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Introduction from Vasudha Narayanan

vasu_at_religion.ufl.edu
Date: Tue Mar 12 1996 - 11:44:18 PST

[I am forwarding this on behalf of Prof. Narayanan. -- Mani]

I am not sure if this message is supposed to go to you or to the whole
list-- if it is to everyone, feel free to forward it.
My interest in the group is only to learn from all of you-- there is so much
and such little time!  I am a professor of Comparative Religion at the
University of Florida.  My husband is also a professor here and we have two
sons, Desika (15) and Ramanujan (10).  I have been trying to learn about our
sampradaya from about 1973 or so.  My traditional teachers were K.K.A
Venkatachari (Bombay).  I studied Desika's Sanskrit Bhasyas to the Gadya
traya, and Alavandar's stotras under Sriman M.S. Rajagopalachariar of Desika
Bhavanam, Mylapore in 1975.  My understanding of the Tenkalai literature
(Periyavaccan Pillai's commentary on Tiruppavai, Pillai Lokacharya's Sri
Vacana Bhusanam and Manavala Mamunikal's commentary on it) came by studying
these texts under Sri C. Jagannathachariar, formerly of Vivekananda College.
In 1978 I finished my Ph.D dissertation on "The Srivaisnava Understanding of
bhakti and prapatti: The alvars to Vedanta Desika."  The first part of the
dissertation (Alvars to Parasara Bhattar) was published under the title The
Way and the Goal by Center for the Study of World Religions (Harvard
University) and Institute for Vaisnava studies (American university) in
1987.  The other two books I have written are The Tamil Veda: Pillan's
interpretation of the Tiruvaymoli (with John Carman, Chicago: University of
Chicago press, 1989) and The Vernacular Veda: Revelation, Recitation and
Ritual (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1994).  The last
book focuses on the notion of revelation of the Tiruvaymoli, the modes of
transmission in modern days and the araiyar sevai at Srirangam.  I have also
edited two other volumes.  I've written a few articles (about 20-30) on
Srivaisnavism, on topics like Ramanuja and renunciation; the goddess Sri;
Archavatara; Karma, bhakti yoga and grace in Ramanuja and Kurattalvan;
Desika and karma; krtajnata in Srivaisnavism; and Parasara Bhattar's
commentary on the Vishnu sahasranamam.  Some articles, like one on Tiruppan
alvar are under review now. It seemed silly to list all these articles here
because they really are my own attempts to understand our rich heritage and
would be fairly simplistic to your circle which seems very thoughtful and
learned.  
        My latest publication is part of an undergraduate textbook.  It is
an introduction to "the Hindu tradition" (pp 1-133) and "The Jain tradition"
(134-175) and is part of World Religions: Eastern Traditions, edited by
Willard Oxtoby, Oxford University Press, 1996.  I am currently working on 3
projects: 1, complete translation of the Tiruvaymoli, 2, The Hindu Tradition
(an Introductory text) to be published by Prentice Hall and 3, the
interfaces between Hinduism and Islam in Tamilnadu, especially noting how
similar Tamil Islamic literature is to the Kamba Ramayanam (The Seera
Puranam or the life of the Prophet) follows the Ramayana closely, chapter
and verse sometimes. 
Yours in the path of learning and understanding our tradition, Vasudha Narayanan