9. The Body of the Senses, Imagined and Lived: Seeing Krishna in Transnational Gaudiya Vaishnavism

The Religious Body Imagined - Pamela D. Winfield

Anandi Silva Knuppel [+-]
Emory University
Anandi Silva Knuppel (PhD Emory University) is Senior Digital Scholarship Specialist at the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship. Her research interests lie at the intersections of ethnography of religion, sensory and applied phenomenology, performance studies, and the study of South Asian religious traditions. Her current work proposes intersensorial and performance-based ways of reevaluating everyday practices in contemporary transnational Hindu traditions. Previous work on Indian classical dance oral histories and performance can be found in Scripting Dance in Contemporary India.


Scholarly literature on South Asian religions defines darshan as a ubiquitous practice across Hindu traditions. Scholars often define the practice as “seeing and being seen” by a deity most often in the context of consecrated temple images. My project takes this definition as a starting point rather than the end point and explores what “seeing” means within the context of a specific theology and for individual devotees in transnational Gaudiya Vaishnavism. The tradition provides detailed guides to the form of the tradition, what devotional bodies are, what sensory perception should be, the practices one should undertake, how to perform them, and what to expect out of them. However, the textual imaginary of seeing is only one dimension to darshan. The ways that these imagined structures for bodily senses are put into practice and into bodies changes what seeing means in this tradition and complicates our assumptions about everyday religious practices.

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Knuppel , Anandi Silva . 9. The Body of the Senses, Imagined and Lived: Seeing Krishna in Transnational Gaudiya Vaishnavism. The Religious Body Imagined. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Nov 2022. ISBN 9781781799727. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=39653. Date accessed: 27 Feb 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.39653. Nov 2022

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