Sacred Narratives of Vedåntadesika

How to Cite

Steven P. Hopkins. (2022). Sacred Narratives of Vedåntadesika: Journal of Vaishnava Studies. Journal of Vaishnava Studies, 15(2), 211–224. Retrieved from


The medieval south Indian saint-poet, theologian, and philosopher Veõka†anåtha or Veõka†eΩa (c. 1268–1369), most commonly known by his epithet VedåntadeΩika (“Preceptor of the Vedånta”), is one of the most important Brahmin Åcåryas (sectarian preceptors) of the Ûrîvaishnava community ofSouth India, a particular Vaishnava community that worships a personal deity in the form of Lord Vishnu, one of the high gods of Hindu tradition,along with his consort-goddess Ûrî or Lakßmî.1 This community, which first developed around the 10th to 11th centuries, claims the Tamil poems of the Ŭvårs, especially those of the saint-poet Nammå¬vår, as equal in status to the Sanskrit Veda. Long after Veõka†eΩa’s death, he was claimed as the founding Åcårya of the Va†akalai or “northern” school of Ûrîvaishnavism, centered in the ancient holy city of Kåñcîpuram in northern Tamil Nadu. Veõka†eΩa’s early association with the northern city of Kåñcî would be a significant source of his broad learning, his polylinguism, and what might be
termed his “cosmopolitanism.” For Kåñcîpuram, even before the time of Veõka†eΩa, had long been associated with multiple religious communities—Buddhist, Jain, Hindu—and a decidedly cosmopolitan atmosphere. The city had deep roots in trans-regional brahminical Sanskrit learning, though it also fostered the development of regional cosmopolitan literature, most notably in Påli and Tamil.

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