Zitierweise | cite as: Amarasiṃha <6./8. Jhdt. n. Chr.>: Nāmaliṅgānuśāsana (Amarakośa) / übersetzt von Alois Payer <1944 - >. -- 1. Prathamam kāṇḍam. -- 1. svargavargaḥ. -- Anhang 3: Jogendra Nath Bhattacharya [যোগেন্দ্রনাথ ভট্টাচার্য্য] über Vaiṣṇavas (1896). -- Fassung vom 2017-05-14. -- URL: http://www.payer.de/amarakosa/amara101Anhang3.htm
Erstmals hier publiziert: 2017-05-14
Dieser Text ist Teil der Abteilung Sanskrit von Tüpfli's Global Village Library
Meinem Lehrer und Freund
Prof. Dr. Heinrich von Stietencron
ist die gesamte Amarakośa-Übersetzung
in Dankbarkeit gewidmet.
Falls Sie die diakritischen Zeichen nicht dargestellt bekommen, installieren Sie eine Schrift mit Diakritika wie z.B. Tahoma.
Die indischen indischen Schriftzeichen sind in Unicode kodiert. Sie benötigen dafür eine Unicode-Schrift.
Bhattacharya, Jogendra Nath [ভট্টাচার্য্য, যোগেন্দ্রনাথ]: Hindu castes and sects : an exposition of the origin of the Hindu caste system and the bearing of the sects towards each other and toward other religious systems. -- Calcutta : Thacker, Spink, 1896. -- 623 S. -- S. 414 - 479
It has been already stated that the Vaishnava [vaiṣṇava] sects are all of more recent date than the Sivite [śaiva] religion, and that the worship of Krishna [kṛṣṇa] has been gradually supplanting all the other cults in almost every part of India. According to the Shastras [śāstra] the great god Vishnu [viṣṇu] has, from time to time, appeared in this world in various shapes. Almost every one of the latter-day prophets have claimed the honour, with more or less success; but the right of Chaitanya [চৈতন্য, 1486 - 1533], Vallabhachari [శ్రీ పాద వల్లభాచార్యుడు, 1479–1531], &c., to be regarded as incarnations of Vishnu [viṣṇu], is admitted by very few outside the sects founded by them. There is, however, no dispute as to the following being the true incarnations of Vishnu [viṣṇu]: —
It is believed that Vishnu [viṣṇu] assumed
this shape in order to save Manu, the progenitor of the human race, from the
universal deluge. On account of his piety in an age of sin he was apprised of
the approach of submergence and commanded to build a ship and go on board with the
seven Rishis [ṛṣi] or patriarchs, and the seeds of
all existing things. When the flood came Vishnu [viṣṇu] took the form of a fish with
a horn on its head to which the ship’s cable was fastened.
To serve as a pivot for churning the
ocean with the Mandara [mandāra] mountain as a churning rod and the Shesha
[śeṣa] serpent as the
string for turning the same. The things recovered by this process were
many, including the Amrita [amṛta] or the nectar of immortality;
Laksmi [lakṣmī] the consort
of Vishnu [viṣṇu]; the jewel Kaustava [kaustubha] supposed to be the same as the Kohinoor which
now adorns the diadem of Her Majesty, and a deadly poison swallowed or rather
kept in his neck by Siva [śiva].
To rescue the earth from a deluge by
which it was completely submerged.
To deliver the world from the tyrant
Hiranya Kasipu [hiraṇyakaśipu], and to save his pious son, Pralhad [prahlāda], from being killed by the
father for his devotion to Vishnu [viṣṇu]. When the sentence was about to be executed
against the boy, Vishnu [viṣṇu] appeared suddenly from the midst of a pillar, and in the
man-lion form tore Hiranya Kasipu to pieces.
The demon Bali having become very
powerful, and having offered to give to every one what he wanted, the god
Vishnu [viṣṇu] appeared before him as a dwarf and asked him to give as much ground as
could be covered by three paces. No sooner was his request granted, than the
god in disguise began to expand his form till both
heaven and earth were occupied by his feet. To complete the promised gift, Bali
placed his head at the third foot of the deity, and the god was satisfied.
Parushu Ram [paraśurāma] is said to
have been a Brahman who caused the annihilation of the Ksatriya [kṣatriya] race
See the account in the next
See the account in Pt.
The elder brother of Krishna [kṛṣṇa].
The future incarnation whose appearance is promised at the end of the present age of sin for rescuing the land of the Aryas from the oppressors.
Krishna [kṛṣṇa] is regarded by some as the eighth incarnation, but according to the more orthodox view he was Vishnu [viṣṇu] himself, and was not a mere incarnation. Accordingly Krishna [kṛṣṇa] receives the largest share of worship from the Vishnuvites [vaiṣṇava], while of the other nine incarnations it is only Ram [rāma] who has regular votaries among those who are regarded as Hindus. Buddha has a much larger number of worshippers, but the Buddhists are not, strictly speaking, Hindus. The other eight incarnations have a few shrines in India, but they have no votaries specially devoted to their worship. Such being the case, the question naturally arises, why are they regarded as incarnations at all? The fact that the great god Vishnu [viṣṇu] is believed to have appeared in the form of a fish, a tortoise, or a boar, seems at first sight to be incapable of any rational explanation. The Hindu student of the European sciences might say that, in his descents on this world, the shapes assumed by God have been in accordance with the evolution of the species. But, admitting the correctness of the Darwinian theory, it is difficult to see why the god Vishnu [viṣṇu] should have appeared on earth in the forms of such animals as the fish, the tortoise and the boar. The orthodox might say that it is not proper to attempt at fathoming the depth of Divine Wisdom, but that amounts only to begging the question to some extent. If it be admitted that the Purans [purāṇa] are eternal, and that they have been sent to us direct from heaven, then alone the student of Hindu theology can be called upon not to be too inquisitive about the ways of Providence; but the probability as to the Purans [purāṇa] being human creations being very strong, it is certainly worth while to enquire whether they contain or not any internal evidence of their human authorship? If it can be shown that their framework is of such a nature as to be favourable to Brahmanical policy, then the inherent probability of their being the works of our ancient Pandits [paṇḍita], becomes too strong to be rejected lightly by any reasonable man. The stories about the ten incarnations do not at first sight seem to favour anybody. But, with a little careful study, it must appear that the whole is one of the cleverest devices that have given to the Brahmans the position of almost gods on earth, in the estimation of other Hindus. Upon going through the list of the incarnations, the student cannot fail to notice that of the four historical and human forms among them, only Parushurama [paraśurāma] was a Brahman, and that while Ram [rāma] and Buddha were beyond doubt Ksatriyas [kṣatriya] by birth, Balaram’s [balarāma] claim to the rank of even the military caste is doubtful. In matters relating to the political a affairs of the country, the Brahmans had pushed up the Ksatriyas [kṣatriya] to the utmost extent possible. When, therefore, Ksatriyas, like Buddha, tried to acquire spiritual supremacy also, the problem that presented itself before the Brahmans was how to make them powerless in their new sphere, without actually quarrelling with them. So the authors of the Purans [purāṇa] raised not only Buddha, but Rama [rāma] [rāma] and Krishna [kṛṣṇa] with him, to the rank of the god Vishnu [viṣṇu] himself. The Brahmans could not admit a Ksatriya to their own ranks. That would have been a dangerous precedent. The safest and the most convenient course was to promote the ambitious Buddha to the rank of a god, together with some other great Ksatriya heroes. The object of the whole evidently was to represent that, although Buddha did not admit Brahmanical pretensions, far greater members of the military caste had paid their homage to the descendants of the Rishis [ṛṣi]. The admission of Rama [rāma] [rāma] and Krishna [kṛṣṇa] to the rank of the gods not only took the shine out of Buddha, but served as an excellent basis for the invention of stories calculated to glorify the Brahmans, and to strengthen their position still more. In the Mahabharat [mahābhārata] it is stated that, at the Rajshuya [rājasūya] sacrifice celebrated by Yudhisthira [yudhiṣṭhira], Krishna [kṛṣṇa] accepted the menial office* of washing the feet of the Brahman guests.
* Sabhu Parva [sabhāparvan], Chap. XXXV.
In the Purans [purāṇa] it is stated again that the Rishi Bhrigu [ṛṣi bhṛgu] kicked at the breast of Krishna [kṛṣṇa], but that, instead of resenting at the violence, the god meekly inquired of the Rishi whether his foot had not been hurt in the process. In fact the Ksatriya Avatars [avatāra] served only to heighten the glory of the Brahmans in the same manner as the semi-independent Rajas and Nabobs [نواب] of India serve to add lustre to British supremacy.
The admission of Krishna [kṛṣṇa], Ram [rāma] and Buddha to the rank of gods might have enabled the Ksatriyas [kṣatriya] and the Goalas [goyāla] to claim at least a reflected glory, and to aspire to a higher position than that of the Brahmans. In fact the Ksatriyas of Oudh and the Goalas [goyāla] of Mathura [अवध] do sometimes actually claim such honour. The story of the ten Avatars [avatāra] therefore seems to have been invented by the Brahmans to be provided with a ready answer to such pretensions of the Ksatriyas and Goalas as are mentioned above. When a Ksatriya boasts of Ram Chundra [rāmacandra] having been born in his clan, or when a Goala boasts that Krishna [kṛṣṇa] was a member of the community to which he belongs, the Brahman, with his legends about the fish, the tortoise, and the boar, is easily able to silence his adversary by saying that God can have no caste, and that, if the fact of Vishnu [viṣṇu] having been born in Ksatriya families could be claimed as a source of glory by the Ksatriyas, then the very boars, which they daily killed and ate, would also be entitled to be reverenced in the same way. The story of the sixth Avatar, Parushurama [paraśurāma], is evidently intended to make the Ksatriyas entertain a wholesome fear regarding the latent military powers of the Brahmans. Parushurama was, in all probability, a historical character. But in giving him the credit of having twenty-one times annihilated the Ksatriyas, the Brahmans evidently magnified his prowess and his achievements to an extent which was neither necessary nor very rational. Annihilation can take place only once, and not twenty-one times. The orthodox Brahmans are themselves obliged to admit, when hard pressed, that the twenty-one annihilations mean only so many massacres on a large scale.
As most of the Vishnuvite [vaiṣṇava] sects are either Ram [rāma] worshippers or Krishna [kṛṣṇa] worshippers, it seems necessary to give a brief account of the historical facts and legends connected with the names of the two great hero gods of the Hindu pantheon. The story of Rama [rāma] is contained chiefly in the epic called Ramayan [rāmāyaṇa], which is one of the best works of the kind to be found in any language It breathes throughout a high moral tone, and furnishes models of conjugal fidelity and fraternal affection which have perhaps contributed in much greater degree to the happiness of Hindu family life than even Manu’s Code. The hero who forms the central character of the epic, was the eldest son of King Dasarath [daśaratha] of Ayodhya [अयोध्या]. His father had three wives, named Kausalya [kauśalyā], Sumitra [sumitrā] and Kaikayi [kaikeyī]. The two first were on very friendly terms, but Kaikayi entertained against them all the bitterness that a female heart is capable of bearing against a rival. Ram was the eldest son of Dasarath, and had three younger brothers, namely, Laksman [lakṣmaṇa], Bharat [bhārata] and Satrughna [śatrughna]. Rama [rāma] was the son of Kausalya; Laksman’s mother was Sumitra; and the other two brothers were the sons of Kaikayi. When the brothers arrived at the proper age for marriage, they attended a tournament in the court of King Janaka of Mithila [मिथिला], and the success of Rama [rāma] in satisfying the required condition of stringing a big bow, enabled him and his brothers to secure for each of them one of the daughters of King Janaka. After the return of the brothers, with their newly-married wives, to their home, King Dasarath announced his intention to recognise Ram, the eldest, as the heir-apparent. The necessary preparations were made for a great festivity; but when everything was ready for the due performance of the ceremony, all the arrangements were upset by an intriguing chambermaid who excited Kaikayi’s jealousy, and prevailed upon her to stand in the way of the wishes of the old king. In a fit of excessive love, he had once promised to Kaikayi to grant her any favour that she might ask at any time. The artful queen, instigated by her still more artful maid, now insisted that her son Bharat should be made king, and that Ram should be banished from the country for twelve years. The prayer came like a thunderbolt on the old king. But he was helpless. As a true Ksatriya [kṣatriya], he could not refuse to give effect to his promise. On the other hand, it simply broke his heart even to think of banishing his eldest and beloved son. He was completely in a fix, and could not arrive at any decision. But Ram insisted upon going into exile, in order that his father might not incur the guilt of a breach of promise. The great hero was followed not only by his wife Sita [sītā], but also by his loving brother Laksman. Bharat and Satrughna loved him with the same ardour, but they were obliged to remain at home for the sake of their mother. The old king did not long survive this sad turn of affairs. After his death Bharat went in search of Ram, and finding him on the Chitrakuta [चित्रकूट] mountain, near the modern city of Allahabad [इलाहाबाद], besought him, with great fervour, to return to the metropolis of their kingdom, and to assume the reins of Government as the rightful successor. Rama [rāma] performed the funeral rites of his father, but, for the sake of giving effect to his promise, he refused to comply with the prayer of Bharat. The loving step-brother returned home with a sad heart; but instead of setting himself up as the king, he ruled the country as regent, placing the sandals of his absent brother on the throne.
In their exile Ram [rāma], Laksman and Sita [sītā] passed through various places in Central India, and ultimately fixed their residence at Pancha Bati [पंचवटी], near the modern town of Nasik [नाशिक] at the source of the Godaveri [गोदावरी]. Here, during a short absence of the brothers from their cottage, the demon king Ravana [rāvaṇa] of Ceylon carried away Sita [sītā] by force. Ram secured the friendship of Hanuman [hanumān], Sugriva [sugrīva] and certain other heroes, represented in the Ramayan [rāmāyaṇa] as monkey chiefs, and with their help invaded Ceylon. There was a long and sanguinary war, the upshot of which was that Ravana was killed, and Sita [sītā] was recovered. She was then made to undergo a trial by ordeal which established her purity. The period of Rama’s exile having expired, he then returned to Ayodhya [अयोध्या], with Laksman, Sita [sītā], and some of his allies, notably his monkey general Hanuman. The joy of the whole royal family and of the people of Oudh [अवध] knew no bounds upon their getting their rightful king. Even Kaikayi [kaikeyī], whose bitterness had worn off, was obliged to apologise, and everything went on happily. But just at the time when Sita [sītā] was about to be a mother, Ram was obliged, by the pressure of public opinion among his subjects, to abandon his loving queen, and to send her to exile. The episode is a heart-rending one, and forms the theme of the drama called Uttara Ram Charita [uttara-rAma-carita]. In her second exile she was taken care of by the Rishi Valmiki [ṛṣi vālmīki]. She gave birth to the twins, who afterwards became distinguished under the names of Lab [lava] and Kush [kuśa], and are claimed as progenitors by most of the Rajput [राज्पुत्] Kings of India. After the banishment of Sita [sītā], Rama [rāma] could have taken another wife; but such was his love for her that he preferred to live the life of a virtual widower. To perform those religious ceremonies that require the association of the wife as a sine qua non, he caused a golden image of Sita [sītā] to be used as her substitute. The sons, Lab [lava] and Kush [kuśa], grew up to manhood under the care of their mother and the Rishi Valmiki. Ram admitted them into his house; but when the Rishi asked him to re-admit Sita [sītā] into his palace, he proposed that she should go through a second ordeal before an assembly of the chief nobles and prelates of the realm. As a dutiful wife, Sita [sītā] agreed to the condition insisted upon by Rama [rāma]. But when she appeared before the court of her lord, she refrained from doing anything to be readmitted into her position as queen, and instead, asked her mother-earth* to testify to her purity by opening up her bosom for giving her a final resting-place.
* Sita [sītā] is described in the Ramayan [rāmāyaṇa] as having been found by King Janak in the furrow of a field. Ramayan [rāmāyaṇa], Adi Kanda [ādi-khaṇḍa] Chap. 67, v. 14.
The story of the Ramayan [rāmāyaṇa] virtually closes with the miraculous but pathetic disappearance of Sita [sītā] underground amidst a shower of flowers sent down by the gods. The concluding chapters of the Ramayan [rāmāyaṇa] are apt to rouse a feeling of indignation in the reader such as a child might feel at seeing his mother ill-treated by his father. But whatever the first impulse may be to charge Rama [rāma] with cruelty and weakness, it is impossible not to take into consideration the long war that he waged for Sita’s sake, and the miserable life that he led during her exile. Even the verdict of the Hindu matrons, as evidenced by the indirect expressions of their highest aspirations, is in favour of Rama [rāma] having been the model of a loving husband. When an unmarried girl salutes an elderly Hindu lady, the latter, in pronouncing her benediction, will say, “May your husband be like Rama [rāma], your mother-in-law like Kausalya [kauśalyā], and your brothers-in-law like Laksman [lakṣmaṇa]. ”
The majority of the Vishnuvite [vaiṣṇava] Hindus are worshippers of the hero god Krishna [kṛṣṇa]. He is, in the belief of his votaries, the Supreme God, while the other incarnations, such as Rama [rāma] and Buddha, represented only a part of the great spirit pervading the universe. Krishna [kṛṣṇa] was not born in the purple, and never assumed the position of a de jure king in any of the countries which he virtually ruled; but, by his ability as a political minister, combined with his military resources, he came to be recognised as the greatest power in the country in his time, and his friendship was eagerly sought by the mightiest of the kings in Northern India. According to the Mahabharat [mahābhārata] and the earlier Purans [purāṇa], Krishna [kṛṣṇa] was the model of a great Ksatriya [kṣatriya] hero and counsellor. But the later Purans [purāṇa], while representing him as God Himself in human form, have connected his name with a large number of legends, depicting him as the worst type of a shameless sensualist, faithless lover, and undutiful son. These stories, though they have served the purposes of priestcraft in more ways than one, have not, in all probability, any foundation in truth, and might well be rejected by the historian not only as palpable myths, but as utterly unwarrantable defamations on the character of one of the greatest men that India has ever produced. In this work, however, some of these stories will have to be referred to, in order to enable the reader to form an exact idea of the doctrines and practices of our most important religions sects.
The Mahabharat [mahābhārata] is very nearly silent as to the early life of Krishna [kṛṣṇa], but the Purans [purāṇa] are unanimous as to the following particulars: —
The facts which make the life of Krishna [kṛṣṇa] particularly interesting are those that have reference to his connection with the Pandava [pāṇḍava] brothers. They were the sons of his father’s sister, Kunti [kuntī], and of King Pandu [paṇḍu] of Hastinapore [हस्तिनापुर]. Pandu died while they were all very young, and after his demise they remained for some time under the guardianship of their blind uncle, Dhrita Rastra [dhṛtarāṣṭra], who was the elder brother of their father, but had been excluded from the throne, on account of the law of the Hindu Shastras [śāstra] which renders blind, deaf and dumb persons incapable of taking any property by inheritance. At first Dhrita Rastra sincerely loved his nephews, and did not entertain any intention to have their claims overlooked for the benefit of his own progeny. But his oldest son Duryodhana persistently urged him to banish them from the kingdom, and after a great deal of hesitation, he gave effect to his son’s evil counsels. On some plausible pretexts they were sent to a country-house at a place called Baranabat. The building, which was given to them there for their residence, was, by Duryodhana’s order, constructed with highly combustible materials, and it was planned that the house should be set on fire at night. Yudhisthira [yudhiṣṭhira] was apprised of these wicked intentions on the part of his cousins, but instead of betraying any reluctance to comply with the orders of his uncle, he quietly went to Baranabat with his brothers and his mother, as Dhrita Rastra wished him to do. In due course the agents of the wicked Duryodhana set fire to the Baranabat villa. But the Pandava brothers effected their exit from it through a subterranean passage which they had caused to he excavated in order to be able to escape from destruction. The whole building was reduced to ashes within a very short time, and when the news reached Duryodhana he was filled with joy at the quiet removal of the obstacles to his ambition. The situation of the Pandava brothers was now a perilous one. They apprehended that their enemies having failed to bring about their destruction by meanness and treachery, would now have recourse to actual violence, and that, as they were in possession of all the resources of the empire, they had only to order what they wished. Yudhisthira [yudhiṣṭhira] with his brothers and mother, therefore, determined to remain concealed in the wilderness, and not to let anyone know who they were. For years they lived a very miserable life, roaming through the forests, and eking out the means of their subsistence by various shifts and expedients. At last it came to their notice that the great King of Panchala [pañcāla], whose power and resources were almost equal to those of the Hastinapore monarchy, was about to give his daughter in marriage by the Swayamvara [svayaṁvara] ceremony, the condition being that she was to be wedded to the person who would prove his superiority in archery by a public test. All the great princes of India were invited to attend and compete. The Pandava brothers saw their opportunity to emerge from their obscurity. They hastened towards Kampilya [कंपील], the capital of Panchala, and on the appointed day and hour presented themselves among the assembled guests, in the guise of Brahmans. The feat of archery which was made the test was, if not actually impossible, a very difficult one. Many of the most renowned princes present on the occasion wisely abstained from making the attempt, and the few who risked their fame, for the sake of the prize, made themselves simply ridiculous by their failure. At last one of the Pandava brothers, the renowned Arjuna, advanced to the centre of the arena, and his success in satisfying the condition was soon followed by the decking of his neck with the garland that the daughter of the Panchala King held in her hand. The Ksatriya [kṣatriya] princes assembled on the spot were greatly enraged at first at the triumph of a person whom they supposed to be a Brahman. But they were pacified by the wise counsels of Krishna [kṛṣṇa], and Arjuna with his bride, and all his brothers repaired to the lodgings they had taken up.
Krishna [kṛṣṇa], the hero god, was present on the occasion. He had never before seen the Pandava brothers; but he could easily make out who the winner of the fair prize, and the persons accompanying him, were. He surmised that, with the help of the Panchala King, they would, before long, be able to recover their ancestral kingdom. So he followed them, and introduced himself to them in the usual way. He prostrated himself before Kunti [kuntī], and also before Yudhisthira [yudhiṣṭhira], who was older than he. The other brothers were accosted as younger cousins. The Pandavas were still in a very miserable plight. Arjuna had secured the hand of the daughter of the Panchala King, but the five brothers with their mother were still in the condition of poor beggars. Krishna [kṛṣṇa] saw their situation, and immediately after the marriage, sent them very valuable presents. These were highly welcome to them at the time, and Krishna [kṛṣṇa] thus laid the foundation of a lifelong friendship with them.
The powerful alliance of the Panchala King, soon enabled the Pandavas to secure a moiety of their ancestral kingdom, with Indraprastha (modern Delhi) as their capital. Arjuna was then led to visit Dwarika, the capital of the kingdom founded by Krishna [kṛṣṇa] in Gujrat, and the opportunity was made use of to cement the friendship already formed by the marriage of Krishna [kṛṣṇa]’s sister Subhadra [subhadrā] with the great Pandava hero.
Up to this time Krishna [kṛṣṇa] did not seek to derive any direct advantage from his friendship with the Pandavas. But the policy which led him to seek their powerful alliance, and through them that of the Panchala Kings, soon unfolded itself. It has been already seen that Krishna [kṛṣṇa] was compelled by Jara Sandha to leave his native kingdom of Mathura, and naturally he was seeking for an opportunity to crush the mighty Emperor of Magadha. That opportunity presented itself when Yudhisthira [yudhiṣṭhira] announced his intention to celebrate the Rajshuya [rājasūya] sacrifice. According to the Mahabharat [mahābhārata], the idea originated in a communication which the Rishi Narada [ṛṣi nārada] was deputed, by the spirit of Pandu, to make to Yudhisthira [yudhiṣṭhira]. The nature of the message that Narada brought may he gathered from the following passages in the conversation that took place between him and Yudhisthira [yudhiṣṭhira]: —
Yudhisthira [yudhiṣṭhira] said: “ O great Muni, thou hast mentioned one only earthly monarch viz., the royal Rishi Harish Chundra [hariścandra] as being a member of the council of the king of the gods! What act was performed by that celebrated king, or what ascetic penances with steady vows, in consequence of which he hath been equal to Indra himself? O Brahmana, how didst thou also meet with my father, the exalted Pandu, now a. guest of the region assigned for the residence of departed souls. O exalted one of excellent vows, hath he told thee anything? O tell me all. I am exceedingly curious to hear all this from thee! ”
Narada said: —“ O King of Kings, I shall toll thee all that thou askest me about Harish Chundra. He was a powerful king, in fact an emperor over all the kings of the earth. And O monarch, having subjugated the whole earth, he made preparations for the great sacrifice called Rajshuya [rājasūya]. And all the kings of the earth brought at his command wealth unto the sacrifice. * * * The powerful Harish Chundra, having concluded his great sacrifice, became installed in the sovereignty of the earth and looked resplendent on his throne. O bull of the Bharata race, all those monarchs that perform the great sacrifice of Rajshuya [rājasūya] are able to attain the region of Indra and to pass their time in felicity in Indra’s company. O King of Kings, O son of Kunti, thy father Pandu, beholding the good fortune of Harish Chundra and wondering much thereat, hath told me something. Knowing that I was coming to the world of men, he bowed unto me and said: ‘ Thou shouldst tell Yudhisthira [yudhiṣṭhira], O Rishi, that he can subjugate the whole earth, inasmuch as his brothers are all obedient to him. And having done this, let him commence the great sacrifice called Rajshuya [rājasūya]. He is my son. If he performeth that sacrifice, I may, like Harish Chundra, soon attain to the mansion of Indra, and there in his Sabha [sabhā] pass countless years in continuous joy. ’ I have now answered in detail all that thou hast asked me. With thy leave I will now go to the city of Dwaravati. ”—Mahabharat [mahābhārata], Sabha Parva [sabhāparvan], sec. 12.
If the allegation of the deputation by Pandu's spirit be left out of consideration, as, on account of its supernatural character, it deserves to be, then the message must have had its origin either in priestcraft on the part of Narada, or in statecraft on the part of Krishna [kṛṣṇa], with whom Narada seems to have had some mysterious connection as principal and agent. At any rate, when Krishna [kṛṣṇa] was sent for and consulted about the matter, he did not fail to take the utmost advantage of the desire which was awakened in the mind of Yudhisthira [yudhiṣṭhira] to celebrate the Rajshuya [rājasūya] sacrifice. Krishna [kṛṣṇa] drew the attention of his cousin to the fact that so long as Jara Sandha reigned supreme throughout the greater part of the north-eastern provinces of India, the King of Indraprastha, with all his wealth and resources, could have no right to perform the Rajshuya [rājasūya]. To fight with Jara Sandha and bring him under subjection was out of the question. On the other hand, as a dutiful son, Yudhisthira [yudhiṣṭhira] could not give up altogether the idea of fulfilling the wishes of his departed father. He was therefore in a dilemma from which Krishna [kṛṣṇa] proposed to extricate him, by offering to effect the death of Jara Sandha with only the help of the two brothers Bhima [bhīma] and Arjuna. They set out on their mission in the disguise of Brahmans, and having arrived at the city of Giri Braja [girivraja = राजगीर], the metropolis of the Magadha empire, they easily managed to have an interview with the king. In the course of the conversation that took place, Krishna [kṛṣṇa] charged Jara Sandha with tyranny, and challenged him to fight a duel. The great emperor denied that he had ever been guilty of oppressing his subjects; but he was, for the sake of vindicating his Ksatriya [kṣatriya] honour, obliged to accept the challenge, and the result was that he was killed by Bhima. Thereupon the princes who had been held captive by Jara Sandha, were released, and not only they, but the emperor’s son, Sahadeva, paid homage to Krishna [kṛṣṇa] and to the Pandavas. Thus Krishna [kṛṣṇa]’s triumph over his great enemy was complete, and at the same time he laid Yudhisthira [yudhiṣṭhira] under a fresh obligation.
After these events, the Rajshuya [rājasūya] sacrifice was duly celebrated by the Pandava King, and for a time he was in the zenith of imperial glory. But, before long, he was led by the wily courtiers of his cousin Duryodhana, to stake everything that he possessed, in a game of chance. The result was that he not only lost his kingdom and his crown, but was obliged to seek refuge in the woods again with his brothers, and the queen Draupadi [draupadī]. At the time of their exile, Krishna [kṛṣṇa] does not appear to have maintained any communication with them. But when the period of thirteen years, during which Yudhisthira [yudhiṣṭhira] was bound by his gambling vow to rove in the forests with his brothers, expired, Krishna [kṛṣṇa] appeared in their midst again, and urged them to declare war against their cousin unless he consented to make over at least a moiety of the kingdom of Hastinapore [हस्तिनापुर] to them. Krishna [kṛṣṇa] himself accepted the office of ambassador to bring about peace. But whether his real object was peace, or whether he used his influence and opportunities only to involve the parties in war, are questions as to which there may be considerable difference of opinion. Even the bigoted Vishnuvites [vaiṣṇava] are sometimes obliged to admit that there was a little too much of diplomacy in the part that Krishna [kṛṣṇa] took on the occasion.
I need not refer to the other important events in the political life of Krishna [kṛṣṇa]. However interesting they may be, they do not come within the scope of this work. So I conclude this part of the sketch with some passages cited from the Mahabharat [mahābhārata], showing how exalted his position in the political horizon was in his time. The following is from the Udyoga Parva of the great epic: —
Yudhisthira [yudhiṣṭhira] said: —“ Without doubt, O Sanjaya, it is true that righteous deeds are the foremost of all our acts, as thou sayest. Thou shouldst, however, censure me after you have first ascertained whether it is virtue or vice that I practise * * * Here is Krishna [kṛṣṇa], the giver of virtue’s fruits, who is clever, politic, intelligent, who is devoted to the service of the Brahmans, who knows everything and counsels various mighty kings! Let the celebrated Krishna [kṛṣṇa] say whether I should be censurable if I dismiss all idea of peace, or whether if I tight, I should be abandoning the duties of my caste, for Krishna [kṛṣṇa] seeketh the welfare of both sides! This Satyaki, these Chedis [cedi], the Andhakas, the Vrishnis [vṛṣṇi], the Bhojas, the Kukuras, the Srinijoyas, adopting the counsels of Krishna [kṛṣṇa], slay their foes and delight their friends. The Vrishnis and the Andhakas, at whose head stands Ugra Sena, led by Krishna [kṛṣṇa], have become like Indra, high spirited, devoted to truth, mighty and happy. Vabhru, the King of Kasi [kāśī], having obtained Krishna [kṛṣṇa], hath attained the highest prosperity. O sire, so great is this Krishna [kṛṣṇa]. I never disregard what Krishna [kṛṣṇa] sayeth. ”
That the friendship of Krishna [kṛṣṇa] was valued also by the enemies of the Pandavas would appear clear from the following extracts: —
After Krishna [kṛṣṇa] and Valrama [balarāma] had both departed for Dwarika [દ્વારકા], the royal son of Dhritarastra went there by means of fine horses having the speed of wind. On that very day, the son of Kunti and Panda also arrived at the beautiful city of the Anarata land. And the two scions of the Kuru race, on arriving there, saw that Krishna [kṛṣṇa] was asleep, and drew near him as he lay down. And as Krishna [kṛṣṇa] was sleeping, Duryodhana entered the room and sat. down on a fine scat at the head of the bed, and after him entered the magnanimous Arjuna, and he stood at the back of the bed, bowing and joining hands, and when Krishna [kṛṣṇa] awoke, he first cast his eyes on Arjuna * * * Then Duryodhana addressed Krishna [kṛṣṇa] saying: — It behoveth you to lend me your help in the impending war. Arjuna and myself are both equally your friends, you also bear the same relationship to both of us. I have been the first to come to you. Right-minded persons take up the cause of him who comes first to them. This is now the ancients acted. And, O Krishna [kṛṣṇa], you stand at the top of all right-minded persons in the world and are always respected.
In the Mahabharat [mahābhārata], Krishna [kṛṣṇa] is depicted as a great warrior and statesman, and as a sincere reverer of the Brahmans. In some places he is spoken of as a god, but most of these passages are open to the suspicion of being interpolations. At any rate, the main burden of the story, so far as Krishna [kṛṣṇa] is concerned, is to establish that he was a human being of a superior type whose example every Ksatriya [kṣatriya] king ought to follow. That was enough for the political purposes of the Brahmans at the time when the religion of the Ksatriya Buddha threatened to supersede the Vedic faith and practices. The teachings of the Mahabharat [mahābhārata] and the Ramayan [rāmāyaṇa] virtually asked the Ksatriya rulers of the country to follow their great ancestors Ram [rāma], Krishna [kṛṣṇa] and Yudhisthira [yudhiṣṭhira], and not to attach any importance to the revolutionary doctrines of the son of a petty chieftain of the Himalayan Terai [तराई]9. The plan of campaign was eminently successful, and it is only natural that the victorious party, or at least their camp-followers, should have taken some undue advantage. The manner in which, in the case of Krishna [kṛṣṇa], man-worship has degenerated into abomination-worship, may be traced step by step. In the Mahabharat [mahābhārata] it is pure man-worship. In the Vishnu Puran [viṣṇupurāṇa] and the Hari Vansa [harivaṁśa], a tendency to make use of the great name of Krishna [kṛṣṇa] for corrupting the morals of men is clearly visible, though under more or less decent veils. But the Bhagvat [bhāgavatapurāṇa] and the Bramha Vaivarta [brahmavaivartapurāṇa], throw aside every kind of mask, and, in the most shameless manner, attempt to sanctify every form of debauchery, so as to enable the priestly class to gratify their lust.
The Krishna [kṛṣṇa] of the latter-day Purans [purāṇa] mentioned above has very little in common with the great hero of the Mahabharat [mahābhārata]. In the Bhagvat [bhāgavatapurāṇa] and the Bramha Biharta [brahmavaivartapurāṇa] the reader is called upon to admire and worship Krishna [kṛṣṇa], not on account of his having been a great warrior and political minister, but on account of his having seduced the milkmaids of Brindavan [वृन्दावन], by every kind of trick that the most wicked of human beings could invent. The chief object of his love was one Radha [rādhā], who, according to some of the authorities, was the wife of the brother of his foster-mother. The very name of this Radha [rādhā] is not to be found even in the Bhagvat [bhāgavatapurāṇa]. But, by an abuse of scientific terms which was as common in ancient times as it is now, she is represented by the latter-day Vishnuvites [vaiṣṇava] as the Prakriti [prakṛti] or the material basis of the Yoga philosophy, while Krishna [kṛṣṇa] is represented as the Purush [puruṣa] or the Supreme Spirit by whose union with the Prakriti this universe was created. In almost all the modern Vishnuvite [vaiṣṇava] shrines, an image of Radha [rādhā] is associated with that of Krishna [kṛṣṇa], and in Northern India there are very few temples in which Rukmini [rūkmiṇī] or any of the other married wives of Krishna [kṛṣṇa] are worshipped with him. The tales and songs connected with Radha [rādhā] and Krishna [kṛṣṇa] cannot, for the sake of decency, be referred to here. The reader unacquainted with them, and curious to know their details, must take the trouble to read the two modern Purans [purāṇa] mentioned above, and also Jayadev [ଜୟଦେବ/jayadeva, 11./12. Jhdt.], Vidyapati [বিদ্যাপতি, 1352 – 1448], Chandidas [চণ্ডীদাস, 15. Jhdt.], &c. According to the legends contained in these works, when Krishna [kṛṣṇa], by killing Kansa, became the virtual ruler of Mathura, he forsook not only Radha [rādhā] and the other cowherd women of Brindavan [वृन्दावन] whom he had seduced, but, in the most heartless manner, disowned even his foster-parents.
These stories form the theme of the most heart-rending songs and odes, and being much more intelligible to all classes of women, both young and old, than the wars and intrigues of the Mahabharat [mahābhārata], are much better calculated than anything else to enable the priest to acquire a hold on their hearts by awakening their tenderest sentiments.
Of the existing Vishnuvite [vaiṣṇava] sects, one of the earliest and purest is that founded by Ramanuja [இராமானுசர், 12. Jhdt.], who lived in the eleventh century of the Christian era, and was born at a place called Sri Perambudur [ஸ்ரீபெரும்புதூர்], 25 miles to the west of Madras [மதராஸ்]. The Sivite [śaiva] religion, which had been flourishing since the effacement of Buddhism in the eighth century, through the teachings of Sankara [ശങ്കരാചാര്യർ, 8. Jhdt.], was then in undisputed possession of the field, and, with perhaps a very laudable object, Ramanuja directed all his efforts to abolish the worship of the phallic Linga [liṅga], and to set up Vishnu [viṣṇu] as the only true god. Ramanuja recommended the adoration of Vishnu [viṣṇu], Krishna [kṛṣṇa] and Ram [rāma] together with their lawfully married wives Laksmi [lakṣmī], Rukmini [rūkmiṇī] and Sita [sītā]. Radha [rādhā] worship is unknown in Southern India. Images of Ramanuja, and of some of his leading followers, are provided with special niches in the Vishnuvite [vaiṣṇava] shrines appertaining to this sect. At Sri Perambudor [ஸ்ரீபெரும்புதூர்] the birth-place of Ramanuja there is a temple in which an image of the prophet is worshipped as the principal deity.
The personal history of Ramanuja does not fall within the scope of this work. According to the Kanarese [ಕನ್ನಡ]account of his life, called the Dibya Charitra [ದಿವ್ಯಚರಿತ್ರ], his father’s name was Kesava Acharya, and his mother was Bhumi Devi. He studied the Shastras [śāstra] at Kanchi [காஞ்சிபுரம], and it was there also that he first commenced to teach his religion. At a later period, he fixed his residence at Sri Rangam [ஸ்ரீரங்கம்], an island formed by the bifurcation of the river Kaveri [காவிரி] near the town of Trichinapali [தி௫ச்சிராப்பள்ளி]. Here Ramanuja composed his principal works, namely, the Sri Bhashya [śrībhāṣya], the Gita Bhasya [gītabhāṣya], the Vedartha Sangraha [vedārthasaṁgraha], Vedanta Pradipa [vedāntapradīpa], and the Vedanta Sara [vedāntasāra]. After completing these works, the author performed a tour through various parts of India, vanquishing the champions of the Sivite [śaiva] creed, and converting many Sivite [śaiva] shrines into temples for the worship of Vishnuvite [vaiṣṇava] deities. But by those proceedings, he created many enemies, and, through their instigation, he was threatened with such persecution by the king of his native country, that he was obliged to seek refuge in the court of Vetaldeva, King of Karnata. Vetaldeva himself was a Jaina, but his queen was a believer in Vishnu [viṣṇu], and partly through her influence, and partly by curing the king’s daughter from a malady which threatened her life, Ramanuja was able to convert him to Vaishnavism, The Raja built a Vishnuvite [vaiṣṇava] temple at Yadavagiri [ಯದವಗಿರಿ], now called Mailkoti [Melukote - ಮೇಲುಕೋಟೆ], about twelve miles to the north of Seringapatam ]ಶ್ರೀರಂಗಪಟ್ಟಣ೯]. Here Ramanuja lived for twelve years; but on the death of his persecutor, the Chola King [சோழர்], he returned to Sri Rangam, where he passed the remaining years of his life, and where his tomb is still in existence.
The philosophy of Ramanuja is popularly called Vishishtadwaita Vada [viśiṣṭādvaitavāda] or qualified non-duality. But, as a matter of fact, he believed in three distinct original principles, namely, —
Ramanuja was not altogether against self-worship as practised by the Sankarites. But, for the common people, he recommended the worship of images of Vishnu [viṣṇu]. Krishna [kṛṣṇa] and Rama [rāma].
The most important shrines of the Ramanuja sect are at Sri Rangam [ஸ்ரீரங்கம்] and Mailkoti [Melukote - ಮೇಲುಕೋಟೆ]. The shrines of Badari Nath [बद्रीनाथ] on the Himalayan slopes, of Jagannath [ଜଗନ୍ନାଥ] in Orissa [ଓଡ଼ିଶା], of Dwarika [દ્વારકા] in Gujrat [ગુજરાત], and of Tirupati [తిరుపతి] in North Arcot, are also said to be connected with the Ramanujite order.
The Ramanujites are called Sri Vaishnavas [śrīvaiṣṇāva], and they derive their designation from the fact that they worship Sri [śrī] or Laksmi [lakṣmī] as the consort of their god.
They are divided into two sects, called
The word Vadagala [వడగల] means the language of the North, and the word Tengala [తెంగల] is a corrupted form of the expression “Tri-Yumulaya, ” which means the language of the blessed saints. The Vadagalas, as their name indicates, give preference to the Sanskrit, while the Tengalas regard their Tamil [தமிழ்] translations as equal to the original scriptures of the Hindus.
Among the Vadagala [వడగల] exegetes the most renowned name is that of Desika [வேதாந்த தேசிகர், 14. Jhdt.], who was a Brahman of Kanjivaram [காஞ்சிபுரம்].
The chief authority of the Tengala [తెంగల], or the Southern School, is Manavala Mahamuni [மணவாளமாமுனி, 1370 - 1450].
The doctrinal differences between the two sects may, to an outsider, seem to be too trivial to account for the bitterness between them. According to the Vadagalas, the human spirit lays hold of the Supreme Being by its own will, acts and efforts, just as the young monkey clings to its mother. According to the Tengalas, the human spirit has no independent will, and is led by the Supreme Spirit, just as kittens are taken from place to place by the mother cat. Another difference between the tenets of the two sects lies in the view’s they take of the position of Vishnu's consort. The Vadagalas regard Laksmi [lakṣmī] as equal to Vishnu [viṣṇu] himself in every respect, but the Tengalas maintain that Laksmi [lakṣmī] is a created and finite being, and that she is to be worshipped only as a mediator.
The Vadagalas are the more aristocratic of the two sects, and have among them very few Sudras [śūdra]. Among the Tengalas, the plebeians are the predominating element, and they use the vernacular Tamil as the language of their ritual, very nearly eschewing Sanskrit which is favoured by the Vadagalas. The Tamil book of rituals compiled by the Tengalas is regarded by them as not inferior to the Sanskrit Veda. These circumstances may partially explain the bitter feud existing between the two sects. But the chief cause of their quarrels seems to be the fact that a former King of Madura [மதுரை] placed all the Vishnuvite [vaiṣṇava] shrines within his dominions in the charge of Tengala priests, excluding altogether the Vadagalas from the profits and perquisites of the ecclesiastical service.
The two sects have different forehead marks by which they can be, distinguished without any difficulty. The Tilak of the Vadagalas is like the letter U, and that of the Tengalas like the letter Y. In both a perpendicular red or yellow streak, representing Sri [śrī] or Laksmi [lakṣmī] the consort of Vishnu [viṣṇu], bisects the space between the arms, which are painted with the white magnesian or calcareous clay called Tiruman [திருமண்]. In addition to the mark painted on the forehead, the Ramanujites, both male and female, brand themselves like the Madhavas [mādhava], with the marks of Krishna’s emblems, namely, conch shell, and discus. Boys are branded after thread ceremony, at the age of seven or upwards, and girls are subjected to the rite after marriage. The branding is done by the family Guru with a red-hot metallic stamp, and forms a part of the rites which are performed by him when he communicates to his disciple the sacred formula that is supposed to cause his regeneration. In Northern India, branding is never practised, and the sacred formula consists of a few meaningless syllables. But among the Vishnuvites of Southern and Western India, the branding is the most important part of the ceremony and the sacred formula is either the eight syllabled mantra “ Om namah Narayanaya [ॐ namaḥ narāyaṇāya]" or the well-known verse of Gita [bhagavadgītā] wherein Krishna [kṛṣṇa] calls upon Arjoon [arjuna] to follow him implicitly in all things, and not to act according to his own sense of right and wrong. The Acharya [ācārya] clears a very handsome amount from the fees which are paid to him for his fiendish ministrations.
Of the Acharyas [ācārya] who have the privilege of practising the profession of Guru among the Ramanujites, some are the descendants of the chief disciples of the prophet. Gurus of this class are married men, and they live and dress like householders. The same privilege is enjoyed also by the superiors of the monasteries appertaining to the sect as, for instance, those of Ahobalam [అహోబిలం] in the Karnool [కర్నూలు] district, and Vanomamula in Tinnevelli [திருநெல்வேலி]. These spiritual superiors are Brahmans, and they minister only to Brahmans and the Satanis [సాతాని]. The latter are said to have been originally Sudras [śūdra]. But they minister to the low castes as priests, and sometimes claim to have the same rank as the Brahmans. The derivation of the name is not well known. Some say that it is a corrupted form of the Sanskrit word Sanatan [sanātana], which means primeval. ” Some of the lower class Satanis themselves say that they are so called because they are Sat Ani or 7/16 of a god. The following remarks are made with reference to them in the last Census Report of Mysore: —
What the Brahman Gurus are to themselves, they are to the non-Brahmans of their own persuasion. A certain number among them have taken to agriculture, but, as a rule, they are employed in the Vishnu [viṣṇu] temples as Pujaris [pūjārī], flower-gatherers, torch-bearers, &c.
The Satanis [సాతాని] have their own maths [maṭha]. But they are all married men, and it is said that in worshipping their gods they use wine, which is an abomination to all Vishnuvites [vaiṣṇava].
There are among the followers of Ramanuja a class called Dasa [dāsa] or Dasari [దాసరి]. Like the Satanis [సాతాని], these are of non-Brahmanical castes. They call themselves Dasas or servants of God, in fulfilment of vows made either by themselves or their kinsmen in times of illness, pain or distress. “ They are of various castes, and exhibit rather conspicuously "certain of the externals of the Vaishnava [vaiṣṇava] faith, and are much honoured by non-Brahmanic people on religious and festive occasions. The approach of the Vaishnava [vaiṣṇava] Brahman Gurus is heralded by them, and they head certain funeral and car processions, sounding their peculiar drums and trumpets. It. is also stated that they are active in converting to the tenets of Ramanuja the people of the inferior castes." Mysore Census Report, 1891, p. 288.v
The formula for accosting a clerical member of the Ramanuja sect is Dasoshmi [dāso 'smi] or Dasoham [dāso 'ham] literally, “ I am your slave. ” The mantra communicated by a Guru at the time of admitting anyone to his chellaship is a formula signifying “salutation to Narayana [narāyaṇa]. ”
The usual surnames of the Ramanujite Brahmans are
The last two are corrupted forms of the Sanskrit word Acharya [ācārya].
There are many big men among the Vadagala [వడగల] section of the Sri Vaishnavas. The late Mr. Ranga Charlu [1831 -1883], who was the Prime Minister of Mysore [ಮೈಸೂರು] for many years, was a Vadagala. The sect is represented in the Bar of the Madras High Court by such eminent Advocates as Messrs. Bhashyam Ayangar [1844 - 1908] and Ananda Charlu [పనప్పాకం అనంతాచార్యులు, 1843–1908].
In the observance of caste rules, as to the cooking and eating of cooked food, both the Vadagala [వడగల] and the Tengala [తెంగల] Brahmans are more puritanic than the most orthodox members of other communities. Sankar Acharya [ശങ്കരാചാര്യർ, 8. Jhdt.] required his mendicant followers not to touch fire, and enjoined that they should live only by partaking of the hospitality of Brahman householders. Ramanuja, who first set up an opposition, allowed his disciples not only to touch fire, but prohibited their eating any food that had been cooked or even seen by a stranger. Like the Sankarite monks, the Ramanujite ascetics wear cotton clothes dyed red with ochre. The householders wear silk and woollen clothes after bathing, and at the time of taking their midday meal. The Ramanujites use necklaces and rosaries of basil wood, though not to the same extent as the other Vishnuvites [vaiṣṇava]. Among the ascetic followers of Ramanuja there is a class who carry staffs, and are called Dandis [daṇḍin]. But they wear the sacred thread, and do not throw it off like the Sankarite Dandis.
Ramanuja [இராமானுசர், 12. Jhdt.] was a bitter opponent of the Sivite [śaiva] cult, and tried to suppress it altogether. The next great Vishnuvite [vaiṣṇava] teacher of Southern India, whose name was Madhwacharya [ಮಧ್ವಾಚಾರ್ಯ], and who was born in Kanara [ಕೆನರಾ] in the year 1199 A. C., was less intolerant of the phallic Linga [liṅga]. The worship of Krishna [kṛṣṇa] forms the predominating element in Madhwa’s [madhva] cult, but images of Siva [śiva] and Parvati [pārvatī] are to be found in the temples set up by him, and it is said that his chief object was to reconcile the Sivites ಕೆನರಾ and the Vishnuvites [vaiṣṇava]. The principal shrine set up by him is that at Udipi [ಉಡುಪಿ] in the South Kanara [ದಕ್ಷಿಣ ಕನ್ನಡ] District, Madras Presidency. Subordinate to the temple at Udipi, there are eight monasteries [ಅಷ್ಟ ಮಠಗಳು] in and near Kanara. The management of the Udipi temple, which is very ancient and largely endowed, is held by the heads of these eight monasteries in rotation for two years each. The Madhwas give the designation of heretic to both the Ramanujites and the Lingaits, the former being called Vishnu Pashandas [ವಿಷ್ಣು ಪಾಷಣ್ಡ] पाषण्ड, and the latter Shaiva Pashandas [ಶೈವ ಪಾಷಣ್ಡ].
According to the philosophical tenets of the Madhwas [mādhva / ಮಾಧ್ವ] the essence of the human soul is quite different from that of the divine soul, and they are, therefore, called Dwaitavadi [ದ್ವೈತ ೯ವಾದೀ] or Dualists. They admit the existence of difference between the Divine Soul and the Universe, and between the human soul and the material world. Consistently with their doctrine of Dualism, they do not admit the possibility of the kind of liberation called Nirvan [ನಿರ್ವಾಣ], which is held by the Adwaitavadis [ಅದ್ವೈತ ೯ವಾದ] to take place by the extinction of the human soul, and its absorption in the Divine Essence.
The Madhwas [mādhva / ಮಾಧ್ವ] paint their foreheads in almost the same manner as the Sri Vaishnavas [śrīvaiṣṇava] of the Vadagala [వడగల] class, the only difference being that the former have their central line painted black, and not in red or yellow as the Ramanujites. It has been already stated that the followers of Ramanuja are, when young, branded by their teachers with red-hot metallic stamps, having the figures of Krishna’s conch shell and discus engraved on them. The Madhwas are subjected to this kind of torture and degradation, whenever they are visited by their Gurus. A member of any caste may be a Madhwa; but only a Brahman can be a Guru or ecclesiastic. The Madhwa mendicants resemble the Saiva Dandis [śaiva daṇḍin] in every respect. Like the latter, they destroy their sacred thread at the time of their initiation, and shave off their hair at very short intervals.
They put on also red garments like the Sivites [śaiva], instead of the yellow and white garments usually worn by the other Vishnuvites [vaiṣṇava]. They imitate the Dandis [daṇḍin] to the extent also of carrying a staff and a water-pot.
Like the Ramanujites, the Madhwas are divided into two classes called
With regard to the latter, the following account is given by Mr. Narsimayangar in his report on the last Census of Mysore: —
This sect (the Dasakuta [ದಾಸಕೂಟ]) has been gaining some notoriety of late years, and its followers protest that they believe and practise the truths and philosophy inculcated by Madhava, and that they are not different from the main body of their fellow-Dwaitas, or believers in Dualism. It is asserted, moreover, by them that as nearly all their religious literature was in Sanskrit, which was unknown to, and unintelligible by, the majority of the sect, certain devout personages had several centuries ago, in order to benefit the more ignorant of their countrymen, rendered into Kanarese [ಕನ್ನಡ] hymns, songs, prayers, &c., in verse as well as prose, the tenets taught by Madhavacharya and amplified by his commentators. Their Kanarese religious literature is of considerable proportions, and among the authors are the well-known Purandar Das [ಪುರಂದರ ದಾಸ, 1484–1564], Kanaka Das [ಕನಕದಾಸ, 1509 – 1609], Vijaya Das [ವಿಜಯದಾಸ, 1682–1755], &c. The word Dasa [ದಾಸ] or servant is espoused by them as pre-eminently the servants God. This body of the Madhvas is styled Dasakuta, in contradistinction to Vyaskuta [ವ್ಯಾಸಕೂಟ], of which the members follow the Sanskritic style of rituals, &c.
Many of the Dasas are at the present day in the habit of going about with the tambourine and other musical instruments, singing Kanarase songs and hymns in honour of the Divine Being, and His manifestations in the Hindu Avatars. The sect presents much that is akin to the Tengali [తెంగల] division of the Sri Vaishnavas, especially in the pre-eminence that is given to the vernacular versions of the Sanskrit sacred writings, which remain a sealed book to the majority of the congregation. —Mysore Census Report, 1891, Vol. XXV, p. 61.
The success of Ramanuja [இராமானுசர், 12. Jhdt.] and Madhava [ಮಧ್ವಾಚಾರ್ಯ, 13. Jhdt.] in the South led to similar experiments in the North. Ramanand [रामानन्द, 14. Jhdt.], who organised the earliest of the Vishnuvite [vaiṣṇava] sects of Northern India, was very probably a Ramanujite in his early life, he is expressly described as having been so in the works of his school, and the story is confirmed very materially by several important coincidences between the doctrines and practices of the two sects. Both the sects call themselves Sri Vaishnavas [ஸ்ரீவைஷ்ணவம்], and the Ramats paint their foreheads in the very same manner as the Vadagala [వడగల] section of the Ramanujites. The most important point of difference between the two sects lies in the fact that the Ramats devote their worship mainly to Ram [राम] and Sita [सीता], and not to Vishnu [विष्णु] or Laksmi [लक्ष्मी]. The Ramats do not attach any importance to the observance of seclusion in the cooking and eating of food. They have also some other distinguishing features which are of a minor character. For instance, while the initiatory mantra of a Ramanujite is Sri Ramaya Namah [śrī rāmāya namaḥ], that of the Ramats is only Sri Ram [श्री राम].
Regarding the personal history of Ramanand very little is known for certain, excepting that, during the latter years of his life, he lived in Benares [वाराणसी] at a place near the Panch Ganga Ghat [पञ्च-गांगा-घाट]. Formerly there was a monastery on the spot, but it is now marked only by a terrace built of stone.
Unlike Ramanuja, Ramanand directly admitted the lowest castes among his followers. Of his chief disciples Kabir [कबीर, 1440 - 1518] was a Jolaha [جولاہا] or Mahomedan weaver, and Rai Das* [रविदास, 15./16. Jhdt.] was a Chamar [चमार] or shoemaker.
* From the name of this great disciple of Ramanand, the shoemaking caste generally designate themselves as Rui Das [रूईदास] or Ui Das [ऊईदास].
The religion of Ramanand, though originally adopted by only the plebeian classes, has now within its fold many high caste Kanojia and Saroria Brahmans. The Ramats are very numerous in every part of the Gangetic valley from Hardwar [हरिद्वार] to Rajmahal [राजमहल]. The deity, who has the largest share of their devotions, is, as already stated, Ramchandra [रामचन्द्र]. Some worship Rama [राम] alone; but most of them pay equal homage to him and to his wife Sita [सीता]. They have very large and richly endowed monasteries in almost every part of Northern India. In Bengal the majority of the Vaishnavas are Chaitanites [গৌড়ীয় বৈষ্ণবধর্ম]. But there are, in this part of the country, many Ramat convents too, and the Vaishnavas, who are to be found in or near Calcutta [কলকাতা] with the Trifala+ [त्रिफला] painted on their foreheads, are mainly Ramats.
+ Trifala is the popular name among the Hindustanis for the forehead mark of the Ramats consisting of three perpendicular lines, the central one of which is of red colour, and the two outer ones of white.
The clerical followers of Ramanand are divided into the following four classes: —
All these are supposed to lead a life of celibacy. The Acharis [आचारी] are Brahmans, and they enlist only Brahmans among their disciples. A man of any caste may be a Ramat Sanyasi [संन्यासी], Bairagi [वैरागी] or Khaki. The lower castes among the followers of Ramanand receive their initiatory mantra from these Sanyasis and Bairagis, and also from clerical Brahmans living the life of householders. There is considerable difference between the dresses usually worn by the three classes of celibates mentioned above. While silk and woollen garments alone are considered as appropriate for the sacred person of an Achari, a Ramat Sanyasi [संन्यासी] will wear only cotton clothes stained red with ochre. The uniform of the latter is not very expensive, but he shaves and dresses himself very decently like the Sankarite Dandis [दण्डी]. Among the Ramats there is a class called Khaki [ख़ाकी]९. These go about almost naked, smearing their bodies with ashes, and allowing their hair and nails to grow without limit. There is another class of Ramats called Bairagis [वैरागी] who dress in the same manner as the Vaishnavas of Bengal, putting on a small piece of rag to cover the loins, and having an outer piece called Bahir Bas worn round the waist. The Ramat monks of this order have generally a large number of nuns attached to their convents, with whom they openly live as man and wife. The Ramat Sanyasis and Bairagis are not very strict about the caste rules, and they will usually eat cooked food given to them by a clean Sudra [शूद्र] of any caste. The Ramats use necklaces and rosaries of basil beads like most of the other Vishnuvite [वैष्णव] sects. The non-Brahmanical Ramats accost each other by pronouncing “ Rama, Rama. [राम राम]” But when they have to address a Brahman, they use the usual expression “ Paun Lagi [पाँव लागी], ” signifying “ Thy feet are touched. ”
Mulluk Dasi [मलूकदासी]. —The Mulluk Dasis are also worshippers of Ram [राम] and Sita [सीता]. Their sect, mark is a single red line on the forehead. Their principal monastery is at the village called Kara Manikpore [कड़ा मानिकपुर] on the river Ganges in the vicinity of Allahabad [इलाहाबाद]. Monasteries appertaining to the sect are to be found also at Benares [वाराणसी], Allahabad [इलाहाबाद], Lucknow [लखनऊ], Ayodhya [अयोध्या], Brindavan [वृन्दावन] and Puri [ପୁରୀ]. Mulluk Das [मलूक दास, 1574–1682], the founder of this sect, lived in the seventeenth century. He was born at Kara [कड़ा], and ho died at Puri [ପୁରୀ].
Dadu Panthi [दादूपंथी].—This sect was founded by a man of a very low caste, named Dadu [ਦਾਦੂ ਦਿਆਲ / दादू दयाल, 1544 - 1603], who was originally a native of Ahmedabad [અમદાવાદ], but who subsequently settled himself at a place called Naraina [नारायणा], about 40 miles towards the west of Jeypore [जयपुर]. The followers of Dadu do not worship any image or any visible emblem of any deity. The repetition of the name of Rama [राम] is the only ritual that they have to observe. The Dadu Panthis do not paint their forehead, neither do they wear necklaces of any kind. The only peculiarity in their outfit is a four-cornered or round skull cap, with a tuft hanging behind. They are divided into three classes, namely,
The Jeypore Raj had at one time a very large Naga army. The Nagas make very good soldiers.
The chief monastery of the Dadu Panthis is at the place called Naraina [नारायणा] mentioned above. According to the authority of the Dabistan [دبستان مذاهب], Dadu was a contemporary of Akbar [1542 - 1605] [ جلال الدین محمد اکبر]. The followers of Dadu believe that he did not die like ordinary men, but disappeared from the world in accordance with a message that he received from heaven. There is a small house on the hill of Naraina which marks the spot from which he ascended to heaven. The Dadu Panthis ordinarily burn their dead, but the more devout express a wish at the time of their death that their bodies might be kept exposed in some lonely place in order to afford a meal to the jackals and vultures.
Ram Sanehi [रामसनेही]. —-This also is an offshoot of the Ramat [रामानन्दी] sect. The founder of this order was one Ram Charan [रामचरण, 1720 - 1799], who was born in the year 1718 at a village named Sura Sena [शूरसेना] within the territories of the Jeypore [जयपुर] Raj. He was at first a Ramat, but he soon became a staunch opponent of idol worship, and the persecution to which he was, on that account, subjected by the local Brahmans, compelled him to leave the place of his birth. After travelling through various parts of India, he ultimately settled at Shahapur [शहापुर], the chief town of the Tributary State of Shahapur in Rajputana [राजपुताना].
The Ram Sanehis do not worship images. Their religious services are to some extent similar to those of the Mahomedans. Five services are held every day in their shrines. In the morning the monks assemble first, then the male members of the laity, and last of all the females. Men and women are not allowed to worship at the same time. Of the two other services, one is held in the afternoon, and the other in the evening. Females are not allowed to attend on these occasions.
The Ram Sanehi mendicants are divided into two classes, called
The Bidehis go about completely naked. The Mohinis wear two pieces of cotton cloth dyed red in ochre. The mendicant’s water-pot is made of wood, and he dines from off a stone or an earthen plate. The monks, who lead a life of celibacy, are the men who usually officiate as the priests of the sect: but householders and females are eligible for the service. The Ram Sanehis are not only strict vegetarians and teetotalers, but they have to abstain from every kind of intoxicating liquor and drug, including tobacco and opium.
A Hindu of any caste may be admitted to the Ram Sanehi sect. The baptism is effected by the chief of the monastery at Shahapur [शहापुर]. The Ram Sanehis paint their forehead with a white perpendicular line. They shave their heads and wear necklaces of basil beads. When a man is admitted to the holy order, his name is changed, and his head is so shaved as to leave only a tuft of hair in the centre.
The moral discipline of the Ram Sanehis is said to be very strict. There are regular officers, attached to the chief monastery of the sect at Shahapur, who exercise supreme ecclesiastical jurisdiction over both the clergy and the laity, and who, when necessary, hold special courts for the trial of the delinquents. For controlling the morals of the laity, there are monks in every village who have jurisdiction to decide all petty cases. In cases of a serious nature, the accused person, whether he is a monk or a householder, is taken to Shahapur, and if found guilty by the ecclesiastical court there, then he is excommunicated, his necklace of basil beads being torn off and his bead being shaved clean. Thenceforward the convict becomes incapable of worshipping in any temple appertaining to the sect, or of joining any dinner-party given by any member of it.
The Ram Sanehi sect has the largest following in Mewar [मेवाड़] and Alwar [अलवर]. Members of the sect are to be found also in Bombay [मुंबई], Gujrat [ગુજરાત], Surat [સુરત], Haidrabad [حیدر آباد], Poona [पुणे], Ahmedabad [અમદાવાદ] and Benares [वाराणसी].
According to a popular classification, the Vishnuvites [vaiṣṇava] are divided into the following four sects: —
An account of the first two sects has been given already. The Nimats [नीमात] have their head-quarters at Muttra [मथुरा], and have a considerable following in the districts round that town; but they have no literature which they can call as their own, excepting, perhaps, the poems of Jayadev [ଜୟଦେବ, 12. Jhdt.]; and they are fast being thrown into the shade by the Chaitanites [চৈতন্য, 1486 - 1533] and the Vallabhites [శ్రీ పాద వల్లభాచార్యుడు, 1479 - 1531].
The Nimats were apparently the first to insist upon the worship of Radha [राधा] conjointly with that of Krishna [कृष्ण]. To this cult the Chaitanites and the Radha Vallabhites have given such impetus that there are very few Vishnuvite [vaiṣṇava] shrines now in Northern India in which an image of Radha [rādhā] is not associated with that of Krishna [kṛṣṇa]. The only Vishnuvite [vaiṣṇava] temple in Bengal in which Krishna’s married wife Rukmini [rūkmiṇī] is associated with him on the altar, is perhaps that of Rukmini Kanta Ji [রুক্মিণীকান্তজীউ] or Kantaji [কান্তজীউ] in Dinajpur দিনাজপুর].
The superior of the Nimat monastery at Dhruva Kshetra [ध्रुवक्षेत्र] near Mathura [मथुरा] claims to he a descendant of Nimbaditya [निम्बादित्य]. The Nimats, like some of the other Vaishnava [vaiṣṇava] sects, paint their foreheads with two perpendicular lines of Gopi Chandan [गोपीचन्दन]; but instead of having red lines in the interior like a Sri Vaishnava [vaiṣṇava] or Ramat, the Nimat has a circular mark of black colour within the space enclosed by the white lines of Gopi Chandana. Jayadev [ଜୟଦେବ, 12. Jhdt.], the author of the lascivious pastoral poem in Sanskrit called Gita Govind [ଗୀତ ଗୋବିନ୍ଦ], was, it is said, a Nimat.
The early Vishnuvite [vaiṣṇava] teachers inculcated the worship of Vishnu [viṣṇu], either in his original form, or in the forms of Krishna [kṛṣṇa] and Ram [rāma], in which the preserving god of the Hindu Triad had incarnated among men in past ages. In paying homage to these, the earlier teachers associated with them their married wives Laksmi [lakṣmī], Rukmini [rūkmiṇī] and Sita [sītā], respectively; and so the cults of the Ramanujas, Madhwas and Ramats were calculated to elevate the morality of their followers. Their systems could not, therefore, suit the policy of the later Vishnuvites [vaiṣṇava], who were led by their success to play bolder games. They had apparently the same objects in view as the Sivites [śaiva] and the Tantrics; but the phallic cults inculcated by the latter, though they became widespread, have very seldom yielded the particular result which they were meant to bring about. In any case, the Vishnuvites [vaiṣṇava] of the modern schools saw that they must invent some new machinery, if they were to encompass the same object. The Sivites [śaiva] called upon their followers to worship the male organ of generation. The Tantrics inculcated the adoration of the female organ. The plan of campaigning prescribed for the Saiva ecclesiastic requires him to maintain an attitude of passiveness and indifference. He may assert every now and then that he is Siva [śiva]. But he cannot go any further. The Tantrics, who inculcate the worship of the female organ, may proceed in a more aggressive spirit. But in their essential nature the Tantric and the Sivite [śaiva] cults being both equally indecent, their ecclesiastics cannot ordinarily dare to explain their true nature or claim worship for themselves as living Sivas. Their religions, being thus very imperfectly understood by the people, have very seldom served the purposes for which they were meant. They have led men to worship stone and clay emblems, but nothing more real. The Vishnuvites [vaiṣṇava] avoided all material indecencies, and sought to corrupt the morals of men and women, not by obscene exhibitions, or by claiming undue familiarity on the plea of performing religious rites, but by legends and songs which might prove effective even from a distance by appealing to the imitative spirit of both men and women. The idea was first conceived by the authors of the Bhagvat [bhāgavatapurāṇa] and the Bramha Vairarta [brahmavaivartapurāṇa]; but it was perhaps either Nimbaditya [निम्बादित्य] or Chaitanya [চৈতন্য, 1486 - 1533] who first made organised attempts to reduce it to practice.
According to the chronological data obtainable from the literature of the Vishnuvite [vaiṣṇava] sects, Ballavacharya [వల్లభాచార్యుడు] was the contemporary of Chaitanya [চৈতন্য, 1486 - 1533]. Both of them evidently followed some earlier teachers. Chaitanya [চৈতন্য, 1486 - 1533] was admittedly a Nimat [নিমাত], while with regard to the Ballavite sect, it is said that its original founder was a Brahman named Vishnu Swami, who communicated his doctrines to only Brahmanical ascetics. Vishnu Swami [viṣṇusvāmin] was succeeded by Jnana Deva [jñāna-deva], who was followed by Kama Deva [kāma-deva] and Trilochana [trilocana], and they by Ballabha [vallabha]. The Ballabhites worship Krishna [kṛṣṇa] in the character and form of Bala Gopala [bala-gopāla], or cowherd boy. In consonance with this method of worship, they originally fixed their headquarters at Gokoola [गोकुल], the place where Krishna [कृष्ण] passed the years of his boyhood as the foster son of the cowherd Nand Ghosh [richtig: नन्दगोप]. The Nimats and the Chaitanites exclude from their altar the married wives of Krishna [kṛṣṇa], and, for the purposes of their adoration, associate with him the milkwoman Radha [rādhā], who, according to the Bramha Vaivarta [brahmavaivartapurāṇa] and the later Purans [purāṇa], was the chief object of his attentions during his bachelorhood when he tended the cattle of his foster-parents at Brindavan [वृन्दावन]. The Ballabhites worship Krishna [kṛṣṇa] as a cowherd boy, and do not usually associate with him any of his consorts married or unmarried.
The Bala Gopala [bala-gopāla]] worship practised by the Ballabhites seems to be of an earlier date than the Radha [rādhā] worship favoured by the Nimats and Chaitanites. It is true that Ballava and Chaitanya [চৈতন্য, 1486 - 1533] were contemporaries; but the historical facts referred to above go very far to show that the faiths connected with their names did not actually originate with them, and if Radha [rādhā] worship originated with Nimbaditya, and Bala Gopala worship with Vishnu Swami, there can be no chronological objection to the view that the latter preceded the former. The positive evidence in favour of this view of their sequence is afforded by their very nature. The Bala Gopala worship is an innocent cult, the proclamation of which required no preliminary preparation of the ground. But Radha [rādhā] worship, though sanctioned by some of the Purans [purāṇa], could not have possibly been floated without very serious misgivings as to its ultimate success, and it seems more reasonable to suppose that Bala Gopala worship prepared the way for the introduction of Radha [rādhā] worship, than that this last phase of the Vishnuvite [vaiṣṇava] cult had come into existence at an earlier period.
Ballabha [వల్లభాచార్యుడు] was born in the year 1479 A. D. His father, Lakman Bhatta [లక్ష్మణభట్ట / lakṣmaṇabhaṭṭa], was a Velnad Brahman of Telingana [తెలంగాణ]. whose original home was Kankarkam, near Raipore [रायपुर], but who had settled in Benares [वाराणसी] some time before the birth of Ballabha. The prophet had his education in the holy city where his father lived, and, as a matter of course, became a great Sanskrit scholar at a very early age. At that time almost the whole of Northern India was under the rule of the Mahomedans, and the kingdom of Vizianagaram [ವಿಜಯನಗರ ] in the Deccan was perhaps the most powerful Hindu monarchy then in existence. Ballabha had a near relative in the service of King Krishna Dev [ಕೃಷ್ಣದೇವರಾಯ, 1471 - 1529], of Vizianagram, and was naturally attracted to the court of that great monarch. In all probability, the adventure did not prove very successful. At any rate, Ballabha could not make a permanent impression on the king or his courtiers, though, if we are to believe the accounts given of the prophet’s life by his followers, he vanquished in argumentative contest all the Sankarite courtiers of Krishna Dev, and made the king himself one of his followers. In the course of his peregrinations, Ballabha visited Ujin [उज्जैन], Muttra [मथुरा] and Chunar [चुनार], and the spots where he rested, in or near these towns, are still pointed out as his Baithak. During the course of his travels, he was on more than one occasion visited by the great god Krishna [kṛṣṇa], in propria persona, and directed by him to marry and to set up a shrine for him at Gokool [गोकुल]. He complied with both these injunctions, and his descendants for some generations remained at Gokool in charge of the temples founded by him. At a later period, the persecutions of Arungzebe [1618 - 1707] [اورنگزیب] compelled the then representatives of his family to leave Gokool for good with their idols, and seek for refuge in the Hindu kingdom of Udaipura [उदयपुर].
“When Arungzebe [1618 - 1707] [اورنگزیب] proscribed Kanai, and rendered his shrines impure throughout Vrij, Rana Raj Sing [राज सिंह, 1629 – 1680)] offered the heads of one hundred thousand Rajputs [राजपूत] for his service,” and the god was conducted by the route of Kotali and Rampurah [रान्मपुरा] to Mewar [मेवाड़]. An omen decided the spot of his future residence. As he journeyed to go in the capital of the Sesodia [सिसोदिया] the chariot wheel sunk deep into the earth and defied extrication: upon which the Sookuni (augur) interpreted the pleasure of the god, that he desired to dwell there. This circumstance occurred at an inconsiderable village called Siarh, in the fief of Dailwara, one of the sixteen nobles of Mewar. Rejoiced at this decided manifestation of favour, the chief hastened to make a perpetual gift of the village and its lands, which was speedily confirmed by the patent of the Rana. Nathji [नाथजी] (the god) was removed from his car, and, in due time, a temple was erected for his reception, when the hamlet of Siarh became the town of Nathdwara [नाथद्वारा], which now contains many thousand inhabitants, who, reposing under the especial protection of the god, are exempt from every mortal tribunal. The site is not uninteresting, nor devoid of the means of defence. To the east it is shut in by a cluster of hills, and to the westward flows the Bunas [बनास], which nearly bathes the extreme points of the hills. Within these bounds is the sanctuary (sirna) of Kuniya where the criminal is free from pursuit; nor dare the rod of justice appear on the mount, or the foot of the pursuer pass the stream; neither within it can blood be spilt, for the pastoral Kauai delights not in offerings of this kind. The territory contains within its precincts abundant space for the town, the temple and the establishments of the priests, as well as for the numerous resident worshippers and the constant influx of votaries from the most distant regions who find abundant shelter from the noontide blaze in the grooves of tamarind, peepul and simal where they listen to the mystic hymns of Joyadeva [jayadeva]. Here those whom ambition has cloyed, superstition unsettled, satiety disgusted, commerce ruined, or crime disquieted, may be found as ascetic attendants on the mildest of the gods of India.
The dead stock of Krishna’s [कृष्ण] shrine is augmented chiefly by those who are happy to barter “ the wealth of Ormus and of Ind” for the intercessional prayers of the high priest and his passport to Haripur [हरिपुर], the heaven of Hari. From the banks of the Indus to the mouth of the Ganges, from the coasts of the Peninsula to the shores of the Red Sea, the gifts of gratitude or of fear are lavishly poured in. The safe arrival of a galleon from Safala or Arabia produced as much to the shrine as to the insurance office, for Kanai is the St. Nicholas of the Hindu navigator, as was Apollo to the Greek and Celtic sailors. A storm yields in proportion to its violence, or to the nerve of the owner of the vessel. The appearance of a long-denied heir might deprive him of half his patrimony, and force him to lament his parent’s distrust in natural causes; while the accidental mistake of touching forbidden food on particular fasts requires expiation, not by flagellation or seclusion, but by the penance of the purse. — Tod’s Rajasthan, Vol. I, p. 553 et seq.
The shrine of Srinath [श्रीनाथ] at Nath Dwara [नाथद्वारा] is the principal shrine of the Ballabhite sect. Besides this, which may be regarded as their head-quarters station, they have seven other shrines within the territories of the Hindu Rajas of Rajputana [राजपुताना], and in the adjacent British districts.
The names and local habitations of these idols* are given below: —
* See Tod’s Rajasthan, Vol. I, p. 529.
All these idols are said to have been originally discovered by Ballava by some kind of miracle or other, and to have been set up for worship by him in or near Mathura [मथुरा] and Gokool [गोकुल], from whence they were removed to Rajputana [राजपुताना], at or about the same time as Nathji [नाथजी]. They are all in the possession of the descendants of Ballabha, who are venerated as gods by their followers, and usually called Maharajas [महाराज]. They are called also Gokoolastha Gossains [गोकुलस्थ गोसाईं] from the fact of their having been residents of Gokool before their migration to Rajputana. Of the five great Vishnuvite [vaiṣṇava] prophets of modern times, namely, Ramanuja [రామానుజ, 11. Jhdt] , Madhava [మధవ, 13. Jhdt.] , Ramanand [रामानन्द, 14. Jhdt], Ballabha [వల్లభాచార్యుడు, 1479 – 1531] and Chaitanya [চৈতন্য, 1486 - 1533], the first two are in possession of the Deccan [ದಖ್ಖನ್]. The faith of the third prevails throughout the greater part of Northern India, and while Ballabha has undisputed mastery over the western provinces of India, Chaitanya has very nearly the same position in Bengal [বঙ্গ]. Of the shrines appertaining to their sects, the Ramanujite temple at Sri Rangam [ஸ்ரீரங்கம்] and the Ballabhite temple at Nath Dwara [नाथद्वारा] are perhaps the wealthiest. Ramanuja and Madhava have the highest castes among their followers. Ramanand admitted within his fold both the high castes and the low castes; and while Ballabha, with an eye to the main chance, enrolled chiefly the mercantile castes, the Chaitanites never refuse their ministration to any one, however low or degraded.
The Ballabhites do not admit to their order such low castes as the Dhobi [धोबी], Mochi [मोची], Darzi [درزی] and the Napit [নাপিত]. The clean Sudra [शूद्र] castes, such as the Kayasthas [कायस्थ], the Kunbi [कुणबी], the Abhir [अभीर & अहीर], and the Malis [माली] are admitted as disciples by the Ballabhite Maharajas.
The Bala Gopala [बलगोपाल] worship practised by the Ballabhites is apparently innocent enough. But its inevitable tendency, where conjoined with recitations from Bhagavat [भागवतपुराण] and Jayadev [ଜୟଦେବ, 12. Jhdt.: गीतगोविन्द], is to develop into all the immoralities of the Radha [राधा] worship. At any rate, serious charges of that nature are usually brought against the Ballabhacharya Gossains, and were proved to some extent in the celebrated case of the Bombay Maharajas, which came before the Supreme Court of Bombay on the 26th January 1862. The following is an extract from the judgment of Sir Matthew Sausse in the above case: —
The Maharajas [महाराज] have been sedulous in identifying themselves with the god Krishna [कृष्ण] by means of their own writings and teachings and by the similarity of ceremonies of worship and addresses which they require to he offered to themselves by their followers. All songs connected with the god Krishna, which were brought before us, were of an amorous character, and it appeared that songs of a corrupting and licentious tendency, both in ideas and expressions, are sung by young females to the Maharaja, upon festive occasions, in which they are identified with the god in his most licentious aspect. In these songs, as well as stories, both written and traditional, which latter are treated as of a religious character in the sect, the subject of sexual intercourse is most prominent. Adultery is made familiar to the minds of all; it is nowhere discouraged or denounced; but, on the contrary, in some of the stories, those persons who have committed that great moral and social offence are commended. History of the Bombay Maharajas, p. 112.
The observations made in the above must, I fear, be admitted to be well grounded. But they do not prove that there is any immorality in actual practice. The corrupting influence of a religion, that can make its female votaries address amorous songs to their spiritual guides, must be very great. But the weapon, though devised with diabolical cleverness, must generally fall short of the mark. For the sake of maintaining his character for sanctity, and to avoid making himself too cheap, the Maharaja, has to keep himself at a distance and to he in a dignified attitude. For every act of condescension the Maharajas expect a regular fee, and that they could not. have exacted if they mixed too freely with their worshippers.
Their tariff is as given below: —
Whether the privileges of sitting with the Maharaja, or of being closeted with him, are ever sought by any one is a matter as to which I have no definite information. But. this much is well known—that, in order to maintain their dignity, the Maharajas usually keep their followers at more than arm’s length. In fact, a careful survey of the religions of the Hindus on the one hand, and their practices on the other, would lead any impartial and unbiased enquirer to the conclusion that the moral nature of the Hindus, as a nation, is, generally speaking, far superior to most of their religions. The cleverest devices of their prophets have therefore fallen flat upon them.
The Ballabhite method of worship is called Pushni Marga [पुषनी मार्ग], or the road of nourishing food. This name is given to the faith on account of its forbidding ascetism, and insisting upon the doctrine that the spiritual progress of the soul is possible only by keeping the body and its powers in a sound condition.
Chaitanya [চৈতন্য, 1486 - 1533], the founder of the Vishnuvite [বৈষ্ণব] sect of Bengal, which is now spreading in every direction, was a high caste Vaidika Brahman [ৱৈদিক ব্রাহ্মণ] of Nadiya [নদীয়া], the chief seat of Sanskrit learning in Bengal, and at one time its metropolis. He was born in the year 1484 of the Christian era. His father, Jagannath Misra [জগন্নাথ মিশ্র], was originally a native of Sylhet [সিলেট], and probably came to Nadiya, at a very early age, as a student. Jagannath was of the Bharadwaj Gotra [ভরদ্ৱাজ গোত্র]. and his family professed the Sama Veda [সামৱেদ]. Being a high caste Kulin [কুলিন] of his clan, and a very eligible bridegroom, a resident Vaidika Brahman of Nadiya gave him in marriage his daughter Sachi [সচী]. After his marriage Jagannath permanently settled in Nadiya, and was before long blessed with two male children, the eldest of whom was named Bishwarup [ৱিশ্ৱরূপ], and the younger, who subsequently became the famous Vishnuvite prophet of Bengal, received the names of Nimai [নিমাই] and Bishwambhar [বিশ্বম্ভর] from his parents. Bishwarup went away from home at a very early age, and died somewhere near Sri Rangam [ஸ்ரீரங்கம்] on the Kaveri [காவிரி]. Jagannath did not long survive the mendicancy of his eldest son, and Nimai, the younger, was for some time the only source of solace to his bereaved mother. It is said that he became a great Sanskrit scholar at a very early age, and his admirers go so far as to assert that he became the rival of the famous Ragunath Siromani [রঘুনাথ শিরোমণি, 1477–1547], the founder of the Nya [ন্যায / nyāya] philosophy of Nadiya [নদীয়া].
That he was a very clever scholar may certainly be admitted. But there are very strong grounds for questioning the assertion that he was superior to, or even the equal of, the great giants of Sanskrit scholarship that lived in his time. The ambition of every successful student of Nadiya [নদীয়া] is to be a professor of his own special branch of learning in his native town, and one who has the least chance of attaining any distinction as a teacher at Nadiya will never go to another part of the country to set up a grammar school. But, in the biographies of Chaitanya [চৈতন্য, 1486 - 1533], it is distinctly stated that he left home after his first marriage, and for a time set up a school somewhere in East Bengal. Whether this adventure proved successful or not is a matter as to which it is not necessary to hazard any conjecture. Suffice it to state that he returned home within about two years, and that he never thought of going back to his place of sojourn. At the time when Chaitanya left Nadiya for East Bengal he was only twenty years old. That was certainly not the age at which any one, in the ordinary course of things, ever has been, or ever can be, a great Pandit [পণ্ডিত]. When he came back to Nadiya, his age was only twenty-two, and, as from that time he gave up his studies, the story that he became the rival of Raghunath [রঘুনাথ] and Raghunandan [রঘুনন্দন] cannot be accepted as having any element of probability in it. As the most intelligent students of Nadiya are not able to finish their scholastic career before the ago of thirty, it seems that Chaitanya never attempted to study law or philosophy, and that his learning was confined to Sanskrit grammar only. In fact, in his biographies, it is distinctly stated, in some places, that his fame as a Sanskrit scholar rested only upon his knowledge of grammar.
During his absence in East Bengal, his first wife Laksmi Priya [লক্ষ্মীপ্রিযা] died of snake-bite, and he took a second wife named Vishnu Priya [ৱিষ্ণুপ্রিযা]. Up to this time he had evidently no intention of leaving home as a mendicant. In his twenty-third year, he went to Gaya [गया] in order to discharge the duties which, as a pious Hindu son, he owed to the soul of his deceased father. This pilgrimage shows again that, at the time of its performance, the son of Jagannath and Sachi had no idea of his being the great god Vishnu himself, for if he knew himself to be so, he could have no business to go to Gaya for offering pindas [পিণ্ড] at the footprints of Gadadhar [गडधर]. At Gaya the pilgrim became the disciple of a Sankarite mendicant, and from that time a great change came over him.
After his return to Nadiya, he very nearly gave up study and teaching, and organised the kind of religious exercise and singing called Sankirtan [সংকীর্তন] which was the main secret of the rapid spread of his faith. The Sakti [শক্তি] worshippers then predominated in Nadiya, as they do still to some extent. For fear of them, and of the Mahomedan Governor of the town, Chaitanya’s Sankirtans were at first performed in camera, in the house of one of his collaborateurs named Sri Vasha. At a later period Chaitanya [চৈতন্য, 1486 - 1533] ordered every one of his followers to celebrate the Sankirtan in his own house. The Sakti worshippers could not tolerate such uproar, and upon their complaining to the Kazi, he not only caused the musical instruments in one of the houses to be broken, but strictly prohibited the repetition of the nuisance. Chaitanya determined to set at defiance the order of the Governor. He organised three strong Sankirtan parties, and, at the head of one of them, marched to the very door of the Kazi s house. The gate had been shut up. But, in response to Chaitanya্’s message, the Kazi came out, and, before long, they became staunch friends. Chaitanya took the Kazi to task for his un-Mahomedan conduct in not properly receiving a guest at his door. The Kazi, thus put to shame, was obliged to apologise. The result was a sweet reconciliation between the parties which their co-religionists might now-a-daয্s study and imitate with advantage to all. After securing the friendship of th Mahomedan Governor of the town, Chaitanya carried on his Sankirtans with redoubled vigour. His mania for Krishna worship was now fast developing. He not only held Sankirtans, but organised an amateur theatrical party in which he himself played the part of Rukmini [রূক্মিণী], the chief of the married wives of Krishna. These proceedings made the condition of his young and impressionable mind akin to madness. As he was one day uttering, in a theatrical mood, the words, “O the milkmaids! O the milkmaids!” a Sanskrit student of the town took him to task for his eccentricity. At this his irritation was such that he actually pursued his critic with a stick. Thereupon the Sakti worshipping Pandits of Nadiya and their pupils got that pretext for persecuting him, which they wanted. When the young prophet thus made his native town too hot for him, he determined to leave it for good, and to enter one of the monastic orders founded by Sankara Acharya [ശങ്കരാചാര്യർ, 8. Jhdt.]. At this time he was visited by a Sankarite monk, named Keshav Bharati [কেশৱ ভারতী], who, after taking him to Katwa [কাটোয়া], caused him to be duly initiated as a member of the holy order to which he belonged.
The account of Chaitanya’s early life given above includes all the material facts, excepting only the miraculous portions. The circumstances that are referred to in his biographies, as the causes of his becoming a mendicant, are intelligible enough. Whether there were other causes or not to lead him in the same direction, is a matter as to which history does not furnish the necessary materials for a satisfactory answer. Admitting that his personal character was blameless, and that the only motive which actuated him was the supersession of the beastly cult of the Tantrics by Krishna worship, it is still difficult to regard him in the light of a great reformer. What he sought to abolish was bad indeed. But it cannot be said that what he gave in lieu of it was unexceptionable. We may well be grateful to him for enforcing teetotalism and vegetarianism among his followers. But to persons unbiased by sectarian feelings, there can be little to choose between a Tantric’s orgies, and a Vaishnava’s imitations of Krishna’s flirtations. The utmost that can be said in favour of Chaitanya is that he looked upon the illicit amours of Krishna in a spiritual sense, and that he never meant that they should be imitated by his followers for the gratification of their sensuality. But his whole life shows that though he was apparently mad at times, yet there was in him a statesmanlike genius which is very rare in this world. To suppose that he never could anticipate the results which are now found to arise out of the cult that he inculcated, is the height of absurdity. The veriest tyro ought to be able to foresee what the fruits of a tree must be that owes its existence to seeds supplied by the Bhagvat [bhāgavatapurāṇa] and the Brahma Vaivarta [brahmavaivartapurāṇa], Admitting that Chaitanya’s own character was a pure one, and that he could have no motives to reap any benefit for himself, it does not necessarily follow that he was not actuated by a reckless ambition to spite, at any cost, his rivals and persecutors among his fellow-castemen of Nadiya. For attracting followers, it was certainly quite as necessary then as now to hold out some inducements. And is there anything in the life of Chaitanya to show that his standard of morality was much higher than that of the secular rulers, statesmen and generals who are known to have sacrificed their principles for the sake of their party? If some of the greatest of generals have been capable of giving direct encouragement to immorality, in order to keep Tommy Atkins in good humour, a similar trick practised by a sect founder need not cause any surprise at all. The safest and most reasonable view seems to be that the prophets and incarnations that we have had were neither better nor worse men than political adventurers. When forced by necessity, both are capable of doing a great many things that cannot be justified on any principle of morality.
Chaitanya] admitted not only the lowest castes, hut even Mahomedans, among his followers. Three of his principal disciples, namely, Rup [রূপ], Sanatan [সনাতন] and Haridas [হরিদাস], were Islamites. Rup and Sanatan were originally Brahmans, but were apparently compelled to espouse Mahomedanism against their will. They held very high offices in the service of Hossain Shah [আলাউদ্দিন হোসেন শাহ, reg. 1494–1519], the then King of Bengal. They quitted the service of their king, and became followers of Chaitanya, with the view apparently of being re-admitted into Hindu society. Haridas was a poor Mahomedan who had suffered much by his heresy, and whom Chaitanya had to keep near him at all times for the purpose of protecting him from the persecutions of his co-religionists. To avoid offending the prejudices of his other followers, he kept Haridas at a slight distance. But there are various incidents in the life of Chaitanya which prove conclusively that he dearly loved the Yavana. At the present time, the Chaitanite teachers are never found to minister to any Mahomedan. But they do not deny the benefit of their services to any of the low castes that can pay them adequately. Even Chamars [চমার], Doms [ডোম], Bauris [বাউড়ি] and Bagdis [বাগদি] are sometimes admitted within their fold. Such action on their part may by some be regarded as evidence of a liberal spirit. But the same view cannot certainly be taken of their enrolling the unfortunates of the towns among their spiritual constituents.
Among the Chaitanites, as among almost all the other sects, there are both mendicants and regular householders. The leading men among the Chaitanite householders are the descendants of the immediate disciples and apostles of the prophet. They are looked down upon by the aristocratic Hindus as persons who live by trading on the rejected elements of pure Brahmanism. But some of them have almost princely incomes from the contributions of their disciples and the emoluments of the shrines of which they are the owners. The majority of the Gossains of Nadiya are descendants of the father of Vishnupria [ৱিষ্ণুপ্রিযা], the second wife of Chaitanya. These so-called Gossains [গোসাঈং] are not recognised as such in any authoritative work of the sect, and in fact they are Sakta [শাক্ত] Brahmans partially converted to the Chaitanite faith on account of its lucrativeness, but yet conducting themselves now and then as Sakti [শক্তি] worshippers, except when taking their parts in the service of the great Chaitanite shrine, of which they are the hereditary proprietors. Among the followers of Chaitanya, the highest positions were held by Adwaita [অদ্বৈত, 1434–1559] and Nityananda [নিত্যানন্দ, geb. 1474]. They were called the two Prabhus [প্রভূ] or Lords, while Chaitanya himself was called the Maha Prabhu [মহাপ্রভু] or the Great Lord. Adwaita was a Barendra [বরেন্দ্র] Brahman of Santipore [শান্তিপুর], where a large number of his descendants are still living. Nityananda was a Brahman of Rarhiya clan. He was a native of the district of Birbhoom [বীরভূম], and was, it seems, a Nimat [নিমাত] Vaishnava of the school of Jayadev [ଜୟଦେବ, 12. Jhdt.], who had his head-quarters in the villages of Kenduvilla, in the same district. It was perhaps Nityanand’s influence that made Chaitanya a Radha [রাধা]-worshipping Vishnnvite. Nityanand’s descendants are to be found chiefly in Calcutta [কলকাতা] and in a village called Khardaha [খড়দহ], near Barrackpore [ব্যারাকপুর]. Next to that of the two Prabhus [প্রভূ] mentioned above, there was a grade which consisted of six members called Gossains [গোসাঈং]. These were not all Brahmans. But their descendants are highly revered.
Among the so-called mendicants (Vairagis [ৱৈরাগী]) of the Chaitanite sect, there are both males and females. The males arc called Babaji [বাবাজী], and the females Mataji [মাতাজী]. The number of real ascetics among them is very small, if not actually nil. The majority of the Babajis and the Matajis openly live as husbands and wives, the only difference being that the former dress like ascetics, and the latter like widows. Some of the Babajis pretend to be Brikat, or men disgusted with the world. But these are generally the men who are most notorious for profligacy. They live in monasteries, and affect such hatred of the female class that they cook their food with their own hands, and do not allow any member of the softer sex to enter their kitchens. But the vow of celibacy is against nature, and it need hardly be observed that very few are able to maintain it.
The Chaitanites are teetotalers and very inoffensive people. The poorer among the mendicants live by begging a handful of rice from door to door. There are a few among the ascetics who have rich disciples, and have incomes on which they can manage to live decently. These men spend a large part of what they earn in building and improving monasteries, and in feeding pilgrims. Sometimes they happen to have very rich men among their guests, and these not un-often make very liberal contributions to their monasteries. In Nadiya [নদীয়া], the birthplace of Chaitanya, there are several very flourishing monasteries where the Vishnuvite pilgrims and sojourners are treated as honoured guests, and provided with both food and shelter. The Superiors of these establishments have a very high position in their sect, though the alien rulers of the country have been led somehow to treat them as lodging house-keepers, and to subject them to a tax as such. The humiliation is felt by them very keenly, and it is much to be regretted that these leading Divines of one of the most important sects in India should be so treated for a paltry revenue of about £40 per annum.
The majority of the Chaitanite Babajis are of the clean Sudra [শূদ্র] castes, the Kayasthas [কাযস্থ] among them having generally the highest position, however much they may profess equality. The male element of the monastic orders consist to some extent of childless persons and persons who have suffered such bereavements as to make their life a burden to them. These are generally the most respectable members in their community. There are among them many bad characters too. If proper enquiries be made, it may appear that they have in their society many ex-convicts, criminals who have eluded the pursuit of the police, and persons who have been excommunicated by their castemen for unholy love-making. The ranks of the Chaitanites, as of many other sects, are swelled also by bachelors and widowers unable to get a bride for marriage in orthodox form.
The Chaitanite nuns are recruited chiefly from the superannuated unfortunates of the towns. The order is joined also by some of the unchaste widows of the lower classes.
The dress of the Chaitanite monks consists of the usual lenguti and girdle, with a bahir vas or outer garment, which is a piece of cotton cloth without border and about two yards in length. The bahir bas [বহির বাস] is sometimes dyed yellow by means of turmeric. But generally the garments of the Chaitanite monks are of white colour. Their dress, however, does not give to them the respectable appearance that is imparted by the red garments of the Sankarite Dandis [daṇḍin] and Parama Hansas [paramahaṁsa]. The Chaitanites have great regard for the basil plant, and not only are their necklaces and rosaries made of basil beads, but they eat basil leaves with every article of food and drink.
The Chaitanites paint their foreheads, in different manners, according to the directions of their teachers. There are always the usual perpendicular lines of the Vishnuvite. But at the bottom there is something like a bamboo leaf or basil leaf. The usual painting material is the faint yellow of Gopi Chandan [গোপীচন্দন]. The Chaitanites paint not only their foreheads, but several other parts of their body. They do not brand themselves like the Ramanujites or the Madhavites. But by means of engraved metallic stamps immersed in a solution of Gopi Chandan, they imprint daily on their arms and breasts the names of their deities. By such odd demonstrations of their devoutness, and especially by painting the name “Gora” [গোরা] on their arms and body, they make themselves the butt of a great deal of' ridicule. The word Gora is a corrupted form of the Sanskrit word “goura [gaura],” which means yellow, and is not only one of the many names of Chaitanya, but is applied also to the English soldiers of the British Indian Army, as contra-distinguished from the Kala [কাল] or the black sepoy soldiers. From this double sense of the word Gora, the point of the joke that is usually cracked, at the cost of a painted Chaitanite, may be easily understood. As the Highland regiments are called Nangta Gora [নগ্ন গোরা] in India, a Brahman wag would ask the Babaji to paint that expression on his body, instead of having on it the word Gora alone unqualified by the adjective Nangta [নগ্ন] or naked.
Of all the great teachers of the world no one has done more to popularize religion than Chaitanya [চৈতন্য, 1486 - 1533]. As, on the one hand, a Chaitanite teacher need not either be a scholar or an eloquent speaker, so, on the other, anybody may at any time, and at any place, practise the cult. The operation is simplicity itself. The devout Chaitanite need not have a priest by his side for performing his worship. He has only to paint his body and to count his beads. The business does not require any elaborate preparation, or knowledge of Sanskrit liturgy. The painting materials and the rosary of the Chaitanite are all his stock-in-trade, and these are so cheap and so handy that, the poorest can afford to have them by his side at all times. The most potent engine invented by Chaitanya for spreading his religion is the musical procession called Sankirtan [সংকীর্তন]. The Hindu temples are places for silently offering flowers, money and other acceptable presents to the presiding deities. In no Hindu town is there any such place as a Christian church, or a Mahomedan mosque, where a priest might deliver a sermon. Then, again, to attract an audience by an impressive speech requires a kind of power which is very rare. But a Sankirtan party for patrolling the streets may be organised without any difficulty, and is generally far more effective than a sermon, however eloquent.
Chaitanya’s object, like that of Buddha, was to attract an army of followers anyhow. But the prophet of Nadiya adopted a method which was far better calculated to serve his purpose than that of any other religious leader, ancient or modern. Buddha neglected the laity, and preached a religion which was very far from being intelligible to ordinary men. Chaitanya taught that Bhakti [ভক্তি], or fervent devotion, was the only road towards God, and that Bhakti was of the following kinds: —
Chaitanya recommended Radha [রাধা] worship, and taught that the best form of devotion was that which Radha, as the beloved mistress of Krishna [কৠষ্ণ], felt for him. Chaitanya’s cult is therefore called the Bhakti marga [ভক্তিমার্গ], or the road of fervent devotion, as contra-distinguished from the Jnan marga [জ্ঞানমার্গ] of the learned Sanskritists, the Yoga marga [যোগমার্গ] of the poor illiterate Yogis, the Karma marga [কর্মমার্গ] of the priestly Brahmans, and the Pushni marga [পুষ্ণী মার্গ] of the Ballavites. To persons incapable of cherishing such feelings, Chaitanya recommended the repeated utterance of the names of Krishna and Radha. Such practice gives an occupation to votaries not inclined to think or work hard, and enables them to obtain a high character for piety at a very little cost.
The most important feature in Chaitanya’s cult is the rejection of esoteric methods. The great Vishnuvite prophet of Bengal does not ask his followers to conceal anything, or to pretend to be what they are not. In these respects the Chaitanite cult differs very materially from the Tantric faith.
Before the time of Chaitanya [চৈতন্য, 1486 - 1533], Mathura [मथुरा] was the chief centre of Krishna worship, and Brindavan [वृन्दावन], the scene of Krishna’s flirtations with the milk-maids, was actually a forest. Chaitanya, with his followers Rup [রূপ] and Sanatan [সনাতন], not only reclaimed that place, but after identifying the sacred spots in it which are specially named in the Purans [purāṇa], caused those big shrines to be built which formed the nucleus for the town that the place has now developed into.
In the birthplace of Chaitanya [চৈতন্য, 1486 - 1533], a temple for worshipping his image was set up, it is said, in his lifetime, by his second wife, Vishnu Priya Devi [ৱিষ্ণুপ্রিযা দেৱী]. The temple itself was washed away, at the end of the last century, by the adjoining river Bhagirathi [भागीरथी]. But the image had perhaps become valuable property, and was preserved by the descendants of Vishnu Priya’s father, although they were then staunch Saktas. During the palmy days of the Sakta Rajas of Nadiya, the idol had, however, to bo kept concealed. But when the celebrated Ganga Govind Sing [গাংগাগোৱিন্দ সিংহ] became, by the favour of Hastings, the most powerful man in the country, he successfully prevented the Nadiya Rajas from persecuting the Chaitanites. A splendid shrine was built for the old image which had been, for a long time, kept concealed by the Gossains. Other shrines sprang up rapidly, and the Chaitanites are now about to be numerically the predominating element in the population of Nadiya. Ganga Govind himself built some splendid temples in the suburban village of Ram Chandrapore [রামচন্দ্রপু্র] to the north-west of the present town. But these temples were washed away by the Bhagirathi in the time of Lala Babu, the grandson of Ganga Govinda. Lala Babu made himself famous by becoming a Chaitanite mendicant. But instead of attempting to build new temples in or near Nadiya, he adopted the more ambitious programme of making Brindavan [वृन्दावन] his head-quarters. He built a magnificent temple there, and, by affecting a zeal for restoring to the locality its primeval condition, he managed to acquire, free of charge, almost all the villages which formed the scene of Krishna’s sports. Nadiya has since then been neglected by the descendants of Ganga Govind. But, even without their patronage, the Chaitanite cult is now, under the aegis of British rule, flourishing in its birthplace. The saying that a prophet is never honoured in his own country enshrines an eternal truth, although it sounds somewhat paradoxical. But it is only a particular case of the obvious truth embodied in the adage which says that no man can be a hero to his valet de chambre. Nearly four hundred years have passed since Chaitanya left Nadiya for good. His highest ambition at that time was, according to his biographers, to make himself entitled to be treated with respect by the Brahmans of his native town. The Nadiya people, from generation to generation, continued to hate him. But just now there is a turn in the tide. The large incomes cleared by the owners of the Chaitanite shrines, have opened the eyes of the Sakta Brahmans of the town to the advantages of the new cult, and already a good many of them are to be found with necklaces of basil wood on their necks to denote that they are Chaitanites in faith. Some of these new converts have already opened Chaitanite shrines, and if these become successful, as they now promise to be, there are likely to be more converts and more Chaitanite shrines. If the great prophet could now visit his birthplace, he might not yet receive that homage from his fellow-castemen which was the highest object of his ambition at the beginning of his ministry. But what he would find would far exceed his most sanguine expectations. The sect that he organised has developed into a gigantic body which threatens to throw into shade the representatives of his old enemies, if not to make them all humble followers.
The Swami Narayan sect [સ્વામિનારાયણ સંપ્રદાયના], which is fast gaining ground in Gujrat [ગુજરાત], was founded by a Brahman of Rohilkhand [रोहिलखंड], who was apparently a Sankarite ascetic in his youth. His monastic name was Sahajanand [સહજાનન્દ], but he is now known by the name of Swami Narayan [સ્વામિનારાયણ, 1781 – 1830], which ho took up when he set himself up as a Vishnuvite [વૈષ્ણવ] teacher. He left his home in the year 1800, and, in the course of his peregrinations, repaired to Gujrat, with the object apparently of visiting the places of pilgrimage in the province. While there, he was led to place himself under a Guru, named Ramanand Swami [રામાનંદ સ્વામી], with whom he resided for some time in Junagarh [જુનાગઢ], and afterwards at Ahmedabad [અમદાવાદ]. At the latter place, Sahajanand, by his learning and fascinating manners, drew round himself such a large army of disciples as to excite the jealousy of the local Brahmans and magnates. To avoid being persecuted by them, he removed to the village of Jetalpur, twelve miles to the south of Ahmedabad. Even here he was not allowed to remain in peace. On the pretence that there might be a collision between his followers and the other Hindus of the locality, he was arrested by the officials of the Gaikwar [गायकवाड] and thrown into prison. This unjust and cruel treatment roused popular sympathy in his favour, and served only to increase his influence. Verses were published extolling his merits, and pronouncing curses against his persecutors. The result was that they were before long obliged to release him. Thereupon he retired with his followers to Wartal, then a small village, now a town, in the Kaira [ખેડા] District of the Bombay Presidency. He had now arrived at the stage in his prophetic career, when it was necessary for him to build some temples and convents for giving a local habitation and footing to his cult. His popularity and fame were then at their height, and there could not be any difficulty in raising the necessary funds.
The religion of Swami Narayan is a mixture of Laksmi [લક્ષ્મી] worship and Radha [રાધા] worship, as would appear from the fact that of his two principal temples at Wartal, one is dedicated to Narayan [નરાયણ] and Laksmi [લક્ષ્મી], and the other to Radha [રાધા] and Krishna [કૃષ્ણ]. The worship of Krishna, in his character of Ranchor [રણછોડ] or fight-quitter, being very common in Gujrat, an image of the deity, representing the part that he played in quitting Mathura [मथुरा] is associated with those of Laksmi and Narayan in the principal shrine. An image of Swami Narayan himself is similarly associated with those of Krishna and Radha in the second temple. The town of Ahmedabad [અમદાવાદ] has also similar shrines of the Swami sect. In the Vallabhite sect, the Swami had very powerful enemies to deal with. Their power was so firmly established that it was no easy work to oust them, or even to attain a position of rivalry by their side. The Swami, therefore, proceeded very cautiously, and the same spirit still characterises not only his representatives at Wartal and Ahmedabad, but also his monks. The result is that though the Vallabhacharis have not yet lost much of the ground appropriated by them, and are yet in full possession of the middle classes, including the Baniyas [બનિયા]., the Kunbis [કુણબી], the Ahirs [આહિર] and the Kayasths [કાયસ્થ], yet the superior morality of the Swami Narayan has seriously undermined the power of the Maharajas, and there are signs that their influence is waning. The Swami Narayan sect is, on the contrary, in the full vigour of youthful growth. The middle classes being in the possession of the Vallabhites, the Swami, from the necessity of his position, was obliged to admit to his faith the low castes such as the Dhobi [ધોબી], the Mochi [મોચી], the Darzi [درزی] and the Napit [નાપિત], who were rejected by the Vallabhites. But the Swami did not, on that account, fall very low in the estimation of his countrymen. He maintained his dignity by keeping the unclean castes at arm’s length, and by ordaining that nowhere, except in Jagannath [જગન્નાથ], shall cooked food or water be accepted from them, though it he the remains of an offering to Krishna. Thus, while the Swami secured for his sect the adhesion of the low castes, he succeeded in maintaining for it a character for respectability that rendered it possible to attract followers from even the highest castes. The total strength of the sect is at present about 200,000 souls. But the rule being that every person admitted to it should try to bring in at least six others, its number is fast increasing. As in almost every other Hindu sect, there are among the followers of Swami two classes of men, namely, mendicants and householders. The number of mendicants exceeds 1,000. They are bound by their vows to live a life of celibacy. They serve as missionaries, and, in their proselytizing work, usually itinerate in pairs to cheer, support and watch each other. While at head-quarters they live in the convents attached to their shrines. They have a regular manual of instructions and moral precepts which they distribute among the people in the manner of the Christian missionaries.
The Swami Narayanis are required to wear two rosaries made of basil stems, one for Krishna and the other for Radha. The forehead mark of the sect is like the letter U with a circular spot in the centre representing Teeka. The females have to paint a circular mark with red powder of saffron. The mendicants of the sect wear the salmon-coloured dress of ascetics.
Bishop Heber [1783 – 1826], in the course of one of his tours in Western India, had an interview with Swami Narayan, and the following is an extract from the interesting account that he has left of it: —
About eleven o’clock, I had the expected visit, from Svami-Narayana [સ્વામિનારાયણ]. The holy man was a middle-sized, thin, plain-looking person, about my own age, with a mild and diffident expression of countenance, but nothing about him indicative of any extraordinary talent. Me came in somewhat different style from all I had expected, having with him nearly two hundred horsemen. When I considered that I had myself an escort of more than fifty horse I could not help smiling, though my sensations were in some degree painful and humiliating at the idea of two religious teachers meeting at the head of little armies, and filling the city which was the scene of this interview with the rattling of quivers, the clash of shields, and the tramp of the war-horse. Had our troops been opposed to each other, mine, though less numerous, would have been doubtless far more effective, from the superiority of arms and discipline. But in moral grandeur what a difference there was between his troops and mine! Mine neither knew me nor cared for me, though they escorted me faithfully. The guards of Svami-Narayana were his own disciples and enthusiastic admirers, men who had voluntarily repaired to near his lessons, who now took a pride in doing him honour, and who would cheerfully fight to the last drop of blood rather than suffer a fringe of his garment to be handled roughly. In my own parish of Hodnet there were once, perhaps, a few honest countrymen who felt something like this for me, but how long a time must elapse before a Christian Minister in India can hope tone thus loved and honoured? —Chap. XXV.
The name of Mira Bai [मीराबाई, 1498 - 1546] is highly revered among the Vishnuvites [वैष्णव] of Western India, and especially among the Vallabhites [శ్రీ పాద వల్లభాచార్యుడు, 1479 - 1531]. She cannot be said to have been the founder of any sect. But the author of the Bhakta Mala [भक्तमाला], or biographical sketches of the Vishnuvite saints, gives a very prominent place to her in his book, and connects with her name a large number of legends of a more or less miraculous character. The following account of her life is taken from Wilson’s Hindu Sects: —
Mira was the daughter of a petty Raja, the sovereign of a place called Merta [मेर्ता]; she was married to the Rana of Udayapur [उदयपुर], but soon after being taken home by him, quarrelled with her mother-in-law, a worshipper of Devi [देवी], respecting compliance with the family adoration of that goddess, and was, in consequence of her persevering refusal to desert the worship of Krishna [कृष्ण], expelled the Rana’s bed and palace: she appears to have been treated, however, with consideration, and to have been allowed an independent establishment, owing, probably, rather to the respect paid to her abilities, than a notion of her personal sanctity, although the latter was attested, if we may believe our guides, by her drinking unhesitatingly a draught of poison presented to her by her husband, and without its having the power to do her harm. In her uncontrolled station, she adopted the worship of Ranachhor [रणछोड], a form of the youthful Krishna; she became the patroness of the vagrant Vaishnavas, and visited, in pilgrimage, Brindaban [वृन्दावन] and Dwaraka [દ્વારકા]. Whilst at the latter, some persecution of the Vaishnavas, at Udayapur [उदयपुर], appears to have been instituted, and Brahmans were sent, to bring her home from Dwaraka; previously to departing, she visited the temple of her tutelary deity, to take leave or him, when, on the completion of her adorations, the image opened, and Mira leaping into the fissure, it closed, and she finally disappeared. In memory of this miracle it is said, that the image of Mira Bai is worshipped at Udayapur, in conjunction with that of Ranachhor. The Padas [पाद] that induced this marvel, and which are current as the compositions of Mira Bai are the two following: —
Pada 1. —Oh, Sovereign Ranachhor, give me to make Dwaraka my abode: with thy shell, discus, mace, and lotus, dispel the fear of Yama [याम]: eternal rest, is visiting thy sacred shrines; supreme delight is the clash of thy shell and cymbals: I have abandoned my love, my possessions, my principality, my husband. Mira, thy servant, comes to thee for refuge: oh, take her wholly to thee.
Pada 2. If thou knowest me free from stain, so accept me: save thee, there is none other that will show me compassion: do thou, then, have mercy on me: let not weariness, hunger, anxiety, and restlessness, consume this frame with momentary decay. Lord of Mira, Girdhara [गिरिधर] her beloved, accept her, and never let her be separated from thee.
There may be a substratum of truth in the account of Mira’s life summarised in the above. But as the greater part of it is well calculated to make the inmates of royal zenanas [ज़नाना] unduly favourable towards the Vishnuvite religion and the Vishnuvite mendicants, the miraculous features of the story cannot but be attributed to the inventive genius of some clever Krishna-worshipping monks. It involves a phase of clerical politics which is well worth studying. To the sharp man nothing is impossible. His ambition knows no bounds, and of him it may be truly said that
Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage.
The Ranas of Udaipore [उदयपुर] should have given an emphatic denial to the whole story. But the bait of reflected glory was made too alluring, and they could not avoid falling into the trap.
The Mahapurushia [মহাপুৰুষীয়া] is the most important of the Vishnuvite [ৱৈষ্ণৱ] sects in Upper Assam. It was founded by a Kayastha [কাযস্থ]৯ bearing the name of Sankar Dev [মহাপুৰুষ শ্ৰীমন্ত শঙ্কৰদেৱ, 1449 – 1568]. It is said that his father was a native of Upper India, and that he himself was born at a place called Alipukhori in Assam in the year 1448 A. D. He received a sound education in Sanskrit in his boyhood, and, in the course of his peregrinations as a pilgrim, is said to have visited Nadiya [নদীয়া ], and to have been initiated in the Vaishnava faith there by Chaitanya [চৈতন্য, 1486 - 1533]. Sankara wrote some original works on the Vaishnava faith, besides translating into Assamese the Bhagavat [bhāgavatapurāṇa] and some other important Vishnuvite Purans [purāṇa].
In Assam there are several monasteries appertaining to the sect. These are called Satra [সত্ৰ], and are usually presided over by a Superior of the Kalita [কলিতা] caste. The most important parts of a Satra are the Nam Ghar [নামঘৰ] and the Bhaona Ghar [ভাওনাঘৰ].
The Nam Ghar [নামঘৰ] is the chapel where the followers of the faith meet together for recitations and songs involving frequent mentions of the several names of Vishnu [ৱিষ্ণু]. Sankara was opposed to idolatry. But in the Nam Ghar there is always a copy of the Bhagavat [ভাগৱতপুরাণ] enthroned on a dais.
Every Satra [সত্ৰ] has also, among its objects of worship, a block of stone with the footprint of Sankara engraved thereon. The followers of the faith reverentially offer their adoration to these footprints.
The Bhaona Ghar [ভাওনাঘৰ] corresponds to the Nat Mandir [নাটমন্দির] or dancing-hall of the Hindu shrines in Bengal. Sankar wrote some dramatic works of a religious nature, and the Bhaona Ghar serves the purpose of theatres for exhibiting these.
The most important of the Satras [সত্ৰ] are at Bardowa [বৰদোৱা], in the District of Nowgong [নগাঁও], and at Barpeta [বৰপেটা] in the District of Gowhati [গুৱাহাটী]. The mendicants of the Mahapurushia [মহাপুৰুষীয়া] sect are called Kevalia. For the accommodation of these there are large convents attached to most of the Satras. Female devotees are allowed to live in the Satras, but are not allowed to mix with the other sex at the time of worship. The tombs of Sankar Deva [মহাপুৰুষ শ্ৰীমন্ত শঙ্কৰদেৱ, 1449 – 1568] and his principal disciple, Madhav Deva [মাধৱদেৱ, 1489-1596], are to be found in the Barpeta Satra [বৰপেটা সত্ৰ].
Zurück zu: 1. Prathamam kāṇḍam. -- 1. svargavargaḥ.