The Gods at Play: L=il=a in South Asia

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Overview


God is playful. Like a child building sand castles on the beach, God creates the world and destroys it again. God plays with his (or her) devotees, sometimes like a lover, sometimes like a mother with her children, sometimes like an actor in a play.
The idea of God's playfulness has been elaborated in Hinduism more, perhaps, than any other religion, providing one of the most distinctive and charming aspects of Indian religious life. Lila or "divine play" can refer to many things: to God's playful creation of the world and to religious dramas or "plays," as well as to various motifs in Hindu art. But despite the importance of lila in the cultural history of South Asia, few comprehensive studies of it are available, partly because scholars have tended to emphasize only one dimension of lila--either the theological or the performative--at the expense of the other. The Gods at Play fills this gap by bringing together scholarly essays on all aspects of this important Hindu idea, providing students with a broader understanding of popular Hindu culture and religion.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195091021
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 3/16/1995
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Introduction 3
I The Theology of Play
2 Lila 13
3 Lila in Early Vaisnava Thought 21
4 The Play of the Three Worlds: The Trika Concept of Lila 35
5 The Play World of Sanskrit Poetry 50
6 At the Whim of the Goddess: The Lila of the Goddess in Bengal Saktism 87
II Religious Play in North and South India
7 The Play of Emotion: Lilakirtan in Bengal 99
8 Every Play a Play Within a Play 115
9 Who's Who in the Pandav Lila? 131
10 Class and Gender Politics in the Ramlila 156
11 The Realm of Play and the Sacred Stage 177
12 Draupadi Cult Lilas 204
13 Some Concluding Reflections 225
Contributors 231
Index 235
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