vaTakalai and ten2kalai (3)

Mani Varadarajan mani at SHASTA.STANFORD.EDU
Wed Jun 16 21:54:32 UTC 1999

Mr. Palaniappan wrote:
> In a message dated 6/11/99 12:18:55 PM Central Daylight Time,
> lsrinivas at YAHOO.COM writes:
> >My objection at
> >  that time, as it is now, is that your language centric
> >  interpretation is quite foreign to what the tradition
> >  itself understands. The tradition always thought in
> >  terms of the Kanchi and the Srirangam groups of
> >  acharyas.
> This is surprising. For a long time, scholars - Indian, Western, and
> Western-trained Indian - have acknowledged the language-based differences of
> the sects. Let me give an example for each.

[ excerpt deleted ]

Most works on the Vadagalai/Tengalai division
from this century have been based on V. Rangachari's
articles in various journals in the early part
of this century.  As N. Jagadeesan points out
in his history of post-Ramanuja Vaishnavism,
Rangachari was a rabid Vadagalai who viewed everything
Tengalai as heterodox.  More recent authors have
therefore seriously discounted anything based solely
on Rangachari's work.

Lakshmi Srinivas's statement above is that the *tradition*
did not see itself as split into linguistic groups until
this century (i.e., V. Rangachari's time).  All the early
acharyas till Vedanta Desika are cited by all orthodox scholar
s to this day.  All Sri Vaishnava scholars are required
to learn both Sanskrit and Tamil and bear the title Ubhaya
Vedanta pravartakAcArya.  It is common even in Vadagalai
discourse to praise the Divya Prabandham well over and
above the Sanskrit Vedas.  In short, I believe that it is
the historian who has injected language consciousness into
modern Sri Vaishnava dialogue.

Why, otherwise, would Vadagalai standard-bearers such as
Vedanta Ramanuja Mahadesikan (Sakshat Swami) and Periya
Parakaala Swami (17th - 18th centuries) write voluminous
commentaries in maNipravALa on the Divya Prabandham?
Why would Sholingur Doddacharya (16th century), a great
scholar in the Tengalai paramparA, dedicate himself to
almost solely to Sanskrit learning, particularly of Desika's

The most convincing explanation for the split is that it is
based on two regionalized acharya paramparA-s which each
developed slightly different ways of solving philosophical
problems, based on differing religious milieus.  What is
often overlooked is that the difference in AcAra and anushThAna
between the sects is quite significant, and this can also
be attributed more to regionalization than anything else.


P.S. The earliest record in Sri Vaishnava literature of
the split, to my knowledge, is a phrase in "periya tirumuti
ataivu" which describes Vedanta Desika as "vatamArgattukku
ellAm SrESTar."  However, the PTA is a heavily interpolated
text, and we cannot be sure when this phrase was first

The first edition of the PTA can be dated to the 16th century.


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