Bimala and Lalita Prasada

By Swami Tripurari, oringally published on January 26, 2010.

Lalita Prasada was the younger brother of Bimala Prasada, who later became known as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura. Bimala Prasada received Harinama and Narasingha mantra from his father, Kedarnatha Bhaktivinoda, and was advised by him to accept mantra diksa from the revered Gaudiya Vaishnava renunciate, Gaurakisora dasa Babaji. Lalita Prasada, on the other hand, received mantra diksa from Bhaktivinoda Thakura.

Thakura Bhaktivinoda asked Bimala Prasada to preach widely and, in doing so, to establish his conception of varnasrama-dharma for Gaudiya Vaishnavas (daiva varnasrama). Bhaktivinoda encouraged him to use Mahaprabhu’s birth site (yoga-pitha) as his base, a site that Bhaktivinoda had discovered through research and inspiration. Bhaktivinoda’s vision as to the place of Mahaprabhu’s appearance was accepted by his siksa guru, Jagannatha dasa Babaji, as well as by Gaurakisora dasa Babaji, both of whom were highly venerated Vaishnava renunciates of the time. However, his diksa guru Bipin Bihari Goswami did not accept it.

Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati followed the instructions of Bhaktivinoda Thakura with no objection. Moreover, with the blessing of Bhaktivinoda and Gaurakisora dasa Babaji, he initiated disciples in the manifest presence of his gurus, accepting his first disciple in 1906.

During this period, Lalita Prasada served in his brother’s Gaudiya Matha institution for several years, both before and after the departure of Bhaktivinoda and Gaurakisora. Sometime after their departure, Lalita Prasada took exception to some of the policies of the mission, the character of some of the leading disciples of Bhaktisiddhanta, and also with the sannyasa of Bhaktisiddhanta. Thus he left the mission.

It is worth noting that Bhakti Pradipa Tirtha Maharaja, a disciple of Thakura Bhaktivinoda, was the first person to accept sannyasa from Bhaktisiddhanta and that his sannyasa was predicted by Gaurakisora dasa Babaji at the time of Pradipa Tirtha Maharaja’s initiation. At that time, Babaji Maharaja predicted that in the future this new disciple would accept sannyasa from a sat-guru and preach beyond the borders of India. After Bhakti Pradipa Tirtha Maharaja accepted sannyasa from Bhaktisiddhanta, he did travel to England for preaching under the direction of his sannyasa guru.

Thus while Lalita Prasada objected to the sannyasa of Bhaktisiddhanta, which he had accepted from a picture of Gaurakisora dasa after the departure of his gurus, it appears from the testimony of Pradipa Tirtha Maharaja that his own sannyasa had been blessed by Gaurakisora even before it took place. In any case, much innovative preaching was done on the part of Bhaktisiddhanta—the kind of preaching that Bhaktivinoda wanted him to do. Indeed, if there is to be a daiva varnasrama that gives support to Gaudiya Vaishnava initiates in the budding stages of their practice, how could it be complete without the sannyasa order?

Still, this and other innovations of Bhaktisiddhanta, such as his bhagavata or siksa-guru parampara conception, did cause a stir in the Gaudiya Vaishnava community. More problems were created due to the fact that Bhaktisiddhanta was critical of the moral standards of that community in general, as well as various Gaudiya practices prominent at the time. Thus a rift developed between Gaudiya Matha and the so-called orthodox Gaudiya sects, and the gap created between Bhaktisiddhanta and these other sects only widened after his departure. Eventually, accusations were made that Bhaktisiddhanta had never been properly initiated, a principal protagonist being one of his own disciples who many had considered the most qualified to succeed him. Opponents of Bhaktisiddhanta, who were still smarting from criticisms he had made of them, naturally made much of this even though such accusations had not been made during the time when Gaurakisora and Bhaktivinoda were around to put such rumors to rest.

Bhaktisiddhanta’s followers, who had already broken into factions by this time, carried on with their independent preaching missions and some of these preachers realized considerable success. This, in turn, brought renewed credibility to the line of Bhaktisiddhanta. Although Lalita Prasada remained critical of some of the policies of his elder brother, in the end he did feel some inspiration to donate the place of Bhaktivinoda’s bhajana in Nadiya, which was under his care, to A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the most prominent preaching disciple of Bhaktisiddhanta. The donation was never realized, but the discussion surrounding it did signal a note of acceptance of the missionary activities of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada on the part of Lalita Prasada in the final days of his life. Furthermore, Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada on occasion allowed his disciples to hear from Lalita Prasada Thakura and personally showed him at least formal respect.

Suffice it to say that old histories like these are difficult to sort out in terms of fact and fiction and even more difficult to objectively prove. Thus different versions of these events are accepted by various followers and promoted by them along sectarian lines. In the end, people are inclined to accept the version of those who most inspire them and thus believe what they want to believe. What is true in every sense will only be discovered through continued spiritual practice and the grace of saints. Looking for the demon in others will never result in finding God in ourselves. We must look within prayerfully and then we will know how to proceed.


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100 Responses to Bimala and Lalita Prasada

  1. Maharaja,
    I am glad that you have qualified your article with the following statement:

    “Suffice it to say that old histories like these are difficult to sort out in terms of fact and fiction and even more difficult to objectively prove. Thus different versions of these events are accepted by various followers and promoted by them along sectarian lines.”

    Over the years I have seen that many stories circulating among both Iskcon and non-Iskcon Sarasvata Vaishnavas were chalenged on historical grounds by various scholars of Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition. The story of Lalita Prasada is no exception.

    I believe that it is an important subject matter for our tradition, one that deserves to be researched in detail and presented truthfully to the society of devotees. Otherwise many will conclude that for the sake of sectarian propaganda the historical truth has been compromised and altered by the followers of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta. Even some Saraswatas are not comfortable with that, one example may be found here: http://www.vnn.org/editorials/ET9906/ET15-4106.html

  2. Vikram Ramsoondur

    I’d second Kulapavana’s opinion. It needs just as much be borne in mind that there are those followers of Bhaktivinoda from outside of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s line who maintain that a portion of the Thakura’s teachings and positions on particular issues have been, intentionally or not, altered and at least partly misrepresented by Sarasvatas.

    On closer analysis, I find more direct and circumstantial evidence alike in support of the Sarasvata standpoint on a number of contentious topics (an example would be the location of Mahaprabhu’s actual janmasthana, where I lean way more toward Yogapitha in Mayapura as opposed to Ramchandrapura in Navadvipa, based on the arguments put forward by the two parties}. That said, the ‘traditionalists’ certainly score on other questions of historical as well as philosophical relevance, and this is one of the reasons why I tend to have a foot in each existing camp, so to speak, because the full and complete truth is on the side of neither ISKCON, nor the Gaudiya Matha and not the Parivaras and Vamshas either.

    As a matter of fact, to get as close as is humanly possible to the real facts, one has to essentially transcend all sectarian agendas and propaganda in order to be situated in a vantage point from which the whole panorama of the Caitanya Vaisnava scene can be beheld, such that one becomes capable of separating the kernel from the chaff.

    • Dear Vikram Ramsoondur prabhu,

      Hare Krsna. I like your writings. BUT, please write it in simple English. I am writing this after reading some of your comments which appear after some comments from here.

      You may say it is your style. But be also a little compassionate.

      Thank you

      Regards
      Ravi

  3. There are some things that are better left to the heart.
    The issue of Lalita Prasada prabhu is a very remote and antiquated topic that has very little importance due to the fact that Srila Prabhupada should be the focus of all the devotees of the Krishna consciousness movement. We should not get distracted with Lalita Pasada. He has no position in the Saraswata Gaudiya Sampradaya.
    Let’s let these old, stale issues die the ignominious death they deserve and focus on the real issue of distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books and turning this Earth into a Vaikuntha planet.

    In fact, Earth is becoming a Vaikuntha planet due to the advent of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the service of Srila Prabhupada and all the Gaudiya acharyas.

    • due to the fact that Srila Prabhupada should be the focus of all the devotees of the Krishna consciousness movement.

      You may consider this a fact but many do not, and to say that one person should be the focus of everyone in the entire Gaudiya world (if that is how you define the “Krsna consciousness movement”) is absurd. Srila Prabhupada was a very great soul and the magnitude of his outreach was unprecedented, to be sure. But the parampara goes on; the torch has been passed to others. My connection with Gaudiya Vaisnavism is through my Gurudeva. I revere SP as my param-guru, and as such it would be unnatural for me to focus more on him than on my own guru. Neither is that the teaching.

  4. I disagree that the story of Lalita Prasada is somehow irrelevant to Western Gaudiya Vaishnavas. I feel that in many ways his line was a lot closer to the mood and preaching of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura than the movement Srila Bhaktisiddhanta started. It was also closer to the traditional Gaudiya Vaishnavism. To some extent that gap is being bridged today by Srila Narayana Maharaja.

    • I’m interested to know in what ways you consider Lalita Prasada Thakura to be closer in mood and preaching to Thakura Bhaktivinoda, because I would consider the differences in BSST’s approach to be in form rather than in essence.

      • Lalita Prasada placed a lot more emphasis on lila smaranam and natural behavior in accordance with the GV tradition, avoiding institutionalized guru-centrism and religious hierarchy of a ‘preaching machine’, while stressing individual development and free thinking even up to questioning shastra – exactly like Bhaktivinoda Thakura.

        Under Srila Bhaktisiddhanta and Srila Prabhupada our movement has turned from revolution in the heart and mind and social reform to extreme fundamentalism and orthodoxy.

        • I do not know about this matter much but their is some truth to the differences in styles of preaching between BVT and that of BSST and SP. Most SP disciples or even BSST say that BVT was just giving a carrot to the bhadraloka in Bengal but actually the teachings of BSST and SP. I dont like that argument. Generally speaking though in history large expansions happen in the institutionalized setup. It was necessary for the spread of GV to go through that setup.

          I sympathize with ISKCON as every institution with founder acarya has to keep him above everybody else to keep it united. They don’t have any way out. Only thing they need to do is respect the faith of other devotees.

          • Vikram Ramsoondur

            The Thakura’s views in manifold instances were very fair and highly progressive, to be sure. However, I don’t think that the differences Kulapavana has in mind wholly or even principally concerns the bhadraloka outreach interpretation. I myself think that, as a perfected soul, Bhaktivinoda could simultaneously hold contradictory views on a number of issues, for he was able to, at some higher level, harmonise all the differences in holistic fashion.

            The reason why I say this is because the broad thesis he developed in Sri Krsna-samhita, The Bhagavata and a couple of other works of his adds up to just a minute portion of the entirety of his writings. And in many of these other books and articles (a few of which I believe I did quote some months ago on a related discussion on Harmonist), Srila Bhaktivinoda implicitly labours under the assumption that several of the concepts he himself decries elsewhere are basically veridical.

            For instance, in Sri Krsna-samhita, he restructures the whole of the history of the subcontinent so as to make it fit within the framework of the then predominant Judaeo-Christian chronology, and states his intent rather matter-of-factly. On the other hand, in other places, especially much of the material he wrote later in his devotional career, ideas having spiritual historical significance are referred to, but in the orthodox Indic mode, with scant regard for his own separate reformulation of history. This is just one example, and I have at least a few more in mind.

            I’m not saying that his only goal was a preaching one, rather that a veritably representative glimpse into the content brewing in his (undoubtedly) massive cerebrum is really only possible if one is fully familiar with the teachings of SBVT in aggregate, not just by zeroing in on one or two of his pronouncements, disjointed from the rest of his statements.

          • I agree they are a minuscule part of his writings. Even in Krsna-Samhita he just says that history was something that is a debatable issue. In many instance BVT does have very orthodox viewpoints, but it is a mix of things. So BSST and SP were not orthodox when it came to certain things like hereditary caste system. So it is not fair to say that BVT was more progressive than BSST and SP. Only he has writings that are more liberal than most people in our tradition when it comes to accommodation of other viewpoints. That is very much needed for GV rigt now.

          • I fully concur.

        • I think it worthwhile to mention that much of BSST’s outreach was in response to the often less than spiritual practices he witnessed going on in the name of nama bhajana. His departure from the prevalent trend of siddha pranali in favor of one’s svarupa being naturally revealed by Sri Nama was part of that response. For those without the adhikara to successfully sit and do full time bhajana he created a structure in which people could serve and develop the adhikara to eventually do so. So while BVT did not do these things clearly BSST had the spiritual power to make such adjustments in service of the essential teachings of bhakti. That extreme fundamentalism arose in the context of the missionary structure does not make the structure inherently flawed, it just means that there were (and are) people who fail to understand and apply the siddhanta in a deep way.

          • I think as the structure gets bigger it will have to curb individual freedom very much like China to keep it sane or you will have a chaotic country like India. More people come with the package of more govt, bureaucracy and management. See how much of policing is need in a big country! And same is the case with organizations. It is for some reason that BSST called organization a necessary evil. It is necessary but it is kills the individual.

          • You write: “I think it worthwhile to mention that much of BSST’s outreach was in response to the often less than spiritual practices he witnessed going on in the name of nama bhajana.”

            While that may be the case, this response created other problems and risks. One could argue that a response is now needed to counter the often less than spiritual practices going on in the name of preaching the mission of Mahaprabhu.

            For example, many senior disciples of Srila Prabhupada agonize over real or imaginary risks of sahajiya tendencies in other sangas, while their own society is plagued by far more dangerous problems like falling gurus, widespread attachment to pratistha among the leaders, their abuse of power and financial mismanagement, discontent among the rank and file members, and so on – all directly related to the style of preaching adopted by their society.

            Perhaps there is something systemic that needs to be done about it. Perhaps going back to the ideas of BVT can help.

    • Vikram Ramsoondur

      Again, I agree with Kula. For the life of me, I shall NEVER be able to bring myself to close my mind to deriving knowledge from one single source. I have no problems with those who can, but the eclectic method has always been my chosen way. Goodness knows how thankful I am to Providence for that!

      Just in passing, I certainly find it presumptuous of someone to say what should be or should not be the focus of others. In this matter as in nearly every other, one can basically speak for oneself only.

    • Unless you specify how you think Lalita Prasad Thakur’s line was “closer to the mood and preaching of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur” than Gaudiya Matha, I will have to assume you are referring to the practice of siddha-pranali, or the guru in some form revealing the siddha-deha of the disciple. Not sure how else LP’s and BVT’s mood and preaching could be considered similar, or how NM’s preaching bridges a gap between “Sarasvata” GV and “traditional”… If siddha-pranali is in fact the essence of your argument, there is MUCH to be said for why BSST’s preaching was very much the mood of BVT and a vital tactic in preaching of GV. These points are very thoroughly discussed in Swami Tripurari’s “Sri Guru Parampara” booklet.
      But please, could you be more specific and offer some supporting evidence for your assertion?

      • Lalita Prasada was a curiosity and attraction for a small percentage of ISKCON devotees who wrongly believed that the so-called siddha-pranali tradition was the original way of the great Goswamis. They seemed to forget that the Goswamis were nitya-siddhas who didn’t practice any so-called raganuga-sadhana as they didn’t need any “raganuga” sadhana.
        Lalita Prasada would never have become a controversy or a topic of debate in ISKCON had not certain disciples of Prabhupada lost focus on their own service and got lost roaming around India like tourists dabbling in everything they could dig up in their unchaste curiosity.

        Lalita Prasada is a dated issue that fizzled out when Lalita Prasada’s crown jewel western disciple rejected him just as he had previously rejected Prabhupada to become an admitted Tantric-sahajiya.

        So, the most prominent western disciple of Lalita Prasada danced from Prabhupada to Lalita Prasada to Tantric-sahajiya without missing a beat.

        What lesson can we draw from that?

        • Vikram Ramsoondur

          Nonetheless, I find much, much more that is valuable in the thoughtful contemplations of the person in question than in anything I’ve ever read from you, or from any other Prabhupada-onlyite for that matter. So, as far as I’m concerned, THIS is what will be retained.

          • I don’t consider myself a “prabhupada-only-ite” as you say.
            I was one in the first group of ISKCON devotees to leave ISKCON and start a new organization affiliated with Srila Sridhar Maharaja and Bhakti Sudhira Maharaja.
            I was the pujari and head cook at that temple when it started. I was also a kirtan leader at that temple.
            I even have some affiliation with New Age spiritualism based on the lineage of Sanat Kumar. That is a whole different sampradaya and system of thought.
            So, to stereotype me as a Prabhupada fanatic is not quite fair to Prabhupada and his true purebred disciples.
            I am not a purebred Prabhupada man.
            However, as an ISKCON insider during the peak of the Prabhupada era I was a junior Godbrother to Tripurari Maharaja whom I love like a brother that I don’t always agree with.
            I gave some good years to ISKCON.
            I have something invested there, so I have some rather opinionated opinions about the organization.
            I am not just an outsider who never gave his life to ISKCON only to be very disappointed and disenchanted with the condition Srila Prabhupada left it in just ripe for disintegration such as Tripurai Maharaja getting asked to leave and take his heart with him.

          • I know full well who you are. In fact, I could copy and paste a very similar statement to the one above, made by you on another site a couple of years ago (I’d swear the year was 2007). And since you too are aware of my posts related to matters Vaishnava on various forums over the past few years, as you pointed out to me some time ago, you should know that there is little to be had by rehashing the same sort of argument time and again.

            But anyway, for someone who claims to have given ‘his life’ to Srila Prabhupada’s mission, and who permits himself to berate those who dare to consult authorities other than HDG, you seem to be guilty of the same sin of which you accuse others (by your own admission in fact – New Age spirituality, 2012 doomsday scenarios, ‘beings of light,’ you name it). I feel utterly disinclined to get into a pointless exchange with you on this, for the simple reason that I have nothing to gain from it. Suffice to say, one ought to judge oneself by the same standards one wants other people to conform to. And on that score, you don’t seem to be doing all that well, if I may say so.

      • Siddha-pranali is only very small part of these differences. Narayana Maharaja brings our line more towards lila-smaranam and natural behavior. Instead of concentrating on collecting money and building big temples they concentrate on developing sadhu-sanga. IMO it is a very welcome step in the right direction. Similar steps are taken in Tripurari Maharaja’s sanga as well, including rejection of social and doctrinal fundamentalism.

        • Can you explain what you mean by “natural behavior”?

          • Giving sannyasa to young men is unnatural, so is monastic lifestyle in general. Claiming that guru makes no mistakes, knows everything perfectly and controls all aspect of disciple’s life, is unnatural. Creating royalty out of sannyasa class is unnatural. Focusing on building a preaching empire with the intent on ruling the world is unnatural for a movement supposedly promoting the highest spirituality… and so on…

          • Giving sannyasa to young men is unnatural, so is monastic lifestyle in general. Claiming that guru makes no mistakes, knows everything perfectly . . . is unnatural.

            These things are all common throughout GV, with the exception that most Gaudiya lineages replace sanyasa with babaji vesa. While it is valid to critique the long term effects of the approach of BSST and he would be the first to agree, it is not accurate to think that during his time his approach was not progressive and relevant. It was very much so, and it was BSST who published all of BVT’s books and organized their distribution widely. He gave us BVT. In my opinion there is no one who better represented BVT in spirit than BSST.

          • I think our priority should be correcting the present state of Lord Caitanya’s movement, which seems rather stuck in doctrinal and social fundamentalism, personality cultism, and institutionalism.
            We need to give credit for the past glorious efforts of our acharyas but we should not be blind to the sideeffects and long term consequences of their approach. We can definitely learn a lot from the past.

        • Lest we forget that the Saraswata Gaudiyas had to come and extract Narayana Maharaja from the siddha-pranali people at Radha-kunda because they saw him drifting away from the Saraswata Gaudiyas towards the sahajiyas passing stool at Radha-kunda.

          Rule #1. Never stay at Radha-kunda long enough to need a bowel movement or urination.

          Do that and you should be OK as long as you stick to the Lotus Feet of Srila Prabhupada.

          • It is totally ignorant and preposterous to consider all those traditional Vaishnavas at Radha-kunda to be ‘sahajiyas’. How on earth would you know? Have you studied them all?
            It is a shame that the often indiscriminate and unjust criticism of that community by your guru is turning his disciples into blind bigots. First look at the problems in your own sanga before you dare to throw stones ot others. Study people before you pronounce your judgements.

          • KB das,

            I fail to see any value in this post. Bringing up NM’s past in this way is in poor taste in my opinion, as well as your comments about Radha-kunda. I must say that these statements along with your Srila Prabhupada agenda don’t add anything positive to the discussion.

          • Your comments are in bad taste and it would be good if SP would not have preached if that meant having a disciple like you.

          • And we are three, among those to post at any rate, to be in agreement on what this execrable display of base vulgarity is worth. Then again, this website is supposed to be moderated, and how a valueless, benighted comment as the one above, laden as it is with talks of excrement and other such stuff, succeeded in passing through the filter of those with the powers and found its way to public view baffles me.

  5. Giving sannyasa to young men is unnatural, so is monastic lifestyle in general.

    The sannyasa issue aside for the moment, a great many in the pre-Saraswata era were renunciates. Do you consider their behavior unnatural?

    • When renunciation is taken up with intelligence, maturity and discrimination, it is natural and produces good results.

      When renunciation is taken out of pride, or is forced upon others out of peer pressure, when it is taken prematurely and without discrimination, it is unnatural and produces only misery, disturbance, and frustration.

  6. One thing that I think bears noting here is that it was BSST who through his mission brought the conception of BVT to the rest of the world. Prior to that mission Gaudiya Vaisnavism was, to paraphrase BVT, at risk of slipping into obscurity entirely.

    And though he (BSST) himself criticized institutionalized religion he saw it as better than what was in vogue at the time, i.e., sending people off into the jungle to do “smaranam” who had no adhikara for it. So while there are indeed shortcomings in the institutions of BSST and SP we should not forget (we who are the descendants of such institutions!) that the “traditional” system’s track record is not spotless either. There are problems with giving sannyasa to those lacking sufficient realization as much as there are problems with giving extensive meditative practices to those in the same situation.

  7. Monasticism is truly unnatural, but so is monogamy, equal rights and democracy as well. Who wants natural human beings? Culture, let alone spiritual culture, is all about rising from the level of dvi-pada-pashus.

  8. *moved*

  9. Tripurari Swami,

    I am glad to read that it is your ‘opinion’ that Bhaktisidhanta best represented BVT. This is progressive. Until recently this opinion was passed as irrefutable fact among Sarasvatas.

    I agree with you that Bhaktisidhanta best propagated the written words of Bhaktivinode Thakur. But I do not believe he best represented the Thakura “in spirit”.

    According to certain records, Bhaktivinode wasn’t very pleased by Bhaktisidhanta’s behavior towards his guru Bipin Bihari Goswami and the tradtional lines in general. There were certainly differences in the approaches of the two personalities that were more disconnected in spirit than in form.

    • It’s really not fair to compare the two brothers. Lalita Prasada was serving under BSST in the Thakura’s mission and later left due to a disagreement. After leaving he was engaged in bhajana and BSST preached all over the world. LP disagreed with much of what that the missionary outreach involved, with the construction of temples, emphasis on book publishing, etc. and considered it leaving the raga marg. I have no doubt that BSST was well acquainted with the spirit of the teaching of BVT represented in his books. I am familiar with the “evidence” you refer to. It is hearsay.

      Otherwise It would be difficult to establish that LP better represented BVT because his representation was next to nil in that he had only a handful of disciples, most of whom no one knows and the most well known among them have either become Gaura nagara babas or shajiyas. This is not to criticize LP or his followers, who may be legitimate in their own pursuit of lines that nonetheless clearly differ form that of BVT. Just some factual information. We know very little about LP and his three or four western disciples hardly knew him better because he passed on very shortly after initiating them and they spent very little time with them when he was among us. Neither did he write any books.

      On the other hand we know quite a bit about BSST and it is through him that we know about BVT. In fact without BSST, none would know about BVT. krsna sakti vina nahi . . .

      • Indeed it is not only unfair to compare saints but it is also a highly non advisable stance.

        On the other hand, when judging the results of a campaign, we are left with only one option: we judge the results. Facts speak for themselves. As Kulapavana tries to point out here, apparently falling in deaf ears, there are great problems presently with the campaign of the Saraswata line. To deny this is the truly unfair procedure.

        Bhaktivinod Thakur may have been widely represented by one out of two sons. But being the representative that swallowed the competition does not make that one son “the best” and hardly the one in “the true spirit”. Bhaktivinoda Thakura was many glorious things, and one thing he was not was sectarian. The Saraswata line has reached a brick wall, the brick wall of an utter inability to consort with anyone outside its boundaries, an astonishing inability of consorting even among its own membership.

        We are concerned with the goal, prema. Its true there is good value in numbers, but as you Swami like to remind us from time to time yourself, small is beautiful. We are not concerned with some thousands of neophytes who sooner than later will not know what step to take next. In the words of Srila Sridhara Maharaja, we are concerned with beauty, sweetness and charm.

        Swami you said:

        This is not to criticize LP or his followers, who may be legitimate in their own pursuit of lines that nonetheless clearly differ form that of BVT

        How is it “clearly”? Again, because Bhaktisidhanta Saraswati Thakur without much resistance imposed his version of Bhaktivinoda Thakur, this does not automatically make it the version that is “legitimate”. How is it that an alternative to Bhaktisidhanta’s interpretation is “clearly different” from that of Bhaktivinoda Thakur? Where is the alternative to contrast with so to come to such conclusion?

        The fact is that Bhaktisidhanta Saraswati had his own vision of Gaudiyaism and presented that as if a continuation of his father’s. But we can see by the state of affairs in Bhaktisidhanta’s legacy today that it is this version which is in fact failing to do justice to the father Thakur. So, if we are going to speak of clarity and facts, acknowledging these things seems a great place to start.

        • Bhaktikanada,

          You wrote:

          On the other hand, when judging the results of a campaign, we are left with only one option: we judge the results. Facts speak for themselves. As Kulapavana tries to point out here, apparently falling in deaf ears, there are great problems presently with the campaign of the Saraswata line. To deny this is the truly unfair procedure.

          You are blind to what has been written here to say that his remarks are falling on def ears. He has even noted that I am not deaf to the downside of BSST’s approach, and as I have pointed out neither was he (BSST)!

          Bhaktivinod Thakur may have been widely represented by one out of two sons. But being the representative that swallowed the competition does not make that one son “the best” and hardly the one in “the true spirit”. Bhaktivinoda Thakura was many glorious things, and one thing he was not was sectarian. The Saraswata line has reached a brick wall, the brick wall of an utter inability to consort with anyone outside its boundaries, an astonishing inability of consorting even among its own membership.

          But LP was not much different in this regard. He was quite sectarian and unto himself. And just because someone was swallowed up by the competition, as you crudely put it, does not mean they represent the true spirit either. So you point here goes nowhere. I have merely stated the facts with regard to the extent to which the two brothers represented their father in terms of making his teachings available to others, and that means all of his books, including the more esoteric ones.

          We are concerned with the goal, prema. Its true there is good value in numbers, but as you Swami like to remind us from time to time yourself, small is beautiful. We are not concerned with some thousands of neophytes who sooner than later will not know what step to take next. In the words of Srila Sridhara Maharaja, we are concerned with beauty, sweetness and charm.

          Yes, and we find some of that beauty, sweetness, and charm in the Saraswata lineage. Indeed, here you cite SM, a prominent member of the lineage you seek to question with regard to the extent that it fully representes BVT. How silly.

          How is it “clearly”? Again, because Bhaktisidhanta Saraswati Thakur without much resistance imposed his version of Bhaktivinoda Thakur, this does not automatically make it the version that is “legitimate”. How is it that an alternative to Bhaktisidhanta’s interpretation is “clearly different” from that of Bhaktivinoda Thakur? Where is the alternative to contrast with so to come to such conclusion?

          Well it is very clear from the writing of BVT that he was opposed to so called Gaura-nagara-bhava and the prakrita sahajiya sects. But perhaps you have not read him that well. Indeed, LP was also opposed to these ideas, are most Gaudiya lineages.

          The fact is that Bhaktisidhanta Saraswati had his own vision of Gaudiyaism and presented that as if a continuation of his father’s. But we can see by the state of affairs in Bhaktisidhanta’s legacy today that it is this version which is in fact failing to do justice to the father Thakur. So, if we are going to speak of clarity and facts, acknowledging these things seems a great place to start.

          I acknowledge the failing of some of the members of the Saraswata lineage and I also acknowledge the success of other members of the lineage. It is you who need to acknowledge that misrepresentation of BVT that is found in some of the followers of LP. Let’s not compare BSST to LP. Let’s compare their followers to one another. You seem to acknowledge Sridhara Deva Goswami as a realized follower of BVT from the Saraswata lineage. Can you point us to a similarly realized follower of BVT from the lineage of LP? There may very well be one, but . . .

          In conclusion, I have little patience for those who criticize BSST and is followers as a whole for the failings of some of his followers, especially when they do so by way of asserting that LP better represented BVT than BSST. This is not to say that the mission of BSST is free from fault. Again, were he here today he would be the first to agree with such a position. You throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water and you are in over your head. Find your path and follow it.

          • But LP was not much different in this regard. He was quite sectarian and unto himself. And just because someone was swallowed up by the competition, as you crudely put it, does not mean they represent the true spirit either. So you point here goes nowhere. I have merely stated the facts with regard to the extent to which the two brothers represented their father in terms of making his teachings available to others, and that means all of his books, including the more esoteric ones.

            I am sorry if sensibilities are touched but ‘crude’ has been an acceptable practice in the Saraswata lineage, think ‘demons, asses, and fools’. Bhaktisidhanta Saraswati apparently was quite blunt himself form the beginning; he refused to come near his father’s guru calling him a ‘sahajiya’, apparently embarrassing his father.

            That said, I think you misunderstand my position. I am not comparing Saraswati Thakur with Lalita Prasada Thakur, although I think you yourself inadvertently keeps doing so. I said we know so little of LP that making the comparison goes nowhere. I don’t say LP better represented BT. I said LP apparently did not have a fair chance to do so. Now you say LP was “quite sectarian” and “unto himself”. That may have been, I have never heard this before, but personally at this point I know it to be a fact that the Saraswata does interpret the little information there is about what the line calls its opponents, anti-parties and such in a negative way so to enhance itself. In other words, its completely possible that, regarding the character and activities of Bhaktisidhanta Saraswati’s brother, information has been tweaked somewhat to suit the Saraswata campaign. As an example, the claimed donation of the site of Bhaktivinode Thakur at Godrumadvipa by LP to GM is disputed by some people. They say the site was actually taken by force.

            In conclusion, its clearly unfair and even unreasonable to insist with the claim that Bhaktisidhanta’s interpretation of his father is the real one. It was done in the past and for the past.

            Were Bhaktivinode Thakur here today he would adjust his own words. That was his spirit.

          • You continue to criticize BBST and his lineage for being crude and then justify your own lack of sensitivity thereby. Not good. I am sorry if you feel I have misunderstood your position but I do not think any objective reader will agree that I have. Where have you stated that “we know so little of LP that making the comparison goes nowhere?” (other than here for the first time). Here is your position in your own words: “I do not believe he (BSST) best represented the Thakura (BVT) “in spirit.” It seems obvious that you are also claiming that LP better represented BVT in spirit. Otherwise why write, when the article under discussion and my own comments readily acknowledge that the history is difficult to sort out, implying that the Saraswata lineage has misrepresented the position of LP at times? And it was me, not you, who wrote that we know very little about LP. LP did not have a fair chance to represent BVT? I will stop here. I find that you fail to acknowledge valid points raised in the discussion, points that demonstrate your misunderstanding, and then you go on to take a new position as if the points raised against you previously were not valid because they misrepresent your position. DIscussing in this manner in my opinion lacks integrity, something BSST had a lot of.

          • Swamiji,

            Please read it carefully and see that I did not change my position. I never said LP better represented the father. I am sorry if you had the impression I did so, which would amount to comparing the two saints. I merely pointed out that it was you who compared by saying that one represented the father “better”. If you are not comparing, then what is the meaning of “better”. Better than whom?

            Saying, as I did, “I do not believe he (BSST) best represented the Thakura (BVT) ‘in spirit'”, does not imply (as you charge) that LP represented the father better in spirit. That was your interpretation of my words. I did say latter in my reply that there COULD have been an alternative representation of BVT, but the opportunity was passed.

            I am not implying that the Saraswata line has misrepresented the position of LP at times: I am affirming it. It is a fact that it has, as in the line’s account of how svananda sukhada kunja was end up owned by GM.

            Last but not least, I have no doubt Saraswati Thakur had great dignity – he was an extraordinary human being, a Vaikuntha man, it has been said.

          • I will leave it to others to decide what you position was. Good luck.

          • One final comment on your words above, Bhaktikanda: The question of who is better is not about who is more realized, it is about who better represented BVT. BVT had two sides: dynamic outreach and inner life. We find both in BSST and in his most prominent followers. We find only the latter of the two sides in LP. Again, it is not about who is better or higher—an absolute issue—but rather who better represented BVT—a relative issue.

          • Thank you for your good wishes.

            The idea that there is a dynamic outreach and an inner life to bhakti is an invention of Bhaktisidhanta, NOT Bhaktivinode’s. Bhaktivinode wanted the inner character of bhakti out along with the outreach.

            I think you speak of interpretation, not representation.

          • Not according to the writing of BVT, nor does this mean that interest in a dynamic outreach of bhakti is separate from the desire to see its inner life made available.

          • The idea that there is a dynamic outreach and an inner life to bhakti is an invention of Bhaktisidhanta

            Didn’t Caitanya Mahaprabhu have these two aspects to his divine being? I seem to remember TWO reasons for his descent. Tasting the fruits of prema and distributing them…
            I’m confused as to what you are suggesting with this sentence. If you are suggesting that BVT did not have dynamic outreach (progressive preaching through writing, nama-hatta) while having inner life – as BSST also had, I’m very confused.

            The nature of dynamic outreach is that its form will change over a generation. That does not mean misinterpretation. It could be argued that a stale lack of change in representation of the acarya’s outreach is misinterpretation of its spirit.

          • I did not say “misinterpretation”. I said “interpretation”. And I said further that Bhaktisidhanta interpreted Bhaktivinode rather than represent. Two different things.

            The legacy of Bhaktisidhanta is not 100% in accordance with the practice of Bhaktivinode, i.e., the inner cultivation of a specific mood as one reaches out to give that, as Mahaprabhu himself did.

            You say you are confused: well let me suggest that the confusion actually comes from our own history. We are told to go and preach, but not given the complete idea of what precisely to preach. The recent history of Narayana Maharaja vis a vis Iskcon illustrates this point. Narayana Maharaja, as pointed out here earlier, gives a better idea of this essence of preaching. This became naturally a threat to the campaign that relies on preaching only. If you are really honest with yourself, you will see that even in your own personal case you had to move out of one environment and seek another much more developed towards the essence to be able to function. So its not that outreach and inner reaching are separated. The confusion started there when the inner was considered secondary or separated, as you put it.

            The two reasons for Mahaprabhu’s lila does not mean one is less important than the other or that there is hierarchy. They are just a complement of one another as in the very principle of simultaneous one and two.

          • I’ll respond here because it seems you are replying to my comment. I agree with most of what you say here, but am finding your line of argument hard to follow. My response was in question of your statement “The idea that there is a dynamic outreach and an inner life to bhakti is an invention of Bhaktisidhanta.” Maybe this was a mis-statement, because in this post of yours you seem to be praising the cultivation of inner life coupled with a dynamic preaching spirit. Huh?
            Yes BSST emphasized outreach. I don’t think this was to the exclusion of inner life, as his followers demonstrate a cultivation of both.

          • The legacy of Bhaktisidhanta is not 100% in accordance with the practice of Bhaktivinode, i.e., the inner cultivation of a specific mood as one reaches out to give that, as Mahaprabhu himself did.

            This statement is not supportable by fact. It is merely fancy an indicative of a lack of acquaintance with both BVT and BSST. BVT’s outreach was full of emphasis on eligibility and the necessity of qualification for bhajana (Daiva Varnasram was BVT’s idea), while BSST’s preaching was full of emphasis on the ideal of Radha dasyam even to the general public (read his publication (“The Harmonist”).

          • From a letter BVT wrote to his son BSST:
            “People of this world who are proud of their own aristocratic birth cannot attain real aristocracy. Therefore they attack the pure Vaishnavas, saying, ‘They have taken birth in low-class families because of their sins.’ Thus they commit offenses. The solution to the problem is to establish the order of daiva-varnasrama-dharma – something you have started doing; you should know that to be the real service to the Vaishnavas. Because pure devotional conclusions are not being preached, all kinds of superstitions and bad concepts are being called devotion by such pseudo-sampradayas as sahajiya and atibari. Please always crush these anti-devotional concepts by preaching pure devotional conclusions and by setting an example through your personal conduct.”

          • Of course it is supported by fact. Bhaktivinode Thakur adopted the practice of ekhadasa bhava which Bhaktisidhanta Saraswati did not. This is a fact. Why would Bhaktivinoda Thakur use Gopala Guru and Dhyana Chandra as his references in the latter part of Jaiva Dharma (his masterpiece, meant for he upliftment of ALL jivas) if it were not for their being the authorities who first established ekadasa bhava in the sampradaya? There is the argument that ekadasa bhava is a later fabrication and not an original practice in the sampradaya. But then what of Bhaktivinoda deliberately confirming the legitimacy of the practice’s originators by mentioning them in his text? (That is, if they were in fact its originators. They may simply have been writing down what was already being practiced.) The fact remains that Bhaktivinode Thakur deliberately included the mention of ekhadasa bhava in his principal work.

            The sampradaya as per Bahktivinode Thakur is not completely represented in Saraswati Thakur. By making the change that he did, Bhaktisidhanta clearly split from the sampradaya to start a new one. This is the fact. Which is not to say it wasn’t a legitimate move. But it seems the Sataswata line has a hard time in coming to grips with this fact.

          • But what you have written in reponse does not support the statement I took exception to. You wrote

            The legacy of Bhaktisidhanta is not 100% in accordance with the practice of Bhaktivinode, i.e., the inner cultivation of a specific mood as one reaches out to give that, as Mahaprabhu himself did

            In plain English this means that BSST while engaging in outreach did not distribute an inner mood (bhava). But we do see taht his sect has developed an inner mood and for the most part the same one as that of BVT. The fact that he did it in a different manner than BVT with regard to how BVT shared it with LP does not mean he did not give it out. Furthermore, we know only of LP as one who BVT gave ekadasa bhava to. He did not give it to everyone he initiatied and was far more conservative about giving it that you realize, and this conservativism is represented in BSST. LP was initiated near the end of BVT’s life and he was the Thakura’s son. BVT was not initiating and giving ekadasa bhava anywhere and everywhere, and neither was Mahaprabu for that matter, not Gopala Guru Goswami.

            So the difference here between the two is not that one gave out bhava and the other did not, as you write, but rather that there is a difference between how BVT gave ekadasa bhava to one of his disciples near the ned of his life and how BSST distributed bhava in general (through the advocacy of kirtana primarily, as Mahaprabhi did). The fact that BSST did a number of things differently than BVT does not constitute a lack of representation on his part, but rather insight into the spirit of the teaching of BVT adjusted for time and circumstance.

            You cite Jaiva Dharma, but it was BSST who published the book and distributed it widely. Anything we know about BVT and his practice in terms of what he has written about himself and his practice comes to the world through BSST. He did not leave anything out. He published and distributed all of the books of BVT, including those dealing with ekadasa bhava, etc. If BSST was against ekadasa bhava, why did he publish books about it? The fact is he was not against it, but he was against misrepresentation of it, just as his father BVT was, and he took the trouble per the order of BVT to expose this misrepresentation everywhere.

  10. In response to the three commenters on my last post, I would just like to point out that nobody here voiced even a tiny disagreement with Kula-pavana who has relentlessly for years lambasted Srila Prabhupada for giving sannyasa to western men, criticizing his Godbrothers etc etc. along with his whole laundry list of gripes and complaints that he has been posting on different forums for the last several years.
    Nobody squeaked even a tiny disagreement with his scathing criticisms of Srila Prabhupada, but as I bring up a FACT about the past history of Narayana Maharaja and how he DOES NOT represent the Saraswata Gaudiya conception by going against Srila Saraswati Goswami’s principles that in his line Ujjvala-nilamani should not be read or studied in his line etc. etc., then I get mobbed.

    Narayana Maharaja has clearly deviated from the ideals of Saraswata Gaudiya Vaishnavism with his persistent efforts to remake the Saraswata lineage in his own image. In several obvious ways he has deviated from the Saraswata Gaudiya ideals in the name of “traditional” Gaudiya Vaishnavism. This all traces back to his days of hanging out with the babas at Radha-kunda. Those impressions never left him and permanently spoiled his Saraswata Gaudiya heritage.

    It’s just the facts according to those who know the history.

    But, I guess criticism of Srila Prabhupada is OK, but if somebody points out the glaring deviations of Narayana Maharaja from the Saraswata Gaudiya ideals he gets severely taken to task.

    The truth of the matter is that Srila Sridhar Maharaja was the true successor to the Saraswata Gaudiya lineage.
    Anybody what truly wants to know the Saraswata Gaudiya ideals will have to learn it from him. The problem is that most followers of Narayana Maharaja have been brainwashed to think hearing from Sridhar Maharaja is not important if they can get from Narayana Maharaja.

    Tripurari Maharaja is much closer to the true Saraswata Gaudiya lineage than Narayana Maharaja.
    But, hey, Saraswata Gaudiya heritage does not mean anything to the followers of Narayana Maharaja. They don’t bother to check and see if Narayana Maharaja is Saraswata Gaudiya at heart or siddha-pranali sympathizer.
    They just blindly accept his every word as gospel even if it contradicts fundamental principles of Saraswata Gaudiya Vaishnavism.

    Granted, Saraswata Gaudiya Vaishnavism does not have a monopoly on Bhagavad-bhakti, but the facts need to be known that Narayana Maharaja is NOT a Saraswata Gaudiya in practice or precept.

    • I would not have objected if you had written with dignity like how you have written here. But your language was disgusting. Secondly by pointing out others mistakes, you should not cover up yours.

    • Yes, it is true that I see some things Srila Prabhupada did, like giving sannyasa to young, unprepared men, or criticizing his Godbrothers, as problematic, since the long term results of these actions brought serious problems to his mission. How else can we apply Srila Prabhupada’s principle of ‘judging things by the results’?

      Over the years I have also defended what Srila Prabhupada did and said in countless discussions with devotees who lost their faith, had doubts, and with people in general who were critical of our movement.

      I have no problem with critical analysis of our movement and our tradition in general. Those who point the finger at others should not be surprised when in return the finger is pointed at them.

      Regarding Narayana Maharaja… Accusing an 89 year old life-long devotee who spent the last 58 years of his life as a sannyasi, of having ‘sahajiya tendencies’ or of ‘abandoning the Saraswata line’ for daring to focus on lila smaranam in classes given to HIS DISCIPLES – is in my opinion unbelievable ignorance and ill will. This type of ignorant criticism is far too common among Iskcon devotees to be dismissed as isolated problem.

      • Hello Kulan Pavana, I was reading your post and saw that you helped people who lost faith in him etc. I am a homosexual and I lost my faith in him from of the comments he made about homosexuality, africans=sudra, woman, etc. I Know what everyone says he is pure etc but that is not what I want to hear. I been in this movement for 5 years and I brainwashed myself to believe everything he said was true. that being said I was a demon etc etc. please contact me so we may have a conversation about him. I have been reading alot in gaudiya discussions and while there are some things I feel they have gotten out of hand with him it helped me see him more human then ever.I no longer have anger but love towards him. So help understand him once again without the christian preaching he is God empowered, pure etc.

        Hare Krishna.

        P.S. if someone can help me take some of the brainwashing of Gaudiya discussions would be tremendous because I think reading those things are actually leading me to sahajiya things and I am losing tons of faith in Prabhupada by the min. I think its partially because of the whole conspiracy and etc. thank you

        • Dear Krishna das,
          You can contact me at kpav108(at)wildblue.net
          and I will try to help.
          In general, we need to follow things which inspire us to develop our love for God and for our fellow living entities.
          Controversies will always be there. We just need to learn how to navigate past them without losing our balance. They are like natural obstacles in the river. We have to paddle our canoe past these obstacles – avoiding them rather than being drawn to them.
          Pranams,
          y.s

    • KB, because your post lacked any nuance, rational argument and was just plain insulting, you received some strong responses. Trying to create a divide according to how people responded only further demonstrates black and white thinking.
      Kula-pavana was questioned about his assertions (not insults) and offered his opinions and argument in return. This was followed by counter-arguments. That is the natural way discussion progresses. You on the other hand side-tracked the discussion by focusing on a current preacher’s history and emotionally charged arguments. Not helpful, interesting, or contributing substance. I remember reading Kula saying that he felt NM was a middle ground between these two emphases of BVT’s sons. Who NM does or does not represent was your issue and a distraction.

    • 1. We are addressing posts on this thread on this site, not what people have allegedly written elsewhere. Your argument sounds very childish and I for one am not inclined to take it seriously.

      2. After having several people comment that your statement about NM was in poor taste not only did you not acknowledge that and desist you went on to lambast him further in public by saying he’s not a follower of the Saraswata lineage. That is clearly your opinion, but it’s poor form to point it out like you have. Stating the facts and allowing people to draw their own conclusions as to what he represents would be a much better way to go about it. And if any of his followers see what you’ve written be prepared to be labeled an aparadhi and live with the fact that they just might be right.

      3. By saying that Srila Sridhara Maharaja is the true successor to BSST, thus implying that BSST’s other disciples including Srila Prabhupada did not represent him fully, you have once again inserted your foot firmly into your mouth.The historical facts do not support you on this one, rather you look like a complete idiot. If that’s your opinion, fine, but know that it won’t find much sympathy outside your own head.

  11. I would also venture to say, that in practice and reality, the preaching missions of both Srila Bhaktisiddhanta and Srila Prabhupada actually promoted dasya rasa and organized, institutional religion, despite many claims or arguments to the contrary. And maybe that is what the world needs, and maybe that is what we need as individuals, at least at some point of our life.

    And maybe that is also why Lalita Prasada and his approach appeals to some of us – because it is different and more focused on madhurya rasa. The very same reason why Narayana Maharaja’s teachings attract so many former Iskcon members. The taste is different, richer and fuller.

    Personally, I never felt even a hint of madhurya rasa in the writings of Srila Prabhupada, or Srila Bhaktisiddhanta for that matter. Yet that taste somes through to me, very strong and vibrant, from the writings of Srila Sridhara Maharaja or Srila Narayana Maharaja. And I know I’m not alone in that perception.

    It is very easy to dismiss such views as yet another manifestation of ‘sahjiya tendencies’, but is it really? Saraswatas are often very quick to accuse other Vaishnavas of ‘leaning left’. They have created their own definition of what a sahajiya is, and they definitely made a bad word out of it. It pretty much boils down to this: anybody who has a different take on madhurya rasa than they do is a sahajiya.

  12. Having read the article and being familiar with the topic I do have a certain question. My question is: why did BSST become a guru and why did he initiate people? This question does not mean I disrespect BSST. It is a widely accepted fact that he himself was never initiated. If he was never initiated why did he initiate? Second doubt supporting my question is the way he initiated. Why did he start giving gayatri and threads? Neither BVT nor GauraKishora dasa babaji wore threads or chanted gayatri. Although I disagree with BSST’s idea of giving sannyas, I certainly understand his motive. Although, at least in my opinion, going against vaishnava principles, introduction of sannyas for the sake of preaching seems to be justified. At least in early 19th century India. However, I cannot say the same about him giving diksha without being initiated himself and about the way he initiated. Let’s face it, he sort of started new ‘diksha’ parampara originating from a ‘siksha’ succession. If he stressed siksha so much, why couldn’t he become a siksha guru? Why there was such a need for diksha, even after having done away with siddha pranali? If someone could thoroughly respond to my questions, I would sincerely appreciate it.

    • It is a widely accepted fact that he himself was never initiated.

      You are quite wrong. Such opinions are based merely upon hearsay and came after his mission was well established. He initiated in the presence of both Gaura Kishore and BVT with no objection from either of them. More later.

      • Thank you for the answer. I am looking forward to your thorough response. In the meantime I would like to present what seems to be my understanding. Feel free to correct me if you find any mistake in it. First, let us establish that Srila GauraKishora dasa Babaji was initiated in Advaita-parivara. He had his own guru-pranali, distinct tilaka (banyan leaf on the nose as far as I recall and certain shape) and as far as I know he had four initiated disciples, none of them BSST. If he (BSST) was GauraKishora dasa Babaji’s disciple then where is ‘our’ guru pranali, distinct tilaka-svarupa and why do ‘we’ wear threads and take sannyas?
        What is more why did BSST criticize advaita-parivara as not bone-fide? After all, this was GKDB’s sampradaya. Interestingly, BSST never himself claimed that he had received pancharatrika diksha, but what he called bhagavati diksha. There is one story, about Siddha Ramakrishna Baba, when he asked BSST about his initiation. To cut the long story short (I think you are familiar with this story, it is kind of famous one), BSST is said to have claimed that he did receive diksha, but in a dream. Finally, on top of this, what about surya gayatri? First question where did BSST get it from and second, why did he pass it? Being a great lover of BVT’s articles, I find him stressing again and again the importance of ‘klim krsnaya (…) svaha’ mantra and maha mantra. Not gayatri, which he did not chant and did not wear a thread. All in all, there is no one question I could ask about this issue, but plenty. Even if we accept bhagavati diksha of BSST, then a question comes ‘why did he pass pancharatrika as well?’. I am looking forward to your thorough response. Thank you in advance.

        • First, let us establish that Srila GauraKishora dasa Babaji was initiated in Advaita-parivara. He had his own guru-pranali, distinct tilaka (banyan leaf on the nose as far as I recall and certain shape) and as far as I know he had four initiated disciples, none of them BSST.

          Perhaps he was initiated in this parivara, but there are contradictory reports on this issue. We have no way of ever knowing what tilak GK wore (no pictures, no eye witnesses). He was an avadhuta, who probably wore no tilaka half the time. He was finished with formalities and sometimes dressed as a materialist to avoid people. “As far as I know” . . . is hearsay. What were these four disciple’s names? Who told you this? Where were they when GK’s samadhi was conducted? Why was the samadhi conducted by BSST?

          We know one BSST who claims to have been initiated by GK. He opened 64 monasteries in India and his students exported GV all over the world (still developing). We know nothing about the disciples you mention. No one does. On the basis of this hearsay we have no grounds to conclude that BSST was not an initiated disciple of GK. Anything more on this point before we look at the rest of the “evidence” you cite, threads, sanyasa, tilak, etc.?

          • Thank you for your answer. Let me just assure you that I am in no way interested in commiting a vaishnava aparadha of any kind. I did not start this topic to merely criticise BSST. On the other hand, I am not interested in being a blind follower of any kind either. I would simply like to understand the controversies surrounding Siddhanta Sarasvati’s diksha and validity of the changes he introduced. If you could throw some light on these issues I would be sincerely greatful.

            You write:

            Perhaps he was initiated in this [ADVAITA] parivara, but there are contradictory reports on this issue. We have no way of ever knowing what tilak GK wore (no pictures, no eye witnesses). He was an avadhuta, who probably wore no tilaka half the time.

            Certainly you can never be sure of anything, if that is what you suggest. We were not there, there are no pictures, or simply, he did not care for tilak, you could say. Maybe it is a ‘hearsay’ but it is a common knowledge that he (GKDB) was initiated in Advaita-parivara. This knowledge is mostly based on various biographies written by so many people and care-takers of GKDB’s bhajan kutir in Navadvip. The pujaris and elders from there also recall him having four initiated disciples, one married couple and two men. Of course, all jivanis of his confirm that he was extremely difficult to obtain diksha from. Where were they when GK’s samadhi was conducted? They could have been dead, living in another area, different times, no phones, no internet. Why was the samadhi conducted by BSST? Because he was the only one to claim to be his disciple. But this in no way proves that he was his disciple, as well as it does not prove that GKDB did not have any other disciples. What is even more interesting, these details do not really matter, as far as the subject matter of our talk is concerned.

            You write:

            We know one BSST who claims to have been initiated by GK. He opened 64 monasteries in India and his students exported GV all over the world (still developing). We know nothing about the disciples you mention. No one does. On the basis of this hearsay we have no grounds to conclude that BSST was not an initiated disciple of GK. Anything more on this point before we look at the rest of the “evidence” you cite, threads, sanyasa, tilak, etc.?

            First of all, whatever material success did BSST and his followers achieve does not prove his initiation. This may only, but does not have to, prove his spiritual power. Second of all you cannot, or rather should not, say ‘we know nothing about the disciples you mention, no one does’. What if someone does? Would you reject it? On what grounds? As I said, there is a bhajan kutir of GKDB, sort of a temple, in Navadvip. My information about those four sishyas of GKDB comes from the elders and pujaris from this place. But, as I mentioned above, this is not that important, as far as the subject matter we discuss is concerned. You seem to have pointed it out by stating: ‘On the basis of this hearsay we have no grounds to conclude that BSST was not an initiated disciple of GK.’

            Exactly. Let me paraphrase this statement of yours into a question. What makes you not believe that BSST took diksha from GKDB? I infer that you implied I should first clarify this point. This is my answer.

            Prameya Ratnavali 8.6 states: tapah pundram tatha nama mantro yagas ca pancamah ami hi panca-samskarah paramaikanti-hetavah. So there are five items that constitute diksha. Out of those five let’s take pundram and mantra first. Pundram means tilakam.
            Hari-bhakti-vilasa 2.8.5 states: sampradayika mudradi bhusitam tam krtanjalim. During initiation a disciple recieves marks of certain sampradaya. All recognised sampradayas have their distinct tilaka svarupa and often a story behind it, a famous example being the line of Syamananda Pandit. So we have Nityananda Parivara, Syamananda Parivara, Advaita Parivara, Narottama Parivara and so on. All of them have distinct tilaka svarupa. The question is what is the tilaka svarupa BSST received from GKDB?

            Let’s take mantra. BVT is of the opinion that this is the most important samskara. What is more, siddha pranali seems to be an expansion of mantra-diksha, not an independent ritual. Although there may be variations of the mantras one receives, the general rule is one receives sixteen mantras. These are guru, chaitanya, nityananda, advaita, gadadhara, srivasa, gopala, radha mantras. Each of them is accompanied by an appropriate gayatri. The strenght of the mantras comes through a succession of gurus that received them, practiced them and ultimately gave them to their disciples. Therefore at the time of diksha one recieves guru-pranali, the list of those gurus and disciples. It is a custom for many hindus to chant those names in the morning. My two next questions are: What is the guru-pranali BSST recieved from GKDB? Why are the mantras BSST initiated people in different than these?

            A short expansion of my thoughts on guru-pranali and mantra questions. Guru pranali as given by BSST is siksha only. What is even more interesting there are sometimes long periods between the deaths and births of these devotees. Some of them probably have not even met. As far as mantras are concerned the biggest, but not the only, issue is gayatri. Surya gayatri has nothing to do with worship of Radha Krishna and Gaudiya tradition. On the other hand, it has a lot to do with the study of the Vedas by bramins. Neither BVT nor GKDB were bramins. Where do therefore BSST’s thread and surya gayatri come from.

            Let me summarise my questions:
            1) What is the tilaka svarupa BSST received from GKDB?
            2) What is the guru-pranali BSST received from GKDB?
            3) What are the mantras BSST received from GKDB?
            4) Why are the mantras he passed on different than traditional gaudiya mantras?
            5) What sampradaya was he initiated in? Which parivara?

            Although I hope to receive an answer from you, for now, I would like to state that:

            a) since Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya is a new name for a new line of siksha sampradaya, not a genuine, traditional, unbroken diksha succession

            b) since there is no story behind tilakam, no tilaka svarupa (svarupa indicates a certain diksha parampara, so it is absent in this new product in the form of BSST’s parampara)

            c) since mantras are different then traditional, some not connected to gaudiya tradtion (surya gayatri)

            d) since he introduced sannyas (I do not agree with you that babaji vesha is the same thing)

            e) since he introduced bramin threads (that following Chaitaya’s example bhaktas who were bramins rather took off and shaved their sikhas)

            f) since he is not mentioned in traditional jivanis describing GKDB’s lilas (BVT is mentioned)

            g) since Puri Maharaja and many other prominent gaudiya vaishnavas left gaudiya math after having discovered that BSST did not recieve diksha (it is worth to mentioned that they did continue to publish books and still were vaishnavas)

            h) since there are many ‘hearsays’ that confirm his not taking diksha (since they are not a strong evidence I just mentioned them in order to stress they exist)

            i) since Bhakti Vikasa Swami from ISCKON confirms this in his new book on BSST, stating: ‘[…] 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? […]’

            j) since even if BSST (as he claimed) carried out the orders of BVT, wouldn’t it have been easier for BVT to simply give BSST diksha, like he did with Lalita Prasad? There are certain ‘hearsays’ that state BVT did not want to give it to him for several reasons(e.g. his attitude towards Bipin Bihari)

            k) since Lalita Prasad confirmed BSST was not initiated

            l) since GKDB was not a sannyasi, yet BSST took sannyas from his picture (both the act and the way he did it are controversial)

            m) since there are no authorities on the command of which he acted and initiated

            Since the above reasons, I doubt Siddhanta Sarasvati’s diksha and validity of the changes he introduced. My doubts are above and my questions are in the begining of this post and in previous ones. Could you kindly respond?

            Let me finish by explaining the last point [m]. If there is no diksha, there is no guru or authority. Person is free and independent. You wrote earlier (in your first response):

            He [BSST] initiated in the presence of both Gaura Kishore and BVT with no objection from either of them.

            How come? As far as I know, BVT died in 1914, GKDB died in 1915, BSST took sannyas when both of his supposed-to-be authorities were dead, what is more he established Gaudiya Math in 1918, right? So it rather seems he introduced all the novelties when his gurus were dead. This is called independence and when we combine it with a quote given in BhaktiVikasa’s book:

            “Bhaktivinoda Thakura is Kamala Manjari, a personal associate of Radharani. He ordered me to establish daiva-varnasrama. I must obey his order. The acarya is not under the sastra. The acarya can make sastra.”

            … it does not sound like depending on any authority (especially being given the arguments and circumstances I have already explained) on any guru and on any scriptures, since shastras seem to be excluded from this logic. If they are excluded, then even this quote does not matter: sruti smriti puranadi pancaratra vidhim vina (bhaktirasamritasindhu 1.2.101). This quote is however valid if we want to evaluate BSST’s work through what has been laid in Gaudiya shastras and tradition, that was suported even by his father, BVT, who gave Lalita Prasad guru-pranali, siddha-pranali and all the mantras and everything I mentioned according to shastras and tradition.

            I am looking forward to your response. Thank you in advance.

          • So we have two conflicting reports. Some devotees who care for GK’s place of bhajana do not know if BBST was initiated by him. They only know of four other disciples. Then other devotees headed by BSST claim that he was initiated by GK. Asking who says what does have some value. Not to discredit those who acknowledge only four other disciples (who also apparently do not deny that BSST may have also been initiated by GK), but the spiritual power of BSST is an important factor. He is a person of considerable spiritual consequence—krsna sakti vina nahi . . . Such persons’ testimony should have weight (I take exception to your words “material success” in this regard). And to take this point a step further, again, history records that BSST initiated disciples in the presence of BVT and GKDB with no objection from either of them but rather direct encouragement at least form BVT. So despite your understanding that GK only had four disciples and BSST was not one of them and the testimony and further conjecture on your part that your understanding is based upon, in and of itself this does not disprove the testimony of BSST. And I believe that the burden of proof is on the side of those who question his testimony.

            But before we go any further, I think it may be useful to suggest that if one wants to discredit BSST in this regard there is enough circumstantial evidence to make a case and convince some people that he was not initiated by GKDB. But circumstantial evidence is not conclusive. Furthermore there is also circumstantial evidence to the contrary, enough to convince some people. Personally I think that is about as far as we will go with this discussion. But such a discussion will likely pit what can be considered formal concerns against those of greater spiritual significance. The again some will give greater significance to what others will deem less so. So I question the usefulness of the discussion, especially since you seem convinced by what I would consider circumstantial evidence of a more formal nature interpreted to be of greater spiritual significance than it is in my mind. And furthermore this is an old and tired topic that leaves devotees on either side of the fence. All of your questions and doubts above have been answered over the years by followers of BSST. You write that you are well acquainted with the topic, so I assume you have heard their replies and are not satisfied with them. So, again, I question the usefulness of spending time in replying to you in detail at least in this particular format, which would be time consuming. I would be much more inclined to do so in person if you were to visit me.

            And in light of the topic under which this has come up, BVT exemplified and taught in his written word of the importance of a person of spiritual substance and his or her decisions in consideration of time and circumstance over even scriptural mandates. And I do not think we will find anything in the innovation of BSST that cannot be traced to the precepts of BVT. Incidentally, we consider ourselves the Bhaktivinoda parivara and BVT the “7th Goswami.” New light may appear to be darkness to others. So it is with the entire Guadiya sampradaya in relation to some other Vaisnava sampradayas. Sri Caitanya was new light, as was Madhva, BVT, and BSST. In the presence of such light we are obliged to find a way to make scripture fit around it as an aura, rather than deny it in light of a dim understanding of essence of scripture.

          • Also scripture is revealed to saints at the beginning of creation. So what is static and fixed is also revealed to some saint in the first place. For example Gayatri Mantra was revealed to Vishwamitra muni on the earth. So it is not that all scripture has been revealed completely at any time.

          • Also “surya gayatri” is misnomer from the Gaudiya perspective. Sri Jiva Goswami explains this gayatri mantra at length in Tattva and Paramatma-sandarbhas, where he develops the Garuda Purana statement that the Bhagavata is a commentary on gayatri. According to Gaudiya siddhanta, it points only to Bhagavan and his svarupa-sakti. It is synonymous with the essence of the Bhagavatam. BSST probably got this from his father BVT, from whom he also received Narasingha mantra.

          • Dreams are also another consideration. First of all I have no reason to believe that BSST told a baba in Vrindavan that he received initiation from GKDB in a dream, since it contradicts what we know he personally said abut his initiation to his disciples. That said, if the story were true, the baba gave the wrong advice because according to Govinda-bhasya it is acceptable to receive mantras via a dream. This is also confirmed in Brihat-bhagavatmrita, mantra and initiation via dream is acceptable.

          • I should add that as far as I know gayatri and the thread were given to the three higher castes.

            And it is hardly acceptable that initiation is incomplete despite giving the mantra if tilak, etc. are not given. Thus BVT’s emphasis on mantra with regard to diksa. This is what it is all about. As for what mantras are given, this is a detail. Some parivaras for example do not give gaura mantra and gayatri, etc. It is the 18 syallable Krsna mantra that is the essence of Gaudaiya mantra diska, that and it’s accompanying gayatri, kama gayatri. Also many gurus give mantras that they did not personally receive, but that they deem appropriate for their disciple, mantras that are the common wealth of the sampradaya. After all, although mantras require ignition so to speak, this is not the case with Krsna mantras according to HBV and Bhakti-sandarbha. Still sadhakas should receive them from sadhus. Furthermore, any qualified guru can give mantras that he himself did not personally receive. Why, because he is realized. The emphasis on the necessity of receiving one’s mantra from a guru in the Guadiya parampara refers to the necessity of sadhakas. We don’t know what mantras BSST received from GKDB, but our faith is that he was or became realized and gave what he had to his disciples, and this to an extent in the form of mantras, procedures, etc. in the fashioning, if you will, of the Bhaktivinoda-parivara. And we even have our tilaka to boot.

          • A short expansion of my thoughts on guru-pranali and mantra questions. Guru pranali as given by BSST is siksha only. What is even more interesting there are sometimes long periods between the deaths and births of these devotees.

            The idea of giving the disciple the names of the gurus in his parampara and the details of their svrarupas may have been fashionable at one time, but it is hardly essential and it could become quite burdensome in, say 5,000 years from now. So the idea of giving a list of prominent gurus is a short version so to speak. And if these prominent gurus touch by way of siksa or diska there is essentially no difference. And of they do not touch, this does not mean that they are unconnected but rather that the lesser influential ones in between are not mentioned. But at any rate, all of this falls into the realm of non-essnetial details.

          • What is the evidence that during CM’s time, people shaved off their shikhas? Then why do people draw their pictures with sikha?
            And is shikha an essential element or a non-essential detail?
            The way the tilak is changing all the time for even different sects within a paramapara, is shape of tilak a non-essential detail or essential? People from different sampradayas fight over which tilak people are wearing in the spiritual world. Does it get more ridiculous than this? Can we decide the superiority of a tilak?
            If tilak and shikha are essential then there is a lot of room to fight I guess. Some sages like Vyasa or Sukadeva are drawn without sikhas. Who knows what is good?

          • Argument over such details, as you seek to point out, were termed “barabahi” by BVT as opposed to saragrahi. The former refers to the burden carried by those identified more with details than the essence of the tradition, and the latter refers to the essence seekers.

          • a) since Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya is a new name for a new line of siksha sampradaya, not a genuine, traditional, unbroken diksha succession

            Actually the idea of the Brahma Madhva Gaudiya lineage does not originate with BSST. It was emphasized by BVT strongly and it dates back at least to Baladeva Vidyabhusana and perhaps as far back as Kavi Karnapura. Ironically with regard to this discussion it is an attempt to legitimatize the entire Gaudiya lineage with reference to the controversial Padma Purana statement that there are only four Vaisnava sampradays. The point being that the Gaudiya lineage of Mahaprabhu would have fallen outside of the four lines had it not been connected with the Brahma Madhva line. And although Sri Jiva writes in his Sarva-samvadhini that Sri Caitanaya initiated his own sampradaya, he himself was initiated by a Vaisnava who was arguably from the Madhva lineage. I say ironically because many Guadiyas dismiss this statement of the Purana on the strength of Sri Caitanya’s spiritual charisma and acknowledge no connection with the Madhva Vaisnava lineage, dispensing with formalities, if you will.

          • c) since mantras are different then traditional, some not connected to gaudiya tradtion (surya gayatri)

            The mantras are not different. “Surya gayatri” has already been discussed above and shown to be a misconception on your part.

            d) since he introduced sannyas (I do not agree with you that babaji vesha is the same thing)

            Since he introduced sannyasa his must not have been initiated? What kind of logic is that? Is sannyasa not mentioned in Hari-bhakti-vilasa? The two are the same in that they are renunciate statuses. Otherwise there are some differences between the two.

            e) since he introduced bramin threads (that following Chaitaya’s example bhaktas who were bramins rather took off and shaved their sikhas)

            Do you now why he did so, what his logic was and the scriptural support he drew upon? Because he did so therefore he must not have been initiated? Do Brahmins who join the sampradaya today shave of their sikhas?

          • i) since Bhakti Vikasa Swami from ISCKON confirms this in his new book on BSST, stating: ‘[…] 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? […]

            This confirms nothing other than the fact that a person named Visvambharananda made these claims.

            j) since even if BSST (as he claimed) carried out the orders of BVT, wouldn’t it have been easier for BVT to simply give BSST diksha, like he did with Lalita Prasad? There are certain ‘hearsays’ that state BVT did not want to give it to him for several reasons(e.g. his attitude towards Bipin Bihari)

            BVT wanted him to take initiation from GKDB for esoteric spiritual reasons.

            k) since Lalita Prasad confirmed BSST was not initiated

            Then why did LP serve in his mission for years helping him make disciples before leaving over other disagreements? And, again, why did BVT or GKDB not take exception to his initiating?

            l) since GKDB was not a sannyasi, yet BSST took sannyas from his picture (both the act and the way he did it are controversial)

            This indicates more sraddha in GKDB than not, and such is the basis of the connection between sisya and guru.

            m) since there are no authorities on the command of which he acted and initiated

            Not true as pointed out here by myself and others.

          • As far as I know, BVT died in 1914, GKDB died in 1915, BSST took sannyas when both of his supposed-to-be authorities were dead, what is more he established Gaudiya Math in 1918, right? So it rather seems he introduced all the novelties when his gurus were dead. This is called independence

            Wrong. Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati followed the instructions of Bhaktivinoda Thakura. With no objection, and more, with the blessing of Bhaktivinoda and Gorakishore dasa babaji he initiated disciples in the manifest presence of his gurus. He accepted his first disciple in 1906.

            During the period of his preaching while his gurus were still present, Lalita Prasada served in his mission under his direction for several years both during and after the departure of Bhaktivinoda and Gorakishore. Sometime after their departure, Lalita Prasada took exception to the policies of the mission, the character of some of the leading disciples of Bhaktisiddhanta, and also with the sannyasa of Bhaktisiddhanta. Thus he left the mission.

            It is worth noting that Bhakti Pradipa Tirtha Maharaja, a disciple of Thakura Bhaktivinoda, was the first person to accept sannyasa from Bhaktisiddhanta and that his sannyasa was predicted by Gorakishore dasa at the time of his initiation. At that time, babaji Maharaja predicted that in the future this new disciple would accept sannyasa from a sad guru and preach beyond the borders of India. After Tirtha Maharaja accepted sannyasa from Bahktisiddhanta he did travel to England for preaching under the direction of his sannyasa guru.

            Thus while Lalita Prasada objected to the sannyasa of Bhaktisiddhanta, which he accepted from a picture of Gorakishore dasa after the departure of his gurus, it appears from the testimony of Tirtha Maharaja that his sannyasa was blessed by Gorakishore. In any case it did involve innovative preaching on the part of Bhaktisiddhanta, the kind of preaching that Bhaktivinoda wanted him to do. Indeed, if there is to be a daiva varnasrama that gives support to Gaudiya Vaisnava initiates in the budding stages of their practice, how will it be complete without the sannyasa order?

            Still this and other innovations of Bhaktisiddhanta such as his Bhagavata or siksa guru parampara conception did cause a stir in the Gaudiya community, and Bhaktisiddhanta himself was critical of the moral standards of the community and other practices prominent at the time. Thus a rift developed, and the gap created between Bhaktisiddhanta and other Gaudiya sects only widened after his departure. Eventually rumors about Bhaktisiddhanta never being properly initiated surfaced, the principle protagonist being one of his own disciples who many considered the most qualified to succeed him. This of course gave strength to the long time opponents of Bhaktisiddhanta, while his followers, who had already broken into factions by this time, carried on with their independent preaching missions. Some of these preachers realized considerable success and this in turn brought renewed credibility to the line of Bhaktisiddhanta.

            Although Lalita Prasada remained critical of his older brother, in the end he did feel some inspiration to donate the place of Bhaktivinoda’s bhajana in Nadiya, which was under his care, to A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, the most prominent preaching disciple of Bhaktisiddhanta. The donation was never realized, but the discussion surrounding it did signal a note of acceptance of the missionary activities of Bhaktisiddhanta on the part of Lalita Prasada in the final days of his life, as well as one of regard for Lalita Prasada on the part of A.C. Bahktivedanta Swami, who also allowed his disciples to occasionally visit with Lalita Prasada and hear his Hari katha.

          • Dear Maharaj. Here I would like to respond to all your posts on the questions I have asked. Thank you very much for your time and attention. It is true that I have been around for some time and heard a lot about this issue. I hoped that I could hear something new from you, maybe something that would throw more light on it. Although I still disagree with several of your statements, I am not interested in a ‘battle’. I am happy that you used logic and arguments to support your views. I found some of your statements new to me, some of your points more than satisfactory. Hence, I would like to conclude our discussion here. Thank you very much.

          • e) since he introduced bramin threads (that following Chaitaya’s example bhaktas who were bramins rather took off and shaved their sikhas)
            Where do you find evidence that Chaitanya’s bhaktas shaved off sikhas? If they did it is surprising that now sikha in GV is considered one of the most important external sign of being a devotee. Give me the evidence.

            g) since Puri Maharaja and many other prominent gaudiya vaishnavas left gaudiya math after having discovered that BSST did not recieve diksha (it is worth to mentioned that they did continue to publish books and still were vaishnavas)

            I don’t think you have it correct. Puri Maharaja was very loyal to BSST, I think fiercely loyal. Give evidence to show that Puri Maharaja left Gaudiya Math because of this issue.

          • g) since Puri Maharaja and many other prominent gaudiya vaishnavas left gaudiya math after having discovered that BSST did not recieve diksha (it is worth to mentioned that they did continue to publish books and still were vaishnavas)

            I don’t think you have it correct. Puri Maharaja was very loyal to BSST, I think fiercely loyal. Give evidence to show that Puri Maharaja left Gaudiya Math because of this issue.

            Here Pablo is referring to Ananta Vasudeva, who later referred to himself as Puri Maharaja. But the errors in this statement of Pablo’s are the words “many” and “discovered.’ There were few and AV did not discover this. Moreover, those who keep AV in high regard today also honor the diksa of BSST.

          • Vikram Ramsoondur

            Gaura-Vijaya, I believe Pablo was referring to Bhaktiprasada Puri Maharaja aka Puri Das Maharaja aka Ananta Vasudeva, in which case that part of his post would be consistent with the evidence indeed.

  13. I think Srila Prabhupada resolved the siddha-pranali issue quite well with his explanation that his followers would in the future take birth in Vrindavan in the womb of a gopi in some universe where the lila is manifesting and enter into Krishna-lila/Gaura-lila that way. The notion that it is imperative that one get this ekadasa-bhava from his guru and cultivate that specific form of Raganuga sadhana before attaining siddha-deha is rejected by Srila Prabhupada and the Saraswata acharyas. The bhakti-lata bija
    will blossom into full bloom upon taking birth in Vrindavan. There is no rigid rule that anyone has to practice ekadasa-bhava or lila-smaranam to make a mockery out the concept with imitationism.

    That has never set well with a certain sect of Gaudiyas that fancy themselves as the “tradition” and who follow the ekadasa-bhava and lila-smaranam.

    Srila Prabhupada explains in Krishna Book that simply reading Krishna Book is HIS version of lila-smaranam for his disciples.

    Srila Prabhupada says that reading that one book alone can awaken Krishna-prema.

    We can’t all be great rocket scientists of Gaudiya shastra and history. Srila Prabhupada gave a very simple process that will deliver as good a result as anything the siddha-pranali devotees practice.

    It’s not any easier, because the Saraswata devotees practice a severe form of sacrifice in giving their whole lives over to serving in the Sankirtan movement of Lord Chaitanya.

    The babas and their lila-smaranam have nothing on the Saraswata acharyas who preach surrender to Krishna all over the world.

    The siddha-pranali conception is based upon an acharya who is NOT in the Rupanuga sampradaya and his methods are not needed as such.

    The sacrifice and surrender of the Saraswata acharyas is second to none of the babas doin’ their lila-smaranam in the darkness of an impure mind.

    Western people do not have and will never have the degree or level of internal visualization that it takes to succeed in that process.

    • The notion that it is imperative that one get this ekadasa-bhava from his guru. . . is rejected by Srila Prabhupada and the Saraswata acharyas.

      I would agree with this much of what you have written.

      VCT writes in his RVC that when sacred greed for Vraja bhakti awakens within the sadhaka’s heart, the sadhaka’s path is illumined both externally by Sri Guru and internally by the antaryami. The Thakura explains that a sadhaka may receive instructions about cultivating an inner spiritual identity in one of three ways. The sadhaka may hear directly from the mouth of Sri Guru, from a qualified sadhu (siksa guru), or from within, as the instructions manifest of their own accord in the heart that has been purified by practices such as nama-sankirtana. At the stage of asakti, the sadhaka attains this purity, evidenced by his or her being freed from the enjoying spirit and established in a spirit of service. VCT bases his point about inner revelation on SB 2.4.26.

      The followers of BSST have been encouraged to rely upon inner revelation within the higher stages of sadhana-bhakti in order to effectively engage in lila samaranam. This emphasis derives to an extent from opposition to rampant imitation of such practices and a siddha pranali idea that was no more than a pranali lacking siddhas.

  14. Maharaja, I apologize if I come off all the time like I am condescending or arrogant. I know well that you are millions of times more the devotee than i am. My rasa with you is like that of two dear brothers who wrestle each other in sport for the purpose of making each other stronger for the fight against the actual enemy. You are never my enemy, but always my worshipful senior Godbrother that I look up to and admire greatly, no matter how hard and tough I can be.
    I am a strange dichotomy of tenderness and callousness. How I got this way is a long story and I am sure you don’t have the time to hear all the sordid details.

    Anyway, Maharaja, on the siddha-pranali issue, is it not the fact that the process was established and revealed originally by Gopal Guru Goswami (as you have explained in another article) who is in fact not in the direct Rupanuga lineage of Lalita and Vishaka Sakhi, but has his own lineage that in fact a different lineage than the “Rupanuga” lineage of Rupa Goswami who is in the camp of Ramananda Raya and Svarupa Damodar rather than Gopal Guru Goswami?

    So, the siddha-pranali process was originally a type of raganuga sadhana that Gopal Guru Goswami gave SOME of his disciples and not even ALL of his disciples, but what had become an unfortunate imitative process when siddha-dehas were being revealed by gurus who weren’t really on that level and started the imitating.

    However, in the line of Ramananda Raya and Svarupa Damodar who are Lalita and Vishaka, their camp of Sri Rupa and Ragunatha etc. etc., this siddha-pranali (ekadasa-bhava) is not standard to their form of raganuga sadhana.

    Somewhere along the line the babas in Vrindavan all came to accept and promote this ekadasa-bhava as being the “tradition”, but it was only a tradition in their tradition of Gopal Guru Goswami and not in the tradition of Rupa or Raghunatha.

    Is this not the right explanation?

    I am sure you can add more and correct my errors.

    • It may be impossible to sort out the history of the terms siddha-pranali and ekadasa bhava. It is true that they are not mentioned anywhere in any of the Goswami granthas. The terms do first appear it seems in the writings of Gopala Guru and his disciple Dhynachandra, and BVT cites their names in his Jaiva Dharma at the very end of his book for good reason: This practice is not for everyone from day one onward. Were CC and DC Rupanugas in the sense of following the manjari-bhava of Rupa Goswami? Perhaps not. I am not sure about that, but if not, they would have pursued gopi bhava or sambhoghecchamayi as opposed to tadbhavaecchamayi. Perhaps this is what you are getting at. At any rate, just how the practice they write about became mainstream so to speak I am not sure, nor do I know the extent to which they themselves invoked these practices in relation to their students. From the way that BVT introduces them it would appear that they introduced such practices only to advanced sadhakas. I do know, as you mention, that the practices became corrupted to a large extent and remain so to this day in some lineages. The corrective measures of BSST were invoked in the spirt of following the instructions he received from BVT to expose misrepresentation of Mahaprabhu’s precepts. The measures amounted to an emphasis on nama sankirtana as a natural means to ignite internal smaranam (meditation): kirtana prabhava smarana svabhave. No one who knows anything about Guadiya siddhanta can argue with this idea. It has the seal of approval from Mahaprabhu and Nitacanda themselves as well as from the Goswamis. As much as the outreach of BSST was innovative is also as much, in a sense, as it was a return to an earlier emphasis in the lineage. Nama-cintamani. It starts and ends there.

  15. … The fact is he was not against it, but he was against misrepresentation of it, just as his father BVT was, and he took the trouble per the order of BVT to expose this misrepresentation everywhere.

    Dear Maharaja Tripurari, where that leaves us at today, in your opinion?

    It’s been now some 90 years after that, maybe more, and in 90 years world has gone through a lot. Several generations passed by. It’s almost a completely different world today. Visions changed, almost everything revalued. Do we accept new visions and revaluation on these subjects?

    What is the future of both approaches in your opinion? Do you think they’re at all suitable for today’s world or do you think something else is possible too? Do you think they’re excluding each other or do you think they can complement each other? Do you see harmony between them? In the wide world we see modern symbiosis of different sciences and thoughts working exceptionally well together.

    In your other article you mention that any way that will lead people to reach bhava for God is good, so in that matter you may also allow for some novel approach? Do you allow then for some new Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, a person or a few of them, who’d be able refresh the approach to devotion and inspire people even further in the future? True inspiration, non-sectarianism and a good example are terribly lacking in the world of Gaudiya Vaishnavism.

    Following those same lines from the discussion above, do you perceive some person in the future to stand in front of your picture, or a book for example, and feel inspired by you; and if that person inspires others much more than your own formally initiated students can or ever will do, how would you feel about it, and would you perceive that person as your beloved disciple? Or if your formally initiated students reject such a person for being unconventional in their opinion, but again very inspiring to others, how would you respond then?

    These are all questions that naturally follow from the voluminous conversation above, and I think they’re are important, vital for the future of devotion. Your reflection on these questions I pose would be highly appreciated. Thank you.

    • In my opinion there is a need today for a nonsectarian, contemporary presentation of GV, as well as an approach to sadhana that stresses that which is essential. However, I believe that GV is culturally rich, and thus I would be reluctant to throw out too much in the name of doing away with cultural baggage, even while a good portion needs to be left behind. It’s a complex subject but I do have a vision that I believe embraces the best of outreach and inward cultivation. I am not a Hare Krishna zealot, nor am I a questionable babaji. I think that to know my stance and to get the answers to some of your questions put to me, one has to get to know me and then they will be answered, not that I expect that my answers will satisfy all concerned. But I do appreciate your asking as you have.

      Do I allow for another BSST, etc.? Certainly. And if a person of such stature got his or her inspiration from me, I would be honored. But such devotees are rare and we should not make rules or forego them ourselves in the name of what great personalities are capable of when we are not similarly capable.

  16. Dandavats to all.
    I am amazed how much issues arise about the history of the wonderful saints who walked upon the earth. and how much enthusiasm to discuss such issues.
    Free speech and free thought are the opulences of our tradition even some leaders think that it should be different. Our energy may also focus on other issues. I know all of you love Sri Vrindavan Dham. currently our heritage is under siege.
    the half moon bridge started to destroy the last sweet water for Vrindavan is a huge challenge.
    black waters from many ashrams running into the Yamuna as well.
    what would our Acaryas do about this?
    Well I am sure they would do something about it.
    And such an effort would clarify in our hearts what is most pleasing to our Guru varga.
    simply a humble request to not ignore this danger to Vrindavan.
    swami b a paramadvaiti

  17. The discussion I’ve found online:

    Steve Bohlert (Subal das):
    “Sri Lalitaprasad Thakur insisted that all of Bhaktivinode’s books published by GM were corrupt and that they had to be done over from the manuscripts”.

    Nitai Das:
    I had the good fortune of meeting your guru [Lalitaprasad Thakur] once in Birnagar. It was a great experience.
    Somewhere around here I have a letter from him.
    He filled in many of the gaps in my knowledge about initiation and standing of his older brother. He gave me some books and informed me that he had many unpublished manuscripts of Bhaktivinode Thakur’s in the almirahs in his room.
    I was fascinated and wondered what other treasures might be kept there. Any idea where those mss are these days?

    Steve Bohlert (Subal das):
    He said no one would know the true teachings of Bhaktivinode fully until they were republished from the original manuscripts he had. They would have passed on to Bhakta Ma or Sachinandana probably, but they are gone now too. So, I don’t know who has them. If someone could get them and do a proper translation, that would be great.

    Nitai Das:
    Yes, I remember now. Sri Lalitaprasad Thakur insisted that all of Bhaktivinode’s books published by GM were corrupt and that they had to be done over from the mss. He told me so many things during that day or two, it was hard to keep everything straight. If someone is able to find the mss, perhaps Jagat and I can work something out to redo them. It would be good to have reliable editions of that corpus out.

    • Not much value in this online conversation. Why should they be believed, memories of non-practicing or heterodox persons of events that occurred 40 years ago? And even if everything said is true, why believe Lalita Prasada’s opinion over that of his brother Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati? And what could possibly be missing from the teachings of Bhaktivinode that have already been published? Something different from that found in Sat-sandarbha, Brihat-bhagavatamrta, Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. etc., etc.? How could this conversation bring into doubt the immense contribution of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura and his followers in the mind of a reasonable person?

      • I think it is not about questioning the truly immense contribution of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura and his followers to the cause of presenting Krsna consciousness to the people of the world. It is about showing that there were and still are other valid interpretations of the Gaudiya tradition and other valid ways of practicing it. We see quite often that – in practice – gurus in our lineage adopt a rather narrow path and are very critical of those who do not follow it. Sometimes they are even engaged in bending the historical truth to fit their preferred interpretation. At least this is how it comes across to people who take a more analytic look at these matters.

        • I think it is about criticising BSST. At least that is what Nitai dasa and to a lesser extent Subala dasa have been involved in on line.

          • I just wanted to mention some unknown manuscripts by Bhaktivinoda Thakur that have been lost.
            And, certainly, we should not criticise Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati or Lalita Prasad, we should not take part in the quarrel between two Vaisnava brothers.

  18. An exchange of letters between Srila Prabhupada and his disciples in 1972 regarding some hand-written manuscripts of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura which at that time were in the hands of his son, Srila Lalita Prasada Thakura.

    The photo of Srila Lalita Prasada Thakura, Acyutananda Swami, Gurudasa and Srila Prabhupada: http://www.lotusimprints.com/new/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/ct61-163.JPG

    In a letter to Acyutananda Swami dated 12 June, 1972 Srila Prabhupada told him:

    “I am especially pleased that you have stayed some days and got the tapes of Lalita Prashad Thakura for posterity. If you send them to Syamasundara. immediately he has all facilities here to transcribe them, and get them printed immediately. As for the manuscripts, you can call Satchidananda from Vrndavana, he can write in Bengali very nicely and can type also with Bengali typewriter. Tell him to bring the Bengali typewriter with him and type everything on good paper.

    “But best thing is, I have asked Yadubara to come there to Birnagar from Bombay for photographing all of the manuscripts in the possession of Lalita Prashad Thakura page by page very completely before it is too late. The pages are in very decrepit condition, so best thing is to request Lalita Prashad if we may take care of them by treating them against insects and storing them in a tight, dry storage place where they may be preserved for future generations of Vaisnavas to see the actual handwriting and words of such great saintly persons.

    “Treat this matter very seriously and thoroughly, and take all precautions to protect this wonderful boon of literatures forever. Yadubara may photograph every page, never mind Bengali or English or any other language, and later we shall see where to send the copies to different places. You also write to Yadubara at Bombay in this connection and request him to join you in Birnagar immediately. I have also written him.

    “These items are very, very priceless and are a great treasure house of Vaisnava lore, so be very careful in the matter and take all precautions to guard them.”

    A little over a week later Srila Prabhupada wrote to Yadubara, on June 20 1972:

    “N.B. I have just now got one letter from Acyutananda Maharaja from Mayapur, and his plan is to photograph all of the original manuscripts of Bhaktivinode Thakura which are held by his son, Lalita Prasad Thakura, in Birnagar. This is a very, very important work, so I think you are just the right man for going there with Acyutananda to make photos of each and every page of the old manuscripts as they are in very bad condition.”

    Yadubara responded immediately to Srila Prabhupada’s request, and proceeded to Bir Nagar where he spent a week taking hundreds of photos of the materials made available to him by Srila Lalita Prasada Thakura. He informed Srila Prabhupada and on July 13 1972 Prabhupada replied:

    “You may develop the films of manuscripts from Birnagar and inform me what you have done and which manuscripts are with you, then I shall inform you where to send them for translating, etc.

    Two days later he sent another letter to Acyutananda Swami:

    “Regarding the manuscripts, you may photograph all of the pages, then we shall type them later. If there is shortage of film, I have instructed Karandhara to send you a large supply of the appropriate films for photographing the pages. Or you may purchase there and we shall pay from Book Fund. These are important works and they must be preserved forever, so what is that expense?”

    At the end of the same month Prabhupada wrote again to Yadubara:

    72-07-29
    Yes, that is nice, you may continue to photograph all of the manuscripts of Bhaktivinode Thakura and other great acaryas in our Vaisnava line, but for now do not photograph anything of Lalita Prasad’s manuscripts. When I go there I shall see. First of all let us see Bhaktivinode Thakura’s works, then we shall see further.”

    Yadubara prabhu recalled the service late last year:

    Oct. 8 2008
    “Sometime in 1972 Srila Prabhupada instructed me to go stay with Lalita Prasad, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur’s son for the purpose of copying rare books and manuscripts left by his father. Srila Prabhupada thought it was very important that these be preserved. I spent 8 days in his home at Birnagar and took hundreds of photos page by page of the books that Lalita Prasad gave me. I sent those pictures to the BBT. I assume they still have them. Lalita Prasad said he had many more such volumes but wanted me to come back another time which never happened. That’s another story.”

    After some inquiry to the BBT and the Bhaktivedanta Archives, these photos of Yadubara prabhu’s have recently been located. http://www.lotusimprints.com/new/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/35mmbengalidoc.jpg

    Unfortunately Yadubara prabhu never returned to Bir Nagar. Some years later when the Matsya project was in full swing Gopiparanadhana prabhu and others tried to get copies of the remaining materials but by that time they had become scattered and were not available. Whether they are still extent in someone’s house or temple is unknown but it emphasizes the need to act when the opportunity arises. There must be many more such manuscripts scattered in the old temples of Bengal, Orissa, Vrndavana, Jaipur and other centers of Vaisnavism, and the BRC would like to initiate an active campaign to locate and preserve them.

    * * *

    Letter to: Lalita Prasad Thakura — Calcutta 4 March, 1972

    Calcutta
    4 March, 1972
    72-03-04
    His Divine Grace Lalita Prasad Thakura
    Bhaktivinode Institute
    Ulla-Birnagar, Nadia dist., W. Bengal

    My dear Uncle Prabhupada Lalita Prasad Thakura,
    Kindly accept my humble obeisances at your Lotus Feet. The whole day spent at your Temple on Thursday was so pleasant, and happy that all my disciples felt celestial blessings in your association. Personally, I am so much encouraged by you, that I appreciate this as the blessings of Bhaktivinode Thakura through his living representative.
    Now you can expedite the lease agreement immediately so that before returning to U.S.A. in about three weeks’ time I may advise my assistants to take up the work seriously and begin construction and other things.
    Next time when I go to you I shall stay not less than one week.
    Hoping this will meet you in the very best health and happy mood.
    Yours affectionately,
    A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
    ACBS/sda
    Letter to Acyutananda — Paris 22 July, 1972:

    The book contains some derogatory remarks about my Guru Maharaja, therefore we shall having nothing to do with printing it. In fact, since Lalita Prasad Thakura has not fulfilled his promise to give us that Birnagar land for our ISKCON center, so we shall not have any more to do with printing any books by Bhaktivinode Thakura or anyone. Try to induce him to fulfill his promise, otherwise we want nothing more to do with the whole business.
    Letter to Acyutananda — Amsterdam 29 July, 1972:

    One thing is, Sriman Lalita Prasad Thakura has not fulfilled his promise to give us that place in Birnagar for our ISKCON Temple. So I don’t want you to mix with him further. I have just got one letter from Acarya das, wherein he requests to live with Lalita Prasad Thakura for taking instruction from him. I do not like this idea, I don’t know where these ideas are coming from. No one should go there any more. Let Yadubara take his photos as he has taken so much trouble and they may be valuable for the future, but besides Yadubara no one else should go there, and Acarya das should not go there either.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Letter to: Jayapataka — Honolulu 17 May, 1972

    Regarding Lalita Prasad Thakura’s proposal, merging is possible in two ways: They become merged in our institution and we make it as one of our branches. In that case, as we are supplying all necessities to our branches, similarly, this branch will be also supported. When there is scarcity of money, everything will be provided by us. So in that case the management will be under our direction. Otherwise, if they want to keep their own identity then there is no other alternative than to take the land on lease. They can keep aside their portion independently, and the land which is given to us on lease, we keep ourselves independently. So far our relationship is concerned, even though we keep independent of one another, there will be no misunderstanding, because the central point is Bhaktivinode Thakura. Our only ambition is that the birthsite of Bhaktivinode Thakura must be gorgeous and attractive so that people may come to see from all parts of the world. Bhaktivinode Thakura is no longer localized. His holy name is being expanded along with Lord Caitanya’s. So let them understand this point. They are occupying the place for more than 50 years and none of their men could fulfill the desire of Bhaktivinode Thakura in the matter of preaching in foreign countries. With this spirit we should combine. So next you can talk with them on this understanding. I can understand also that Lalita Prasad Thakura is very much favorable in giving us the concession but his assistants may be hesitating unnecessarily.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Letter to: Jayapataka — Paris 22 July, 1972

    Regarding Lalita Prasad Thakura, as I have advised Acyutananda above, unless he keeps his promise than we are not interested to publish any of Bhaktivinode Thakura’s books. That animosity against Guru Maharaja is going on, so we shall have nothing to do with it.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Letter to: Yadubara — Amsterdam 29 July, 1972

    Yes, that is nice, you may continue to photograph all of the manuscripts of Bhaktivinode Thakura and other great acaryas in our Vaisnava line, but for now do not photograph anything of Lalita Prasad’s manuscripts.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Letter to: Gurukrpa , Yasodanandana — Los Angeles 25 December, 1973

    Now, one thing is I understand that in the past you were visiting Lalita Prasadji and that you may also be planning to continue to visit him when you return to India. This is not approved by me and I request you not to go to see him any more. He holds a grudge against my Guru Maharaja and even if it is transcendental it will gradually appear mundane in our eyes. Whatever is to be learned of the teachings of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura can be learned from our books. There is no need whatsoever for any outside instruction.

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