Bard News & Events

Press Release


Emily Darrow

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.--Sthaneshwar Timalsina, professor of Sanskrit and South Asian religions at Mahendra Sanskrit University in Kathmandu, Nepal, will give a lecture and slide presentation on the topic, "Blood at the Heart of the Mandala: Religion, Politics, and Traditional Culture in Nepal," on Monday, March 25. The program, free and open to the public, will begin at 6:00 p.m. in Room 102 of the Olin Humanities Building.

Recent events in Nepal--including the violence of the Maoist insurgency--suggest that the traditional mandala-culture is rapidly being deconstructed. From around the 8th century C.E., the sociopolitical and cultural structures of Nepal have been rooted in the ideology and practice of Tantra. Tantra (which literally means "to interweave") is a metaphysical and ritual system that weaves ideologies of kingship to the construction of space and sociocultural identity through the metaphor of the mandala, a geometric symbol that portrays the flow of divine power into the world.

By imagining their kingdom as a Tantric mandala, Nepalese kings have aligned themselves with divine power, transforming their temporal territory into the universal territory of a Godhead. Never a static construction, the mandala?as a template for society?incorporates and is informed by a multiplicity of cultural practices and dialects. In this way, the mandala links centers to peripheries and allows for the appropriation of power through a multiplicity of media?including dance, art, shamanism, and ritual sacrifice.

This 1,200-year-old system of the mandala culture is changing both through the forces of modernism and the recent "People's War," orchestrated since 1996 by the Maobadi movement. Timalsina, a native of the Kathmandu valley, will use slides, personal experience, and 20 years of scholarship to illustrate the current struggle at the heart of Nepal's classical mandala culture.

Timalsina, internationally recognized as one of the premier young scholars of South Asia, is currently teaching Sanskrit at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has published more than dozen works in Sanskrit, English, Hindi, and Nepali, and his dissertation on the topic of creation and perception in Vedanta was filed recently at Martin Luther University, Halle, Germany. He is committed to advising the academic community and the greater public of the current political situation in Nepal.

This program is made possible through support by the Freeman Foundation. For further information, call 845-758-7364 or e-mail

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This event was last updated on 03-20-2002