Research Focus Group Talk: Rethinking Non-Violence: The Spiritual and Emotional Lives of Animals in Jain Literature

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Sarah Pierce Taylor

March 13, 2023 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

3041 HSSB
UC Santa Barbara

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Pierce Taylor - Rethinking Non-Violence

Why are Jains committed to non-violence (ahiṃsā)? Is it out of a compassion for animals? Is it because of the consequences of violent action on the soul? This talk argues that the answer to these questions depends in part on whether one is reading Jain doctrinal texts or Jain literature. Jain literature in Kannada and Sanskrit offers a rationale for non-violence that is based on an affective materiality that karmically binds souls together across transmigration and in and through animal and human bodies. For these texts, such bonds mean that the fish on your dinner plate could be your father in ways that complicate the motivations and consequences of non-violence.

Sarah Pierce Taylor is Assistant Professor of South Asian religions at the University of Chicago Divinity School. Her research interests focus on the historical interactions of Jain traditions with Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Her talk will draw on her forthcoming book, Embodying Souls: Emotion, Gender, and Animality in Premodern South Asian Religions, which engages medieval literature in Sanskrit and Kannada produced by the Digambara Jain community of the western Deccan and argues that Jain literature, in engaging the breadth of the soul’s experience, formulated a vision of the human being that exceeded normative constructions and envisioned the human as formerly animal, conceivably transgendered, materially bound by emotion, and relationally connected to a larger group of souls.

Sponsored by the IHC’s South Asian Religions and Cultures Research Focus Group


March 13, 2023
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
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