Tag Archives: diksha

Diksha Guru Is Also Shiksha Guru

The following are the last questions in the context of Babaji’s podcast interview with Namarasa.

 

Question: If dīkṣā and śikṣā are never separated, why did Narottama, Śyāmānanda, and Śrīnivāsācārya all take śikṣā from Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī who was not their dīkṣā guru? 

Answer: First of all, I did not say that dīkṣā and śikṣā are never separated. In exceptional cases, there may be separation. I said that one takes dīkśā to take śikṣā. This is a statement of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī—it is not my opinion. While describing the limbs of sādhana-bhakti, he begins with the following verse (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.74): 

Atha aṅgāni

“Now the limbs of bhakti are described.”

guru-pādāśrayastasmāt krṣṇa-dīkṣādi-śikṣaṇam
visrambheṇa guroḥ sevā sadhu-vartmānuvartanam

“Therefore, [one should] 1. Take shelter of the feet of a guru; 2. Study [bhāgavata-dharma or principles of bhakti from the guru] after taking dīkṣā in Kṛṣṇa-mantra [from the guru]; 3. Serve the guru with trust; and 4. Follow the path of the devotees.”

While commenting on the krṣṇa-dīkṣādi-śikṣaṇam part of the verse, both Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī and Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravarti write that one should study from the guru after taking dīkṣādīkṣā-pūrvaka-śikṣaṇam. 

Thus it is very clear from the original verse and the commentaries that one should study from one’s dīkṣā guru. Dīkṣā means the beginning of the education and practice of bhakti. That is why it is translated as “initiation,” which means “a beginning.” The beginning of what? One may reply that it is the beginning of bhakti, which is correct. But every act is preceded by knowledge of it, and bhakti is no exception. Dīkṣā, or initiation, is like accepting admission to a school. Everyone knows that one needs admission to study. Traditionally, in India, the ending ceremony of education is called dīkṣānta (dīkṣā + anta), literally the end of dīkṣā. That shows that the purpose of dīkṣā is education.

However, in exceptional cases, one may not be able to study under one’s dīkṣā guru. This may happen if the guru is not physically present or too old to teach. Then, if the guru is alive, on his order or with his permission, one studies from another teacher. It may also be that the guru is not an expert in a particular subject and sends his disciple to another expert teacher. Such cases are exceptions and not the general tradition. At present, however, this seems to have become the norm, so much so that people do not even know the general principle. And if told the śāstric principle, they have difficulty accepting it. Of course, anyone is free to do whatever suits one, but we should be aware of what our original ācāryas stated. 

Now to your question: “Why did Narottama, Śyāmānanda, and Śrīnivāsācārya all take śikṣā from Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī, who was not their dīkṣā guru? I hope you know that those were the formative years of the Gauḍīya school. The core literature of our sampradāya’s philosophy and practice was composed primarily by Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī and Śrī Rupa Gosvāmī under the direct instruction of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, and by Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī under the instruction of the latter. In this sense, our sampradāya is different from other Vaiṣṇava-sampradāyas. The main ācāryas of other Vaiṣṇava-sampradāyas wrote books themselves and then taught them to their disciples. Therefore, they were much more organized when it came to the education of their school. But in our sampradāya, the story is much different. We do not have one central authority. Mahāprabhu neither wrote any books about His teachings nor did He give dīkṣā to anyone. 

Generally, an avatāra does not write books. Those who wrote books, among them Śrī Sanātana, did not give dīkṣā to anyone; Śrī Rūpa gave dīkṣā only to Śrī Jīva, and Śrī Jīva may have given dīkṣā to a few—if at all he gave. The founders of three main branches of the Caitanya tree, i.e., Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu, Śrī Advaitācārya, and Śrī Gadādhara did not write any books about the core principles of our samprādaya. Therefore, the gurus coming from these three branches and other branches needed to study the Gosvāmī literature; then they could continue their lineage based on the literature of the Gosvāmīs. For this reason, Śrī Narottama Mahāśaya, Śrī Śyāmānanda Prabhu, and Śrī Śrīnivāsācārya studied under Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī and then carried this knowledge as well as the Gosvāmī literature to Bengal and Odissa

Question: You have implied that the system of having separate śikṣā and dīkṣā is a mistake, but śāstra says that we have many gurus.

Answer: It would have been nice if you had given an exact śāstric reference to support your claim. Since you have not done so, I am not sure what śāstric reference you have in mind. But I know that your guru would not appreciate it if you told him that you have several other gurus besides him. Give him the śāstric reference that you have in mind. If you do not believe me, try it and see what happens.

Moreover, if I ask you who your guru is, you will probably not give me a list of names. Also, when you do your pūjā, you probably have only one guru on your altar, not a collection of gurus. And I am sure you have only one guru paramparā in your mind, not a few of them starting from different gurus.

In case you have the story of Dattātreya from the Eleventh Canto of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam in mind to substantiate your point of having many gurus, that is not applicable in the present context. He gives a list of 24 gurus, which includes insentient objects such as earth, water, fire, air, and space, and lower beings like a pigeon, deer, fish, etc. He learned from them by observation and not through a sermon.

Question: How am I to conceive the point of getting personalized śīkṣā from the guru? Many Prabhupāda disciples didn’t have much personal association with him. Even Prabhupāda didn’t have much personal association with his guru. 

Answer: Prabhupāda personally taught his disciples. Wherever he was present, he gave classes. I do not think he refused to teach anyone. He also wrote numerous books for his disciples to study.

These are the points that I have understood from the writings of the Gosvāmīs and my own experience. If it does not suit others, and they can achieve their goal otherwise, that is fine with me. I was interviewed about my own journey, which I spoke about. If my journey does not match yours or anyone else’s, that is also fine with me. I can speak about my journey without having to reconcile it with others. 

 

Karma, Guru–Disciple, Mantra-diksha

Question: What is the use of karma if person cannot remember what he has done wrong in a past life, but his karma fructifies this life? The lesson is likely not to be learned.

Answer: Suppose a person is heavily drunk and is driving. He loses control of his car and kills a pedestrian. In the accident, he also gets injured and is taken to hospital. Afterwards, when he comes to consciousness, he does not remember what happened. My question to you is: Should this person be punished for drunk driving and killing a person? If you say “yes,” then you have the reply to your question. If you say “no,” then please give me the reason. This also implies that forgetfulness is a good way to escape punishment for one’s misdeeds. Punishment for a wrong deed has many reasons. Rectification is only one among them but not the only one. Your question assumes that punishment is only for rectification.

Secondly, there are many criminals who are punished for their crimes. After they have completed their punishment, did they learn any lesson, i.e., not to repeat the crime? Maybe you can research it, but my guess is that most criminals continue their crimes. So, this defies your premise that remembrance of one’s crime is necessary for improvement. If this were true, then most criminals would not be criminals because they all know that they would be punished for their crime if proven guilty. Knowledge of punishment does not deter them.

What really matters is one’s understanding of the principle of karma, and śraddhā in śāstra, and not remembrance of one’s past misdeeds. If one does not have śraddhā, then one will continue to act frivolously.

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Question: Throughout my years of hearing from devotees, I have heard that the guru’s connection to the disciple is so deep that the guru is prepared to be endlessly reborn into this world until the disciple is relieved from the material condition. Can you help me understand this?

Answer: This sounds appealing, but it does not make much sense. It sounds like a big punishment to be a guru! If this were true, the guru would probably remain in the material world eternally. There is a high probability that at least one disciple would not attain liberation, and then the guru would have to come back to deliver him or her. This means that he would again become a guru and surely make more disciples, some of whom would again fail to attain liberation. The cycle could continue forever! 

The fact is that anyone who has attained bhāva-bhakti will not take birth again, regardless of whether he or she is a guru. This is very clearly stated by Śrī Kṛṣṇa in Bhagavad Gītā 8.5–7 and 12.6–7. There is no scriptural proof for the statement that the guru will come back to deliver the disciple. But there are plenty of statements that a perfected devotee never takes birth again.

However, you can understand the statement that the guru comes to deliver the disciple as follows. Kṛṣṇa is the original guru. He comes in the form of a guru. So, if a disciple does not make his life successful in this lifetime, then such a disciple will get a guru in the next life. That guru will also be a representative of Kṛṣṇa. In that sense, the guru comes to deliver. 

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Question: Is it necessary that mantra-dīksa be taken from the same guru from whom harināma is taken? 

Answer: Yes. 

Question: If a devotee wants to take mantra-dīksā from another guru, is it necessary to take permission from the guru who gave harināma?

Answer: Yes.

Question: What should one do if the harināma-guru does not give his personal time, rāganugā-sikśā, or permission to take sikśā from others?

Answer: Not much. It is you who accepted him as your guru. I do not believe that he coerced you to take dīkṣā from him. It was your choice. You should have considered all these things before accepting him as your guru. So do not blame him; take responsibility for your decision. Pray to Kṛṣṇa that He show you the light. That is all I can say. 

Question: Is there a reference stating that both harināma-dīksā and mantra-dīksā should be taken from the same guru?

Answer: As there is no śastric reference that I know of, I answer on the basis of tradition. Not everything is written in black and white. Certain things are known from tradition. That is why it is said, “mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ”—follow the path followed by great devotees (Mahābhārata, Vana-parva 313.117), and “sādhu-vartmānuvartanam”—follow the path of the sādhus (BRS, Purva-vibhāga 1.2.100).

I don’t know any examples where the harināma-dīksā and mantra-dīksā gurus are different. Therefore, I see no reason why they should be different. Why should one not take mantra-dīksā from the same guru that one took harināma-dīksā from? I don’t think there is a distinction that one guru is specialized only in mantra-dīkṣā and another guru only in harināma-dīksā, like modern specialist doctors.

 

Dīkṣā and Varṇāśrama

Question: If husband and wife take initiation from the same guru, do they become god brother and god sister? How can they be husband and wife? 

Answer: This confusion is due to the use of the words, god brotherand god sister. The Sanskrit term is satirtha, which means, “having a common guru.” Initiation is considered a spiritual birth. Even if they were to be considered as brother and sister, that would be at the spiritual level and not at the physical level. So spiritually, they may be brother and sister but on the level of the physical body and mind, they are husband and wife.

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Question: What is dikśā? Does it refer to getting Hari Nāma and taking a different name? Or does it refer to getting Brāhmin initiation when one gets the Brahma Gāyatrī?

Answer: There are three levels of dikśa, namely harināma dikśa, mantra dikśa, and veśa or vairāgī dikśa. In the first one, the guru gives the harināma in the right ear of the would-be śiśya, applies tilak and ties beads. In the second one, the śiśya gets the Gāyatrī mantras in the right ear. The third one is for those who want to take to the renounced order of life. All three dikśās can be given simultaneously or in steps, depending on the qualification of the student and the will of the guru. 

There is no such thing as Brahmin initiation. Brahmin is a vara or jāti and not a form of dīkā.                            

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 Question: Hari Bhakti Vilāsa mentions that only a brāhmaa can become a guru. But being an uttama bhakta, the guru is disinterested in brahminical duties. Why does śāstra insist on a brāhmaa becoming a guru? 

Answer: This is primarily from the consideration of not disrupting the varāśrama system. Although a bhakta is not interested in varāśrama duties, he does not want to disrupt it. In the varāśrama system, the function of a guru, which is to teach śāstrapāthana (“to teach”), is done by a brāhmaa. 

A secondary consideration is that if a non-brāhmaa is guru, then a brāhmaa student may feel inhibited to surrender to him because in the varnāśrama system, a brāhmaa is respected by the other three varas. Similarly, a non-brāhmaguru may also feel inhibited in receiving respect from a brāhmaa disciple because this is against the varāśrama custom. 

Thirdly, a brāhmaa naturally likes studying and teaching śāstra. Therefore, he is naturally suitable for the function of a guru, which is to teach.

Mahamantra and Diksha Mantras

Question: As practicing Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, we chant the Hare Krishna mahāmantra. Did Śrī Caitanya and His associates chant the Hare Krishna mantra? In Caitanya-caritāmṛta or other biographies of Śrī Caitanya, the mahāmantra is not mentioned as the mantra that was chanted. The mahāmantra is itself a legitimate mantra as per Kali-saṇṭāraṇa Upaniṣad, so I have no question about its validity. But how are the Gauḍīya sampradayas linked to the mahāmantra?

Answer: The simple proof that I can give are the following references from the works of our ācāryas where it is mentioned that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra: 

1. hare-kṛṣṇetyucchaiḥ sphurita-rasno nāma-gaṇanā-kṛta

(Caitanyāṣṭakam 5 by Rūpa Gosvāmī)

2. hare-kṛṣṇetyevaṁ gaṇana-vidhinā kīrtayataḥ bho

(Śrī-śacīsūnvaṣṭakam 5 by Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī)

3. srī-caitannya-mukhodgirṇā hare-krsnetivarṇakāḥ
majjayanto jagat-premaṇṇi viajyantāṁ tadāhvahayāḥ

(Laghu-bhāgavatāmṛtam 1.4)

4. aṇū-brahmāṇḍayor madhye caitnyen samāhṛtām
hare-kṛṣṇa-rāma-nāma-mālāṁ bhakti-pradāyinīm

(Śrī Caintanya-śatakam 79)

5. hare-kṛṣṇa-rāma-nāma-gāna-dāna-kāriṇiṁ

(Śrī Caintanya-śatakam 23)

There are many other stotras and aṣṭakas which refer to Śrī Caitanya’s chanting but they do not use the exact words “Hare Kṛṣṇa.” They mention harināma, kṛṣṇa-nāma or just nāma. Besides this, we know from tradition. In all the parivāras of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism, one thing that is commonly accepted is japa and kīrtan of the mahāmantra. The only exception that I know is that of  the followers of Rāmadāsa Bābājī. They do not perform kīrtan of the mahāmantra, although they also do mahāmantra japa.

 

Mantras in which Ear?

Question: A friend of mine had a question about this verse/BBT purport in Bhāgavata Purāṇa 4.25.51. Could you please help me understand?

devahūr nāma puryā dvā
uttareṇa purañjanaḥ
rāṣṭram uttara-pañcālaṁ
yāti śrutadharānvitaḥ

“On the northern side was the gate named Devahū. Through that gate, King Purañjana used to go with his friend Śrutadhara to the place known as Uttara-pañcāla.”

It seems Śrīdhāra Swamī says in his Bhasya that karma-kāṇḍa  is traditionally heard using the right ear (results in heaven) and jñāna-kāṇḍa is heard using left ear (results in mokṣa). It looks like the mantras received through the right ear are meant for heavenly planets and those from left ear are meant for mokṣa/Vaikuṇṭha.

If this is true, why are dīkṣā mantras given in the right ear in Vaiṣṇava lineages?

Answer: Yes, Śrīdhara Swamī says that karma-kāṇḍa is to be heard through the right ear and jñāna-kāṇḍa through the left ear. However, he is not talking about mantras but about śāstra. So his commentary refers to the study of śāstra related to karma-kāṇḍa and jñāna-kāṇḍa. Mantras related to any kāṇḍa are received through the right ear.

This whole story from the 25th Chapter is allegorical and not to be taken literally. This verse signifies that karma-kāṇḍa is heard first and then jñāna-kāṇḍa. Therefore, they are also called pūrva (“earlier”)-mīmāṁsā and uttara (“later”)-mīmāṁsā, respectively. Traditionally one first studies pūrva-mīmāṁsā and then one studies uttara-mīmāṁsā, or Vedānta. That is how the word atha in athāto brahma jijñāsa (Vedānta Sūtra 1.1.1) is explained by most commentators.

Sri Gadadhara Pandita’s Role in the Gaudiya Sampradaya

Rupa and Sanatana Gosvamis from a painting at Rupa Sanatana Memorial Tempel in Bangladesh

 Question: On your website [under Lineage], you say that “Jiva Gosvami’s uncles, Rupa and Sanatana Gosvami received diksha from Gadadhara Pandita and Jiva Gosvami followed in the line of his uncles.”  I do not see that anywhere in our Vaishnava literature. Is that in Chaitanya Charitamrta? Kindly assist me to know the correct answer as based on our shastra.

Answer:  I do not have any clear evidence from shastra on this. What I have written on the website is what I have heard from my Gurudeva, who is part of Gadadhara parivara (family) and has himself heard it in parampara. I trust his words and have no reason to think otherwise. Obviously it is not binding on others to have the same belief. Others will demand an evidence. Frankly speaking, I do not have any unambiguous, explicit evidence which will convince one without a doubt.  It is my personal conviction and I am not trying or expecting others to agree with me. But since I have put it on my website on the authority of my Gurudeva and a question is raised on it, I am obliged to give some explanation.

I will begin with an example. We Gaudiya Vaishnavas believe, have faith and trust that Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Krishna. But if a non-Gaudiya asks for evidence, it may not appear very convincing for them.  At least I am not aware of any such evidence. Obviously it would have to be acceptable to a non-Gaudiya, which means not the words of the followers of Mahaprabhu, but some shastra acceptable to both Gaudiyas as well as non-Gaudiyas, such as the Puranas. Evidences such as the Krsna-varnam verse (SB 11.5.32) are not very explicit, and have alternative interpretations by other scholars, including Sridhara Svami who is accepted as an authority even by Mahaprabhu Himself.

Nonetheless, we Gaudiyas have no doubt about Mahaprabhu being the Supreme Lord, Krishna Himself. [Just as an aside, I have collected a few explicit verses about Mahaprabhu in the Tattva Sandarbha Appendix, although these may also not be very convincing to a non-Gaudiya]

 The question about the guru of Sri Rupa and Sanatana Gosvami is similar, albeit within the Gaudiya community. Nonetheless I am giving some evidences which you may or may not accept.

 One possible evidence is Sri Gadadharastaka  in which the last line of each of the eight slokas reads – bhajami aham gadadharam supanditam gurum prabhum (I worship my guru and master Sri Gadadhara, who is greatly learned). According to my Gurudeva it is composed by Sri Rupa Gosvami. Sri Gadadharastaka is included on pages 49-51 in a book called Sri-stava kalpa-drumah (collection of verses, stotras, etc.),  compiled by Sri Bhakti-saranga Gosvami and Sri Purusottama Dasa, both disciples of Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Maharaja. However, there the author’s name is mentioned as Sva-rupa Gosvami and not as Rupa Gosvami. I have no idea who Sva-rupa Gosvami is. As stated above, my Gurudeva believes it is Rupa Gosvami.

The other evidence is from a book called Sadhanadipika by Sri Radha-krsna Gosvami, a disciple of Haridasa, who is a grand-disciple of Sri Gadadhara Pandita. Sri Haridasa is mentioned in Caitanya Caritamrta in Adi-lila, Chapter twelve in the list of Sri Gadadhara Pandita Sakha and in Bhakti Ratnakara, Chapter thirteen. He was the pujari of Sri Radha Govindadeva in Vrindavan, the temple established by Rupa Gosvami.  In the mangalacaranam of this book he writes the following verse (1.3):

SrI-caitanya-priyatamaH Srimad-rAdhA-gadAdharaH

tat-parivAra-rUpasya Sri-govinda-prasevanam

tayoH sat-prema-sat-pAtram SrI-rUpaH karUNambudhiH

tat-pAda-kamala-dvandve ratir me syAd vraje sadA

 “Sri Radha-gadadhara (name used for Gadadhara Pandita) is most dear to Sri Caitanya. Sri Rupa who belongs to his (Gadadhara’s) family has [established] service to Sri Govinda. Sri Rupa Gosvami, an ocean of mercy, is a befitting recipient of the pure love of these two, i.e. Sri Caitanya and Sri Gadadhara. May I have love for the two lotus feet of that [Sri Rupa] in Vraja.”

Later on, in the same chapter, he writes that both Rupa Gosvami and Sri Sanatana Gosvami appointed devotees belonging to Gadadhara family as servitors of their respective temples as per the wish of Mahaprabhu. He further writes that Sri Rupa offered the service of Govindadeva to Haridasa Gosvami knowing him to be the svarupa of Sri Gadadhara.

Pancha-Tattva in assembly of sages

My Gurudeva’s comment on this is that Sri Rupa Gosvami did not appoint Sri Jiva Gosvami as the in-charge of Govindaji temple. Sri Jiva was definitely qualified and also belonged to the Gadadhara parivara, being the only initiated disciple of Rupa Gosvami. However, because the latter was his nephew, he appointed another person of the Gadadhara parivara, so that nobody could presume that Sri Rupa was favoring his blood relative. Sri Sanatana Gosvami did the same. He could have appointed Sri Jiva Gosvami or his own son Sri Rajendra who also lived in Vraja and is mentioned in Caitanya Caritamrita. Sri Sanatana Gosvami rather appointed Krsnadasa Brahmacari who also belonged to Gadadhara family. Both Haridasa and Krsnadasa are mentioned in Caitanya Caritamrita as part of the Gadadhara branch.

According to Sadhana-dipika, all the three main temples of Vrindavan, i.e. Govindaji, Madana-mohana and Gopinatha were served and managed by the followers of Sri Gadadhara.

There is also mention by Narottama Dasa in Prarthana, Song 10, that he also belongs to Gadadhara parivara.

dhana mora nityananda, pati mora gauracandra

prana mora yugala kiçora

advaita acarya bol, gadadhara mora kula,

narahari vilasai mora

“Nitananda is my wealth, Gauracandra is my master (husband), and the Yugala Kiçora is my very life. Advaita Acarya is my strength, Gadadhara my family and Narahari Sarakara always plays within my heart.”

Before Mahaprabhu sent Rupa and Sanatana Gosvami to Vrindavan, He had sent Sri Bhugarbha Gosvami and Sri Lokanatha Gosvami there. Bhugarbha Gosvami is mentioned in Caitanya Caritamrita as part of the Gadadhara branch. Lokanatha Gosvami is supposed to be the nephew of Bhugarbha Gosvami and in all probability was also a follower of Gadadhara Pandita.

Gadadhara Pandita reciting Bhagavata to Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu and others.

This seems to be confirmed by Narottama Dasa Thakura’s song stated above (Gadadhara mora kula – Gadadhara is my family), since Narottama was a disciple of Lokanatha Gosvami as stated in Bhakti Ratnakara, Ch. 1, verse 346 and is also understood from the song sri guru carana padama.

From Caitanya Caritamrita and Caitanya Bhagavata, it is understood that Mahaprabhu gave vigraha seva, service to the deity and also the Tota Gopinatha deity Himself, to Gadadhara Pandita. He was also given the service to recite Bhagavata Purana.  Mahaprabhu personally used to listen to it from his mouth at the bank of Narendra Sarovara in Puri.  According to the author of Sadhana-dipika it means that He authorized specifically Gadadhara Pandita to propagate vigraha seva and the teaching of Bhagavata. This implies that Mahaprabhu also authorized Gadadhara Pandita to initiate because deity worship cannot be performed without mantra diksha. Therefore, it is not surprising that the deity worship in Vrindavan was performed by the followers of Gadadhara Pandita.

In Sadhanadipaika  (Chapter 7, page 143), it is written that in Puri, Navadvipa and in Vrindavan the service to the deities and recitation of Bhagavata Purana is done by the followers of Gadadhara Pandita,  who is the main representative of the internal potency of Mahaprabhu. This was according to the desire of Mahaprabhu. This point is reiterated in other  parts of this book with references to Caitanya Caritamrita and Caitanya Bhagavata.

We furthermore know that Acyutananda, the son of Advaita Acarya, was a disciple of Gadadhara Pandita. ACBS Prabhupada write in his purport to Adi Lila, 12.17:

“From a book named Sakha-nirnayamrta it is understood that Acyutananda was a disciple of Gadadhara Pandita and that he took shelter of Lord Caitanya in Jagannatha Puri and engaged in devotional service. The Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, Chapter Ten, states that Acyutananda, the son of Advaita Acarya, lived in Jagannatha Puri, taking shelter of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Gadadhara Pandita, in the last years of his life, also lived with Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu at Jagannatha Puri. There is no doubt, therefore, that Acyutananda was a disciple of Pandita Gadadhara.”

In Antya Lila, Chapter Seven, there is also the story of Vallabha Bhatta visting Mahaprabhu. In verse 171 it is mentioned that Vallabha Bhatta took mantra diksha from Gadadhara Pandita. This also indicatives that Mahaprabhu wanted Pandita Gadadhara to accept disciples on His behalf. It also agrees with the idea that Mahaprabhu came to give Radha-bhava as Gadadhara is a manifestation of Radha.

Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu

From all these evidences it is clear that Mahaprabhu wished Sri Gadadhara Pandita who is Radha herself, to initiate on His behalf and propagate deity worship and teachings of Bhagavata Purana through his disciples.

Of course, to this one may object that I am biased because I belong to Sri Gadadhara’s family myself and am trying to include the Gosvamis as part of my own parivara. In any case, this is my personal view and I am not trying to convince anyone. Personally it does not matter to me what others have faith in, because whether Sri Rupa-Sanatana are disciples of Sri Gadadhara Pandita or someone else does not diminish their greatness, nor does it change our philosophy. As long as we agree on the siddhanata there is no problem, even if our beliefs about historical facts are different.

Question: Even though Narottam sings ‘gadadhara mora kula’ [Gadadhara is my family], this could be a metaphor only or glorification in poetry. Otherwise ‘pati mora Gauracandra’ (husband of Gauracandra) in the same song means Narottama is a nagari or gay or so?

Answer: The word pati does not always mean husband. It means protector, master or Lord, as in the words jagatpati (Lord of the universe), satvatpati (master of the Satvatas) used for Krishna. So the above song can be taken metaphorically or it can also convey some facts.

Question: In Bhakti Ratnakara (1.598-602) it is mentioned that Vidyavachaspati was the religious teacher of Sri Sanatana Gosvami – bhaTTAcAryaM sArvabhaumaM vidyA vAcaspatin gurun. Sanatana respectfully mentioned the name of his guru in his book Sri Dasama Tippani. Therefore it seems that he received diksa from Vidyavacaspati and not from Sri Gadadhara Pandit.

Answer: The word guru means any respectable person, it could be a teacher or family member. It does not always mean diksha guru. We have to understand the meaning of a word in the cultural context. At present, in spiritual societies the word guru seems to have only one meaning, i.e. one who gives initiation. But if you refer to any Sanskrit dictionary, you will see so many other meanings of this word. In Sanskrit literature, the word guru is not understood only in the sense it is understood at present. In fact, the word guru may be hardly used in the sense it is understood now. The closest you will find is one who does the upanayana samskara, the sacred thread ceremony which was performed for males at the young age of 8-11 years. One has to be knowledgeable how the words are used by the author. Therefore one needs to study in the tradition, know the cultural background. Words change meaning over a period of time. We have to keep that in mind.

Śrī Śyāmānanda, Śrī Narottama Thākura, Śrīla Śrīnivāsa Ācārya, Śrī Rāmacandra Kavirāja, and Śrī Rasikānanda

Sanatana Gosvami studied under Vidya Vacaspati. It does not necessarily mean that he took diksha from him. In fact, the above translation says “religious teacher”. He studied before he met Mahaprabhu. It is assumed that after he became a follower of Mahaprabhu, he accepted vaisnava diksha from someone. It is a well-known fact that of the  Pancha-tattva, only Gadadhara Pandita stayed with Mahaprabhu in Puri. Nityanada Prabhu and Advaita Acharya were not living in Puri. So it is quite probable that Sri Sanatana and Sri Rupa got diksha from Gadadhara Pandita. Gadadhara Pandita is supposed to be Srimati Radha. Mahaprabhu is supposed to have appeared to give Radha Bhava. Then it makes sense that he asked Sri Rupa and Sanatana to take mantra from Sri Gadadhara Pandita, since these two were the main proponents of his siddhanata.

Question:  In the invocation to Laghu Bhagavatamrita (1.5) it says, “Of Sri Brhad-bhagavatamrtam, manifested by the lotus words of my master, this book is a summary.”  So from this I would assume that Rupa Gosvami was a disciple of Sanatana Gosvami.

Answer:  The Sanskrit word used is mat-prabhupada – my master. This does not mean that Sanatana is his diksha guru. It is an honorific title. In the devotee community it is very popular to call each other prabhu. There is no difference between the word prabhu and prabhupada, although people think so. By adding pada after prabhu, it becomes more respectful, but the meaning is the same.

 Question: Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu,  Rupa Gosvami also states that Sanatan Goswami and not Gadadhara is his Guru – visrAma mandiratayA tasya sanAtana tanor mad Ishasya. Jiva Goswami comments on this: atha nija nijeSTa-devAvatArena nija guruM stavan prArthayate.

Gaura Gadadhara in Godruma-dvipa

 “May this work named ‘the ocean of nectar composed of bhakti-rasa’ always serve as the recreation hall of my Lord, manifested in the form called Sanatana [Gosvami] for His pleasure.” [BRS 1.1.3]

 Jiva Gosvami’s commentary: “Praising his guru Sanatana as the avatara of his worshipable Lord, the author makes a prayer. This scripture is called ‘the ocean of nectar,’ in which the nectar is bhakti-rasa. May this work serve as the resting place of my Lord Sri Krsna who, although always situation in His own form, sanatana-tanoh, manifests many other forms including the body Sanatana.”

 Answer: The verse does not use the word guru at all. The commentator, Sri Jiva Gosvami, does say that the author prays to his guru. The word guru could mean initiating guru, or teacher or just elder brother. If one wants to take it to mean initiating guru, it is fine with me, but that is not how I take it.

 The problem is, as I have said elsewhere, that in the past it was not a custom to reveal the name of the guru freely. I gave the example of my own Gurudeva. He has printed more than 80 books, and whatever books I have read – and I have read most of them – I have not seen his guru’s name mentioned even once. I have never heard him say his guru’s name except on some very special occasions. Therefore, it is difficult to know the guru’s name of traditional Vaishnavas from their writings. Not that they never mention it, but it is not very common. The other cause of confusion is the word guru itself, which has various meaning besides initiating person.