Shilpa Sumant

Nṛsiṁha and the Paippalādins

  • Time: Wed., 7. October, 10−11.30
  • Venue: Institut für Kultur- und Geistesgeschichte Asiens, Seminarraum 1
  • Organisation: Elisa Freschi (IKGA)


This talk aims to find out the connection between Nṛsiṁha and the Paipplalādins.

Nṛsiṁha figures as the tutelary deity of the people belonging to the Paippalāda School of the Atharvaveda that is prevalent in the states of Orissa and Jharkhand in India. These Paippalādins recite a verse for paying homage to Nṛsiṁha when commencing Vedic recitation. Often we read benedictions like ‘nṛsiṁhāya namaḥ’ in the beginning of Paippalādins’ manuscripts.

The followers of this Paippalāda School use the texts Karmapañjikā (KP) and Karmasamuccaya (KS) for carrying out their domestic rituals. A critical edition of the KP is under preparation while the KS still remains in manuscript form. Śrīdhara, the author of the KP, writes a verse in praise of Nṛsiṁha at the beginning of each chapter of his book. I have written one paper collecting the details of Nṛsiṁha iconography from these verses. ("Iconography of Nṛsiṃha Represented in the Karmapañjikā of the Paippalādins". In: Journal of the Oriental Institute. Vol. 60, Nos. 1–2, September-December 2010, pp. 57–66.)

In the private collections of the priests, along with the manuscripts of the KP and KS, one can find the manuscripts of the Āṅgirasakalpa (ĀK) corpus used for the hostile practices by the Paippalādins. Many rituals described in this text are centered on Nṛsiṁha.

In this talk, I will present the iconographic peculiarities of Nṛsiṁha seen in Paippalāda texts. I wish to discuss the problems posed by these iconographic features and offer possible solutions to them. Finally, I aim to show how this deity achieved prominence in the Paippalāda School.


Shilpa Sumant's main research area is Atharvavedic ritualistic literature. She is working on the critical edition of the Karmapañjikā, a ritual manual of Paippalāda Atharvavedins with Prof. Arlo Griffiths, and is preparing an edition of Upākarmaprayoga in the Atharvaveda Śaunaka tradition based on the manuscripts in the BORI and Vaidik Samshodhan Mandal. Additionally, she is involved in the project 'New edition and translation of 'Kauśikasūtra̕ with Prof. Shrikant Bahulkar.

She is currently a Gonda fellow (May-October 2015) at the International Institute of Asian Studies, Leiden, the Netherlands. Her permanent position is that of sub-editor and Assistant Professor, Department of Sanskrit and Lexicography, Deccan College, Pune.