A key problem, not only of Hindu studies but of the Comparative Study of Religion in general, is the relationship between the representations or ‘worldviews’ expressed in religious texts, and the experiences, practices and interpretations of actual practitioners. Using examples from research on the Sanskrit Devīmāhātmya in a site-specific context, this lecture will address theoretical and methodological questions central to Hindu Studies such as how (and why) to combine philological and ethnographic methods, how to understand the overlap or lack of overlap between the textual representations and the representations of religious practitioners, and how to theorize the relationship between textual semantics and embodied knowledge.
Silje Lyngar Einarsen is an Associate Professor at Oslo Metropolitan University and co-manager for the Śākta Traditions research programme at the OCHS. Her research is concerned with the relationship between Hindu scriptures and religious practice. She has conducted research on the role of Śākta texts and ritual performances during Navarātri in Benares, combining textual and ethnographic research methods. She is co-author on a Danish standard introduction to Hinduism with a focus on Varanasi (Systime, 2015) and is currently working on a Danish translation of the Haṭhapradīpikā. She has also published articles on the Navarātri festival and the Devīmāhātmya.