The man without bondage

Navadwip, a town in the Nadia district of Bengal, situated on the river Ganges, 75 miles north of Calcutta, was a great trading centre and seat of Hindu learning in the 15th century.

Sanskrit logic (nyáy) for which Bengal is most famous among all the provinces of India, was very highly developed and studied here, and the fame of its scholars was unsurpassed in the land. But, if we may believe the biographers of Chaitanya, the atmosphere of the town was sceptical and unspiritual. There was a lack of true religious fervour and sincere devotion. Proud of their intellectuality, proud of the vast wealth they acquired by gifts from rich Hindus, the local pandits despised bhakti or devotion as weak and vulgar, and engaged in idle ceremonies or idler amusements. Vedantism formed the topic of conversation of the cultured few; wine and goat’s meat were taken to kindly by the majority of the people, and such Shakta rites as were accompanied by the offering of this drink and food to the goddess and their subsequent consumption by her votaries, were performed with zeal and enthusiasm.

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