Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must write poetry: Language, poetics, and theology in the works of Kavikarṇapūra (TT 16)

Location: OCHS Library
Speaker: Dr Rembert Lutjeharms
Date: May 30, 2016
Time: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM

In a tradition that exhorts constant praise of God’s divine play—like the Hindu devotional tradition inspired by Caitanya—there may seem little room for an apophatic theology. Yet to understand the works of Kavikarṇapūra (sixteenth century), one of the most prominent Sanskrit poets of the Caitanya Vaiṣṇava tradition, one has to read his poetry in the light of Vedāntic apophatic thought reaching back to the Upaniṣads. This lecture will examine the unique style of Kavikarṇapūra’s magnum opus, the Ānanda-vṛndāvana-campū, a lengthy retelling of the early life of Kṛṣṇa, through an analysis of his philosophy of language, his innovative poetics, and his theology, and will argue that, in Kavikarṇapūra’s mind, the way words can refer meaningfully to the indescribable reality of God is through the ineffable experience (anubhava) that poetry can generate.

Rembert Lutjeharms (DPhil, Oxford 2010) is the Librarian at the OCHS and a Tutor in Hinduism at the Faculty of Theology and Religion.