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Pluralizing the Non-dual: Multilingual Perspectives on Advaita Vedānta, 1560–1847


With a textual record spanning dozens of languages—to say nothing of its oral histories—Advaita Vedānta’s multilingual archive presents obvious and daunting challenges for scholars of South Asian intellectual and religious histories. The papers in this issue build on recent multilingual and contextual approaches to South Asian intellectual history by reading a rich corpus of Advaita Vedānta material in Persian, Marathi, Tamil, Sanskrit and Braj Bhasha. In bringing these sources and their authors into conversation with one another, this issue acknowledges Advaita Vedānta’s broad appeal in early-modern and colonial South Asia; but it also attests to Advaita Vedānta’s heterogeneous, textured, and even contested historical development. The following papers chart Advaita Vedānta across five unique social, linguistic, intellectual, and geographical spaces from the middle of the sixteenth century to the middle of the nineteenth century. While no single issue could contextualize something as historically recalcitrant as Advaita Vedānta, we see this special issue as a step on the long and necessary road to historicizing Vedānta, broadly, and Advaita Vedānta, specifically.

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  1. 1.

    We can also look to recent work on Appayya Dīkṣita as an example of the value of collaborative contextualism in the study of Indian intellectual and literary cultures (Minkowski 2016a, b).

  2. 2.

    The current “Age of Vedānta” project of Lawrence McCrea and Ajay K. Rao, which a number of contributors to this issue are involved with, is exemplary in this regard.

  3. 3.

    The current issue comes on the heels of Michael Allen’s and Anand Venkatkrishnan’s recent issue in the International Journal of Hindu Studies, where Allen, Venkatkrishnan, Steinschneider—who are all contributors to this issue—and others alert the reader to the importance and promise of multilingual approaches to the study of Advaita Vedānta. See Allen and Venkatkrishnan (2017).

  4. 4.

    Allen builds on his prior work on “Greater Advaita Vedānta.” See (Allen 2017).


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Peterson, J.R. Pluralizing the Non-dual: Multilingual Perspectives on Advaita Vedānta, 1560–1847. J Indian Philos 48, 1–7 (2020).

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  • Advaita Vedānta
  • Multilingualism
  • Intellectual history
  • Vernacular philosophy
  • Contextualism