Words for the Heart: A Treasury of Emotions from Classical India

A richly diverse collection of classical Indian terms for expressing the many moods and subtleties of emotional experience


Published (US):
Aug 16, 2022
Published (UK):
Sep 20, 2022
5.5 x 8.5 in.
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Words for the Heart is a captivating treasury of emotion terms drawn from some of India’s earliest classical languages. Inspired by the traditional Indian genre of a “treasury”—a wordbook or anthology of short texts or poems—this collection features 177 jewel-like entries evoking the kinds of phenomena English speakers have variously referred to as emotions, passions, sentiments, moods, affects, and dispositions. These entries serve as beautiful literary and philosophical vignettes that convey the delightful texture of Indian thought and the sheer multiplicity of conversations about emotions in Indian texts. An indispensable collection, Words for the Heart reveals how Indian ways of interpreting human experience can challenge our assumptions about emotions and enrich our lives.

  • Brings to light a rich lexicon of emotion from ancient India
  • Uses the Indian genre of a “treasury,” or wordbook, to explore the contours of classical Indian thought in three of the subcontinent’s earliest languages—Sanskrit, Pali, and Prakrit
  • Features 177 alphabetical entries, from abhaya (“fearlessness”) to yoga (“the discipline of calm”)
  • Draws on a wealth of literary, religious, and philosophical writings from classical India
  • Includes synonyms, antonyms, related words, and suggestions for further reading
  • Invites readers to engage in the cross-cultural study of emotions
  • Reveals the many different ways of naming and interpreting human experience

Ideas Podcast: Words for the Heart

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