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The Śrīvaiṣṇava Commentarial and Sectarian Literatures in Tamil-Sanskrit Maṇipravāḷam

Friday 3 June 2016
Matthias de Vrieshof
Matthias de Vrieshof 3
2311 BZ Leiden
104 (Verbarium)

The Śrīvaiṣṇava Commentarial and Sectarian Literatures in Tamil-Sanskrit Maṇipravāḷam

When the Vaiṣṇava ācāryas of the early second millennium embraced the Tamil Āḻvār poetry, they found exactly what they needed to inspire, define, defend and illustrate their theological viewpoints. This poetry was considered to be so crucial that it was studied meticulously, interpreted, commented upon and transmitted orally to the disciples. And later, it was even deemed to be worthy of written commentaries, for the composing of which the medieval commentators did not choose Tamil, the mother tongue of their revered Āḻvārs—and presumably their own—, or the divine Sanskrit language, but a combination of the two: the maṇipravāḷam. Even when the later ācāryas such as Vedānta Deśika and Maṇavāḷa Māmuni wrote non-commentarial sectarian texts, they often opted for this idiom. The talk will hence be about what the Śrīvaiṣṇava maṇipravāḷam exactly is, why  it was preferred over other languages, how it evolved over the centuries and whether it has stood the test of time.

Suganya Anandakichenin studied in the French system. With a Masters in English, she became a “professeur agrégé” teaching English in France. She then did a Masters in Tamil at the INALCO in Paris, and a PhD on Kulacēkara Āḻvār at Hamburg University (2015) under the guidance of Dr. Eva Wilden. She currently works as a postdoctoral fellow for the Vaiṣṇava section of the Netamil project (http://www.manuscript-cultures.uni-hamburg.de/netamil/) at the Pondicherry centre of the École française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO), for which she is studying the transmission of manuscripts, preparing philological translations of the Āḻvār poetry and also exploring the field of Śrīvaiṣṇava literature.

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