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Title: Rasa and personhood in the Bhāgavata Purāṇa : the integration of aesthetic theory with Vedānta
Author: Theodor, Ithamar
ISNI:       0000 0001 1874 8082
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2005
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The Bhāgavata Purāṇa is one of Hinduism's most outstanding texts composed around the 9th c. CE in south India; it is superbly written, with aesthetic sensitivity and metaphysical subtlety. In his book The Advaitic Theism of The Bhāgavata Purāṇa, Daniel Sheridan has examined the Bhāgavata Purāṇa in order to understand its religious structure, both implicit as well as explicit. This thesis aims at taking current research of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa a step forward in deciphering its doctrine, structure, and meaning. The work first raises the question, "What are the Bhāgavata Purāṇa's literary components", and argues that the Bhāgavata Purāṇa is composed of two such groups: "Knowledge" and "Aesthetics". Knowledge is associated with direct usage of language and the conception of Impersonal Brahman, whereas aesthetics are associated with indirect usage of language and the concept of Personal Brahman. The work proceeds to look closer at the status of emotions in Indian thought, and argues that in some Indian schools, emotions are taken to possess an ontological status, and therefore are considered to reveal reality rather than obscure it. The relations of Vaiṣṇavism and dramaturgy are examined, both historically as well as theologically, and it is argued that the Bhāgavata Purāṇa has clear dramatic elements. This thesis next proceeds to decipher the aesthetic theory underlying the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, and argues that it is Bharata's rasa theory. Two medieval positions on rasa are examined - Abhinavagupta's and Bhoja's - and it is argued that a position similar to Bhoja's underlies the text. As in Bhoja's theory it is śṛṅgāra rasa, (romantic emotions) which is considered the supreme rasa. The Bhāgavata Purāṇa's structure is highlighted, as presenting notions of personal divinity arranged in hierarchical order - from those evoking śānta rasa (tranquil emotion) to those evoking śṛṅgāra rasa. At last, four such notions are articulated; Impersonal Brahman, The Universal Person, The Person in the Heart, and the Avatāra.
Supervisor: Clooney, Francis X. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Rasas ; Self