Chaitanya (AD:> 1486-AD 1533) is probably the only Hindu saint who was deified in his own life time. This belief in his divinity was fostered by his extraordinarily fair complexion and his outstanding religious personality. He is also one of the few saints about whom information is available from literary sources.
Born at Navadvipa, Chaitanya took sanyasa at the age of 24 and came to live at Puri, Orissa, leaving behind an old mother and a charming young wife. His teachings have left a permanent impression on the religious history of Bengal and Orissa.
This volume tells us all about Chaitanya and his movement in Orissa where he spent the best part of his working life. Beginning with an analysis of literary sources for details of Chaitanya's life-the Sanskrit and Bengali biographies and Oriya works, the author goes on to deal with Chaitanya's life in Orissa, and his passing away which is shrouded in mystery, his comrades, his followers, his religious outlook, his influence on the history of Orissa as also on the growth of Oriya Vaisnava literature, the spread of the Chaitanya movement in Orissa, and finally Chaitanya worship as it exists today. The author also devotes a chapter each to Chaitanya's indissoluble bond with the deity Jagannath and his place in the history of Vaisnavism in Orissa in the 16th Century.
An authoritative work on Chaitanya.
Prabhat Mukherjee retired as the Reader in History, Utkal University, Bhubaneswar.
His other books are: History of Medieval Vaishnavism in Orissa (1940), History of the Gajpati Kings of Orissa (1953), History of the Freedom Movement in Orissa, Vol. II (1957), The Buddhist Remains in Orissa (1961), History of Orissa in the 19th Century (1964) and History of the Jagannath Temple in the 19th Century (1977).
Chaitanya is probably the only Hindu saint, who was deified during his life time. The belief in his divinity was caused by his extraordinarily fair complexion and outstanding religious personality. Chaitanya, after taking sannyasa, stayed for the rest of his life mostly at Puri in Orissa. The term, 'Bengal' or 'Gaudiya' is commonly, but to some extent incorrectly, applied to the religious movement which he started. Sufficient materials are not available for the history of the last years of Chaitanya. We have to depend largely on the embellished biography of Chaitanya, which Krishnadas Kaviraj wrote for the Vaishnavas in Bengal.
History of monasticism during this period requires further study. It appears that Isvar, a Vaishnava, took initiation from Madhavendra Puri by reciting the mahavakya of the Sankarite Puri order, in order to become a monk. Similarly, Madhavendra, a Vaishnava, was ordained a monk of the Sankarite Puri order. Was there no provision for monkhood in Vaishnavism?
I have made use of the late Dr. B.B. Majumdar's book in Bengali entitled Chaitanya Chariter Upadan for which I express my indebtedness to him. It is my melancholy duty to recall the memory of late Dr. Annchar- lott Eschmann. She made many useful suggestions. I express my deep gratitude to Dr. Hermann Kulke of the South Asia Institute of the Heidelberg University, who is at present the Visiting Professor of History at the Utkal University, Bhubaneswar for taking keen interest in my work. Shri Nityananda Mahapatra, Dr. B. Venkataraman I.A.S. and Shri Biswanath Das also assisted me.
I am grateful to the German Research Council at Bonn for financing the work and to the South Asia Institute at Heidelberg for subsidizing the publication. I should also thank Shri Ramesh Jain, the publisher, for his unfailing courtesy.
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