Part of the International conference on Maharashtra in September 2021 - Manjiri Bhalerao, Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth, Pune
Since ancient times, Maharashtra has been a corridor to join the north with the south or the western world with the eastern. This is seen through the roads and ancient trade routes joining different parts of the country. The flourishing international trade of this period (c. 1st century BCE to 3rd century CE) had led many people to enter this territory and some to go out of it. As a result, along with the exchange of goods there also was the exchange of concepts and ideas bringing some of the foreign concepts in this land. This circulation of the concepts and their acceptance in the society can be easily seen on the extant religious monuments in the form of some images of animals or some symbols. These symbols, though originally Greek, were considered as auspicious and were depicted on the facades and other parts of the contemporary monuments. A study of these symbols and the associated donors, has many a times revealed that he was a foreigner. These examples include the depiction of sphinx, the triskelion, griffin and many such depictions of animals and symbols that were not and still are not a part of the native religious mythology. However, their place in the major religious monuments played an important role in the contemporary cultural life.
This paper aims at enlisting such depictions, studying their original meaning, searching the antiquity of these motifs in India and their provenance, analysing associated Indian contexts, and finally the reasons for their depictions or popularity among the ancient population.