Short Biography of Radhakund’s Krishnadasa Babaji (Madrasi Baba)

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SRI RADHAKUND´S 108 SRI KRISHNADAS BABA

(Madrasi Baba)

by

Karunamayidas

Many westerners know 108 Sri Krishna das Babaji (Madrasi Baba), as he selflessly guided

thousands of them to the main shrines around Srimati Radharani´s sacred pond, Sri

Radhakund. My first encounter with him occurred in November of 1978, and by his

kindness I was able to remain for 5 months at Radhakund. He lived there for 36 years,

from the time he received the:

diksa-mantra (This is an initiation rite in which a disciple receives the set of mantra that

form the basis of meditation on and worship of Sri Caitanya, Radha-Krsna, and their

main associates.)

and siddha-pranali (The eternal names and identities of the members of one’s initiation

lineage. These are the names they have in the eternal sport of Radha and Krsna).

initiation from Siddha Sri Sakhicharan das Babaji who was a parivara [a member of the

lineage] of Sri Narottama.

His most memorable trait was his attitude of service which was expressed by a constant

disposition to render any type of service, in particular toward the residents of

Radhakund, but also toward anyone else he met. He was cestotkuntha — always alert to

serve just for the sake of serving. Of course there are many persons endowed with such a

spirit of disinterested service in so many different fields, but Baba’s spirit of service was

prompted by an uncommon loving force which didn’t belong to this world. Although it

was evident that his entire being was floating in this magic bliss-giving love divine, I

wasn’t yet ready at that time to accept him as a guide. I was entrapped, sentimentally,

intellectually, mentally and physically, in the strong grip of numerous erroneous

conceptions about the nature of Gaudiya Vaisnavism (and Vaisnavism in general),

especially concerning its practice and the system of parampara or disciplic succession.

Unfortunately, I refused to recognize two correlative points: the uninterrupted succession

of masters and disciples and the transcendental revelation of Bhaktidevi through that

system and the idea that the internal practice of Gaudiya Vaisnavism (lilasmarana and

manasi seva) applied not only to the jivanmukta level (the soul’s state of spiritual

emancipation), but also to the conditioned one before that. Although aware of my

misconceptions, Baba still gave me shelter, located a place for me to stay, fed me, and

even nursed me during a period of sickness.

I remember that once we stood on the road just near Sri Radharamana Mandir, and

though I was harshly opposing him in some matter, a strong outburst of his

transcendental emotions hit my inner being. At that moment, much to my surprise, I

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spontaneously told myself: ”He is my guru.” This thought rejoiced my heart, but just for a

moment, because my invasive, stained reason refused to accept it. Despite such a

handicap, a transcendental loving relationship ran between us, and I was always very

happy to be in his company. He was like the good father and I was like the bad son, but

we were still linked to each other by bonds of affection. By his mercy, Sri Radhakund,

and all the different, lovely places surrounding it, always remained deeply impressed in

my heart, even after I had left it.

Nine years later I came back motivated by an eager desire to render service to Baba and

learn something more about manjari-bhava-sadhana. Kartik month was in full swing,

hundreds of pilgrims had arrived from Bengal to celebrate it and the main program was

to go and listen to the 3 daily lectures of Pandit Sri Ananta das Babaji which Baba always

recorded and translated for us in the evening. It was very hot as usual during this period

of the year, and most of the devotees in the audience including myself didn’t wear shirts.

After a few days, during one patha [reading/lecture] I suddenly noticed that I was the

only one wearing a brahmin thread among all those swanlike, saintly devotees, and this

made me feel very embarrassed. Over the following days my uneasiness increased to such

an extent that my reason dictated to me that I should give up that brahmin thread. I

thought to myself: ”After all, I wasn’t born in a Brahmin family; so why should I wear its

insignia?”

One morning, after having passed through the sanga, I halted in front of Sri

Bankebihariji Mandir, bowed down to Sri Radhakund, sprinkled the usual 3 drops of

water in my mouth, and then deposited my brahmin thread as a offering to Sri

Radhakund. After that I felt the heavy load of my false pride related to that thread stop

haunting me like a ghost. The power of Sri Radhakund, Baba, and the assembled

Vaisnava saints had exorcised from me an infernal “spirit.” The next day Baba conveyed

to me Pandit Sri Anantadas Babaji’s congratulations for my act. As I used to sit not far

from him during his patha, he noticed that my “false brahmin’s pride” was absent from

my chest.

I didn’t have any intention of receiving diksa-mantra initiation from Baba, because I still

mistakenly thought of myself as already initiated by another guru. Nevertheless I felt like

surrendering to him, serving him closely, and learning from him the things related to

manjari-bhava-sadhana. Though I didn’t tell him anything of my intentions, somehow he

understood them, and one day to my surprise and great satisfaction, he asked me to assist

him in accompanying him to the toilet during the night and in drawing water from the

well for his wash afterwards. To my even greater satisfaction he told me that I could sleep

on the floor in his room.

Although I came now so close to Baba, I was feeling somehow disconnected with him.

Despite our mutual affection and the compatibility of our characters, I sensed that

something was missing, something necessary for there to be a real, complete relationship

62

with him. Although his two other disciples were not as intimate with him, I noticed the

presence of a very special, supernaturally personal link between them and Baba, which I

didn’t have and which intrigued me.

At one point, feeling more and more the presence of this inexplicable gulf that separated

us, I approached Baba and asked him if he would give me a new japa-mala after first

blessing it by chanting Harinama on it. His reply was a categorical no. He pointed out

that as I already had received Harinama from another guru, it wasn’t necessary that he

should also give it to me. Although I insisted, Baba didn’t change his mind, leaving me

without words and in complete despair.

Few days later, Pandit Sri Anantadas Babaji was about to start his usual reading in the Sri

Radharaman. temple. Before sitting down in the midst of the audience, I hung my rosary

bag on the washing line above my head, after completing the round I was chanting. When

the patha was over, I stood up to take my rosary bag, but to my great surprise it was

empty; my rosary had disappeared. Puzzled, I searched everywhere in the courtyard, but

without success. I immediately excluded the possibility that someone from the assembly

had taken it, because, firstly, I didn’t believe that a devotee would be interested in

stealing the mala of an other devotee and, secondly, I had been sitting under it. If

someone had taken it I would have noticed. Rather than upsetting me, however, this

incident pleased me, because now I had a good reason to ask Baba for a new mala. So I

told him what had happened and said: ”You see Baba! Now you should give me a new

mala and bless it by chanting on it. Otherwise how can I continue my Harinama?” In this

way Baba gave me a new mala. His mercy didn’t stop there, however. Some time later,

during a morning parikrama [circumambulation] of Sri Radhakund, he stopped and told

me, with tears of transcendental ecstasy in the eyes: ”I was looking for a name for you,

and the name ’karunyaghanavigraha’ came to my mind. It is a name of Srimati Radharani

which means that she is the personification of condensed mercy. She is so merciful! In his

Astottara-satanamastotra, Sri Raghunathadasa Gosvamin has named Her

’Karunavidravaddeha’ or one whose body melts out of compassion. So henceforth you

can have the name Karunyaghanavigraha Dasa.” Due to the length of this name Baba

later changed it to Karunamayiyasa which basically means the same thing. Baba’s mercy

didn’t end there either, and towards the end of Niyamaseva (Kartik-vrata), he announced

to my great surprise that if I consented he would give me diksa-mantra initiation. I was

moved, although I still thought of myself as a disciple of another who was both my

vartma-pradar´saka and Harin¯ama guru. I still also wrongly believed him to be my diksa

guru. My opposition to the idea was only fleeting, because after seeing that Baba was so

enthusiastic to give me initiation, I readily agreed, not wanting to hurt his feelings by

refusing. So at a moment chosen as auspicious, the morning of the 5th of November,

Baba gave me the krsna-diksa-mantra together with the other diksa mantra. He also

explained to me their different meanings and how to conduct worship of Sriman

Mahaprabhu and Sri Sri Radha and Krsna. Obviously, he also revealed to me the names

of the uninterrupted line of gurus going back to Sri Narottama, together with their

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spiritual identities, both in the world of Gaura and in the world of Sri Sri Radha and

Krsna. I was then officially and spiritually affiliated with that great lineage.

I have to confess that only after initiation by Baba, did I begin to understand that proper

initiation into a bona fide line of diksa-mantra transmission was not just a formality. It is

God’s created system, widely prevalent in India, through which Sadhana-bhaktidevi

[bhakti as cultivation] makes Her appearance in a candidate for prema-bhakti [divine

love].

Later Baba’s mercy extended to the point of revealing to me the details of my own

siddha-svarupa (the manjari-ekadasa-bhava or the eleven details of the manjari identity).

He also taught me his gurudeva’s gutika or manual for the practice of remembering Sri

Sri Gaura-govinda’s transcendental pastimes and the nature of my own service to them in

a mentally conceived siddha-deha [eternal body/identity]. The next step is to advance

through the different stages of this practice and ultimately to transcend this mundane

world through the blessing of manjari-bhava-prema-bhakti (the Love Divine of a gopimanjari).

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Narayana Maharaja’s false teachings about Gaudiya Vaisnavism

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BOYCOTT THE SAHAJIYA BABAJIS

Reflections on a lecture by Sri Narayana Maharaja

compiled by Atul Krishna Dasa

On June 10, 2001, in Den Haag, Holland, Sri Narayana Maharaja of the Gaudiya

Vedanta Samiti addressed his audience in strong words, which were later transcribed and

widely published under the title “Boycott the Sahajiya Babajis”. In this essay, we shall

review the allegations Sri Narayana Maharaja presented to the public, and weigh their

validity on the basis of the evidence at our disposal.

Let us open the presentation with the opening sentences of Sri Narayana Maharaja:

>>I want to explain something so that you will be very careful. I am receiving questions

about the books published by the babajis of Vraja. They accept Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu,

Sri Nityananda Prabhu, and Sri Sri Radha-Krishna Conjugal. They have not written their

own books. They only take books like Stava-mala by Srila Rupa

Gosvami, Stavavali and Vilapa Kusumanjali by Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, Radharasa-

sudhanidhi by Sri Prabhodananda Sarasvati, and other Gosvami books.<<

To begin with, we should recognize the active concern of Sri Narayana Maharaja. In his

lecture, he does not refer to the aggregate literal production of the Babajis of Vraja. His

main concern appears to be on the titles written by Sri Ananta Dasa Babaji of

Radhakunda. It should be obvious, since Stavavali, Vilapa Kusumanjali and Radha-rasasudhanidhi

are available in English with the commentaries of Sri Ananta Dasa Baba,

and many devotees have asked questions particularly on his literatures. Needless to say,

they are popular among devotees inclined to the path of raganuga, being the only

available English editions with elaborate commentaries.

Let us now review the allegations of Sri Narayana Maharaja and the actual teachings of

Sri Ananta Dasa Pandita along with our remarks. Sri Narayana Maharaja states:

>>First of all they don’t accept that the Gaudiya Vaisnava

Sampradaya is one of the sakhas, branches, of the

Brahma-Madhva Sampradaya, although this fact

has been clearly explained by Sri Kavi Karnipura,

Srila Jiva Gosvami, and then by Sri Baladeva

Vidyabhusana Prabhu.<<

45

It is a fact that Sri Kavi Karnapura in his Gaura -ganoddesa-dipika, as well as Baladeva

Vidyabhusana in his Prameya-ratnavali, have presented a disciplic succession linked with

the lineage of Sri Madhva Acarya. It is a historical fact beyond challenge that Sri

Madhavendra Puri, the paramaguru of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the guru of Sri

Nityananda Prabhu and Sri Advaita Prabhu, was a disciple of Sri Laksmipati Tirtha, who

came from the Madhva lineage. Certainly everyone accepts this as an established fact.

The question is on the nature of this connection – whether it is one of substance or one of

form only. What is the particular significance of the Madhvite process of worship on the

vidhi-marga in the raganuga-bhajana of the Gaudiyas? Where is the eternal connection

of internal servitude between the Gaudiyas and the early acaryas of the Madhva line?

The fact is that most Gaudiyas are not even conversant with the lives and the writings of

the acaryas in the line of Madhva.

Though much of the Madhvite philosophy was incorporated into the doctrines of the

Gaudiyas, it is beyond argument that the concepts of upasana (the process of worship)

and upasya (the object of worship) of the two are different. The Madhvites practice

upasana on the vidhi-marga, filled with aisvarya, whereas the Gaudiyas’ worship is one of

raga-marga, where madhurya predominates. The Madhvites worship Nartaka-Gopala

alone, whereas the Gaudiyas never desire to serve Sri Krishna without Sri Radhaji.

Baladeva Vidyabhusana has recognized certain differences of opinion with

the teachings of the Madhva sampradaya in his commentary on Tattvasandarbha:

bhaktanam vipranam eva moksah, devah bhaktesu mukhyah, virincasyaiva sayujyam,

laksmya jiva-kotitvam ity evam matavisesah daksinadi-deseti tena gaude ’pi

madhavendradayas tad upasisyah katicid babhuvur ity arthah.

“Only a brahmana devotee is eligible for liberation, the demigods are

foremost among devotees, Brahma attains sayujya-mukti (merging

in Brahman), and Laksmidevi is included among the jivas – these

are differences in opinion. Nevertheless Madhavendra Puri and

some others from Bengal became his followers.”

Moreover, we find the following words spoken by Sriman Mahaprabhu

Himself to an acarya of the Madhva sampradaya in the Caitanya

Caritamrita (Madhya-lila, 9.273-276):

suni’ tattvacarya haila antare lajjita

prabhura vaisnavata dekhi, ha-ila vismita

acarya kahe – tumi yei kaha, sei satya haya

sarva-sastre vaisnavera ei suniscaya

46

tathapi madhvacarya ye kariyache nirbandha

sei acariye sabe sampradaya-sambandha

prabhu kahe karmi, jnani, dui bhakti-hina

tomara sampradaye dekhi sei dui cihna

sabe, eka guna dekhi tomara sampradaye

satya-vigraha kari’ isvare karaha niscaye

Hearing these words of Sriman Mahapbrahu, the the acarya of the Tattvavada

sampradaya became ashamed, and was struck with wonder upon seeing His degree of

The acarya said, “Whatever you have told, that is the truth proclaimed in all scriptures,

and the firm conviction of the Vaisnavas. However, whatever Madhva Acarya has firmly

established, that we practice due to our sampradaya connection with him.”

Prabhu said, “Karmis and jnanis are both devoid of bhakti. In your sampradaya, I can see

symptoms of both. All in all, the only qualification I see in your sampradaya is your firm

acceptance of the truth of the Lord’s form.”

Hence it should not be a surprise that a majority of the Gaudiyas have little

or no identification as members of the Madhva sampradaya.

>>Secondly, they think that Sri Prabhodananda Sarasvati and

Prakasananda Sarasvati are the same person, although there is so

much difference between them. This cannot be so. Will a person of

the Ramanuja sampradaya go down to become a mayavadi like

Prakasananda Sarasvati, and then again become Prabhodananda

Sarasvati, who was so exalted that he became the guru of Srila

Gopala Bhatta Gosvami? This idea is absurd. Prabhodananda

Sarasvati and Prakasananda Sarasvati were contemporaries. Will the

same person go back and forth, being a Vaisnava in South India,

then becoming a mayavadi, again becoming a Vaisnava in

Vrndavana, and again becoming a mayavadi?<<

Sri Narayana Maharaja presents a simplistic refutation with little evidence to back up his

idea. His argument would be very strong if it was proven that the Prabodhananda of

47

South India – the uncle and guru of Gopala Bhatta – was the same person as the

Prabodhananda Sarasvati of Vrindavana, the author of Vrindavana Mahimamrta. The

fact is that not much is known about Prabodhananda, or either of the Prabodhanandas,

given that they are likely not the same individual.

There is no historical record of Prabodhananda’s moving from South India to

Vrindavana. To the contrary, according to the Anuraga Valli (AD 1696) of Manohara

Dasa, Gopala Bhatta left for Vrindavana after the death of Vyenkata Bhatta and his two

brothers, one among whom was Prabodhananda. Hence it is clear that according to this

account, Prabodhananda did not spend the later part of his life in Vrindavana.

Anyone may contest the authority of this scripture as well as that of the earlier Prema

Vilasa, in which similar accounts are related, but the fact remains that there is no

evidence to prove that the Prabodhananda of South India and the Prabodhananda of

Vrindavana were the same person.

The similarities between the lives of Prakasananda Sarasvati and Prabodhananda

Sarasvati is yet another subject matter, but we shall not discuss it here, since it is not

foundational to the argument of Sri Narayana Maharaja.

As his next concern, Sri Narayana Maharaja presents the following:

>>Thirdly, they don’t give proper honor to Sri Jiva Gosvami, and

this is a very big blunder. This is a vital point. They say that Jiva

Gosvami is of svakiya-bhava, that he never supported parakiyabhava,

and that he is against parakiya-bhava. They say that in his

explanations of Srimad Bhagavatam and Brahma-samhita, in his

own books like Gopala Campu, and especially in his Sri Ujjvalanilamani

tika, he has written against parakiya-bhava. This is their

greatest blunder. We don’t accept their statements at all.<<

In his commentary on Visvanatha’s Raga Vartma Candrika (2.7), Sri Ananta Dasa Babaji

examines in depth the various statements of Sri Jiva Gosvami on the subject matter of

svakiya and parakiya-vada, and concludes his analysis:

“All the learned and wise devotees will admit without hesitation that

Sri Jiva Gosvamipada, who established the eternality of all of the

Lord’s pastimes in his Sri Bhagavat Sandarbha, could never have

described those most elevated pastimes that are filled with

extramarital love as being non-eternal. Therefore it can be easily

48

understood that when he ascertained the parakiyabhava-maya

pastimes as being non-eternal, he did not speak out his own philosophical

Therefore he wrote at the end of his commentary on the verse

laghutvani atra yat proktam of Sri Ujjvala Nilamani’s Nayaka Bheda

Prakarana: svecchaya likhitam kincit kincit atra parecchaya. yat

purvapara sambandham tat purvamaparam param – ‘In this

commentary I write some things according to my own wishes and

some things according to the wishes of others. Any conclusion that is

filled with consistency from the beginning to the end is written

according to my own wish, and that which is not filled with

consistency from beginning to end is written according to the wish of

others. Thus it is to be known.’”

Hence the teachings of Sri Ananta Dasa Babaji should not be an object of concern for Sri

Narayana Maharaja in this regard. Perhaps Sri Narayana Maharaja has misunderstood

something Panditji has written, or perhaps he aims to boycott some other babajis,

although he mentions the writings of Sri Ananta Dasa Babaji in the beginning of his

Sri Narayana Maharaja goes on to state:

>>For some unqualified persons he [Jiva] has written in that other

way, but the babajis of Vraja cannot reconcile this. They are ignorant

persons. They became opposed to Srila Jiva Gosvami and took the

side of Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, even though in fact

there is no dispute between Jiva Gosvami and Visvanatha Cakravarti

Thakura.<<

Perhaps Sri Narayana Maharaja may now feel some peace in his heart, since we have

demonstrated that there is at least one babaji in Vraja who agrees with him in this regard.

Baba, like Sri Narayana Maharaja, also states, “Thus it is thought by those who cannot

understand the deepest purport of Sri Gopala Campu.”

Sri Narayana Maharaja then returns to the issue of the Gaudiyas’ doctrinal

connection with the Madhva tradition:

>>The babajis say that we are not a branch of the line of

49

Madhvacarya. They say Madhvacarya is of a different opinion than

the Gaudiya Vaisnavas. But this is quite wrong. We have so many

specialties that are there in the line of Madhvacarya.<<

If Sri Madhvacarya and the Gaudiyas were of one opinion, where would there have been

a need for Baladeva to compile the Govinda Bhasya as the Gaudiya commentary on the

Vedanta in the famous meeting at Jaipur? Why did the commentary of Madhva not

suffice, if the Gaudiyas were one in opinion? Certainly there is much in common in the

doctrines of Madhva and the Gaudiyas, and there are also numerous parallel conceptions

with the teachings of the other sampradaya-acaryas. However, this does not

make the Gaudiyas completely one in opinion with acarya Madhva.

As we have mentioned, there are significant differences between the two lineages in their

conceptions on the process of upasana and on the object of upasana. Sri Narayana

Maharaja himself admits in his Prabandha Pancakam (3.5):

>>Although there is some slight difference of opinion between

Gaudiya Vaisnavas and Sri Madhva in regard to Brahman, jiva and

jagat, this simple difference of opinion is not the cause of a

difference of sampradaya. The difference between Vaisnava

sampradayas has been created on the basis of a difference in

upasya-tattva (the object of worship) or on the basis of gradations

of excellence between aspects of para-tattva. Even if there is some

slight difference in regard to sadhya, sadhana and sadhaka-tattva,

this is rarely considered to be the cause of a difference of

  1. sampradaya. Actually, it is the difference in realisation of paratattva

or upasya-tattva (the worshipful Supreme Truth) which is

the main cause of distinct sampradayas.<<

Nevertheless, Sri Narayana Maharaja then goes on to quote the following passage from

the “Sriman Mahaprabhur Siksa” by Sri Bhaktivinoda Thakura:

“There is a technical difference between the philosophical ideas

which the previous Vaisnava acaryas have propagated because there

some slight incompleteness in those philosophical ideas. The

difference in sampradaya is due to this technical difference.”

Although the logic of presentation in Sri Narayana Maharaja’s works remains veiled to us

due to our poor fund of understanding, we nevertheless deducted the main cause of

distinction between the sampradayas from his own statement as follows:

“A difference of conception in upasya-tattva, the worshipful

Supreme Truth, is the main cause of distinction between the

50

  1. sampradayas.”

Also, we understand the following from what Sri Narayana Maharaja said:

“The difference between Vaisnava sampradayas has been created on

the basis of gradations of excellence between aspects of paratattva.”

Hence it is certainly clear that there is a distinction between the Gaudiya sampradaya and

the Madhva sampradaya, since the Gaudiyas regard Sri Sri Radha-Krishna Yugala of

Vraja as their upasya, whereas the Madhvites regard Sri Aisvarya Krishna as their upasya.

In regards to whether they are the same upasya or not, Sri Laghu-bhagavatamrta

(1.5.461) states:

krsna ’nyo yadu-sambhuto yah purnah so ’sty atah parah

vrndavanam parityajya sa kvacin naiva gacchati

“The Krishna who appeared in the Yadu-dynasty is different from

the Krishna who never goes away from Vrindavana.”

If anyone was to argue that the difference in upasya is not so specific, it is only a consideration

in terms of tattva, not of rasa, then for this argument Sri Bhakti-rasamrtasindhu

(1.2.59) states:

siddhantatas tv abhede ’pi srisa-krsna-svarupayoh

rasenotkrsyate krsna-rupam esa rasa-sthitih

“In terms of philosophical consideration, Visnu and Krishna are

nondifferent in nature, but in terms of rasa the form of Sri Krishna,

the reservoir of rasa, is superior.”

Thus Sri Narayana Maharaja would have to accept all the Vaisnava sampradayas as one

sampradaya, since they all worship Visnu-tattva. Indeed, the members of Nimbarka

sampradaya even worship Radha- Krishna, yet we still regard them as a separate

sampradaya – due to slight differences in sadhya, sadhana and sadhaka-tattva.

We shall not delve into the numerous philosophical differences between Sri Madhva and

the Gaudiyas in fear of making this document too lengthy. Some of them have already

been described in the first section of this document. Let it suffice that Madhva taught the

concept of dvaita, or absolute duality, whereas Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu presented the

refined concept of acintya-bhedabheda-tattva, the doctrine of simultaneous oneness and

51

Sri Narayana Maharaja then presents another allegation:

>>Also, they say that because Caitanya Mahaprabhu took sannyasa

from Kesava Bharati, a mayavadi, He, Himself, must be a

  1. mayavadi. We don’t accept this. Mahaprabhu’s actual guru was

Isvara Puripada, He only took vesa, red cloth, from Kesava Bharati,

and there is no harm in this. Madhvacarya also did this, and

Ramanujacarya as well. Sannyasa can be taken in this way.

However, Mahaprabhu took gopala-mantra and other mantras

from Isvara Puripada.<<

Firstly, we would appreciate if Sri Narayana Maharaja would specify “who says” and

“where says”, since after all, he presents several allegations, which add up to his

designating these babajis as avaisnavas in the latter half of the lecture. It should not be

the habit of a senior spiritual leader to make blanket statements on spiritual communities

or their representatives. Nevertheless, for some reason Sri Narayana Maharaja tends to

generalize his allegations, which in turn leads to numerous false accusations, as will be

shown in this document.

It would be interesting to know which are the other mantras Sriman Mahaprabhu

received from Sri Isvara Puripada, since the kama-gayatri is not given in the Madhva-line.

Sri Narayana Maharaja proceeds with the case:

>>Another point is that the babajis don’t accept that Srila Baladeva

Vidyabhusana is in the Gaudiya Vaisnava line. They are vehemently

opposed to this understanding. However, if Baladeva Vidyabhusana

Prabhu is out of our Gaudiya sampradaya, then who is our savior?

He went to Galta Gaddi in Jaipura and defeated the Sri Vaisnavas.

He told them that Srimati Radhika should be on the left of Krishna.

He wrote a commentary on Vedanta-sutra called Govinda-bhasya,

and that commentary has been accepted as the Gaudiya-bhasya

(commentary representing the Gaudiya Sampradaya). If Baladeva

Vidyabhusana Prabhu is not in our sampradaya, then what

52

sampradaya is He in? All his commentaries are in the line of Srila

Rupa Gosvami and our Gaudiya Vaisnava acaryas. If Baladeva

Prabhu is out of our sampradaya, everything will be finished. This is

a vital point.<<

We shall now proceed to quote the words of Sri Ananta Dasa Babaji from his

commentary on the Prema-bhakti-candrika, in regards to how he views the position of

Baladeva, who wrote the Vedanta-bhasya of the Gaudiyas to establish the authenticity of

the Gaudiya-sampradaya.

“I will constantly study the commentaries on the Bhagavata, like

Vaisnava-tosani and Krama-sandarbha, plus the series ‘Six

Sandarbhas’ that explain the purport of the Bhagavata, plus the

commentaries by the Gosvamis’ followers Srila Visvanatha

Cakravartipada and Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana Mahodaya.”

(Sudha-kanika-vyakhya commentary on verse 11)

Moreover, Sri Ananta Dasa Babaji states in his commentary on the 94th verse of Vilapa

Kusumanjali:

“According to Gaudiya Vaishnava acaryas like Srila Jiva Gosvami

and Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana, bhakti means attachment or

constant attraction to God.”

Thus Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana is accepted as a follower of the Gosvamis in the

Gaudiya sampradaya. In addition to the statement above, anyone who studies the works

of Sri Ananta Dasa Babaji, may discover how he quotes the authoritative statements of

Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana on numerous occasions.

We request Sri Narayana Maharaja to specify the babajis who are vehemently opposed to

Baladeva’s being in the Gaudiya line. Otherwise the public may misunderstand this vital

>>Also, these babajis say that if anyone wears the saffron cloth of

sannyasa, he is not in the Gaudiya Vaisnava line. They have no

correct idea. It is stated in Caitanya Caritamrta:

kiba vipra, kiba nyasi, sudra kene naya

yei krsna-tattva-vetta, sei ‘guru’ haya

53

[“It does not matter whether a person is a vipra (learned scholar in

Vedic wisdom) or is born in a lower family, or is in the renounced

order of life. If he is master in the science of Krishna, he is the

perfect and bona fide spiritual master.” (Madhya-lila 8-128)]

Krishna dasa Kaviraja Gosvami has written ‘kiba nyasi’. Nyasi

means sannyasi. Isvara Puripada, Madhavendra Puripada, and all

renunciates in their line were sannyasis in saffron cloth. There are

so many associates of Caitanya Mahaprabhu who wore saffron cloth.

Svarupa Damodara also wore saffron cloth. What harm was there?

Saffron cloth is the sign of renunciation. It is the color of anuraga,

attachment for Krishna. Because it is a color, it is worn by sadhvis.

Sadhvi means a married lady, a lady who is not a widow. ‘Married’

means having Krishna as one’s beloved. We are not widows, but

those who wear white cloths are widows.<<

Sri Narayana Maharaja gives numerous examples of Gaudiya sannyasis contemporary to

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, but he fails to present any follower of the Gosvamis who

would have adopted saffron cloth and tridanda. Indeed, all of the examples he gives are

of ekadandi-sannyasis, not tridandi-sannyasis as is the custom among the followers of

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu ordered the Gosvamis to establish the Vaisnava sadacara for

the future times to come, and we are to follow the codes of behavior they set for us to

follow .

The Hari-bhakti-vilasa (4.147 & 152) states in lucid language in regards to the Gaudiyas’

dress:

nagno dviguna-vastrah syan nagno raktapatas tatha

“Wearing red cloth is like walking naked.”

sukla vasa bhaven nityam raktam caiva vivarjayet

“Always wear white and give up red cloth.”

Even if anyone was to argue that rakta-vastra means only the red cloth of mayavadisannyasis,

it should be noted that the very cloth Sriman Mahaprabhu wore was a raktavastra,

and so were those of His sannyasi associates. At their time, the Hari Bhakti Vilasa

was not yet written. Besides, sukla vasa bhaven nityam, wear white cloth at all times, is a

strong positive injunction for the future times.

54

Moreover, there are no positive injunctions for accepting saffron cloth and tridanda in

the writings of the Gosvamis. Hence some have disapproved of the newly founded

sannyasa tradition. Additionally, it is noteworthy that the customs of sannyasa embraced

by Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati and his followers were largely adopted from the Ramanuja

sampradaya, not from the Madhva sampradaya they claim to follow – and certainly not

from the Sankara sampradaya in which the associates of Sriman Mahaprabhu mentioned

by Sri Narayana Maharaja accepted sannyasa.

Should there be exceptions to the rule, it does not in itself justify the establishment of a

new rule.

Sri Narayana Maharaja then proceeds to question the term babaji:

>>From where has this word ‘babaji’ come in our line? From whom

has it come? Isvara Puripada, Madhavendra Puripada, Sri Caitanya

Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu, and after Him, Sri Rupa Gosvami,

Sri Sanatana Gosvami, Srila Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami, Sri Jiva

Gosvami, Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, and Sri Raghunatha dasa

Gosvami. After them, Krishna dasa Kaviraja Gosvami and

Vrndavana dasa Thakura, and then Narottama dasa Thakura,

Syamananda dasa, Srinivasa Acarya, and Visvanatha Cakravarti

Thakura. Where is the word babaji? Was anyone known as babaji?

From where did this word babaji come? The babajis have no reply.

These Vaisnavas were all paramahamsa, not babaji.<<

According to Sri Narayana Maharaja, the Jaiva Dharma of Sri Bhaktivinoda Thakura is

not a fictive book, but a historical account, as he stated on a lecture on September 21,

2001, in Mathura:

“In Jaiva Dharma he presented tattva in such an interesting way

that it appears like a novel. It is not a novel, however. Everything in

it is true history.”

Anyone who is acquainted with this title knows that practically every renunciate saint

there carries the title “babaji” after their name. The events of the title date back to the

times of Gopala Guru Gosvami, which is soon after the disappearance of Sriman

Mahaprabhu. Thus it appears that the concept “babaji” is not a novelty at all. But where

did the term come from? Sri Narayana Maharaja himself explains on this very same

lecture:

55

>>In Vraja, the Vrajabasis all used to call Sanatana Gosvami ‘baba’.

They called Sanatana Gosvami bara-baba, elder sadhu, and Rupa

Gosvami chota-baba, younger sadhu. After them, others in their line

took white cloth; but then, after the time of Visvanatha Cakravarti

Thakura, they deviated. Some, like Jagannatha dasa Babaji,

Madhusudana dasa Babaji, and Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji, took this

babaji name out of humility, and everyone used to call them that.<<

Thus it is evident that the term “babaji” has been an affectionate address for ascetics

dedicated to a life of devotion at least since the time of the Gosvamis. In the course of

time, the term “babaji” has naturally evolved into a concept applied to the renunciates of

the Gaudiya tradition. This should not be a reason to boycott anyone – particularly not so

because even in the Gaudiya Matha babaji-vesa is given.

Then Sri Narayana Maharaja descends from the realm of philosophical discussion into

the realm of generalized personal attacks:

>>Presently, those who are bogus persons, but were previously in

the Gaudiya Matha, have become lusty and have thus been kicked

out from the Gaudiya Matha. Now they have become babajis.<<

We invite Sri Narayana Maharaja to prove his theory valid by presenting several practical

examples, for otherwise his claim is not a valid principle, but rather meaningless namecalling

based on isolated incidents.

Then Sri Narayana Maharaja levels yet another unfounded allegation:

>>The babajis especially criticize Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura,

saying that he didn’t have a guru. This is a bogus idea. Srila

Bhaktivinoda Thakura preached the name and the glories of Sri

Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya to the

whole world. He wrote hundreds of books. Still, the babajis say he

did not have a proper guru, and that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati

Prabhupada also had no proper guru.<<

56

To the best of our knowledge, the only one to discredit the guru-parivara of Sri

Bhaktivinoda Thakura was his son Bimal Prasad, or Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, as he was

later known, who refused to recognize the authenticity of Bhaktivinoda’s diksa-guru Sri

Vipina Vihari Gosvami despite Bhaktivinoda’s praise of the same in his voluminous

writings. Indeed, in his autobiography Svalikhita-jivani, Bhaktivinoda relates how Prabhu

Gaura Himself led him to the Gosvami.

Also, it is unknown to us that anyone would have challenged the authenticity of Sri Gaura

Kisora Dasa Baba. The question is in regards to whether Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati

received diksa or not, and consequently whether he was authorized to initiate in turn or

not. The reasons for concern are as follows:

1. In the presence of several witnesses, Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati

himself admitted to Pandita Ramakrishna Dasa Babaji having only received

initiation in dream from Gaura Kisora Baba.

2. There is no mention of Sarasvati’s receiving initiation from Gaura Kisora

Baba in any of the Baba’s authorized, objective biographies, nor do others

outside the Gaudiya Matha related with the Baba know of this. Also the

brother of Sarasvati, Sri Lalita Prasada Thakura, denies his having received

3. Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati did not reveal the diksa-parampara of Sri

Gaura Kisora Baba. In fact, even the name of Baba’s diksa-guru was not

revealed by Sarasvati to his followers. Traditionally a guru reveals his

parampara to the disciples. Instead, Sarasvati created a parampara of his

own design, which he entitled bhagavat-parampara.

4. At the time of initiation, the guru gives the disciple the specific tilaka

markings of the parivara he represents. Baba came in the Advaita

parivara, which has a very distinctive tilaka-svarupa among the various

Gaudiya parivaras. If Sarasvati indeed received diksa from the Baba, why

did he not adopt the external signs of lineage accordingly, but instead

applied a tilaka of his own design?

Onwards to the next allegation:

57

>>Those in the babaji line say that our Guru Maharaja, Srila Bhakti

Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja, and even Srila Bhaktivedanta

Swami Maharaja, were not in the proper disciplic line, and that they

have no guru-parampara. But it is actually the babajis who are not

in the guru -parampara.<<

Here Sri Narayana Maharaja presents a reversed counter-argument with noactual

substance. Will he now demonstrate to us how the babajis are not inthe guru-parampara?

Will he first specify which babaji he means? Thenwe could see whether this particular

babaji belongs to a certain unbroken diksa lineage dating back to the associates of Sri

Caitanya Mahaprabhu or not, and whether his teachings are in allegiance to the

sampradaya’s precepts.

Sri Narayana Maharaja then presents us with a piece of fabricated history:

>>I saw in France that so many devotees have given up Srila

Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja, and they have become babajis.

They took babaji-vesa, dor-kaupin and so on. Then, after two years,

they fell down with mataji-babajis. They accepted and lived with

divorced ladies.<<

On a lecture in Germany, dated December 14th 2001, Sri Narayana Maharaja supplied us

with more details on this incident:

“Some of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja’s disciples once came

to me asking, “Please help us! Please give us siddha-pranali.” I

replied, “I cannot help myself. How can I help you?” These disciples

then went to the sahajiya babajis at Radha Kunda. Those sahajiya

babajis then gave them siddha pranali for five anna paisa, although

they never knew the meaning of siddha-pranali. Real siddhapranali

has been explained by Bhaktivinoda Thakura. I was

searching for these new babajis, and I have now heard that they are

married.”

Nevertheless, the historical fact is that only one disciple of Sri Bhaktivedanta Swami has

ever accepted babaji-vesa and dor-kaupina at Radhakunda in the 1980’s. He indeed left

the life of an ascetic, but he has never met Sri Narayana Maharaja. Thus it is unclear to

us why Sri Narayana Maharaja relates such obscure, imaginary stories to an innocent

58

Sri Narayana Maharaja then labels the babajis whom he boycotts:

>>If you read their books this poison may come.

avaisnava-mukhodgirnam putam hari-kathamrtam

sravanam naiva kartavyam sarpocchistam yatha payah

(Padma Purana)

[“One should not hear anything about Krishna from a non-vaisnava.

Milk touched by the lips of a serpent has poisonous effects. Similarly,

talks about Krishna given by a non-vaisnava are also poisonous.”]

Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami’s Vilapa Kusumanjali, and other

books like Krishna Bhavanamrta, Radha-rasa-sudhanidhi, and

Stava-vali are all good books. They are amrta, nectar. However, you

should not hear them from non-vaisnavas; otherwise the bogus

ideas of such non-vaisnavas will come, and you will be deviated. Be

very careful about this.<<

In other words, after presenting a vast number of invalid accusations, he now designates

the unspecified babajis as non-vaisnavas, from whom the poison of deviation emanates.

Needless to say, even if he boycotts a particular individual to whom his strong criticism

may apply, the public will misunderstand the object of his critique, because he keeps

mentioning titles by Sri Ananta Dasa Babaji, to whom his allegations do not apply, as we

have clearly demonstrated.

There is yet another allegation Sri Narayana Maharaja has in store, a popular one:

>>Another point is regarding bhajana-pranali. Instead of giving the

proper process to the appropriate persons, without giving proper

training, without considering whether a person is qualified or not,

these babajis give their own version of bhajana-pranali. Their socalled

disciples do not know who is Krishna or what is bhajana. They

don’t know any definition of bhakti, and they don’t even know how

to clean themselves after passing stool. They don’t know anything.

What will become of them?<<

We wonder whether Sri Narayana Maharaja has actually acquainted himself with the

59

standards and procedures of the unnamed babajis whom he boycotts, or does he simply

say whatever he likes, based on hearsay? We request him to present to us the babajis who

give siddha-pranali to people who do not know how to wash their hands after passing

stool. Moreover, we request him to present to us the babajis who give siddha-pranali to

people who are not conversant with the basic truths of Gaudiya siddhanta. On the day

when he does this, we will ask him whether they are the same people who publish the

books he boycotts.

Then Sri Narayana Maharaja goes on to present the final tale of victory :

>>About ten years ago I went on Vraja Mandala Parikrama with

Pujyapada Janardana Maharaja. We went to Radha-Kunda, and

there we challenged the babajis. We had a discussion for three

hours, but no one came. I have also challenged those babajis in my

book, Five Essential Essays, but no one responded. After reading

that book they wanted to take us to court, and I challenged them,

“Yes, we will see you in court.” But they never came. Their lawyers

had advised them not to go to court, as they would have lost

everything.<<

It is beyond our imagination how one can have a discussion for three hours without

having anyone to speak with, and then claim to have successfully and victoriously

challenged someone. Perhaps it would be good for Sri Narayana Maharaja to remember

how he refused to address the questions of this humble self, because he saw that the

inquirer was not in a fully submissive state, and consequently unable to comprehend the

answers he would have given.

Onwards to the concluding sentence of Sri Narayana Maharaja:

>>I have come to tell you these things only to make you all careful.

Don’t be bewildered. Try to be very strong, knowing all these

points.<<

Indeed, we became careful as a result of attending this speech, and moreover, by studying

the transcript of the same. In fact, we even became fearful over what would happen to our

devotional lives, should we continue to wholeheartedly adopt the abundantly unfounded

criticism cast forth by Sri Narayana Maharaja and his followers.

Gaurkisora dasa Babaji never gave diksa to Bhaktisiddhanta

Download this in PDF format here:

http://www.mediafire.com/view/e3717aola66h1d8/True_History_of_Bhaktisiddhanta.pdf

DID BHAKTISIDDHANTA SARASVATI RECEIVED DHIKSA

FROM GAURKISORA DASA BABAJI ?

by

Madhavanada das

2002

Let me make it very clear that I am not interested in an intense back-and-forth knee-jerk

stubborn quarrel over anything mentioned in the thread topic title. I am also not trying to

convert anyone to anything, just in case somebody was going to say that. I am interested

in the historical facts surrounding the initiation of Bhaktisiddhanta. I trust our intelligent

audience can understand this.

Here are my notes on the subject matter of the initiation of Bhaktisiddhanta:

a) Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati was in the habit of visiting Ramakrishna Dasa Pandita

Babaji during his visits to Vrindavana since he was without a doubt one of the most

40

respected of the Gaudiya Vaishnavas of the 1920s and 1930s. On one occasion Sarasvati

was highly praising Gaura Kishora Babaji in Pandita Baba’s presence. Pandita Baba asked

him if he had re-ceived initiation from him. Sarasvati said he had received it in a dream.

Pandita Babaji said that that was fine, but he should receive it in the flesh since that is the

only type of initiation accepted in the Caitanya tradition. Bhaktisiddhanta said he would

and ended the visit. Years later Sarasvati returned to Vrindavana as the acarya of the

Gaudiya Matha, a famous man. He visited Pandita Babaji and was asked again if he

had gotten initiation from Gaura Kishora Dasa Baba. His answer was the same, at which

point Pandita Baba got extremely angry with him for making disciples without proper

initiation. This incident was witnessed by Sri Kisori Mohana Gosvami, Sri Kisori Dasa

Babaji and Advaita Dasa Babaji of Govardhan.

b) There is no indication of Sarasvati’s being initiated by Babaji Maharaja in any of his

objective biographies, objective meaning compiled by anyone who would not be bound

out of prejudice to accept the statement of Sarasvati, being a follower of his. The brother

of Sarasvati, Lalita Prasada Thakura, denies Sarasvati’s receiving diksa from Babaji

Maharaja. The pujari and other residents of Gaura Kisora Dasa Babaji’s bhajana kutira

knew of only four disciples of Babaji, but Sarasvati was not among them.

c) Sarasvati did not reveal the parampara of Gaura Kisora Dasa Babaji to his followers.

In fact, even the name of Babaji Maharaja´s diksa-guru was not revealed by Sarasvati.

Now, why would a disciple not reveal the diksa-parampara of his guru? It is a common

practice that at the time of diksa the guru reveals his guru-pranali, or the succession of

gurus back to the time of Sriman Mahaprabhu and His associates.

d) According to Hari Bhakti Vilasa (2.8.5), at the time of diksa the guru bestows the

specific sectarian signs he carries unto the disciple: sampradayika mudradi bhusitam tam

krtanjalim In his commentary on this verse, Sri Sanatana Gosvami explains:

sampradayikam guru-paramparasiddham, “This sampradayika refers to the guruparampara,”

and mudra tilaka maladi, “And mudra refers to tilaka and strings of beads.”

Consequently the recognized parivaras, like Nityananda-parivara, Advaita-parivara,

Narottama-parivara and Syamananda-parivara, have their specific tilaka-svarupa. If

Sarasvati received diksa, why is it that he and his followers have adopted a tilaka which

was not worn by his diksa-guru, who must have at the time of diksa given a specific tilakasvarupa

to Sarasvati?

e) Wherefrom did Sarasvati receive the sacred thread and the brahmagayatri, which he

passed on to his disciples? Certainly not from Gaura Kisora Dasa Babaji, who was a

vaisya by birth, and did not chant the brahma-gayatri, nor wear a sacred thread.

f) What is the origin of the specific set of mantras given in the line of Sarasvati? Hari

Bhakti Vilasa mentions Gopala Mantra and Kama-gayatri as diksa-mantras. The

paddhatis of Gopala Guru and Dhyanacandra give an elaborate list of mantras for

41

raganuga-sadhana, but the guru-mantra

and guru-gayatri given by Sarasvati are different from the ones given in these paddhatis.

Then let us turn to some of the source material I have at hand. I find the following

statement of Bhakti Vikash Swami of ISKCON, who is compiling a biography on

Bhaktisiddhanta, very interresting:

In 1932 Visvambharananda dasa Babaji, on behalf of many babajis and caste Goswamis

in Vrndavana, published a book opposing Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati and his Mission,

citing extensively from sastra to support his arguments. He challenged that the line of

parampara traced from Jagannatha dasa Babaji through Bhaktivinoda Thakura to Gaura

Kisora dasa Babaji and then to Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati was unauthorized.

Visvambharananda claimed that although Sarasvati Thakura was supposed to be the

disciple of Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji, he was disqualified in several ways. First, Sarasvati

Thakura did not accept as bona fide the recognized lineage of Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji,

whose guru was in the Advaita-parivara. Furthermore, since Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji

had never used a japa-mala, and had not given one to Sarasvati Thakura at the time of

initiation but had simply placed some Navadvipa dust into his hand, Visvambharananda

argued that such an initiation was not bona fide. The implication was that Sarasvati

Thakura had not actually received pancaratrika-diksa from Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji, so

how could he confer it upon others? Nor had Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji worn a brahmana

thread, so on what authority did Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati wear one? Moreover,

Visvambharananda argued, Sarasvati Thakura claimed to be a follower of Bhaktivinoda

Thakura, who was initiated by the caste Goswami Bipina Bihari. Why then did

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati not accept guru-parampara by seminal descent? Bhaktivinoda

Thakura had given him a Nrsimha mantra for worshiping the Deity, yet Sarasvati

Thakura was giving a Radha-Krsna mantra for this purpose. Wherefrom did he derive

this mantra, and on whose authority did he distribute it? Visvambharananda further

objected that since Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati was a sannyasi without a sannyasa guru,

how could he give sannyasa to others? Sarasvati Thakura responded by explaining the

concept of bhagavataparampara, or siksa-parampara. He maintained that the essence of

parampara lies in the transmission of transcendental knowledge, not merely in a list of

contiguous names. The life of the parampara is maintained by the maha-bhagavatas, who

embody the essence of scriptural knowledge. Therefore, to trace the parampara through

such maha-bhagavatas truly represents parampara. He said, “Bhaktivinoda Thakura is

Kamala Manjari, a personal associate of Radharani. He ordered me to establish daivavarnasrama.

I must obey his order. The acarya is not under the sastra. The acarya can

make sastra. Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the acarya, has inspired me in various ways. By his

mercy and that of Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji Maharaja and the previous acaryas we are

going on, not caring for the precise technicalities of smartas. “Although this concept of

bhagavata-parampara appears to be new, it is based on the essential understanding of the

scriptures. Something new given by an acarya but based on sastra is called vaisistya

(a special characteristic). Acaryas Ramanuja and Madhva both apparently introduced

42

something new, but because their teachings were based on sastra they came to be

accepted. Phalena pariciyate: ‘An action should be understood by its result.’ My

commitment to devotional service and my preaching activities speak for themselves. Owllike

persons cannot see this, but those who are honest will accept it.” Bhakti Vikash

Maharaj relates, “It [the quote from BSST] is almost certainly not verbatim, especially as

it was originally spoken or written in Bengali. It is as told to me by the late Jati Shekhar

Prabhu, a disciple of SBST.”

I find it significant that even an insider will admit that a traditional pancaratrika-diksa most

likely never took place, although a kind of initiation was there, which they experience as

The following statement is given in a biography, compiled by Bhakti Kusum Sraman

Maharaja:

“With the permission of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura, Srila Sarasvati Thakura accepted

Bhagavati initiation from Srila Babaji Maharaja in the month of Magha (January-

February) 1900 A.D.”

It is unknown to me what the “Bhagavati initiation” means. Perhaps it means a kind of

informal initiation, in the spirit of “Bhagavata parampara”. The BBT printing of Brahma

Samhita states:

“In 1905, following the advice of his father, Siddhanta Saraswati accepted spiritual

initiation from Gaurakisora dasa Babaji.”

It is obvious that the authority of this statement is questionable, given the five-year error in

the date compared to the Gaudiya Matha edition, which I recall draws the time from

Bhaktisiddhanta’s own writings in “The Harmonist”.

Then I have some accounts related by Nitai Das on record, from the time when he began

to study the issue:

The eyewitnesses I know of and from whom I heard were eyewitness to Bhaktisiddhanta’s

admission before Pandita Ramakrsna Das Baba that he had not received initiation from

Gaura Kishora Das Babaji.

Bhaktisiddhanta was in the habit of visiting Pandita Babaji during his visits to Vrindaban

since he was without a doubt the most respected of the Caitanya Vaishnavas of the 1920s

and 1930s. On one occasion Bhaktisiddhanta was highly praising Gaura Kishora Das in

Pandita Baba’s presence. Pandita Baba asked him if he had received initiation from him.

Bhaktisiddhanta said he had received it in a dream. Pandita Babaji said that that was fine,

but he should receive it in the flesh since that is the only type of initiation accepted in the

Caitanya tradition. Bhaktisiddhanta said he would and ended the visit. A few years later

Siddhanta returned to Vrindaban, now the acharya of the Gaudiya Math, a famous man.

He visited Pandita Babaji and was asked again if he had gotten initiation from Gaura

43

Kishora Das Baba. His answer was the same, at which point Pandita Baba got extremely

angry with him for making disciples without proper initiation. Pandita Babaji threw him

out of the ashrama and Bhaktisiddhanta, fearing damage to his reputation, began his

calumny of the Vrindaban babas and forbade his disciples from associating with them.

This account was given to me by Advaita Das Baba (I’m unsure if this is the correct name

of this baba after all these years) in Govardhan who said he was witness to the admission.

. . . . . . . . . .

In addition, I did a little research on my own. During one of my visits to Nabadwip I

visited the bhajana kutir/mandira of Gaura Kishora Das Babaji and spoke with the pujari

there. I asked him if he knew whether Gaura Kishora Das Babaji had any initiated

disciples. His answer, after consulting with some of the other elders of the compound,

was that, as far as he knew, there were only four, a married couple of modest means and

two others, agriculturalists, none of whom were Bhaktisiddhanta. How he knew this and

how reliable his testimony is, I don’t know. The diksa-connection between

Bhaktisiddhanta and Gaura Kishor Dasa Babaji was also denied by Sri Lalita Prasad

Thakur, his brother, who certainly was around and well informed of the incidents

surrounding Bhaktisiddhanta. He also expressed how Bhaktivinoda was dissatisfied with

Bhaktisiddhanta’s attitude towards Vipin Vihari Gosvami and several other senior

Vaishnavas, and therefore refused to personally initiate Bhaktisiddhanta, despite

bestowing pancaratrika-diksa and siddha-pranali to Lalita Prasad and some other

disciples of his.

The following statement was given by a western sannyasi of the Gaudiya Matha:

“There were witnesses to the initiation. Because there was a witness to the initiation of

Saraswati Thakura, even after 100 years the opposition has not been able to make much

of that rumor. Now of course the witness is also dead, but one of his relatives still lives in

Vrindavana and knows something of the event.”

I would tend to conclude based on the considerations above that Bhaktisiddhanta did not

receive pancaratrika-diksa as it appears in the Hari Bhakti Vilasa, though there certainly

was a kind of guru-disciple relationship between him and Gaura Kisora Babaji, and some

kind of event of acceptance of disciplehood may have taken place. The crucial question at

hand is whether diksa-mantras were given.

Sannyasa is bogus for real Gaudiya Vaisnavas

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GAUDIA VAISNAVA DHARMA

AND

SANNYASA

by

Dr. Radhagovinda Nath

(From the Appendix to his edition of the

Caitanya-caritamrta of Krsnadasa Kaviraja)

translation by

Neal Delmonico (Nitai Das)

Some people ask about the place of the institution of sannyasa (formal renunciation) in

the religious tradition of Gaudiya Vaisnavism. Therefore, a little reflection on this topic

will be done here. In what condition is taking sannyasa appropriate? That is the first thing

that should be considered. The Maitreyi Upanisad says:

yada manasi vairgyam jatam sarvesu vastusu |

tadaiva sannyased vidvan anyatha patito bhaved ||(2.19)

“When detachment to all things is born in the mind, then one should renounce.

Otherwise one would become fallen.”

That Upanisad also says:

dravyartham anna-vastrrtham yah pratiharthameva va |

sannyased ubhaya-bhrastah sa muktim naptum arhati || (2.20)

“For things, for food and clothing, or for power, one who renounces for any of those

things is fallen both now and in the future and does not deserve liberation.”

But Mahaprabhu himself has said that in the Age of Kali there is no prescription for

sannyasa citing as evidence the Brahma-vaivarta Purana:

asvamedham gavlambham sannyasam palapaitrikam |

devarena sutotpattim kalau pañca vivarjayet || (1.17.7)

“The asvamedha sacrifice, cow-killing (in the Madhuparka rite), renunciation, offering

meat to the forefathers (?), begetting sons by means of the husband’s younger brother;

these five are to be rejected in the Age of Kali.”

36

From this it is understood that even for one who has the qualification specified in the

sruti cited above sannyasa is not recommended in the Age of Kali.

In Varanasa, after listening to the primary meaning of the Vedanta-sutra from

Mahaprabhu at the house of the Maharastrian brahmana, one of Prakasnanda Sarasvati’s

chief disciples sitting in the ashram thinking about the Lord’s explanation of Vedanta

said:

“I consider the statements

of Sri Krsnacaitanya

to be completely true.

In the Age of Kali

we do not overcome

the cycle of rebirth by sannyasa.” (C.c., Madhya, 25.27)

From this, too, it is understood that in the Age of Kali sannyasa is without utility.

What has been said above, however, is only the general rule. Let us see whether there is

any specific rule mentioned in the statements of Mahaprabhu or not.

In Varanasi, in the context of describing “that which is to be conveyed” (abhidheya-tattva,

ie. bhakti) to Sanatana Gosvamin, on the topic the behavior of Vaisnavas, Sri

Mahaprabhu said:

Giving up association with the unholy,

this is the practice of Vaisnavas.

One who associates with women is one;

the other is the unholy non-devotee of Krsna.

Rejecting all these and varnasrama-dharma,

without possessions one should find

one’s only shelter in Krsna. (C.c., Madhya, 22.49-50)

This instruction of Mahaprabhu is about the rejection of varnasrama-dharma for

  1. Varnasrama-dharma means the caste system and system of stages of life. In

scripture is found the prescription for four stages of life – the student stage of celibacy,

the householder stage of marriage, the stage of the hermit, and the stage of renunciation

(sannyasa). Renunciation is the fourth stage of life. For those who practice the path of

bhakti, Mahaprabhu has said that this (sannyasa) is also to be rejected. Rejection of the

system of castes and stages is counted as one of the

practices of Vaisnavas.

In the context of the sixty-four limbs of bhakti as means (sadhana-bhakti), the Lord has

37

not given any instruction for sannyasa. Instead he has said: “knowledge and renunciation

are never parts of bhakti.” (C.c., Madhya, 22.82)

The Gosvamin headed by Rupa, who follow the footsteps of Sri Mahaprabhu, have

established the example of worship in the Vaisnava tradition and have published books,

such as the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu showing the path of worship. In their books, an

instruction for the practice of sannyasa is not found anywhere. Also, none of them took

sannyasa. They only wore the cloth of those without possessions (niskiñcana). Sri

Sanatana Gosvamin received one piece of an old cloth from Tapana Misra at Varanasi

and with that made a kaupin and outer cloth. This is the dress of one without possessions.

When Sri Jagadananda went to Vrindaban, he one day invited Sanatana Gosvamin for

food. A sannyasi by the name of Mukunda Sarasvati gave Sanatana an outer cloth.

Sanatana tied that outer cloth on his head and went to keep

Jagadananda’s invitation. Then:

Seeing the reddish cloth, the Pandita

became overwhelmed with love.

Thinking it the remnant of

Mahaprabhu, he questioned him:

“Where did you get this reddish cloth?”

“Mukunda Sarasvati gave it,” replied Sanatana.

Hearing that, sadness arose in the Pandita’s mind.

Taking up the rice pot, he came to hit him. (C.c., Antya.13.51-53)

Sanatana was embarrassed. Seeing that, Jagadananda Pandita placed the pot on the stove

and said to Sanatana:

You are the chief of the associates of Mahaprabhu;

There is no other as dear to Mahaprabhu as you.

You wear another sannyasi’s cloth on your head.

When something like this happens, how can one tolerate it?

(C.c., Antya, 13.55-6)

Then Sanatana said:

Right! Pandita Mahasaya!

No one is as dear to Caitanya as you.

This kind of unwavering faith in Caitanya is suitable in you.

If you did not show me, how would I learn this?

To see that, this cloth was tied on my head;

Unprecedented love have I seen before my very eyes.

38

It is not fitting for a Vaisnava to wear reddish cloth.

I will give it to some visitor; what need have I with it?

(C.c., Antya, 13. 57-60)

Here Sanatana has said: “It is not fitting for a Vaisnava to wear reddish cloth.” Here this

is not a reddened cloth or a red-colored cloth. This is the color of cloth that Mahaprabhu

used as an outer cloth (saffron), because Jagadananda Pandita mistook it for a remnant

of Mahaprabhu. This was the outer cloth of a sannyasi named Mukunda Sarasvati. This

was the color of cloth that sannyasis used as outer cloths. Reddened (rakta) means dyed

or colored cloth. From Sri Sanatana’s statement it is understood that far from taking

sannyasa, Vaisnavas should not even wear cloth colored like that of sannyasis. Someone is

perhaps able to say that the Ramanuja Sampradya or the Madhva Sampradaya is

Vaisnava, but in these communities sannyasi are found. In answer to this it is said that the

practices of each community of practitioners is in accordance with attainment of that

community’s desired goals. The objective of the Ramanuja Sampradaya or of the Madhva

Sampradaya is not the same as that of the Gaudiya Sampradaya. The object of worship of

those two communities is the Lord of the Supreme Heaven, Narayana; the object of

worship of the Gaudiya community is Sri Krsna, the son of leader of Vraja in Vraja. The

mood of those two communities is the mood of godliness in Vaikuntha; the mood of the

Gaudiya community is the mood of pure sweetness free of knowledge of godliness in

Vraja. The desired objective of those two communities is the liberations headed by

sharing of a world (salokya), etc.; the desired objective of the Gaudiya community is

service (seva) whose purpose is only the happiness of Krsna in Vraja. Desire for

liberation is contrary to the mood of the Gaudiya community, contrary to worship

(bhajana). For this community:

Obstacles to Krsna-bhakti

are all auspicious and inauspicious works.

That is one living being’s

trait of the darkness of ignorance. (C.c., Adi, 1.52)

The darkness of ignorance

is called the fraudulent (kaitava):

All desire for piety, wealth,

sensuality, liberation, and so forth. (C.c, Adi, 1.50)

The Bhagavata’s “highest religion free from fraud” is the religion to be practiced by the

Gaudiya community. The observance of varnasrama-dharma is favorable to the

attainment of the liberations headed by sharing a world. For this reason, those who desire

liberation observe varnasrama-dharma.

The Tattvavadi teacher who followed Sri Madhvacarya said to Mahaprabhu in connection

with his community’s means and goal:

39

Offering varnasrama-dharma to Krsna,

this is the highest means for the devotee of Krsna.

Attaining the five kinds of liberation and going to Vaikuntha,

this is the highest objective according to scripture.

(C.c., Madhya, 9.238-9)

Sri Ramanujacarya, too, in his commentary on the Brahma-sutra and on the Gita has

talked about the observance of varnasrama-dharma.

Previously it was said that sannyasa is a part of varnasrama-dharma. Since the Ramanuja

community and the Madhva community, both desirous of liberation, observe varnasramadharma,

taking sannyasa is not prohibited for them. This for them is a specific rule. But

the Gaudiya community is not desirous of liberation; varnasrama-dharma and the

sannyasa that is included in it is not suitable to their form of worship. The sannyasa that

is found in Vedic scriptures is the sannyasa of varnasrama-dharma. Other forms of

sannyasa are not found in Vedic scriptures. The sannyasa that was started in the Buddhist

community, which is inimical to the Vedas, is not the sannyasa that is approved by the

Vedic scriptures. The community of sannyasi of ten names was started by Sri

Sankaracarya, to many in imitation of the Buddhists. Whether the titles of the ten-named

sannyasi, Giri, Puri, Vana, Bharati, and so forth, were in use among the sannyasi who

followed the Vedic scriptures is not known. In later times many accepted the form of

sannyasa in imitation of Sri Sankara, but did not take the titles of the Sankara tradition.

Whether their sannyasa is the sannyasa endorsed by the Vedic scriptures or not is a

subject for the consideration of scholars.

Escape from the Hall of Mirrors (ISKCON) by Nitai Das, Parts 1 and 2

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ESCAPE FROM THE HALL OF MIRRORS

Part 1

Nitai Das

2005

In the last issue, I said I would describe my departure from ISKCON and some of my

experiences both before and after leaving. The beginning of the end occurred when Dr.

Kapoor dropped his bombshell on me, informing me that Bhaktisiddhanta was not

properly initiated. When, after several days, the shock finally subsided somewhat, I began

to consider my options. I had by then left Prabhupad’s traveling entourage where I had

for almost three years been the Sanskrit editor, and had settled in Vrindaban. In

addition, I was then serving as the head pujari for the Krishna-Balarama Mandir. Krishna

and Balarama are particularly beautiful images and it was a great pleasure to serve them.

I got to live in a nice room in the new guest house, eat good prasada, teach some of the

evening classes, attempt to educate the Gurukula kids in Sanskrit, and take my two-hour

turns in the twenty-four hour kirtan.

I was a respected, senior member of the community. Living in Vrindaban was great for

someone with even a little facility with the languages. In the afternoons, when the rest of

the bhaktas were coming out of their siestas, I would occasionally sneak out and attend a

class on the Harinamamrta-vyakarana, the Sanskrit grammar composed entirely of the

names of Krsna written by Sri Jiva Goswami, at Haridas Shastri’s ashrama not far from

the temple. Haridasa Shastri was a wonderfully learned Vaisnava with nine tirthas after

his name, each tirtha representing an above average expertise in an area of Sanskrit

philosophy and literature. A Bengali educated in the traditional system (the Pathsala or

Tol system) in Benares, he apparently had assisted Krsnadas Baba of Kusumasarovara in

his efforts to edit and publish all of the major works of the Gaudiya tradition. He had also

been a siksa disciple of the great Vaisnava scholar and saint, Pandit Ramkrishna Das

Baba. At the time that I began attending his classed he was engaged in reprinting all of

the works previously published by Krsnadas Baba and some others besides. In the

afternoon, he offered free classes on any of the Goswami works to anyone who showed

up. There were usually a half a dozen men young and old, probably from various

surrounding ashramas, there to study with him. Unfortunately, my Hindi and Bengali

27

were not at that time strong enough for me to make much of his detailed explanations of

the text, so I was an infrequent student.

Occasionally I succeeded in sneaking out in the evenings, usually when someone boring

like the then temple president, Aksayananda Maharaja, or some other foolish visiting

sannyasi gave the evening lecture. Instead I went to hear the enthralling Nrsimha

Vallabha Goswami read and elaborate one of Visvanatha Cakravartin’s short poems. His

lectures were then being given in the Radhadamodara Temple. There I sat among the

white-clad little old ladies and men listening as the great Goswami teased out the rasa of

every line, sometimes of every word, of Visvanatha’s beautiful Prema-samputa. His

language, though Bengali, was so Sanskritic that even I could follow it. What a master! I

will never forget how on one particular evening, in a particularly emotionally charged

part of the text, I heard a loud honk and a thud a couple of rows behind me. A bhakta

had keeled over in a faint and one of the neighboring ladies was fanning him. Goswami

looked up, paused for a bit to be sure that the man was alright or at least being cared for,

and then continued reading. Such eruptions of bhava were not uncommon at the readings

in Vrindaban and they happened fairly frequently in Nrisimha Vallabha’s readings. All in

all things were pretty good. The place was brimming with interesting people and it was

Still, I could not get past the disappointment. I felt like I had been scammed. It was as if I

had been sold something very valuable and suddenly it turned out to be a fake. All those

years we had been told, and in turn told others, that ISKCON was the only real

descendent of the religious movement of Sri Caitanya, and that turned out to be a lie. I

had given up everything and devoted myself to following and serving Prabhupad in

whatever way I was able. My family had cut itself off from me and I from it; my father had

even pronounced me dead; and for what? I really felt cheated and angry. I decided that I

had come too far to give up then, and besides, although living in Vrindaban was

wonderful, there were some irritants that came along with living in the ISKCON complex.

I had developed a desire to chant 64 rounds of Hari-nama and it was hard to find time to

do that in the temple context, especially in a culture that did not value such practices. I

was constantly subjected to suspicion because of that and because of my excursions into

the town in the evening to hear readings. Eventually, I was told that I was no longer

allowed to visit the town in the evenings. Worse, however, was the sense of spinning my

wheels that I felt at the Krsna-Balarama temple. I had the feeling that none of us were

making any advancement. There was something corrupt and corrupting in the

atmosphere and I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. I could tell a couple of

stories that would illustrate this corruption, but that would carry us too far afield. Suffice

it to say that I felt a disease while staying there.

The next time I visited Dr. Kapoor I expressed a desire to get properly initiated. I may

have even asked him if he would initiate me. He had already told of his emotional

meeting with Gauranga Das Baba. He politely declined and recommended instead, and

28

in extraordinary terms, a baba who lived way out in the bush, He said this baba was a

siddha-mahapurus. a, a great one who had realized Krsna-preman, one of only a few alive

in the holy abode at that time. Dr. Kapoor said that this baba was known by different

names, Maunibaba because he observed periodic vows of silence, Bangali Baba because

he was a Bengali, Tinkudi Baba from his nickname as a child, but that his initiation name

was Kisori-kisorananda Baba. He also told me that this baba was quite unusual because,

although he came from a highly respected family of caste Gowsamis tracing back to

Nityananda Prabhu, he had left family life behind and had adopted a life of deprivation

and solitary worship. He warned me that getting initiation from him would be difficult,

because he led an extremely austere life, living out in the wildest parts of the Vrajamandala

where few people dared to go. Dr. Kapoor spoke of others, too, who occupied

very high places in the climb towards Krsna-rati. He mentioned, in particular,

Krsnacarana Das Baba, who eventually became the guru of my friend and colleague,

Jagannath Das.

The name ”Tinkudi Baba” operated like a powerful mantra in my mind. It kept returning

to me again and again. I had no idea where he was and how I would ever meet him,

though. My only choice was to wait. I don’t recall how I met them, but I had become

friends with a couple of Vrajavasis, a young man name Parimal Bishwas and his

grandmother Vinaparni. They had settled in Vrindaban and lived in a small rented house

near the Ranganath temple. Occasionally, I visited them and joined them for dinner.

Vinaparni was an excellent cook and I knew them both to be Vaisnavas. It was perhaps

only a couple of days after first hearing the name of Tinkudi Baba from Dr. Kapoor that I

asked Parimal about this Baba. He looked up with surprise on his face and blurted out:

”He is my guru! How did you hear about him?” I told him about my conversations with

Dr. Kapoor and repeated the good doctor’s praise for the baba. I also asked him what he

knew about the initiation of Bhaktisiddhanta. Parimal was the first of those I talked with

about it to confirm it. He had learned of it from his grandmother, who it turned out had

formerly been a disciple of the Gaudiya Math, and who was among those who left

somewhat after the time of Puridas. When I asked her later, she, too, confirmed Dr.

Kapoor’s statement. She had been closely connected with Haridas Sarma who had acted

as Puridas’s secretary towards the end of his life. Haridas Sarma had helped Puridas

publish the later volumes of the wonderful set of editions of the Gaudiya Vaisnava texts

that Puridas is famous for. Haridas’s name is given as the publisher of the Puridas

editions beginning sometime in the 1950s.

I asked Parimal if he would help me meet the baba. He responded with an enthusiastic

affirmative and a few days later came to tell me that Baba was in Cakleswar on the bank

of the Manasasarovar near Govardhan. He was there to celebrate the ceremony of the

feeding of the sixty-four saints (cau-sasti mahant seva) to honor a great Vaisnava who had

just passed away. Parimal agreed to take me there and introduce me. A few days later I

was on a bus to Mathura and from Mathura out to Cakleswar with Parimal by my side.

29

When I first met Baba, tears did not begin flowing from my eyes like Dr. Kapoor’s did

when he and his wife met their guru, Gauranga Das Baba. I didn’t feel like I had met an

old friend again after a very long time. Instead, I was a bit surprised at Baba’s

appearance. It was only slowly, after watching him move about giving directions to his

disciples and others on how to celebrate the entrance of a fellow devotee of Krsna into

eternal sport that I began to get a sense of who he was. I first noticed the way he dressed.

He wore only a kaupin or loincloth over his genitals and a cloth over his shoulders and his

hair was long, stringy, and uncombed, hanging down to his shoulders. Around his neck

were some of the largest tulsi beads I had ever seen and on his forehead was the tilak

(sectarian mark) typical of Nityananda-paribar (associates of Nityananda), made not out

of the white, powdery gopi-candana that was typical of ISKCON and Gaudiya Math, but

out of the dark, thick, greyish mud which, as I later found out, came from Radhakunda.

Except for the tilak, he looked more like a Sakta than a Vaisnava. I suddenly realized that

I had seen his picture a year or two before in a tiny stall in one of the markets of

Navadwip where I had gone to buy a copy of the classic book on the Holy Name (Sri Sri

Nama-cintmani by Kanupriya Goswami. The stall owner, after bringing out the book,

brought out a picture of Tinkudi Baba thinking I would also want one of those. I took one

look at the picture and thought to myself why does he think I want a picture of that mad

tantric? I had no idea who I was looking at at that time.

As I watched him I began notice how genuinely jovial he was and how humble. He

seemed thoroughly happy. He had next to nothing and yet he was happy. All of his

clothes were made of burlap. Even his slippers were made of burlap. Apart from that he

had nothing else but his beads. I couldn’t imagine Prabhupad walking on such cloth with

his bare feet even once, let alone wearing it constantly. What a difference there was

between the really humble, simple lifestyle of this poor servant of Krsna, who depended

for everything on Krsna, and that of Prabhupad, who lived like a king wearing silk and

gold and complained if his food wasn’t prepared just right. It was as if at some point

Krsna had offered these two devotees of his a choice. Prabhupad had chosen Krsna’s

wealth, his army so to speak, and Baba had chosen Krsna himself. A whole new world of

Vaisnavism began to open up before me in the presence of Tinkudi Baba, a world strange

and beautiful and, truth be told, also somewhat terrifying, especially to someone like me

who had not fully surrendered to the will of Krsna. How much easier it appeared to be to

be a Prabhupad and sit on a fancy lion-throne surrounded by thousands of doting and

adulating disciples. Bba sat out in a lonely kutir in the distant reaches of Vraja, wild

snake-infested places where few people dared to go. He ate whatever could be begged

from the local villagers, and if they gave nothing, that is what he had.

Reflecting back on my first experience of Baba a couple of things stand out. The first is

the realization that part of the shock of my first meeting with Baba was contributed by

the sense of having come face to face with something very ancient in India. His

nakedness, his simplicity, his possessionlessness, his austerity, and as I later discovered

later his ecstatic madnesses, all point to a kind of religious lifestyle and experience that is

30

quite ancient in India. One need only recall the naked philosophers that Alexander the

Great encountered when he came to India, three centuries before the common era. One

of these gymnosophists accompanied Alexander back to Greece and displaced Aristotle

as the conqueror’s teacher. Even in the time of Alexander, however, such asceticism was

ancient. The hymn of the Rig Veda called ”The Long-hair” (10.136) indicates similar

practices at least seven centuries before Alexander. The second verse of that hymn reads:

The ascetics, swathed in wind, put dirty red rags on.

When gods enter them, they ride with the rush of the wind.

(O’Flaherty, p. 137)

Certainly much has changed in the intervening thirty centuries. Then it was Rudra; now it

is Radha and Krsna. Still, much remained the same. I felt like I had arrived in the

company of Rupa and Sanatana. Certainly, they lived much like this.

The second thing is that in Baba I am reminded of the belief in the ”righteous man” in

the Jewish mystical tradition called Kabbalah. The righteous man or tsaddiq is like a

pillar that extends to heaven and upholds the entire world. It is said in the tradition: ”the

righteous one is the foundation of the world.” If it weakens, the world cannot endure. If

the world contains just one righteous person, that person sustains the world. (Matt, p. 78)

I wonder if it is similar with the siddha- mahapurus. a, that they are the foundation of the

world. Without them the world would collapse. The other thing about the tsaddiq is that

often it is impossible to recognize one. There is a wonderful story from the Zohar called

”The old man and the ravishing maiden” in which the righteous one appears as an old

donkey driver who seems rather cracked. Similarly, I wonder if the siddha is often to be

found in unlikely places. Perhaps, he is not to be found on the simhasana in front of the

lights and cameras, but out in the darkness lit up only by the dim glow of a kerosene

latern and perhaps it is only because of him that Krsna has not smashed the whole world.

ESCAPE FROM THE HALL OF MIRRORS

Part 2

Nitai Das

2005

After I met Tinkudi Baba, sometime in 1975, the world seemed like a different place

altogether. The despair I felt when I discovered the absence of authentic initiation in

ISKCON turned into hope. I was filled with a new enthusiasm. I went back to my normal

life at the Krsna Balarama temple in Vrindaban where I had settled after leaving

Prabhupada’s traveling party.

For about two years I had travelled with Prabhupada as his Sanskrit Secretary. During

31

that time we circled the earth at least four times. I had joined the party in 1973 because

the editors at the Press were worried about a slow down in the pace at which my

predecessor, Pradyumna Prabhu, was working. At that time Prabhupada was translating

the Bhagavata Purana, Cantos Four, Five, and Six. It was the Sanskrit Secretary’s job to

collect the tapes that Prabhupada made each morning, get them typed, check them over

for typos or uncertainties, add the diacritics to the transliterated Sanskrit verses and

quotations (sometimes hunt for those quotations, too), and make any minor editing

changes that were needed. If there was any question about a translation or citation, the

editor went straight to Prabhupada to ask about it. Pradyumna had travelled with

Prabhupada for about a year or two, but after a while he began to lapse into periods of

inaction or at best ineffective action during which the typed manuscripts, hot off the holy

Dictaphone, so to speak, began to pile up. Eventually even Prabhupada became

frustrated. He once affectionately referred to Pradyumna Prabhu as a “dead horse” and

pointed out that it was useless to try to beat a dead horse into action. At last, Prabhupada

agreed to adding another member to the party to help Pradyumna get caught up. At that

time I was the head of the Sanskrit Editing Department at the Press which was then in

Brooklyn and, well, I jumped at the opportunity to travel with Prabhupada. Naturally,

neither my wife at the time, Rastrapalika, nor my chief assistant, Jagannatha Das, were

very pleased, my wife, because of the separation involved, and Jagannatha because he felt

it should have been him, since he had no family ties. Perhaps he was right.

My time traveling with Prabhupada was a magical time. At first Pradyumna and I

travelled together with Prabhupada working jointly to diminish the backlog. Then at

some point Pradyumna dropped off the travelling party for a while, I forget why. That left

me to handle the editing alone. At some points I was the only traveling secretary,

handling the duties of all the others in the traveling party: cooking for Prabhupada, giving

him his daily massages, seeing to his laundry, and helping him with correspondence, and

editing his manuscripts. Perhaps in a later installment I will recount some of my

experiences as one of Prabhupada’s traveling secretaries. For now, however, suffice it to

say that after nearly nearly two years of nearly ceaseless wandering around the globe with

Prabhupada, I was happy to settle down in Vrindaban, edit the tail end of the Bhagavata

backlog, teach Sanskrit to the new Gurukula students (Gurukula was the name of the

ISKCON school in Vrindaban) and, at Prabhupada’s request, work on a curriculum for

the Gurukula that would get the school accredited by the government of India. Those

were the tasks I returned to, somewhat reluctantly, after meeting Baba.

Working on the Gurukula curriculum was fun and interesting, however. My plan of action

was to find a curriculum that was already accredited by the government of India and

reproduce it, but using books from within Caitanya Vaisnava tradition. I decided to check

into the traditional Sanskrit school system to see what they used as a curriculum. I visited

some of the local Vrindaban Pathasalas (schools) and even enrolled in one for a time.

Working from a copy of the curriculum they used, which was established and supported

by the respected Sampurnananda Samskrta Visvavidyalaya in Benares, the primary

32

Sanskrit institution in India, I began replacing the texts with comparable ones belonging

to the Caitanya tradition. I visited several of the leading Caitanya Vaisnava scholars in

Vrindaban to ask for advice on texts to incorporate in the curriculum. I visited Sri

Nrisimha Vallabha Goswami, Dr. Achyut Lal Bhatt Goswami, Haridas Shastri, Vanamali

Das Shastri, Dr. O.B.L. Kapoor and many others who were learned in the

Caitanya tradition. Based on their advice I created a curriculum that had everything the

traditional curriculum had, except that most of the texts were written by the great

Vaisnava teachers in the tradition of Mahaprabhu. The areas of study included in the

traditional curriculum were Sanskrit grammar (vyakarana), literary criticism (alankarasastra),

ritual (smrti), philosophy (darsana), literature (sahitya), astrology/astronomy

(jyotisa), arithmetic/ mathematics (ganita), and an optional choice of modern languages

(Hindi, Bengali, English, etc). The course of study generally lasted eight years and

concluded with the bestowing of the degree or title Sastri on those who successfully

passed the exams. The first set of exams, one in each of the eight areas, was administered

after three years, the second set after another three years, and the degree exams two

years after that. There were higher degrees like Acarya and Vidyavaridhi comparable to

the Master’s and Doctoral degrees, but I didn’t worry about those then. Those generally

required an original piece of research. There were a few texts from outside the Caitanya

tradition that my informants thought were so fundamental that they recommended they

be part of any Vaisnava’s education. These were texts like the Vedanta-sara of

Sadananda, the Vedanta paribhasa of Dharmaraja Adhvarindra, the Tarkasangraha of

Annambhatta, and a few others. The curriculum I developed then has more or less

become the basis for the curriculum of the Caitanya Sanskrit Tol currently operating

through Nitai’s Bhajan Kutir.

Apart from my work on the curriculum, editing, and teaching in the Gurukula, I would

often go in the afternoons to visit Dr. Kapoor. He would offer me some prasadi (offered)

sweets from his household deities and we would talk for hours about points of philosophy

and practice. Dr. Kapoor was very kind to me and took some risks with me that I hope he

never came to regret. As we sat together in the small sitting room of his house which was

part of the compound of the Radharamana Temple, his hand was always in his bead bag

and the Mahamantra was always being repreated just beneath his breath. He told me

much about his own religious life, his conversion, as a young philosophy professor, from

the aridity of monistic Vedanta to Caitanya theism at the hands of Bhaktisiddhanta

Sarasvati, his first meeting, much later, with Gauranga Das Baba, the power of the line of

Bodo Baba (Sri Radharamana Carana Dasa Baba) who was the guru of the guru of Sri

Gauranga Das Baba, the wonderful ability of both Bodo Baba and Ram Das Baba

(Gauranga Das Baba’s guru) to create kirtans spontaneously that answered unspoken

questions in the minds of those who happened to be listening. He explained a great deal

about the meaning and power of the famous chant that has become the trademark kirtan

of the tradition following Bodo Baba:

33

bhaja nitai gaura radhe syama

japa hare krsna hare rama

Worship Nitai and Gaura (Caitanya),

Radha and Syama.

Utter Hare Krsna Hare Rama

Dr. Kapoor claimed that the short Bhaja Nitai Gaura chant compressed the whole of

Caitanya Vaisnava practice into a few sweet and rhythmic words, easy to remember and

easy to chant. He said it had extraordinary powers, that apart from inducing powerful

religous ecstasy it could cure the sick and even raise the dead. He also told me of how at

various times in his life when he was in some kind of difficulty or confusion, Bodo Baba

himself had appeared to him in his dreams and shown him his mercy by giving him help

and guidance. Since the first of those experiences the Bhaja Nitai Gaura chant had been

a source of solace, protection, joy for him. Though Dr. Kapoor didn’t tell me about how

this chant came about during those talks, I recently looked up the account of how it was

revealed in the biography of Bodo Baba called Nectar of the Acts [of Bodo Baba]

(Carita-sudha) compiled by Ram Das Baba. Here is a paraphrase of the biography’s

account of that event.

This extraordinary chant was revealed by Bodo Baba in the midst of an intense kirtan he

led during a prolonged stay in Krishnagar. While singing a particular kirtan song Bodo

Baba went into a deep trance. Tears began to flow from his eyes in streams and his body

was covered with goose-bumps. An instant later his body shook violently like a tree in a

powerful wind and he fell unconscious on the ground. The devotees surrounded him and

began to chant the Holy Name. Seeing in his body the rising and falling of waves of

powerful emotions, the devotees became astonished. When he became paralyzed with

emotion, it seemed as if his body was devoid of life. Then in an instant he would laugh, in

the next moment he would cry, a moment later he would shiver and a moment after that

he would be covered with goosebumps. After a while he came halfway to consciousness

and stutteringly uttered:

bhaja nitai gaura pabe radhe syama

japa hare krsna hare rama

The meaning here is a little different from the form above:

Worship Nitai and Gaura (Caitanya)

and you will get Radha and Syama.

Recite Hare Krsna Hare Rama

Some of the devotees who surrounded him began to sing these words and that grew into a

kirtan that lasted long into the night. One group would sing the first line and another

34

group would respond with the second, each group seemingly trying to overpower the

other. Some time later during the kirtan Bodo Baba, leaning against a wall, his eyes half

open, his body drenched in tears and covered with goose-flesh, a smile on his face, raised

the pointing finger of his right hand and swayed back and forth in intense emotion. At

some point, too, a wonderful, mind-attracting aroma filled the place, but none of the

devotees could find its source. Around about midnight, the kirtan began to wind down,

but Bodo Baba continued to be overwhelmed with feeling.

At the time that Bodo Baba fell into his ecstasy, he was singing a song which apparently

he composed. The short Bhaja Nitai Gaura chant seems to have condensed out of that

longer song as its essential meaning. As such, the longer song is a kind of commentary on

the short one. That longer song is this:

Nitai and Gaura dance like Radha and Krsna

Everyone sings ”hare krsna hare rama.”

If you really want this Gauranga,

become a servant of Nityananda.

Even one who says only with his mouth:

”I am a servant of Nity¯ananda”

will perceive the true form of Gaura.

The love of the gopi as in the Bhagavata

one will get only from Nityananda in this world.

Nityananda is the giver of love;

Gauranga is his greatest treasure.

In the pleasure of the Rasa dance,

one will meet Sri Radharamana.

Climbing aboard the boat ”hare krsna hare rama,”

cross over the ocean of rebirth to Vrndavana.

My Nitai frolics, my Nitai plays,

All who are maddened with love he makes his own.

Here my Nitai dances, overwhelmed with emotion.

Whomever he finds, even a Candala, he takes on his lap.

Dr. Kapoor told me that contrary to the misinterpretations of various ISKCON and GM

members, the juxtaposition of Nitai-Gaura and Radhe- Syama is not meant to imply the

identification of Nityananda with Radha. Such an identification is never made in the line

of Bodo Baba. Only someone completely ignorant of the history and meaning of the song

would make such a claim. This song is clearly about the power of Nityananda as the one

who can conduct one to the feet of Gauranga who is in turn the joined form of Radha

and Krsna. The power and influence of Nityananda is so much a part of the teaching of

Bodo Baba that those who knew him and those who are initiated in his line consider him

to be a saktyavesa avatara or empowered incarnation of Nityananda. The idea that one

must approach Mahaprabhu through Nityananda is not an uncommon one in the

35

Caitanya tradition.

More Reflections on Initiation by Nitai Das, Parts 1, 2, and 3

Download this in PDF format here:

http://www.mediafire.com/view/e3717aola66h1d8/True_History_of_Bhaktisiddhanta.pdf

MORE REFLECTIONS ON INITIATION:

Critique of Tripurari’s little tan book

Part 1

Nitai Das

September 15, 1999

This month I thought that I would take a look at some of the issues raised in the little tan

book by Tripurari Maharaj (TM) called Sri Guru-parampara (Mill Valley, CA: Harmonist

Publishers, 1998; no ISBN). Some of you may recall that it was one of the stimuli that

started this series of essays of mine. One senses that TM tried in this book to take an

open-minded and accommodating approach to the topic and for that he is to be

14

congratulated. Why I myself am even cited in the text! That is generosity indeed. I will try

in what follows to maintain that atmosphere of generosity. Unfortunately, the

understanding presented in the book is profoundly flawed. To try and examine all of the

failings of the book would require another book of equal or greater length and that is way

beyond my intentions. Therefore, I want to focus on only three major issues: the question

of the siddha-pranali, the question of the siksa-parampara, and the myth of the fall of the

Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition in the 19th century.

Let’s begin with the question of the siddha-pranali. TM unfortunately misunderstands

what the siddha-pranali is and I am afraid that I might be at least partially to blame for

that. In the first place, the siddha-pranali is not a separate rite or diksa that is received

later than the mantra diksa. It is an expansion of the mantra diksa. In some of my

previous writings I may have given the impression that it is a separate rite apart from the

primary rite of initiation. For that I apologize. The single most important rite in Gaudiya

Vaisnavism is mantra diksa. At that time one is accepted into a line of gurus going back to

Sri Caitanya or his immediate followers. This is called the guru-parampara and is very

important because it is the channel through which Mahaprabhu’s mercy comes to one.

The mantras one receives then are empowered by every member of that line and knowing

who they are is very important. That is why in the Gaudiya tradition one is given their

names in a list like the one on this web-site. One should offer obeisance to every member

of that chain each day and before doing any devotional practice. It is by their grace that

one succeeds. Not doing so would be like sitting out on the end of a branch of a tree

while sawing it off at the trunk. That is the chain that one has to catch hold of if one

wishes to be pulled out of the ocean of repeated birth and death and each link is

In the Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition outside of ISKCON one receives sixteen mantra and

gayatri. These are the gurumantra and gayatri, caitanya-mantra and gayatri, nityanandamantra

and gayatri, advaitacarya-mantra and gayatri, gopala-mantra and kama-gayatri,

radha-mantra and gayatri, gadadhara-mantra and gayatri, and srivasa-mantra and gayatri.

There may be some variations in these mantra in the different lines of the tradition, but

these are the mantra I received from Tinkudi Baba and the ones others said they too

received. Each mantra and gayatri of course is preceded by the one syllable seed

appropriate to that mantra or gayatri. Without these mantra and gayatri one is not

qualified to do any higher service like puja, arati, or smarana. Note that there is no suryagayatri

(aka brahma-gayatri: om bhur bhuvah svar tat savitur ..) As far as I know this

mantra has nothing to do with Gaudiya Vaisnavism or with the worship of Radha-Krsna.

It is the mantra given to brahmin boys during the upanayana initiation which marks their

entry into the study of the Veda. Its introduction into the mantra diksa appears to be one

of the many fabrications of Bhaktisiddanta and we will return to some of those later.

Chanting the Holy Name of course does not depend on proper initiation. There is no

required initiation rite for the Holy Name in this tradition.

15

One is transformed during the mantra initiation from a pravartaka (beginner) to a

sadhaka (practitioner). As a practitioner one has a number of choices open to one for

devotional service most of which do not require the siddhapranali. If one has a strong

desire to do raganuga sadhana-bhakti, however, and that desire is the chief qualification

for such a practice, one needs the siddha-pranali. The siddha-pranali is nothing more

than the siddha or manjari names and descriptions of that same line of gurus that one

received at initiation. Each is believed to be a participant in the eternal sport of Govinda.

One learns one’s own siddha name, color, service, and so forth as well as the gurus’s from

the guru at that time as well. One can then use that information to visualize one’s self as a

manjari assistant to the guru-manjari and his guru-manjaris as they serve Radha and

Krsna. This visualization is at the core of the practice called “remembering the sports of

Radha and Krsna during the eight periods of the day (asta-kaliya-lila-smarana)”. If one

does not have the desire to do this form of mental service, and many don’t, one does not

need the siddha-pranali. Thus, it is not a separate diksa and for many it is not strictly

speaking necessary. What one cannot do without, though, is the mantra diksa and the

guru-parampara. Thus, when TM says: “All opposition to Bhaktisiddhanta contends that

he did not receive the siddha-pranali initiation to the esoteric worship of Radha and

Krsna from either Bhaktivinoda or Gaura Kisora (p. 3)”, he is simply wrong. The

contention is that Bhaktisiddhanta did not get mantra diksa and guru-parampara.

Without mantra diksa and guru-parampara there is no question of receiving a siddhapranali.

When I left ISKCON it was not because I wanted some siddha-pranali-diksa, it was

because I became convinced (and I am even more convinced today) that Bhaktisiddhanta

did not receive mantra diksa and guru-parampara from anybody. To return to an earlier

analogy, I became convinced that the chain or rope that I was holding onto in hope of

being pulled out of the ocean of “becoming” was tied to absolutely nothing. TM tacitly

recognizes this when he says: “Bhaktisiddhanta did not teach his followers to worship the

diksa guru of Gaura Kisora Das Babaji .. (p. 3)”. The reason Bhaktisiddhanta didn’t was

that he didn’t know who the diksa guru of Gaura Kisora Das Babaji was. Neither does

TM or anyone in the Gaudiya Math and ISKCON. My contention is (based on an eyewitness

account of his own admission before Pandit Ramakrsna Das Baba) that

Bhaktisiddhanta didn’t know who his parama-guru was because he never received diksa

and guru-parampara from Gaura Kisora Das Babaji. On the other hand, Gaura Kisora

Das Babaji was notoriously difficult to get initiation from (he once accused an initiation

hopeful quite crudely of wanting to butt-fuck him) and even when one of his disciples

asked about guru-parampara he was, according to Haridas Das’s account, tremendously

evasive telling him instead to chant the Holy Name. He emphasized the Holy Name over

everything and did not recommend lila-smarana. Nevertheless, it is highly unlikely that

Gaura Kisora Das Babaji, who was not a brahmin and who cared nothing for the caste

system, would have given Bhaktisiddhanta the surya-gayatri in initiation. (See Gaura

Kisora Das Babaj’s jivani in Sri Sri Gaudiya Vaisnava Jivana, dvitiya khanda, by Haridas

Das. 3rd printing, Gaurabda 489 [1975], pp. 39-52. Haridas Das’s account of Gaura

16

Kisora Das Baba is quite interesting. What is most interesting about it, though, is that

there is no mention of Bhaktisiddhanta at all. Bhaktivinoda is mentioned, but mostly in

the context of Gaura Kisora’s pleasure at having eluded him by hiding out in a whore

house. I don’t think that there was any great enmity between Haridas Das and either

Bhaktivinoda or Bhaktisiddhanta, apart from the usual dissatisfaction Navadvipa

Vaisnavas felt toward them for claiming Mayapura was on the other side of the river. It is

strange that an important person like Bhaktisiddhanta would not be mentioned, though.

Perhaps the diksa-seeker whom Gaura Kisora Das Babaji accused of wanting to butt-fuck

him and later beat up with an umbrella was Bhaktisiddhanta. In Haridas Das’s account,

that person is never named, but was from a place called Noakhali. I have no idea where

that place is. Gaura Kisora Das Baba, however, ends by giving that person the Holy

Name and tells him if he chants for one year without fail he will meet the Lord and if not

he should come back to Gaura Kisora Das Babaji. If this is Bhaktisiddanta, perhaps his

name was not mentioned out of regard for his reputation and the feelings of his

followers.)

What I received from Tinkudi Baba (who lived out in lonely places like Prema-sarovara,

not Radhakunda as TM claims) was mantra diksa and guru-parampara and, because I

asked for it, thinking I would like to practice lila-smarana at some point, he also gave me

the siddha-pranali. I have not as of yet begun the practice of lila-smarana, but it is

comforting to know that I could if I wanted to. And I may yet want to. Now, however, I

am certain that the rope I cling to when I sit to do my mantra is attached firmly to the

ocean-liner of Sri Caitanya and that I am being dragged, for the most part unwillingly I

must admit, toward the distant shore of Goloka.

It is interesting to note that TM mentions Ananta Vasudeva and Sundarananda

Vidyavinoda in his book without clearly saying who they were. Ananta Vasudeva was also

known as Puri Maharaja and was not only learned, but was the man chosen by

Bhaktisiddhanta to replace him after his death. Sundarananda Vidyavinoda was one of

the leading writers and thinkers of the Gaudiya Math and the editor of the Math’s

monthly journal for years. A few years after Bhaktisiddhanta’s passing, for some reason

the year 1941 sticks in my memory, Puri Maharaja and Sundarananda Vidyavinoda left

the Gaudiya Math, but not alone. A number of followers left with them and settled in

various places around Vraja to do bhajana, i.e. hari-nama and lila-smarana. I heard the

following from one of them, then an old baba in Govardhan. When Puri Maharaja

discovered the lack of initiation in the Gaudiya Math lineage, he called all of the leading

sannyasi in the Math organization together and informed them of his discovery. He

advised them: “You all may as well go home and get married. Continuing this charade is

useless”. (It has never been clear to me what charade Puri Maharaj had in mind, the

Vaisnava charade or the sannyasa charade. Judging from his later actions he probably

meant both) He then took his own advice taking off his saffron robe and heading to

Vrindaban where he at first hid from the anger of his former god-brothers (this part

sounds quite familiar to me). When he arrived in Vrindaban he was given shelter by

17

Vishvambhar Goswami, one of the Radharaman Goswamis. Shortly thereafter he publicly

renounced the Gaudiya Math and apologized for all of the offenses he committed as a

prominent member and leader of it. He later married and settled in Vrindaban producing

over the years one of the finest collections (more than fifty volumes) of Gaudiya scripture

ever to be produced. This hardly sounds like someone who had lost his sakti-sancara

(empowerment by Krsna).

The departure of Puri Maharaja strikes me as an incredibly courageous and honest thing

to do. Here Puri Maharaja was in the highest seat of power in the Gaudiya Math,

appointed by the founding acarya himself and himself therefore the acarya of the

institution at the time. He could very well have covered up the flaw and carried on.

Instead, at great risk to himself and at great loss, he informed his god-brothers and set

out to put himself back on the correct path. Many of his god-brothers, however, split off

into their own factions, struggling for control of the institution or to establish their own

institutions, and tried to cover up the truth, labelling Puri Maharaja as fallen and

claiming that he ran off with a woman. They fought each other for years for pieces of the

juicy Gaudiya Math pie. After that time the Gaudiya Math and its offshoots were firmly

founded on greed and deceit. The books the Math and its family produced afterwards

were with few exceptions poorly edited and filled with errors. None of them match up to

anything like the quality of the work produced by either Puri Dasa (no longer a sannyasi)

or Sundarananda Vidyavinoda after they left the Math.

Well, here I am at the end of an installment having said much and yet with so much more

to say. Experienced writers know (not that I am one) that they can never quite tell where

they will end up when they sit down to write. I have only scratched the surface of one of

the three issues that I wished to discuss in this essay and I am afraid I have also let

generosity slip out the door. Haven’t I just called the leaders of Gaudiya Math after Puri

Maharaja greedy and deceitful? Let me try and usher some generosity back in by pointing

out that though the leaders of the Math may have been crooked and deceitful, the rank

and file members probably had no idea of what was going on. Prabhupada, who was still

being a chemist in Allahabad, probably only heard that Puri Maharaja had fallen down

with a woman, shrugged, and turned back to selling shaving cream and toothpaste. The

followers no doubt remained sincere.

We need to dig more deeply into the siddha-pranali question. Where did the practice

come from? Who originated it? Why is it important to the Gaudiya tradition? Who

should practice it and when? These are all important issues as are the related questions

of the siksa-parampara and the supposed fall of the Gaudiya tradition in the 19th

century. I will turn to these things in the next installment. Look for that in a few days

rather than a month, since I am bursting with ideas.

18

MORE REFLECTIONS ON INITIATION:

Critique of Tripurari’s little tan book

Part 2

Nitai Das

October 21, 1999

Throughout my life it seems I have repeatedly found myself in the position of the critic. It

is not a role that I particularly love, since it is invariably unpleasant to criticize another’s

work, but a role that seems to be constantly thrust upon me. Indeed, over the years I have

lost a number of friends because of it. It seems to be my sad fate to be the gadfly. There

seems to be nothing I can do about, however, because it still irritates me when I see

stupidity passed off as wisdom. Tripurari’s book is bursting at the seams with stupidity and

I just cannot resist lancing it like the infected boil it is. My friend (I haven’t criticized him

yet, you see) Minaketana Rama Das forwarded a piece of a conversation between

Prabhupada and some of his devotees about me after I left ISKCON. Since it gets straight

to the point of this essay I want to cite a bit of it here:

Hari-sauri: That was one thing that Nitai put in his letter, that the teachings of ISKCON

are completely opposite or contradictory to what is actually in the Sastra.

Prabhupada: Now he has become tiger. He wants to kill that philosophy. When he did not

know anything he came to us. Now he has become learned, he wants to criticize. The

same philosophy. “You have made me tiger, now I can see you are my eatable.” (laughs)

He could not find out any other eatable. “I shall eat you.” The rascal. What can be done?

(end)

(Roarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Time for a little lunch!) What I said years ago in my parting letter

to Prabhupada is unfortunately still true today. ISKCON has got it exactly backwards,

could not possibly get it more backwards than it has and Tripurari’s little book is a superb

example of that.

An example of what I shall call “the ass-backwards principle” is found on page 8 of TM’s

book where, quoting Bhaktisiddhanta, he says “First maranam (ego death) then

smaranam.” Not only is this completely contrary to scripture, this is straight from the

mouth of the big bird himself. No wonder the Gaudiya Math and ISKCON went astray.

Smarana of which siddha-pranali is an important part is a variety of sadhana bhakti, that

is to say practical bhakti that is a means to attaining the goal of preman. It is not sadhya

bhakti, that is bhakti as the final result or goal. It is not the end result of practice, but the

means towards achieving that end result. Rupa Goswami describes smarana as part of

raganuga bhakti in the second wave of the eastern division of his Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu

in which he is concerned exclusively with sadhana. Bhava-bhakti and prema-bhakti make

19

up the third and fourth waves of the eastern division respectively. Those are the results of

sadhana. In the section on bhava-bhakti Rupa describes the arising of krsna-rati, love of

Krsna, and in the chapter on prema-bhakti he describes that love when it becomes more

condensed and is experienced or relished by the devotee. To put it more clearly in the

words used here: “smaranam leads to maranam, not maranam to smaranam.” Maranam is

the goal and smaranam is the means to that goal. Bhaktisiddhanta (shall I call him BS for

short ?) has it ass-backwards.

Let us place this discussion in the context of Rupa’s nine stages in the development of

bhakti. Those nine stages are, as everyone knows: faith (sraddha), association with the

good (sadhu-sanga), activity of worship (bhajana-kriya), stopping of harmful things

(anartha-nivrti), steadiness (nistha), taste (ruci), attachment (asakti), feeling (bhava),

and love (preman) (Brs. 1.4.15-16). Where does smarana fit in this scheme? Smarana is

an activity of worship as are all types of sadhana. It therefore is taken up in the third

stage, activity of worship, before the stage of stopping of harmful or unhealthy things.

There is an implied causality operating in this process. Through one’s faith one

associates with the good. From the good one learns how to execute the practice. As a

result of practice one’s unwanted habits are gradually stopped. When one’s unwanted

habits cease one becomes unshakable in one’s practice. Being unshakable or unfailing in

practice leads to a taste for things related to Krsna. Taste leads to developing a stronger

attachment. That strong attachment leads to the feeling of love for Krsna and the

presence of that love for Krsna leads to the experience of bhakti-rasa or what I call

“sacred rapture” which is also called preman. This is kindergartner stuff.

On the stage of bhajana-kriya there is a fork in the path. Some choose vaidhi-bhakti as

their bhajana-kriya, others choose raganuga as their bhajana-kriya (see Brs. 1.3.269 and

1.3.292-3). Rupa makes it clear that these are two separate, but parallel paths when he

distinguishes between the results of each in his chapter on bhava-bhakti. Those who

follow the path of vaidhi develop one kind of bhava (see Brs. 1.3.7, 1.3.9 for an example

of vaidhi-ja bhava) and those who follow raganuga-bhakti develop another (see Brs.

1.3.14 for an example of raganuga-ja bhava). Different examples of preman are given in

the chapter on prema-bhakti, too (see Brs. 1.4.6-7).

This view is consistent with the position of the Bhagavata Purana on the intimate sports

of Krsna. At the end of the five chapters on Krsna’s Rasa lila with the gopi, the Purana

tells us:

anugrahaya bhutanam manusam dehamasritah

bhajate tadrsih krida yah srutva tat-paro bhavet (Bhag. 10.33.36)

He (Krsna) has taken this human form to show compassion to all beings and he engages

in such sports, the hearing of which makes one intent on him.

20

And how does one benefit from hearing these intimate sports? The Bhagavata says two

verses later:

vikriditam vrajavadhubhir idanca visnoh

sraddhanvito ‘nusrnuyad atha varnayed yah |

bhaktim param bhagavati pratilabhya kamam

hrdrogam asvapahinotyacirena dhirah || (Bhag. 10.33.39)

One who with faith hears about this sport of Visnu’s with the gopi and who describes it

quickly attains the highest devotion to the Lord and easily destroys that disease of the

heart, lust.

These intimate sports of the lord with the gopi are a kind of medicine to cure the disease

of lust. Whoever heard of waiting to take a medicine for a disease until the disease is

cured? If one has a serious disease and has a medicine, but refuses to take it, the disease

is never cured and one dies. This is the brilliant course Bhaktisiddhanta has launched

Gaudiya Math and ISKCON on. This is ass-backwards. There may be more to this than

mere buffoonery, however. There may be a more malicious dimension to it all. If Krsna

has come into this world in order to attract the lost and suffering living beings back to

him by pulling up the curtain and revealing the sweetness of his eternal activities and if

someone else is trying to cover them back up and hide them away, discount them, then

that person is actually interfering with and hindering the lord’s redemptive visit to the

world. That person is undermining the work not only of Krsna and Caitanya

Mahaprabhu, but also of those who originated and promoted one of the most powerful

and important practices in the Caitanya tradition, the practice of smarana/siddha-pranali,

which is nothing more than remembering the sports of Krsna and Mahaprabhu

throughout the day and night. Who are those originators?

Before we explore that question, though, let me comment on a few of the pieces of

support that TM rustles up for his position. He, for instance, notes that Radhakrsna

Goswami (17th cent.) recommends renunciation of household life as a prerequisite for

smarana (p. 8). What Radhakrsna Goswami actually recommends is celibacy

(brahmacarya) as a qualification for the practice of raganuga-bhakti, which means

essentially lila-smarana (Sd. 9.27). As evidence Goswami cites a verse from Rupa

Goswami’s Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (Brs 1.4.7):

na patim kamayet kamcit brahmacaryasthita sada |

tam eva murtim dhyayanti candrakantir varanana || (Padma Purana ?)

Beautiful faced Candrakanti, meditating on that form alone, ever situated in celibacy,

would not desire any husband.

21

So far this looks good; this young lady is definitely practicing celibacy. But wait! Where

did you say that verse came from? That’s from the fourth wave of the eastern division

where Rupa is describing preman, the ultimate result of practicing raganuga bhakti. That

is the end result of the practice, not the qualification for starting the practice. It is

absurd to demand that one already have achieved the result of a practice before one even

begins it. This is assbackwards. In this case it is the fault of Radhakrsna Goswami. Why

would he have made such a mistake? His knowledge of scripture is far more vast than

mine. Still, it is a mistake and, whatever caused the good Goswami to make it, it must not

be taken as binding. Instead, the verse and Rupa’s use of the verse in his work support the

point that I have been trying to make here. Smarana/siddha-pranali is a practice that

leads one toward perfection and cannot therefore require perfection as a prerequisite.

Moreover, since it has as one of its results the overcoming of sexual desire, it can be, and

in fact should be undertaken by those who have not yet conquered sexual desire.

Radhakrsna Goswami (9.29) points out one caveat in the practice of smarana of the

confidential sports of Radha and Krsna, citing a passage from Jiva Goswami’s Bhaktisandarbha

(para. 338). This passage was surprisingly missed by TM in his vain attempt to

shore up his ass-backward position. He might have been able to twist this into some

semblance of support for his point of view. TM, of course, can’t read any of these texts

unless someone translates it for him. He is as illiterate and as helpless as a baby. Any way,

Jiva Goswami quotes the passage of the Bhagavata I cited above (vikriditam ..) and gives

the following commentary on it:

“one quickly gives up the disease of the heart, lust and so forth that are not prone to sin

(?). While the superiority [of those sports with the gopi] is established in general, among

them the worship (bhajana) of him sporting with his most dear lover Radha is the highest

of all. That is self-evident. But that confidential sport is not to be worshiped by those

whose senses possess human (or manly) transformations (i.e. penile erection or other

forms of arousal) and by those whose feelings are those of the parents, sons, or servants

because that is contrary to their own moods. Sometimes the confidentiality is partial [as

with their kissing and embracing, etc.] and sometimes complete [as with their sexual

union].” In other words one should not practice smarana of Radha and Krsna’s

confidential sports if one gets sexually aroused by them. If one approaches those sports

sincerely from the siddha identity of a manjari servant of Radha whose responsibility it is

to facilitate their pleasure, not one’s own, one can generally avoid this problem. This is in

fact at the very core of the practice; one learns gradually to morph one’s sadhaka identity

into that siddha identity. To approach it in any other way is to collapse into voyeurism. If

one is not able to remember the confidential sports of Radha and Krsna without getting

aroused then perhaps one should not do the practice until one can.

Let us now return to the question of who were the originators of the practice of

smarana/siddha-pranali. TM quotes Bhaktivinoda Thakura who in his Jaiva-dharma

traces it back to Mahaprabhu himself (p. 7). Mahaprabhu gave it to Vakresvara Pandita,

22

his kirtana partner, who passed it on to Gopalaguru Goswami and Gopalaguru to his

disciple Dhyanacandra Goswami. The later two wrote “methods” (paddhati) on it. This

may well be true, but it ignores another important side of the practice. Vakresvara

Pandita, Gopalaguru, and Dhyanacandra are relatively less well known members of the

Caitanya tradition. This gives the mistaken impression that the practice of

smarana/siddhapranali developed among a peripheral group of followers and is not

central to the Caitanya Vaisnava enterprise. The first time we hear of the idea of a

siddha-deha which is at the core of the siddha-pranali in any Caitanya Vaisnava text is in

Rupa Goswami’s Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, in the famous seva sadhaka-rupena verse (Brs.

1.2.295). The first time we hear of the manjari is perhaps in Raghunatha Dasa’s Vilapakusumanjali

(tvam rupamanjari sakhi …, verse 1) or perhaps in Kavikarnapura’s

  1. Gauraganoddesadipika. It is difficult to determine the relative age of these works.

Nevertheless, it seems clear that the practice developed in the Vrndavana circle of

Mahaprabhu’s followers and was particularly well suited to the simple and sparse life of

Vraja. Gopalaguru settled in Vrndavana after the disappearance of Vakresvara Pandita

and Kavi Karnapura also retired to Vrndavana. In fact, Raghunatha Dasa’s address to

Rupamanjari at the beginning of his Vilapa-kusumanjali may well indicate that Rupa

Goswami was already involved in the practice at the time.

Rupa was profoundly indebted to his elder brother whom he regarded as his teacher.

Perhaps Sanatana had a hand in the development of the practice as well. Vrndavana

insider Krsnadasa Kaviraja presents the teachings, including those on the siddha deha, as

having all been given to Sanatana by Mahaprabhu (Cc. Madhya, chaps. 20-24). Sanatana

in turn passes them on to his brother Rupa who records them in his books. Sanatana’s

own first book, Krsnalilastava, is an interesting precursor to the practice. It combines the

holy names of Krsna suitable for the recounting of the first forty-five chapters of the

Tenth Canto of the Bhagavata. Thus it is has both nama-kirtana and lila-smarana

combined with 108 acts of obeisance spread throughout it. In addition, in the chapter in

Sanatana’s Brhad-bhagavatamrta called “Abhista-labha” (2.6) in which Gopakumara visits

Goloka, he presents Krsna’s lila in a form that resembles to a high degree the form that

the daily sports will take in the hands of Krsnadasa Kaviraja and Visvanatha Cakravartin.

Another Vrndavana insider, though one somewhat more removed than Krsnadasa

Kaviraja, our Radhakrsna Goswami in his Dasa-sloki-bhasya records the tradition that it

was Rupa himself who revealed the practice primarily in the seva sadhaka-rupena verse

and in various of his stotras, but because of its confidential nature he confined it

to his own followers and never wrote about it in an ordered, detailed way. When his

followers encouraged him to do so, he was already very old and close to death. One the

verge of death he taught it to Krsnadasa Kaviraja in detail and asked him to publish it.

Krsnadasa Kaviraja honoring Rupa’s request wrote about it in great detail in the

enormous Govinda-lilamrta (Dasa-sloki-bhasya pp. 8-9, Haridasa Sastri’s edition). The

seed of the daily sports of Radha and Krsna is contained in the Astakaliya-lila-smaranamangala-

stotra which is often attributed to Rupa Goswami. This practice of

23

smarana/siddha-pranali is therefore one of the core practices of the Vrndavana Goswami,

quite probably conceived by them and certainly expanded and expounded by them. As

such it has found a place of centrality in all sectors of the Caitanya Vaisnava tradition,

except in ISKCON, which as decided to place the cart before the horse instead of the

other way around. Perhaps nobody says it better the Sri Rupa himself in his

Upadesamrta, verse 8:

A follower of someone

who is passionate for Him,

should pass one’s time

living in Vraja,

gradually applying the mind and the tongue

to the remembering and chanting

of His names, forms, acts,

This is the essence of instruction.

This is the essence of instruction and it involves both remembering and chanting, both

smarana and kirtana, not one or the other. Those who pretend to be followers of Rupa

(rupanuga) should pay more attention to this teachin

MORE REFLECTIONS ON INITIATION:

Critique of Tripurari’s little tan book

Part 3

Did You Say Siksa-parampara?

Nitai Das

March 14, 2000

Way back in October I promised that the next essay in this series would examine the

question of siksa-parampara, the phony substitute for a real guru-parampara invented by

Bhaktisiddhanta to camouflage the fact that he had no real guru-parampara. Oops! That

just slipped out! Oh well. This I hope will be my last essay on TM’s little book or

on anything else relating to the Gaudiya Math or ISKCON. Quite frankly, the line of

thought and literature created by those organizations is so offensive to real Vaisnavas that

even reading their works to critique them is disruptive of and harmful to the cultivation

of bhakti. At the end of this essay I will suggest a couple of possible remedies to this

problem, but I consider it highly unlikely that those remedies will ever be applied. Instead

of dwelling on the flaws of those pseudo-Vaisnava institutions, I want to focus future

essays on my own experiences at the feet of Sri Tinkudi Baba, the Vaisnava siddha with

whom I found shelter after leaving ISKCON who was both a baba and a hereditary

24

I wish to begin my discussion of siksa-parampara by pointing out that if those opposed to

the idea of a siddhapranali wish to cast doubt on it as a genuine institution of the

Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition because it appears only with the second or third generation of

followers of Caitanya and even then among relatively minor members of the Vrndavana

circle like Goplaguru Gosvamin, Vakresvara Pandita, and Dhyanacandra Gosvamin, how

much more should one doubt the authenticity of the institution of siksa-parampara which

only appeared the other day and again among an even more minor Vaisnava community.

Moreover, if one wishes to argue that there is no scriptural support for the institution of

siddha-pranali the argument applies with even greater force to siksa-parampara for which

there is absolutely no scriptural support anywhere in the vast ocean of Gaudiya texts, not

even in the works of Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the father of Bhaktisiddhanta. It is pure

invention, the invention of Bhaktisiddhanta comparable to his invention of a Gaudiya

form of sannyasa (see the accompanying article, “Gaudiya Vaisnava Dharma and

Sannyasa” by Dr. Radhagovinda Nath). The siddha-pranali at least has some support in

Rupa Gosvamin’s discussion of raganuga bhakti in the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.2.294-

96) and in Jiva Gosvamin’s discussion of initiation in the Bhakti-sandarbha (283) where it

is said, quoting Agama, that initiation (diksa) bestows divine knowledge. Jiva points out

that divine knowledge is knowledge of the true nature of the Lord in the mantra and of

one’s specific (visesa) relationship to Him. This specific relationship is, of course, one’s

true identity in relationship to the Lord, or in other words, one’s siddha-deha (there being

no difference in the spiritual realm between one’s self and one’s body). Here is where the

nonsense of a siksa-parampara begins to unravel. What is

communicated at the core of initiation is knowledge. It is not just the giving of mantra. In

addition, this knowledge is not any knowledge: the number of planet systems there are in

the universe or the number of ocean rings there are or how many sections of the spiritual

realm there are or whether living beings were once in Goloka or not. It is the most

essential knowledge, knowledge of who one really is in relationship to the Lord. Thus,

initiation or diksa IS siksa, the most essential and indispensable siksa one can receive.

One can certainly get by without the rest of what counts as siksa, but one cannot get by

without this siksa if one ever wishes to play under the skies of Goloka. To replace the

guru-parampara with a siksa-parampara obscures and derails this fundamental function

of initiation. But this is only the first of several idiocies that mix together to form the idea

of siksa-parampara.

The second idiocy comes with the word parampara. A parampara is a lineage or

succession and is meant to specify a list or a succession of singular things or people. Thus,

it applies quite well to the situation of the initiating guru because a member of the

tradition is only supposed to have one initiating or mantra guru. That Jiva Gosvamin says

quite clearly in his Bhakti-sandarbha (207). After all, one only has one identity in

relationship to the Lord and that s learned from the mantra guru. Jiva says in the

previous section of the same work (206), however, that there can be many siksa gurus.

25

They teach the methods of worship or the fundamentals of the philosophy or the

meanings of the various sacred texts. Different teachers may be expert in different

aspects of the tradition. What sense does keeping track of a parampara make in that

circumstance. A person may have three or four siksa gurus and each of those may have

had three or four siksa gurus. One quickly loses the thread of the succession. In fact, it is

impossible to construct a succession in such a circumstance. An older siksa guru may take

siksa from the disciple of a disciple if that disciple has mastered some subject from yet

another siksa guru. Then one’s succession becomes an endless loop. The idea, therefore,

of a siksa-parampara is sheer nonsense.

A third idiocy arises from what is implied by the imposition of a siksa-parampara. Take

for instance what is implied by an early version of the siksa-parampara taken from Jan

Brzezinski’s excellent, but somewhat narrowly conceived (since when does Gaudiya

Vaisnavism refer only or even primarily to the Gaudiya Math and ISKCON) essay on this

subject called “The Parampara Institution in Gaudiya Vaisnavism” (Journal of Vaisnava

Studies, vol. 5, no. 1).

Thelist is as follows (p. 152):

Caitanya (d. 1534)

Svarupa Damodara (d. 1540)

Sanatana Gosvamin (d. 1556)

Rupa Gosvamin (d. 1556)

Raghunatha Dasa Gosvamin (1586)

Krsnadasa Kaviraja (1612)

Narottama Dasa Thakura (ca. 1650)

Visvanatha Cakravartin (ca. 1710)

Baladeva Vidyabhusana (ca. 1725)

Jagannatha Dasa Baba (ca. 1911)

Bhaktivinoda Thakura (ca. 1917)

Gaurakisora Dasa Baba (1915)

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati (1937)

Bhaktivedanta Svami (1977)

This is the list found in Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is (1972) and in the

introduction to Bhaktisiddhanta’s Anubhasya on the Caitanya-caritamrta (1956). Where

is Jiva Gosvamin? Where is Gopala Bhatta Gosvamin? Where is Kavi Karnapura? Jan’s

fifth note on this list mentions that even Baladeva was not included in Bhaktisiddhanta’s

list (fn. p. 152). What about Ramananda Raya, Srinivasacarya, Prabodhananda,

Radhakrsna Gosvamin? How about Vrndavana Dasa, Locana Dasa, and Murari Gupta?

Are none of these great Vaisnavas worthy of giving siksa? Are the tradition’s greatest

theologian, greatest ritualist, and greatest Vedantin not worthy of being siksa gurus? Did

those not on the list contribute nothing worthwhile to the enrichment of the Gaudiya

26

Vaisnava tradition? This is patently ridiculous. On the other hand, if the succession list is

not meant to be exclusive, then what on earth is it for? Here are those we should learn

from, who have taught us something; the rest have not. The idea of a siksa parampara is a

worthless concoction and one that implies something offensive. The fact is, anyone can be

a source of siksa. The examples of this abound. A famous one is, of course, the case of

Bilvamangala’s being instructed by a prostitute named Cintamani, but Krsna can and

does teach through anyone.

Reflections on Initiation by Nitai Das, Part 1, 2, and 3

Download this in PDF format here:

http://www.mediafire.com/view/e3717aola66h1d8/True_History_of_Bhaktisiddhanta.pdf

REFLECTIONS ON INITIATION

Part 1

by

Nitai Das

June 13, 2005

Recently, among the many other projects I have started and not finished, I was working

on Visvanatha Cakravartin’s Krsna-bhavanamrta, a delightful poem embodying the

raganuga-bhakti practice of smaran. a or visualization. The very first verse of the text

contains the word parampara, which, among other things, may be translated disciplic

succession. The verse reads like this in my translation:

I surrender to the rain-cloud Krsna Caitanya, who instantly destroys the world of

darkness and refreshes the whole world through uninterrupted succession of showers of

his beauty like the beauty of millions of gods of love. (Krsnabhavanamrta, 1.1)

It is a nice image. Caitanya is like a rain cloud pouring down his beauty like rain on a

thirsty world. Imposed on this rather poetic, natural view is the word succession

(parampara). It seems from one angle to spoil everything. Rain clouds rain

indiscriminately, but in Visvanatha’s verse he has left the natural order behind and

imposed the idea of succession on the image. Since it doesn’t fit the image very easily, he

must have had a very good reason for it. Or perhaps the image should be one of lines or

bands of rain moving across the landscape the way one sometimes sees them in the

summer, an intense, dark-blue downpour soaking a particular area, but leaving the

surrounding areas dry. However one imagines it, the meaning seems clear: Caitanya’s

shower of beauty or light (kanti) is mediated through successions and for us in the

Caitanya community this means “disciplic” successions. This verse reminded me of an

insipid little book that was sent to me recently. Written by someone named Tripurari

(what kind of a Vaisnava name is this, anyway), it was called Sri Guru Parampara:

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, heir to the esoteric life of Kedarnatha Bhaktivinoda.

The book is full of goofy errors, sophistry, and misunderstandings, but criticizing that

silly little book is not the point of this essay. The author, however, claims that

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati had received diksa (initiation) in the Gaudiya sampradaya and

this reminded me of my own parting of ways with ISKCON.

The main reason for my departure from ISKCON was that I came to believe (and I still

do) that Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati had never received proper initiation into the

sampradaya. This revelation absolutely shook my world to pieces. I remember sitting on

the roof of ISKCON’s Vrindaban guest house the following day sadly watching the sun

come up. It seemed like a different sun and the world I saw was a strange and frightening

one. For weeks I had no idea what I was going to do. The man who broke the news to me

was Dr. OBL Kapoor, elder savant of the Caitanya Vaisnava tradition and former

member of the Gaudiya Math (his initiation name in the GM was Adikesava Das). He

2

himself had found genuine initiation outside the organization of Bhaktisiddhanta, from

the great bhakta, Sri Gauranga das Baba.

Even though I greatly respected Dr. Kapoor, I refused to accept what seemed to me to be

extremely bad news on his word alone. I interviewed others and did my own researc, but

every where I turned I found the course led to the same unbelievable conclusion.

Bhaktisiddhanta had been refused initiation by Gaura Kisora Das Babaji and he had

insulted his father’s guru, Bipin Bihari Goswami. His enormous ego and rather sharp

tongue closed the doors of Krsna’s realm to him and to those who have depended on him.

When he was called on his lack of initiation by one of the Caitanya tradition’s greatest

scholar-practitioners of the last century, Pandita Ramakrsna Das Baba, who was

universally respected and honored by Vaisnavas of all sampradayas, he turned his venom

on the babas who were following the only recognized form of renunciation in the

Caitanya tradition. This has had a profound effect on the functioning of Gaudiya Math

and all its children, one among which is ISKCON. More will be said about this side of the

problem in future installments of this essay.

Why did I come to believe that Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati was never initiated? This was

almost universally the reason ex-members of the Gaudiya Math gave for their own

departures from that organization. I had always been told that after the death of

Bhaktisiddhanta in 1937, the Gaudiya Math gradually disintegrated as a result of the

struggle for power and greed. The actual impetus I learned was more principled than

that. It was the result of the discovery of the inauthenticity of Bhaktisiddhanta’s initiation.

The man who began the fracture of the GM was Bhaktiprasada Puri Das Goswami,

known before his renunciation as Anantavasudeva das, the leader of the GM who was

hand-picked by Bhaktisiddhanta himself. His reason was precisely his own discovery of

the fundamental flaw in the parampara of the Gaudiya Math.

After a four-month long series of lectures on the Bhakti-sandarbha of Sri Jiva Gosvamin,

begun in Bengal and completed in Vrindaban, he called all the members of the Math

together, especially the sannyasis, and announced his own departure from the institution.

He also informed them that their own efforts were in vain. Without the proper initiation

of their teacher, Bhaktisiddhanta, the mantras he gave them in initiation were useless.

The institution of sannyasa, too, the renounced order of life according to the system of

asramas or stages in a exemplary Hindu life, which was instituted by Bhaktisiddhanta in

Caitanya Vaisnavism, was also groundless (since Bhaktisiddhanta had given it to himself).

He advised all the sannyasis to go home and get married. Their pursuit of sannyasa was a

sham and a waist of time. Most importantly of all he advised them that for their own

spiritual good they get properly initiated from an authentic lineage within the Caitanya

tradition. This I heard from several aged Vaisnavas in Vrindaban and Nabadwip who

knew Puri Das personally and who left along with him or some time shortly afterwards.

He called the members together, especially the sannyasis, and informed them that their

efforts were in vain. Without the proper initiation of their teacher, the mantras he gave

them were useless. He advised them to go home and get married. Their pursuit of

3

sannyasa was a waist of time. Most of all he advised them that for their own spiritual

good they go get properly initiated. This I heard from several aged Vaisnavas in

Vrindaban and Nabadvip who knew Puri Das and who left along with him or some time

shortly afterwards.

In addition, I did a little research on my own. During one of my visits to Nabadwip I

visited the bhajana kutir/mandira of Gaura Kishora Das Babaji and spoke with the pujari

there. I asked him if he knew whether Gaura Kishora Das Babaji had any initiated

disciples. His answer, after consulting with some of the other elders of the compound,

was that, as far as he knew, there were only four, a married couple of modest means and

two others, agriculturalists from neighboring villages, none of whom were

Bhaktisiddhanta. How he knew this and how reliable his testimony is, I don’t know, but

taken in conjunction with the other evidence it lends support to the thesis that all that

Bhaktisiddhanta got from Gaura Kishora Das Babaji were his blessings in the form of a

little dust of Nabadvip sprinkled on his head.

The third bit of evidence comes from an eyewitness account. Tripurari Maharaj claims

that there were witnesses to Bhaktisiddhanta’s initiation (p. 37). He doesn’t mention who

they were or even how he knows there were witnesses. We are expected, I suppose, to

accept it solely on his authority. His authority is useless, however, and unless he has some

evidence, we can treat the witness claim with the doubt it deserves. The eyewitnesses I

know of and from whom I heard were eyewitness to Bhaktisiddhanta’s admission before

Pandita Ramakrsna Das Baba that he had not received initiation from Gaurakisora Das

Babaji. Bhaktisiddhanta was in the habit of visiting Pandit Babaji during his visits to

Vraja since he was without a doubt the most respected of the Caitanya Vaisnnavas of the

early 20th century. On one occasion, certainly before 1914 when Gaurakisora Das Baba

passed away, Bhaktisiddhanta highly praised Gaurakisora Das in Pandit Baba’s presence.

Pandit Baba asked him if he had received initiation from him. Bhaktisiddhanta said he

had received it in dream. Pandit Babaji said that that was fine, but he should receive it in

the flesh as well since that is the only type of initiation accepted as authentic in the

Caitanya tradition. Bhaktisiddhanta said he would and ended the visit.

A few years later, in 1917-18, Bhaktsiddhanta returned to Vrindaban, now the acharya of

the Gaudiya Math, a famous man with many disciples. He visited Pandita Babaji again.

Babaji was living at that time at the Bhagavata-nivasa asrama on Ramana Reti Road. He

was ill and was there to recuperate. When Bhaktisiddanta visited him, Pandit Baba asked

again if he had gotten initiation from Gaura Kishora Das Baba. His answered that he did

not, at which point Pandita Baba got extremely angry with him for making disciples

without proper initiation. Pandita Babaji threw him out of the ashrama and

Bhaktisiddhanta, fearing damage to his reputation, began his calumny of the Vrindaban

babas and forbade his disciples from meeting with them. This account was given to me by

Advaita Das Baba from Govardhan, who was the nephew of Puri Das Gosvami and who

claimed he had heard it directly from Visnudas Baba who as a young lad had been there

4

helping Pandit Baba during his stay at Bhagavata-nivasa. Visnudasa had been in the room

during the meeting between Pandit Baba and Bhaktisiddanta and heard this exchange

personally. Advaita Das Baba, then quite old. He was a siksa disciple of the great

smarana teacher Manohar Das Baba of Govardhan. When I met him he was the

mahanta(abbot) of Govinda-kunda, the asrama of Siddha Manohara das Baba. I

expressed my anxiety about leaving ISKCON to Advaita das Baba. I knew I would incur

Bhaktivedanta Swami´s anger if I left ISKCON and sought shelter at the feet of Kisorikisorananda

das Baba as I was thinking of doing. He laughed and assured me that I had

nothing to fear from Bhaktivedanta´s anger. His exact words were “such anger is

powerless”. I took my leap of faith shortly thereafter and have never looked back with any

Does all this prove that Bhaktisiddhanta did not receive initiation?

It depends on what one means by proof. Some people set the bar so high for proof that by

that standard nothing can be proved beyond a doubt. There are still some twisted ones

who claim that the Holocaust did not happen because it has not been definitively proven

to have happened. I think the preponderance of evidence falls against Bhaktisiddhanta’s

having received authentic initiation. It is not just a matter of hearsay, as some rather thick

and loud demagogues want to claim. The people how actually lived through those events

were alive when I was faced my difficult choice and they shared with me their experiences

and insights. Moreover, it is absurd to think that Bhaktiprasada Puri Goswami would

have made such a momentous choice based on mere hearsay. He gave up the highest and

most honored post in the GM to live a life of seclusion and service in Vrindaban. His life

was put in danger because of it and had he not been hidden by some of the Goswamis of

the Radharamana Temple in Vrindaban, some of the members of the GM would have

killed him. Finally, there is the fact that the mainstream Vaisnava community does not

regard ISKCON and GM (IGM) as authentic members of the Caitanya tradition. This is

most dramatically demonstrated by the fact that main-streamers do not eat with members

of IGM and as far as possible do not associate with them. Is this widespread feeling of the

mainstream community towards IGM based simply on hearsay? I think not. It is based on

the conviction that IGM is not part of the community of Vaisnavas who trace their

tradition back to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. They are an apasampradaya, renegade

My advice to ISKCON-men and women and to ex-ISKCON-men and women and to non-

ISKCON-men and women is the same as that given to me many years ago by Dr. Kapoor:

get yourselves properly initiated. There are several members of authentic Vaisnava

parampara around whose lineages are undisputed.

5

REFLECTIONS ON INITIATION

Part 2

by

Nitai Das

June 14, 2005

In this installment we will have to grapple with the question of the”success” of ISKCON.

ISKCON-men will often cite the success of ISKCON as proof of the power and

authenticity of Srila Prabhupada. Viewed objectively, however, a strong argument

can be made that ISKCON has not been all that successful and one might extend that

argument to its mother organization in India, the Gaudiya Math. A lot, of course, hinges

on what is considered success. It is possible to lower the thresh-hold of success so low that

anything can be considered success; conversely it is possible to raise it so high that

nothing can be considered successful. Obviously, however, some more or less objective

standards are needed to evaluate success. I will try to find and apply such standards in

three areas that are usually associated with success:

  • size and wealth of the organization,
  • level of advancement of its members, and
  • effect of the organization or its teachings on the awareness or consciousness of the

If size and wealth are to be considered evidence of success, then ISKCON will have

difficulty demonstrating its success. Compared to many other religious organizations,

ISKCON has done no better and in several cases it has done worse. According to several

sources, ISKCON had at its peak (mid-1970s ?) less than 5,000 full-time members in the

United States (Melton, 1982), a number which has dropped to about 3,000 today. The

current list of centers provided on ISKCON’s own home page has around 75 entries for

the United States. According to an independent source, ISKCON currently has about a

million followers in the world with about 8,000 full-time followers among them

(Chryssides, 1999). Another independent source claims that there are 3,000 core

members and about 250,000 ”lay” members in the United States (New Religious

Movements, University of Virginia, 1998). This might at first seem quite impressive, but

how does this stack up with some of the other 20th century religious groups in the United

States? Independent sources place the number of followers of the Unification Church,

which was founded in 1954 by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, at between one to three million

around the world (Chryssides, 1999) with some 10,000 full-time members in theWest

(Bishop, 1987). Scientology has according to their own account eight million followers,

but it turns out that the Scientologists claim as a member anyone who has ever availed

themselves of their services (auditing, etc) since the founding of the Church of

Scientology in 1954. Dissident former members, however, claim that there are less

than 700,000 in the United States. Somewhere between those two extremes lies the actual

6

figure. The most recent estimate places the number of members at 5.6 million worldwide

(Chryssides, 1999), but this again is dependent on church publications. Of those, there

are around 11,370 full-time members according to the same estimate. The numbers for

Transcendental Meditation vary from around 50,000 in the world (Melton, 1993) to one

million in the United States and three million in the world (Occhiogrosso, 1996).

Obviously, it is hard to find reliable tallies of any of these groups. Nevertheless, assuming

that these figures bear some resemblance to reality, ISKCON when compared with its

peers has not turned in a very strong performance. In fact, it seems to have

lagged somewhat behind; all of the other religious groups cited here appear to have done

better than ISKCON. Or, if one exercises a much warranted skepticism over the figures

available, ISKCON has at least done as well but certainly no better. It must be pointed

out, however, that the Unification Church and Scientology have been in existence for at

least ten years longer than ISKCON and that the former, at least, still has its leader. This

hardly amounts to the flooding of the world with preman predicted in the Caitanyacaritamrta.

Nor is it a stunning display of the superiority of Prabhupada’s potency and

authenticity. On the basis of the evidence such as it is, one would have to claim at least as

much potency and authenticity for the Rev. Moon, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Maharshi.

Perhaps this is not the way to recognize ISKCON’s success, then. Followers, centers, and

wealth could be merely a manifestation of good organizational skills and sound business

sense, not empowerment.

Let us consider the advancement of the followers of ISKCON, then. Perhaps this is where

the secret of ISKCON’s success lies. But we are wandering into the middle of a very

slippery quagmire here. How can one tell how advanced a devotee is? The bhakti

scriptures give examples of symptoms to look for in advanced devotees, but do any of the

ISKCONers manifest such symptoms and if so, are they genuine? These are difficult

questions to answer. I remember how reassuring it was back when I was a member of

ISKCON to think that someone in the society had really made visible advancement. We

all believed that Yamuna Devi Dasi, of instance, had reached the level of bhava. This

must have been a claim that had originated with Prabhupada. Who would dare to

make up such a thing. I at least stood in awe of her when I finally met her years later in

Brindaban. What a mind blowing experience then when one day during his daily massage

Prabhupada turned to me and asked if I knew Yamuna Devi Dasi. I said that I did and

waited expectantly for Prabhupada to praise her for how highly developed and saintly she

was. Instead he said: ”She has spoiled many brahmacaris and sannyasis!” What an

earthquake! I felt like the ceiling had fallen down on my head. So much for past

greatness; is there any greatness among the current followers of ISKCON? I am certainly

in no position to say since I have purposefully removed myself from all ISKCON

association. During the six years I spent as a member of the organization I met no one

who I thought had advanced very far and worried a great deal about the rate of my own

advancement. I remember the ludicrous spectacle of a Brahmananda Swami stealing

money, running off to whore houses in Africa for months, and then crawling back on his

hands and knees to Prabhupada’s feet begging for forgiveness. Brahmananda was one of

7

Prabhupada’s oldest disciples. Besides that he was bully. I have personal experience of

that. I need only mention the names Kirtanananda Swami, Bhavananda Swami, and

Hamsaduta Swami to provide other stunning examples of ISKCON’s failure. I suspect

that not much has changed, that there are still no devotees who have advanced beyond

the even the lowest rungs of sadhanabhakti. This, if true, is very sad thing and a very

strange. One would think that someone in the last forty years would have made some

advancement. The only devotees I have ever seen who were on high levels of

development were outside of both ISKCON and the Gaudiya Math. One remembers, for

instance, Sri Krsnacarana Das Baba who could no longer attend readings of works on

Krsna-lila because tears would start squirting from his eyes uncontrollably, his hair would

stand on end and slobber would run down his chin. The other members of the audience

would take more notice of him than of the text being read. I never saw this happen to

him, but this is how Dr. Kapoor described him to me once. I also recall sleeping outside

of Tinkudi Baba’s (Kisorikisorananda Baba) room when I first joined him and waking

early in the morning to hear him laughing and talking enthusiastically in his room with

someone. When I peeked in I saw that he was alone. Those around him told me that he

often did that and that he was talking with Radha and Krsna and the other gopis. They in

addition claimed that Radha and Krsna were actually there with him. Those around him

also claimed that they had at various times seen all of the eight sattvika-vikara appear in

his body. Unfortunately, my Bengali was too poor at that time to understand what he said

there in his room. Even in my profoundly covered state, however, I could sense that

something powerful was going on within and around him.

Can ISKCON boast such advanced devotees? I doubt it. If there are some similarly

advanced devotees I would be glad to learn of it. ISKCON doesn’t even recognize such

things as achievements, though. To ISKCON-men selling more books, building more

temples, bringing in more money, making more disciples are the signs of advancement.

This is all Prabhupada used to talk about. The wealth of the heart doesn’t count for much

in ISKCON. ISKCON’s full attention is directed outside. My thesis is that this is because

the path inside is blocked for ISKCONers and this is because it has no genuine initiation.

Initiation opens an inner door and as Tinkudi Baba once said connects one with the

powerhouse Krsna. If that inner path is blocked by worthless mantras, if that inner door

is locked shut, one’s attention is forced outside and one is stuck with judging one’s

success on the basis of external measures. As Baladeva Vidyabhusana has said in his

Prameya-ratnavali, quoting the Padma Purana:

yad-uktam. padma-purane

sampradaya-vihina ye mantraste viphala matah

As it is said in the Padma Purana:

mantras that have no community of transmission (sampradaya) areconsidered fruitless.

8

Community of transmission here means disciplic succession. Mantras that are not

received through disciplic succession are powerless. ISKCON’s mantras have proven

useless in transforming the hearts of its initiates. That is anyway how it appears to outside

observers like me. Thus, neither from the point of view of material success nor from the

point of view of advancement of followers does ISKCON appear to be in any sense

What about ISKCON’s influence in transforming the consciousness of the West? Has not

ISKCON had a profound effect in transforming Western culture? Perhaps it is too early

to draw any conclusions on this issue, but at present it looks like ISKCON and indeed

several of the other religious movements of the latter twentieth century are destined to

be mere footnotes to the religious life of the century. I have increasingly noticed how, in

the classes I teach, fewer and fewer of the students have ever heard of the Hare Krishna

movement. Those who have heard of the movement know next to nothing about its

teachings and practices. If a student does know something, it is something negative: that

the Hare Krishnas used to harass people in the airports and city streets, forcing books

and incense on them and short-changing them whenever possible, or that they were a cult

that brain-washed their follows. This is ISKCON’s real legacy. Older people associate

ISKCON with the kidnapping of kids and scandalous murder cases. Penetrating studies

have been done on the psychological profiles of people who join such ”fringe” groups as

ISKCON, with the objective of getting such people help so that they will not do such

things in the future. While much of this hype is based on a misunderstanding of what

ISKCON stands for and a corresponding refusal to recognize that similar psychological

weaknesses can be found in people who become members of any evangelical or

fundamentalist religious group, it nevertheless contributes to the overall cultural

perception of ISKCON. Thus, ISKCON and the other groups like it have become

manifestations of the feared ”other.” Very few Americans today would consider it an

honor if their sons and daughters became members of ISKCON. In other words ISKCON

has given Krsna a bad name in the West.

On the positive side, it can be said that groups like ISKCON have served to strengthen

and to nourish the pluralism that exists today in American religion and indeed

increasingly in religion in other parts of the world. Thus, it can be said that ISKCON has

indeed had an effect of the consciousness of the world, but perhaps not the one it hoped

to have. The process has not ended yet. The current rise in fundamentalisms is a reaction

to the increased strength and visibility of pluralism, to which ISKCON contributed, and

may bring about the ultimate demise of pluralism. Who can guess what repressive order

may replace it? (Bush?)

The absence of a genuine initiation may account for the absence of real empowerment in

ISKCON, but what about the power of the holy name? Surely that is a factor that would

contribute to ISKCON’s success. The holy name requires no initiation, knows no rules or

limitations. The holy name and the holy named are one and the same and thus the holy

9

name is always empowered. Since ISKCON practices and promotes the chanting of the

holy name it must thereby have some connection with that powerhouse you spoke of. If

ISKCON has had only moderate success, why hasn’t the holy name changed that? This is

indeed an interesting question and that will be the one I tackle next month.

Select Bibliography

Chryssides, George. Exploring New Religions. London, U.K.: Cassells (1999).

Melton, J. Gordon & Robert L. Moore. The Cult Experience: Responding to the New Religious Pluralism. New York: The

Pilgrim Press (1984 [3rd printing; 1st printing 1982]).

Melton, J. Gordon, Encyclopedia of American Religions. 4th ed. Detroit: Gale Research Inc. (1993).

New Religious Movements (University of Virginia) (1998) (web site:http://cti.itc.virginia.edu/~jkh8x/soc257/nrms/).

Occhiogrosso, Peter: The Joy of Sects: A Spirited Guide to the World’s Religious Traditions. NewYork: Doubleday (1996)

REFLECTIONS ON INITIATION

Part 3

by

Nitai Das

June 15, 2005

Last month I argued that if one examines the empirical evidence, there is no support for

the contention that ISKCON and its mother organizations, the Gaudiya Math and its

splinters, are empowered as one would expect them to be if they possessed a genuine line

of initiation. I used three criteria: material wealth and followers, production of advanced

followers, and influence on the consciousness of the time. One needs only to look at the

beginnings of the Caitanya movement to see what empowerment looks like. Vast numbers

of people became followers, temples were built to house the movement’s many deities,

numerous followers showed signs of advancement on the path of bhakti, and

consciousness was profoundly transformed. Within a century a vast literature was created

and the influence of that movement was exerted on Bengali literature for several

centuries. As an example of the last criterion, one need only recall the huge numbers of

songs and poems written in Sanskrit, Bengali, and Braj-bhasha about the love of Radha

and Krsna. So profound and lasting was this transformation of consciousness that

centuries later it influenced perhaps Bengal’s greatest poet Rabindranath Tagore who,

using (maybe the words adopting, adapting, or downright pilfering would be better words

to use here) the figures and moods of bhakti poetry in his Gitanjali, won recognition from

the world as India’s first and only Nobel prize winner. Perhaps that prize really belongs to

Mahaprabhu and his many poet followers.

Since the “big bang” of those beginnings, however, not much of that magnitude has

happened. The universe has continued to expand at a steady rate, but the only major

milestone in the last five centuries seems to have been the expansion of the movement

beyond the boundaries of India to the rest of the world. Credit for that only partially rests

at the feet of Prabhupada (Bhaktivedanta Swami). Other representatives of the Caitanya

10

tradition came West before him, learned and charismatic devotees like Premananda

Bharati and Mahanamabrata Brahmacari preceded him by over a half a century. Though

from our perspective at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st centuries, their

efforts seem to have failed, in actuality, during their times they met with a good deal of

success in spreading the faith. They wrote books and dissertations, produced journals,

established temples and asramas, and gave lectures to hundreds. Premananda even made

numerous disciples whom he took to India with him and who carried on in their own ways

after his untimely death. The Gaudiya Math, too, sent representatives like Swami Bon to

try to establish the movement in Europe and boasted a few intelligent and high-profile

disciples like Sadananda and Walter Eidlitz, author of several important studies of

Caitanya Vaisnavism. Prabhupada’s success may well turn out to be no greater than theirs

and more long-lasting.

Still, it is enticing to think that perhaps over the centuries the Caitanya movement

became too complacent, too self-satisfied with the rich inner world it had been given

access to. Having been given, by the grace of their living successions, the keys to the inner

door in initiation, it became very hard to resist using those keys to enter into the eternal

inner world of lila. Why indeed would one want to resist such a thing? Therefore, perhaps

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, Bhaktivedanta Swami, and others like them are to be seen as

unwitting instruments in the hands of Mahaprabhu, instruments capable of doing things

for the spread of the movement that duly initiated members find very difficult to do. If

the inner door is closed and locked, one is forced to live and work among the externals,

amidst the money, the followers, the public relations, the publications, the land deals, the

lawsuits and the temples. One is funnelled into a life of busy-ness (or business) if the

inner eye remains shut. Thus, ISKCON and its parent organizations might be seen as

something like loud noise makers, attracting the attention of the people of the world with

a carnival-like atmosphere and drawing them to an awareness of the world of Caitanya

Vaisnavism. Once those people have been put in orbit around Mahaprabhu it would be

easy for some small percentage of them to make the transition into association with

Mahaprabhu’s authentic followers. If this thesis is correct, then making this transition,

though important for some, is not for everybody. Some must remain locked out in the

external realm as part of the carnivale, at least for a few more lifetimes, in order that the

process may go on and the sirens may continue their song. This seems to be what has

happened and is continuing to happen with IGM (ISKCON/Gaudiya Math).

Maybe something like the scenario outlined above was in Dr. Kapoor’s mind when he

shattered my safe little ISKCON world by informing me of the absence of initiation in

ISKCON and the Gaudiya Math. He himself, as I mentioned before, had been reinitiated

already by Gauranga Das Baba and I recall quite clearly his emotional

description of the day on which he met his initiating guru (Baba). Dr. Kapoor’s

suggestion for me was that I too take initiation secretly and remain within ISKCON. This

was apparently what he had done, since he had kept up his relationships with his old

Gaudiya Math god-brothers, kept his GM initiation name, and at least on the surface

11

appeared to be no different from them. When I asked him for initiation, he wisely

declined. Instead he recommended Tinkudi Baba as the most advanced of the bhaktas in

Braj at the time and as the best candidate for my initiating guru. He mentioned other

possibilities as well, speaking highly of Krsnacarana Das Baba and others. That was when

I began to visit Tinkudi Baba, meeting him for the first time at Cakleshar on the banks of

the Manasasarovar near Govardhan. But that story is for another installment.

Somehow Dr. Kapoor’s advice didn’t sit very well with me, however. I had just had my

head chewed off a month earlier by Prabhupada in Mayapur over a plan I had devised to

create an accredited guru-kula and that in front of many of the GBC. I can still see the

smirks on their greasy, self-indulgent faces. His words still ring in my ears, too: “Do you

think the world needs more scholars?! No! It needs more devotees!” I never could accept

the idea that one could not be both a scholar and a devotee and, quite frankly, I still

don’t. I felt, therefore, out of place in ISKCON and I considered it somewhat

hypocritical to take initiation secretly from someone else and then pretend to be

Prabhupada’s disciple still. I began from that time to plan my departure, looking for an

opportunity to slip away quietly and unnoticed into the morning mists of Braj. But that

too is a story for another time.

Looking back at that time from the present I am convinced I did the right thing. Sure, I

could have secretly helped correct ISKCON’s impotence by bringing in an authentic

initiation line. Perhaps others have done this and many of the mantra now transmitted in

ISKCON have been brought to life. There were many rumors of various other disciples of

Prabhupada receiving initiation from other Vaisnavas like Lalita Prasada Thakur. My

own disciples, if ever I had any, would have been benefitted no doubt and perhaps the

worship of that heart-guru (caittya-guru) accomplished in the first of the inititation

mantras and gayatris given in genuine initiation would have helped me guide ISKCON on

more wholesome paths. Still, there is a horrible flaw and obstacle at work in ISKCON

and its parents that nothing short of complete separation can correct. This flaw is also the

strongest evidence against the idea that the Gaudiya Math and ISKCON are instruments

in Mahaprabhu’s plan. It is to that flaw that we must now turn.

Apart from ISKCON’s impotence due to lack of initiation, it suffers from the serious

commision of offense to the holy names. Repeating the holy name requires no initiation

and has no limits in terms of proper place, time, or practitioner. Anyone can utter or

repeat the holy names and reap the benefit of being in the presence of the holy named,

Krsna, through his holy names. The only obstacle that can interrupt this positive

influence is committing an offense to the holy names. That is precisely what has infected

the Gaudiya Math and its offshoots (ISKCON). This offense began with Bhaktisiddhanta

Sarasvati himself and is inherited by everyone who counts him or herself a follower of his.

First of all in IGM there is the most obvious offense to the holy name, the first listed on

the traditional list of ten offenses, blasphemy of the saintly (sadhuninda). This began in

the Gaudiya Math after Bhaktisiddhanta was severely criticized by Pandit Ramakrsna

12

Das Baba for not being authentically initiated by Gaurakisora Das Baba (see the my first

essay). Sarasvati´s egotistic response was to blast the babas one and all and why he was at

it why not throw in the caste Goswamis, too. This offensive practice became part of the

very institution of the Gaudiya Math and its offshoots. We heard it often enough from

Prabhupada in person and in his writings. It became the basis of the instruction to avoid

anyone claiming to be a Vaisnava outside of ISKCON. That extended even Prabhupada’s

own god-brothers from the GM. I understand that Prabhupada eventually realized the

seriousness of this offense and for I hear that on his death bed, he called leading

members of the Vrindaban Vaisnava communitytogether, his god-brothers and caste

Goswamis alike, and asked for their forgiveness. Too little, too late? Who knows. Real

Vaisnava are a humble and forgiving bunch.

The really serious offense to the holy name, however, is one that few think recognize. It

arises from neglect or disrespect of the guru (gurv-avajna), the third offense. Not to take

proper initiation is to commit the offense of neglecting the guru and that, too, is a

powerful obstacle to the holy name. The great commentator Visvanatha Cakravartin gave

an interesting characterization of the way this offense works in his commentary on the

Bhagavata Purana 6.2.9-10. He says:

Some people are always engaging their senses in the sense objects

like cows and asses and don’t know, even in their dreams, “who

is God, what is devotion, who is the guru.” Such inoffensive persons

are saved even without a guru by repeating the holy name in

the manner of a “semblance of holy name” (namabhasa) like Ajamila

and others. Others, however, have discriminating knowledge: “Hari

is to be worshipped, worship is the way to attain him, the guru is

the instructor of that, many people of the past have attained Hari

by means of the devotion taught by the guru,” and yet, on the basis

of claims: “initiation, good practice, and expiation are not needed;

the mere touch of this mantra, composed of the name of Krsna, on the tongue brings the

result,” and on the basis of those very examples

of Ajamila and others, they think: “why should I go to the

trouble of finding a guru? By kirtana of the holy names alone I will

get the Lord.” Because of this great offense of neglecting the guru,

they will not attain the Lord. However, when that offense becomes

eliminated, in that lifetime itself or in another lifetime , they, too,

will find shelter at the feet of a guru and reach the Lord.”

From this it appears that in some ways it is better not to know about the importance of

the guru than it is to know about importance of the guru and not to take shelter of one. I

conjecture that this is exactly what Bhaktisiddhanta did. Perhaps he really wanted to take

initiation from Gaurkisora Das Baba, but for some reason was unable to and could not

find another who met his high standards. That is understandable and even admirable. But

13

to start accepting disciples without have made that initial offering of oneself to Krsna in

the moment of surrender to a guru, that is inexcusable. Moreover, those who now believe

he was not properly initiated or who at least honestly doubt that he was properly initiated

and yet are reluctant to get themselves properly initiated suffer from that same offense.

The result is the same: the effectiveness of repeating the holy names is impeded. Not

until after the offense is destroyed and one has found shelter with an authentic guru does

one get Krsna.

In conclusion, where do we now find ourselves? Two results have been arrived at

concerning the Gaudiya Math and ISKCON: first, they are cut off from the powerhouse

by the absence of proper initiation and second neglect of that absence is offensive to the

holy name stopping even the holy name from acting to purify and perfect their followers.

I noticed this second phenomenon quite dramatically toward the end of my stay in

ISKCON. During my last days in ISKCON I was given the position of head pujari of the

Krsna Balarama Temple in Vrindaban. I decided it would be a good opportunity to do

more rounds of japa (chanting on beads). I specifically wanted to try to chant one lakh

(100,000 names or 64 rounds on the beads) a day as the scriptures (Caitanya bhagavata)

recommend. With practice I did reach the level of doing one lakh a day. The result was

surprisingly unimpressive, however. I still had high hopes, but I didn’t feel that power and

that presence that I hoped I would. Later, after I took shelter with Tinkudi Baba, far

away from anything ISKCON, and he made it my sole responsibility to chant three lakhs

a day and extraordinary things began to happen. The holy name became effective again.

At that time I had not received initiation from Baba yet, but the holy name was having an

overwhelming effect on me. That effect or change of heart was indeed what Baba was

waiting for before giving me initiation. The only explanation is that previously, when I

chanted a lakh in ISKCON I was guilty of offense by association with offenders and the

holy name acted only weakly for me. Only after I left that atmosphere did I begin to feel

the great power of the holy name.