The Body of God

The Body of God : An Emperor's Palace for Krishna in Eighth Century Kanchipuram

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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, the Vaikuntha 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 analysis of 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 theologica for 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 and religious 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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Product details

  • Hardback | 608 pages
  • 160.02 x 236.22 x 45.72mm | 1,088.62g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 019536922X
  • 9780195369229

About D. Dennis Hudson

About the author: D. Dennis Hudson (1938-2006) was Professor Emeritus of World Religions at Smith College from 1970 until his retirement in 2000. He published numerous articles, most related to his lifelong study of Vaikintha Perumal Temple in Kanchipuram. In addition, he published Protestant Origins in India: Tamil Evangelical Christians, 1706-1835 in 2000. About the editor: Margaret Case was for many years Asian Studies editor at Princeton University Press. She is the editor of Govindadeva: A Dialogue in Stone (1996) and author of Seeing Krishna: The Religious World of a Brahman Family in Vrindaban (2000). She organized this volume from virtually complete but differently structured chapters, and compiled the glossary with diacritical marks.
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Review quote

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 *
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Table of contents

Editor's Note: Margaret H. Case ; List of Illustrations ; Abbreviations ; Introduction: The Discovery ; Part I: The Approach to the Vishnu-house ; 1. The Significance of the Temple ; 2. Six Concepts ; 3. The Poem ; 4. The Emperor's Career Portrayed on the Prakara Wall ; Part II The Secret Dimension of the Vishnu-house ; 5. The Temple Mandala and the Bottom-Floor Sanctum ; 6. The Middle-Floor Sanctum: The Sculpted Program of the Northern Path ; 7. Northern Panels of the Northern Path: Transforming Power ; 8. Northern Panels of the Northern Path: Fortifying Omniscience ; 9. The Middle-Floor Sanctum: The Sculpted Program of the Southern Path ; 10. The Southern Panels of the Southern Path: "The Path of the Southern Doctrine" ; Part III The Public Dimension of the Vishnu-house ; 11. The Vimana Panels on the Western Side ; 12. The Panels on the Ardhamandapa or Porch ; 13. The Vimana Panels on the Northern Side ; 14. The Vimana Panels on the Eastern Side ; Appendix 1. Who Are the Bhagavatas? ; Appendix 2. Vasudeva's Path in the Satvata-samhita ; Appendix 3. Prithu, the People's Indra ; Appendix 4. Mantras in the Jayakhya-samhita ; Appendix 5. Periya Tirumoli 2.9 ; Notes ; Glossary ; Bibliography ; Index
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