Paperback / softback
July 7, 2010
58 b&w illus.
10.00 Inches (US)
7.00 Inches (US)
1.25 Pounds (US)
$29.00 USD, £23.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

The Art of Loving Krishna

Ornamentation and Devotion

Since ancient times, Hindus have expressed their love and devotion to their deities through beautiful ornamentation—dressing and decorating the deities with elaborate clothing, jewelry, and flowers. In this pioneering study of temples in Vrindaban and Jaipur, India, Cynthia Packert takes readers across temple thresholds and into the god Krishna's sacred domain. She describes what devotees see when they behold gorgeously attired representations of the god and why these images look the way they do. She discusses new media as well as global forms of devotion popular in India and abroad. The Art of Loving Krishna opens a universe of meaning in which art, religious action, and devotion are dynamically intertwined.

About the Author

Cynthia Packert is Professor of the Department of History of Art and Architecture at Middlebury College. She is author of The Sculpture of Early Medieval Rajasthan.


"Packert (Middlebury College) examines devotional practices (bhakti) centered on the Hindu god Krishna in the northern Indian city of Brindavan, which is celebrated as Krishna's homeland. Recalled in the ancient literature and mythology of Krishna, Brindavan was revived in the 16th century by the Bengali mystic Chaitanya, whose followers now dominate the city. Packert traces the development of devotional practices within this sacred geography, from the institutionalized temple rituals to more contemporary 'virtual' devotional practices. She argues that the ritualistic ornamentation of the deities at the temples she observes is an important aspect of the visual aesthetics. Accordingly, in her analysis ornamentation is treated as a calculated visual symbolism undertaken by the temples themselves to reach specific audiences. Packert's book participates in contemporary studies examining the modernization of visual practices within Hinduism, adding a performative dimension to analyses that have been largely preoccupied with ocular-centric interpretations of darshan (the visual exchange between the deity and the devotee). While the material is presented in an easy and accessible manner, the topic itself is likely to appeal only to specialists with a convergent set of interests. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students and faculty/researchers. — Choice"—N. Dinkar, Boise State University, February 2011

"[T]he material is presented in an easy and accessible manner . . . Recommended."—Choice

"The art of Loving Krishna provides a richly descriptive yet engagingly analytical entrance into the world of Krishna-bhakti as practiced today in Vrindavan, Jaipur, and in the wider world. . . . [T]his book adds a fresh voice to several scholarly discourses and calls for further attention to the ephemeral side of Hindu worship traditions."—Journal of Hindu Studies

"A delight . . . original, well-written, and thoughtfully organized."—David L. Haberman, author of Journey Through the Twelve Forests

"[D]oes something truly wonderful: it shows that the clothes that gods wear convey critical information which is hidden to those who 'see through' the clothes and so miss key significations. . . . The wonderful blend of methods and insights from art history, ethnography, and history of religions makes the book compelling."—Lindsey Harlan, Connecticut College
Indiana University Press

9780253221988 : the-art-of-loving-krishna-packert
Paperback / softback
256 Pages
$29.00 USD

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