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Aesthetic experience as a paradigm for religious experience in Tantric Śaivism of Kashmir

Aesthetic experience as a paradigm for religious experience in Tantric Śaivism of Kashmir

Seminar / 60h / 6 ECTS / winter semester. Coordinator: prof. Raffaele Torella (Sapienza University, Rome)

The philosophy and the religious worldview of Kashmirian non-dual Śaivism, culminating in its greatest spiritual master and philosopher, Abhinavagupta, is impregnated by a basic aesthetic flavour (and, moreover, it is to be noted that Indian aesthetics as a whole has Abhinavagupta as its most prominent figure). A major characteristic of this aesthetic-aristocratic attitude in religious experience is the downgrading of all painful effort, seen as plebeian feature. The aristocrat intends to show that what inferior people can achieve only at the cost of long and painful exercises is accessible to him promptly and very easily. However, such ‘easiness’ is all but easy for ordinary (and not aesthetically refined) man.

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