A Renaissance Man in Memory: Appayya Dīkṣita Through the Ages


This essay is a first attempt to trace the evolution of biographical accounts of Appayya Dīkṣita from the sixteenth century onward, with special attention to their continuities and changes. It explores what these rich materials teach us about Appayya Dīkṣita and his times, and what lessons they offer about the changing historical sensibilities in South India during the transition to the colonial and postcolonial eras. I tentatively identify two important junctures in the development of these materials: one that took place in the first generation to be born after his death, when the idea of him as an avatar of Śiva was introduced, and another at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, when many new stories about his encounters with his colleagues and students surfaced. The essay follows a set of themes and tensions that pertain to Appayya Dīkṣita’s social and political affiliations, his sectarian agendas, and the geographic sphere of his activities. These themes and tensions are closely related and prove to be surprisingly resilient, despite the many changes that occurred during the five centuries of recollection that this essay sketches. This overall coherence, I argue, is integral to Appayya Dīkṣita’s sociopolitical context and self-chosen identity.

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Bronner, Y. A Renaissance Man in Memory: Appayya Dīkṣita Through the Ages. J Indian Philos 44, 11–39 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10781-014-9251-6

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  • Appayya Dīkṣita
  • Biography / hagiography
  • Nīlakaṇṭha Dīkṣita
  • Śivānanda Yogī
  • Mannargudi Periyar
  • Śaivism / Vaiṣṇavism