Dates: 12/10/2015 - 20/11/2015
Mode of Delivery: online
Level: 4 (Year 3)
Credit Value: 20 (for regular BA Theology and Religious Study)
The Caitanya-caritamrita (“The Nectar Acts of Sri Caitanya”) is the magnum opus of Krishnadas Kaviraja, a sacred biography that is foundational for all followers of Sri Caitanya and his path of Krishna-bhakti. As such it has served Sri Caitanya’s followers since its completion in the early 17th century as a source of theological understanding, devotional inspiration, and means of connection with Sri Caitanya and his immediate associates. In this course we will explore the Caitanya-caritamrita from several perspectives, providing students with frameworks for reading and relishing this text as a lifetime literary companion, but also for considering various angles of understanding such as the text’s hints about historical and social conditions. Whether or not one is already familiar with the Caitanya-caritamrita, the content and delivery of this course are sure to open one to a deeper appreciation of the Caitanya Vaishnava tradition.
This module is Bhaktivedanta College’s BA degree program in Theology and Religious Studies, accredited by the University of Chester. To pursue the BA, you must complete the application procedure and be accepted into the program. The academic year starts in September. This module can also be taken without special requirements. You may study the BA module as an auditing participant, independent of BA accreditation, without an obligation to complete the final assessment. You would be expected to complete the reading assignments, view/hear the lectures, and take part in the discussion forums. By clicking “Enrol Now” you will be redirected to Bhaktivedanta College Online Campus, where you will proceed with registration and payment. The Paypal fee for this module is €99 fully inclusive. Once your registration is complete, you will have access to the virtual classroom and all learning materials.
Upon successfully completing this module, you will be awarded with a Certificate of Attendance mailed to your home address.
Teacher: Krishna Kshetra dasa (Dr. Kenneth R. Valpey) holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, an M.A. in Religious Studies from Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, an M.St. in the Study of Religion from Oxford University, and a D.Phil. (Ph.D.) from Oxford University (2004) for his thesis on Caitanya Vaisnava image worship. He has taught at the University of Florida, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the University of Pula (Croatia), and (since its inception) Bhaktivedanta College in Belgium, where he has taught a module on the Caitanya-caritamrita to third-year College students since 2007. In addition to various published articles and his published doctoral thesis, he is now collaborating with Radhika Ramana dasa (Dr. Ravi M. Gupta) on a pair of books on the Bhagavata Purana, to be published by Columbia University Press, New York. He is a permanent Research Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies.
Students are expected to attend all lectures and seminars. Distance learning students will participate in the lectures as explained in section 11 of this module descriptor.
The module covers the following topics:
- Introduction to the Caitanya Caritamrta: a) Historical context, sources, authorship and the role of the Caitanya Caritamrta in Gaudiya Vaishnavism; b) presenting the structure and overview of the main narrative.
- The Divinity of Caitanya: Presenting the scriptural basis and narrative evidence in the Caitanya Caritamrta for the doctrine of Caitanya as avatar.
- The principal associates of Caitanya: Presenting a systematic review of the four main characters of the narrative in terms of their relationship with Caitanya and the doctrine of the ‘panca-tattva’.
- Main characters as role models: A consideration of the life and relationships of the main associates of Caitanya as role models.
- Caitanya as scholar. An examination of the educational background and principal philosophical debates in the Caitanya Caritamrta in the light of contemporary debate in Hinduism (e.g. caste, bhakti and brahminical tradition).
- The Theological basis for mantra meditation (Maha Mantra) as primary practice in the Caitanya Caritamrta.
- Religious teachings in the Caitanya Caritamrta: 1) Readings from Caitanya’s conversation with Ramananda Raya and instructions to Raghunatha Das.
- The Religious teachings of the Caitanya Caritamtra: 2) Readings from Caitanya’s Instructions to Rupa and Sanatana Goswami.
- Krishna worship in the Caitanya Caritamrta: A consideration of the deity narratives in the text and the status of Krishna worship.
- Gender roles in the Caitanya Caritamrta: An examination of the gender roles in the Caitanya Caritamrta.
- Guru and tradition (sampradaya) in the Caitanya Caritamrta: Examining the role of guru, discipleship and traditional lineage in the Caitanya Caritamrta.
- The Siksastkam: Readings from the eight verses written by Caitanya in the light of his life and teachings.
To challenge and deepen students’ knowledge and understanding of the Chaitanya Charitamrita by providing a detailed knowledge and analysis of its historical context, structure and content. To nurture a reflective approach to the message and teachings of the text in the light of personal and institutional practice.
Methods of Learning and Teaching and Formative Assessment
The teaching will be done primarily through interactive lectures, with audio-visual presentations, group discussions and some guided individual research and reflection outside class.
Appropriate forms of delivery and assessment will be offered to distance learning students to ensure comparability of learning opportunity. Lectures and seminars onsite will be video recorded; within 24 hours the video will be available in the moodle environment. We will also have separate MP3 audio recordings of the class.
- Demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the historical, cultural and theological background to the Caitanya Caritamrta in the context of wider Hindu scripture, belief and practice.
- Demonstrate a detailed and systematic understanding of the central narrative, main characters, and relationships within the text.
- Elucidate and evaluate biographical and theological themes in the light of historical, cultural and religious traditional contexts.
- Develop the ability to engage in discussion and presentation of scripture and philosophy.
Assessment and Reassessment Components and Weighting
1 Portfolio (4,000 word equivalent) 100% [LO 1 – 4] Coursework
4,000 word equivalent portfolio:
Distance students – 2 x 2,000 word essay (50% each)
Campus students: 1 x 20 minute presentation plus reflective notes [1,500 words] (50%) and 1 x 2hr exam (50%)]
Reassessment: As assessment.
Chatterjee, A. N. (1983). Sri Krishna Caitanya, A Historical Study on Gaudiya Vaishnavism. New Delhi, Associated Publishing Company.
Dimock, E.C. & T.K. Stewart (1999). Caitanya Caritamrta of Krishnadas Kaviraj. Cambridge, Harvard University Press.
Hayes, G.A. (1999). “Vaisnava Sahajiya Appropriations of Gaudiya Vaisnavism.” Journal of Vaishnava Studies, 8/1 Fall, pp. 77-90.
Kapoor, O.B.L. (1994). The Philosophy and Religion of Sri Caitanya. New Delhi, Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers.
Majumdar, A. P. (1969). Caitanya, His Life and Doctrine: A Study in Vaishnavism. Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.
Manring, Rebecca. (2005) Reconstructing Tradition: Advaita Acarya and Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism at the Cusp of the Twentieth Century, New York.
Prabhupada, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami (1974). Sri Caitanya Caritamrta. Los Angeles: BBT.
Rosen, S. (1988). The Life and Times of Lord Caitanya. New York, Folk Books.
Smith, F.M. (2006).The Self Possessed: Deity and spirit possession in South Asian literature and Civilization. New York.
Stewart, T.K. (2010). The Final Word: The Caitanya Caritamrita and the Grammar of Religious Tradition. New York.