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Lecture | Friends of the Kern Institute lecture

Poets at the service of the Empire: identity and self-representation of the Diṇḍima family

Thursday 7 March 2019
Drinks afterwards
Lecture series Society of Friends of the Kern Institute (VVIK)
Matthias de Vrieshof
Matthias de Vrieshof 3
2311 BZ Leiden
Room 104 (Verbarium)

Poets at the service of the Empire: identity and self-representation of the Diṇḍima family - by David Pierdominici Leão

Daṇḍin, Bhāravi, Māgha: these are just nicknames of poets hidden in the shadows of time. As is well known, scholars have found it virtually impossible to delineate coherently the biographies and personalities of the writers in Classical Sanskrit. Their lives are surrounded by an aura of legend, according to that widespread principle in Indian tradition, which banishes the individuality of the single. Surprisingly, the history of the so-called Ḍiṇḍima poets, who served the empire of Vijayanagara (1336-1565 CE), is far from being uncertain, due to surviving narrations, such as the mysterious Vibhāgaratnamālikā, “The Garland of Gems of Partition”, from which it is possible to securely trace the origins of this scholarly family.

This VVIK lecture will be devoted to a detailed survey of the available attestations concerning the members of the Ḍiṇḍima family, which come from very heterogeneous sources – epigraphical, literary and historical – in Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu. The analysis of the unusual genealogical accounts presented in the manifold Ḍiṇḍima production – still existing in the form of unedited manuscripts – will allow us to examine the formation of the literary identity and auto-perception of poets who unhumbly referred to themselves as Sārvabhaumakavis, “the Emperors among Poets”, and the status of the Sanskrit literary production at Vijayanagara.

David Pierdominici Leão
David Pierdominici Leão is Gonda Fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies in Leiden. He studied Classics at the University of Milan and holds a Ph.D. from Sapienza University of Rome (2018). His dissertation focused on the first critical edition, along with an English annotated translation, of the farcical Somavallīyogānandaprahasana by Aruṇagirinātha Ḍiṇḍimakavi (ca. 15th century CE). He is currently working on a complete survey of all the available textual attestations concerning the poets of the Ḍiṇḍima family. Apart from the comic literature, his main research interests include manuscriptology and South Indian Sanskrit production, especially connected to the Vijayanagara empire and the Thanjavur court in Nāyaka and Maratha eras.

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