The words “Śrī Caitanya-Sārasvata Paramparā” indicate the disciplic succession (paramparā) which was handed down from the time of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu to that of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. This paramparā is a disciplic succession of divine knowledge (divya jñānam), also known as the Brahma-Madhva Gauḍīya sampradāya or the Bhāgavata–paramparā.
Brahma-Madhva indicates the preceptors from Lord Brahmā to Śrī Madhvācārya who carried the paramparā in ancient times. The use of the term bhāgavata–paramparā indicates the preceptorial line of the principles contained in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. The bhāgavata-paramparā itself began at the outset of this universe wherein Śrī Kṛṣṇa spoke the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam in four nutshell verses to Lord Brahmā. Lord Brahmā then spoke those four essential verses of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam to his disciple Śrī Nārada Muni who in turn taught those verses to Śrī Vedavyāsa who in turn, upon his mature realization, compiled the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (in twelve cantos) as we know it today. Vyāsa’s disciple was Śrī Madhvācārya. From Madhvācārya the disciplic succession came to Śrī Mādhavendra Purī the fifteenth preceptor in the line. Mādhavendra Purī’s disciple was Śrī Īśvara Purī who became glorious as the spiritual master of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
It is indeed the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam and its principles therein which figure most prominently in the bhāgavata-paramparā. The Vedas have been compared to a kalpa-taru (desire tree) and the mature fruit of that tree is Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.
“O expert and thoughtful men, relish ŚrīmadBhāgavatam, the mature fruit of the desire tree of Vedic literatures. It emanated from the lips of Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī. Therefore, this fruit has become even more tasteful, although its nectarean juice was already relishable for all, including liberated souls.” (Bhāg. 1.1.3)
The Śrīmad Bhāgavatam contains ten divisions of principles regarding the Absolute Truth.
“In ŚrīmadBhāgavatam there are ten divisions of statements regarding the following: the creation of the universe, sub-creation, planetary systems, protection by the Lord, the creative impetus, the change of Manus, the science of God, returning back to Godhead, liberation, and the very summum bonum (āśrayaḥ).” (Bhāg. 2.10.1)
The summum bonum of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam is found in the tenth canto wherein the transcendental pastimes of Śrī Kṛṣṇa with the vraja-gopīs are described. This section is the foremost āśraya-tattva of the Bhāgavatam.
Prior to the advent of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu all ten principles of the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam were explained by previous ācāryas like Śrī Madhvācārya. The conception of these ācāryas however was that Nārāyaṇa is the āśraya–tattva. The revelation that Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the āśraya–tattva had remained undisclosed to any ācārya since the advent of the ŚrīmadBhāgavatam—waiting for the reappearance of Kṛṣṇa in the form of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu to become fully manifest. Indeed, it was this conclusive truth that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu came to distribute—which had never been distributed before.
“May that Lord, who is known as the son of Śrīmatī Śacī-devī, be transcendentally situated in the innermost core of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of molten gold, He has descended in the age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow what no incarnation has ever offered before—the most elevated mellow of devotional service, the mellow of conjugal love.” (C.c. Ādi-līlā 1.4)
namo mahā-vadānyāya kṛṣṇa-prema-pradāya te kṛṣṇāya-kṛṣṇa-caitanya nāmne gaura-tviṣe namaḥ
“I offer my respectful obeisances unto Śrī Gaurāṅgadeva, whose divine complexion is a radiant golden hue and who possesses the qualities of the most benevolent incarnation because He distributes what no incarnation ever distributed before, pure love for Kṛṣṇa (kṛṣṇa-prema). He is none other than Vrajendra-nandana Kṛṣṇa known in Kali-yuga as Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya Mahāprabhu.” (Rūpa Gosvāmī)
One might argue that pure love for Kṛṣṇa, being the purport of ŚrīmadBhāgavatam, was surely realized to some extent by previous ācāryas but that such love reaches its highest and fullest expression in the personality of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is clearly only revealed through the paramparā after the appearance of Śrī Caitanya Mahā-prabhu. It was Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and His followers such as Śrī Rūpa and Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmīs who announced that Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is the supreme shelter (āśraya) of all living entities. This is the ‘āśraya’ of which the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam ultimately speaks. This conception of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī as the supreme āśraya–tattva was unknown to any Vaiṣṇava paramparā prior to Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s appearance and such a conception is still only accessible through His bona fide succession.
Based on the instruction of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu introduced the saṅkīrtana movement (the chanting of the holy names of God) as the prime benediction for humanity at large—for by such chanting the living entities can be delivered from the darkness of material ignorance.
“Kṛṣṇa’s holy name can relieve us from all undesirable sinfulness, all filthy characteristics, and all miseries. Let us all bow down to him.” (Bhāg. 12.13.23)
Similarly, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu taught the esoteric principles of the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (āśraya-tattva) to His most confidential devotees, thus enabling them to enter into the transcendental pastimes of the Supreme Lord in spontaneous love of God.
From Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu the paramparā came through Svarūpa Dāmodara Gosvāmī, Rūpa Gosvāmī, Sanātana Gosvāmī, Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī, Jīva Gosvāmī, and Kṛṣṇa Dāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī to Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura, to Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, to Jagannātha Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, to Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and Gaura Kiśora Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, to Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura.
However, after the disappearance of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu from the eyes of this mortal world many deviant paramparās (sahajiyās) immediately began to manifest. In numerous ways the sahajiyās attempted to monopolize the treasure chest of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s gift of divine love, thus causing a great confusion in the minds of innocent people. By the end of the 19th century the line of divinity established by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu had almost disappeared from sight. The situation was dismal—rascals and cheaters had destroyed the pure principles of the bhāgavata-paramparā and in turn they propagated the lowest standard of sinful behaviour in the name of pure spontaneous love, rāgānugā-bhakti.
For a long time, the sahajiyās had continuously misrepresented the principles of pure devotional service under the false practices of rāgānugā-bhakti and that for which the ŚrīmadBhāgavatam stood became tarnished and eventually covered. These sahajiyā communities are described by Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura as the Āula, Bāula, Kartābhajā, Neḍā, Daraveśa, Sāni-sahajiyā, Sakhībhekī, Smārta, Jāta-gosāñi, Ativāḍī, Cūḍādhārī and Gaurāṅga-nāgarī. They had become so degraded that the very word ‘Vaiṣṇava’ was spoiled in Bengal. Without going into detail it will suffice at this point to say that under the patronage of the above mentioned sahajiyā communities ‘Vaiṣṇavaism’ had become known as a religion or occupation of women hunters, drunkards and beggars. Seeing this situation was intolerable for the pure hearted devotees of the Supreme Lord.
At that time, the Supreme Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu sent two of His most confidential servants to take birth in this world. These two confidential servants were Svarūpa Dāmodara and Śrī Gadādhara Paṇḍita who appeared as Gaura Kiśora Dāsa Bābājī and Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura respectively. These two great personalities became the shelter of all sincere followers of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu during their time. (See chapter seventeen for a detailed explanation).
The intimate disciple of both Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and Śrīla Gaura Kiśora Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja was Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. Sarasvatī Ṭhākura appeared in this world as the fourth son of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and from his childhood to his old age he dedicated his entire life to removing the clouds of misconception that covered the pure religion of the followers of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
Once our spiritual master, Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swāmī Prabhupāda, was asked by a young devotee to say something about Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. In reply he said, “What can I say to you—he was a Vaikuṇṭha man.” Here the meaning of ‘Vaikuṇṭha’ must be taken in its most fundamental sense, as indicating beyond material conception. Indeed, in a word, this is a most fitting description of Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, beyond material conception—beyond the reaches of our material calculations. He was cent per cent a man of the upper world whose eternal associates are none other than the Supreme Lords own dearmost servants. Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura descended to this world from the inner circle of the Lord’s domain and his philosophical conceptions (siddhānta) were wholly that of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu—one could not trace mundanity in him at any time in his career. Sarasvatī Ṭhākura appeared in this world on the prayer of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura with a mission to remove the misconceptions that covered the living entities pure consciousness and to illuminate the path of pure devotional service.
“With his first step, he cut to pieces the whole plane of exploitation, and with his second, he crushed the speculation of scholars of salvation and liberation. With his third, he softened vaidhi-bhakti with a touch of divine love (rāga-mārga). Taking us beyond Vaikuṇṭha, he has introduced us to the highest worship of Śrī Rādhā and Govinda. With the softness of Vṛndāvana within, and the hardness of a devastator without, he created havoc in the world—fighting with one and all. Single-handedly fighting against the whole world, and cutting everything to pieces—that was his external attitude. And his second attitude was to stop the boasting research of the scholars and doctors of different schools of thought; the third, to minimize and slacken the grandeur of the worship of Nārāyaṇa, and establish the service of Rādhā-Govinda as the highest attainment. He caused the domain of love to descend into this plane, with the service of Rādhā-Govinda, establishing the flow of divine love from the heart as all in all. That was his history—the real existence of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. May his divine teachings, Bhaktisiddhānta-vāṇī, dance eternally within the core of our hearts.” (Śrīla B.R. Śrīdhara Deva Gosvāmī Mahārāja)
The Śrī Caitanya-Sārasvata Paramparā is indeed a bona-fide disciplic succession of pure devotees of the Supreme Lord which has existed since the most ancient times, yet in modern times the eternal flow of the divine knowledge of that paramparā was obstructed by unqualified persons. Unqualified persons posing as spiritual masters had made a mockery of the esoteric principles of the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam by a cheap show of imitating the higher sentiments of divine love. At that very peak of degradation in Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavaism Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura appeared and recovered the principles of the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam from the hands of the rogues and resurrected the path of the bhāgavata-paramparā.
Unlike many so-called paramparās of his day the paramparā of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura was not simply the succession of bodies wherein dead mantras are passed on from guru to disciple despite their obvious disqualification. Nor was the paramparā of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura the disciplic succession of merchants who make a trade of mantras in exchange for money. Nor was the paramparā of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura a disciplic succession of cheaters who compromise the regulative principles of purity by keeping illicit connection with women claiming that such is not a disturbance to the performance of ones bhajana. The paramparā of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura was however the descent of the highest principles of the ŚrīmadBhāgavatam exhibited in both deed and concept.
Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura appeared in this world at a time when the storehouse of the proper conception regarding Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s nectarine teachings had been sealed tight by pseudo-Vaiṣṇavas. Sarasvatī Ṭhākura reopened that storehouse and showed the way of bona-fide access to the highest plane of divinity by his personal example. Sarasvatī Ṭhākura preached strongly against the abominable practices and concepts of the sahajiyās (imitationists). Within his own movement as well he kept a vigilant eye out against any potential for imitation of pure devotion. His language was strong and he made it clear to his disciples and followers that real devotion was not a cheap sentiment. Devotion he said means submission to Śrī Guru, self-discipline, self-sacrifice, and wholehearted effort to render devotional service. Sarasvatī Ṭhākura stressed that without going through all the stages of regulated practice (vaidhi-bhakti) one cannot come to the platform of spontaneous love (rāgānugā-bhakti).
The dress associated with the eternal associates of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu (bābājī-veṣa) had become identified with the lowest men in society. To save the dignity of the highest order of Vaiṣṇavas (paramahaṁsas) Sarasvatī Ṭhākura introduced the saffron coloured cloth and the triple staff belonging to the ancient order of renunciates known as tridaṇḍī-sannyāsa. This of course raised considerable controversy at the time and many dishonest persons criticized Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura for concocting unauthorized means of devotional service. However, Sarasvatī Ṭhākura had not actually concocted any practices of devotional service—indeed he had reestablished the authorized practices for attaining the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, as authorized by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself. Seeing this illuminating personality standing in the midst of many dark clouds, the honest and sincere Vaiṣṇavas of the time gathered in support of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura and assisted him in carrying forth the purely theistic principles of the bhāgavata-paramparā.
The tenth canto of the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam is the prayojana-tattva (the highest truth) through which one can taste the eternal nectar of divine love. As such the sahajiyās are extremely fond of hearing the tenth canto, although they consistently neglect the first nine cantos. It is the first nine cantos of the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam which qualify the bona-fide candidate for actually entering into the transcendental pastimes of the Supreme Lord. Yet, the sahajiyās prefer to jump over the first nine cantos to the tenth canto in the name of ‘getting the nectar.’ In the opinion of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura a neophyte devotee should never have access to such topics as the intimate pastimes of the Lord, because if one prematurely enters the realm of Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes that will bring more harm than good. If one is not situated above the propensity for sense gratification yet indulges in hearing or meditating on the intimate pastimes of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, one’s enjoying spirit will only increase. One must be fully aware of the Lord’s transcendental nature before entering into discussions or meditations on the Lord’s divine pastimes with His hlādinī-śakti. Sarasvatī Ṭhākura did not encourage newcomers to read the tenth canto of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. He also disapproved of indiscriminate displays of paintings of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa līlā. His standards were high because the goal was high—he did not allow a mockery of the highest conception to be made at any time.
To establish the principles of pure devotional service Sarasvatī Ṭhākura wrote many articles in The Harmonist magazine, the Gauḍīya magazine and the Nadīyā Prakāśa newspaper exposing the false practices of the imitationists. Following in the footsteps of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura established a printing press which he called the bṛhad-mṛdaṅga. In the transcendental vision of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura the printing press belonged to the category of rāgānuga-bhakti and he stressed book distribution and preaching in the same light. A logo for the Gauḍīya Maṭha was designed by Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura in which a circle was drawn and various symbols representing the bona fide processes of devotional service were depicted within that circle. The circle was naturally divided into two sections. On the left side the symbols representing vaidhi-bhakti were placed—such as the pañcarātrika literature and Lakṣmī-Nārāyaṇa representing worship in the mood of awe and reverence according to regulative principles. On the right side of the circle were placed the symbols representing rāgānugā–bhakti—such as the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam and Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa indicating worship in spontaneous love (rāga-mārga). The symbols of the mṛdaṅga and printing press were also placed in the rāga–mārga section.
In the beginning of the book Śrī Caitanya Maṅgala by Locana Dāsa Ṭhākura it is mentioned that in the future there will appear a senāpati (a great general) who would cause an inundation of Kṛṣṇa consciousness throughout the world. Greatly learned scholars and pure devotees of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu who know the purport of the scriptures have understood the ‘senāpati’ to have been Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura—who between 1918 and 1936 caused a wave of preaching Kṛṣṇa consciousness to swell up in Bengal that would indeed inundate the whole world. The sound of the kīrtana raised by Sarasvatī Ṭhākura conquered in all ten directions silencing the atheist non-believers, the impersonalist speculators, and the imitationist, sahajiyā sections of pseudo-Vaiṣṇavas.
Sarasvatī Ṭhākura orchestrated a great preaching movement for eighteen years, awarding the triple staff of renunciation to his disciples and then sending these sannyāsīs to preach throughout India and eventually to western countries. Before passing away from this world Sarasvatī Ṭhākura commented that he desired to spend at least ten years preaching Kṛṣṇa consciousness in the western countries—this Sarasvatī Ṭhākura was unable to do before his disappearance in 1936. However, through his intimate disciple Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swāmī Prabhupāda we see that Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s last desire for preaching Kṛṣṇa consciousness in the west was fulfilled. Hence the work of the senāpati foretold by Locana Dāsa Ṭhākura was continued by Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swāmī Prabhupāda and the same continues up to the present day in the form of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s numerous disciples and grand disciples.
In the presence of Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura the anti-parties were either silenced or defeated, but now six decades later the anti-parties are again making their propaganda against the Śrī Caitanya-Sārasvata paramparā. This time, however, the anti-parties have a plan to establish their deviant practices in the western world. By the blessings of Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura the road to the western countries for preaching Vaiṣṇavaism was gloriously opened by Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swāmī Prabhupāda but now many anti-party spokesmen are also traversing on that road. The anti-parties all claim a monopoly on the process of pure devotional service based on bodily successions and caste consciousness. Rather than following the processes established by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu for the attainment of love of God, the anti-parties prefer a ‘short cut to perfection’ via the process of concocted initiations and mental speculations. Such ‘short cuts to perfection’ are a dead end in spiritual life. Indeed, the anti-parties are misrepresenting the teachings of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and are again making a mockery of the sentiments of divine love.
Part One of this book, The Authorized Śrī Caitanya-Sārasvata Paramparā, entitled Refuting the Anti-party, deals with the false propaganda that the paramparā of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura is not a bona- fide disciplic succession. This misconception is strongly refuted in the opening five chapters with historical and scriptural evidences, which were originally written and published on the internet in response to direct anti-party criticism of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda and Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura.
Part Two, The Practice of Pure Devotional Service, presents the bona fide practice of pure devotional service in spontaneous love of Kṛṣṇa, rāgānugā-bhakti. These articles have been written according to the opinion of previous ācāryas and supported by scriptural evidences. In
Part Three, A Few Words of Guidance, some relevant instruction by Śrīla B.R. Śrīdhara Deva Gosvāmī Mahārāja and Śrīla B.P. Purī Gosvāmī Mahārāja are given to protect the bona-fide devotees from falling prey to imitation of the highest divine mellows of love of God. In particular, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja, in the fourteenth chapter, cautions that if one is negligent to protect one’s self against the imitation tendency, one will regrettably be given the inspiration to live in a ‘fool’s paradise,’ thinking that he has now achieved the higher standard of devotion.
Our readers are requested to make a careful study of this book with a view to establish the principles of pure devotional service throughout the world and to crush the numerous anti-party misconceptions, which if allowed to prosper will eventually spoil the saṅkīrtana movement of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Indeed, that would be an intolerable loss for the whole of humanity.
Part One – Refuting The Anti-Party Chapter 1 – Śikṣā Paramparā
Śrīla Bhakti Gaurava Narasiṅgha Mahārāja (Jagat Guru Swami) appeared on Annadā Ekādaśī at Corpus Christi, USA in 1946. After studies in haṭha-yoga, he took initiation from his guru, Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda in 1970 and preached in the African continent for 3 years before accepting sannyāsa in 1976. After Prabhupāda’s disappearance, Śrīla Narasiṅgha Mahārāja took śīkṣā (spiritual instruction) from Śrīla B.R. Śrīdhara Deva Gosvāmī and Śrīla B.P Purī Gosvāmī. Although he spent most of his spiritual life preaching in India, Narasiṅgha Mahārāja also travelled to Europe, Mexico and the United States to spread the message of his spiritual masters. He penned over 200 essays and 13 books delineating Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava siddhānta. He left this world in his āśrama in South India in 2020.