Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationNational Law School of India U.
Grant numberGr. 10576
Approve DateSeptember 29, 2023
Project TitleMajumder, Atreyee (National Law School of India U.) "Love Among the Ruins: Tracing Melancholia in Vrindavan"
How do devotees contemplate the presence and absence of their god Krishna in the sacred urban milieu of Vrindavan shaped by postcolonial modernity? This project will yield an ethnography of cultivation of everyday devotional selves in the sacred geography of Vrindavan, in northern India. The worship of the Hindu God Krishna is at the center of spatio-temporal organization of this city and its surround. The project asks: how does a devotee public immerse itself in contemplation of Krishna’s continued presence in Vrindavan city and its surround? How do devotee publics practice their devotion (bhakti) despite and within the late modern urban condition? The project moves along three axes: the narrative deployment of the Radha-Krishna trope in the everyday; the expression of Krishna’s absence as melancholia across the region; and the cultivation of spatial selves. It combines ethnographic methods and semiotic analysis to produce an account of sacred geography that is imbued by sadness caused by a sense of separation (biraha) from the divine. It pays special attention to the sensorium of sound, music, poetry, and spoken utterance that repeats the divine name incessantly in sustaining contact with the divine in the ordinary world.