This research project centers on Śivādvaita Vedānta, a Śaiva-leaning school of Vedānta which has attracted very little scholarship to this day. I am especially interested in the significant contributions to this school made by the great South Indian scholar Appaya Dīkṣita. Appaya’s major Śivādvaita work is the Śivārkamaṇidīpikā, a voluminous subcommentary on Śrīkaṇṭha’s Brahmamīmāṃsābhāṣya (c. 15th century?), a rare Śaiva commentary on the Brahmasūtra considered to be the foundational work of the Śivādvaita school. While some attention has been drawn to Śrīkaṇṭha’s commentary in the past, Appaya’s reinterpretation of the latter has not received adequate attention amongst scholars. Not only is his Śivārkamaṇidīpikā the only extant subcommentary on the Brahmamīmāṃsābhāṣya; his scholarly outlook at Śrīkaṇṭha’s thought is also a very valuable source to understand and contextualize Śivādvaita theology. Appaya was one of India’s leading Sanskrit intellectuals in the 16th century. A renowned authority on both Vedānta and Śaivism, two traditions on which he wrote extensively, his approach of Śrīkaṇṭha’s Śaiva commentary is indeed lucid as well as scholarly rich, informative and in some regards innovative. The fact that Appaya’s Śivārkamaṇidīpikā also had a considerable influence on the broader intellectual and socio-religious world of the time, a state of affairs still unassessed to this day, is another incentive to pursue this study.
During my stay at the International Institute for Asian Studies, I intend to focus my attention on Śivādvaita Vedānta’s cosmology through examining Appaya’s subcommentary on Brahmasūtra 1.1.2 and other minor sūtras dealing with the nature of causality and Śiva’s relationship to the material world. This will enable me to situate Śivādvaita Vedānta within a larger doctrinal context―particularly vis-à-vis other Vedānta, Vaiṣṇava and Śaiva schools of thought with respect to which Śivādvaita sought to position itself, implicitly or explicitly―and ultimately to acquire a greater understanding of the complex socio-religious landscape of 16th-century South India. Another objective of this research project is to pursue my annotated English translation of the Śivārkamaṇidīpikā, based on the single printed edition available and a number of grantha-script palm-leaf manuscripts.
Hopefully, this project will contribute to current scholarship in Indology in two ways: 1. it will further our knowledge of Appaya Dīkṣita as an innovative Sanskrit scholar and active religious figure of his time, particularly with reference to his still uncharted work at the intersection of Śaivism and Vedānta; and 2. it will complexify and deepen our understanding of the intellectual history of Vedānta in South India, particularly in relation to Śaivism in the early modern period.