The Building of Vṛndāvana

Architecture, Theology, and Practice in an Early Modern Pilgrimage Town


The small town of Vṛndāvana is today one of the most vibrant places of pilgrimage in northern India. Throngs of pilgrims travel there each year to honour the sacred land of Kṛṣṇa’s youth and to visit many of its temples.
The Building of Vṛndāvana explores the complex history of this town’s early modern origins. Bringing together scholars from various disciplines to examine history, architecture, art, ritual, theology, and literature in this pivotal period, the book examines how these various disciplines were used to create, develop, and map Vṛndāvana as the most prominent place of pilgrimage for devotees of Kṛṣṇa.
Contributors are: Guy L. Beck, Måns Broo, David Buchta, John Stratton Hawley, Barbara A. Holdrege, Rembert Lutjeharms, Cynthia D. Packert, and Heidi Pauwels.

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Kiyokazu Okita, D.Phil. (2011), University of Oxford, is Associate Professor of Hindu Studies at Faculty of Liberal Arts / Graduate Program in Global Studies, Sophia University. He is the author of Hindu Theology in Early Modern South Asia (OUP, 2014).
Rembert Lutjeharms, D.Phil. (2010), University of Oxford, is a Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and Research Lecturer in Hindu Studies at the Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Oxford. He is the author of A Vaiṣṇava Poet in Early Modern Bengal (OUP, 2018).
"This rich, well-crafted collaborative volume on one of South Asia’s most important pilgrimage sites, the temple town dedicated to Kṛṣṇa at Vṛndāvana draws upon a range of literary, historical, musical and artistic evidence to examine the communities, conceptions and construction of the region of Vraja in the 16th and early 17th centuries. Original, timely and compelling, this book will be essential reading for students and scholars of Hindu studies, Sanskrit and Hindi literature, historians of early modern South Asia, including its art and music, and anyone interested in the centrality of place, space and pilgrimage to the religious imagination." - Dr. Crispin Branfoot (Reader in the history of South Asian art and archaeology. SOAS, University of London)

"This masterful book immerses the reader in the landscapes, temples, texts, and artistic traditions of early modern Vṛndāvana. A variety of sources and methods are blended seamlessly to paint a picture of this dynamic town, as it grows from a small community to a major center of Kṛṣṇa worship. The introduction provides the most engaging overview of Vṛndāvana's history and theology that I have read. This book is a joy to read, and one that you will return to over and over again." - Prof. Ravi M. Gupta (Charles Redd Chair of Religious Studies, Utah State University)
List of Illustrations
Notes on Contributors

Rembert Lutjeharms and Kiyokazu Okita

Part 1: Builders

1 A Sixteenth-Century Testimony on Vṛndāvana’s First-Generation Pioneers
Heidi Pauwels

2 The Hari-bhakti-vilāsa as a Specimen of Early Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism in Vṛndāvana
Måns Broo

Part 2: Building

3 The Gauḍīya Reimagining of Vraja as a Bimodal Domain
 Pilgrimage Place and Transcendent Space
Barbara A. Holdrege

4 Building Vṛndāvana as a Locus of Rasa
 The Stotras of Rūpa Gosvāmī
David Buchta

5 Building the Spiritual Vṛndāvana
 Music and the Rāsa Dance at the Centre of Kṛṣṇa Devotion
Guy L. Beck

Part 3: Buildings

6 A Temple of Stone and a Temple of Love
 Govindadeva in the Religious Imagination of Early Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas
Rembert Lutjeharms

7 Kings of the Mountains
 Govardhana-līlā and Kachavāhā Patronage at the Govindadeva Temple in Vṛndāvana
Cynthia Packert

8 The Ideal Real Vṛndāvana of Jayasiṃha’s Dining Room
John Stratton Hawley

Scholars in the fields of architecture, art history, Indology, literature, Religious Studies, and South Asian Studies. General audience including the practitioners of Hindu traditions.
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