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Document Details :
Title: Saṃvega and Pasāda
Subtitle: Dharma Songs in Contemporary Cambodia
Author(s): WALKER, Trent
Journal: Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies
Volume: 41 Date: 2018
This article presents an overview of the texts, melodies, and aesthetics of the performance of 'Dharma songs' (Khmer: dharm pad) in contemporary Cambodia. Dharma songs, also known as smūtr (sometimes smūt or smūdhy), are a corpus of narrative, didactic, and liturgical texts in Khmer and Pali, sung with complex melodies in various Buddhist rituals. I first survey how the Pali concepts of saṃvega and pasāda function in classical South Asian and contemporary Khmer Buddhist contexts. Within the Cambodian Dharma song tradition, I argue that saṃvega and pasāda can be understood as aesthetic experiences (Sanskrit: rasa) that are essential to Buddhist soteriology. By exploring how Dharma song texts and melodies are centered around the evocation of saṃvega and pasāda, I demonstrate how these aesthetic experiences define the performance of Cambodian Dharma songs. This particular Khmer tradition exemplifies the importance of recognizing, studying, and documenting the ways Buddhists live their religion through music.