Vishnu Mapin Publishing


Hinduism's Blue-Skinned Savior
Joan Cummins

Contributions by Doris Meth Srinivasan Leslie C. Orr Cynthia Packert Neeraja Poddar

Vishnu—one of Hinduism’s most important and powerful deities—is the great Preserver, vanquishing those who seek to destroy the balance of the universe.


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Vishnu—one of Hinduism’s most important and powerful deities—is the great Preserver, vanquishing those who seek to destroy the balance of the universe.  
For his followers he is also the Creator and the Destroyer, the cause of all existence. His many traits are embodied in his impressive physical form, the weapons he carries, the goddesses who are his consorts, and the eagle Garuda, on whom he fl ies down from heaven. In Hindu legend, Vishnu descends to earth in many manifestations, known as avatars, to fi ght powerful demons and to save his devotees. The avatars range in form from Varaha the boar to Parashurama the Brahmin warrior, and in character from Narasimha the ferocious half-man half-lion, to Krishna the charismatic prince-cowherd.

The legends of Vishnu have inspired some of the greatest art, literature, and ritual traditions in India. This catalogue examines the many faces of Vishnu and the ways that the god has been represented, from antiquity to the present.

Essays by noted historians of South Asian art delve deeply into the regional and sectarian traditions of Vishnu worship in India. Illustrations and discussions of almost 200 works of art, in a wide range of media and borrowed from collections across the North Atlantic, reveal the rich diversity of India’s art and religious culture.

Joan Cummins, the exhibition’s curator and catalogue editor, is the Lisa and Bernard Selz Curator of Asian Art at the Brooklyn Museum. She is author of Indian Painting: From Cave Temples to the Colonial Period in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and a coauthor of Realms of Heroism: Indian Paintings at the Brooklyn Museum.

Doris Meth Srinivasan is a scholar of Indian art and history who has published extensively on Hindu iconography and early religious art. She was recently a visiting scholar at the Center for Indian Studies, Stony Brook University.

Leslie Orr is an Associate Professor in the Department of Religion at Concordia University, Montreal. She has published widely on religion and women in south India, including the book Donors, Devotees and Daughters of God: Temple Women in Medieval Tamilnadu.

Cynthia Packert is a Professor and the Chair of the Department of History of Art and Architecture at Middlebury College. She has just published a book on The Art of Loving Krishna: Ornamentation and Devotion.

Neeraja Poddar is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University, New York City.





The Art and Practice of Vaishnavism in Western India

The Image of Vishnu

The Avatars of Vishnu

The Worship of Vishnu

Suggested Reading
ISBN 9788189995485
Pages 296
Number of illustrations 236 color and black-and-white illustrations
Size 10 x 11.5" (254 x 292 mm), hc
Date of Publishing 2011
Language(s) English
Co-publisher(s) Mapin in association with Frist Center for the Visual Arts
Rights Available World rights
the multiplicity and grandeur to be found in this exhibition lie not only in the many forms of Vishnu but also in the many voices that explain, celebrate, and wonder over those forms.

—Asian Art Newspaper