Negotiating the Scriptural Boundary in Early Modern South Asia: Appayya Dīkṣita and Jīva Gosvāmī on Madhva’s Untraceable Citations

Location: OCHS Library
Speaker: Dr Kiyokazu Okita
Date: May 22, 2014
Time: 4:00pm to 5:00pm

In an important paper published in 2012, Elisa Freschi effectively establishes the significance of what we might call ‘Quotation Studies’, an area of study which has been underexplored. Among many benefits such a study can yield, Freschi points out that the study of quotation can reveal the way in which an author understood authority in his / her tradition. In this context Freschi mentions an exciting case of Madhva’s untraceable citations, which Madhva uses to validate his own view.

As Freschi points out, the topic of Madhva’s quotes is a controversial one because many of the passages and the texts quoted by Madhva are found only in his works. For example, he would cite a passage and attributes it to certain text such as the Caturvedaśikhā, which no one ever heard of. Or after citing a verse, he would say iti varāhe but we do not find such a verse in the editions of the Purāṇa currently available. Or he would simply write iti ca, without telling us where his citation is coming from.

In the contemporary Indological field the topic of Madhva’s untraceable quotes has been systematically and extensively explored by Roque Mesquita, who argues that Madhva’s untraceable quotes are for the most part not actual quotes but his own creation. This claim has received considerable criticism from the scholars who belong to the Mādhva tradition. Therefore, in this presentation I shall first briefly describe the history and the nature of the modern day controversy concerning Madhva’s quotes. Then I briefly explore the possible implications of this controversy in relation to the Purāṇic study and the study of Vedānta as Hindu Theology. The main part of this presentation however consists of an exploration of the writings of two important Hindu Theologians in the sixteenth century namely Appayya Dīkṣita and Jīva Gosvāmī, who held opposing views on Madhva’s quotes. While Appayya rejects Madhva’s untraceable quotes to refute the latter’s Dvaita position, Jīva refers to the same quotes to validate his own Gauḍīya viewpoint. By examining these two authors, I hope to show the complexity involved in this topic, which in my view has not been fully addressed in Mesquita’s works.