Imagining a Place for Buddhism: Literary Culture and Religious Community in Tamil-Speaking South India

Synopsis

While Tamil-speaking South India is celebrated for its preservation of Hindu tradition, other religious communities have played a significant role in shaping the region's religious history. Among these non-Hindu communities is that of the Buddhists, who are little-understood because of the scarcity of remnants of Tamil-speaking Buddhist culture. Here, focusing on the two Buddhist texts in Tamil that are complete (a sixth-century poetic narrative and an eleventh-century treatise on grammar and poetics), Monius sheds light on the role of literature and literary culture in the formation, articulation, and evolution of religious identity and community.