Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/110

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106 GROWTH OF HINDUISM. adoration of the founder, Chaitanya, is thus a sort of family wor- ship in Orissa. The landed gentry worship him with a daily ritual in household chapels dedicated to his name. After his death, a sect arose among his followers, who asserted the spiritual independence of women. In their monastic enclosures, male and female cenobites live in celibacy, — the women shaving their heads, with the exception of a single lock of hair. The two sexes chant the praises of Vishnu and Chaitanya together in hymn and solemn dance. But the really important doctrine of the sect is their recognition of the value of women as instructors of the outside female community. For long they were the only teachers admitted into the zananas of good families in Bengal. Fifty yeafs ago they had effected a change for the better in the state of female education ; and the value of such instruction was assigned as the cause of the sect spreading so widely in Calcutta. Vallabha-Swami, circ. 1520 A.D. — The death of Chaitanya marked the beginning of a spiritual decline in Vishnu-worship. About 1520, Vallabha-Swami preached in Northern India that the liberation of the soul did not depend upon the mortification of the body ; and that God was to be sought, not in nakedness and hunger and solitude, but amid the enjoyments of this life. An opulent sect had, from an early period, attached itself to the worship of Krishna and his bride Radhi — a mystic significance being of course assigned to their pastoral loves. Still more popular among Hindu women is the adoration of Krishna as the Bala Gopala, or the Infant Cowherd, perhaps unconsciously affected by the Christian worship of the Divine Child. Another influence of Christianity on Hinduism may possibly be traced in the growing importance assigned by the Krishna sects to bhakti, or faith, as an all-sufficient instrument of salvation. Krishna- worship. — Vallabha-Swamf was the apostle of Vishnuism as a religion of pleasure. The special object of his homage was Vishnu in his pastoral incarnation, in which he took the form of the divine youth Krishna, and led an Arcadian life in the forest. Shady bowers, lovely women, exquisite viands, and everything that appeals to the luscious sensuousness of a tropical race, are mingled in his worship.