Re: [INDOLOGY] Tavener's Flood of Beauty (Saundaryalaharī)

Hartmut Buescher buescherhartmut at
Wed Oct 1 19:19:46 UTC 2014

Dear Christophe,

could it be that my phrase “ideologically biased ascriptions" was
Being rather aware of all that you mentioned (i.e., the research [Hacker,
Nakamura, etc.],
the Advaita Vedānta tradition's “inclusivisms” [to say it with one of
Hacker's notions] etc.),
it should be clear that what I characterized by that phrase were exactly
those traditionally
performed ascriptions – given these are still very much alive in
contemporary India.
How else to characterize this kind of “living reception” of traditional
Is it not “ideologically biased” for you?

No doubt, I would advise contextual sensitivity when being in India and
such things (say, in Sringeri, Kanchi or Chennai), but a minimum of
explicit critical
awareness should better not endorse these as a sort of generally accepted
among indologists.

Well, the general fact of these “inclusivisms” being too long already known
to me
in order to still consider them as “highly” significant, you are of course
right with what I assume you implied to say: that further research into
their contextual
circumstances and dynamisms of development would be highly appreciated.
Personally, by the way, given the fundamental significance given to it, I
am rather
curious to learn about pertinent new research – that is, research which not
on the title page proclaims naive assumptions of authorship – with regard
to the
Vivekacūḍāmaṇi. Probably we share this interest.

Best wishes,

Hartmut Buescher

2014-10-01 13:37 GMT+02:00 Christophe Vielle <christophe.vielle at

> It was simply said  "Śaṅkara's *Sau**ndaryalaharī"*, not "*Sau*
> *ndaryalaharī *by the the author of the Brahmasūtrabhāṣya".
> The fact is that the *Saundaryalaharī *is ascribed to (one) Śaṅkara by
> the mediaeval scholarly indigenous tradition, which considers that it is
> the same Śaṅkara as the one who composed the Brahmasūtrabhāṣya. See e.g.
> the Vani Vilas Press edition (under the direction of the Sringeri Matha) of
> the "complete works" of  Śaṅkara *
> <>*
> which includes also  for example the "Tantric" Prapañcasāra (vol. 19) once
> edited by A. Avalon.
> Now there are the critical studies by Paul Hacker, Hajime Nakamura etc.
> which have tried to distinguish between the different authorships and to
> determine which works can be ascribed to the "original" early Advaitin
> philosopher called Śaṅkara.
> Nevertheless, would it be really useful or necessary to say something like
> "pseudo-Śaṅkara'" for the author(s) of the Śaṅkarian Hyms? Or to talk here
> about "ideologically biased ascriptions". I would rather consider that
> these ascriptions where firstly made, in the course of time, by the
> different Śaṅkarian traditions themselves, and in this way are highly
> significant.
> Best wishes
> Christophe Vielle
> Le 1 oct. 2014 à 10:52, Hartmut Buescher <buescherhartmut at> a
> écrit :
> Dear Dominik,
> thank you, indeed, for providing a link to the premiere performance of the
> last major work
> by the late Sir John Tavener: a modern classical setting of  “Śaṅkara's
> Saundaryalaharī”.
> Very interesting!
> However, given this is a scholarly list, it may perhaps be necessary to be
> slightly more
> careful with reproducing ideologically biased ascriptions of authorship.
> As well-known, the name of the Advaita philosopher “Śaṅkara” has
> unfortunately
> served as a hook for innumerable such ascriptions to hang on.
> Needless to particularly emphasize, there is a long historical gap between
> the times of the Advaita author and the origin of the ŚrīVidyā tradition
> to which
> the Saundaryalaharī pertains.
> Best wishes,
> Hartmut Buescher
> 2014-10-01 8:38 GMT+02:00 Dominik Wujastyk <wujastyk at>:
>> Dear colleagues,
>> The last major work by the late Sir John Tavener
>> <>, the British composer, was
>> a modern classical setting of Śaṅkara's *Saundaryalaharī.*  It received
>> its premiere on Sunday last, at the Barbican in London
>> <>.  Sir John
>> worked with W. Norman Brown's text and translation (Harvard, 1958).
>> It was broadcast live on radio, and can be heard on BBC Radio 3's website
>> for a few more days:
>> (Listeners outside the UK may need a VPN connection to a computer inside
>> the UK.)
>> One listener who attended the premiere, said,
>> It was indeed an amazing flood, a wash of sound and texture, and indeed
>> text.  In the hall itself, I was rather tense and aware that it might seem
>> quite long, but after it was over, there was a sense that it could easily
>> have been enjoyed for longer, and the radio broadcast is very easy to
>> appreciate.
>> The translation of the text (there was so much!) was put on big screens,
>> but I am not sure that really helped - that ancient Sanskrit has a
>> different flavour all together.  Of course that was interesting in itself,
>> but overall, the music was the embodiment (as it were) of the text, so the
>> specific words weren't necessarily needed.
>> It was a flood, and it was beautiful.
>> Another performance is being planned for Singapore next year.
>> Best,
>> Dominik Wujastyk
>> _______________________________________________
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> Christophe Vielle <>
> Louvain-la-Neuve

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