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 reference, 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
Maria Heim is the George Lyman Crosby 1896 & Stanley Warfield Crosby Professor in Religion at Amherst College and a Guggenheim fellow. Her books include The Bloomsbury Research Handbook of Emotions in Classical Indian Philosophy and The Forerunner of All Things: Buddhaghosa on Mind, Intention, and Agency. She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.
"The diversity of source material (combined with the alphabetical arrangement) provides for unexpected and sometimes delightful juxtapositions: entries from the Kama Sutra sit alongside Buddhist instructions for charnel ground meditations, and the sublime attitudes of the brahma-viharas are sandwiched between the malicious and the macabre. . . . Being fully aware of one’s own emotional experience is a wonder, a miracle. In this light, Words for the Heart offers the reader 177 entry points to wonder."—Sarah Fleming, Tricycle
"An homage to the Sanskrit tradition. . . . A good sample of Sanskrit literature and philosophy that will, I am sure, whet many appetites for more writings from and about classical India."—Sophus Helle, Marginalia Review of Books
“On every page of this book, at every bend, is the sound or smoke of some emotion that reconnects you to life. I’m going to read it with my students when we discuss the rasas, and I’m going to read from it secretly every day, whenever I feel the need to retreat from this head-heavy world.”—Sumana Roy, author of How I Became a Tree
“Maria Heim has gifted us a treasury of words for the subtle and not-so-subtle feelings and perceptions that we all share, providing a beautifully conceived, distinctive ecology of sensation, immediately intelligible yet often strange and surprising. This book has emerged from a capacious heart exquisitely attuned to what South Asian people have said, sung, shouted, thought, and whispered over many centuries.”—David Shulman, Hebrew University of Jerusalem