Mahārāsa Manjūṣa: Sacred Poetry of the Divine Dance provides translation and scholarly commentary of Nandadāsa’s five chapters of rasa-lila, collectively known as the rāsapañcādhyayī.
In the Vaiṣṇava tradition propounded by Vallabhācārya, Nandadāsa is considered to be one of the eight devotional poets, whose compositions are exquisitely detailed with description of both Kṛṣṇa’s cosmic form and his divine play. This gradually developed into a distinctive style of performing art, havelī-saṅgīta, which is practiced even today. Mahārāsa Manjūṣa: Sacred Poetry of the Divine Dance brings out the poetics, narrative style, and idiosyncrasies of the recitation of devotional poems from the region of Vraja in the 16th Century.
An exquisite specimen of devotional poetics, Nandadāsa’s Rasapancadhyayi is a Braja-Bhāṣā rendition of the Bhāgavata’s quintet of Mahārāsa written in Sanskrit verse. The Bhāgavata is one of the most beloved texts of Kṛṣṇa-devotional traditions and the foundational scripture of Braja Vaiṣṇavism and its five chapters describing the divine dance illustrate the ecstatic fruit of devotion.
Presenting a devotee’s execution of the Mahārāsa while examining its interpretative themes underpinned in the epistemology of Vallabhācārya, Mahārāsa Manjūṣa: Sacred Poetry of the Divine Dance offers an intensive view of the musical legacy, a devotee’s worshipful interactions, and Vedāntic foundations of the ecstatic devotion expressed by Nandadāsa. The introductory chapters provide first compendious study of the theo-aesthetic, epistemic, and liturgical framework of Puṣṭimārga’s orthopraxis that have fuelled this lyrical delivery. Enriched with annotations, the translations are literal while offering nuanced insights into the colloquial intricacies of Braja-Bhāṣā poetics and the cultural expressions of the Braja region.
EXPERT SCHOLARLY ANALYSIS: Prakriti Goswami is a doctoral candidate at Indiana University who studies the role of poetics, music, and aesthetics within Hinduism. Foreword author David Haberman is a professor of religious studies at Indiana University who has written multiple books on northern Indian religious traditions.
EDUCATION AID: Mahārāsa Manjūṣa: Sacred Poetry of the Divine Dance is a rich source of knowledge which can supplement academic coursework or provide guidance for independent study of Hinduism.
FIRST BOOK IN SERIES: This book is the first in a series of academic texts by the Bhaktivedanta Research Center, an academic institute which offers forums, conferences, courses, and other resources on Vaishnavism.