• Part of
    Ubiquity Network logo

    Read Chapter
  • No readable formats available
  • “Just Like Kālidāsa”: The Making of the Smārta-Śaiva Community of South India

    Elaine M. Fisher

    Chapter from the book: Fisher, E. 2017. Hindu Pluralism: Religion and the Public Sphere in Early Modern South India.


    This chapter documents the emergence of the Smārta-Śaiva community and its key theological innovations, particularly the adoption of an esoteric Goddess-oriented practice known as Śrīvidyā into orthodox religious culture. Known today in popular parlance as “Tamil Brahminism”—although by no means are all Brahmins in Tamil Nadu either Smārta or Śaiva—the Smārta-Śaiva community itself was only in the process of being imagined in the early seventeenth century as a self-contained social entity. Self-consciously crafting the identity of their emerging community, the Smārta-Śaivas lay claim to the legacy of Kālidāsa as well as Śaṅkārācarya, or Śaṅkara, the eight-century Advaita Vedānta philosopher, as the exclusive intellectual property of the Smārta-Śaiva community. This chapter explores in particular innovations in Śrīvidyā among Smārta-Śaiva theologians; while previously guarded carefully in initiatory lineages, Śrīvidyā has become something of an open secret in Tamil Brahmin society to this very day, forming a cornerstone of the collective culture of Smārta-Śaiva religiosity.


    History Religion 


    Tantra Advaita 

    Chapter Metrics:

    How to cite this chapter
    Fisher, E. 2017. “Just Like Kālidāsa”: The Making of the Smārta-Śaiva Community of South India. In: Fisher, E, Hindu Pluralism. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.24.c

    This chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivatives 4.0 license. Copyright is retained by the author(s)

    Peer Review Information

    This book has been peer reviewed. See our Peer Review Policies for more information.

    Additional Information

    Published on Feb. 28, 2017


    comments powered by Disqus