Contents: 1. The things unsaid/B.N. Goswamy. 2. Uddipan Vela, as we light the lamps/Harsha V. Dehejia. 3. The genesis of the Nayika in the Natyashastra/Bharat Gupt. 4. Turning the heroine's head: the emergence of the Nayika form in mediaeval Indian manuscript painting/Jerry P. Losty. 5. The quest for Krishna/Walter Spink. 6. Footprints in the dust : the Gopis as a collective heroine in the Bhagavata Purana/Caron Smith. 7. Myriad moods of love/Alka Pande. 8. Karpuramanjari: the artless heroine/Lalit Kumar. 9. The Sufi Nayika: Qutban's Mirigavati/Aditya Behl. 10. The romantic heroine in Rajasthani painting/Rosemary Crill. 11. Nayikas in the Haveli of Shrinathji/Amit Ambalal. 12. A life as Svamini : imbibing the Bhava in Pushti Marg/Meilu Ho. 13. The multiple veils of the beloved/Jasleen Dhamija. 14. The heroine's bower : framing the stages of love/Molly Emma Aitken. 15. Radha in Kishangarh painting : cultural, literary and artistic aspects/Navina Najat Haidar. 16. The Nayika of Sahibdin/Usha Bhatia. 17. The Rasikapriya of Keshavadas : text and image/Shilpa Mehta (Tandon). 18. Connoisseur's delight : the Nayika of the Basohli Rasamanjari/V.C. Ohri. 19. The Nayika in Barahmasa paintings/Kamal Giri. 20. Awash in meaning : literary sources for early Pahari bathing scenes/Joan Cummins. 21. Dancing to the flute/Jackie Menzies. 22. The Nayika of the Deccan/Jagdish Mittal. 23. Pious love : iconography of the Nayika as a devotee/Kim Masteller. 24. Adorning the beloved : Krishna Lila images of transformation and union/Rochelle Kessler. 25. The aesthetics of red in Rajasthani painting/Naval Krishna. 26. The Nagas and the Kanya : the romance in painting/Gurcharan S. Siddhu. 27. The Raas Lila : the enchantment with innocence/Geeti Sen. 28. Nawabs and Nayikas : the romantic view from the court of Lucknow/Rosie Llewelyn-Jones. 29. The Indian courtesan : symbol of love and romance/Pran Neville. 30. The romantic Nayika: a dancer's view/Shanta Rati Misra. 31. Sri Radha : the supreme Nayika of Gaudiya Vaishnavism/Steven J. Rosen. 32. Radha: the Goddess of love in Bengali folk literature/Sumanta Banerjee. 33. Radha Bhava and the erotic sentiment : the construction of feminity in Gaudiya Vaishnavism/Madhu Khanna. 34. The Mughal Nayika/P.C. Jain. 35. Wife, widow, renunciant, lover : the Mirabai of calendar art/Patricia Uberoi. 36. Shringara and love in early Jain literature/Shridhar Andhare. 37. The Nayikas of Nagarjunakonda/Elizabeth Rosen Stone. 38. The Nayika in Ayppati : The Tamil Vrindavan in Periyalvar's Periyalvartirumoli/Srilata Mueller. 39. The Nayika and the mirror/Devangana Desai. 40. The Nayika and the bird/Amina Okada. 41. The Vaishnava ethos and Shringara Bhakti/Harsha V. Dehejia. 42. Vidai: as we float our lamps on the river/Harsha V. Dehejia.
"Harsha V. Dehejia has gathered a galaxy of scholars from around the world to take the reader on a journey that celebrates the romantic heroine in the Indian arts. It is a visually rich journey which takes us to opulent havelis and bucolic groves, temples and courtyards, where we meet kings and nobility and also artists and artisans, as we hear whispers of gopis and the footfalls of Krishna. We encounter the nayika in miniature paintings and temple sculptures, pothis and calendars, dance and music but above all hear resonances of her heart throbbing longingly in our own selves for ultimately the nayika in the Indian tradition is a paradigm of the perennial quest of mankind for a divine and transcendent love.
At the heart of the many and varied artistic expressions of the romantic sentiment is the nayika or the heroine. Her various adornments and trysts, the many moods of her love realized through amorous moments of longing or belonging, her strong presence in the Krishna lore and equally in the Sufi narratives, her portrayals in the Ragamala and the Barahmasa traditions of poetry and painting, through the beautiful depictions in miniature paintings as well as popular arts, have captivated our attention through the many centuries of Indian artistic representations. Her footfalls have been heard in courts and temples, she has been celebrated by the raja and the praja, she has a presence in homes and mansions and her persona resonates in enchanted forests and groves. She is all this and more, but above all she is the epitome of perfect beauty and the paradigm of the seeker of ultimate reality.
In these essays, she comes alive in all her splendour and radiance, she captures our attention through her sheer sensuality as she looks into the mirror and prepares for that special moment. She delights in the many romantic situations and brings alive the concept of bhakti shringara or a certain spirituality that can only arise from indulging in love, but above all she stands self-assured and dignified, whispering that not only is there truth in love but that love is truth." (jacket)