[INDOLOGY] Jayantī

naresh keerthi nakeerthi at gmail.com
Thu Aug 6 14:13:14 EDT 2020

This is my understanding of the development of the term jayanti -

*Stage I – Jayantī = Śrījayantī*

Presumably the older sense of Jayantī  is interchangeable with Śrījayantī .
This latter term refers only to the utsava celebrating the birthday of
Kṛṣṇa – the dark aṣtamī [or rohiṇi asterism] of the Śrāvaṇa/Bhādrapada
month. This use of Śrījayantī  in this sense still prevails among the
brahmana-s and other Hindu groups of Tamiḻ-speaking territories. This
suggests that Śrījayantī was probably* the* archetypical jayantī ].

Besides the usage by Madhvacārya-Pūrṇaprajña (1238–1317), the term is
attested in the ouvre of Veṅkaṭanātha-Vedāntadeśika 1268–1369. The first
verse of Gopālaviṁśati repeated at the beginning of and Yādavābhyudaya uses
the term jayantī unmistakably in the sense of  Śrījayantī .

*vande brndāvanacaram vallavījanavallabhaṃ |*

*jayantīsambhavaṃ dhāma vaijayantīvibhūṣaṇam || *

The term is attested in a Siṁhācalam inscription of  Narahari Tīrtha
(1243-1333) where it is not clear if the expression Śrījayantī  of
śrīnarasiṁhanātha refers to the Kṛṣṇajayantī  or to the Narasiṁhajayantī .

*Stage II – The Birthday boom*

The appearance of the term  jayantī  in an extended sense increases in
the  inscriptions
of  Vijayanagara times [~ 14th century onwards]  and it is attached  to
other deities - Kūrma, Narasimha, Rāma and Vāmana, for example.

*Stage III – Ossified in Government Parlance*

Currently, the term is lexicalized in the lingua franca of Indian
bureaucratese and applied to the remembrance days of all important (dead)
personages -  Buddha, Mahāvīra, Śaṅkara-, Basava, Gandhi and Ambedkar
list). There is also a G*ītājayantī * to celebrate the ‘birth anniversary’
of the Bhagavad gītā.

The term in modern usage has the additional denotation of jubilee or
anniversary. For example Svarṇa jayantī and Rajata jayantī for Golden
Jubilee and Silver Jubilee.


Naresh Keerthi

Hebrew University, Jerusalem
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