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2009 | 3-4 (230-231) | 171-180

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SAHEBDHANI - THE RISE AND DEVELOPMENT OF A HETERODOX SECT IN BENGAL (Sahebdhani - powstanie i rozwój heterodoksyjnej wspólnoty religijnej w Bengalu)


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Sahebdhani is one of many minor religious groups or traditions (sampraday) that came into being between the 17th and 19th century in Bengal. The first guru of Sahebdhani, Murali Pal, received his mantra from a Sufi mystic living in Nadiya, a central district of Bengal. For the next three generations his sons continued the tradition as gurus, having established a centre of Sahebdhanis in Brittihuda village, not far from Navadvip, a renowned centre of Vaishnavism. The philosophy of Sahebdhanis is a mixture of Tantric, Vaishnav, Sahajiya Buddhist and Sufi ideas with a great emphasis on rejecting the holy scriptures of Hindu and Muslim communities. The religious practices of Sahebdhanis focus on the human body, regarded as a microcosm. Sexual yogic practices (maithuna) are described in an intentional language (sandhya bhasa) in the songs composed by two poets Kubir Gosai and Jadubindu. Sahebdhanis believe that the union of a man and a woman is necessary to achieve the state of non-duality. It is noteworthy that Sahebdhanis, as well as other esoteric religious traditions of that time, arose - to some extent - as a low caste opposition against the oppression of orthodox Hindu and Muslim communities. Sahebdhanis, now almost extinct, have left over 2000 songs that along with the songs of Bauls belong to the most interesting specimens of esoteric Bengali literature. The traditions of Sahebdhanis and other communities that originated in Nadiya are an example of the rich cultural heritage of Bengal, its originality and very subtle philosophical thoughts.




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  • Michal Panasiuk: Uniwersytet Warszawski, Wydzial Orientalistyczny, ul. Krakowskie Przedmiescie 26/28, 00-927 Warszawa, Poland


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