Conference: Empathy in Hinduism: Ritual, Drama, Aesthetics (MT17)

Location: OCHS Library
Date: December 1, 2017
Time: 9.00-5.30

The sphere of emotions lies at the heart of Hindu religious experience. Numerous ancient Indian texts dwell on the complex sphere of human response to various revelations of beauty and divine presence in the world whether expressed in the material form, through sound, devotional poetry or realized on stage in theatrical performance. The arrangement of the ritual and the adoration of gods was itself deeply rooted in the field of emotional engagement and presupposed a very nuanced system of possible reactions and feelings of the devotees from a mere contemplation via an ecstatic state of rasa to the experience of supreme love towards a personal god (bhakti). This conference is the first attempt to analyze this complex way of human interaction with the divine in Hinduism based on various forms of emotional engagement, which is not limited to the contemporary and profane understanding of senses. The papers presented at the conference will cover a wide range of topics and approach the general theme of religious empathy from different perspectives: material culture, textual evidence, literature, ritual, sacred imagery, iconography, and theatrical performance.

Registration is essential – contact to register.

Emotional sacrifices? A closer look at the Mahābhārata’s sacrificial performances
Dr. Danielle Feller (University of Lausanne) 

Somatic Gestures as an Interface between Aesthetic and Devotional Emotions
Dr. Elisa Ganser (University of Zurich)

Threefold Theatrical Empathy: pratibhāsahṛdayatva and sattva
Dr. Daniele Cuneo (Paris 3 – Sorbonne nouvelle)

The Empathy of Laughter: Hāsya Rasa in the Nāṭyaśāstra
Dr. Natalia Lidova (OCHS, Oxford).

Rasa: the Embodied Emotions in Contemporary Performance
Dr. Sreenath Nair (University of Lincoln).

Tanmayībhavana as Empathy: Recognizing Other as Self in Abhinavagupta’s Aesthetic Vision
Dr. Sunthar Visuvalingam (Chicago).

Empathy, aesthetics, and the apsarases of Khajuraho
Dr. David Smith (University of Lancaster)

Theorising Devotion: A brief look at some lesser-known theories of bhakti-rasa
Dr. Rembert Lutjeharms, OCHS, Oxford University

The Nāṭyaśāstra as the Transnational Text
Dr. Avanthi Meduri (University of Roehampton)