Abhishek Amar (Hamilton College)

Archiving Hindu Gaya: Temples, Shrines and Images of a Sacred Center in India

Abhishek Amar

My paper discussed the Sacred Centers in India project, aimed at creating a digital archive, began in April 2013 at the Digital Humanities Initiative (DHI) at Hamilton College. This collaborative project seeks to examine the multiple layers of the history of 55 important shrines within the Hindu pilgrimage city of Gaya (known for funerary rituals) through a study of textual, archaeological and art-historical remains. The process of creating the archive has been a multi-step process. Based upon extensive surveys of Gaya shrines conducted in 2011 and 2013, we have intensively analyzed the geo-spatial information, nature and usage, historical layers and links with the local community of these shrines. We have identified a multitude of Hindu and Buddhist images along with their current ritual and symbolic meanings based upon ethnographic and historical materials. We have developed a metadata schema to collate and organize the dataset into analytical categories, which I hope to share through the digital archive with a wider audience. In addition to documenting and preserving the religio-historical heritage of Gaya, this dataset will also serve as a storehouse for scholars, researchers, students and Hindus across the world. In this presentation, I will focus on the issue of metadata, organization and presentation formats, which have emerged out of a collaborative research with the Digital Humanities Team at Hamilton College. Currently, the data is being digested and we are experimenting with multiple presentation formats.