Part One – Refuting The Anti-Party, Chapter 5 – Monarchs of Mantra Diksa
“Devotees should not become discouraged thinking that there are many criticisms against our paramparā. In fact it may be said that these criticisms are a kind of recognition of our preaching success. Like the Bhāgavatam, the preaching mission of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura was started to create a revolution in the minds and hearts of the misguided and unfortunate.”
At present, most of the criticisms of our paramparā are being aimed at Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura for what his critics have labeled as “introducing concocted methods of devotional service.” In the chapters Śikṣā Paramparā, Eternally Liberated, The Benign Authority, and Process of Initiation, we have answered some of the main criticisms against our paramparā and shown that for reviving and propagating pure devotional service at the beginning of this century Sarasvatī Ṭhākura was indeed empowered by the Supreme Personality of Godhead Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, and that all of his so-called innovations were actually supported by scripture and previous Vaiṣṇava tradition.
Up to this point there remains only one outstanding criticism against the paramparā of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura which we have not yet mentioned. This last criticism is coming from certain individuals among the brāhmaṇa and caste gosvāmī anti-party in India. I say, coming from certain individuals in this community, because not all caste brāhmaṇas or gosvāmīs objected to the organized preaching efforts of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. Indeed, many of the caste brāhmaṇas and gosvāmīs in India greatly appreciated Sarasvatī Ṭhākura who initiated thousands of sincere individuals into the process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Those who begrudged Sarasvatī Ṭhākura for having accepted the position of ācārya and having spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness on a wide scale, faulted him in the following manner:
A sannyāsī should not initiate (give dīkṣā)! Only the gṛhastha-brāhmaṇas should be allowed to give dīkṣā.
Here the anti-party makes this criticism of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura with utter disregard for the instruction of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
kibā vipra, kibā nyāsī, śūdra kene naya yei kṛṣṇa-tattva-vettā, sei ‘guru’ haya
“Whether one is a brāhmaṇa, a sannyāsī or a śūdra—regardless of what he is—he can become a guru if he knows the science of Kṛṣṇa.” (C.c. Madhya-līlā 8.128)
Neglecting this instruction of Caitanya Mahāprabhu, that the qualification to become guru is that one should know the science of Kṛṣṇa, the anti-party has concocted their own standard by which they say that only the gṛhasthas (householder devotees) can give mantra-dīkṣā. Ignoring the above verse, the anti-party tries to claim that as Mahāprabhu gave charge of sambandha–jñāna to Sanātana Gosvāmī, and abhidheya-jñāna and rasa-tattva to Rūpa Gosvāmī, he also gave exclusive rights over the initiation process to the brāhmaṇa-gṛhastha community, by giving the following instruction to the Kūrma brāhmaṇa—a gṛhastha.
yāre dekha, tāre kaha ‘kṛṣṇa’- upadeśa āmāra ājñāya guru hañā tāra’ ei deśa
“Instruct everyone to follow the orders of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa as they are given in Bhagavad–gītā and Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. In this way become guru and try to liberate everyone in this land.” (C.c. Madhya-līlā 7.128)
Thus the anti-party concludes that the position of giving mantra-dīkṣā is exclusively the right of a gṛhastha-brāhmaṇa. This verse however does not mention mantra-dīkṣā at all. The verse actually states, “kaha ‘kṛṣṇa’ upadeśa,” tell everyone you meet about ‘kṛṣṇa’ upadeśa, the instructions of Kṛṣṇa. “Upadeśa” means instructions and giving instruction means śikṣā. Thus the proper translation of this verse leads to the understanding that the paramparā which Mahāprabhu Himself advocated was a śikṣā-paramparā. The verse in no way gives the position of mantra-dīkṣā exclusively to the gṛhastha-brāhmaṇa community.
There are several variations of this claim being made against the bona-fide followers of Mahāprabhu. Some sections of the anti-party stress brāhmaṇaism, stating that one must be born a brāhmaṇa and be a gṛhastha in order to give mantra-dīkṣā. Another section says that if one is not a gṛhastha and a brāhmaṇa by birth, one should first enter the renounced order before giving mantra-dīkṣā. In case after case the anti-parties differ from one another in their conclusions on such matters—this is so because not only are they envious of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura and his mission but they are also envious of each other. Each anti-party seeks to establish itself as the exclusive monarchs of mantra-dīkṣā.
To further try and support their claim against the sannyāsīs in the Gauḍīya line for giving mantra–dīkṣā the anti-party quotes the following verse from Śrīmad Bhāgavatam:
na śiṣyān anubadhnīta, granthān naivābhyased bahūn na vyākhyām upayuñjīta, nārambhān ārabhet kvacit
This verse (Bhāg. 7.13.8) describes precautionary measures for a sannyāsī. The anti-party stresses, “na śiṣyan—he should not make śiṣyas or disciples!” This they conclude means that only the gṛhasthas (householders) should initiate or give mantra-dīkṣā.
However, if we continue to understand this verse in the same way as the anti-party has understood the meaning of “na śiṣyan,” then the second segment would mean that the sannyāsī should not read books (granthān na), and the third segment of this verse would mean that a sannyāsī should not talk or preach (na vyākhyām). In this way the whole verse becomes massacred due to self-motivated interpretation. A correct understanding of the verse, as given by our ācāryas is as follows:
A sannyāsī must not present allurements of material benefits to gather many disciples, nor should he unnecessarily read many books or give discourses as a means of livelihood. He must never attempt to increase material opulence unnecessarily.
Rather than an admonishment to sannyāsīs who accept disciples in the course of their preaching Kṛṣṇa consciousness, this verse is a chastisement to anyone (sannyāsīs or otherwise) who allure disciples by material means, read many books to become famous as a scholar, or maintain a livelihood by speaking the Bhāgavatam (bhāgavata-saptāha or bhāgavata-kathā).
The words vyākhyām upayuñjīta refer to maintaining one’s livelihood by speaking the Bhāgavatam. This is strictly prohibited in this verse, na vyākhyām upayuñjīta –na means not. One should not maintain a livelihood by such means.
The fact is that Gauḍīya sannyāsīs do not speak the Bhāgavatam as a way to maintain their livelihood. In particular, Śrīla A.C. Bhakti-vedānta Swami Prabhupāda (a leading disciple of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, who spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness around the world) underwent such hardships to speak and spread the messages of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam that he would sometimes go without food or even a proper place to sleep at night. It can hardly be said that he preached Bhāgavatam as a livelihood. It is also true that such great personalities as Gaura Kiśora Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, the guru of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, completely despised the professional recitation of Bhāgavatam.
Once when the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam was recited by a professional speaker near the cottage of Gaura Kiśora, Bābājī Mahārāja requested his servant to go there and purify the place with cow dung. The servant replied that since the Bhāgavatam had been recited at that spot, what need was there to again purify the place with cow dung? Bābājī Mahārāja replied, “Oh, you have heard the Bhāgavatam? I could not hear the Bhāgavatam—I only heard that man say, ‘Rupee, rupee, rupee.’
Among the sannyāsīs in the Gauḍīya line we do not find any instance where one is speaking the Śrīmād Bhāgavatam simply to earn a livelihood. On the other hand, there are many so-called followers of Mahāprabhu among the brāhmaṇa and gṛhastha communities who speak Bhāgavatam in the public, collect donations, and after returning home spend those donations for family maintenance or even for sinful activities like smoking, drinking and maintaining prostitutes.
For further authentication of the policy of a Vaiṣṇava sannyāsī giving mantra-dīkṣā, one can cite the examples of Śrī Rāmānujācārya and Śrī Madhvācārya who were both sannyāsīs and who both gave mantra-dīkṣā. However, it is a well-known fact that the main spokesman for the anti-party claims that Rāmānuja and Madhva were hypocrites for initiating as sannyāsīs. Indeed, this attitude alone demonstrates the ignorance of the anti-party.
From the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava sampradāya there are many examples of sannyāsīs giving mantra–dīkṣā—these occur even before the time of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. A foremost example is that of Mādhavendra Purī (a sannyāsī) who initiated Śrī Advaita Ācārya.
“Śrī Advaita Ācārya begged to be initiated by Śrī Mādhavendra Purī. After initiating Him, Mādhavendra Purī started for South India.” (C.c. Madhya-līlā 4.111)
It should be noted here that Advaita Ācārya was a brāhmaṇa by birth and a householder—what to speak of His being the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Mahā-Viṣṇu, yet He received mantra-dīkṣā from Mādhavendra, a sannyāsī.
We also find in Caitanya-caritāmṛta that Mādhavendra Purī initiated brāhmaṇas (Vraja-vāsīs) at Govardhana Hill.
sakala brāhmaṇe purī vaiṣṇava karila sei sei sevā-madhye sabā niyojila
“All the brāhmaṇas present on that occasion were initiated by Mādhavendra Purī into the Vaiṣṇava cult, and Mādhavendra Purī engaged them in different types of service.” (C.c. Madhya-līlā 4.87)
In order to elevate those brāhmaṇas to the status of Vaiṣṇavas, Mādhavendra Purī initiated them into Vaiṣṇava mantra. It should be pointed out here that not only did Mādhavendra Purī initiate as a sannyāsī but he initiated brāhmaṇas who were residents of Śrī Vṛndāvana-dhāma and by his giving them initiation they became Vaiṣṇavas. This is quite significant. According to the PadmaPurāṇa one cannot become a Vaiṣṇava without being initiated into a Vaiṣṇava mantra.
“One who is initiated into the Vaiṣṇava-mantra and who is devoted to worshipping Lord Viṣṇu is a Vaiṣṇava. One who is devoid of these practices is not a Vaiṣṇava.” (Hari–bhakti-vilāsa, 11 quoted from Padma Purāṇa)
Similarly, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu also received mantra-dīkṣā from Śrī Īśvara Purī who was a sannyāsī. About Īśvara Purī, Mahāprabhu has said:
prabhu kahe—īśvara haya parama svatantra īśvarera kṛpā nahe veda-paratantra
“Both the Supreme Personality of Godhead and Īśvara Purī are completely independent. Therefore, the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and Īśvara Purī is not subject to any Vedic rules and regulations.” (C.c. Madhya-līlā 10.137)
This is indeed a most profound statement. If one is a qualified spiritual master, he is certainly qualified to give mercy. In the opinion of Mahāprabhu the bona-fide spiritual master is not subject to any Vedic rules and regulations. Mahāprabhu made this statement to Sarvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya in relation to Īśvara Purī having accepted a disciple who was a śūdra by caste.
Actually one is not qualified to become a guru based on caste or any other material designation. The proper conclusion is that one becomes qualified to give mantra-dīkṣā if one knows the science of Kṛṣṇa. Mahāprabhu has said:
kibā vipra, kibā nyāsī, śūdra kene naya yei kṛṣṇa-tattva-vettā sei ‘guru’ haya
“Whether one is a brāhmaṇa, a sannyāsī or a śūdra—regardless of what he is—he can become a guru if he knows the science of Kṛṣṇa.” (C.c. Madhya-līlā 8.128)
This verse was directly spoken by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and as such it can be taken as the ultimate authority to defeat the anti-party propaganda that only a gṛhastha can give mantra–dīkṣā. Nonetheless we have also cited some other interesting evidence for the satisfaction of our readers.
In a last ditch-effort to confuse the modern day followers of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, the anti-party spokesmen often make reference to the incident of a man called Ananta Vāsudeva. In his early career Ananta Vāsudeva was a very close disciple of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. After the disappearance of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura this Ananta Vāsudeva took sannyāsa and became a leading ācārya in the Gauḍīya Maṭha. After sometime, however, Ananta Vāsudeva rejected his sannyāsa and his dīkṣā connection with Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. Accompanied by another scholarly devotee named Sundarānanda Vidyāvinoda, these two left the Gauḍīya Maṭha.
After leaving the Gauḍīya Maṭha, Ananta Vāsudeva declared that Sarasvatī Ṭhākura was a conditioned soul who had simply concocted unauthorized means of devotional service. Ananta Vāsudeva went to Vṛndāvana where he and Sundarānanda Vidyāvinoda traded their connection with Sarasvatī Ṭhākura for siddha-prāṇali-dīkṣā which they took from a certain member of the caste gosvāmī families. The anti-party likes to state this as their crowning evidence against Sarasvatī Ṭhākura and his mission, to show that even his own disciples realized it was bogus. It so happens that not less than three different anti-party factions in Vṛndāvana claim that Ananta Vāsudeva rejected Sarasvatī Ṭhākura for siddha-prāṇali in their line. Each of these anti-party factions likes to claim that Ananta Vāsudeva took siddha-prāṇali in their camp because they consider him to be a great trophy—trophy or symbol of shamelessness?
What the anti-party does not like to state however is the immoral character of Ananta Vāsudeva both before and after he had departed from the Gauḍīya Maṭha. As an ācārya, Ananta Vāsudeva had become proud of his position (as did the infamous Romaharṣaṇa Sūta of the Bhāgavatam) and he began to lord it over his fellow Godbrothers causing them many unnecessary inconveniences and troubles. This resulted in Vaiṣṇava aparādha, which led to Ananta Vāsudeva even criticizing his own guru and eventually engaging in illicit activities. These illicit activities led to the birth of an illegitimate child from a local prostitute. It was at this point, after his moral character and deviations from the siddhānta of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura were exposed, that he decided to leave the Gauḍīya Maṭha.
Ananta Vāsudeva then associated with certain gosvāmīs and bābājīs at Vṛndāvana who do not consider illicit sex or even homosex as an impediment to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It is shocking, but many groups of bābājīs and gosvāmīs consider sex life, in whatever form, to be the same as passing stool or urine—therefore they do not consider it an impediment. They consider it a normal and harmless bodily function. Thus they sometimes engage in sex life as frequently as they pass stool. No mere wonder then that the anti-party lack sufficient brain substance to understand siddhānta.
Ananta Vāsudeva had come to Vṛndāvana with his prostitute and thus he found the association of those bābājīs and gosvāmīs encouraging. In such association he could continue his attachment to illicit life, something which was not possible for him in the Gauḍīya Maṭha.
The anti-party with whom Ananta Vāsudeva joined had previously been thoroughly defeated by the Gauḍīya Maṭha in the time of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. But now with Ananta Vāsudeva among their ranks the anti-party found renewed strength to propagate their old arguments. This attempt to divert the flow of the Caitanya-Sārasvata paramparā, however, failed miserably because the sincere disciples of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, like their illustrious guru, were fully conversant with the conclusions of śāstra and they could not be shaken in their guru-niṣṭhā.
Nonetheless the anti-party published three books in which they attempted to refute the siddhānta of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. This attempt was indeed formidable due to the scholarly mode of presentation, but the publications, referred to as the “Trident Against Gauḍīya Maṭha,” only bolstered the already existing misconceptions of the anti-party members—despite their scholarship and determination, the anti-party could not penetrate with their misconceptions to the heart of Gauḍīya Maṭha.
After some years, Ananta Vāsudeva met an inauspicious end in life by committing suicide. As for Sundarānanda Vidyāvinoda, he simply vanished into the shadows.
For the most part, the devotees from western countries do not know all these unpleasant stories in detail. Therefore, the anti-party tries to mislead them by using the example of Ananta Vāsudeva—stating that Ananta Vāsudeva was a highly qualified Vaiṣṇava and that he rejected the institution of sannyāsa because he realized that sannyāsa and the siddhānta of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura were bogus. But really, what is bogus is the story that the anti-party tells.
In 1959 our Guru Mahārāja, Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swāmī Prabhupāda wrote a prayer (Śrī Virāha-aṣṭakam) on the anniversary of the disappearance of Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura wherein we find a reference to the disciples who had rejected their guru. Śrīla Prabhupāda wrote:
One of your closest disciples whose cup you lovingly filled to the brim with the deathless nectar of your instructions has ungratefully thrown away that chalice. And his regrettable preference for infectious poison has resulted in an epidemic of sahajiyāism. It seems that the prize valiantly acquired by the triumphant lion has at present been unscrupulously stolen by the jackal. The oppressive forces of nescience have reduced everyone to tears. And it appears that each of the young lions is again becoming a mouse.
The sad events surrounding Ananta Vāsudeva and Sundarānanda Vidyāvinoda indeed brought tears to the eyes of many of the dedicated disciples of Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura—but it did not deter them in their own faithful service to their Divine Master. The grace of the guru always flows to the sincere and dedicated disciple. Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura had many sincere and highly qualified disciples; Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda, Śrīla B.R. Śrīdhara Mahārāja, Śrīla B.P. Purī Mahārāja, Śrīla B.D. Mādhava Mahārāja, Śrīla B.S. Gosvāmī Mahārāja, and Śrīla B.P. Keśava Mahārāja, just to name a few.
The devotees in the west, often think and speak of Gauḍīya Maṭha as a complete failure but this is not a fact. There were indeed troubled times after the disappearance of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura but his sincere disciples struggled through those times and in the end gloriously spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness around the world and continue to do so up to the present moment. We see that the coverings of māyā also enveloped many leading disciples in iskcon after the disappearance of our Guru Mahārāja, Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda. In due course of time we see that some of those individuals have hatefully rejected the instructions of Śrīla Prabhupāda, others have sunk to the lowest levels of immorality, while others have even ended their lives in a most inauspicious way. Māyā takes advantage of the disappearance of great personalities and tries to again cover the path shown by the previous ācārya—but indeed the sincere disciples again manifest the path of pure devotional service. An institution can go astray at any moment, be it iskcon, Gauḍīya Maṭha, or whatever—we are not concerned with the relativity of the paramparā, the institution or society, we are to concern ourselves with the substance, the Absolute, the siddhānta. It is this paramparā that continues decade after decade, century after century, and millennium after millennium—the bhāgavata-paramparā.
Devotees should not become discouraged thinking that there are many criticisms against our paramparā. In fact, it may be said that these criticisms are a kind of recognition of our preaching success. Like the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, the preaching mission of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura was started to create a revolution in the minds and hearts of the misguided and unfortunate people of Kali Yuga.
“On the other hand, that literature which is full of descriptions of the transcendental glories of the name, fame, forms, pastimes, etc., of the unlimited Supreme Lord is a different creation, full of transcendental words directed toward bringing about a revolution in the impious lives of this world’s misdirected civilization. Such transcendental literatures, even though imperfectly composed, are heard, sung, and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest.” (Bhāg. 1.5.11)
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura was indeed a powerful personality and it is historical fact that in his life no one was ever able to defeat his sound śāstrika evidence supporting the activities of the Gauḍīya Maṭha. His power was in his purity—not in word jugglery or wealth or any such things of this world. He spoke with such conviction, backed by śāstrika reference, that his critics were afraid to stand before him. For the most part the envious persons who opposed Sarasvatī Ṭhākura simply barked from the back—they had no courage to oppose him directly. The kīrtana of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura was so grand that the sounds of the barking dogs were simply drowned in an ocean of ecstasy.
In the absence of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura and his stalwart disciples, the barking sounds of the anti-party can again be heard. But those who are intelligent and pious will embrace the missionary spirit of totalitarian war against illusion started by the senāpati, the great general among Vaiṣṇavas, Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, and join in his illustrious line which is sanctioned by the Supreme Lord and by Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.
Revolution means opposition or controversy and it is this controversy that helps us to increase our faith and attachment for Lord Kṛṣṇa.
“A sincere student should not neglect the discussions of such conclusions, considering them controversial, for such discussions strengthen the mind. Thus one’s mind becomes attracted to Śrī Kṛṣṇa.” (C.c. Ādi-līlā 2.117)
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