About the Book
This is a comprehensive, critical and comparative study of all aspects of the philosophy and religion of Sri Caitanya. In the first three chapter the history of the Vaisnava religion is traced from the earliest Vedic period to pre-Caitanya Vaisnavism in Bengal and some controversies regarding the life of Sri Caitanya and the Sampradaya or the sect to which he belongs are set at rest. In the succeeding chapters the problems of philosophy and religion are discussed in detail. It is shown how Sri Caitanya breathes a new spirit into philosophy and religion by transcending the narrow and mutually conflicting 'isms' and dogmas and reconciling them in a higher synthesis by menas of the concept of the absolute as bhagavan and doctrine of Acintyabhedabheda or inconceivable identity-in-difference. The importance of bhakti as the exclusive means of attaining God is His highest and sweetest from is stressed. Prema or divine love is distinguished from eroticism and established as the highest end. The doctrine of rasa or transcendental relish is explained and Parakiya rasa is established as the highest rasa.
About the Author
Dr. O.B.L. Kapoor was born in 1909. After taking the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy from the University of Allahabad in 1938, he worked in various capacities as Research Fellow, indian institute of Philosophy, Amalner, D.Litt Scholar, University of Allahabad, Professor and Head of the Dept. of Philosophy, B.R. College, Agra, Principal, Govt. College,Gyanpur (Varanasi)/Rampur. Since his retirement in 1967 he has been living in Vrindavan and writing books on subjects relating mainly to religion and philosophy. He has more than twenty-five works to his credit, including The Saints of Vraja, which has been widely acclaimed throughout the West and The Life of Love, now under print.
Whether we judge the intensity of a devotee's love for God by the frantic outbursts of emotion that reveal the inner working of his heart; whether we measure him by the range and depth of his spiritual realisation and the height of bliss perpetually experienced by him; or, whether we apply to him the test of shaping the minds and moulding the lives of his associates and followers by the magnetic influence of his personality , Sri Caitanya stands out as the brightest luminary of divine love on the spiritual firmament of the world. His bountiful distribution of the nectar of divine love to the rich and the poor, the young and the old, the good and the wicked, regardless of any barriers of caste and creed; his congregational chantings of the name of Lord, in which lakhs and lakhs of men joined at a time ; his triumphs of love over his enemies; and the chastening effect of the mere touch and presence of his personality, which turned the kings and the chiefs into ascetics and the cruelest and the most hardened of sinners into saints, and made even the fiercest of animals dance with the joy of divine love, are all unparalleled in history.
The intensity devotional character of the personality of Sri Caitanya, however , has eclipsed his philosophy. His place has been among the devotees and the mystics rather than among the philosophers. But the devotional side of his personality itself suggests a corresponding philosophical side of his nature – a definite and perfect sense of Reality, which must account for the particular way in which his heart and soul reacted to it. It is a mistake to suppose that the predominance of emotions in the life of a devotee renders him incapable of serious philosophical thinking. On the contrary, his understanding is so developed and purified that his grasp of things is more intuitive than ratiocinative and his knowledge of reality is more intimate and complete. His emotions are the natural outcome of his close apprehension of Reality.
It is not necessary for a devotee, who is in direct and intimate touch with reality , to supplement his knowledge by undergoing training in one of the accredited schools of learning . But Sri Caitanaya had the additional advantage of high scholarship, which enabled him to express his thoughts with the precision, accuracy and consistency that characterise a system of philosophy. It is true that he did not himself write any philosophical treatise, but he imparted philosophical teachings to his disciples, whose learned works are based on them.
It will be our endeavour in the present work to set forth in a systematic manner the philosophical and religious doctrine of Sri Caitanya on the basis of his utterances, as contained in his biographies, some of which give an elaborate and authoritative account of his teachings to Rupa, Sanatana and others and some of the important works of his followers, which were written under his express command and according to the guide-lines provided by him.
The author is fully conscious of his responsibility in formulating the philosophy of Sri Caitanya and the necessity of approaching the subject with an unbiased mind. The fact that he has sometimes argued as Sri Caityanya himself would, in defence of his position, need not suggest that he has a sectarian outlook. He has only endeavoured by sympathetic understanding to enter deep into the spirit of his philosophy and represent it as accurately as possible. If he appears at times to own views , which are identical with those of Sri-Caitanya , it is only because of the non-sectarian and all-embracing character of his philosophy , which transcends all sectarian and mutually conflicting views and reconciles them in a higher synthesis .
The author is grateful to His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad, the Founder-Acarya of The International Society for Krishna Consciousness and the pioneer of what is popularly known as the ' Hare-Krishna-Movement,' for going through the type-script and promising, in token of his deep appreciation of the work, the participation of over hundred centres of ISKON outside India in any scheme for its distribution abroad.
Chapter I Pre-Caitanya Vaisnavism
Chapter II The life of Sri Caitanya
Chapter III The Sampradaya of Sri Caitanya
Chapter IV Materials for the Philosophy of Sri Caitanya
Chapter V Source of Knowledge
Chapter VI Nature of the Absolute
Chapter VII The Concept of the Absolute as Bhagavan
Chapter VIII Bhagavan Krsna
Chapter IX Jiva - The Finite Self
Chapter X The Phenomenal World
Chapter XI The Doctrine of Acintya-bhedabheda
Chapter XII Bhakti, the Means
Chapter XIII Priti, the End
Chapter XIV Rasa or Transcendental Relish
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