Celibate Seducer: Vedānta Deśika’s Domestication of Kṛṣṇa’s Sexuality in the Yādavābhyudaya

Yigal Bronner, Lawrence J. McCrea*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Vedānta Deśika produced his monumental poetic biography of Kṛṣṇa in a time when Kṛṣṇa-centered devotionalism was expanding to become perhaps the dominant mode of bhakti across South Asia. Central to this phenomenon is the growing popularity of the Bhāgavatapurāṇa, and especially of its exploration of Kṛṣṇa’s erotic play with the gopīs in his youth. Troubled by the unrestrained and seemingly adharmic sexuality of Kṛṣṇa, Deśika used the literary techniques and narrative paradigms of the mahākāvya to assimilate but also domesticate this increasingly important Bhāgavata episode: Kṛṣṇa’s eroticism remains central but confined within more conventional marital norms and is thus made dharmically and theologically acceptable. Once he has resolved these dharmic problems, however, Deśika is happy to explore the soteriological, devotional, and paradoxical dimensions of erotic love with Kṛṣṇa.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)213-235
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Hindu Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.


  • Bhāgavatapurāṇa
  • Kṛṣṇa
  • Vedānta Deśika
  • Yādavābhyudaya
  • bhakti
  • eroticism


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