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The Parin˙āma Aesthetics as Underlying the Bhāgavata Purān˙a

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Abstract:

This paper offers a literary and ideological deconstruction of the Bhāgavata Purān˙a; it traces the Purān˙a's formation through the convergence of the Vedāntin, the Aesthetic and the Vaisn˙ava traditions, and argues that it is the doctrine of Parin˙āma which underlies the treatise. I first examine the Bhāgavata Purān˙a's literary components; the roots of these are traced back historically to the Vedānta and Ālvār traditions, and the Bhāgavata Purān˙a's nature as an opus universale, representing an all Indian cultural 'melting pot', is highlighted. The paper then looks at the relations of Vaisn˙avism and dramaturgy, both historically as well as theologically, and argues that the Bhāgavata Purān˙a was traditionally read as a drama. It proceeds to decipher the aesthetic theory underlying the Bhāgavata Purān˙a, and argues that it is Bharata's dramaturgical rasa theory. Within the rasa tradition, Abhinavagupta's and Bhoja's positions are highlighted and compared through three seminal points and it becomes apparent that the Bhāgavata Purān˙a's underlying aesthetic theory is close to the Parin˙āma doctrine of Bhoja where sr˙n˙gāra is considered to be the supreme rasa. As Bhoja's date is no doubt later than the Bhāgavata Purān˙a's it is assumed that the Bhāgavata Purān˙a was influenced by one of Bhoja's predecessors. The paper ends by reinforcing this analysis by highlighting a later tradition which had actually accepted this point of view and that is the Gaud˙iya Vaisn˙ava tradition.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09552360701445083

Publication date: 2007-07-01

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