Encounter with Modernity
Kedarnath Datta Bhaktivinoda: Vaisnava Theologian
by Shukavak N. Dasa
Foreword by Thomas J. Hopkins
envisioned the modern Hindu as the saragrahi (essence seeker),
one who could appreciate the truth held within all religious perspectives.
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explanation of human comprehension of the divine not only sheds
light on Vaishnavism but also blasts many ridiculous stereotypes
held by some Westerners. ... those earnestly pursuing an understanding
of Indian religion, history and culture, especially devotional yogic
practice, will find this book vitally interesting." (Jeff Ahrens,
American Library Association Booklist
Shukavak has written a clear analysis of the strains between traditional
faith and modern critical thought and the distinctive ways that
Kedarnath sought to resolve these tensions. He examines how Kedarnath,
a modern, sophisticated man could understand, experience and explain
lucidly the complex theology and simple faith of devotion to Radha-Krishna
in the Caitanya Vaishnava fashion." (Joseph T. O'Connell, University
Das acknowledges his own identification with the spiritual lineage
of Kedarnath Datta. He at the same time stands back from offering
a hagiographic exposition and says so openly at the outset. If I
were studying a figure from my own tradition, I would do the very
same thing. In my view, Shukavak's book displays real intellectual
integrity on this point." (Willard G. Oxtoby, University of Toronto)
have read Dr. Shukavak's work with great interest and enjoyment.
I find it to be an excellent work of scholarship: carefully researched,
convincingly argued, and very well written. This book is an important
scholarly contribution to our knowledge of modern India and of the
Hindu tradition in the modern world."
demonstrates both excellent research skills and scholarly integrity
in bringing to light a much more complete, and much more compelling,
account of Bhaktivinoda's religious development than hagiographies
have previously told us, and, that he (Bhaktivinoda) had perhaps
the broadest ranging religious experience of anyone of his generation...Variety
of experience, of course, does not in itself produce great religious
thought; it must be synthesized in the mind of a spiritual genius.
Shukavak Das leaves little doubt that Bhaktivinoda was such a genius,
a devotee whose vision transcended his culture and his time."
assessment of these issues and his analysis of Bhaktivinoda's solutions
is quite simply the best I have seen... The result is a clarification
of Bhaktivinoda's thought from a scholarly perspective without in
the least infringing on his integrity as a devotee." (Thomas J.
Hopkins, Franklin & Marshall College)
Table of Contents
Foreword by Thomas J. Hopkins
How to Order
this well-researched, comprehensive, and objective study Dr.
examines Bhaktivinoda's reinterpretation and application of
Hinduism in the context of rational thought.
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
Author's Comments: 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 Datta's life. This study relied particularly upon
three formerly untranslated sources of information: Bhaktivinode's
autobiography Svalikhita-jivani, Bhaktivinoda's Sri
Krishna-samhita, a theological work, and his journal Sajjana-tosani.
Author Bio Data: Shukavak Dasa received his Ph.D.
in South Asian Studies and his Masters degree in Sanskrit grammar
from the University of Toronto in Canada. He is presently a
practicing Hindu priest in Southern California and lecturer
at many local University.