Alternative Krishnas: Regional and Vernacular Variations on a Hindu Deity

SUNY Press
2
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Krishna—widely venerated and adored in the Hindu tradition—is a deity of many aspects. An ancient manifestation of the Supreme God Vishnu, or the Godhead itself, Krishna is the bringer of Yoga philosophy and the creator of the universe, the destroyer of evil tyrants, and the hero of the epic Mahabharata. He is also described in classical Sanskrit texts as having human characteristics and enjoying very human pursuits: Krishna is the butter thief, cowherd, philanderer, and flute player. Yet even these playful depictions are based upon descriptions found in the Sanskrit canon, and mostly reflect familiar, classical Pan-Indian images.

In this book, contributors examine the alternative, or unconventional, Krishnas, offering examples from more localized Krishna traditions found in different regions among various ethnic groups, vernacular language traditions, and remote branches of Indian religions. These wide-ranging, alternative visions of Krishna include the Tantric Krishna of Bengal, Krishna in urban women's rituals, Krishna as monogamous husband and younger brother in Braj, Krishna in Jainism, Krishna in Marathi tradition, Krishna in South India, and the Krishna of nineteenth-century reformed Hinduism.
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About the author

Guy L. Beck, a religious historian, teaches Hinduism and Asian Religions in the Religious Studies Program at Tulane University. He is the author of Sonic Theology: Hinduism and Sacred Sound.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Feb 1, 2012
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Pages
226
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ISBN
9780791483411
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Religion / Eastern
Religion / Hinduism / General
Religion / History
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Sonic Liturgy: Ritual and Music in Hindu Tradition builds on the foundation of Guy L. Beck's earlier work, Sonic Theology: Hinduism and Sacred Sound, which described the theoretical role of sound in Hindu thought. Sonic Liturgy continues the discussion of sound into the realm of Hindu ritual and musical traditions of worship. Beginning with the chanting of the Sama-Veda alongside the fire sacrifices of the ancient Indo-Aryans and with the classical Gandharva music as outlined in the musicological texts of Bharata and Dattila, Beck establishes a historical foundation for an in-depth understanding of the role of music in the early Puja rituals and Indian theater, in the vernacular poetry of the Bhakti movements, in medieval temple worship of Siva and Vishnu in southern India, and later in the worship of Krishna in the northern Braj region. By surveying a multitude of worship traditions, and drawing upon diverse sources in both Sanskrit and vernacular languages, Beck reveals a continuous template of interwoven ritual and music in Hindu tradition that he terms "sonic liturgy," a structure of religious worship and experience that incorporates sound and music on many levels. In developing the concept and methods for understanding the phenomenon of sonic liturgy, Beck draws from liturgical studies and ritual studies, broadening the dimensions of each, as well as from recent work in the fields of Indian religion and music. As he maps the evolution of sonic liturgy in Hindu culture, Beck shows how, parallel to the development of religious ritual from ancient times to the present, there is a less understood progression of musical form, beginning with Vedic chants of two to three notes to complicated genres of devotional temple music employing ragas with up to a dozen notes. Sonic liturgy in its maturity is manifest as a complex interactive worship experience of the Vaishnava sects, presented here in Beck's final chapters.
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