The Vīracōḻiyam

Anne E. Monius

in Imagining a Place for Buddhism

Published in print January 2002 | ISBN: 9780195139990
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834501 | DOI:
 The Vīracōḻiyam

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This chapters and the next turn to the eleventh‐century Vīracōliyam and its commentary, both of which construct a technology or theoretical vision of a multilingual literary culture that is claimed for Buddhism. It is argued in this chapter that the Vīracōliyam self‐consciously combines Tamil and Sanskrit grammar and poetic theory in unprecedented ways, for the first time formalizing a relationship between two literary languages that had existed side by side for many centuries. In raising Tamil to the level of a translocal prestige language of learning, the Vīracōliyam traces the origin of this Tamil‐Sanskrit literary language to the teachings of a great Buddha‐to‐be, Avalokiteśvara, thereby carving out a place for Buddhism in the Tamil religious and literary landscape of competing sectarian communities. Named for its heroic royal Cōla (also Chola) dynasty patron, the Vīracōliyam, like the Maṇimēkalai before it, also participates in wider currents within the Buddhist literary world, as South Indian Theravāda monks writing in Pāli in the tenth to the twelfth centuries increasingly identify themselves and the monasteries in which they write as tied to a ‘Coḷiya’ order.

Keywords: Avalokiteśvara; Buddhism; Buddhist history; Buddhist literature; Chola; Cōla; literary culture; Pāli; religious communities; religious history; Sanskrit; South India; Tamil; Vīracōliyam

Chapter.  12077 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

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