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Singing the Body of God

Steven Paul Hopkins (Author)
Synopsis This is the first full-length study of the devotional poetry and poetics of the fourteenth century poet-philosopher Vedantadesika, one of the most outstanding and influential figures in the Hindu tradition of Sri-Vaisnavism (the cult of Lord Vishnu). Despite their intrinsic beauty and theological importance, the poetry and philosophy of Vedantadesika have received very little scholarly attention. For the millions who belong to the Vaisnava tradition, however, these poems are not just classical literature; they are committed to memory, recited, sung, and enacted in ritual both in India and throughout the Hindu diaspora. Steven Paul Hopkins here offers a comparative study of the Sanskrit, Prakrit, and Tamil poems composed by Vedantadesika, the philosopher and logician, in praise of important Vaisnava shrines and their icons poems that are considered to be the apogee of South Indian devotional literature. He examines the varied ways in which Vedantadesika works his thought through the distinctive at times antithetical medium of the poem. He also gives particular attention to the poems’ emotional and visionary center of gravity: the different temple icons of Lord Vishnu, referred to by the poet simply as the various ‘lovely bodies’ of God. This volume brings to light a unique example of the creative synthesis of Sanskrit and Tamil traditions in medieval Tamil Nadu, and makes an important contribution to our understanding of intellectual and religious ‘cosmopolitanism’ in South Asia. It will be of interest to scholars of South Asian studies, religion, history and Indian literature.
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About the author

Steven Paul Hopkins

Steven Paul Hopkins is Associate Professor of Religion at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.

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Bibliographic information

Title Singing the Body of God
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.2002
Edition Reprint
Language: English
isbn 0195664035
length xx+344p., Notes; Bibliography; Index.