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The Art of Loving Krishna

Ornamentation and Devotion

Cynthia Packert

Publication Year: 2010

Since ancient times, Hindus have expressed their love and devotion to their deities through beautiful ornamentation -- dressing and decorating the deities with elaborate clothing, jewelry, and flowers. In this pioneering study of temples in Vrindaban and Jaipur, India, Cynthia Packert takes readers across temple thresholds and into the god Krishna's sacred domain. She describes what devotees see when they behold gorgeously attired representations of the god and why these images look the way they do. She discusses new media as well as global forms of devotion popular in India and abroad. The Art of Loving Krishna opens a universe of meaning in which art, religious action, and devotion are dynamically intertwined.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

Just as an Indian cook blends a number of different ingredients to produce a masala (“spice”) mixture, so is this book the outcome of the work of many different contributors. And, like a well-blended masala, where one or more flavors might be dominant but the whole is the complex sum of its many parts, this book has benefited from...

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Prologue: Seeing Krishna, Loving Krishna

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pp. xv-xxiv

A full moon presides over Vrindaban, its hazy glow illuminating the dense jumble of the vibrant pilgrimage town, pressed close against the banks of the Yamuna River. It is a sultry early evening in May, and residents, pilgrims, and visitors are hurriedly making their way to Vrindaban’s myriad Krishna temples, responding...

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Introduction: A Sense of Place, an Open Heart, and an Educated Eye

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pp. 1-27

The worship of Krishna and Radha sounds a single devotional note in Vrindaban and much of the surrounding region, known as Braj (or Vraja), unlike the more diverse mix of religious practices encountered in the broader landscape of the surrounding cities, towns, and villages of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. In these other...

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The Radharamana Temple: Divine Time, All the Time

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pp. 28-73

Sitting amid a heap of vivid pink lotus buds, Lakshmi patiently took each one in turn and folded back its silky petals. As she placed each newly opened blossom to the side, she remarked that there were a thousand lotuses to get through on this stifling late June afternoon. “Even at four rupees apiece, what price is this to pay for...

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The Radhavallabha Temple: One Is Better than Two

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pp. 74-122

“All darshans are alike,” I was once assured when I first came to this subject. Armed with this attitude, I headed down to the Radhavallabha (meaning “the lover or beloved of Radha”) temple, the residence of the self-manifested image that found its way into the care of Hit Harivansha, the sixteenth-century founder of the Radhavallabha...

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The Govindadeva Temple: From the King’s God to the People’s God

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pp. 123-175

Ask anyone in Jaipur “Who is the king of Jaipur?” and the unhesitating answer will always be “Govindev-ji!” and not Sawai Bhawani Singh, the current maharajah of the Rajput kingdom. “Bhawani Singh is only a man,” I am admonished. “Govindev-ji is Lord Krishna; there is no comparison.” Most are aware that Govindadeva is a self-revealed manifestation of Krishna who made his way to Jaipur from...

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Krishna to Go

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pp. 176-199

Up to this point, we have centered our consideration on the experiences temple-goers have when they behold special physical manifestations of Krishna, all of which originated and are rooted in the sacred domain of Braj. We have explored the visual vernaculars of various temples and connected them to their sectarian histories. In...

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Conclusion: All Dressed Up and Everywhere to Go

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pp. 200-208

Where have all this looking and talking about looking taken us? Moving far beyond my initial bewilderment at “all darshans are the same” and “the god was dressed elaborately,” I found instead that the rich visual practices of the Radharamana, Radhavallabha, and Govindadeva temples reward the interested viewer with a fascinating profusion of meanings. Especially intriguing are...


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pp. 209-218


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pp. 219-224


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pp. 225-230

E-ISBN-13: 9780253004628
E-ISBN-10: 0253004624
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253354785

Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 17 color illus., 41 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2010