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A North Indian Vaiṣṇaiva bhakti poet who was the founder of the Rādhavallabhī sampradāya. Born into a brahmin family near Mathurā, he moved in his thirties to Vṛndāvana where, in 1535, he consecrated an image of Kṛṣṇa called Rādhavallabha (‘Lover of Rādhā’). Hitaharivaṃśa himself was devoted to Rādhā, assuming the role of a female attendant or close girl-friend (sakhī), the better to contemplate the eternal union of her and her husband Kṛṣṇa, in the hope of engendering a liberating emotion or aesthetic experience (rasa) of joy (hita). Given this exclusive devotion, his attitude to orthodox Brahmanical practices seems to have been antinomian; indeed, according to the hagiographies, he was initiated directly and miraculously by Rādhā herself into the sampradāya which he effectively founded. (There is, however, a Gauḍīya tradition that, before a falling out, he was originally a disciple of Gopāla Bhaṭṭa.) Three works of devotional poetry can be reliably attributed to him, the Sanskrit Rādhāsudhānidhi, and two Braj bhāṣā anthologies, Caurāsīpada (Hitacaurāsī) and Spuṭavāṇī, each the subject of numerous commentaries. Hitaharivaṃśa is linked with Svāmī Haridāsa and Harirāma Vyāsa as one of the ‘triad of Hari’, also known as the ‘triad of connoisseurs’ (rasika-trayī) because of their concern to evoke a sense of aesthetic delight or rasa in their audience.

Subjects: Hinduism.

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