Textual Authority in Classical Indian Thought: Ramanuja and the Vishnu Purana

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2014-11-26
  • Publisher: Routledge
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Theistic VedÄnta originated with RÄmÄnuja (1077-1157), one of its foremost proponents, who was also an initiate of the ÅarÄ«vaiá¹£á¹!ava sectarian tradition in South India. As devotees of the God Viá¹£á¹!u and his consort ÅarÄ«, the ÅarÄ«vaiá¹£á¹!avas established themselves through various processes of legitimation as a powerful sectarian tradition. One of the processes by which the authority of the ÅarÄ«vaiá¹£á¹!avas was consolidated was RÄmÄnuja'¬"s synthesis of popular Hindu devotionalism with the philosophy of VedÄnta. This book demonstrates that, by incorporating a text often thought to be of secondary importance - the Viá¹£á¹!u PurÄá¹!a (1st-4th CE) - into his reading of the Upaniá¹£ads, which were the standard of orthodoxy for VedÄnta philosophy, RÄmÄnuja was able to interpret VedÄnta within the theistic context of ÅarÄ«vaiá¹£á¹!avism. RÄmÄnuja was the first Brahmin thinker to incorporate devotional purÄá¹!as into VedÄnta philosophy. His synthetic theology called ViÅ:iṣṭÄdvaita (unity-of-the-differenced) wielded tremendous influence over the expansion of Viá¹£á¹!u devotionalism in South India and beyond. Expanding on and reassessing current views on RÄmÄnuja'¬"s 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.

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