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  • The Language Games of Śiva: Mapping Text and Space in Public Religious Culture

    Elaine M. Fisher

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


    For the majority of its modern-day residents, no work of literature better captures the spirit of Madurai than does the Tiruviḷaiyāṭal Purāṇam (TVP), or “ The Sacred Games of Śiva,” particularly the text’s centerpiece, the sacred marriage of Śiva and Mīnākṣī. The TVP threads together sixty-four mythological vignettes illustrating Śiva’s divine intervention—in other words, his cosmic play in the city of Madurai. In the process, the Sacred Games effectively maps Madurai’s religious landscape onto the spatial terrain of the city itself, so that its defining topography comes to be seen as shaped by Śiva’s sacred play. This chapter examines how the multilingual literary culture of Nāyaka period south India, with contributed to the canonization of Madurai’s public culture, best exemplified by the Sacred Games. What took place during this period in Madurai was more than the birth of a narrative, or even the birth of a religious canon, but rather is the entextualization of public space.

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    Fisher, E. 2017. The Language Games of Śiva: Mapping Text and Space in Public Religious Culture. In: Fisher, E, Hindu Pluralism. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.24.e

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    Published on Feb. 28, 2017


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