Join us for Tea in our Courtyard and an Evening Book Reading with Author James McHugh

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Please join us in the UPR Bookstore, the evening of May 15th!

Our Bookstore will be open to the public extended hours until 8pm

Tea will be served in our courtyard prior to a reading and discussion with Author James McHugh  


James McHugh offers the first comprehensive examination of the concepts and practices related to smell in pre-modern India. Drawing on a wide range of textual sources, from poetry to medical texts, he shows the significant religious and cultural role of smell in India throughout the first millennium CE.

McHugh describes the arts of perfumery developed in royal courts, temples, and monasteries, which were connected to a trade in exotic aromatics. Through their transformative nature, perfumes played an important part in every aspect of Indian life from seduction to diplomacy and religion. The aesthetics of smell dictated many of the materials, practices, and ceremonies associated with India’s religious culture. McHugh shows how religious discourses on the purpose of life emphasized the pleasures of the senses, including olfactory experience, as valid ends in themselves. Fragrances and stenches were analogous to certain values, aesthetic or ethical, and in a system where karmic results often had a sensory impact-where evil literally stank-the ethical and aesthetic became difficult to distinguish. Through the study of smell, McHugh strengthens our understanding of the vital connection between the theological and the physical world.

Sandalwood and Carrion explores smell in pre-modern India from many perspectives, covering such topics as philosophical accounts of smell perception, odors in literature, the history of perfumery in India, the significance of sandalwood in Buddhism, and the divine offering of perfume to the gods.



James McHugh

Ph.D. Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Harvard University, 6/2008

M.Phil. Classical Indian Religion, University of Oxford, 6/1997

B.A. Philosophy, University of Cambridge, 6/1994

Associate Professor of Religion at USC



This event is free and open to the public!

The bookstore will have Sandalwood and Carrion available for purchase at this event.  We hope to see you there!


3910 Los Feliz Boulevard

Los Angeles, CA 90027


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