Saturday, September 21, 2013

Nilgai: Khajuraho, Harbin Hot Spring's field notes as poetry, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, UC Berkeley talk on Khajuraho

Hello Sari,

Very nice to meet you and nice to talk about Khajuraho in the UC Berkeley anthropology department, especially vis-a-vis your talk there (yesterday -, and vis-a-vis the conference in Switzerland on "Tourism Imaginaire.'

When I looked through my blog again, I found first only one reference to Khajoraho in a poem as field notes :) I wrote in 2010, -

"The Minarets and Lake Ediza: Harbin Poem Field Notes" -

which also touches on aspects of Harbin that I appreciate, and ethnographically especially.

And then I searched my blog again under Khajuraho and found a few further entries (and a few unpublished ones, including an interview with Ishvara, Harbin's founder :):

"Fish: Who are those Harbin artisans - (are they French? - yes, some are) - who keep the Harbin waters clean, Spiritual and Intimate?" - -

"Wilson's Bird of Paradise: Friends' Dalton Letter" ... ... can be helpful ... & enjoyable" - -

(I've since changed the spelling to khajuraho for all of my blog entries).

Looking forward to your talk, and see you perhaps before then.

Regards and Namaste, :)

I also added you in and you can see my Harbin talk at UC Berkeley in the Gifford Room in the Department of Anthropology from last year.


Hi Scott,

It was very nice to meet you too. And it was great to know that you have visited Khajuraho. Looking forward to talk more about it soon.
Your poem on Harbin is a wonderful read. The idea of a virtual Harbin is enticing. I will try to read more from your blog soon. So many interesting things under the categories list.

Thank you for adding me on I definitely want to see your last year's talk.

More soon,

Hi Sari,

Thanks for your email.

I enjoyed this video - - and music on your Tumblr page - "Remembering Raghav Sreyas" ( here ) ... I enjoy Raga too a lot ... esp. Ravi Shankar's (see the Raga category, for example, in my blog).

Here's the Khajuraho 15 minute video in the Treasures of the World series in German, I mentioned :

Khajuraho, Indien, Folge 171
Liebesspiele für die Götter (Love play of the Gods)

(I critiqued other Schaetze der Welt videos and their representations of some Middle Eastern UNESCO WHS for a peer-reviewed chapter I wrote, published in 2006).

And in terms of internet video representation, here's a fairly typical Youtube with more views than many:

India - Khajuraho Erotic Temples - Travel - Jim Rogers World Adventure -

I like the Khajuraho video that is linked to in my poem video notes -

"The Minarets and Lake Ediza: Harbin Poem Field Notes" -

but none of the videos I know of are like being there, yet the videos often provide much information and video of things I might not have otherwise seen, for example. All are stimulating and somehow beautiful though, in their representation of sublime Khajuraho. It's an interesting field site for a life time of study :) as is Harbin :)

How to 'realize' the bliss (if blissful they are) of such representations in novel and exploratory ways are interesting questions, both ethnographically and in life (touristically too?) - and perhaps of Khajuraho as well as Harbin. More about this later perhaps.

If I can be of help in any way with your presentation (which is already written, it looked like), please let me know.

Happy Khajuraho,

Hi Sari,

I like this video because it's reflective and it presents an appreciative and thoughtful point of view, both eastern and western, about Khajuraho - .

What do you think of this video?

It might be interesting to meet Dr. Shobita Punja, - - the historian in this film at some point, as well as Dr. Vikram Prakash at the University of Washington, for learning academically about Khajuraho - . Do you know either of them?

It's interesting to me how a specific culture - Chola and the Chandelas - about 1,000 years ago, produced these temples, in the context of age-old vedic culture of India, with such connectednesses, yet also ascetic and chaste traditions (which I associate with many/most spiritual traditions and religions ). This culture, in my interpretation, created a kind of opening to represent the erotic sublimely in art and religious sculpture, and in what is now India.

Any interest in hearing/attending some of these upcoming, UC Berkeley Philosophy talks with Crispin Wright on next Monday (at 4), T (at 4), W (at 3), or Th (at 4), and / or meeting for a coffee before or after? (On Monday I give a bagpipe lesson in the early evening, so probably won't be at Cal that day).

Philosophy lectures and colloquia at Cal can be very far-reaching, and another interesting culture.

In the video on your Tumblr site, - - I also appreciate somehow the beautiful fuzziness and related connectednesses of its music, as well as a kind of vision or thinking, which I associate with amazing, mother India (which I've only visited twice :).

Do you know Ravi Shankar's CD "Three Ragas" from the late 1950s? It's a particular favorite of mine, and generates a kind of bliss in itself. :)

What moves you particularly about Khajuraho (which I may hear in your upcoming talk)? What generates bliss for you there?  ... might be a fun conversation to develop, musically even somehow. Do you play a musical instrument?

Friendly regards,


Hi Sari,
I enjoyed your UC Berkeley talk yesterday, as well as your description of it on the Tourism Studies' page ( which I've posted below.
Let's stay in communication. Nice to meet A, as well.

Following Flâneurs in Phantasmagoric Temples

Swetha Vijayakumar 
(MS Student, Architecture, UC Berkeley)
Friday, September 20, 5:00 PM
Gifford Room, 221 Kroeber Hall
University of California, Berkeley
While most temples in India are considered to be sacred sites for pilgrimage and worship, a group of temples at Khajuraho, a small town in central India, is an anomaly. The distinguishing feature of these temples is the thousands of erotic carvings that saturate its exterior walls. The mystifying carvings, often referred to as the mithuna sculptures, depict men and women in various explicitly sexual forms. Although one of the temples remains to be a pilgrimage site at the local level, in the last four decades, the entire group has gained much international recognition solely for its erotic sculptures. In this project, I study the tourism industry at Khajuraho which is a unique amalgamation of religion, culture, and eroticism. Deifying eroticism and promoting tourism usinsensual imagery by an otherwise puritanical government in a fairly conservative Indian society is complextricky and riddled witcontradictions. Khajuraho thrives on this dichotomy obeindamned as pornography antransgressinoIndiaculture on one hand, anothothebeinendorsetinternational touristand Indian urbaelites as an epitome of Indian liberalness - as the quintessential KamasutraTempleAlong with briefly discussing Khajuraho's history and the myths surrounding the temple's unique sculptures, this presentation will trace the evolution of an isolated town into a major tourist attraction, and analyze the social, cultural, and environmental impacts of a rapidly burgeoning tourism. I will explore the complex gender issues at play, and the different perceptions of foreign and Indian tourists towards exhibitionism using the theoretical frameworks of gaze and voyeurism. In doing so, I draw from advertisement strategies, marketing of tourist arts and souvenirs, and the trade of prostitution that is rampant around Khajuraho's tourist village.

Speaker Bio:
Swetha Vijayakumar is a MS student in the department of architecture at University of California, Berkeley. She is pursuing an interdisciplinary degree in History of Architecture and Environmental Design in Developing Countries. Her research interests include cultural ecologies of Hindu pilgrimage sites in South Asia, evolution of contemporary Indian temple architecture, and the traditional-modern dialectic in built environments. As a part of her thesis, she is currently studying 'spiritual theme parks' and 'touristic pilgrimages' in 21st century India. She has a Bachelor of Architecture degree from RV College of Engineering in India."




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