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The conference will host over 40 scholars of various disciplines from North America, Europe, South Asia, and Australasia:


Artist: Vasuki
Artist: Kiko
Artist: Vasan

Abraham, S.
Ambalavanar, D.
Arasu, V.
Champakalakshmi, R.
Cheran, R.
Fukao, J.
George, G.
George, U.
Ghose, R.
Guruge, S.
Jegathesan, M.
Kanaganayakam, C.
Kanthasamy, P.
Karunakaran, K.
Karunanithi, G.
Kingsolver, A.
Mason, R.
Maunaguru, S.
Maunaguru, Sitralega
McNaughton, S.
More, J.B.P.
Orr, L.
Pai, G.
Palaniappan, S.
Pandian, M.S.S.
Rajesh, V.
Renganathan, V.
Sangarasivam, Y.
Seylon, R.
Shanmugam, K.
Sivalingam, H.
Sriramachandran, R.
Sundar, A.
Tambiah, S.J.
Tyyskä, V.
Vaitheespara, R.
Vivekananthan, P.
Whitaker, M.
Xavier, S.
Young, K.
Younger, P.

Leslie Orr

Associate Professor
Department of Religion
Concordia University

The Medieval Murukan:
Meanings and Manifestations in the Chola Period
Friday, June 1st |  3:00 - 5:00 PM

In the Tamil country we have an abundance of devotional literature and evidence of worship dedicated to the god Murukan dating from before the 8th century, and, again, after the 14th century. The intervening centuries -- which we may refer to, loosely, as the Chola period -- are clearly of great significance with respect to religious developments in South India, yet the role of Murukan/ Subrahmanya/ Skanda in this context remains obscure. By focusing on art historical and epigraphical evidence, I shall attempt to chart the variations, shifting patterns, and significance of the worship of Murukan in Chola period temple life. I will also consider the question of identity -- of the “Tamilness” of Murukan and his worshippers during the period between the 7th to 14th centuries – and will examine whether the changing character and position of this deity can be attributed to a process of “Sanksritization” and incorporation into the Saiva pantheon.

Dr. Orr's research interests include religious and social history of medieval South India, especially Tamil Nadu of the Chola period (9th to 13th centuries); women in pre-colonial South Asia; Hindu temples; devadasis; interaction of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism; Brahmins (Brahmans); food and feeding; asceticism. She is the author of the book, Donors, Devotees and Daughters of God: Temple Women in Medieval Tamilnadu (2000) and numerous articles, including, most recently, "Identity and Divinity: Boundary-Crossing Goddesses in Medieval Tamilnadu," in Journal of the American Academy of Religion 73:1 (2005) and "Processions in the medieval South Indian temple: Sociology, sovereignty and soteriology," in South Indian Horizons: Felicitation Volume for François Gros (2004).