Journal of Indian Philosophy

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 41–65 | Cite as

The Vaiṣṇava Writings of a Śaiva Intellectual

  • Ajay K. Rao


Although today Appayya Dīkṣīta enjoys a reputation as the preeminent Śaiva polemicist of the sixteenth century, it must be remembered that he also wrote works from a distinctively Vaiṣṇava perspective, in which Viṣṇu is extolled as the paramount god rather than Śiva. This paper examines one of those works, the Varadarājastava and its autocommentary. It places special emphasis on how the poem is patterned on the Varadarājapañcāśat of the fourteenth-century Śrīvaiṣṇava poet and philosopher, Vedānta Deśika, with close attention to the Varadarājastava’s use of the Vaiṣṇava imagery of the dahara-vidyā or meditation on brahman as the small space within the lotus-shaped heart. While this meditation was the central devotional practice for Appayya Dīkṣita and for his Śaiva predecessor Śrīkaṇṭha, in the Varadarājastava, Appayya is able to develop a more overtly Advaita dahara-vidyā, unfettered by hermeneutic fidelity to Śrīkaṇṭha’s Śaiva approach. The paper also considers the anomaly of Appayya writing as a Vaiṣṇava in the context of the institutional conflicts that took place between Śaivas and Vaiṣṇavas at sites close to where Appayya received patronage.


Appayya Dīkṣita Vedānta Deśika Vijayanagara Śivādvaita Viśiṣṭādvaita dahara-vidyā Cidambaram 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TorontoTorontoCanada

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