Chakras and Constellations: Vaishnava Pluralism in Vraja and Beyond

How to Cite

E. H. Jarow. (2022). Chakras and Constellations: Vaishnava Pluralism in Vraja and Beyond: Journal of Vaishnava Studies. Journal of Vaishnava Studies, 19(1), 53–71. Retrieved from


What is really at stake in discussions on Pluralism? Why does it really matter? How are we to deal with “the inevitable other.” Do
we really have to? Is there actually anybody else out there, and if there is—can we just keep them far enough away so that they do not bother us? If we cannot close our eyes and pretend that they, the “other ones” do not exist, can we perhaps give them names that affirm their “otherness,” and more importantly, preserve our secure sense of ourselves? We can call them “barbarians,” “heathens,” “yavanas,” “mleechas,” and the like, anything to insure our own safety and belonging. Strategies abound: we can circle the wagons and try to insulate ourselves from “them,” or we realize the futility of insulation and try for greater openness and engagement, but
not without a concomitant fear of dilution, assimilation, loss of what distinguishes “me.” My charge, to write on “Pluralism and Vaishnavism” already sends up a huge red flag, because an “ism” alerts one to the fact that one is dealing with an overt and usually second-hand construction. No one names themselves “ism.” It is official observers who do so, scholars and others, heavily vested by their respective institutions and patrons to come up with a palatable narrative about “them,” one that allows us to continue on with
some acceptable notion of who we are and a validated sense of what we are doing here.

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