Alternative Krishnas

Regional and Vernacular Variations on a Hindu Deity

Edited by Guy L. Beck

Subjects: Religion, India And South Asian Studies, Hindu Studies, Asian Studies
Paperback : 9780791464168, 233 pages, June 2006
Hardcover : 9780791464151, 233 pages, March 2005

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Table of contents

1. Introduction
Guy L. Beck

2. Contemporary Metaphor Theory and Alternative Views of Krishna and Radha in Vaishnava Sahajiya Tantric Traditions
Glen Alexander Hayes

3. Folk Vaishnavism and the Thakur Pañcayat: Life and Status among Village Krishna Statues
June McDaniel

4. Domesticating Krishna: Friendship, Marriage, and Women’s Experience in a Hindu Women’s Ritual Tradition
Tracy Pintchman

5. Krishna as Loving Husband of God: The Alternative Krishnology of the Radhavallabha Sampradaya
Guy L. Beck

6. HolŒ through DaujŒ’s Eyes: Alternate Views of Krishna and Balarama in DaujŒ
A. Whitney Sanford

7. A Family Affair: Krishna Comes to Pandharpur and Makes Himself at Home
Christian Lee Novetzke
8. Dance before Doom: Krishna in the Non-Hindu Literature of Early Medieval South India
Anne E. Monius
9. Hero of Wonders, Hero in Deeds: Vasudeva Krishna in Jaina Cosmohistory
Jerome H. Bauer
10. Epiphany in Radha’s Arbor: Nature and the Reform of Bhakti in Hariaudh’s Priyapravas
Valerie Ritter

Going beyond the standard depictions of Krishna in the epics, this book uses regional and vernacular sources to present a wide range of Krishna traditions.


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.

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.