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25.5.20

Caitanya

Caitanya, also known as Caitanya Mahapabhu  and as Krishna Caitanya  
(Chaitanya)

(c.1486-1533)

Mystic and saint who lived in Bengal in eastern India, and is the founder of the Vaisnava tradition of devotion to Krishna and Radha, specifically Gaudiya Vaishnavism which has formed the basis in the later twentieth century for ISKCON (the Hare Krishna movement)  and other Krishna-centred devotional groups.

Caitanya left only one piece of writing, the eight Sanskrit verses known as the Siksastakam which is preserved in the Caitanyacaritamrita, a near-contemporary Bengali hagiography composed by Krishnadasa Kaviraja in the late 16th century.

Caitanya instructed six of his followers, who later came to be known as the six goswamis of Vrindaban,  to present in their writings the theology and practice of the Krishna-centred ecstatic bhakti that he had taught and practiced.

Caitanya is an important link in the Sahaja tradition in Bengal that begins with the earlier Buddhist and siddhi traditions and extends through the Vaisnava Sahajiya tradition to the Bauls and others in contemporary Bengal.


Bibliography
M.M.Bose, The post-Caitanya Sahajia cult of Bengal (Delhi, reprinted 1986)
Bhaskar Chatterjee, ‘Social perspective of Caitanyaism’ in: Medieval bhakti movements in India, edited by N.N. Bhattacharyya (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1989):315-324
S.Das Gupta, Obscure religious cults (Calcutta: Firma K.L.Mukhopadhyay, rev ed.1969)
Glenn A.Hayes, ‘Sahajiyas’ in Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism, vol.3 , edited by Knut A.Jacobsen (Leiden: Brill, 2011):507-513
Glenn A.Hayes, ‘The Vaisnava Sahajiya traditions of medieval Bengal’ in Religions of India in practice, edited by D.S.Lopez (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995):333-351
A.K.Majumdar, Caitanya: his life and doctrine. A study in Vaisnavism (Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1969)
Radha Govinda Nath, ‘A survey of the Caitanya movement’ in The Cultural Heritage of India: volume 4: The Religions, edited by Haridas Bhattacharyya (Calcutta: Ramakrishna Mission, 2nd edition, 1956):186-200
Susmita Pande, ‘Caitanya’ in her Medieval Bhakti movement (its history and philosophy) (Meerut, India: Kusumanjali Prakashan, 1989):72-83
Asoke Chatterjee Sastri, Caitanya (New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi, 1988)
Sukumar Sen, History of Bengali literature (New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi,  3rd ed., 1979), chapters 7-9
Tony K.Stewart, The Final Word: the Caitanya Caritamrta and the grammar of religious tradition  (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010)
Kenneth Valpey, ‘Gaudiya Vaisnavism’  in Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism, vol.3 , edited by Knut A.Jacobsen (Leiden: Brill, 2011):312-328

[from John Noyce,  Saints, Sufis and Yogis. 3rd ed. Vol.1. A-H (2015)]