Loving Stones: Making the Impossible Possible in the Worship of Mount Govardhan

ISBN : 9780190086725

David Haberman
328 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Apr 2020
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Loving Stones is a study of devotees' conceptions of and worshipful interactions with Mount Govardhan, a sacred mountain located in the Braj region of north-central India that has for centuries been considered an embodied form of Krishna. It is often said that worship of Mount Govardhan "makes the impossible possible." In this book, David L. Haberman examines the perplexing paradox of an infinite god embodied in finite form, wherein each particular form is non-different from the unlimited. He takes on the task of interpreting the worship of a mountain and its stones for a culture in which this practice is quite alien. This challenge involves exploring the interpretive strategies that may explain what seems un-understandable, and calls for theoretical considerations of incongruity, inconceivability, and other realms of the impossible. This aspect of the book includes critical consideration of the place and history of the pejorative concept of idolatry (and its twin, anthropomorphism) in the comparative study of religions. Loving Stones uses the worship of Mount Govardhan as a site to explore ways in which scholars engaged in the difficult work of representing other cultures struggle to make "the impossible possible."



Note on Translation and Transliteration

Map of Mount Govardhan

Introduction- Seduced by a Mountain

Chapter 1- On the Slopes of Mount Govardhan: Lay of the Land

Chapter 2- Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Challenges of Difference

Chapter 3- A God of Stone: Divine Conceptions

Chapter 4- Honoring the King of Mountains: Embodied Worship

Chapter 5- A Tale of Two Mountains: Idolatry Applied

Chapter 6- Drawing Personality Out of a Stone: Techniques of Intimacy

Chapter 7- Non-Duality, Play, and an Invitation





About the author: 

David L. Haberman is Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University. He has a broad interest in all religions, but specializes in the Hindu traditions of northern India. Much of his work has centered on the culture of Braj, a pilgrimage site long associated with Krishna. His present research interests track the relationship between religion, ecology and nature, with a focus on Hindu conceptions of and interaction with nonhuman entities.

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