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Final Word

Stewart, Tony K.:
The Final Word : the Caitanya Caritāmṛta and the Grammar of Religious Tradition / Tony K. Stewart. - New York : Oxford University Press, 2009. - ca. 472 S.
ISBN 978-0-19-539272-2
US$ 74,00
DDC: 294.5512

In the early sixteenth century, a charismatic Bengali Brahmin, Viśvambhara Miśra, inspired communities of worshipers in Bengal, Orissa, and Vraja with his teachings. Miśra took the ascetic name Kṛṣṇa Caitanya, and his devotees quickly came to believe he was divine. The spiritual descendents of these initial followers today comprise the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava movement, one of the most vibrant religious groups in all of South Asia.
   In The Final Word, Tony Stewart investigates how, with no central leadership, no institutional authority, and no geographic center, a religious community nevertheless came to define itself, fix its textual canon, and flourish. The answer, he argues, can be found in a brilliant Sanskrit and Bengali hagiographical exercise: the Caitanya Caritāmṛta of Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja. Written some seventy-five years after Caitanya's passing, Kṛṣṇadāsa's text gathered and synthesized the divergent theological perspectives and ritual practices that had proliferated during and after Caitanya's life. It has since become the devotional standard of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava movement.
   The text's power, Stewart argues, derives from its sophisticated use of rhetoric. The Caitanya Caritāmṛta persuades its readers covertly, appearing to defer its arrogated authority to Caitanya himself. Though the text started out as a hagiography like so many others-an index of appropriate beliefs and ritual practices that points the way to salvation-its influence has grown far beyond that. Over the centuries it has become an icon, a metonym of the tradition itself. On occasion today it can even be seen worshiped alongside images of Kṛṣṇa and Caitanya on altars in Bengal.
   In tracing the origins, literary techniques, and dissemination of the Caitanya Caritāmṛta, Stewart has unlocked the history of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, explaining the improbable unity of a dynamic religious group. [Verlagsinformation]

Abbreviations. xxi
Transliteration. xxiii
Dating Systems. xxv
Figures. xxvii
Tables. xxix
1. Facing the Peril of Disintegration. 3
2. Coping with the Enigma of Divinity. 45
3. Early Formal Theories of Manifest Divinity. 99
4. The Ascendency of the Erotic. 139
5. Hierarchizing Theologies: Sanctioning New Practices. 189
6. The Rhetoric of Primer, Commentary, Canon. 233
7. A Phenomenology of Repetition. The Self-Replicating Community. 273
8. The Legacy of the Caitanya Caritāmṛta: Four Examples of the Grammar of Mimicry. 317
Personae. 367
Bibliography. 381
Index. 409


(Bildquelle: American Institute of Bangladesh Studies)
TONY K. STEWART is Professor of South Asian Religions and Literatures at North Carolina State University. He divides his time between Raleigh, London, and Dhaka. Faculty page

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