THE THEOLOGY OF MANAVALAMAMUNI: TOWARD AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE TENKALAI-VATAKALAI DISPUTE IN POST-RAMANUJA SRIVAISNAVISM (INDIA)
The theological issues in the dispute among the (')Sr(')ivaisnava acaryas from the 12th to 15th centuries is the basis of the Tenkalai-Vatakalai sectarian schism, documented in South Indian history from the 18th century. To date, these issues have not been the subject of any thorough, well-focused and impartial scholarly study of the writings of the (')Sr(')ivaisnava acaryas of this crucial period. This study seeks to shed light on the scope and origins of the Tenkalai-Vatakalai theological dispute by focusing on the works of Manavalamamuni (1370-1443), recognized as the founder of the Tenkalai sect, and comparing his soteriological doctrine with that of Vedanta Desika (1269-1370), the main theologian of the Vatakalai sect. The differences in the theologies of these two men are shown to be a function of their respective identifications with two different lineages of acaryas that grew up in Srirangam and Kanchi in the 13th century. The Srirangam acaryas were involved in lecturing and commenting on the Tamil hymns of the Alvars. The Kanchi acaryas concentrated on developing and defending Visistadvaita Vedanta and (')Sr(')ivaisnava practice in Sanskrit works and in debates with rival schools. These two enterprises made for different tendencies in the use of sources, doctrinal emphasis, method of discourse, and style of exposition. The influence of Manavalamamuni's identification with the devotional/literary concerns of the Srirangam acaryas and Vedanta Desika's identification with the philosophical/legalistic concerns of the Kanchi acaryas show up in every major area of doctrinal difference: the nature of the soul, the relative value of bhaktiyoga and prapatti, the question of whether prapatti is an upaya, the duties of the prapanna in his life of service, the understanding of the Lord's mercy and autonomy (including the issues of dosabhogya and nirhetukakrpa), and the roles of (')Sr(')i and the acarya in salvation.