June McDaniel

in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Emotion

Published in print December 2007 | ISBN: 9780195170214
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780199892150 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology


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Emotion is viewed in both positive and negative ways in the Hindu religious and philosophical traditions. In those traditions that are more ascetic and emphasize mental control, emotions are distractions which need to be stilled. In those traditions that emphasize love of a deity, emotions are valuable—but they must be directed and transformed. However, in order to study emotion in the Hindu tradition, we must first look at the meaning of the term “Hinduism.” There are at least six major types of Hinduism: Hindu folk religion, Vedic religion, Vedantic Hinduism, yogic Hinduism, dharmic Hinduism, and bhakti or devotional Hinduism. All of these involve emotion in various ways, but two traditions—those of Bengali Vaishnavism and raja yoga—have written about emotion in greatest depth. This article examines what the term “emotion” means in India, and then describes the beliefs about emotion in Vaishnavism and Yoga in greater detail. In discussing the nature of emotion, it considers bhava and rasa. Finally, the article discusses the literature on emotion in Hindu tradition, focusing on religious poetry.

Keywords: Hinduism; India; religious poetry; Vaishnavism; Yoga; bhava; rasa; raja yoga

Article.  9294 words. 

Subjects: Sociology of Religion ; Hinduism

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