What Changed the River’s Course? Gadadhar Pran Das

Another Side of Thakura Bhaktivinoda Pariśiṣṭa (An Additional Topic):  "What Changed the River’s Course?" By Gadadhar Pran Das 
Email: gadadhar_das000@yahoo.co.in 

After completing thirty chapters and assuming that our writing task was done, one reader put forward a good question: “Although the guru parampara of Thakur Bhaktivinoda that is described in your book appears to be genuine, why don’t more of his followers know about this?”

Yes, we considered, he is right. Here is a matter that merits explanation. But before we attempt to uncover the Thakur's legacy, we should say a few words about what was going on in the beginning. Because from Gauranga Mahaprabhu’s time there was a traditional system in our Gaudiya Sampradaya that was much more in practice in Bhaktivinoda’s period than it is today: Vaishnavas were accustomed to take diksha from a Goswami parivara, a family line of Vaishnava Acharyas that descend from one of Gauranga’s eternal associates.

Not only does Thakur Bhaktivinoda’s guru parivara find its origin with Ananga Manjari in Vrindavan and Vishnupriya Devi in Nabadwip, but Jagannatha Das Babaji and Gaura Kishor Das Babaji each took diksha in such traditional Goswami parivaras. 

Jagannath Das’ guru was a siddha mahatma, Prabhupada Jagadananda Goswami, who belonged to Nityananda’s family vamsa, and his descendants still reside at the shripat called Shringar Bat in Vrindavan. 

Gaura Kishor’s diksha guru was Prabhupada Nandakishor Goswami who was a member of Advaita Acharya’s vamsa at Shantipura. In Chapters 10, 11 and 12 of Caitanya-caritāmṛta’s Adi lila, Srila Kaviraja Goswami lists the names of Gauranga’s eternal associates who form the branches and sub-branches on Gauranga’s family tree. The specific reason for his doing so was to bring our attention to the numerous Vaishnava acharya families that descend from these eternal associates.

Because in ancient times especially it was considered very prestigious and appropriate to take diksha from a guru belonging to such a Goswami parivara, as this would connect one to Gauranga’s eternal family.

Yet another important feature found in these Vaishnava Acharya parivaras is the system of siddha pranali. For in each one of them there is a siddha manjari parampara that will enable their initiated disciples to ideally follow in the gopis’ footsteps – as it was Gauranga’s inner desire that His sampradaya followers submerge themselves in Vrindaban’s madhura rasa bhajan.

Now a related question arises: Since Bhaktisiddhanta and Lalita Prasad both admired their father greatly, why didn’t Bhaktisiddhanta accept mantra diksha and siddha pranali from his father also, as his younger brother Lalita Prasad did? For isn’t it the teachings of Bhaktivinoda that form the path that Bhaktisiddhanta and his followers accept, and not the bhajananandi path of Gaura Kishor Das Babaji Maharaja?

To speak truthfully, however, it must be said that Bhaktisiddhanta could not appreciate Bipin Bihari Goswami for some reason or other, and this led to a conflict that brought about a big change in the Vaishnava world. When Bhaktisiddhanta started making lots of disciples after his father passed away in 1914, he and his followers openly denounced the Goswami parivara system of diksha, and they even rejected the disciple-guru relationship that Bhaktivinoda nurtured with Bipin Bihari Goswami.

Bhaktisiddhanta then went on to create his own guru-parampara, and he preached that Jagannath Das Babaji Maharaj was his father’s guru, a relationship that neither his father nor Jagannath Das knew anything about, since they belong to different guru lineages.

To present a story that will make it appear that Bhaktivinoda later rejected Bipin Bihari Prabhu, Bhaktisiddhanta’s followers tell about an incident that once happened at a Vaishnava conference in Medinipur, West Bengal in 1911. They claim that Bipin Bihari sided with the smarta brahminas during his lecture there to say that caste brahminas should be offered more respect than pure Vaishnavas.

Prabhupada Kanan Bihari Goswami, however, recounts the same incident in the opposite way in his research study entitled The Baghnapara Sampradaya and its Vaishnava Literature, published in 1993:

In 1911, 22nd Bhadra, in Medinipura’s Balighai town there was a great Vaishnava conference. In that assembly, Bipin Bihari Goswami used many shastric arguments to defeat the ideas of the Smarta brahmins, as he went on to establish the glories of Gaudiya Vaishnava dharma.” (Page 529)

Yet if we side with the version of Bhaktisiddhanta’s followers, here can be found a legitimate reason why Bhaktivinoda would later reject Vipina vihari, as they want us to assume.

But just consider, does it sound logical, that Thakur Bhaktivinoda would select a smarta brahmin to be his guru, and later reject him? For doesn’t this assertion belittle his good judgment?

In his autobiography entitled Svalikhita Jīvanī (Page 37, Paragraph 299), however, Bhaktivinoda writes that Mahaprabhu appeared to him in a dream and directed him to take diksha from Bipin Bihari Goswami. So here again we may wonder: Would Mahaprabhu choose a smarta brahmin to be Bhaktivinoda’s guru?

But as we read the many bhakti shastras that Bipin Bihari wrote, never have we found him supporting smarta brahminism. Rather, those who know him more closely will discover that he is a rasika Gaudiya Vaishnava who is a raga marga sadhaka, a follower of Ananga Manjari, and his siddha name is Vilasa Manjari – who happens to be the guru-rupa-sakhi of Kamal Manjari, Thakur Bhaktivinoda.

So why do they wish to make Bipin Bihari Goswami appear like a bad guy? The reasoning for this should not be too difficult to understand. Because if Bipin Bihari Prabhu is truly a great Vaishnava who Bhaktivinoda wholeheartedly accepted as his guru, wouldn’t this make it appear that Bhaktisiddhanta made a great mistake by rejecting him?

Therefore, his character just had to be assassinated! And this brings to mind the fate of Jesus also. For just as the Pharisees or the high priests who followed the laws of Moses wanted to make sure that Jesus was crucified, similarly, Bipin Bihari ’s guru-disciple relationship with Bhaktivinoda had to be buried to make way for Bhaktisiddhanta’s new preaching mission.

As the saying goes, however, we must give credit where credit is due: That the preaching endeavors of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur and his followers in the Gaudiya Math and ISKCON have shown amazing results – for they have succeeded in spreading Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s sankirtan movement to every corner of the world. So in one sense we can say that they have defeated the traditional system of Gaudiya Vaishnava dharma that existed before their time. Furthermore, we shall offer more praise by saying that they have built up a huge worldwide Vaishnava congregation, they have countless mandirs and preaching centers, and they have worked out a good system for introducing Krsna consciousness to the masses.

The Gopī-bhāva Club

But we must remember, on the other hand, that to succeed in preaching as they have done, one has to forget about the higher stages of bhakti – such as the thought of taking up raganuga sadhana. To illustrate this point, let us tell about an unfortunate incident that happened when Srila Prabhupada’s Caitanya-caritāmṛta edition first came out back in 1975. 

At ISKCON’s Los Angeles temple there was a group of rasika bhaktas who would regularly meet to discuss Caitanya-caritāmṛta’s more intimate topics which center around Vraja gopi bhava. But the temple leader, whose name was Rameshwar and who was a sannyasi back in those days didn’t like what these bhaktas were doing – as he would much rather send them out on sankirtan instead. So Rameshwar came up with a plan to stop them. He exaggerated and made up a bad story about these bhaktas (that wasn’t true), and when Prabhupada heard Rameshwar’s testimony, he stormed: “Then stop this immediately!”

Thus scoring the victory, Rameshwar prepared a newsletter to be sent to every ISKCON temple with Srila Prabhupada’s signature included. The newsletter denounced these rasika bhaktas by labelling them “the gopi bhava club,” and from this time onward ISKCON devotees have to be discouraged, or blocked we should say, from hearing or discussing topics which center around Vraja gopi bhava.

Why is this a shame? Because it seriously damages the spiritual progress of every one of Prabhupada’s followers. Let us analyse why by asking: Were not those rasika bhaktas only doing what comes natural? For Srila Prabhupada had previously given them the Bhagavad- Gītā, the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, The Bhakti-rasāmrita-sindhu (The Nectar of Devotion) and Upadeśāmṛta (The Nectar of Instruction). So wasn’t their interest to know about gopi bhava the most natural progression in their spiritual advancement which comes next? The following four lines from Caitanya-caritāmṛta form the essence of its teachings in a nutshell:

ata eba gopī bhāba kari aṅgīkāra
rātri-dina cinte rādhā kṛṣṇera vihāra
siddha-dehe cinti kare tāhāi sebana
sakhī bhābe pāẏa rādhā-kṛṣṇera caraṇa

“Just accept gopi-bhava,and contemplate Radha-Krsna’s pastimes day and night. Meditate on your gopi siddha-deha always, and perform manasi seva within that mentally conceived form. Thus you will attain Radha-Krsna’s nitya seva as a sakhi or manjari.” (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 8, 227-8)

Here, the word ata eva (therefore) is used to draw a conclusion – as the culmination of all Vaishnava siksa is: Just always contemplate your gopi siddha-deha so that you can achieve this form to enter Radha-Krsna’s nitya lila and eternally serve Them directly, as you daily contemplate such seva now. But we can obviously see why Srila Prabhupada did not want gopi-bhava-sadhana to enter his international society – because if this practice becomes popular with ISKCON devotees -- who will go out to preach?

Srila Prabhupada came to the West with a mission: to spread Krsna consciousness to every town and village. Thus to succeed, one has to take up this mission as a full time job. Hence, Srila Prabhupada’s most famous of his mottos was “Work now (at preaching), samadhi later.”

Bhaktisiddhanta’s Guru Parampara

As we previously stated, after rejecting his father’s guru parampara, Bhaktisiddhanta created his own Sampradaya. So let us examine its members. Although Bhaktisiddhanta’s guru is said to be Gaura Kishora Das Babaji Maharaja, the following story seems to disprove this: 

In 1981 we had the fortune to associate with Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati’s third disciple, who took initiation from him in the very beginning. He was a grihastha Vaishnava living in Svarupa Ganj, whose name was Nishi Kanta Mallik. Nishi Kanta told the story that one day he went to have Gaura Kishor Das Babaji Maharaja’s darshan in Ranichor Nabadwip, where his bhajan kutir was located. 

Upon seeing Nishi Kanta, Gaura Kishor asked: “Who are you?” 

“I am the disciple of your disciple,” Nishi Kanta humbly submitted. 

“Which one of my disciples are you referring to?” Gaura Kishor asked. 

“Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati,” Nishikanta replied. 

“No, I didn’t initiate him,” Gaura Kishor answered. There was a long silence. And finally after thinking for a while, Nishi Kanta asked: “Well then, will you initiate me?” 

“Of course,” Gaura Kishor Das Babaji replied. “Just sit down here and chant Hari nama japa with me.” 

Nishi Kanta then folded his hands to submit: “I am a grihastha and I have a samsara to look after. So I will not be able to always remain chanting Hari nama japa with you.” 

“Well, it looks like I won’t be able to initiate you then,” said Gaura Kishora. Some time later Nishi Kanta Mallik went and took diksha from Lalita Prasad Thakur. Nevertheless, we often saw that Gaudiya Math Vaishnavas were coming to visit him, as he maintained friendly ties with both groups. Since he was an honest person who never maintained any malice for the followers of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, we find no reason to disbelieve his story. But logically speaking, since Bhaktisiddhanta doesn’t honor Gaura Kishor’s gurudeva, Nandakishor Goswami, as his own param guru, nor accept his parampara that begins from Advaita Acharya, how could Gaura Kishor initiate him? And then, after Gaura Kishor passed away, Bhaktisiddhanta chose Bhaktivinoda Thakur to be his guru instead in the parampara he created.

In his comprehensive study on guru tattva entitled Baishnaba Siddhānte Śrī Guru Svarūpa, however, Sundarananda Vidyavinoda indicates that it was Bhaktivinoda who actually revered Gaura Kishor to be like his guru. The story runs as follows on page 143: “In the year 1908 Bhaktivinoda once desired to take babaji vesa initiation from Gaura Kishor Das Babaji Maharaj. But when Gaura Kishor received the news that Bhaktivinoda was coming to beg from him the babaji vesa, he quickly hid in a brothel! He feared, ‘If Thakur Bhaktivinoda becomes my vesa-disciple won’t this make me famous?’ Thus he hid in a place where Bhaktivinoda would never dare to go.”

In his Baishnaba Siddhānte Śrī Guru Svarūpa, page 124, Sundarananda Vidyavinoda also affirms that Jagannath Das Babaji Maharaja’s diksha guru was Jagadananda das Goswami, a Nityananda family descendant from Shringar Bata in Vrindaban, as Dr O.B.L Kapor similarly states in his Saints of Vrindaban

Then on page 126, Sundarananda goes on to say that Baladeva Vidyabhusan took diksha from a Goswami in Shyamananda Prabhu’s guru parivara at Gopiballabhpur, and he was not Vishwanath Chakravarti’s disciple as Bhaktisiddhanta and his followers claim.

Although Vishwanath Chakravarti is attributed as being Narottam Das Thakur’s disciple in Bhaktisiddhanta’s disciplic succession, the two never met, since more than a hundred year span exists between the times that they appeared in our world. Rather, Vishwanath himself states that his diksha guru is Radharaman Chakravarti in the beginning of his Rasa Pancadhyaya commentary of the Bhagavatam. Then he next offers pranama to his param guru Kṛṣṇacarana Chakravarti, and then to Kṛṣṇacarana’s guru Ganga Narayan Chakravarti who is Narottam Das Thakur’s disciple. But Narottam isn’t Rupa Goswami’s disciple, as Bhaktisiddhanta and his followers hold, for he took diksha from Lokanath Goswami.

Rasa Analysis

Now two relevant questions arise:

1) As the great Vaishnava Acharyas that Bhaktisiddhanta selected to represent his guru parampara already belong to other paramparas of their own, would they appreciate that he has taken them out of their original lineages (where they truly belong) and placed them as members in his newly founded sampradaya in the 20th century?

2) Furthermore, how could these Vaishnava Acharyas accept a guru parampara that doesn’t include their actual diksha gurus? For example, Gaura Kishor’s guru, Nandakishora Goswami, Bhaktivinoda’s guru Bipin Bihari Goswami, Jagannath Das Babaji’s guru Jagadananda Goswami, Baladeva Vidyabhushan’s guru from Shyamananda parivara, Vishwanath Chakravarti’s guru Radharaman Chakravarti, and Narottama Das Thakur’s guru Lokanatha Goswami have all been omitted.

A Positive Solution

Now to adjust the matter so that we can arrive at the correct Vaishnava siddhanta concerning guru tattva, wouldn’t it be fitting to accept Bhaktivinoda’s original guru parampara over the one that Bhaktisiddhanta created? Because in this case isn’t the father’s wisdom and judgment more reliable and accurate than his son’s? Just consider:

1) Bhaktivinoda’s parampara begins from the time of Gauranga Mahaprabhu, and Bhaktisiddhanta’s was formed in the 20th century;

2) Every acharya in Bhaktivinoda’s parampara is connected to the previous acharya by diksha, but the acharyas in Bhaktisiddhanta’s parampara all come from different lineages, and they are not connected by diksha;

3) Because the traditional Vaishnava system of diksha has not been established in Bhaktisiddhanta’s parampara (when the mantras are handed down in an unbroken disciplic succession from guru to disciple) the Radhakund, Vrindaban and other Vaishnava communities do not accept it. But they do honor Bipin Bihari Goswami’s parampara lineage.

4) When the Gaudiya Math and ISKCON accept that Gaura Kishor Das Babaji Maharaja is Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur’s diksha guru, then rightly speaking they will belong to the Advaita parivara, since Gaura Kishor’s guru parampara leads up to Advaita Acharya;

5) Since Bhaktivinoda Thakur gave diksha to his son Lalita Prasad, he surely would have initiated Bhaktisiddhanta as well, had he accepted Bipin Bihari Goswami. Then it would not have been necessary for him to create a new and separate guru parampara at all.

Now a good question can be raised: Does it really matter whether or not Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur’s guru parampara forms an unbroken lineage? After all, doesn’t the larger worldwide Vaishnava congregation that ISKCON and the Gaudiya Math have offer sufficient proof to the success of their teaching?

This is praiseworthy no doubt, and it proves that to successfully preach Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s sankirtan movement, one doesn’t have to be initiated in an unbroken guru parivara. But, to speak frankly, the real necessity for such initiation comes only when one sincerely hankers to take up raganuga bhakti. So it is shameful that our modern Vaishnava institutions cannot provide encouragement nor the proper shelter when its members desire to progress to the raga marga. And this is when taking shelter of Bhaktivinoda’s diksha parampara is essential – as it includes so many wonderful gifts of mercy concerning the paths of raganuga sadhana that one may choose to take up.

Accepting is Positive; Rejecting is Negative

It can be omitted that a personality conflict was going on between Bhaktisiddhanta and Bipin Bihari which changed the course of history. But instead of rejecting his father’s authentic guru parampara as Bhaktisiddhanta has done, wouldn’t it be far more beneficial to wholeheartedly accept it as his father did? For if we stop to think about it, isn’t this our hereditary right, as our ancient heritage actually lies here? Then we will become far more eligible to progress to the higher stages of bhakti sadhana.

ye lāgi abatāra kahi se mūla kāraṇa
prema rasa niryāsa karite āsbādana
rāga mārga bhakti loke karite pracāraṇa
rasika śekhara krsna parama karuṇa
ei dui hetu haite icchāra udgama

The main reason for Gauranga’s advent is: 1) to relish the essence of (madhura) prema rasa, and 2) to awaken raganuga bhakti in the people. Because Kṛṣṇa is the greatest rasika or romantic and very merciful, He comes as Gauranga to fulfill these two inner desires. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta 1.4.1)


Prem Prakash said…
Thank you, Gadadhar Pran das, for this invaluable post. I don't think there is anyone beside you who can provide Westerners with these historical facts.

I'd like to offer two comments. First, to be clear, the term "sankirtan" as used by Rameshwar and others in ISKCON did not actually mean congregational chanting. It referred, rather, to the money-raising efforts by various groups of devotees, including all of the nefarious and disguised activities in which they were engaged. In other words, Rameshwara was more more worried about a depletion of money, no matter how criminal may have been the enterprises, than having his disciples actually develop Bhakti. One might question to what extent Prabhupada shared this sentiment.

Second, everything has worked out very well. Krishna has everything under control. If ISKCON hadn't spread throughout the world, much less would be known about Bhakti. Even if the individuals involved had distorted motivations, even if their means were crooked, the result has been the holy name is actually closer to being sung "in every town and village." The level of Bhakti these devotees pursue may be limited, but at least they are taking to the path.

Thank you, again, and I hope you will continue to join Jagatji by posting on this precious site.
Very good post, thank you. I would have liked to have seen a chart of the actual paramparas vs the parampara that BSS created. It is all so confusing! I wonder if traditional Vaisnava lines would agree that the cause of Vraj bhakti has been furthered by having vidhi bhakti preached around the world, along with vague siddhanta and aggressive marketing established as sadhana. Perhaps Gadadhara Prana prabhu is being generous?

Śloka 5.

Rādhā is the manifested form of pure love for Kṛṣṇa; she is the hlādinī śakti. Because of this they had previously assumed different bodies on Earth, although really one, but now they have become manifest under the name of Caitanya in order to attain to non-duality and oneness: I praise the true form of Kṛṣṇa enveloped in the radiance of the bhāva of Rādhā.

Ādi Līlā, Chapter 1, Caitanya Caritāmṛta (page 151)

Source: https://archive.org/details/DimocksCC1stHalf/page/n95/mode/2up


ह्लादिनीशक्ति (Hlādinī Śakti):


चैतन्य (caitanya) N.B.* Read page 11 of Paul Muller-Ortega’s ‘Born of the Yoginīs Heart’:


ली (lī) + ला (lā):

Anonymous said…

Different tradition, words and terms; same eternal truth…

“According to the tradition, the Heart is the Supreme (anuttara); it is the very self of Śiva, of Bhairava, and of the Devī, the Goddess who is inseparable from Śiva. Indeed, the Heart is the site of their union (yāmala), of their embrace (saṃghaṭṭa). This abode is pure consciousness (Caitanya).

As consciousness, the Heart is the unbounded infinite light (prakāśa),”

Continue reading on Page 11 of Born of the Yoginī’s Heart: Reflections on the Nature of Meditation and Ritual in Abhinavagupta’s Paratrisika-laghuvrtti:

Anonymous said…

Apology, the previous link no longer works; readers may continue reading on Page 11 of 'Born of the Yoginī’s Heart: Reflections on the Nature of Meditation and Ritual in Abhinavagupta’s Paratrisika-laghuvrtti' here:

Anonymous said…
If the truth of what is being explained has not yet dawned on you dearest reader regarding the above quoted Śloka 5, Ādi Līlā, Chapter 1, Caitanya Caritāmṛta:

“I praise the true form of Kṛṣṇa enveloped in the radiance of the bhāva of Rādhā.”

भाव (bhāva) √ भू (bhū) → भा (bhā) + व (va)

Study the Monier-Williams Sanskrit to English dictionary entries for भा (bhā) and व (va).


भा (bhā) see 1 & 2: http://www.sanskrita.org/scans/visor.html?scan=750.gif

व (va) see 2 & 3: http://www.sanskrita.org/scans/visor.html?scan=910.gif

√ भू (bhū) see 1 & 2: http://www.sanskrita.org/scans/visor.html?scan=760.gif

भाव (bhāva): http://www.sanskrita.org/scans/visor.html?scan=754.gif
Anonymous said…
Different tradition, words and terms; same eternal truth…


"This is where hesychasm becomes associated with the repeated invocation of the name of Jesus, known as the Jesus Prayer, or Mental Prayer: ‘Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me.’ According to the Palamite tradition, the ceaseless repetition of this prayer, sometimes combined with some bodily techniques (posture, controlled breathing), enables the one who’s praying to experience visions of the divine, uncreated, Taboric light."

Source: Page 11, Hesychasm, the Jesus Prayer and the contemporary spiritual revival of Mount Athos (Thesis by Marius Dorobanțu - 2016).

Download Adobe Pdf document:

Anonymous said…
Dear reader,

If one reads the previous message and also studies the Adobe Pdf entitled “Hesychasm, the Jesus Prayer and the contemporary spiritual revival of Mount Athos;” please bear in mind the following:

Greek νοῦς (noûs) “mind” from Ancient Greek νόος (nóos) “an act of mind,” an alteration of νάω (náō, “to flow”), from νέω (néō) “I heap, I pile up; I am stuffed;” “I spin” (here meaning “to spin the thread of the mind”.) from Proto-Indo-European (s)neh₂ “to flow; to swim.”





Ancient Greek κᾰρδῐ́ᾱ (kardíā) from Proto-Hellenic kərdíyā, from Proto-Indo-European ḱr̥díyeh₂, from ḱḗr. Cognate with Sanskrit हृदय (hṛ́daya), Latin cor, Old Armenian սիրտ (sirt), Old English heorte (whence English heart).

κᾰρδῐ́ᾱ (kardíā) f.

1. heart (as the source of emotion, love, etc.)
2. mind
3. stomach
4. any hollow vessel
5. centre or inner part: pith (of wood), depth (of the sea)


Anonymous said…
This post along with the rest mentioning the divine foot dust of Bhaktisiddhanta and Bhaktivinoda is an outrage and utterly despicable. Please remove all such posts.
Anonymous said…

Dear Anonymous (Tuesday, 12 January, 2021),

§80 If men could get liberated by smearing themselves with dust and ashes, are all the country folk, who live amidst dust and ashes, liberated?



Popular posts from this blog

"RadhaKrishn" TV serial under fire

Getting to asana siddhi

What is sthayi-bhava?