Language and Literature
Proposed paper concerns the hitherto unstudied regional hagiographic tradition of Śaṅkara – the great Indian philosopher and founder of the pan-Indian monastic order within the Advaita Vedānta doctrine - in Kerala (South India). This literary tradition is represented by a series of the lesser-known texts in Sanskrit and Malayalam.
Literary tradition from Kerala contrasts with the broadly known, canonical hagiographic tradition of Śaṅkara which states that during „the conquest of the quarters” (skr. digvijaya), philosopher reached four corners of the Indian Peninsula and established four monastic centres there to propagate the Advaita Vedānta doctrine. Whereas, as stated by the local accounts from Kerala, Śaṅkara founded all four monasteries in one city only – i.e. in Thrissur (central Kerala), and subsequently attained final liberation (skr. videha-mukti) in the nearby Śaiva Vaṭakkunnāthan Temple. Thereby the legendary map of Śaṅkara’s life became recreated and inscribed in geographic location of one city. It seems that the physical territory of Thrissur was rearranged in order to actualize the ideological concept that gave it symbolic meaning.
The objective of my presentation is to examine the cultural and literary methods of space valorization and creation of topographies. The sacred topography created through the hagiographic narrative causes the overlap of spatial religious concepts and physical geography of temples, monasteries and pilgrimage sites.
Antarkar W.R.2003.Śaṅkara-Vijayas.A Comparative and a Critical Study. Mumbai: Veda Sastra Pandita Raksha Sabha.
Bader, J.2000.Conquest of the Four Quarters: Traditional Accounts of the Life of Śaṅkara. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
Tally, R.T.2013.Spatiality.London: Routledge.