From Hagiographies to Biographies: Ramanuja in Tradition and History

ISBN : 9780198092292

Ranjeeta Dutta
248 Pages
148 x 222 mm
Pub date
Jun 2014
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R?m?nuja, a well known religious figure of the medieval bhakti tradition, is remembered as a philosopher, social reformer and the most important ?c?rya of the ?r?vai??ava community of South India. This book analyses the delineation of R?m?nuja in the ?r?vai??ava hagiographies between twelfth and fourteenth centuries. These early hagiographical illustrations composed within the context of evolving community identity registered a process of canonization and constructed specific historical memories that were disseminated to the subsequent generations and were further encrusted upon with fresh narratives. The modern biographies crucial for popularizing R?m?nuja outside the ?r?vai??ava community ignored the variations of the hagiographical delineations and presented a seamless account of R?m?nuja's life, often overlooking the fact that the image of an individual is usually a result of accretions of motifs in history. Emphasizing the dialogic interaction between the hagiographies and biographies, this study argues that the hagiographies and biographies cannot always be understood within the binaries of the sacred and the secular. Based upon a range of historical sources comprising the hagiographies, praise-poems (stotras) dedicated to R?m?nuja, inscriptions and modern works, this study will also analyse various moments of interactions in history when the structuring of the notion of a remembered past and the historical memories through which the past would become a received tradition was being attempted at.


1. Encountering R?m?nuja: Some Preliminaries
2. Texts, Tradition and the ?r?vai??ava Community
3. Texts, Contexts and the ?r?vai??ava Community
4. R?m?nuja as an ?c?rya
5. Devotion and Dissent: R?m?nuja as a "Social Reformer"
6. From Hagiographies to Biographies: Some Concluding
About the Author

About the author: 

Ranjeeta Dutta is Assistant Professor, Department of History and Culture, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.

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