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A Study of the Indic Education System as Reflected in the Caitanya Caritāmṛta: A Hagiography of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya


The enigmatic Bengali saint Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya (1486-1533 CE) stimulated a kind of a revolution in the Medieval Bhakti Movement which had left almost no corner of India untouched. With his emphasis and insistence on the inclusive congregational chanting of Kṛṣṇa ̍s name, Caitanya heralded the Saṃkīrtana Movement in Bengal and Odisha, in a way echoing the assertion from the Nārada Purāṇa that in the Age of Kali, the name of Hari was the only path to deliverance. The most authoritative hagiography of Caitanya is the Caitanya Caritāmṛta written by Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja in Vṛndāvana around the first two decades of the 17th century CE. Divided into three segments, namely the Ādi, Madhya and Antya Līlās, the Caitanya Caritāmṛta comprises verses composed in Sanskrit and Bengali. As far as the hagiographies of Caitanya and their composers were concerned, Stewart (2010) observes that, “…they had tacitly embarked on a quest to define a new standard that would maintain a strong link with the culturally accepted bases of authority as found in the purāṇas and other texts, but that would address more relevantly the exigencies of their day.” 

The Caitanya Caritāmṛta comprises both the narrative and didactic portions which have been the hallmarks of Ancient Indian Literature right from the Vedas as well as the Itihāsas and Purāṇas. The Bhāgavata Purāṇa which as a text, exercised tremendous influence on Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism in general and the Caitanya Caritāmṛta in particular has incorporated many philosophical sections within the structure of its narrative with the Kapila Upadeśa, Uddhava Gītā and Avadhūta Gīta being the most characteristic of the examples. 

Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja was born in a family of traditional medical practitioners around 1517 CE and received his education in Persian at a local school in his village and later took lessons in Sanskrit. In this connection, historian Jadunath Sarkar (1988) comments, “Every part of his great poem (the Caitanya Caritāmṛta) bears evidence to his profound mastery of Sanskrit literature, particularly of the Bhāgbat Purāṇ.” Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja renounced the world and travelled around 1533 CE to Vṛndāvana where he accepted the studentship of Rūpa Gosvāmin and was formally initiated into Saṃnyāsa by Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmin (Sarkar, 1988). It was Rūpa Gosvāmin who taught Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja the details about Caitanya ̍s life and teachings lending a sense of authority and authenticity to the hagiographical work which he wrote later in life. The Gauḍīya Vaiṣnavas residing in Vṛndāvana would congregate to listen to the readings of the Caitanya Bhāgavata but this hagiography was rather incomplete, specially in terms of the last days of Caitanya. It was precisely for this reason that this community of devotees led by Haridāsa Paṇḍita who was the main priest at the Govindadeva Temple in Vṛndāvana requested Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja to author a more wholesome hagiography of the Master. He did so, writing his text in the vicinity of Rādhā Kuṇḍa. (Sarkar, 1988). Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja ̍s Caitanya Caritāmṛta serves as a window which affords a glimpse of even his academic attainments, apart from the subject of this work. In this connection, historian Amiya Sen succinctly remarks that, “Krishnadas had ample knowledge of poetics, grammar, rhetoric, and scripture which he put to good use when writing the Charitamrita” (Sen, 2019). 

The reception which the Caitanya Caritāmṛta, in spite of its celebration as a classic, met from the modern Bengali scholars was ambivalent (Sen, 2019). In contrast to this, many colonial and post colonial Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava organizations like the Gauḍīya Mission and more so its offshoot, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness have elevated the Caritāmṛta to the position of a doctrinal canon, almost equaling the Bhagavad Gītā and the Bhāgavata Purāṇa.

Indic education was essentially directed towards the spiritual good and not constricted by material attainments alone. A senior Indological scholar underscores the core ethos of the Indic Education System in the following words: “Ancient Indian Education is also to be understood as being ultimately the outcome of the Indian theory of knowledge, a part of the corresponding scheme of life and values. That scheme takes full account of the fact that Life includes Death and the two form the whole truth. This gives a particular angle of vision, a sense of perspective and proportion in which the material and moral, the physical and spiritual, the perishable and permanent interests and values of life are clearly defined and strictly differentiated” (Mookerji, 1947). R.K. Mookerjee (1947) further adds that the aim of Ancient Indian Education was ̍ cittavṛttinirodhaḥ ̍ i.e. the control of those activities of the mind through which it gets connected with the external material world. The teachings imparted by Caitanya to his numerous disciples embody this very ethos. 

Bengal came under Muslim domination in the 13th century CE and continued to be so till the latter half of the 18th century CE. At the time of Caitanya ̍s birth, Bengal was ruled by one Jalaluddin Fath (1481-1487 CE) who belonged to the Ilyas Shahi Dynasty (Habibullah, 1948). After him the Abyssinians came to power with the rulers being tyrannical and autocratic and not contributing in any manner to the cultural development of Bengal. The Abyssinians were replaced by Sayyid Hussain or Hussain Shah who is supposed to have been a fairly good ruler though the actual situation may not have been as utopian as Habibullah has projected it to be. This can be understood by the hostile treatment he meted out to Rūpa and Sanātana Gosvāmins who were in his service. Moreover, he is also said to have razed numerous temples during the Odisha campaign, a fact recorded by the Mādlā Panjikā-the chronicle of the Jagannātha Temple at Purī (Habibullah, 1948).

Mithilā or Videha in modern day Bihar but then formed a part of Bengal was acclaimed as the centre of Upaniṣadic learning and continued to be a leading light of philosophical development in the Early Medieval Period as well. Scholars like Jagaddhara and the poet Vidyāpati flourished here during this period. Vidyāpati ̍s songs picturesquely describing the dalliances of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa like those of Jayadeva are said to have stimulated deep raptures in the mind of Caitanya. Jagaddhara is also credited with the writing of a commentary on Jayadeva ̍s timeless classic Gīta Govinda which stirred the mind of Caitanya in equal measure. Vidyāpati ̍s Padāvalīs were extremely well received not only by medieval Bengali saint-philosophers like Caitanya but also inspired modern Bengal ̍s greatest poet Rabindranath Tagore to pen the Bhānusingher Singher Padābalī while still in his teens. The Early Medieval Period also witnessed Mithilā growing as a centre of Nyāya Darśana, specially the Navya Nyāya School which was established in the 12th century CE by Gaṅgeśa Upādhyāya (Mookerji, 1947). Nadia, the region in Bengal to which Caitanya belonged also attained fame as a centre of the Navya Nyāya and continued to be one even during the lifetime of Caitanya. A University was established at Nadia with one of its branches in Navadvipa which in the last decade of the 18th century CE had an impressive number of teachers-one hundred and fifty who were training around eleven hundred pupils (Mookerji, 1947).

Navadvipa, at the time of Caitanya ̍s birth, had attained fame as a seat of Sanskrit learning where students from various parts of the country thronged to receive their education. The atmosphere in the town was more or less grave with the intellectuals deliberating on Vedānta and the followers of Tantra practicing their prescribed rituals. Bhakti based on high emotionalism seemed to fit nowhere in such a religious milieu (De, 1942). Caitanya ̍s own early days as a student and scholar concur with these very conditions. The town, however, did have a small but motivated group of Vaiṣṇavas whose head was Kamalākṣa Bhaṭṭācārya, better known as Advaita Ācārya who later became one of the four closest associates of Caitanya (De, 1942). The title of ̍ Ācārya ̍ suggests that he was both a teacher and scholar.

Key Words: Indic Education System, Caitanya, Caitanya Caritāmṛta, Guru-Śiṣya Paramparā, Bhakti

Literature Review 

Both Caitanya and the Caitanya Caritāmṛta have been studied, analyzed and deliberated upon by numerous modern scholars. Caitanya ̍s enigmatic personality and the literary, historical and philosophical richness of the Caitanya Caritāmṛta have been the two principal factors for attracting and drawing historians and philosophers towards their study. Some of these scholars are Jadunath Sarkar, Melville Kennedy, S.K. De, O.B.L. Kapoor, Asoke Kumar Chatterjee, Janardan Chakravarti, Chhanda Chatterjee, Tony K. Stewart, Ravi M. Gupta, Kenneth Valpey, Srivatsa Goswami, Svami Tapasyananda, Amiya P. Sen, Janardan Ghosh and David Haberman. The contributions of all these scholars are unique and remarkable and they focus on various dimensions of Caitanya ̍s personality and philosophy as well as the various merits and shortcomings of the Caitanya Caritāmṛta as a hagiographical text. These studies have been executed from philosophical and historical perspectives. 

The study undertaken in the present paper does have Caitanya as one of its reference points but the life history of the Bengali Savant and the hagiography itself have been used as mediums rather ends in themselves to understand the state of the Indic Education System in Medieval Bengal. The data from the text has been used to reconstruct certain facets of the age-old Indic Education System including the pedagogy as they were coping under the Islamic Rule. The text has been consulted to assemble together the various strains of data to draw up a fairly cohesive picture of the Indic Education System as prevalent during the 15th and 16th centuries CE.


The Importance of a Guru and the Guru-Śiṣya Paramparā

Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja states that Śacīnandanaḥ Śrī Caitanya appeared in the Kaliyuga to bestow the knowledge of the most elevated Ujjvala Rasa of his Bhakti (CC 1.1.4). After the maṅgalācaraṇa verses in Saṃskṛta, Kṛṣṇdāsa Kavirāja states that he has remembered the Guru, Vaiṣṇavas and Bhagavān and received their blessings (CC 1.1.20). In the next verse, he declares that by remembering these three all wishes of a person are fulfilled (CC 1.1.21). Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja clearly had only the Vaiṣṇava audience in mind when he composed the Caitanya Caritāmṛta and the first few verses of this hagiography clearly highlight this point. As far as narrating the glories of Caitanya ̍s life was concerned, he declares that the Vaiṣṇavas should sincerely hear this elucidation which has been propagated by the scriptures, i.e. the Śāstrās (CC 1.1.31). In the very next verse, the poet speaks about the six kinds of manifestations of Kṛṣṇa -the first of which is as the Lord himself. Further, Kṛṣṇa manifests himself in the form of the guru, i.e. the spiritual preceptor, the devotees (bhakta), the potencies (śakti), incarnations (avatāra) and the complete manifestations (prakāśa). Kṛṣṇa blissfully dwells in all the six forms (CC 1.1.32). Thus the guru is placed next only to the Lord and Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja perceives all the six as one single entity as Kṛṣṇa pervades all. Thus the Guru is nothing less than a godly figure.

In another verse as well, Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja offers his veneration first to the gurus, i.e. the spiritual preceptors and then only does he proceed to pay obeisance to the devotees of the Lord and the Lord himself (CC 1.1.34). Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja regarded Nityānanda- a close associate of Caitanya and the Six Gosvāmins of Vṛndāvana as his Gurus. Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja makes a reference to two distinct categories of Gurus- the first being the Mantra Guru, i.e. the one who initiates a disciple into a certain mantra or chant which is particular to a given sampradāya and the other are the Śikṣā Gurus who provide spiritual instruction, i.e. they teach the disciples the foundational tenets of a certain sampradāya which are based on scriptural knowledge. The Mantra Guru has been mentioned in the singular whereas the Śikśā Gurus have been referred to in the plural (Śikṣā Guru Gaṇa) (CC 1.1.35). The Six Gosvāmins of Vṛndāvana i.e. Rūpa, Sanātana, Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa , Jīva , Gopāla Bhaṭṭa and Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmins are hailed by Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja as his Śikṣā Gurus and he has expressed his utmost reverence to them (CC 1.1.36-37). Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja reiterates the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava belief that Nityānanda, who is considered to be his initiating guru was a dāsa or servant of Caitanya, yet Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja was aware that Nityānanda was the Lord ̍s prakāśa, i.e. his complete manifestation (CC 1.1.44). Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja possessed such high veneration for the Guru that he proclaims that as per the pramāṇa given by the Śāstras the Guru and Lord Kṛṣṇa are one entity and it is through the spiritual master that Lord Kṛṣṇa confers his grace on all his devotees (CC 1.1.45). To support his own view, Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja quotes a verse from the Uddhava Gītā which is the spiritual instruction given by Lord Kṛṣṇa to Uddhava which forms a part of the eleventh skandha of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa. The Lord teaches Uddhava how one shows the highest respect to the Ācārya or Guru as he is the very embodiment of all the divinities (11.17.27). Moreover, Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja repeats his declaration that the Śikṣā Guru being the svarūpa of Lord Kṛṣṇa himself (CC 1.1.47). It is in the form of a liberated soul that Bhagavān appears to bestow spiritual instruction (CC 1.1.59). Just like the sun and the moon dispel darkness, in the same manner Śrī Caitanya and Nityānanda-the two brothers dispel the darkness of ignorance and propagate Dharma by revealing the true nature of things and the Absolute Truth (CC1.1.88-89). The author emphasizes on how Caitanya and Nityānanda who are called brothers by him drive away ignorance and enlighten people with the knowledge of the Absolute Truth. There is a stress on hearing the glories of Caitanya and Nityānanda as this will lead to the realization of the Absolute Truth. Advaita Ācārya, a senior associate of Caitanya is spoken of as a God himself. Lord Caitanya accepts Him as His preceptor, Advaita Ācārya is a servant of the Lord (CC 1.5.147). Advaita Ācārya explained (the word used is vyākhyāna) the elements of Bhakti in the Bhagavad Gītā and Bhāgavata Purāṇa (CC 1.6.28). Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja declares that since Advaita Ācārya has no other task apart from teaching Bhakti to others, he is known as Advaita Ācārya (CC 1.6.29). Moreover, Advaita Ācārya has been hailed as the Guru or spiritual preceptor of the Vaiṣṇavas (CC 1.6.30).

Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja offers his veneration at the feet of Rūpa Gosvāmin and Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmin and begins to narrate the Caitanya Caritāmṛta (CC 1.1.110). Through the grace of Sanātana, Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja obtained the knowledge about the principle of Bhakti (CC 1.5. 203). Caitanya is revered as the one whose anugraha would enable even a child to cross the ocean which is full of crocodiles of different theories, i.e. which imply the various schools of Indic Philosophy (CC 1.2.1). Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja seems to hold the view that these various matas were dangerous (like crocodiles) for anyone on the path of realization of Absolute Truth.

Śrīcaitanyaprabhum Vande

Balo ̍pi yad anugrahāt

taren nānāmatagrahavyaptam siddhāntasāgaram | 

The text, in another context, mentions that Caitanya paid his obeisance to Raṅga Puri who was a disciple of Mādhavendra Puri who was residing at Paṇḍharapura. Caitanya spoke about his own spiritual master Īśvara Puri as having parental affection for him. Further, Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya is believed to have stated that the order of the father or spiritual master has a lot of strength and it cannot be violated. The Six Gosvāmins of Vṛndāvana who were Caitanya ̍s disciples were living examples of Sārvabhauma ̍s assertion. Caitanya had a strong deference for ascetics, even though he disagreed with them and the episode concerning Brahmānanda Bhārati wherein Caitanya proceeded to meet him rather than him coming to meet Caitanya clearly delineates this quality of Caitanya.

Caitanya ̍s Education

As a child, Caitanya as Nimai splashed water on the Brāhmaṇas bathing in the Gaṅgā and they would complain to his father, Jagannātha Miśra that his son was splashing water on them instead of attending school. The child would come near his father dressed in school clothes with books (which could be manuscripts) in his hand. When Caitanya completed four or five years of age- at the hate khadi ceremony, which was the worship of Lord Viṣṇu, Jagannātha Miśra put a long chalk pencil in the hand of his son and taught him to write alphabets on the floor. Caitanya is said to have mastered all the alphabets and their combinations within a very short duration of time. This marks the conclusion of Caitanya ̍s Bālya Līlā. When Caitanya became a little older, he is said to have performed his Paugaṇḍa Līlā during his age of five years to ten years. This is when Caitanya ̍s education commenced. Initially he was given basic lessons by two teachers named Viṣṇu and Sudarśana. A little later Gaṅgādāsa Paṇḍita taught Caitanya grammar -Caitanya heard the rules and definitions of grammar only once and became well versed in them. Caitanya is said to have become an expert in grammar within a short time and went ahead of the other students in spite of being just a beginner and opened his own ṭola or school. Gaṅgādāsa is depicted as the archetypal headmaster who was a strict disciplinarian who, on certain occasions, was at the receiving end of the mischief played by his students (Stewart, 2010). Gaṅgādāsa was almost transfixed to behold the super-human abilities of Caitanya in becoming well versed in the many disciplines which were inducted into the curricula in the late 15th century CE (Chakravarti, 2000).

 In connection with Caitanya ̍s academic accomplishments, Stewart (2010) comments that, ” The biographers piously extol the young Viśvambhara ̍s academic precociousness, which is not particularly confirmed later after he enters the devotional life…. .” Stewart (2010) further writes that Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja has attempted to remedy this apparent shortcoming by devoting fairly long section comprising Caitanya ̍s explication in sixty-four distinct ways to a scholar of Vedānta.

As attested by his hagiographies including the Caitanya Caritāmṛta, Caitanya was locally known as Nimāi Paṇḍitā. His biographers, as Kenneth R. Valpey (2014) observes, “were keen to illustrate his propensity for learning from an early age with an anecdotal account of an exchange between him and his mother “. Caitanya is believed to have been seated on a heap of ritually impure used earthenware for which he was rebuked by his mother. Caitanya is said to have explained to his mother the non-difference between one material condition and another thus negating the notions of difference between the ritually ̍ pure ̍ and ̍ impure ̍(Valpey, 2014). While still a teenager who taught Vyākaraṇa, Caitanya engaged in a debate with a scholar of high repute named Keśava Bhaṭṭa Kāśmīrī. The Caitanya Caritāmṛta describes in no uncertain manner the way Caitanya is supposed to have vanquished the senior scholar in debate by pointing out numerous errors (based on the rules Chhanda Vedāṅga) in just a single verse of the hundred verse composition on the River Gaṅgā penned by Keśava Bhaṭṭa, eventually making him flee from Navadvipa. Though the historicity of this particular account may have been enveloped by a thick cover of exaggeration, it does indicate Caitanya ̍s training in the Vedāṅgas and that these six auxiliary Vedic disciplines were integral to the curricula of the Medieval Indic Educational System.

Caitanya is said to have defeated in debate his eminent classmates like Kamala Kānta, Kṛṣṇānanda and Murārī Guptā (Tapasyānanda, 2010). He challenged the senior scholars from nearby places for rounds of debates. He is said to have authored a book on Vyākaraṇa at a fairly early age though there is no trace of this work. He is believed to have also mastered the Nyāya Darśana which he learnt from Vāsudeva Sārvabhauma. Caitanya is said to have written a book on Nyāya as well which greatly ruffled the mind of his fellow student Raghunātha who was himself the author of a work on Nyāya titled ̍ Didhīti ̍ (Tapasyānanda, 2010). For the sake of his friend, Caitanya is supposed to have cast away his own work Nyāya in the current of the Gaṅgā.

Caitanya ̍s own proficiency in Sanskrit is undisputed since he is represented in the text as a teacher of Vyākaraṇa with his knowledge about the writings of Ādi Śaṅkarācārya and the Śikṣāṣtaka which he is believed to have composed during the closing days of his life (Stewart, 2010).

Caitanya as a Guru/Teacher

Kṛṣṇa is said to have stated that he will himself assume the sentiments of a devotee (i.e. Caitanya) and teach Bhakti to all through his own practice of devotion (to Kṛṣṇa) (CC 1.3.20).Further, Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja comments that unless one practices Bhakti himself, he cannot teach it to others. This is exactly what has been sung in the Gīta and Bhāgavata (1.3.21). He bore the name Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya in the rest of his līlā and taught the whole world the greatness of Kṛṣṇa thus making it fortunate (CC 1.3.34). He gives instructions to his devotees pertaining to his own pure devotion (sva-bhaktebhyaḥ śuddhām nijabhajanamudram upadiśan) (CC 1.3.66).

At the age of eleven Caitanya commenced his teaching vocation. He is believed to have debated with numerous scholars on the Tātparya of the Śāstras and it was he who is depicted as being victorious in these philosophical debates. Caitanya is considered to have been endowed with extraordinary intelligence and scholarship which became instrumental in a great number of scholars flocking to him to seek education. He came to be known as Nimāi Paṇḍita. After his first marriage, Caitanya went on a tour of East Bengal where he taught students with the view to bring his family out from its dire financial conditions and there he is also believed to have initiated people into chanting Kṛṣṇa ̍s names and training them to become scholars. His teaching activities continued even after his return from East Bengal on account of his wife ̍s untimely death. The text again speaks of Caitanya defeating scholars in philosophical debates because of which he was filled with pride. Caitanya is depicted as discussing various branches of learning with his students on the banks of the Gaṅgā. At the age of sixteen, he established his own catuśpaṭhi or village school and taught rules of grammar by associating them with Kṛṣṇa. After Caitanya became a more than ardent devotee of Kṛṣṇa, he would at times falter in his routine teaching duties and the Caitanya Bhāgavata reports that Nimāi Paṇḍita found every Vyākaraṇa Sūtra permeated by a reference to Kṛṣṇa (Valpey, 2014). Historically speaking, Pāṇini ̍s Aṣṭādhyāyī (5th-4th centuries BCE) does contain a reference to Vāsudeva Kṛṣṇa and his followers and this one is among the earliest references respecting him (Agrawala, 1953). While lecturing to his pupils, Caitanya invariably began to diverge from the curricula by entering into moods of intense love for Kṛṣṇa and extolling the God and the devotion unto him (Valpey, 2014).

 There is an episode which is supposed to have taken place during Caitanya’s journey through Southern India where he is said to have taught a Brāhmaṇa at the Raṅganātha Temple in Śrīraṅgam who would recite all the eighteen chapters of the Bhagavad Gītā and Caitanya was very pleased with him. In addition, Caitanya told the Brāhmaṇa never to reveal Caitanya ̍s real identity as Kṛṣṇa himself.

The Caitanya Caritāmṛta has dealt in great detail with the instructions that Caitanya imparted to Rūpa Gosvāmin at the Daśāśvamedha Ghāṭ at Prayāga. He spoke to him about the final truth pertaining to Kṛṣṇa, the element of Bhakti as well as the various Rasas culminating in the Śrṅgāra Rasa. This discourse thus contextualizes Rūpa Gosvāmin ̍s exposition of Bhakti as a Rasa and Śāstra in his momentous texts- the Bhaktirasāmṛtasindhu and Ujjvalanīlamaṇi which remain till the present day two of the most in depth and nuanced works on Bhakti. It is in this very discourse that Caitanya uses the term ̍ Bhaktirasāmṛtasindhu ̍ to denote the limitless ocean of the sentiment of Bhakti. Caitanya clearly states that it is an impossible task to explain the principle of bhakti in totality. Caitanya spoke about the jīvas living in eighty-four lakh yonis and he attributes this reference to the Upaniṣads and the Bhāgavata Purāṇa. Among the jīvas who have received human bodies, a few follow the Vedic path and Caitanya considers them to be the civilized ones. He presents a hierarchy among the practitioners of the Vaidika Dharma starting from the karmis, jñānis and yogis, the highest of these individuals is the true devotee of Kṛṣṇa. Such a devotee, as per Caitanya, is far more elevated than even a person who is liberated. Bhakti however, Caitanya affirms is to be attained only through the guidance of a recognized spiritual mentor. These set of instructions actually lay down the founding tenets of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism which perceives the committing of a Vaiṣṇava Aparādha as extremely sinful and advocates incessant hearing and chanting of the names of Kṛṣṇa and association with devotees. It would not be out of place to state here that many of the modern Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava organizations uphold these very principles. The experience of devotional love to Kṛṣṇa is hailed as the final perfection and supersedes even the four Puruṣārthas of Dharma, Artha, Kāma and Mokṣa. Caitanya has illustrated these teachings using the metaphor of a creeper, i.e. Bhakti being a creeper and how it has to be meticulously nourished by the devotee who is compared to a gardener. Various kinds of desires, including the material ones are seen as weeds and creepers which harm the main creeper of devotion and have to be immediately removed. The essence of Caitanya ̍s teaching to Rūpa was that the highest fruition of Bhakti was the generation of pure love for Kṛṣṇa in the heart of the devotee. These instructions are considered to have been given by Caitanya to Rūpa Gosvāmin to mould him as an exalted devotee without violating the norms of the Guru Paramparā to which Caitanya and Rūpa belonged. Finally Caitanya conveys to Rūpa Gosvāmin that he has elucidated the various facets of Bhakti to him and now the onus was on him, i.e. Rūpa Gosvāmin to elaborate further on these instructions. According to Janardan Chakravarti, Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava theologians led by Rūpa Gosvāmin added the Rasa Prasthāna to the already accepted list of three prasthānas- Śruti (the Upaniṣads), Smṛti (the Bhagavad Gītā) and Nyāya (the Vedānta or Brahma Sūtras) (Chakravarti, 2000). The seeds of this addition can be traced back to the teachings given by Caitanya to Rūpa Gosvāmin.

Caitanya is supposed to have taught the principles of Bhakti and Vaiṣṇava Dharma to Sanātana Gosvāmin for a period of two months while residing in the home of Tapana Miśra at Vārāṇasī. Caitanya ̍s teachings have been spoken of as being the essence of scriptures like the Bhāgavata Purāṇa (CC 1.7.47-48). Like he had formerly taught bhakti to Rūpa Gosvāmin, Caitanya explained the same to Sanātana Gosvāmin in Vārāṇasī. Caitanya is shown to have considered Sanātana eligible for propagating Bhakti and it was for this very reason that he taught him. The roots of the philosophy of Acintya Bhedābheda are embedded in this enunciation. The jīvas, in Caitanya ̍s view are the manifestation of Kṛṣṇa ̍s marginal energy and are thus simultaneously one with and separate from him. Giving the metaphors of the sun and the fire which are located at one place but their energy and light are disseminated in all directions, so does Kṛṣṇa manifests his numerous energies in both the material and spiritual worlds. The adverse consequences of forgetting Kṛṣṇa and the working of māyā have been spoken about. Here too, to reiterate his point, Caitanya has used the example of a criminal who has been subjected to the punishment of being recurrently submerged in water and pulled out so that he may breathe and again be submerged in the water. Earthly existence has been equated with misery. The learning of the entire Vedic literary corpus is perceived as the most important aid to realize Kṛṣṇa by inducing the seeker to tread on the path of devotional love to him. To endorse his teaching, Caitanya has cited the example of an astrologer named Sarvagya who informed a poor man about the wealth left behind by the latter ̍s father. It is only when one becomes curious and eager to understand Bhakti, that these texts extend help towards achieving this objective. Caitanya, while speaking to Sanātana Gosvāmin about the various incarnations of Kṛṣṇa, spoke about the incarnation in the Yuga of Kali who will propagate the Nāma-Samkīrtana Movement attributing his revelation to the statements in the Bhāgavata Purāṇa. On being asked by Sanātana Gosvāmin about identifying an avatāra, Caitanya clearly remarked that an incarnation can be recognized only in accordance with the Śāstras and the Śāstras alone lead a conditioned jīva to attain perfect knowledge. Sanātana Gosvāmin is shown continuously posing questions to Caitanya and as per the text he did so as he wanted Caitanya to reaffirm that he himself is the Yugāvatāra in the Age of Kali. Caitanya is depicted as taken recourse to a story featuring Kṛṣṇa and Brahmā to clarify his point to Sanātana. Further, Caitanya also describes to him the form of Kṛṣṇa and asserts that even by realizing a modicum of Kṛṣṇa ̍s beauty, the three worlds become one with the ocean of love. Caitanya repeatedly makes use of a number of metaphors so that his teachings can be clearly and correctly fathomed by Sanātana Gosvāmin. Bhakti has been cherished by Caitanya as the most supreme among all other paths to self-realization. In Caitanya ̍s opinion, Jñāna and Yoga devoid of Bhakti do not create any effect and even a momentary association with a pure devotee is higher than liberation and indispensable for one keen on generating Bhakti for Kṛṣṇa. As the devotional love for Kṛṣṇa gradually starts blossoming in the heart of a devotee, he, Caitanya states, cultivates virtues like mercy, humility, truthfulness, perceiving everyone equally, being free of any faults, generosity and purity. Here in a way, the element of value education also seeps into the discourse. Such individuals do not hanker after material gains and work towards the betterment of all. They have totally subjugated the six vices and their hearts are fixed on Kṛṣṇa. Caitanya also taught to Sanātana Gosvāmin the sixty-four constituents of Bhakti and enjoined him to be in the company of devotees, chant the sacred name of Kṛṣṇa, listen to the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, take up residence in Mathurā and worship Kṛṣṇa with full faith and reverence. The discourse seen so far is what Caitanya designates as ̍ Sādhana Bhakti ̍ and he further teaches to Sanātana Gosvāmin the significance of prayojana i.e. love for Kṛṣṇa by enlisting the sixty-four and twenty-five transcendental attributes of Kṛṣṇa and Rādhā respectively. While concluding the teaching, Caitanya is believed to have commanded to Sanātana Gosvāmin his next line of action which entailed his settling in Vṛndāvana and rejuvenate the līlā sthalas of Kṛṣṇa, preach Bhakti Śāstra and ultimately author texts to establish and promote Kṛṣṇa Bhakti. If one sees the biographical details of Sanātana Gosvāmin even from a purely historical point of view, it  becomes more than evident that he executed his master ̍s instructions to their fullest and the contributions of Rūpa and Sanātana Gosvāmins in regenerating the Mathurā Region as the epicenter of Kṛṣṇa Bhakti in the 16th century CE are certainly exemplary and major landmarks in the history of this region which had suffered much on account of it being continuously ravaged by Islamic rulers. The unfortunate events which plagued the Yādavas towards the conclusion of the narrative of the Mahābhārata which also feature in the Bhāgavata Purāṇa have been designated as illusions by Caitanya and have been attributed to Kṛṣṇa ̍s external energy and therefore the followers of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism attach hardly any significance to these. However, these narratives are nevertheless extremely important from the viewpoints of the methodologies of historical analysis and literary criticism. Through various references, the Caitanya Caritāmṛta brings to the readers’ attention the total submission which Caitanya ̍s disciples including Rūpa and Sanātana Gosvāmins rendered to him.

Caitanya ̍s insistence on studying and strictly following the Bhāgavata Purāṇa can be taken as an indication of its centrality in not only the training of a Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava but also the high reverence it had garnered by the Medieval Period. Caitanya considered this text being Kṛṣṇa himself and every syllable of this text is supposed to be imbued with a variety of meanings. The narrative form of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, Caitanya explains, is a series of questions and their answers and thus facilitates the proper conclusions pertaining to knowledge. The Bhāgavata Purāṇa is venerated, as per the references in the Caitanya Caritāmṛta, as the counterpart of Kṛṣṇa in the Yuga of Kali after his passage from this world. Just like the sun provides light to those grappling in darkness, so does the Bhāgavata Purāṇa illuminate the ignorant beings with true spiritual realization. Sanātana Gosvāmin also sought Caitanya ̍s guidance for composing the Vaiṣṇava treatises as ordered by the latter. Responding to this request, Caitanya first told Sanātana Gosvāmin to approach a qualified spiritual master. The works to be written thereafter had to have a description about the qualities of a real preceptor and a sincere student. The importance of Kṛṣṇa as the object of veneration and the methods and rituals for his worship had to be specified by Sanātana Gosvāmin. Here again, one sees Sanātana ̍s commitment to his master ̍s words when he wrote a commentary on the Haribhakti Vilāsa, a text authored by Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmin (who was another close disciple of Caitanya) and it is this work which constitutes the code of behaviour, including the correct ways of worshipping images as well as observances of Vratas for a follower of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism. This work also includes instructions respecting to pilgrimage to Vaiṣṇava centres like Vṛndāvana, Mathurā and Dvārakā as well as the celebration of tithis like Janmāṣṭamī, Rāma Navamī, Nṛsiṁha Caturdaśi,Vāmana Dvādaśī and Ekādaśī. Thus this text, among numerous others, testifies to both Sanātana Gosvāmin and Gopāla Bhaṭṭa putting into practice what had been taught to them by their guru Caitanya.

In the narrative concerning Caitanya and a Brāhmaṇa boy who had lost his father coming to meet him everyday, Dāmodara Paṇḍita is shown rebuking Caitanya by stating that a teacher or an Ācārya like him should not associate himself with the Brāhmaṇa child whose mother was a young widowed Brāhmaṇī. This particular incident shows the then prevailing social outlook as well as Caitanya’s own large heartedness as a teacher towards genuine people who approached him.

One of Caitanya ̍s fundamental teachings was that Bhakti is generated through the chanting of Kṛṣṇa ̍s names in the form of a mantra and this chanting will bring about a complete transformation in the nature of the devotee (Stewart, 2010).

The disciples who were instructed by Caitanya after he had accepted Saṃnyāsa were not formally admitted through rites of passage like Upanayana and all were adults who possessed some kind of education based on the Vedic System and were thus informally taught by him. The site of the teachings was not even a Gurukūla or school but the home of some or the other devotee of Caitanya. The disciples of Caitanya like Rūpa and Sanātana Gosvāmins were almost equal to Caitanya in age. There are many such examples of such informal teaching and learning, especially in the Upaniṣads. Sage Yājñavalkya tutored his wife Maitreyi with respect to Brahman as elucidated in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad (II.iv). In the same text, Sage Yājñavalkya imparted to Janaka, the king of Videha the knowledge of Brahman (IV.i-iv). In fact the entire discourses of the Bhagavad Gītā in the Bhīṣma Parvan of the Mahābhārata as well as the Uddhava Gītā found in the Eleventh Skandha of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa exemplify informal yet profound education which ultimately leads the disciples- in these two cases Arjuna and Uddhava respectively to the ideal of Cittavṛttinirodhaḥ.

As far as the teacher was concerned, he had to be well qualified, both morally and spiritually. Caitanya, going by the details in the text, possessed both. In fact the Kaṭhopaniṣad declares that the Truth cannot be understood by the pupil if it is taught by an inferior man (I.ii.8). The text states that if the knowledge about the Self is imparted by a person who is motivated by material gains alone, the Self will never be understood. The Muṇḍakopaniṣad lays down that the teacher should know the Vedas well and must be always devoted to Brahman (I.ii.12). Gauḍīya Vaiṣnavism as evidenced from the Caitanya Caritāmṛta and other texts totally rejects the monistic ideal of Impersonal Brahman and regards Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Reality. Caitanya, as seen from the Caitanya Caritāmṛta was in the most certain terms well acquainted with various Purāṇic narratives and his mind and body were completely attuned to Kṛṣṇa. The Muṇdakopaniṣad highlights that the teacher must not withhold any knowledge and teach the truth to his pupils exactly as he knows it (I.ii.13).

The Sikṣāṣṭakam 

This eight-verse composition is supposed to be the only original work of Caitanya which has survived. This forms a part of the Antya Līlā Section of the Caitanya Caritāmṛta and in a way is a synopsis of Caitanya ̍s entire philosophical-moral outlook which was always oriented towards Kṛṣṇa Bhakti and Kṛṣṇa Preman. The chanting of Kṛṣṇa ̍s name- Śrīkṛṣṇasankīrtanam is equated by Caitanya to a detergent which cleanses the mirror of the mind and a shower which totally puts out the fire of the worldly miseries. Every syllable of the Lord ̍s name is imbued with the sweetness and life bestowing properties of nectar. The second verse also emphasized the potency of chanting the myriad names of Kṛṣṇa. Caitanya has also included the practice of virtues like humility, forbearance and treating everyone with equality by attaching no importance to oneself and it is only when such values are garnered that one truly remembers Hari. Caitanya, like many other savants prays for freedom from transmigration and seeks shelter at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. Here the spirit of total surrender to God can be clearly discerned. Caitanya also speaks about the various physical symptoms caused by the emotion of Bhakti. Assuming the sentiments of Rādhā, Caitanya considers the whole world as nothing more than a void when separated from Govinda who is his only lord and there is none other than him. The Sikṣāṣtakam beyond doubt is a spontaneous outpouring of Bhakti which created deep ruptures of a plethora of emotions in the mind of Caitanya. At the same time, this piece of writing completely does not sideline the more philosophical themes like transmigration and finally all that Caitanya craves for is pure devotion to Kṛṣṇa in every birth. The Śikṣāṣṭakam was ultimately meant to be a set of teachings which Caitanya intended conveying to his disciples and followers through his own example. It is also a worthy work of poetic genius and shows Caitanya ̍s adeptness in the discipline of poetics as well. Thus in the Śikṣāṣṭakam do the two streams of Caitanya ̍s magnetic personality as a devotee and as a preceptor converge in perfect harmony. The specialty of the Caitanya Caritāmṛta in the words of S.K. De (1942) lay, “in figuring Caitanya not only as an incarnation of Kṛṣṇa (and later on of Rādhā), but also as a passionate devotee who was at the same time a scholastic theologian of the devotional school.”

The Importance of Scriptural Learning and Svādhyayā

Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja, wherever in the Caitanya Caritāmṛta he is speaking about the supreme greatness of Kṛṣṇa he invariably alludes to the Śāstras by stating that this is even pronounced by the scriptures (CC1.2.106). This becomes more than evident from the numerous quotations from the Bhāgavata Purāṇa which Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja has included in the Caitanya Caritāmṛta as reaffirmations to his own statements. Sanātana Gosvāmin is shown to have been eager to give up his service with the Nawab of Bengal and become an ascetic. He is therefore said to have feigned an illness and due to his absence from work for several days, the Nawab arrived at his doorstep to find him studying the Bhāgavata Purāṇa. While Caitanya was living at Prayāga, Vallabha Bhaṭṭa, i.e. Vallabhācārya is believed to have sought his audience. Both Vallabhācārya and Caitanya have been presented as quoting many a verses from the Bhāgavata Purāṇa which highlighted the principle of Bhakti. Moreover, Vallbhācārya, as per the Caitanya Caritāmṛta was greatly astounded to observe Caitanya ̍s learning with respect to Bhakti. Caitanya, with utmost clarity told Sanātana Gosvāmin to base his statements on those of the Purāṇas and use the Purāṇic verses as pramāṇa. This necessitated a thorough study of the Purāṇic literature and works authored by both Sanātana and Rūpa Gosvāmins are replete with statements from it. Manuscripts of the Purāṇas may have been available to them in the Mathurā Region and as seen from a previous statement alluding to Sanātana Gosvāmin reading the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, the brothers were well equipped with the knowledge of Sanskrit and Purāṇic study was regularly done by them. The Purāṇas could well have been a part of the educational curricula taught in pāṭhaśālās of medieval Bengal as not only the two Gosvāmins but Caitanya himself was well versed in them. The Caitanya Caritāmṛta mentions that Caitanya taught Sanātana Gosvāmin over a period of two months. Caitanya instructed Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmin to depart from Jagannātha Purī and travel to Vṛndāvana to seek the shelter of Rūpa and Sanātana Gosvāmins. Once he reached Vṛndāvana he was to carry out Caitanya ̍s orders to devote all his time to chant Kṛṣṇa ̍s names, i.e. the Mahāmantra and read the Bhāgavata Purāṇa. Kālidāsa, an uncle of Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmin is believed to have recited a few verses which highlighted the greatness of a Vaiṣṇava as well as chanting the names of Kṛṣṇa. According to him, the one who chants Kṛṣṇa ̍s names is assumed to have learnt the Vedas, performed the Vedic sacrifices, taken a bath at various tīrthas and behaved as per the code of conduct prescribed for an Aryan.

The Vedic texts including the Taittirīya Saṃhitā, Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā, Kāṭhaka Saṃhitā, Aitareya Brāhmaṇa, Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa and  the Taittirīya Upaniṣad stress on the need and significance of ̍ Svādhyāya ̍ which is interpreted as the reading of scriptures (Mookerji, 1947).  The Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa accords to Svādhyāya the status of a sacrifice by which an indestructible world is attained (Mookerjee, 1947).

Caitanya, has been projected in the text as being well acquainted with the commentary of Śrīdhara Svāmī on the Bhāgavata Purāṇa and is said to have chastised Vallbhācārya for writing another commentary on the Purāṇa (the Subodhinī) wherein he has refuted Śridhara Svāmī ̍s propositions. In the opinion of S.K. De, Śrīdhara Svāmin in his commentary on the Bhāgavata Purāṇa sought a harmonious confluence of Ādi Śaṅkarācārya ̍s Advaita Vedānta and the emotionalism of the followers of the Bhāgavata Sect (De, 1942). 

The philosophical writings of the Six Gosvāmins of Vṛndāvana, especially the Bṛhadbhāgavatāmṛta and Laghubhāgavatāmṛta , were almost in totality based on the Bhāgavata Purāṇa. The Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas accept Śruti or śabda pramāṇa which can be seen in Caitanya ̍s refutation of Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya ̍s views on the Vedānta Sūtras. This was further elaborated upon by Jīva Gosvāmin in his work titled ̍ Tattva Sandarbha ̍(Chatterjee, 1993) though he interpreted ̍ śabda ̍ as the Itihāsa and Purāṇa since he considered them to be the only fault-free interpretations of the Vedas. Jīva Gosvāmin explains, “Since the words of the Vedas are now difficult to access and difficult to understand, and since sages who explain the texts mutually disagree on the meaning, the words of Itihāsas and Purāṇas, which explain the meaning of the Vedas and which are another form of the Vedas, should be discussed ” (Tattva Sandarbha, Anuchcheda 12, translation by Bhānu Svāmī ).

Among the Purāṇas, Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, starting from Caitanya himself, ascribed the greatest authority to the Bhāgavata Purāṇa. As per the belief prevalent in this Sampradāya, which finds expression in the writings of Rūpa, Sanātana and Jīva Gosvāmins, the Bhāgavata Purāṇa was the only text capable of bringing out the true essence of the Vedas, Itihāsas and the rest of the Purāṇas. Caitanya, while addressing the Advaitins at Vārāṇasī speaks of his guru teaching him verses from the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, especially the ones which extol the greatness of chanting the name of Kṛṣṇa. Further, this Sampradāya extols the Bhāgavata Purāṇa as Vyāsa ̍s own commentary on the Vedānta Sūtras (Chatterjee, 1993). The reason for this proposition may lie in the first verse of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa- janmādi asya yataḥ bearing a marked similarity to the second verse of the Vedānta Sūtras (Bhāgavata Purāṇa 1.1.1) (Gupta, 2010). It would be apposite to add here that Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa, a Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Scholar who has written the commentary known as the Govinda Bhāṣya on the Brahma Sūtras does not make any reference to the Bhāgavata Purāṇa while remarking about this particular sūtra (1.1.2).

The Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Sampradāya does not reject, as Ravi M. Gupta (2010) states, “of scripture based practice and study, for the discovery of preman does not lead to the categorical rejection of academic pursuits.” Gupta quotes a verse from Rūpa Gosvāmin ̍s Bhaktirasāmṛtasindhu which states that the Ekāntika Bhakti to Hari devoid of the Vidhi of the Śruti, Smṛti, Purāṇa and Pāñcarātra is a misfortune. This particular injunction has been introduced by Rūpa Gosvāmin from the Brahma-yāmala (Bhaktirasāmṛtasindhu, 1.2.101, translation by Bhānu Swāmī).

References to Paṇḍitas 

The text bears a reference to a Vipra being a Paṇḍita while explaining the concepts of subject and predicate (CC 1.2.77). The text notes that in the Age of Kali learned scholars (vidvāṁsaḥ) perform the sacrifice (abhiyajante) of the collective and loud chanting of the Lord ̍s names and thus worship him. Both his wives- Lakṣmīpriyā and Viṣṇupriyā are said to be the daughters of two local Paṇḍitas of Navadvipa. 

Gopīnātha Ācārya was the brother-in-law of the scholar of Sārvabhauma, with the latter teaching the former. Gopīnātha Ācārya referred to Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya as a great scholar and teacher who had many pupils. Vāsudeva Sārvabhauma  also known as Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya had settled in Jagannātha Purī on the invitation of King Pratāparudra of whose territory Purī also formed a part. Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya requested Caitanya to meet Rāmānanda Rāya – a great scholar but belonged to a depressed class at Vidyānagara on the banks of the Godāvarī during Caitanya’s pilgrimage across Southern India. Svarūpa Dāmodara (his Pūrvāśrama name was Puruṣottama Ācārya) was Caitanya ̍s friend in Navadvipa. After Caitanya accepted Saṃnyāsa, Puruṣottama left his home for Vārāṇasī where he was initiated as a Brahmacārin by Caitanyānanda Bhāratī (who was his Saṃnyāsa Guru) who instructed him to read and teach the Vedānta Sūtras. The text tells us that Svarūpa Dāmodara wanted to worship Kṛṣṇa without any perturbation and so he accepted Saṃnyāsa. However, he refrained from donning ochre coloured robes, the daṇḍa or a Saṃnyāsa name – he continued to use his Brahmacārin name. Svarūpa Dāmodara was a great scholar and if someone composed any piece of literature, like a few verses, a song, or a play, Caitanya would ask Svarūpa Dāmodara to first evaluate the work and would listen to it only if Svarūpa Damodara approved of it. While Caitanya was at Prayāga, an erudite scholar named Raghupati Upādhyāya visited him and recited verses in the praise of Kṛṣṇa which he himself had composed. He is said to have answered a number of questions posed to him by Caitanya and these very answers comprise statements attributed to Raghupati like Lord Śyāmasundara, i.e. Kṛṣṇa being the foremost of the beings and Mathurā being the greatest dhāman of the Lord.,

One of the acquaintances of Caitanya was a person named Bhagavān Ācārya who is described as a learned scholar. He had a brother whose name was Gopāla Bhaṭṭācārya who had studied Vedānta Darśana at Vārāṇasī and returned to Jagannātha Purī. Bhagavān Ācārya called on Caitanya along with his brother though the text states that Caitanya was only outwardly happy to meet the Advaitin. Bhagavān Ācārya is shown to have expressed to Svarūpa Dāmodara his wish to arrange for a discourse by his brother on the Vedānta Sūtras but Svarūpa Dāmodara declined this very idea. The education (vidyā pāṭha) imparted by the Paṇḍitas which is devoid of reverence to the Pañcatattva of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism, has been equated by Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja with the croaking of frogs is which supposed to bring their own ruin (CC 1.8.6). Among the numerous biographers of Caitanya, only Kavikarṇapūra and Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja were scholars-paṇḍitas in the true sense (Stewart, 2010).  Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja ̍s writings, including the Caitanya Caritāmṛta reveal his deep understanding of Vaiṣṇava Philosophy as enshrined in the Bhāgavata Purāṇa and this is the outcome of formal training under a bonafide preceptor.

Dabir Khās (Rūpa Gosvāmin) and Sākar Malik (Sanātana Gosvāmin) in spite of holding high administrative positions in the service of Hussain Shah, the Islamic ruler of Gauḍa were already outstanding scholars when they met Caitanya for the first time at Rāmakeli, the capital of Gauḍa (Chakravarti, 2000). 

References to Philosophical Debates 

In the context of a reference to Pūrva Pakṣa it is mentioned in the text that the opponents know the Śabdasiddhāntas but yet they come up with logical arguments to ruffle Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja (CC 1.2.108). Caitanya, while still a youth, had a long debate with one Keśava Kaśmiri who was renowned as a Digvijayī scholar. Keśava Kaśmiri became a Vaiṣṇava belonging to the Nimbārka Sampradāya. The scholar Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya tried expounding the Vedānta philosophy to Caitanya so that he may become a “Māyāvādi” Saṃnyāsi but Caitanya after seven days counter argued with him. During Caitanya ̍s pilgrimage of Southern India- scholars of Nyāya, Sāṅkhya, Mīmāṃsā (Pūrva) and Advaitins are said to have come to see him -Caitanya is supposed to have defeated all of them in debates and established his philosophy of acintya-bhedābheda and bhakti. All these philosophers are supposed to have become Vaiṣṇavas. The seventh adhyāya of the Ādi Līlā section has a long debate between the Advaitins who were based in the city of Vārāṇasī. The debate centred around the interpretation of the Brahma Sūtras as given by Ādi Śaṅkaracārya and Caitanya contesting it. This debate provides an indication of the not only Caitanya being well versed in the philosophy of Vedānta, especially with respect to the Brahma Sūtras but also the erudition of the Advaitins, who in the medieval period, had assiduously safeguarded the Advaita Vedānta Darśana. Vārāṇasī has been celebrated in the Indic Tradition as a veritable centre of learning and this debate clearly illustrates that in spite of numerous vicissitudes, the Advaitins were firmly established in the city.

Caitanya regarded Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya, a teacher of Vedānta as one of his gurus who in turn looked up to Caitanya as his preceptor and wanted him to accept Sārvabhauma as a disciple (Sarkar, 1988). At the same time, Bhaṭṭācārya has been portrayed by Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja as being intent on teaching Advaita Vedānta to Caitanya and initiating him into Samnyāsa as an Advaitin ascetic. In response to this, Gopinātha Ācārya, an associate of Caitanya argued with the disciples of Sārvabhauma that mere scholarship and teaching abilities do not lead to god realization and his grace is needed to attain it. To support his statement, Gopinātha is supposed to have quoted a verse from the Bhāgavata Purāṇa. Sārvabhauma lectured Caitanya for seven days on Advaita Vedānta and the latter is believed to have uttered not a single word in response or reaction. Finally at the behest of Sārvabhauma himself, Caitanya is shown countering him though he states that he has not studied Vedānta. Caitanya does not agree with Sārvabhauma ̍s interpretations of the Vedānta Sūtras which give a secondary sense to the aphorisms in them. Caitanya was in favour of the meanings of words as given in the lexicons and considered the Śruti, i.e. the Vedas and Upaniṣads as the sole pramāṇa. He further states that it is the Vedas and Purāṇas which enable one to understand the nature of Brahman who is another name for God in his entirety. He is shown quoting from the Bhagavad Gītā, Viṣṇu Purāṇa and Bhāgavata Purāṇa to support his arguments. Caitanya also discusses cosmology with Sārvabhauma. Though this exposition by Caitanya may verge slightly on the fanciful, it nevertheless bespeaks of his expertise in the Śruti, Itihāsa and Purāṇa which were regarded among the principal knowledge systems that constituted the educational curricula in Ancient India (Mookerji, 1947). The debate between Sārvabhauma and Caitanya is depicted to have taken place on the well established method of a Pūrva Pakṣa represented by the former with the latter standing for the Uttara Pakṣa. This tradition has been adhered to in almost all scholastic philosophical debates wherein some of the greatest intellectual luminaries of their times have participated.

The text projects the Advaitins criticizing Caitanya and his followers being greatly perturbed by this. Caitanya is said to avoid any association with them but on the invitation of one of his followers, he did meet them and is represented as exuding great radiance from his body. Prakāśananda Sarasvatī was then the head of the Advaitins at Vārāṇasī and considered Caitanya as an Advaitin himself since he was a disciple of Keśava Bhāratī. Sarasvatī is believed to have attempted to bring Caitanya onto the side of the Advaitins and according to the text is depicted as considering meditation and the study of Vedānta as the two foremost duties of a Saṃnyāsī. Apparently, Sarasvatī is represented as showing his disapproval for Caitanya ̍s incessant chanting of Kṛṣṇa ̍s name though historically this is may not be true since Advaita Vedānta is in no way opposed to chanting the Lord ̍s name.

That Caitanya was trained in Vedānta is beyond doubt since he discusses the Vedānta Sūtras with the Advaitin ascetics. However, interpretation of Vedānta ascribed to Caitanya in the Caitanya Caritāmṛta seems to be more like a device used by his followers to undermine Advaita Vedānta and Ādi Śaṅkarācārya. Caitanya was familiar with Ādi Śaṅkarācārya ̍s philosophical point of view which suggests that the curricula in those days too inducted the various interpretations of Vedānta Darśana and Caitanya had certainly made a study of them though the arguments which he is said to have put forth with respect to Advaita Vedānta and Ādi Śaṅkarācārya ̍s commentary on the Vedānta Sūtras warrant a much deeper analysis.  The Caitanya Caritāmṛta considers the Advaitins to have wrongly interpreted the Vedas and the allied literature calls them as Prachchanna Baudhas-an allegation often imposed on the Advaitins by their rivals. Advaita Vedānta accords great significance to Bhakti which is best manifested in the numerous stotras composed by Ādi Śaṅkarācārya as well the profound works of Madhusūdana Sarasvatī. The text declares that the Advaitins gave up the study of Vedānta. A disciple of Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī is said to have proclaimed that the ̍ direct ̍explanations of the Śāstras as given by Caitanya make the minds and ears of categories of learned scholars content. The text represents Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī himself trying to negate the philosophy of Advaita and making a statement to the effect of admitting the inefficacy of all the six Darśanas (Sāṃkhya, Yoga, Nyāya, Vaiśeśika, Mīṃāṃsā and Vedānta) in realizing Kṛṣṇa and it is only through the conclusions given by Caitanya that will be able to comprehend the Absolute Truth. Prakāśananda Sarasvatī admitted his defeat before Caitanya and became his disciple. He was then onwards known as Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī who composed a couple of works centering round Kṛṣṇa Bhakti and glorifying sacred Gauḍiya Vaiṣṇava pilgrimage sites like Vṛndāvana (Tapasyānanda, 2010).

The system of logic and debate were the intrinsic features of the Ancient Indic Education System and many of the Ancient, Early Medieval and Medieval texts corroborate this (Singh, 2023). Apart from generic allusions to Caitanya debating with scholars who had a different philosophical standpoint, the philosophical contestations of Caitanya with the Advaitins Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya and Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī are especially noteworthy where the Pūrva and Uttara Pakṣas are almost equally formidable as far as their respective arguments are concerned though eventually it is Caitanya who emerges as the victor. In the course of these debates, Caitanya ̍s personality as a learned scholar comes to the fore which in a way relegates to the background his identity as an incarnation as well as an emotionally charged devotee. These statements in fact bespeak of the extreme sectarianism harboured by the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas and the acute despise with which they viewed the followers of Advaita Vedānta.

The Subjects Taught 

Education within the fold of the Vaidika-Paurāṇika Dharma was mainly based on Sanskrit. The Caitanya Caritāmṛta is composed in Bengali and Sanskrit. The author Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja was well versed in philosophy respecting the Bhāgavata Purāṇa and his knowledge about works of poetry like Jayadeva ̍s Gīta Govinda in chaste Sanskrit comes to the fore in the concluding sections of the Anya Līlā segment of the Caitanya Caritāmṛta. Similarly Rūpa Gosvāmin penning the two plays Lalita-mādhava and Vidagdha-mādhava serves as a rejoinder to his mastering the technique of drama, i.e. the Nāṭyaśāstra and his familiarity with older works of literature. The Six Gosvāmins of Vṛndāvana led by Rūpa Gosvāmins were not only among the most ardent devotees of Kṛṣṇa during the Medieval Period but they were also intellectuals, philosophers and theologians of the highest order who provided a sound religio-philosophical foundation to the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Sect apart from endowing it with a veritable textual tradition based chiefly on the teachings of Caitanya. This factor can be gleaned through the various references in the Caitanya Caritāmṛta as well as the works of the Six Gosvāmins. Moreover the temples of Vṛndāvana which they built, resided in and conducted their sādhanā like the Rādhā-Dāmodara Temple were rich repositories of the manuscripts of the works authored by the Gosvāmins. These temples could thus have functioned as training centres for initiating Gauḍīya Vaiṣnava practitioners.

Hussain Shah is credited for opening a college in Gauḍa and most probably it was meant for Islamic Education. Rūpa and Sanātana Gosvāmins must have certainly possessed a thorough knowledge of Persian on account of their administrative posts. Though Hussain Shah is believed to have encouraged vernacular Bengali literature, it was Persian which enjoyed the status of the official language. That Persian was also studied by non-Muslims becomes apparent from Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja himself learning the language. The Islamic rulers in Northern, Central and Peninsular India, for reasons too obvious, encouraged Islamic Education on a mass scale. Their coins bore legends in Arabic and Persian with a number of epigraphical records also composed in these two languages.


The Muṇḍakopaniṣad states that aparā vidyā consists of the four Vedas and six Vedāṅgas. The parā vidyā is through which the knowledge about Brahman is gained and it is eternal (I.i.5). The same Upaniṣad defines aparā vidyā as that knowledge which leads to the realization of the Ultimate Reality and the Vedānta is used as a synonym for this knowledge (III.ii. 6). Just like one encounters in the Upaniṣads, the teachings enunciated by Caitanya were in the form of a sequence of questions, which his disciples posed to him and he subsequently answered them. This method is titled as the ̍ catechetical ̍ method which is found across almost all Ancient and Early Medieval Indian texts (Mookerji, 1947). Though Caitanya in his pūrvāśrama was a teacher of the Vedāṅga Vyākaraṇa, which falls into the category of aparā vidyā, all his later discourses were pertaining entirely to parā vidyā which had almost no traces of worldly teachings. The actual teaching was almost entirely oral but instances of copying manuscripts of the scriptures and other devotional literature was widely prevalent. The Six Gosvāmins of Vṛndāvana must have had access to the manuscripts of the Purāṇas on whose authority they based their textual deliberations as instructed to them by their preceptor Caitanya.

The Vedāntins, more specifically the Advaitins most probably followed the methods of learning as validated by Ādi Śaṅkarācārya in his works like the Śārirakabhāṣya on the Brahma Sūtras and the Upadeśasāhasrī (Mookerji, 1947). The primary texts which a novice had to study were those Vedic ones which brought out the unity of the Self and gave various definitions of the Supreme Self or Brahman (Mookerji, 1947). This aspect of Vedic studies had to be undertaken as a Brahmacārin. Ādi Śaṅkarācārya has also prescribed the manner in which meditation and austerities need to conducted for the realization of Brahman.

In the Indic System of Education the teacher was not meant to be a taskmaster but a guide to the students to enable them to attain the highest objective of education which was liberation (Joshi, 2012). In the case of Caitanya as a teacher, especially as a spiritual preceptor, he systematically and patiently guided his disciples like Rūpa and Sanātana Gosvāmins to experience and dwell in Kṛṣṇa Preman as this was the ultimate objective envisaged by Caitanya and his erudite disciples.

As far as the actual teaching method was concerned, rather than mere theoretical instructions, the teacher taught the student through the medium of his own personal character and conduct. The teacher perfectly understood the capacity of each individual student and taught him accordingly. Both these points apply well to Caitanya as he himself was a living example of Kṛṣṇa Preman and the spiritual values enshrined in the Śikṣāṣtakam. Caitanya appears to have been a teacher and religious leader who was highly insistent on the observance of a strict code of religious and moral ethics which is best illustrated through the episode concerning Choṭo Haridāsa.

A student was viewed as a sādhaka who was to be led to self realization by the teacher. Svādhyāya was one of the greatest redeeming hallmarks of the Ancient Indic Education System (Joshi, 2012).

The basic discipline expected from a student was a life of austerity and simplicity with little concern for material objects. This can very well be discerned from Caitanya not approving Sanātana Gosvāmin possessing an expensive blanket leading the latter to give it up.

The Indic System of Education makes a distinction between a Ṛṣi and a Paṇḍita (Joshi, 2012). A Ṛṣi was a self realized seer who was given more to tapas and  the observance of other austerities who was equipped with the knowledge and experience of parā vidyā which was meant to drive away ignorance. The Paṇḍita on the other hand was a proficient scholar who, as in the examples given in the Caitanya Caritāmṛta, was a treasure trove of theoretical knowledge but had not attained self realization. The Paṇḍita ̍s primary task was to impart the disciplines constituting aparā vidyā and the approach of a Paṇḍita was more normative than empirical. The text refers to a number of such Paṇditas and Caitanya himself was one in his pūrvāśrama. The Caitanya Caritāmṛta carefully documents the metamorphosis of Caitanya from an academic scholar to a realized sage and the discourses given by him to various ascetics and disciples like Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya, Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī and Vallbhācārya clearly highlight this process of transformation.

The Ancient Indic Pedagogy was founded on the principle recognizing and appreciating the individual faculties of the student and enabling him to develop them better. This pedagogical approach differed immensely with the Behaviourist Pedagogy which aimed at creating students with uniform training and to mould all students, irrespective of their personal abilities, in accordance with a rigid curriculum which was directed towards making the students fit for employability alone. Caitanya was a product of the Ancient Indic Education System and from the references in the text, was given full freedom to study and later teach the Vedāṅga of Vyākaraṇa which may have well been the subject of his choice.

The Ancient Indic Pedagogy comprised three seminal steps- śravaṇa, manana and nidhidhyāsana (Joshi, 2012). The works of the Six Gosvāmins of Vṛṇdāvana embody these very processes. All except Jīva Gosvāmin had taken direct instructions from Caitanya thus implying the step of śravaṇa. The theories that they postulated were constructed on the knowledge delivered to them by Caitanya and they could not have done so had they not contemplated and meditated on their master ̍s set of teachings. 

Kireet Joshi (2012) has enumerated a few characteristic features of the Ancient Indic Pedagogy and one of these was the inclusion of subjects, like grammar, prosody, astronomy as well as the science of drama. Caitanya ̍s mastery of grammar has already been discussed. The manner in which he evaluated and critiqued the literary creations of his disciples like Rūpa Gosvāmin are more than a proof of his in depth knowledge of prosody and nāṭyaśāstra. Similarly the dramas penned by Rūpa Gosvāmin mirror his own accomplishments in these academic domains.


One of the most stupendous yet effective ways of securing the parā vidyā was the acceptance of Saṃnyāsa, which literally meant casting away from oneself the home, family, material possessions or anything else which may induce desire (Mookerji, 1947). The evolution of the  institution of Saṃnyāsa as the medium to procure parā vidyā can be clearly deciphered from the Samnyāsa Upaniṣads. The Caitanya Caritāmṛta literally overflows with the allusions to Samnyāsa and Samnyāsins, specially the Advaitin ascetics. This is understandable since the protagonist of the text- Caitanya was himself a Samnyāsin par excellence and so were his closest disciples like the Six Gosvāmins of Vṛndāvana. It may apposite to state here that Caitanya ̍s own elder brother had taken to the ascetic mode of life giving up home and familial ties. Similarly his chief opponents were the Śaṅkarite Samnyāsins belonging to the Advaita School who bore titles like Purī and Bhāratī.

S.K. De has observed that Mādhavendra Purī and Īśvara Purī could well have been Śaṅkarite Saṃnyāsis rather than belonging to the sect of Madhvācārya. The latter initiated Caitanya at Gayā. S.K. De has argued that the association of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Sampradāya with the Mādhva Sampradāya dates to a period after the passing away of Caitanya (De, 1942). Caitanya received Eka Daṇḍa Saṃnyāsa from Keśava Bhāratī who belonged to the Sampradāya of Ādi Śaṅkara Bhagavatpāda at Katwa at the age of twenty-four in 1510 CE. He was given the new name Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya. Keśava Bhāratī is depicted as knowing Caitanya ̍s real identity as Lord Kṛṣṇa.

Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya is represented as being wanting to serve Caitanya. Caitanya in turn is shown referring to Sārvabhauma as a teacher of Vedānta -Jagadguru -the master and well wisher of all the people in the world. When Caitanya, as a young Saṃnyāsi met Sārvabhauma  he honoured him as the benefactor of all Saṃnyāsis so Caitanya wished to be make him his spiritual master. Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya on his part intending to make Caitanya listen to the philosophy of Vedānta so that he may not swerve from the Saṃnyāsa Āśrama as he was very young.

Findings and Results

The Guru was perceived as a divinity. His stature as a preceptor and teacher is a major facet of his divinity. Though none of the Six Gosvāmins of Vṛndāvana or for that matter any pupil of Caitanya, inaugurated a formal line of disciplic succession as found in the Śāṅkara and other Vaiṣṇava Sampradāyas like the Śrī Vaiṣṇava and Mādhva, their writings became the founding elements of a system through which a seeker was enabled to grasp the philosophy of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Sampradāya as well as experience and spread Kṛṣṇa Preman.

The Indic Education System as gleaned through the text of the Caitanya Caritāmṛta conveys to the reader the general educational conditions in Bengal during the late 15th and the 16th centuries CE. In spite of an oppressive Islamic rule, Bengal, like other provinces in India, was able to sustain at least some of the aspects of the Ancient Indic Education System. These were the study of Vedāṅgas like Vyākaraṇa, the Itihāsa-Purāṇa Literature as well as Darśanas like Nyāya and Vedānta. From the case of Navadvipa we understand that the local village schools were the institutions meant for primary education and their curricula were modeled on the lines of the Vedas and allied subjects. Children from relatively affluent families were often tutored by private teachers before seeking admission to the village school. The Caitanya Caritāmṛta also chalks out a structure, albeit rudimentary for the emergence and growth of the educational system as found prevailing in numerous organizations worldwide professing their faith in Kṛṣṇa and Caitanya.

Bhakti free from dry intellectualism and its final fruition in the engendering of Kṛṣṇa Preman was the mainstay of Caitanya ̍s teachings. Though Bhakti is more a matter of personal experience and revelation rather than a mere theoretical discipline, Caitanya made a purposeful attempt to disseminate it, especially among the people of Vraja, Bengal and Odisha. As far as the scriptural basis of this Bhakti was concerned, it was undoubtedly the Bhāgavata Purāṇa and Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja has espoused the cause of this text as the substratum of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Bhakti time and again through pages of the hagiography. Bhakti as a discipline was already fairly systematized by the Early Medieval Nārada and Śāṇḍilya Bhakti Sūtras as well as the Bhāgavata Purāṇa. Caitanya and his disciple Rūpa brought about a conjunction between Bhakti and the Rasa Siddhānta which forms a part of the discipline of Aesthetics. This interrelation was however inspired by the Bhāgavata Purāṇa which in one of its opening verses speaks of itself as the very Abode of Rasa (Rasamālayam) and the inhabitants of the earth as ̍ rasikās ̍ and not Bhaktas.

Caitanya ̍s training, knowledge and teaching of the Vedāṅgas in his Pūrvāśrama and his teachings pertaining to purely spiritual and devotional themes after his accepting Saṃnyāsa shed valuable light on the dichotomy of his personal in these two distinct phases of his life. From being an erudite though haughty scholar in his younger days, Caitanya metamorphosed into a mature preceptor and religious leader whose life breath was verily Kṛṣṇa Bhakti and Kṛṣṇa Preman.

Bengal and Odisha, like many other parts of India had a sizeable number of Paṇḍitas with many of them being closely related and connected to Caitanya. The references in the text to these scholars, in a way suggest the endurance and continuance of the Ancient Indic Education System in the Medieval Period when attacks and raids as well as the intellectual imperialism launched by the Islamic rulers had become the order of the day.

The traditions of manuscript copying which entailed the preservation of the various Indic Knowledge Systems has been mentioned in Caitanya Caritāmṛta. As in the case of Buddhist and Jaina Monasteries, the Vaidika Maṭhas and Temples were rich repositories of manuscripts. The works on Vyākaraṇa and Nyāya which Caitanya is said to have authored must have been in the forms of manuscripts. He himself got manuscripts of devotional texts made. The Six Gosvāmins of Vṛndāvana as well as the biographers of Caitanya including Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja must have had access to manuscripts of various scriptural texts which they quote so profusely in their own works.

The Caitanya Caritāmṛta is also valuable for the various episodes it incorporates which bring out the importance of the Guru-Śiṣya Paramparā. Caitanya had the utmost reverence for Mādhavendra Purī, his paramaguru and his own guru Iśvara Purī who in turn was a disciple of Mādhavendra Purī. A kind of fraternal bond grew between Caitanya and his disciples. Caitanya is seen according tremendous respect to his opponents as well as disciples. This is substantiated by the deliberations he had with Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī, Sārvabhauma Bhāṭṭācārya as well as Vallabhācārya though we cannot discount the possibility of Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja adding his own creative touches in his bid to glorify Caitanya as surpassing the rivals. Though Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja may have exaggerated the number of students seeking admission to Caitanya ̍s school, this assertion could well be based on sound facts. This can well serve as a pointer to Caitanya ̍s knowledge respecting the subjects he taught in the school as well as the pedagogy he might have employed for the same. The text, however remains silent about the pedagogical methods used by Caitanya but going by the overall character of Indic Education System as extant in medieval Bengal, one cannot reject the high possibility of Caitanya taking recourse to the Vaidika method as typified in the Upaniṣads. In some of his discourses, to drive his point home, Caitanya did narrate stories from the Purāṇas, which was a  pedagogical tool put into use right from the times of the early Upaniṣads and the Buddhist Jātaka tales are themselves the end product of this pedagogy.

Caitanya, through his scholastic pursuits as a student and teacher added considerably to the reputation of Navadvipa as a centre of Vaidika-Paurāṇika learning. Similarly the Indic Educational Culture which developed and was strongly entrenched in the town of Navadvipa contributed remarkably in shaping Caitanya ̍s role as a pupil, teacher and scholar. His father himself was a man of scholarship and Caitanya was formally educated under the tutelage of acclaimed scholars. It is this very spirit of scholarship which became vividly manifest from the large literary corpus produced by his disciples as well as the later generations of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava philosophers like Viśvanātha Cakravarti Ṭhākura, Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa and Kedarnath Datta.

Apart from Navadvipa, Vārāṇasī and Prayāga retained their fame as the principal centres of learning in India. Going by the Caitanya Caritāmṛta, Vārāṇasī in the 16th century CE had a large community of Advaitin Saṃnyāsis and it may be stated here that this city itself features prominently in the life and work of Ādi Śaṅkarācārya as well. Apart from Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī, there were many other Vedāntins of outstanding eminence who lived in Vārāṇasī in the 16th century CE. They were Narsiṁhāśrama, Śeṣa Govinda, Rāma Tirtha with Madhusūdana Sarasvatī being the most prolific and acclaimed among them (Chandramouli, 2018). Like Caitanya, Madhuśūdana Sarasvatī also hailed from Bengal and was in fact the former ̍s junior contemporary. It were the scholastic works of Madhusūdana Sarasvatī which brought about the amalgamation of the two seemingly opposite traditions of Ādi Saṅkaracārya ̍s Advaita and the theistic Kṛṣṇa Bhakti as postulated by the Bhāgavata Purāṇa and propagated by Caitanya. Three of Caitanya ̍s most profound discourses were administered at Vārāṇasī and Prayāga. Caitanya also visited the Dakṣiṇāmnāya Śṛṅgeri Maṭha in modern Karnataka during the course of his southern pilgrimage. Apart from this single statement, the text provides no other details of this visit. Moreover, practically nothing is known about Caitanya ̍s interaction (if at all) with the Govardhana Maṭha in Purī which like Śṛṅgeri was also established by Ādi Śaṅkarācārya in 9th century CE.

Kings in the Medieval Period who were adherents of Sanātana Dharma extended patronage to Vaidika learning by providing financial assistance to scholars and this is illustrated through the example of Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya taking up residence in Purī at the behest of the local ruler. The Mughal Emperor Akbar and his Kachavaha Rajput commander Māna Siṁha also provided the requisite economic patronage to the Gosvāmins of Vṛndāvana in their efforts to regenerate the Vraja Region as told to them by their master Caitanya. The spiritual training infused by Caitanya in the minds of his disciples led to the formulation of the philosophical doctrines of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Sampradāya as well as its institutionalization best represented in the massive temple building activities in Vṛndāvana, which were initiated by Rūpa and Sanātana Gosvāmins and retained by the rest of the four Gosvāmins.

 The Śikṣāṣṭakam, the only work attributed to Caitanya bears in its lyrics the awe inspiring personality of Caitanya as a teacher and preceptor. This composition appears towards the end of the Antya Līlā Section of the Caitanya Caritāmṛta when Caitanya was nearing his end. This work not only provides the moral and ethical structure of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Sampradāya as conceptualized by Caitanya but also gives the necessary instructions on conduct and the attainment of Kṛṣṇa Preman through Kīrtana.

To conclude, the picture of the Indic Education System which emanates from the Caitanya Caritāmṛta is partial and sketchy but its relevance as a primary source to understand the educational conditions prevalent in the Medieval Period cannot be underrated. The text thus affords a clear perception of the endurance and resilience of the Ancient Indic Education System in the Medieval Period against the backdrop of adverse circumstances and religious persecution. The fact that the Indic Education System could brave the innumerable depredations to which it was subjected is due to its pursuit of eternal and universal values directed towards self realization for every seeker.

List of References

A. Primary References

1. Bhāgavata Purāṇa, Volumes I and II. (2015). Edited by V.G. Desai and translated by P.K. Thavare. Gita Press.

2. Bhaktirasāmṛtasindhu. (2009) Authored by Rūpa Gosvāmin and translated by Bhānu Swāmī. Second Edition. Sri Vaikunta Enterprises.

3. Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad.(2018). Translated by Swami Madhavananda. Sixteenth Reprint. Advaita Ashrama.

4. Brahma Sūtras. (2013) Commentary by Baladeva Vidyabhushana and translation by Bhanu Swami. Sri Vaikunta Enterprises

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24. Valpey, Kenneth R. (2014). Circling in on the Subject: Discourses of Ultimacy in Caitanya Vaiṣṇavism. In Ravi M. Gupta (Ed.). Caitanya Vaiṣṇava Philosophy: Tradition, Reason and Devotion (pp. 1-26). Ashgate Publishing Ltd.

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