The Rapture, an Indian Equivalent

Seft finds the essay on Bapu absolutely enthralling, not the least because of the focus on asceticism, and the main character’s aspiration to live as a sannyasi (a person who has renounced all worldly attachments).

Bapu’s story leads to the temple town of Srirangam, “believed to be the birthplace of the ninth-century female mystic and poet Andal.”

Self has been reading a lot about Saint Teresa of Avila (research for a 16th century novel she is writing) and has come across frequent mentions of “the Rapture,” a kind of ecstasy achieved when a human achieves “union with the divine.”

From Strangers to Ourselves: Unsettled Minds and the Stories That Make Us:

  • Andal is famous not only for her devotion to Krishna but for her determination to actually marry him. “So great is my desire/ To unite with the lord,” she wrote, “that emotion chokes my breath.” One day, Andal dressed like a bride, walked into the Srirangam temple, and embraced the feet of the idol, Ranganatha — an incarnation of the god Vishnu, of whom Krishna is an avatar. Then she disappeared. She was never seen again.

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