The Body Of God: An Emperors Palace for Krishna in Eighth Century Kanchipuram

Hardcover | September 25, 2008

byD. Dennis HudsonEditorMargaret H. Case

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This remarkable book is the crowning achievement of the great scholar of Hinduism, D. Dennis Hudson. Although Hudson died without completing it, the work has been edited and brought to fruition by editor Margaret Case. The book is a finely detailed study of a renowned Tamil Hindu temple, theVaikuntha Perumal (ca. 770 C.E.). Hudson uses this temple as an illustration of one major current and historical stage in South Indian Vaisnava religion. He offers a sustained reading of the temple as a coherent, organized, minutely conceptualized mandala, whose code can be cracked by close analysisof the temple iconography and structure, in the light of major literary and religious texts. Hudson takes the reader step by step on a tour of the temple, moving from the bottom level up, from one sculpted panel to the next. His primary thesis is that the temple itself constitutes a summa theologicafor the Bhagavata tradition centered on Krishna as it had developed through the eighth century-by which time this tradition was already at least a thousand years old and had spread widely across South Asia and into Southeast Asia. He argues that, through its full expression of the theology andreligious practices of this tradition, the temple offers a crucial hermeneutical key for understanding other temples and texts of the Bhagavata religion.

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This remarkable book is the crowning achievement of the great scholar of Hinduism, D. Dennis Hudson. Although Hudson died without completing it, the work has been edited and brought to fruition by editor Margaret Case. The book is a finely detailed study of a renowned Tamil Hindu temple, theVaikuntha Perumal (ca. 770 C.E.). Hudson uses...

D. Dennis Hudson: Professor of World Religions, Smith College (deceased). Margaret H. Case: Ph.D. in Indian history from the University of Chicago, and was for many years Asian Studies editor at Princeton University Press.

other books by D. Dennis Hudson

Format:HardcoverDimensions:608 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.98 inPublished:September 25, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019536922X

ISBN - 13:9780195369229

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Table of Contents

Margaret H. Case: Editor's NoteList of IllustrationsAbbreviationsIntroduction: The DiscoveryPart I: The Approach to the Vishnu-house1. The Significance of the Temple2. Six Concepts3. The Poem4. The Emperor's Career Portrayed on the Prakara WallPart II The Secret Dimension of the Vishnu-house5. The Temple Mandala and the Bottom-Floor Sanctum6. The Middle-Floor Sanctum: The Sculpted Program of the Northern Path7. Northern Panels of the Northern Path: Transforming Power8. Northern Panels of the Northern Path: Fortifying Omniscience9. The Middle-Floor Sanctum: The Sculpted Program of the Southern Path10. The Southern Panels of the Southern Path: "The Path of the Southern Doctrine"Part III The Public Dimension of the Vishnu-house11. The Vimana Panels on the Western Side12. The Panels on the Ardhamandapa or Porch13. The Vimana Panels on the Northern Side14. The Vimana Panels on the Eastern SideAppendix 1. Who Are the Bhagavatas?Appendix 2. Vasudeva's Path in the Satvata-samhitaAppendix 3. Prithu, the People's IndraAppendix 4. Mantras in the Jayakhya-samhitaAppendix 5. Periya Tirumoli 2.9NotesGlossaryBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Dennis Hudson's multidimensional 'decoding' of the 'Emperor's Palace' temple of Lord Vishnu in Kanchipuram is remarkable. He enables us to visualize a three-dimensional vision of God and God's cosmic body in which the central square of the temple symbolizes horizontally a cosmic day and night, and the four levels represent vertically God's transformations in creation and redemption... Dennis Hudson's crowning achievement, almost completed before his death, has been skillfully edited by Margaret Case. It is a gift to his many friends and to all readers who seek a deeper level of understanding of a central Hindu tradition of theology and worship." --John B. Carman, author of The Theology of Ramanuja: An Essay in Interreligious Understanding and Majesty and Meekness: A Comparative Study of Contrast and Harmony in the Concept of God "In his insightful analysis of the relationship between an eighth-century sacred poem and a Pallava temple, both of which celebrate Vishnu and the temple's royal patron, Dennis Hudson has compelled the monument to reveal its mysteries. Never again will one be able to read temple sculptures as a simple celebration of myth. An interpretive tour de force!" --Vidya Dehejia, author of The Sensuous and the Sacred: Chola Bronzes from South India "The Body of God is a magnum opus in every sense -- the product of decades of thought and research; huge in its physical and mental bulk; and a new sort of fulcrum for balancing architectural and textual studies in India. It is a daring work. If Hudson is right, the magnificent and mysterious temple of Vaikuntha Perumal affords a vision of how the Bhagavata tradition -- the worship of Vishnu -- stayed vibrant overthe course of centuries, through its intellectual sophistication and its engagement with royal power. Fittingly, Hudson's findings have already had an impact on how that temple is revered today." --John Stratton Hawley, Professor of Religion, Barnard College, Columbia University and author of Three Bhakti Voices and, forthcoming, The Memory of Love