A Footprint Messenger and the Logic of Love: Śrīkṛṣṇa Sārvabhauma’s Kṛṣṇapadāṅkadūtakāvya

How to Cite

Åsa Maria Buchta. (2022). A Footprint Messenger and the Logic of Love: Śrīkṛṣṇa Sārvabhauma’s Kṛṣṇapadāṅkadūtakāvya: Journal of Vaishnava Studies. Journal of Vaishnava Studies, 21(2), 177–197. Retrieved from https://ivsjournal.com/index.php/jvs/article/view/290


A cowherd girl, roaming around in the forest of Vṛndāvana, bewildered by separation from her dear Krishna, finds one of his footprints on the ground, and begs it to bring a message to her beloved in Mathurā. This rather curious situation sets the scene for the Kṛṣṇapadāṅkadūtakāvya (“Poem of Krishna’s Footprint as a Messenger”), or simply the Padāṅkadūta, written by the early 18th century Śrīkṛṣṇa Sārvabhauma of Bengal. The setup may seem familiar to anyone acquainted with Kālidāsa’s Meghadūta (“Cloud Messenger”),
one of the most loved Sanskrit poems of all time, or any of the many other Indian messenger poems, in which typically an inanimate object or an animal is solicited to act as a messenger between separated lovers. What makes this poem distinct is the way in which it draws together three major strands of the intellectual culture of late pre-colonial Bengal: Vaishnava bhakti, Navya-Nyāya
philosophy, and Sanskrit poetry. This paper examines the Padāṅkadūta as a clear example of how the literary arts were used as a vehicle for communicating devotion and philosophy in this period and how, in turn, poetry drew from these spheres for its own enrichment.

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