The medieval saint - Poet, theologian, and philosopher Venkatanatha, or Venkatesa, commonly known by his epithet Vedantadesika (Preceptor of the Vedanta, c. 1268 - 1369), is a seminal figure for the Srivaisnava community of South India, who worship a personal god in the form of Lord Vishnu, along with his consort goddess Lakhsmi. Vedantadesika s rich poetic and philosophical in several languages, as well his conscious synthesis of regional and pan -regional idioms, reflects the religious and ideological pluralism of the emerging Vijayanagar empire. In Him, we have a living embodiment of the revival of Sanskrit textual production in courtly and religious circles in an age also defined by forces of vernacularization. In this book, Steven P. Hopkins translates and introduces Vedantadesika s poems dedicated to one local form of Vishnu, Devanayaka Swami, the Lord of God , at the temple shrine of Tiruvahindrapuram, Tamil Nadu. These texts form a microcosm of the saint poet s work, comprising most of the central themes in his devotional poetics: the union of intellect and emotion; the idea of a beauty that saves ; a certain theological aesthetics; the dynamic, sometimes contrary relationship between poetry and philosophy; and the play of divine absence and radical presence in the sacred place, in images and temple ritual. Each translated poem forms a chapter in itself, complete with its own commentary, afterword, and detailed linguistic and thematic notes. The volume concludes, for comparative reasons, with translation of Tirumankaiyalvar s luminous cycle of verses for Devanayaka from the periyatirumoli. As much an argument as an anthology, this book will be interest to students and scholars of South Asian studies, comparative religion, and Indian literatures.
Literature & Fiction, Poetry, General,