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Title: Politics and religion in eighteenth-century North India : the rise of public theology in Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism
Author: Patel, Sachi (Sunit)
ISNI:       0000 0004 7430 7670
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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Despite the prolific authorship within the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava tradition, it had not produced a single text that addresses the theological basis for engagement with public or social systems, nor any that offer guidance or insight into how a practitioner might behave or integrate into such environments. Nor have they in any substantial way referred to politically orientated texts such as the Dharma-śāstras. The tradition's most prominent texts relate instead to philosophical expositions on themes such as bhakti rasa or devotional aesthetic sentiments. However, in the early-eighteenth century, we notice an intriguing phenomenon, suddenly a series of works are fashioned to rationalize and promote a system of integration with the socio-political circumstances of their time. This fascinating period within Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava history witnesses the production of specialized treatises that provide theological foundations to endorse and encourage responsible public conduct grounded on notions such as karma and varṇāśrama. This thesis adopts a two-fold approach, the close reading and examination of this new genre of Sanskrit based works, alongside reviewing the contemporary context these works emerge in. The political maneuverings of this historical era became a critical factor in invoking the production of these texts, and consequently these works reflect the interests and concerns of Jaisingh II, the ruler of a precolonial North Indian polity, the Kachvāhā dynasty. The texts were specific tools employed by the tradition to address the apparently contradictory mandate to reconcile responsible public engagement with the esoteric transcendent nature of bhakti practices, formulating a public theology which placed at its center bhakti practice. Through examining this innovation, I extract the perspectives from four critical figures in this period, king Jaisingh II, and Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava scholars Viśvanātha, Kṛṣṇadeva and Baladeva, enabling me to gain a comprehensive understanding of the exact nature of public theology for this tradition in this compelling era.
Supervisor: Flood, Gavin Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available