ABSTRACT

The rich textual background to Caitanya Vaiñëava tradition will be a natural starting-point for our investigation, not least because contemporary practitioners, both Indian and Western, will invariably quickly refer to one or more of their sacred texts in any inquiry about their worship practices. Here we will view three defi nitive texts to get a sense of the important contours of the Caitanya Vaiñëava textual corpus pertinent to image worship, an element of devotional practice (sädhana-bhakti). In this way we will identify a particular religious locale as the basis for numerous further writings that constitute Caitanyaite written tradition as a whole. These three texts draw from and partially form the greater galaxy of Indian ritual practices centered on temple culture as it emerged from early medieval times (c. 500-1200 CE) into the Muslim and early modern period (c. 1200-1750 CE). At the same time they provide the basis for the distinctive features of the Caitanyaite constellation of practice traditions developing from the sixteenth century to the present day. This is the case, in differing ways, for both the Indian and the Western temples we will be investigating in Chapters 2 and 4.