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Pancadivyadhivasa or Choosing a King by Divine Will 
— By Fkanklin Edgebton, Johns Hopkins Univer- 
sity, Baltimore, Md. 

1. In the Proceedings of the JRoyal Asiatic Society of Bengal 
for November 1891, p. 135ff., Tawney has called attention to 
an interesting custom of which he collected some half dozen 
instances in Hindu literature, i by which, it is alleged, a king 
was sometimes chosen by divine lot. The standard situation 
may be briefly described as follows: The king of a city dies 
without natural heirs. To choose a new king the emblems of 
royalty (viz. the state elephant, the horse, the pitcher with 
the consecrated water, and the chowries) are resorted to, and 
fate or divine will is supposed to give some sign through their 
instrumentality, by which someone is selected to rule the 

The Kathakosa has three instances: Page 128 (Tawney's 
translation), "Then the barons had recourse to the five or- 
deals of the elephant, the horse, and so on. The elephant 
came into the city park trumpeting. There he sprinkled the 
prince with the water of inauguration, and taking him (the 
hero of the story) up in his trunk placed him on his forehead". 
The people then hailed the man as king. In this passage 
only three of the emblems of royalty are specifically mentioned, 
viz. the elephant, the horse, and the water of consecration. 
Another story (p. 155) names all five: "Then the ministers 
had recourse to the five ordeals. The mighty elephant came 
into the garden outside the city. There the elephant sprinkled 
Prince Amaradatta and put him on its back. Then the horse 
neighed. The two chowries fanned the prince. An umbrella 
was held (i. e. held itself) over his head. A divine voice was 
heard in the air: 'Long live King Amaradatta!'" The voice 

4 Additional instances are given by J. J. Meyer, Sindu Tales, 1909, 
p. 131 and in his translation of the Das'akumaracarita, 1902, p. 94. 

Vol. xxxiii.] Pancadivyadhivasa or Choosing a King &c. 159 

in the air is an additional divine ratification of the choice 
which is not generally mentioned and was evidently not re- 
garded as a necessary part of the election. In the third story 
(p. 4) we are simply told that an elephant was sent forth with 
a pitcher of water fastened to its head; it wanders for seven 
days and on the eighth finds the man of destiny asleep under 
a pipal tree and empties the pitcher on his head; this is sym- 
bolical of the coronation ceremony, and the man is made 

In the KSS. 65 the elephant alone appears; even the pitcher 
of water is missing in this case; the elephant picks the man 
up and puts him on his shoulder, whereupon he is made 

Two other parallels, referred to by Tawney, are found in 
Jacobi's Ausgewahlte Erzahlungen in Maharastn. On p. 37, 
a horse only is sent forth, the elephant as well as the other 
symbols being here omitted. The horse indicates the choice 
of fate by marching around the man to the right. The cere- 
mony occurs again on p. 62, this time with the five regular 
emblems; upon seeing the fated man, the elephant trumpets, 
the horse neighs, the pitcher of water sprinkles him, the 
chowries fan him and the white parasol places itself above 
him. 1 The people then salute him with cries of hail, and a 
divine voice, as once in the Kathakosa, ratifies the choice, 
giving to the new king the grand name of Yikrama. 

In the Vikramacarita (Story 14), a king is chosen in exactly 
this way for a city whose king has died leaving no heir. In 
the Jainistic recension it is told very briefly: "Then the king 
of that place died without leaving a son. Thereupon his 
ministers consecrated the five divine instruments (jpancadivyany 
adhivasitani), and tbey gave the kingdom to him (the hero of 
the story) with great pomp." In the Southern and Metrical 
Recensions the five emblems are not alluded to, but a she- 
elephant is sent forth with a garland on her trunk; she places 
the garland on the new king's head, places him on her shoul- 
der and takes him to the palace. 

Again in Hemacandra's Parisistaparvan, VI. 231 ff. (ed. 

1 It should be remembered that a ting in India is always distinguished 
by the chowries and the white parasol as his chief emblems of royalty, 
while both the elephant and the horse belong especially to the royal 

160 Franklin Edgerton, [1913. 

Jacobi), upon the death of a king his ministers "sprinkle" 
(with the sacred water of coronation) the five "divine instru- 
ments" (divyani), and send them forth. They are named here 
just as in the Maharastrl story: the state elephant, the royal 
horse, the parasol, the pitcher of water, and the two chowries. 
When they find the man they seek (in this case a low-caste 
man, the son of a courtezan by a barber), the elephant trum- 
pets and pours the water upon him and places him upon his 
own back, the horse neighs, the parasol opens up like a white 
lotus at dawn, and the two chowries wave and fan him as if 
dancing. He is then proclaimed king. 

In the Dasakumaracarita (Meyer's transl., p. 94) the ele- 
phant alone appears and indicates the choice by lifting the 
man up and putting him on his back. In the Prabandhacin- 
tamani (Tawney's translation, p. 181) the elephant (again 
alone) "being duly inaugurated" sprinkles the chosen man 
(with the water of inauguration). The Paramatthadipanl 
(p. 73 ff.) referred to by J. J. Meyer, is not accessible to me. 

Four Jatakas introduce a similar ceremony. In these the 
chariot of state is used. The word phussaratha or mangala- 
ratha does not mean "flower chariot" as the translator of 
Jat. 378 wrongly states, but "auspicious, festive car" or, specifi- 
cally, the royal chariot. In Jat. 539 it is yoked to four 
lotus-colored horses (the lotus is an emblem of majesty) and 
upon it are placed the five "ensigns of royalty", rajakakudha- 
bhandani. 1 The chariot is attended by a complete fourfold 
army, and by musical instruments going behind it "because it 
contained no rider." The housepriest of the late king sprinkles 
it (as if in coronation) with water from a golden vessel, and 
sends it forth to find one who has sufficient virtue to be king. 
The car finds the Future Buddha asleep under a tree, and 
stops, as if to be ascended. The Future Buddha is seen to 
bear the marks of royalty upon his person, and since upon 
being awakened he conducts himself in a manner suitable to 
such a position, he is made king by the housepriest. The same 
ceremony is alluded to in Jatakas 378, 445, and 529. 2 

1 In Sanskrit these are generally referred to as (rdja-)kakuddni ; they 
are not to be confused with the pancadivydni; they consist of sword, 
parasol, crown, shoes, and fan (chowrie). 

2 P. Bigandet, The Life or Legend of Gaudama (1866) p. 416 (quoted 
by Weber, Ind. Stud. XV. 360) has a similar Burmese tale: "The ruler 

Vol. xxxiii.] Pancadivyddhivasa or Choosing a King &c. 161 

That the tradition of this ceremony has persisted in widely 
separated parts of India down to the present day is proved 
hy a considerable number of instances of it which are recorded 
in the folklore of the modern Hindus. To be sure, the re- 
cognition of a definite group of five instruments of choice 
seems not to have come down to modern times; we never find 
more than two, and generally it is the elephant alone. 
Examples may be taken from places as remote from one 
another as possible in India: thus, from Kashmir, from Bengal? 
and from Ceylon. 1 In Day's Folktales of Bengal, p. 99, the 
choice is made by an elephant, who picks the man up gently, 
places him on the howdah upon his back, and takes him to 
the city where he is proclaimed king. In a Sinhalese tale 
recorded by G-oontilleke, Orientalist, ii. 151, the elephant 
kneels before the destined man, in this case a peasant, who is 
thereupon crowned king. In Knowles' Folktales of Kashmir 
we have four instances: on pages 169 and 309, the elephant 
occurs alone, on pages 17 and 159 he is accompanied by a 
hawk, evidently as a bird belonging to royalty, who perches 
on the man's hand, while the elephant bows before him as in 
the Sinhalese tale. In F. A. Steel and R. C. Temple's Wide- 
awake Stories, p. 140 (and notes pp. 327, 426), the elephant 
kneels and salutes the man with his trunk; (cf. also Steel, 
Tales of the Punjab, p. 131). Damant (Indian Ant. iii. 11; 
iv. 261) reports two Bengalese stories. In one the elephant 
picks up a woman of low estate, who then marries a prince; 
in the other, the elephant takes on his back a boy who is 
made king. The Madanakamarajankadai ("Dravidian Nights", 
p. 126f.), referred to by Knowles, was not accessible to me. 

2. Jacobi's eighth Maharastrl story (Ausgewahlte Erzahlungen, 
p. 62, 34) reads: tattha ahiyasiyani paiicadivvdni. Jacobi 

of Mitila had died leaving one daughter .... The ministers and Pounhas 
began to deliberate among themselves about the choice of a match 
■worthy of the Princess .... At last, not knowing what to do, they 
resolved to leave to chance the solution of the difficulty. They sent 
out a charmed chariot, convinced that by the virtue inherent in it they 
would find out the fortunate man .... The chariot was sent out, attended 
by soldiers, musicians, Pounhas, and noblemen. It came straight for- 
ward to the mango trees garden and stopped by the side of the table- 
stone Phralaong was sleeping upon .... They awakened him at the 
sound of musical instruments, saluted him king" &c. 

1 Cf. the references in J. H. Knowles' Folktales of Kashmir 2, p. 159. 

162 Franklin Edgerlon, [1913. 

derives ahiyasiyani from Skt. adhydsaya (Causative of y as 
with adhi) and renders it "als Symbol die Herrschaft fiihren'' 
(p. 93, s. v. ahiydsei); Tawney (Proc. Royal As. Soc. of Bengal 
1891, November, p. 136) translates it by "had recourse to"- 
without explaining what he takes to be the etymology of the 
word. The same rendering he uses in his translation of the 
Kathakosa, p. 128 and 155. Unfortunately I have no access 
to the original text of the Kathakosa and am thus unable to 
determine the Sanskrit word so translated. The Jainistic 
recension of the Yikramacarita, however, reads: 1 tatas tan- 
mantribhih panca divyany adhivasitani, tais ca dattam tasya 
rajyam mahata mahena: This clearly shows that adhivasitani, 
not adhydsitdni is the Sanskrit equivalent of the Prakrit 
ahiyasiyani. The Parisistaparvan (vi. 236, pancadivydny abhisik- 
tdni mantribhih) gives a further hint as to the meaning of 
the term by using y sic with aohi in exactly the same connec- 
tion, this being the technical term for the solemn rite of installing 
a king. 2 In the other Maharastri tale (Jacobi, p. 37, 12, dso 
ahiydsio) the word is used with reference to the horse which 
there performs the function of the panca divvdni. 

3. As to the exact meaning of the Skt. past participle adhivdsita 
and the nominal derivatives adhivdsa and adhivdsana our 
Sanskrit Lexicons are divided in their opinions. 3 Goldstticker 
(1859) in his revision of "Wilson's Dictionary gives under adhi- 
vdsana first (practically repeating "Wilson) the two meanings: 
(1) "Perfuming or dressing the person . . ."; (2) "A religious 
ceremony, preliminary to any great Hindu festival: touching 
a vessel containing perfumes, flowers, and other things pre- 
viously presented to the idol; or offering perfumes etc. to it". 
These two meanings he connects with vdsa "perfume". But 
then he adds a second group of meanings which he refers to 
the causative of y vas "dwell" with adhi. These are (1) "A 
summoning and fixing of the presence of a divinity upon an 
image etc., when he is wanted for any solemnity"; (2) "The 
placing of a new image in water etc. the day before the di- 
vinity is to be summoned to inhabit it". Apte (The Practical 

i Weber, Ind. Stud., XV. 359 f. 

2 The abhiseka was performed in India with water, instead of oil. 

3 As far as the formal side is concerned they may either be referred 
to y vas (causative) "to dwell" with adhi, or to the noun visa "perfume" 
and its denominative vasay- with adhi. 

Vol. xxxiii.] Pancadivyadhivasa or Choosing a King <&c. 163 

Sanskrit-English Dictionary, 1890) gives for adhivdsana : 1. 
"Scenting with perfumes or odorous substances (samskdro 
gandhamalyddydih, Amarakosa";) i 2. "Preliminary consecration 
(pratistha) of an image, its invocation and worship by suitable 
mantras etc., before the commencement of a sacrifice (yajnaram- 
Vhat prdg devatddydvdhanapiirvakah pujanddiharmabhedah); 
making a divinity assume its abode in an image". The second 
meaning he assigns to the causative of y vas. Under y vas 
with adhi he gives (1) "to cause to stay over night"; (2) "to 
consecrate, set up (as an image)". In the Verbesserungen und 
Nachtrage the larger Petersburg Lexicon assigns adhivdsana 
"bestimmte mit Gotterstatuen vorgenommene Ceremonien" to 
the causative of y vas "dwell" with adhi and under 5 y vas 
(causative) with adhi it gives besides (1) "iiber Nacht liegen 
lassen", (3) "heimsuchen", (4) "sich einverstanden erklaren", 
also a meaning (2) "einweihen (ein neues Grotterbild)" for 
which it quotes Var. Brhatsamhita, 60. 15. But in the same 
volume s. v. vdsay with adhi, "mit "Wohlgeruch erfullen", this 
statement is corrected and the passage is assigned to the 
second meaning of this denominative, "weihen". To this later 
view Bohtlingk adheres in the smaller Petersburg Lexicon. 
Under 5 y vas (causat.) with, adhi the meaning "einweihen" 
is omitted; on the other hand, for vdsay- with adhi the 
meanings (1) "mit "Wohlgeruch erfullen"; (2) "einweihen" are 
given, and under this second meaning adhivdsita "geweiht" of 
the Vikramacarita (Ind. Stud. XV. 359) is quoted. The 
meaning of the noun adhivdsana (cf. also adhivdsanaka and 
adhivasamya in the Nachtrage 1) "Einweihen (einer G-otter- > 
statue)" is thus regarded as derived from the more original 
sense "Parfiimiren". Monier-Williams' revised Dictionary (1899) 
distinguishes between (1) adhivdsana (from y vas, causat., 
with adhi) "causing a divinity to dwell in an image", and (2) 
adhivdsana (from y vdsay- with adhi) "application of perfumes"; 
"the ceremony of touching a vessel containing fragrant ob- 

1 Of the native Hindu lexicographers, some define adhivdsana simply 
by sathslcara, samskriya, saying nothing about perfumes; others define 
it by samskara or samskriya dhupanddibhih or gandhamdlyadibhih. But 
if we remember that there was a fairly common noun adhivasa, adhivdsana 
"perfume", one who has in mind the etymological weakness of Hindu 
lexicographers will readily admit the possibility of this second definition 
being influenced by this fact. 

164 Franldin Edgerton, [1913. 

jects (that have been presented to an idol)"; "preliminary 
purification of an image". 

Finally, Langlois in the note to his French translation of 
the Harivansa 5994 (vol. I, p. 451) says: "Cette ceremonie 
s'appelle Adhivasa ou Adhivasana. Quand on consacre une 
idole, on pratique aussi 1' Adhivasa: on prend le riz, les fruits 
et les autres offrandes pour en toucher le vase d'eau sacree, 
puis le front de l'idole en prononcant certains mantras. IV Adhi- 
vasa est la ceremonie par laquelle on invite une divinite a 
venir hahiter une idole." 1 

I believe the group of words under consideration has nothing 
whatever to do with vasa "perfume"; on the contrary adhi- 
vasayati is the causative of \ f vas "dwell" with adhi and means 
"to cause to dwell in"; the adhivasa 2 is a ceremony by which 
a deity or divine power is invoked to take its proper place in 
a sacred object, either in the image of a god or in some 
other thing which is to be consecrated to some divine pur- 
pose. In the Agnipurana 3 (35. 1) the rite to be performed 
is in honor of Visnu, and by the adhivasa the god is invoked 
to take his place in the image before the ceremony. In 
another passage of the Agnipurana (64. 18; Dutt's transl. 
i. 234) an image of the water rgod Varuna is set up at the 
dedication of a water tank or reservoir, and the adhivasa is 
performed, in order that Varuna may come and abide in the 
image, presiding over the reservoir and so causing it to stay 
full of water. The Mbh. V. 5135 (= v. 151. 38), prayasyamo 
ranajiram \ adhivasitas'astra's' ca krtakautumangalah, shows a 
compound adhivasitasastra ; the warriors swords are consecrated 
for a solemn purpose and divine power is invoked to abide in 
them.* In Varahamihira's Brhatsamhita we have (60, 15): 

1 Strangely enough, in spite of this he translates the adhivasya . . . 
atmanam of the text by "en parfumant ton corps". 

2 Or adhivasana; the two forms are interchangeable. 

3 Dutt's translation, i. 137; Dutt, in the note, defines adhivasa as a "conse- 
cration of an image, especially before the commencement of a sacrificial rite". 

4 Dutt translates: "we shall . . . march to the field of battle after 
having worshipped our weapons and duly performed all the auspicious 
ceremonies"; Pratap Chandra Roy: "having . . . worshipped our weapons 
(with offerings of flowers and perfumes) we will . . . march to the field 
of battle"; Fauche: "nous marcherons vers le champ de bataille les armes 
parfumees des senteurs du sacrifice et toutes les choses de bon augure 
accomplies avec empressement." 

Vol. xxxiii.] Pancadivyadhivasa or Choosing a King &c. 165 

suptam (viz. pratimdm) sunrtyagitair jagarakaih samyag evam 
adhivdsya | daivajnapradiste kale samsthdpanam kurydt. Here 
the image is regarded as "asleep" (suptam), until "by awaken- 
ning l dances and songs" the sacrificer has "made (the god) 
to dwell in it" (adhivdsya) or "completely imbued it (with the 
divine presence)", whereupon he is to set it up formally at 
a time prescribed by a soothsayer. A passage from Susruta 
(xi. 3) seems to me to support particularly my view. I quote 
Hoernle's translation (Bill. Ind., new series, 911, p. 63 f.): "He 
who wishes to prepare a caustic should, on an auspicious day 
in the autumn, after purifying himself and fasting, (select) a 
large-sized, middle-aged, uninjured Muskaka tree, bearing 
dark flowers and growing in an auspicious spot on a (lonely) 
mountain, and perform the adhivdsana or 'preliminary cere- 
mony', saying the following incantation: 'Oh thou tree of 
fiery power! Thou of great power! May thy power not be 
lost! Oh thou auspicious one, stay even here and accomplish 
my work! When once my work is done, then thou mayest go 
to heaven!'"; later the worshipper cuts off such pieces of the 
tree as he needs to prepare the caustic. 2 The mantra here 
quoted in connection with the ad/uVasana-ceremony seems to 
me to make its nature and purpose clear. The magic or 
divine power which is supposed to reside in the tree is com- 
manded to dwell and remain in it till the purpose of the per- 
former is accomplished. 3 

i Jagarakaih (var. lect. jagarikdih and jdgarandih) is an adjective. 
Kern wrongly translates it as noun (Journal Royal As. Soc, new series, 
vi. 334): "after the sleeping idol has been consecrated with wakes, dan- 
cing, and song"; so also both Petersburg Lexicons: "das Wachen". 

2 In the foot-note Hoernle adds : "The adhivdsana is an oblation (bali- 
karmari) accompanied with an incantation (mantra). According to the 
commentaries, Bhoja gives the following directions and incantation: 'He 
should there, with his face to the east, offer an oblation and then, on 
all four sides, with joined palms, devoted mind, and pure body, addressing 
the tree, repeat (the following words): "Whatever spirits may inhabit 
this, let them depart hence; for to-morrow this tree is to be cut 
for a high object." ' " 

3 It is noteworthy that in all the passages where the adhivdsana ceremony 
is mentioned, so far as I have discovered, no reference is made to per- 
fumes, although the frequent use of fragrant substances at religious cere- 
monies in India would make such references not at all surprising. In any 
event the employment of perfumes at the adhivdsana would be a mere 
accident, without any bearing on the original meaning of this ceremony. 

166 Edgerton, Pancadivyadhivdsa or Choosing a King &c. [1913. 

Harivafisa 5994 contains the gerund adhivasya, and the 
noun adhivasana occurs in the same text at vs. 6026 helow. 
The text in the first passage is doubtful (see BR. s. v. vasay 
+ adhi), and neither passage is perfectly clear to me as to 
meaning. There is, however, certainly nothing in the context 
to uphold Langlois' translation "parfumant" for adhivasya 
(vide supra). If the reading of the Calcutta edition of 1839 
be kept in vs. 5994, I should interpret adhivasya 'tmana 'tma- 
nam as "imbuing yourself with (your divine) nature (essence 
or power)", "dedicating yourself". If we accept the reading 
of the "neuere Ausgabe" i quoted by the Petersburg Dictionary, 
adhivasya 'dya ca 'tmdnam, it seems to mean simply "conse- 
crating yourself ' — the same thing in the ultimate outcome 
although the development of the idea does not show itself so 
clearly. The later verse, 6026, contributes nothing to an 
understanding of the problem. 

The phrase pancadivyany adhivdsitani, then, means "the 
five divine instruments were imbued (with the superhuman 
power they were expected to use)", "they were consecrated". 
This meaning accords well with the pancadivyany abhisiktani 
of the Parisistaparvan. The neuter noun divya is frequently 
found in the law-books in the sense of "ordeal". In our pas- 
sages the word is used in a concrete instead of an abstract 
sense. Instead of "divine ordeal or test" it means "the instru- 
ment of divine test". 2 

t I have no access to this later lithographed edition, 
s Hence I prefer Tawney's "ordeal" to Jacobi's "die fiinf koniglichen