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Why do leopards have spots? Why are horses so beautiful? Why are we afraid in the dark and where does joy come from?

Our immersion in Bhakti* poems and hymns  from about 1200BCE to 1800CE India with Arshia Sattar will consist of a close reading of the texts and inspiring interactive discussion sessions.

How: We will meet for 12 hours (incl. breaks) over 3 days around a roundtable to discuss together & exchange our beautiful thoughts and considerations. Discussions will focus on two key books: ‘Eating God: A Book of Bhakti Poetry’* & ‘Speaking of Shiva’**.

Prerequisites: To prepare for the immersion, please read the following two books:

  • Eating God: A Book of Bhakti Poetry, Edited by Arundhati Subramanian
  • Speaking of Siva, Penguin Classic: A selection of vacanas or free-verse sayings from the Virasaiva religious movement, dedicated to Siva as the supreme god.

You can order these books at your local library or online.


Thursday 9 July: 18h-21h

Friday 10 July: 17h-21h

Saturday 11 July: 13h30-18h30

Human beings have always felt the need to talk to someone or something that lies just beyond our reach, some person or energy that exists to tell us why we have pain, why people we die, why there is evil in the world. We also look for explanations for why leopards have spots and why horses are so beautiful, why we are afraid in the dark and where joy comes from. And sometimes, we look to say thank you, for all that we have: our good fortune, love, laughter, food and drink and friends to share them with.
In the Indian subcontinent, that gave birth to many great religious traditions, including Buddhism and Hinduism), we have some of the earliest recorded ‘talks with god.’ Our weekend will explore poems, hymns, laments, words of praise and thanks from about 1200BCE to 1800CE. As we read and discuss them together, these texts will connect us to our collective past but will also speak to our individual presents.
* Bhakti is devotional worship directed to one supreme deity, usually Vishnu (especially in his incarnations as Rama and Krishna) or Shiva, by whose grace salvation may be attained by all regardless of sex, caste, or class.