Tuesday, July 27

Texts, artefacts throw light on Vaishnav heritage

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For the past six years, monks of the Gaudiya Mission worked silently and tediously to build this museum in the heart of Kolkata. Till you enter the rather narrow lane in Bagbazar and stand in front of the mammoth structure, you will never guess it can exist amid the chaos in the area. On Tuesday, after Sri Chaitanya Museum is inaugurated by CM Mamata Banerjee, it will be accessible to all. The museum not only offers a glimpse into rare memorabilia associated with the life of Sri Chaitanya and his six disciples, it also throws light on Vaishnav heritage of Bengal.

The Gaudiya Mission (earlier Math), established by Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, has just turned 100 and with the inauguration of the museum it will complete the three-year celebrations kicked off in 2016 by PM Narendra Modi in the city.

Perhaps, the most valuable display will be a hand-written portion of ‘taalpatra’ that bears Sri Chaitanya’s original handwriting about 600 years ago. He had added his comments, popularly known as ‘tippani’ in Vaishnav literature, to Bhagwat Geeta. This was recovered by the monks of the Mission from the ancestral residence of Vrindavan Das Thakur in Burdwan, who is known for biography of Sri Chaitanya — Sri Chaitanya Bhagbat.

Nearly 300 rare handwritten ‘punthis’ (texts) will be on display of which at least 50 are invaluable texts written by six disciples of Sri Chaitanya and some other Gaudiya Vaishnavite scholars that date back to the 16th century. These are considered vital links not only to history of Bengali literature, but also the socio-cultural status of Bengal at that time. Among the most valuable ‘punthis’ that will be on display are, ‘Yugalashtakam’ and ‘Radharamanshtak’ of Jiva Goswami, ‘Chaitanya Mangal’ of Lochan Das, ‘Mukunda Muktabali’ of Rupa Goswami and ‘Chaitanya Charitamrita’ of Krishnadas Kabiraj.

“While we had some ‘punthis’ in our collection, there are some that we collected from Gaudiya Vaishnav temples and other seats of learning. The piece of parchment with Mahaprabhu’s handwriting has still not been deciphered,” said Madhusudan Maharaj, assistant secretary of the Mission.

Apart from the scripts, the museum will also display a ‘Patta Dor’ — a rope made of cloth, that was perhaps collected by Sri Chaitanya himself during his stay in Puri. This rope is used to tie up the three idols of Jagannath, Balaram and Subhadra.

 

Source: Times of India

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