Poetry as Prayer in the Sanskrit Hymns of Kashmir

ISBN : 9780190889814

Hamsa Stainton
368 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Aug 2019
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Historically, Kashmir was one of the most dynamic and influential centers of Sanskrit learning and literary production in South Asia. In Poetry as Prayer in the Sanskrit Hymns of Kashmir, Hamsa Stainton investigates the close connection between poetry and prayer in South Asia by studying the history of Sanskrit hymns of praise (stotras) in Kashmir. The book provides a broad introduction to the history and general features of the stotra genre, and charts the course of these literary hymns in Kashmir from the ninth century to the present. In particular, it offers the first study in any European language of the Stutikusumanjali, a major work of religious literature dedicated to the god Siva and one of the only extant witnesses to the trajectory of Sanskrit literary culture in fourteenth-century Kashmir. The book also contributes to the study of Saivism by examining the ways that Saiva poets have integrated the traditions of Sanskrit literature and poetics, theology (especially non-dualism), and Saiva worship and devotion. It argues for the diverse configurations of Saiva bhakti expressed and explored in these literary hymns and the challenges they present for standard interpretations of Hindu bhakti. More broadly, this study of stotras from Kashmir offers new perspectives on the history and vitality of prayer in South Asia and its complex relationships to poetry and poetics.


1. Introduction
2. Stotra Literature: An Overview
3. Literary Hymns from Kashmir
4. Poetry as Theology
5. Poetry as Prayer
6. Stotra as Kavya
7. Devotion as Rasa
8. Stotra as Tradition
9. Conclusion

About the author: 

Hamsa Stainton is Assistant Professor in the School of Religious Studies at McGill University. He studied South Asian religions at Columbia University (Ph.D., 2013), Harvard Divinity School (M.T.S., 2007), and Cornell University (B.A., 2004). His co-edited volume (with Bettina Sharada Baumer), Tantrapuspanjali: Tantric Traditions and Philosophy of Kashmir; Studies in Memory of Pandit H.N. Chakravarty, was published in 2018 by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts.

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