Every year thousands of pilgrims travel to Brindavan, the village where Krishna is said to have lived as child, There, in one of north India's great spiritual centres, they witness a series of religious dramas called ras lilas, whose central roles are performed by children. By translating four plays that collectively span this cycle, John Hawley provides a lively perspective on the mythology of Krishna as Hindus experience it today. His book contains an opening chapter describing the setting in which the plays are enacted and relating them to the religious and emotional world of viewers adn performers, a substantial introduction to each of the four plays, and forty-eight evocative photographs.
"The translations are very well done. The poetic compositions in Braja bhasha that occur in the plays are rendered in lucid language. The book will go a long way to help readers understand the poetry and mysticism of the Ras plays." - M.L. Varadpande, National Herald, April 4, 1993
"The author weaves his complex narrative around all these places with the ingenuity at his command describing the books and corners of this modern pilgrim town as [Brindavan] they are today and then going back in time to more than five thousand years. ...This book will be read with great interest by all those interested in the subject." - Subhashini Aryan, The Hindustan Times, May 22, 1993
"Notwithstanding the serious scholarship evidenced throughout the book ... one is most impresed by the irreverence and humor contained in the plays themselves. These child actors are not content to tell a pious tale; they are having fun." - Kathryn Hansen, Pacific Affairs
"In all, I find this work exceptional in its combinatin of sound scholarship, sensitivity to the depths of Indian symbolism and an ability to infect us with the delight of Krsna's playfulness." - Clifford G. Hospital, Studies in Religion
"...beginning with the excitement of the birth of the divine chld...the reader, just as the spectator in performance, is made to felt that he has allowed himself to be temporarily swept into Brindavan's magic circle." - Farley Richmond, Comparative Drama