Journey through the Twelve Forests: An Encounter with Krishna

Journey through the Twelve Forests: An Encounter with Krishna

Journey through the Twelve Forests: An Encounter with Krishna

Journey through the Twelve Forests: An Encounter with Krishna

Synopsis

The first thorough study of its kind, this is a lively account of the Ban Yatra, a circular pilgrimage that takes place in the northern Indian land of Braj. This anthropological chronicle offers an appealing mixture of personal anecdote, religious theory, Indian history, and tales of the gods. Basing his work on personal experience in the field, as well as a combination of primary sources in Sanskrit, Hindi, Bengali--many untranslated and unstudied in Western languages--and a wide range of secondary literature, Haberman places the pilgimrage in its cultural and historical context, interweaving his account with retellings of the tales of Krishna around with the journey revolves.

Excerpt

Krishna, one of the most popular deities in India today, is typically encountered through story. His stories are seldom encountered in the passive reading of a book, but are more often heard, sung, danced, or enacted. They are also celebrated through pilgrimage activity in a land called Braj, a distinctive cultural region in north-central India. My travels in this region have taught me that the physical geography of Braj is itself a kind of text, and that the preeminent way of "reading" this text is by means of pilgrimage. This book, the result of my own wanderings in Braj, focuses on a pilgrimage known as the Ban-Yatra, the journey through the twelve forests, and is designed to take the reader on a journey around Braj and through the stories told in this locale, with the intent of providing a glimpse of Krishna and his companions as they are encountered there by a Ban-Yatra pilgrim.

A great deal can be learned from the stories told on this pilgrimage. They give a vivid sense of the manner in which the divine is conceived in the culture of Braj. Moreover, an analysis of these stories within a specific ritual context can serve as an entry point into the religious world of Braj Vaishnavism. Few previous scholars have mined the incredible wealth of information these stories contain in the particular context of the Ban-Yatra pilgrimage for better understanding the complexities of the unique religious traditions of Braj. In this book such an analysis will be employed to highlight the religious strategy developed in Braj Vaishnavism to deal with the human struggle with the tumultuous nature of desire. As we shall see, these stories give expression to a way of life that is in conscious tension with the position of many ascetics in South Asia.

With the increasing availability of mass transportation, pilgrimage activity in India has become one of the most visible and popular forms of Hindu practice; more people are visiting the sacred places of India than ever before. The increase in the number of pilgrims in India is matched by an increase in published studies on pilgrimage activity in recent years. In most of these works pilgrimage is typically assumed to be a temporally limited experience of Hindu asceticism. For example, William Sax has remarked in a recent study of a Himalayan pilgrimage . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.