[INDOLOGY] Oxford Workshop: The Building of Vrndavana (2-3 September)

Rembert Lutjeharms rembert at ochs.org.uk
Mon Jul 24 14:41:09 UTC 2017

[Apologies for cross-posting]

Dear colleagues,

You might be interested in the following workshop Dr. Kiyokazu Okita (Kyoto
University) and I are organising in September in Oxford. Attendance is
free, but registration is required because spaces are limited. For more
information about the workshop, including schedule and abstracts, please
visit https://buildingvrndavana.wordpress.com/

Best wishes,

Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies

*The Building of Vrndavana*

Danson Room, Trinity College, Oxford
2-3 September 2017

The small town of Vrndavana is today one of the most vibrant places of
pilgrimage in northern India. Throngs of pilgrims travel there each year to
honour the sacred land of Krsna’s youth and to visit many of its temples.
Though the neighbouring city of Mathura has a much longer history—it was an
influential Hindu and Buddhist cultural centre already during the Kusana
reign (1st century AD), an important political and administrative town in
the region throughout the centuries, and the capital of several empires—the
development of Vrndavana and the wider region of Vraja as a place of
pilgrimage for Kṛṣṇa devotees as we know it today occurred mostly in the
sixteenth century. This period saw both the rise of the Mughal empire,
whose court was established in nearby Fatehpur Sikri, and the development
of a passionate devotion to Krsna and Radha, and it is the confluence of
these two strands that contributed greatly to the development of the
Vrndavana area. The rise of Krsna devotion resulted in a veritable library
of poetry in praise of Krsna and Radha, theology, as well as ritual
practices that provided the vision for the new intellectual and devotional
centre. Leading figures at the Mughal court—including the emperor Akbar and
his general Man Singh—provided patronage to several of the developing
temples that allowed that vision to be spectacularly manifested.

The establishment of Vrndavana and the surrounding sacred sites was
accomplished by a variety of Vaisnava groups originating in different parts
of South Asia, writing not just in different languages (both Sanskrit and
various vernaculars), but also reflecting different regional devotional
traditions and their distinct theologies, ritual practices, and aesthetics.
As such, Vrndavana was not just built in stone but also in theology,
poetry, meditative and ritual practice, as well as art.

The Building of Vrndavana, a 2 day workshop held in Oxford, will will
explore the complex history of Vrndavana’s early modern origins—from the
late fifteenth century until the reign of Aurangzeb, when several of the
traditions of Vrndavana moved further west due to political instability and
persecution. As a part of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies research
project “The Gosvami Era”, this workshop seeks to bring together scholars
from across the disciplines to examine Vrndavana’s history, architecture,
art, ritual, theology, literature, and the performing arts in this pivotal
period, and how these various disciplines were used to create, develop, and
map Vrndavana  as the most prominent place of pilgrimage for devotees of

For further information, programme and papers, please visit:


Or contact:

Rembert Lutjeharms <rembert at ochs.org.uk>

Kiyokazu Okita <okita.kiyokazu.5w at kyoto-u.ac.jp>

Dr. Rembert Lutjeharms
Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies
13-15 Magdalen Street
Oxford OX1 3AE United Kingdom
Tel.: +44 (0)1865 304300

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