An Ornament for Jewels: Love Poems for the Lord of Gods by Vedantadesika

By Vedantadesika

During this significant other quantity to ]i]Singing the physique of God[/i] (Oxford 2002), Steven P. Hopkins has translated into modern American English verse poems written by means of the South Indian Srivaisnava thinker and saint-poet Venkatesa (c. 1268-1369).

These poems, in 3 various languages - Sanskrit, Tamil, and Maharastri Prakrit -- composed for one specific Hindu god, Vishnu Devanayaka, the "Lord of Gods" at Tiruvahindrapuram, shape a microcosm of the saint-poet's paintings.

They surround significant issues of Venkatesa's devotional poetics, from the play of divine absence and presence on the earth of non secular feelings; the "telescoping" of time earlier and destiny within the everlasting "present" of the poem; love, human vulnerability and the impassible perfected physique of god; to the devotional event of a "beauty that saves" and to what Hopkins phrases the paradoxical coexistence of asymmetry and intimacy of lover and cherished on the middle of the divine-human come across.

Moreover, those poems shape not just a thematic microcosm, yet a linguistic one embracing all 3 of the poet's operating languages. just like the remembered global of Proust's Combray within the style of madeleine dipped in tea, or Blake's global in a Grain of Sand, we style and spot, during this one specific position, and during this one specific kind of Vishnu, a number of protean types and powers of the divine, and hint a veritable summa of theological, philosophical, and literary designs.

Each translated poem kinds a bankruptcy in itself, has its personal person brief Afterword, in addition to specific linguistic and thematic notes and statement. the amount concludes, for comparative purposes, with a translation of Tirumankaiyalvar's luminous cycle of verses for Devanayaka from the Periyatirumoli.

As a lot a controversy as an anthology, this e-book can be of curiosity to scholars and students of South Asian reviews, comparative faith, and Indian literatures.

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Extra resources for An Ornament for Jewels: Love Poems for the Lord of Gods

Sample text

In the very first pada of the first verse the epithet for A  Devanayaka in Tamil—atiyarpa¯n meyyai—The Lord of Truth [or of Body] for  His Servants—is taken from Tiruman˙kaiyalvar’s tirumoli of this same form   of Vishnu, translated in the last section of this anthology. In the usual form of the epithet, atiyava¯rkku meyyane¯, mey can mean ‘‘truth’’ or ‘‘body,’’ 34 an ornament for jewels emphasizing this Lord of Truth as one who places his body at the feet of those ¯ lvar reference who surrender to Him—his servants or ‘‘slaves’’ (ati).

Such a fill-in occurs in my translation of verse 49 of the Prakrit Acyutasatakam. ’’ Both these images are mean to evoke frailty and transience—for some commentators ghana also has the sep_ arate meaning of ‘‘cloud’’—but kandalikanda houses a particularly evocative image. In Tamil, as the commentators note, white-flowering kandalı¯ evokes na¯ykkutai, a small frail growth seen in fields after rain. _ I have tried in my translation of this Prakrit verse to foreground this image, which has called for a bit of padding.

Distance and intimate encounter: this oscillation, this rhythm of desire, is at the heart of the poems, and at the heart of religious love in Ven˙katesa’s theology. All seems out of our control, even our sudden awareness of deep indissoluble union. Ultimately, in Ven˙katesa’s devotional poetics, beyond our willing it, in various discrete and particular encounters, we are suddenly made aware that Vishnu/Devanayaka is ‘‘our’’ god; ‘‘my’’ god; He is within me; He is mercy and grace (arul), love (anpu) and  ˙ ‘‘sweetness’’ (inpam), within ‘‘you’’ and within the very structures of intimate  address itself.

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