Author: Steven Paul Hopkins
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0 19 566403 5
This is the first full-length study of the devotional poetry and poetics of the fourteenth-century poet-philosopher Vedantadesika, one of the most outstanding and influential figures in the Hindu tradition of Sri-Vaisnavism (the cult of Lord Vishnu).
Despite their intrinsic beauty and theological importance, the poetry and philosophy of Vedantadesika have received very little scholarly attention. For the millions who belong to the Vaisnava tradition, however, these poems are not just classical literature; they are committed to memory, recited, sung, and enacted in ritual both in India and throughout the Hindu diaspora.
Steven Paul Hopkins here offers a comparative study of the Sanskrit, Prakrit, and Tamil poems composed by Vedantadesika, the philosopher and logician, in praise of important Vaisnava shrines and their icons poems that are considered to be the apogee of south Indian devotional literature. He examines the varied ways in which Vedantadesika works his thought through the distinctive at times antithetical medium of the poem. He also gives particular attention to the poems emotional and visionary center of gravity: the different temple icons of Lord Vishnu, referred to by the poet simply as the various lovely bodies of god.
This volume brings to light a unique example of the creative synthesis of Sanskrit and Tamil traditions in medieval Tamil Nadu, and makes an important contribution to our understanding of intellectual and religion cosmopolitanism in South Asia. It will be of interest to scholars of South Asian Studies, religion, history, and Indian literature.
A Note on Orthography and the Pronunciation of Word
Introduction: Singing in Tongues
Summary of Themes
A Note on Sources and Translation
Outline of Chapters
PART I: THE BELL OF TIRUPATI
CHAPTER 1: Philosopher, Preacher, Poet
CHAPTER 2: Between Two Dynasties: Desika in the Art of Srivaisnava Narrative
PART II: TAMIL AND BEYOND
CHAPTER 3: The Tears of Brahma: Desika’s Tamil Poetry and the Praise of Kings
CHAPTER 4: The Fruits of Mukunda’s Mercy: Desika’s Tamil Poetry in the Akam Mode
CHAPTER 5: A God From Toe to Crown: In Love with the Body of Vishnu
PART III: THE OLD NORTHERN TONGUE AND ITS COSMOPOLITAN COUSIN: SINGING THE SOUTHERN TRADITION IN SANSKRIT AND PRAKRIT
CHAPTER 6: The Dark Blue Flame of the Sacrifice: Praises of Kanci in the Northern Tongue
CHAPTER 7: AN Ornament for Jewels: Seeing the Body of Devanayaka in Sanskrit and Prakrit
CONCLUSION: His Own Words: The Hymns of Vedantadesika in Their South Indian Tradition