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Emotion, Ritual and Body in the Devotional Tradition of Radhasoami


· Diana Dimitrova University of Montrela (Montreal, Canada)


07/28 | 17:30-17:50 UTC+2/CEST


This paper studies the interface between emotions, rituals and the body in the devotional tradition of Radhasoami. It seeks to explore emotions related to embodied ritual practices, as revealed in the notions of guru-bhakti, of āratī, and of satsaṅg. The teachings of Radhasoami require that a guru be alive and present in a bodily form for the devotee, and they regard the living guru as an incarnate form of the Absolute. The Radhasoami religiosity invites the devotee to long for a darśana of the guru and encourage followers to mediate on him. During a (mental) āratī, which represents an internalization of ritual worship, the devotee might offer to his guru the parts of his inner body. Furthermore, Radhasoami followers are in the presence of their guru during the satsaṅg, or collective religious service, together with other devotees. Thus, the emotions of belonging and togetherness with the other devotees are intertwined with the emotions of loving devotion and awe for the guru. It is therefore important to reflect on this large spectrum of emotions during embodied ritual practices in their togetherness. Thus, my paper will discuss emotions, such as awe and love for the guru, and feelings and emotions of belonging with the other fellow members in relation to guru-bhakti, āratī and the satsaṅg, and based on textual analysis of several Radhasoami texts and interviews with members of the Radhasoami tradition.