Lecture tag: Vaiṣṇavism

Veda-stuti (Bhāgavata Purāṇa 10.87) with the Commentary of Śrīdhara Svāmī: Session Eight (MT 14)

The Bhāgavata Purāṇa is undoubtedly the most popular and most sophisticated of the Purāṇas. Written in ornate prose and verse, and infusing Purāṇic narratives with Vedic, Vedānta, and Pāñcarātra thought, this monumental text influenced artists, architects, poets, and theologians for centuries.

The Veda-stuti (‘The Vedas’ prayers of praise’) is one of the Bhāgavata’s most significant theological passages, which offers an easy introduction to the Bhāgavata’s nondual theism and its Vedānta. In this reading class, we will read these verses with the commentary of Śrīdhara Svāmī (thirteenth century), the most celebrated commentator on the text and an important Advaitin Vaiṣṇava author who profoundly influenced the development of Hindu thought in pre-modern South Asia.

This reading class aims to introduce students with an intermediate knowledge of Sanskrit to the poetry of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, the method and reasoning of Sanskrit commentaries, as well as the intersections of Advaita and Vaiṣṇava Vedānta.

Veda-stuti (Bhāgavata Purāṇa 10.87) with the Commentary of Śrīdhara Svāmī: Session Seven (MT 14)

The Bhāgavata Purāṇa is undoubtedly the most popular and most sophisticated of the Purāṇas. Written in ornate prose and verse, and infusing Purāṇic narratives with Vedic, Vedānta, and Pāñcarātra thought, this monumental text influenced artists, architects, poets, and theologians for centuries.

The Veda-stuti (‘The Vedas’ prayers of praise’) is one of the Bhāgavata’s most significant theological passages, which offers an easy introduction to the Bhāgavata’s nondual theism and its Vedānta. In this reading class, we will read these verses with the commentary of Śrīdhara Svāmī (thirteenth century), the most celebrated commentator on the text and an important Advaitin Vaiṣṇava author who profoundly influenced the development of Hindu thought in pre-modern South Asia.

This reading class aims to introduce students with an intermediate knowledge of Sanskrit to the poetry of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, the method and reasoning of Sanskrit commentaries, as well as the intersections of Advaita and Vaiṣṇava Vedānta.

Aesthetics of Ecstasy: A Phenomenology of Emotional Expansion in Caitanya Vaiṣṇava Religious Experience (MT 14)

In my lecture I will argue that expansiveness of emotions is not only the necessary condition for Caitanya Vaiṣṇava religious experience, but also a specific mode of givenness of the emotional dimension of experience. Such contention is grounded in my fieldwork on the International Society for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness (ISKCON), a Western ‘religious transplant’ (Bryant & Ekstrand 2004) of Bengal or Caitanya Vaiṣṇavism, a religion with theistic, devotional theology based on the ancient Indian theory of aesthetic experience known as the rasa theory. Based on the analysis of narratives of religious experience (from the scripture and interviews) I will show how tradition’s ‘embodied aesthetics’ (Holdrege 2013) of emotional expansion can be described through aesthetic values of control, intimacy and play.

Following Alexander Baumgarten, philosophers studying aesthetics of everyday life (Mandoki 2007, Saito 2008), and some anthropologists (Coote 1994, Morphy 1992), aesthetics is understood as ‘valued formal qualities of perception’  enabled by human capacity for qualitative evaluation. In lieu of such reasoning, aesthetic values are seen as ‘habits of attention’ (James 1984; Throop 2008), or ‘culturally appropriate ways’ (Throop 2008) of  and for  experiences, ‘that lend specific styles, configurations, and felt qualities to local experiences’ (Desjarlais 1994).

In this somewhat Schelerian view on emotional embodiment as ‘felt values’, Caitanya Vaiṣṇava religious experience emerges as a gradual and repetitive unfolding in which appearance of emotional ‘bodiliness,’ belonging to the three distinct categories of aesthetic values, feeds back into the just past one, amplifying the emotional intensity of the experience. In other words, acts of consciousness, recurrently entangling emotions and  feelings that conform to aesthetic values operating in a given cultural domain, become intensified or ‘refined’ (Higgins 2008) through the expansion of coherence in the flow of such ‘emplaced’ (Pink 2009) field of consciousness. Therefore, in terms of phenomenological reduction, a deeper insight into this religious tradition that deifies religious emotions brings to the foreground a very important, but often neglected feature of emotions and feelings – extended, periodic and expansive structure of their temporality.

Dr Hrvoje Čargonja is teaching assistant and postdoctoral student at Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, University of Zagreb, Croatia, where he obtained his PhD degree. He also holds a MSc degree in molecular biology awarded by Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb. His doctoral thesis was a research on the International Society for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness with special focus on the topic of religious experience. He conducted his fieldwork in Croatia and India and was awarded several scholarships for a three year research stay at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies where he worked under the supervision of Professor Gavin Flood. His special research interests include: anthropology of religion, phenomenology of religious experience in Caitanya Vaiṣṇavism, cultural phenomenology.

Veda-stuti (Bhāgavata Purāṇa 10.87) with the Commentary of Śrīdhara Svāmī: Session Six (MT 14)

The Bhāgavata Purāṇa is undoubtedly the most popular and most sophisticated of the Purāṇas. Written in ornate prose and verse, and infusing Purāṇic narratives with Vedic, Vedānta, and Pāñcarātra thought, this monumental text influenced artists, architects, poets, and theologians for centuries.

The Veda-stuti (‘The Vedas’ prayers of praise’) is one of the Bhāgavata’s most significant theological passages, which offers an easy introduction to the Bhāgavata’s nondual theism and its Vedānta. In this reading class, we will read these verses with the commentary of Śrīdhara Svāmī (thirteenth century), the most celebrated commentator on the text and an important Advaitin Vaiṣṇava author who profoundly influenced the development of Hindu thought in pre-modern South Asia.

 

This reading class aims to introduce students with an intermediate knowledge of Sanskrit to the poetry of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, the method and reasoning of Sanskrit commentaries, as well as the intersections of Advaita and Vaiṣṇava Vedānta.

Legends of the Goddess: Ānṭāḷ Stories in the Śrīvaiṣṇava Traditions

This paper examines Ānṭāḷ’s story as it circulates in both textual and oral sources since the 12 century, with a particular emphasis on the Manipravala Guruparamparaprābhavam 6000 and 3000 and the Sanskrit Divyasūricaritam. I explore issues of genre, style and language choice as I chart the changes in Ānṭāḷ’s story, and the history that such alterations both reveal and conceal.

Krishnadasa Kaviraja’s Caitanya-caritamrta: Its value as a witness to historical events

The sacred biographies of Krishna-Caitanya appear to convey a great deal of historical information about the words and actions of their main subject and of hundreds of his followers and other contemporaries. They also include along the way a number of vignettes, some with political implications, that, if accurate, would extend our knowledge of early sixteenth century Bengal some degrees beyond the intramural affairs of the nascent community of devotees. But how reliable are these texts as records of actual historical persons, words and events? Devotees tend to say very reliable. Scholars tend to divide on the issue with some claiming that theological, devotional, and polemic concerns thoroughly negate the ostensible historicity of the texts. Others take a more favourable view arguing that much historical fact is recoverable from the sacred biographies despite the presence of theological and ‘mythical’ constraints. It may even be argued that the authors’ conviction that Krishna-Caitanya’s apparently human actions are ontologically lilas (divine sport) intended to instruct humans in authentic devotion (bhakti) itself provides a religious motive for seeking accuracy in reporting those actions, even in Krishnadasa Kaviraja’s Caitanya-caritamrta (Nectar-like Acts of Caitanya).

Krishna-Chaitanya Bhakti and Rabindranath’s Religion of Man: Their resonance and dissonance

When we think of Rabindranath Tagore in relation to the Krishna-Caitanya religio-literary tradition of Bengal, his youthful Bhanusimher Padaboli immediately come to mind, as they should as the most explicit treatments of a Vaishnava theme in all of his immense literary corpus. But we may also ask what other indications there may be of resonances and dissonances vis-à-vis the Vaishnava tradition elsewhere in his prose and poetry, especially as he grew older. This lecture first reviews his family’s Vaishnava affinities, especially among the women, and the countervailing critical attitudes and policies of the Brahmo Samaj of which he was for some time secretary. It then attempts to assess in what ways and to what degree underlying characteristics of Bengali Vaishnava piety and aesthetics may be reflected or rejected, implicitly if not explicitly in the works of the mature Rabindranath.

Krishnadasa Kaviraja’s Caitanya-caritamrta: Its characteristics as a sacred biography

Sacred biographies of Visvambhara Misra, aka Krishna-Caitanya, (1486–1533) constitute an unusually ample array of texts that for half a century have provided an enduring basis for an otherwise loosely coordinated community of Vaishnava devotees in Bengal and elsewhere. The Caitanya-caritamrta (Nectar-like Acts of Caitanya) of Krishnadasa Kaviraja is the culmination of an inter-related series of such texts. Relying primarily on the Caitanya-caritamrta (in the Bengali and Sanskrit original and in its translation by Edward C. Dimock, Jr.) and drawing upon Tony K. Stewart’s The Final Word, the seminar examines how theological-cum-devotional concerns and institutional loyalties are mediated through the literary forms and strategies employed by the series of ‘biographers’ of Caitanya culminating in Krishnadasa Kaviraja.

The Concept of Laksmi in Srivaisnavism

This lecture aims at presenting a holistic picture of Laksmi covering the earliest and later phases of the development of this concept. She, known by another popular name Sri, is the embodiment of all the powers which make the Lord her consort, a veritable ruler of the world. She, as the repository of benign love, plays the role of mother of all living beings. She plays a vital role in the redemption of the erring humanity by interceding on their behalf and mitigating the rightful wrath of the Lord in which act her motherly nature gets fully manifested. Founder Professor and Head (Retired), Department of Vaishnavism, University of Madras, India. His specialist subjects include the Pre-Ramanuja Religion and Philosophy, Pancharatra Agama Literature, Telugu and Sanskrit Literature and popularisation of Sanskrit as a spoken tongue. He has published a number of articles and monographs in academic journals on topics such as the Samskrita Svapnah, Bhakti and Prapatti in Srivaishnava Philosophy and the Pancaratra-kantakoddhara. Important Publications include: The Contribution of Yaamuna to Visistadvaita [Pub; Jayalakshmi Publications, Hyderabad]; Critical Edition and Study of Yaamuna’s Aagamapraamaanya [pub: Gaekwad’s Oriental Series, Baroda]; and an English translation of Sri Vedanta Desika’s Padukasahasram and all of his 32 Stotras. Prof. Narasimhachary received the Certificate of Honour for Proficiency in Sanskrit from the President of India for the year 2004.