Book: The Holy in a Pluralistic World
Chapter: 7. Wonderstruck: Otto, Vision, and Modern Hinduism
Central to Rudolf Otto’s thought is that we can apprehend, in a limited way, the essence of religion through feeling. In this chapter I follow this thread, interrogating Otto’s idea of the numinous through contemporary Hinduism, where the act of vision or darshan of the holy is the central moment of communion between worshipper and worshipped. Through three distinct divine visions in Hinduism, two textual and one ethnographic, I explore the phenomenology of visionary experience to rethink our understanding of the numinous, Hinduism, and religion more broadly, ultimately arguing that we can understand Otto’s numinous as a breakthrough of “wonder” which interrupts ordinary life.