AAS Annual Meeting

South Asia Session 69

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Session 69: Roundtable: Smrti and Sati: Memory and Mindfulness in South Asian Contemplative Traditions

Organizer: Stuart Ray Sarbacker, Oregon State University, USA

Discussants: George D. Bond, Northwestern University, USA; Laurie L. Patton, Middlebury College, USA; Gerald J. Larson, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA; Christopher Chapple, Loyola Marymount University, USA; Ramdas Lamb, University of Hawaii, Manoa, USA; Stuart Ray Sarbacker, Oregon State University, USA

Concepts of memory and mindfulness (Sanskrit smrti, Pali sati) play key roles in South Asian contemplative traditions, both in philosophical and religious contexts. This roundtable is dedicated to exploring how conceptions of smrti and sati frame Hindu, Buddhist, and Jaina conceptions of yoga and meditation in both “classical” and contemporary contexts. Participants will examine the permutations of these concepts in a variety of historical and literary contexts, including Vedic and early post-Vedic literature, Theravāda and early scholastic Buddhism, “classical” Hindu yoga and Jaina sources, and within orthodox traditions of Hindu renunciation. Examination of the place of smrti and sati as contemplative registers within South Asian literature and history will be complemented by a discussion of the modern and contemporary applications of these concepts in both religious and secular contexts. Attention will also be paid to the ways in which smrti and sati can be tied into larger conceptions of religious observance and piety, and the degree to which “memory” or “remembering” can be a touchstone for thinking comparatively about religion, and about religion in South Asia in particular.