Department of Sanskrit, University of Mumbai organized a lecture on ‘Gaudiya Bhakti Tradition’ by Shri Shaunak Rishi Das on 20th March 2014 between 11.00-1.00 p.m. Shaunaka Rishi Das is the Director of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies (OCHS), a position he has held since the Centre’s foundation in 1997. He is a Hindu cleric, a lecturer, a broadcaster, and Hindu Chaplain to Oxford University.

He took an analytical overview of origin and development of Gaudiya Vaishnavism in a very lucid and intellectual manner. He expounded various concepts like Bhakti, philosophy and literary tradition of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. He explained how the philosophy of achintya bhedabheda stands different from other Bhakti cults. Sources for this cult are Bhagavadgita and Bhagavata Purana.

Bhakti is the end and means for Gaudiya Vaishnavas and Krishna as Supreme Reality and not the avatara of Vishnu. Bhakti is defined in very unique manner as ‘participation or sharing’ with the Lord. It’s a doctrine which makes one act and not a passive one. He explained the spiritual significance of krishna’s rasa lila and how divine love between Radha and Krisha indicate the mystic relation between jiva and Ishavara as they are one as well as different.

Significance of rituals, samkirtana and surrender to God are different dimensions of Gaudiya Bhakti. He also touched the topic from social perspective. Spread of Gaudiya Vaishnavsim in different parts of country and outside country.

Apart from this, he emphasized the need of theological enquiry, interfaith dialogue in academic scenario. He while giving answers to the queries of audience, rightly pointed out the importance of ahimsa and environmental awareness present in Hindu thought.

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