The Gods at Play: Lila in South Asia

Paperback | March 1, 1995

EditorWilliam S. Sax

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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 dramasor "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--atthe 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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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 o...

William S. Sax is at University of Canterbury.

other books by William S. Sax

Format:PaperbackDimensions:248 pages, 8.27 × 5.51 × 0.55 inPublished:March 1, 1995Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195091027

ISBN - 13:9780195091021

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Table of Contents

1. IntroductionI. THE THEOLOGY OF PLAY2. Norvin Hein: Lila3. Clifford Hospital: Lila in Early Vaisnava Thought4. Bettina Baumer: The Play of the Three World: The Trike Concept of Lila5. Robert E. Goodwin: The Playworld of Sanskrit Poetry: Model Sakuntala6. Malcolm McLean: At the Whim of the Goddess: The Lila of the Goddess in Bengal SaktismII. RELIGIOUS PLAY IN NORTH AND SOUTH INDIA7. Donna Wulff: The Play of Emotion: Lilakirtan in Bengal8. John S. Hawley: Every Play a Play Within the Play9. W.S. Sax: Who's Who in the Panday Lila10. Nita Kumar: Class and Gender Politics in the Ramlila11. Vasudha Narayanan: The Realm of Play and the Sacred Stage12. Alf Hiltebeitel: Draupadi Cult Lilas13. John Carman: Some Concluding Reflections

Editorial Reviews

"A solid, useful, well-written collection of essays on an essential topic....The diversity of scholars and disciplines is rich indeed." --David Knipe, University of Wisconsin