Seeing through Texts
Doing Theology among the Śrīvaiṣṇavas of South India
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Examines texts and commentaries in the Tamil-language SArivastradition of South India; about the general issues of text, vision, and narrative that such texts raise, and about the implications of these for a particular style of comparative theology.
Seeing through Texts invites us into the world of south Indian Hinduism through a study of 100 songs of the Tiruvāymoli, the great masterpiece of the ninth-century Hindu saint Saṭkōpan. These unique songs, dedicated to the Hindu god Viṣṇu/Kṛṣṇa, lead us through poetic and imaginative, philosophical and moral reflections on the nature of the self and the world, ancient myths and temple worship, and the mystical moods of longing, desire, and love in which one seeks, loses, and finds again the God who loves us first. The book is also a study of the interpretation of the Tiruvāymoli in the traditional Hindu Śrivaiṣṇava commentaries of the twelfth-fourteenth centuries, as well as a comparative theological study which explores the implication of the songs and their commentaries for readers from outside the Śrivaiṣṇava tradition.
Francis X. Clooney, S. J. is Professor of Comparative Theology at Boston College. He is the author of Theology after Vedanta, also published by SUNY Press, and of Thinking Ritual.
"Clooney has turned an analysis of Satakopan's Tiruvaymoli, a theology treatise in the form of a long sensual poem about a girl's love for God, into seductive contemporary theology. In this work, Clooney has established himself as our most passionate, discriminating, deferential, and subtle comparative theologian. " -- Robert C. Neville, Boston University
"I find Clooney's notion of 'reading through texts' to be a very powerful idea that should be of interest to a large audience of textual scholars, and not only South Asianist scholars. I also find Clooney's formulation and exploration of the issues incumbent on the project of doing comparative theology and reading texts from a comparative perspective to be very engaging. His representation of the great Tamil religious poem Tiruvaymoli is quite successful in giving the reader a good sense of the qualities of this text and an appreciation of its considerable merits. " -- Norman Cutler, University of Chicago