The purpose of this essay is to illuminate the function and place of eroticism in the theology in the Caitanya school of Vaishnavism. Essentially, I seek to answer the following question: How does the orthodox school of Caitanya Vaishnavism see, understand, and even revere the erotic world of the divine as expressed in some of India’s sacred texts? The essay will be an exploration of some of the main issues that arise when the amorous or romantic dimensions of Krishna bhakti are encountered. My focus here is primarily on Jayadeva’s employment of these themes in his famed work, Gītagovinda. First, I will review some scholarship on the erotic that sees it as morally and emotionally questionable or even transgressive. Then I will explore the kinds of precautions scholars and practitioners make with regard to the erotic elements in Krishna’s līlās. I will also show how Jayadeva’s poetic work, the Gītagovinda, presents a
powerful blend of both devotional and erotic expression. Further, I will review the Caitanya Vaishnava school’s interpretation of the erotic, and finally, I will suggest a redefining and broadening of the very term erotic by drawing from a modern Western psychoanalytic theorist.
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