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Andrea Acri, Dharma Patanjala: A Saiva Scripture from Ancient Java Studied in the Light of Related Old Javanese and Sanskrit Texts.

Andrea Acri, Dharma Patanjala: A Saiva Scripture from Ancient Java Studied in the Light of Related Old Javanese and Sanskrit Texts. Groningen: Egbert Forsten, 2011, xviii + 706 pp. [Gonda Indological Studies Vol. XVI]. ISBN: 9789069800004. Price: EUR 170.00 (hardback).

In his opus on the codex, Andrea Acri states that the Dharma Patanjala 'documented a hitherto unknown commentarial tradition to the Sanskrit Yogasutra that is related, albeit by no means identical, to that of the Bhasya; and that it yielded precious data that not only filled a gap in our knowledge of Saiva theology and philosophy in pre-Islamic Indonesia, but also cast light on the origin and development of Saivism in the Indian Subcontinent' (p. xii). This very substantial scholarly work is divided into three sections: 1. A general introduction, 2. The Text and translation and 3. An analysis of the doctrine of the Dharma Patanjala.

The Introduction begins with a description of the text and its place in the Tatur/Tattva Genre. The Dharma Patanjala is a pre-sixteenth-century Old Javanese Saiva manuscript of a much earlier text known as a Tatur or Tattva, and exists in a single complete codex located in the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin. Unlike other texts in this genre, the Dharma Patanjala, is 'characterized by a speculative and argumentative perspective', and bears close affinities in both stylistic and doctrinal features to related Sanskrit texts, closely resembling the early Saiva Suddhantatantras. Acri argues that it was almost certainly the composition of an author who was familiar with the Sanskritic scriptural tradition. The Dharma Patanjala appears to preserve many archaic doctrinal features which were subsequently lost from the related traditions in South Asia. The introduction includes a convenient thirteen page synopsis (Resume) of the entire contents of text, and a description of the manuscript, its history and script, followed by a careful investigation of the language of the text and an overview of scribal errors and other peculiarities of the codex. One of the unique features of Acri's work is that he provides both a diplomatic and critical edition of the text and the final section of the Introduction provides a rationale for this approach.

The second section contains clear facsimile reproductions of the 88 double-sided leaves of thatch palm at about 50% of actual size, with a parallel diplomatic edition of the complete codex. This is followed by a critical edition (with corrections, word breaks, and other improvements in legibility) as well as a parallel translation in English. It is easy to understand why the author has chosen this approach from the point of view of the production, but from a reader's perspective it would have been more convenient to have the four elements, the facsimile, the diplomatic edition, the critical edition, and the English translation all on a single opening. This reviewer does not have access to the Old Javanese, but the English reads well, though I have one quibble. It is unclear why paramartha in Sanskrit should be translated into Latin as Summum Bonum, rather than English 'Highest Good'.

The third section, the largest, contains an analysis of the 'doctrine' of the Dharma Patanjala, under the headings of The Lord, The Soul, Cosmos, Man, Karma, Yoga, and Right and Wrong Knowledge. Each of these is examined in great depth with particular reference to other extant Saivasiddhanta sources. Two clear and useful appendices presents parallel synopses of three tattvas, Dharma Patanjala, Vrhaspatitattva and Tattvajnana, as well as the Yogapada of the Dharma Patanjala and the Yogasutra/Yogasutrabhasya. The volume closes with a very comprehensive bibliography of sources by language, and a thorough index. My only regret is that the index, while very comprehensive in terms of titles of texts, documents, personal names and technical terms, will disappoint the reader who searches for thematic entries.

This is an extraordinary, rich contribution to scholarship, which will surely stand as the definitive work on the Dharma Patanjala for the foreseeable future. It will prove to be an essential text for any scholar engaged with Saiva texts specifically, or with Indic texts more broadly, in Southeast Asia.

DOI: 10.1163/22134379-12340067

McComas Taylor

Australian National University
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Author:Taylor, McComas
Publication:Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia and Oceania
Date:Oct 1, 2013
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