Protestant Christianity and Devotional Literature

Trajectory of Medieval Vacana Literature in Colonial Karnataka

In: International Journal of Asian Christianity
Vijayakumar M. Boratti Associate Professor, University Evening College, University of Mysore, Karnataka, India

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The present article explores the first-ever publication of vacanas of the twelfth century in colonial Karnataka in which a native Christian convert (catechist) of Basel mission writes a treatise on the religious and philosophical tradition of Liṅgāyats. The intention is to study how a native catechist consciously thought through colonial categories and vernacular idioms in interpreting vacanas and employing them as a touchstone to adjudicate Liṅgāyatism. Totally antithetical to Christian views of Liṅgāyatism, the native Liṅgāyat scholars’ idea of vacana literature and what it represented for them will be examined in the second part. The article straddles two registers: a) construction of Liṅgāyat religious/textual traditions with Christian categories and formulation of an ethical framework by the catechist in a Christian tract Liṅgāyata Mata Vicāra (1874) and b) reception, subversion and re- constitution of such construction by the elite Liṅgāyat scholars in the post-1874 scenario.

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