Hinduism in Translation: Language, Community, and Identity in Trans-Regional South India
My second book project, which emerges organically from my previous research findings, investigates the trans-regional and trans-linguistic construction of Śaiva identity in early modern south India.
In particular, the monastery, or maṭha, emerged along with the sectarianization of Hinduism as a vehicle for the circulation—economic and cultural—and the production of new religious identities across regions and language communities. On a purely economic level, an individual monastery, in the seventeenth or eighteenth century, may have owned and controlled tens of thousands of acres of lands, cultivated by independent agrarian enterprises or managed under the auspices of regional temple complexes. From a cultural perspective, monasteries had become the primary repositories for textual culture, mediating the circulation of manuscripts and hosting debates between theological luminaries of competing sectarian traditions.
Serving as outposts of wider sectarian networks, monasteries participated in the trans-regional regulation of economic participation and religious identity formation. By examining the interconnected histories of ostensibly discrete Śaiva lineages—Vīraśaiva, Smārta, or Tamil and Sanskrit Śaiva Siddhānta—I demonstrate that the permeable borders between these traditions fostered an ecumenical Hindu identity founded on non-dual Śaiva Vedānta (Śivādvaita), a synthesis left a lasting mark on religious identity across south India.