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On Seeing The Birth Of The Heart

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Chapter Summary

This chapter articulates meaning in two works of art from Christian and Buddhist traditions: the fifteenth-century Christian icon of Kardiotissa known as The Virgin of the Passion, and the Vishvakarma cave, a Buddhist chaitya-griha located in Ellora, India. In seeking to experience these works of art and bring their respective religious traditions into dialogue with each other, primary emphasis is given to the representation of interiority and seeing within it the revelatory dialectic intrinsic to both aesthetic representation and human religiosity. In Abhinavaguptas philosophy of aesthetics, definitive for all subsequent Indian aesthetic theory, Rasa is known only through direct experience, yet significantly, it is known through art, through direct experience of representation. Evoking comparison between the guha (cave of the heart) and the Christian closet of the heart of which St. Dimitri of Rostov writes, the Vishvakarma cave presents intimacy and interiority of contemplation in an exquisite stillness of stone.

Keywords: Buddhist chaitya-griha; Christian closet of the heart; human religiosity; Indian aesthetic theory of Rasa; interiority; Kardiotissa; Vishvakarma cave



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