I just received the unofficial (but wonderful) news that the Elise Richter project I submitted to the FWF has been accepted!
You can read the general abstract below:
Veṅkaṭanātha (also known with the honorific title “Vedānta Deśika”, traditional dates 1269–1370), possibly the most prominent author of the South Indian philosophical and religious school of Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta, attempted a philosophical synthesis that reached beyond the Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta school, the lineage of which he was active in. This project investigates the synthesis, its range and its theoretical foundations. In this way, it also attempts to reframe the usual understanding of Veṅkaṭanātha’s impact on Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta, shifting him from the position of a learned successor of the scholar the tradition acknowledged as the founder of the school, Rāmānuja (traditional dates: 917–1037), to that of a builder of a new system with a different scope (ranging well beyond Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta and incorporating much more into it) and possibly with a different basis.
What was this basis? Preliminary work has shown that it was probably constituted by Veṅkaṭanātha’s work on the more ancient school of Pūrva Mīmāṃsā (a philosophical school based on the exegesis of the prescriptive portion of the Indian Sacred Texts, the Vedas). The Pūrva Mīmāṃsā had a history of long and complicated relations with the Vedānta (also called Uttara Mīmāṃsā), a school which focused on the exegesis of a different portion of the Vedas and out of which the Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta developed. Some of the Vedānta authors had explicitly refuted the necessity to study Pūrva Mīmāṃsā and had claimed that their Vedanta was completely self-sufficient. By contrast, Rāmānuja had allowed for a space for Pūrva Mīmāṃsā in Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta, although only as a preliminary for the study of Vedanta. Veṅkaṭanātha used the same strategy as a way to incorporate new elements into a reconfigured Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta.
Thus, the core of the system for Veṅkaṭanātha is no longer (Viśiṣṭādvaita) Vedānta (as in Rāmānuja) but the new “unitary teaching” of Pūrva and Uttara Mīmāṃsā, their aikaśāstrya.
Since the axis of Veṅkaṭanātha’s synthesising attempt seems to lie in his reframing Mimamsa into a more inclusive category, the project will use Veṅkaṭanātha’s main work on Mīmāṃsā, his Seśvaramīmāṃsā, as its key textual foundation. Of this text, no single critical edition has ever been produced and only the first two books have been edited and published. The applicant has, however, acquired some new manuscripts which could deepen our understanding of Veṅkaṭanātha’s enterprise and of its Mīmāṃsā foundation, especially if the additional portions they contain could be proved to be part of the original Seśvaramīmāṃsā.