Gaudiya Math

(est. 1930s)
   The Gaudiya Math (monastery) is an organiza-tion founded in the 1930s to promote Chaitanya VAISHNAVISM in India, and later around the world.
   The modern revival of the BHAKTI (devotional) yoga tradition of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486–1534) is generally attributed to the efforts of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur (born Kedarnath Dutta, 1838–1914). A lifelong follower of the devotion to Lord KRISHNA, he concentrated his last decades on creating various programs to spread the devotion, especially the Nama Hatta program designed to promote the chanting of the holy name. Among his accomplishments, along with his colleague Srila Jagannath das Babaji, was the rediscovery of the birthplace of Sri Chaitanya.
   Bhaktivinode Thakur’s work was carried for-ward by his son, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur (1874–1937). Bhaktisiddhanta, together with Kuñja Babu and other devotees, founded the Gaudiya Math in the 1930s. He emphasized the personal nature of the godhead, in distinc-tion to the view that had become dominant in eastern India, that the divine was basically impersonal. He also worked to build the preach-ing centers established by his father into full ashrams. Most importantly, he tried to put into effect the desire of his father to send Vaishnavite disciples to the West.
   The first center of bhakti yoga in England opened in 1933 as the Gaudiya Mission Society of London; on July 20, representatives of the Gaud-iya Math had an official meeting with the king. A second European preaching center was opened in Berlin. Meanwhile, additional centers were being established across India, with a concentration in Bengal and along the route of the GANGES River to BRINDAVAN. A conscious effort was made to establish centers in the places known to have been visited by Chaitanya. An active publishing pro-gram was developed. Besides its own accomplish-ments, the rise of the Gaudiya Math was seen as a stimulus to other organizations that continued Chaitanya’s teachings.
   The math has become best known through the Western Mission started by one of his former members, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896–1977), a disciple of Bhaktisiddhanta. The later told Prabhupada in 1936 to prepare himself for a mission in the West. In 1965, already of advanced years, he moved to the United States and began the INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS (ISKCON). Though independent of the math, ISKCON would become the most effective instrument in carrying out the goals of the math’s founder. In the last decades of the 20th century, in spite of numerous ups and downs, it was still teaching devotion to Krishna in many countries of the world.
   ISKCON’s success spawned more than 20 new organizations that follow Krishna devotion. In the 1990s, most of these organizations joined with the surviving Gaudiya Math in India to create the World Vaisnava Association, as part of an attempt to coordinate and unify the global mission.
   Further reading: Shukavak N. Dasa, Hindu Encounter with Modernity: Kedarnath Datta Bhaktivinoda Vaish-nava Theologian (Los Angeles: Sri, 1999); Swami B. A. Paramadvaiti, “Our Family the Gaudiya Math: A Study of the Expansion of Gaudiya Vaisnavism and the Many Branches Developing around the Gaudiya Math.” Vrindavan Institute for Vaisnava Culture and Studies. Available online. URL: Accessed August 15, 2005; Steven Rosen, Contemporary Scholars Discuss the Gaudiya Tradition (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Folk Books, 1992); Sri Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura, The Bhagavat: Its Philosophy, Its Ethics and Its Theology (Navadwip: Shri Goudiya Samiti, 1986); ———, Jaiva Dharma (Mad: Sri Gaudiya Math, 1975).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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