PDNRL No. 35 Cezary Galewicz: A Commentator in Service of the Empire. Sāyaṇa and the Royal Project of Commenting on the Whole of the Veda. Wien 2010, Hardcover, 327p. EUR 33.-


  • Abstract

    A Commentator in Service of the Empire seeks to investigate an intricate web of relationships between knowledge and power, and empire and book history in the fourteenth-century South Indian state of Vijayanagara. It concerns the border area of the crossroads of disciplines inasmuch as it addresses problems of intellectual and political history as well as cultural and textual studies while attempting to demonstrate the complex world of ideas and practices in the making of an empire to come.

    The ambitions of the first rulers of the rising Vijayanagara empire, the issue of the religious authority of the charismatic pontiffs of the monastery of Śṛṅgeri and the scholarly ideas of Sāyaṇa, a rare polymath, are presented as intertwined in the unprecedented project of a commentary on the whole of the scriptural Veda. The book demonstrates how the enterprise of commenting on the whole of the Veda assumed an active role in the making of the empire and its ideological image.

    The book proposes a rethinking of the relationship between power and knowledge in the historical context through a close reading of Sāyaṇas introductions to his Vedic commentaries and attention to the historical context of the commentarial project while situating it in the reconstructed social practices of writing, editing, copying, circulating and using manuscripts in late medieval South India. The chapters are designed to reinforce the intention of the book, namely, to rethink the question of power, knowledge, writing and manuscript culture in relation to the inception of the empire of Vijayanagara in particular and to medieval Indian forms of political power in general.

  • Contents

    Acknowledgements (15)

    Introduction (17)

    Chapter 1. The Quest for the Author: Looking for Sāyaṇa

    1.1.  The imperial commentator and his legend (31)

    1.2.  Scholarship on Sāyaṇa and early Vijayanagara (35)

    1.3.  The elusive person of the commentator: Sāyaṇa, his work and his moment (39)

    Chapter 2. Images of Power and Legitimacy

    1.1.  Kings and gurus, sovereigns and ministers (49)

    1.2.  kṣatra and kṣetra (61)

    1.3.  Divine kings, kingly deities and spiritual leaders (63)

    1.4.  In search for an image of power and legitimacy (71)

    1.5.  The imperial project of vedārthaprakāśana (76)

    Chapter 3. Books, Texts and Communities

    1.1.  Manuscript culture and transmission of knowledge (91)

    1.2.  Whose are the Vedic bhāṣyas? (96)

    1.3.  The intended audience of the Vedic bhāṣyas (99)

    1.4.  Circulating the bhāṣyas (106)

    1.5.  vyākhyāna: bridging the oral and the written (113)

    Chapter 4. A Charismatic Teacher and a Vedic Scholar

    1.1.  The mediating gesture of Mādhava (119)

    1.2.  Mādhava and Sāyaṇa: charisma and scholarship (123)

    1.3.  The “sealing stanza” of Mādhava (126)

    Chapter 5. Presenting the Commentary: Here Comes the Bhūmikā

    1.1.  The bhāṣyas and the bhūmikās (131)

    1.2. The body of the Ṛgvedasaṃhitābhāṣyabhūmikā (133)

    1.3. The scope of the bhūmikā (137)

    Chapter 6. A Canonical Commentary in the Making

    1.1.  The art of prefacing and the strategy of framing (141)

    1.2. Organizing the space of the commentary: inner hierarchy (145)

    1.3. Production and legitimation of knowledge through commentary (152)

    1.4.  The canon and its commentary: competing legitimacies (155)

    Chapter 7. On the Fringes of the Text

    7.1. maṅgalaślokas: securing good beginnings (159)

    7.2. avataraṇikās: narrating the origins (162)

    7.3. Colophon formulae (168)

    7.4. phalaśrutis: promising the benefits of listening (171)

    Chapter 8. The Rationalized “Scripture” of the Veda

    1.1.  The Vedic “scripture” scholarly defined (175)

    1.2.  Introducing hierarchy into the Veda (182)

    1.3.  The blooming fruit tree of the Veda: the flower of dharma and the fruit of brahman (186)

    1.4. Is there a need for a commentary on the Veda? (202)

    1.5.  Sāyaṇa and the two Mīmāṃsās (206)

    Chapter 9. The Commentary and the Quest for Knowledge

    1.1.  Outlining the concept of the commentary (215)

    1.2. The object, the purpose, and the reader (223)

    1.3. The fourteen strongholds of knowledge (227)

    1.4. The knowledge of the knowledge (239)

    Chapter 10. Making Sense of the Vedic Textual Corpus

    10.1. From svādhyāya to arthajñāna (245)

    10.2. The right for interpretation (257)

    10.3. “Sidelong glance”, compassionate guru, and the transmission of knowledge (262)

    10.4. Instead of conclusions (275)

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