Hindu Encounter with Modernity: Kedarnath Datta Bhaktivinoda, Vaishnava Theologian

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9781889756301: Hindu Encounter with Modernity: Kedarnath Datta Bhaktivinoda, Vaishnava Theologian

Bhaktivinode's life straddled contemporary British society and ancestral Hindu culture. One was a modern, analytical world which demanded rational thought. The other was a traditional world of Hindu faith and piety, which seemingly allowed little room for critical analysis. Could he play a meaningful role in modern society and at the same time maintain integrity as a Hindu? This book systematically examines his reinterpretation and application of Hinduism in the context of rational thought. In this well-researched, comprehensive, and objective study Dr. Shukavak begins with a discussion of the "crisis of faith" many Hindus experienced during British rule in India. This is followed by a biographic narration of the life of Kedarnath Dutta concentrating primarily on his devotional development and struggle with the problems of tradition and modernity. Shukavak identifies the inner logic of Bhaktivinode's approach as it points backward to Caitanya and the Goswamis and forward to the challenges of rationalism and universalism.Kedarnath Dutta Bhaktivinode (1838-1914) was an English-educated member of the Bengali bhadralok in 19th century British India. He was an associate of such noteworthy men as: Kashiprasad Ghosh, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Keshub Chandra Sen, Michael Madhusudan Datta, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Sisir Kumar Ghosh and the Tagore family. In his late twenties he discovered his "Eastern Savior", Caitanya Mahaprabhu (1486-1533) and became a leader of the Caitanya Vaishnava movement in Bengal. He made a lifelong study of Vaishnava philosophy, theology, and literature; and he wrote or edited almost a hundred books in Bengali, Sanskrit, and English.Bhaktivinode's spiritual insights which divide religion into two constituent parts, the phenomenal and the transcendent allowed him to combine critical rational analysis with the best of Hindu mysticism, Krishna lila. This created a unique synthesis of tradition and modernity. Instead of relinquishing modernity, he utilized it in his writings; instead of rejecting the Hindu tradition in the presence of rational thought, he strengthened it. This is the first scholarly biography and exposition written in English on the life and thought of Kedarnath Dutta Bhaktivinode. Bhaktivinode is presented from the perspective of his own times and in his own words. His writings, theology, and religious practices are thoroughly and systematically examined from a nonhagiographic viewpoint and the entire work is carefully annotated.

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From the Publisher:

Bhaktivinode envisioned the modern Hindu as the saragrahi (essence seeker). One who could appreciate the truth held within all religious perspectives.In this well-researched, comprehensive, and objective study Dr. Shukavak systematically examines Bhaktivinode's reinterpretation and application of Hinduism in the context of rational thought. Bhaktivinode's spiritual insights which divide religion into two constituent parts, the phenomenal and the transcendent allowed him to combine critical rational analysis with the best of Hindu mysticism, Krishna lila. This created a unique synthesis of tradition and modernity. Instead of relinquishing modernity, he utilized it in his writings; instead of rejecting Hindu tradition in the presence of rational thought, he strengthened it.

From the Author:

This book results from twelve years of original research involving three trips to England and Bengal. Government archives, Bengali villages and individual homes were searched for information pertaining to Kedarnath Dutta's life. This study relied particularly upon three formerly untranslated sources of information: Bhaktivinode's autobiography Svalikhita-jivani, Bhaktivinode's Sri Krishna-samhita, a theological work, and his journal Sajjana-tosani.

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Das, Shukavak
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Das, Shukavak
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