• 3.17. The Gopis seek Krishna in the Forest. Palam Bhagavata Purana., ca. 1520-1540
    Ink and watercolor on paper
    Repository: Minneapolis Institute of Art, The Katherine Kittredge McMillan Memorial Fund, 95.4.1.


October 22

Bower of Love: Krishna Worship, Garden Design and Climate Change in 18th Century Braj with Sugata Ray

10:30 am–12:00 pm

In the 18th century, vast tracts of forested lands were reclaimed for human habitation in Braj, the pilgrimage center in north India where the divine Krishna is believed to have spent his youth. How did the theology of Krishna worship-one that visualized Braj as a kunja or the primeval bower where Krishna and Radha dally eternally-contend with such a sweeping alteration of the pilgrimage center's precarious ecology? By way of addressing this question, this talk focuses on the emergence of enclosed gardens in Braj in a time of drastic deforestation. This new garden form allowed devotees to simulate Radha's journey through the dense jasmine groves of liturgical poetry while creating an appearance of deep wilderness within an urban milieu. Represented in paintings and simulated in architecture, the gardens or kunjas of Braj the brings to the fore a vegetal aesthetics that performatively entangled philosophical, symbolic, and aesthetic perceptions of an imagined natural environment.

This is a virtual webinar. For more information and registration, please visit:



Society for Asian Art

Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Korean, Southeast Asian, Himalayan & Central Asian, Islamic & Middle Eastern

Incorporated in 1958, the Society for Asian Art (SAA) was instrumental in acquiring Avery Brundage's magnificent art collection for the city of San Francisco and continues to serve as a nonprofit support organization for the Asian Art Museum. Additionally, SAA offers more than 100 educational and cultural programs per year—including the distinguished Arts of Asia Lecture Series, literature courses, study groups, symposia, and travel—and publishes the scholarly art journal, Lotus Leaves.



(415) 581-3701
United States
200 Larkin St., San Francisco, CA 94102