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eISSN: 2582-0427

THE POSITION OF CHAITANYA IN BENGAL VAISNAVISM

Abstract: Bengal Vaisnavism has been the focus of many scholarly works, In this paper, some of those aspects of Bengal Vaisnavism like role of Sri Chaitanya have been looked from a different perspective. Some scholars have written that Chaitanya was a figurehead of the religion and the movement was organised by his immediate devotees. On the contrary it has been found that his personality and spirit had a huge impact on the organisation of the movement. The initiatives taken by him have been discussed, which shaped the movement. It is true that the devotees attributed Godhood upon him and he was made the deity incarnated by the Navadvip devotees. Thousands of lyrical poems were written by contemporary poets, with Chaitanya as the focal point of these works and it also helped in sustaining the sect. Therefore, one cannot deny his omnipotence and everything in Bengal Vaisnavism seemed to have taken its form either through his life’s example or based on his ideas. In the post Chaitanya period the movement definitely deviated from its ideas, particularly in context of guru disciple relationship. Nevertheless, it took its initial shape by placing Chaitanya in the centre and was also guided by him to an extent.

Keywords: Bengal, Bhakti, Chaitanya, Godhood, Krishna, Krishnadas Kaviraj, Radha, Vaisnavism

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