“The Fruits of Mukunda's Mercy”

Steven Paul Hopkins

in Singing the Body of God

Published in print May 2002 | ISBN: 9780195127355
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834327 | DOI:
“The Fruits of Mukunda's Mercy”

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This chapter focuses on a few stanzas of two long Tamil prabandhams — the Mummaïikkêvai and the Navamaïimålai — that use elements of classical Tamil akam love poetry as they have been appropriated by the Çôvårs — especially by Nammåôvår — to evoke Deóika's experience of Devanåyaka Svåmi, the form of Vishnu at a sacred place where he is said to have spent 30 years of his life, Tiruvahândrapuram. Whereas Vedåntadeóika's praises of Varadaråja at Kåñcâ stress Vishnu's overall puõuam nature as awesome majestic king with his queens, at Tiruvahândrapuram, Devanåyaka (The “Lord of Gods”), no less “awesome,” is the intimate, “interior,” love mode of akam dominates. The devotional attitude in these Tamil verses is mirrored in Deóika's Sanskrit and Pråkrit poems to this same form of Vishnu. And while the Sanskrit and Prakrit hymns to Devanåyaka consciously make use of their own conventions of erotic love to convey his love of this form of God, his Tamil verses suitably mine what had become with the work of the Çôvårs, a ‘Tamil’ poetics of passionate, intimate religious love. The thematic close reading of stanzas from these two Tamil poems includes discussions of various female personae from the Tamil akam poetry, love and separation, divine absence and presence, Vishnu's beautiful body and the temple icon, the “eros of place,” love and bathing imagery (niråìal) in Vedåntadeóika and the female Çôvår Çïìåö and, most significantly, the theology of beauty (“beauty that saves”) that emerges from these poems.

Keywords: beauty; Çïìåö; Devanåyaka Svåmi; Divine absence and presence; eros; Love and separation; Mummaïikkêvai; Navamaïimålai; niråìal; Tiruvahândrapuram; Vishnu

Chapter.  8989 words. 

Subjects: Hinduism

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