Veṅkaṭanātha’s Impact on Śrīvaiṣṇavism

The Case of Hayagrīva Iconography

  • Elisa Freschi Austrian Academy of Sciences / University of Vienna
Keywords: Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta, Hayagrīva, Veṅkaṭanātha (or Vedānta Deśika), iconography, resemantization

Abstract

This article maintains that the resemantization of Hayagrīva from a minor pan-Indian deity to a major local deity can be traced to Veṅkaṭanātha (traditional dates 1269–1370), who chose Hayagrīva because of his connection with learning and the Vedas. As a consequence of this intentional resemantization, in Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta following Veṅkaṭanātha, Hayagrīva has acquired distinct and standardized traits that are clearly recognizable in all reuses of his image and trope. To conclude, the article shows how Hayagrīva took on a particularly sectarian flavor as an identifying mark of the sub- school of Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta, which considers Veṅkaṭanātha its founder.

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Published
2019-06-14