Medieval Bhakti Movements in India (Sri Caitanya (Chaitanya) Quincentenary Commemoration Volume)

FREE Delivery
Express Shipping
(20% off)
Express Shipping: Guaranteed Dispatch in 24 hours
Delivery Ships in 1-3 days
Item Code: IHD27
Publisher: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Author: Ed. By. Narendra Nath Bhattacharyya
Language: English
Edition: 2016
ISBN: 8121504597
Pages: 425
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.8" X 5.8"
Weight 1.10 kg
Fully insured
Fully insured
Shipped to 153 countries
Shipped to 153 countries
More than 1M+ customers worldwide
More than 1M+ customers worldwide
100% Made in India
100% Made in India
23 years in business
23 years in business
Book Description

About the Book:

Although some aspects of the medieval bhakti movements are known or have been viewed by the historians from their own angles of vision, much remains to be known, understood and interpreted. The present volume, issued on the occasion of the Quincentenary of Mahaprabhu Sri Caitanya, is an attempt to understand a little more of the medieval bhakti movements of India. The contributors to the volume who have enthusiastically agreed to participate in this project are all specialists in their own fields and their valuable papers are expected to throw new light on many hitherto unknown or known features of the great historical movement, the far-reaching consequences of which are very much lively in the heart of the Indian masses even today. The contributors to this volume are Bimanbehari Majumdar, Niharranjan Ray, G.S. Chhabra, Manorama Kohli, G.V. Saroja, J.C. Jain, M.S. Ahluwalia, H.A. Qureshi, Manjula Bhattacharyya, Uma S. Deshpande, P.S. Mukharya, B.D. Gupta, Hafiz Md. Tahir Ali, N. Jagadesan, R. Champakalakshmi, S.K. Pathak, N. Subrahmanian, R. Meena, K.K. Kusuman, N.H. Kulkarnee, Prabhat Mukherjee, S.N. Sharma, Sarat Chandra Goswami, S. Dutta, N.N. Acharya, Bhaskar Chatterjee, Neal Delmonico, Sachin Majumdar, David Kopf and Pranabananda Jash. A detailed bibliography containing list of books and articles used by the contributors in preparing their papers and also other works pertaining to the bhakti concept has also been supplied. This handy volume has been edited by N.N. Bhattacharyya with an informative introduction.

About the Author:

Prof. Narendra Nath Bhattacharyya teaches in the Department of Ancient Indian History and Culture, University of Calcutta. Thought religious history in his forte he works at ease in diverse branches of ancient Indian history and civilization.


It is owing to the grace of Mahaprabhu Sri Caitanya that we have been able to bring out the present volume on the occasion of his quincentenary commemoration in our humble capacity. We express our sincere gratitude to the scholars-all eminent in their own fields -who contributed their learned articles to this volume at our request, to the editor who devoted all his time and energy to make the project a grand success, to Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, New Delhi who came forward to publish the work on our behalf and to those who helped us in many ways. At the same time we place on record our deep sorrow at the death of two of the contri- butors-Prof. Prabhat Mukherjee of Bhuvaneswar and Prof. Sarat Chandra Goswami of Guwahati-and our appreciation of the services rendered by them to the cause of this volume.


Hinduism, the term by which all the varied forms of Indian religious ideas, beliefs, customs, cults and rituals are denoted, may be compared to a strange river, constituted by numerous tributaries coming from different sources, which. in the course of its flow has created many affluents branching out in different directions towards different goals. But in the vast span of time and space the flow of the individual or combined streams could not have always been smooth. It had the possibility of getting arrested, stagnant or muddy. In fact, the effort to maintain the flow in motion through the ages by enthusiastic individuals had also been a basic feature of Hinduism. Not all of them were well known; there were many whose fame did not even transgress the boundaries of their own districts. But there were some outstanding religious personalities whose fame spread far and wide. Sri Caitanya (AD 1485-1533) was one of them whose activities made him a legend during his own life-time.

In order to make a reasonable assessment of Sri Caitanya's contri- bution to the cause of the spiritual welfare of mankind it is necessary to understand on the one hand some major aspects of Indian religious tradition of which he was a part and, on the other, the nature of the thought-waves of his own age by which he was -influenced. It should be emphasised here that in the Indian tradi- tion there is no special term for religion, though at present the word dharma is widely used. Etymologically dharma means the nature of things, that which sustains and upholds, the guiding principle by which the universe is in order. In the Vedic and Brahmanical texts, the word dharma simply denotes law, more specifically the laws of individual and social behaviour. In Buddhism dharma means the elements and also qualities of elements by which 'things are fashioned. In Jainism dharma means the principle of motion, the kinetic energy which causes things to function.

Instead of a well-defined religion, the Indian tradition insists on trivarga or three aims of life which should be followed by all human beings. It consists of kama or passion and desire to survive and propagate, artha or the economic quest for earning a liveli- hood for the sake of survival and dharma or the accepted codes regulating human life which should be followed for the sake of social behaviour and upliftment. There is also a fourth varga or aim which is moksa or liberation, by which is generally understood freedom from worldly bondage or from such fetters as are supposed to cause hindrance to the attainment of perfection. But this aim of liberation is not meant for all. It is only for the mumuksu or those who desire to have it. There are numerous ways or margas for the attainment of moksa, each of which is regarded as valid by its followers. In fact it is hoped that an individual should choose his own marga which suits his or her own tempera- ment, mental inclination and cultural standard.

This approach is fundamentally different from the western or Semitic concept of religion which comprises: (i) unconditional belief in the existence of a Supreme Being, conceived as a personal God, the creator and controller of the universe, to be propitiated by offerings and prayers; (ii) belief in the creed sanctioned by unchallengeable scriptures which justify the existence of the Supreme Being, prescribe a distinct mode of social and ethical life for the followers and the converts and enable them to form a community of brethren under some organisation, the authority of which can be ignored only at the risk of being a renegade or excommunicated; and (iii) acceptance of the authority of priesthood or leaders of the creed whose interpretation of the sacred texts and injunctions in regard to social and group behaviour in different walks of life must be regarded as final.

If one takes into account the three major early thought-complexes of India, namely, Brahmanism, Buddhism and Jainism, one should not fail to observe that the concept of a supreme God, which is the most essential ingredient of any form of religion. has nothing to do with all these systems. The theoretical aspects of Brahmanism have been revealed in its six philosophical systems which are known as the Snnkhya, Yoga, Purva-mimamsa, Vedanta, Nyaya and Vaisesika. Among these systems Yoga is the science of disciplining of body and mind. Its theoretical aspects are based on the Sankhya. But while the Sankhya rejects the concept of God as a subjective error the Yoga accepts it as a matter of fact without however providing any reason. Although many later theistic schools have based their doctrines on Vedanta, the concept of God is anomalous in this system. The Vedanta, according to Sankara's interpretation, basically holds that a world of imperfection cannot be produced from a perfect being since both the concepts are contradictory. Brahman, by which term the only existent reality without a second is described in the Vedanta, can therefore have nothing to do with the world which can neither be its transforma- tion (parinama) nor its transfiguration (vivarta). So the world must be an illusion, an unreal entity, as false as the beauty of the daughter of a barren woman, because owing to its material and finite existence it cannot be the. effect of what is only existent as pure consciousness. So the concept of brahman, according to Sankara's version, has nothing to do with that of God, creating and controlling the universe.

It is only the Nyaya-Vaisesika school which attempts to justify the concept of God with reason by postulating that the atoms by which the world is fashioned require an intelligent principle to be moulded and shaped by it in the form of effect. Just as a potter as the efficient cause makes pot from the unintelligent material cause, namely, clay, so also God, as a macrocosmic potter fashions the world from the unintelligent atoms. But this view was challenged by the Mimamsakas, Buddhists, Jains and others on the ground that under such a process of argument God can only be regarded as an agent under bondage. Like the potter he requires body, will and capacity to create. Moreover, like the potter he has also to work with a given material which is atom. They argue that if God is regarded as a free agent he cannot have the desire to create and if he is regarded as an agent under bondage he cannot have the capacity to create. The Sankhyas hold that the existence of God cannot be proved by three sources of valid knowledge, namely, perception, inference and testimony. The same is also the view of the Buddhists and Jains. The Mimamsakas ridicule the concept of God, although they believe in the efficacy of Vedic rituals.

It appears that the doctrine of karma and rebirth which is funda- mental to Brahmanism, Buddhism and Jainism had something to do with this pronounced anti-theism of the elitists. At the base of the doctrine of karma and rebirth the guiding principle was pro- bably the simple agricultural maxim: as you sow, so you reap. An individual's present life is conditioned by his or her deeds of the past life, and the deeds of the present life will determine the course of his or her future life. In this cycle of rebirth, caused and condi- tioned by karma, God has nothing to do. Too much emphasis upon karma and rebirth has naturally made the position of the God redundant. Any concept of God implies that by prayer and propitiation he will be pleased and bestow his grace upon the devotees by forgiving their offences and guilts; But here God has given no' right to exercise his power to remove the karma-fetters by which the life of an individual is characterised.

Apart from the doctrine of karma and rebirth, it may also be said that in the Vedic and Brahmanical tradition emphasis was laid upon the association and identification of the human faculties with 1hose of nature, often upon seeking the source of unity behind all diversities, and from this sense of enquiry came into existence numerous beliefs and rituals of varying degrees. As each school of thought faced the confusing multiplicity of nature and sought to master it symbolically by reducing it to order in its own way, the questions thus raised became highly controversial. They became subjects of academic interest among the intelligentsia, but had no impact on the masses. On the other hand Buddhism and Jainism were basically concerned with duhkha or suffering and its extinction. Both these systems insist on the inner faculties of human being, the disciplining of the body, mind and intellect.

But there was other side of the shield, based on Lokayata or popular sentiments in which the idea of an all-powerful Supreme Being capable of bestowing grace on the devotees is found. Instead of raising questions concerning the origin, inner nature and purpose of the universe or erecting a framework of concepts and relations in satisfaction of some emotional or intellectual drive, the concept of an all-powerful personal God controlling everything of the world was put forward. This recalls the features of the Western or Semitic concept of Religion outlined above. The ingredients of this concept may be traced to the pre-Vedic conditions which remained as a suppressed sentiment of the masses. The influence of early. Judaism and primitive Christianity cannot also be ignored. The earliest . expression of such a concept' is found in the Bhagavadgita which says that complete devotion and absolute surrender to the will of God is the only goal of life. Needless to say that such an idea became popular among the masses as a result of which numerous cults insisting on the absolute devotion to a personal God bestow- ing grace and ignoring human frailties and blemishes came into, existence which eventually culminated into the more popular cults of Visnu, Siva, Sakti, etc. Behind such a conception popular sentiment seeking consolation in the wonder working power of the superhu- man entity was a driving force. The influence of local and tribal deities, either identified with the Supreme Being or regarded as its. incarnation or regional form, was also by no means insignificant.

The concept of absolutism in politics and society might have some bearing on the development of monotheistic ideas in the sphere of religion, but in reality, belief in one personal all powerful, God capable to bestow grace (prasada) is a feature of human psychology. This sentiment was not encouraged by the upholders- of the Vedic or Brahmanical tradition, and the earlier bhakti-orient-: ed religious systems like Vaisnavism or Saivism were regarded as. Vedabahya or belonging outside the pale of Vedism. But the con- cept of bhakti or devotion to a personal god became so popular among the masses that eventually this sentiment had to be given recognition. Even the systems like Buddhism and Jainism, which. insisted more on the moral and mental aspects, felt it necessary to give their systems a theistic turn. The founders of these systems had been elevated to the level of the Supreme Being and became objects of extensive cults in images. However, it was not until the third century Be that Vaisnavism as a distinguished religious system could become popular. Saivism got prominence in a somewhat later date.


1.Religion of Love: The Early Medieval Phase (c. AD 700-1486)1
Bimanbehari Majumdar
2.The Concept of Sahaj in Guru Nanak's Theology and its Antecedents17
Niharranjan Ray
3.Guru Nanak's Concept of God36
G.S. Chhabra
4.Guru Nanak and the Bhakti Movement: Convergence and Divergence47
Manorama Kohli
5.Earliest References to the Bhakti Concept58
G.V. Saroja
6.The Medieval Bhakti Movement: Its influence on Jainism62
Jagdishchandra Jain
7.Baba Shaikh Farid: A Harbinger of Hindu-Muslim Unity74
M.S. Ahluwalia
8.Nature and Roots of Islamic Bhakti Movement and Syed Ashraf Jahangir Samnani83
Hamid Afaq Qureshi
9.Medieval Bhakti Movements in Gujarat97
Manjula Bhattacharyya
10.Narasimha Mehta: Saint-Poet from Gujarat106
Uma S. Deshpande
11.Saint Prannath and the Pranami Sect113
P.S. Mukharya
12.Pranami Sampradaya of Bundelkhand127
Bhagwan Das Gupta
13.Influence of Islam and Sufism on Prannath's Religious Movement136
Hafiz Md. Tahir Ali
14.The Life and Mission of Karaikkal Ammaiyar149
N. Jagadeesan
15.Religion and Social Change in Tamil Nadu (c. AD 600-1300)162
R. Champakalakshmi
16.The Dasa-bhakti of the Alvars174
Suniti Kumar Pathak
17.Bhaktism in Medieval Tamilnadu180
N. Subrahmanian
18.A Note on the Bhakti Movement in Tamilnad187
R. Meena
19.The Bhakti Movement in Kerala191
K.K. Kusuman
20.Medieval Maharashtra and Muslim Saint-Poets198
Narayan H. Kulkarnee
21.Vaisnavism in Medieval Orissa232
Prabhat Mukherjee
22.Sankaradeva and Assam Vaisnavism241
Satyendranath Sarma
23.Medieval Bhakti Movements in India: Sri Deva Damodara271
Sarat Chandra Goswami
24.Bhakti Movement and Aniruddhadeva of Assam295
S. Dutta
25.The Bhakti Movement of Assam in Historical Perspective310
N.N. Acharya
26.Social Perspective of Caitanyaism315
Bhaskar Chatterjee
27.For That Sacred Taste: The Rasa Problem in the Works of Rupa Gosvamin325
Neal Delmonico
28.Post-Caitanya Vaisnavite Sects in Bengal337
Sachin Majumdar
29.Keshub and Caitanya: Brahmo Evangelism and the Indigenous Modernization of Vaisnavism in Bengal346
David Kopf
30.Tulasidasa: Ramacaritamanasa and Bhakti359
Pranabananda Jash

Sample Pages

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Q. What locations do you deliver to ?
    A. Exotic India delivers orders to all countries having diplomatic relations with India.
  • Q. Do you offer free shipping ?
    A. Exotic India offers free shipping on all orders of value of $30 USD or more.
  • Q. Can I return the book?
    A. All returns must be postmarked within seven (7) days of the delivery date. All returned items must be in new and unused condition, with all original tags and labels attached. To know more please view our return policy
  • Q. Do you offer express shipping ?
    A. Yes, we do have a chargeable express shipping facility available. You can select express shipping while checking out on the website.
  • Q. I accidentally entered wrong delivery address, can I change the address ?
    A. Delivery addresses can only be changed only incase the order has not been shipped yet. Incase of an address change, you can reach us at [email protected]
  • Q. How do I track my order ?
    A. You can track your orders simply entering your order number through here or through your past orders if you are signed in on the website.
  • Q. How can I cancel an order ?
    A. An order can only be cancelled if it has not been shipped. To cancel an order, kindly reach out to us through [email protected].
Add a review
Have A Question

For privacy concerns, please view our Privacy Policy

Book Categories