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VISHNUPRIYA (16TH CENTURY)


Vishnupriya was the second wife of the Vaishnava saint Chaitanya, the name of Vishwamvara Mishra after he attained enlightenment. Chaitanya was a wandering Vishnava saint, the appeal of whose songs and visions led to the revival of Vaishnavism in Bengal. His first wife, Lakshmi, died of snakebite, and though by then he was well along the path to renunciation, he felt compelled to marry again in order to provide his aged and sorrowing mother with a companion. Vishnupriya was the daughter of a highly placed and respectable court pandit, and she must have found it hard to adjust to the dreary life of poverty she had to lead with Sachi, Chaitanya’s mother. She was very orthodox, not liking to show herself to anyone not within the family circle. Before Chaitanya’s devotees she would only appear behind a curtain, which revealed just her feet. She considered herself a woman of ill fortune and spent her time acquiring virtue by reciting the names of God. To do this, she would count out her rosary with grains of rice, and when she had finished, she would boil the little heap of rice for her meal.
 
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