Author(s): Sucharita Adluri
Theistic Vednta originated with Rmnuja (1077-1157), who was one of the foremost theologians of Viistdvaita Vednta and also an initiate of the rvaisnava sectarian tradition in South India. As devotees of the God Visnu and his consort r, the rvaisnavas established themselves through various processes of legitimation as a powerful sectarian tradition. One of the processes by which the authority of the rvaisnavas was consolidated was Rmnujas synthesis of popular Hindu devotionalism with the philosophy of Vednta. This book demonstrates that by incorporating a text often thought to be of secondary importance – the Visnu Purna (1st-4th CE) – into his reading of the Upanisads, which were the standard of orthodoxy for Vednta philosophy, Rmnuja was able to interpret Vednta within the theistic context of rvaisnavism. Rmnuja was the first Brahmin thinker to incorporate devotional purnas into Vednta philosophy. His synthetic theology called Viistdvaita (unity-of-the-differenced) wielded tremendous influence over the expansion of Visnu devotionalism in South India and beyond. In this book, the exploration of the exegetical function of this purana in arguments salient to Rmnujas Vednta facilitates our understanding of the processes of textual accommodation and reformulation that allow the incorporation of divergent doctrinal claims. Expanding on and reassessing current views on Rmnujas theology, the book contributes new insights to broader issues in religious studies such as canon expansion, commentarial interpretation, tradition-building, and the comparative study of scripture. It will be of interest to students and scholars of Indian philosophy and Religious Studies.
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