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Meditating on the king's feet? Some remarks on the expression pādānudhyāta

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The Sanskrit expression -pādānudhyāta, often met with in inscriptions, is commonly translated as ‘meditating on the feet of.’ Adducing copious evidence from inscriptions as well as from classical Sanskrit literature, this article argues that the traditional translation is wrong, at least in the case of inscriptions dated before the tenth century AD. From the available sources it appears that meditation on the feet—whether on a god's or on a king's—came to be common practice only from around the tenth century in India. Moreover, several parallels show that the original understanding of the phrase was ‘favoured / blessed by the respected,’ pāda being an honorific term here. In addition to this argument, the study also attempts to define the nature of the hierarchical relationship that the above expression probably implied and to show that the wrong understanding of the term was probably due to misconceptions about the divine nature of kingship in ancient India.

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