R. Sathyanarayanan

Sulaimeni (near Madras), 1968

Upon finishing his bachelor's degree at Madras Sanskrit College in 1989, Sathyanarayanan was given the prestigious title Śiromani for Sanskrit literature and poetics. He went on to complete his M.A. and M.Phil at the University of Madras. In both his Śiromani exam and his M.A. university examinations, Sathyanarayanan ranked first among his academic colleagues.

After joining the Centre of Pondicherry of the École française d'Extrême-Orient in October 1991, he obtained his doctoral degree (on Ānandaraṅgacampū - A study and Translation) from Pondicherry University in 2003.

During his initial years at the Pondicherry centre of the EFEO, R. Sathyanarayanan was involved in a project that produced an edition of "Pondicherry Inscriptions", and he prepared a detailed glossary of phrases used in this corpus of inscriptions. In 1998, he helped catalogue the collection of palm-leaf manuscripts housed at the Institut Français de Pondichéry (IFP), which was recognised as a Unesco "Memory of the World Collection" in 2005.

In 2002, R. Sathyanarayanan initiated his research in the field Śaiva Siddhānta. At that time, he started working on Śaiva Siddhānta manuals, which offer a coherent picture of the theological and ritual systems of South Indian Śaivism.

His publication, Śaiva Rites of Expiation (Prāyaścittasamuccaya), is the first critical edition and translation of a South Indian compendium Śaiva expiatory rituals compiled by Trilocanaśiva. This text is an important source for understanding the ritual activities and social world of South Indian Śaiva initiates in the medieval period.

He has also coedited the Pañcāvaraṇastava and the Dhyānaratnāvalī, both South Indian liturgical hymns that contain elaborate visualisations of the central deity of the Śaiva Saiddhānta tradition, Sadāśiva, along with his divine retinue.

Currently, R. Sathyanarayanan is preparing a critical edition and translation of the Siddhāntadīpikā, an eleventh-century monograph of Rāmanātha. This text summarises the key components of Śaiva Siddhānta doctrine, including a description of the ontological categories and reality levels (tattva) that comprise the metaphysical framework of this tradition.

He is also involved in the NETamil project (Networks of intellectual exchange in the Tamil learned traditions) cataloguing the palm-leaf manuscript collection of EFEO Pondicherry and supporting the editorial work of Tamil scholars utilising tamil and grantha manuscripts.

R. Sathyanarayanan is engaged in several other projects of the centre, including a critical edition of the Ratnatrayaparīkṣā in collaboration with Dr. T. Ganesan (IFP); this Kashmiri Saiddhāntika text elucidates a central triad of categories found in Śaiva Siddhānta tradition.

R. Sathyanarayanan has been invited to various universities in India and Japan as a visiting scholar to offer workshops on manuscriptology, with a focus on the grantha and telugu scripts. In addition to his publications in international journals, he has presented numerous papers in India and abroad.

R.  Sathyanarayanan
R. Sathyanarayanan


Research Officer at the EFEO since 1991

École française d'Extrême-Orient
Centre d'Indologie
P.O. Box 151
16-19 rue Dumas
605 001 Pondicherry
Tel +91 413 233 45 39
+91 413 222 56 89
Fax +91 413 233 08 86