Brahma Gayatri and Sacred Threads

By Swami Tripurari

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura gave his disciples the sacred thread and Brahma Gayatri for both socioreligious and spiritual reasons. He incorporated this practice into his Gaudiya mission because hereditary Brahmanas were at that time still viewed as respectable representatives of the Hindu religion. In consideration of this socioreligious circumstance, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta had his initiated disciples wear the sacred thread regardless of whether or not they had been born in Brahmana families. This was his way of teaching that Vaishnavas, regardless of caste, were as respectable as Brahmanas, a point that many people did not understand.

As much as the sacred thread is still considered respectable is as much value as it has for preaching purposes. In the West the importance of wearing it for outreach purposes is negligible, but the sacred thread still seems to be an honored religious symbol in India. At this time the primary significance of wearing the sacred thread in Gaudiya Vaishnavism has to do with how followers of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura Prabhupada identify it with the spirit of their missions. Considering the sacred thread an expression of discipleship and subordination to the acaryas gives spiritual meaning to wearing the sacred thread even if for preaching purposes its value might have diminished.

A devotee of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu can also consider wearing the sacred thread as part of their spiritual identity (svarupa) in Gaura-lila, as Gaudiya acaryas have determined that devotees of Sri Caitanyadeva are destined to serve as brahmana boys in that realm. If we think of the Brahma Gayatri in this light, we will be chanting it forever. In this way a socioreligious consideration can rise to a spiritual one. Whenever the socioreligious and the spiritual unite, that is a plus; whenever they part, we should follow the spiritual consideration with no loss.

One might also question the need for Brahma Gayatri when our principal mantras, Gopala Mantra and Kama Gayatri, are given at initiation (diksa), but one should not question the spirituality of Brahma Gayatri. Brahma Gayatri has a broader appeal than the Gopala Mantra and Kama Gayatri, but scripturally adept Gaudiya Vaishnavas know that Brahma Gayatri is much more than a mere sun mantra. Brahma Gayatri is only about the sun in as much as the sun is used as a conceptual symbol representing Brahman (God). The sun is equated with Brahman because everything in this world that we require for sustenance is dependent on the sun. Some Hindus certainly conceive of Brahma Gayatri as a sun mantra, but that is because they do not understand the full import of the mantra.

According to Sri Jiva Goswami, Brahma Gayatri petitions no one other than Bhagavan replete with his sakti. He is very clear on this in his Tattva-sandarbha. Scripture also acknowledges that Gayatri Mantra emanates from the flute of Sri Krishna, and the Garuda Purana clearly states that Srimad-Bhagavatam is a commentary on the Gayatri Mantra. As Srimad-Bhagavatam is a meditation on the supreme truth—satyam param dhimahi—so too is Gayatri. The Bhagavatam‘s opening statement indicates that the pastimes of Radha-Krishna (param) should be eternally (satyam) meditated upon (dhimahi).

All Gayatri mantras, including Kama Gayatri, come from the prototype of Brahma Gayatri, and it is said that Gayatri devi incarnated as Kama Gayatri in order to pursue gopi bhava. Kama Gayatri merely focuses more directly on the highest reach of Brahma Gayatri. Gopi bhava must be within Brahma Gayatri, as it is not possible for something to contain more than its source. Gayatri Mantra’s identification with Srimad-Bhagavatam and the transcendental sound emanating from the flute of Sri Krishna, as well as the fact that Kama Gayatri comes from Brahma Gayatri, should resolutely establish the spiritual nature of Brahma Gayatri.

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41 Responses to Brahma Gayatri and Sacred Threads

  1. Srila Prabhupada explains very nicely in his books how his disciples are to conceive of Brahma Gayatri. He explains that the Savita in the mantra is actually Gaura. With this understanding the Brahma Gayatri of the Saraswata Gaudiyas manifests it’s original and eternal form.

    I have found this siksha of Srila Prabhupada only once in all his books. It is not something that he made a big point of in his lectures or discussions. You have to really read his books very closely to find such subtle nuances in the teachings of His Divine Grace.

    Śrī Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya 8.265

    antaryāmī īśvarera ei rīti haye

    bāhire nā kahe, vastu prakāśe hṛdaye


    antaryāmī — the Supersoul; īśvarera — of the Personality of Godhead; ei — this; rīti — the system; haye — is; bāhire — externally; nā kahe — does not speak; vastu — the facts; prakāśe — manifests; hṛdaye — within the heart.


    Rāmānanda Rāya continued, “The Supersoul within everyone’s heart speaks not externally but from within. He instructs the devotees in all respects, and that is His way of instruction.”


    Here Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya admits that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is the Supersoul. It is the Supersoul that inspires the devotee; therefore He is the original source of the Gāyatrī mantra, which states, oḿ bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ tat savitur vareṇyaḿ bhargo devasya dhīmahi dhiyo yo naḥ pracodayāt. Savitā is the original source of all intelligence. That Savitā is Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu. This is confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.4.22):

    pracoditā yena purā sarasvatī

    vitanvatājasya satīḿ smṛtiḿ hṛdi

    sva-lakṣaṇā prādurabhūt kilāsyataḥ

    sa me ṛṣīṇām ṛṣabhaḥ prasīdatām

    “May the Lord, who in the beginning of the creation amplified the potent knowledge of Brahmā from within his heart and inspired him with full knowledge of creation and His own self, and who appeared to be generated from the mouth of Brahmā, be pleased with me.” This was spoken by Śukadeva Gosvāmī when he invoked the blessing of the Supreme Personality of Godhead before delivering Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam to Mahārāja Parīkṣit.

  2. How much is it necessary to obey all the rules regarding the care of the sacred thread such as wrapping it around the ear in certain circumstances or the rules about how to change a thread, rules about how many times to wrap the thread around the thumb when chanting gayatri, etc.? Are there any circumstances when we might neglect such rules or find some alternatives in order to avoid curious looks from strangers?

  3. Syamasundara Dasa

    My friend Parama Karuna dasi wrote a long, documented article in which apparently women who were serious about their spiritual life in ancient times would also wear an upavita (thread), as well as undergo all the samskaras for male brahmanas.

    It can be seen, but I am afraid only if you are on Facebook:

    Also, I wonder why this article makes no mention of Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s interpretation of the Gayatri.

  4. As best I can understand, the Gaudiyas do not worship any God except Krishna Chaitanya. Therefore, the Brahma Gayatri of the Saraswata Gaudiyas has a much deeper meaning than the Brahma Gayatri of the Vaidic Brahmanas or Smarta Brahmanas which is in worship of the Sun God whom is given the same respect even in the Bhagavat.
    Since the advent of Mahaprabhu however, the true esoteric meaning of the Brahma Gayatri has been revealed as relating to the most high personality of Sri Chaitanyadeva who is Surya-Narayana, though Surya-Narayana is not Sri Chaitanya.
    Infinite possibilities exist in the Absolute Personality of Godhead.
    The Gaudiya Vaishnavas worship Mahaprabhu as the Sun God of Spiritual Light through the chanting of the Holy Names of Krishna.

  5. I’ve always found the Brahma Gayatri to be hardest mantra to understand. It doesn’t appear to contain the names of Krishna, but I have found Sripad BR Sridhar’s commentary very helpful. It’s available here: (Brahma Gayatri Bhasya)

  6. Dear Swamiji,

    You’ve described how Bhaktisiddhanta Thakura acted as a visionary, felt the pulse of the Indian society back then, introduced some changes accordingly. Those changes produced results and a feedback, and it’s worked well for him. But you end up debating should devotees still use threads and recite brahma gayatri? Or (in comments) others join in with ‘what threads men and women serious about spiritual life wore in India hundreds of years ago’?

    I think that in your conclusions, and in responses where others joined in, all of you have missed the whole point of the Bhaktisiddhanta Thakura’s example. The real deal would be to follow that example of Bhaktisiddhanta Thakura but in a new environment and in a new age, and add / change / upgrade / modify ideas of devotional practices so they’re accepted in the new society, new mindset, new times. That they constantly upgrade from that new level and communicate favorably with the society. Evaluating the new environment and times compared to those of hundreds of years ago in India, the upgrades should be substantial, pervasive, reaching all levels from ground up. But where are they?

    You should be discussing them, not Indian fashion details and brahma gayatri, which (in my opinion at least) are beside the point in this example. Bad luck there are no more Bhaktisiddhantas today to act on a ‘real deal’ level.

    • Ah but who would recognize a BSST if he was among us?

      The article raises a question as to the relevance of wearing the sacred thread today in the West. It reasons that it may be irrelevant for outreach but relevant for practice and identification with a particular sect. Do you think that not asking initiates to wear it will make a significant change in terms of encouraging others to embrace Guadiya Vaisnavism?

      Perhaps one could help to make Gaudiya Vaisnavism as popular as Buddhism is in the West. To me that would be significant, but I am not sure doing so would require forgoing the sacred thread or any number of other rituals or proscriptions and prohibitions. After all, popular forms of Buddhism retain all kinds of ritual and do’s and don’ts.

      What to me is significant in terms of breathing life into the tradition is the ability to speak about the tradition in universal language and to be able to speak about it by way of participating in prominent currents of thought influencing society—current scientific theory, psychology, philosophy, social trends, etc—as well as speaking deeply about its core insights thoughtfully. That is one of the reasons the Harmonist publishes articles on philosophy, science, psychology, etc as well as articles on core Gaudiya topics and invites comments.

      Perhaps you could add something to the conversation. Hopefully we all know that we could do better. But thanks for the reminder anyway

      • Sankarshana dasa

        The only relevance of wearing upavita and chanting Gayatri is that Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta, Shrila Prabhupada, and Shrila Narayan Maharaja have been consistent in the sampradaya to continue chanting Gayatri. We don’t need to deviate, question, speculate,or usurp the sampradayica acharyas authority Gayatri mantra is a means to get to Vrindavan. After that we do not utilize it. (Narayana Maharaja) Similarly a formal offering of bhoga is no longer a ritual required when we enter Vrindavan as well because we have given our selves to Shri Shri Radha Krishna.( Narayana Maharaja) Once we are there it is no longer utilized; however, the Maha Mantra is present in this universe and in Krishna loka . I found it helpful to understand while chanting Gayatri to envision the meaning in my mind because the definitions make it too complex and it would take a very long time to complete Gayatri. Actually having Kali Yuga mentalities it can be difficult. That is why chanting Hare Krishna is a priority because there are no formal rules and regulations. We can chant anywhere anytime in any direction in any place. We must not be moving in a vehicle or walking during Gayatri, We must face specific directions and at certain times and meditate on the meaning. It is a discipline we must surrender to because Guru has instructed us to. Just like we do not know how medicine is working in the body but we must be submissive and take it or we remain ill. The same is with Gayatri. It is inconceivable but we except it originates from the sound of Krishna’s flute and by Guru and Gauranga’s mercy the sound vibration enters our ear and enters our heart. If I am wrong in anything I have written please inform me.

        • The only relevance of wearing upavita and chanting Gayatri is that Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta, Shrila Prabhupada, and Shrila Narayan Maharaja have been consistent in the sampradaya to continue chanting Gayatri. We don’t need to deviate, question, speculate,or usurp the sampradayica acharyas authority Gayatri mantra is a means to get to Vrindavan.

          By your statement above you seem to be disagreeing with factual historical statements in the article. However, you offer no support for that which you appear to disagree with.

  7. brahma gayatri is not to be done by ‘stri shudra dwijbandhunam’ so vyasdeva put this mantra in the very first vere of Bhagvat puraan which has gayatri mantra concealed in it .its confirmed by all acharyas of all vaishnav sampradaya.

    This is confirmed by garudapuraan’===gayatri cha asau bhasya bharatartha vinirnayah’

    Matthewsonji vedic words are not to be changed with time for we see in case of suta goswami that he also didnt chant gayatri mantra nor had permission to enter into vedas.but yes he could enter into puranaas and itihaasas.This was quality of people then that they accepted their originality and lived in their jurisdiction but now people claim that they are so n so.So they got respect all over.

    best is to remember this” ===gopibhartuh padkamalyoh das dasanudas”
    and chant the holy name with submission.

    • The furtherest reach of brahma gayatri is found, and more explicitly so, in kama gayatri. This is the primary gayatri of Gaudiya sampradaya. And yes, Bhagavatam is a commentary on brahma gayatri and that commentary is open to all. It speaks strongly about how the bhakti marg transcends varnasrama.

      Best also to remember the first part of that verse: naham vipro . . .

      In my experience, people are respected for their qualities, not a rule that says they should be respected because of the family they were born in. As stated in the article, Srimad Bhagavatam ultimately concurs. And The Bhagavata is very much about the fallen condition of the brahmana caste in Kali-yuga. In one respect thanks to such corruption exemplified in the story of the brahman inappropriately cursing Raja Pariksit we have the book.

  8. but swamiji as the shamik rishi son is called as ‘arbhak’ a child and any child whose sadhu father is treated like that would do the same; also parikshit maharaj also repents ‘aho me agha kritam===’.Also acharyas say that the work that parikshit maharaj had done was not according to vedic sishtachar but again chakravartipad writes that this vikarma is not to be understood to have risen due to some past deeds.but was a means for incarnation of bhagvatm in which lord wanted to drown his intimate devotee parikshit maharaj.
    considering the brahmana by quality how many of the now so called brahmanas exhibit all 12 qualities as brahmana.
    and also in past there were so many devotees whowere great devotee of lord like raskhan,raidas,pingala,salabeg,mirabai,kanchipurna, haridas thakur===but they didnot consider themselves as brahmanas but were given respect more than a brahmana.just by knowing brahm one doesnt become brahmana just like nand maharaj,parikshit maharaj,janak maharaj,bhishma dev===the list will not end and always they considered themselves as the servants of brahmanas.
    also the son of brahmana ashvatthama was thouh called dwijbandhu was not killed for his quality but was given a punishment of brahmin way’dravin adanam,vapanam etc’
    lord also says in 18 chapter,that one should do his varnas work though even though its not good and shouldnt copy other jobs though nice, and being able to do it perfectly. implies=== ‘jehi bidhi rakhe ram sei bidhi rahiye,sita ram sita ram sita ram kahiye’
    now not only brahmans but due to kali all ashram even sannyasa ashram in vaishnava sampradaya has gone down to very low level as confirmed by narad muni in padma purana,bhagvat mahatmya.

    • One should also ask how many of those born in brahmana families exhibit all 12 qualities of a brahmans. But despite what you have cited, the fact remains that Kali-yuga is characterized by the downfall of the brahmana class. You want to say the down fall constitutes persons not born in brahmana families acting as if they are brahmanas. That is there, but the other side is also there: born brahmans acting like sudras or less. And the overarching point remains: Bhakti transcends Varanasrama.

      You might also want to read the book of Gopala Bhatta Goswami I cited in the article. It was written for Vaisnavas, those within and those outside of a varnasrama society. Therein upanayana samskara is made available to both, while the ritual itself is centered only on pleasing Bhagavan.

      • but, swamiji only people are becoming brahmanas but what about others like ksahtriya and vaishyas. means whatever the lord says’chaturvarnyam maya sristam guna karma=====’is based on the qualities only and not birth.
        then why he says ‘===ksipami aham asurim yonishu’in bhagvat gita and
        also as the vaishnavas are on higher position than brahmanas then why its necessary to again bring down to lower position of a brahmana.and what about ksatriya,vaishya etc.
        i mentioned that the gopal bhatt goswami writes for gaudiya sampradaya only for keeping maryaada.bhakti actually transgresses varnashrama so where again this question of becoming brahmana comes? and the jiva goswami saying on ‘savanaya kalpate’is for this yuga only where he mentions that as bhakti is topmost so no requirement of doing somyagya but if some devotee if he is swapach wants to do the somyagya then he requires birth,upnayan and shastric bhakti is independent of cast ,creed,=====so why again people come to varnashram and say of making brahmana.nand maharaj is vaishya even after becoming father of brahman and now people who chant krishna name and read some books claim that they are brahmin.what is necessity to become a brahmin?why not remain originally fixed in what one is and do bhakti? haridas thakur didnt consider himself brahmin but didnt visit temple.he is respectable more than abrahmin but he considered the maryada.similarly kanchipurna was siksha guru of ramanujacharya but never spelled pranava mantra nor started his diksha line.this is meaning of gopal bhatt goswami statement.

        • I am not sure I understand what point you are trying to make. Is there something in the article you disagree with? Are you objecting to the time and place preaching strategy of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, a strategy that has little is any utility today? Today there is surely no need for Vaisnavas to wear the sacred thread.Nor is there a need to chant brahma gayatri when one has been given the Gopal mantra and kama gatyati. Still there is no harm in chanting it if one’s Vaisanva guru gives it and with it the conception of Radha dasyam that it leads to, as did Pujyapda Sridhara Deva Goswami.

  9. swamiji i m mot commenting on this but i got these doubts while reading bhagvatam because only up to bhakti vinod thakur this thing like brahman initiation is seen but that is not seen as we go further up in words of jiva goswami,chakravartipad,vijayadhwaj teerth,sridhar swami seem less relevent and almost ridiculus to the devotee people in general AND more stress is given on the books of modern acharyas.the rest of the previous acharyas are remembered only in appearance and dissappearance day.knowledge is always condemnd today in general and sometime they say,dont try to become looks really as if the whole shrotriya parampara is heding towards degradation.

    • I think you have to see the difference in the time and circumstances–the religious climate–of the previous acaryas hundreds of years back and that of our acaryas in the modern age, an age in which varnasrama has been greatly distorted and now all but disappeared. The provisional time and place preaching and innovations of BSST have their place. But today is a different time. And it is also different from the time of Jiva Goswami. Chant Harinama and receive Gopala mantra. Do arcana of Gaura Radha Madhava. Taste nama rasa and forget about varnasrama and brahmanism.

  10. SWAMIJI its very easy to give answer in one shot what u concluded,which i also concluded previously,but then why did BSST preach in this manner where he just suppressed the sashtras to prove any one can be brahmin.if this funda wouldnt have been there of brahmin and vaishnavas then this movenment would have still spread or not?because during suta goswami period,if u say we should forget that becaUSE ITS TOO OLD era then in chaitanya mahaprabhu time also haridas thakur was not given this type of diksha and the maryada of shashtra was carried but BSST totally went against that which is never approved by any can we neglect verses of bhagvatpuran,gita,puranas,vedanta sutra etc–along with acharya comments. we always say,approval by guru sadhu and shashtra but here we have only approval of guru in this regard and sadhu and shashtra dont approve this particular reform.varnashram degradation was still prevalent 100-300 years back when rupa ,santan goswamis were working under the muslim ruler and BVT was a judge working under british govt.
    why dont we say in one shot there is no such system to be followed because of varnashram degradation in kaliyuga and so there is no brahmin,shudra,vaishya kshatriya etc.even shashtras say that in end of kaliyuga the lord kalki will be born of a brahmin couple in bharat varsha in bihar area.who will be that brahmin if the varnashram has totally vanished?
    remaining ignorant of all these facts and taking nama ras is another thing.this means bury this doubt and take naam,but then why so many books harping on philosophy that dont have blind faith and every spiritual question has answer?.actually this is fact that these scriptures are shabd praman and called darshan shashtra because they show eacha nd every minute details of material as well as metaphysical.

  11. SWAMIJI, as u must be knowing better than me that even the APtavakya is not considered praman according to difference in perception of munis or rishis.then how come we can call a sampradaya where some guru for ex BVT didnt wear a thread while his son BSST started giving thread giving ceremony according to qualities. if a cow doesnt givemilk is it not a cow.u also said that BSST started upnayana samskar based on satkriya saar dipika to some extent.What is that some extent?does it say if a dogeater exhibits the qualities of a brahmana can he be given thread ceremony? even if he is a pure devotee. if this didnt happen in suta goswami time then what to mention about this time.
    also the statement which u mentioned from bhagvat
    “If one exhibits the symptoms of one of the varnas described earlier, even if that person has appeared in a different varna, he or she should be designated according to the symptoms exhibited.”7.11.5 then all acharyas who were stalwarts of their time they clearly mention that those qualities even though exhibited doesnt allow one to copy or do the sandhya vadandan etc like those of a brahmana or dvij.but yes the other qualities can be exhibited by any of the four varnas.but yes if shudra says that now i will do sandhya vandan,then he is not following this shloka.because of this thing only acharyas have written long commentaries on such topics.
    they also mention that can a shudra who is also following all sanskaras uninterrupted then can he be called a dwij:they directly write NO.and then give reasons.
    So,comes the same point as GURU only and no sadhu and no other shastras.which is not correct for any sampradaya.because “tasmat shashtram pramanam te karya akarya vyavasthitau==== ya shashtra viddim utsrijya vartate=====”etc.
    there will be no maryada then and things will deteriorate.
    Now the thread giving ceremony is for brahman,kshatriya vaishyas because they are called dvij.
    no shashtra supports that a person birth in a brahmana family authorises him as brahmana,no,but yes his karma as well. If he follows karma as well that leads to uttamatta.
    also ‘gyan karmadianavrittam’doesnt say that one shouldnt do sandhya vandan or nitta naimittik karma,sanskar etc but that shouldnt be done with fear that it may affect bhakti.because bhakti is svairini and independent.
    even the stalwarts do it to train other people for ‘ loksangrah’.but they do it as a daily karma.

    • Here is a description of Sat-kriya-sar-dipika from Gaudiya Vaisnava Abhidana:

      I have come across references to a book of the name Sat-kriya-sara-dipika [Notices of Sanskrit Manuscripts, Vol I, No. 395, Vol. II, No. 235], ascribed to Gopala Bhatta Goswami. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur published this book in his Sajjana-tosani magazine, nos. 15-17.

      Gopala Bhatta Goswami compiled the Hari-bhakti-vilasa in which many duties for wealthy householders have been given, but he did not describe the various rites of passage (samskara) like marriage, etc. This book describes these rituals for all Vaishnavas, irrespective of their caste: though it refers to the Vedic literature, it has no rituals exclusively propitiating other gods and takes account of the various offenses to the Holy Name and in Deity worship. The rituals connected to departed ancestors or demigods are conducted with Krishna-prasada, but this is something that has already been prescribed in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa (chapter 9). The subject matters of this book are

      householder’s duties, but it also defines sannyas,
      the preparatory rituals for marriage,
      the prohibition of performing the shraddh rituals according to the Smarta procedure,
      Vedic fire sacrifice (Mahavyahriti Homa),
      the marriage rituals (vivAha),
      garbhAdhAna (the rituals for impregnation); (this is usually considered to be the first samskara),
      puMsavana (“producing a man-child”), “performed in the third month of gestation and before the period of quickening” (MW) –> Cf. BhP 5.24.15, 6.18.54.
      sImantonnayana (“the parting of the hair”; “one of the 12 samskaras, observed by women in the fourth, sixth or eighth month of pregnancy”),
      jAta-karma (“birth rites”),
      niSkramaNa (“taking the child out of the house for the first time in the fourth month;
      nAma-karaNa (“name-giving ceremony”, at six months);
      anna-prAzana (“first solid food”, at six months);
      mUrdhAbhighrANa (“smelling the head”);
      cUDA-karaNa (“hair-cutting”);
      upanayana (“investiture of the sacred thread”);
      homa (fire sacrifice);
      the duties of the brahmachari;
      samAvartana (the graduation of a gurukula student, Cf. BhP 10.80.28).
      (This account is based on Gaudiya Patrika, 21.2-4)

      Samskara-dipika is included in the above. It discusses the following matters: There are two kinds of worshipers, Vaishnavas and non-Vaishnavas. Vaishnavas are of two kinds: “sAmpradAyika” and “tAntrika”; the sAmpradAyI Vaishnava are either householders or renounced (sannyasi); the ten titles are for “Brahma-sannyasis”; Vaishnava sannyasis are found in Totadri, or Udupi; in the Satya, Treta and Dvapara Yugas, there were general (sAmAnya) Vaishnavas, but in the Kali Yuga, one must be the member of a sampradAya; the glories of the avadhUta; one attains the status of a Brahmin through Vaishnava diksha; the practice of celibacy by women; Vaishnava sannyasa can be taken by even lowest caste Vaishnavas; the ten rituals for taking sannyas:

      kSaura (“hair-cutting”);
      tIrtha-snAna (“bathing in holy water”);
      tilaka-dhAraNam (“putting on tilaka”);
      nAma-mudrA-dhAraNa (“stamping the body with Vishnu’s name and symbols”);
      kaupIna-zuddhi (“sanctifying the kaupin”);
      prANa-pratiSThA (“invoking divine life”);
      nAma-karaNa (“giving of the sannyasa name”); viSNu-mantra-dhAraNam (“taking Vishna mantra”); acyuta-gotra-svIkAra (“accepting the family of Achyuta”, Cf. 4.21.12, HBV 5.455 tika);
      bestowal of Shalagram Shila worship;

      The samAdhi mantra is also given.
      Otherwise the point you raise about Vaisnavas performing sandhya vandandanm, etc. without attachment and how this does not violate karmadi anavrtam is also made in the article itself.

  12. SWAMIJI i went thru the text but can u couldnt find answer to the question:

    1.“If one exhibits the symptoms of one of the varnas described earlier, even if that person has appeared in a different varna, he or she should be designated according to the symptoms exhibited.” as mentioned by ur article only.the acharyas have different opinion on this.otherwise the general meaning is straight.

    2.Can a person born in shudra can be given thread ceremony if he is a vaishnava?proof of any from scripture.

    does a vaishnava has a maryaada or he is above scriptures just like sukadeva goswami who was an atmaram?

    BVT didnt wear thread But his son BSST started this ceremony.Even during lord chaitanya this system was not so free as people are doing today?is this not shashtra vyatikrama?

    • 1. Yes, the meaning is clear but according to time and circumstance acaryas may comment on it differently.

      2. Such a person is above the thread. Thus it was customary to take it off if one received Vaisnava diksa. But if for some preaching purpose it has utility the Vaisnava can wear it. The spirit is that such a person is already more than a brahmana.

      3.There are different types of sastra. Those following bhakti sastra are not subject to sastra governing varnasrama, other than for relative considerations such as keeping social order or setting an example for others who need to follow varnasrama.

      4. Different times warrant different conduct. Haridasa Thakura did not enter the Jagannatha temple because of the religious and social sensibilities of the time. But wqs he unfit to do so? No? Bhagavan came to him daily to give him darshana. However, our times are different and such misconceptions as to who can take darshana are not as prevalent. Mahaprabhu did not object to the temple policy but we should, given the times of Mahprabhu vs our times. One cannot say everything at once. In starting a sampradaya one has to take into consideration the times one lives in. This is central to preaching. Thus the Caitanya sampradaya has looked at Hari-bhakti-vilasa with an eye of relativity for centuries. Who follows Ekadasi as outlined therein? No one, because acaryas have made adjustments to the details mentioned to honor the principle in different times.


    1. i am also saying on this thing only,that why is bhakti being mixed with varnashram dharma.bhakti can be done by stri,vaishya ,shudra,chandala—–anyone then why varnashram dharma is being forced for this.why giving thread to them who are not dvij.

    2.Does preaching really require to wear thread ,become brahmana and then preach?

    3. Every time prabhupad said: do you want to become a brahman then chant this mantra and follow four regulative qestion is why didnot he say you become a devotee then nothing to worry about varnashram? why making brahmana came into the mind of BSST.

    4. in bhakti rasamrita sindhu === ‘savanaya kalpate’ chakravartipAd writes that yes that chandala though eligible to do somyagya will not do because of pravAd bhaya from those who are not aware of bhakti and this will disturb bhakti so he will not do though eligible.but now people are wearing thread ,chanting gayatri and there is no pravAd bhaya also because no one is going to question them!!!

    now its up to that height that brahmana boys who are given upnayana and they come to iskcon,the spiritual master says to throw the 2 paisa thread and then they give that 2 paisa thread when they feel the person has come to standard?

    is it not mixing of varnashram and bhakti?
    bhakti vinod thakur also doesnt support the dwij word from birth anywhere in his gita purport also as given by BVNM.

    5.already when one has become vaishnava by chanting this mantra then why make him inferior by making him are creating controversy itself?

    and i dont think, this if not done would have hampered the preaching movement in west or east any time.

    • I think the answers to your questions lie in the preaching strategy of BSST during his time. I have briefly outlined that strategy in my article on Bhakti and Varanasrama, but perhaps you should study the history of his strategy it in greater detail. The strategy was effective during his time and he was able to open 64 monasteries and send Vaisnava sannyasis abroad, etc. with the help of this and other innovative preaching strategies.

  14. Sripad BV Tripurari Maharaja,

    Is it true Caitanya Mahaprabhu received a ten-syllable Gopal mantra and the Hare Krishna maha-mantra at His diksa ceremony with Isvara Puri?

    This is a fairly long post so I apologize if my questions are redundant. What’s the history of the number of mantras given at the time of diksa?

    I’ve heard that Srila Bhaktisiddhana Thakura didn’t give guru mantras, neither the guru mantra nor the guru gayatri that are both now prevalent in our sampradaya. So I believe the number of mantras has grown over the past 526 years.

    • Mahaprabhu told Prakasananda that he received the Krsna mantra form his guru. He also explained that he was taught that through Krsna mantra one attains liberation and by Krsna nama one attains the lotus feet of Krsna. Elsewhere in Cc the 18 syllable Krsna mantra is mentioned. All Krsna mantras stem from this mantra. The 10 syllable Krsna mantra is well known. It was the mantra of Gopa Kumara in Bb. Mahaprabhu apparently chanted one such Krsna mantra, but I am not sure which one.

      Different gurus give different mantras, but the main mantra of the sampradaya that everyone gives is the 18 syllable Krsna mantra and kama gayatri.

      BSST did give a guru mantra and guru gayatri.

  15. Thanks Maharaja,

    I found what I was looking for. In Acarya Kesari Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami’s bio it is written: “That year, 1919, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada gave diksa initiation to Vinodabihari at Yogapitha on Sri Gaura Purnima evening after the completion of the parikrama. After the diksa ceremony was over, Vinodabihari very humbly requested at his Guru’s lotus feet that he should give him the guru-mantra. Until then Srila Prabhupada had not given the guru-mantra to anyone. When Srila Prabhupada heard Vinodabihari’s earnest request, he became silent and began to reflect. Seeing him silent, brahmacaraji asked again with ardent desire, ‘Is it necessary to obtain the guru-mantra and instructions on guru-seva from some other guru?’ Hearing this, Srila Prabhupada began to smile, and gave Vinodabihari the guru-mantra very affectionately. After this, Srila Prabhupada started to give the guru-mantra to others as well.” (page 26 in the pdf)

    Available at

    And in chapter 6 of Srila Mahanidhi Swami’s Gayatri-mahima-madhuri, it is written: “Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was initiated into the ten-syllable Gopala-mantra (gopijanavallabhaya svaha) by His guru, Isvara Puri.”

    Available at

  16. Mahadevananda das

    In the 12th Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam is explainede why the Sun God is Srì Vishnu Himself!

  17. I have a doubt, who initiated Srila Bhaltisiddhanta Saraswati into brahma Gayatri? If there is some information I’ll be very grateful
    Also regarding the gurú gayatri, is there any reason why Srila Bhatisiddhanta changed from the original one ?

    • I do not know for whom he received this mantra. But the kayasta caste of his birth achieved near brahminical status in Bengal during his youth. And it is customary for young men of the three higher castes received the mantra and thread. Janmana jayate sudrah karmana jayate dvijah, “By birth one is a sudra, by undergoing the karma (of upanayam) one becomes a twice born.” Typically along with the thread comes the mantra. So he could have received it from a family guru. But according to the Garuda Purana, the Bhagavatam is a commentary on the gayatri. And Jiva Goswami has explained the mantra’s meaning at length in his tattva and Paramatma sandarbhas: It is a Vaisnava mantra. In his Bhakti-sandarbha he writes that such mantras do not require to be activated by a guru in order to be effective, but as matter of tradition one should receive it from a guru. Sri Jiva goes on to say that this is the course for ordinary people, but not necessarily for spiritually extraordinary people. Was BSST extraordinary? Undoubtedly.

      His status as either a brahmana or Vaisnava should be judged by his character. Those who criticize him and question the veracity his initiations based on hearsay and misunderstanding of that which is essential to diksa and that which is a detail should learn to see the answer to their doubts in his moral and spiritual character, for it is the fruit that is the last word. And I received this mantra from his disciple and can testify as to its power. I cannot argue against my own bliss. Those who want to argue against it do not have any themselves. Thus they cannot recognize it in another.

    • Regarding the guru mantra, there are a number of versions on this mantra. Different Gaudiya lineages give different versions, but in all cases the meaning is the same. In Śrī Gaura-Govindārcana-Smaraṇa Paddhatiḥ we find this guru gayatri: śrīṁ gurudevāya vidmahe gaura-priyāya . . . Where do you think this mantra comes from? I can assure of this: It is not found in any tantra or purana (gaura-priyaya). Gaudiya exclusive sastras, are the creation of Gaudiya Vaisnavas. Along with them some mantras have also come. Not a bad thing, but . . . To an extent, we make it up as we go along. All religion for that matter is man made—men and women seeking to speak about and codify their experience in order to share it. And to a large extent what is found in Dhyancandra’s paddhati is not found in Hari-bhakti-vilasa. One should compare these two texts to ascertain the difference between details and principles. For that matter, Hari-bhakti-vilasa does not even find a need for diksa of the guru gayatri, but of course it finds the need for the guru and service to the guru, etc. And if anything, Hari-bhakti-vilasq is far more orthodox in relation to universally accepted scripture—sruti, tantras, puranas, etc

    • Overall the criticism of Bhaktisiddhanta is a train that left the station long ago, derailed, crashed, and burned. It is a pity that some foolish persons are still trying to board it, especially when their initial faith in the tradition comes through his lineage. Such people are bad at basic spiritual arithmetic, while thinking themselves to be mathematicians.

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