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Medieval Śrīvaiṣṇavism Anandakichenin, Suganya


Śrīvaiṣṇavism is a Hindu sect that worships Viṣṇu along with his consort Śrī, the main leader of which is Rāmānuja (traditional dates: 1017: 1137), a proponent of viśiṣtādvaita (‘qualified non-dualism’). This tradition is based on ubhaya-vedānta, i.e. both the Sanskrit and the Tamil scriptures. The latter consists essentially of the poetry of the Āḻvārs (Tamil bhakti poets [6th-9th centuries]), collectively known as the Nālāyira Tivviya Pirapantam (or Nālāyira Divya Prabandham), especially Nammāḻvār’s Tiruvāymoḻi, which is referred to as the drāviḍa-veda (‘Tamil Vedas’) or dramiḍopaniṣad (‘Tamil Upaniṣad’). Therefore, this sect, while not limited to Southern India, is much more present in that region than elsewhere. Around the 13th-15th centuries, differences of opinions began to rise with its important ācāryas (e.g. Piḷḷai Lokācārya [traditional dates: 1264-1327], Vedānta Deśika [traditional dates: 1268-1369] and Maṇavāḷa Māmuni [traditional dates: 1370-1445]) interpreting the scriptures differently on a few theological issues. This schism became cristallised a couple of centuries later (around the 18th-19th centuries), leading to the formation of two schools, the Northern (vaṭakalai) and the Southern (teṉkalai) ones. The former follows in the path shown by Vedānta Deśika.

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