Journal of Indian Philosophy 48 (1):101-118 (2020)

This article seeks to pluralize current scholarly perceptions of what constitutes Advaita Vedānta in colonial India. It suggests, in particular, that the tendency to concentrate on the so-called “neo-Vedānta” of a handful of cosmopolitan reformers has obscured other kinds of innovative Vedānta-inspired discourses that have significantly shaped the formation of modern Hindu consciousness. These discourses are indebted, in ways that are only beginning to be understood, to religious traditions rooted in particular regions and vernacular languages. The article illustrates this argument with reference to the Kōvilūr Ātīṉam, a Vedānta-affiliated monastic institution in Tamil-speaking South India founded by Mutturāmaliṅka Ñāṉatēcika Cuvāmikaḷ. Examining the significance of this figure’s life story for the wealthy Nāṭṭukkōṭṭai Ceṭṭiyār merchant community that comprises the Ātīṉam’s social base, the article explores how social aspirations, traditions of monastic authority, and vernacular Vedāntic literature contribute toward a colonial project of caste self-fashioning that I refer to as “Ceṭṭiyār Vedānta”.
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DOI 10.1007/s10781-019-09413-1
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