Friday, March 19, 2010

Smartya Raghunandan

Bhattacharya, Raghunandan (c 15th-16th century) famous scholar of Smriti or hindu law, born in nadia, son of Harihar Bhattacharya. He is central to Hindu law in Bengal which is described as pre-Raghunandan, Raghunandan, and post-Raghunandan. The new Smrti in Bengal was dominated by Raghunandan, whose scholarship and analysis of Hindu laws almost made earlier and later Smrti scholars insignificant.

Raghunandan did not confine himself to the scriptures but adopted many tantrika rites. Brahminism was undergoing a severe crisis because of the expansion of buddhism in Bengal and the advent of the Muslims. At this time many Vaishnava rites emerged from Buddhist rituals. Vaishnava sahajiya philosophy also emerged from Buddhist Sahajiya thoughts. In his efforts to protect the Hindu religion, Raghunandan prescribed many rites in his Smrti books taking into account the social realities of his time. This is why his books were deeply influenced by tantricism and also why they were easily accepted.

Raghunandan wrote 28 books on Smrti, the most famous of them being Astavingshatitattva, which contains almost all aspects of Smrti. His other books include Shraddhatattva, Tithitattva, Shuddhitattva, Malamasatattva, Smrtitattva, Durgapujatattva, Tirthatattva, Yatratattva, Tripuskarashantitattva and Dayatattva. He also annotated dayabhaga by jimutavahana, one of the great Smrti scholars of Bengal. For his scholarship in Smrti, Raghunandan was known throughout India as Smarta Bhattacharya. Bengal Hindu society still follows the rules laid down by him. His scholarship also extended to grammar (kalaptattvarnav, Shavdashastravivrti), tantra (Mahimnahstotratika) and astrology. The most important book on astrology in Bengal is still Raghunandan's Jyotistattva. [Dulal Bhowmik]
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