Evolution of Theism

Part Five – Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu: The Great Master

Listen to this chapter:

Since ancient times India’s holy men have endeavored to realize the Absolute Truth by the culture of spiritual knowledge. Many of these saints and sages dedicated their entire life to the performance of austerity and spiritual activities. Some of them followed in the footsteps of Buddha, practicing ahimsa, the path of nonviolence, seeking nirvana as the highest attainment.

Later in history, some that preferred to renounce work, the advaita-vedantists, followed Shankaracharya, and by the practice of sense control, they fixed their minds in meditation, merging the individual ego into Brahman, the ultimate state of oneness. In the development towards transcendental theism, those following Ramanuja and Madhva on the path of devotion, considered realization of the self as an eternal servant of Godhead, as the highest goal. All these transcendentalists have obtained their respective stages of realization and experience by constant and sincere determination.

While Ramanuja and Madhva established theistic schools of thought based on Vedanta (as opposed to Shankara’s ultimate monism), it was not until the advent of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu that Vedantic theism’s limits were unveiled to the world of spiritual seekers. Mahaprabhu revealed the confidential and sublime aspects of the Absolute Truth, achintya-bhedabheda-tattva (simultaneous, inconceivable oneness and difference) and prema (love of God).

Mahaprabhu appeared in this world at Mayapura, Navadvipa Dhama, West Bengal on February 18, 1486 in the home of Jagannatha Mishra, a scholarly brahmana priest of the Vaishnava community. At the time of His appearance the moon was eclipsed, and thus all the noble residents of Navadvipa Dhama had gone to take their bath in the Ganges. Everyone was in a happy mood, and  according to the customs of their time, everyone chanted Vedic mantras and the Names of God as they bathed in the Ganges. Due to the chanting of these mantras the atmosphere became surcharged with spiritual vibrations, and at that auspicious moment, Mahaprabhu advented Himself. 

The life of Mahaprabhu has been told by historians, scholars, and devotees alike. According to popular accounts, Mahaprabhu was a great personality who in the prime of His youth entered the renounced order of life and led India into a renaissance of devotion centered around the chanting of the Holy Names of God. This is certainly true, yet there is another account of the life of Mahaprabhu —one which is highly esoteric and spiritual. That commentary comes to us through the agency of a self-realized soul, one who is not covered or conditioned by the material experience known as maya. A self-realized soul is one who, having directly experienced the Absolute Truth by divine revelation, can discriminate between matter and spirit for the benefit of the people in general. The insight of the self-realized soul into the identity of such personalities as Mahaprabhu is considered superior to the observations of the learned scholar and historian because the self-realized soul is above the defects of maya, namely illusion, cheating, mistakes, and imperfect senses. Although the academicians have correctly informed us about the historical events of Mahaprabhu’s life, they have not been able to discover the inner identity of Mahaprabhu, which is fully transcendental and without the slightest tinge of matter.

The esoteric description of Mahaprabhu’s appearance is found within an internal analysis and it is upon this which His teaching is based —a teaching that might well be considered the zenith of theism. Within this school of thought, the prospect for an intimate relationship with a personal God, beyond the duality of the world of time and space, invites the devoted to participate in a labor of love which culminates in an eternal life of ecstatic rapture.

The Bengali classic Chaitanya-charitamrita, compiled in the sixteenth century by the self-realized soul Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami, reveals the inner identity of Mahaprabhu, which is accepted by all His followers. In this book, published in India in 17 volumes, the author describes Mahaprabhu as none other than the summum bonum of the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Being, who in this appearance disguises Himself as His own devotee.

Krishnadasa says, “What the Upanisads describe as the impersonal Brahman is but the effulgence of Mahaprabhu’s transcendental body, and the Supersoul in the hearts of all living beings is but His localized portion. He is Parabrahma, Krishna Himself, full with six opulences. He is the Absolute Truth, Paratattva, and no other truth is greater than or equal to Him.”

Krishnadasa emphasizes that Mahaprabhu is the personal manifestation of the Absolute Truth in full, and he urges His readers to regard Him in that way in order to enter into an understanding of the confidential nature of His life and precepts.

The Vedas describe four ages (yugas), the last of  which in a continuous cycle is Kali-yuga, the iron (industrial-technological) age of quarrel. For each age there is an avatara  who teaches the recommended spiritual discipline for that particular age (yuga-dharma). According to Krishnadasa, Mahaprabhu is the Kali-yuga-avatara described throughout the Vedic literature.

krishna-varnam tvisakrishnam
yajnaih sankirtana-prayair
yajanti hi su-medhasah

In this Age of Kali, people who are endowed with sufficient intelligence will worship the Lord, who is accompanied by His associates, by performance of sankirtana-yajna. (Shrimad-Bhagavatam 11.5.32)

The ultimate conception of Parambrahma as  personal, making possible eternal devotion, and that Mahaprabhu is that transcendental person is paramount to Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy.

The appearance of Mahaprabhu in this phenomenal world is the culmination of a transcendental dialectic which is inherent in the very nature of the Supreme Being. Parabrahma is rasa or concentrated bliss. The figure of such bliss is that of Sri Krishna. That figure is dynamic, restless, effulgent, ever-flowing, and ever-growing. It is astonishingly new and relishable —passing every moment beyond itself to new levels of rasa consciousness. Within rasa or love there must also be rasika, or the ability to taste transcendental bliss. Thus in Krishna the unity of rasa and rasika bursts and blooms into the duality of Krishna and Radha. In that duality Krishna is rasa, the highest thing to be relished, and Radha is rasika, the greatest enjoyer of rasa. After reaching the highest state of divine love called prema-vilasa-vivarta, in which Radha and Krishna, the potent and the potency, are fully absorbed in one another’s love, the transcendental duality of Krishna and Radha again combines. This combination is Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

This union of love between Radha and Krishna, however, does not imply a monistic union, as does the advaitic conception of formless Brahman or the Neo-Platonic concept of God as an experience, in which the loss of individuality of the devotee or the sadhaka is complete and irrevocable. It is like the union between fire and a piece of iron. A piece of iron, when put for a long time in fire, becomes red-hot like the fire. Every part of it is animated by fire and acquires the characteristics of fire. Still, iron remains iron and fire remains fire. Similarly, both Krishna and Radha retain their identity. They are so absorbed in each other’s love and lost in each other’s thoughts that there is hardly any room in their hearts for the thought of anything else. Mahaprabhu is the substantial or personalized form of this union. Thus the birth of Mahaprabhu in this world at Mayapura was not like that of an ordinary child, but rather it was of the nature of divine descent. 

After the birth of Mahaprabhu, all the women of the village loved to see Him every day. His uncle, who was a famous astrologer, foretold that the child would be recognized as a great personality in time, and he named Him Vishvambhara (maintainer of the universe). The child’s mother Sachi-devi, however, preferred to call Him Nimai since there was a neem tree near the place where he was born.

As a child Nimai began His pastimes or lila as an ordinary human being and liked to play with His friends on the banks of the Ganges. As boys will be boys, Nimai and His friends would often get into mischief. Sometimes the boys would even splash water on the yogis who came to the banks of the river to meditate. However, when the adults came to chastise Nimai for His tricks, they became charmed by His cunning behavior. Everyone came to love Nimai as if He were their own son. In His fifth year Nimai was admitted into the school of Gangadasa Pandit, where He mastered Sanskrit in two short years. After that, Nimai studied at home, and by His tenth year He was already renowned as a great scholar, now known as Nimai Pandit.

Nimai had an older brother named Vishvarupa who left home to become a sannyasi, a member of the renounced order of life. This came as a tremendous shock to Jagannatha Mishra and Sachi-devi, but Nimai, in His usual way, consoled His parents in their grief and showered them with love. Shortly after the loss of their older son, Jagannatha Mishra himself expired from this world, leaving His wife to widowhood with only Nimai to look after her.

On the request of His mother, Nimai married Lakshmi-priya, a charming girl from a nearby village. But just after His fifteenth birthday, while Nimai was away from His village, Lakshmi-priya died after being bitten by a snake. Although, at the request of His mother He accepted another wife, Vishnu-priya, this marriage was also not to last for long.

During the years that followed, Nimai became the most famous scholar in all of Bengal. Nimai’s fame as a great scholar soon attracted the Digvijaya Pandit of Kashmir, who came to Navadvipa to challenge Nimai to a debate. The Digvijaya Pandit had thus far defeated all the great scholars of India; none could oppose him. It was as if he had achieved the personal favor of Saraswati, the goddess of learning.

After reaching Navadvipa, the Digvijaya met Nimai along with a group of His friends and students on the bank of the Ganges. Nimai respectfully requested the Digvijaya to compose 100 verses in Sanskrit eulogizing the Ganges. Upon request, the Digvijaya began to spontaneously recite 100 verses in Sanskrit, with the same ease and skill as a great eagle soars high in the sky. Indeed, the Digvijaya was a proud poet.

Nimai’s friends were astonished at the way in which the Digvijaya spontaneously composed verse after verse, which flowed from his tongue like a swift wind. With each verse he gave newer and newer enlightenment about the glory of the Ganges. Nimai, however, sat silently without comment until the Digvijaya had completed his recitation. Praising the Digvijaya for his scholarly abilities, but at the same time finding error in his composition, Nimai spoke as follows: “Sir, there is no greater poet than you in the entire world. Your poetry is so difficult that no one can understand it but you and Sarasvati, the goddess of learning. However, could you please explain the five faults and five literary ornaments of the 64th verse?”

The Digvijaya was startled! What was Nimai saying? How could there possibly be any error in his composition, and how had Nimai memorized the verses so quickly? Nonetheless, the Digvijaya refused to acknowledge that there were any faults in his presentation —only embellishments. When requested by the Digvijaya, Nimai then pointed out five faults in the grammatical composition of the verse after praising its five embellishments which the Digvijaya himself did not know. Nimai did this according to the rules of Sanskrit grammar that govern literary composition, and when He had finished, the Digvijaya was literally speechless. He had been defeated by a mere child of 16 years. How was it possible?

That night when the Digvijaya slept, he had a dream. The goddess of learning came to him in his sleep and revealed that although the Digvijaya was certainly her favorite student —Nimai, on the other hand, was her eternal master. Sarasvati then requested the Digvijaya to approach Nimai and become his disciple. The news of Nimai’s victory over the Digvijaya spread far and wide. Nimai was now the most important scholar of His time.

While Mahaprabhu Himself was a great scholar, he consistently deprecated the acquisition of knowledge for its own sake. In His view, learning was connected with reality only inasmuch as Godhead was served thereby.

That same year Nimai traveled to Gaya with a group of His students, and there He met the celebrated guru Ishvara Puri. Nimai received His spiritual initiation from Ishvara Puri at that time and biographers have noted that this initiation marked a turning point in Mahaprabhu’s life.

When Nimai returned to Mayapura, He was no longer interested in scholastic achievement, His mind turned instead toward spiritual matters. Externally He appeared to have lost interest in conventional duties; from then on Nimai was a man transformed, as if God-inspired.

In the evenings Nimai would gather His intimate followers together in the house of Shrivasa Thakura and perform sankirtana, the congregational chanting of the Names of God. In those chanting sessions Nimai would sometimes exhibit ecstatic symptoms of love of God, and sometimes He would reveal His form to be the same as that of Sri Krishna. As the hidden identity of Nimai became more well known, He was addressed as Mahaprabhu, the Great Master. For almost eight years Mahaprabhu continued to live at Mayapura.

In the daytime Mahaprabhu used to send His followers from door to door to request every man, woman, and child to chant the Names of God.  Mahaprabhu taught that simply by chanting the Names of God, whose Name is non-different from Himself, one would easily realize his eternal relationship with God. Mahaprabhu said, jivera svarupa haya, krishnera nitya dasa: “All living beings are the eternal servants of Krishna.” In this way He taught the yuga-dharma for the age of Kali, the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra:

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

Mahaprabhu instructed His followers that there are no hard and fast rules for chanting the Names of God. Regardless of one’s position in society, anyone and everyone was eligible to take part in this process. This, however, drew objection, and certain members of the caste brahmana community who ‘held a monopoly’ on spiritual blessings, as well as certain students and professors of the Vedic scriptures opposed Him. He had started the movement of chanting the Names of God to uplift all classes of human society, announcing love of God to be the birthright of everyone, yet thinking Him to be only an ordinary human being, foolish persons objected.

Contemplating in this way, Mahaprabhu devised a plan to capture the whole world in the net of prema, divine love. Knowing that a sannyasi, a member of the renounced order of life, was respected by everyone —even by the atheists— He decided to accept sannyasa. Thus even the non-believers would benefit by showing Him respect. Once Mahaprabhu had decided on His course of action, nothing could turn Him back.

Early one morning in January, at the end of His 24th year, Mahaprabhu bid farewell to hearth and home. Without the notice of anyone except His mother, He swam across the Ganges River and ran to Katwa, a distance of some 25 miles. At Katwa He went to the ashrama of the sannyasi Keshava Bharati and requested him to kindly give Him sannyasa.

Keshava Bharati  refused, however, and told Mahaprabhu that the residents of Mayapura would be extremely angry at him if he did such a thing, but Mahaprabhu insisted.

Meanwhile the residents of Mayapura came to know that Mahaprabhu had gone to Katwa to take sannyasa and they became almost crazy. They rushed to Katwa to protest the horrible thing which was about to happen. After the crowd assembled there, they began to make threats of violence. They told Keshava Bharati that if he gave Mahaprabhu sannyasa they would burn his ashrama to the ground. There were mixed feelings of sorrow and anger; no one could conceive of their beautiful Nimai shaving His head, putting on the saffron-colored dress of a sannyasi, and leaving their village forever. For Mahaprabhu’s followers the thought of this was unbearable.When emotions were at their peak, Mahaprabhu began the congregational chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra:

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

It was an intense scene. Some wept bitterly and some beat their fists against the ground in protest, while others swooned in delight at the sound of the Holy Name. The chanting continued day and night for three consecutive days. Sometimes Mahaprabhu would stand and dance in the midst of that chanting and sometimes He would roll on the ground  in ecstasy. At the end of the third day the will of Mahaprabhu prevailed and He took the staff of renunciation from the hand of Keshava Bharati. At that time He was given the name ‘Sri Krishna Chaitanya.’

It was as though the whole world had gone mad. No one could believe what had just happened. Ecstatic tears of love of God poured from the eyes of Mahaprabhu, and whoever those tears fell upon also began to cry in ecstatic love.

Now more than ever before, He was inspired to benedict the world with divine love. Taking a small group of followers with Him, He immediately started for Jagannatha Puri. Along the way, whoever saw Him became absorbed in the mellows of ecstatic love, and He requested everyone He met to chant the Holy Names of God. Indeed, Mahaprabhu was just like a great ocean that inundated everything and everyone with love of God.

At Jagannatha Puri, Mahaprabhu converted Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya, who was at the time the greatest logician in all of India, into a follower of His movement of divine love. Sarvabhauma then became one of Mahaprabhu’s principal associates. Mahaprabhu remained at Jagannatha Puri for some time, and then decided to tour South India. For the next two years He traveled almost continuously and preached His doctrine of love everywhere He went.

On the banks of the river Godavari Mahaprabhu met Ramananda Raya, the governor of Vidyanagar, and held enlightening discussions for several days with him on the topic of prema-bhakti, devotional service in pure love of God. The followers of Mahaprabhu maintain that the apex of theistic thought was revealed in those discussions. Ramananda Raya was a great devotee of Sri Krishna, and Mahaprabhu solicited from him higher and higher truths regarding the nature of spirit at every moment of their conversation. The climax of their dialogue disclosed that the highest transcendental sentiments of love for God were those shown by the gopis (milkmaids) of Vrindavana during the advent of Sri Krishna. In their service to Sri Krishna, the gopis exhibited the topmost platform of surrender and unalloyed love in which even social conventions of mundane morality were transcended, thus showing that although the morally stout serve as a good example of religious life, there is yet a higher plane where adherence to law is overruled by love, and that pure love must ultimately be free from the type of calculation which is even found in the theistic conclusions of Ramanuja and Madhva.

During their talks, both Ramananda Raya and Mahaprabhu became lost in ecstatic rapture. Being pleased with Ramananda, Mahaprabhu blessed him and requested him to go to Jagannatha Puri, where He would join him later.

According to Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava philosophy, bhakti was also described as both the means and the end. Mahaprabhu’s characterization of love as the supreme goal is the most important landmark in the history of philosophy and religion. According to Mahaprabhu, the center of reality is love, not Godhead. Love is the center not only for the devotee, but also for God. Love governs both. Though Godhead is the embodiment of love itself, He has an ever-growing desire for love. Love is a gravitational force that works at two ends: it draws the devotee to Godhead and Godhead to the devotee.

Continuing on His journey, Mahaprabhu then visited all the important places of pilgrimage in south India such as Tirupati, Sri Rangam, Ahobalam and Chidambharam. At the place known as Kurmakshetra, Mahaprabhu performed a miracle by curing a leper named Vasudeva simply by touching him with His hand. Traveling in the day and spending each night at a different holy place, Mahaprabhu went as far as Cape Comorin where He turned again to the north and eventually returned to Jagannatha Puri.

After some days at Puri, Mahaprabhu decided to visit Vrindavana, the land of Sri Krishna. Taking one servant named Balabhadra Bhattacharya with Him, He traveled along the banks of the river Yamuna and through the Jarikhanda forest where, according to Balabhadra’s diary, Mahaprabhu caused wild beasts, such as tigers and deers, to chant and embrace, losing their natural enmity towards one another.

When Mahaprabhu reached Vrindavana, as in other places around India, Mahaprabhu exhibited His ecstatic mood of dancing and chanting and many thousands of people came to see Him every day.

 Through Mahaprabhu’s transcendental vision, He revealed the places of Sri Krishna’s lilas (pastimes) in Vrindavana, which were otherwise lost for the last five-thousand years. He also converted a large group of Mohammedans into devotees of Shri Krishna by preaching to them from the Koran.

Later, under His direction His principal disciples excavated the whole area of Vrindavana with the help of wealthy patrons, establishing temples at those holy places of Sri Krishna’s lilas. To date these temples are the principal places of worship in that holy land.

After leaving Vrindavana, on His return to Jagannatha Puri, Mahaprabhu stopped at Allahabad where He instructed Rupa Goswami about the process of devotional service, and after instructing him in the details of spirituality, He sent him to Vrindavana to write books on the science of bhakti and excavate the places of Sri Krishna’s pastimes.

From Allahabad Mahaprabhu went to Banaras, where He met the brother of Rupa Goswami, Sanatana Goswami. On the banks of the Ganges Mahaprabhu instructed Sanatana in confidential spiritual matters, and after one month He sent him to join his brother in Vrindavana.

Later, it was these two brothers and their nephew Jiva Goswami who, along with others, established the literary support for Mahaprabhu’s theology based on the Vedic literature.

Wherever Mahaprabhu went, monists such as the highly renowned Prakashananda Sarasvati of Banaras raised strong objections against Him for His public dancing and chanting the Names of God. They contended that He was a misguided sentimentalist without any real understanding of the Vedanta-sutra, which was at that time considered the single-most important Vedic literature. They maintained that the sole duty of one in the renounced order was to study the Vedanta-sutra commentaries of Shankara. Unaware of the conception of transcendental emotion, they assumed that Mahaprabhu’s chanting and dancing were mere mundane sentimental outpourings.

On the invitation of a brahmana from Maharastra, Mahaprabhu met with Prakashananda Sarasvati and one thousand of his followers. Upon entering that assembly, Mahaprabhu won the hearts of all with His natural humility. Everyone at that gathering perceived a glowing effulgence —the Brahman— to be emanating from Mahaprabhu’s body. Prakashananda put various questions before Mahaprabhu on the subject of Vedanta and Mahaprabhu answered them one by one. When the discussion had ended, Prakashananda admitted that they had never been satisfied with Shankaracharya’s commentary on Vedanta which dealt only with the indirect meaning. They said that now they could realize, after hearing from Mahaprabhu, that the commentary of Shankara was simply based on world jugglery. From that day on until Mahaprabhu left Banaras, Prakashananda Sarasvati and his followers joined Mahaprabhu in His congregational chanting.

Mahaprabhu maintained that there was no need of any commentary on Vedanta-sutra since Vyasadeva, its author, had already written his own commentary in the form of Shrimad-Bhagavatam.

Mahaprabhu advocated that proper study of the Bhagavatam would culminate in God-realization and a state of transcendental emotion, as opposed to the dry, emotionless advaitic monism. Generally, the followers of Shankara accept advaita-vedanta, nondualism (the soul being one with God) as the highest theistic understanding.

Mahaprabhu taught that the Bhagavatam propounded achintya-bhedabheda-tattva —that the Absolute Truth in the ultimate issue is simultaneously and inconceivably one and different— the soul is part and parcel of God, but neither one nor any number of finite souls combined is equal to Godhead in full (qualitatively one but quantitatively different).

Mahaprabhu taught that the ananda-brahman of the monists is the formless expansive glow [aura] of Godhead, just as moonlight is the formless expansive glow of the moon. In ananda-brahman, rasa is dormant, still and motionless. It is not rasa in the real sense. Rasa-brahman [on the other hand] is dynamic, restless, effulgent, ever-flowing, and ever-growing. It is astonishingly new and relishable —passing every moment beyond itself to new levels of rasa consciousness.

After traveling and canvassing for some time, Mahaprabhu finally returned to Jagannatha Puri. There He stayed for the remaining eighteen years of His life until His disappearance from the sight of mortal men during His 48th year, at a time when congregational chanting was being held in the temple of Tota Gopinatha. Mahaprabhu’s biographers have commented that during those last 18 years, He was surrounded by numerous followers, all of whom were on the highest level of devotion, distinguished from the common people by their character and learning, firm religious principles, and spiritual love for Radha and Krishna.

Historically, Mahaprabhu has been regarded differently by different individuals. The immediate followers of Mahaprabhu have accepted Him as the Supreme Truth, Sri Krishna. Others have regarded Him as a bhakta-avatara, a divine incarnation to distribute love of God. But that Mahaprabhu was a noble and holy teacher, the Great Master, is accepted by all who have come in contact with His life and teachings with an unbiased mind and pure heart.

Mahaprabhu did not appear in this world to deliver a certain section of human beings in India, but rather His purpose was to uplift all souls in all countries of the world to the pure and sublime platform of ecstatic love of God, the eternal religion of all souls.

It is the authors’ conclusion, after having gone through the teachings of the spiritual masters of India, that together they demonstrate a theistic development over thousands of years. There is no contradiction between Buddha, Shankara, Ramanuja, Madhva, and Mahaprabhu —each represents a particular stage of enlightenment on the path of the ultimate truth. They all agree that our present egoistic preoccupation must be transcended, if we are at all to know any peace. There is visible in these masters a continuity of theistic evolution from one to the next, starting with the Buddha and culminating in Mahaprabhu.

Buddha’s ‘Four Noble Truths’ —there is suffering, suffering has a cause, suffering can be surpassed, and there is a method by which one can attain freedom from suffering— have laid the foundation for the premise that there is a higher attainment, a higher goal in life than that which is generally accepted as reality. Buddha was then followed by Shankara who, improving on the premise of Buddha, established that eternal spirit (atma), and not simply negation of material existence, is the positive reality. Ramanuja then developed the theistic conception found in Shankara from abstract monism to concrete monism, describing a Brahman with transcendental attributes. He founded a movement of bhakti, or devotion, based on the inherent nature of the living spirit. Madhva then continued the development from Ramanuja, emphasizing the eternal existence of both the soul (atma) and the Supersoul (paramatma) as the functional elements of bhakti.

This development of theism as found in the teachings of Buddha, Shankara, Ramanuja, and Madhva has sometimes been compared to the growth of a mango tree. From its seed conception in the ‘Four Noble Truths’ of Buddha to its sprouting as Shankara, to its developing branches and twigs in Ramanuja and Madhva, all are important stages of growth in the evolution of theism in Indian philosophy. When the tree of theism reached maturity, it produced fruits, and Mahaprabhu is compared to a transcendental gardener Who harvests those fruits in the form of love of God and feely distributes them to the world. Mahaprabhu tastes those fruits of love of God and teaches others how to taste them by His personal example.

Mahaprabhu presented a love not of self-sacrifice, but one of self-forgetfulness, in which love itself, personified as Sri Radha, becomes the center for both Godhead and His devotee.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura, a biographer and proponent of Mahaprabhu’s school of divine love, has given a valuable word of advice to all sincere souls who are hankering to know the Absolute Truth,

“Party spirit—that great enemy of truth—will always baffle the attempt of the inquirer who tries to gather truth from the religious works of his nation, and will make him believe that Absolute Truth is nowhere except in his old religious book.”

Therefore, the adherent of the path of self-realization should always have a comprehensive, gentle, generous, honest, sympathetic, and above all, an impartial approach, in order to acquire the greatest hope of attaining success on that path.