ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Kaliyuga, Chakri and Bhakti-Ramakrishna and His Times

'Kaliyuga', 'Chakri' and 'Bhakti' Ramakrishna and His Times Sumit Sarkar This essay examines a paradox of 19th century Bengal which was increasingly being moulded by the colonial encounter. The milieu was one in which, among other things, sacred texts had become more accessible, (he printed word had acquired greater circulation, a foreign language had gained currency as the medium of higher instruction, time had begun to impose its own discipline, the interaction with a culture which elevated itself to a superior plane by virtue of its rationality and science had prompted recourse to selfconsciously 'rational' arguments towards modification or defence of the 'traditional' and a premium had come to be placed on social activism such as education, religious and social reform, revivalism, philanthrophy and patriotic endeavour. Yet this milieu also witnessed the strange and sudden fascination that an obscure Dakshineshwar temple priest, Ramakrishna Paramahansa, a rustic brahman who knew barely any English, received little formal schooling, held rationalistic argument in contempt, was disdainful of book knowledge and asserted the futility.of organised social reform, exercised over the Calcutta bhadralok.

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