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TitleHindu Religious Sects
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Page 94


The Nimdvats are scattered throughout the whole of Upper
India. They are met with of the two classes, coenobitical and
secular, or Viraktas and Grihastas, distinctions introduced by the
two pupils of NIMBARKA, KESAVA BHATT, and HARI VYAS : the
latter is considered as the founder of the family which occupies
the pillow of NIMBARKAat a^ place called Dhruva Kshetra, upon
the Jamna, close to Mathurd : the Mahant, however, claims to be
a lineal descendant from NIMBARKA himself, and asserts the
existence of the present establishment for a past period of 1,400
years: the antiquity is probably exaggerated: the Nimdvats are
very numerous about Mathurd, and they are also the most numer-
ous of the Vaishnava sects in Bengal, with the exception of those
who may be considered the indigenous offspring of that province.

The far greater number of the worshippers of VISHNU, or

more properly of KRISHNA, in Bengal, forming, it has been estim-
ated, one-fifth of the population of the province,* derive their

peculiarities from some Vaishnava Brahmans of Nadiya and
Sdntipur, who flourished about the end of the fifteenth century.
The two leading men in the innovation then instituted were
ADWAITANANDand NITYANAND, who, being men of domestic and
settled habits, seem to have made" use of a third, who had early
embraced the ascetic order, and whose simplicity and enthusiasm
fitted him for their purpose, and to have set up CHAITANYA as
the founder and object of a new form of Vaishnava worship.

The history of CHAITANYA has been repeatedly written, but
the work most esteemed by his followers is the Ghaitanya Chari-
tra of BRINDAVANDAS, which was compiled from preceding works
by MURARI GUPTA and DAMODARA,who were the immediate
disciples of CHAITANYA, and who wrote an account, the first of his
life as a Grihastha, or the Adi Lild, and the second of his pro-
ceedings as a pilgrim and ascetic, or the Madhya and Anta Lild.
An abridgment of the composition of BRINDAVANDAS, under the
title of Ghaitanya Gharitdmrita, was made by KRISHNA DAS
about 1590 : although described by the author as an abridgment,
it is a most voluminous work, comprising, besides anecdotes of
CHAITANYA and his principal disciples, the expositions of the
doctrines of the sect: it is written in Bengali, but it is inter-

spersed most thickly with the Sanskrit texts on which the^faith
is founded, and which are taken from the Brahma Sanliitd, the
Vishnu, Purdna, the Bhagavad Gitd, and, above all, the Sri
Bhdgavat, the work that appears about this period to have given

* WAEDon the Hindus, 2, 175. In another place he says five-sixteenths, p. 448.

Page 95


a new aspect to the Hindu faith throughout the whole of Hin-
dustan, The accounts we have to offer of CHAITANYA and his
schism are taken from the Ohaitanya Charitdmrita.

CHAITANYAwas the son of a Brahman settled at Nadiya, but
originally from Srihatta, or Silhet. His father was named
JAGANNATHMISEA, and his mother SACHI : he was conceived in
the end of Magha 1484, but not born till Phalgun 1485, being
thirteen months in the womb his birth was accompanied by the
usual portentous indications of a superhuman event, and, amongst
other circumstances, an eclipse of the moon was terminated by
his entrance into the world. CHAITANYAwas, in fact, an incarna-
tion of KRISHNA, or Bhagavdn who appeared for the purpose of
instructing mankind in the true mode of worshipping him in this
age : with the like view he was, at the same time, incarnate in
the two greater teachers of the sect as principal Ansas, or portions
of himself, animating the form of ADWAITANAND,whilst NITTA-
NAND was a personal manifestation of the same divinity, as he
had appeared formerly in the shape of BALARAMA: the female
incarnation was not assumed on' this occasion, being, in fact,
comprised in the male, for EADHA, as the Purna-Saleti, or com-
prehensive energy, and KRISHNA, as the Purna-Saktimdn, or

possessor of that energy, were both united in the nature of the
Nadiya saint.

The father of CHAITANYA died in .his son's childhood, and
his elder brother, VISVARUPA, had previously assumed the
character of an ascetic : to take care of his mother, therefore,
CHAITANYA refrained from following his inclinations, and con-
tinued in the order of the Qrihastha, or householder, till the age
of twenty-four, during which time he is said to have married the
daughter of VALLABHACHARYA. At twenty-four,* he shook off
the obligations of society, and becoming a Vairdgi, spent the
next six years in a course of peregrinations between Mathurd and
Jaganndth, teaching his doctrines, acquiring followers, and extend-

ing the worship of KRISHNA. At the end of this period, having
nominated ADWAITACHARYAand NITYANAND to preside over the
Vaishnavas of Bengal, and RUPA and SANATANAover those of
Mathurd, CHAITANYA settled at . Nildchal, or Cuttack, where he
remained twelve years, engaging deeply in the worship of Jagan-
ndth, to whose festival he seems at least to have communicated

.great energy and repute. t The rest of his time was spent in

* Not forty, as stated by Mr. Ward (2, 173) : his whole life little exceeded that
age, as he disappeared at forty-two - -

f It may be observed, that in the frequent descriptions of the celebration of the
Rath Ydtra, which occur in the work of KRISHNA DAS, no instance is given of self-
sacrifice amongst the numerous votaries collected, neither is there any passage that
could be interpreted as commendatory of the practice : it is, in fact, very contrary
to' the spirit of Vaishnava devotion, and is probably a modern graft from Saiva or

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