The Chaitanya Movement (A Study of Vaishnavism in Bengal)

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Item Code: IDC107
Publisher: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Author: Melville T. Kennedy
Language: English
Edition: 1993
ISBN: 8121506069
Pages: 278
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 7.3" X 5.0"
Weight 330 gm
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Book Description

From the Jacket

The present work outlines the history of Krishna Chaitanya, the founder, and also the religious and social conditions which led to its emergence. It also discusses the teachings of the Sect and its literature, which has been potent ever since in the literary life of Bengal. It talks about the sect as it is today, the classes, the sub-sects, its orders and its cults. Lastly the author compares the Movement to Christianity, and claims that the whole idea of the Movement was to put Krishna in place of Christ and Gita in the place of the Gospel.


This book is an attempt to accomplish an exceedingly difficult task. It requires considerable temerity at any time for one to write of another's religion, an endeavour calling for so generous a measure of insight, understanding and sympathy. In these days, when race consciousness has become so keen, and national feeling so sensitive to any hint of criticism between East and West, an undertaking such as this book becomes doubly difficult; for it deals with personalities, customs, and ideas, of living rather than academic interest, warm and palpitating, because instinct with the passionate devotion of many hearts. Such a work can hope to succeed only as it is done in absolute sincerity, with scrupulous fairness, and with a constant sense of one's limitation in knowledge. I have tried to write in this spirit. However short of this high standard the book may fall, and in spite of its shortcomings, I trust it will prove useful to all who wish to know more of the religious thought and life of Bengal. To the devout Vaishnava himself it may be of service as a stimulus to fresh valuation of familiar religious usage.

I am indebted to many friends for help in various ways which can hardly be acknowledge here. Of these, I am under special obligation to Dr. Bhagavata Kumara Gosvami, Sastri, of Hugli College, for the unfailing generosity with which he has let me avail myself of his immense knowledge of Vaishnavism. It seems hardly necessary to add that, although he has given freely of information, I am wholly responsible for the use made of the facts, and for the interpretation given of the movement. It is a pleasure, also, to acknowledge, with affectionate gratitude, the information and the help given by many of my students during the past ten years.




I The Background of the Movement  
  Social and Religious Conditions-The Vaishnava
Heritage-The Influence of Buddhism
II The Life of Chaitanya. First Period  
  Boyhood and Youth-The Great Change-Absorption in Bhakti-Beginnings of the Movement-Opposition and the Final Step 13
III The Life of Chaitanya. Second Period  
  Farewell to Nadia-Introduction to Puri-The Long Pilgrimage-Experiences by the Way – Joys of Bhakti in Puri-The Brindaban Pilgrimage-Final Years at Puri 29
IV Chaitanya's Contribution to the Sect  
  The Impress of His Character and Personality-The Power of His Religious Experience-Social Consequences of His Bhakti 52
V The History of the Sect  
  The Influence of Nityananda-How the Movement Grew-Development at Brindaban-The Generation following Chaitanya-Seventeenth Century Revival-Syamananda and the Winning of Orissa-Vaishnavism in Assam-Two Centuries of Decline-The Modern Revival-Influence on Bengal Society 60
VI The Teaching Of The Sect  
  Theological-(1) The Idea of God-(2) The Doctrine of Incarnation-(3) The Conception of Sin-(4) Salvation-(5) Heaven and Future Existence-(6) Revelation-(7) Man and the World-Religious-(1) The Life of Bhakti-(2) The Attainment of Bhakti-(3) The Emotions of Bhakti-(4) The Use of Images-(5) A Bhakti Shorter Catechism –Ethical and Social-(1) The Vaishnava Character-(2) Attitude towards Caste-(3) By-products of Bhakti 88
VII The Literature of The Sect  
  Biographical-Historical-Theological and Ritual-Drama-Hymnology 123
VIII The Sect As It Is to-Day: Its Orders  
  I. The Four Classes-A. The Gosvamis-(1) Origin and Development-(2) Functions and Relations-(3) Character and Standing-B. The Grihasthas-C. The Vairagis-(1) The Requirements of Bhek-(2) The Life of the Akhras-(3) Female Ascetics-(4) Principal Akhras-(5) Death Customs-D. The Jat Vairagis 148
IX The Sect As It Is To-Day: Its Cult  
  Temples and Shrines-Temple Worship-Akhra Worship-Domestic Worship-Public Worship-Festivals-Melas and Mahotsavas-Secret Forms of Worship-(1) Sahajiyas-(2) Kisoribhajas-(3) Sri Rupa Seva-(4) Nera-Neris-Sub-Sects-Kartta-bhajas-Bauls-Darbesh-Shains-Jaganmohini Sect 180
X The Chaitanya Movement In Relation To Christianity  
  Ethical Standards-Ideas in Common-Differing Ideas-Social Idealism-Theological Ideas-(1) The Doctrine of God-(2) The Doctrine of Salvation-(3) The Doctrine of Heaven and the Future-(4) The Doctrine of Incarnation-(5) The Doctrine of Sin-Theory and Practice of the Religious Life (1) The Experience of God-(2) The Imagery of Devotion-(3) Mysticism and Saintliness-Eroticism and its Significance 217
  Index 259


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