Pradyumna: Lover, Magician, and Scion of the Avatara

ISBN : 9780190054113

Christopher R. Austin
320 ページ
156 x 156 mm

This book provides the first full-scale English-language study of Pradyumna, the son of the Hindu god Krsna. Often represented as a young man in mid-adolescence, Pradyumna is both a handsome double of his demon-slaying father and the rebirth of Kamadeva, the God of Love. Sanskrit epic, puranic, and kavya narratives of the 300-1300 CE period celebrate Pradyumna's sexual potency, mastery of illusory subterfuges, and military prowess in supporting the work of his avatara father. These materials reflect the values of an evolving Brahminical and Vaisnava tradition that was deeply invested in the imperatives of family, patrilines, the violent but necessary defense of the social and cosmic order, and the celebration of beauty and desire as a means to the divine. Pradyumna's evolving narratives, almost completely absent from existing studies of Hindu mythology, provide a point of access to the development of Krsna bhakti and Vaisnava theism more broadly. Conversely, Jain sources cast Pradyumna as an exemplary figure through whom a pointed rejection of these values can be articulated, even while sharing certain of their elementary premises. Pradyumna: Lover, Magician, and Scion of the Avatara assembles these narratives, presents key Sanskrit materials in translation and summary form, and articulates the social, gender, and religious values encoded in them. Most importantly, the study argues that Pradyumna's signature two-handed maneuver-the audacious appropriation of a feminine partner, enabled by the emasculating destruction of her demonic male protector-communicates a persistent fantasy of male power expressed in the language of a mutually implicating sex and violence.


List of Figures
Chapter One: Pradyumna, the Vrishnis and the Bhagavatas
Chapter Two: Pradyumna in the Mahabharata: Epic Episodes and Ideologies
Chapter Three: Pradyumna and his Foundation Narrative in the Critical Text Harivamsa
Chapter Four: Pradyumna-Kamadeva in the Major Vaisnava Puranas
Chapter Five: The Jain Pradyumnacarita
Chapter Six: Late Developments of the Harivamsa and the Prabhavati Episode
Chapter Seven: A Kavya Casting for Pradyumna: The Pradyumnabhyudaya of Ravivarman
Appendix: The Pradyumna-Prabhavati Legend (HV App. I 29F)


Christopher R. Austin completed his BA and MA degrees in Religious Studies at Concordia University in Montreal and PhD at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He is presently Associate Professor of Religious Studies in the Department of Classics at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he teaches widely across all major religious traditions of South and East Asia, as well as Sanskrit and South Asian History. His principal areas of research are in the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata and particularly its supplement the Harivamsa, the biographical traditions of Krishna's life and his son Pradyumna, and early Vaisnavism.