Behind Kṛṣṇa’s Smile

The Lord’s Hint of Laughter in the Bhagavadgītā and Beyond

Antonio Rigopoulos, Gianni Pellegrini

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State University of New York Press img Link Publisher

Geisteswissenschaften, Kunst, Musik / Religion/Theologie


Behind Kṛṣṇa's Smile offers a wholly original perspective on the celebrated Bhagavadgītā, or "Song of God." The book investigates Kṛṣṇa's hint of laughter ( prahasann iva) in Bhagavadgītā 2.10, which is generally understood to be the turning point of the famous poem, signaling the outpouring of his grace and teaching to Arjuna. Remarkably, it is from this verse that Śaṅkara and other leading theologians begin to write their commentaries. In addition to exploring the momentousness of Kṛṣṇa's hint of laughter and its impact on the poem's central teachings, Behind Kṛṣṇa's Smile provides a crucial interpretation of Kṛṣṇa's prahasann iva in the Vedānta commentarial tradition, from Śaṅkara up to modern times. The book also considers the meanings of the stock phrase prahasann iva in the larger epic framework of the Mahābhārata and Rāmāyaṇa. Moreover, the book offers the first comprehensive review of the significance of Kṛṣṇa's smile in Kṛṣṇaite iconography and literature, demonstrating that there is a unified canon bringing together the literary and performative dimensions of Kṛṣṇa’s hint of laughter.

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