7. Wonderstruck: Otto, Vision, and Modern Hinduism

The Holy in a Pluralistic World - Rudolf Otto's Legacy in the 21st Century - Ulrich Rosenhagen

Tulasi Srinivas [+-]
Emerson College
Tulasi Srinivas is Professor of Anthropology, Religion and Transnational Studies at the Marlboro Institute at Emerson College. She is the author of several monographs, including Curried Cultures: Globalization, Food and South Asia (University of California, 2012) and The Cow in the Elevator: An Anthropology of Wonder (Duke, 2018). Srinivas’ research has been supported by prestigious fellowships at the Käte Hamburger Kolleg, Germany, the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study, Harvard University, among others. She is an award-winning teacher-activist and is an expert with the World Economic Forum, Geneva. Her work has been featured on The Conversation, The Revealer, The Harvard Divinity Bulletin, National Public Radio, and The Boston Globe.


Central to Rudolf Otto’s thought is that we can apprehend, in a limited way, the essence of religion through feeling. In this chapter I follow this thread, interrogating Otto’s idea of the numinous through contemporary Hinduism, where the act of vision or darshan of the holy is the central moment of communion between worshipper and worshipped. Through three distinct divine visions in Hinduism, two textual and one ethnographic, I explore the phenomenology of visionary experience to rethink our understanding of the numinous, Hinduism, and religion more broadly, ultimately arguing that we can understand Otto’s numinous as a breakthrough of “wonder” which interrupts ordinary life.

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Srinivas, Tulasi. 7. Wonderstruck: Otto, Vision, and Modern Hinduism. The Holy in a Pluralistic World - Rudolf Otto's Legacy in the 21st Century. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Jun 2022. ISBN 9781781794906. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=30390. Date accessed: 07 Dec 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.30390. Jun 2022

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