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The Hermeneutics of Touch: Uncovering Abhinavagupta's Tactile Terrain

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image of Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

This article introduces a “hermeneutics of touch” in order to uncover the place of tactile experience in the work of Abhinavagupta, the Kashmiri Hindu Tantric sage (c. 975-1025 C.E.). I focus on his understanding of the liberation of touch, especially as articulated in his Trankāloka (), his encyclopedic synthesis of Trika Śiva discourse and ritual. Inspired by the scholarship of the new emerging fields of anthropology of the senses as well as religion and the senses, I purposely break with the primary emphasis on vision and cognition seen in Abhinavagupta Studies, to reconsider the significance of the tactile sense.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Religious Studies, Hiram College;, Email:


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