Critique and Catharsis: Jain-Vaiṣṇava Polemics in Early Modern Karnataka

In: Journal of South Asian Intellectual History
Jonathan Peterson Department of Religious Studies, Stanford University Stanford, CA USA

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The popularization of Madhva’s realist Vedānta was accompanied by forceful critiques of its alleged enemies. Although the movement’s challenges to other Vedāntas has been well studied, its sustained engagement with Jainism has not. The anti-Jain writings of Madhva’s followers offer an important but neglected perspective on the early history of Mādhva Vedānta and its rise to power. This article examines the anti-Jain polemics of an influential intellectual named Vādirāja Tīrtha (c. 1520–1600). By situating Vādirāja and his writings in the vibrant and volatile world of post-Vijayanagara coastal Karnataka, this paper treats the archive of anti-Jain polemics not as a record of timeless doctrinal disagreement, but as a repository of local struggles over patronage, livelihood, and influence. Reading interreligious disputes with an eye to local context allows me to make a larger point about polemics and community formation. Work on polemics has tended to focus on ideas of verbal warfare and destructive debate; this paper suggests, however, that acts of polemical othering in early modern South Asia were productive forms of boundary keeping and community formation. This paper argues that Vādirāja constructed and ridiculed the Jain other as a way to galvanize a coterie of beleaguered Brahmans in a moment of duress. Vādirāja’s anti-Jain writings, in other words, were condemnation as catharsis and community-building.


The popularization of Madhva’s realist Vedānta was accompanied by forceful critiques of its alleged enemies. Although the movement’s challenges to other Vedāntas has been well studied, its sustained engagement with Jainism has not. The anti-Jain writings of Madhva’s followers offer an important but neglected perspective on the early history of Mādhva Vedānta and its rise to power. This article examines the anti-Jain polemics of an influential intellectual named Vādirāja Tīrtha (c. 1520–1600). By situating Vādirāja and his writings in the vibrant and volatile world of post-Vijayanagara coastal Karnataka, this paper treats the archive of anti-Jain polemics not as a record of timeless doctrinal disagreement, but as a repository of local struggles over patronage, livelihood, and influence. Reading interreligious disputes with an eye to local context allows me to make a larger point about polemics and community formation. Work on polemics has tended to focus on ideas of verbal warfare and destructive debate; this paper suggests, however, that acts of polemical othering in early modern South Asia were productive forms of boundary keeping and community formation. This paper argues that Vādirāja constructed and ridiculed the Jain other as a way to galvanize a coterie of beleaguered Brahmans in a moment of duress. Vādirāja’s anti-Jain writings, in other words, were condemnation as catharsis and community-building.


Vādirāja Tīrtha (c. 1520–1600) is celebrated today as an adroit poet, affectionate panegyrist, and a fervent proselyte of the realist Vedānta attributed to Madhva Ācārya (c. 1238–1317). “His fine poetic faculty,” scholar B.N.K. Sharma writes, his “human touch” and the “quick flashes of his wit and humor … have made him the most popular and enthusiastically applauded writer in Dvaita literature.”1 Sharma’s effusive praise is not unwarranted. The scale of Vādirāja’s influence on the institutional and intellectual trajectory of Madhva’s Vedānta (Mādhva Vedānta, for short) places him among the tradition’s most important figures, with some according him the same messianic status as Madhva himself.2 Vādirāja was a Brahman monastic (saṃnyāsin), but his livelihood was entangled with the fortunes and follies of royal donors and courtly life. Aside from a stray land grant or inscription, however, what we know of Vādirāja as a historical figure is almost exclusively drawn from Sanskrit and Kannada hagiographies, all of which were composed many decades after his death in about 1600.

Vādirāja’s hagiographers narrate his life across a set of familiar themes—a miraculous birth, prodigious learning, pilgrimage, scholastic debate, and a larger-than-life influence over vast geographies, from the kilns of Kanara’s goldsmiths to the gilded halls of the Vijayanagara court.3 If a hagiography’s pronouncements are a form of collective memorialization, as Heidi Pauwels and others have shown, then a hagiography’s silences might be a kind of collective forgetting.4 Among the handful of events and texts that Vādirāja’s hagiographers are silent about, Vādirāja’s Admonishing the Apostates (Pāṣaṇḍakhaṇḍana) speaks the loudest.5 An acerbic, blustering, and vulgar denunciation of Jains,6 Admonishing the Apostates appears at odds with the scholarly and saintly persona that Vādirāja’s hagiographers build. It is precisely as an apparent outlier, as a challenge to a curated saintly identity and canon, that Admonishing the Apostates deserves to be studied. This paper begins by situating Vādirāja and his polemics in the vibrant but turbulent world of late-sixteenth century southern India. I highlight the ascendancy of powerful Jain ruling families and merchants along the southern coast of present-day Karnataka, where Madhva’s Vedānta movement began and eventually flourished.

Jain communities in the southern Kanara coast connected Vijayanagara’s “high-income consuming class,” in the words of Sanjay Subrahmanyam, to lucrative trade routes across the Arabian Sea. Although intellectual historians like Quentin Skinner and others have rightly warned that understanding a text on the basis of social context alone produces “very prevalent confusions in the history of ideas,” I would like to revisit the role of context as a way of explaining (and in some cases complicating) our understanding of certain texts and their effects in the world.7 The economic and social prosperity Kanara Jains enjoyed, combined with their connections to courtly power, provides crucial background for examining anti-Jain attitudes among followers of Madhva. It also casts certain doctrinal positions in different light. Vādirāja’s critique of land-clearing and wood-use for Jain temples, for instance, becomes more apropos to local context when read against donor inscriptions that suggest Jain merchant guilds poured enormous wealth into construction and renovation projects.

While the social and political climate of sixteenth-century Karnataka makes a protracted interreligious polemic between Jains and Mādhvas seem inevitable, Jain intellectuals paid little attention to Mādhva provocations, and there are no known Jain rejoinders to Admonishing the Apostates. If polemics are the “verbal equivalent of war,” in Jesse Lander’s words, then Vādirāja’s anti-Jain polemics were a battle of one.8 Scholars have only begun to theorize polemics in a South Asian context, let alone chart the stylistic and receptive differences between types of polemical discourse. Over the last decade, scholars have used the term to describe Sanskrit texts of vastly different tone, structure, content, and context without specifying what, precisely, makes a polemical text a ‘polemic.’ Christopher Minkowski, for instance, associates the “theatrical vehemence” we see in certain sixteenth-century writings with a kind of “polemical genre.”9 Valerie Stoker describes the Ambrosia of Logic written by the prolific Mādhva intellectual Vyāsatīrtha as his “most polemical” writing.10 And still others speak of philological polemics, hagiographical polemics, polemical debates, tracts, treatises, tomes, and pamphlets.

An unspoken consensus of this work is that polemics, contra Foucault, are not a discursive wasteland where dialogue goes to die—“has anyone ever seen a new idea come out of a polemic?” Foucault famously asked.11 Early-modern polemics were suffused not only with new ideas, but also a set of constructive social functions that have yet to be fully appreciated. Valerie Stoker gestures to the productive potential of polemic by suggesting that certain Mādhva texts worked to attract new devotees and followers. “Debate and polemics,” Stoker postulates, “strongly suggest that these groups [of Vedāntins] were looking to convert others to their system of thought.”12 Although the notion of ‘conversion’ raises a number of further questions, Stoker is right to suggest that polemics are productive of something. This paper suggests that some polemics worked not to vanquish an opponent or to convert the undecided, but to reassure the resolute, to mollify those already in a particular community.

The idea of polemics remains under-theorized in a South Asian context, but scholars of medieval Europe and the Mediterranean world have established more rigorous taxonomies of disputational texts and their social function.13 Among the various kinds of medieval Jewish-Christian polemics that Jeremy Cohen has theorized, for instance, are a ‘brand’ of early-medieval Jewish anti-Christian polemic intended for the “internal consumption and edification of the Jewish community.”14 This type of anti-Christian polemic, Cohen argues, was not well adapted to direct confrontation with Christians, but rather emerged out of “existing literary forms” and was intended for circulation within Jewish communities.15 While Vādirāja’s anti-Jain polemics do not appear to be “edifying” in any typical sense of the term, they seem to conform to a social function similar to the one Cohen describes. Certain polemics were clearly intended to circulate within limited, cloistered circles. Admonishing the Apostates is one such text.

The last half of this paper builds a case for understanding Admonishing the Apostates as a limited circulation polemic intended for a small community of Mādhva readers. I examine one of the text’s key discussions—the scriptural prohibition of violence (na hiṃsyāt sarvabhūtāni), its relation to Vedic ritual, and the various dilemmas the prohibition causes when taken too far (as Vādirāja believes Jains have done). As a scholar of considerable erudition, Vādirāja knew the scholastic debates on ritual violence in both Mīmāṃsā and Vedānta contexts, especially those of his own tradition. His other writings suggest that he also knew critiques of ritual violence found in Jain writings. Despite his knowledge on the subject, he resists treating violence as a subject of scholastic debate. He opts instead to invoke authorities of Mīmāṃsā as mere narrative props and to marshal evidence widely denied argumentative validity, such as poetic convention (kavisamaya). This seemingly self-defeating mode of critiquing Jain doctrine suggests that Admonishing the Apostates was not written as a serious scholastic work meant to attract a Jain readership, but rather as a kind of satire meant to reinforce the devotional core of the Mādhva system. The manuscript and print histories of Admonishing the Apostates support this. The text was almost always bundled with Vādirāja’s devotional poems (stotra), where bellicose tirades against Jains and others were read and orated alongside heartfelt praise to Rukmiṇī and Kṛṣna.

Indian Ocean Jainism and the Making of a Polemic

In February 1801, the Scottish physician Francis Buchanan reached Mudubidre, a small town on the southwest coast of Karnataka. Buchanan had been surveying lands wrested from Tipu Sultan after the Anglo-Mysore wars. Despite Mudubidre’s abundant bamboo groves (bidir in Kannada), for which the town was named, Buchanan found the area to be “one of the poorest countries” he had yet visited.16 Upon arriving, he met with a “brahman native officer,” who recalled how the region had fallen on hard times. Mudubidre and the wider region, according to the Brahman, had once thrived under Jain rulers, but their fortunes changed after “Shiva Bhaktas” conquered the region in the name of Vijayanagara.17 Buchanan then met with one of Mudubidre’s remaining Jain scholars. After a lesson on metaphysics, the Jain scholar relayed an anecdote that Buchanan struggled to make sense of—Jainism had not come to Mudubidre from elsewhere in India, the scholar explained. Jainism came from the Arabian Peninsula.

Upon reaching Mudubidre, Buchanan had already noted the historical presence of prosperous Jains in the region. Just a day earlier, he encountered one of the region’s two colossal statues of Bāhubali in Venur and noted how one of Venur’s Jain temples had been overtaken by tigers. But with little sense of the region’s historical connections to maritime trade, Buchanan was quick to dismiss the scholar’s tale of an ancient Arabian king named Pārśva Bhaṭṭāraka—the alleged founder of Islam—who banished Jains from their homeland in the Hejaz to the distant shores of India. Such an account of Jainism in India was “so very confused,” Buchanan scoffed.18 “None of them” bear even the “smallest trace of the Arabian features.”19 Buchanan was right to doubt the historicity of Jainism’s Arabian origin, but he failed to recognize a remarkable bit of cultural memory, one that linked the Jains of southwestern India to a broader Indian Ocean world. Over the next century and a half, archaeological and epigraphic surveys around Mudubidre and elsewhere would attest to the presence of powerful Jain ruling families and merchants (seṭṭikāra) whose livelihoods extended from Cairo to Vijayanagara.

Jains enjoyed ties to the Vijayanagara court from the early days of its founding. In a well-known inscription from 1368 CE, Vijayanagara’s founding ruler Bukka appears to have quelled tension between Śrīvaiṣṇavas and Jains by declaring the two religions equal. He subsequently placed soldiers at the Digambara center of Śravaṇa Beḷgoḷa and ordered that his decree be inscribed on “all the basadis (Jain temples) of the kingdom.”20 This inscription led Bhaskar Anand Saletore to describe Bukka as a “Protector of the Jina faith,” but Bukka’s motivation for pronouncing Śrīvaiṣṇavas and Jains equal may have been more pragmatic than principled.21 Inscriptions from Mangalore, Barkur, Karkal, Mudubidre, Udupi and elsewhere in coastal Karnataka suggest an early and successful effort on the part of Bukka and his brother Harihara to bring the region’s patchwork of independent territories under Vijayanagara control. By the late fifteenth century, a majority of the region’s chieftains had pledged loyalty to Vijayanagar.22

Of Vijayanagara’s coastal feudatories, many were elite Digambara Jains whose families enjoyed hereditary claims to governance and land dating to Chāḷupa and Hoysaḷa rule.23 By bringing Jain chieftains under Vijayanagara suzerainty, Bukka and subsequent rulers gained control over lucrative mercantile networks that connected the landlocked Vijayanagara court to the broader Indian Ocean world. Vijayanagara’s interest in the region, as Sanjay Subrahmanyam notes, was to levy customs on imports and exports through its ports, and to tax goods moving across inland highways.24 This ensured the uninterrupted flow of prized commodities from ports on the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Persian Gulf to Vijayanagara’s interior urban centers. Arabian horses were imported for the royal cavalry; gold and copper bullion from the Middle East was stamped into imperial coinage; and foreign luxury goods like silks and aromatics were imported for a “high-income consuming class,” in Subrahmanyam’s words, the likes of which “could be found only in a city as large and prosperous as Vijayanagara.”25

Vijayanagara’s “high-income consuming class” brought the Jains of Tuḷunāḍu vast fortunes. By the fifteenth century, Jain mercantile guilds were directing mass sums into public works projects that benefited local Jain communities, including the construction of new temples, the renovation of old ones, and support for monks, nuns, and students. Of the eighteen basadis that Buchanan noticed in Mudubidre, for instance, at least six were financed by individual merchants or merchant guilds (seṭṭikāra).26 In an inscription at the Hosabasadi (“New Temple”) in Mudubidre, which was supported in part by the Vijayanagara ruler Devarāya II (r. 1425–1446), the merchant donors are styled as those “skilled in the renovation and construction of new and old caityas” (nūtanapurātanacaityālayanirmāpaṇoddharaṇapariṇatāntaḥka).27 The same basadi received donations for an addition during the reign of the Vijayanagara ruler Mallikārjuna (r. 1447–1465).28

Elsewhere in the region, wealthy Jain donors sought to replicate distant symbols of Jain power locally. In 1431, a Jain feudatory of Devarāya II financed a project to reproduce the Bāhubali colossus of Śravaṇa Beḷgoḷa at Karkal, and a century and a half later another was built in Venur, the very statue that Buchanan passed before he arrived in Mudubidre.29 Throughout the fifteenth century, Jain donors bankrolled the renovations and construction of basadis and caityas throughout the Kanara coast, often at the behest of monastic leaders.30 New basadis were built in Karkal, Venur, Hiriyangadi, Nellikara, Varanga, Keravase and elsewhere, and owing to the region’s extensive woodlands, construction projects frequently required clearing land and felling trees—a practice that Vādirāja, as will become clear, denounced as a violation of the Jain vow of non-violence.31

Vādirāja and Vijayanagara Decline

One of Vādirāja’s hagiographers named Rāmacandra writes that Vādirāja was born only eighty kilometers north of Mudubidre in January, 1480CE, and died one hundred and twenty years later in the village of Sodhe. Vādirāja’s dates are clearly manipulated to fit auspicious asterisms of the lunar calendar, but inscriptional evidence attests to Vādirāja living in coastal Karnataka in the mid- to late-sixteenth century.32 A decades-long shift among Vijayanagara royalty in patronage preferences facilitated a meteoric rise of Mādhva Vedānta both as an institutional and intellectual presence. The institutional conditions that transformed Mādhva Vedānta in the first half of the sixteenth century were tied to realpolitik strategies to advance Vijayanagara state interests through calculated alliances with religious institutions. Valerie Stoker has highlighted this in the case of Vijayanagara’s promotion of Mādhva Vedānta and Śrīvaiṣṇavism at Tirupati, which, in her words, “enabled Vijayanagara kings to monitor the empire’s rebellious northern Tamil holdings and to remain in striking distance of Kalinga.”33 Vijayanagara’s promotion of what Stoker calls a “big tent Vaiṣṇavism” may have been felt if not practically, then at least symbolically among Vijayanagara’s earlier monastic allies at the Śāṅkara maṭhas in Sringeri.

An imperial shift away from the Śaiva Sringeri maṭhas—at least by measure of royal giving—is reflected in epigraphic and monastic sources, which suggest a precipitous decline in new land grants and other donations after the mid-fifteenth century. Of the sixteen records held at the Sringeri maṭhas for the years 1346 to 1545, all but three were issued before 1446. Two others, a property dispute and gift are from 1515. The last before the rise of the Ikkeri-Keḷadi Nāyakas is a gift in 1545.34 We cannot correlate a decline in royal giving to a decline in revenue collection per se, but a shift towards Vaiṣṇava patronage seems to have informed a general sense of regional and institutional neglect at Sringeri.35

A shift towards Vaiṣṇava institutions coincided with (but was not caused by) Vijayanagara’s loss of control over their coastal and western landholdings in the late-fifteenth century. K.V. Ramesh speculates that regional governors may have exploited the political upheavals following the assassination of Virūpākṣa II in 1485 to assert their independence. In 1512, after about thirty years of independence, Kṛṣṇadeva Rāya (r. 1509–1529)—the patron of the prolific Mādhva scholar Vyāsatīrtha—brought the lands surrounding Udupi, Sringeri, and the west-coast ports under direct imperial oversight, albeit briefly.36 Just three years later, he ceded the region back to local chieftains who, unlike in the past, operated without the oversight of court-appointed governors.37 In 1554—a decade before Vijayanagara would be routed by the tenuously allied Deccani Sultans—Vijayanagara’s Sadāśiva Rāya (r. 1542–1572) ceded all of the Tulu, Mangalore, and Barkur territories to an officer in his army named Sadāśiva Nāyaka, the first official ruler of the Keḷadi Nāyaka state.38

Ruling first from Keḷadi and later Ikkeri—both in the mountainous coastal region known as Malladeśa or the modern Malnad—the Kelḷadi Nāyakas were the very “Shiva Bhaktas” Buchanan’s Brahman “native officer” associated with the decline of the region.39 As ardent Vīraśaivas, Keḷadi rulers saw Malladeśa as a bastion of Śaivism. Later Keḷadi royalty like Basavappa Nāyaka (r.1697–1714) wove the court’s Śaiva leanings in the very lore of the ruling family, positioning Keḷadi territories as a kind of bucolic Śaiva paradise. In his encyclopedic dynastic chronicle known as the Śivatattvaratnākara, Basavappa writes:

(Malladeśa) is surrounded by the beautiful
Tuṅgabhadra river and others,
which remove all sins by touching
just a drop of their waters;
Where liṅgas like the Rāmeśvara Liṅga
manifest in different ways, and which fulfill
the desires of those who have
concentrated their minds upon them;
Where everyone venerates Śiva’s liṅga,
and, calling out Śiva’s names, fixes their mind on him;
Where people’s foreheads gleam white with ashen streaks,
and hearts shine resplendent with rudrākṣa beads;
Where hermitages offer weary travelers relief,
and from which bellow
the eleven hymns of Rudra and the Śaivāgama;
Where revenue-lands are gifted to Brahmans,
and appear like pearl necklaces
on the beautiful maiden that is the earth.40

Making use of polysemy (śleṣa), Basavappa adds:

There is no bondage (bandha) (in Malladeśa)
other than composition in poetry,
no criminal branding (aṅka)
other than the marks on the moon,
no conceit (mada)
other than the intoxication of an elephant in rut,
no fines of gold (kanakadaṇḍa)
other than the royal parasol,
and no worry (cintā)
other than contemplating the śāstras.41

Basavappa merely aestheticizes a sentiment that Keḷadi rulers seem to have felt since the early days of their rule. As inscriptions, court documents, and other works bear out, the Keḷ̣adi Nāyakas styled themselves not only as “Śaiva bhaktas,” but also as “upholders of a pure, Vaidika Advaita” (viśuddhādvaitasiddhāntaṣṭhāpaka). We see both appellations, for instance, in an inscription ordered by Sadāśiva Nāyaka’s grandson Rāmarāja in 1577, which established a town in Sadāśiva Nāyaka’s name. The inscription recounts Sadāśiva’s ties to Vijayanagara and casts him as an ardent upholder of Śaivism and “pure Vaidika Advaita.”

Back when king Sadāśivarāya was in Vijayanagara,
when he had ascended the bejeweled throne and was ruling his kingdom,
a kingdom vested in the protection of the true ways of varṇāśrama, when he was intent on vanquishing the wicked and protecting the cultured—
at that time, and by the king’s very command,
the intelligent and court-sanctioned Sadāśiva Nāyaka (Yeḍava- Murāri)42
destroyer of forts (koṭekolāhala),
who was invested in upholding pure, vaidika Advaita,
vanquisher of other views,
whose highest aim was Śiva bhakti,
the ruler whose name is Sadāśiva, born in Keḷadi,
who is known the world over by his surname ‘Keḷadi,’
who, having taken possession of the unrivaled Gutti province,
and the dharma-hewed Āraga, along with its eighteen districts,
and having taken the Barkur and Mangalore territories, too—
[he, Sadāśiva Nāyaka,] ruled over his kingdom.43

Rāmarāja’s inscription conveys at least three important developments. The first is the transfer of sovereignty over specific territories (Vijayanagara’s “segmented states,” in Steinian terms).44 The transfer was one of sovereignty, not one of active management. Sadāśiva and his grandsons Rāmarāja and Veṅkaṭappa would systematically subdue these territories over the remaining decades of the sixteenth century through military campaigns and strategic partnerships. The second is the way the inscription asserts continuity between Vijayanagara and Keḷadi sovereignty. Ahistorical narratives of imperial “collapse” following Vijayanagara’s defeat in 1565 at Talikota overlook the durability of Vijayanagara state power. The collapse narrative fails to take seriously the extent to which Nāyaka rulers broadly, and Keḷadi rulers especially, recognized Vijayanagara sovereignty well into the seventeenth century, even after discontinuing annual tributes of money and military service.45 Last is the title “Establisher of a pure Vaidika Advaita,” a title applied to subsequent Keḷadi rulers and that subsumed the family’s Vīraśaiva piety and Śāṅkara Advaita Vedānta under a big-tent Śaiva non-dualism. The court’s support for the Śāṅkara maṭhas at Sringeri was consistent and significant enough that, by the end of the sixteenth century, the Keḷadi court is praised in institutional records and inscriptions as “having re-established” (punarpratiṣṭheyam māḍi) the maṭhas (“punar” perhaps calls to mind an earlier period of symbolic or practical neglect on the part of the Vijayanagara court).46

Unlike the Vijayanagara ruling family, the Keḷadi chiefs left little doubt about their personal devotion. As Vīraśaivas, the imprint of the fledgling court’s Śaiva piety is evident in inscriptions like the one above, where grants of land or the establishment of villages are indexed to Śaiva devotional aims, even when made to Jain or Mādhva grantees. Although Vīraśaiva piety is a subtext in much of the early Keḷadi epigraphic record, Keḷadi rulers adopted Vijayanagara’s model of non-sectarian gifting as a matter of course. In 1557, for instance, Sadāśiva Nāyaka is mentioned alongside Sadāśiva Rāya and a local governor as sanctioning a charitable endowment in honor of two Jain gurus named Muni Candradeva and Abhinavadeva Kīrttideva.47 To stress the seriousness of the agreement, the grantees equate any potential violation to breaking icons at important Jain, Śaiva, and Vaiṣṇava centers.

Fourteen years later, Sadāśiva’s grandson Rāmarāja—who eulogized his grandfather in the inscription above—issued the first grant on the part of the Keḷadi rulers to the Mādhva temples at Udupi. While the Kṛṣṇa temple is accorded the majority of the income from various revenue lands, the grant specifies that Vādirāja Tīrtha and a Mādhva monastic named Raghunidhi Tīrtha are to each receive one-third and one-quarter stakes of the revenue, respectively.48 After this initial grant, Keḷadi rulers issued three further grants to Vādirāja—one in 1593, by a regional governor at Sodhe named Araśappa Nāyaka for the upkeep of Vādirāja’s new maṭha, and two others in 1616, to Vādirāja’s student Vedavedya Tīrtha, in which Vādirāja is listed as a beneficiary despite having probably died by that time.49

While Vādirāja clearly succeeded in earning Keḷadi support for Mādhva temples at Udupi and Sodhe, the next section will make clear that at the time of writing Admonishing the Apostates he felt that the region had suffered from of the rise of Jain power, on the one hand, and Keḷadi rulers, on the other.

The Vaiṣṇava Origins of Jainism

Admonishing the Apostates was first printed in 1911 by a small publishing house in Belgaum, northern Karnataka. Their edition was likely completed on the basis of three manuscripts held at the Oriental Research Institute in Mysore—the only manuscripts, to my knowledge, of the text.50 Only one hundred and twenty-nine verses in simple anuṣṭubh meter, Admonishing the Apostates is much shorter than Vādirāja’s better known works. Nothing in the text indicates when Vādirāja may have written it. He does not reference any of this other works, nor does he or his brother and commentator Surottama specify a Jain intellectual or ruler as the target of their discontent. To the contrary, Vādirāja begins his critique of Jainism in the mists of Purāṇic time, where he explains how Viṣṇu took form as the Buddha in order to mislead and destroy a group of demigods known as the Daiteyas. To tell the story, Vādirāja draws from the Viṣṇupurāṇa. Through austerities and strict adherence to the path of the Vedas (vedamārgānusāriṇaḥ), the Viṣṇupurāṇa elaborates, the Daiteyas had grown powerful and began intercepting the gods’ share of ritual rewards (trailokyayajñabhāga). The gods approached Viṣṇu, fell to his feet, and begged him to intercede on their behalf. The gods conceded that they are no different from the Daiteyas. They were all born of Viṣṇu himself. But by transcending the clutches of avidyā, the gods had come to understand the world in strictly dualistic terms. Pleased with their insights about the nature of the reality, Viṣṇu agreed to intervene and produced from his body a charm of delusion (māyāmoha). “This charm of delusion will confound the Daiteyas,” Viṣṇu proclaims, “and once they have been led from the path of the Vedas they will be killed.”51 As Vādirāja explains, “Viṣṇu then reached the earth by way of the Vedas and, in the guise of the Buddha, created this incorrect doctrine in order to banish those who are unfit.”52

After proclaiming that Jains are a faction of Buddhists (tadekadeśin), Vādirāja ridicules a number of well-worn Jain doctrine and practices, including ahiṃsā, the coextensive nature of the soul with the body (jīvapariṇāmatva), dravyapūja, Jain scriptural authority, and karma. These issues are ‘well-worn’ because they are debated across several Vedānta traditions, including Madhva’s Brahmasūtra commentaries and various commentaries on them. In Madhva’s Anuvyākhyāna and Jayatīrtha’s Nyāyasudhā, for instance, the two contend with the soteriological stakes of ahiṃsā, the size and ‘complexion’ (leśyā) of the soul, and the status of Jain scripture. These discussions occasionally take disparaging tones—“Being as they are of human origin,” Jayatīrtha writes, “Jaina scriptural statements are baseless. Like the words of a drunkard, the veracity of Jaina scriptures is difficult to establish.”53 Yet these discussions are nevertheless ‘scholarly’ insofar as they are couched in earnest, at times rigorous, exegesis, and they are almost always put in service of proving a core tenet of the Mādhva system. Both Madhva and Jayatīrtha, for their part, leverage the Jain notion of jīvapariṇāmatva, or the coextensive nature of the soul with the body, to make a case for the hierarchy of souls (tāratamya), a cornerstone of Mādhva soteriology. This kind of systems-oriented engagement with Jain doctrine is pervasive in later scholarly writing in the Mādhva tradition, including that of Vādirāja. In his Gurvarthadīpikā, a précis on Jayatīrtha’s Nyāyasudhā, Vādirāja seriously engages the doctrine of anekāntavāda.54 He also rigorously critiques core tenets of Jain epistemology in his Haribhaktikalpalatā, a fair portion of which is dedicated to refuting the Pramāṇanirṇaya of the eleventh-century Digambara polymath Kanakasena Bhaṭṭāraka.55

While this sort of engagement with Jain doctrine has been a fixture of Mādhva exegesis since its inception, Robert Zydenbos has argued for a more substantive connection between Mādhva Vedānta and Jainism. Pointing to Madhva’s birthplace in coastal Karnataka and to certain overlaps in Jain and Mādhva epistemology, Zydenbos argues that Madhva either unwittingly incorporated Jain doctrine into his new religious movement, or “deliberately attempted to achieve a further synthesis” between the two systems.56 Zydenbos raises a number of important questions about the genesis of Madhva’s system and its proximity to Jainism in its earliest days, but his conclusions (which I believe are correct) are vigorously contested in the contemporary Mādhva community. Even at their most earnest, earlier Mādhva exegetes from Jayatīrtha to Yadupati are openly hostile to Jainism and go to lengths to draw a line in the sand between the two communities.

We see flashes of this open hostility in early Mādhva polemics like Nārāyaṇa’s Maṇimañjarī,57 but Vādirāja’s Admonishing the Apostates is altogether different from prior Mādhva sources. Vādirāja is not, it seems, invested in questions of hermeneutics or exegesis. Nor is he vested in building a case for specific doctrines of the Mādhva system. So what did Vādirāja hope to accomplish with the text?

The Limits of Non-Violence

After explaining Jainism’s origin, Vādirāja spends a fair portion of the text examining the nature of ritual violence. Vādirāja provocatively asks, “Gods like Indra and Padmabhū, who were performing hundreds of Vedic rituals, sages like Vasiṣṭha and even kings like Vainya—were they all not greater than the Jina, who was born in the age of Kali?”58 Vādirāja anticipates that a Jain objector will point out that these figures were indeed flawed for having engaged in pointless ritual practices that not only caused themselves pain and cost vast sums of money, but also brought untold violence to sacrificial animals. “Were these earlier sages fools?” Vādirāja quips in response.59

Having pleased the lord of the gods with animal offerings (havis) made pure by mantra, and having sent the sacrificial animal to heaven, those gods, sages, and kings will themselves go to heaven thereafter. For a mercenary’s death brings no harm to the king who has paid the mercenary’s wage. By the same logic, violence to a sacrificial animal brings no fault to a priest who is offering heaven to the animal. Just as a doctor causes pain at first but is later praised for bringing relief, how is the priest not praised for giving heaven to the sacrificial animal? If you do not consider the Jina murderous (hiṃsra) for teaching diabolical rituals that hurt others, would the same not be true for us? “But you have not seen the sacrificial animal’s heavenly result!” you might object. And yet who has seen the result for your sacrificial animals (i.e., your followers)? Our sages, who have miraculous powers, have seen this result.60

Ritual killing has long been a point of contention between Jains, Buddhists, and Vaidika Brahmans. The paradigmatic case of a Vedic animal offering is the Agnīṣomīya paśu, the goat sacrificed in the name of Agni and Soma at the beginning of the Soma rite. To redress the Jain objector’s disapproval of earlier sages like Vasiṣṭha and others for having engaged in the ritual slaughter of animals, Vādirāja argues that violence committed against an animal in ritual contexts is sanctioned due to the favorable outcome of the sacrificed animal attaining heaven (svarga). This is the rationale that the author(s) of the Mānavadharmaśāstra give, for instance, when remarking that “killing is not killing” (yajñe vadho ‘vadhaḥ), when done in sacrificial contexts for the very fact that when a ritual officiant kills an animal during a sacrifice “he leads the animal and himself to heaven.”61 In response to this precise set of verses from the Mānavadharmaśāstra, the twelfth-century Jain intellectual and Chaulukya courtier Hemacandra remarks, “those compassionless [Vaidikas] who kill animals under the false pretense of an offering to a god or a Vedic ritual will meet horrendous misfortune.”62 One need not even slaughter a living animal, according to Jains like Hariṣeṇa (c.931 CE), in order to meet such ‘horrendous misfortune.’ In his Bṛhatkathākośa, for instance, Hariṣeṇa recounts the story of king Yaśodhara, who, to expiate for an inauspicious dream, sacrificed an imitation animal made of flour and was subsequently murdered for the “evil act.”63

By the end of the first millennium, the dominant Vedic exegetical traditions— Mīmāṃsā and Vedānta—had developed far more rigorous theories of ritual violence. There are many Vedic statements that sanction violence, for instance “one should slaughter a white animal dedicated to Vāyu” (“vāyavyaṃ śvetam ālabheta”),64 which commands a subsidiary act in a rite that ultimately begets heaven, or “who wants to kill their enemy through spellwork (abhicāra) should perform the Falcon Sacrifice” (“śyenenābhicaran yajeta”), which commands a subsidiary act in a rite that kills the sacrificer’s enemy and which generates negative results for the sacrificer himself.65 Elsewhere, however, we encounter seemingly contradictory commands forbidding (niṣedha) violence—“one should not harm living beings” (na hiṃsyād sarvabhūtāni), for instance.66 To the detractor, then, Vaidika scriptures appear not only to be internally contradictory, but to also bring inconsistent results.

The eighth century hermeneut Kumārila Bhaṭṭa resolves this problem by spelling out a distinction. Proscriptive commands like “na hiṃsyāt” do not apply directly to a rite itself, i.e., to the means/manner (sādhana/itikartavyatāṃśa) of a ritual act. If this were the case, then one would have to admit that the Vedas command two contradictory things at once—to both do and to not do violence. Instead, a proscriptive command applies only to a rite’s effect (phalāṃśa). It is only through indirect attribution (upacāra) that a rite’s effect can be attributed to its means/manner. Thus “na hiṃsyāt” does not proscribe the Śyena and the Agniṣṭoma rites. Scripture commands a person to perform both the Agniṣṭoma and the Śyena rite, and both employ violence. But the type of violence the Agniṣṭoma uses is different from the Śyena because of the indirect attribution of its result (heaven). Although the Śyena effects a desired end (the killing of an enemy), a negative quality (what Kumārila calls in his Mīmāṃsāślokavārttikaanarthatva”) is indirectly attributed to means/manner of the rite.67 It is for this reason that the Śyena rite falls within the scope of a prohibition against violence.

Jayatīrtha uses a similar logic while justifying certain kinds of ritual violence in his commentary on Madhva’s explanation of Brahmasūtra 3.1.25(26) (“aśuddham iti cen na śabdāt”). Jayatīrtha argues that we cannot establish invariable concomitance between violence and demerit (pāpa) for the simple reason that all acts of violence have limiting adjunct conditions (upādhi). The difference between killing a Brahman, for instance, and sacrificing a goat to Agni and Soma are two very different conditions qualifying the act of violence.68 In neither case, however, do Kumārila or Jayatīrtha justify the killing of an animal on the basis that it attains heaven.

Vādirāja ignores both the dominant Mīmāṃsā and Mādhva positions on ritual violence and goes on to invoke Kumārila as a narrative prop in order to explain how and when Jains came to coastal Karnataka.

The unrivaled expert in Vedic ritual Kumārila Bhaṭṭa conquered the preceptors of Jaina scripture, and, making them the guest of Death, led a Jaina king to the path of the Vedas by conducting numerous Vedic sacrifices. He also motivated others to undertake Vedic rituals. After Kumārila, where did the darkness of your crooked logic bear fruit? Nowadays, the Jainas have come to this region, a place where Brahmans have taken to farming (for subsistence). They, the Jainas, are favored by a group of kings that covet the wealth of (those farming) Brahmans. The way of the Jaina is in the merchants’ lane, but what do merchant-folk—experts in buying and selling—know (of dharma)? Dharma is not spread out alongside garlic in the merchants’ lane.69

Vādirāja denounces Jainism in universal terms, but his critique is tinged with local context. Since the days of Kumārila, Vādirāja complains, Jains have fled to “this region” (“asmin deśe”)—to Tuḷunāḍu—a place evidently under the heavy hand of a “federation of rulers” (rājamaṇḍala). This ‘federation’ is the Keḷadi Nāyakas and their network of regional governors, all of whom, as established above, were governing Tuḷunāḍu after 1556 with only symbolic fealty to Vijayanagara. To make matters worse, these rulers, as Vādirāja laments, are intent on extracting the wealth of the region’s Brahmans, some of whom have resorted to working the land for subsistence (“kṛṣīvaleṣu vipreṣu”).

There is ample evidence to attest to certain Brahman communities of the Kanara littoral working land for a living in spite of the disapproval of others outside of the region. Agrarian Brahmans further up the coast provoked trans-regional debate in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.70 Although some of Tuḷunāḍu’s Brahmans may have been indigent, Vādirāja’s tale of Kumārila and his apparent persecution of Jains links the locus and occasion of Jain prosperity to an imagined prehistory of Vedic triumphalism. However embittered Vādirāja may have been by the unique local pressures of life in Tuḷunāḍu, he emphasizes that the the region’s Brahmans are ensured their share of dharma, which, as Vādirāja jokes, is not for sale alongside garlic in the Jain bazaar.

Further along in Vādirāja’s defense of Vedic ritual violence, he explains how proscriptive commands (niṣedha) like “na himsyāt” do not apply to rituals like the Agniṣtoma—“if you say that violence is prohibited in the Vedas, then we accept that … but to say that something is prohibited (generally) does not mean that it applies to ritual actions like the (Soma) Yāga and others.”71 Rather than draw on his considerable facility in Mimāṃsā and Vedānta to give a nuanced analysis of proscriptive commands, Vādirāja opts instead for a simplified explanation so that he can elaborate on the various quagmires a strict and universal adherence to non-violence generates:

Hey, pal! I’m going to tell you something that nobody should have to hear … The statement “na himsyād sarvabhūtāni” is not contradicted by exceptions (since it is an utsarga, or general rule). “Hey, king! Protect the people and punish the thieves every day.” How is it that this general rule, while subject to certain suspending conditions, would not stand? 72

Here, Vādirāja points to a simple problem that arises from not understanding the distinction between a “general rule” (utsarga) and an “exception” or “limiting condition” (apavāda). The general rule “protect the people” (“narān rakṣa”) is suspended when one of the king’s subjects is a thief and requires punishment. In that case, the limiting condition “punish the thieves” (“corān śikṣa”) suspends the general rule without contradicting it. Failing to understand the conditional nature of “na hiṃsyāt,” Vādirāja argues, leads to numerous social and ethical problems. Vādirāja describes at some length the quagmires an uncompromising commitment to non-violence causes. He writes:

The feet of the guru become infected with maggots due to disease. Hey, fool! Are you going to kill those insects? Or are you going to kill your own guru through negligence? How is it that you condemn the very people who head out to kill a cow-killing tiger, lest you be the one adorned with the sin of killing a herd of cows? You proclaim “na hiṃsyāt!” to protect a group of ravenous demons who grow strong devouring the world. But in so doing, do you not destroy the world? If you gouge out a person’s eye, it is a sin. But for an eye with cataracts (kāca), then cutting out the cataracts is a good thing. For this reason, there is no fault in doing violence that is beneficial for the world, this is understood.

And in accordance with judicious sayings like “you should sacrifice a single person for the sake of a family,”73 how does the Jaina not sacrifice a single person when everything is being destroyed? When the Jaina defecates, does that not cause some violence to living things? And if they do not (relieve themselves), then that would be damaging to themselves—thus the Jaina is bound by two nooses, and by perseverating on the problem, they kill their own body. If you accept that “one should thresh the unhusked rice,” then you should accept both food and medicine.74 When the Jaina enjoys the company of women (and, Surottama adds, uses contraception—garbhanirodha), how is violence not created? Your Jina becomes greedy upon accepting offerings like fruits and roots, and yet if he does not, then that offering is wasted and claims the lives of many living things.

The Jaina praises his own and condemns the Brahmans, and so therefore the Jaina would commit at each moment two kinds of violence that the śāstras established (praising yourself and condemning Brahmans). For kings who are always thinking about vanquishing enemies, the ‘glory’ of the Jaina path is like what the Moon-Tormenter Rāhu is to the moon.75 If you say that “killing enemies is a king’s dharma,” then you have come to the right path. You will then have to accept that scripturally sanctioned violence (vaidhī hiṃsā) is dharma for Brahmans as well.76

Certain cases of violence, Vādirāja suggests, are virtuous. But rather than engage with the considerable Jain literature that debates and theorizes many of these dilemmas, Vādirāja opts for a kind of slapstick caricature of Jain doctrine. His avoidance of serious scholastic debate is evident in his argument against clearing land for the construction of Jain basadis, which, as mentioned above, was at its peak in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Oh, Jain! The worst among people! When you kill trees, who canceled the command ‘na hiṃsyād’ for you? “Only violence to creatures with ten senses is prohibited, not to creatures with fewer than ten” you might say. How did you make this distinction? (If you reply,) “by our very own scriptures,” then how is it that other scriptures do not make the distinction between these two types of violence (to ten-sensed creatures and to the others)? (By your estimation, killing) blind, deaf, deaf-mute, and castrated people (would not be violence, since they do not have ten senses). And on your view, just like killing trees, killing the worms in the ground would be (scripturally) sanctioned. Hey, dummy! This is the lowest of the low.

And if you revise your position to say—“it is a problem to kill living things with multiple senses, but it is not a problem to kill things that possess one sense,” then we reply—(that trees) have more than one sense is evident from their hearing a maiden’s music, drinking (her water), delighting in the smoke of her incense, and feeling her foot … You killed trees that were helpful to other beings and made them into Jaina temples (jinaveśmakṛti). Just as you consider that meritorious, you ought to regard other types of violence (like the ritual violence we do) as meritorious.77

In a moment when the Jains of Tuḷunāḍu were engaged in “extensive construction,” in the words of Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Vādirāja’s concern for Jain rationalizations of wood-use seems germane to local context.78

Here, too, Vādirāja avoids long-running debates that would have easily bolstered the authority of his argument. Rather than engage, for instance, with the work of well-known Jain intellectuals like Haribhadra—who rationalizes wood in basadi construction due to the Jain builders not incurring the karmic burden involved with the actual cutting—Vādirāja invokes a poetic convention (kavisamaya) to support his position.79 Against the view that killing trees does not amount to violence due to their having only one sense, Vādirāja marshals the trope of a woman’s ability to bring a tree to bloom (usually an Aśoka tree) simply by touching it with her foot, sprinkling it with water, praising it with incense smoke, or singing to it—all of which would suggest that a tree possesses more than just the sense of touch (tvagindriya). While this trope has been used to great effect in poems like Kālidāsa’s Mālavikāgnimitra, poetic conventions are generally denied epistemic or argumentative power.80 In his Kāvyamīmāṃsā, for instance, Rājaśekhara remarks that poets use certain motifs that are against scholarly consensus (aśāstrīya) and do not actually occur in the world (alaukika), but are nevertheless canonized (paramparāyāta) in literature.81 Vādirāja’s use of poetic convention to support a crucial position against Jain wood-use gives his otherwise acerbic critique an air of levity, even fancy. It does not, however, lend his criticism an argumentative force that would hold up under close scholarly scrutiny. Vādirāja knows this.

As we read on, Vādirāja seems to delight in ghastly and vulgar images. In defending eating meat in sacrificial but not mundane contexts, Vādirāja asks—“You drink the white milk that comes from meat (i.e., an animal), so why not drink pus as well?” In accusing Jains of various polluting practices, Vādirāja disparages—“The Jainas vomit but do not wash out their mouth!” In raising the false flag of Brahmanical persecution, he writes “the Jaina wants the annihilation of Brahmans; he’s the new Muslim!” And in questioning Ṛṣabha’s conquest over bodily desire (vairāgin), he asperses—“Was Ṛṣabha a eunuch, did he have a wife, or was he a lecher with a long penis?82 Vādirāja’s bombast, his avoidance of scholarly precedent, and his fanciful approach to establishing crucial doctrinal positions all raise questions about what, precisely, Vādirāja hoped to accomplish in writing Admonishing the Apostates. As we reach the last twenty or so verses, the purpose of the text comes into sharper view.

On your view, all sins are removed by a bundle of peacock feathers, so how then could Kṛṣṇa, who carries the feather of peacock on his head, be faulted?83

After over one hundred verses of merciless censure, Vādirāja’s critique of Jainism gives way to praise of Kṛṣṇa and Viṣṇu-Nārāyaṇa, and finally a reassertion of the authority of the Vedas.

Those particular teachers did not create the Veda, and neither did Śiva nor Viṣṇu. The Vedas are called ‘śruti’ for the fact that they have been heard since time immemorial … And because it does not come from an unreliable source, śruti is the ultimate authority. Thus, we have established that Nārāyaṇa is the recipient of correct ritual actions like Vedic sacrifices, that he has vanquished the bad folks, and that his glory cannot be disgraced or broken.

This, the Pāṣaṇḍakhaṇḍana, has come from the nectar of the flowers growing in the garden of the Vedas, it is the honey from the honeybee known as Vādirāja. Let the learned folks consume it.84

Although intent on denigrating Jains across a number of points of doctrine and praxis, Admonishing the Apostates reasserts Kṛṣṇa and Viṣṇu-Nārāyaṇa as points of devotion. In other words, Admonishing the Apostates reinforces the devotional core of the Mādhva system. We see this more starkly in another of Vādirāja’s poems called Praising Vyāsa, Admonishing the Apostates (Pāṣaṇḍakhaṇḍanavyāsastotra), a short stotra appended to the 1911 print edition of Admonishing the Apostates that attacks Vīraśaivas only to culminate in a heartfelt paean to Vyāsa, the fabled author of the Mahābhārata.85

Both Admonishing the Apostates and its companion stotra use critique and censure to reinforce Mādhva devotion. Admonishing the Apostates’ praise-polemic structure combined with the liberties that Vādirāja takes in building his argument points to the text being intended for the Mādhva community, and perhaps even within Vādirāja’s immediate circle of students and scholars at the Sodhe and Udupi Maṭhas, for whom the trenchant ridicule of Jains and Vīraśaivas would have had greater urgency and social value than Mādhvas and Vaiṣṇavas in other parts of the Deccan.


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B.N.K. Sharma, History of the Dvaita School of Vedānta and its Literature, vol. 2 (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1961), 192.


The term “bhāvisamīra”—“The Next God of Wind”—is commonly found in Vādirāja’s hagiographies and the incipits of his printed works. The term is applied to him posthumously.


We can see the idealized reach of Mādhva Vedānta, for instance, in accounts of Vādirāja rescuing the Vijayanagara rulers Kṛṣṇadevarāya (r. 1509–1530) and his brother Acyutadevarāya (r. 1530–1542) from fiscal ruin; curing Acyutadevarāya of grave illness; and converting Śaiva rulers to Madhva’s Vaiṣṇava Vedānta. But we can also see this idealized reach in the way that Vādirāja’s writings are mapped onto prestigious centers of learning and devotion. He allegedly hurried to finish his epic poem Rukmiṇīśavijaya in order to thwart the public commemoration of another poet in Pune; he wrote his commentary on the Mahābhārata in Allahabad after an apparition of Vyāsa, the fabled author of the Mahābhārata, implored him to do so; and after a long period of meditation in Dwaraka, Kṛṣṇa’s purported birthplace, Vādirāja wrote his praise-poems to Madhva and tested their curative power on the local infirm. See Rāmacandra, Śrīvādirājaguruvaracaritāmṛta, 3.4–27. For more on this and his Kannada hagiographies see Robert Zydenbos, “Some Examples from Mādhva Hagiography,” in According to Tradition: Hagiographical Writing in India (Wiesbaden: Harrasowitz Verlag, 1994).


Heidi Pauwels, “Imagining Religious Communities in the Sixteenth Century: Harirām Vyās and the Harirām Trayī,” International Journal of Hindu Studies 13, no. 2 (2009): 143–61. Prachi Deshpande has pointed to the importance of forgetting in the context of popular memory. She has argued that analyzing works of popular memory should account for the “many contexts within which some representations become part of popular memory and others do not.” Prachi Deshpande, Creative Pasts: Historical Memory and Identity in Western India, 1700–1960 (Columbia University Press, 2007), 4.


I take ‘pāṣaṇḍa’ to mean ‘apostate’ instead of the more common ‘heretic. Both Vādirāja and his commentator and brother Surottama stress that ‘pāṣaṇḍas’—originally Buddhists and Jains—once followed, but ultimately abandoned, the path of the Vedas.


I use the term ‘Jain’ unless quoting Sanskrit texts where the term ‘Jaina’ is used.


Quentin Skinner, “Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas,” History and Theory 8, no.1 (1969), 43. Although Skinner stressed that social context cannot be “the determinant of what is said,” he recognized that social context can be tremendously useful for “explaining” it. See Quentin Skinner, “Meaning and Understanding,” 49.


Jesse M. Lander, Inventing Polemic: Religion, Print, and Literary Culture in Early Modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 16.


Christopher Minkowski, “Maryādām Ullaṅghya: The Boundaries of Interpretation in Early Modern India,” In Canonical Texts and Scholarly Practices, edited by Anthony Grafton and Glann W. Most (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), 101.


Valerie Stoker, Polemics and Patronage in the City of Victory: Vyasatirtha, Hindu Sectarianism, and the Sixteenth-Century Vijayanagara Court (Oakland: University of California Press, 2016), 11.


Michel Foucault, “Polemics, Politics and Problematizations, interview by P. Rabinow,” in Essential Works of Foucault (New York: The New Press, 1998), vol. 1.


Stoker, Polemics and Patronage in the City of Victory, 11.


For polemic’s uniquely Protestant provenance, see Lander, Inventing Polemic.


Jeremy Cohen, “Towards a Functional Classification of Jewish Anti-Christian Polemic in the High Middle Ages,” in Religionsgespräche im Mitterlalter, ed. Bernard Lewis and Friedrich Niewöhner (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1992), 99.


Cohen, “Towards a Functional Classification,” 99.


Francis Buchanan, A Journey from Madras Through the Countries of Mysore, Canara, and Malabar (London: T. Cadell & W. Davies, 1807), 74.


Buchanan, A Journey from Madras, p. 74.


For merchant documents related to trade between Tuḷunāḍu, Cairo, and elsewhere on the Arabian Sea, see M.A. Friedman S.D.F. Goitein, India Traders of the Middle Ages: Documents from the Cairo Geniza (Leiden: Brill, 2007).


Buchanan, A Journey from Madras, 80.


Bhasker Anand Saletore, Mediaeval Jainism with a Special Reference to the Vijayanagara Empire (Bombay: Karnatak Publishing House, 1938), 289. Also see Paul Dundas, The Jains (London: Routledge, 2002), 129.


Saletore, Mediaeval Jainism, 291.


Most of the period’s inscriptions were issued either at the decree of the Vijayanagara court or by one of its feudatories. See South Indian Inscriptions, vol. 7 (Madras: Government of India, Central Publications Branch, 1932). K.V. Ramesh, A History of South Kanara (Dharwar: 1970), 150.


The three main Jain ruling families were the Chauṭas, who governed Uḷḷāla, Mudubidre, and other villages near Mangalore; the Nāgires, who ruled Geresoppe and surrounding areas, and the Baṅga family, who ruled near Puttur and surrounding areas.


Sanjay Subrahmanyam, “The Portuguese, the Port of Basrur, and the Rice Trade, 1600– 1650,” in Merchants, Markets, and the State in Early Modern India (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1990).


Subrahmanyam, “The Portuguese,” 28.


G.O., etc., nos. 762–63, 25th July 1901, in Annual Reports on Indian Epigraphy (1887–1905) (New Delhi: The Director General Archaeological Survey of India, 1986).


no. 196 of South Indian Inscriptions, vol. 7, 91. See also Ramesh, A History of South Kanara, 263.


Nos. 28, 29, and 33 of South Indian Inscriptions, vol. 7. See also G.O., etc., nos. 762–63, 25th July 1901, in Annual Reports on Indian Epigraphy (1887–1905).


No. 43 of South Indian Inscriptions, vol. 7. For his efforts, the donor assumed the title “Abhinava Cāmuṇḍarāya,” an homage to the general who established the statue at Śravaṇa Beḷgoḷa in 981 CE.


Ramesh, A History of South Kanara, 303.


Timber was often used in basadi construction as ornately carved pillars or beams. See G.O., etc., nos. 762–63, 25th July 1901 in Annual Reports on Indian Epigraphy (1887–1905). Also, Saletore, Mediaeval Jainism, 368. The practice of felling trees for basadi construction had been an issue Jains grappled with since at least the ninth century CE.


Rāmacandra copies an epitaph on Vādirāja’s tomb at Sodhe that says Vādirāja died in February, 1600 CE. See verses 1.30 and 6.72 in Rāmacandra, Śrīvādirājaguruvaracaritāmṛta. P.K. Gode proved that Vādirāja’s Tīrthaprabandha could not have been written before 1542. See P.K. Gode, “Prof. P.P.S. Sastri, and the Date of Vādirājatīrtha,” Annals of the Bhandarkar Institute 17, no. 2 (1935): 203–10. B.N.K Sharma affirms Gode’s conclusions in subsequent article in the ABORI. B.N.K. Sharma, “The Date of Vādirāja Tīrtha,” Annals of the Bhandarkar Institute 18, no. 2 (1937): 187–97.


Stoker, Polemics and Patronage, 88.


A.K. Shastry, The Records of the Śṛṅgeri Dharmasaṃsthāna (Śṛṅgēri: Śṛṅgēri Maṭha, 2009). Although incomplete, the pattern we see in the kadata record is mirrored in inscriptions as well.


Grants of land and land tenure were regularly honored well past individual rulers or even dynasties. For instance, when Buchanan traveled to Keḷadi (after Mudubidre), he met the descendent of a family of Ikkeri-Keḷadi courtiers who had collected a pension first granted under Keḷadi rulers and later honored by the Mysore court after they defeated the Ikkeri-Keḷadi Nāyakas in the mid-eighteenth century. See Buchanan, A Journey from Madras, p. 253.


Ramesh, A History of South Kanara, p. 209.


Ramesh, A History of South Kanara, p. 212.


South Indian Inscriptions, vol. 9, pt. 2, no. 655. See also Ramesh, A History of South Kanara, p. 227.


For the sake of brevity, I use the term “Keḷadi Nāyakas” instead of the more accurate “Keḷadi-Ikkeri Nāyakas.”


tuṅgabhadrādayo yatra paritaḥ saritaḥ śubhāḥ | svapayobindusambandha- nirdhūtākhilapātakāḥ || svayaṃ vyaktim avāptāni śivaliṅgāni bhūriśaḥ | rāmeśvarādīn iṣṭārthān diśanti svaikacetasāṃ || yatra sarve ‘pi manujā śivaliṅgārcanāparāḥ | tannā māsaktarasanās taddhyānāmīlitekṣaṇāḥ || vibhūtirekhāvilasalalāṭaphalakāntarāḥ | rudrākṣamālikodbhāsihṛdo yatrākhilā narāḥ || āśramā yatra vividhā vinirdhūtātithiśra- māḥ | rudraikādaśinīśaivāgamapāṭharavāṅkitāḥ || yatrāgrahārā bahavo bhūsurebhyaḥ samarpitāḥ | kṣoṇīramaṇyā rucirā hārā iva vibhānti ye”—Basavarāja, Śivatattvaratnākara (Mysore: Oriental Research Institute of Mysore, 1964), vol. 1, vss. 5.2.4–9, p. 312.


bandhaḥ kāvye śaśiny aṅko mado yatra mataṅgaje | chattre kanakadaṇḍaś ca śāstre cintā na cānyathā”—5.2.24 in Basavarāja, Śivatattvaratnākara.


The title ‘Yeḍava-Murāri’ refers to two enslaved people that Sadāśiva’s father Chauḍappa Nāyaka (r. 1499–1513) purportedly sacrificed for the fortunes of the Keḷadi-Ikkeri family. See K.D. Swaminathan, The Nāyakas of Ikkeri (Madras: P. Varadachary & Co., 1957), 29, n. 30.


tasmin sadāśivakṣmāpe sadvidyānagarasthite | ratnasiṃhāsanārūḍhe purā rājyaṃ praśāsati || varṇāśramasadācāraparipālanapūrvakaṃ | duṣṭanigrāhake śiṣṭaparipālana- tatpare || tadājñādhārako dhīmān tadā tasyājñayaiva hi | yeḍavādir murārir yaḥ koṭekoḷāhaḷas tathā | viśuddhavaidikādvaitasiddhāntasthāpanārataḥ | pratipakṣavighātī ca śivabhaktiparāyaṇaḥ | śrīsadāśivarāyākhyo nāyakaḥ keḷadijaniḥ | keḷadītyupanāmnā yaḥ prakhyāto jagatītaḷe | pratigṛhya purā dhīmān guttisīmām anuttamāṃ | āragaṃ dharmasadraṅgaṃ yuktāṣṭadaśakampaṇaṃ | bārakūraṃ maṅgalūraṃ sarāṣṭram praśaśāsa ha”—no. 5, plate 2b of Tīrthahaḷḷi Tāluq in Epigraphia Carnatica, edited by Lewis B. Rice (Bangalore: Government Book Depot, 1904), vol. 8, 293.


Burton Stein had noted the use of sectarian maṭhas and brahmadeyas as modes of state building in Vijayanagara a few decades before Stoker, and Norbert Peabody, Monika Horstmann, Samira Sheikh and others have noted equally opportunistic strategies of religious patronage and state-formation in other contexts. See Burton Stein, Peasant State and Society in Medieval South India (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1980) Norbert Peabody, Hindu Kingship and Polity in Precolonial India (Cambridge University Press, 2002); Horstmann, Der Zusammenhalt der Welt; Samira Sheikh, Forging a Region: Sultans, Trader, and Pilgrims in Gujarat, 1200–1500 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).


Elizabeth J. Bridges-White has critiqued the collapse narrative in her work on Keḷadi state-formation. See Elizabeth J. Bridges-White, “Beyond Empire: Vijayanagara Imperialism and the Emergence of the Keladi-Ikkeri Nayaka State, 1499–1763 CE” (diss., University of Michigan, 2015).


no. 5 of Śṛṅgeri Jāgir in Epigraphia Carnatica vol. 6, ed. Lewis B. Rice (Bangalore: Government Book Depot, 1901), 192.


See no. 8 in Epigraphia Indica and Record of the Archaeological Survey of India, edited by Harinanda Sastri (Delhi: Pear Offset Press, 1933), vol. 20, 89–97.


no. 55 of the Sorab Tāluq in Epigraphia Carnatica vol. 8, 192.


nos. 296 and 302 (nos. 110 and 114 in MAR of 1901) in South Indian Inscriptions vol. 7.


See nos. 43436/C.722, 43437/C.1679, and E43438/C.1871 of the Descriptive Catalogue of Sanskrit Manuscripts: Dvaita Vedānta (General), Jaina & Bauddha (Mysore: Oriental Research Institute, 1988).


3.17.42 in Viṣṇupurāṇa with the commentary of Śrīviṣṇucittārya (Kancipuram: Saṃvatsarīyatulāmūlarkṣa, 1972), 236.


tadā buddhākṛtir bhūmim upetyāmnāyamārgataḥ | ayogyāṃs tān bahiḥ kartuṃ cakāredam asanmataṃ ||”—Vādirājatīrtha, Pāṣaṇḍamatakhaṇḍana (Belgaum: Rāmatattvaprakāśa, 1911), v.5. The version of the Viṣṇupurāṇa I consulted clearly states Viṣṇu manifested as a Digambara Jain holding a whisk of peacock feathers (barhipicchadhara). See Viṣṇupurāṇam, 237.


[jinavākyasya] pauruṣeyasya nirmūlasyonmattavākyavat samyaktvaṃ durlabham”—Jayatīrtha. Nyāyasudhā with Vākyārthacandrikā of Vidyādhīśa, Sudhāvivṛti of Satyavratatīrtha, Parimala of Rāghavendratīrtha, Sudhāṭippaṇī of Yadupatyācārya, Ṭikādhṛtasudhāvākyārthavivaraṇa of Śrīnivāsatīrtha, and Caṣaka of Mannārīkṛṣṇācārya (Bengalore: Uttarādimaṭha, 1983), 4936.


Vādirājatīrtha. Gurvarthadīpikā (Udupi: Śrīmadvādirājīyagranthaprakāśanasamiti, 1952), 95.


Vādirājatīrtha, “Haribhaktikalpalatā,” C-725 in Descriptive Catalogue of Sanskrit Manuscripts No. 14: Dvaita, Vedānta (General), Jaina & Bauddha (Mysore: Oriental Research Institute), 1988, and Sharma, History of the Dvaita School, 211.


Robert J. Zydenbos, “On the Jaina Background of Dvaitavedānta,” Journal of Indian Philosophy 19, no.3 (1991): 249–71, 259.


5.14 in Nārāyaṇapaṇḍitācārya, Maṇimañjarī with auto-commentary (Publisher data unknown).


yajan kratuśatair indro hayamedhaiś ca padmabhūḥ | mahārṣayo vasiṣṭhādyā vainyādyāś cakravartinaḥ / kaleḥ kāle samudbhūtād jināt kiṃ nātikovidāḥ ||”—Vādirājatīrtha, Pāṣaṇḍamatakhaṇḍana, v.7.


vṛthā cittaṃ vyayīkṛtya kleśayitvā kalevaraṃ | prāṇinaṃ ca vṛthā hantuṃ kiṃ mūḍhāḥ pūrvasūrayaḥ ||”—Vādirājatīrtha, Pāṣaṇḍamatakhaṇḍana, v.8.


havirbhir mantrataḥ pūtaiḥ prīṇayitvā sureśvarān | prāk paśūnāṃ divaṃ dattvā yāsyanty ante svayaṃ divaṃ || bhṛtyanāśena nānartho bhartur arthapradasya hi | tathā svardānato hotur na doṣaḥ paśuhiṃsayā || agre ‘hitakṛd apy ante sukhado ‘rcyo yathā bhiṣak | tathā paśoḥ svargadānāt kathaṃ pūjyo na yājñikaḥ || na cet parakleśakarair vrataiḥ krūrair vibodhitaiḥ | jino ‘pi hiṃsraḥ syād ante phalān neti samaṃ mama || paśoḥ phalaṃ na dṛṣṭaṃ cet paśūnāṃ bhavatāṃ phalaṃ | kena dṛṣṭaṃ kāmacārā draṣṭāro naḥ kilarṣayaḥ ||”—Vādirājatīrtha, Pāṣaṇḍamatakhaṇḍana, v.9–13.


ātmānaṃ ca paśūmś caiva gamayaty uttamāṃ gatim”—Mānavadharmaśāstra 5.39–40, 42 in Patrick Olivelle, Manu’s Code of Law: A Critical Edition and Translation of the Mānavadharmaśāstra (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005). Translation is mine.


devopahāravyājena yajñavyājena ye ‘thavā | ghnanti jantūn gataghṛṇā ghorāṃ te yānti durgatim ||”—v.2.39 in Olle Quarnström, The Yogaśāstra of Hemacandra: A Twelfth Century Handbook on Śvetāmbara Jainism (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002). Translation is mine.


See Friedhelm Hardy’s “The Story of King Yaśodhara” in Phyllis E Granoff, The Clever Adulteress & Other Stories: A Treasury of Jain Literature (Oakville: Mosaic Press, 1990), 120. The issue of the animal substitute seems to have become a minor controversy among second-millennium Mīmāṃsakas and Vedāntins. Numerous tracts were written criticizing or defending the practice. See, for instance, the numerous titles on this issue in the Sarasvati Bhavan Library in Benares.




Āpastambhaśrautasūtra 22.4.13. We have to take the term “śyena” as a karmanāmadheya.


This is a smṛti statement from the Mahābhārata (Śāntiparvan 2.69.5). Chāndogya 8.15.1 “ahiṃsan sarvabhūtāny anyatra tīrthebhyaḥ” is cited as its supporting śruti statement.


See Ślokavārtika Codanādhikaraṇa, v. 2.217, in Kumārilabhaṭṭa, Mīmāṃsāślokavārttika with the Kāśikā of Sucaritamiśra, pt. 1 (Trivandrum: Maharani Regent of Travancore, 1926).


See Madhva, Brahmasūtrabhāṣyam jayatīrthakṛtatattvaprakāśikākhyaṭīkayā tadupari rāghavendrayatikṛtabhāvadīpākhyaṭippaṇyā ca samalaṅkṛtam (vol. 3) (Dharwad: Karnataka Historical Research Society, 1980), 61–63. Note also Kauṇḍabhaṭṭa’s critique of Jayatīrtha in the Lakārārthanirṇaya section of the (Bṛhat)Vaiyākaraṇabhūṣaṇa. There is a robust literature on the nature of violence in Mīmāṃsā and other Vedānta traditions. See among others Wilhelm Halbfass, “Vedic Apologetics, Ritual Killing, and the Foundations of Ethics,” in Tradition and Reflection: Explorations in Indian Thought (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991); Jayashree Gune, “Paśu Sacrifice and the Śāstras,” Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute 74, no. 1 (1993): 153–67; Aleksandar Uskokov, “When Killing is Not Violence: The Justification of Animal Sacrifice in Rāmānuja’s Śrībhāṣya,” Journal of Vaishnava Studies 26, no. 2 (2018): 163–81.


karmakāṇḍe ‘tiniṣṇāto bhaṭṭācāryas tataḥ paraṃ | jitvā jināgamācāryān kṛtvā vaivasvatātithīn || rājānaṃ jinamārgastham ānīyāmnāyapaddhatau | ayajad vividhair yajñair itarān apy ayājayat || bhavatkuyuktitamasā tadā kutra phalāyitaṃ | kṛṣīvaleṣu vipreṣu deśe ‘sminn adhunāgatāḥ || vipravittaspṛhāyuktarājamaṇḍalamānitāḥ | jinā jainasya padavī vaṇigvīthīṣu vartate || krayavikrayavidvāṃsaḥ kiṃ jānanti vaṇikjanāḥ | na hi dharmo vaṇigvīthyāṃ laśunaiḥ saha jṛṃbhate ||”—Vādirājatīrtha, Pāṣaṇḍamatakhaṇḍana, v.14–18.


Rosalind O’Hanlon and Christopher Minkowski show how Konkani communities appealed to dharmasabhās in Benares to make determinations on their brahmanical status. Rosalind O’Hanlon and Christopher Minkowski, “What Makes People Who They Are? Pandit Networks and the Problem of Livelihoods in Early Modern Western India,” The Indian Economic and Social History Review 45, no. 3 (2008). K.G. Vasanta Madhava writes on this issue among Kannadiga Brahman groups in the Kanara littoral: K.G. Vasanta Madhava, “Land Control and Caste Structure in Coastal Karnataka,” Indica 19:1 (1982): 17–22. See also Kesavan Veluthat, “The Nature of Agrarian Corporations in South Canara Under the Alupas and Hoysalas,” Proceedings of the Indian History Congress 52 (1991): 108–14.


āmnāyeṣu niṣiddhā ced aṅgīkaras tadottaraṃ … niṣiddhatvaṃ paraṃ vācyaṃ na tadyāgādikarmasu”—Vādirājatīrtha, Pāṣaṇḍamatakhaṇḍana, v.22–24.


kenāpy aśrāvyam evedaṃ śrāvaye tvāṃ vacaḥ sakhe … na hiṃsyād iti vākyaṃ tan nāpavādair viruddhyate || narān rakṣa mahīpāla corān śikṣa dine dine | sāpavādaṃ na sāmānyaṃ katham etena siddhyati ||”—Vādirājatīrtha, Pāṣaṇḍamatakhaṇḍana, v.25–26.


Vādirāja is referring to a popular verse found in the Mahābhārata, Pañcatantra, and elsewhere that reads “tyajet ekaṃ kulasyārthe grāmasyārthe kulaṃ tyajet / grāmaṃ janapadasyārthe ātmārthe pṛthivīṃ tyajet.” See Mahābhārata 1.107.32 and [Viṣṇuśarman], Pañcatantra (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1912), p. 145.


Surottama explains that husking rice means hurting insects; not doing so means not eating and thus hurting oneself. Similarly, the worms in one’s gut cause pain. By taking medicine you bring yourself relief but cause violence to the worms. See Surottama’s Pāṣaṇḍakhaṇḍanavyākhyā on v.39.


One of two demons that ‘swallow’ the sun and moon during eclipses.


pāde vyādhivaśāj jāte guroḥ kṛmikulākule | kṛmīn tān haṃsi vā mūḍha guruṃ vā haṃsy upekṣakaḥ || vyāghraṃ gāḥ kila nighnantaṃ kathaṃ hantum upāgatān | gopuñjahatyādoṣeṇa bhūṣitas tvaṃ niṣedhasi || jagadbhakṣayato rūkṣān rākṣasān uruvikramān | na hiṃsyād iti rakṣan sa hinasti na kathaṃ jagat || netrasyotpāṭanaṃ pāpaṃ kācasyotpāṭanaṃ śubhaṃ | lokopakārihiṃsā ca na doṣa iti gamyate || tyajed ekaṃ kulasyārtha iti nyāyena dhīmatā | upaplave hi sarvasya katham eko na śikṣyate || malotsarge prāṇihiṃsānutsarge svātmahiṃsanaṃ | iti pāśadvayābaddho hanti svāṃ cintayā tanuṃ || taṇḍulān avahanyāc cet svīkuryād annam auṣadhaṃ | rameta kāminībhiś cet kathaṃ hiṃsā na jāyate || phalamūlādibhiḥ pūjāṃ svīkurvāṇo jinas tava | laṃpaṭaḥ syān na cet pūjā vyarthā syāt prāṇahāriṇī || svajanastutibhir jaino nindābhiś ca dvijanmanāṃ | hiṃsādvayaṃ śāstrasiddhaṃ sādhayec ca kṣaṇe kṣaṇe || sadā śatruvadhodyogacintanāsaktacetasāṃ | nṛpāṇāṃ jinamārgaśrīr indor iva vidhuntudaḥ || rājñāṃ śatruvadho dharmo yadi tarhy āgataṃ pathi | vaidhī hiṃsā ca viprāṇāṃ dharma ity eva gṛhyatāṃ ||”—Vādirājatīrtha, Pāṣaṇḍamatakhaṇḍana, vs.33–43.


sthāvarāṇāṃ yadā hiṃsāṃ kuruṣe puruṣādhama | na hiṃsyād iti vākyasya niṣedhā kas tadā tava || daśendriyavatāṃ hiṃsā niṣiddhā nāpareti ca | vibhāgaḥ kena te siddhaḥ svāgamād eva kevalaṃ || tathā parāgamād eva na vibhāgaḥ kathaṃ tayoḥ | andhānāṃ badhirāṇāṃ ca paṅgumūkaśikhaṇḍināṃ || mahīsthānāṃ ca jantūnāṃ hiṃsā te tasthuṣām iva | kartavyety āgataṃ manda ninditād atininditā || nānendriyavatāṃ hiṃsā doṣo naikendriyasya cet | kuto na kriyate tarhi kukkutāṃḍasya khaṇḍanaṃ || … saṅgītaśravaṇāc caiva pānād dhūpābhinandanāt | pādaspārśāc ca nārīṇāṃ te ‘pi nānendriyāśrayāḥ ||… paropakāribhir vṛkṣair jinaveśmakṛtir hataiḥ | yathā puṇyāya sā kācit tathā puṇyāya kalpyatāṃ ||”—Vādirājatīrtha, Pāṣaṇḍamatakhaṇḍana, vs.44–48; 50; 52.


Subrahmanyam, The Political Economy of Commerce, 121.


For more on Haribhadra’s “environmental ethic,” see Paul Dundas, “The Limits of a Jain Environmental Ethic,” in Jainism and Ecology: Nonviolence in the Web of Life, ed. Christopher Key Chapple (Cambridge: Harvard University Press for the Center for the Study of World Religions Harvard Divinity School, 2002). Also Paul Dundas, “The Non-Violence of Violence: Jain Perspectives on Warfare, Asceticism and Worship,” in Religion and Violence in South Asia: Theory and Practice, eds. John Hinnells and Richard King (Abingdon, New York: Routledge, 2006).


See the third act of the Mālavikāgnimitra.


aśāstrīyam alaukikaṃ ca paramparāyātaṃ yam artham upanibadhnanti kavayaḥ sa kavisamayaḥ”—Rājaśekhara, Kāvyamīmāṃsā (Baroda: Oriental Institute of Baroda, 1934), p. 78.


haviḥśeṣe na doṣaś cen māṃsam anyac ca sevyatāṃ | iti codyaṃ na vai hṛdyaṃ maryādābhaṅgakāraṇaṃ || māmsam adhyāgataṃ dugdhaṃ pīyate pāṇḍuraṃ yadi | sevasva pūyaṃ tatratyam iti codye kim uttaraṃ ||” (vs. 62–3); “vāntyakṣālitavaktrāṇāṃ sarvāṅge maladhāriṇāṃ” (v.71); “kāṅkṣan viprakṣayaṃ jaino nūtano yavano hy ayaṃ” (v.87); “klībaḥ sabhāryaḥ kiṃ rāgī dīrghaguhyendriyaḥ pumān” (v.100)—Vādirājatīrtha, Pāṣaṇḍamatakhaṇḍana.


śikhaṇḍikhaṇḍair doṣāṇāṃ hāniḥ kila bhavanmate | barhibarhāvataṃsasya kathaṃ doṣo ‘sya tarhy abhūt ||”—Vādirājatīrtha, Pāṣaṇḍamatakhaṇḍana, v.115.


na kṛtā tattadācāryair hareṇa hariṇāthavā | anādikālataḥ sarvaiḥ śrutatvāc śrutināmikā | |…anāptimūlatābhāvān mānaṃ sarvonnataṃ śrutiḥ || ato yajñādisatkarmapūjyo nirjita- durjanaḥ | avadyābhedyamahimā nārāyaṇa iti sthitaḥ || idaṃ śrautamatodyānaprasūna- rasanirmitaṃ | vādirājākhyasaraghāsarvasvaṃ sevyatāṃ budhaiḥ ||”—Vādirājatīrtha, Pāṣaṇḍamatakhaṇḍana, vs.125–27.


The Pāṣaṇḍamatakhaṇḍanavyāsastotra focuses on an episode in the Kāśīkhaṇḍa in which Vyāsa proclaims in front of Śiva at the Viśveśvara Temple in Banaras that Viṣṇu is the supreme lord. Śiva’s bull Nandin casts a curse on Vyāsa and his arm is paralyzed and his voice falters. It is only upon him accepting Śiva as the supreme lord that Vyāsa’s arm is reanimated. Other tellings have Nandin cut off Vyāsa’s arm in a fit of rage, and his severed arm—known as Vyāsantoḷ in Kannada—became a symbol of Śaiva supremacy over even the most stubborn Vaiṣṇava. Vīraśaivas in the Deccan used to parade Vyāsa’s arm through city streets until the Bombay High Court outlawed the practice in the 1940s. The practice was a lightning rod for communal violence. See my forthcoming article in New Explorations in South Asia Research.

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