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Mahānubhāva Saṃpradāya


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An anti-Vedic and antinomian Kṛṣṇa-bhakti tradition, founded by Cakradhar in 13th-century Maharashtra. By the end of the following century, the tradition had separated into thirteen ‘currents’ (āmnāyas), and isolated itself from the surrounding Hindu culture of caste and svadharma, partially by preserving its extensive Marathi literature—much of it hagiographical material about Cakradhar and his successors—in a secret code until the 20th century. Mahānubhāvas worship Parameśvara, the one, absolute God, who manifests himself in the form of five avatāras, the ‘five Kṛṣṇas’: i) Cakradhar, ii) his guru, Govindaprabhu, iii) Govindaprabhu's guru, iv) the composite deity, Dattātreya, and v) Kṛṣṇa. Worship is largely internal and meditational. The āmnāyas, now reduced to two, are composed of lay followers and initiated male saṃnyāsīns, although, in line with the early tradition's antinomianism, women were originally initiated as well.

Subjects: Hinduism.


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