Worldly Gurus and Spiritual Kings Architecture and Asceticism in Medieval India Tamara I. Sears

Publication date:
10 Jul 2014
Yale University Press
300 pages: 279 x 216mm
50 color + 150 b-w illus.
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The first major study of the Hindu monastery, a highly complex architectural form in the heart of the Indian subcontinent.

This pioneering book is the first full-length study of the matha, or Hindu monastery, which developed in India at the turn of the first millennium. Rendered monumentally in stone, the matha represented more than just an architectural innovation: it signaled the institutionalization of asceticism into a formalized monastic practice, as well as the emergence of the guru as an influential public figure. With entirely new primary research, Tamara I. Sears examines the architectural and archaeological histories of six little-known monasteries in Central India and reveals the relationships between political power, religion, and the production of sacred space. This important work of scholarship features scrupulous original measured drawings, providing a vast amount of new material and a much-needed contribution to the fields of Asian art, religious studies, and cultural history. In introducing new categories of architecture, this book illuminates the potential of buildings to reconfigure not only social and ritual relationships but also the fundamental ontology of the world.

Tamara I. Sears is assistant professor of South Asian art and architectural history at Yale University.

“An excellent, original, and valuable work of scholarship at the cutting edge of its field. Worldly Gurus and Spiritual Kings will make an immense and worthy contribution to the study of Indian architecture in the pre-modern period. Sears is remarkably wide in her scholarship and approach, and the significance of this work reaches well beyond her immediate field to speak also to religious studies and cultural history.”—Richard H. Davis, Bard College

“A very important book. Tamara Sears offers a strong and sophisticated argument for alternate bases of religious authority grounded in exceptionally diligent primary fieldwork. Worldly Gurus and Spiritual Kings will unquestionably make its mark in the reshaping of the field of South Asian art.”—Pika Ghosh, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Winner of the 2014 American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE) in the Architecture and Urban Planning category.