South Meets North: Banaras from the Perspective of Appayya Dīkṣita

Yigal Bronner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


During the last decades of the sixteenth century, Banaras began to assert itself as a powerful intellectual centre of a magnitude never seen before in South Asia. Scholars working in all disciplines and from every part of the subcontinent were drawn to this city, where they not only produced voluminous innovative scholarship but also created a deliberative body of scholars and jurists that began to assume all-India responsibilities. By the best estimates, the second half of the sixteenth century is also the time when the career of Appayya Dīkṣita (1520–1593), one of India’s most important and influential scholars in early modernity, peaked far to the south of Banaras, in the Tamil country. This essay examines scholarly and social networks between Banaras and the Deep South through the perspective of this seminal scholar, his works and his successors. In particular, I ask what types of transsubcontinental ties between South and North existed during Appayya’s life and how they changed after his time, both in practice and in memory. As the essay shows, it was only towards the very end of the nineteenth century that reports began to surface, suggesting that Appayya visited Banaras and interacted in person with its leading intellectuals. But even though these narratives are demonstrably fictional, Appayya’s afterlife in Banaras is faithful to key aspects of his intellectual persona and to the actual lives of his texts and descendants in the northern city.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)10-31
Number of pages22
JournalSouth Asian History and Culture
Issue number1
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research for this essay was supported by a generous grant from the Israel Science Foundation [grant number 1485/12].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Taylor and Francis.


  • Appayya Dīkṣita
  • Banaras
  • Intellectual history
  • Sanskrit
  • South India


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