Sadhus lining up at Jiva 2015

Bhagavata Parampara

The following questions were asked following Babaji’s podcast interview with Namarasa Das.

Question: The term bhāgavata-paramparā is commonly used in our saṃpradāya, but you seem to doubt it. I was under the impression that there is no difference between śīkṣā-paramparā, the process of receiving spiritual knowledge through Hari-kathā or spiritual instructions, and bhāgavata-paramparā. Can you please clarify?

Answer: The only usage of the term bhāgavata-paramparā that I have read concerns the descent of Śrīmad Bhāgavata. There are two such paramparās described in Śrīmad Bhāgavata itself. The first one comes down from Śrī Kṛṣṇa. He gave the four-versed Bhāgavata to Brahmā, who in turn taught it to his son, Śrī Nārada. Śrī Nārada instructed Śrī Bādarāyaṇa Vyāsa, who sat in samādhi and then manifested the Bhāgavata that is available to us. Vyāsa taught it to his son Śukadeva, who in turn recited it to King Parikṣit on the bank of Gaṅgā. Ṣūta Gosvāmī was also present in the audience; he spoke it to the sages of Naimiśaraṇya, headed by Śaunaka Rṣi.

The other bhāgavata-paramparā originates from Śrī Saṅkarṣaṇa, who taught the Bhāgavata to the Kumāras. I have read articles related to these two bhāgavata-paramparās by some scholars. However, I have not read this phrase being used in any other way. 

During conversations with ISKCON devotees, I have heard this term used as the name of their paramparā. You confirm this by saying that this term is commonly used in “our saṃpradāya.” I understand that by “our,” you mean “ISKCON/Gauḍīya Maṭh.” If, however, you mean “Gaudīya,” it is not true. Whenever I inquired from ISKCON authorities about what this term meant, I received no clear answer. This is exactly what I said in my interview: “I am not clear what they mean by it.” 

Someone said that Śrīpāda Svāmī BV Tripurārī Mahārāja wrote a book on this topic, but I have not read it. So, I am not clear about the sense of its usage by present-day Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas. That being the case, I am unable to answer your question regarding the clarification of the terms śikṣā-paramparā and bhāgavata-paramparā. Moreover, if there is no difference between the two, as stated by you, then why are there two different names? There must be some difference.


Question: In your YouTube interview with Namarasa, you mentioned bhāgavata-paramparā. Is it valid to have Madhva-tīrtha sannyāsīs in our Gauḍīya line? Recently a signboard was displayed at Shyamananda Pandit’s Radha-Shyamsundar Mandira in Vrindavan, stating in Hindi, Bengali, and English that they have no relationship with the Madhvācārya line. I have heard this from other Vaiṣṇava pandits and would like your opinion.

Answer: This is a debatable issue. There are differences of opinion on it, and I can only give my own. We belong to the Madhvācārya-saṃpradāya. This is the general understanding of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas in Vrindavan. In Vrindavan, there is an old registered organization called Akhila Bhārtīya Mādhva-Gauḍeśvara Mahāsabhā (All India Mādhva-Gauḍeśvara Committee). We have regular meetings and also celebrate the appearance day of Śrī Madhvācārya with a traditional procession in town. 

However, we have many differences in philosophy as well as in practice. Therefore, those who are opposed to the above view claim that we do not belong to Śrī Madhva-saṃpradāya. They have a strong case.

My solution to this difference of opinion is that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu came to give Kṛṣṇa-prema and thus began a new school called “Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism.” Even though He is Kṛṣṇa Himself, He followed the custom of taking dikṣā. Therefore, we do belong to the Śrī Madhvācārya-saṃpradāya, although we differ on many points. We are a branch of the Madhva-saṃpradāya. Thus, we have both bheda and abheda—we are one with the Madhva-saṃpradāya and also different.