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	Love, Lyrics, and the Landscape: Aesthetics and Theology in the Rādhāvallabh Samprāday!

Love, Lyrics, and the Landscape: Aesthetics and Theology in the Rādhāvallabh Samprāday!

Richard David WILLIAMS (Université d'Oxford)

9 mars 2016 | 15h30 - 17h30

Salle 638, 190 avenue de France 75013 Paris



The romantic trysts of Radha and Krishna in the forests of Vrindavan are a familiar theme in Indian culture, from devotional poetry to Bollywood item numbers. However, in the temple town of Vrindavan itself, this sacred love has been conceptualized differently over the centuries. Poets and theologians from local sectarian communities have focused on different facets of the divine relationship, and formulated multiple paths for devotees to engage with the love between Radha and Krishna, and even to experience it for themselves. This paper explores the place of love in the worship, literature, and music of the Rādhāvallabh Samprāday. The Rādhāvallabhī approach to love was distinctively shaped by the sect’s soteriological interest in an otherworldly Vrindavan, and by their worship of Radha as the supreme being in her own right, rather than as the mortal beloved of Krishna. The corpus of Rādhāvallabhī songs challenges common assumptions about the emotional trajectories of Old Hindi devotional literature: if Radha is no longer an anxious girl looking for her lover, what other emotive connotations did the poets explore? This paper will concentrate in particular on the sung poems of Cācā Hit Vrindāvandās (c.1700-c.1787). By focusing on the sect in the eighteenth century, this paper will discuss how registers of love were developed in courtly and temple settings, and consider how attitudes to the goddess, the body, and emotion changed with time.


Contacts : Marie Fourcade, Tiziana Leucci, Raphaël Rousseleau (; ;



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