Śrī Vaiṣṇavism & Gaudīya Vaiṣṇavism (09/22/12)
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Some years back I had a visit from a leading paṇḍīta (a mahā-mahopadhyāya) in the Śrī Vaiṣṇava community here in South India. I mentioned to him that i had seen a carving of the daśāvatara at an ancient Hoyshala temple and that Buddha was included in the carving. Several companions of the paṇḍīta immediately sounded off and said that was bogus and that Buddha was not actually included in the daśāvatara. However, the paṇḍīta corrected them and said [(to their surprise) that actually Buddha was an avatāra of Viṣṇu and was mentioned in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. He went on to say that Sri Vaiṣṇavas prefer Viṣṇu Purāṇa over Bhāgavatam because they are primarily devoted to Viṣṇu. He also stated that because of the agnostic and atheistic view of the Buddhists, the Sri Vaiṣṇavas had removed Buddha and replaced him in the daśāvatara with Balarāma or Hayagrīva. He said the removal of Buddha from the list of daśāvatara was a strategic maneuver.
Śrī Vaiṣṇavism is not the next step in Vaiṣṇavism, but two steps below Caitanya Vaiṣṇavism. There are favorable things in Śrī Vaiṣṇavism and unfavorable things as well. For example, they do not accept Śrī Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They do not accept Caitanya Mahāprabhu as the yugāvatāra or hari-nāma as the yuga-dharma. They also do not accept the spiritual position of Kṛṣṇa’s gopīs or of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī.
Śrī Rāmānuja came in the wake of Śaṅkara and he did a great service of re-establishing bhakti in general. But in bhakti, the Śrī Vaiṣṇavas are not very advanced, especially concerning rasa. Śrī Vaiṣṇavas today are like a relic of the past, putting on elaborate rituals, but having very little influence over the spiritual course of humanity. Rāmānuja’s bhakti also has a slight tinge of a desire for liberation — something that is unfavorable for the final attainment of prema-bhakti.
Śrī Vaiṣṇavas generally do not accept Śrīmad Bhāgavatam because Bhāgavatam shows that Kṛṣṇa is the supreme āśraya (shelter) and the gopīs are the topmost devotees. Thus, avoiding the evidence in Bhāgavatam, the Śrī Vaiṣṇavas continue with their Viṣṇu conception as supreme.
_______ has mentioned that Śrī Vaiṣṇavas study serious texts such as Veda, Upaniṣads and Vedānta, but the fact is that these texts only produce a hazy conception of the Absolute Truth (often impersonal). For this very reason, Vyāsadeva was chastised by his guru, Nārada Muni. He then wrote Bhāgavatam as the natural commentary to Vedānta-sūtra and came directly to the point that Kṛṣṇa is the supreme shelter and the source of everything. So what ________ is actually saying is that Śrī Vaiṣṇavas are not progressive, they are stuck in time. And I might add, they are losing the battle against the Kali-yuga māyā. Eating eggs and chicken is now quite common among the Śrī Vaiṣṇava community at large. As Kali-yuga progresses, the Śrī Vaiṣṇavas will eventually become completely neutralized and ineffective as a spiritual alternative. Only nāma-saṅkīrtana has the potency to defeat the onslaught of Kali-yuga.
How ________ can say the Itihāsas (Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata) are serious and Bhāgavatam is not? His point is too foolish to even argue with.
As for the ‘arcana course.’ you will make more advancement in Kṛṣṇa consciousness by seeking out better association. The very elaborate rituals that you are learning drives Kṛṣṇa far away. One of the first stages of advanced bhakti (rāgānuga-bhakti) is that one gives up interest in performing elaborate rituals to please Kṛṣṇa. However, in most cases the rituals are performed as a livelyhood to earn a living (as a head-pūjārī or performing homas, etc.] and are not performed to please Kṛṣṇa at all.
Over the centuries here in India, rituals and even Sanskrit scholarship have become standard cloaks for hiding ones lack of spiritual attainment. These cloaks bewilder and confuse the lay population causing them to think that the performers are spiritually advanced — when the fact is they are kaniṣṭhas at best.
Hoping this meets you well.