02 May Bodies of Desire, Bodies of Lament: Marking Emotion in a South Indian Vaisnava Messenger Poem
Steven P. Hopkins (Religion, Swarthmore College)
Friday, May 2 / 4:00 pm
3041 Humanities and Social Sciences Building
The lecture focused on the charged emotional landscapes of divine, human, and animal bodies in Hamsasandesa (“The Goose Messenger”), a fourteenth-century Sanskrit messenger poem (sandesa-kavya) by Vedantadesika (ca. 1268-1369 CE), the acclaimed South Indian bhakti poet-saint, philosopher, and acarya of the Srivaisnava community in Tamilnadu. The lecture explored ways in which Vedantadesika refashions the story of Rama and Sita and marks emotional landscapes—the agonies of love-in-separation, the torment of loss, and the madness of longing—onto the divine bodies of the lover and his beloved and also onto the animal body of the messenger, a royal goose.
Steven P. Hopkins is Associate Professor of Religion and Chair of the Department of Religion at Swarthmore College. His research in South Asia focuses primarily on South Indian Vaisnava traditions, with special attention to the work of the medieval South Indian poet-saint and philosopher Vedantadesika. His publications include Singing the Body of God: The Hymns of Vedantadesika in Their South Indian Tradition; An Ornament for Jewels: Love Poems for the Lord of Gods by Vedantadesika; and a co-edited volume with John B. Carman, Tracing Common Themes: Comparative Courses in the Study of Religion.