Multilingual Grantha Manuscripts of the Siamese Brahmanical Priests
Traces of Brahmanical tradition are evident in Siamese culture, especially manuscript culture, despite the domination of Theravada Buddhism. This lecture will explore the corpus of Brahmanical ceremonial and ritual texts that feature three languages: Sanskrit, Tamil, and Thai, to highlight its Brahmanical influence. Importantly, the Sanskrit and Tamil texts in the Siamese Grantha corpus have developed forms and functions different from those in South India and have been adapted to Siamese ears to the extent that they are considered “corrupted” and “broken.” These dynamics reveal the nature of Sanskrit and Tamil texts transmitted to traditional manuscript cultures outside India.
The 17 manuscripts (approximately) in this corpus are still terra incognita for researchers from various academic fields. This preliminary research is another call for a serious investigation of this unique corpus, which will hopefully shed light on the dynamics of Sanskrit and Tamil texts in the contexts of Siamese manuscript culture and Southeast Asian multilingual domain.
About the speaker
Manasicha Akepiyapornchai is an Assistant Professor of Classical Studies of South Asia at the Department of Asian Studies, the University of Texas at Austin, where she teaches courses on Hindu religious, literary, and philosophical traditions. She received a BA in South Asian languages and literature from the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University, before completing her Ph.D. at Cornell University.
Her primary research centers on the medieval and early modern intellectual history of South Asia, with a particular interest in religious communities, philosophy, translation, and multilingualism in South India and Southeast Asia. Her current book project focuses on the multilingual textual practice and its impact on a religious community in premodern South Asia.
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