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The Final WordThe Caitanya Caritamrita and the Grammar of Religious Tradition$
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Tony K. Stewart

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195392722

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195392722.001.0001

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The Legacy of the Caitanya Caritāmṛta

The Legacy of the Caitanya Caritāmṛta

Four Examples in the Grammar of Mimicry

(p.317) 8 The Legacy of the Caitanya Caritāmṛta
The Final Word

Tony K. Stewart

Oxford University Press

Subsequent authors perpetuated the Gauḍīya tradition mimicking the Caitanya caritāmṛta. Narahari Cakravartī’s Bhaktiratnākara most successfully emulated its rhetoric, writing his generation’s history in parallel to the model. Others adopted these techniques for personal political agendas, for example elevating personal gurus. The text conditioned subsequent Vaiṣṇava discourse, even outside the mainstream, for example the Dīnamaṇicandrodaya of otherwise unknown Manohara Dāsa, which warned against literal erotic emulation of Caitanya’s androgyny. Ironically the Caitanya caritāmṛta provided theological justification for tāntrika interpretations, eventually articulated as sahajiyā. Calling itself commentary, Ākiñcana Dāsa’s Vivarta vilāsa challenged the master narrative of the book’s loss and proof-texted the Caitanya caritāmṛta to proclaim sahajiyā legitimacy, turning Kṛṣṇadāsa’s rhetoric back on itself. The elevation of the Caitanya caritāmṛta to the final word of tradition can be seen in its gradual symbolic change to icon, installed on the altar beside the images of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa and Caitanya.

Keywords:   Bhaktiratnākara, commentary, discourse, icon, master narrative, political agenda, proof text, sahajiyā, tāntrika, Vivarta vilāsa

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