This book is one of the first wide-ranging academic surveys of the major types and categories of Hindu contemplative praxis. It explores diverse spiritual and religious practices within the Hindu traditions and Indic hermeneutical perspectives to understand the intricate culture of meditative communion and contemplation, devotion, spiritual formation, prayer, ritual, and worship. The volume extends and expands the conceptual reach of the fields of Contemplative Studies and Hindu Studies.
The chapters in the volume cover themes in Hindu contemplative experience from various texts and traditions including classical Sāṃkhya and Patañjali Yoga, the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, the role of Sādhana in Advaita Vedānta, Śrīvidyā and the Śrīcakra, the body in Tantra, the semiotics and illocution of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava sādhana, mantra in Mīmāṃsā, Vaiṣṇava liturgy, as well as cross-cultural reflections and interreligious comparative contemplative praxis. The volume presents indigenous vocabulary and frameworks to examine categories and concerns particular to the Hindu contemplative traditions. It traces patterns that cut across Hindu traditions and systems and discusses contrasting methods of different theological/philosophical schools evincing a strong plurality in Hindu religious thought and practice. The volume provides intra-religious comparisons that reveal internal complexity, nuances, and a variety of contemplative states and transformative practices that exist under the rubric of Hindu practices of interiority and reflection.
With key insights on forms and functions of the contemplative experience along with their theologies and philosophies, the volume suggests new hermeneutical directions that will advance the field of contemplative studies. This book will be useful to scholars and researchers of religious and theological studies, contemplative studies, Hindu studies, consciousness studies, yoga studies, Indian philosophy and religion, sociology of religion, philosophy of religion, comparative religion, and South Asian studies, as well as general readers interested in the topic.
Table of Contents
- Contemplative Studies and the Principles and Practices of Hindu Contemplative Life: An Introduction
- On Creating a Contemplative Studies Program in the Southwest
- Contemplative Experience: An Interdharma Comparative Reflection
- Why Meditate on God? The Role of Īśvara-praṇidhāna in the Classical Sāṃkhya and Yoga Tradition
- Emotional and Devotional Union: A Bhāgavata Theology of Oneness
Gopal K. Gupta
- Sri Chinmoy on the Nature and Goals of Contemplative Practice
Kusumita P. Pedersen
- The Role of Sādhanā in Advaita Vedānta
- The Instability of Non-Dual Knowing: Post-Gnosis Sādhana in Vidyāraṇya’s
- Śrīvidyā: A Śākta Model of Esoteric Sādhanā of the Śrīcakra
- The Body and Wonder in Tantra
- Semiotics and Illocution in Gauḍīya Sādhana
- Prayer and Worship in the Ascetics of the Ramananda Sampraday
- Māntric Effect, Effervescent Devatā-s, Noetic Supplications, and Apūrva in the Mīmāṃsā
- Prayer and Worship through Music and Liturgy in North Indian Vaiṣṇava Traditions
Rita D. Sherma
Part I. Contemplative Practice: Cross-Cultural and Interreligious Considerations
Andrew O. Fort
Rita D. Sherma
Part II. Contemplation and Yoga Praxis
Part III. Sādhana: Knowledge, Wonder, and Love
Advaita Vedānta James Madaio
Part IV. Prayer, Worship, and Ritual
Guy L. Beck
Rita D. Sherma is Director and Associate Professor at the Shingal Center for Dharma Studies, Chair of the Department of Theology and Ethics, and Core Doctoral Faculty, at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California, USA. She is founding Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Dharma Studies.
Purushottama Bilimoria is a Distinguished Research Fellow in Indian Philosophy with the Center for Dharma Studies, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley; Visiting Professor at the University of California, Berkeley; and Principal Fellow in the School of Historical and Philosophical and the Australia India Institute at the University of Melbourne, Australia. He serves as Editor-in-Chief of Sophia: International Journal of Philosophy and Traditions and is also co-editor of Journal of Dharma Studies.
‘The essays in this brilliant volume offer me as a teacher and researcher a welcome complexity in the study of Hinduism as a rich source. The researchers’ perspectives are drawn from the extensive reserves of philosophical/theological considerations of both ancient and contemporary Hindu traditions.’
Joanne Punzo Waghorne, Professor of Religion, Syracuse University, NY, USA
‘Contemplative Studies and Hinduism is a stimulating intellectual endeavor wherein the editors Rita D. Sherma and Purushottama Bilimoria have brilliantly presented a unique landscape in the horizon of cross-cultural contemplative studies with the help of fourteen polyvalent brushes in Hinduism. It will go a long way in augmenting afresh the nascent discipline of cross-cultural and hermeneutically symbiotic study of contemplative practices in Hinduism. This engaging work appears like an intellectual churning of the ocean: samudra manthanam!’
Devasia M. Antony, Department of Philosophy, Hindu College, Delhi University, India
‘India’s great reservoir of living religious traditions is best known for colorful public practices because they are visible and memorable. The inwardly-oriented realm of contemplative religious life is more hidden, so it is less well-known and less studied and reported. This new anthology, Contemplative Studies and Hinduism, represents a significant breakthrough—it makes accessible a deeper understanding of various forms of contemplation in India. Thus, it fulfills a major need in Hindu Studies, offering as it does insightful portrayals of the quite different approaches and rationales. Respected specialists in each of the major traditions make this well-researched volume a memorable landmark in the field and an important contribution in Contemplative Studies. Their discussions of meditative modes used by Hindu aspirants inform this unique book, examining philosophies and practices such as meditation, mantra, prayer, music, devotion and spiritual knowledge. Contemplative Studies and Hinduism offers an invaluable resource for scholars and practitioners alike.’
William J. Jackson, Professor Emeritus, Department of Religious Studies, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
‘This volume performs a significant service to the field of contemplative studies. It raises the bar for the comparative endeavor that anchors the field. The authors define general terms for comparing contemplative practices across traditions, then define specific terms for comparative discourse within the sweep of Hindu traditions. Elucidating this internal diversity within a given tradition makes contemplative studies stronger by putting the real challenge on the table, clarifying the complexity with which this fundamentally comparative, cross-cultural field must reckon.’
Dan Moseson, Career & Professional Development Center, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA