ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Logic of Sacred Itineraries in South Indian Sthalapurāṇas: A Hypothesis


Kanamarlapudi Sravani - University of Texas at Austin, Austin, United States


28 – South Asian sacred spots: Nodal Points in Webs of Connections


This paper will examine a common trope found in many south Indian sthalapurāṇas (lit. “ancient myths of a place”): a mythical devotee travelling through multiple sacred sites but ultimately attaining salvation only at the sacred place extolled by the sthalapurāṇa in question. To probe into the logics of this trope, I examine such sacred itineraries in various sthalapurāṇa narratives, including the fifteenth-century Telugu Bhīmeśvarapurāṇamu by Śrīnātha, the sixteenth-century Telugu Śrīkāḷahastimāhātmyamu by Dhūrjaṭi, the seventeenth-century Tamil Cīkāḷattippurāṇam by Civappirakācar and his brothers, and the Sanskrit Vaiṣṇava Kāncīmāhātmya. Juxtaposing these textual narratives, I explore and/or hypothesize various aspects revealed by such pilgrimage routes: assertion of the superiority of the specific site and/or its resident deity, involuntary cooperation of other sites in enabling this assertion, competition among sacred sites, and the making of pilgrimage itineraries for devotees to follow.