Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Kathryn T. McClymond - Committee Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. David M. Bell - Committee Member

Third Advisor

Dr. Jeffrey S. Lidke - Committee Member

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Jonathan R. Herman - Committee Member


Traditional ritual studies approaches to the body are effective for illuminating how the body functions as an entity that absorbs and expresses a variety of social, and political dynamics; however, they are less productive for understanding the body as a physical organism. This interdisciplinary thesis applies theoretical models from cognitive science, social psychology and ritual studies to the Śrī Cakra Pūjā in order to develop a more complete understanding of the ritual body as a physical body. Using Lawrence Barsalou’s theory of embodied cognition, which focuses on the impact of human experiences on the creation and integration of neural pathways, this essay, argues that Śrī Cakra Pūjā affects the mind by shaping the neural architecture of the brain. This cognitive perspective on religious ritual practice is compared with the more traditional ritual studies approach of Catherine Bell in an effort to provide a more complete understanding of the religious ritual body, brain and mind.

Included in

Religion Commons