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Gaudiya Discussions Archive » BOOK REVIEWS
Reviews of titles by Gaudiya authors, as well as by other relevant spiritual and secular authors. Tips for reading. Discussions on various books.

Seeing Krishna - Margaret Case

braja - Fri, 23 Jul 2004 21:45:18 +0530
Full title: Seeing Krishna: the Religious World of a Brahman Family in Vrindavan

This book is one of my current favorites. Margaret Case is a former Princeton editor (Asian Studies) who writes about Shrivatsa Goswami's family and the Radharaman temple in Seeing Krishna. The book is chock full of interesting detail about the Goswami family, the management and events at Radharamanji Mandir and Vrindaban. Case writes not as a critic or detached scholar, but as an admirer. At one point she speaks of feeling an electrical current when Maharaja-ji, Shrivatsa Goswami's father, touches her arm. She also weaves a motif of the "miraculous" appearance of a black bee (beetle, actually) at the dedication of the Bhramara Ghat through the entire book. Surprisingly, for a Western, educated woman, she withholds from any blanket condemnation of the role of women, both in the temple and family, while noting some of the changes being gradually introduced. (For instance, a woman's speaking publically at the Bhramara Ghat ceremony was a first, and Shrivatsa Goswami's wife was encouraged to complete her Hindi and Sanskrit studies, despite the opposition of some Goswamis.)

Maharaja-ji's preeminence in the promotion of Rasalila and other cultural activities are well documented here. Indeed, the cultural flavor of the book, alongside the details of temple and family life are what make it so readable. Case does not make any deep philosophical analysis of the events and personalities she depicts nor bring in elaborate references to other traditions, so the book flows well, despite her qualifications and background. Her doctorate is in Indian history and that is reflected in Seeing Krishna--it is an easily accessible account of one of the leading families of Gaudiya Vaisnavism, a sympathetic history. As such, this is the sort of book you want to take while travelling or for light, late-night reading. Highly recommended.

The publisher's description:

This book offers a close-up view of the religious world of one of the most influential families in Vrinbadan, India's premier place of pilgrimage for worshipers of Krishna. This priestly family has arguably been the most creative force in this important town. Their influence also radiates well beyond India's borders both because of their tireless work in fostering scholarship and performance about Krishna and because the scion of the family, Shrivatsa Goswami, has become an international spokesman for Hindu ways and concerns. Case, who has been an occasional resident in the family ashram, gives the reader a real sense of the atmosphere of daily life there, and the complete devotion of the residents to the service and worship of Krishna.

Note: this book may be used in some college courses in the United States so you might find used copies available at a local store or online. We have new copies at Loi Bazaar