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Sri Chaitanya’s Sikshastakam: Comparing the original with two translations.

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This article was published in Journal of Vaishnava Studies. Details not available. It was also on Gaudiya Discussions, but I did not have a copy on the blog. So here it is for the record. I have just recorded myself singing the Śikṣāṣṭakam and you can see it on YouTube. I have embedded the video at the end of this document. This article is fairly long for a blog, but I have not split it up. Notes are at the end, but there are no internal links. 


No short account of Krishna Chaitanya’s life fails to note something like, “Chaitanya only left eight verses by which we can know his belief system.” But the authorship of even these verses has been cast into some doubt by scholars on the basis of statements by Karnapur and others, who declare unequivocally that Chaitanya wrote nothing at all.(1) Over time, a number of a number of works have been attributed to Chaitanya, but few of these claims are credible.(2) Even the most consistently attributed text, the Radha-prema-rasāyana-stotram,(3) ha…

Keeping Faith with Kheturi, Part IV

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So what do I mean "keeping faith with Kheturi"?

The primary significance I take out of the above account is in its implications for initiation. Kheturi, as Chaitanya Vaishnavism's first major council, was an exercise in what is called, in religious-historical terms, the routinization of charisma. In short, it was a major development in the organization of the Chaitanya Vaishnava “church.”

It is common for people to characterize this kind of institutionalization as a murder of the religious spirit. It’s what we could call the "St. Paul ruined Jesus" school of thought. Ramakanta Chakravarti, like Hitesranjan Sanyal and many other leftist Bengalis, see Kheturi and the establishment of the Goswami scriptures as a historical disaster because it reaffirmed Brahminical social dominance and its values instead of furthering the emancipation of the lower classes that had been started off by Nityananda Prabhu with his egalitarian ethos. Thus it was the victory of conse…

Keeping Faith with Kheturi, Part III

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

Here is some more from Chakravarti’s summary of the Kheturi preparation. This is not a pure quote as I have cut or edited here and there. I have highlighted a few points to comment on:
The big Vaishnava festival was held in Kheturi for several reasons. It would have been relatively easy for the Vaishnavas of East and North Bengal to attend the festival if it was held in Kheturi. The planners of the festival certainly attached some importance to the prospect of a necessary liaison with them. It was really necessary for the leaders of the Chaitanya movement to build up bases in North Bengal and East Bengal. It was expected that the festival would serve the purpose of an assault on the locally prominent Shakta cult. In Narottama-vilāsa there is a vivid description of the barbarous behavior of the local Tantrikas. They immolated human beings on the altar of the goddess, raped virgins and created a reign of terror.

Fifty messengers were sent to different parts …

Keeping Faith with Kheturi, Part II

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

In the accounts of the lives of the three second-generation saints, Shrinivas Acharya, Narottam Das and Shyamananda, we are informed right away that this was the situation: Shrinivas, especially, is described wandering from one holy site to another, hoping to get the association of one or the other of Mahaprabhu’s companions, and each time missing the opportunity by a few days or months. Though most of these near-misses were no doubt exaggerated, authors like Narahari Chakravarti and Nityananda Das are simply trying to tell us that Mahaprabhu’s associates were quickly disappearing, and that this was a terrible disappointment to him and everyone else. In their search for leadership and guidance, they eventually turned to Braj where Rupa, Sanatan and the other Goswamis had been diligently establishing a disciplined theology.

According to the Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Mahaprabhu instructed Rupa and Sanatan to write scriptures on philosophy and sad-ācāra, but clear…

Keeping Faith with Kheturi, Part I

I have been invited to speak at the Rupa Goswami Conference, which is held annually at Gopinath Bhavan (August 27-28 this year) as a part of the celebrations of Rupa Goswami's disappearance day and Jhulan Purnima. Manjari Tennant, the organizer of the conference, has asked me to speak on the Kheturi festival. I have written several articles on this subject, and even though I am a bit rusty on the subject and my research is far from complete [in fact I disagree with some of the things I wrote here], I thought alright, why not? As I did a bit of preliminary rummaging around, I noticed that this old article from Gaudiya Discussions is not on the blog. It is a bit long for a blog, so I split it into four segments. It looks like it is in serious need of some editing. I will try to do that before the conference begins.

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV



Most of the world’s major religions held councils that played an important role in their historical development. Buddhists held three signific…