Bhakti Sandarbha 207 : The Dīkṣā Guru is Only One

The guru-prakaraṇa continues in this anuccheda with the discussion of the dīkṣā-guru or mantra-guru, , emphasizing his singularity. This has become something of a difficult issue. It should be noted that everyone involved in the writing and editing this translation and commentary originally took initiation from one Vaishnava guru and then made a change to another, which appears to be inappropriate in keeping with Sri Jiva Goswami's verdict in this anuccheda.

Whether our reasons for doing so are valid or not may be a matter of debate, but I will attempt a brief explanation of my own (Jagat's) position here.

In this anuccheda, Sri Jiva Prabhu quotes the verse as the only valid reason for giving up the mantra-guru,

avaiṣṇavopadiṣṭena mantreṇa nirayaṁ vrajet
punaś ca vidhinā samyag grāhyed vaiṣṇavād guroḥ

One goes to hell by receiving a mantra from a guru who is not a Vaiṣṇava. Such a person should again accept a mantra from a Vaiṣṇava guru, in conformity with the prescribed principles.

Later on in Anuccheda 238. more justifications for renouncing a guru are given. We need really not comment on these since they are relevant only by taking them to an extreme and excessive degreee. As such I would consider it offensive if applied to the Gaudiya Math and ISKCON tradition, from which we were personally benefited spiritually. This is not the position that I take, but rather that the switch from the exoteric path to the esoteric, i.e, from vaidhī to rāgānugā bhakti, required a change in our understanding the concept of initiation.

I have encountered numerous opinions even among living Vaishnavas, who are more than willing to accept the validity of those who have apparently broken the principle of unbroken disciplic succession on the basis of the dīkṣā-guru. Reform, innovation and creativity are facts of historical evolution, even within a particular school. What they find objectionable, however, more than anything else, is the tradition of offensiveness that builds up when there are competing factions and claims to legitimacy in opposition to the existing disciplic successions. Naturally, we do not wish to respond to offenses with offenses, though it is easy to fall into this trap.

satāṁ nindā nāmnaḥ paramam aparādhaṁ vitanute
yataḥ khyātiṁ yātaṁ katham u sahate tad-vigarhām

To blaspheme the saints is the greatest offense to the Holy Name. How will the Holy Name tolerate the blasphemy against those from whom its glories have been made known to the world?

Jiva Goswami will briefly discuss the principle of disciplic succession as an element of the Agama or Pāñcarātra in Anuccheda 283, and indeed its existence is implied by the injunction that taking a spiritual master and being initiated are necessities for a spiritual practice and the traditions that grow out of it.

Here, Jiva Goswami states that the dīkṣā-guru can only be one, implying that a disciplic succession can only be based on the principle of dīkṣā, otherwise there is no restriction on how one traces or defines one's own pedigree.

The reader will also note that there is no such thing as bhāgavatī dīkṣā in Jiva Goswami's doctrine. The Gaudiya Vaishnava doctrine and practice as presented by Jiva Goswami are not divorced from Pāñcarātra, and many of the esoteric principles adopted in its practices are derived from the āgama or arcanā-mārga and have become integral to it. For example, the tranmission of ekādaśa-bhāva
to the disciple should be seen as a specific development of bhūta-śuddhi, which is a necessary element of arcanā-mārga and the process of smaraṇa as integrated with rāgānugā bhakti and not as a part of vaidhī bhakti. See Anuccheda 286.

Ekādaśa-bhāva may be considered an innovation of the Gaudiya tradition in Vrindavan that is now normally associated there with dīkṣā. Such innovations are a natural part of a tradition's development and it should be remembered that Gaudiya Vaishnavism has always been fundamentally mystical and esoteric, a practice conducted principally in the mind and working on one's identity as a way of entering the Divine World of Vrindavan.

We do not accept the view of those who reject this innovation as not being in line with the teachings of the sampradāya's founders because it is absent from their texts. Such innovations are the natural outgrowth of what is in those texts. The natural movement in all mystic traditions is that from the exoteric to the esoteric, from grosser forms to subtler ones. This is as true of Gaudiya Vaishnavism as it is of most of the world's mystical traditions. Initiation into the esoteric forms is the true mystical initiation in this tradition and supersedes any other.

Historical evolution naturally leads to the creation of new branches in a tradition. As a result there arise inevitable divisions centered on theological and ritual themes, or based very humanly in personality and politics. These which will appeal to aspirants of different levels of qualification and taste, or adhikāra. The adhikāra for esoteric practices is always more rare than it is for the exoteric, so the latter will always be more numerous and more visible. But the two are not disconnected, nor can they be, even though the movement from the exoteric to the esoteric may often be perceived as treachery by the former. From the other side, however, it is a leap of faith into the mood of the gopis.

Furthermore, we consider the continuity of the disciplic succession going back to the avatar generation, i.e., the direct associates of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, through the mystical connection established by initiation, to be non-negotiable, without regard to the external successes of other branches of the sampradāya. We consider such a mystical connection to the founders of the sampradāya to be indispensible

Therefore, to conclude, we by no means begrudge the choices or faith that other followers of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu make in the matter of guru-tattva. Rather, we encourage everyone to follow their own conscience and faith. The Guru is ultimately only One. However Guru-tattva manifests itself to us, that is the form we are bound to follow. Nor do we wish in any way to condemn or minimize the acharyas of the Gaudiya Math and ISKCON, but rather we salute their contributions to us as individuals and to the beneficial reform and general progression of Chaitanya Vaishnavism as a world movement.

Here is Babaji's official statement in response to criticism coming from ISKCON, which I recommend reading.

N.B. The remarks in blue are mine and do not necessarily reflect 
the views of Satyanarayana Dasaji. (Jagat)

N.B. This translation is NOT final and will be revised 
several more times before going to press.

Anuccheda 207

Dīkṣā Guru is Only One

मन्त्रगुरुस्त्वेक एवेत्याह (भा. ११.३.४८)—

लब्धानुग्रह आचार्यात् तेन सन्दर्शितागमः।
महापुरुषमभ्यर्चेन् मूर्त्याभिमतयात्मनः॥

One can have only one mantra guru, as indicated by the sage Āvirhotra:

One who has obtained the grace of the ācārya and has been shown the āgamas [scriptures dealing with ritual, etc.], should worship Bhagavān in the form to which he is attracted. (SB 11.3.48)
अनुग्रहो मन्त्रदीक्षारूपः। आगमो मन्त्रविधिशास्त्रम्। अस्यैकत्वमेकवचनत्वेन बोध्यते।

In this verse, the word grace (anugraḥa) means in the form of mantra initiation. The āgamaḥ learnt from the guru refers to the scripture that describes the mantra and the method of worship according to that mantra. The use of the singular here implies that there can be only one mantra-guru.

बोधः कलुषितस्तेन दौरात्म्यं प्रकटीकृतम्।
गुरुर्येन परित्यक्तस्तेन त्यक्तः पुरा हरिः॥

इति ब्रह्मवैवर्तादौ तत्त्यागनिषेधात्।

This is supported by the fact that it is forbidden to abandon one’s mantra-guru, as stated in the Brahma Vaivarta Purāṇa:

One who has abandoned his guru has already rejected Bhagavān Hari. His intelligence is polluted and he has acted duplicitously.

तदपरितोषेणाप्यन्यो गुरुः क्रियते। ततोऽनेकगुरुकरणे पूर्वत्याग एव सिद्धः।

One’s guru is certainly displeased if one accepts another guru. Consequently, accepting many gurus necessarily entails the rejection of one’s previous guru.

एतच्चापवादवचनद्वारापि श्रीनारदपञ्चरात्रे बोधितम्—

अवैष्णवोपदिष्टेन मन्त्रेण निरयं व्रजेत्।
पुनश्च विधिना सम्यग् ग्राहयेद्वैष्णवाद्गुरोः॥ इति।

The same point is re-emphasized by the exception to the rule provided in the Nārada Pañcarātra:

One goes to hell by receiving a mantra from a guru who is not a Vaiṣṇava. Such a person should again accept a mantra from a Vaiṣṇava guru, in conformity with the prescribed principles.

॥११.३॥ श्रीआविर्होत्रो निमिम्॥२०७॥

Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Maharaja

Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī has named three types of guru, viz., śravaṇa-guru, śikṣā-guru and mantra-guru. The śravaṇa-guru is he from whom one studies śāstra. He is popularly called the śikṣā-guru at present. Śrī Jīva's śikṣā-guru is the one from whom one learns the method of doing bhajana. Bhajana here meaning chanting of mantras, kīrtana, and other related activities. Deity worship is also an important part of bhakti. But to be qualified to worship one must first receive the mantra for the deity from a genuine guru. The mantra-guru is nowadays generally called the dīkṣā-guru. The mantra-guru cannot be more than one because one is initiated only in a particular mantra. It is possible that one can study from different gurus and also learn bhajana from various masters, but one cannot have mantra from two or more gurus. If one does that, then it is understood that one has already rejected the previous mantra-guru as well as the mantra given by him. Therefore, there can only be one mantra-guru. There is no difference between the mantra, the guru and Bhagavān. Therefore, rejecting the guru also means rejecting Bhagavān. By the same logic, getting a guru means getting Bhagavān.

However, there are some very special cases in which one can give up one’s guru. This is if one has taken dīkṣā in a mantra other than the Vaiṣṇava mantra, then one should abandon such a guru and mantra and accept a Vaiṣṇava guru. There is no option in this. Once one come to know this principle, then one must give up a non-Vaiṣṇava guru. This also implies that a Vaiṣṇava guru never gives non-Vaiṣṇava mantra.

The worship recommended is according to the āgama. The word āgama here means the Tantra scriptures as is clear from the previous Bhāgavata verse, “One should also worship Kṛṣṇa with the Tāntrika process.” (11.3.47). Kṛṣṇa also recommends that in the present age the worship is done both by Vedic mantras and Tāntrika mantras, “taking dīkṣā in Vedic and Tāntrika mantra and following vratas related to me [such as Ekadaśī]” (11.11.37). Generally speaking, Tantra in the Vaiṣṇava school is called Pāñcarātra.

Bhakti Sandarbha 204-205: Proper Deliberation on Śāstra Brings About Śraddhā in Bhajana
Bhakti Sandarbha 203: The Guru Should not be Greedy
Bhakti Sandarbha 202 : Necessity of Guru : Different Sadhus Give Different Types of Bhakti
Bhakti Sandarbha 202: The two devotional proclivities and taking a Guru
Bhakti Sandarbha 201 : The Ananya Bhakta is Superior to the Jñānī Bhakta
Bhakti Sandarbha 200 : The Intermediate Devotee Renounces Karma
Bhakti Sandarbha 199 : Divisions of Devotees on the Basis of their Spiritual Practice
Bhakti Sandarbha 198 : Bhagavān is Bound to the Heart of an Uttama Bhāgavata
Bhakti Sandarbha 191-197 : More Characteristics of the Uttama Bhagavata


Dasanudasa said…
Hare Krsna dandavats Pramans

about the following statement in this anuccheda:
"One’s guru is certainly displeased if one accepts another guru. Consequently, accepting many gurus necessarily entails the rejection of one’s previous guru."

i found another translation that says:

tad-aparitoṣeṇāpy- anyo- guruḥ -kriyate
tato- aneka-guru-karaṇe- pūrva-tyāga eva siddhaḥ

Sri Jiva Goswami says, “However, if one is dissatisfied (aparitoṣeṇā) with the diksa Guru, one may take diksa from another Guru (anyo -guruh -kriyate). In taking other Gurus (aneka- guru -karane), the rejection of the former Guru is completed (purva- tyaga- eva -siddha).”

Is this second also valid or inaccurate?

Vjay said…
bodhaḥ kaluṣitas tena daurātmyaṁ prakaṭīkṛtam | gurur yena parityaktas tena tyaktaḥ purā hariḥ

@dasanudasa this is the verse before that. So by context, the verse you show shouldn't mean that. It doesn't say "one may take". It says "one takes". This looks like an explanation of how a person gives up his Guru. HH Bhanu Swami Maharaja's version is this:

Unsatisfied with one guru, one takes another guru. By taking more than one (dīkṣā) guru (when one should have only one dīkṣā guru), one accomplishes giving up the previous guru.

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