Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Sciences


P. Granoff




western India is home to a set of Śaiva and Buddhist rock-cut monuments which, according to several art historians, date to sometime in the sixth century, though the precise circumstances of their creation is a matter of debate. The majority of these cave temples belong to the early period in the development of the Hindu temple and a period of intense creativity in Indian Buddhism. These excavations have long interested both art historians and scholars of Indian religion. In this thesis I propose to look afresh at the problem of who built the earliest Śaiva temples and why, using insights from the study of many medieval inscriptions and an art historical analysis of particular aspects of the caves.

I attempt to show that this single stylistic development was not due to the influence of one set of dynastic patrons, as many scholars argue, but might have been due to the migration of groups of artisans from Northwest India to the west coast and then to Central India. I believe that some dynastic patronage was present because several of the caves contain shrines to the Seven Mothers, the embodiment of the power of several prominent Hindu gods, who were also believed to be the protecting deities of Indian kings. Such patronage, however, was more indirect than must be assumed in models which focus on patronage as a function of dynastic history.

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