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Tales, Tanks, and Temples: The Creation of a Sacred Center in Seventeenth-Century Bengal

Pika Ghosh
Asian Folklore Studies
Vol. 61, No. 2 (2002), pp. 193-222
Published by: Nanzan University
DOI: 10.2307/1178971
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1178971
Page Count: 30
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Tales, Tanks, and Temples: The Creation of a Sacred Center in Seventeenth-Century Bengal
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Abstract

Vrindavan, the hallowed site of the Hindu deity Krishna's youth, located geographically in the green groves on the banks of the River Yamuna in north India, was of deep spiritual concern for his devotees. In its replication at Vishnupur, the capital of the local Malla dynasty in eastern India, aspects of the distinctive physical qualities of this older holy site were selectively reproduced, while others were abandoned. I analyze the town's devotional poetry, oral narratives, extant temple forms, and landscape architecture for the choices that determined this process of transforming Vishnupur and its immediate surroundings. Scrutinizing the extant material culture and forms of devotional expression at this site, for example, suggests that the consolidation of this first Gaudiya Vaishnava foothold involved careful negotiation in the heterogenous political and cultural circumstances of seventeenth-century Bengal. The form in which the new Vaishnava message is given expression is unmistakably regional, an Indic adaptation of Islamic culture.

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