The Female Voice and the Crossing of the Boundaries of Scholarship

A Note on the Rahasyam of the Lady from Tirukkōḷūr, with a Complete, Annotated Translation

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.12797/CIS.22.2020.01.05

Keywords:

Tirukkōḷūr peṇpiḷḷai rahasyam, Śrīvaiṣṇava hagiography, Rāmānuja, women’s literature, Paṉṉīrāyirappaṭi guruparamparāprabhāvam, Mummaṇi rahasyam, Piḷḷai Lokam Jīyar

Abstract

The Female Voice and the Crossing of the Boundaries of Scholarship: A Note on the Rahasyam of the Lady from Tirukkōḷūr, with a Complete, Annotated Translation

The Śrīvaiṣṇavas are prolific writers, who masterfully used multiple languages for composing works in a range of genres, from commentaries to esoterical works, from devotional poetry to hagiography. But while this community, roughly half of which consists of women, claims equality with a difference for women—which includes the right to liberation at death and to religious, albeit non-Vedic, learning—it hardly seems to have encouraged them to emulate the male authors and produce works of any kind. Despite this attitude, a few female voices, sometimes muffled as they can be, are heard across the centuries. One such voice belongs to Tirukkōḷūr peṇpiḷḷai (“the woman from Tirukkōḷūr,” 12th c.?), who allegedly spoke words betraying her scholarly knowledge, and that, too, to the great Rāmānuja himself. Who this woman—who ventured into the jealously-guarded male domain of scholarship—was, and what her ‘composition’ deals with are the topics of this brief essay.

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Published

2020-10-15

How to Cite

Anandakichenin , Suganya. 2020. “The Female Voice and the Crossing of the Boundaries of Scholarship: A Note on the Rahasyam of the Lady from Tirukkōḷūr, With a Complete, Annotated Translation”. Cracow Indological Studies 22 (1):95-134. https://doi.org/10.12797/CIS.22.2020.01.05.