Suggesting Śāntarasa in Shanti Mandir’s Satsaṅga: Ritual, Performativity and Ethnography in Yogaland

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Abstract

Satsaṅga is a public domain where ideas related to transcendence and culturallycontingent “Truth” are suggested. This paper combines a longitudinal study of Shanti Mandir’s (www.shantimandir.com) satsaṅga, with close reading of local and non-local literary theories related to the performativity of satsaṅga and the doctrine of appreciating tranquillity (śāntarasavāda). This leads to the possibility of framing satsaṅga as a rasavatkāvya (charming-literature) literary artefact; which we can regard as a type of hybrid campū-rasavat kāvya. Finally, from an interdisciplinary perspective, I provide a novel epistemological bricolage to understand the soteriological and sociological aims of satsaṅga from within the Temple of Peace (Shanti Mandir) organisation, and propose an analytical framework about how satsaṅga operates as a formal learning domain; where sādhaka-s (aspirants) attempt to gain access to a yoga-inspired disposition related to becoming (praśama), embodying and experiencing śānti (tranquillity), which occurs through learning to become śāntamūrti-s (embodiers of tranquillity) by appreciating śāntarasa (the aesthetic mood of tranquillity).

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