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By Anne E. Monius

Whereas Tamil-speaking South India is widely known for its maintenance of Hindu culture, different spiritual groups have performed an important position in shaping the region's spiritual background. between those non-Hindu groups is that of the Buddhists, who're little-understood as a result of the shortage of remnants of Tamil-speaking Buddhist tradition. the following, concentrating on the 2 Buddhist texts in Tamil which are whole (a sixth-century poetic narrative and an eleventh-century treatise on grammar and poetics), Monius sheds gentle at the function of literature and literary tradition within the formation, articulation, and evolution of spiritual id and neighborhood.

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Additional info for Imagining a Place for Buddhism: Literary Culture and Religious Community in Tamil-Speaking South India

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70-74). If virtually nothing can be said of the historical audience for whom the historical author, Cattanar, first composed his poetic narrative (if, indeed, such a wealthy grain merchant ever existed), numerous elements in the Manimekalai itself, from the Tamil "rhetorical strategies" discussed at length by Richman to the technical phrases used to describe Buddhist theories of inferential logic and causation, point to a specific audience implied or anticipated by the text: an audience sophisticated at many levels, cosmopolitan in terms of literary exposure and taste, thoroughly familiar with Tamil and perhaps Sanskrit poetics, and well acquainted with Buddhist thought and literature.

In his efforts to understand the manuscripts of the ninth-century Jain work, Cwakacintdmani, for example, Caminataiyar recounts how he stumbled upon the final day of a sixth-month recitation and explication of the full text in a local Jain community. "126 His most telling accounts, however, deal with his beloved father's public recitations of primarily Saiva texts and the reactions of his audiences. To cite but one example, Caminataiyar remembers his father's performance of a contemporary devotional work known as Nantanar Carittiram when Caminataiyar himself was a boy of twelve or thirteen: When my father was giving his performance of Nantanar Carittiram at Kalattur, Citampara Utaiyar was one among the audience who listened to it.

Manifesting the Precursors to Renunciation: A Central Theme How, then, is one to make sense of the complex text of plots within plots, of dramatic narrative mixed with technical and terse philosophical exposition? Amid the intricacies of narrative detail, a careful examination of the Tamil text reveals an explicit focus: the gradual arising and manifestation of the circumstances necessary for liberation (signaled by the Tamil term etu, "cause") in the life of the main character. Like so many narratives concerning the lives of the Buddha and his followers, from the tale of Angulimala, the homicidal thief converted to the dharma by the Buddha himself,87 to the story of Matthakundali, whose "abundant beneficial root conditions" (ussannakusalamula) render him "ready to receive the teaching" (veneyyabandhava), 88 the Manimekalai tells the story of its central character's karmic ripening, of Manimekalai's growing readiness to hear and truly understand the teachings of the Buddha.

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