Introduces Paramānand, one of India’s poet-saints, his work, and this work’s use in ritual.
Singing Krishna introduces Paramānand, one of north India’s greatest medieval poet-saints, whose poetry has been sung from the sixteenth century to the present in ritual service to the Hindu deity Krishna. A. Whitney Sanford examines how hearing Paramānand’s poetry in ritual context serves as a threshold for devotees between this world and Krishna’s divine world. To “see Krishna” is a primary goal of the devotee, and Paramānand deftly constructs a vision through words. Sanford employs the dual strategies of interpreting Paramānand’s poems—which sing the cycles of Krishna’s activities—and illustrating the importance of their ritual contexts. This approach offers insight into the nature of the devotional experience that is not accessible by simply studying the poetry or rituals in isolation. Sanford shows that the significance of Paramānand’s poetry lies not only in its beauty and historical importance but finally in its capacity to permit the devotee to see through the ephemeral world into Krishna’s world.
“Singing Krishna is a densely packed combination of beautiful translations and complex literary deconstruction, analyzing the meanings, metaphors and effects of Paramānand’s poetry. Sanford has added not only to the body of translated devotional poetry of Braj, but also to the ongoing efforts of scholars of religion to clarify a particular type of religious experience.” — International Journal of Hindu Studies
“…Sanford’s analysis of Paramānand’s work is certainly valuable and goes a long way toward unpacking the intense devotional experience of bhakti and the traditions of the Vallabha Sampraday.” — Religion
“The beautiful lyrics of Paramānand’s poetry are a welcome addition to the growing body of Indic poetry in translation. Sanford’s excellent book guides us through the poetry and takes us right to its sources.” — Constantina Rhodes Bailly, author of Shaiva Devotional Songs of Kashmir: A Translation and Study of Utpaladeva’s Shivastotravali
A. Whitney Sanford is Assistant Professor of Religion at the University of Florida.