Playing with the Winds: The Place of Yoga In the Vaisnava Movement of Sankaradeva of Assam

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Phyllis Granoff. (2022). Playing with the Winds: The Place of Yoga In the Vaisnava Movement of Sankaradeva of Assam: Journal of Vaishnava Studies. Journal of Vaishnava Studies, 14(1), 159–175. Retrieved from


The 16th century witnessed the birth of several major Vaiß∫ava groups in the northeast of India. The devotional movement begun in Bengal by Caitanya, 1486–1533 C.E., is certainly the best known among Western scholars; it was also arguably the one with the greatest impact outside its homeland.1 But both Assam and Orissa also saw the rise of creative and powerful religious movements centered on devotion to Krisna. In Assam, Saõkaradeva, 1459-1568 C.E, preached single-minded devotion to Krisna and spread his message through renderings into Assamese of Sanskrit texts, most importantly of sections of the Bhågavata puråna. He also composed popular dance dramas based on stories from the Bhågavata and other Vaiß∫ava purå∫as, and numerous emotional songs that continue to be recited in the communal prayer meetings held at the Vaiß∫ava sattras throughout Assam. Saõkaradeva’s main doctrinal work, the Bhakti-ratnåkara, consists of carefully selected excerpts primarily from the Bhågavata, but also from other purånas, that forcefully substantiate his belief in devotion to Krisna as the sole means of salvation. The root texts from the purånas have been kept in their original Sanskrit and Saõkaradeva added his own Sanskrit commentary to the verses, in general following the commentary to the Bhågavata puråna of Srîdharasvåmin

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