Śrī in the <i>Śrī Guṇa Ratna Kośa</i>

Francis X. Clooney

in Divine Mother, Blessed Mother

Published in print April 2005 | ISBN: 9780195170375
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835379 | DOI:
 Śrī in the Śrī Guṇa Ratna Kośa

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Chapter 2 studies the Sri Guna Ratna Kosa by Parasara Bhattar, an important teacher from the 12th century. He wrote Sri Guna Ratna Kosa in praise of Sri at the south Indian Srirangam temple in an era when Her cult seems to have become increasingly prominent and central to Srivaisnava practice and life — but also remained a matter requiring theological justification: if Visnu alone is Lord and perfectly capable of effecting human liberation, why do Srivaisnavas also depend entirely on the grace of Sri? In the hymn’s 61 verses Parasara Bhattar praises Her as the consort of Lord Visnu, and yet at the same time as the divine woman who is eternally and necessarily integral to the fullness of the divine mystery. The hymn offers a theology of Sri that pairs Her with Visnu, defending the uniqueness of each while subordinating neither. In the Sri Guna Ratna Kosa, Sri and Visnu are worshipped together, as one, even if the differences between them as male and female are intrinsic to their divine identities; Sri is eternal and Visnu is never apart from Her; Her glories and virtues are innumerable, and even Visnu never has enough of Her beauty; He is the creator and Lord, but She has always been involved in the world as the source of its vitality; She is the mother of Her devotees; She stays close to Her husband Visnu in the transcendent world, but even Visnu’s famed descents (avatara) are stimulated by Her compassion and intended to please Her; Sri is close by on earth as well, especially as accessible each day in the great temple in Srirangam and other holy places. Mary, represented in the Akathistos, likewise stands in a dialectical relationship to God, since it is only in her that the divine plan can come to fruition.

Keywords: Srivaisnava; Srirangam; avatara

Chapter.  17353 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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