Royal Amusements, Sports, Acrobats and Yogic Practices According to the Sāmrājyalakṣmīpīṭhikā
The largely understudied Sāmrājyalakṣmīpīṭhikā is known to a small number of Sanskritists as a compendium on kingship, which they believe to be from South India. The text is composed in the form of an ongoing dialogue between Śiva and Pārvatī and the colophon attributes it to the Ākāśabhairavakalpa. Hence, the text is catalogued as a Tantric text. Apart from Tantric rituals, the Sāmrājyalakṣmīpīṭhikā also contains chapters on various activities that the king must perform publicly and privately. Chapter 107 contains an elaborate description of the Navarātri festival, which describes various amusements that the king should witness on the night of the Mahānavamī. Dance performances, wrestling combats, acrobatic shows, magic and presumably yogic practices are some of the physical exercises on the list. This paper aims to highlight these physical practices and demonstrate how performers and ascetics shared the same space during religious festivals, a situation that could favour the exchange of practices and embodied knowledge. Secondly, it aims to demonstrate how the information on these royal spectacles contributes to a hypothesis that the text was probably composed during the Vijayanagara period. This was primarily done through the studies of both primary and secondary sources and by matching the descriptions of the aforesaid physical exercises with stone reliefs located in temples and monuments in Hampi.