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Making the Implicit Explicit: Emplotment as Saṃsāra and Soteriological Method in Advaita Vedānta

Early Modern Hindu Theology Seminars
OCHS Library
Dr James Madaio
Monday, 2 May 2016 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm

In this paper I explore emplotment as a means of re-framing the Advaita Vedāntin account of soteriology and enworlded subjectivity. I argue that there is a narrative hermeneutical framework and self-reflexive theological method implicit in the Advaita Vedāntic tradition, particularly as articulated by Vidyāraṇya, a fourteenth century Śaṃkarācārya from Śṛṅgeri. In conversation with contemporary cognitive narratology, I draw out the Advaita Vedāntic understanding of saṃsāra and soteriology on narrative grounds, or what I call emplotment1 and emplotment2. I argue that this approach is engendered by the tradition itself and provides a way of not merely thinking about the Advaitin project but on terms with it. This conceptual framework serves as my own method to understanding the theological enterprise of Vidyāraṇya, who, I argue elsewhere, utilizes narrative methods across the theological modalities of his Jīvanmuktiviveka.

James Madaio is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at New Europe College in Bucharest and was recently awarded his Ph.D. from the University of Manchester.