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Language of Images

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Table of Contents

Content: Image, Imagination, and Meaning - Image and Visualization in Classical Hinduism - Better than Real: Imagining the Body in Tantric Rituals - Materializing Space and Time in Tantric Images - Transformative Role of Imagination in Visualizing the Image of Bhairava - Surplus of Imagination: Images with Multiple Arms.

About the Author

Sthaneshwar Timalsina (PhD, Martin Luther University) is Professor of Indian Religions and Philosophies in the Department of Religious Studies at San Diego State University. His primary areas of interest include Tantric studies and Indian philosophies. While his early books Seeing and Appearance and Consciousness in Indian Philosophy address various Advaita theories of consciousness, Tantric Visual Culture: A Cognitive Approach explores the cognitive and philosophical domains of the Indian culture of visualization with a focus on Tantric images. Timalsina has also published over three dozen articles and book chapters. He is currently working on the philosophical and psychological aspects of memory, disposition, recognition, imagination, and emotion.


"It is refreshing to see a study that takes seriously visual images and visualization as primary pieces of evidence in seeking to understand the meaning and purpose of Tantra and South Asian religious traditions generally.... The overwhelming majority of people experience the meaning of their religious traditions through seeing images and hearing recitations. Sthaneshwar Timalsina's work on the visual image as itself a kind of 'language' is a welcome addition to research on Tantra."
(Gerald James Larson, Research Professor, University of California, Irvine; Tagore Professor Emeritus, Indiana University, Bloomington; and Professor Emeritus, Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara)
"... Hindu and Buddhist Tantras have attracted the attention not only of Sanskritists but of scholars of cultural anthropology, religious studies, and, of late even of some Jungian psychologists. But rigorous Western philosophers have kept a safe and often suspicious distance from such 'oriental mysticisms.' ...In this book, for the first time, Sthaneshwar Timalsina builds bridges between twenty-first-century psychology, phenomenology, semiotics, and philosophy of mind on the one hand and the wide and complex use of visual and proprioceptive images in altering bodily and mental states through contemplative practice.
Written with uncompromising clarity and robust common sense, this 'prasanna-pada'(gracefully phrased) exposition of the meaning and use of images in Tantric transformative spiritual practices is sure to transform the field of comparative philosophy of mind and of phenomenology of imagination. We have been waiting for an accessible yet textually meticulous introduction to the - ancient but alive - theory and practice of re-imagining the felt body that would attract a broadly philosophical readership the world over. With Timalsina's book, the wait has ended..." (Arindam Chakrabarti, Professor of Philosophy and Director of the EPOCH Eastern Philosophy of Consciousness)

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