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By Karen Pechilis Prentiss

This e-book deals an interpretive background of bhakti, an influential non secular viewpoint in Hinduism. Prentiss argues that even though bhakti is pointed out in each modern sourcebook on Indian religions, it nonetheless lacks an agreed-upon definition. "Devotion" is located to be the main customary synonym. Prentiss seeks a brand new point of view in this elusive suggestion. Her research of Tamil (south Indian) fabrics leads her to indicate that bhakti be understood as a doctrine of embodiment. Bhakti, she says, urges humans in the direction of lively engagement within the worship of God. She proposes that the time period "devotion" get replaced through "participation," emphasizing bhakti's demand engagement in worship and the need of embodiment to satisfy that obligation.

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Extra resources for The Embodiment of Bhakti

Example text

To understand who the author might be, plus other aspects of this passage, it would help to put it back into the context of the story from whence it was taken. 21 It is then said that formerly Narada was taught the purana by the sage Sanaka. When the story of bhakti begins, the sages of that earlier time, including Sanaka, are asking Narada why he looks distressed. Narada's reply to the sages is that although he knows the earth to be the "best of regions," and he has visited the most famous places of pilgrimage on the earth, including Puskara, Prayaga, Kasi, the bank of the Godavari, Haridvara, Kuruksetra, Srirangam, and Ramesvaram, he could find no happiness anywhere because humanity had turned to bad actions.

There are conflicting images of bhakti's success in this realm in contemporary scholarship. Jayant Lele, for example, focuses on the dialectic of tradition and modernity in understanding bhakti as a "living tradition" that has revolutionary potential if it is approached through a hermeneutics that affirms both the experience of bhakti in the world and the critical approach of bhakti to the world. If an authentic, conscious upsurge towards the attainment of communal ideals is to engulf the masses, it is unlikely to come from the transplants of symbols of alien or dead traditions.

The regional language bhakti poems have in common their nature as religious poems that highlight the voice of the poet. This is in contrast to the prominent bhakti texts in Sanskrit. The Bhagavad Gita and the Bhdgavata Purana both use a questionand-answer format in which the interlocutors are distinct from the author, and the Bhakti Sutras of Narada and Sandilya can be described as aphoristic in nature, seemingly omniscient rather than authored. In the bhakti poems, the author and thus the language of the author are prominent.

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