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Dr. Krishnadas Sinha Sastri and Abstract of his Ph.D Research Paper

Dr. Krishnadas Sinha Sastri
Awarded Ph. D Degree by Gauhati University on his Research Work titled as
 “A study of Hari-bhakti-vilasa and its relevance to Bishnupriya Manipuri Community"

Profile of Dr. Krishnadas Sinha:

               Dr. Krishnadas Sinha Sastri hails from an obscure village namely Jarailtali 9 Km. away from Kailashahar, the district headquarter of North Tripura. Connectivity with the town is hindered due to Manu river which is known by epithet of ‘Sorrow of Sateramiah howr’ on account of frequent devastating flood.  He started his primary education in village school. His grand father Late Pandit Hariballav Sinha Vidyalankar, vyakarantirtha had impressed him for sanskritic studies in child-hood. This had a far reaching impact on his life. In course of time, he acquired ‘Sastri’ titles in Sahitya (Kavya) and Saraswata Vyakarana.  After doing graduation with honours, he did post-graduate degrees in two subjects- philosophy and Sanskrit. He participated to National level seminar on Mahakavi Kalidasa Samaroha held in Agartala where he was awarded the honour of Sanskrit poet. He participated in many govt. programmes on youth personality development as resource person to explain growth of leadership in the light of Gita. He has written many articles in Bengali and English which were published in local magazines. Currently, he is a senior Civil Service Officer of Tripura.


Title of the thesis:
A study of Hari-bhakti-vilasa and its relevance to Bishnupriya Manipuri Community.

Name of the University awarding Ph.D : Gauhati University

Name of the Guide                             : Dr. Sujata Purkayastha, Professor and
                                                          H.O.D Sanskrit Department(Philosophy branch)

Date of award of Ph.D                        : 30th July, 2010
Dr. Krishnadas Sinha Sastri has carried out this research work under the guidance of Dr. Sujata Purkayastha, M.A.,Ph.D, Professor and Head of the Department , Gauhati University with the following objectives:

The Bishnupriya Manipuris are a small people struggling to restore their identity lost in the vagaries of history. This group of homo sapiens has been referred to by different writers in their works.The socio-religious consciousness particularly source of culture from which the Bishnupriya Manipuris have been finding spiritual satisfaction for centuries is yet to be written.

Secondly, a panoramic survey has shown that Gopala Bhatta’s (one of the six Goswamis of Gaudiya Vaisnavism) Hari-bhakti-vilasa, a vaisnava smriti/agama has influence upon the Bishnupriya Manipuris as a solid foundation of right faith and canons for ritualism. Through an in-depth study of Hari-bhakti-vilasa he has endeavoured to show linkage with Bishnupriya Manipuris and impact of it on evolution of religio-cultural consciousness of this community.

Some of the chief examiners of his thesis were Dr.B.K. Swain, Professor and HOD of Dharmasastra of Sri Jagannath Sanskrit University, Orissa, Dr. K. Pratap, Professor and HOD of Philosophy of Tirupati University, Andhra Pradesh and others. The experts of the thesis have appreciated highly for its originality. As for instance Dr. Swain in his adjudication report has observed, I accept all the views of the researcher expressed in this thesis. This is a scientific work adopting the up-to-date research methodology. This work is recommended for publication in the present form, etc.

The abstract of the thesis is laid down below which may give a glimpse on the line of dissertation-


 “A study of Hari-bhakti-vilasa and its relevance to Bishnupriya Manipuri Community"

            Hari-bhakti-vilasa is a liturgical and disciplinary compendium. The entire body of ritualistic and devotional practices of Caitanyaism has been codified by Gopala Bhatta, one of the six Vrindavana Gosvamis in his outstanding Vaisnava  work, the Hari-bhakti-vilasa.This is an epitome of Vaisnavite customs, which envisages some topics on Smriti and in this sense it may be considered as an important Smriti work of  Gaudiya Vaisnavism. The Hari-bhakti-vilasa testifies to the erudition of its author in the Vaisnava literature and Puranas from  which numerous extracts have been quoted. The Hari-bhakti-vilasa has dealt elaborately with the extant Vaisnavite festivals of the medieval period. For a study of Vaisnavism in medieval Bengal, we can not perhaps do without it. This stupendous compilation is now regarded to be the highest authority of the religious practices of Gaudiya Vaisnavism.

Generally the Hindus follow the injunctions of the Smritis in their socio-religious life. The Bishnupriya Manipuris are mostly Ksatriyas by caste. They also follow the Hindu system of gotra in all rituals. While uttering Vedic mantras their surname is pronounced as ‘Devabarmana’. On the basis of historical proofs the Bishnupriya Manipuris are groups of Indo-Aryan people living in the political boundary of Assam, Tripura, Myanmar and Bangladesh and are a fraction of the people who migrated from Manipur during 18th and 19th century on account of political insecurity and Burmeese attack. Their language is also developed from Indo-Aryan branch. The socio-religious history of the Bishnupriya Manipuri community is yet to be written. Gaudiya Vaisnavism is the living religion of the Bishnupriya Manipuris and they depend on the Hari-bhakti-vilasa for regulation of their festivals and rituals. The culture of a society can be known from the festivals they perform. The main objective of the present research is to make a study of the Hari-bhakti-vilasa in order to show its impact on the religio-cultural life of the Bishnupriya Manipuris. So far as my knowledge goes, no writer has yet attempted to survey the impact of Hari-bhakti-vilasa on the religious field of Bishnupriya Manipuris. While studying the Hari-bhakti-vilasa of Gopala Bhatta I have  noticed  importance  it carries as guidebook for  the Bishnupriya Manipuris. The present study proposes to show that many regulations of the Hari-bhakti-vilasa are still alive, that they govern the everyday life of the Vaisnava Hindu community and permeate the life of Bishnupriya Manipuris.

The smriti regulates the social and individual life of man in the society.  Hari-bhakti-vilasa aims at an exegesis of the obligatory and occasional rites and ceremonies to be observed by each and every follower of the faith. Each vidhi or injunction included in the work is fortified by profuse citations from the Puranas, Samhitas, Tantras and other scriptures. It has been accepted as the most dependable guide for cultivation of Vaidhi or Sadhana Bhakti− a stepping   stone to the attainment of  Prema-bhakti, the unconditioned supreme  love for God.

Hence, in the present work, an attempt has been made  to expound  the ethical norms and rules relevant to Bishnupriya Manipuris and the content of Hari-bhakti-vilasa, its status as smriti, nibanda, āgama and its relationship with Gaudiya Vaisnavism. The present dissertation entitled A Study of Hari-bhakti-vilasa and its relevance to the Bishnupriya Manipuri Community consists of seven chapters. A number of charts or table and photographs have also been presented in many places.  

In the first chapter of the thesis authorship of the Hari- bhakti-vilasa is discussed giving different arguments in support of the authorship of Gopala Bhatta. The biography of Gopala Bhatta who is admitted to be the author of the book has been discussed next. Then I have discussed the date of composition of the Hari-bhakti-vilasa and its subject-matter in nutshell. Towards the end of the chapter I have pointed out the relevance of the Hari-bhakti-vilasa to the Bishnupriya Manipuri Community and the scope and purpose of the study .

This chapter deals with the definitions of Smriti, Nibanda and Agama, discussion on these topics being necessary in order to determine the status of the Hari-bhakti-vilasa which is generally referred to a Gaudiya Vaisnava Smriti . We have discussed in detail the nature of a Smriti, its contents and authoritativeness. Similarly the nature and characteristics of the Nibanda and the Agama have been explained with enumeration The Vaisnava view that Hari-bhakti-vilasa is a smriti has been discarded on the ground that manifolds topics of smriti are not treated in any fixed manner in this book .The view of regarding it as a Nibanda is also refuted for absence of the characteristics of Nibanda in it. Finally on close examination finding the presence of agamic tendencies and characteristics, the Hari-bhakti-vilasa has been termed as an Agama, rather a Vaisnava Agama..

The topic undertaken for discussion in this chapter is the Hari-bhakti-vilasa and Gaudiya Vaisnavism. Here Caitanya’s philosophy advocating spiritual democracy and universal love has been discussed. For better understanding of the relationship between the Hari-bhakti-vilasa and Gaudiya Vaisnavism a comparative discussion of the Nabadvipa disciples of Chaitanya and Vrindavana Gosvamis has been made. The Hari-bhakti-vilasa provides code and guidance for Vaisnava rituals, but it is found that this work departs in many details from the accepted views of the Gaudiya Vaisnava sect. In Hari-bhakti-vilasa some Vaisnavite festivals which are ommited in Gaudiya Vaisnavism have been discussed. Inspite of such minor differences the Hari-bhakti-vilasa, has served the purpose of fulfilling the lacuna in absence of any methodical exposition of rituals and practices of the Gaudiya vaisnavas. The rituals or duties of the Vaisnavas are to be defined, as the rituals of Bengal Vaisnavism can not be regulated by other smriti works. Caitanya therefore, instructed his disciples to create a guide book for the sect which was actualized by the composition of Hari-bhakti-vilasa. It has become an important compendium for the Gaudiya Vaisnavas. All these are discussed in this chapter.

This chapter has been entirely devoted to the discussion of the religio-cultural history of the Bishnupriya Manipuris. The historical sketch of the community has been described covering the following points: origin and development of Bishnupriya Manipuris, places of their settlement, population, division among the Bishnupriya Manipuris, dialects, vocabulary, script of their language, social structure etc. An in-depth study has been made on the topics. Regarding origin of the Bishnupriya Manipuri community different theories are conceived by Dr. K.P. Sinha. Views of Manipuri historians like Mahendra Kumar Singha, R.K. Jalajit Singh L.I.Singh, Ch. Manihar Singh and European writers like E.T. Dalton, G.A. Grierson, Dr. R. Brown, G.H. Damant, ICS, T.C. Hodson etc. have been discussed. Apart from some Manipuri chronicles viz. Manipur Chakram ,Khumal Purana etc. origin of this community has been traced to the Bhagavata Purana also. That the Bishnupriya Manipuri language certainly belongs to the Indo-Aryan group of language has also been discussed indicating its morphological class. It is also shown that the word Bishnupriya itself is resultant form of Sanskrit language. Some cursory reference to some festivals of this community has been made here to show connection with the cult of Gaudiya Vaisnavism. Finally I have shown that the Bishnupriya Manipuri community has high social orderliness and a rigid structure of the social discipiline as a conservative race devoted to Vedic culture.

In this chapter I have attempted to give an idea of the impact of Gaudiya Vaisnavism on the religio-cultural consciousness of Bishnupriya Manipuri community through the explanation of religio-cultural evolutionary history of the community. The adoption and impact of Gaudiya Vaisnavism is a via media for the Bishnupriya Manipuris tantamounting to subscribing the instructions and sermons of the Hari-bhakti-vilasa in their religio-cultural life.

This chapter is the key topic of the thesis where I have tried to asses the impact of the Hari-bhakti-vilasa on religious practices of the Bishnupriya Manipuri Community. Discussion has been made on the prohibitory and prescriptive practices adopted by the Bishnupriya Manipuris from the Hari- bhakti-vilasa. Besides, the occasional observance and obligatory rites which have influence on the Bishnupriya Manipuris are also discussed. It has been shown that Hari-bhakti-vilasa is the source of the ritual and festivals of the Bishnupriya Manipuris which they practice till today. That the Hari-bhakti-vilasa has a pervasive influence on the development of religion and culture of the Bishnupriya Manipuri Community has been shown here with evidences.

This is the concluding chapter. Here I have summarized the findings. The healthy admixture of Caitanyaism and Hari-bhakti-vilasa has developed a culture of the Bishnupriya Manipuris in the line of bhakti leaned towards the philosophy of maduryabhava propagated by Chaitanya of Bengal. The Bishnupriya Manipuris have been finding solace or spiritual satisfaction for centuries by performing devotional practices following the Hari-bhakti-vilasa.


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