Texts in Context

Traditional Hermeneutics in South Asia

Edited by Jeffrey R. Timm

Subjects: India And South Asian Studies
Paperback : 9780791407967, 324 pages, November 1991
Hardcover : 9780791407950, 324 pages, November 1991

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Table of contents

Text Abbreviations

1. Introduction: Texts in Context
Jeffrey R. Timm

Part I. Traditional Hermeneutics in "Hinduism"

2. Bhartrhari and the Veda
David Carpenter

3. Where Words Can Set Free: The Liberating Potency of Vedic Words in the Hermeneutics of Sankara
Anantanand Rambachan

4. Binding the Text: Vedanta as Philosophy and Commentary
Francis X. Clooney, S.J.

5. Haunted by Sankara's Ghost: The Srivaisnava Interpretation of Bhagavad Gita 18:66
Patricia Y. Mumme

6. Oral and Written Commentary on the Tiruvaymoli
Vasudha Narayanan

7. Vyasa as Madhva's Guru: Biographical Context for a Vedantic Commentator
Daniel P. Sheridan

8. Scriptural Realism in Pure Nondualistic Vedanta
Jeffrey R. Timm

9. Hermeneutics of a Kashmiri Mahatmya Text in Context
Madhu Bazaz Wangu

Part II. Traditional Hermeneutics in Other South Asian Religions

10. Svetambar Murtipujak Jain Scripture in a Performative Context
John E. Cort

11. Evam Me Sutam: Oral Tradition in Nikaya Buddhism
Frank J. Hoffman

12. Vasubandhu's Vyakhyayukti on the Authenticity of the Mahayana Sutras
José Ignacio Cabez6n

13. Poetics as a Hermeneutic Technique in Sikhism
Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh

14. The Textual Formation of Oral Teachings in Early Chishti Sufism
Carl W. Ernst

15. Conclusion: Traditional Hermeneutics in South Asia
Jeffrey R. Timm




The major religious traditions of South Asia are 'religions of the book'. All accept basic arrays of texts of scriptures, often seen as sacred reservoirs of meaning and power. The West has viewed these texts as 'bibles' of their respective traditions, projecting onto them Western values and concerns. This book challenges such misconceptions by revealing the complex character of scripture and its interpretation in South Asian religions.

Texts in Context explores the hermeneutical traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Islam, and Sikhism. The question of how we should understand the diversity of text-traditions is approached by asking "How have traditional thinkers — the exegetes within these traditions —understood and utilized scripture?" The answers, though remarkably diverse, do reveal important similarities and take the discussion of scripture in India to a deeper level.

This book makes accessible to the non-specialist sensibilities and approaches that have previously received little attention in the West, but have formed the basis for traditional efforts to understand and utilize scripture. It is a collaboration between contemporary thinkers and their traditional counterparts, whose voices emerge as they consider the sacred words of the religious traditions of South Asia.

Jeffrey R. Timm is Assistant Professor of Religion at Wheaton College in Massachusetts.