Tag Archives: Gaudiya sampradaya

Can Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu Grant Mādhurya-bhāva?

Recently I received a few emails from devotees, inquiring if my Gurudeva said that Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu and Advaita Ācarya could not grant mādhurya-bhāva or mañjarī-bhāva. It seems that one of my satīrthas (the Sanskrit word used for a person who has the same guru as oneself, commonly translated as “godbrother”) posted a conversation between a devotee and my Gurudeva. This is very disturbing to me and certainly to those who belong to the Śrī Nityānanda and Śrī Advaita Ācārya parivāras. I am herein making a clear statement on this issue, based on my extensive association with Gurudeva.

Nityananda vamsa Mandir
Nityananda vamsa Mandir in Navadvipa

From the very outset, I categorically state that my Gurudeva never made any such adverse remarks against Śri Nityānanada Prabhu or Śrī Advaita Ācārya. How can any Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava dare to disrespect any of the Pañcha-tattva? How can anyone who disregards the Pañcha-tattva be considered a Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava, a follower of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu? From history, we know that Śrī Advaita Ācārya disowned some of his own sons who did not align with the teachings of Śrī Mahāprabhu.

I do not like to flaunt my credentials, but if my Gurudeva’s honor is at stake, then I do not mind doing so. I proclaim that among my satīrthas, no one had as much association, including intimate association, with Gurudeva as I had. I had his association for about 26 years. This association did not consist of merely being around him. For the major part of 26 years, I directly studied under him. Gurudeva was an unparalleled scholar not only of the Gauḍīya school but of all the six darśanas. He had nine śāstrī (graduate) degrees from Benaras. His life was exemplary, and he lived it based on śāstric

Babaji studying from his guru Sri Haridas Shastri Maharaja ji
Babaji studying from his guru Sri Haridas Shastri Maharaja ji

principles. From him I have studied all the major works of the Gauḍīya school, such as the Śat Sandarbhas, Sarva-saṁvādini on the Śaṭ Sandarbhas, Bhagavad Gītā with the commentaries of Viśvanātha Cakravarti and Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa, Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛtam with the commentary of Sanātana Gosvāmi, Laghu Bhgavatāmṛtam with the commentary of Baladeva Vidyābhūṣṇa, Bhakti-rasāmrta-sindhu with the commentaries of Jīva Gosvāmī and Viśvanātha Cakravarti, Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi with the commentaries of Jīva Gosvāmī and Viśvanātha Cakravarti, Govinda-bhāsya of Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa on Vedānta Sūtra, Alaṅkāra Kaustubha with the commentary of Viśvanātha Cakravarti, Brahma-saṁhitā with the commentary of Jīva Gosvāmi,  Caitanya Caritāmṛta, Śrimad Bhāgavatam with the commentaries of Śrīdhara Svāmi, Jīva Gosvāmī, and Viśvanātha Cakravarti, Hari-bhakti-vilāsa with the commentary of Sanātana Gosvāmī, Harināmāmṛta Vyākaraṇam, Siddhānta-ratnam with the commentary of Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa, Prameya-ratnāvalī with the commentary of Kṛṣṇadeva Sārvabhauma, Vedānta-syamantaka, Śloka-vartika of Kumārila Bhaṭṭ (only a part of it), and Tattva-cintāmaṇi of Gaṅeśa Upādhyāya (only a part of it). Besides this, I served him personally and alongside him in the gośālā. I

Nitaichand in Ekacakra
Nitaichand from Ekacakra

rendered all types of intimate services to him. So, I know his mood very well and I can say categorically that he did not minimize Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu or Śrī Advaita Ācārya.

We observe Their appearance days just as we observe Mahāprabhu Jayanti and the appearance day of Śrī Gadādhara Paṇḍīta. Gurudeva made a pañjikā which included lists of the fasts that we observe. He would not list Gadādhara Paṇḍīta’s appearance day as a vrata. But the appearance days of Nityānanda Prabhu and Advaita Ācārya were always listed as vratas. When I asked him about this, he replied that it is only we who observe the vrata on Gadādhara’s appearance day, but the appearance days of Nityānanda Prabhu and Advaita Acarya are observed by all Gauḍīya Vaiṣnavas. After my Gurudeva’s disappearance, I began listing Śrī Gadādhara’s appearance day as a vrata. As our daily practice, we also chant the gāyatrī mantras for all the Pañca-tattva. That means we pray to Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu and Śrī Advaita Ācārya for their mercy. If our goal is to attain mādhurya-bhāva, then it would make no sense to pray to someone who is not capable of giving that.

Advaita Prabhu Sitanath
Advaita Prabhu Sitanath

I have compiled a book called Guru Darśanam, which is based on dialogues between Gurudeva and visiting devotees. One can read for oneself topic number 74—Pañca-tattva (i.e., page numbers 278, 280), and topic 76—Paramparā (i.e., page numbers 283–284). By consulting these pages, it will become clear to the reader that Gurudeva did not deny the authenticity of other parivāras. His main point was that if one followed śāstra properly, then he was authentic. Otherwise, even if one belongs to the Gadādhara parivāra but does not follow śāstra, then he is inauthentic.

By reading these pages, however, it is possible to surmise that Gurudeva only emphasized the authenticity of the Gadādhara parivāra. This is natural and even desirable. Everyone considers their parivāra the best. Just because a disciple considers his guru the best, does not mean that he disregards all other gurus as inauthentic. If he does so, that is a grave mistake. The same principle applies to one’s parivāra. There is a popular principle in pūrva-mīmāṁsa on this subject. It states that the purpose of criticism is not to criticize the object of criticism but to establish the subject under discussion (na hi nindā nidyaṁ ninditum prayujyate. Kiṁ tarhi? Ninditāt itarat praśaṁsitumŚābara Bhāṣya 4.2.21) For example, sometimes in śāstra there are derogatory statements about women. The purpose of these statements is not to put women down but to establish the importance of what is being discussed. Generally, such statements are found where vairagya, renunciation, is being discussed. For a sannyāsī, association with a woman is not conducive to his spiritual life. Therefore, śāstra warns against it. The purpose of the warning is not to declare that women as a class are dangerous but to caution sannyāsīs to be careful. Ignorant of this principle, many modern scholars conclude that śāstra is against women. They theorize that because śāstra is written by men, therefore, women are disparaged. This sounds logical but it is wrong. This is pure ignorance of śāstric hermeneutics. Śāstra is written by people who are beyond bodily conditioning; otherwise, śāstra would be no different than any other book. Modern scholars do not accept this fact and thus they analyze śāstra from their conditioned vision.

Nityananda parivara
Nityananda parivara

The same principle should be applied when a follower of one parivāra glorifies one’s own parivāra and stresses its importance and uniqueness. In conclusion, I say that anyone who spreads the idea that my Gurudeva believed that the Nityānanda parivāra was not authentic or that Nityananda Prabhu could not give mādhurya-bhāva, is simply foolish.

Satyanarayana Dasa

 

Ultimate Authorities for the Gaudiya Sampradaya

Question: Who are the ācāryas we take as final authorities to settle differing opinions?

Answer: Caitanya Mahāprabhu is the propounder of our sampradāya. Therefore, Caitanya Mahāprabhu is the ultimate authority. But He did not write any philosophical works, as is seen in the case of the propounders of other sampradāyas, such as Śrī Rāmānujācārya. Rather, he personally instructed Rūpa Gosvāmī and Sanātana Gosvāmī, who wrote many books based on His instructions. Therefore, they are our original authorities. Further, Śrī Gopala Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, Śrī Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī and then Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī are closely following them. What they say is our siddhānta because they are the ones who had a direct link to Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī did not personally meet Caitanya Mahāprabhu, but he is the direct disciple of Śrī Rupa Gosvāmī, besides being his nephew.  Anyone who is aligned with them, such as Śrī Kṛṣṇa Dāsa Kavirāja, is accepted as authority. 

Question: So, based on this statement, how are we to accommodate the fact that none of the six Gosvāmīs said that there is a gaura-aprakaṭa-līlā? Sādhus like Gopāla Guru, Dhyānacandra, Viśvanātha Cakravartī and so on did indeed say that, but I don’t know of any direct statement from the six Gosvāmīs about this point. I know devotees for example from Advaita Parivāra, who state that according to abhāva-pramāṇa, it is proven that there is no gaura-aprakaṭa-līlā. So, I would like to know your opinion in this regard: If you consider the Gosvāmī-granthas as our ultimate pramāṇa, how do we establish the eternality of gaura-aprakaṭa-līlā, if they didn’t openly speak about it?

Answer: Rūpa, Sanātana, and Jīva Gosvāmīs did not write on Gaura-līlāprakaṭa or aprakaṭa. They did compose some verses in praise of Caitanya Mahāprabhu but did not write specifically any book describing His līlā. But we know from their writings that all avatāras, such as Rāma, have their spiritual abode. The word avatāra means descent, which signifies that He descends into the material world. This is possible if He is already present in the spiritual world. In numerous verses of salutation, the Gosvāmīs did acknowledge Mahāprabhu as an avatāra. So, He must have His own abode, otherwise, the word avatāra becomes misleading or meaningless. 

One logic that Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī gives about the eternality of Kṛṣṇa, His associates, and abode is that Kṛṣṇa is described as worshipable, i.e., an object of achievement. Anything that is not eternal cannot be the goal of worship. You attain whom you worship. This is also stated in Bhagavad Gītā (9.25). The Gosvāmīs accept Mahāprabhu as an object of worship or the ultimate object of achievement. So, He must have an eternal abode. Otherwise, all prescriptions to worship Him, chant His name, and meditate on Him would be futile. 

One may object that devas like Indra are also stated as worshipable. But they are prescribed as objects of worship for material gain. Nowhere it is prescribed to worship them to attain mukti or a final destination.

The Veda is the supreme authority. But there are many things that are not clearly explained in the Vedas. We understand those topics from the Purāṇas and Itihāsas. Similarly, things that are not clearly explained by the six Gosvāmīs are understood from the writings of later ācāryas, like Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda. When I say that Rūpa, Sanāntana, and other Gosvāmīs are the pramāṇa, I mean anything that they say or that matches with what they say is acceptable. Anything that contradicts them is not acceptable.  So if later ācāryas like Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda say that Gaura has a prakaṭalīlā, then it is acceptable because it does not contradict our original ācāryas and moreover, it is in line with their writings in relation to other avatāras.

As far as abhāva-pramāṇa, I have never heard of such a pramāṇa. So I am not clear what you really meant by it. I know that Pūrva-mīmāṁsā and Advaita-vedānta accept anupalabdhi pramāṇa. However, the way you have used it is not a pramāṇa. The Gosvāmīs hardly wrote about Gauraprakaṭalīlā. Then by abhāva-pramāṇa, I should reject Gauraprakaṭalīlā also. It is like saying that because I do not see Kṛṣṇa (abhāva), there is no Kṛṣṇa. This logic is applicable only to those things that are objects of our sense perception. For example, if I do not see a book on the table, then because of non-perception of a book, I understand that there is non-existence of the book on the table. But I cannot apply the same process to something that is imperceptible to the eyes. For example, I do not see air in my room, so I cannot conclude that there is no air. This is because air is not perceptible to the eyes.