sacred, between which and Somnath the distance is two hundred parasangs. They used to bring the water of this river to Somnath every day, and wash the temple with it. A thousand Brahmans were employed in worshipping the idol and attending on the visitors, and five hundred damsels sang and danced at the door – all these were maintained upon the endowments of the temple. The edifice was built upon fifty-six pillars of teak, covered with lead. The shrine of tile idol was dark, but was lighted by jewelled chandeliers of great value. Near it was a chain of gold weighing two hundred mans. When a portion, or watch, of the night closed, this chain used to be shaken like bells to rouse a fresh lot of Brahmans to perform worship.
    ‘When Sultan Mahmud, the son of Sabuktagin, went to wage religious war against India, he made great efforts to capture and destroy Somnath, in the hope that the Hindus would then become Mohammedans. He arrived there in the middle of Zu-l-ka’da, 416 A. H. (December, 1025 A.D.). The Indians made a desperate resistance. They kept going in to the temple weeping and crying for help; and then they issued forth to battle and kept fighting till all were killed. The number of the slain exceeded fifty thousand. The king looked upon the idol with wonder, and gave orders for the seizing of the spoil and the appropriation of the treasures. There were many idols of gold and silver, and countless vessels set with jewels, all of which had been sent there by the greatest personages in India. The value of the things found in the temples of the idols exceeded twenty thousand thousand dinars.
    When the king asked his companions what they had to say about the marvel of the idol, and of its staying in the air without prop or support, several maintained that it was upheld by some hidden support. The king directed a person to go and feel all around and above and below it with a spear, which he did, but met with no obstacle. One of the attendants then stated his opinion that the canopy was made of loadstone, and the idol of iron, and that the ingenious builder had skilfully contrived that the magnet should not exercise a greater force on any one side – hence the idol was suspended in the middle. Some inclined toward this explanation, others differed from it. Permission was obtained from the Sultan to remove some stones from the top of the canopy to settle the point. When two stones were removed from the summit, the idol swerved on one side; when more were taken away, it inclined still further, until at last it rested on the ground.’
    By Kazvini Persian Biographer.
    The following is another description by a Persian Traveler about the idol.
    ‘The idol has a human shape and is seated with its legs bent in a quadrangular posture on a throne made of brick and mortar. Its whole body is covered with a red skin like morocco leather, and nothing but its eyes are visible. Some believe that the body is made of wood, some deny this; but the body is not allowed to be uncovered to decide this point. The eyes of the idol are precious gems, and its head is covered with a crown of gold. It sits in a quadrangular position on the throne, its hands resting upon its knees, with the fingers closed, so that only four can be counted.’
    al-Istakhri, who journeyed through India and other Mohammedan countries in the first half of the tenth century.
    Somnath Location.

    गुजरात के प्रभास पत्तन में सोमनाथ का मन्दिर (१८६९ का चित्र)
    Image result for somnath location
    Related image

     Published on Feb 25, 2018



    Somnath Temple which has been plundered too many times is the first Jyothirlinga of Hinduism... Is the Shivlinga in Somnath original ???

    The Somnath temple located in Prabhas Patan near Veraval in Saurashtra on the western coast of Gujarat, India, is the first among the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. It is an important pilgrimage and tourist spot. The temple is considered sacred due to the various legends connected to it. Somnath means “Lord of the Soma”, an epithet of Shiva.

    Gates of Somnath
    Citation and Reference.
    http://www.ibiblio.org/britishraj/Jackson9/chapter05.html

    https://ramanan50.wordpress.com/2016/07/26/levitating-shiva-linga-somnath-kazvini-persian-geographer/

    Kent Academic Repository
    Mirror: https://www.academia.edu/29920163/Suspending_Disbelief_Magnetic_and_Miraculous_Levitation_from_Antiquity_to_the_Middle_Ages
    Image result for levitation magnets somnath multan
    Lowe, Dunstan (2016) Suspending Disbelief: Magnetic Levitation in Antiquity and the Middle
    Ages. Classical Antiquity, 35 (2). pp. 247-278.
    DOI
    https://doi.org/10.1525/ca.2016.35.2.247
    Link to record in KAR
    http://kar.kent.ac.uk/57768/
    Document Version
    Author's Accepted Manuscript
    1
    Dunstan Lowe
    Suspending Disbelief:
    Magnetic and Miraculous Levitation from Antiquity to the Middle Ages
    Abstract:
    Static levitation is a form of marvel with metaphysical implications whose long history
    has not previously been charted. First, Pliny the Elder reports an architect’s plan to
    suspend an iron statue using magnetism, and the later compiler Ampelius mentions a
    similar-sounding wonder in Syria. When the Serapeum at Alexandria was destroyed, and
    for many centuries afterwards, chroniclers wrote that an iron Helios had hung
    magnetically inside. In the Middle Ages, reports of such false miracles multiplied,
    appearing in Muslim accounts of Christian and Hindu idolatry, as well as Christian
    descriptions of the tomb of Muhammad. A Christian levitation miracle involving saints’
    relics also emerged. Yet magnetic suspension could be represented as miraculous in
    itself, representing lost higher knowledge, as in the latest and easternmost tradition
    concerning Konark’s ruined temple. The levitating monument, first found in classical
    antiquity, has undergone many cultural and epistemological changes in its long and
    varied history.

    1. INTRODUCTION

    Although recent scholarship has extensively explored the rich history of marvels
    2
    and miracles,1 suspended objects have never been systematically studied. The following
    discussion pursues the theme of magnetic and miraculous suspension through European
    (and Asian) history from classical antiquity to modern times, revealing a continuous
    tension between secular and sacred physics. For the first time, this article assembles the
    diverse historical sources on levitating objects from antiquity onward (some widely
    acknowledged, others barely noted within their own disciplinary partitions), proposing
    new interpretations of each.2 This requires a loosely chronological approach which, at the
    risk of seeming naïve, will reveal crucial connections and developments from the
    Hellenistic period to the modern era. The result is a strange new sidelight on scientific,
    religious, and even political developments across Europe and beyond.
    I am very grateful to Harry Hine for correcting some of my errors and offering insightful
    remarks, to Mike Squire for art-historical advice and ideas, and to Thomas Habinek and
    the journal’s referees for many valuable suggestions.
    1 The bibliography on curiosity, wonder, and marvels in history is large and growing,
    though Daston and Park 1998 remains key. See e.g. Hardie 2009 on antiquity
    (specifically Augustan Rome, thus excluding magnetism); Kesneth 1991 on the
    Renaissance; Evans and Marr 2006 on the Renaissance and Enlightenment.
    2 For example, no two of the following have been connected in previous scholarship:
    Ampelius’ statue at Magnesia, Aristotle’s coffin in Sicily, the Mercury at Trier, the
    Cypriot cross, Dulaf’s golden temple, Illtud’s Welsh altar, the “Monastery of the Idol,”
    the elephant at Khambhat.
    3
    The properties of magnets have intrigued intellectuals and entertained ordinary
    people since the early classical period,3 though static suspension and many other ideas
    about magnetism have little dependence on observed phenomena. Demonstrations in
    antiquity of magnets’ power to attract ferrous substances—typically, suspending iron
    rings in a chain, or covertly moving iron from beneath a surface of some other metal—
    provoked amazement and curiosity.4 Medical uses of magnets are recorded from the
    second century AD and magical ones from around the fourth century (their preternatural
    ability to move objects without contact resembled the occult powers of spells, which is
    why a demonstration alarmed Augustine).5 Beyond these limited uses magnetism held
    3 On magnets in ancient science, see Fritzsche 1902, Rommel 1927, Radl 1988, Wallace
    1996. Relevant passages include Pl. Ion 533d; Ar. De Anima 405a19 (on Thales);
    Theophr. On Stones 5.29; Posidippus Lithica 12 Austin and Bastianini; Lucr. 6.910-16,
    1042-47. Pliny draws his classification of five “Magnesian stones” (two non-magnetic)
    from Sotacus, a third-century writer on minerals, and his account of how “Magnes” the
    shepherd discovered magnets from the second-century author Nicander (HN 36.127-28).
    4 Rings: Plato Ion 533d, Lucr. 6.910-16, Plin. HN 34.147; iron moved from below: Lucr.
    6.1043-47, Aug. Civ. D. 21.4. Initiates into the cult of the Great Gods of Samothrace
    received iron finger-rings, presumably for ritual use involving magnetism: see Blakely
    2012.
    5 Aug. Civ. D. 21.4. On medical applications, e.g. Dioscorides, De Materia Medica
    5.130; Galen, De facultatibus (magnetite is astringent, like haematite), De simplici
    medicina (magnetite is purgative); see Rommel 1927: col. 483-84. In late antiquity,
    magical applications appear: magnets were placed inside figurines, seemingly to give
    4
    little more than curiosity value, lacking mechanical applications.6 Yet it is crucial to bear
    in mind that although magnetic suspension rarely has a specific maker, magical marvels
    are invariably crafted by scholars, not mere zealots. They give additional proof that
    magic was compatible with science and technology in medieval thought.7
    Importantly, although sources from the first to sixth centuries AD mention
    magnetic repulsion, it was not understood until the twelfth century that magnets have
    them agency (PGM IV.1807-10, 3142); an inscribed magnet prevents conception (PGM
    XXIIa.11-12); and a magnet placed under a sleeping woman diagnoses her chastity (if
    faithful she will cleave to her husband, or otherwise be ejected: Lithica 306-37). Some
    authors use the analogy of magnetism to explain sympathetic magic (Plin. HN 34.42, Gal.
    Peri Phusikon Dunameon 1.14.44-54).
    6 The only documented mechanical use of magnetism is an expensive toy described by
    Claudian that plays out a simple mythological scene, like some of Hero of Alexandria’s
    automata: inside a golden shrine, an iron Mars slowly approaches a magnetic Venus until
    he suddenly flies forward and they embrace (Carm. min. 29.22-51): see Wallace 1996:
    181, Cristante 2001-2002. Some (e.g. James and Thorpe 1995: 154, McKeown 2013:
    198) claim that Claudian describes a real temple, but whatever his own religious
    standpoint (see Vanderspoel 1986), he would not celebrate a pagan ritual in verse at a
    Christian court. Claudian came from Alexandria, like Hero the inventor.
    7 On magic and science, see Sherwood 1947, Eamon 1983, Hansen 1986, Truitt 2004. On
    artificial marvels, see Daston and Park 1998: 88-108. On how the aesthetics of the
    marvelous relate to artistic theory and practice, see Mirollo 1991.
    5
    poles and can therefore both attract and repel.8 Yet they inspired fantasies involving
    colossal invisible forces. One is the magnetic mountain that wrecks ships made with iron
    nails. This appears in the geographical content of Pliny and Ptolemy, but also across Asia
    as far as China, as well as in Arabic and European folktales.9 The epic poet Silius Italicus
    says that the Aethiopians used their abundant magnets to extract iron ore without
    touching it.10 A millennium later, the Roman d’Eneas endows Carthage with magnettopped
    battlements for trapping iron-clad attackers like flypaper.11 Such fantasies may
    legitimately be called science fiction.
    With a sufficiently cross-disciplinary perspective, we can reconstruct a long
    history for the grandest of magnetism fantasies: an apparatus for permanently suspending
    an object in mid-air. Accounts of full-size monumental examples recur from classical
    8 On magnetic repulsion see Wallace 1996: 184-85, with citations. Tellingly, when
    Posidippus describes a stone that both attracts and repels iron he only compares it to a
    magnet, insofar as it attracts (Bing 2005: 264-65). Knowledge of the compass is first
    attested in Europe by Guiot of Provins (1180) and Alexander Neckam (c. 1190); Peter
    Peregrinus of Maricourt published the first extended treatise in 1269. The earliest known
    description is Chinese (Shen Kuo, Dream Pool Essays, AD 1088).
    9 Tuczay 2005: 273-74, with citations; see also Lecouteux 1984, 1999; Marzolph and van
    Leeuwen 2004. The legendary Virgil visits a magnetic mountain in the Wartburgkrieg (c.
    1287), Reinfried von Braunschweig (c. 1300), and later sources.
    10 solis honor ille, metallo / intactum chalybem vicino ducere saxo (Sil. Pun. 3.265-67).
    Ore processing, rather than mining, is probably meant.
    11 Anon. Roman d’Eneas 427-40.
    6
    antiquity to the late medieval period. Whether authors portray levitation as mechanical,
    magical, or something in between,12 they never deny its possibility. In reality Earnshaw’s
    Theorem of 1839, stating that stable levitation against gravity using only ferromagnetic
    materials cannot work on any scale, stands uncontested. Nonetheless, we have culturally
    and geographically diverse accounts of levitating monuments from the first century AD
    to the late Middle Ages and beyond. I propose that these deserve recognition as a genre
    of architectural fantasy that offers new insights into the history of science, as well as the
    history of interaction between religious cultures.
    Magnetic levitation endows inert matter with spectacular properties, inviting
    comparison with divine miracles and magic. It also shares features with real and
    imaginary automata, though this is somewhat paradoxical, since the inert matter is
    spectacular precisely because it does not move: unlike the other magnetic fantasies
    mentioned above, levitation never involves traction. (Accordingly, I shall use the terms
    “levitation” and “suspension” interchangeably.) It is sometimes regarded positively, as an
    open demonstration of engineering and artistic skill, but more often negatively, as a
    secret trick for faking a divine miracle.
    As object of wonder, the suspended monument embodies potentiality: not only in
    the obvious sense that what went up has not (yet) come down, but in other senses too. As
    an architectural installation or localized miracle it is by definition non-portable and
    cannot, like most artificial wonders or holy relics, be brought from the periphery to the
    center of scholarly, religious, or popular experience. As physics, static levitation is
    12 From antiquity to the Middle Ages, some discourses on magnetism (e.g., mageia,
    Hermeticism, alchemy) resist the modern distinction between natural and supernatural.
    7
    theorized but unrealized: it never appears in treatises upon magnets or architecture, nor
    even descriptions of magnets in lapidaries, and nobody proposes to recreate it. As
    miracle, meanwhile, static levitation becomes evidence of God’s power in nature, and
    even a test of spiritual intelligence.13 In the Middle Ages, reports of magnetism
    proliferate and the miraculous version emerges. Perhaps the iconoclasm controversies
    partly account for this, since the suspended monument proves capable of oscillating
    between fraud and miracle more easily than any other legendary object.
    2. ALEXANDRIA: THE POTENTIAL ARSINOE AND THE FALLEN HELIOS
    Our earliest reference to a magnetic monument (and likewise, elsewhere, to a
    magnetic mountain) is a report in Pliny the Elder that has resisted interpretation, despite
    nuanced treatments of his larger intellectual project.14 He mentions a design by “the
    13 “Some Christian writers…saw skepticism concerning wonders as the hallmark of the
    narrow-minded and suspicious peasant” (Daston and Park 1998: 62); cf. Eamon 1983:
    195, Bynum 2011 passim. The comeuppance of such a peasant in Lifris’ Life of Cadoc is
    discussed below.
    14 See e.g. Healy 1999: 158, Carne 2013: 108. On artificial wonders in Pliny, see Isager
    1991 and Beagon 2011, neither of whom mention the present passage.
    8
    architectus Timochares,” for a temple in which an iron cult statue of Ptolemy II’s late
    sister-wife Arsinoe would be suspended in the air:15
    Using magnetic stone (Magnete lapide), the architect Timochares had begun
    to vault a temple (templum concamarare) to Arsinoe at Alexandria, so that the
    iron statue in it would seem to hang in the air (pendere in aëre videretur). This
    was interrupted by his own death and by that of King Ptolemy, who had
    commissioned it for his own sister.
    Pliny’s videretur (“would seem”) means only that magnetism would create a
    lifelike impression of flight. It is unclear whether he envisages contactless “true
    levitation,” or “pseudo-levitation” in which magnetic attraction pulls against a physical
    tether. Although neither could work, the latter might have seemed more feasible, since it
    can be achieved using a scale model. Ptolemy II could access fabulous quantities of
    precious metal and stone, and without any means of measuring magnetic field strength,
    “Timochares” could have miscalculated the properties of magnetite.16 It is not impossible
    that “Timochares” planned to achieve true levitation. Vitruvius credits a nearcontemporary
    “Dinocrates” with an equally astonishing plan to sculpt Mount Athos into a
    15 Plin. HN 34.148. The death of Ptolemy II, the alleged date of the project, was in 246
    BC.
    16 Even with today’s artificial supermagnets, thousands of times more powerful, such a
    monument would require precision engineering and impractically large quantities of
    metal to achieve suspension across even a few inches of air.
    9
    Rushmore-like statue, holding a city in its left hand and pouring a river from a dish in its
    right.17 Alexander the Great rejected this proposal and built Alexandria instead because
    Athos provided no arable land, Vitruvius says. Other, completed Ptolemaic projects
    combined innovation and artistry with engineering on an unprecedented scale, including
    the largest tower, automaton, and galley ever designed.18 Magnets were relatively rare
    and hence semi-precious despite their dull appearance,19 which may have encouraged
    artisans to consider their uses as architectural ornaments. Importantly, architectus often
    means simply “inventor” and an Arsinoeion did exist at Alexandria, so Pliny’s term
    concamarare probably means adding magnetite to the existing temple, not constructing
    something anew. Such a plan might have won Ptolemaic sponsorship; later readers
    certainly found it plausible, since Ausonius in the fourth century AD reports it as
    completed.20 A temple suspending a statue using magnets would suit the contemporary
    17 Vitruv. 2. praef. 2. On the programmatic implications of this anecdote, and a
    discussion of the uncertainty over the architect’s name, see McEwen 2003: 91-102.
    18 The Pharos: Adler 1901, Thiersch 1909, Picard 1952; the Nysa statue in Ptolemy II’s
    coronation parade: Athen. Deipn. 5.198-99; the “Forty”: Plut. Demetr. 43.4-5, Athen.
    Deipn. 5.203e-204b.
    19 Theophrastus calls them rare (De Lapidibus 5.29). The belief that rubbing magnets
    with garlic destroyed their power (Lehoux 2003) might be indirect proof of their value if
    nobody thought the easy test worth the risk, as with goat’s-blood breaking diamonds
    (Plin. HN 20.2) or vinegar dissolving pearls (Hor. Sat. 2.3.239-42, Plin. HN 9.59, Suet.
    Cal. 37).
    20 Auson. Mos. 314-17. 
    10
    taste for creative engineering, as did another high-tech memorial to Arsinoe, the musical
    drinking-horn made by Ctesibius.21
    The idea of a levitating statue could also reflect the Alexandrian milieu in more
    subtle ways, having potential links with motifs in Egyptian religious art, as well as recent
    developments in Greek physics. The Egyptians pictured the heavens as a curved ceiling
    (or even, in the Pyramid Texts, an iron slab supported on four columns),22 and spangled
    their own ceilings with stars.23 Egyptian tradition also represented pharaohs ascending to
    heaven after death, and likewise Callimachus describes Arsinoe being taken up by the
    Dioscuri to become the Pole Star,24 which stands at the center of the turning sky. The
    “lock of Berenice” narrative a generation later shows how astronomy could contribute to
    Ptolemaic self-fashioning. All this lends credence to Deonna’s suggestion that the
    21 Ctesibius’ cornucopia is known only through an epigram by Hedylus (Athen. Deipn.
    11.497d-e).
    22 On the image of heaven as vault, see Couprie 2011: 1-13. As iron slab in the Pyramid
    Texts, see Budge 1904: 1.156-57. Homer’s heaven is iron (Od. 15.329, 17.565) or bronze
    (Il. 17.425, Od. 3.2) and supported by pillars (Od. 1.52-54).
    23 Constructed vaults only rarely appear before the Ptolemies, but excavated chambers
    frequently had curved ceilings. Whether flat or curved, they were commonly decorated
    with the starry goddess Nut and other sky symbols. On the use of the star-spangled
    canopy (“uraniskos”) in Greek cults of celestial deities, see Crane 1952; in later art, see
    Lehmann 1945, Swift and Alwis 2010.
    24 Callimachus fr. 228 Pfeiffer, with scholion. On Arsinoe as Pole Star, see Green 2004:
    248. The Mendes Stele records that Arsinoe “ascended to heaven.”
    11
    planned monument represented Arsinoe’s catasterism.25 If the vault depicted the sky,
    Pliny’s otherwise unknown “Timochares” may be a misspelling of Timocharis, a
    contemporary Alexandrian astronomer whose achievements involved tracking and
    mapping the constellations.26 If he proposed to decorate the vaulted ceiling over Arsinoe
    with an accurate star-map, an ekphrastic epigrammatist might easily describe this as
    placing the catasterized thea philadelphus “in the sky,” a phrase open to misconstruction
    by later readers.27
    Third-century Alexandria was also a likely context for thought experiments about
    bodies suspended between countervailing forces, for philosophers and engineers alike.
    Both Chrysippus and Archimedes would be active in the decades after Arsinoe died, circa
    270 BC,28 and Ptolemy himself had been tutored by Strato of Lampsacus, a specialist in
    cosmology.29 The Stoics had recently developed a new explanation for the earth’s poise
    25 Deonna 1914: 106.
    26 On the confusion over Timocharis and related names, see Fabricius, Pauly-Wissowa
    Realencyclopädie s.v. “Deinochares.” Pliny’s reference to Ptolemy Philadelphus’ death
    implies that “Timochares” died around 246 BC.
    27 Unfortunately translation from Latin to Greek is highly unlikely, so we cannot explain
    the whole concept of magnetic levitation as a translation error involving some lost
    epigram whereby Arsinoe or the ceiling went from s􀆯d􀆟r􀆟a “celestial, star-spangled” to
    􀇶 􀇧􀇡􀇴􀇨􀇤  made of iron  ἵcf. 􀇶􀇬􀇧􀇪􀇴 􀇷􀇬􀇵  magnet”: Philod. Sign. 9, Strab.15.1.38).
    28 Timocharis is thought to have lived c. 320-260 BC, Archimedes c. 287-212,
    Chrysippus c. 279-206.
    29 Diog. Laert. 5.3.1.
    12
    at the center of the cosmos (besides its own symmetry): the dynamic force of pneuma
    acting equally upon it from all directions.30 Sambursky points out that the term isobares,
    “equal weight,” used by Chrysippus also appears in proposition 1.3 of Archimedes’ On
    Floating Bodies, which states that a solid immersed in fluid of equivalent volume neither
    sinks nor rises.31 Suggestively, our late antique source for Chrysippus’ terminology
    replaces push with pull, comparing the static earth to an object pulled by cords in all
    directions with equal force.32 Perhaps a Hellenistic author imagined a magnet-clad arch
    as a thought experiment, illustrating either a principle of hydrostatics or the Stoic cosmos,
    which generated an urban myth for paradoxographers and ultimately Pliny. These are
    only speculations, but it is tempting to derive “Timochares” and his magnetism from
    known facts about the cultural climate of Ptolemaic Alexandria.
    In some ways, Pliny establishes norms for later descriptions of magnetic
    levitation, but in others he is unique. His description is the last to mention a potential
    monument. It is also among the minority that specify a designer and date of construction,
    30 Sambursky 1959: 109.
    31 Sambursky 1959: 111. Archimedes himself was reportedly an astronomer’s son and
    owned two orreries (probably heliocentric, cf. his Sand-reckoner): see Jaeger 2008.
    32 Achilles Isagoge 4 = von Arnim VSF 2.555, probably third century AD (Sambursky
    1959: 109). Independently, in the early twelfth century, Bruno of Segni directly compares
    the earth’s suspension (by God) with that of a magnetic statue (Sententiae 3 = PL
    165.983d).
    13
    and the only to do so without scorn.33 Pliny’s brevity led to centuries of uncertainty about
    how static levitation should work. Yet several features become near-universal: all later
    accounts describe true (contactless) levitation, not pseudo (tethered). Generally, the
    suspended object is not a magnet,34 and just as Pliny’s reference to a vault (concamarare)
    implies multiple magnets holding the object at a focal point, most later sources mention a
    vault or dome, despite one-magnet, two-magnet, and four-magnet configurations. Finally,
    virtually every magnetic monument is, like Pliny’s, portrayed as one of a kind.35 This
    makes the levitating artifact the sole remnant of a lost skill, suspended in time as well as
    space; since relics represent loss of another kind, Christian levitation-miracles supply
    equally evocative remnants.
    After Pliny we turn to late antiquity, when faith comes to the fore and the longest
    and most coherent tradition about magnetic levitation begins, based on the historic temple
    of Serapis at Alexandria. It has an obvious link to the “Timochares” tale, being set in the
    same city. The Serapeum complex, built by Ptolemy III, was thoroughly destroyed by
    Christians around AD 391 following the Theodosian decrees. After this event, numerous
    historians report that an iron image of Helios had been suspended within using
    magnetism. They mention it after describing the Serapis cult-statue, a dazzling colossus
    of multiple precious stones and metals. Both descriptions imbue the ruined site of
    33 The exceptions (discussed below) are Gehazi’s and Jeroboam’s idols, Yablunus’
    “Monastery of the Idol,” and the mausoleum of “Magus” of Muhammad in Embrico.
    34 The unique exception is the idol ascribed to Gehazi in the Talmud.
    35 Gehazi’s idol is again exceptional, being compared to those of Jeroboam.
    14
    worship with sinful exoticism. This combination recurs in much later tales of similar
    wonders, gratifying the imagination while sharpening the moral lesson of righteous
    destruction.. The earliest account appears in Tyrannius Rufinus, who specifies only a
    single magnet:36
    There was also another kind of deception, namely the following: the magnet is
    known to be of such a nature that it seizes upon and attracts iron. A craftsman
    (artifex) had with very skilful hand fashioned an iron image of the Sun
    (signum Solis) for this very purpose, so that the stone—we have said that it
    has the property of attracting iron—was fixed in the ceiling-coffers above (in
    laquearibus fixus). When the image had been placed precisely under the ray
    and balanced (sub ipso radio ad libram), and by force of nature the stone
    attracted the iron, the image seemed to the people to have risen up and be
    hanging in the air (in aëre pendere). And in case this was betrayed by a
    sudden fall, the treacherous ministers used to say, “The Sun has risen, so that
    bidding farewell to Serapis, he may go off to his own place.”
    Rufinus’ description is evidently fantastical, but the circumstantial details make it sound
    as if some mechanical trick were indeed used. Schwartz has plausibly suggested that
    Rufinus transposed this and other elements from the earlier destruction of the moon-god
    Sîn at Carrhae (the medieval “Harran,” discussed below).37 Christopher Jones recently
    36 Rufinus Ecclesiastical History 2.23.
    37 Schwartz 1966. Pola1ski 1998: 122-28 contests certain aspects.
    15
    offered new reasons to identify this with a temple that contained “secret devices of the
    ceiling” and many iron statues.38 In any case, Ptolemaic Alexandria had been home to the
    inventors Ctesibius, Philo, and later Hero, who recorded how to create apparently
    supernatural effects such as self-opening temple doors.39 Rufinus may represent a
    repurposed version of Pliny’s “Timochares” anecdote, but in any case, Christian authors
    for centuries to come treated the Sun-image as an important detail of the Serapeum’s
    destruction. For Pliny (and Ampelius, as we shall soon see) the magnetic monument was
    an end in itself, edifying and entertaining, resembling his larger distillation of world
    knowledge. Rufinus gave it much deeper implications as an instrument with a purpose,
    like most artificial wonders whether magical or technological. For the Christian
    chroniclers it was a faith-machine, generating false belief until its magnetic workings
    were physically or intellectually exposed. Conversely, we shall find that in some accounts
    of levitation in the second millennium (both Christian and non-Christian), the magnetic
    workings are themselves the belief-sustaining miracle. This reflects the view prevailing in
    38 Jones 2013; Libanius Or. 30.44-45. If so, Theodoret’s claim that a female corpse—
    disemboweled for omens by the occultist Julian—was found inside the Carrhae temple
    “suspended by the hair” (􀋪􀇭 􀇷 􀇰 􀇷􀇴􀇬􀇺 􀇰 􀇼􀇴􀇪􀇯􀇠􀇰􀇲􀇰, Church History 3.21 = PG
    82.1119) might well derive from magnetic suspension: decades earlier, Ausonius
    described Arsinoe’s statue as magnetically suspended “by its iron-clad hair” (affictamque
    trahit ferrato crine puellam, Mosella 317). 
    39 Hero Pneumatica 1.17, 38-39. It may also be relevant that Manetho, a Ptolemaic
    authority on the Serapis cult, dubbed magnetite “the bone of Horus”—often identified as
    the sun-god—and iron “the bone of Typhon” (Plut. De Is. et Os. 62).
    16
    High Middle Age Christendom that the supernatural or inexplicable is evidence of God’s
    power in nature.40 Indeed, as I shall demonstrate later, magnetism would directly inspire a
    Christian relic-powered form of miracle.
    Repeated mentions of the Serapeum Helios throughout the Middle Ages, with
    occasional changes, shed light on how magnetic levitation was thought to work. Probably
    the most widely read report after Pliny’s appears in Augustine’s City of God. It was
    written soon after 410, only postdating Rufinus’ history by a few years, yet several details
    are different. Augustine passingly describes magnetic levitation as a false miracle
    achieved “in a certain temple” (in quodam templo):41
    The marvels that they call “contrivances” (mirifica, quae 􀇯􀇪􀇺􀇤􀇰􀇡􀇯􀇤􀇷􀇤 
    appellant), made by human skill through manipulating God’s creation, are so
    many and so great that those who don’t know better think them divine. So it
    happened that in a certain temple, where magnets were placed in the ground
    and the vault in proportion to their size [in solo et camera proportione
    magnitudinis positis], an iron statue was suspended in mid-air between the
    two stones. To those unaware of what was above and below, it hung as if by
    divine power.
    40 See Bynum 2011, whose discussion on the materiality of saints’ bodies may in some
    respects be extended to physical matter in general. On the cult of relics in eastern
    Christendom, see recently Hahn and Klein 2015.
    41 Augustine Civ. D. 21.6. Isid. Orig. 16.4 merely repeats Augustine and Pliny.
    17
    Augustine goes on to say that supposed miracles such as this levitating statue—his use of
    the Greek 􀇯􀇪􀇺􀇤􀇰􀇡􀇯􀇤􀇷􀇤 collectively secularizes non-Christian mirifica—are not proofs
    of divine power but simple tricks using either mechanisms or magic. Although he almost
    certainly means the Helios statue at Alexandria, he specifies magnets both above and
    below it, contradicting Rufinus. This alternative guess at the workings of magnetic
    suspension is also impossible,42 but marginally more plausible than one magnet pulling
    against gravity. Perhaps a shared source had envisaged the multiple-magnet, focal-point
    model and Augustine’s version is more faithful than Rufinus’. In the second quarter of
    the fifth century, Augustine’s student Quodvultdeus repeats Rufinus’ one-magnet
    configuration but seems to derive his account from an independent source. He does not
    name the statue but calls it a quadriga (four-horse chariot); Helios was usually
    represented driving a quadriga. The tale of its destruction has also become dramatized:43
    At Alexandria in the temple of Serapis this was offered as “proof” of a spirit
    (hoc argumentum daemonis fuit): an iron chariot with no plinth to support it
    and no hooks attaching it to the walls, hanging in the air (in aëre pendens). It
    stunned everyone and, to mortal eyes, seemed to display divine assistance,
    although in fact a magnet attached to the vault in that spot (eo loco camerae
    affixus), which kept the iron joined to it and hanging, was holding up the
    42 Even if the poles were aligned, gravity and air currents would instantly dislodge the
    statue.
    43 Quodvultdeus De promissionibus et praedictionibus dei 38 = PL 51 834c (attributed
    there to Prosper of Aquitaine, but see e.g. Radl 1988).
    18
    entire assemblage (totam illam machinam sustentabat). Accordingly, when
    one inspired servant of God had figured this out (id intellexisset), he sneaked
    the magnet away (subtraxit) from the vault and instantly the whole display
    collapsed and broke apart. This showed that it was not divine, as a mortal man
    had proved (firmaverit).
    In Quodvultdeus, the single magnet is small and portable enough for an iconoclast to
    remove without detection, essentially a magic talisman whose spell breaks when it is
    removed from its place of concealment. Quodvultdeus also mentions the vault, like
    Augustine, whereas Rufinus has the magnet embedded in the coffers of the ceiling. Two
    ninth-century texts show further changes. Haymo of Halberstadt faithfully reproduces
    Rufinus’ account but adds that the statue is huge, gilded, and suspended between two
    magnets (Augustine-style).44 Conversely, Haymo’s Byzantine near-contemporary George
    the Monk describes the “statue of wickedness” (􀇨 􀇧􀇲􀇵 􀇭􀇤􀇭􀇲􀇸􀇴􀇦􀇢􀇤􀇵) as hanging from
    one magnet in the coffers (Rufinus-style). In George the iron is far more hidden, and the
    magnet’s strength is more enormous, since the statue is now bronze with iron merely
    nailed inside its head. The Suda quotes George’s description verbatim in the tenth
    44 lapidibus magnetibus in solo et camera…simulacrum ferreum deauratum mirae
    magnitudinis (Epitome of the Sacred History 8 = PL 118.873c). Bruno of Segni follows
    this description closely (Sententiae 3 = PL 165.983d).
    19
    century, and Cedrenus paraphrases it closely in the eleventh.45 Only in the early twelfth
    (AD 1118) does Michael Glycas introduce a new variation:46
    In that temple there was a statue that hung irresistibly aloft; for pieces of iron
    were fastened around it—the statue, of course—in a circle, and magnets
    fastened directly opposite them, and it was suspended between the floor and
    the roof. For being drawn equally from four directions, and not leaning
    anywhere, it was forced to hang in mid-air.
    Although we know little about the sources for these historical notices of the Serapeum
    Helios, they clearly vary according to how the properties of magnets are imagined.47 In
    retrospect, based on this later consensus that magnetic forces are hugely stable and
    powerful, the ambition ascribed to “Timochares” could well be true. Our sources disagree
    on how the Helios was suspended: Rufinus claims that it hung from a magnet above, as if
    on an invisible chain, whereas Augustine’s statue, probably the same one, is the first to
    have magnets pulling up and down simultaneously. (Even for someone who believed in
    stable suspension from one magnet, the second would serve to prevent the object from
    45 George the Monk Chronicon 2.584.18-2.585.6; Suda s.v. 􀇐􀇤􀇦􀇰 􀇷􀇬􀇵; Cedrenus
    Compendium Historiarum 325b Niebuhr = PG 121.620.
    46 Michael Glycas Chronicle 4.257 = PG 158.433.
    47 Descriptions of magnetic monuments seem unconcerned with the brief remarks on
    magnetism by classical philosophers (see Radl 1988), which concern only the nature of
    the force, not the factors affecting its strength or the effects of competing forces.
    20
    swinging.) Finally, Quodvultdeus’ magnet is a small, removable talisman, which
    completes the transformation of the levitating statue: a putative engineering challenge in
    the Hellenistic age, with the properties of magnets on show, becomes a magic-based
    religious fraud in late antiquity, with the properties of magnets kept secret. As we shall
    see, later medieval accounts transfer the false miracle from paganism to other religions.
    The variations between arrangements of magnets tell us much about
    contemporary theories of magnetism. In Rufinus and Quodvultdeus, magnets hold objects
    at fixed lengths by pulling against gravity, whereas in most sources, two or more magnets
    pull simultaneously. However, in most accounts, magnetically suspended objects cannot
    be dislodged by force, and only move when the magnet is extracted.48 It is doubtful that
    the invisible forces in magnetic monuments were ever imagined as “elastic,” i.e. as
    varying by distance, since as we shall see in later sources, multiple magnets emphatically
    prevent the suspended object from any movement. Carefully positioned magnets are
    consistently pictured as generating unbreakable chains, not fields, which is why the
    suspended object’s shape and weight hardly matter. Rufinus’ remark that the Serapeum
    priests were afraid of the statue falling is not based, as one might expect, on the fear that
    it might easily shift from its exact position. Rufinus’ priests are only as afraid as they
    would be for any statue hanging from a chain.
    48 The coffin of St. Paulinus is an interesting case: it no longer levitates because some
    unbelievers wickedly pushed it to the ground (post multos annos a quibusdam infidelibus
    depressum subsedit, Gesta Treverorum 43 = PL 154.1164). However, it was suspended
    by God rather than by magnets (see discussion below), so it is not an exception to the
    rule.
    21
    3. INVISIBLE BONDS AS BASIS FOR CHRISTIAN MIRACLES
    Invisible suspension reappears in the fourth and fifth centuries in the form of
    Christian miracles, which do not involve magnets, but deserve discussion as they
    reinforce the “invisible chains” hypothesis by imitating suspension by ropes. One
    example appears in Rufinus’ narrative of how an unnamed woman, later identified with
    St. Nina, converted the Caucasian kingdom of Iberia.49 The third column of the Iberians’
    inaugural church seemed impossible to lift and was abandoned overnight. Next morning
    they found it hanging perpendicular, one foot above its pedestal, and before the rejoicing
    crowd it sank into position (the remainder were easily erected). It behaved as if moved by
    an invisible crane. Likewise, miraculous suspensions of demoniacs during exorcism, first
    attested in Hilary of Poitiers and three near-contemporaries,50 mimic a torture method
    documented in martyrology.51 It differs sharply from the voluntary aerobatics of sorcerers
    49 Tyrannius Rufinus Historia Ecclesiastica 1.10 = PL 481c-482c.
    50 Hilary of Poitiers Contra Constantium 8.2-10; Jerome Vita Hilarionis 13.6, Epistles
    108.13; Sulpicius Severus Dialogi 3.6.2-4; Paulinus of Nola Carmen 23.82-95. Two later
    Greek examples are divergent: in Palladius a demoniac levitates during exorcism, swells,
    and emits water (Historia Lausiaca 22), and in Sozomen another levitates (without
    specified Christian agency) and taunts John the Baptist (Historia Ecclesiastica 7.24.8).
    51 Wi;niewski (2002: 373-74) makes this point cautiously but convincingly, quoting a
    sixth-century description of a demoniac shouting confessions while hanging by his
    22
    like Simon Magus, who resemble birds (or rather Icarus, whose pride led to a fall).52 The
    four early sources consistently describe demoniacs hanging before saints upside down,
    specifying that their clothes are supernaturally held upward to cover their nakedness.
    Decades earlier, Eusebius’ description of martyrdoms at Thebais mentioned the “cruel
    and shameful spectacle” of women indecently suspended by one foot from pulleys
    (􀇯􀇤􀇦􀇦􀇟􀇰􀇲􀇬􀇵 􀇷􀇬􀇶 􀇰).53 This implies that these miraculous levitations of humans came
    about because martyrdom was sublimated into exorcism. As saints torture demons into
    confessing, the demoniac hangs temporarily from invisible ropes, just as metal objects
    hang more permanently from invisible chains.54
    elbows over a saint’s cinerary urn, like criminals “condemned to flogging on nooses”
    (tendiculis iudicum sententia verberari, Anon. Vita Patrum Iurensium 42). Wi;niewski
    also quotes Augustine comparing the tormented status of demons (physically celestial,
    spiritually terrestrial) with suspension head-downwards (Civ. D. 9.9).
    52 Anon. Acts of Peter; cf. Iamblichus De mysteriis Aegyptiorum 3.5.112.3-5. Demons
    were imagined as native to the air. Gregory of Tours (Liber Miraculorum 24 = PL
    71.735c) combines exorcism with aerobatics: the saint extracts a confession by lifting
    someone by the feet and dropping him on his head (cf. Constantius of Lyons Vita
    Germani 7.18-37).
    53 Eusebius Historia Ecclesiastica 8.9. It may be relevant that in Sophronius’ seventhcentury
    Life of Mary of Egypt, Zosimas clothes Mary’s nakedness immediately before her
    levitation that closely resembles exorcism (Life 15 = PG 87.3708d).
    54 The same principle underlies a later class of miracle (attributed to Goar, Aicandrus,
    Aldhelm, Dunstan, and others) in which saints accidentally cause garments to levitate by
    23
    4. SYRIA: NIKE AND BELLEROPHON
    Our second-earliest classical source concerning levitation (after Pliny) is
    frequently overlooked, but will prove very significant. It is a brief notice in a catalogue of
    the world’s wonders from Ampelius’ book of facts for boys, probably written in the
    fourth century AD. Unlike the Arsinoe monument, it is described as real and is located in
    a different prosperous Hellenic city:55
    At Magnesia-under-Sipylus there are four columns. Between these columns is
    an iron Victory, hanging without any suspension (pendens sine aliquo
    vinculo), bobbing in the air (in aëre ludens); but every time there is wind or
    rain (quotiens ventus aut pluvia fuerit), it does not move.
    Ampelius does not actually mention magnets, but his ultimate source probably did, since
    the levitating Nike is both made of iron and located at Magnesia, reputed origin of
    Magnesia lapis or magnetite.56 That source was probably a Hellenistic Greek
    hanging them on a sunbeam. This is modelled on the use of wooden perches as coatracks:
    the first recorded example (Waldelbert’s expanded Life of St. Goar) makes this explicit.
    55 Ampelius Liber Memorialis 8.9.
    56Ancient sources already show uncertainty over which Magnesia (those in Thessaly, on
    the Maeander in the province of Syria, and under Mount Sipylus in the province of Asia)
    24
    paradoxography from Alexandria.57 Like Erotes, Nikai were commonly portrayed in
    flight and sometimes used as metal pendants in jewelry: suspending Nike aloft, perhaps
    using a concealed bracket, would be a reasonable continuation of Greek sculptors’ efforts
    to represent her alighting weightlessly, as in the famous Paionian and Samothracian
    statues. We hear of a sizeable mechanically suspended Nike statue at Pergamum in the
    first century BC.58 It seems likely that Ampelius’ “four columns” means a tetrapylon,
    since there is at least one Hellenistic parallel for a goddess statue thus installed.59
    exported magnetite. Its other early names, “Heraclean stone” and “Lydian stone”
    (Rommel 1927: col. 475), offer little help because there were also several Heracleas. This
    may be the most overdue application of magnetometry to any ancient enigma.
    57 von Rohden 1875: 3-29.
    58 In the theater at Pergamum, which is far north of Magnesia but still within the
    Hellenistic province of Asia, a suspended Nike was employed to lower a crown onto
    Mithridates Eupator (Plut. Sull. 11). On nikai as pendants in jewelry, see LIMC s.v. Nike.
    59 At least one tetrapylon in Hellenistic Syria contained a goddess statue, although no
    exact parallel for a Nike image survives. When Seleucus destroyed the city of Antigonia
    in the second century BC, he installed a statue of Antigonia’s Tyche inside a tetrapylon at
    Antioch (Malalas 8.201). This is probably the Tyche shown sitting between two pairs of
    columns on Antiochene coin-issues, especially of the second and third centuries AD
    (LIMC s.v. Antiocheia). Other Syrian cities including Anjar, Palmyra, and Aphrodisias
    gained tetrapyla between the second and fourth centuries AD; Palmyra’s tetrakionion
    could have housed four statues, although none survive. That of Aphrodisias bears reliefs
    of Nikai and Erotes in flight. An Aphrodite statue in fifth-century Gaza occupied a plinth
    25
    Meanwhile, his description of the Nike, which even wobbles (when touched?), matches
    the model I have established for magnetic forces as invisible chains (especially sine
    aliquo vinculo).60
    Despite sharing the recurrent assumption that magnets work like chains, Ampelius
    is best treated separately from the “mainstream” tradition about Alexandria that I have
    outlined, because he seems to preserve an independent tradition concerning the Near East
    that surfaces again many centuries later. This late resurgence has two points of contact
    with Ampelius’ brief notice, one geographic, the other thematic. In the High Middle Ages
    we hear of a new levitating monument: a giant airborne statue of Bellerophon riding
    Pegasus. Scholars have traced its evolution from what was probably a genuine monument
    from classical antiquity into a world wonder.61 This begins with Cosmas of Maiuma’s
    eighth-century commentary on Gregory of Nazianzus’ poems.62 Gregory alludes to the
    at a crossroads, perhaps within another tetrapylon (􀇳􀇨􀇴  􀇷  􀇭􀇤􀇮􀇲􀈀􀇯􀇨􀇰􀇲􀇰
    􀇷􀇨􀇷􀇴􀇟􀇯􀇹􀇲􀇧􀇲􀇰...􀋪􀇳􀇟􀇰􀇼 􀇥􀇼􀇯􀇲  􀇮􀇬􀇫􀇢􀇰􀇲􀇸, Mark the Deacon Vita Porphyrii 59). Classical
    Magnesia-under-Sipylus (modern Manisa) remains largely unexcavated.
    60 Pliny describes both a “rocking stone” at Harpasa (cautes stat horrenda uno digito
    mobilis, eadem, si toto corpore inpellatur, resistens, HN 2.98, cf. Ap. Rhod. Argon.
    1.1304-1308) and the colossal Zeus at Tarentum, said to revolve on its axis and as
    resisting force despite yielding to manual pressure (mirum in eo quod manu, ut ferunt,
    mobilis ea ratio libramenti est, ut nullis convellatur procellis, HN 34.40).
    61 Reinach 1912, Deonna 1914, Rushforth 1919.
    62 Eckhardt 1949: 80 wrongly derives pseudo-Bede’s levitating Bellerophon from Prosper
    of Aquitaine (i.e. Quodvultdeus).
    26
    Seven Wonders rather obliquely and Cosmas only gets some of them right; for example,
    he knows that one of the two statues is the Colossus of Rhodes, but seems unaware of the
    Zeus at Olympia. Perhaps because Cosmas is a native of Damascus in Syria and more
    familiar with the near East, a different statue comes to mind:63
    􀋦􀇦􀇤􀇮􀇯􀇤 􀇳􀇟􀇮􀇬􀇰 􀋪􀇶􀇷 􀇰 􀇷  􀋪􀇰 􀇖􀇯􀈀􀇴􀇰  􀇷􀇲  􀇆􀇨􀇮􀇮􀇨􀇴􀇲􀇹􀇿􀇰􀇷􀇲􀇸, 􀇳􀇨􀇴 􀋪􀇶􀇷 􀇰 􀋪􀇳  
    􀇺􀇡􀇯􀇤􀇷􀇲􀇵 􀋪􀇳  􀇷 􀇰 􀇫􀇟􀇮􀇤􀇶􀇶􀇤􀇰 􀇳􀇴􀇲􀇭􀈀􀇳􀇷􀇲􀇰 􀇷􀇲  􀇷􀇨􀇢􀇺􀇲􀇸􀇵,  􀇷􀇨 􀇔􀇡􀇦􀇤􀇶􀇲􀇵
    􀇳􀇳􀇲􀇵 􀇯􀇬􀇭􀇴 􀇰 􀇳􀇬􀇶􀇫􀇨􀇰 􀇷􀇲  􀇳􀇲􀇧 􀇵 􀇭􀇤􀇷􀇨􀇺􀇿􀇯􀇨􀇰􀇲􀇵, 􀇳􀇲􀇮􀇮􀇟􀇭􀇬􀇵 􀇯 􀇰 􀋶􀇴􀇠􀇯􀇤
    􀇶􀇤􀇮􀇨􀇸􀇲􀈀􀇶􀇪􀇵 􀇶􀇸􀇰􀇨􀇳􀇿􀇯􀇨􀇰􀇲􀇵 􀇺􀇨􀇬􀇴􀇿􀇵∙ 􀇳􀇴􀇲􀇼􀇫􀇲􀈀􀇯􀇨􀇰􀇲􀇵 􀇧  􀇶 􀇰 􀇥􀇢 , 􀇯􀇠􀇰􀇼􀇰 􀇳􀇟􀇦􀇬􀇲􀇵
    􀇭􀇤  􀋚􀇭􀇴􀇟􀇧􀇤􀇰􀇷􀇲􀇵. 
    The second “statue” is that of Bellerophon in Smyrna, which is on a carriage
    above the sea pointing out over the wall. Pegasus the horse is attached
    discreetly behind one hoof, rocking slightly many times when a hand follows
    along with it, but remaining firm and unshaken when shoved with force.
    No such statue is attested elsewhere. I suggest that Gregory or his source wrote “Syria”
    (􀇖􀇸􀇴􀇢 ), not “Smyrna” (􀇖􀇯􀈀􀇴􀇰 ), since a likely site for such a statue was Syria’s
    maritime city of Bargylia, which derived its name from Bargylus, Bellerophon’s friend
    killed by Pegasus.64 Cosmas’ Bellerophon is wondrous because deceptively resilient.65
    63 Cosmas Commentarii in sancti Gregorii Nazanzieni carmina = PG 38.545-46.
    64 Steph. Byz. s.v. 􀇆􀇤􀇴􀇦􀈀􀇮􀇬􀇤 (quoting Apollonius of Aphrodisias’ Karika, c.AD 200).
    According to Ampelius, Syria’s Mount Bargylus had another wondrously resilient
    27
    This probably reminded later readers of magnetic monuments locked in place by invisible
    chains, especially Ampelius’ Nike, which wobbled but stayed put. That would explain
    why, in the tenth-century Seven Wonders of the World, the statue “at Smyrna” is now
    made of iron and magnetic stones “in the vaults” (archivolis) suspend it in equilibrium (in
    mensura aequiparata consistit), even though it weighs around 5000 pounds.
    This Bellerophon is no longer poised to leap from a cliff-top, but airborne within
    Smyrna. It has apparently merged with Ampelius’ levitating Nike; indeed, Magnesiaunder-
    Sipylus was only twenty miles northeast of Smyrna, enjoying sympolity with it.
    The magnets are fixed in the conventional “vaults,” probably meaning vertical
    suspension; but the non-vertical hinc et inde implies horizontal suspension between two
    or more magnets, for which the only precedent is Ampelius. In the twelfth century, the
    well-read pilgrim “Master Gregory” attempts to reconcile his reading of the Seven
    Wonders with what he personally saw at Rome. Despite following his source closely,
    artwork: a lamp outside a temple of Venus that burned constantly, resisting wind and rain
    (quam neque ventus extinguit, nec pluvia aspargit: Ampelius Liber Memorialis 8, cf.
    Aug. Civ. D. 21.6).
    65 Reinach 1912 and Deonna 1914: 102 believe that this statue somehow oscillated in a
    socket. I suggest instead that the effect was achieved by embedding a metal armature
    deep into the base, and Cosmas means that Pegasus wobbled or vibrated when shoved,
    but was never dislodged.
    28
    Gregory relocates the Bellerophon to Rome on the basis of a textual error,66 which (since
    he observed nothing like it there) obliged him to consider it a thing of the past.
    Pseudo-Bede’s and Gregory’s Bellerophons hang between multiple magnets Ampeliusstyle,
    not from a single magnet Rufinus-style, nor as a pair above and below Augustinestyle.
    However, Gregory’s wording suggests that his occupies the focal point inside a
    round-topped Roman archway. 67 It is tempting to see this focal-point arrangement as the
    reason why levitating statues usually hang within vaults (and as we shall see, domes). It
    may even be what our earliest sources intended, though descriptions vary over time.
    5. NEAR EASTERN IDOL-WORSHIP AND THE TOMBS OF SAINTS
    66 As Rushforth 1919: 43-44 shrewdly observes, Gregory must have read the Seven
    Wonders (or something similar) not with in Smyrna civitate, “in the city of Smyrna,” but
    with the variant in summa civitate, “over the top of the City.” (I have already suggested
    that Smyrna was itself a corruption of Syria.) Meanwhile the name Bellerophon has been
    corrupted to “Belloforon” and the weight tripled to 15000 Roman libra (the lower weight
    of 5000 is realistic for a full-size iron equestrian statue. Estimating one libra at 328.9g
    makes 5000 libra around 1640 kg; the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, which is
    over-life-size and made of heavier bronze, weighs 1920 kg: Marabelli 1994: 2).
    67 Magnets exert equal forces “in the arches of the vault” (in arcus voltura, Rushforth’s
    emendation of in arcus involsura).
    29
    During the first millennium AD, the ancient cultures of the Levant—or rather, the
    reflections of their cultural heirs—yield a handful of allusions to levitation that differ
    from those in our Greek and Latin sources. The Midrash (c.AD 200) reports among
    hypotheses about how Gehazi sinned that “Some say he set up a lodestone according to
    the sin of Jeroboam and made it stand between heaven and earth.”68 Jeroboam had
    erected two golden calves as cult-objects in Bethel and Dan (II Kings viii.3); according to
    the Babylonian Gemara (c.AD 500), he deployed magnets to hold these in mid-air.
    Although the mechanical details differ,69 these remarks agree with the Serapeum
    chroniclers (and many later reports of magnetic suspension) that idolaters successfully
    created false miracles using magnetism. More surprisingly, a theory ascribed elsewhere
    in the Gemara to the third-century Rabbi Jose ben Hanina involves a sacred usage.70
    When asked how David could wear the gold Ammonite crown weighing one Babylonian
    talent (around 30 kg: 2 Samuel xii.30), the Rabbi suggests that a magnetic stone held it
    above his head.71
    68 Tractate Sotah fol. 47a (trans. Robert Travers Herford).
    69 The first passage is the only known pre-modern description of a magnet itself
    levitating, instead of suspending other objects. The second passage also differs from
    Greek and Roman accounts because it neither indicates where the magnets were placed
    nor suggests that the golden calves contained iron.
    70 Gemara Avodah Zarah fol. 44a.
    71 This is probably inspired by the suspension of a heavy crown (from a chain inside an
    arch) over the Sassanian monarch at Ctesiphon: see Erdmann 1951: 114-17.
    30
    To these three Talmudic examples we may add an Arabic one. Ibn Wahshiyya’s
    translation of The Nabatean Agriculture in the early tenth century AD explains that when
    Tammuz was murdered, Babylon’s statues all assembled in the temple of the Sun to
    mourn him, whereupon the large golden Sun figure, normally suspended between heaven
    and earth, came down among them. The date and authorship of The Nabatean Agriculture
    itself is very uncertain, let alone this particular fable, but influences from late antique and
    medieval Greek agronomic texts (mediated through the context of medieval Iraq) have
    been detected elsewhere.72 This Babylonian Sun-statue could therefore derive partly from
    the Alexandrian one, even though its levitation is a supernatural miracle with no mention
    of magnets.73 Meanwhile, it is a golden idol, like Jeroboam’s calves, hangs “between
    heaven and earth,” like Gehazi’s magnet, and is neutral or positive in character, like
    David’s golden crown. These allusions all envisage non-Jewish peoples suspending
    golden objects in the air, without mentioning vaults, iron, or extant monuments, but are
    otherwise heterogeneous. Perhaps Western reports of magnetic suspension influenced
    some or all of these Semitic reports of levitating gold objects, but indirectly at best. They
    have no obvious bearing on its recurrent associations with the Near East.
    72 The relevant passage is reported in Maimonides Guide for the Perplexed 29. The
    Nabatean Agriculture and its interpretative problems are discussed in Hämeen-Anttila
    2002–2003.
    73 Two other tenth-century Muslim writers, describing India, mention a suspended idol
    and golden temple without mentioning magnetism (Abu Dulaf and Al-Mas’udi, discussed
    below), though no connection with Ibn Wahshiyya can be made.
    31
    After Ibn Wahshiyya, many other Muslim scholars report non-Muslims
    worshipping levitating objects, in which the relationship between trick and miracle
    remains close. The first and fullest reference to a levitating tomb of a Christian saint or
    sage on Sicily comes from Ibn Hawqal in the late tenth century:74
    The great city of Balarm (Palermo)…contains a large mosque for assembly,
    which was the church of Rome before the conquest, and where there is an
    impressive shrine. I have heard from a logician that the philosopher (hakim) of
    the Greeks, Arastutalis (Aristotle), was suspended in a wooden coffin within
    this chapel, which Muslims have converted into a mosque. The Christians
    honored his tomb and went there to receive healing, because they had seen
    how the Greeks had regarded and revered him. He also told me that he lies
    suspended between heaven and earth so that people can beg him to send rain
    or bestow a cure, or for all other important matters in which it is essential to
    address God in the highest and propitiate him: in case of misfortune,
    destruction, or civil war. And there I saw a wooden coffin which was probably
    his tomb.
    74 Ibn Hawqal Surat al-‘Ard, translation adapted from Vanoli 2008: 247-48.
    32
    Palermo had been Arab-controlled since AD 831, so Ibn Hawqal’s informer was telling a
    tale set more than two centuries in the past.75 This imagined veneration of Aristotle
    reflects mutual Christian and Muslim respect for him in the tenth century, when Sicily
    was pre-eminent in Aristotelian scholarship. These remains, surely belonging to a
    Christian saint, become those of Galen or Socrates in later Muslim references.76 As a
    Greek hakim occupying a suspended coffin, Aristotle represents occult Hermetic
    knowledge reimagined as Christian hierolatry. The hakim-saint purportedly received
    intercessory prayers while poised between heaven and earth, neatly encapsulating Sicily’s
    cultural melting pot. On Cyprus, another “frontier island,” Christian-Muslim interactions
    proved less harmonious. The silver-clad wooden cross of the Good Thief, which St.
    Helena brought to Stavrovouni Monastery, was miraculously suspended before the gaze
    of several pilgrims who recorded the experience.77 Felix Faber’s description is fullest: the
    75 The eleventh-century Book of Curiosities says only that Christians at Palermo used to
    pray to “a piece of wood” for rain (Savage-Smith 2014: 457), indicating that it was not
    revered during Arab occupation.
    76 In the thirteenth century, the Tunisian author Ibn al-Shabb􀆗t says that Sicily is where
    Ğ􀆗l􀆯n􀇌s (Galen) is buried; in the fifteenth century, al-B􀆗kuw􀆯 says it was Sukrat
    (Socrates): citations in Vanoli 2008: 249-50.
    77 Daniel the Traveler Puteshestive igumena Daniila; Wilbrand of Oldenburg Itinerarium
    terrae sanctae 30 (Itinera Hierosolymitana Crucesignatorum III p. 230); Ogier
    d’Anglure Le Saint Voyage de Jherusalem 295; Felix Faber Evagatorium 36B-37B.
    These visits occurred respectively in AD 1106, 1211, 1395, and 1480. Around 1370,
    Guillaume de Machaut attested its fame in verse (Prise d’Alexandrie 291-98).
    33
    cross hung within a blind window, its arms and foot reaching into oversized recesses.
    Like Cosmas’ Bellerophon (and Ampelius’ Nike) it wobbled when touched,78 and was
    probably suspended on a concealed metal bracket. But we have two Muslim retorts to
    Christian polemics that denounce it as a trick involving magnets. In mid-twelfth-century
    Cordoba, Al-Khazraji pours scorn on reputed miracles, the second of which is a cross
    hanging in mid-air. He calls this no miracle, merely a trick (h􀆯la) achieved using magnets
    hidden inside the church walls.79 In 1321, Al-Dimashqi confirms the identification by
    including in a similar list “the cross in Cyprus, suspended in mid-air using magnets.”80
    These denunciations of idolaters tricking spectators with magnetism match those in the
    Talmud. However, as we have seen, Christianity possessed its own long tradition of such
    denunciations.
    In the early sixth century, Cassiodorus passingly alludes to an otherwise unknown
    iron Cupid that hung in a temple of Diana “without any attachment”: Helios has probably
    been replaced here with a better-known flying god, and the Serapeum with the better-
    78 ut dicunt, nullo innitens adminiculo, in aëre pendet, et fluctuat; quod tamen non
    videtur de facili (Wilbrand of Oldenburg Itinerarium terrae sanctae 30 = IHC III p. 230);
    “quant l’en y touche elle bransle fort” (Ogier d’Anglure Le Saint Voyage de Jherusalem
    295).
    79 Al-Khazraji Maqami al-sulban (Triumph over the Cross), framed as a retort to an anti-
    Muslim priest called Al-Quti (“The Goth”), cited in Vanoli 2008: 257.
    80 Ibn Ali Talib Al-Dimashqi Response to the Letter from the People of Cyprus 54r.
    34
    known temple of Ephesus.81 By contrast, a much later European source endows a
    different flying god—Mercury—with a similar statue using a direct Christian model. The
    relevant passages of the eleventh- or twelfth-century Gesta Treverorum spin tall tales of
    Treveri’s historic remains,82 aiming to establish that the town (briefly the Western
    Empire’s capital in the fourth century) had both a longer history and more splendid
    monuments than Rome.83 Treveri’s include a temple with a hundred statues and a vast
    iron Mercury in flight. These correspond to wondrous monuments in High Middle Age
    accounts of Rome: the “Salvatio Romae” statue-group, and the aforementioned iron
    Bellerophon.84 The Mercury hung inside an arch with magnets above and below
    (Augustine-style). The author forestalls doubt by including a documentary letter from an
    eyewitness, as well as a Latin inscription clearly aimed at readers, not observers: Ferreus
    in vacuis pendet caducifer auris, “The iron caduceus-bearer hangs in thin air.”85
    81 mechanisma…fecisse dicitur…ferreum Cupidinem in Dianae templo sine aliqua
    alligatione pendere (Variae 1.45.10).
    82 PL 154.1094-95, 1122.
    83 The Gesta contributes to a High-Middle-Age rebranding of Trier as “the second Rome”
    (Hammer 1944). Its comically majestic antiquities include a marble Jupiter
    commemorating how taxes withheld by five Rhenish cities were “extracted by thunder
    and celestial terror” (fulmine et caelesti terrore extorto, Gesta 23 = PL 154.1122).
    84 Note the competitive emphasis on the size and weight of the Mercury statue (mirae
    magnitudinis, 1094-95; magni ponderis, 1122).
    85 This hexameter has strongly Ovidian features, especially his characteristic epithet
    caducifer (compare metrical parallels: Ars Am. 1.473 ferreus adsiduo consumitur anulus
    35
    I suggest that this story is best compared with a Christian miracle, narrated later in
    the self-same text, concerning St. Paulinus of Treveri whose coffin was suspended from
    iron chains. When the Norman marauders of AD 882 ripped these away, it remained
    hanging in mid-air, only sinking to rest years later when some unbelievers pushed it
    downward, incurring doom in the process.86 For this semi-fantasized crypt, as for the
    purely fantasized Mercury-temple, a fictive document is “quoted” extensively.87 Another
    correspondence is that numerous fellow martyrs surround Paulinus. In an irreverent
    reimagining of local legend these became the hundred pagan statues, while Paulinus’
    levitating wooden coffin became the levitating iron Mercury, hanging on the invisible
    “chains” of magnets. It is just possible that Christian relics really were suspended on
    chains in the High Middle Ages; most reports of chain-hung coffins are dubious, since
    usu, cf. Am. 1.6.27, 1.7.50, 2.5.11, 2.19.4; Met. 8.820 adflat et in vacuis spargit ieiunia
    venis; Fast. 4.605 Tartara iussus adit sumptis Caducifer alis, cf. Met. 2.708, 8.627). It is
    tempting to see in caducifer a pun on caducum ferrum, “iron ready to fall.” Embrico
    shows Ovidian influence too: Cambier 1961: 376 notes that the lines Nam si vixisset opus
    atque loqui potuisset / “Materiam vici!” diceret artifici allude to Ovid’s comment on the
    sumptuous temple of the Sun, materiam superabat opus (Met. 2.5). South Germany’s
    early twelfth-century Ovidian renaissance (Conte 1994 [1987]: 360) is the mutual context
    for Embrico and the Gesta.
    86 Gesta 43 = PL 154.1164. This narrative combines miraculous suspension with the
    topos of the saint’s coffin becoming immobile, signifying his desire to remain on site.
    87 A verbose lead tablet incorporating a prophecy about the Normans: Gesta 42 = PL
    154.1161.
    36
    they appear in travelers’ tales, but a suspended reliquary appeared at Nuremberg in the
    fifteenth century.88 However, a levitating tomb of any material has no Christian
    88 On suspended ostrich-eggs and similar objects in Eastern medieval churches and
    mosques, see Green 2006; in sacred art, Flood 2001:15-58. Two twelfth-century Jewish
    periegetes claim that the prophet Daniel’s remains could be seen in a shining glass or
    bronze coffin in Susa, hanging from iron chains under a bridge over the Choaspes to shed
    blessings on both banks: Benjamin of Tudela Itinerary (Adler 1907: 52-53), Petachiah of
    Regensburg Travels (Benisch 1856: 38-41). In the same century (c. AD 1170),
    Barbarossa donated the four-meter-wide gilt chandelier hanging from 25 meters of chain
    in Aachen Cathedral. Al-Harawi, in his late twelfth- or early thirteenth-century Guide to
    Knowledge of Pilgrimage Places, claimed that Rome’s largest church kept St. Peter’s
    remains “within a silver ark hanging by chains from the ceiling” (trans. Lee 1829: 161).
    This may be a garbled account of Constantine’s thirty-pound gold chandelier, which hung
    over St. Peter’s bronze-clad tomb (according to the Liber Pontificalis, and is shown
    hanging on chains on the Pola Casket). Robert of Clari, narrating Constantinople’s fall in
    1204, claims that a shroud and a tile imprinted with Jesus’ face hung in gold vessels from
    silver chains (83). From the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries, a casket of relics including
    the spear of Longinus (when not ceremonially displayed) hung on two chains in
    Nuremberg’s Holy Ghost Hospital Church (Kahsnitz et al. 1986: 179-80). It is relevant
    that when a fourteenth-century source claims that Muhammad’s embalmed foot occupies
    a golden casket at Bladacta, the three large magnets suspending it are “in the chains
    hanging above it” (a tribus magnis lapidibus calamitis in cathenis pendentibus super
    eam, Anon. Liber Nicolay fol. 353 verso, quoted in Eckhardt 1949: 85).
    37
    precedent, and I would instead connect it with Ibn Hawqal’s earlier report that a wooden
    coffin once hung in mid-air. It is also notable that the historical Paulinus died in AD 358
    during exile in Phrygia, returning in the damask-wrapped cedarwood coffin where he
    remains today.89 Paulinus himself therefore links the levitating Mercury in Trier’s
    fanciful Gesta (or should that be geste?) back to the late classical Near East. This may
    reflect a broader European tendency to associate artificial marvels with the East.90
    The “sacred physics” of the Stavrovouni cross and the coffins at Palermo and
    Trier consistently resembles magnetic suspension because, I propose, medieval
    Christendom substituted holy relic-matter for iron as the “active ingredient” of suspended
    objects.91 This finally lets us explain an enigmatic monument in the eleventh-century
    Norman Life of St. Illtud which, like Rome’s Bellerophon, found its way into a list of
    wonders.92 It combines the levitating tombs of Ibn Hawqal and the Gesta Treverorum
    89 The rectangular coffin has no chains but its iron fittings have eyelets on the sides,
    probably for ring handles.
    90 “In general, the marvels of art came from Africa and Asia, lands believed far to surpass
    Europe not only in natural variety and fertility, but also in fertility of human imagination”
    (Daston and Park 1998: 88).
    91 This also explains the ninth-century claim that inserted relics held Hagia Sophia’s
    dome upright (Diegesis 14).
    92 On this episode, and our sources, see Evans 2011. Illtud’s altar is the longest and the
    only man-made or Christian item in the De Mirabilibus Britanniae, appended to some
    manuscripts of the Historia Brittonum, which cannot be securely dated before the twelfth
    38
    with another class of miraculous object, the miraculously buoyant altars attributed to
    several Celtic saints.93 In the longer version, two strangers sail to Illtud’s cave, bringing
    him a saint’s corpse with an altar above his face, “supported by God’s favor” (Dei nutu
    fulcitur). Illtud buries the saint, who requested anonymity to avoid being sworn upon, and
    builds a church around the altar, still levitating “to the present day” (usque in hodiernum
    diem).94 Church altars stood over a saint’s tomb wherever possible, and likewise portable
    altars (wood, metal, or stone) featured a compartment for saints’ relics.95 Further
    confirmation of the parallel with Paulinus’ coffin comes in the fates of two empiricists
    who later examined this altar. The first passes a withy underneath the altar and proves its
    levitation, but dies within a month, as does the second who looks underneath and is
    blinded; they resemble the doubters at Trier, who pushed Paulinus’ levitating tomb
    downward and later fell sick. Lifris claims extensive cultural property for Cadoc,
    including descent from Roman emperors, burial in Italy, travels in Jerusalem, and
    century. These idiosyncrasies imply that it was culled from a hagiography, apparently a
    lengthier version of the extant Life.
    93 Patrick, Brynach, Carannog, and Padarn’s disciple Nimmanauc (Evans 2011: 59, 63-
    64).
    94 De Mirabilibus Britanniae 10, cf. Life of Illtud 22.
    95 An extant example (c. 690) was found with the body of St. Cuthbert at Durham
    Cathedral. In 714, Jonas of Fontenelle described another, owned by St. Wulfram
    (altare…in medio reliquiae continens sanctorum in modum clypei, quod, secum dum iter
    ageret vehere solitus erat). In 787, the Second Council of Nicaea stipulated that every
    new altar must contain saints’ relics.
    39
    interactions with King Arthur. These also include the relic-powered levitating monument,
    which brought this Christianized version of magnetic suspension as far west as Wales.
    6. THE TOMB OF MUHAMMAD
    The iron Bellerophon, perhaps too fanciful and arbitrary for belief, apparently
    faded from memory after pseudo-Bede and Gregory. But in the High Middle Ages, in a
    politically charged context and with enough plausibility to retain credence across Europe
    until the sixteenth century, the tomb of Muhammad becomes history’s most notorious
    magnetic monument.96 Eckhardt astutely traces its development through anti-Muslim
    polemics back to the early twelfth-century Vita Mahumeti by Embrico of Mainz, but
    claims that Embrico borrowed the motif directly from Pliny and Rufinus, which I shall
    show to be incorrect.97 In Chant 16, a magician installs Muhammad’s corpse in a
    sumptuous temple using this trick:
    Thus the lofty creation (opus elatum), furnished with a single magnet,
    stood in the center which was shaped like an arch.
    Muhammad is carried under this and put in a tomb,
    96 Gibbon 1789: 6.262 finds it still necessary to deny that Muhammad’s tomb was
    suspended by magnets.
    97 Eckhardt 1949. The vita auctoris has since been discovered, correcting the
    misattribution to Hildebert of Lavardin.
    40
    Which, in case you should ask, had been made from bronze.
    And indeed, because [the magnet] pulls together such a mass of bronze (tam
    grandia contrahat aera),
    The tomb in which the king lay was lifted up.
    And there he hung, by the power of the stones.
    Therefore the ignorant public, after they saw the prodigy of the tomb,
    Took as fact what was merely a show (rem pro signo tenuerunt),
    Believing—miserable people—that Muhammad made it happen (per
    Mahumet fieri).
    Embrico goes on to say that the tomb hangs “without a chain” (absque catena), by
    “magic” (ars magica). Gautier de Compiègne repeats most of the same details in his Otia
    de Machomete,98 also composed early in the 1100s, although he explains the magnetic
    trick differently:
    …For, as they say, the vessel in which the remains
    of Muhammad lie buried seems to hang,
    So that it is seen suspended in the air without support,
    But no chain pulls on it from above either.
    Therefore, if you should ask them how come it does not fall,
    They think (in their delusion) it is by the powers of Muhammad.
    98 Verses 1057-77. Alexandre du Pont’s thirteenth-century Li Romans de Mahon
    faithfully follows Gautier (1902-15) and adds no new details.
    41
    But in fact the vessel is clad in iron on all sides,
    And stands in the center of a square house,
    And there is adamant-stone99 in the four parts of the temple,
    At equal distances in one direction or another;
    By natural force it draws the bier towards itself equally,
    So that the vessel cannot fall on any side.
    Importantly, Embrico specified that the coffin (tumulum, tumba) was bronze, like the
    statue in George the Monk without its iron nail. However, Gautier clearly has an
    independent source. He omits the dazzling wealth and moves the shrine from Libya to
    Mecca.100 He also specifies that the tomb has iron all around, and that four magnets
    balance it horizontally, not just one suspending it inside an arch. I suggest that Gautier’s
    99 Gautier’s term adamas reflects the confusion in Old French between the homonyms
    aymant < Lat. adamas “adamant, diamond” and aymant < Lat. amans “lover, magnet”
    (von Lippmann 1971 [1923]: 182, 194, 213).
    100 Muhammad’s tomb is actually at Al-Masjid al-Nabaw􀆯, but the confusion between
    Islam’s two oldest sites of pilgrimage is understandable. In the thirteenth century,
    Cardinal Rodrigo Ximénez claimed that the sacred Black Stone embedded in the Kaaba
    was a magnet (Historia Arabum 3, published in van Erpe 1625), perhaps taking literally
    Nasir Khusraw’s remark in the Safarnama that the Qarmatians thought the stone was a
    “human magnet” and would draw crowds when relocated. Al-Mas’udi says much the
    same about a temple at Multan in India (Muruj adh-dhahab wa ma’adin al-jawhar
    63.1371).
    42
    independent source also informed Glycas’ description of the Serapeum some sixty years
    earlier, which diverged from earlier descriptions by adding the same details. Both specify
    a four-magnet configuration and explicitly state that this prevents the iron-girt idol from
    tipping over.101 Whatever this shared source may be, it strongly resembles Ampelius’
    description of the Nike bobbing between four columns. Apparently this (or a text from
    the same chain of transmission) circulated in the twelfth century, causing both Gautier
    and Glycas to diverge from their immediate models.
    A third twelfth-century poem, Graindor’s Chanson d’Antioche (c. AD 1180), can
    reveal more about Muhammad’s tomb.102 Graindor drew on an earlier chanson by a
    shadowy “Richard the Pilgrim,” very likely adding fantastical elements. These include
    the erection of a Muhammad-statue above a tent, so nicely balanced upon four magnets
    that a fan rotated it:
    On the top [of the tent] the Sultan had an idol set up (fist mestre…un aversier),
    Made all in gold and silver, finely carved.
    If you had seen it, without a word of a lie
    101 Compare 􀇶􀇲􀇧􀇸􀇰􀇟􀇯􀇼􀇵 􀇦 􀇴 􀇷􀇨􀇷􀇴􀇤􀇯􀇨􀇴􀇿􀇫􀇨􀇰 􀋫􀇮􀇭􀇿􀇯􀇨􀇰􀇲􀇰, 􀇭􀇤  􀇯  􀋮􀇺􀇲􀇰 􀇳􀇲􀇸 􀇭􀇤  􀇰􀇨􀈀􀇶􀇨􀇬􀇵
    (Glycas Chronicle 4.257 = PG 158.433) with pendere res plena quod pendeat absque
    catena, nec sic pendiculum quod teneat tumulum (Graindor Chanson d’Antioche 1143-
    44).
    102 Allusions to Muhammad’s magnetic suspension in subsequent chansons de geste (e.g.
    Les Quatre Fils Aymon 9613-16: iron statue; Le Bâtard de Bouillon 1364-66: golden
    statue) are brief and add little.
    43
    You could not see or even imagine a finer sight:
    It was large and shapely, with a proud face.
    The Sultan Emir ordered it to be lowered:
    Four pagan kings run to embrace it,
    Erecting it in position (le font metre et drecier) upon four magnets,
    So that it does not tilt or lean in any direction.
    Muhammad was in the air, rotating (si prist à tournoier),
    Because a fan (uns ventiaus) moved him and set him rotating

    Muhammad was in the air, by the power of the magnet (par l’aimant vertus),
    And pagans revere him and offer him their salutes.
    Sansadoine denounces the false cult, punches the idol to the ground, and overleaps its
    belly, much as Quodvultdeus’ inspired Christian destroys the Helios in the Serapeum.103
    The precious metals and absence of iron recall Embrico, but the four magnets preventing
    it from tipping (quatre aimans…qu’il ne puist cliner ne nule part ploier) recall Gautier.
    The suspension above magnets (de sor) and the fan-powered rotation are entirely new,
    probably inspired by a description of the panemone windmill. Many scholars assume that
    our version of the Chanson, despite postdating Embrico and Gautier, represents an earlier
    phase involving a suspended idol based on classical accounts, later supplanted by
    103 The statue’s precious materials and proud appearance may recall the Alexandrian cultstatue
    of Serapis, whose description routinely accompanies that of the magnetically
    levitating Sun statue from Rufinus onwards.
    44
    Muhammad’s real body.104 I suggest that the partly “classicizing” variant involving an
    idol and magnets (which nonetheless contains no iron and lacks any direct model) is
    actually later: the suspension of the prophet’s own remains came first, directly
    counterfeiting Christian relic-powered suspension. Geographic proximity does not in
    itself prove oral or literary influence, but seems particularly relevant in this case. Embrico
    wrote at Mainz, Gautier at Marmoutier; around the same time, the anonymous monk (or
    monks) behind the Gesta Treverorum wrote at Trier. These three towns form an
    approximate triangle less than a hundred miles wide in the northeast Holy Roman
    Empire, and although the Gesta is hard to date, it belongs to a Latin literary scene whose
    coherence is implied by Gautier’s obvious dependence on Embrico. I suggest that relicmiracles,
    and not classical reports about Alexandria, are the true model for Muhammad’s
    magnetically levitating tomb, which ironically makes the same accusation against
    Muslims that Al-Khazraji and Al-Dimashqi were almost simultaneously hurling against
    Christians.
    One late thirteenth-century author reclaims Muhammad’s suspended tomb for
    Christendom using a different fantastical setting. The Account of Elysaeus of the 1280s105
    is an interpolated version of the Letter of Prester John, containing a description of St.
    Thomas’ tomb.106 This occupies a mountain in central India where, when the Indus
    104 E.g. Tolan 1996.
    105 Thus Zarncke 1876: 120.
    106 The tomb description (except its levitation) was extracted from the anonymous De
    adventu patriarchae Indorum ad Urbem sub Calixto papa secundo (AD 1122).
    45
    annually recedes, Thomas’ incorruptible hand is used to dispense the Eucharist (closing
    its grip to reveal any person’s guilt):107
    Now, the apostle is in a church on that same mountain, and he is entombed in
    an iron tomb (in tumulo ferreo tumulatus); and that tomb rests in the air by the
    power of four precious stones. It is called adamans; one is set in the floor, a
    second in the roof, one at one corner of the tomb, and another in the other.
    Those stones truly love iron (isti vero lapides diligunt ferrum): the lower one
    prevents him from rising, the upper one from sinking, and those at the corners
    prevent him from moving this way or that. The apostle is in the middle.
    The iron coffin locked in position, the four magnets, and the term adamas (here
    adamans) are recognizable from Gautier. As irreverently as when Paulinus’ relic-miracle
    was separately transferred onto both Muhammad and the iron Mercury, only in reverse,
    the author transfers Muhammad’s magnets onto a saint’s tomb, albeit in an exotic Eastern
    setting. The ease with which Muhammad’s false miracle is reclaimed for a Christian
    context shows how closely it was patterned on Christian relic-miracles in the first place.
    The author takes a positive attitude to magnetic suspension by turning it from miraclesubstitute
    to miracle in itself, unconsciously echoing our earliest pagan sources, and to be
    echoed in turn centuries later.
    107 Account of Elysaeus 16-17. The relevant portion (16-17) is published in Zarncke 1876:
    123-24.
    46
    7. ASIA AND INDIA: GNOSTIC, HINDU, AND BUDDHIST WONDERS
    At the time when magnetic suspension was giving rise to a form of relic-miracle
    in Western Europe, which would later contribute to the fantasy of Muhammad’s tomb,
    Muslim sources were already counting it among the marvels of India. I shall demonstrate
    that whereas very early Asian sources attribute self-levitation to holy individuals in
    Hinduism and Buddhism, and Sanskrit medical texts describe the properties of magnets,
    Muslim descriptions of magnetic suspension show the influence of Western antiquity.108
    The remarkable result is that just as eastward-facing Christians ascribed the technique to
    Muslims, eastward-facing Muslims were simultaneously ascribing it to other non-
    Muslims. Independent channels of transmission had produced such ironies before, yet
    this branch of the tradition (in which the Eastern dome replaced the Western arch or
    vault) flourished for centuries longer, relocating and evolving. Always in the margins,
    magnetic levitation illuminates the thought of many ages: from Hellenistic and Roman
    learning, across a spectrum of medieval Christian beliefs, into medieval and later Islam.
    As I shall show, a Hindu appropriation finally brought it into the modern era.
    108 On Hellenic (largely Hellenistic) influences on medieval Islam, see Peter 1988. Any
    evidence contradicting this Eurocentric model would of course be very important. I have
    only found one thirteenth-century Sanskrit example of magnet folklore, not involving
    levitation. In Hemadri’s Chaturvarga Chintamani, Shukracharya creates a mountain-like
    magnet to divert the gods’ iron-tipped arrows from the besieged daityas; Indra’s lightning
    shatters it, distributing magnetite worldwide.
    47
    The earliest Muslim references to suspended monuments arise from allegory and
    fables. Later, these develop into reports anchored to Indian cities, in exegetical genres
    such as travel writing and historiography. The latter resemble many earlier pagan and
    Christian sources, especially those concerning the Serapeum, which served as a template
    for the idolatrous splendor of Hinduism and Buddhism. One early reference, redolent of
    Gnostic allegory, appears in Al-Mas’udi’s tenth-century world history. He describes an
    ancient seven-sided “Sabian” (Harranian) temple on China’s borders—meaning at the
    world’s end—containing a well inside which all past and future knowledge may be seen.
    It is also crowned with a radiant gemstone that kills anyone who approaches it or
    attempts to destroy the temple. Al-Mas’udi says that according to “certain sages,” the
    effect was created using magnets regularly placed around the temple.109 India attracted
    curiosity and wonder among Muslim intellectuals, a fact exploited later in the tenth
    century by Abu Dulaf al-Yanbu’i in his first risala (letter), which blends gleaned
    knowledge with Mandevillean fantasy. He counts among India’s wonders a solid-gold
    temple, reputedly levitating somewhere between Makrana and Kandhar (over 700 miles
    apart).110 This statement is cited by a contemporary geographer, and another geographer
    three centuries later, implying that levitation could feature among “wonders of the East”
    109 Al Mas’udi 67 (de Meynard 1914: 69-71). For commentary on the Gnostic symbolism
    of this and other temples, see Corbin 1986: 132-82.
    110 Dulaf’s temple in the sky probably derives from the splendid city built for Kay Kavus,
    Persia’s legendary shah, “between heaven and earth” (al-Tabari Tar􀆯kh 1.602), or
    alternatively the vimanas of Hindu myth.
    48
    without mention of magnets or other rationalizations.111 In the same text, Dulaf describes
    the “idol” at Multan as not merely suspended in the air, but a hundred cubits distant from
    both floor and ceiling, itself a hundred cubits tall.112 Whether Dulaf read about a smaller
    suspended statue is unknown, but this has an air of satirical exaggeration, much like
    Lucian’s hundred-cubit footprint of Heracles.113 Dulaf is the earliest known Muslim
    scholar to locate a suspended statue in India, as his successors would do for centuries to
    come, though at different locations.
    Another Muslim echo of Western accounts of the Serapeum is denouncing
    magnetic suspension as religious fraud. The first trace of this is Al-Mas’udi’s claim that
    the Hindu temple at Multan contained magnets.114 Three centuries later (AD c. 1220), a
    catalog of fraudulent miracles in Al-Jawbari’s “Book of Selected Disclosure of Secrets”
    includes a levitating iron statue, in India’s “Monastery of the Idol” (deir al-sanam).115
    This seems to be an adaptation of the iron Helios in the Serapeum, being not only
    suspended under a dome—the Eastern answer to a vault—but also ascribed to a Greek
    hakim, this time Apollonius (“Yablunus”).116 Apollonius was also (as “Balinas”) the
    111 Ibn Al-Nadim Kitab al-Fihrist 347; Yaqut al-Hamawi Mu–jam Al-Buldan 3.457.
    112 MS. Rishbad f. 192a.
    113 Lucian Ver. Hist. 1.4. Scythia’s Heracles footprint was two cubits long (Hdt. 4.82).
    114 Al-Mas’udi 63.1371 (on “Mandusan”), cited by Vanoli 2008: 25.
    115 Al-Jawbari Kit􀆗b al-mukht􀆗r f􀆯 kashf al-asr􀆗r (The Meadows of Gold and Mines of
    Gems) chapter 4, cited in Wiedemann 1970: 359.
    116 Apparently here, as often in medieval Islam, the wonder-working Apollonius of Tyana
    is confused with the astronomer Apollonius of Perge.
    49
    purported author of a near-contemporary hermetic text, which described another
    allegorical seven-sided temple.117 This suggests that the magnetic marvels of both the
    “Monastery of the Idol” and the allegorical Harranian temple may ultimately derive from
    Byzantine historians’ reports of the Serapeum.118
    Although magnetism as religious fraud starts to appear in these High Middle Age
    Muslim accounts of unreal Asian temples (particularly those of Al-Mas’udi and Al-
    Jawbari), it features more prominently in later descriptions of real ruined temples. This is
    the strongest indication that the suspension motif itself passed from European texts
    through Muslim mediation into India, where it served many of the same cultural
    functions, especially since another iconolatry-iconoclasm conflict was under way. The
    great ruined Hindu temple of Somnath becomes, so to speak, the first Serapeum of Indian
    historiography. Somnath was destroyed in 1025, but around 1263 (decades after Al-
    Jawbari and his “Monastery of the Idol”), the Persian geographer Zakariya Al-Qazvini
    endowed it with splendors as lavish as those described in Rufinus or the Chanson
    d’Antioche. These include a suspended statue that initiates a drama of empirical
    analysis:119
    117 Heptagonal temples, one side for each known “planet,” suggest the astronomical
    mysticism of Harranian culture: see Van Bladel 2009.
    118 “Balinas” Book of the Seven Idols (Kitab al-Asnam al-Saba), cited and discussed in
    Al-Jaldaki Al-Burhan. This heptagonal temple contains seven talking statues representing
    the planets, whose sermons initiate the reader into alchemy.
    119 Al-Qazvini, trans. Eliot and Dowson 1871 = 2.63 Wüstenfeld.
    50
    This idol was in the middle of [Somnath] temple without anything to support
    it from below, or to suspend it from above. It was regarded with great
    veneration by the Hindus, and whoever beheld it floating in the air was struck
    with amazement, whether he was a Mussulman or an infidel.… When the king
    [Sultan Mahmoud of Ghazni] asked his companions what they had to say
    about the marvel of the idol, and of its staying in the air without prop or
    support, several maintained that it was upheld by some hidden support. The
    king directed a person to go and feel all around and above and below it with a
    spear, which he did, but met with no obstacle. One of the attendants then
    stated his opinion that the canopy was made of loadstone, and the idol of iron,
    and that the ingenious builder had skilfully contrived that the magnet should
    not exercise a greater force on any one side—hence the idol was suspended in
    the middle.… Permission was obtained from the Sultan to remove some
    stones from the top of the canopy to settle the point. When two stones were
    removed from the summit, the idol swerved on one side; when more were
    taken away, it inclined still further, until at last it rested on the ground.
    In this version of the focal-point model (in a dome, as in Al-Jawbari), removing the
    stones does not topple the statue instantly. Instead it dangles lower without falling, until
    reaching the ground, as if numerous chainlike bonds were progressively detached from
    highest to lowest. Although no connection with the Serapeum is visible here, a similar
    story among the Muslim Bohra of Gujarat confirms it. In this story of uncertain date, set
    less than 250 miles away at Khambhat around a century later, Moulai Yaqoob visits a
    51
    Brahmin temple and removes four magnets suspending an iron elephant (Ganesh?) inside.
    This, with other feats, causes mass conversion to Islam.120 This story of a false miracle
    exposed resembles that of Somnath in its setting, but in other respects strongly resembles
    that of Alexandria as told by Quodvultdeus.121 Yaqoob follows in the footsteps of the
    “servant of Christ,” who validates his own new faith by dislodging the hidden magnets
    supporting the old one.
    Since the early nineteenth century, a similar tale of magnetic levitation has been
    told much further east, about Konark’s thirteenth-century Sun Temple on the Bay of
    Bengal. This owes much to the earlier accounts of Eastern temples in Muslim
    geographies and other prose genres, but has emerged from oral tradition and,
    furthermore, remains current today. Konark probably fell into disuse after the sixteenthcentury
    Afghan conquest of Odisha, and by the eighteenth century its tall vimana
    (sanctum) had almost completely collapsed. A local tale recorded in the mid-nineteenth
    century claimed that its capstone had been a massive magnet that frequently caused
    shipwrecks on the nearby coast (presumably defending it from attack by sea), until a band
    of Muslims landed further away and stole it to prevent this effect, thereby desanctifying
    120 During the reign of “Sadras Singh” (Siddharaj Jaisingh, AD 1094-1143), Yaqoob
    visited a Brahmin temple containing the elephant: see Forbes 1856: 343-44. A summary
    of Bohra legends is provided by Jivabhai 1882: 328-45. Yaqoob and Graindor’s righteous
    iconoclast seem independently derived from a shared source.
    121 One detail points to a later retelling of Quodvultdeus’ story: the four magnets, seen in
    High Medieval texts (Glycas, Gautier, Graindor, Account of Elysaeus).
    52
    the temple.122 In more recent variants this capstone suspended a cult-statue in mid-air, as
    at Somnath, and it was the Portuguese or British who removed it.123 This tale seems to
    merge Al-Mas’udi’s deadly gemstone with the shipwrecking magnetic mountain; the
    copious iron clamps and girders in Konark’s masonry probably seemed like evidence,
    especially if some were magnetized by lightning.124 The tradition of suspended
    monuments being destroyed, previously communicated from Christian to Muslim
    chroniclers, survives at Konark in a final, post-colonial inversion. This temple magnet
    was no fraud, nor mere spectacle, but an immensely powerful weapon, as even its
    destroyers had to acknowledge.
    It is instructive to compare the legends of Somnath and Khambhat with that of
    Konark. All explain why the miraculous object is absent from any extant ruins, but the
    first two condemn deception, whereas the last praises ingenuity. At Somnath and
    Khambhat, pious myth-busters expose the marvel as a heathen trick by destroying it, as in
    Quodvultdeus. At Konark it remains a cultural treasure, as in the earliest pagan sources
    and the Christian Account of Elysaeus, although spoilt by impious vandals, like the relicpowered
    tomb of Paulinus. This shows that for suspended monuments across a range of
    cultural contexts, the epistemological statuses of trick and miracle remained closely
    122 Stirling 1825: 327.
    123 For a recent version involving the Portuguese, see Gupta 2012: 463. Further variants
    may be found online.
    124 Compare the magnetized ironwork pieces obtained from church spires at Mantua
    (Gilbert 1893 [1600]: 214-15), Rimini, Aix (Brewster 1837: 9), and Chartres (Lister
    1699: 80-84).
    53
    related, even interchangeable. I have shown that there are many continuities among
    accounts of suspended monuments, but perhaps this changeability itself is their most
    enduringly transcultural property.
    8. CONCLUDING REMARKS
    Static suspension has recurrently given foreign wisdom ostentatious material
    forms. In collected lore, travelers’ tales, and religious denunciations from the Hellenistic
    period to the present and from Western Europe to the Far East, this mutable “wonder of
    the world” represents hidden knowledge inspiring faith, usually false, sometimes true.
    The suspended artifact is usually a cult-object: a sacred statue or, later, a holy person’s
    remains. The notable exception is the statue of Bellerophon, which is better associated
    with other flying beings from pagan myth: Helios, Nike, Cupid, and Mercury. However,
    the medieval tradition of divinely or magnetically levitating relics, most notoriously
    Muhammad’s body, does not (as some have claimed) come straight from Pliny and other
    classical sources. Instead it follows centuries of relic-miracles imitating magnetic
    monuments, including the coffins of Sicily and Trier, the cross on Cyprus, and the altar of
    Illtud. The idea of suspending relics from chains may have assisted this development.
    Descriptions of objects (for example in the Talmud, Ibn Wahshiyya, and Ibn Hawqal)
    with phrases meaning “between heaven and earth,” which can metaphorically denote
    things high above ground as in the Greek “Meteora,” could also have been misunderstood
    to mean miraculous levitation.
    54
    Although the oral traditions so important for the study of marvels lie all but
    hidden, this collation of glimpses from erudite channels has brought historical
    developments to light. Our starting-points Pliny and Ampelius are both brief and
    paradoxographic, but probably represent earlier texts of the Hellenistic period
    documenting either scientific developments, or the growing taste for marvels, or both.
    From late antiquity onward, Rufinus and his successors describe the Helios in the
    Serapeum (possibly transferred from Carrhae) as a trick. They imagine the workings of
    magnetism in varying ways, describing different numbers of magnets under a vault or
    coffered ceiling, and circulate the classical concept eastward from Constantinople.
    Separately from the Serapeum tradition, a Bellerophon statue mentioned by Cosmas
    becomes a magnetically suspended monument in Rome through progressive reinventions.
    Meanwhile, the invisible chains of magnetic monuments inspire a form of Christian relicmiracle,
    possibly influenced by actual suspensions of Christian relics on chains,125 just as
    other suspension-miracles imply invisible ropes. This (and not the Alexandrian Helios or
    Arsinoe) ultimately leads to the fantasy that Muhammad’s tomb was magnetically
    suspended. The fanciful Mercury statue at Trier and St. Thomas’ coffin both “remagnetize”
    relic-miracles in similar ways. Medieval Muslim authors show an equally
    broad, though somewhat refracted, range of attitudes to static suspension. Some locate
    examples in a marvelous East, with or without domes containing magnets; others cite
    magnetic suspension to refute Christian relic-miracles; still others attack Hindu idolatry
    125 The medieval travelers who report chain-hung relics are Christian (Robert of Clari on
    Constantinople), Jewish (Benjamin and Petachiah on Susa), and Muslim (Al-Harawi on
    Rome).
    55
    by claiming that Muslims exposed magnetic suspension in now-ruined Indian temples
    (Multan, Khambhat, Somnath). The last category of tales echoes Quodvultdeus’ account
    of the Serapeum. The latest reported magnetic monument is Konark, still renowned
    among some Hindus, which reasserts magnetism as a true miracle and powerful
    technology whose destruction was impious.
    For historians of the marvelous in religious, scientific, and folkloric contexts, one
    of the most striking aspects of the suspended monument tradition is that until now it was
    virtually invisible. One might even say that it never existed. Despite the chains of
    influence linking antiquity to the Middle Ages and the modern era, our sources barely
    acknowledge one another and almost without exception (even including Christian relicmiracles)
    envisage one unique example. The result is an enduring disconnectedness,
    mirroring the physical phenomenon on the epistemological level. Furthermore, world
    religions ascribe magnetic levitation-frauds to one another in an unwitting chorus:
    Christians accuse pagans and Muslims, Jews accuse idolaters, Muslims accuse Christians
    and Hindus. This shows common ground not shared by our two earliest authorities, the
    Roman compilers Pliny and Ampelius, who describe without comment. Rufinus’ late
    antique report of the Helios in the recently destroyed Serapeum is what turned magnetic
    levitation into both a means of scientific rationalization and a tool of religious polemic.
    This not only ensured rapid circulation in early Latin chroniclers and lasting popularity
    among Byzantine Greeks, but led to ongoing migrations and evolutions throughout the
    Middle Ages and beyond.
    The re-emergence of static suspension as a Christian relic-miracle, replacing iron
    and magnetite with sacred wood and bone, is not as marked a change as one might think.
    56
    Non-ferromagnetic substances appeared in earlier sources, showing that empirical
    phenomena held little sway over any suspended monument. Although iron predominates,
    alternatives included the suspended objects of gold in the Talmudic and purportedly
    Babylonian sources, Dulaf’s hundred-cubit idol and golden temple, Embrico’s tomb of
    bronze, and Graindor’s composite idol. The chroniclers who pictured the Serapeum
    Helios with a small talisman-like magnet and a concealed iron nail may reveal why this
    is. For those whose magnetic theory has an empirical foundation, however indirect, the
    suspended object must be made of iron, but for most it is a form of sympathetic magic,
    whose power can be used on mostly or entirely non-ferrous objects (for example, in the
    magical papyri, figurines or people). Given that heavy iron objects hanging unsupported
    already seemed absurd, it was a short step from there to other metals, and (for Christians)
    to the potent and imperishable matter of holy relics.
    I have shown that the static suspension motif migrated eastward after antiquity,
    which is apt enough since it had frequently pointed in that direction. The Alexandrian
    branch of the tradition held its place, although the Serapeum became the template for
    other locations, notably in India. The other and less continuous branch, starting from
    Ampelius, tended to locate levitating monuments in the Roman provinces of the Near
    East (especially Syria).126 Later descriptions of magnetic monuments clustered further
    East: tales of Muhammad’s tomb and statue postdating the First Crusade are set in Libya,
    Antioch, and Mecca; the Harranian temple is towards China; even the Mercury at Treveri
    126 Ampelius places the Nike in Magnesia-under-Sipylus and Cosmas locates the
    Bellerophon in Smyrna, though I have suggested that it might well have stood at
    Bargylia.
    57
    playfully reimagined the coffin of St. Paulinus with its Near Eastern provenance of
    “Phrygia.” Finally, Dulaf’s golden temple, St. Thomas’ tomb, the “Monastery of the
    Idol,” Multan, Somnath, Khambhat, and Konark are all located in India.127 If Alexandria
    were not so familiar to the educated elite of the Roman Empire, we might conclude that
    the entire history of magnetic levitation is dominated by Orientalism. It is better to say
    that suspended monuments are symptoms of speculation: not only about science, magic,
    and religion, but also about unfamiliar cultures, especially those subjected to conquest
    and ruination. Over many centuries of such speculation the motif spread across Europe
    and Asia.
    University of Kent
    d.m.lowe@kent.ac.uk
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    58
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    Kent Academic Repository



    Lowe, Dunstan (2016) Suspending Disbelief: Magnetic Levitation in Antiquity and the Middle

    Ages. Classical Antiquity, 35 (2). pp. 247-278.

    DOI

    https://doi.org/10.1525/ca.2016.35.2.247

    Link to record in KAR

    http://kar.kent.ac.uk/57768/

    Document Version

    Author's Accepted Manuscript

    1

    Dunstan Lowe

    Suspending Disbelief:

    Magnetic and Miraculous Levitation from Antiquity to the Middle Ages

    Abstract:

    Static levitation is a form of marvel with metaphysical implications whose long history

    has not previously been charted. First, Pliny the Elder reports an architect’s plan to

    suspend an iron statue using magnetism, and the later compiler Ampelius mentions a

    similar-sounding wonder in Syria. When the Serapeum at Alexandria was destroyed, and

    for many centuries afterwards, chroniclers wrote that an iron Helios had hung

    magnetically inside. In the Middle Ages, reports of such false miracles multiplied,

    appearing in Muslim accounts of Christian and Hindu idolatry, as well as Christian

    descriptions of the tomb of Muhammad. A Christian levitation miracle involving saints’

    relics also emerged. Yet magnetic suspension could be represented as miraculous in

    itself, representing lost higher knowledge, as in the latest and easternmost tradition

    concerning Konark’s ruined temple. The levitating monument, first found in classical

    antiquity, has undergone many cultural and epistemological changes in its long and

    varied history.



    1. INTRODUCTION



    Although recent scholarship has extensively explored the rich history of marvels

    2

    and miracles,1 suspended objects have never been systematically studied. The following

    discussion pursues the theme of magnetic and miraculous suspension through European

    (and Asian) history from classical antiquity to modern times, revealing a continuous

    tension between secular and sacred physics. For the first time, this article assembles the

    diverse historical sources on levitating objects from antiquity onward (some widely

    acknowledged, others barely noted within their own disciplinary partitions), proposing

    new interpretations of each.2 This requires a loosely chronological approach which, at the

    risk of seeming naïve, will reveal crucial connections and developments from the

    Hellenistic period to the modern era. The result is a strange new sidelight on scientific,

    religious, and even political developments across Europe and beyond.

    I am very grateful to Harry Hine for correcting some of my errors and offering insightful

    remarks, to Mike Squire for art-historical advice and ideas, and to Thomas Habinek and

    the journal’s referees for many valuable suggestions.

    1 The bibliography on curiosity, wonder, and marvels in history is large and growing,

    though Daston and Park 1998 remains key. See e.g. Hardie 2009 on antiquity

    (specifically Augustan Rome, thus excluding magnetism); Kesneth 1991 on the

    Renaissance; Evans and Marr 2006 on the Renaissance and Enlightenment.

    2 For example, no two of the following have been connected in previous scholarship:

    Ampelius’ statue at Magnesia, Aristotle’s coffin in Sicily, the Mercury at Trier, the

    Cypriot cross, Dulaf’s golden temple, Illtud’s Welsh altar, the “Monastery of the Idol,”

    the elephant at Khambhat.

    3

    The properties of magnets have intrigued intellectuals and entertained ordinary

    people since the early classical period,3 though static suspension and many other ideas

    about magnetism have little dependence on observed phenomena. Demonstrations in

    antiquity of magnets’ power to attract ferrous substances—typically, suspending iron

    rings in a chain, or covertly moving iron from beneath a surface of some other metal—

    provoked amazement and curiosity.4 Medical uses of magnets are recorded from the

    second century AD and magical ones from around the fourth century (their preternatural

    ability to move objects without contact resembled the occult powers of spells, which is

    why a demonstration alarmed Augustine).5 Beyond these limited uses magnetism held

    3 On magnets in ancient science, see Fritzsche 1902, Rommel 1927, Radl 1988, Wallace

    1996. Relevant passages include Pl. Ion 533d; Ar. De Anima 405a19 (on Thales);

    Theophr. On Stones 5.29; Posidippus Lithica 12 Austin and Bastianini; Lucr. 6.910-16,

    1042-47. Pliny draws his classification of five “Magnesian stones” (two non-magnetic)

    from Sotacus, a third-century writer on minerals, and his account of how “Magnes” the

    shepherd discovered magnets from the second-century author Nicander (HN 36.127-28).

    4 Rings: Plato Ion 533d, Lucr. 6.910-16, Plin. HN 34.147; iron moved from below: Lucr.

    6.1043-47, Aug. Civ. D. 21.4. Initiates into the cult of the Great Gods of Samothrace

    received iron finger-rings, presumably for ritual use involving magnetism: see Blakely

    2012.

    5 Aug. Civ. D. 21.4. On medical applications, e.g. Dioscorides, De Materia Medica

    5.130; Galen, De facultatibus (magnetite is astringent, like haematite), De simplici

    medicina (magnetite is purgative); see Rommel 1927: col. 483-84. In late antiquity,

    magical applications appear: magnets were placed inside figurines, seemingly to give

    4

    little more than curiosity value, lacking mechanical applications.6 Yet it is crucial to bear

    in mind that although magnetic suspension rarely has a specific maker, magical marvels

    are invariably crafted by scholars, not mere zealots. They give additional proof that

    magic was compatible with science and technology in medieval thought.7

    Importantly, although sources from the first to sixth centuries AD mention

    magnetic repulsion, it was not understood until the twelfth century that magnets have

    them agency (PGM IV.1807-10, 3142); an inscribed magnet prevents conception (PGM

    XXIIa.11-12); and a magnet placed under a sleeping woman diagnoses her chastity (if

    faithful she will cleave to her husband, or otherwise be ejected: Lithica 306-37). Some

    authors use the analogy of magnetism to explain sympathetic magic (Plin. HN 34.42, Gal.

    Peri Phusikon Dunameon 1.14.44-54).

    6 The only documented mechanical use of magnetism is an expensive toy described by

    Claudian that plays out a simple mythological scene, like some of Hero of Alexandria’s

    automata: inside a golden shrine, an iron Mars slowly approaches a magnetic Venus until

    he suddenly flies forward and they embrace (Carm. min. 29.22-51): see Wallace 1996:

    181, Cristante 2001-2002. Some (e.g. James and Thorpe 1995: 154, McKeown 2013:

    198) claim that Claudian describes a real temple, but whatever his own religious

    standpoint (see Vanderspoel 1986), he would not celebrate a pagan ritual in verse at a

    Christian court. Claudian came from Alexandria, like Hero the inventor.

    7 On magic and science, see Sherwood 1947, Eamon 1983, Hansen 1986, Truitt 2004. On

    artificial marvels, see Daston and Park 1998: 88-108. On how the aesthetics of the

    marvelous relate to artistic theory and practice, see Mirollo 1991.

    5

    poles and can therefore both attract and repel.8 Yet they inspired fantasies involving

    colossal invisible forces. One is the magnetic mountain that wrecks ships made with iron

    nails. This appears in the geographical content of Pliny and Ptolemy, but also across Asia

    as far as China, as well as in Arabic and European folktales.9 The epic poet Silius Italicus

    says that the Aethiopians used their abundant magnets to extract iron ore without

    touching it.10 A millennium later, the Roman d’Eneas endows Carthage with magnettopped

    battlements for trapping iron-clad attackers like flypaper.11 Such fantasies may

    legitimately be called science fiction.

    With a sufficiently cross-disciplinary perspective, we can reconstruct a long

    history for the grandest of magnetism fantasies: an apparatus for permanently suspending

    an object in mid-air. Accounts of full-size monumental examples recur from classical

    8 On magnetic repulsion see Wallace 1996: 184-85, with citations. Tellingly, when

    Posidippus describes a stone that both attracts and repels iron he only compares it to a

    magnet, insofar as it attracts (Bing 2005: 264-65). Knowledge of the compass is first

    attested in Europe by Guiot of Provins (1180) and Alexander Neckam (c. 1190); Peter

    Peregrinus of Maricourt published the first extended treatise in 1269. The earliest known

    description is Chinese (Shen Kuo, Dream Pool Essays, AD 1088).

    9 Tuczay 2005: 273-74, with citations; see also Lecouteux 1984, 1999; Marzolph and van

    Leeuwen 2004. The legendary Virgil visits a magnetic mountain in the Wartburgkrieg (c.

    1287), Reinfried von Braunschweig (c. 1300), and later sources.

    10 solis honor ille, metallo / intactum chalybem vicino ducere saxo (Sil. Pun. 3.265-67).

    Ore processing, rather than mining, is probably meant.

    11 Anon. Roman d’Eneas 427-40.

    6

    antiquity to the late medieval period. Whether authors portray levitation as mechanical,

    magical, or something in between,12 they never deny its possibility. In reality Earnshaw’s

    Theorem of 1839, stating that stable levitation against gravity using only ferromagnetic

    materials cannot work on any scale, stands uncontested. Nonetheless, we have culturally

    and geographically diverse accounts of levitating monuments from the first century AD

    to the late Middle Ages and beyond. I propose that these deserve recognition as a genre

    of architectural fantasy that offers new insights into the history of science, as well as the

    history of interaction between religious cultures.

    Magnetic levitation endows inert matter with spectacular properties, inviting

    comparison with divine miracles and magic. It also shares features with real and

    imaginary automata, though this is somewhat paradoxical, since the inert matter is

    spectacular precisely because it does not move: unlike the other magnetic fantasies

    mentioned above, levitation never involves traction. (Accordingly, I shall use the terms

    “levitation” and “suspension” interchangeably.) It is sometimes regarded positively, as an

    open demonstration of engineering and artistic skill, but more often negatively, as a

    secret trick for faking a divine miracle.

    As object of wonder, the suspended monument embodies potentiality: not only in

    the obvious sense that what went up has not (yet) come down, but in other senses too. As

    an architectural installation or localized miracle it is by definition non-portable and

    cannot, like most artificial wonders or holy relics, be brought from the periphery to the

    center of scholarly, religious, or popular experience. As physics, static levitation is

    12 From antiquity to the Middle Ages, some discourses on magnetism (e.g., mageia,

    Hermeticism, alchemy) resist the modern distinction between natural and supernatural.

    7

    theorized but unrealized: it never appears in treatises upon magnets or architecture, nor

    even descriptions of magnets in lapidaries, and nobody proposes to recreate it. As

    miracle, meanwhile, static levitation becomes evidence of God’s power in nature, and

    even a test of spiritual intelligence.13 In the Middle Ages, reports of magnetism

    proliferate and the miraculous version emerges. Perhaps the iconoclasm controversies

    partly account for this, since the suspended monument proves capable of oscillating

    between fraud and miracle more easily than any other legendary object.

    2. ALEXANDRIA: THE POTENTIAL ARSINOE AND THE FALLEN HELIOS

    Our earliest reference to a magnetic monument (and likewise, elsewhere, to a

    magnetic mountain) is a report in Pliny the Elder that has resisted interpretation, despite

    nuanced treatments of his larger intellectual project.14 He mentions a design by “the

    13 “Some Christian writers…saw skepticism concerning wonders as the hallmark of the

    narrow-minded and suspicious peasant” (Daston and Park 1998: 62); cf. Eamon 1983:

    195, Bynum 2011 passim. The comeuppance of such a peasant in Lifris’ Life of Cadoc is

    discussed below.

    14 See e.g. Healy 1999: 158, Carne 2013: 108. On artificial wonders in Pliny, see Isager

    1991 and Beagon 2011, neither of whom mention the present passage.

    8

    architectus Timochares,” for a temple in which an iron cult statue of Ptolemy II’s late

    sister-wife Arsinoe would be suspended in the air:15

    Using magnetic stone (Magnete lapide), the architect Timochares had begun

    to vault a temple (templum concamarare) to Arsinoe at Alexandria, so that the

    iron statue in it would seem to hang in the air (pendere in aëre videretur). This

    was interrupted by his own death and by that of King Ptolemy, who had

    commissioned it for his own sister.

    Pliny’s videretur (“would seem”) means only that magnetism would create a

    lifelike impression of flight. It is unclear whether he envisages contactless “true

    levitation,” or “pseudo-levitation” in which magnetic attraction pulls against a physical

    tether. Although neither could work, the latter might have seemed more feasible, since it

    can be achieved using a scale model. Ptolemy II could access fabulous quantities of

    precious metal and stone, and without any means of measuring magnetic field strength,

    “Timochares” could have miscalculated the properties of magnetite.16 It is not impossible

    that “Timochares” planned to achieve true levitation. Vitruvius credits a nearcontemporary

    “Dinocrates” with an equally astonishing plan to sculpt Mount Athos into a

    15 Plin. HN 34.148. The death of Ptolemy II, the alleged date of the project, was in 246

    BC.

    16 Even with today’s artificial supermagnets, thousands of times more powerful, such a

    monument would require precision engineering and impractically large quantities of

    metal to achieve suspension across even a few inches of air.

    9

    Rushmore-like statue, holding a city in its left hand and pouring a river from a dish in its

    right.17 Alexander the Great rejected this proposal and built Alexandria instead because

    Athos provided no arable land, Vitruvius says. Other, completed Ptolemaic projects

    combined innovation and artistry with engineering on an unprecedented scale, including

    the largest tower, automaton, and galley ever designed.18 Magnets were relatively rare

    and hence semi-precious despite their dull appearance,19 which may have encouraged

    artisans to consider their uses as architectural ornaments. Importantly, architectus often

    means simply “inventor” and an Arsinoeion did exist at Alexandria, so Pliny’s term

    concamarare probably means adding magnetite to the existing temple, not constructing

    something anew. Such a plan might have won Ptolemaic sponsorship; later readers

    certainly found it plausible, since Ausonius in the fourth century AD reports it as

    completed.20 A temple suspending a statue using magnets would suit the contemporary

    17 Vitruv. 2. praef. 2. On the programmatic implications of this anecdote, and a

    discussion of the uncertainty over the architect’s name, see McEwen 2003: 91-102.

    18 The Pharos: Adler 1901, Thiersch 1909, Picard 1952; the Nysa statue in Ptolemy II’s

    coronation parade: Athen. Deipn. 5.198-99; the “Forty”: Plut. Demetr. 43.4-5, Athen.

    Deipn. 5.203e-204b.

    19 Theophrastus calls them rare (De Lapidibus 5.29). The belief that rubbing magnets

    with garlic destroyed their power (Lehoux 2003) might be indirect proof of their value if

    nobody thought the easy test worth the risk, as with goat’s-blood breaking diamonds

    (Plin. HN 20.2) or vinegar dissolving pearls (Hor. Sat. 2.3.239-42, Plin. HN 9.59, Suet.

    Cal. 37).

    20 Auson. Mos. 314-17. 

    10

    taste for creative engineering, as did another high-tech memorial to Arsinoe, the musical

    drinking-horn made by Ctesibius.21

    The idea of a levitating statue could also reflect the Alexandrian milieu in more

    subtle ways, having potential links with motifs in Egyptian religious art, as well as recent

    developments in Greek physics. The Egyptians pictured the heavens as a curved ceiling

    (or even, in the Pyramid Texts, an iron slab supported on four columns),22 and spangled

    their own ceilings with stars.23 Egyptian tradition also represented pharaohs ascending to

    heaven after death, and likewise Callimachus describes Arsinoe being taken up by the

    Dioscuri to become the Pole Star,24 which stands at the center of the turning sky. The

    “lock of Berenice” narrative a generation later shows how astronomy could contribute to

    Ptolemaic self-fashioning. All this lends credence to Deonna’s suggestion that the

    21 Ctesibius’ cornucopia is known only through an epigram by Hedylus (Athen. Deipn.

    11.497d-e).

    22 On the image of heaven as vault, see Couprie 2011: 1-13. As iron slab in the Pyramid

    Texts, see Budge 1904: 1.156-57. Homer’s heaven is iron (Od. 15.329, 17.565) or bronze

    (Il. 17.425, Od. 3.2) and supported by pillars (Od. 1.52-54).

    23 Constructed vaults only rarely appear before the Ptolemies, but excavated chambers

    frequently had curved ceilings. Whether flat or curved, they were commonly decorated

    with the starry goddess Nut and other sky symbols. On the use of the star-spangled

    canopy (“uraniskos”) in Greek cults of celestial deities, see Crane 1952; in later art, see

    Lehmann 1945, Swift and Alwis 2010.

    24 Callimachus fr. 228 Pfeiffer, with scholion. On Arsinoe as Pole Star, see Green 2004:

    248. The Mendes Stele records that Arsinoe “ascended to heaven.”

    11

    planned monument represented Arsinoe’s catasterism.25 If the vault depicted the sky,

    Pliny’s otherwise unknown “Timochares” may be a misspelling of Timocharis, a

    contemporary Alexandrian astronomer whose achievements involved tracking and

    mapping the constellations.26 If he proposed to decorate the vaulted ceiling over Arsinoe

    with an accurate star-map, an ekphrastic epigrammatist might easily describe this as

    placing the catasterized thea philadelphus “in the sky,” a phrase open to misconstruction

    by later readers.27

    Third-century Alexandria was also a likely context for thought experiments about

    bodies suspended between countervailing forces, for philosophers and engineers alike.

    Both Chrysippus and Archimedes would be active in the decades after Arsinoe died, circa

    270 BC,28 and Ptolemy himself had been tutored by Strato of Lampsacus, a specialist in

    cosmology.29 The Stoics had recently developed a new explanation for the earth’s poise

    25 Deonna 1914: 106.

    26 On the confusion over Timocharis and related names, see Fabricius, Pauly-Wissowa

    Realencyclopädie s.v. “Deinochares.” Pliny’s reference to Ptolemy Philadelphus’ death

    implies that “Timochares” died around 246 BC.

    27 Unfortunately translation from Latin to Greek is highly unlikely, so we cannot explain

    the whole concept of magnetic levitation as a translation error involving some lost

    epigram whereby Arsinoe or the ceiling went from s􀆯d􀆟r􀆟a “celestial, star-spangled” to

    􀇶 􀇧􀇡􀇴􀇨􀇤  made of iron  ἵcf. 􀇶􀇬􀇧􀇪􀇴 􀇷􀇬􀇵  magnet”: Philod. Sign. 9, Strab.15.1.38).

    28 Timocharis is thought to have lived c. 320-260 BC, Archimedes c. 287-212,

    Chrysippus c. 279-206.

    29 Diog. Laert. 5.3.1.

    12

    at the center of the cosmos (besides its own symmetry): the dynamic force of pneuma

    acting equally upon it from all directions.30 Sambursky points out that the term isobares,

    “equal weight,” used by Chrysippus also appears in proposition 1.3 of Archimedes’ On

    Floating Bodies, which states that a solid immersed in fluid of equivalent volume neither

    sinks nor rises.31 Suggestively, our late antique source for Chrysippus’ terminology

    replaces push with pull, comparing the static earth to an object pulled by cords in all

    directions with equal force.32 Perhaps a Hellenistic author imagined a magnet-clad arch

    as a thought experiment, illustrating either a principle of hydrostatics or the Stoic cosmos,

    which generated an urban myth for paradoxographers and ultimately Pliny. These are

    only speculations, but it is tempting to derive “Timochares” and his magnetism from

    known facts about the cultural climate of Ptolemaic Alexandria.

    In some ways, Pliny establishes norms for later descriptions of magnetic

    levitation, but in others he is unique. His description is the last to mention a potential

    monument. It is also among the minority that specify a designer and date of construction,

    30 Sambursky 1959: 109.

    31 Sambursky 1959: 111. Archimedes himself was reportedly an astronomer’s son and

    owned two orreries (probably heliocentric, cf. his Sand-reckoner): see Jaeger 2008.

    32 Achilles Isagoge 4 = von Arnim VSF 2.555, probably third century AD (Sambursky

    1959: 109). Independently, in the early twelfth century, Bruno of Segni directly compares

    the earth’s suspension (by God) with that of a magnetic statue (Sententiae 3 = PL

    165.983d).

    13

    and the only to do so without scorn.33 Pliny’s brevity led to centuries of uncertainty about

    how static levitation should work. Yet several features become near-universal: all later

    accounts describe true (contactless) levitation, not pseudo (tethered). Generally, the

    suspended object is not a magnet,34 and just as Pliny’s reference to a vault (concamarare)

    implies multiple magnets holding the object at a focal point, most later sources mention a

    vault or dome, despite one-magnet, two-magnet, and four-magnet configurations. Finally,

    virtually every magnetic monument is, like Pliny’s, portrayed as one of a kind.35 This

    makes the levitating artifact the sole remnant of a lost skill, suspended in time as well as

    space; since relics represent loss of another kind, Christian levitation-miracles supply

    equally evocative remnants.

    After Pliny we turn to late antiquity, when faith comes to the fore and the longest

    and most coherent tradition about magnetic levitation begins, based on the historic temple

    of Serapis at Alexandria. It has an obvious link to the “Timochares” tale, being set in the

    same city. The Serapeum complex, built by Ptolemy III, was thoroughly destroyed by

    Christians around AD 391 following the Theodosian decrees. After this event, numerous

    historians report that an iron image of Helios had been suspended within using

    magnetism. They mention it after describing the Serapis cult-statue, a dazzling colossus

    of multiple precious stones and metals. Both descriptions imbue the ruined site of

    33 The exceptions (discussed below) are Gehazi’s and Jeroboam’s idols, Yablunus’

    “Monastery of the Idol,” and the mausoleum of “Magus” of Muhammad in Embrico.

    34 The unique exception is the idol ascribed to Gehazi in the Talmud.

    35 Gehazi’s idol is again exceptional, being compared to those of Jeroboam.

    14

    worship with sinful exoticism. This combination recurs in much later tales of similar

    wonders, gratifying the imagination while sharpening the moral lesson of righteous

    destruction.. The earliest account appears in Tyrannius Rufinus, who specifies only a

    single magnet:36

    There was also another kind of deception, namely the following: the magnet is

    known to be of such a nature that it seizes upon and attracts iron. A craftsman

    (artifex) had with very skilful hand fashioned an iron image of the Sun

    (signum Solis) for this very purpose, so that the stone—we have said that it

    has the property of attracting iron—was fixed in the ceiling-coffers above (in

    laquearibus fixus). When the image had been placed precisely under the ray

    and balanced (sub ipso radio ad libram), and by force of nature the stone

    attracted the iron, the image seemed to the people to have risen up and be

    hanging in the air (in aëre pendere). And in case this was betrayed by a

    sudden fall, the treacherous ministers used to say, “The Sun has risen, so that

    bidding farewell to Serapis, he may go off to his own place.”

    Rufinus’ description is evidently fantastical, but the circumstantial details make it sound

    as if some mechanical trick were indeed used. Schwartz has plausibly suggested that

    Rufinus transposed this and other elements from the earlier destruction of the moon-god

    Sîn at Carrhae (the medieval “Harran,” discussed below).37 Christopher Jones recently

    36 Rufinus Ecclesiastical History 2.23.

    37 Schwartz 1966. Pola1ski 1998: 122-28 contests certain aspects.

    15

    offered new reasons to identify this with a temple that contained “secret devices of the

    ceiling” and many iron statues.38 In any case, Ptolemaic Alexandria had been home to the

    inventors Ctesibius, Philo, and later Hero, who recorded how to create apparently

    supernatural effects such as self-opening temple doors.39 Rufinus may represent a

    repurposed version of Pliny’s “Timochares” anecdote, but in any case, Christian authors

    for centuries to come treated the Sun-image as an important detail of the Serapeum’s

    destruction. For Pliny (and Ampelius, as we shall soon see) the magnetic monument was

    an end in itself, edifying and entertaining, resembling his larger distillation of world

    knowledge. Rufinus gave it much deeper implications as an instrument with a purpose,

    like most artificial wonders whether magical or technological. For the Christian

    chroniclers it was a faith-machine, generating false belief until its magnetic workings

    were physically or intellectually exposed. Conversely, we shall find that in some accounts

    of levitation in the second millennium (both Christian and non-Christian), the magnetic

    workings are themselves the belief-sustaining miracle. This reflects the view prevailing in

    38 Jones 2013; Libanius Or. 30.44-45. If so, Theodoret’s claim that a female corpse—

    disemboweled for omens by the occultist Julian—was found inside the Carrhae temple

    “suspended by the hair” (􀋪􀇭 􀇷 􀇰 􀇷􀇴􀇬􀇺 􀇰 􀇼􀇴􀇪􀇯􀇠􀇰􀇲􀇰, Church History 3.21 = PG

    82.1119) might well derive from magnetic suspension: decades earlier, Ausonius

    described Arsinoe’s statue as magnetically suspended “by its iron-clad hair” (affictamque

    trahit ferrato crine puellam, Mosella 317). 

    39 Hero Pneumatica 1.17, 38-39. It may also be relevant that Manetho, a Ptolemaic

    authority on the Serapis cult, dubbed magnetite “the bone of Horus”—often identified as

    the sun-god—and iron “the bone of Typhon” (Plut. De Is. et Os. 62).

    16

    High Middle Age Christendom that the supernatural or inexplicable is evidence of God’s

    power in nature.40 Indeed, as I shall demonstrate later, magnetism would directly inspire a

    Christian relic-powered form of miracle.

    Repeated mentions of the Serapeum Helios throughout the Middle Ages, with

    occasional changes, shed light on how magnetic levitation was thought to work. Probably

    the most widely read report after Pliny’s appears in Augustine’s City of God. It was

    written soon after 410, only postdating Rufinus’ history by a few years, yet several details

    are different. Augustine passingly describes magnetic levitation as a false miracle

    achieved “in a certain temple” (in quodam templo):41

    The marvels that they call “contrivances” (mirifica, quae 􀇯􀇪􀇺􀇤􀇰􀇡􀇯􀇤􀇷􀇤 

    appellant), made by human skill through manipulating God’s creation, are so

    many and so great that those who don’t know better think them divine. So it

    happened that in a certain temple, where magnets were placed in the ground

    and the vault in proportion to their size [in solo et camera proportione

    magnitudinis positis], an iron statue was suspended in mid-air between the

    two stones. To those unaware of what was above and below, it hung as if by

    divine power.

    40 See Bynum 2011, whose discussion on the materiality of saints’ bodies may in some

    respects be extended to physical matter in general. On the cult of relics in eastern

    Christendom, see recently Hahn and Klein 2015.

    41 Augustine Civ. D. 21.6. Isid. Orig. 16.4 merely repeats Augustine and Pliny.

    17

    Augustine goes on to say that supposed miracles such as this levitating statue—his use of

    the Greek 􀇯􀇪􀇺􀇤􀇰􀇡􀇯􀇤􀇷􀇤 collectively secularizes non-Christian mirifica—are not proofs

    of divine power but simple tricks using either mechanisms or magic. Although he almost

    certainly means the Helios statue at Alexandria, he specifies magnets both above and

    below it, contradicting Rufinus. This alternative guess at the workings of magnetic

    suspension is also impossible,42 but marginally more plausible than one magnet pulling

    against gravity. Perhaps a shared source had envisaged the multiple-magnet, focal-point

    model and Augustine’s version is more faithful than Rufinus’. In the second quarter of

    the fifth century, Augustine’s student Quodvultdeus repeats Rufinus’ one-magnet

    configuration but seems to derive his account from an independent source. He does not

    name the statue but calls it a quadriga (four-horse chariot); Helios was usually

    represented driving a quadriga. The tale of its destruction has also become dramatized:43

    At Alexandria in the temple of Serapis this was offered as “proof” of a spirit

    (hoc argumentum daemonis fuit): an iron chariot with no plinth to support it

    and no hooks attaching it to the walls, hanging in the air (in aëre pendens). It

    stunned everyone and, to mortal eyes, seemed to display divine assistance,

    although in fact a magnet attached to the vault in that spot (eo loco camerae

    affixus), which kept the iron joined to it and hanging, was holding up the

    42 Even if the poles were aligned, gravity and air currents would instantly dislodge the

    statue.

    43 Quodvultdeus De promissionibus et praedictionibus dei 38 = PL 51 834c (attributed

    there to Prosper of Aquitaine, but see e.g. Radl 1988).

    18

    entire assemblage (totam illam machinam sustentabat). Accordingly, when

    one inspired servant of God had figured this out (id intellexisset), he sneaked

    the magnet away (subtraxit) from the vault and instantly the whole display

    collapsed and broke apart. This showed that it was not divine, as a mortal man

    had proved (firmaverit).

    In Quodvultdeus, the single magnet is small and portable enough for an iconoclast to

    remove without detection, essentially a magic talisman whose spell breaks when it is

    removed from its place of concealment. Quodvultdeus also mentions the vault, like

    Augustine, whereas Rufinus has the magnet embedded in the coffers of the ceiling. Two

    ninth-century texts show further changes. Haymo of Halberstadt faithfully reproduces

    Rufinus’ account but adds that the statue is huge, gilded, and suspended between two

    magnets (Augustine-style).44 Conversely, Haymo’s Byzantine near-contemporary George

    the Monk describes the “statue of wickedness” (􀇨 􀇧􀇲􀇵 􀇭􀇤􀇭􀇲􀇸􀇴􀇦􀇢􀇤􀇵) as hanging from

    one magnet in the coffers (Rufinus-style). In George the iron is far more hidden, and the

    magnet’s strength is more enormous, since the statue is now bronze with iron merely

    nailed inside its head. The Suda quotes George’s description verbatim in the tenth

    44 lapidibus magnetibus in solo et camera…simulacrum ferreum deauratum mirae

    magnitudinis (Epitome of the Sacred History 8 = PL 118.873c). Bruno of Segni follows

    this description closely (Sententiae 3 = PL 165.983d).

    19

    century, and Cedrenus paraphrases it closely in the eleventh.45 Only in the early twelfth

    (AD 1118) does Michael Glycas introduce a new variation:46

    In that temple there was a statue that hung irresistibly aloft; for pieces of iron

    were fastened around it—the statue, of course—in a circle, and magnets

    fastened directly opposite them, and it was suspended between the floor and

    the roof. For being drawn equally from four directions, and not leaning

    anywhere, it was forced to hang in mid-air.

    Although we know little about the sources for these historical notices of the Serapeum

    Helios, they clearly vary according to how the properties of magnets are imagined.47 In

    retrospect, based on this later consensus that magnetic forces are hugely stable and

    powerful, the ambition ascribed to “Timochares” could well be true. Our sources disagree

    on how the Helios was suspended: Rufinus claims that it hung from a magnet above, as if

    on an invisible chain, whereas Augustine’s statue, probably the same one, is the first to

    have magnets pulling up and down simultaneously. (Even for someone who believed in

    stable suspension from one magnet, the second would serve to prevent the object from

    45 George the Monk Chronicon 2.584.18-2.585.6; Suda s.v. 􀇐􀇤􀇦􀇰 􀇷􀇬􀇵; Cedrenus

    Compendium Historiarum 325b Niebuhr = PG 121.620.

    46 Michael Glycas Chronicle 4.257 = PG 158.433.

    47 Descriptions of magnetic monuments seem unconcerned with the brief remarks on

    magnetism by classical philosophers (see Radl 1988), which concern only the nature of

    the force, not the factors affecting its strength or the effects of competing forces.

    20

    swinging.) Finally, Quodvultdeus’ magnet is a small, removable talisman, which

    completes the transformation of the levitating statue: a putative engineering challenge in

    the Hellenistic age, with the properties of magnets on show, becomes a magic-based

    religious fraud in late antiquity, with the properties of magnets kept secret. As we shall

    see, later medieval accounts transfer the false miracle from paganism to other religions.

    The variations between arrangements of magnets tell us much about

    contemporary theories of magnetism. In Rufinus and Quodvultdeus, magnets hold objects

    at fixed lengths by pulling against gravity, whereas in most sources, two or more magnets

    pull simultaneously. However, in most accounts, magnetically suspended objects cannot

    be dislodged by force, and only move when the magnet is extracted.48 It is doubtful that

    the invisible forces in magnetic monuments were ever imagined as “elastic,” i.e. as

    varying by distance, since as we shall see in later sources, multiple magnets emphatically

    prevent the suspended object from any movement. Carefully positioned magnets are

    consistently pictured as generating unbreakable chains, not fields, which is why the

    suspended object’s shape and weight hardly matter. Rufinus’ remark that the Serapeum

    priests were afraid of the statue falling is not based, as one might expect, on the fear that

    it might easily shift from its exact position. Rufinus’ priests are only as afraid as they

    would be for any statue hanging from a chain.

    48 The coffin of St. Paulinus is an interesting case: it no longer levitates because some

    unbelievers wickedly pushed it to the ground (post multos annos a quibusdam infidelibus

    depressum subsedit, Gesta Treverorum 43 = PL 154.1164). However, it was suspended

    by God rather than by magnets (see discussion below), so it is not an exception to the

    rule.

    21

    3. INVISIBLE BONDS AS BASIS FOR CHRISTIAN MIRACLES

    Invisible suspension reappears in the fourth and fifth centuries in the form of

    Christian miracles, which do not involve magnets, but deserve discussion as they

    reinforce the “invisible chains” hypothesis by imitating suspension by ropes. One

    example appears in Rufinus’ narrative of how an unnamed woman, later identified with

    St. Nina, converted the Caucasian kingdom of Iberia.49 The third column of the Iberians’

    inaugural church seemed impossible to lift and was abandoned overnight. Next morning

    they found it hanging perpendicular, one foot above its pedestal, and before the rejoicing

    crowd it sank into position (the remainder were easily erected). It behaved as if moved by

    an invisible crane. Likewise, miraculous suspensions of demoniacs during exorcism, first

    attested in Hilary of Poitiers and three near-contemporaries,50 mimic a torture method

    documented in martyrology.51 It differs sharply from the voluntary aerobatics of sorcerers

    49 Tyrannius Rufinus Historia Ecclesiastica 1.10 = PL 481c-482c.

    50 Hilary of Poitiers Contra Constantium 8.2-10; Jerome Vita Hilarionis 13.6, Epistles

    108.13; Sulpicius Severus Dialogi 3.6.2-4; Paulinus of Nola Carmen 23.82-95. Two later

    Greek examples are divergent: in Palladius a demoniac levitates during exorcism, swells,

    and emits water (Historia Lausiaca 22), and in Sozomen another levitates (without

    specified Christian agency) and taunts John the Baptist (Historia Ecclesiastica 7.24.8).

    51 Wi;niewski (2002: 373-74) makes this point cautiously but convincingly, quoting a

    sixth-century description of a demoniac shouting confessions while hanging by his

    22

    like Simon Magus, who resemble birds (or rather Icarus, whose pride led to a fall).52 The

    four early sources consistently describe demoniacs hanging before saints upside down,

    specifying that their clothes are supernaturally held upward to cover their nakedness.

    Decades earlier, Eusebius’ description of martyrdoms at Thebais mentioned the “cruel

    and shameful spectacle” of women indecently suspended by one foot from pulleys

    (􀇯􀇤􀇦􀇦􀇟􀇰􀇲􀇬􀇵 􀇷􀇬􀇶 􀇰).53 This implies that these miraculous levitations of humans came

    about because martyrdom was sublimated into exorcism. As saints torture demons into

    confessing, the demoniac hangs temporarily from invisible ropes, just as metal objects

    hang more permanently from invisible chains.54

    elbows over a saint’s cinerary urn, like criminals “condemned to flogging on nooses”

    (tendiculis iudicum sententia verberari, Anon. Vita Patrum Iurensium 42). Wi;niewski

    also quotes Augustine comparing the tormented status of demons (physically celestial,

    spiritually terrestrial) with suspension head-downwards (Civ. D. 9.9).

    52 Anon. Acts of Peter; cf. Iamblichus De mysteriis Aegyptiorum 3.5.112.3-5. Demons

    were imagined as native to the air. Gregory of Tours (Liber Miraculorum 24 = PL

    71.735c) combines exorcism with aerobatics: the saint extracts a confession by lifting

    someone by the feet and dropping him on his head (cf. Constantius of Lyons Vita

    Germani 7.18-37).

    53 Eusebius Historia Ecclesiastica 8.9. It may be relevant that in Sophronius’ seventhcentury

    Life of Mary of Egypt, Zosimas clothes Mary’s nakedness immediately before her

    levitation that closely resembles exorcism (Life 15 = PG 87.3708d).

    54 The same principle underlies a later class of miracle (attributed to Goar, Aicandrus,

    Aldhelm, Dunstan, and others) in which saints accidentally cause garments to levitate by

    23

    4. SYRIA: NIKE AND BELLEROPHON

    Our second-earliest classical source concerning levitation (after Pliny) is

    frequently overlooked, but will prove very significant. It is a brief notice in a catalogue of

    the world’s wonders from Ampelius’ book of facts for boys, probably written in the

    fourth century AD. Unlike the Arsinoe monument, it is described as real and is located in

    a different prosperous Hellenic city:55

    At Magnesia-under-Sipylus there are four columns. Between these columns is

    an iron Victory, hanging without any suspension (pendens sine aliquo

    vinculo), bobbing in the air (in aëre ludens); but every time there is wind or

    rain (quotiens ventus aut pluvia fuerit), it does not move.

    Ampelius does not actually mention magnets, but his ultimate source probably did, since

    the levitating Nike is both made of iron and located at Magnesia, reputed origin of

    Magnesia lapis or magnetite.56 That source was probably a Hellenistic Greek

    hanging them on a sunbeam. This is modelled on the use of wooden perches as coatracks:

    the first recorded example (Waldelbert’s expanded Life of St. Goar) makes this explicit.

    55 Ampelius Liber Memorialis 8.9.

    56Ancient sources already show uncertainty over which Magnesia (those in Thessaly, on

    the Maeander in the province of Syria, and under Mount Sipylus in the province of Asia)

    24

    paradoxography from Alexandria.57 Like Erotes, Nikai were commonly portrayed in

    flight and sometimes used as metal pendants in jewelry: suspending Nike aloft, perhaps

    using a concealed bracket, would be a reasonable continuation of Greek sculptors’ efforts

    to represent her alighting weightlessly, as in the famous Paionian and Samothracian

    statues. We hear of a sizeable mechanically suspended Nike statue at Pergamum in the

    first century BC.58 It seems likely that Ampelius’ “four columns” means a tetrapylon,

    since there is at least one Hellenistic parallel for a goddess statue thus installed.59

    exported magnetite. Its other early names, “Heraclean stone” and “Lydian stone”

    (Rommel 1927: col. 475), offer little help because there were also several Heracleas. This

    may be the most overdue application of magnetometry to any ancient enigma.

    57 von Rohden 1875: 3-29.

    58 In the theater at Pergamum, which is far north of Magnesia but still within the

    Hellenistic province of Asia, a suspended Nike was employed to lower a crown onto

    Mithridates Eupator (Plut. Sull. 11). On nikai as pendants in jewelry, see LIMC s.v. Nike.

    59 At least one tetrapylon in Hellenistic Syria contained a goddess statue, although no

    exact parallel for a Nike image survives. When Seleucus destroyed the city of Antigonia

    in the second century BC, he installed a statue of Antigonia’s Tyche inside a tetrapylon at

    Antioch (Malalas 8.201). This is probably the Tyche shown sitting between two pairs of

    columns on Antiochene coin-issues, especially of the second and third centuries AD

    (LIMC s.v. Antiocheia). Other Syrian cities including Anjar, Palmyra, and Aphrodisias

    gained tetrapyla between the second and fourth centuries AD; Palmyra’s tetrakionion

    could have housed four statues, although none survive. That of Aphrodisias bears reliefs

    of Nikai and Erotes in flight. An Aphrodite statue in fifth-century Gaza occupied a plinth

    25

    Meanwhile, his description of the Nike, which even wobbles (when touched?), matches

    the model I have established for magnetic forces as invisible chains (especially sine

    aliquo vinculo).60

    Despite sharing the recurrent assumption that magnets work like chains, Ampelius

    is best treated separately from the “mainstream” tradition about Alexandria that I have

    outlined, because he seems to preserve an independent tradition concerning the Near East

    that surfaces again many centuries later. This late resurgence has two points of contact

    with Ampelius’ brief notice, one geographic, the other thematic. In the High Middle Ages

    we hear of a new levitating monument: a giant airborne statue of Bellerophon riding

    Pegasus. Scholars have traced its evolution from what was probably a genuine monument

    from classical antiquity into a world wonder.61 This begins with Cosmas of Maiuma’s

    eighth-century commentary on Gregory of Nazianzus’ poems.62 Gregory alludes to the

    at a crossroads, perhaps within another tetrapylon (􀇳􀇨􀇴  􀇷  􀇭􀇤􀇮􀇲􀈀􀇯􀇨􀇰􀇲􀇰

    􀇷􀇨􀇷􀇴􀇟􀇯􀇹􀇲􀇧􀇲􀇰...􀋪􀇳􀇟􀇰􀇼 􀇥􀇼􀇯􀇲  􀇮􀇬􀇫􀇢􀇰􀇲􀇸, Mark the Deacon Vita Porphyrii 59). Classical

    Magnesia-under-Sipylus (modern Manisa) remains largely unexcavated.

    60 Pliny describes both a “rocking stone” at Harpasa (cautes stat horrenda uno digito

    mobilis, eadem, si toto corpore inpellatur, resistens, HN 2.98, cf. Ap. Rhod. Argon.

    1.1304-1308) and the colossal Zeus at Tarentum, said to revolve on its axis and as

    resisting force despite yielding to manual pressure (mirum in eo quod manu, ut ferunt,

    mobilis ea ratio libramenti est, ut nullis convellatur procellis, HN 34.40).

    61 Reinach 1912, Deonna 1914, Rushforth 1919.

    62 Eckhardt 1949: 80 wrongly derives pseudo-Bede’s levitating Bellerophon from Prosper

    of Aquitaine (i.e. Quodvultdeus).

    26

    Seven Wonders rather obliquely and Cosmas only gets some of them right; for example,

    he knows that one of the two statues is the Colossus of Rhodes, but seems unaware of the

    Zeus at Olympia. Perhaps because Cosmas is a native of Damascus in Syria and more

    familiar with the near East, a different statue comes to mind:63

    􀋦􀇦􀇤􀇮􀇯􀇤 􀇳􀇟􀇮􀇬􀇰 􀋪􀇶􀇷 􀇰 􀇷  􀋪􀇰 􀇖􀇯􀈀􀇴􀇰  􀇷􀇲  􀇆􀇨􀇮􀇮􀇨􀇴􀇲􀇹􀇿􀇰􀇷􀇲􀇸, 􀇳􀇨􀇴 􀋪􀇶􀇷 􀇰 􀋪􀇳  

    􀇺􀇡􀇯􀇤􀇷􀇲􀇵 􀋪􀇳  􀇷 􀇰 􀇫􀇟􀇮􀇤􀇶􀇶􀇤􀇰 􀇳􀇴􀇲􀇭􀈀􀇳􀇷􀇲􀇰 􀇷􀇲  􀇷􀇨􀇢􀇺􀇲􀇸􀇵,  􀇷􀇨 􀇔􀇡􀇦􀇤􀇶􀇲􀇵

    􀇳􀇳􀇲􀇵 􀇯􀇬􀇭􀇴 􀇰 􀇳􀇬􀇶􀇫􀇨􀇰 􀇷􀇲  􀇳􀇲􀇧 􀇵 􀇭􀇤􀇷􀇨􀇺􀇿􀇯􀇨􀇰􀇲􀇵, 􀇳􀇲􀇮􀇮􀇟􀇭􀇬􀇵 􀇯 􀇰 􀋶􀇴􀇠􀇯􀇤

    􀇶􀇤􀇮􀇨􀇸􀇲􀈀􀇶􀇪􀇵 􀇶􀇸􀇰􀇨􀇳􀇿􀇯􀇨􀇰􀇲􀇵 􀇺􀇨􀇬􀇴􀇿􀇵∙ 􀇳􀇴􀇲􀇼􀇫􀇲􀈀􀇯􀇨􀇰􀇲􀇵 􀇧  􀇶 􀇰 􀇥􀇢 , 􀇯􀇠􀇰􀇼􀇰 􀇳􀇟􀇦􀇬􀇲􀇵

    􀇭􀇤  􀋚􀇭􀇴􀇟􀇧􀇤􀇰􀇷􀇲􀇵. 

    The second “statue” is that of Bellerophon in Smyrna, which is on a carriage

    above the sea pointing out over the wall. Pegasus the horse is attached

    discreetly behind one hoof, rocking slightly many times when a hand follows

    along with it, but remaining firm and unshaken when shoved with force.

    No such statue is attested elsewhere. I suggest that Gregory or his source wrote “Syria”

    (􀇖􀇸􀇴􀇢 ), not “Smyrna” (􀇖􀇯􀈀􀇴􀇰 ), since a likely site for such a statue was Syria’s

    maritime city of Bargylia, which derived its name from Bargylus, Bellerophon’s friend

    killed by Pegasus.64 Cosmas’ Bellerophon is wondrous because deceptively resilient.65

    63 Cosmas Commentarii in sancti Gregorii Nazanzieni carmina = PG 38.545-46.

    64 Steph. Byz. s.v. 􀇆􀇤􀇴􀇦􀈀􀇮􀇬􀇤 (quoting Apollonius of Aphrodisias’ Karika, c.AD 200).

    According to Ampelius, Syria’s Mount Bargylus had another wondrously resilient

    27

    This probably reminded later readers of magnetic monuments locked in place by invisible

    chains, especially Ampelius’ Nike, which wobbled but stayed put. That would explain

    why, in the tenth-century Seven Wonders of the World, the statue “at Smyrna” is now

    made of iron and magnetic stones “in the vaults” (archivolis) suspend it in equilibrium (in

    mensura aequiparata consistit), even though it weighs around 5000 pounds.

    This Bellerophon is no longer poised to leap from a cliff-top, but airborne within

    Smyrna. It has apparently merged with Ampelius’ levitating Nike; indeed, Magnesiaunder-

    Sipylus was only twenty miles northeast of Smyrna, enjoying sympolity with it.

    The magnets are fixed in the conventional “vaults,” probably meaning vertical

    suspension; but the non-vertical hinc et inde implies horizontal suspension between two

    or more magnets, for which the only precedent is Ampelius. In the twelfth century, the

    well-read pilgrim “Master Gregory” attempts to reconcile his reading of the Seven

    Wonders with what he personally saw at Rome. Despite following his source closely,

    artwork: a lamp outside a temple of Venus that burned constantly, resisting wind and rain

    (quam neque ventus extinguit, nec pluvia aspargit: Ampelius Liber Memorialis 8, cf.

    Aug. Civ. D. 21.6).

    65 Reinach 1912 and Deonna 1914: 102 believe that this statue somehow oscillated in a

    socket. I suggest instead that the effect was achieved by embedding a metal armature

    deep into the base, and Cosmas means that Pegasus wobbled or vibrated when shoved,

    but was never dislodged.

    28

    Gregory relocates the Bellerophon to Rome on the basis of a textual error,66 which (since

    he observed nothing like it there) obliged him to consider it a thing of the past.

    Pseudo-Bede’s and Gregory’s Bellerophons hang between multiple magnets Ampeliusstyle,

    not from a single magnet Rufinus-style, nor as a pair above and below Augustinestyle.

    However, Gregory’s wording suggests that his occupies the focal point inside a

    round-topped Roman archway. 67 It is tempting to see this focal-point arrangement as the

    reason why levitating statues usually hang within vaults (and as we shall see, domes). It

    may even be what our earliest sources intended, though descriptions vary over time.

    5. NEAR EASTERN IDOL-WORSHIP AND THE TOMBS OF SAINTS

    66 As Rushforth 1919: 43-44 shrewdly observes, Gregory must have read the Seven

    Wonders (or something similar) not with in Smyrna civitate, “in the city of Smyrna,” but

    with the variant in summa civitate, “over the top of the City.” (I have already suggested

    that Smyrna was itself a corruption of Syria.) Meanwhile the name Bellerophon has been

    corrupted to “Belloforon” and the weight tripled to 15000 Roman libra (the lower weight

    of 5000 is realistic for a full-size iron equestrian statue. Estimating one libra at 328.9g

    makes 5000 libra around 1640 kg; the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, which is

    over-life-size and made of heavier bronze, weighs 1920 kg: Marabelli 1994: 2).

    67 Magnets exert equal forces “in the arches of the vault” (in arcus voltura, Rushforth’s

    emendation of in arcus involsura).

    29

    During the first millennium AD, the ancient cultures of the Levant—or rather, the

    reflections of their cultural heirs—yield a handful of allusions to levitation that differ

    from those in our Greek and Latin sources. The Midrash (c.AD 200) reports among

    hypotheses about how Gehazi sinned that “Some say he set up a lodestone according to

    the sin of Jeroboam and made it stand between heaven and earth.”68 Jeroboam had

    erected two golden calves as cult-objects in Bethel and Dan (II Kings viii.3); according to

    the Babylonian Gemara (c.AD 500), he deployed magnets to hold these in mid-air.

    Although the mechanical details differ,69 these remarks agree with the Serapeum

    chroniclers (and many later reports of magnetic suspension) that idolaters successfully

    created false miracles using magnetism. More surprisingly, a theory ascribed elsewhere

    in the Gemara to the third-century Rabbi Jose ben Hanina involves a sacred usage.70

    When asked how David could wear the gold Ammonite crown weighing one Babylonian

    talent (around 30 kg: 2 Samuel xii.30), the Rabbi suggests that a magnetic stone held it

    above his head.71

    68 Tractate Sotah fol. 47a (trans. Robert Travers Herford).

    69 The first passage is the only known pre-modern description of a magnet itself

    levitating, instead of suspending other objects. The second passage also differs from

    Greek and Roman accounts because it neither indicates where the magnets were placed

    nor suggests that the golden calves contained iron.

    70 Gemara Avodah Zarah fol. 44a.

    71 This is probably inspired by the suspension of a heavy crown (from a chain inside an

    arch) over the Sassanian monarch at Ctesiphon: see Erdmann 1951: 114-17.

    30

    To these three Talmudic examples we may add an Arabic one. Ibn Wahshiyya’s

    translation of The Nabatean Agriculture in the early tenth century AD explains that when

    Tammuz was murdered, Babylon’s statues all assembled in the temple of the Sun to

    mourn him, whereupon the large golden Sun figure, normally suspended between heaven

    and earth, came down among them. The date and authorship of The Nabatean Agriculture

    itself is very uncertain, let alone this particular fable, but influences from late antique and

    medieval Greek agronomic texts (mediated through the context of medieval Iraq) have

    been detected elsewhere.72 This Babylonian Sun-statue could therefore derive partly from

    the Alexandrian one, even though its levitation is a supernatural miracle with no mention

    of magnets.73 Meanwhile, it is a golden idol, like Jeroboam’s calves, hangs “between

    heaven and earth,” like Gehazi’s magnet, and is neutral or positive in character, like

    David’s golden crown. These allusions all envisage non-Jewish peoples suspending

    golden objects in the air, without mentioning vaults, iron, or extant monuments, but are

    otherwise heterogeneous. Perhaps Western reports of magnetic suspension influenced

    some or all of these Semitic reports of levitating gold objects, but indirectly at best. They

    have no obvious bearing on its recurrent associations with the Near East.

    72 The relevant passage is reported in Maimonides Guide for the Perplexed 29. The

    Nabatean Agriculture and its interpretative problems are discussed in Hämeen-Anttila

    2002–2003.

    73 Two other tenth-century Muslim writers, describing India, mention a suspended idol

    and golden temple without mentioning magnetism (Abu Dulaf and Al-Mas’udi, discussed

    below), though no connection with Ibn Wahshiyya can be made.

    31

    After Ibn Wahshiyya, many other Muslim scholars report non-Muslims

    worshipping levitating objects, in which the relationship between trick and miracle

    remains close. The first and fullest reference to a levitating tomb of a Christian saint or

    sage on Sicily comes from Ibn Hawqal in the late tenth century:74

    The great city of Balarm (Palermo)…contains a large mosque for assembly,

    which was the church of Rome before the conquest, and where there is an

    impressive shrine. I have heard from a logician that the philosopher (hakim) of

    the Greeks, Arastutalis (Aristotle), was suspended in a wooden coffin within

    this chapel, which Muslims have converted into a mosque. The Christians

    honored his tomb and went there to receive healing, because they had seen

    how the Greeks had regarded and revered him. He also told me that he lies

    suspended between heaven and earth so that people can beg him to send rain

    or bestow a cure, or for all other important matters in which it is essential to

    address God in the highest and propitiate him: in case of misfortune,

    destruction, or civil war. And there I saw a wooden coffin which was probably

    his tomb.

    74 Ibn Hawqal Surat al-‘Ard, translation adapted from Vanoli 2008: 247-48.

    32

    Palermo had been Arab-controlled since AD 831, so Ibn Hawqal’s informer was telling a

    tale set more than two centuries in the past.75 This imagined veneration of Aristotle

    reflects mutual Christian and Muslim respect for him in the tenth century, when Sicily

    was pre-eminent in Aristotelian scholarship. These remains, surely belonging to a

    Christian saint, become those of Galen or Socrates in later Muslim references.76 As a

    Greek hakim occupying a suspended coffin, Aristotle represents occult Hermetic

    knowledge reimagined as Christian hierolatry. The hakim-saint purportedly received

    intercessory prayers while poised between heaven and earth, neatly encapsulating Sicily’s

    cultural melting pot. On Cyprus, another “frontier island,” Christian-Muslim interactions

    proved less harmonious. The silver-clad wooden cross of the Good Thief, which St.

    Helena brought to Stavrovouni Monastery, was miraculously suspended before the gaze

    of several pilgrims who recorded the experience.77 Felix Faber’s description is fullest: the

    75 The eleventh-century Book of Curiosities says only that Christians at Palermo used to

    pray to “a piece of wood” for rain (Savage-Smith 2014: 457), indicating that it was not

    revered during Arab occupation.

    76 In the thirteenth century, the Tunisian author Ibn al-Shabb􀆗t says that Sicily is where

    Ğ􀆗l􀆯n􀇌s (Galen) is buried; in the fifteenth century, al-B􀆗kuw􀆯 says it was Sukrat

    (Socrates): citations in Vanoli 2008: 249-50.

    77 Daniel the Traveler Puteshestive igumena Daniila; Wilbrand of Oldenburg Itinerarium

    terrae sanctae 30 (Itinera Hierosolymitana Crucesignatorum III p. 230); Ogier

    d’Anglure Le Saint Voyage de Jherusalem 295; Felix Faber Evagatorium 36B-37B.

    These visits occurred respectively in AD 1106, 1211, 1395, and 1480. Around 1370,

    Guillaume de Machaut attested its fame in verse (Prise d’Alexandrie 291-98).

    33

    cross hung within a blind window, its arms and foot reaching into oversized recesses.

    Like Cosmas’ Bellerophon (and Ampelius’ Nike) it wobbled when touched,78 and was

    probably suspended on a concealed metal bracket. But we have two Muslim retorts to

    Christian polemics that denounce it as a trick involving magnets. In mid-twelfth-century

    Cordoba, Al-Khazraji pours scorn on reputed miracles, the second of which is a cross

    hanging in mid-air. He calls this no miracle, merely a trick (h􀆯la) achieved using magnets

    hidden inside the church walls.79 In 1321, Al-Dimashqi confirms the identification by

    including in a similar list “the cross in Cyprus, suspended in mid-air using magnets.”80

    These denunciations of idolaters tricking spectators with magnetism match those in the

    Talmud. However, as we have seen, Christianity possessed its own long tradition of such

    denunciations.

    In the early sixth century, Cassiodorus passingly alludes to an otherwise unknown

    iron Cupid that hung in a temple of Diana “without any attachment”: Helios has probably

    been replaced here with a better-known flying god, and the Serapeum with the better-

    78 ut dicunt, nullo innitens adminiculo, in aëre pendet, et fluctuat; quod tamen non

    videtur de facili (Wilbrand of Oldenburg Itinerarium terrae sanctae 30 = IHC III p. 230);

    “quant l’en y touche elle bransle fort” (Ogier d’Anglure Le Saint Voyage de Jherusalem

    295).

    79 Al-Khazraji Maqami al-sulban (Triumph over the Cross), framed as a retort to an anti-

    Muslim priest called Al-Quti (“The Goth”), cited in Vanoli 2008: 257.

    80 Ibn Ali Talib Al-Dimashqi Response to the Letter from the People of Cyprus 54r.

    34

    known temple of Ephesus.81 By contrast, a much later European source endows a

    different flying god—Mercury—with a similar statue using a direct Christian model. The

    relevant passages of the eleventh- or twelfth-century Gesta Treverorum spin tall tales of

    Treveri’s historic remains,82 aiming to establish that the town (briefly the Western

    Empire’s capital in the fourth century) had both a longer history and more splendid

    monuments than Rome.83 Treveri’s include a temple with a hundred statues and a vast

    iron Mercury in flight. These correspond to wondrous monuments in High Middle Age

    accounts of Rome: the “Salvatio Romae” statue-group, and the aforementioned iron

    Bellerophon.84 The Mercury hung inside an arch with magnets above and below

    (Augustine-style). The author forestalls doubt by including a documentary letter from an

    eyewitness, as well as a Latin inscription clearly aimed at readers, not observers: Ferreus

    in vacuis pendet caducifer auris, “The iron caduceus-bearer hangs in thin air.”85

    81 mechanisma…fecisse dicitur…ferreum Cupidinem in Dianae templo sine aliqua

    alligatione pendere (Variae 1.45.10).

    82 PL 154.1094-95, 1122.

    83 The Gesta contributes to a High-Middle-Age rebranding of Trier as “the second Rome”

    (Hammer 1944). Its comically majestic antiquities include a marble Jupiter

    commemorating how taxes withheld by five Rhenish cities were “extracted by thunder

    and celestial terror” (fulmine et caelesti terrore extorto, Gesta 23 = PL 154.1122).

    84 Note the competitive emphasis on the size and weight of the Mercury statue (mirae

    magnitudinis, 1094-95; magni ponderis, 1122).

    85 This hexameter has strongly Ovidian features, especially his characteristic epithet

    caducifer (compare metrical parallels: Ars Am. 1.473 ferreus adsiduo consumitur anulus

    35

    I suggest that this story is best compared with a Christian miracle, narrated later in

    the self-same text, concerning St. Paulinus of Treveri whose coffin was suspended from

    iron chains. When the Norman marauders of AD 882 ripped these away, it remained

    hanging in mid-air, only sinking to rest years later when some unbelievers pushed it

    downward, incurring doom in the process.86 For this semi-fantasized crypt, as for the

    purely fantasized Mercury-temple, a fictive document is “quoted” extensively.87 Another

    correspondence is that numerous fellow martyrs surround Paulinus. In an irreverent

    reimagining of local legend these became the hundred pagan statues, while Paulinus’

    levitating wooden coffin became the levitating iron Mercury, hanging on the invisible

    “chains” of magnets. It is just possible that Christian relics really were suspended on

    chains in the High Middle Ages; most reports of chain-hung coffins are dubious, since

    usu, cf. Am. 1.6.27, 1.7.50, 2.5.11, 2.19.4; Met. 8.820 adflat et in vacuis spargit ieiunia

    venis; Fast. 4.605 Tartara iussus adit sumptis Caducifer alis, cf. Met. 2.708, 8.627). It is

    tempting to see in caducifer a pun on caducum ferrum, “iron ready to fall.” Embrico

    shows Ovidian influence too: Cambier 1961: 376 notes that the lines Nam si vixisset opus

    atque loqui potuisset / “Materiam vici!” diceret artifici allude to Ovid’s comment on the

    sumptuous temple of the Sun, materiam superabat opus (Met. 2.5). South Germany’s

    early twelfth-century Ovidian renaissance (Conte 1994 [1987]: 360) is the mutual context

    for Embrico and the Gesta.

    86 Gesta 43 = PL 154.1164. This narrative combines miraculous suspension with the

    topos of the saint’s coffin becoming immobile, signifying his desire to remain on site.

    87 A verbose lead tablet incorporating a prophecy about the Normans: Gesta 42 = PL

    154.1161.

    36

    they appear in travelers’ tales, but a suspended reliquary appeared at Nuremberg in the

    fifteenth century.88 However, a levitating tomb of any material has no Christian

    88 On suspended ostrich-eggs and similar objects in Eastern medieval churches and

    mosques, see Green 2006; in sacred art, Flood 2001:15-58. Two twelfth-century Jewish

    periegetes claim that the prophet Daniel’s remains could be seen in a shining glass or

    bronze coffin in Susa, hanging from iron chains under a bridge over the Choaspes to shed

    blessings on both banks: Benjamin of Tudela Itinerary (Adler 1907: 52-53), Petachiah of

    Regensburg Travels (Benisch 1856: 38-41). In the same century (c. AD 1170),

    Barbarossa donated the four-meter-wide gilt chandelier hanging from 25 meters of chain

    in Aachen Cathedral. Al-Harawi, in his late twelfth- or early thirteenth-century Guide to

    Knowledge of Pilgrimage Places, claimed that Rome’s largest church kept St. Peter’s

    remains “within a silver ark hanging by chains from the ceiling” (trans. Lee 1829: 161).

    This may be a garbled account of Constantine’s thirty-pound gold chandelier, which hung

    over St. Peter’s bronze-clad tomb (according to the Liber Pontificalis, and is shown

    hanging on chains on the Pola Casket). Robert of Clari, narrating Constantinople’s fall in

    1204, claims that a shroud and a tile imprinted with Jesus’ face hung in gold vessels from

    silver chains (83). From the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries, a casket of relics including

    the spear of Longinus (when not ceremonially displayed) hung on two chains in

    Nuremberg’s Holy Ghost Hospital Church (Kahsnitz et al. 1986: 179-80). It is relevant

    that when a fourteenth-century source claims that Muhammad’s embalmed foot occupies

    a golden casket at Bladacta, the three large magnets suspending it are “in the chains

    hanging above it” (a tribus magnis lapidibus calamitis in cathenis pendentibus super

    eam, Anon. Liber Nicolay fol. 353 verso, quoted in Eckhardt 1949: 85).

    37

    precedent, and I would instead connect it with Ibn Hawqal’s earlier report that a wooden

    coffin once hung in mid-air. It is also notable that the historical Paulinus died in AD 358

    during exile in Phrygia, returning in the damask-wrapped cedarwood coffin where he

    remains today.89 Paulinus himself therefore links the levitating Mercury in Trier’s

    fanciful Gesta (or should that be geste?) back to the late classical Near East. This may

    reflect a broader European tendency to associate artificial marvels with the East.90

    The “sacred physics” of the Stavrovouni cross and the coffins at Palermo and

    Trier consistently resembles magnetic suspension because, I propose, medieval

    Christendom substituted holy relic-matter for iron as the “active ingredient” of suspended

    objects.91 This finally lets us explain an enigmatic monument in the eleventh-century

    Norman Life of St. Illtud which, like Rome’s Bellerophon, found its way into a list of

    wonders.92 It combines the levitating tombs of Ibn Hawqal and the Gesta Treverorum

    89 The rectangular coffin has no chains but its iron fittings have eyelets on the sides,

    probably for ring handles.

    90 “In general, the marvels of art came from Africa and Asia, lands believed far to surpass

    Europe not only in natural variety and fertility, but also in fertility of human imagination”

    (Daston and Park 1998: 88).

    91 This also explains the ninth-century claim that inserted relics held Hagia Sophia’s

    dome upright (Diegesis 14).

    92 On this episode, and our sources, see Evans 2011. Illtud’s altar is the longest and the

    only man-made or Christian item in the De Mirabilibus Britanniae, appended to some

    manuscripts of the Historia Brittonum, which cannot be securely dated before the twelfth

    38

    with another class of miraculous object, the miraculously buoyant altars attributed to

    several Celtic saints.93 In the longer version, two strangers sail to Illtud’s cave, bringing

    him a saint’s corpse with an altar above his face, “supported by God’s favor” (Dei nutu

    fulcitur). Illtud buries the saint, who requested anonymity to avoid being sworn upon, and

    builds a church around the altar, still levitating “to the present day” (usque in hodiernum

    diem).94 Church altars stood over a saint’s tomb wherever possible, and likewise portable

    altars (wood, metal, or stone) featured a compartment for saints’ relics.95 Further

    confirmation of the parallel with Paulinus’ coffin comes in the fates of two empiricists

    who later examined this altar. The first passes a withy underneath the altar and proves its

    levitation, but dies within a month, as does the second who looks underneath and is

    blinded; they resemble the doubters at Trier, who pushed Paulinus’ levitating tomb

    downward and later fell sick. Lifris claims extensive cultural property for Cadoc,

    including descent from Roman emperors, burial in Italy, travels in Jerusalem, and

    century. These idiosyncrasies imply that it was culled from a hagiography, apparently a

    lengthier version of the extant Life.

    93 Patrick, Brynach, Carannog, and Padarn’s disciple Nimmanauc (Evans 2011: 59, 63-

    64).

    94 De Mirabilibus Britanniae 10, cf. Life of Illtud 22.

    95 An extant example (c. 690) was found with the body of St. Cuthbert at Durham

    Cathedral. In 714, Jonas of Fontenelle described another, owned by St. Wulfram

    (altare…in medio reliquiae continens sanctorum in modum clypei, quod, secum dum iter

    ageret vehere solitus erat). In 787, the Second Council of Nicaea stipulated that every

    new altar must contain saints’ relics.

    39

    interactions with King Arthur. These also include the relic-powered levitating monument,

    which brought this Christianized version of magnetic suspension as far west as Wales.

    6. THE TOMB OF MUHAMMAD

    The iron Bellerophon, perhaps too fanciful and arbitrary for belief, apparently

    faded from memory after pseudo-Bede and Gregory. But in the High Middle Ages, in a

    politically charged context and with enough plausibility to retain credence across Europe

    until the sixteenth century, the tomb of Muhammad becomes history’s most notorious

    magnetic monument.96 Eckhardt astutely traces its development through anti-Muslim

    polemics back to the early twelfth-century Vita Mahumeti by Embrico of Mainz, but

    claims that Embrico borrowed the motif directly from Pliny and Rufinus, which I shall

    show to be incorrect.97 In Chant 16, a magician installs Muhammad’s corpse in a

    sumptuous temple using this trick:

    Thus the lofty creation (opus elatum), furnished with a single magnet,

    stood in the center which was shaped like an arch.

    Muhammad is carried under this and put in a tomb,

    96 Gibbon 1789: 6.262 finds it still necessary to deny that Muhammad’s tomb was

    suspended by magnets.

    97 Eckhardt 1949. The vita auctoris has since been discovered, correcting the

    misattribution to Hildebert of Lavardin.

    40

    Which, in case you should ask, had been made from bronze.

    And indeed, because [the magnet] pulls together such a mass of bronze (tam

    grandia contrahat aera),

    The tomb in which the king lay was lifted up.

    And there he hung, by the power of the stones.

    Therefore the ignorant public, after they saw the prodigy of the tomb,

    Took as fact what was merely a show (rem pro signo tenuerunt),

    Believing—miserable people—that Muhammad made it happen (per

    Mahumet fieri).

    Embrico goes on to say that the tomb hangs “without a chain” (absque catena), by

    “magic” (ars magica). Gautier de Compiègne repeats most of the same details in his Otia

    de Machomete,98 also composed early in the 1100s, although he explains the magnetic

    trick differently:

    …For, as they say, the vessel in which the remains

    of Muhammad lie buried seems to hang,

    So that it is seen suspended in the air without support,

    But no chain pulls on it from above either.

    Therefore, if you should ask them how come it does not fall,

    They think (in their delusion) it is by the powers of Muhammad.

    98 Verses 1057-77. Alexandre du Pont’s thirteenth-century Li Romans de Mahon

    faithfully follows Gautier (1902-15) and adds no new details.

    41

    But in fact the vessel is clad in iron on all sides,

    And stands in the center of a square house,

    And there is adamant-stone99 in the four parts of the temple,

    At equal distances in one direction or another;

    By natural force it draws the bier towards itself equally,

    So that the vessel cannot fall on any side.

    Importantly, Embrico specified that the coffin (tumulum, tumba) was bronze, like the

    statue in George the Monk without its iron nail. However, Gautier clearly has an

    independent source. He omits the dazzling wealth and moves the shrine from Libya to

    Mecca.100 He also specifies that the tomb has iron all around, and that four magnets

    balance it horizontally, not just one suspending it inside an arch. I suggest that Gautier’s

    99 Gautier’s term adamas reflects the confusion in Old French between the homonyms

    aymant < Lat. adamas “adamant, diamond” and aymant < Lat. amans “lover, magnet”

    (von Lippmann 1971 [1923]: 182, 194, 213).

    100 Muhammad’s tomb is actually at Al-Masjid al-Nabaw􀆯, but the confusion between

    Islam’s two oldest sites of pilgrimage is understandable. In the thirteenth century,

    Cardinal Rodrigo Ximénez claimed that the sacred Black Stone embedded in the Kaaba

    was a magnet (Historia Arabum 3, published in van Erpe 1625), perhaps taking literally

    Nasir Khusraw’s remark in the Safarnama that the Qarmatians thought the stone was a

    “human magnet” and would draw crowds when relocated. Al-Mas’udi says much the

    same about a temple at Multan in India (Muruj adh-dhahab wa ma’adin al-jawhar

    63.1371).

    42

    independent source also informed Glycas’ description of the Serapeum some sixty years

    earlier, which diverged from earlier descriptions by adding the same details. Both specify

    a four-magnet configuration and explicitly state that this prevents the iron-girt idol from

    tipping over.101 Whatever this shared source may be, it strongly resembles Ampelius’

    description of the Nike bobbing between four columns. Apparently this (or a text from

    the same chain of transmission) circulated in the twelfth century, causing both Gautier

    and Glycas to diverge from their immediate models.

    A third twelfth-century poem, Graindor’s Chanson d’Antioche (c. AD 1180), can

    reveal more about Muhammad’s tomb.102 Graindor drew on an earlier chanson by a

    shadowy “Richard the Pilgrim,” very likely adding fantastical elements. These include

    the erection of a Muhammad-statue above a tent, so nicely balanced upon four magnets

    that a fan rotated it:

    On the top [of the tent] the Sultan had an idol set up (fist mestre…un aversier),

    Made all in gold and silver, finely carved.

    If you had seen it, without a word of a lie

    101 Compare 􀇶􀇲􀇧􀇸􀇰􀇟􀇯􀇼􀇵 􀇦 􀇴 􀇷􀇨􀇷􀇴􀇤􀇯􀇨􀇴􀇿􀇫􀇨􀇰 􀋫􀇮􀇭􀇿􀇯􀇨􀇰􀇲􀇰, 􀇭􀇤  􀇯  􀋮􀇺􀇲􀇰 􀇳􀇲􀇸 􀇭􀇤  􀇰􀇨􀈀􀇶􀇨􀇬􀇵

    (Glycas Chronicle 4.257 = PG 158.433) with pendere res plena quod pendeat absque

    catena, nec sic pendiculum quod teneat tumulum (Graindor Chanson d’Antioche 1143-

    44).

    102 Allusions to Muhammad’s magnetic suspension in subsequent chansons de geste (e.g.

    Les Quatre Fils Aymon 9613-16: iron statue; Le Bâtard de Bouillon 1364-66: golden

    statue) are brief and add little.

    43

    You could not see or even imagine a finer sight:

    It was large and shapely, with a proud face.

    The Sultan Emir ordered it to be lowered:

    Four pagan kings run to embrace it,

    Erecting it in position (le font metre et drecier) upon four magnets,

    So that it does not tilt or lean in any direction.

    Muhammad was in the air, rotating (si prist à tournoier),

    Because a fan (uns ventiaus) moved him and set him rotating



    Muhammad was in the air, by the power of the magnet (par l’aimant vertus),

    And pagans revere him and offer him their salutes.

    Sansadoine denounces the false cult, punches the idol to the ground, and overleaps its

    belly, much as Quodvultdeus’ inspired Christian destroys the Helios in the Serapeum.103

    The precious metals and absence of iron recall Embrico, but the four magnets preventing

    it from tipping (quatre aimans…qu’il ne puist cliner ne nule part ploier) recall Gautier.

    The suspension above magnets (de sor) and the fan-powered rotation are entirely new,

    probably inspired by a description of the panemone windmill. Many scholars assume that

    our version of the Chanson, despite postdating Embrico and Gautier, represents an earlier

    phase involving a suspended idol based on classical accounts, later supplanted by

    103 The statue’s precious materials and proud appearance may recall the Alexandrian cultstatue

    of Serapis, whose description routinely accompanies that of the magnetically

    levitating Sun statue from Rufinus onwards.

    44

    Muhammad’s real body.104 I suggest that the partly “classicizing” variant involving an

    idol and magnets (which nonetheless contains no iron and lacks any direct model) is

    actually later: the suspension of the prophet’s own remains came first, directly

    counterfeiting Christian relic-powered suspension. Geographic proximity does not in

    itself prove oral or literary influence, but seems particularly relevant in this case. Embrico

    wrote at Mainz, Gautier at Marmoutier; around the same time, the anonymous monk (or

    monks) behind the Gesta Treverorum wrote at Trier. These three towns form an

    approximate triangle less than a hundred miles wide in the northeast Holy Roman

    Empire, and although the Gesta is hard to date, it belongs to a Latin literary scene whose

    coherence is implied by Gautier’s obvious dependence on Embrico. I suggest that relicmiracles,

    and not classical reports about Alexandria, are the true model for Muhammad’s

    magnetically levitating tomb, which ironically makes the same accusation against

    Muslims that Al-Khazraji and Al-Dimashqi were almost simultaneously hurling against

    Christians.

    One late thirteenth-century author reclaims Muhammad’s suspended tomb for

    Christendom using a different fantastical setting. The Account of Elysaeus of the 1280s105

    is an interpolated version of the Letter of Prester John, containing a description of St.

    Thomas’ tomb.106 This occupies a mountain in central India where, when the Indus

    104 E.g. Tolan 1996.

    105 Thus Zarncke 1876: 120.

    106 The tomb description (except its levitation) was extracted from the anonymous De

    adventu patriarchae Indorum ad Urbem sub Calixto papa secundo (AD 1122).

    45

    annually recedes, Thomas’ incorruptible hand is used to dispense the Eucharist (closing

    its grip to reveal any person’s guilt):107

    Now, the apostle is in a church on that same mountain, and he is entombed in

    an iron tomb (in tumulo ferreo tumulatus); and that tomb rests in the air by the

    power of four precious stones. It is called adamans; one is set in the floor, a

    second in the roof, one at one corner of the tomb, and another in the other.

    Those stones truly love iron (isti vero lapides diligunt ferrum): the lower one

    prevents him from rising, the upper one from sinking, and those at the corners

    prevent him from moving this way or that. The apostle is in the middle.

    The iron coffin locked in position, the four magnets, and the term adamas (here

    adamans) are recognizable from Gautier. As irreverently as when Paulinus’ relic-miracle

    was separately transferred onto both Muhammad and the iron Mercury, only in reverse,

    the author transfers Muhammad’s magnets onto a saint’s tomb, albeit in an exotic Eastern

    setting. The ease with which Muhammad’s false miracle is reclaimed for a Christian

    context shows how closely it was patterned on Christian relic-miracles in the first place.

    The author takes a positive attitude to magnetic suspension by turning it from miraclesubstitute

    to miracle in itself, unconsciously echoing our earliest pagan sources, and to be

    echoed in turn centuries later.

    107 Account of Elysaeus 16-17. The relevant portion (16-17) is published in Zarncke 1876:

    123-24.

    46

    7. ASIA AND INDIA: GNOSTIC, HINDU, AND BUDDHIST WONDERS

    At the time when magnetic suspension was giving rise to a form of relic-miracle

    in Western Europe, which would later contribute to the fantasy of Muhammad’s tomb,

    Muslim sources were already counting it among the marvels of India. I shall demonstrate

    that whereas very early Asian sources attribute self-levitation to holy individuals in

    Hinduism and Buddhism, and Sanskrit medical texts describe the properties of magnets,

    Muslim descriptions of magnetic suspension show the influence of Western antiquity.108

    The remarkable result is that just as eastward-facing Christians ascribed the technique to

    Muslims, eastward-facing Muslims were simultaneously ascribing it to other non-

    Muslims. Independent channels of transmission had produced such ironies before, yet

    this branch of the tradition (in which the Eastern dome replaced the Western arch or

    vault) flourished for centuries longer, relocating and evolving. Always in the margins,

    magnetic levitation illuminates the thought of many ages: from Hellenistic and Roman

    learning, across a spectrum of medieval Christian beliefs, into medieval and later Islam.

    As I shall show, a Hindu appropriation finally brought it into the modern era.

    108 On Hellenic (largely Hellenistic) influences on medieval Islam, see Peter 1988. Any

    evidence contradicting this Eurocentric model would of course be very important. I have

    only found one thirteenth-century Sanskrit example of magnet folklore, not involving

    levitation. In Hemadri’s Chaturvarga Chintamani, Shukracharya creates a mountain-like

    magnet to divert the gods’ iron-tipped arrows from the besieged daityas; Indra’s lightning

    shatters it, distributing magnetite worldwide.

    47

    The earliest Muslim references to suspended monuments arise from allegory and

    fables. Later, these develop into reports anchored to Indian cities, in exegetical genres

    such as travel writing and historiography. The latter resemble many earlier pagan and

    Christian sources, especially those concerning the Serapeum, which served as a template

    for the idolatrous splendor of Hinduism and Buddhism. One early reference, redolent of

    Gnostic allegory, appears in Al-Mas’udi’s tenth-century world history. He describes an

    ancient seven-sided “Sabian” (Harranian) temple on China’s borders—meaning at the

    world’s end—containing a well inside which all past and future knowledge may be seen.

    It is also crowned with a radiant gemstone that kills anyone who approaches it or

    attempts to destroy the temple. Al-Mas’udi says that according to “certain sages,” the

    effect was created using magnets regularly placed around the temple.109 India attracted

    curiosity and wonder among Muslim intellectuals, a fact exploited later in the tenth

    century by Abu Dulaf al-Yanbu’i in his first risala (letter), which blends gleaned

    knowledge with Mandevillean fantasy. He counts among India’s wonders a solid-gold

    temple, reputedly levitating somewhere between Makrana and Kandhar (over 700 miles

    apart).110 This statement is cited by a contemporary geographer, and another geographer

    three centuries later, implying that levitation could feature among “wonders of the East”

    109 Al Mas’udi 67 (de Meynard 1914: 69-71). For commentary on the Gnostic symbolism

    of this and other temples, see Corbin 1986: 132-82.

    110 Dulaf’s temple in the sky probably derives from the splendid city built for Kay Kavus,

    Persia’s legendary shah, “between heaven and earth” (al-Tabari Tar􀆯kh 1.602), or

    alternatively the vimanas of Hindu myth.

    48

    without mention of magnets or other rationalizations.111 In the same text, Dulaf describes

    the “idol” at Multan as not merely suspended in the air, but a hundred cubits distant from

    both floor and ceiling, itself a hundred cubits tall.112 Whether Dulaf read about a smaller

    suspended statue is unknown, but this has an air of satirical exaggeration, much like

    Lucian’s hundred-cubit footprint of Heracles.113 Dulaf is the earliest known Muslim

    scholar to locate a suspended statue in India, as his successors would do for centuries to

    come, though at different locations.

    Another Muslim echo of Western accounts of the Serapeum is denouncing

    magnetic suspension as religious fraud. The first trace of this is Al-Mas’udi’s claim that

    the Hindu temple at Multan contained magnets.114 Three centuries later (AD c. 1220), a

    catalog of fraudulent miracles in Al-Jawbari’s “Book of Selected Disclosure of Secrets”

    includes a levitating iron statue, in India’s “Monastery of the Idol” (deir al-sanam).115

    This seems to be an adaptation of the iron Helios in the Serapeum, being not only

    suspended under a dome—the Eastern answer to a vault—but also ascribed to a Greek

    hakim, this time Apollonius (“Yablunus”).116 Apollonius was also (as “Balinas”) the

    111 Ibn Al-Nadim Kitab al-Fihrist 347; Yaqut al-Hamawi Mu–jam Al-Buldan 3.457.

    112 MS. Rishbad f. 192a.

    113 Lucian Ver. Hist. 1.4. Scythia’s Heracles footprint was two cubits long (Hdt. 4.82).

    114 Al-Mas’udi 63.1371 (on “Mandusan”), cited by Vanoli 2008: 25.

    115 Al-Jawbari Kit􀆗b al-mukht􀆗r f􀆯 kashf al-asr􀆗r (The Meadows of Gold and Mines of

    Gems) chapter 4, cited in Wiedemann 1970: 359.

    116 Apparently here, as often in medieval Islam, the wonder-working Apollonius of Tyana

    is confused with the astronomer Apollonius of Perge.

    49

    purported author of a near-contemporary hermetic text, which described another

    allegorical seven-sided temple.117 This suggests that the magnetic marvels of both the

    “Monastery of the Idol” and the allegorical Harranian temple may ultimately derive from

    Byzantine historians’ reports of the Serapeum.118

    Although magnetism as religious fraud starts to appear in these High Middle Age

    Muslim accounts of unreal Asian temples (particularly those of Al-Mas’udi and Al-

    Jawbari), it features more prominently in later descriptions of real ruined temples. This is

    the strongest indication that the suspension motif itself passed from European texts

    through Muslim mediation into India, where it served many of the same cultural

    functions, especially since another iconolatry-iconoclasm conflict was under way. The

    great ruined Hindu temple of Somnath becomes, so to speak, the first Serapeum of Indian

    historiography. Somnath was destroyed in 1025, but around 1263 (decades after Al-

    Jawbari and his “Monastery of the Idol”), the Persian geographer Zakariya Al-Qazvini

    endowed it with splendors as lavish as those described in Rufinus or the Chanson

    d’Antioche. These include a suspended statue that initiates a drama of empirical

    analysis:119

    117 Heptagonal temples, one side for each known “planet,” suggest the astronomical

    mysticism of Harranian culture: see Van Bladel 2009.

    118 “Balinas” Book of the Seven Idols (Kitab al-Asnam al-Saba), cited and discussed in

    Al-Jaldaki Al-Burhan. This heptagonal temple contains seven talking statues representing

    the planets, whose sermons initiate the reader into alchemy.

    119 Al-Qazvini, trans. Eliot and Dowson 1871 = 2.63 Wüstenfeld.

    50

    This idol was in the middle of [Somnath] temple without anything to support

    it from below, or to suspend it from above. It was regarded with great

    veneration by the Hindus, and whoever beheld it floating in the air was struck

    with amazement, whether he was a Mussulman or an infidel.… When the king

    [Sultan Mahmoud of Ghazni] asked his companions what they had to say

    about the marvel of the idol, and of its staying in the air without prop or

    support, several maintained that it was upheld by some hidden support. The

    king directed a person to go and feel all around and above and below it with a

    spear, which he did, but met with no obstacle. One of the attendants then

    stated his opinion that the canopy was made of loadstone, and the idol of iron,

    and that the ingenious builder had skilfully contrived that the magnet should

    not exercise a greater force on any one side—hence the idol was suspended in

    the middle.… Permission was obtained from the Sultan to remove some

    stones from the top of the canopy to settle the point. When two stones were

    removed from the summit, the idol swerved on one side; when more were

    taken away, it inclined still further, until at last it rested on the ground.

    In this version of the focal-point model (in a dome, as in Al-Jawbari), removing the

    stones does not topple the statue instantly. Instead it dangles lower without falling, until

    reaching the ground, as if numerous chainlike bonds were progressively detached from

    highest to lowest. Although no connection with the Serapeum is visible here, a similar

    story among the Muslim Bohra of Gujarat confirms it. In this story of uncertain date, set

    less than 250 miles away at Khambhat around a century later, Moulai Yaqoob visits a

    51

    Brahmin temple and removes four magnets suspending an iron elephant (Ganesh?) inside.

    This, with other feats, causes mass conversion to Islam.120 This story of a false miracle

    exposed resembles that of Somnath in its setting, but in other respects strongly resembles

    that of Alexandria as told by Quodvultdeus.121 Yaqoob follows in the footsteps of the

    “servant of Christ,” who validates his own new faith by dislodging the hidden magnets

    supporting the old one.

    Since the early nineteenth century, a similar tale of magnetic levitation has been

    told much further east, about Konark’s thirteenth-century Sun Temple on the Bay of

    Bengal. This owes much to the earlier accounts of Eastern temples in Muslim

    geographies and other prose genres, but has emerged from oral tradition and,

    furthermore, remains current today. Konark probably fell into disuse after the sixteenthcentury

    Afghan conquest of Odisha, and by the eighteenth century its tall vimana

    (sanctum) had almost completely collapsed. A local tale recorded in the mid-nineteenth

    century claimed that its capstone had been a massive magnet that frequently caused

    shipwrecks on the nearby coast (presumably defending it from attack by sea), until a band

    of Muslims landed further away and stole it to prevent this effect, thereby desanctifying

    120 During the reign of “Sadras Singh” (Siddharaj Jaisingh, AD 1094-1143), Yaqoob

    visited a Brahmin temple containing the elephant: see Forbes 1856: 343-44. A summary

    of Bohra legends is provided by Jivabhai 1882: 328-45. Yaqoob and Graindor’s righteous

    iconoclast seem independently derived from a shared source.

    121 One detail points to a later retelling of Quodvultdeus’ story: the four magnets, seen in

    High Medieval texts (Glycas, Gautier, Graindor, Account of Elysaeus).

    52

    the temple.122 In more recent variants this capstone suspended a cult-statue in mid-air, as

    at Somnath, and it was the Portuguese or British who removed it.123 This tale seems to

    merge Al-Mas’udi’s deadly gemstone with the shipwrecking magnetic mountain; the

    copious iron clamps and girders in Konark’s masonry probably seemed like evidence,

    especially if some were magnetized by lightning.124 The tradition of suspended

    monuments being destroyed, previously communicated from Christian to Muslim

    chroniclers, survives at Konark in a final, post-colonial inversion. This temple magnet

    was no fraud, nor mere spectacle, but an immensely powerful weapon, as even its

    destroyers had to acknowledge.

    It is instructive to compare the legends of Somnath and Khambhat with that of

    Konark. All explain why the miraculous object is absent from any extant ruins, but the

    first two condemn deception, whereas the last praises ingenuity. At Somnath and

    Khambhat, pious myth-busters expose the marvel as a heathen trick by destroying it, as in

    Quodvultdeus. At Konark it remains a cultural treasure, as in the earliest pagan sources

    and the Christian Account of Elysaeus, although spoilt by impious vandals, like the relicpowered

    tomb of Paulinus. This shows that for suspended monuments across a range of

    cultural contexts, the epistemological statuses of trick and miracle remained closely

    122 Stirling 1825: 327.

    123 For a recent version involving the Portuguese, see Gupta 2012: 463. Further variants

    may be found online.

    124 Compare the magnetized ironwork pieces obtained from church spires at Mantua

    (Gilbert 1893 [1600]: 214-15), Rimini, Aix (Brewster 1837: 9), and Chartres (Lister

    1699: 80-84).

    53

    related, even interchangeable. I have shown that there are many continuities among

    accounts of suspended monuments, but perhaps this changeability itself is their most

    enduringly transcultural property.

    8. CONCLUDING REMARKS

    Static suspension has recurrently given foreign wisdom ostentatious material

    forms. In collected lore, travelers’ tales, and religious denunciations from the Hellenistic

    period to the present and from Western Europe to the Far East, this mutable “wonder of

    the world” represents hidden knowledge inspiring faith, usually false, sometimes true.

    The suspended artifact is usually a cult-object: a sacred statue or, later, a holy person’s

    remains. The notable exception is the statue of Bellerophon, which is better associated

    with other flying beings from pagan myth: Helios, Nike, Cupid, and Mercury. However,

    the medieval tradition of divinely or magnetically levitating relics, most notoriously

    Muhammad’s body, does not (as some have claimed) come straight from Pliny and other

    classical sources. Instead it follows centuries of relic-miracles imitating magnetic

    monuments, including the coffins of Sicily and Trier, the cross on Cyprus, and the altar of

    Illtud. The idea of suspending relics from chains may have assisted this development.

    Descriptions of objects (for example in the Talmud, Ibn Wahshiyya, and Ibn Hawqal)

    with phrases meaning “between heaven and earth,” which can metaphorically denote

    things high above ground as in the Greek “Meteora,” could also have been misunderstood

    to mean miraculous levitation.

    54

    Although the oral traditions so important for the study of marvels lie all but

    hidden, this collation of glimpses from erudite channels has brought historical

    developments to light. Our starting-points Pliny and Ampelius are both brief and

    paradoxographic, but probably represent earlier texts of the Hellenistic period

    documenting either scientific developments, or the growing taste for marvels, or both.

    From late antiquity onward, Rufinus and his successors describe the Helios in the

    Serapeum (possibly transferred from Carrhae) as a trick. They imagine the workings of

    magnetism in varying ways, describing different numbers of magnets under a vault or

    coffered ceiling, and circulate the classical concept eastward from Constantinople.

    Separately from the Serapeum tradition, a Bellerophon statue mentioned by Cosmas

    becomes a magnetically suspended monument in Rome through progressive reinventions.

    Meanwhile, the invisible chains of magnetic monuments inspire a form of Christian relicmiracle,

    possibly influenced by actual suspensions of Christian relics on chains,125 just as

    other suspension-miracles imply invisible ropes. This (and not the Alexandrian Helios or

    Arsinoe) ultimately leads to the fantasy that Muhammad’s tomb was magnetically

    suspended. The fanciful Mercury statue at Trier and St. Thomas’ coffin both “remagnetize”

    relic-miracles in similar ways. Medieval Muslim authors show an equally

    broad, though somewhat refracted, range of attitudes to static suspension. Some locate

    examples in a marvelous East, with or without domes containing magnets; others cite

    magnetic suspension to refute Christian relic-miracles; still others attack Hindu idolatry

    125 The medieval travelers who report chain-hung relics are Christian (Robert of Clari on

    Constantinople), Jewish (Benjamin and Petachiah on Susa), and Muslim (Al-Harawi on

    Rome).

    55

    by claiming that Muslims exposed magnetic suspension in now-ruined Indian temples

    (Multan, Khambhat, Somnath). The last category of tales echoes Quodvultdeus’ account

    of the Serapeum. The latest reported magnetic monument is Konark, still renowned

    among some Hindus, which reasserts magnetism as a true miracle and powerful

    technology whose destruction was impious.

    For historians of the marvelous in religious, scientific, and folkloric contexts, one

    of the most striking aspects of the suspended monument tradition is that until now it was

    virtually invisible. One might even say that it never existed. Despite the chains of

    influence linking antiquity to the Middle Ages and the modern era, our sources barely

    acknowledge one another and almost without exception (even including Christian relicmiracles)

    envisage one unique example. The result is an enduring disconnectedness,

    mirroring the physical phenomenon on the epistemological level. Furthermore, world

    religions ascribe magnetic levitation-frauds to one another in an unwitting chorus:

    Christians accuse pagans and Muslims, Jews accuse idolaters, Muslims accuse Christians

    and Hindus. This shows common ground not shared by our two earliest authorities, the

    Roman compilers Pliny and Ampelius, who describe without comment. Rufinus’ late

    antique report of the Helios in the recently destroyed Serapeum is what turned magnetic

    levitation into both a means of scientific rationalization and a tool of religious polemic.

    This not only ensured rapid circulation in early Latin chroniclers and lasting popularity

    among Byzantine Greeks, but led to ongoing migrations and evolutions throughout the

    Middle Ages and beyond.

    The re-emergence of static suspension as a Christian relic-miracle, replacing iron

    and magnetite with sacred wood and bone, is not as marked a change as one might think.

    56

    Non-ferromagnetic substances appeared in earlier sources, showing that empirical

    phenomena held little sway over any suspended monument. Although iron predominates,

    alternatives included the suspended objects of gold in the Talmudic and purportedly

    Babylonian sources, Dulaf’s hundred-cubit idol and golden temple, Embrico’s tomb of

    bronze, and Graindor’s composite idol. The chroniclers who pictured the Serapeum

    Helios with a small talisman-like magnet and a concealed iron nail may reveal why this

    is. For those whose magnetic theory has an empirical foundation, however indirect, the

    suspended object must be made of iron, but for most it is a form of sympathetic magic,

    whose power can be used on mostly or entirely non-ferrous objects (for example, in the

    magical papyri, figurines or people). Given that heavy iron objects hanging unsupported

    already seemed absurd, it was a short step from there to other metals, and (for Christians)

    to the potent and imperishable matter of holy relics.

    I have shown that the static suspension motif migrated eastward after antiquity,

    which is apt enough since it had frequently pointed in that direction. The Alexandrian

    branch of the tradition held its place, although the Serapeum became the template for

    other locations, notably in India. The other and less continuous branch, starting from

    Ampelius, tended to locate levitating monuments in the Roman provinces of the Near

    East (especially Syria).126 Later descriptions of magnetic monuments clustered further

    East: tales of Muhammad’s tomb and statue postdating the First Crusade are set in Libya,

    Antioch, and Mecca; the Harranian temple is towards China; even the Mercury at Treveri

    126 Ampelius places the Nike in Magnesia-under-Sipylus and Cosmas locates the

    Bellerophon in Smyrna, though I have suggested that it might well have stood at

    Bargylia.

    57

    playfully reimagined the coffin of St. Paulinus with its Near Eastern provenance of

    “Phrygia.” Finally, Dulaf’s golden temple, St. Thomas’ tomb, the “Monastery of the

    Idol,” Multan, Somnath, Khambhat, and Konark are all located in India.127 If Alexandria

    were not so familiar to the educated elite of the Roman Empire, we might conclude that

    the entire history of magnetic levitation is dominated by Orientalism. It is better to say

    that suspended monuments are symptoms of speculation: not only about science, magic,

    and religion, but also about unfamiliar cultures, especially those subjected to conquest

    and ruination. Over many centuries of such speculation the motif spread across Europe

    and Asia.

    University of Kent

    d.m.lowe@kent.ac.uk

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    The wonder that was Kashmir

    Kashmir, before the advent of Islam, was a vibrant seat of learning and made staggering contributions to Indic culture in fields as diverse as arts, sciences, literature and philosophy.


    The wonder that was Kashmir
    Posted On: 29 Jul 2016



    Subhash Kak is a scientist and a Vedic scholar, whose research has spanned the fields of information theory, cryptography, neural networks, and quantum information. He is the inventor of a family of instantaneously trained neural networks (for which he received a patent) for which a variety of artificial intelligence applications have been found. He has argued that brain function is associated with three kinds of language: associative, reorganizational, and quantum. His discovery of a long-forgotten astronomy of ancient India that has been called “revolutionary” and “epoch-making” by scholars. In 2008-2009, he was appointed one of the principal editors for the ICOMOS project of UNESCO for identification of world heritage sites. He is the author of 12 books which include “The Nature of Physical Reality,” “The Architecture of Knowledge,” and “Mind and Self.” He is also the author of 6 books of verse. The distinguished Indian scholar Govind Chandra Pande compared his poetry to that of William Wordsworth.

    5714 words


    Kashmir’s geographical location partly explains its cultural history. It may be that its natural beauty and temperate climate are the reasons that Kashmiris have a strong tradition in the arts, literature, painting, drama, and dance. Its relative isolation, the security provided by the ring of mountains around it, and its distance from the heartland of Indian culture in the plains of North India, might explain the originality of Kashmiri thought. Its climate and the long winters may explain the Kashmiri fascination for philosophical speculation.

    Kashmir is at the centre of the Puranic geography. In the Puranic conception, the earth's continents are arranged in the form of a lotus flower. Mt. Meru stands at the center of the world, the pericarp or seed-vessel of the flower, as it were, surrounded by circular ranges of mountains. Around Mt. Meru, like the petals of the lotus, are arranged four island continents (dvipas), aligned to the four points of the compass: Uttarakuru to the north, Ketumala to the west, Bhadrashva to the east, and Bharata or Jambudvipa to the south. The meeting point of the continents is the Meru mountain, which is the high Himalayan region around Kashmir, Uttarakuru represents Central Asia including Tocharia, Ketumala is Iran and lands beyond, Bhadrashva is China and the Far East. Kashmir’s centrality in this scheme was the recognition that it was a meeting ground for trade and ideas for the four main parts of the Old World. In fact it became more than a meeting ground, it was the land where an attempt was made to reconcile opposites by deeper analysis and bold conception.

    Kashmir’s nearness to rich trade routes brought it considerable wealth and emboldened Kashmiris to take Sanskrit culture out of the country as missionaries. Kashmiris also became interpreters of the Indian civilization and they authored many fundamental synthesizing and expository works. Some of these works are anonymous encyclopedias, for many other works the author’s name is known but the details of the life and circumstances in Kashmir are hardly remembered.

    Kalhana’s Rajatarangini (River of Kings), written in about 1150, provides a narrative of successive dynasties that ruled Kashmir. Kalhana claimed to have used eleven earlier works as well the Nilamata Purana. Of these earlier books only the Nilamata Purana survives. The narrative in the Rajatarangini becomes more than mere names with the accession of the Karkota dynasty in the early seventh century.

    The political boundaries of Kashmir have on occasion extended much beyond the valley and the adjoining regions. According to Hiuen Tsang, the Chinese traveler, the adjacent territories to the west and south down to the plains were also under the direct control of the king of Kashmir. With Durlabhavardhana of the Karkota dynasty, the power of Kashmir extended to parts of Punjab and Afghanistan. It appears that during this period of Kashmiri expansion, the ruling elite, if not the general population, of Gilgit, Baltistan, and West Tibet spoke Kashmiri-related languages. Later, as Kashmir’s political power declined, these groups were displaced by Tibetan-speaking people.


    In the eighth century, Lalitaditya (reigned 725-761), conquered most of north India, Central Asia and Tibet. His vision and exertions mark a new phase of Indian empire-building. Kashmir had become an important player in the rivalries amongst the various kingdoms of north India.

    The jostling of the Kashmiri State within the circle of the north Indian powers led to an important political innovation. The important Vishnudharmottara Purana, believed to have been written in Kashmir of the Karkota kings, recommends innovations regarding the rajasuya and the ashvamedha sacrifices, of which the latter in its medieval interpretations was responsible for much warfare amongst kings. In the medieval times the horse was left free to roam for a year and the king’s soldiers tried to establish the rule of their king in all regions visited by the horse, leading to fighting. The Vishnudharmottara Purana replaced these ancient rites by the rajyabhisheka (royal consecration) and surapratishtha (the fixing of the divine abode) rites.

    This essay presents an overview of the most important Kashmiri contributions to Indian culture, emphasizing some of the lesser known aspects of these contributions. Specifically, we consider the contributions to the arts, sciences, literature, and philosophy. Our historical assessment of Kashmiri culture is hampered by the nature of our records. The texts and objects of art do not always indicate their provenance and the connections with Kashmir emerge only from indirect evidence. We are on sure ground when we come to Buddhist sources, the texts of the Kashmir Shaivism, and the names mentioned in the Rajatarangini and other early narratives.

    Early Period
    During the Vedic period, Kashmir appears to be an important region because it appears that the Mujavant mountain, the region where Soma grew, was located there. It is possible that in the Vedic era a large part of the valley was still under a lake. Kalhana’s history begins with the Mahabharata War, but it is very hazy with regard to the events prior to the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka.

    The great grammarian Panini lived in northwest Punjab not too far from Kashmir and the university at Taxila (Takshashila) was also close to the valley. At the time of Hiuen Tsang, Takshashila was a tributary to Kashmir. It is generally accepted that Patanjali, the great author of the Mahabhashya commentary on Panini’s Ashtadhyayi, was a Kashmiri, as were a host of other grammarians like Chandra. According to Bhartrihari and other early scholars, Patanjali also made contributions to Yoga (the yoga-sutras) and to Ayurveda. It is believed that Patanjali's mother was named Gorika and he was born in Gonarda. He was educated in Takshashila and he taught in Pataliputra. From the textual references in his works, it can be safely said that he belonged to 2nd century BC.

    The Charaka Samhita of Ayurveda that has come down to us is due to the editing of Dridhabala from Kashmir, who also added seventeen chapters to the sixth section and the whole of the eighth section. Patanjali may have been involved in this editing process. But it is likely that the identity of the Kashmiris as a distinct group had not solidified in the Vedic period and to speak of ethnicity at that time is meaningless.

    In any event, Kashmir of these early times was a part of the larger northwest Indian region of which Takshashila was a center of learning. The early levels of buildings in Takshashila have been traced to 800 BC. The first millennium BC was a period of great intellectual activity in this part of India and attitudes that later came to be termed Kashmiri were an important element of this activity. Amongst these attitudes was a characteristic approach to classification in the arts and the interest in grammar.

    Panini’s grammar remains one of the greatest achievements of the human intellect. It described the grammar of the Sanskrit language by a system of 4,000 algebraic rules, a feat that has not been equaled for any other language to this day. It also set the tone for scientific studies in India with their emphasis on algorithmic explanations. Patanjali’s commentary on the Panini grammar was responsible for the exaltation of its reputation. It appears that Panini arose in the same intellectual climate that characterized Kashmir during its Classical period.

    Drama and Music: The Natya Shastra
    An early name seen as belonging to Kashmir is Bharata Muni of the Natyashastra. The indirect reasons for this identification are that the rasa idea of the Natyashastra was discussed by many scholars in Kashmir. Another reason is that the Natyashastra has a total of 36 chapters and it is suggested that this number may have been deliberately chosen to conform to the theory of 36 tattvas which is a part of the later Shaivite system of Kashmir. Many descriptions in this book seem especially true for Kashmir. The bhana, a one-actor play described by Bharata is still performed in Kashmir by groups called bhand pather (bhana patra, in Sanskrit).

    All Indian classical danceforms are heavily influenced by the principles of Natyashastra

    It should be mentioned here parenthetically that a few scholars take Bharata to be a Southerner. It is also interesting that there exist some very close connections between Kashmir and South India in the cultural tradition like the worship of Shiva, Pancharatra, Tantra, and the arts. Recently, when I pointed this out to Vasundhara Filliozat, the art historian who has worked on Karnataka, she said that the inscriptional evidence indicates a continuing movement of teachers from Kashmir to the South and that Kashmir is likely to have been the original source of many of the early Shaivite, Tantric, and Sthapatya Agamas.

    Bharata Muni's Natya Shastra not only presents the language of creative expression, it is the world's first book on stagecraft. It is so comprehensive that it lists 108 different postures that can be combined to give the various movements of dance. Bharata's ideas are the key to proper understanding of Indian arts, music and sculpture. They provide an insight into how different Indian arts are expressions of a celebratory attitude to the universe. Manomohan Ghosh, the modern translator of the Natya Shastra, believes that it belongs to the 5th century BC. He bases his assessment on the archaic pre-Paninian features of the language and the fact that Bharata mentions the arthashastra of Brihaspati and not that of the 4th century BC Kautilya.

    The term natya is synonymous with drama. According to Bharata, the natya was created by taking elements from each of the four Vedas: recitation (pathya) from the Rigveda, song or melody (gita) from the Samaveda, acting (abhinaya) from the Yajurveda, and sentiments (rasa) from the Atharvaveda. By this synthesis, the Natya Shastrabecame the fifth Veda, meant to take the spirit of the Vedic vision to the common man. Elsewhere, Bharata says: “The entire nature of human beings as connected with the experiences of happiness and misery, and joy and sorrow, when presented through the process of histrionics (abhinaya) is called natya.”

    Five of the thirty-six chapters of the Natya Shastra are devoted to music. Bharata speaks of the 22 shrutis of the octave, the seven notes and the number of shrutis in each of them. He explains how the vina is to be tuned. He also describes the dhruvapada songs that were part of musical performances.

    The concept of rasa, enduring sentiment, lies behind the aesthetics of the Natya Shastra. There are eight rasas: heroism, fury, wonder, love, mirth, compassion, disgust and terror. Bharata lists another 33 less permanent sentiments. The artist, through movement, voice, music or any other creative act, attempts to evoke them in the listener and the spectator. This evocation helps to plumb the depths of the soul, thereby facilitating self-knowledge.

    The algorithmic approach to knowledge became the model for scientific theories in the Indic world, extending from India to the east and Southeast Asia. The ideas of the Natya Shastra were in consonance with this tradition and they provided an overarching comprehensiveness to sculpture, temple architecture, performance, dance and story-telling. But unlike other technical shastras that were written for the scholar, Bharata's work influenced millions directly. For these reasons alone, the Natya Shastra is one of the most important books ever written.

    To appreciate the pervasive influence of the Natya Shastra, just consider music. The comprehensiveness of the Natya Shastra forged a tradition of tremendous pride and resilience that survived the westward movement of Indian musical imagination through the agency of itinerant musicians. Several thousand Indian musicians, of which Kashmiri musicians are likely to have been a part, were invited by the fifth century Persian king Behram Gaur. Turkish armies used Indians as professional musicians.

    Bharata stresses the transformative power of creative art. He says, “It teaches duty to those who have no sense of duty, love to those who are eager for its fulfillment, and it chastises those who are ill-bred or unruly, promotes self-restraint in those who are disciplined, gives courage to cowards, energy to heroic persons, enlightens men of poor intellect and gives wisdom to the learned.”

    Our life is spent learning one language or another. Words in themselves are not enough, we must learn the languages of relationships, ideas, music, games, business, power, and nature. There are some languages that one wishes did not exist, like that of evil. But evil, resulting from ignorance that makes one act like an animal, is a part of nature and it is best to recognize it so that one knows how to confront it. Creative art show us a way to transcend evil because of its ability to transform. This is why religious fanatics hate art.

    Cosmology and Science: The Yoga Vasishtha
    Another book from Kashmir which has had enduring influence over Indian thought is the Yoga Vasishtha (YV). Professing to be a book of instruction on the nature of consciousness, it has many fascinating passages on time, space, matter and cognition. They are significant not only in telling us about thinking in Kashmir, they summarize Indian ideas of physics, available to us through a variety of sources that are not widely known outside scholarly circles. Starting with a position that seeks to unify space, time, matter, and consciousness, an argument is made for relativity of space and time, cyclic and recursively defined universes, and a non-anthropocentric view.

    Within the Indian tradition it is believed that reality transcends the separate categories of space, time, matter, and observation. In this function, called Brahman, inhere all categories including knowledge. The conditioned mind can, by “tuning” in to Brahman, obtain knowledge, although it can only be expressed in terms of the associations already experienced by the mind. In this tradition, scientific knowledge describes as much aspects of outer reality as the topography of the mindscape. Connections (bandhu) between the outer and the inner are assumed: we can comprehend reality only because we are already equipped to do so. In other words, innate, primitive, a priori ideas give rational organization to our fragmentary sensations.

    The Yoga-Vasishtha (YV) is over 29,000 verses long, and it is traditionally attributed to Valmiki, author of the epic Ramayana, which is over two thousand years old. But scholars believe it was composed in the early centuries in Kashmir. The historian of philosophy Dasgupta dated it about the sixth century AD on the basis that one of its verses appears to be copied from one of Kalidasa’s plays, considering Kalidasa to have lived around the fifth century. But new theories support the view that the traditional date of Kalidasa is 50 BC. This means that the estimates regarding the age of YV are further muddled and it is possible that this text could be 2000 years old.

    YV may be viewed as a book of philosophy or as a philosophical novel. It describes the instruction given by Vasishtha to Rama of the Ramayana. Its premise may be termed radical idealism and it is couched in a fashion that has many parallels with the notion of a participatory universe, where the actions of the conscious agents have a bearing on future evolution.

    Its most interesting passages from the scientific point of view relate to the description of the nature of space, time, matter, and consciousness. It should be emphasized that the YV ideas do not stand in isolation. Similar ideas are to be found in the earlier Vedic books. At its deepest level the Vedic conception is to view reality in a unitary manner; at the next level one may speak of the dichotomy of mind and matter. Ideas similar to those found in YV are also encountered in the Puranic and Tantric literature. But the clarity and directness with which these ideas are described in YV is unique.

    Roughly speaking, the Vedic system speaks of interconnectedness between the observer and the observed. The Vedic system of knowledge is based on a tripartite approach to the universe where connections exist in triples in categories of one group and across groups: sky, atmosphere, earth; object, medium, subject; future, present, past; and so on. Beyond the triples lies the transcendental ``fourth''. Three kinds of motion are alluded to in the Vedic books: these are the translational motion, sound, and light which are taken to be ``equivalent'' to earth, air, and sky. The fourth motion is assigned to consciousness; and this is considered to be infinite in speed. It is most interesting that the books in this Indian tradition speak about the relativity of time and space in a variety of ways. The Puranas speak of countless universes, time flowing at different rates for different observers and so on.

    Universes defined recursively are described in the famous episode of Indra and the ants in Brahmavaivarta Purana, the Mahabharata, and elsewhere. These flights of imagination are to be traced to more than a straightforward generalization of the motions of the planets into a cyclic universe. They must be viewed in the background of an amazingly sophisticated tradition of cognitive and analytical thought. The YV argues that whereas physical nature is taken to be analyzable it is defined only in relation to observers. Consciousness is considered a more fundamental category. But YV is not written as a systematic text. Its narrative jumps between various levels: psychological, biological, and physical, as is traditional in Indian texts. Not surprisingly, given the Vedic emphasis on rta, YV accepts the idea that laws are intrinsic to the universe. But do these laws remain constant? There is some suggestion that the laws of nature in an unfolding universe also evolve.

    According to YV, new information does not emerge out of the inanimate world but it is a result of the exchange between mind and matter. It accepts consciousness as a kind of fundamental field that pervades the whole universe. One might speculate that the parallels between YV and some recent ideas of physics are a result of the degree of abstraction that is common to both; or one might assert that the parallels are a reflection of the inherent structure of the mind.

    It appears that the Kashmiri understanding of physics was informed not only by astronomy and terrestrial experiments but also by speculative thought and by meditation on the nature of consciousness. Unfettered by either geocentric or anthropocentric views, this understanding unified the physics of the small with that of the large within a framework that included metaphysics. YV ideas do not represent a break with the older Vedic thought; they are an amplification of the basic themes informed by advances in the unfolding understanding of the astronomy and other physical sciences.

    This was a framework consisting of innumerable worlds (solar systems), where time and space were continuous, matter was atomic, and consciousness was atomic, yet derived from an all-pervasive unity. The material atoms were defined first by their subtle form, called tanmatra, which was visualized as a potential, from which emerged the gross atoms. A central notion in this system was that all descriptions of reality are circumscribed by paradox. The universe was seen as dynamic, going through ceaseless change.

    Tantra: Shaivism and Vaishnavism
    The Kashmiri approach to the world is uniquely positive. There is a celebration of nature and beauty for the objective world is also a representation of Brahman (Lord). This approach is part of the Kashmiri tantric thought in both its strands of Shaivism and Vaishnavism. The Tantras stress the equivalence of the universe and the body and look for divinity within the person.

    Although the Vaishnavite Panchratra now survives only in South India, the earliest teachers looked to Kashmir as the seat of learning and spiritual culture. The Pancharatra ontology and ritual are described in the Kashmirian Vishnudharmotta Purana. According to this theology, the king was enjoined to build a temple for the rites to be performed to celebrate his victory over his opponents. These rites marked his union with Vishnu. This represented an important milestone in the conceptualization of the role of the king in Indic thought.

    According to Kalhana, the worship of Shiva in Kashmir dates prior to the Mauryan King Ashoka. The Tantras were enshrined in texts known as the Agamas, most of which are now lost. The pinnacle of the Tantric Shaiva tradition is the Trika system. The great spiritual master and scholar Abhinavagupta (c. 975-1025) describes the goal of the Shaiva discipline is to find freedom. In this freedom, the adept becomes one with Shiva, transcending all oppositions and polarities. The jivanamukta (the liberated person) experiences the freedom of Shiva in a blissful and unitary vision of the all-pervasiveness of the Absolute.

    Two very interesting ideas in Kashmir Shaivism are that of recognition and of vibration. In the philosophy of Recognition, it is proposed that the ultimate experience of enlightenment consists of a profound and irreversible recognition that one’s own true identity is Shiva himself. The doctrine of Vibration speaks of the importance of experiencing spanda, the vibration or pulse of consciousness. Every activity in the universe, as well as sensations, cognitions, emotions ebbs and flows as part of the universal rhythm of the one reality, Shiva.

    Contributions to Buddhism
    Kashmir became an early centre of Buddhist scholarship. In the first century, the Kushan emperor Kanishka chose Kashmir as the venue of a major Buddhist Council comprising of over 500 monks and scholars. At this meeting the previously not-codified portions of Buddha’s discourses and the theoretical portions of the canon were codified. The entire canon (the Tripitaka) was inscribed on copper plates and deposited in a stupa. The Buddhist schools of Sarvastivada, Mahayana, Madhyamika, and Yogachara were all well developed in Kashmir. It also produced famous Buddhist logicians such as Dinnaga, Dharmakirti, Vinitadeva, and Dharmottara.

    Kashmiris were tireless in the spread of Buddhist ideas to Central Asia. Attracted by Kashmir’s reputation as a great centre of scholarship, many Buddhists came from distant lands to learn Sanskrit and train as translators and teachers. Amongst these was Kumarajiva (344-413), the son of the Kuchean princess who, when his mother became a nun, followed her into monastic life at the age of seven. He came to Kashmir in his youth to learn the Mahayana scriptures from Bandhudatta. Later he became a specialist in Madhyamika philosophy. In 383, Chinese forces seized Kucha and carried Kumarajiva off to China. From 401 he was at the Ch'in court in the capital Chang'an (the modern Xi'an), where he taught and translated Buddhist scriptures into Chinese. More than 100 translations are attributed to him. His works include some of the most important titles in the Chinese Buddhist canon. Kumarajiva's career had an epoch-making influence on Chinese Buddhist thought, not only because he translated important texts that were previously unknown, but also because he did much to clarify Buddhist terminology and philosophical concepts. He and his disciples established the Chinese branch of the Madhyamika, known as the San-lun, or "Three Treatises school."

    Kumarajiva’s contemporary, the Kashmiri Buddhabhadra also went to China to translate the Buddhist texts. The Kashmiri Buddhasena translated a major Yogachara text into Chinese. Hiuen Tsang, the famous Chinese pilgrim, came to Kashmir in 631, staying for two years. Many famous Buddhist Tantric teachers were associated with Kashmir. According to some Tibetan sources, Naropa and Padmasambhava (who introduced Tantric Buddhism into Tibet) were Kashmiris. The Tibetan script is derived from the Kashmiri Sharada script, It was brought into Tibet by Thonmi-Sambhota, who was sent to Kashmir during the reign of Duralabhavardhana (seventh century) to study with Devatitasimha.

    Architecture and Painting
    The uniqueness of the Kashmiri idiom in artistic expression has been recognized by historians. The ancient temple ruins in Kashmir are some of the oldest standing temples in India today (7th – 9th Centuries) and would have been among the most magnificent temples ever made in India. The sculptures found here are significant and exquisite.

    The Martanda temple, built by Lalitaditya, is one of the earliest and yet largest stone temples to have been built in Kashmir. The temple is rectangular in plan, consisting of a mandapa and a shrine. Two other shrines flank the mandapa. It is enclosed by a vast courtyard by a peristyle wall with 84 secondary shrines in it. The columns of the peristyle are fluted. Each of the 84 niches originally contained an image of a form of Surya. The number 84, as 21x4, appears to have been derived from the numerical association of 21 with the sun.

    Lalitaditya also built a huge chaitya in the town of Parihasapura which housed an enormous Buddha. Only the plinth of this huge monument survives, although one of the paintings at Alchi is believed to be its representation. There was also an enormous stupa in Parihasapura built by Lalitaditya’s minister Chankuna, which may have even been larger than the chaitya. The Parihasapura monuments became models for Buddhist architecture from Afghanistan to Japan.

    Ruins of Avantipura (Creative Commons License)
    The Pandrethan temple, as well as the Avantipur complex, provide us further examples of the excellence of Kashmiri architecture and art. Kashmiri ivories and metal images are also outstanding and are generally considered to be among the best anywhere in the world.

    Kashmir also had a flourishing tradition of painting, which must have been used to decorate the temples walls. The earliest surviving examples of these paintings come from Gilgit and date from about 8th century. Representing a highly developed style, these paintings must be seen as belonging to a very old tradition. Kashmiri craftsmen were long famed for their work and their hand can be seen in many works of art in Central Asia and Tibet.

    Although references to paintings in ancient Kashmiri literature are scattered, and because all records of painting in the Valley were destroyed after the advent of Islam, it is possible to piece together this tradition from the paintings that are preserved in the Buddhist temples of Ladakh and Tibet. The Tibetan scholar Rinchen Sangpo (950 - 1055) claimed to have visited Kashmir thrice to obtain the services of 75 Kashmiri craftsmen, painters and teachers to build and decorate one hundred and eight temples in Western Tibet. According to the 16th century Tibetan scholar Lama Taranath, author of a history of Buddhism in India, there existed in the 9th century India four principal school of art: eastern, middle country, Marwar, and the Kashmiri.

    Boddhisattva Padmapani at Ajanta

    The discovery of Gilgit manuscript paintings has deepened our understanding of Kashmiri painting. Although usually assigned to the Kashmir school of the 9th century, on stylistic grounds they may date even earlier as their nearest parallels are found in the 8th century stone sculpture of Pandrethan. Painted figures of Boddhisattva Padmapani from Gilgit demonstrates the mingling of the Gandharan and the Gupta Indian conventions with local elements. The faces are typical Gandharan while the iconography and spirit is purely Indian. After Lalitaditya, Kashmiri style appears to have changed somewhat and it endured till 10-11th century. This phase is the most developed stage of Kashmiri art with its fame spreading into the remote Himalayas.

    The 9th century complex of Avantipura built by King Avantivarman (855-883 AD) is an amalgam of various earlier prevalent forms of India and regions beyond. The best example of this style is found in the bronzes dated to 9th to 11th century cast by Kashmiri craftsmen for Tibetan patrons. The style of such bronzes presents a remarkable affinity to the wall-paintings dating to 10-11th century decorated in the Buddhist temples of Western Tibet.

    The wall paintings of Mang nang and manuscript painting of Thaling discovered in Western Tibet are generally accepted to have been created by Kashmiri painters. Stylistically, they are a pictorial translation of contemporary Kashmiri bronzes. In the treatment of costumes and ornaments, the artists have meticulously executed the finest details of diaphanous and embroidered garments and intricate design. These wall paintings present a final stage of progression of the Kashmiri style which reminds something related to the distant Ajanta.

    One of the best sites to see the Kashmiri painting style is in the five temples comprising the dharma-mandala at Alchi in Ladakh, which escaped destruction that other Ladakhi temples suffered at the hands of a Ladakhi king who embraced Islam. The earliest of these buildings is the ‘Du-khang where one can see astonishingly well preserved mandalas that document the Kashmiri Buddhist pantheon as well as the Buddhist representation of the Hindu pantheon.

    The Sum-tsek, a three-level building next to the ‘Du-khang presents the native architectural tradition, characterized by piled-up rock walls faced with mud plaster, decorated with delicate wood carvings of the Kashmiri style. Triangular forms are a part of the pillars and other architectural elements in a style that corresponds to the motifs found on the stone monuments of Kashmir. The plan of the building contains three extensions on the east, north, and west where gigantic two-storied images of Avalokiteshvara, Maitreya and Manjushri to remove impurities in speech, mind, and body were situated. Elsewhere in the building is a most interesting painting of Prajnaparamita, identified by the book and the rosary she holds. A tall structure depicted on her sides appears to be the famous chaitya built by Lalitaditya at Parihasapura.

    According to the historian of art Susan Huntington,

    “Kashmir served as a source of imagery and influence for the northern and eastern movements of Buddhist art. The Yunkang caves in China, the wall paintings from several sites in Inner Asia, especially Qizil and Tun-huang, the paintings from the cache at Tun-huang, and some iconographic manuscripts from Japan, for example, should be evaluated with Kashmir in mind as a possible source. A full understanding of the transmission of Buddhist art through Asia is dependent on developing a greater knowledge of Kashmiri art.”

    Dance and Music
    Kalhana, while speaking of Lalitaditya, narrates a charming story of how the king discovered the ruins of an old temple where he had a new temple built. While exercising his horse, Lalitaditya saw two beautiful , gazelle-eyed girls sing and dance every day at the same time. Upon questioning they told him that they were dancing girls who danced at the spot on the instructions of their mothers. Lalitaditya had the place dug up and he found two decayed temples with closed doors. Inside were images of Rama and Lakshmana. Clearly the tradition of temple dancing was an old one.

    The paintings in Kashmiri style bring to us a clear idea of the temple dances which prevailed in Kashmir at the time when these paintings were made (10th–11th Centuries). Indian classical dance in its different forms was born out of the tradition of dancing before the Lord in the temples. This representation of the dance forms enriches our knowledge of the culture of Kashmir and its close integrity to the rest of India. Kalhana mentions many kings who were interested in dance and music.

    The only extant complete commentary on the Natya Shastra is the one by Abhinavagupta. The massive thirteenth-century text Sangitaratnakara ("Ocean of Music and Dance"), composed by the Kashmiri theorist Sharngadeva, is one of the most important landmarks in Indian music history. It was composed in south-central India shortly before the conquest of this region by the Muslims and thus gives an account of Indian music before the full impact of Muslim influence. A large part of this work is devoted to marga, that is, the ancient music that includes the system of jatis and grama-ragas. Sharngadeva mentions a total of 264 ragas.

    Literature
    We return to rasa, mentioned by Bharata Muni as the essence of artistic expression. In the poetic tradition, it is mentioned by Bhatta Lollata of the 9th century, the oldest commentator on the Natya Shastra whose views have come down to us. Other authors such as Shankuka, Bhatta Nayaka, Bhatta Udbhatta, Rudratta, Vamana also wrote on rasa. Kshemendra, the polymath, had his own theory of poetics. Abhinavagupta speaks of nine rasas, where rasaof peace represents the addition to the eight enumerated by Bharata.

    The 9th century scholar Anandavardhana wrote the Dhvanyaloka, the “Light of Suggestion”, which is a world-class masterpiece of aesthetic theory. He rejected the earlier theories of alankara and guna by Bhamaha and Dandin according to which ornamental qualities and figures of speech distinguished poetry from ordinary speech. Anandavardhana said that the difference was a quality called dhvani which communicates meaning by suggestion indirectly. Anandavardhana was a member of the court of the king Avantivarman.

    Anandavardhana was the first to note that rasa cannot be communicated directly. If one were to say that “so-and-so and his wife are very much in love,” we fail to express the nature of the love. This can be done only by dhvani, or suggestion. Abhinavagupta, who lived about a hundred years after Anandavardhana, added important elements to the dhvani theory. His famous commentary on the Dhvanyaloka is called the Lochana.

    The Western classical tradition of criticism has nothing equivalent to the concepts of rasa and dhvani. These ideas provide unique insights into Indic literature and they can also be useful in the appreciation of non-Indic literatures. Abhinavagupta, wrote on philosophy, poetry, tantra, as well as aesthetics. His book Tantraloka (Light of the Tantras) is one of the most important on the subject. In all, he wrote more than sixty works. Kshemendra was a philosopher, poet, and a pupil of Abhinavagupta. Among his books is the Brihatkathamanjari which is a summary of Gunadhya’s Brihatkatha in 7,500 stanzas. Somadeva’s Kathasaritasagara is another version of Gunadhya’s Brihatkatha. Somadeva’s collection of stories has influenced the birth of fiction elsewhere. These stories were written for the queen Suryamati, the wife of king Ananta (1028-1063). The number of stanzas, not counting the prose passages, exceeds 22,000.

    Sharda Peeth in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (Creative Commons License)

    The classic arts and the sciences of Kashmir came to an abrupt end when Islam became the dominant force in Kashmir in the fourteenth century. Sculpture, painting, dance, music could no longer be practiced. After the political situation had become stable, the subsequent centuries saw emphasis on devotion and its expression through the Kashmiri language as in the poetry of Lalleshvari. The creative urges at the folk level found expression in the works of the craftsmen of wood and textiles.

    But Kashmiri ideas lived on through the arts that transformed expression in Central and East Asia, and through Tantra and aesthetics that shaped attitudes in the rest of India. Many Kashmiris emigrated to other parts; the musicologist Sharngadeva and the poet Bilhana being just two such people. Although Kashmir had sunk to a state of misery, outsiders continued to pay homage to the memory of Kashmir as the land of learning, and Sharada, the presiding goddess of Kashmir became synonymous with Sarasvati.

    Banner Image: Pahalgam Valley (Courtesy: Ankur P | Flickr)
    http://www.pragyata.com/mag/the-wonder-that-was-kashmir-217

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    Śāradā Pīṭha Perspective -- Ravinder Pandita (March, 2017)

    Sharda Peeth or the Sharda Temple in POK is considered to be the basic seat of learning of Hindus in India and Asia. The dialect of Sharda oftenly called Sharda lipi (a form of Hindi) was the fundamental dialect of Brahmin scholars for a long time, till Hindi (Devnagiri) took over, finally. Kashmiri Pandits are not naïve to this seat of learning. In the post partition era we see Swami Nand Lal Ji as on the Saints of Kashmir who carried some of the idols during the War of partition and salvaged some of the whole lost. In fact, at the time of partition Swami Nand Lal Ji migrated on horses carrying idols from Sharda to Tikker and a few of these stone idols are lying at Devibal in Baramulla besides Tikker in Kupwara. The pilgrimage those days would be organised by Mela Ram a renowned forest lesse in Kupwara for Swami Lal Ji of Kashi- Mathura fame. Recently a Pakistan based scholar Ms Rukhsana Khan has undertaken the archaeological part of it and tried to go deep into the historical facts. It takes us back to Maharaja Ranbir Singh’s era and the fact that Jammu Haveli’s still exist there besides other temples and natural carvings like Ganesh Ghati . The year 2015 was marked as rewriting of history when Rukhsana Khan and her team unearthed antiques and has eversince worked on preservation of culture on Sharda Project. It used to be a University once upon a time, set up by Adi Shakracharya . Although it is not clear as to when the construction of this temple was done, however in Emperor Lalitaditya ‘s period the present style of temple was built in 724 AD.

    After Vajpayee-Musharaf meeting at Islamabad during SAARC conference from 4 to 6 January 2004 a number of CBMs between the two parts of Kashmir were initiated to normalize the situation, create friendly relations and encourage the peace process. These include the cease fire on LOC, opening of two roads across the LOC via Poonch-Rawalakote and Uri-Srinagar, meeting of divided families, and start of trade ventures etc. Accordingly Kashmiri Pandits and other religious organizations of state demanded for the opening of Sharda Shrine of POK for religious tourism so that they could have Darshan of this old temple and annual yatra of the Shrine could be revived as it was conducted before partition in the month of August. The then president of Pakistan Parvaiz Musharaf accepted the demands of the minorities of J&K in principle and sanctioned Rs. 8 crores in 2006 for creation of infrastructural facilities near the Shrine so that pilgrims could be allowed to visit. As per the information received through internet, POK government constructed some tourist huts, community centres, youth hostel and cafeteria near the Shrine but no attention was paid towards the revival of the Shrine which is in deteriorating condition. The Muslim natives of the village Sharda and adjoining areas still call the monument as Sharda Mai (Sharda Goddess). Dr. Ghulam Azhar a noted historian of POK writes in one of his research article that Sharda Shrine is the oldest monument of POK which needs preservation and restoration. The Shrine was an important pilgrim centre in the past. The ruins of the old monuments are sufficient to narrate the old glory and glamour of this Shrine.

    Sharda Shrine is about 207 kilometers in the north of Muzafarabad in POK. The Shrine is situated in between 340.48’latitude and 740.14′ longitude. The spot is linked with motorable road leading from Muzafarabad via Neelam valley, Kundal Shai, Jagran Valley, Athmaquam, Neelam township and Dwarian. The Sharda Temple is located near the confluence of Kishan Ganga river (Neelam river) and Madhumati stream in an open ground. It is a breath taking spot with full greenery, multicolour flowers, springs, forest belt surrounded by snow clad peaks of Sharda and Narda hills of Nanga Parbat range which divides POK from Galgit-Baltistan.

    Before independence the annual Yatra of Sharda Temple was conducted from the ancient time. During Dogra rule after 1846 this Yatra had become a regular feature. The Yatra of Sharda Devi was started on Shukal Pakash during the month of August (Bhadun). The devotees would start their yatra on 4th Bhadun and on 8th they were taking dip in the Sharda Kund on the bank of Madhumati River and after giving Sharad of their Pitras (died relatives) they were having the Darshan of Sharda Goddess. Mostly Kashmiri Pandits were conducting the Yatra after traveling hundreds of miles on foot. Mr. C.E Bats, the author of the Gazetter of the Kashmir who had visited the spot in 1872 AD writes that the Sharda Tempe is situated in the confluence of river Madhumati and Kishan Ganga. The temple is approached by a stair case about nine feet wide of steep stone steps some 63 in numbers having on either side a massive balustrade. The entrance was through a double porch way at the south-west corner of enclosure. The walls of the enclosure are about 30 feet high. In the middle of the walls in the north side is an arched recess which contains Lingum. The Cella about 23 feet square stands on the elevated plinth about four feet from the present level of ground. The entrance is on the west side facing the porch way. On each of the other three sides of Cella, a single roof has y been erected over the building for the protection by the order of Colonel Gundu, the Late Zaildar of Muzafarabad. The interior of the temple is square and perfectly plain. On the ground lies a large rough slab of unpolished stone which is said to have been disturbed by Raja Manzoor Khan of Karnah in search of treasure. In those days the Shrine was venerated by both Hindus and Muslims. There was also a fort constructed by Dogras with 60 Dogra Constables stationing for the protection of Shrine and defence of the area. The ancient Shrine is about 400 yards in the south of the fort. The temple was also renovated by Colonel Gundu, the Zaildar of Muzafarabad in 1867 AD.

    In the ancient time Sharda was famous in all over India. The historic facts reveal that near the Shrine there was a Budhist University established during the period of Emperor Ashoka (273BC) known as Sharda Peeth, to spread the teachings and thoughts of Budhism in Kashmir and other hilly regions. The foundation of Sharda Peeth was laid on the bank of Madhumati River. The fourth Budhist council was summoned at this place by Emperor Kanishka in 141 AD. In Sharda University, a Sharda script was invented by the Budhist monks and scholars which was the amalgation of local dialects and understandable to the common people. Therefore with the help of this script Budhism was spreaded in Kashmir, Himachal, Tibet and Nepal. However with the downfall of Budhism in India the glory and glamour of Sharda Peeth got also vanished and it became a part of the history.

    Kalhana writes in Raj Tringani that in 11th century AD it was a temple of Sharda Goddess. Historian Belhana writes in Vikrama Chiriter that he has been educated only due to the blessings of Sharda Goddess whose crown was formed with the gliterring gold collected from the river Madhumati. Al Bruni who had visited India in 1036 AD writes in his book ‘India’ that there is a great image of Sharda and devotees assemble here for the pilgrim. Abu-ul-Fazal in Aain-e-Akbari writes that on the bank of Madhumati in Drava area of Muzafarabad there is a stone temple of Sharda Devi. Every month on the Shukal Pakash the image of the Sharda starts showing miracles. The temple is respected by large population. Therefore it appears that upto 16th century AD this temple was having great religious importance.

    Juna Raj the writer of Raj Tringani Juna Raj written during the rule of Sultan Zain-ul-Ab Din of Kashmir (1420-1472 AD) records in his book that Sultan Zain-ul-Ab Din was undertaking religious pilgrim to Hindu Shrine and participating in Hindu rituals. Juna Raj also recorded that Sultan had visited Sharda temple in 1422 AD along with the Yatris. After taking bath in Madhumati stream he entered the temple but he felt annoyed on the wickedness of the priest and devotees and lost faith in the Goddess Sharda. The Goddess Sharda did not manifested herself. Sultan also slept in the temple during the night hours. But he could not see the miracles of the Goddess.

    C.E Bats writes that during his visit of Sharda Devi in 1772 AD there was a Lingum and not image of Goddess Sharda. Maharaja Gulab Singh had got the temple renovated during 1846-1856 AD. He had also appointed a Brahmin priest to look after this historic temple, constructed a fort near the temple and posted 60 constables for the protection of Sharda Shrine and the area. Therefore the devotees started visiting the Shrine regularly and the ancient Yatra was revived. The devotees start their Yatra on 4th Bhadun and on 8th Bhadun they were taking dip in the Sharda Kund in the Madhumati stream and have the Darshana of the temple. This Yatra remained in vogue during Dogra period upto 1947. After the turmoil of 1947 when Kashmir was divided into two parts this important Shrine had gone under the occupation of Pakistan. For the last 62 years the Shrine remains unattended and is in ruins. But now there is a great demand from the minority population of Jammu and Kashmir state for the restoration of Sharda temple and start of the Yatra. This will be another CBM between the two parts of the Kashmir.

    APMCC ( All Parties Migrants Co-ordination Committee) , a frontline organisation of Kashmiri Hindus has been well acclaimed for reclamation of Temples and shrines across the valley numbering about 600, besides reviving pilgrimages / yatras to Gangbal, Dineshwar, Kaunsar Nag etc. In the trouble torn valley. In its 6 point charter the first 2 demands are Reopening of Sharda Pilgrimage and Setting up of Sharda University in J&K state. APMCC organised a seminar on 8th. Jan’2016 at Press Club of India, New Delhi and held deliberations with Rukhsana Khan on video conferencing. Other participants spoke on Sharda Re-opening were Retd. Lt. Gen. Ata Hasnain, Journalist Awadhesh Kumar, Utpal Koul Historian, Vinod Pandit Chairman APMCC and the seminar was anchored and moderated by Ravinder Pandita. Some protests for re-opening at Jantar Mantar were also held later. In this regard Ravinder Pandita also met Central Cabinet ministers Dr. Jitender Singh, Gen. V K Singh, MOS Home Haribai Parthabai and requested their intervention for Re-opening of Sharda and allow a pilgrimage on the lines of Nankana Sahib, where Sikhs are allowed to take a jatha every year in Lahore. Several seminars , protests in this regard were held in New Delhi and other places to highlight this demand.

    It was by efforts of Ravinder Pandita Head APMCC Delhi and Save Sharda Committee Kashmir with Civil society of Neelum Valley and Sharda residents that recently flowers were offered on 2nd. Nov. There at the the revered shrine with the help of locals ,first time since 1947. APMCC a frontline Kashmiri pandit organistaion has been demanding Re-opening of Shrine as well as setting up of Sharda University in J&K since long. The local Save Sharda Committee was approached by Ravinder Pandita and Photo of Mata Sharda will be installed there soon. Mohammed Rayees , Arif Khan , local Sarpanch and Principal Sharda School have been instrumental in getting us the lost glory of ‘Sharda Mai’ commonly known and called by local populace. This effort between 2 civil societies will go along way in confidence building, interaction and preservation of culture. The soil and flowers received from Sharda were recently displayed at Abhinav Thetre Jammu on 8th. January during Annual APMCC awards function. The function was chaired by ChanderPrakash Ganga Hon’ble minister for Industries and commerce, Ms Priya Sethi Minister for tourism, Bollywood actress Preeti Sapru, Hon’ble MLCs Surinder Ambaradar and Ramesh Arora and Retd. Lt. Gen, Ata Hasnain, debator and orator. Ms. Laxmi Kaul a prominent activist of UK also attended the function. On the occasion tilak was applied to all the participants of the soil brought from Sharda by Regd. Post sent by Rayees Mohammed, a Kashmiri settled there. It was a poignant and a emotional scene that Sharda soil has been received and obeisance paid first time after the partition in 1947.

    It was a historical moment on 3rd. March ‘2017 that Save Sharda Committee(Regd.) managed to install Photo with frame of Sharda Mai in the temple premises through the Civil Society members of POK. This has been done first time since independence and needs be applauded. Now that SAVE SHARDA COMMITTEE KASHMIR (regd.) has come into being since 2017, things have started rolling for the early Re-opening of pilgrimage. The Committee headed by Ravinder Pandita has taken up the issue with all concerned ministries and Ruling Govt. heads in New Delhi and things have started progressing. The Committee is demanding ratification of LOC permit rules for facilitating travel of J&K hindus and an annual pilgrimage to Sharda Peeth on the lines of Nankana Sahib yatra by Sikhs to Lahore, every year. Save Sharda Committee Kashmir (Regd.) has approached Govt. of Pakistan as well as AJK Government and also Supreme courts of both the governments. The issue has been taken up at all the Shankracharya Mutts in India and the committee has presented the pious soil & flowers got from Sharda Peeth in Pakistan to all mutt heads. The committee has met Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment Sh. Vijay Sampla, Minister of skill development Sh. Anant Kumar Hegde, Minister of minorities Sh. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, MoS PMO Dr. Jitendra Singh, NSA Sh. Ajit Doval, former Foreign minister Sh. Salman Khurshid, former water resources minister Prof. Saifuddin Soz and many other ministries and briefed them about the issue and it may not be out of place to mention here that all the dignotries have acclaimed the move to re-open Sharda Peeth again ! The recent landmark judgement by Supreme court of POK for preservation of Sharda peeth received here last month has set the ball rolling officially from the other side. Jai Sharda !!

    Points to ponder: 
    FACILITATION OF DIALOGUE WITH PAKISTAN GOVT. FOR PILGRIMAGE TO SHARDA TEMPLE IN POK.
    • 1. If a permit is valid for a Kashmiri to undertake trade,meet relatives and friends and vice-versa , why a VISA for Kashmiri Hindu to make a pilgrimage. It seems to be a clear discrimination with same nationals and state subjects.
    • 2. APMCC has applied amongst various kashmiri pandit organizations for pilgrimage to Sharda Peeth , despite Pakistani Govt. having no objection in allowing the pilgrims, why does Govt. Of India have the objection.
    • 3. Why hasn’t a pilgrimage been allowed since partition i.e, 1947, despite requests by kashmiri Hindus to allow pilgrimage once in a year as allowed in the case of Sikh community, where a Jatha ( Group) is allowed to do pilgrimage in Nankana Sahib, Gurdwara in Pakistan.
    • 4. Will the Govt. of India under the leadership of PM Modi allow such a pilgrimage, once Bus route to Lahore, Train via Wagah border near Amritsar and trade routes at 5 locations in J&K allow such facilitation.
    SETTING UP OF SHARDA UNIVERSITY IN J&K


    Setting up of Sharda University in J&K on the lines of Baba Ghulam Shah University in Rajouri-Poonch belt and Islamic University in Avantipora in the Kashmir valley. Why will Govt. not allow setting up of Sharda University, considered to be fundamental seat of learning despite persistent demand by APMCC and Save Sharda Committee. Revival of Sharda pilgrimage and setting up of Sharda University would be foundation for rehabilitation of displaced kashmiri pandits, keeping in view their socio-religious and economic aspirations in mind.
    http://www.shehjar.com/content/2766/1.html



    PERSPECTIVE

    The Lost Goddess – Devi Sharada


    The mythology of Daksha Yagya remains central to the origin and the substanance of the Shakta form of worship and particularly to the establishment of the Shakti Peethas across the sub-continent. It is believed that when a distraught Mahadeva performed the Rudra Tandava with the corpse of his wife Sati on his shoulders, her body disintegrated and fell across the Indian subcontinent. Each area in which a part of her body fell, became a Shakti Peetha where the Devi was consecrated in some form. The number of Shakti Peethas in India are often a topic of contention, but there is no ambiguity about the 18 Maha Shakti Peethas where the divine mother is worshipped in her various forms. Adi Shankaracharya in his Ashta Dasa Shakti Peetha Strotam laid down the names of the 18 Maha Shakti Peethas spread across multiple states of India and Sri Lanka. Each of these deities including the Ma Biraja in Odisha, Ma Kamarupa in Gauhati, Ma Jwalamukhi in Himachal Pradesh and Ma Shankari Devi in Sri Lanka are still worshipped in their respective temples and devotees throng their abode through the course of the year.
    It is that time of the year when we are remembering Shakti, the divine mother, the Sri Mata and celebrating the divinity embedded in the female form all across the country. The 18 Maha Shakti Peethas along with the numerous Devi temples spread across the length and breadth of the country are resplendent in the glory of the Adi Shakti that resides there. But, in the midst of all this, there is one Maha Shakti Peetha, a temple central to the Shakta tradition, the temple where the Devi resided as the Goddess of knowledge and learning that remains far away from the celebrations. The temple lies abandoned, the Vigraha of the Devi destroyed and the stories of the temple as the centre of learning and education gradually being pushed into the pages of history. And while we celebrate, it is important to relive and remember the enormity of what we have lost and resolve to regain the lost Goddess.
    Namaste Sharda Devi, Kashmira Puravasini,

    Twamaham Prarthate Nityam, Vidya Danancha Dehime
    One of the 18 Maha Shakti Peethas lies at the base of the Shamshabari range at the confluence of the rivers Madhumati and Kishanganga. Nestled at the base of the beautiful mountain range in her homeland of Kashmir, was the Goddess of Knowledge, Devi Sharda. The belief that the right hand of Devi Sati, the hand symbolic of writing and learning fell in this holy land also made it the abode of the Goddess Saraswati in the form of Sharda. It is said that Kashmir at a point was known as Sharda Desha and the temple was a hub of learning and erudition. The small village of Sharda did not just have the temple of the Devi but was also home to one of the largest universities in Central Asia. The Sharda script which is native to Kashmir is named after this form of Shakti.
    Kashmir is known as one of the oldest Shaiva Kshetras but there is a strong Shakta tradition in the state which is often ignored. And this Shakta tradition owes its origin to the presence of Devi Sharda. The earliest mention of the shrine can be traced to the Nilamata Purana which particularly elaborates on the various tirthas and peethas of Kashmir. The Sharada Mahatmya tells us the story of Muni Shandilya worshipping Sharada Devi. Kalhana’s Rajatarangini also has a detailed description of the Goddess and the shrine at the confluence of the two rivers. One of the most vivid accounts of the temple has been provided by Aurel Stein who has translated Kalhan’s Rajatargini in a chapter titled, ‘The shrine of Sharda’.
    But today, the abode of Devi Sharda lies desecrated and abandoned in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. After the mass migration of Kashmiri Hindus from PoK, the temple was completely cut off from the devotees and gradually started falling into disrepair. The temple lies unattended since decades, the deity or Vigraha of the Goddess is long gone and the earthquake of 2005 has even made the structure absolutely vulnerable. There are even instances of theft which have come to light with one of the Kundas from the temple being located at the Abbas Institute of Medical Sciences, Muzaffarabad. Unlike the other big Shakti Peeth in Hinglaj, Balochistan, Hindus of Pakistan have almost completely stopped visiting the shrine of Devi Sharda. Once the seat of learning and education, the tiny village of Shardi, has almost become a footnote in the tumultuous history of Kashmir. The one thing that keeps the allure and the longing of the shrine alive are the stories and oral traditions that pass down generations in Kashmiri Hindu households.
    But, even oral traditions are dwindling with time. The last devotees who visited this Maha Shakti Peeth did so before independence and the collective memory of the shrine is at a risk of getting lost. One of the last documented accounts of the temple is by nonagenarian Shambhunath Thusu. It is unclear whether he has seen the temple but he has provided a thorough description of the Vigraha. The Vigraha is a naturally occurring stone plinth about six feet long and seven feet wide. Another old timer account of the temple also provides a similar account and states that there was an entrance of the Western side of the temple and a Shiva Lingam outside the sanctum sanctorum. Another account came from Justice S.N Katju who visited the temple in 1935. He added that “the steps leading to temple were twisted like an earthquake had battered them”. The details are sparse now and the images available make it difficult to imagine the temple in its days of glory.
    Brigadier Ratan Kaul in his paper ‘Abode of Goddess Sharda at Shardi’ discusses the elaborate preparations for the Sharda Peeth Yatra which used to happen regularly before 1947. He has drawn from the accounts of Pandit Bhawani Kaul and Pandit Harjoo Fehrist who had undertaken multiple pilgrimages to Shardi in the late 1800s and whose accounts survived as oral traditions in Kashmiri Hindu households. The pilgrimage used to take 9-10 days on foot from Sri Nagar and pilgrims used to keep joining the group as they passed through major halting locations.
    One of the most recent accounts of the visit to the Sharda Peeth is provided by A.R Nazki in the book ‘Cultural Heritage of Kashmiri Pandits’. Nazki visited the Peeth from Muzaffarabad in PoK in the year 2007 and in the chapter titled ‘In search of Roots’, he describes the treacherous yet tranquil terrain to Shardi made even more inaccessible after the earthquake of 2005. Mr. Nazki describes the state of ruin of the temple and details out all that has been able to bear the neglect of decades. He writes of the faint inscriptions in the Sharda script on the entry pillar of the temple and remnants of quarters where the Pujaris must have lived in the days gone by. Only the left half of the archway stands and the door and the roof of the temple are no longer there. The university which used to thrive at Sharda has no remains and apparently there used to be a pond with healing water in the compound which has since dried up. Nazki writes, “The building presented a picture of ruin and is a victim of neglect, its academic and instructional importance appear to be only a dream”.
    The cultural sociologist, Ann Swidler in her famous article, ‘Culture in Action: Symbols and Strategies’ talked about a tool kit of habits and styles which people use to strategize their actions. Religious beliefs and practises are a major part of that tool kit which determine our actions, behaviors and decisions. Hence, our religious practises define us on a daily basis and alienation from that has a profound impact on the way we imagine ourselves. The cultural moorings of a community cannot be understood without understanding the way in which they have developed with the help of their religious beliefs and practises. This is just one of the ways of assessing what being cut off from essential religious beliefs and practises is like.
    The enormity of the loss of losing the Temple of Devi Sharda needs to be put into perspective especially because it has been nearly 7 decades since the temple has fallen into disrepair and abandonment. Our temples are the link to our heritage, our shared history and our identity. When I started reading and learning about the temple, I could only go back to what I know and relate easily to. How would it feel to be a practising Hindu in Odisha and not have the temple in Puri to visit or to see it desecrated? Or to be a Sikh residing in India and never being able to visit Nankana Sahib and seeing it in disarray? How would it feel to be cut off from a physical manifestation of your identity and culture and see it in ruins out of your reach? How would it feel to celebrate Basant Panchami with the Goddess of Knowledge being uprooted from her home for decades? How would it feel to celebrate nine days of Shakti. knowing that we have been alienated from drawing our strength from our roots? Whether you measure this in religious or cultural terms or just in terms of collective identity, this is a loss beyond measure.
    I met Dr. Sushma Jatoo, a Sanskrit scholar working with the IGNCA and asked her about the extent of the desecration of the temple. She refused to use the word desecration but admitted that the Vigraha of the Goddess is no longer present in the temple and the shrine remains unattended. Sometimes, semantics is the only way of keeping memory alive and the importance of Devi Sharda in the everyday lives of Kashmiri Hindus could be gauaged from Dr. Jatoo’s reluctance to use the word ‘desecration’. Desecration implies profaning or polluting something beyond repair and probably to the Kashmiri Hindus like Dr. Jatoo, there is no way that the temple of their beloved Goddess can be profaned. In the face of all that the Hindus of Kashmir have borne, even language is a form of resisting complete erasure.
    Therefore, Hindus and Kashmiri Hindus in particular wait for the recovery of the temple. And that would begin by ending the alienation of the temple and beginning to revive the temple again. But, the Neelum valley is one of the most disturbed areas in the current political atmosphere and the government of Pakistan is against issuing visas to any Indian citizens to visit the area. It is against these odds that a group called the ‘Save Sharda Committee’ comprising of Kashmiri Pandits have started a campaign to revive the pilgrimage to Sharda Peeth. The demand is along the lines of the pilgrimage to Nankana Sahib in Pakistan which allows the Sikh community staying in India to remain rooted to their identity and culture. Together with another group called the All Pandits Migrants Coordination Committee (APMCC), the activists have already met the ex-CM Mehbooba Mufti and are planning to petition to the Prime Minister. They have also reached out to the MoS PMO and MP from J&K Mr. Jitendra Singh, the Minorities Affairs Minister Mr. Muqhtar Abbas Naqvi and the Shankaracharya of Shringeri Mutt with their demands.
    Our deities live with us. Not just their legends. Our temples sustain our communities. They don’t just turn into museums or relics. The Goddess of Kashmir is lost. Much like the Hindus in her home are. Look closely and you will see that abandoned home, those lost days of glory, that struggle to stay alive through collective memory. Look closely and you will hear the stories and the chants but you will not be able to experience them. That is what being uprooted and lost feels like.
    The Goddess needs to get her home back.

    Much like her devotees in her homeland in Kashmir need their homes back.
    (The only efforts being made in this regard are the efforts of the Save Sharda Committee led by Mr. Ravindar Pandita and APMCC to begin the Sharda Peeth pilgrimage. In the current political situation, it is a tall task, but we can do our bit to ensure that the activists do not walk alone with their demands. )
    The author had won a sponsorship from IndicToday in order to attend the National Seminar On Shakti Worship in India. This is an essay written based on her experience at the seminar.
    Bibliography
    Ahmad, Q. J., & Samad, A. (2015). Sarda Temple and the stone temples of Kashmir in perspective: A review note. Pakistan Heritage.
    Ashraf, M. (2007). The Shrine of Sarada. Greater Kashmir.
    Godbole, S. (n.d.). The Sharda temple of Kashmir. Retrieved from Kashmir.
    Kaul, B. R. (n.d.). Abode of Goddess Sharda at Shardi.
    Nazki, A. R. (2009). In search of roots. In S. S. Toshkhani, & K. Warikoo, Cultural Heritage of Kashmiri Pandits. Pentagon Press.
    Rehman, F. u., Fida Gardazi, S. M., Iqbal, A., & Aziz, A. (2017). Peace and Economy beyond faith: A case study of Sharda temple. Pakistan Vision .
    Singh, D. (2015). Reinventing Agency, Sacred Geography and Community Formation: The Case of Displaced Kashmiri Pandits in India. The Changing World Religion Map.
    Swidler, A. (1986). Culture in action: Symbols and Strategies . American Sociological Review, Vol 51.
    http://www.indictoday.com/perspective/the-lost-goddess-devi-sharada-kashmir/

    Sharda Peeth: An iconic shrine too far

    Updated: January 10, 2016, 10:46 PM IST
       


    As part of their daily worship, Kashmiri Hindus utter the phrase""Namastey Sharada Devi Kashmir Pur Vasini Tvam Ham Prartheye Nityam Vidya Danam Che De hi mey" (Salutations to you, O Sharada, O Goddess, O one who resides in Kashmir. I pray to you daily, please give me the charity of knowledge). It is only when the All Parties Migrants Coordination Committee (APMCC) organized a recent seminar and press brief on Sharda Peeth and expressed its desire to request the State Government and the Government of India to demand opening of the shrine to religious tourism that I decided to deeply educate myself on the issue. Anything one touches in Jammu & Kashmir brings an element of fascination because hidden far into the nooks and crevices of its mountain ranges are amazing theories, stories and facts.
    All these years I used to fly over the Shamshabari Range, visiting Tithwal and Keran without an iota of an idea of the existence of a near derelict shrine at the western base of the Range near the confluence of the Rivers Kishanganga (known as Neelum in PoK) and Madhumati. The exact location to most will hardly gel except to hard core army men who have had the privilege to serve in this sub sector. Here is how you get there. From Muzaffarabad a road goes to the Neelum Valley and is aligned at the north edge of the river. Between Athmuqam and Dudniyal lies the confluence of the two rivers and there exists this ancient temple of Goddess Ma Saraswati (also known as Sharda). It is said that Kashmir was once known as Sharda Desh and was the center of learning of Vedic works, scriptures and commentaries. Although there are different accounts recorded it is evident that a very bustling intellectual community existed in and around the area where the shrine is located. ‘Sharda Peetham’ (Centre for Advanced studies) was the nerve center of learning and it was the Sharda script which was in use. The shrine did not have a deity but a very large plinth/slab and outside there was a Shivling (symbolic idol of Lord Shiva). Sharda Temple had the main girdle of 22 feet diameter. It had an entrance door on the west. The other entrances had arches over them, and these arches were 20 feet in height. The main entrance had footsteps. On both sides of the porch, there were two square shaped pillars, 16 feet high and 2'6" x 2'6" in sectional size carved out of a solid stone block. The construction inside the temple was very plain and unadorned. The temple is situated on a hillock, on the right bank of river Madhumati. An annual fair used to be conducted here. All the information here is courtesy Mr Bamzai, a Kashmiri Pandit scholar who was one of the last to visit the shrine before the partition 1947.
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    Although the shrine and the Peeth were suppressed during the Muslim rule it was Sultan Zainul Abedin, also known as Budshah, in whose rule it received royal support. Thereafter in 1846 Maharaja Gulab Singh undertook the repairs, maintenance and sustenance of the shrine through the placement of a priest. After 1947 it is known that Hindus from Pakistan visited the shrine which was also being maintained by the Pakistan Archeological Department. The 8th Oct 2005 earthquake which affected Pakistan Occupied Kashmir very adversely also had its impact on the Sharda shrine. The status after the earthquake was not known until now when Ms Rukhsana Khan a Pakistani researcher has undertaken to unravel more details. It is learnt that the University of Muzaffarabad has instituted study of the shrine and the Sharda culture.
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    The one obstacle to the further revival of the Sharda site is the permission which is denied to Kashmiri Hindus to visit it. There is an apparent reason for this. The Neelum Valley is one of the most sensitive sub sectors in the vicinity of the Line of Control (LoC). From Kel in the North via Athmuqam and Dudniyal to Tithwal (our side) the valley is under the complete domination of the Indian fortified positions along the LoC. There is a cartographic bulge on the eastern side called the Bugina Bulge which is a swathe of territory hugging the slopes of the Shamashabari. This is the sub sector of the Pakistan side which is used for launch pads to infiltrate terrorists into the Kupwara sector of Kashmir. Strategically it is also very important because the foothold that the Pakistan Army has in Bugina Bulge is tenuous; it can be rolled aside at will by the Indian Army if the latter wishes to alter the alignment of the LoC. The Neelum Valley Road running at the valley floor is already dominated by the Indian Army and this domination will be completely reinforced should Bugina Bulge fall into Indian hands. It will impose a heavy penalty on the logistics maintenance of some of the areas north of Shamashabari held by Pakistan.
    It is for these reasons that Pakistan is extremely wary of giving access to any visiting Indian media people or others to the Neelum Valley.
    APMCC, led by two very passionate gentlemen, Mr Vinod Pandit and Mr Ravinder Pandita, has been instrumental in making serious attempts at reviving ancient Kashmiri culture. One of the methodologies that they have been employing is the revival of some ancient yatras to important shrines which are tucked away in the lap of nature. Among these are the yatras to Gangabal and to Konsarnag. The State Government has been hesitant for various reasons especially due to security concerns. There is a political element to it which is also sensitive because there have been demands about limiting the foot fall of the most revered Hindu yatra to Shri Amarnathji shrine.
    In the same spirit of openness in issuing visas for visits to Ajmer Sharif for Pakistani devotees or for Nankana Saheb in Pakistan for Sikh devotees; also in the spirit of the proposed enhancement of religious tourism to important shrines the Kashmiri Hindu community has been vociferously demanding permission to visit the Sharda site. The need for revival of an annual mela (pilgrim fair) at the shrine has been projected. However, the Pakistani authorities are unlikely to relent for two reasons. Firstly, Neelum Valley is strategically too important a location unless there is a convincing change of strategic climate between India and Pakistan. Secondly, unless the State Government itself promotes some of the yatras the revival proposal for Sharda yatra will hardly sound convincing.
    The Kashmiri Hindu community justifiably feels that with its almost negligible presence in Kashmir its rich heritage in terms of shrines and yatras would get completely diluted. It is making a brave effort towards the retention of its unique culture. The Sharda Peeth Yatra may as yet be a shrine too far but definitely the opening up of ancient yatras within Kashmir to a degree beyond than just symbolism would be a very positive step towards the integration of cultures.
    It is to be appreciated that Muzaffarabad University and research scholars like Ms Rukhsana Khan have displayed much enthusiasm towards the Sharda site. If nothing else Government of Pakistan must be prevailed upon to carry out more extensive repairs of the shrine and the fort complex near it. However, physical repairs and maintenance can never match the emotions of devotees. An escorted delegation of just a few representatives of the Kashmiri Hindu community traveling via Keran (Kupwara) would pose little security risk for the Pakistan Army and would actually add to good will.
    APMCC needs support and its campaign needs to be given some weight because only with such things will the reciprocal reintegration of Kashmiri society begin.

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    Russian Orthodox Church cuts ties with Constantinople

    Religious schism driven by political friction after Ukraine church granted independence

    Bartholomew I of Constantinople (left) with the Russian Orthodox leader, Patriarch Kirill. Photograph: Osman Orsal/Reuters
    The Russian Orthodox Church has announced it will break off relations with the Patriarchate of Constantinople in a religious schism driven by political friction between Russia and Ukraine.
    The Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church elected on Monday to cut ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, which is viewed as the leading authority for the world’s 300 million Orthodox worshippers.
    The split is a show of force by Russia after a Ukrainian church was granted independence.
    Last week Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the “first among equals” of eastern Orthodox clerics, granted autocephaly (independence) to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which previously answered to Moscow.
    If Monday’s decision is a lasting one, the loss of the powerful and wealthy Russian church will be a serious blow to the global church. It also marks an important new facet for the rift between Russia and Ukraine, who have become bitter enemies since the annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbass.
    Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the Moscow patriarchate’s head of external church relations, announced the Russian church’s decision on Monday and said Russia hoped the Patriarchate of Constantinople would change its mind.
    “Until that happens, until all these unlawful decisions made by Constantinople are in force, we won’t be able to communicate with the church which today finds itself in the midst of a schism,” he said, according to reports of his remarks.
    The global Orthodox churches collectively represent 300 million people. But there are fewer than 3,000 of the Orthodox faithful in Istanbul.
    The Russian Orthodox Church represents a majority of Orthodox Christians and commands huge wealth and power. Its leader, Patriarch Kirill, is closely allied to Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, who he has described as “a miracle of God”.
    Rivalry between the Russian church and patriarch of Constantinople has been a feature of eastern Orthodoxy. Kirill has objected to Bartholomew’s close relationship with the Roman Catholic church and Pope Francis.
    Ukraine’s government had lobbied strongly for autocephaly as part of a larger break from Russian influence in the country’s affairs.
    “Autocephaly is part of our pro-European and pro-Ukrainian state strategy,” the Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, said in a statement last week. He also called Moscow’s loss of control over the Ukrainian Orthodox Church “the fall of the ‘third Rome’ as the most ancient conceptual claim of Moscow for the global domination”.
    Russia’s Orthodox Church already had a tense relationship with the religious authorities in Istanbul.
    In the summer of 2016 the first global gathering of the 14 self-governing Orthodox churches since the year 787 almost collapsed before it opened because of disagreements over the agenda. Several churches – including the Russians – threatened to boycott the “holy and great council”, which had been 55 years in the planning.
    The Patriarch of Constantinople has sought to repair relations with the Roman Catholic church, which broke from eastern Orthodoxy almost a millennium ago, in 1054.

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    Mala Araya tribals to file review plea

    The Mala Araya community is believed to have established the shrine, which was taken over by the Pandalam royal family and later by the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB).

    Published: 16th October 2018 09:10 AM 
    Express News Service


    THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a fresh twist to the Sabarimala temple controversy, the Mala Araya tribal community will file a review petition against the Supreme Court verdict that allowed women of all ages to enter the hill shrine.
    The Mala Araya community is believed to have established the shrine, which was taken over by the Pandalam royal family and later by the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB).The Akhila Thiruvithamkoor Mala Araya Maha Sabha (ATMAMS) will file the petition through P N Vijayakumar, former district judge and chairman of the Kerala State Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.Sabha general secretary K K Gangadharan said the state government decision to not file a review petition against the SC verdict has disappointed community members.
    “Several rituals and customs of the temple, including the age bar, are part of tribal culture and traditions. They should not be altered,” he said. “The 41-day vruta or abstinence is part of the tribal culture. Women in our sect, as in most other tribal communities, would not visit temples during menstruation. The vruta and restrictions for women were part of our culture, which were approved by the Pandalam royals and the thantri.”
    Until the previous decade, Mala Araya residences had a separate hut nearby where women would stay during their menstrual period and delivery, he said.Gangadharan said the Sabha will request the apex court to provide immunity for the age-old custom of restricting women of menstrual age at the shrine under the provisions of the Forest Rights Act.
    The Sabha will also demand to reinstate the tribe’s rights at the shrine. They include the right to light the makaravilakku, conducting the then abhishekam (bathing the idol with forest honey) and pooja rights at sub-shrines like the Karimala temple on the Sabarimala trekking path.“The Pandalam royals and Thazhamon thantri family always honoured our culture. It was the TDB that did not show any regard for our rights and customs,” he said.
    Gangadharan suspects that the portrayal of the age-old tradition as a rights issue is aimed at tarnishing the image of the shrine. “There is no ban, but a restriction. Last year, more than four lakh women visited the shrine,” he said.
    http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/2018/oct/16/mala-araya-tribals-to-file-review-plea-1886088.html

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    Is the ‘Clown Prince’ out-clowning himself

    Many young Lawyers practising criminal law used to get an advice early in their career from Veterans in the field. They were told “if you are strong on facts, bang the facts. If you are strong on law, bang the law. If you are weak on both, then bang the desk.” Those who advise Rahul Gandhi appear to have persuaded him that he is cut out only for the third option. Since beating the desk itself would not suffice, it has to be accompanied with a new narrative. If the factual narrative does not suit him then concoct an alternative. Repeat the false narrative a dozen times and convince yourself that falsehood is in fact is the truth. Thereafter, you can comfortably live in self-delusion. Or is it a case of mendacity -

    The onus now lies on me to substantiate what I have said. Rahul Gandhi’s speeches and tweets display repeated examples of this. I give five examples.

    A. He repeatedly says that a private business house in India has got an advantage ranging from Rs. 38,000 Crore to Rs. 1,30,000 Crore. He further argues that what was to be manufactured by HAL is now being manufactured by a private business house with no experience.

    THE TRUTH : Rafale aircraft and its weaponry is not being manufactured in India at all, neither by Dassault or by any other private company. All 36 aircrafts and their weapons in a fully flyable and usable form will arrive in India. After the supplies begin Dassault has to make purchases in India for 50% of the contract value. This is as per the UPA’s policy to promote make in India. If the total deal is for Rs. 58,000 Crore, 50% of that amounts to Rs. 29,000 Crore. These supplies to Dassault are to be made by over 120 offset suppliers and which the business house named is one of them. Dassault has said that only 3% of offset may come to that business house which is less than Rs. 1000 Crore.

    B. He repeats congenitally despite being corrected several times that once an account is declared as NPA it amounts to a loan waiver. He then builds a false narrative of the PM having waived the loan of his 15 friends.

    THE TRUTH : Loans were given during the UPA period. Not a single Rupee has been waived. The Promotors of the defaulting companies have been thrown out through the IBC, and banks are successfully recovering their dues. Through the process of NCLT banks are recovering their loans.

    C. A cliché that he learnt was as to question why mobile phones could not be manufactured in India? I corrected him by mentioning that when UPA went out of power there were only two units manufacturing mobile phones and their accessories. Today there are 120 units and expanding. He then changed his example. He now tells his audiences why footwear are not being manufactured in the district, where he is speaking. Ill-informed as he is, India has become the second largest manufacturer of footwear in the world. Our exports in footwear are about Rs.20,000 crores each year. He just has to take a trip to Bahadurgarh on the outskirts of Delhi to realise the competitive nature of India’s footwear industry.

    D. On GST he mentions that it is flawed and needs to be changed. India has witnessed the most successful implementation of the GST. The country has become one market, all check-points have been abolished, inspectors have disappeared and like Income-tax, the returns are now filed online and most assessments will be online. All States, including Congress ruled States have approved the model and the rates. In the first 13 months, the Congress legacy of 31% tax (Excise + VAT + CST) has been reduced to 18% and 12% in relation to 334 commodities. This has also helped us to check inflation. He seems to be unaware of this.

    His Latest Concoction

    E. Yesterday, while speaking at two different functions in Madhya Pradesh, he made two references to me in each of his speeches I am annexing clips of his speeches as they appear in the social media. In the first one he says that I have admitted that Vijay Mallya met me in Parliament. He further claims, I have further admitted that Mallya told me that he was escaping to London and that I helped him to escape. He says in his second speech that I have admitted that Nirav Modi also met me in Parliament. He claims that I have admitted that he had a meeting with me and told me that he was going out of the country and I helped him to escape.

    THE TRUTH : I do not recollect ever having even seen Nirav Modi in my life. The question of his meeting me in Parliament does not arise. If he came to Parliament, as Rahul Gandhi claims, then reception records would show that. Where have I admitted all this Mr.Gandhi?

    As a Member of Parliament, Vijay Mallya once chased me in the corridor of Parliament to discuss his case. I did not pay any heed to him and coldly told him to make his proposal to the bankers. This he says constitutes a meeting where he told me that he was escaping to London. Absolute lie.

    How does he concoct this falsehood? At the Hindustan Times Summit, he referred to a meeting he had with me and attributed same statements to me. When asked I merely said that ‘I can’t answer hallucinations. I am in the distinguished company of President Macron’. Today I feel it is much more than hallucinations. Is it a personality issue where he lies a dozen times and then in self delusion believes it to be true or is it a case of a ‘Clown Prince’ out-clowning himself?




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    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRfL9_Fpnxw (2:34) Surya Sculpture from Sun temple, Konark at National Museum Shilpa Tiwari


    Published on Jul 22, 2016



    Carved minutely with a wide range of subordinate imagery this sculpture, representing the Sun-god Surya, is one of the finest from the Sun temple, Konark, in Orissa. Besides the main image it portrays 'Maladharas' showering flowers, vina-playing Gandharva, and equestrian messenger, though largely damaged, on the right and left of the prabha's upper part, flower-bunches carrying female attendants, male attendants, sages and the figures of seven horses with charioteer Aruna driving his cart. The texts identify the two female figures attending on him as his consorts Chhaya and Suvarchasa, and two males, as Danda and Pingala, his trusted attendants. Pingala begins appearing in sculptures as an independent theme since at least the 4th century AD. The sculpture was once the sanctum image of the Konark's Sun-temple installed for worship in the temple's 'garbha-griha' and was later shifted to the National Museum for safety and better upkeep. The image is normal two-armed rendered pursuing standards of human anatomy. Sadly the sculpture's forearms holding lotuses have been completely destroyed which the sun-god once held in both of them. Two full-blown lotuses are still in their positions above the shoulders of the deity. A more characteristic feature of Surya, the Sun god has been represented as riding a chariot driven by seven galloping horses with reins in the hands of his charioteer. There is over the divine figure of the Sun god complete arch with decorative details to add beauty to the image. The face of the deity seems to glow with inner delight and energy and a subtle smile on the lips. A Rig-Vedic deity alternating with Vishnu Surya, the source of light, warmth and life, stood for time and cosmic dynamics. Surya sculptures begin pouring in from around the early centuries of the Christian era. The dagger-carrying 'udichya vesa' images in tunic, girdle and high boots of this early conception were widely different from his contemporary sculptures. Apart from the chariot he rode in these early sculptures driven by four horses. As the cult of worship the sun was prevalent also in other parts, Greece, Rome, Iran... these early images seem to be influenced by extraneous elements, especially Iranian. Later sculptures are more Indianian.
    Image result for levitating murti konark temple

    The Many Mysteries Of The Konark Sun Temple

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    The mūrti of the temple floated by the arrangement of a massive top magnet, bottom magnet and reinforced magnets around the temple walls.
    The Sun Temple at Konark
    he Sun Temple at Konark
    Snapshot
    • The Sun Temple is an enigma surrounded by solved and unsolved mysteries, myths and folklore. Its grandeur peaked, vanished and was re-discovered, and its early history was reconstructed in recent times.
      Here’s an account.
    Among the towering temples of Odisha, the Sun Temple at Konark (the only UNESCO heritage site of the state), stands out. Its deula, the now crumbling main vimana with only the basement intact, was taller at 228 feet than the 210-foot tall vimana of the Brihadeeswara Temple in Thanjavur. It was designed to be built one-and-a-half times bigger than the Lingaraja temple in Bhubaneswar. Even today, the remains of the main temple tower, the jagmohana (porch), filled with sand to prevent its collapse, and the sculptures are inspiring by their sheer size and details. If the ruins can be so awe-inspiring, the grandeur of a completely intact temple can only be left to imagination. The Sun Temple is an enigma surrounded by solved and unsolved mysteries, myths and folklore. Its grandeur was at its peak in 12th to 15th centuries, but vanished and existed only in legends by early 17th century CE. How it was re-discovered, and its early history was reconstructed in recent times, makes interesting reading.
    Mysteries Abound
    • What drove the King to initiate this ambitious project that outshone all other temples in Odisha?
    • Why was it built in a remote place like Konark instead of Bidnasi (Cuttack), the capital?
    • How many years did it take to start the planning and complete the temple?
    • Where did he find the brilliant artists to craft this, and was it achieved by slave labour or forced enlistment or guild of temple builders?
    • Was there a sea port to transport materials as there was no river near Konark?
    • How were the enormous stone blocks sourced and transported to this sandy desert far away from any mountain?
    • How were the heavy stone blocks and iron beams lifted to such heights and set up?
    • How were the iron beams cast? Why were they added to the stone structure?
    • Was the temple ever really finished and was in worship or did it prove too colossal and abandoned before consecration?
    • How did it collapse? Is it due to its enormous size, faulty construction, sinking of foundation, natural disaster, dereliction or warfare and human vandalism?
    Mystery Peeked After 200 Years Of Neglect
    The last documented eye-witness account of the entire Sun Temple, complete with its deula in worship was in 1580 by AbulFazal in Ain-i-Akbari. After around 200 years, an expedition by Baba Brahmacari found the temple among mounds of sand and creepers (Matala Panji – Nathi 34 (AD 1737-1793). Seeing heavy damage to the northern and eastern sides of the vimana, he decided to salvage them, and brought in the Aruna stambha (pillar) now at Puri Simahadwara, image of Raja Narasimha Deva I now at Mukhasala of Lakshmi Temple and Navagraha stone from southern portal (now in Gundica Temple). The next expedition by 1795 failed after three months of excavation.
    Rediscovery By British And Archaeological Survey of India
    An 1838 painting by Fergusson An 1838 painting by Fergusson
    By the 18th Century, the British started showing interest in the ‘ghost’ temple, which they called Black Pagoda, and early paintings by Fergusson (1838) showed the projecting southwest wall of the deula still standing, and which collapsed later in 1848. During early 1900s the sand and stones were cleared around the tower and the platform, chariot wheels and the horses were found along with the sculptures on walls. In 1901, it took three years to fill the jagmohana with sand after sealing the four entrance gates, to avoid collapse. The excavations continued till 1939, where other temples and structures were found. ASI took over later, and by 1984, Konark was accorded the UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
    The King Who Built This
    Narasimha Deva I (1238-1264) was from Eastern Ganga dynasty of temple builders. His great grandfather renovated Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri and his father built the Bhaskaresvara Temple. In many ways, his life and his achievements were similar to Rajendra Chola (1012-1044). Both the kings outdid their fathers and wanted to co-memorate their victories of establishing a long-lasting dynasty with a grand temple (However, these temples sadly went into disuse while their father’s temples continue to be in worship). Narasimha Deva I was the only Ganga prince who defeated the Bengal Muslims in multiple engagements and ensured peace for another 300 years until when Kalapa invaded Orissa in 1568.
    The plans for building the temple was underway even when he was crown prince, and the quarrying went on for six years prior to his ascension to the throne. He had mobilised 500 artisans for the construction, and at age of 18 went along with them to Vijayakonda (Warangal) on a campaign (Baya Cakada Leaf III, 9) to fund the temple activity. His primary passion was building temples and was called ‘Silpajna’. He also built temples in Srikurmam, Simhachalam, and Kapilash temple at Dhenkenal.
    How The Temple Was Built
    It was a mystery as to how the Sun Temple was built, who were the artisans and how it was funded? Many legends did the rounds. During the 1960s, after extensive research, a palm leaf manuscript called ‘Baya Cakada’ written in Karani script in Old Oriya was collated in full set of 73 leaves. This is a detailed chronicle of building operations and books of accounts written during the 12 years of construction (1246-1258). Later a detailed book New Light on Sun Temple of Konarka was published in 1972 by Alice Boner, S R Sarma and R P Das. This is one of the first in Indian history, where the entire temple building was documented in great detail. (Thanjavur’s Brihadeeswara has inscriptions on who built it, how it was funded, but not how it was built) .
    This is like a modern day ITES (information technology enabled services) project manual comprising details such as types of artisans, milestones, frequent review inspections by royal family, bottlenecks, hunger strikes etc. It was one of the first temples to be completed on target date – on the 11th day of Maha Shukla Paksa (February) of 1258. First puja began on sun god Surya’s birthday as ‘Padmakesara Deula’.
    The palm leaf manuscripts address a lot of mysteries and myths of earlier period, with the help of details, drawings and facts.
    Location
    The place of the earlier Surya temple (the current Maya Devi temple) instead of his capital city is located nearer Puri, which houses a similar towering temple (like the ones in Thanjavur and Gangai Konda Cholapuram)
    Sculptors
    Narasimha Deva had formed a team of 500 plus artisans from his yuvaraja days, as we saw earlier in the article, and his father-in-law, a Pandya king, also sent a team of fine sculptors. There is no mention of slave labour, and the construction was funded by frequent wars with other states.
    Building Material
    Chlorite from Nilagiri hills ( about 80 km) and soft sandstone from Siddhadurga were transported by big barges to the mythical Candrabhaga river mouth near Konark. In 2016, using ground penetrating radar, IIT Kharagpur researchers identified the Chandrabaga river just up north of the temple as a paleochannel (remnant of an inactive river closed by younger sediments).
    Construction
    Unlike Brihadeeswara temple, which was arguably built using only circular or triangular earthen slope, Konark was built using scaffolding, cranes and pulleys , along with rollers for hoisting the heavy stones. (Baya Cakada has detailed descriptions and drawings with methods)
    Iron Beams
    There was an advanced smelting foundry for casting iron beams, which interspersed stone beams and boulders to bear load.There was an advanced smelting foundry for casting iron beams, which interspersed stone beams and boulders to bear load.
    There was an advanced smelting foundry for casting iron beams, which interspersed stone beams and boulders to bear load. Some of the remaining beams are in exhibition and has not rusted much.
    Was It Really Completed And In Worship?
    There is a palm script manual “Padmakesara Deula Karmangi” written in Karani Script in Old Oriya, which details the rituals established in Konark Sun temple for regular puja and temple festivals. It proves beyond doubt about continuous worship.
    We are not fortunate enough to see the great towering temple in full glory, at the present times. However, Raja Purushotama Deva of Khurda Dynasty (1607-1621) commissioned a survey report in CE 1610 with detailed description and drawings covering Lingaraja, Shree Jagannath and Padmakesara temples. Researchers have painstakingly collated this palm script manual with 23 leaves written in Karani script in Old Oriya. This details the temple plan, full view diagrams and cross sections. These are the only visual clues to the original state of the temple as it stood in the 16th century.
    Diagrams and cross sectionsDiagrams and cross sections
    Madala Panji – the chronicle of Puri Jagannath Temple started by Anandavarma Chodagangadev (1078-1150), and also talks about some of the events of the Sun Temple.
    Decline And Decay Of The Temple
    It was a mystery how such a grand temple with fine architecture crumbled into a heap and got covered in sand mounds and creepers in a span of 300 years. Later, documentation and scientific evidence now throw some light on the possible causes.
    Within a few years, before Kalapahad invasion of Puri and Konark, the lotus emblem with ruby atop the temple, was removed to Purushotama temple (Madala Panji). Kalapahad in fury hacked off hands of his general and vandalised the idols.
    Colophon of Paramakesara Deula Karmangi mentions that “for 12 years the sevaks did not do their duty (bhoga karmangi) properly. Thus, the Sun God gradually left this temple…” The dereliction led to a gradual decline in maintenance and in CE 1629 – Gajasimha on eastern side fell towards east along with the wall damaging hands of the puja image. Orders were given to shift two urchava murtis to the Puri temple. (At a small temple complex even now and Konark Ratha Jatra happens on Magha sukla Saptami).
    Improper maintenance of the temple, with upper half of vimana exposed to severe storms and rains, could have loosened the wall work which pressed down on the tenon of the huge Gajasimha protruding on the eastern side. This led to the Gajasimha falling on the deula and causing an imbalance of the temple structure, leading to the gradual collapse.
    In 1929, there was a biological analysis of moss layers deposited in the boulders, which estimates the abandonment and start of moss formation (when there is no cleaning and lime wash coating) around 1573 which tallies with the Madala Panji accounts.)
    Stories Which Remain As Legends With No Answers
    The temple had iron beams between the stones and a central magnet which held the beams in place. Later the loadstone was removed during the Portuguese period since it was disturbing the compasses and ships running aground. The other stones/beams held in alignment by magnetic force till now, crashed regularly to bring the destruction.
    The main pratima (idol) was believed to be floating in the air because of the unique arrangements of the main magnets and other series of magnets. When the balance was disturbed, it was shattered in the absence of binding forces.
    The placement of the temple had been aligned in a way that the first rays of the sun falling on the coast would pass through the Nata Mandir and would reflect from the diamond placed at the centre of this idol in the main sanctum. This phenomenon would last for a couple of minutes in the early morning.
    Local legends say that the huge 12 chariot wheels have been designed as sun dials to find time accurate to 1.5 minutes. To calculate this, one must place a long stick at an axis parallel to ground and note where the shadow falls. The distance between two wider spokes is of three hours (180 minutes). This is subdivided by the thinner spoke into 90 minutes. This is subdivided by 30 beads in the rim into three minutes. Depending on where the shadow falls in the bead, it can be refined to 1.5 minutes. Also, for each month, a particular wheel needs to be selected. Even the modern day sun dials have sidereal corrections to cover lateral movement of sun over seasons and its efficacy still remains a myth.
    https://swarajyamag.com/ideas/the-many-mysteries-of-the-konark-sun-temple
    Konark Temple Top

    MAGNETS & THE FLOATING IDOL



    King Narasimhadeva I, the great ruler of the Ganga dynasty had built this temple, with the help of 1200 artisans within a period of 12 years (1243-1255 A.D.). Konark temple was initially built on the sea bank but now the sea has receded and the temple is few kilometres away from the sea. The Sun Temple of Konark is gigantic so also the stories & myths associated with it are many.

    The most popular theory associated with Konark temple is its magnets & the floating idol in the air. The uniqueness of the Sun Temple of Konark lies in the fact that it was built with an architectural setup of various magnets. During the construction of the main tower of the temple the artisans put an iron plate between every two stone pieces. There is a lodestone at the top of the temple was said to be a massive 52 ton magnet. According to legend, the statue of the Sun God inside the temple was built of a material with iron content and was said to be floating in air, without any physical support, due to the unique arrangements of the top magnet, the bottom magnet and the reinforced magnets around the temple walls. The placement of the main temple and the Sun God had been aligned in such a way that the first ray of the Sun from the coast would cross the Nata Mandir (Dancing Hall) and would fall & reflect from the diamond placed at the crown of the Sun God.
    The Conjectural Restoration of The Temple Of The Sun
    Other legends state that, the magnetic effect of the lodestone was so strong that it caused disturbance in the ships compasses those passed by the coast (Konark being a major port at that time), thus making the navigation very difficult for the sailors. To save their trade and their ships, the Portuguese sailors destroyed the temple and took away the lodestone. The removal of the lodestone leads to the collapse of the main temple structure.
    Konark Temple Old Photo
    If you visit Konark temple and hire any guide for your help then they will explain you above legends and stories. But neither there are any historical records against these stories nor any record against the existence of such powerful magnet at Konark. Till now no one knows where the magnet is and whether these stories are true. Let me iterate it again that the current visible structure of Konark Sun Temple is the entrance to the main temple structure and the main temple structure is already destroyed and only remains are available at the same spot. Please click here to read various reasons behind the fall of konark Temple structure.
    http://www.thekonark.in/konarkfloatingidol.html

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    Ayyappa: A separate religious denomination
    by Jayasree Saranathan on 17 Oct 2018
    In a 4:1 ruling of the Constitution Bench that struck down an age old tradition at Sabarimala temple of Lord Ayyappa, the judges held that Ayyappa devotees do not constitute a separate religious denomination. The only dissenting judge Justice Indu Malhotra held that Ayyappa devotees do form a separate denomination.

    This contradictory stance on religious denomination and the interpretation of the same having become vital in deciding the fate of this case, one is at a loss to understand why no thought or debate had gone into knowing what constitutes a religious denomination in the Hindu religion. During the hearing stage, the judges asked how Ayyappa devotees constituted a denomination when there is no specific Ayyappa sect. This question seemed to have been guided by the opinion that Hindu faith has only pre-established denominations with zero scope to have developed new denominations over a period of time.


    Even in the United States, 35 denominations were found to be present among the followers of Christianity when a survey was taken as recently as in 2001 by The Graduate Center of City University of New York. This was a great surprise to many, but this shows the internally evolving denominations within a religion even in a modern society. Sai Deepak appearing for one of the respondents rightly pointed out that the denomination must come from within the community, implying that courts cannot decide a denomination.


    Evolving Hindu denominations


    A popular classification of the denominations within the Hindu community was last established by Adi Sankara which he collectively called as ‘Shanmatha’ – based on six deities namely Shiva, Vishnu, Shakti, Ganesha, Surya and Skanda. If this basis is any indication, Ayyappa followers rightfully form a denomination of their own, for their worship methods are uniquely centred on the deity, Ayyappa.  


    If we further analyse the Shanmatha concept, we find that two among the six are the children of two of the six deities. As per Hindu tradition, Ganesha and Skanda are the children of Shiva and Shakti. Though all four can be clubbed together as a single family and are found installed together in most temples belonging to any of one of them as the main deity, Sankara had treated them as different denominations for the reason that worship methods and  religious austerities are different from each other and distinct for each of them. On the same basis one can say that Ayyappa constitutes a separate denomination


    Before Shanmatha denomination came into being there were eleven denominations in the very country of Kerala, then known as Chera land, where Adi Sankara was born. These eleven denominations are explained in a full chapter in an old Tamil text called “Manimekalai”, that was about a real life story centred around a young girl, Manimekalai, who went on to become a Buddhist monk after listening to the preceptors of the other ten sects. These eleven sects were,

    1)      Parinaama

    2)    Shaiva

    3)     Vaishnava

    4)    Brahma

    5)     Veda

    6)    Ajeevika

    7)     Nikanta

    8)    Sankhya

    9)    Vaisheshika

    10) Bhuta (Charvaka)

    11)  Bauddha


    After going through the precepts of these sects, Manimekalai embraced Buddhism finding it more suitable for her. (Article 25 -1 was present at that time, it seems) Of the eleven, only two (Shaiva and Vaishnava) have continued to exist till today and are part of Shanmatha. Two (Ajivika and Buddhism) were rejected by Hinduism later when they started distancing their doctrines from Vedic Thought. Parinaama, Brahma and Veda were absorbed by Shanmatha in various degrees. Sankhya and Vaisheshika are no longer in existence as separate paths. Charvakas always existed. This shows that denominations owe their existence to their followers. Some become redundant with time or are absorbed into others. There is also scope for newer denominations being born. What brings all these denominations under the Hindu Faith is their adherence to Vedas as the basis of their precepts and worship methods.


    One must take note that four deities of the Shanmatha (Shakti, Surya, Ganesha and Skanda) were not treated as separate sects or denominations 2000 years ago in the Tamil lands. When they came to be followed by more people with exclusive worship methods, Sankara found it reasonable to accord a separate identity.


    Further back in time, six Darshanas were the only denominations in existence. Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimamsa and Vedanta were popular then, of which Sankhya and Vaisheshika continued in Manimekalai period.  They are no longer in vogue today. The concept of religious denomination is thus a continuously evolving feature testifying the vibrancy of a religion.


    Is Ayyappa worship of recent origin?


    This question is heard on the basis of recent origin of Pandalam dynasty in which was born Ayyappa, now worshiped at Sabarimala. It is true that Ayyappa of Sabarimala was very much a real person who walked on this earth, like Rama or Krishna or Skanda who were also real entities. Hinduism recognises the elevation of real persons as Gods under one condition. There is a written record of this condition in the biography of Alexander by the Greek historian Plutarch.


    To a question by Alexander, “How may a man become God?”, the Hindu sage Kalanos (Kalyan) replied, “By doing that which is almost impossible for a man to do.” When a person does things that no other man can do or which are beyond normal human limits, then such a person comes to be regarded as a God. Such persons have been celebrated as Gods by sages with mythical events woven around them. In course of time, they come to be recognised as incarnations of the Ultimate God Himself.


    It is in this way Manikantha born in the Pandalam family was recognised as “Shasta”, the child of Shiva and Vishnu (in Mohini form). This is like how Skanda born to Meenakshi of the Pandyan dynasty was deified by the sages with a celestial birth and nursing by 6 star mothers of Krittika, thereby getting him the name Kartikeya. Similar deification found in the legend of Ayyappa born as Manikantha is proof enough that his deification at Sabarimala was a well formed cult devised by some sages of the past for the benefit of people. With worship methods unique for Himself, He does constitute a separate denomination and can be regarded as the 7th matha of the Hindu religion.


    In the light of the fact that Manikantha alias Ayyappa was a real figure having given instructions for worship, the Supreme Court’s ruling is certainly a violation of the promise given to him and his oath of celibacy. The tradition set with regard to the entry by women of the post-partum period for the first feeding of their children in five days every month is proof of non-discrimination against them, and at the same time without violating the oath. Without appreciating the finer aspects of maintaining the oath, Justice Nariman commented “What happens to the celibate nature of Lord Ayyappa in those 5 days? Is it that the idol vanishes on those days?”


    Shasta is an old concept


    Ayyappa is known as “Dharma Shasta” – one who delivers Justice or who is an embodiment of Justice. A deity by this name in Tamilised form (Arap peyar Saatthan) is mentioned in verse 395 of Purananuru, an old Tamil text. The name Shasta (Saatthan) was common among the masses in Sangam texts. Worship of Shasta in many places was in existence from Sangam times.


    A special feature of Shasta is found in two inscriptions and written by historian K.A. Nilakanta Sastri. Shasta is identified as a God of the Cheris (rural region) mentioned along with Surya and Seven Mother Goddesses (inscription no 335 of 1917 and 131 of 1892). The association with seven mothers was not indigenous to Tamil lands but had spread from Indus civilization (there is an Indus seal of seven women) with its later prevalence found in Chalukyan and Hoysala regions thousand years ago. Shasta of Sangam texts was not accompanied with the seven mothers or any associate. This establishes the olden Shasta concept as a single - with additions coming later.  


    The location in rural region is repeated in “Mayamatam”, a Vaastu text containing the Vaastu principles purportedly given by Maya. After explaining the iconography of Shasta, the text describes the features of Shasta, the offspring of Mohini (female form of Vishnu) as a celibate and as a married man with two wives. Then it goes on to say that those who seek what is good, must install Shasta in villages. It also says that “Shasta, beloved of the gods, is to be installed in the haunts of lower castes, in the house of courtesans and in forts”.


    The association with the downtrodden is a feature found in the astrological text “Prasna Marga” written in 1649 by a Kerala Nambhoothri. It says that those afflicted by Saturn must propitiate Shasta. Saturn also represents undeveloped and dirty regions. As such Saturn identifies Shasta as a village deity. It is a deity of all villagers. Those who have no idea of the village deity worshiped by their ancestors and those who were not initiated into any path of worship in Hinduism are also advised to worship Shasta – particularly of Sabarimala.


    Even today scores of devotees going to Sabarimala are disadvantaged classes with no regular practice of religious austerities. The Vrata period is a kind of boon for them to commit themselves to religious austerities which otherwise they may not follow. The devotee is not expected to be well versed in scriptures. What is expected of him is to follow the rules of behaviour. There are other hill-deities too such as Venkateswara, Narasimha and Skanda. The first two come under one denomination and Skanda is another denomination due to varying practices in worship methods. But Sabarimala pilgrimage is different from them.


    The Chief Justice refused to accept separate denomination for Ayyappa worshippers on the pretext that people of other faith also worship him. It is true that Ayyappa is worshiped by people from across all the other sects. The worshiper could come from any background, from other Hindu sects such as Shaivism or Vaishnavism or from any other religion. But every one of them must follow the rules of Vrata as applicable to Sabarimala! And that Vrata follows certain tradition of do’s and dont’s. That makes Ayyappa worship unique by itself. This in effect is a valid reason to treat Ayyappa worship a unique religious denomination. We don’t need an Adi Sankara to be born again to tell us this! 
    User CommentsPost a Comment
    Interesting article. However, the Chief Justice is right. People of other faiths also worship Ayyappa. More importantly, the Ayappa worshippers also worship other deities.

    Further, what does the sentence that all the extant Hindu sects follow the basic Vedic principles mean ?There is nothing in the Vedic rituals which allows for the exclusion of women of any age.

    I have already commented on the contradictory nature of assuming a celibate deity who cannot tolerate the presence of women in a certain age group and will not repeat it here (See my comments at the end of Sandhyaji's article on the Sabarimala question).It seems that a certain group of people took it upon themselves to set up a code and claim that it originated from Ayyappa himself.
    Dr. Vijaya Rajiva
    1 Hour ago
    Report Abuse
    Very informative piece. We are trying to make Sanatana Dharma a static religion when it is dynamic n ever evolving.
    Sanjeev nayyar
    16 Minutes ago
    Report Abuse
    So, SC erred in recognizing the nature of the shrine.as non-denominational. The Judgement should be reviewed suo moto and frozen.
    Mala Araya tribals to file review plea

    http://bharatkalyan97.blogspot.com/2018/10/so-sc-erred-in-recognizing-nature-of.html

    There is a precedent for SC staying its own judgment and cited by S Gurumurthy. Varanasi Shia burial ground judgement of SC given aginst Sunnis is pending for implementation for 40 years. Reason given was there would be riots if SC order was implemented. The SC accepted it & stayed its own order. If it can work for burial ground why not for Temple.

    To err is human, revered justices are no exception.

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    Akhila Thiruvithancore Mala Araya Maha Sabha
    Official page of Akhila Thiruvithancore Mala Araya Maha Sabha Malai Arayan (alternatively Malaiyarayan, the word Malai Arayan means 'Monarch of the Hills'
    Malai Arayan (alternatively Malaiyarayan, the word Malai Arayan means 'Monarch of the Hills') is a member of a tribal community in parts of Kottayam, Idukki and Pattanamtitta districts of Kerala state, southern India. They are listed (Central List No - 20) [1] as part of Scheduled Tribes by the Government of India. Among the Scheduled Tribes, Malai Arayans out class all the other tribes in socio-economical and educational aspects. When an evaluation in the educational and employment prospect is taken, it will be found that almost all the Government Servants and other employees are coming from this faction of Scheduled Tribes. https://www.localprayers.com/XX/Unknown/536811666393291/Akhila-Thiruvithancore-Mala-Araya-Maha-Sabha
    Why do poor artisans take a disciplined vow and visit Śabarimala? 
    The artisans have respect for the Veda student who lives in Śabarimala. Devotees vow to be good students, skilled artisans, like Sri Ayyappa.

    Kalyanaraman, Sarasvati Research Centre

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    Sabarimala live updates | Woman journalist injured as mob turns against police van

    Protesters converge at Nilackal base camp on Wednesday.
    Protesters converge at Nilackal base camp on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: Radhakrishnan Kuttoor

    No one would be allowed to block pilgrims, says Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran

    Top Developments
     
    1. Police remove makeshift tents, detain protesters
    2. Women protesters check vehicles before allowing them travel to Nilackal
    3. Congress, BJP hold separate sit-ins, fasts at Pampa, Nilackal
    4. No one would be allowed to block pilgrims, says Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran
    5. Protesters disallow women of menstruating age from climbing the hill
    6. Congress, BJP and CPI(M) accuse each other for the state of affairs in Sabarimala
    7. Travancore Devaswom Board's bid to bring consensus among tantri, Pandalam Palace and government fails again.
    The doors of the shrine of Lord Ayyappa in Sabarimala, Kerala, will open on Wednesday evening for the first time after the Supreme Court verdict to allow women of all ages to worship in the temple.
    Nilackal, the entry point to the temple, has turned into a venue of protests by various groups that oppose the entry of younger women to the shrine. While the government is poised to implement the Supreme Court verdict, it has to be seen if women will actually enter the temple today.
    Radhakrishnan Kuttoor reports from Nilackal.
    Here are the live updates:
    3.50 P.M.

    Hindu Aikya Vedi leader slams government

    Hindu Aikya Vedi leader K. P. Sasikala says a government of atheists has no right to decide on the customs and rituals of believers of Sabarimala.
    If the State government continues to ignore the sentiments of the Ayyappa devotees, it would be the last government in the world to be led by atheists, she says.
    If the government forcibly ensures the entry of women in Sabarimala, those in the government will not be able to enter the State Assembly again. The seats occupied by those in the government who are in favor of permitting women to the temple will be cleansed, says Ms. Sasikala.
    The government failed the democratic rights of the Ayyappa devotees by not holding discussions with the representatives of the devotees, priests, religious organisations and the members of the erstwhile Royal family of Pandalam, she adds.
    Ms. Sasikala also remarks that it is time for recreating a state that has been cleansed by floods.
    The government, according to her, violated the religious faith and fundamental rights of the devotees. The  women devotees of Lord Ayyappan will launch massive protests against the government against the violation of the rituals of Sabarimala, she says.
    3 P.M.
    A woman from East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh, Madhavi was among the first two women who tried to enter Sabarimala temple but were stopped by protestors on the way. She was there with her family members. After she walked for some distance, police tried to send her in a bus. But agitators said they would not allow the bus to move. Disappointed, she stayed back at Pamba.
    2.30 P.M.

    Woman journalist injured

    A woman reporter of India Today TV  is injured when a mob turns against a police van that was passing by the gateway to the Nilackal Mahadeva temple, where a protest meeting by various organisations is under way. She was taken away in the same police van to the government dispensary at Nilackal.
    2:00 PM
    A group of protesters pelt stones at a police van in front of the gateway to the Nilackal Mahadeva temple, while BJP leader M.T.Ramesh is speaking.
    1:40 PM

    'Govt will expose the intentions of those trying to foment trouble'

    The government will not use force but will expose the intentions of those trying to foment trouble, says Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran.
    Briefing reporters after the annual review meeting held in Sabarimala, Mr. Surendran says that the real faithful will renege on realising the truth and then the government will act against those perpetrating violence.
    He says the agitations are politically motivated by the Congress, the BJP and the RSS. He also points out that these parties earlier welcomed the verdict, but changed their stance now for political gains.
    The government prefers to adopt a path of consensus. The people of Kerala will soon sense the design and the real believers will not support the agitators, he adds.
    1:24 PM

    CPI(M) lashes out at Congress, BJP

    CPI(M) Polit Bureau members S. Ramachandran Pillai and Kodiyeri Balakrishnan reiterate that the State government is constitutionally obligated to implement the court verdict.
    Mr. Pillai accuses the Congress and the BJP of raising a "non-issue" to put the government on the defence.
    Mr. Balakrishnan says both the Congress and the BJP are trying to destroy the secular fabric of the State and claims they are working in coordination against the government.
    12:45 PM

    Chief priest says he supports peaceful protest

    The Sabarimala chief priest (Tantri) Kandararu Rajeevararu tells Radhakrishnan Kuttoor that he is with the devotees and has extended full support to the ongoing peaceful devotees'  movement to protect the ritualistic as well as Tantric custom and practices at Sabarimala.
    The Tantri denies reports quoting him as saying that the temple will be closed if there were attempts to violate the custom of denying entry to women in the age group of 10-50 years.
    "Closing the temple in protest of something itself amounts to violation of custom. Then, how can I issue a statement like that?'' he says.
    12:25 PM

    Former TDB president arrested

    The police arrest former Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) president Prayar Gopalakrishnan for leading a sit-in at Pampa.
    They also remove members of the family of the chief priest who joined Mr Gopalakrishnan's protest.
    12:20 PM
    BJP leaders K. Surendran, Shoba Surendran and Mr. Ramesh take over protest at Pampa, along with party workers.
    Mr. Surendran accuses the State government of hurting the religious sentiments of people.
    Mr. Ramesh pledges support to the agitation; says he will take it over from Thursday. The  BJP's presence will be there in Nilackal and Pampa till the temple remains open, he adds.
    12:15 PM

    Police begin removal of protesters from Pampa

    State Police Chief (SPC) Loknath Behera has ordered more forces to be deployed at Pathanamthitta and Sabarimala.
    He has also ordered district police chiefs to prosecute those who attempte to stop and check vehicles ferrying pilgrims. He says Sabarimala is safe for all devotees.
    A senior official says the agitaters were pitting women in the forefront to dissuade police action. The SPC has placed women police battalions and a company of women commandos on standby.
    The police start removing protesters in small batches from Pampa after recording their arrest formally.
    12:10 PM

    Protesters turn away women

    The police identify the main anti-women groups as the Ayyappa Dharma Sena and the Save Sabarimala Forum. They had pitched camps in the locality despite the police declaring it a special zone on Tuesday to stymie any attempt to turn the Pampa river bank into a hotspot of political protests.
    Chanting Ayyappa incantations, the agitators recurrently accosted women headed up the hill to the temple and challenged them to prove their age.
    At least one woman TDB official is caught on camera showing her Aadhaar card to the protesters to prove her age before they allowed her to proceed to the temple to attend to her official duties.
    Read more
    12:00 NOON
    Former MLA K. Sivadasan Nair addressing the Congress Satyagraha in Nilackal on Wednesday.

    Former MLA K. Sivadasan Nair addressing the Congress Satyagraha in Nilackal on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: Radhakrishnan Kuttoor

     
    11:50 AM

    TV crew attacked

    A woman reporter of a private English television channel was assaulted by a group of protesters at the Nilackal base camp. The male cameraperson accompanying her was also heckled.
    The irate protesters damaged their car.
    11:30 AM
     
    11:25 AM

    RSS-BJP backed elements creating communal frenzy, says AIDWA

    The CPI(M)’s women wing, All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), alleged that the BJP-RSS backed elements were creating “communal frenzy” against the implementation of the Supreme Court.
    “Ever since the judgement, the RSS and its affiliated organisations have attacked the Supreme Court and the LDF Government of Kerala,” AIDWA said in a statement to media.
    AIDWA also demanded immediate arrest of all BJP-RSS leaders and supporters who were “issuing open threats to women and trying to disturb the atmosphere of peace and harmony that has been fostered by the Left movement”.
    11:20 AM

    Woman devotee prevented from entering Sabarimala hill

    A family from Andhra Pradesh had to turn back since a group of activists belonging to Ayyappa Sena disallowed them from trekking to the temple — the reason being a 45-year-old woman was part of the pilgrims.
    Earlier in the day, a woman from Cherthala, was prevented at Pathanamthitta. 
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    11:15 AM

    No one will be allowed to block pilgrims: Minister

    In a Facebook post, Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran says no one will be allowed to block pilgrims from worshipping at the the Ayyappa temple. " None would be allowed to disrupt peace," he says.
    Mr. Surendran says he has reached Sabarimala not to facilitate or block women's entry but to take part in the regular annual review meeting of Devaswom Board.
    The people who are trying to convert sharanamayyappa prayer to a slogan are insulting ayyapan and his devotees. It has become clear that those creating problems do not have the backing of devotees, Mr. Surendran said.
    11:05 AM
    BJP leader Shoba Surendran reaches Nilackal base camp in her vehicle on Wednesday.

    BJP leader Shoba Surendran reaches Nilackal base camp in her vehicle on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: Radhakrishnan Kuttoor

    Police blocked the BJP leader Shobha Surendran from proceeding to the base camp after addressing the women devotees at Nilackal.
    An irate mob broke the police cordon and made way for her vehicle, amid vociferous chants of Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa.
    11:00 AM

    Congress with devotees, says Sudhakaran

    KPCC working president, K. Sudhakaran, at Nilackal base camp on Wednesday.

    KPCC working president, K. Sudhakaran, at Nilackal base camp on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: Radhakrishnan Kuttoor

     
    Congress State working president, K. Sudhakaran, has reached Nilackal.
    Speaking to reporters, Mr. Sudhakaran blames both the Union and State governments, the BJP as well as the Left parties, for the messy state of affairs at Sabarimala.
    He says Congress stands firm with the Ayyappa devotees but urges no one should be prevented from worshipping.
    A day-long fast is being organised at Nilackal an Wednesday, expressing solidarily with the devotees, he adds.
    10:30 AM
    The Travancore Devaswom Board is learnt to have dropped its plan to meet on Thursday to discuss the protesters request to file a review petition on the Supreme Court verdict since the erstwhile royal family of Pandalam and the tantri family refused to budge from their position at the talks held in Thiruvanathapuram on Tuesday.
    The Pandalam Palace and the tantri are insisting that the Board should file a review petition in Supreme Court against the verdict.
    The TDB authorities have reiterated their resolve to implement the verdict yet again, it being a constitutional obligation.
    10:20 AM
    BJP State president P.S.Sreedharan Pillai has begun his dawn-to-dusk fast at Pathanamthitta as part of the second phase of the ‘Save Sabarimala’ campaign launched by the party.
    Protesters have started converging in small groups at Nilackal base camp.
    BJP leader Shobha Surendran, Hindu Aikyavedi leader K.P. Sasikala addressed the women who are protesting against Supreme Court's verdict, at the gateway of the Nilackal Mahadevar Temple.