“Praying with the Poets: Resonance and Recognition of the Arc of the Heart”

How to Cite

Thomas A. Forsthoefel. (2022). “Praying with the Poets: Resonance and Recognition of the Arc of the Heart”: Journal of Vaishnava Studies. Journal of Vaishnava Studies, 22(2), 57–83. Retrieved from https://ivsjournal.com/index.php/jvs/article/view/309


This essay is a meditation as much as it is an argument, and, while I have considered its dynamic for a long time, it has been stimulated by an observation once made by Vasudha Narayanan concerning the ninthcentury Tamil poet-saint Andal. Narayanan addresses the cultural power of Andal for Srivaishnavas, and particularly Srivaishnava women, in shapinga path of salvation. Indeed, her essay highlights the various South Indian ‘circles’ (mandalis) of women, particularly the Goda Mandali in Cennai, who meet regularly to learn and chant from Andal’s two works, Tiruppavai and Nacciyar Tirumoli. Now, the empirical record in the history of religions abundantly
demonstrates that culturally indexed acts of memory are mechanisms for spiritual flourishing and social cohesion. Catholic liturgy, for example, ritually re-presents the central pivot of faith for Christians—the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ—and commemorate it in the words of Christ, “Do this in memory of me.” Availing oneself, in a specific religious tradition, to
that tradition’s deepest meaning and value becomes a formative engine for transformation, at least potentially. Such mechanisms offer, for the selfconscious disciple, an opportunity to internalize the deepest values and beliefs of a tradition, allowing them to impact the mind and heart in constructive ways.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.