Finding a Birthplace

How to Cite

Varuni Bhatia. (2022). Finding a Birthplace: Journal of Vaishnava Studies. Journal of Vaishnava Studies, 23(1), 161–192. Retrieved from


The discovery and eventual establishment of Śrīdhām Māyāpur Nabadvīp as the precise birthplace of Krishna Caitanya (1486-1533) in the last century and a half is an important chapter not merely in the institutional history of Gauḍīya Vaishnavism, but from the perspective of nineteenth century social and intellectual history of Bengal. In this paper, I will explore the extended networks—biographical, social, and colonial—that inform the discovery of Caitanya’s birthplace by Kedarnath Datta ‘Bhaktivinoda’ (1838-
1914), who lies at the center of this discovery, and who is, not unlike his contemporaries, such as the Swamis Vivekananda and Dayananda, or Madame Blavatsky, primarily a product of his times. He is constituted by the social and conceptual grammar of colonial Bengal, and his carefully executed discovery of the birthplace, alongside the claim to precision, allows us to piece together an
important chapter in the intellectual history of the orthodox sections of Bengali society in a period of high colonialism.

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