Seeing, imagined, and lived

creating darshan in transnational Gaudiya Vaishnavism

Authors

  • Anandi Silva Knuppel Emory University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/bar.15677

Keywords:

darshan, religious practices, visual and material culture, Hinduism

Abstract

Scholarship on Hindu traditions and practices proposes the practice of darshan as fundamental to Hindu traditions, particularly in temple worship, observing that devotees seek out images of deities primarily to see them and “receive” their darshan. These works typically gloss the definition of darshan with a sentence or two about seeing, exchanging glances, and/or receiving blessings. In this paper, I focus on the ways in which darshan is ideally imagined in conjunction with other bodily sensory practices through sources of authority, such as texts and senior devotees, to create a specific sensory experience and expectation in the transnational Gaudiya Vaishnava community. I then look to the lived realities
of darshan in this tradition, specifically how devotees negotiate the structures created through sources of authority in their daily lives. Through this juxtaposition of idealized and lived darshan, I argue that we need a new approach towards theories of practice to take into account the complexities of darshanic moments in this and other religious practices.

Author Biography

Anandi Silva Knuppel, Emory University

Anandi Silva Knuppel is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Lawrence University. Her main research focuses on themes of lived religion, multisensory ethnography, and religious practices in transnational Hindu traditions. She has also published works on performance and classicality in Indian classical dance, and consults on digital humanities projects in South Asian Studies and related fields.

References

Babb, L. A. (1981) Glancing: visual interaction in Hinduism. Journal of Anthropological Research 37(4): 387–401. https://doi.org/10.1086/jar.37.4.3629835

Bourdieu, P. (1980) The Logic of Practice. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Bryant, E. (2007) Krishna: A Sourcebook. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Case, M. (2000) Seeing Krishna: The Religious World of a Brahman Family in Vrindaban. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Certeau, M. de. (1984) The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Cort, J. E. (2012) Situating dar?an: seeing the Digambar Jina icon in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century north India. International Journal of Hindu Studies 16(1): 1–56. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11407-012-9110-6

Eck, D. L. (1981) Dar?an: Seeing the Divine Image in India. Chambersburg, PA: Anima Books.

Gosvami, K. K. and Prabhupada, A. C. B. (1975) Sri Caitanya-Caritamrta of Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami Madhya-Lila, Volume 9. Los Angeles: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.

Haberman, D. L. (1988) Acting as a Way of Salvation: A Study of R?g?nug? Bhakti S?dhana. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

Haberman, D. L. (1994) Journey Through the Twelve Forests: An Encounter with Krishna. New York: Oxford University Press.

Haberman, D. L. (2003) The Bhaktirasamrtasindhu of Rupa Gosvamin. New Delhi; Delhi: Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts; Motilal Banarsidass.

Holdrege, B. A. (2015) Bhakti and Embodiment: Fashioning Divine Bodies and Devotional Bodies in Krsna Bhakti. New York: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315769325

Howes, D. (2005) Empire of the Senses: The Sensual Culture Reader. Oxford: Berg.

ISKCON Congregational Development Ministry (2018) Bhakti-Steps (Sadhana Levels), 31 July. https://iskconcongregation.com/programs/bhakti-steps-sadhana-levels-2

Jayadeva (1977) Love Song of the Dark Lord: Jayadeva’s G?tagovinda (trans. B. S. Miller). New York: Columbia University Press.

Jones, S.-M. and Jones, A. (2005) What the doing does: religious practice and the problem of meaning. Journal for Religious and Cultural Theology 6(1): 86–107.

Knuppel, A. S. (2019) Beyond seeing: embodied multisensory performance, experience, and practice in contemporary transnational Gaudiya Vaishnavism. PhD dissertation, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Lipner, J. (2017) Hindu Images and their Worship with Special Reference to Vaisnavism: A Philosophical-Theological Inquiry. New York: Routledge.

McHugh, J. (2012) Sandalwood and Carrion: Smell in Indian Religion and Culture. New York: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199916306.001.0001

Monier-Williams, M. (2008) D??/?k?. In M. Monier-Williams (ed.) Monier Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary. Institute of Indology and Tamil Studies, Cologne University, Germany. https://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de/monier

Packert, C. (2010) The Art of Loving Krishna: Ornamentation and Devotion. Indiana University Press: Bloomington.

Prabhupada, A. C. B. (1987a) Srimad Bhagavatam: Second Canto. Los Angeles: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.

Prabhupada, A. C. B. (1987b) Srimad Bhagavatam: Ninth Canto. Los Angeles: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.

Prabhupada, A. C. B. (n. d.) 680600 – Letter to Ved Prakash ji written from Montreal. Vaniquotes. Retrieved on 15 December 2018 from https://vanisource.org/w/index.

php?title=680600_-_Letter_to_Ved_Prakash_ji_written_from_Montreal&t=hl#terms=human%20propensities.

Sanford, A. W. (2008) Singing Krishna: Sound Becomes Sight in Paramanand’s Poetry. Albany: SUNY Press. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-0922.2008.00331_2.x

Sarbadhikary, S. (2015) The Place of Devotion. Oakland: University of California Press. https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520287716/the-place-of-devotion

Sax, W. S. (2002) Dancing the Self: Personhood and Performance in the P???av L?l? of Garhwal. New York: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/0195139151.003.0003

Schweig, G. M. (2005) Dance of Divine Love: The Rasa Lila of Krishna from the ‘Bhagavata Purana’, India’s Classic Sacred Love Story. Princeton: Princeton University Press. https://doi.org/10.1515/9780691190174

?r? ?r? R?dh? Gop?n?tha Mandir (2000) A Manual of Vai??ava Etiquette and Lifestyle (2nd edn). Chowpatty, Mumbai: Gopinath Books.

Swami, L. (2015) Taking Darshan of Guru means to hear his Speech about Tattvas: Lokanath Swami Maharaj Transcripts. http://lokanathswami.info/taking-darshanof-guru-means-to-hear-his-speech-about-tattvas

Valpey, K. (2006) Attending K???a’s Image: Caitanya Vai??ava M?rti-Sev? as Devotional Truth. New York: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203099896

Published

2020-10-30

How to Cite

Silva Knuppel, A. . (2020). Seeing, imagined, and lived: creating darshan in transnational Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Body and Religion, 3(2), 188–208. https://doi.org/10.1558/bar.15677