The text outlines the basic theological positions developed by the Gosvamis in metaphysics, ontology, and aesthetics, and provides synopses of rituals appropriate to devotees. Because it is encyclopedic, it is the most often reproduced text within the tradition and serves as a theological standard against which all other writings are measured. It is from this text that devotees first understood the connection between the Gosvami writings as a coherent and systematic theology and the life of Chaitanya, for Krsnadasa was senior among the handful of devotees who studied with all of them. Writing from Vrndavana, he finished this lengthy book toward the end of his life, although precisely when that was, is still debated within the scholarly community.
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The text outlines the basic theological positions developed by the Gosvamis in metaphysics, ontology, and aesthetics, and provides synopses of rituals appropriate to devotees. Because it is encyclopedic, it is the most often reproduced text within the tradition and serves as a theological standard against which all other writings are measured. It is from this text that devotees first understood the connection between the Gosvami writings as a coherent and systematic theology and the life of Chaitanya, for Krsnadasa was senior among the handful of devotees who studied with all of them.
Writing from Vrndavana, he finished this lengthy book toward the end of his life, although precisely when that was, is still debated within the scholarly community. Citations within the text declare a date some time after , but the consensus argues for a considerably later date between and Although massive in size, the book was frequently copied and widely circulated in Bengal and Orissa in the early decades of the 17th century by a trio of students trained by the surviving Gosvamis and Krsnadasa: Srinivasa, Narottamadasa, and Shyamananda.
The sheer volume of the text undoubtedly contributed to its influence, for in its current critical edition the text stretches to approximately 24, lines of Bengali, written primarily in payara couplet with numerous passages in tripadi or three-footed metre. In addition the text intersperses more than one thousand couplets from seventy-five Sanskrit sources starting with the itihasas and puranas, especially the Bhagavata and the Gita, but also numerous citations of ritual manuals tantra , poetry kavya , aesthetic theory rasa-shastra, nataka , and a host of metaphysical, commentarial, and eulogistic texts tattva, bhasya, stotra, etc.
Its size makes it second in length only to the slightly larger Chaitanya Bhagavata, and its organisation likewise parallels that of the Chaitanya Bhagavata. Like the Chaitanya Bhagavata, the Chaitanya Charitamrta is divided into three sections- adi, madhya, antya - of 17, 25, and 20 chapters respectively.
Krsnadasa explicitly drew numerous comparisons between the Chaitanya Bhagavata and his own narrative, which suggests that the mirror organisation was very deliberate.
This rhetorical strategy invites the reader to conclude that the Chaitanya Charitamrta simply continued what the Chaitanya Bhagavata began with its narrative some seven or eight decades earlier. The result of these many comparisons has led the tradition tacitly to acknowledge that the Chaitanya Charitamrta is the conclusion of the hagiographical tradition. Following a strategy of non-contradiction and conciliation, he included each of the current theories of divinity into a progressive or inclusive hierarchy of preferred forms 1.
This inclusiveness was possible because, following the Chaitanya Bhagavata, Krsnadasa declared Chaitanya not to be simply a descent of God, but svayang bhagavan, the complete godhead, which meant that Chaitanya was the avatarin that included all forms of descent. The mechanism for effecting this wide dispersal of devotion was the community around Chaitanya himself, personified as the pancha tattva composed of Chaitanya, Advaitacharya, Nityananda, Gadadhara, and Shrivasa, who represents the other devotees.
This perspective was revealed in the narrative by Ramananda Raya in the famous exchange of questions and answers about the nature of devotion 2. The madhya lila details his renunciation 2. The mid-portion of madhya lila gives examples of the daily and annual activities of Chaitanya and his devotees during the Jagannatha car festival or rathayatra, and other festivities 2.
The last part of madhya lila details his important meetings with Rupa and Sanatana 2. The antya lila begins with surveys of the plays composed by Rupa as vehicles to produce devotional rasa 3. Activities of various devotees and occasional critics and their interactions with Chaitanya during the last phase of his life are given anecdotally 3.
Manuscripts are uniform and printed editions vary only slightly. In the same way that writing a biography signified legitimacy for a guru-parampara in the 16th century, printing the text with a commentary established legitimacy in the 19th and 20th centuries, a practice that continues today and which serves to align different groups within the larger Gaudiya group. This page was last modified on 5 May , at This page has been accessed 2, times.
Composition of the Chaitanya Charitamrita[ edit ] Although the author, Krishna Dasa Kaviraja, never met Chaitanya Mahaprabhu personally, his guru Raghunatha dasa Goswami — CE was an associate of Chaitanya and was close to others who were intimates of his. Krishna Dasa Kaviraja composed the Chaitanya Charitamrita in his old age after being requested by the Vaishnavas of Vrindavana to write a hagiography about the life of Chaitanya. The Chaitanya Charitamrita also serves as a compendium of Gaudiya Vaishnava practices and outlines the Gaudiya theology developed by the Goswamis in metaphysics, ontology and aesthetics. The Chaitanya Charitamrita was frequently copied and widely circulated amongst the Vaishnava communities of Bengal and Odisha during the early 17th Century. Its popularity during this period can be attributed to the propagation of three Vaishnava preachers called Narottama Dasa , Shyamananda and Srinivasa who were trained by Jiva Goswami and Krishna Dasa Kaviraja himself. He published a deluxe volume English edition of the work through his Bhaktivedanta Book Trust with his own commentary based upon the Amrita Pravaha and Anubhasya commentaries of Bhaktivinoda Thakur and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta. This edition has been distributed in mass quantities worldwide and is the best-known and most influential English-language edition of Caitanya Caritamrta today.
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