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The present book is a comprehensive and comparative study of the origin and development of the concept of Avatra in the theological and biographical literature of India: Vedic, Sanskrit, Pali and Bengali. It seeks to understand the incarnated divinity of Chaitanya (1486?1533) and the socio-religious and psychological factors responsible for his apotheosis during his life-time. The study also shows how the concept of Avatra, though un-Vedic in origin, has absorbed many Vedic elements of solar myth and natural allegory, has synthesized various elements from the epico-puric tradition and has ultimately blossomed forth as an eclectic theory in the Bengal school of Vaiavism. It further shows that both Vaiavism and the concept of Avatra owe their origin to Ka Vsudeva, the great synthesizer of the Aryan and non-Aryan cultures in ancient India and ascribes the theoretical development of the concept of Avatra in the medieval period to various attempts of interpreting Chaitanya's life and personality. In this study, Avatravda does not merely remain to be a theological doctrine, but turns out, on in-depth scrutiny, to be also a method of analysis and interpretation of both history and its maker with stress on synthesis and syncretism.
The study dwells upon many relevant topics like relationship between Avatravda and Vyhavda, psychosomatic symptoms of Avatrahood, zoomorphism and mythic elements in the stories of the ten incarnations of Viu, historical significance of the episode of Kalki and chronology of the mytho-historic Avatras with the help of the puric calendar of the four ages.
About the Author
Janmajit Roy received his Ph.D. degree from the Gauhati University in 1989. A poet and essayist apart, he has been a keen researcher since his joining Karimganj College, his Alma Mater as a lecturer in the department of Bengali, which he now heads. His researches cover a wide range of subjects like the Ryaa, ancient Indian chronology, historiography of Bengali literature in south Assam, modern Bengali poetry, Bengali orthography and astrology.
Table of Contents
1. The Hindu Concept of Avatara : Its Origin and Development
2. Signs and Symptoms of Avatarahood
3. The Avataras : Legends and Allegories
4. The Avataras : Myth and History
5. Krsna Vasudeva as the Nucleus
6. The Theory of Avatara in the Bengal Vaisnavism
7. Chaitanya the Avatara
8. Meaning of the Great Advent