A basic introduction to Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta

(I have been asked to write a short introduction to Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta and would like to test it on you, dear readers. Any comment or criticism would be more than welcome!)

In its full-fledged form, the Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta (henceforth VV) is a Vedāntic school, thus one which accepts the authority of the Upaniṣads, the Brahmasūtra and the Bhagavadgītā and which recognises a form of God as brahman (on the various ways of understanding God in India, see here). The full-fledged VV accepts also further groups of texts, namely on the one hand the Pañcarātra (a group of Vaiṣṇava texts prescribing personal and temple rituals, see Leach 2012, and, here) and on the other the Tamil devotional poems collected in the Divyaprabandham.

16th World Sanskrit Conference: A panel on the development of Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta

Last week took place one of the main (or the main?) conferences for Sanskrit scholars, namely the 16th edition of the World Sanskrit Conference, of which you can read a short summary by McComas Taylor on Indology (look for it here). Marcus Schmücker and I organised a panel called One God—One Śāstra, Philosophical developments towards and within Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta between Nāthamuni and Veṅkaṭanātha. You can read the initial call for papers here.

Puṣpikā 3

I just received my copy of Puṣpikā 3. Tracing Ancient India Through Texts and Traditions. Contributions to Current Research in Indology, edited by Robert Leach and Jessie Pons. The volume is the third in a series of volumes publishing the proceedings of the various IIGRS conferences and it is innovative in so far as it drops the alphabetic order adopted in the first two volumes. Here, the sequence of articles is rather organised thematically, with two papers on philosophical topics:

  1. Marie-Hélẻne Gorisse (Is Inference a cognitive or a linguistic process? A line of divergence between Jain and Buddhist classifications)
  2. Elisa Freschi (Between Theism and Atheism: A journey through Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta and Mīmāṃsā)

Next come five articles ordered according to the chronology of their topics, from the Veda to contemporary Bengali Bauls:

  1. Moreno Dore (The pre-eminence of men in the vrātya-ideology)
  2. Paul F. Schwerda (“Tear down my Sādhana- and Havirdhāna-huts, stow away my Soma-vessels!” —Jaiminīya Brāhmaṇa 2,269ff: A typical case of cursing in the Veda?)
  3. Aleix Ruiz-Falqués (A New Reading Of the Meghadūta)
  4. Jerôme Petit (Banārasīdās climbing the Jain Stages of Perfection)
  5. Carola Erika Lorea (If people get to know me, I’ll become cow-dung: Bhaba Pagla and the songs of the Bauls of Bengal)

The last paper follows the chronological sequence, since it discusses the application of modern teaching methods to Sanskrit:

  1. Sven Wortmann and Ann-Kathrin Wolf (Revisiting Sanskrit Teaching in the Light of Modern Language Pedagogy)

I had discussed the presentations on which the last paper was based in my previous blog, here. Aleix Ruiz-Falqués’ paper at the IIGRS had been discussed here.

I have not read the printed version of my article yet, but I already have one regret: I did not explicitly thank Robert (Leach) for his careful editing and for the many efforts invested in making my article understandable (my only excuse for that is that the editors of the first Puṣpikā had asked us to avoid such notes).

Anand Venkatkrishnan on Vedānta, bhakti and Mīmāṃsā through the history of the family of Āpadeva and Anantadeva in 16th–17th c. Banaras

When, where and how did bhakti become acceptable within the Indian intellectual élites?

Hayagrīva in the Hayaśīrṣa Saṃhitā

Hayagrīva previous to Veṅkaṭanātha seems to have a non-specific Vaiṣṇava iconography, with only his horse-head as a fixed element. He is, for instance, a standing figure in Khajurao, where he carries a club and has one hand in the dānamūdrā.

Hayagrīva at Khajurao

By contrast, after Veṅkaṭanātha, the iconography radically changes and two possibilities become fixed:

What is involved in a religious identity? On the Introduction of Leach 2012

What are the Pāñcarātras? Is there anything like a uniform Pāñcarātra Canon and/or Theology? Or are these texts only part of a constellation which has been made consistent by its later interpreters?