Chapter

Introduction

Steven Paul Hopkins

in Singing the Body of God

Published in print May 2002 | ISBN: 9780195127355
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834327 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195127358.003.0001
Introduction

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After an opening section that tells the story about Vedåntadeóika's encounter with Vishnu at Tiruvahândrapuram, and the saint‐poet's compositions in honor of that god in Sanskrit, Tamil, and Prakrit, this introductory chapter summarizes the main themes of the book. First, a overview of Vedåntadeóika, his historical context, his works in Sanskrit, Tamil, Prakrit and maïipravåöa (“jewels” and “coral”, a prose form that combines the Tamil and Sanskrit languages) and significance in his time as a kavi (poet), a “lion among poets and philosophers,” as a “master of all the arts and sciences,” and as a logician/debater/philosopher/poet who synthesized local/regional Tamil with pan‐regional Sanskrit. Other core issues include tensions in Vedåntadesika between the “poet” and “philosopher,” between intellectual and “emotional bhakti” and divine presence and absence, along with “holy seeing” (daróan) and the “body language” used to describe the “beautiful holy bodies” of Vishnu's temple icons in three south Indian shrines. Methodological framework of the study includes a detailed consideration of Sheldon Pollock's theories on Sanskrit cosmopolitanism along with the “vernacular cosmopolitan” in South Asia after 1300, along with John B. Carman's notions of complementary and contrasting polarities and A.K. Ramanujan's theories on varieties of reflexivity in Indian literature, with help from the semiotic theories of Charles Sanders Peirce on “iconic” and “indexical” signs. Introduction concludes with a detailed discussion of textual sources of Vedåntadeóika's Sanskrit and Prakrit stotras and Tamil prabandhams, and a reflection on translation.

Keywords: bhakti; cosmopolitan; daróan; Maïipravåöa; polarities; prabandham; reflexivity; signs; stotra; Tiruvahândrapuram; translation

Chapter.  9546 words. 

Subjects: Hinduism

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