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BOOK REVIEW 

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Evening Blossoms : The Temple Tradition of Sanjhi in Vrindavana; Asimakrishna Dasa ed. IGNCA and Sterling Publishers (Pvt.) Ltd. New Delhi; 1996, pp - 113, Price : Rs. 750

 

Evening Blossoms

The Temple Tradition of Sanjhi in Vrindavana entitled Evening Blossoms is a link between several interrelated historical and cultural concepts – the rituals of Vraja denoting Mathura and all the places surrounding Govardhan, the verses of Sanjhi ascribed to Swami Haridasa, the rasalila Tradition, the art Sanjhi as it is practised even today in the temples of Radha Madanamohana, Radharamana and Radhavallabha at Vrindavana, the Ladilia temple at Barsana which is Radha’s village and the Radha-Krishna theme as rendered by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

 

The importance of this work lies in the fact that Asimakrishna Dasa, explained the artistic philosophy of the Temple Tradition of Sanjhi in Vrindavana. It is something more than the making of floor designs as a part of the daily rituals to herald auspiciousness. For it is neither an "old time" religion nor is it a hybrid of religious fervour but a continuing contemporaneity derived from the cultural mainstream of Vaishnavite Hinduism. In the ultimate analysis, Asimakrishna Dasa – an American scholar who has became a follower of the Vrindavana tradition – has convincingly argued that the Temple Tradition of Sanjhi in Vrindavana – flows out of the Vraja sensibility and provides a shimmering landscape which reflects a living tradition. Thus it is at once a dream landscape and landscape of the mind.

A. Ranganathan

[Courtesy, A.I.R., Madras]

 

The various publications brought out by the IGNCA explore the diverse terrains of Indian aesthetic philosophy using an interdisciplinary approach which combines literary, philosophical and even anthropological insights. Indeed, it would be no exaggeration to state that if a scholar wished to observe where the sharpest edge of contemporary Indian aesthetic philosophy is doing its slicing, the place to look is the IGNCA. In fine, Dr. Vatsyayan deserves our gratitude for encouraging two scholars to make two distinctive contributions to an understanding of the nation’s culture – the French scholar Pierre Pichard who has deciphered the architectural idiom of Brahadisvara and Gangaikondacholapuram at Tanjavur and the American scholar Asimakrishna Dasa who refers to an aesthetically engaging way to understand a perenially significant tradition of Vaishnavite Hinduism in a new perspective of modern scholarship.

A. Ranganathan

 

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