, Volume 39, Issue 6, pp 647-676
Date: 01 Apr 2011

Tamil, Vaiṣṇava, Vaidika: Kiruṣṇacuvāmi Aiyaṅkār, Irāmānuja Tātācāriyār and Modern Tamil Literary History

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Abstract

The writing of literary histories of Tamil literature coincided with the practice of history itself as a discipline starting in the late nineteenth century. The historiographical practices conflated Tamil literary history, religious history, as well as notions of the Tamil nation, which led to such works becoming vitally important legitimising narratives that established the claim of self-defining groups within a new Tamil modernity. The absence of such a narrative also meant the erasure of a particular group, identifying itself as a caste or religious unit, or both, from Tamil history. It is in the light of these cultural and political stakes that we must view the textual and hermeneutical strategies of an old, Tamil, religious group, the Śrīvaiṣṇavas, to position themselves anew in the mid-twentieth century, in what they saw with anxiety as a Tamil, Ṡaiva Age.