Transformational Embodiment in Asian Religions : Subtle Bodies, Spatial Bodies book cover
1st Edition

Transformational Embodiment in Asian Religions
Subtle Bodies, Spatial Bodies

ISBN 9781032087078
Published June 30, 2021 by Routledge
268 Pages

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Book Description

This volume examines several theoretical concerns of embodiment in the context of Asian religious practice. Looking at both subtle and spatial bodies, it explores how both types of embodiment are engaged as sites for transformation, transaction and transgression.

Collectively bridging ancient and modern conceptualizations of embodiment in religious practice, the book offers a complex mapping of how body is defined. It revisits more traditional, mystical religious systems, including Hindu Tantra and Yoga, Tibetan Buddhism, Bon, Chinese Daoism and Persian Sufism and distinctively juxtaposes these inquiries alongside analyses of racial, gendered, and colonized bodies. Such a multifaceted subject requires a diverse approach, and so perspectives from phenomenology and neuroscience as well as critical race theory and feminist theology are utilised to create more precise analytical tools for the scholarly engagement of embodied religious epistemologies.

This a nuanced and interdisciplinary exploration of the myriad issues around bodies within religion. As such it will be a key resource for any scholar of Religious Studies, Asian Studies, Anthropology, Sociology, Philosophy, and Gender Studies.

Table of Contents

List of Figures

Notes on Transliteration

Notes on Contributors



Katherine C. Zubko and George Pati


Chapter 1: The Subtle Body of Vital Presence in Contemplative Practices of Abhinavagupta’s Trika Saivism and Longchenpa's Great Perfection

Kerry Martin Skora

Chapter 2: Daoist Body-Maps and Meditative Praxis

Louis Komjathy

Chapter 3: Yuasa Yasuo’s Contextualization of the Subtle Body: Phenomenology and Practice

Edward J. Godfrey

Chapter 4: Dismembering Demons: Spatial and Bodily Representations in the Fifteenth-Century Ekali¿gamahatmya

Adam Newman

Chapter 5: Subtle Body: Rethinking the Body’s Subjectivity through Abhinavagupta Body

Loriliai Biernacki

Chapter 6:

Embodied Experience in the Maharthamañjari of Mahesvarananda

Sthaneshwar Timalsina

Chapter 7: Sensing the Ascent: Embodied Elements of Muhammad’s Heavenly Journey in Nizami Ganjavi’s Treasury of Mysteries

Matthew R. Hotham

Chapter 8: Bodies in Translation: Esoteric Conceptions of the Muslim Body in Early-modern South Asia

Patrick J. D’Silva


Chapter 9: The Prostituted Body of War: U.S. Military Prostitution in South Korea as a Site of Spiritual Activism

Keun-Joo Christine Pae

Chapter 10: Frisky Methods: Subtle Bodies, Epistemological Pluralism and Creative Scholarship

Jay Johnston

Chapter 11:

Bliss and Bodily Disorientation: The autophagous mysticism of Georges Bataille and the Taittiriya Upani¿ad

Matthew J. Robertson

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George Pati is Associate Professor of Theology and International Studies and the Surjit S. Patheja Chair in World Religions and Ethics at Valparaiso University, USA. His research interests include religious literature in the Malayalam language, South Asian devotional traditions, the mediation of Hindu devotion through texts, rituals, and performances of Kerala, South India, and the body and religion. He is the author of Religious Devotion and the Poetics of Reform: Love and Liberation in Malayalam Poetry (2019).

Katherine C. Zubko is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and NEH Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at University of North Carolina, Asheville, USA. Her research interests include aesthetics, ritual, performance, dance anthropology, and embodied religion in South Asia. She is the author of Dancing Bodies of Devotion: Fluid Gestures in Bharata Natyam (2014).