Title

Aurangzeb as Iconoclast? Vaishnava Accounts of the Krishna images' Exodus from Braj

Abstract

This paper studies how Brajbhs Vaishnava narratives describe the role the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb played in the displacement of Krishna images from the Braj heartland in the 1660s and 1670s. While contemporary discourse frequently suggests that the emperor was a villain persecuting beloved Hindu deities, who in turn are victims forcibly moved from their original homeland, the early-modern vernacular narratives we consider here perceive these peregrinations in rather more complex ways. This article foregrounds the case of the best-known dispersed Krishna image: r Nthaj, a deity of the Vallabha-Sampradya, now residing in the Mewar area of Rajasthan. It analyses mostly the discourse of the r Nthaj k Prkatya-Vrt, or The story of the Appearance of r Nthaj', attributed to Vallabha's descendant, Hariry. The sectarian logic presents Aurangzeb as an ardent, if uncouth, devotee and r Nthaj as an autonomous agent, not a victim, but rather a victor.

Publisher

Cambridge University Press

Publication Date

7-1-2018

Publication Title

Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society

Department

Religion

Additional Department

Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies

Document Type

Article

DOI

10.1017/S1356186318000019

Language

English

Format

text

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