ID: 41081
Full name: Nīlakaṇṭhadīkṣita
Gender: Male
Activity year: 1638 c.

Nīlakaṇṭḥa Dīkṣita, the renowned poet and scholar, lived in and around the first half of the seventeenth century throughout the Tamil land.[1] He most probably grew up and lived in Kanchipuram, where his family is from, and where two of his teachers, Venkateśvara Makhin and his tantric guru Gīrvāṇendra Sarasvatī, were situated.[2] He is famously associated with Madurai, but as far as I can tell, this link awaits to be established. It is mostly based on stories of his relationship with Tirumalai Nayak of Madurai (r. 1623-1659), his devotion to goddess Mīnākṣī, and his Śivālīlārṇava, or the 64 games of Śiva, set in Madurai.[3] The older Nīlakaṇṭha is said to have lived in the tiny agrahara village of Palamadai, in the deep south. Nīlakaṇṭha's shorter works include his short satires, notably the Kalivaḍambana, and he some devotional hymns.[4]

[1] The Nīlakaṇṭhavijayacampū provides the kali year of 4,738 (1638 CE) in the opening verses. Yigal Bronner has inexplicitly challenged the dates given by Unni (1580-1644), in the context of questioning the actuality of his well-known encounter with Appaya Dīkṣita, his granduncle (d. 1592). See Bronner, 2014, 21. I would add that Rāmabhadra must have been at least in the second decade of his life when he studied with him. Rāmabhadra moved to Śāhajipuram in 1693, after which he composed prolifically, and so my guess is he would not have studied with Nīlakaṇṭha earlier than 1650, but it could also have been much later. A PhD thesis from madras I have not been able to access quotes a reference due to which as of May 1650, Nīlakaṇṭḥa was alive and well. See Fisher, 2017, 213-4, footnote 57.

[2] Oddly, his connection to Kanchipuram is not often mentioned. See Fisher, 2017, 63-5, for Gīravendra's established location in Kanchipuram, based mostly on his students' location. See Unni, 1995, 16, for Nīlakaṇṭha's mention of Veṅkateśvara, who is known to be of Kanchipuram, in his Gaṅgâvataraṇa.

[3] The 64 games are being written all over South India at this period, and do not necessarily point to Madurai. From what I can tell, the only actual connection to Madurai (see Fisher, 2017, 49-56) appears in a play by Nīlakaṇṭha's younger brother, who mentions Nīlakaṇṭha's presence at the cittirai festival of Madurai as the head of the assembly (sabhāpati). I suggest that the place and audience mentioned at a beginning of a play should not necessarily be taken at face value.

[4] The Ᾱnandasāgarastava, Candirahasya, and a hymn to Rāma (Raghuvīrastava). Other kāvya works include the probably incomplete Mukundavilāsa and the shorter Gaṅgâvataraṇa. Other shorter compositions include the Sabhārañjana, Anyāpadeśaśataka, Vairāgyaśataka, Śāntivilāsa, Śivotkarṣamañjari, and a hymn to his guru, Giravendra Sarasvati (Gurutattvamālikā). See Unni, 1995. Other non-poetic works (besides the Saubhāgyacandratāpa, elaborately discussed in Fisher, 2017) include the now-lost grammatical commentary, the Mahābhāṣyapradīpa, and the short śāstric-like hymn, the Śivatattvarahasya.

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Last update: 22.08.2017 - 22:52
Suggested citation: ariav T., SKSEC Team, O. Kessler. "Nīlakaṇṭhadīkṣita." Pandit. <http://panditproject.org/entity/41081/person>. Updated on August 22, 2017 10:52 pm IST.