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Shri Chakradhar Swami

1194 CE[1]
  • Vishaladeva (father)
  • Malhanadevi (mother)
Known forExpounded Mahanubhava Sampradaya
PhilosophyMahanubhava, Dvaita Bhakti
Religious career
GuruDattatreya, Govinda Prabhu
HonorsSarvajna (Omniscient), Ishvara (God)

Chakradhara (Marathi: चक्रधर), also known as Sarvadnya Shri Chakradhar Swami or Kunwar Haripaladeva[2] was an Indian saint and philosopher, who is considered as an avatara of Krishna by his disciples and one of the most important exponents of the Dvaita tradition within Hinduism. He is the founder of Mahanubhava Sampradaya of Krishnaism. Shri Chakradhar Swami advocated worship of Lord Krishna and preached a distinct philosophy based on Bhakti. He did not recognize caste distinctions, and like Buddha had only two others viz the householder and recluses.[3] Some sources claim that Chakrapani Prabhu and Govinda Prabhu as the originators of Mahanubhava doctrine and Chakradhara as the first apostle who systematized Mahanubhava as a school of Bhakti philosophy.[4] Chakradhara's birth anniversary is observed on the Tithi of Bhadrapada Shukla Dwitiya.


Shri Chakradhara was born into a Gujarati[5] Samavedi Brahmin family[6][7] in Bharuch, Gujarat. He is referred as the son of a royal minister of Gujarat according to his biography Lilacharitra.[8] He took Sannyasa at a young age and left his home for pilgrimage of Ramtek. During his journey, he received initiation from his guru Shri Govinda Prabhu at Ridhapur, which is in modern-day Amravati district. Then for twelve years he stayed in forests of Vindhya mountain as an ascetic. After attaining the awakening, he started preaching a new philosophy, i.e. Mahanubhava tattvajnana to the common people.[9] Although his native language was Gujarati, he had excellent command over Marathi. He moved among all sections of society. He discoursed his philosophy extremely effectively among the people in their own language. The Lilacharitra confirms that he also spoke fluent Sanskrit along with Gujarati and Marathi. Chakradhara used formulaic language full of meaning in a compact style. He insisted that his disciples should write only in Marathi and therefore, Marathi literature became rich with the teachings of Shri Chakradhar Swami and Mahanubhava Sampradaya.[10]


One of the most important aspects of the philosophy propounded by Shri Chakradhara are asceticism and renunciation. His fourfold teachings are: non-violence, celibacy, asceticism and bhakti. And the different aspects of Gods incarnations to be worshipped are: name, form, activity, deeds, place, vachanas (Shruti), memories (Smriti) and the blessing of God incarnate. He considered five divine incarnations of god as supreme entity, which are known as 'Pancha Krishna', namely: Shri Dattatreya, Bhagavan Shri Krishna, Shri Chakrapani, Shri Govinda Prabhu and Shri Chakradhara himself.[8]

One can practice bhakti by memorizing deeds of the Almighty. The aspirant for salvation must sacrifice his country, village and his relations and offer his life to God. Chakradhar Swami also taught the disciple of the sect when, where, how, how much alms they should be beg for. The central theme of his teaching was, "Feel the soul and not the body". Living the life of mendicant and practicing asceticism severely, the devotee should live according to principle, "God is mine and I am God’s". The core of his code of behaviour is summed up in the following line for the benefit of his followers: "Even if the head is cut off, the body should worship God".

Besides teaching strict vegetarianism, the Mahanubhava Sampradaya forbids the use of alcohol and teaches non-violence.[11] The religion survives to the present. It teaches that Krishna is the only ultimate of Gods and all the other gods are just powers of him. It is understood from various scriptures of Mahanubhava Sampradaya that Nirvana (Moksha) can only be achieved by knowing and worshiping Krishna as the lone ultimate and thus one must give up on worshiping and getting involved unconsciously in the other powers of ultimate, It can be relatively explained as one should not be satisfied in loving the creation but love the creator.[12]


  1. ^ Marathi Vishwakosh, Archived 2022-02-15 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Shankar Gopal Tupule. A History of Indian Literature, Vol. 9, Part 4. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 1979. p. 316
  3. ^ Shripad Dattatraya Kulkarni (1992). The Struggle for Hindu Supremacy. Shri Bhagavan Vedavyasa Itihasa Samshodhana Mandira. p. 63. ISBN 9788190011358. Chakradhar Swami was against the use of Sanskrita even in religious rituals. He advocated worship of lord Krishna. He did not recognize caste distinctions, and like Buddha had only two others viz the householder and recluses.
  4. ^ R. C. Dhere, Chakrapani, Vishwakarma Sahityalay, 1977, pp. 211-213
  5. ^ Maharashtra : Land and Its People, Gazetteers Department, Government of Maharashtra, 2009, p. 147
  6. ^ Christian Lee Novetzke (October 2016). The quotidian revolution : vernacularization, religion, and the premodern public sphere in India. p. 109. ISBN 9780231175807. Similarly, there are many points in the lilacaritra that appear to reinforce a claim that Chakradhar is a Lad Brahmin of the Samavedi branch from Gujarat.
  7. ^ Medieval Indian Literature: Surveys and selections By K. Ayyappa Paniker, Volume 2, Sahitya Akademi, 1997, ISBN 81-260-0365-0, p. 346
  8. ^ a b Arunchandra S. Pathak (July 4, 2014), Sthanapothi : Ek Puratattviya Abhyas (स्थानपोथी : एक पुरातत्त्वीय अभ्यास), pp. 76–84
  9. ^ V. B. Kolte, Shrichakradhara Charitra (श्रीचक्रधर चरित्र), Arun Prakashan, Malkapur, 1952, pp. 1-11.
  10. ^ Lokrajya, Volume 41. Directorate-General of Information and Public Relations. 1985. p. 15.
  11. ^ Indian History. Allied Publishers. 1988. ISBN 9788184245684.
  12. ^ "Mahanubhav Panth". Hinduism Facts | Facts about Hindu Religion. 2011-06-15. Archived from the original on 2019-01-17. Retrieved 2019-01-11.