A Survey of Radha-Krishna Devotion

A Contemporary Scholarly Survey of Radha-Krishna Devotion

Several years ago, I read Vaishnavism: Contemporary Scholars Discuss the Gaudiya Tradition, Folk Books, 1992 edited by Steven J. Rosen, foreword by Edward C. Dimock, Jr.. I benefited from it, and wrote an essay in response that I published on my website. I reread the essay in 2013 to prepare it for a book of my collected writings, and it does an excellent job of showing the solid theological background of Universalist Radha-Krishnaism from a traditional Chaitanya Vaishnav perspective.

I published it on my stevebohlert.com site, but when my devotional writings migrated from there to here, it doesn’t seem to have made it, or at least I can’t find it. I am republishing a reedited, updated edition as a free pdf download, since it is forty-two pages and can be read on a variety of readers at your convenience.

Rosen (Satyaraja Dasa, a disciple of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami) interviewed scholars with expertise in different areas of the field and put together a comprehensive survey of the Chaitanya Vaishnav tradition. I comment on some of the most pertinent points:

Dr. Dimock says,

. . . the doctrine of acintya bhedabheda, i.e. ‘simultaneous difference and non-difference, which is beyond cognition,’ posits a tolerance for ambiguity to which the closest parallel in western thought seems to be quantum theory. (viii)

A number of other scholars referred to this doctrine in novel ways expanding its application. Rather than either/or, it is both/and, which gives much room for complementary perspectives and differing interpretations. The tradition is a diverse heterodoxy despite efforts of certain camps to establish an orthodoxy in their image. Ambiguity is fundamental to the spiritual quest for that which is basically unknowable in our present state.

To read the rest, right click or control click this link to download the pdf: Vaishnavism 2

Comments are closed.