Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Abhishek Amar convened a panel and presented a paper at the 40th Annual Conference of South Asia on Oct. 23 at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
The panel, “Imagining a Sacred Center: The Construction of Pilgrimage Sites in South Asia,” explored the religious and cultural history of Gaya and Varanasi, sacred sites in South Site, by examining multiple strategies employed by Hindu religious communities to develop their sacred centers.
In his paper, titled “Re-inventing Gaya: Shrines, Images and Gayawala Brahmanas,” Amar discussed the multiple layers that have shaped the formation and transformation of older Hindu sacred sites, like Gaya, over time. Based on the study of literary accounts, archival records and material cultural remains, Amar discussed the re-invention of the sacred city of Gaya in the last two centuries. He examined the role of the local Gayawala Brahmana community in the construction of new shrines, as well as in the appropriation and reformulation of numerous ancient and medieval Buddhist sculptures and inscriptions within these newly constructed Hindu shrines.