A Vaisnava Poet in Early Modern Bengal

Kaikarnapura's Splendour of Speech

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Rembert Lutjeharms
Oxford Theology and Religion Monographs
  • Oxford, England: 
    Oxford University Press
    , November
     400 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Jeremy Hanes forthcoming.


This book examines the practice of poetry in the devotional Vaishnva tradition inspired by Sri Krishna Caitanya (1486-1533), through a detailed study of the Sanskrit poetic works of Kavikarnapura, one of the most significant sixteenth-century Caitanya Vaishnava poets and theologians. It places his ideas in the context both of Sanskrit literary theory (by exploring his use of earlier works of Sanskrit criticism) and of Vaishnava theology (by tracing the origins of his theological ideas to earlier Vaishnava teachers, especially his guru Srinatha). Both Kavikarnapura's poetics as well as the style of his poetry is in many ways at odds with those of his time, particularly with respect to the place of phonetic ornamentation and rasa. Like later early modern theorists, Kavikarnapura reaches back to the earliest Sanskrit poeticians whom he attempts to harmonise with the theories current in his time, to develop a new poetics that values both literary ornamentation and the suggestion of emotion through rasa. This book argues that the reasons of and purposes for Kavikarnapura's literary innovations are firmly rooted in his unique Vaishnava theology, and exemplifies this through a careful reading of select passages from the Ananda-vandavana, his poetic retelling of Krishna's play in Vandavana.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Rembert Lutjeharms is Librarian and Research Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, and Tutor in Hinduism at the Faculty of Theology & Religion of the University of Oxford. The main subject of his research is the early intellectual history of the Caitanya Vaisnava tradition. He is also an editor of the Journal of Hindu Studies.

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