Vaishnava Identity in Modern Dress

How to Cite

Ferdinando Sardella. (2022). Vaishnava Identity in Modern Dress: Journal of Vaishnava Studies. Journal of Vaishnava Studies, 15(2), 99–126. Retrieved from


People either loved Gosvåmî Bhaktisiddhånta Sarasvatî2 for his saintly qualities and strength of character, or hated him for his uncompromising critique of Vedåntic monism, radical positivism, tantric eroticism and archaic caste structures. His principled stands on these and other issues earned him the title “lion guru.” For some he was a saint, a chaste ascetic, a prophet; for others he was a maverick, an upstart, a rebel. Son of a prestigious colonial judge, yet member of the Bengali elite; loyal to the British Crown, yet critical of colonial exploitation: he founded one of the most controversial organizations in colonial Bengal, initiated thousands of disciples from every social sphere, lectured before scholars, governors, ministers and kings, and even had followers from as far away as England, Germany and Burma. Although his movement expanded at a rapid pace, it became divided after his passing away, gradually splitting into a number of distinct sub-branches. It has nonetheless survived to this day as a minor— but entirely visible—segment of contemporary Vaishnavism, with hundreds of thousands of sympathizers around the world. Thus far, however, Bhaktisiddhånta's life has received little academic attention.

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