International Journal of Hindu Studies

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 25–43 | Cite as

Ethics and Aesthetics in Early Modern South Asia: A Controversy Surrounding the Tenth Book of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa

  • Kiyokazu Okita


Kṛṣṇa’s relationships with the Gopīs of Vraja, described in texts such as the Bhāgavata Purāṇa were controversial in the precolonial period. This paper first summarizes the teachings of Caitanya (1486–1534), the inaugurator of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism who promoted the Purāṇa. The paper then discusses Rūpa’s Ujjvala- nīlamaṇi (sixteenth century) where he promotes Kṛṣṇa’s paramourship in relation to the Gopīs. This is followed by an analysis of both Jīva’s (sixteenth century) view on Kṛṣṇa’s matrimony with the Gopīs and the refutation of Jīva’s view in the Svakīyātvanirāsavicāra written by Viśvanātha Cakravartī (seventeenth century). By tracing the process of “transcreation” concerning Kṛṣṇa narratives, the paper demonstrates the complexity of this controversy, which continues even to the present day. In addition, the paper argues that the production of commentaries provided an intellectual outlet for Hindu theologians in early modern South Asia to express their own perspectives on controversial topics while remaining faithful within their tradition.


GauḍīyaVaiṣṇavism Hindu theology paramourship matrimony early modern South Asia 


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I thank the following colleagues for their valuable comments on various parts of this paper: Diwakar Acharya (University of Oxford), David Buchta (Brown University), Bergljot Chiarucci (Kyoto University), Jonathan Edelmann (University of Florida), Kengo Harimoto (Mahidol University), Monika Horstmann (University of Heidelberg), Rembert Lutjeharms (Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies), Yuko Yokochi (Kyoto University), and Somdev Vasudeva (Kyoto University). I am also grateful to two anonymous reviewers for their comments. I am of course fully responsible for any errors that remain in this paper. My research has been supported by a JSPS Grant-in-Aid for Young Scientists (B) (15K16726) and by the Hakubi Centre for Advanced Research, Kyoto University.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sophia UniversityTokyoJapan

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