Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/109

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

VISHNUITE REFORMERS. 105 the city of the Musalman God is to the west [Mecca]; but explore your own heart, for there is the God both of the Musalmans and of the Hindus. Behold but One in all things. He to whom the world belongs, he is the father of the worshippers alike of Alf and of Rama. He is my guide, he is my priest.' Chaitanya, 1485-1527 A.D. — In 1485 Chaitanya was born, and spread the Vishnuite doctrines, with the worship of Jagannath, throughout the deltas of Bengal and Orissa. Signs and wonders attended Chaitanya through life; and during four centuries he has been worshipped as an incarnation of Vishnu. Extricating ourselves from the halo of legend which surrounds this apostle of Jagannath, we know little of His private life except that he was the son of a Brahman settled at Nadiya in Bengal; that in his youth he married the daughter of a celebrated saint ; that at the age of twenty-four he forsook the world, and, renouncing the state of a householder, repaired to Orissa, where he devoted the rest of his days to the propagation of the faith. He disappeared in 1527 a.d. But with regard to his doctrine we have the most ample evidence. He held that all men are alike capable of faith, and that all castes by faith become equally pure. Implicit belief and incessant devotion were his watchwords. Contemplation rather than ritual was his pathway to salvation. Obedience to the religious guide is one of the leading features of his sect ; but he warned his disciples to respect their teachers as second fathers, and not as gods. The great end of his system, as of all Indian forms of worship, is the liberation of the soul. He held that such liberation does not mean the annihilation of separate existence. It consists in nothing more than an entire freedom from the stains and the frailties and sinful desires of the body. The Chaitanya Sect. — The followers of Chaitanya belong to every caste, but they acknowledge the rule of the descendants of the original disciples (gosdins). The sect is open alike to the married and unmarried. It has its celibates and wandering mendicants, but its religious teachers are generally married men. They live with their wives and children in clusters of houses around a temple to Krishna (an incarnation of Vishnu). The