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Overview

This important article from 1939, published in the Gauḍīya magazine after the disappearance of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, consists of a series of questions and answers between a householder disciple of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura and Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja concerning guru-godbrother relations, succession, and guru-tattva. In the original Bengali, some sections of the article were given emphasis with bold text and we have maintained the same formatting in the English version. This article was translated into English by Swami B.V. Giri and Sanātana Dāsa. (Note: The title ‘Prabhupāda’ in this article refers to Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura)

The śāstrika answers to all my questions previously published in the 15th year of the 47th issue of the weekly Gauḍīya has cleared many of my doubts and, I hope, those of many other people. From this we have come to know many new things through the instructions of Śrīla Prabhupāda. If you also give such śāstrika answers to some of my other questions, I will be forever sold at the feet of the Gauḍīya.

Vaiṣṇava-dāsānu-dāsābhāsa

Śrī Haripada Dāsa Ādhikārī

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Who Can be Called a True Disciple?

QUESTION: Can all those who have been formally initiated by the most worshipable Śrī Śrīla Prabhupāda be called true disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda? Are there any kinds of distinguishing characteristics amongst them? Even if there are differences of siddhānta and thought observed amongst them, should we still consider all of them to be disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda?

ANSWER: On the subject whether or not all those who have been formally initiated by Śrī Śrīla Prabhupāda can be considered as his true disciples, what Śrīla Prabhupāda himself has said is quoted from his own written letter and stated in his hari-kathā as follows:

“There can never be any sort of relation with Gauḍīya Maṭha with one who, impelled by cunningness, approaches the Gauḍīya Maṭha possessing the mindset of misusing supramundane knowledge; just as with the act of a drama party, one can perceive the scarcity of true reality. A dramatic performance of accepting dīkṣā and actual divine knowledge are not one and the same.” (Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Letters, Vol. 1, Page 1, written from Shilong on 2nd October 1928)

“‘Just as we need to keep a boat and a boatman to cross a river, similarly we need to keep a guru.’ – with such a mentality, all these people have created their ‘gurus.’ They have never seen me, and I have also never associated with them. In the last few days of my life also I will no longer associate with them.” (Śrīla Prabhupāda’s hari-kathā, 18th December 1935, Calcutta Gauḍīya Maṭha)

There is a vast difference between the real disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda and such pseudo-disciples who were impelled by the deceitful mentality of misusing supramundane divine knowledge and pretended to take formal initiation from Śrīla Prabhupāda. One section is artificial, another section is real. One section is the Nārada of the drama party, and the other section are the followers of Guru-pāda-padma, the incessant chanter of hari-kīrtana who is the non-different personification of Nārada.

Moreover, there are also differences in qualification amongst those who are truly disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda.

The siddhānta and thinking of the true devotees that have taken shelter of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s feet are strung upon one thread. Just like the conclusions of the Six Gosvāmīs or Śrī Śrīnivāsācārya, Thākura Narottama, Śrī Śyāmānanda and other ācāryas – every one of them is of the same significance. In other words, they are aligned with the siddhānta of Śrīman Mahāprabhu. It is not that within some sections there are apparent similarities, and in some sections there are apparent differences amongst the true disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda. The siddhānta and thinking of persons situated in the true philosophical current within the line of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura (śrī-bhaktivinoda-dhārā) is distinctly in unison with every practitioner of the current within the line of Śrīla Mādhavendra Purī.

Are the Sannyāsī Disciples Best of All?

QUESTION: Are the sannyāsī disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda the best of all? Has Śrīla Prabhupāda himself said anything in relation to this?

ANSWER: Śrīla Prabhupāda has always quoted Mahāprabhu’s statement and said:

yei bhaje sei baḍa abhakta hīna cāra
kṛṣṇa-bhajane nāhi jāti-kulādi-vicāra

“One who engages in bhajana is great, but a non-devotee is degraded and useless. Concerning kṛṣṇabhajana, there is no consideration of caste or family.” (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 4.67)

Whether a sannyāsī is best, or a gṛhastha, vānaprastha or brahmacārī is best – this is not even a question for a devotee of Bhagavān. Such a question arises amongst the materialistic smārtas and the impersonalist non-devotees. In his Bṛhat-Bhāgavatāmṛta (2nd Canto, 1st Chapter, 8-10), Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī has informed us about the attainment of various planets within the universe based upon the activities of the sannyāsī, gṛhastha, vānaprastha or brahmacārī. Bhūḥ, Bhuvaḥ and Svaḥ – these three planets are the places of pious gṛhasthas. Above that, is Mahaḥ, Jana, Tapaḥ and Satya – these four planets are the attained position for non-gṛhasthas. Amongst them, the upakurvāṇa-brahmacārīs attain Mahaloka, the naiṣṭika-brahamcārīs attain Janaloka, vānaprasthas attain Tapoloka, and the sannyāsīs attain Satyaloka. All these planets are within the material universe; but the creeper of devotion (bhakti-latā-bīja) has no position in this material universe. Crossing the mundane universe, Virajā and Brahmaloka, the devotional domain is only Paravyoma and Goloka. Nobody’s strength of bhajana in the realm of bhakti can be ascertained by merely seeing their external dress, external varṇa or external āśrama.

“A sannyāsī is one caste, and the brahmacārī, gṛhastha and vānaprastha are another independent caste” – there is no such non-devotional considerations in bhāgavata-dharma. Considering seminal brāhmaṇinsm (that particular varṇa) as the highest in the domain of bhakti, and considering the sannyāsī (that particular āśrama) to be the highest within the domain of bhakti are the same thing. In other words, both considerations are non-devotional. There maybe such sannyāsīs sheltered under Śrīla Prabhupāda who are in a lower position than a brahmacārī, gṛhastha or vānaprastha in the matter of performing bhajana of Hari, Guru and Vaiṣṇava. One who identifies himself as a sannyāsī, brahmacārī, vānaprastha or gṛhastha has not yet developed the initial stage of sambandha-jñāna or has not even entered into the domain of bhakti. The very śloka of Śrīman Mahāprabhu, nahāṁ vipro na ca narapatiḥ is evidence of this subject. Thus, just the symbols, meaning the paraphernalia, are not the only identifications of an āśrama. Śrīmad Bhāgavata has said, veṇurbhinna bhaved yatiḥ, meaning that simply holding a stick does not make one a sannyāsī. Rāvaṇa also accepted a tridaṇḍa to capture Sītā.

Furthermore, some have independently made a pretense of accepting ‘tridaṇḍa-sannyāsa’, and by doing so they became fallen and corrupt. Again, a few of them, even while Śrīla Prabhupāda was present, acted independently and gave up their tridaṇḍa, some showed allegiance to the prākṛta-sahajiyā sampradāya, some rejected the tridaṇḍa, śikhā, sūtra, beads, saffron dress and proper etiquette, and in this way they have made guru-aparādha – still, on face value, they have declared that they have the blessings of the ācārya and in this way they have accumulated self-prestige and have desired, and continue to desire, authority. Śrīla Prabhupāda, in one letter dated 21st June 1928, wrote about a person who had fallen from tridaṇḍasannyāsa in this way:

“The daṇḍa which was accepted by Śrīla Paramānanda Purī, Śrīla Īśvara Purī and Śrīla Mādhavendra Purī etc. can never take shelter in the hands of this ___________ who is inimical to Hari, Guru and Vaiṣṇava because his hand is contaminated; therefore that daṇḍa will very quickly go to the hands of such a person who has attained the nature of true bhakti. That person is jālsājī-purī (a swindler). Svakarma-phalabhuk pumān (‘a person is sure to accept the results of his actions’). Considering the character of Choṭa Haridāsa, we are duty bound to reject his association.”

One person who was sent to England, independently went against the order of Śrīla Prabhupāda and gave up the tridaṇḍa, śikhā, saffron cloth etc. and instead of kaupīna he wore underwear. Seeing that he was misusing the conduct befitting his āśrama, Śrīla Prabhupāda chastised that aforementioned person and due to this, that person who desired independence and authority, stayed in different places for many days till the time Śrīla Prabhupāda disappeared. Hence, making a show of accepting the dress of a sannyāsī is not a true representation of attaining the highest goal in the domain of bhakti.

Who Has More Bhakti?

QUESTION: All those sannyāsī, vāṇaprastha, gṛhastha or brahmacāri preachers, through whom Śrīla Prabhupāda preached his instructions in various countries, by the strength of their speech, their management of the mission etc. became famous and widely accepted even during Śrīla Prabhupāda’s manifest appearance – do they have more bhakti and are they the leaders of the mission?

ANSWER: “Only those who, during the manifested presence of Śrīla Prabhupāda, became famous and widely accepted, have more bhakti or are the leaders of the mission” – such a consideration cannot be correct in all cases. Again, in some places it can be justified. The most worshipable Śrī Śrīla Prabhupāda, in the previous year in Darjeeling in a letter to the most worshipable Bhakti Vaibhava Sāgara Mahārāja, gave his gracious blessings to him. On numerous occasions in front of many disciples, Śrila Prabhupāda has said about Śrīpāda Sāgara Mahārāja “He is a jīvan-mukta mahā-puruṣa.” Becoming deceived, the materially-minded section, or people desiring to gratify their own senses see the external form of Śrīpāda Sāgara Maharaja and say, “He is not a very big man – he doesn’t have a form that pleases our eyes, his name has not been mentioned much within the circles of gossip. The people of this world do not know him. He has no practical knowledge or experience as far as preaching is concerned. Thus, he is also not a great man.” So is that consideration correct? Who will become the leader of the mission? One who follows proper conduct or one who is a miscreant? If Śrīla Sāgara Mahārāja does not have the power of eloquent speech to please the ears of the public can he not become the leader of the mission? In answer to this, materially-minded people will certainly say, “He cannot!” This is because they only recognise expertise in material skills. They hide the article ‘Baḍa Āmī o Bhāla Āmi’ (‘The Big I and the Good I’) written by Śrīla Prabhupāda himself. They want to become the masters of the queen of calculation, and they consider the sevaka-sampradāya of Śrī Rādhārāṇī to be very inferior. Their only yardstick of measuring bhakti is expertise in material skills. In this way, in order to entice people by imitating the ramblings of a hired lecturer, the noise of a gramophone, and the artful, cunning words of society-girls, they engage themselves in serving public opinion and accumulate lābha, pūjā, pratiṣṭhā (wealth, worship and prestige). With the help of pleasurable things such as puṣpanna (an opulent rice preparation), channāra-dālnā (paneer subji), pāntuā (a paneer-based sweet) etc. he shuts the mouths of enjoying materialists who have unchaste tongues and closes their ears also – in other words he makes them deaf and dumb, and they consider attaining recommendation letters from the influential materialists of this world to be the pañca-puruṣārtha (the fifth goal of life)! All of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s characteristics and endeavors, his ācāra and pracāra, were manifest in opposition to such considerations. Śrīla Prabhupāda awarded the dress of a preacher to a few people in order to train them so that they could attain auspiciousness. In one letter dated June 21st 1928, Śrīla Prabhupāda wrote:

“Although all these deceitful people did not develop their cunningness at the beginning, gradually, due to Vaiṣṇava aparādha, they deviated from hari-bhakti and resumed their desires for material life. For eight to ten years this _______ was doing ‘hari-sevā‘ and practicing. During that time, since I could not see the sins in his character such as stealing money meant for Vaiṣnava sevā, I gave him the facility to perform haribhajana and the responsibility of collecting money for serving the Vaiṣṇavas. But now his deceit and depravity has manifested and even a devotee like you has also understood his sinful behaviour…I am fallen, hence I pretended to have friendship with such a class of people. Now I have a desire to abandon such bad association and pass my days only in the association of śāstra and real sādhu-saṅga. Observing his activities for some days, I felt this person would soon deviate. But his deceitfulness is so difficult to understand that our other devotees who were close to him, did not make me aware of his bad character either. Again, those who were in his company also supported his bad behaviour, and in this way they have shown their abject foolishness.”

Why Weren’t the Unqualified Removed from the Mission?

QUESTION: If any such persons have some insincerity or personal difficulties, why didn’t Śrīla Prabhupāda ask for their correction during his manifestation? And why was the general public not informed that they were dismissed from preaching or that they were unqualified? If necessary, why not remove them from the mission?

ANSWER: Śrīla Prabhupāda has disciplined people who have accepted the dress of a preacher but who were going astray in various ways due to the faults of weakness, Vaiṣṇava aparādha, material desires etc., sometimes in a meeting, sometimes by writing letters and speaking hari-kathā to them in different ways. A reading of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s letters, articles and discourses bears witness to this. Śrīla Prabhupāda, seeing the desire for power in one such an eminent preacher, himself composed an essay for his benefit in The Gauḍīya called Baḍa Āmi o Bhāla Āmi and when the sannyāsī-preacher was staying in Dhaka, he informed him in a letter that, “This essay has been written for you. You should read it very carefully.”

For the benefit of him and others like him, Śrīla Prabhupāda again published an article called Ālekhya (‘Painting’) in The Gauḍīya. When Śrīla Prabhupāda saw the oil painting of the respected preacher in a householder’s home in Calcutta, he expressed his pastime of anger and wrote a letter to him in Dhaka from Śrī Gauḍīya Maṭha on 16th May (1935). His words are quoted below:

“It is better not to have, or keep oil paintings of ourselves in the homes of devotees. One should always bear in mind that the desire for fame is like the stool of a pig. If our photo is worshipped during our lifetime, we will become degraded. There are two paths — śreyaḥ (the path of renunciation) and preyaḥ (the path of enjoyment). Travellers on the path of bhakti are the followers of śreyaḥ. The company of material enjoyers is inauspicious for us.” (Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Letters Vol. 3, page 51 & 52)

Another person, a famous so-called sannyāsī-preacher, used to go to Bhagalpur and engage in unsavory behaviour. If all the brahmacārīs etc. who were with him for preaching, ever said anything against such behaviour, the preacher would quarrel with them. In a letter dated 9th October (1931), Śrīla Prabhupāda chastised him thus:

“Neither a sannyāsī nor a brahmacārī has the right to engage others in massaging his feet or his body when he is in good health this is the injunction of the śāstrathere should be no type of quarreling etc. If everyone has the same purpose and the same service-interest, there is no possibility of any kind of conflict. Thereby even apparent conflict is transformed into the excellence of loving service.” (Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Letters, Vol. 2, page 99)

A young sannyāsī sent to England expressed special interest in accepting a woman named Mrs N_____ as his (the said sannyāsī‘s) honorary secretary and having that lady live in the maṭha. The elder tridaṇḍipāda parama-pūjanīya Śrīmad Bhakti Pradīpa Tīrtha Mahāraja, who was sent as guardian of the devotees of the London Gauḍīya Maṭha, informed the most worshipable Śrī Śrīla Prabhupāda about the matter. Śrīla Prabhupāda was deeply saddened to hear about such a desire of the said young sannyāsī and wrote a letter to the London Gauḍīya Maṭha:

“We don’t have accommodation for women to stay overnight in any of our maṭhas; yet since Śrī Viṣṇupriyā-pallī and a householder colony already exists at Yogapīṭha, we have no objection in this regard. It is good news that Mrs. _____ will accept the post of honorary secretary, but it is better that she does not stay in the maṭha. Śrīyukta ____ understands all these things very well. Even if a sannyāsī has a small fault or no fault, various things can be said, just as in the case of Sītā Devī’s defamation.” (Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Letter, November 20th, 1933)

On April 25th 1933, Śrīla Prabhupāda wrote a letter from Singhanjabari Dadi Seth Agiari Street, Bombay, concerning how the sannyāsīs and residents of the maṭha should lead their life. On that topic he wrote a detailed letter to Śrīpāda Narahari Sevā-vigraha Prabhu, who was staying in Śrī Caitanya Maṭha, in a mood of chastisement after becoming very sad seeing the behaviour of some so-called sannyāsīs and accomplished gṛha-vratas (materialistic householders). A little section of it is quoted below:

“If our hari-bhajana falls short, then our conception will become like that of the materialists and it will consume us. These are the activities of the Gauḍīya Maṭha sannyāsis

1) Whatever sannyāsīs do for personal sense gratification should be done by going barefoot, never using shoes nor vehicles. They should not even use the worst vehicles, let alone the first-class ones.

2) They should not accept the services of any person; massaging the body with oil, serving their feet etc. should not be done by another person in any way.

3) Eating rich food or eating separately is to be completely avoided.

4) They should never go to a doctor. They should never take medicine according to their own desires. It is a sannyāsīs duty to serve those who are not sannyāsīs.

5) “I am to be worshipped and served” – a sannyāsī living in the maṭha should give up this concept. If he resides in the maṭha he should serve all others, otherwise, he should return home.

6) Excess foppery, drinking too much milk, and eating food such as luci (puris) is absolutely to be avoided.

7) There is no necessity for bodybuilders to reside in the maṭha, nor should it become a gentleman’s club. Only the devotees of Hari should reside in the maṭha.

8) Invigorating the senses by taking excessive medicines, and attempting or desiring to extend mastery in touching the wives of others should be given up immediately.

9) “Kṛṣṇa is the only Master of all things and the only Enjoyer, and I am the slave and servant of everybody” – this should always be remembered.

10) One should serve those according to their level of bhakti. “Let the devotees serve me!” – if we do not escape from this evil-minded elephant we can never attain any auspiciousness.

11) The fire of lust that burns for sense-enjoyment should be rejected.

12) Brahmacārīs should not aspire to become sannyāsīs in order to increase their sense gratification. The desire to lord over others is not kṛṣṇa-bhajana.

13) To consider a sannyāsī to be a sensualist, and desiring to dress as a sensualist with that kind of motivation, should be completely rejected.

14) We should pay special attention that no kind of foppery enters Śrī Caitanya Maṭha, Śrī Gauḍīya Maṭha and it’s branches which will destroy the sevaitesannyāsīs, gṛhasthas and brahmacārīs. It cannot be admired in the type of sample that is being made. The examples we are having cannot be appreciated. Like the sannyāsīs, the householders also should not be subdued by the urges of lust, anger etc.

15) We must pay special attention not to fall into the same condition as those who have created calamities within materialistic society which is averse to serving Hari-Guru-Vaiṣṇava.

16) Arrogant boasting, foppery and hypocrisy should always be rejected by the residents of the maṭha. Make no mistake about it – kṛṣṇa-sevā is our duty at all times! Service to the Vaiṣṇavas is even more important. There must not be any attendant unnecessarily and sannyasīns or preachers must not be provided with any vehicle unless for the Church’s (Mission’s) use alone. If a sannyāsī goes out for his own work, to a shop, or to a pharmacists for any reason other than the maṭha’s activities, he must go by walking. Even if the car remains idle, they will not take it…the maṭha is not a place for foppery. A spiritual hospital is not a place for the foppery of a patient. If they all behave in such a way, it is better that they remain at home. Instead of wearing red cloth, they will be sent home wearing white cloth with a kaccha (tail). All those sannyāsīs who do not engage in foppery will be taken care of as sannyāsīs of the Gauḍīya Maṭha. The rest should be sent back home. If there are less people, that is good. If those persons who have taken refuge in the maṭha that are absorbed in their bellies and genitals, are dismissed one by one, it will reduce the expenses of the maṭha – the disturbance will be reduced and the income will also be reduced.

It was for hari-bhajana that people came to the maṭha – the brahmacārīs, vānaprasthas, gṛhasthas and bhikṣus. Those who do not practice hari-bhajana will not be protected by the maṭha, since they are antagonistic towards the maṭha. “I have done a lot of work for the maṭha, therefore I will ride in the motorcar, I want a lot of prestige. I must have a big share in the leadership and management of the maṭha!” – this mentality should not be indulged in at all. These are the words of a gṛha-vrata (a materialistic householder).

Those who serve the maṭha should not expect anything in return. All problems come to the jīva by gossiping about, criticising, and insulting others. Always desire your own eternal well-being. Subjugation of the mind and the eradication of other material tendencies is accomplished in conjunction with śrī-nāma-bhajana.”

Śrīla Prabhupāda explained śuddha-bhakti through his own conduct and preaching. By reestablishing daiva-varṇāśrama-dharma he eliminated karma-jaḍa-smārta-vāda (the smārta ideology of materialistic ritualism). How many hundreds of times in letters, articles, discussions and messages did he say that if one performs smārta-śrāddha, (offerings to one’s forefathers according to smārta rules) one deviates from the supreme goal of life and thus nāmāparādha manifests:

“If one performs śrāddha according to the smārta system, one must again return in the womb of a mother.” (Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Letters, 1st Volume, Page 70)

“One who performs rākṣasa-śrāddha* has fallen from the path of bhakti, and becomes averse to bhagavat-bhakti. If there is faith in Bhagavān and the guru, there can be no necessity for such a śrāddha.” (Śrīla Prabhupāda’s discourse, 8th Jyeṣṭha, 1336, Purī)

*Translator’s Note: Rākṣasa-śrāddha is a smārta ritual wherein one offers piṇḍas (food offerings) to ghosts, yakṣas and demons.

Acting as if he were hearing the words of Śrīla Prabhupāda for many years, and even considering himself as the best devotee and leader of the mission, someone ignored all these direct orders and the many letters of Śrīla Prabhupāda and disobeyed the order of guru. Even Gurudeva, in order to deter him from activities which are averse to the highest goal of life and offensive to the Holy Name, sent Śrī Ananta Vāsudeva Paravidyābhūṣaṇa Prabhu and president of The Gauḍīya, Śrīpāda Aprākṛta Bhakti-Sāraṅga Gosvāmī Prabhu to the home of the aforementioned person who had gone against bhakti, and in spite of hundreds of requests to him to return to his lotus feet, he took up the symbols of asauca (impurity) of a śūdra for one month time and, as per smārta rules, he organised a rākṣasa-śrāddha.

Śrīla Prabhupāda has tried so hard to correct us. But if we speak in the language of Śrīla Prabhupāda we have to say —“I will not interfere with anyone’s independence! I have nothing to do with the one who says, ‘I have independence.’” By reading Śrīla Prabhupāda’s letters, Volume 3, pp. 20-29 one will know how Śrīla Prabhupāda tried to correct his disciples. Śrīla Prabhupāda wrote in his letters:

“I cannot promote your present mentality. That would be like a meat-eater’s maintenance of a chicken, or like offering oblations of ghee into a fire.” (Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Letters, Volume 3, Page 21)

“Becoming partial, I will only support myself. I will not support you.” (Page 22)

“Anyhow, we have done our duty. Now it is Kṛṣṇa’s will. Whatever He gives is accepted. Śrī Vārṣabhānavī Devī does not abandon Kṛṣṇa’s service for fear of reproach from the common people.” (Page 25)

Furthermore, Śrīla Prabhupāda would always inform every confidential sevaka about the character of wicked pseudo-disciples and hypocrites. When Śrīla Prabhupāda arrived in Utakāmanda, he said in regards to the talks of one sannyāsī who was a so-called preacher, “One who listens to the lectures of ____ will become bereft of hari-bhakti and go to hell.” At that time Śrī Ananta Vāsudeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa Prabhu, Śrīmad Aprakṛta Bhakti-sāraṅga Gosvāmī Prabhu, Śrīla Bhakti-sudhākara Prabhu, Śrīla Sundarānanda Vidyāvinoda, Śrīyuta Gopāla-candra Rāya and many others were present there. Amongst the listeners, one asked, “Then why do you send all such people to preach and allow others to listen to their lectures and make them travellers to hell?” In response to this, Śrīla Prabhupāda said:

“They have decorated the glass window of the Gauḍīya pharmacy with a ‘show-bottle.’ The show-bottle is filled with red, blue and green coloured water and looks very big. It does not contain real medicine and people’s diseases are not cured by consuming it. However, if persons suffering from delirium come to the Gauḍīya Hospital after being lured by the advertisement of a show-bottle, and if they possess good fortune, in other words, if they are truly sincere, then they can attain medicine to prevent the malady of material life from a true doctor. Through all those show-bottles types of people I counteract the prakṛta-sahajiyās. The prakṛta-sahajiyās know how to entertain people and can fool them – humble devotees do not do that. But people who are under the spell of prakṛta-sahajiyās also need to be attracted. For this reason I have kept all these show-bottle persons for entertaining – some of them fool the people by their recitations, some of them fool the people by their lectures, some of them fool the people by their dances and songs, some show off their bodies, some display their expertise in work – they can become competitors to the prakṛta-sahajiyās. Those who are fortunate can grasp this and understand it. Until they become great offenders to the Vaiṣṇavas, they are given a chance.”

Śrīla Prabhupāda, the most magnanimous crest-jewel of mahā-bhāgavatas, gave an opportunity to all suffering sinners to engage in hari-bhajana. Śrīla Prabhupāda’s munificence does not condone indulgence in sins or the sins of certain individuals. Hypocrisy is therefore not supported by Prabhupāda. In this regard, Śrīla Prabhupāda himself wrote in a letter:

“Insensitive and ignorant people who are incapable of comprehending the magnanimous līlā of mahā-bhāgavatas ask, “Why did Kālā Kṛṣṇa Dāsa, who took refuge of Gaurasundara, become seduced by the Bhaṭṭathāri women? Instead of showing the example of a devotee, why did Choṭa Haridāsa engage in deceitful activities in the name of serving Gaura? Why did Rāmacandra Purī avoid submission to Mādhavendra Purī? Why did some of the so-called sons of Advaita Ācārya Prabhu, and some so-called disciples of Vīrabhadra, become independent? Unable to accept the actual truth, ignorant people preach all these things and pollute the kaniṣṭhas and madhyamas. They may be the objects of respect for persons who are naive, but in actuality, when those unintelligent people enter into the significance of the magnanimous līlā of Śrī Caitanya or those mahā-bhāgavatas who have taken shelter of Him, then they will be able to know that to provide an opportunity for the benefit of all the unqualified and fallen people in general, Śrī Caitanya has said, that the jīva is inherently a servant of Kṛṣṇa. Although when servitude to Kṛṣṇa, momentarily manifested in a perverted form as an aversion to Kṛṣṇa, combined with material enjoyment is criticised in the eyes of unqualified gross materialists who believe in direct perception, it does not violate the significance of the verse, api cet sudurācara. A mahā-bhagāvata considers everyone as his spiritual master. (Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Letters, 1st Vol. pages 57-58)

Is There Not One Liberated Soul?

QUESTION: Is there no one who is a liberated soul (mukta-puruṣa) amongst the disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda? Have those who are the spiritual masters of the entire world (jagat-guru ācāryas) not left even a single living person who is liberated to benefit the entire world at a later period of time? Are there such cases in history?

ANSWER: “There are no liberated souls amongst the disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda” – such a statement is the verdict of materialistic people who are contaminated by anarthas. Śrīla Prabhupāda himself has revealed some of his exclusive servants that had no material desires in their heart as ‘jīvan-mukta puruṣas’ (liberated souls) even while he was personally present in this world. Those who are jagat-guru ācāryas descend on this earth and leave at least one of their most eligible disciples as an ācārya for the welfare of people in general, in order to deliver them. This is attested by history at all times. Rāmānujācārya, Madhvācārya, the Six Gosvāmīs, Śrīla Ṭhākura Narottama, Śrī Śrīnivāsa Ācārya, Śrī Śyāmānanda, Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī, Śrī Baladeva, Śrī Bhaktivinoda, Śrī Gaura-Kiśora, Śrī Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Prabhupāda – everyone has left a liberated soul as the loka-guru (world preceptor) for the future well-being of this world. This itself is the boundless mercy of the succession of ācāryas (ācārya-dhārā). Those who imitate the preconceived ideas of the Semitic races such as the Assyrians, Ethiopians, Babylonians, Hebrews, Phoenicians and Iranians begin to judge the identity of liberated souls from the empirical platform, and based on such ignorance, they lose their faith in those who are successors in the guru-varga. They remain continuously suspicious towards the spiritual calibre of the mahantaguru and his decent to this material realm. They become traitors to the cause of the previous ācāryas.

They say, “Āmāra guru jagat-guru” (my guru is the guru of the whole world), but he was unable to make even one liberated soul, or he could not make even one person qualified to be a world preceptor (lokaguru).” Those who make such statements simply end up proving that their own spiritual master was incompetent! It is true that Śrīla Advaita Prabhu had a few so-called sons and disciples who were independent, but Śrīla Acutyānanda Prabhu was a real Vaiṣṇava ācārya. It is also true that some so-called disciples of Śrī Vīrabhadra Prabhu became independent and created the Neḍā-Neḍī sampradāya, but it is also observed in Vaiṣṇava history that he had disciples who were mahā-bhāgavatas and Gosvāmīs (please refer to Page 11 of the book, Ācāra O Ācārya). Rāmacandra Purī, the so-called disciple of Śrīla Mādhavendra Purīpāda, was an impersonalist and opposed to Hari-Guru-Vaiṣṇava, but Śrīla Īśvara Purīpāda performed the activity of an ācārya.

Are They All More or Less Jivas with Anarthas?

QUESTION: Amongst the devotees of Śrīla Prabhupāda, if they are all, more or less, jīvas with anarthas, then will the process of continuing the line of ācāryas and increasing the dynasty of devotees become completely extinct? If not, will it be made possible in some other way?

ANSWER: Even amongst the disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda there are highly qualified eternally liberated persons who have symptoms as delineated in the verse, ihā yasya hare dāsye karmaṇā manasā girā (“In this world, one is a servant of Hari by devoting one’s mind and actions to Him” – Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.187). By the very desire of Śrīla Prabhupāda himself, the expansion of the devotional dynasty and the current of Bhaktivinoda (bhaktivinoda-dhārā) will never become extinct. Śrīla Prabhupāda said numerous times in front of many people, “Very soon, fifty lakhs of people dedicated to the truth will come!” Except for a mahānta-guru who is empowered by Kṛṣṇa, there is no other possible way to increase the devotional dynasty – this is according to śāstra and sadācāra (proper etiquette).

Can There be Initiation from a Picture?

QUESTION: If there is harināma initiation and dīkṣā in front of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s samādhi or photograph, will it be against śāstra to touch the mantra and beads to the samādhi or photograph?

ANSWER: If one pretends to give initiation by touching the mantra or beads to Śrīla Prabhupāda’s photo or samādhi, then it will simply amount to making a business out of arcana. In reality, if one wants initiation into kīrtana-yajña, the descent of the mahānta-guru is essential because he cuts asunder all doubts and is expert in the science of the Absolute (Para-brahma) and the scriptures (śabda-brahma). Even though the aforementioned system of worship can be seen in some apasampradāyas, such rituals are not practiced in the society of pure devotees. To say the least, it is an offence to guru and is in heretical opposition to the scriptures. In the words of Ṭhākura Bhaktivinoda:

“Those people who do not accept the Brahma sampradāya directed by references like para-vyomeśvarasyāsīc chiṣyo brahmā jagat-patiḥ (Brahmā, the lord of the universe, is the first student of Nārāyaṇa, Lord of Vaikuṇṭha”) etc. are preachers of heretical opinions according to the words of the Bhāgavata. Anyone who refuses to accept such statements is a promoter of atheism. Those who accept the authority of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya but secretly do not accept this disciplic succession of spiritual preceptors are actually agents of Kali.”

Who Can be an Ācārya?

QUESTION: Among these four āśramasgṛhastha, brahmacārī, vānaprastha and sannyāsī – who can be an ācārya? Who has more qualification to become an ācārya?

ANSWER: Gṛhastha, brahmacārī, vānaprastha and sannyāsī – no one who belongs to any of these āśramas can become an ācārya. But in spite of accepting the outer dress of these āśramas, the eternally perfected, liberated personality who is beyond varnāśrama and who is expert in the science of Kṛṣṇa (kṛṣṇa-tattva-vit) can become an ācārya. Sannyāsa, vānaprastha, gṛhastha or brahmacārī etc. are not an evidence or an indication for being qualified to become an ācārya. Only one who is kṛṣṇa-tattva-vit and exclusively surrendered to Kṛṣṇa (kṛṣṇaikaaraṇa) has the qualification to function as an ācārya. The words of Mahāprabhu are:

kiba vipra kiba nyāsī śūdra kene naya
yei kṛṣṇa-tattva vetta sei guru haya

“Whether one is a brāhmaṇa, a sannyāsī or a śūdra, whoever knows the science of Kṛṣṇa is a guru.” (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 8.128)

Can Anyone be Made Into an Ācārya?

QUESTION: Can anyone be made into an ācārya? Otherwise can an ācārya be elected based on the opinion of ordinary people or godbrothers?

ANSWER: Materialistic people cannot make an ācārya, nor can an ācārya be elected by the votes of materialistic people. Nevertheless, an ācārya or someone who is equal to an ācārya, can reveal news of the rise of an ācārya for the benefit of the world. The ācārya position of principle ācāryas like Śrīla Śrīnivāsācārya, Śrīla Ṭhākura Narottama and Śrīla Śyāmānanda Prabhu were revealed by Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī Prabhu. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura took the opportunity to reveal the position of the Gauḍīya Vedāntācārya, Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa Prabhu, to the eyes of the world. None of them achieved the position of ācārya by dint of their expertise in performing mundane activities.

They achieved the very title of ācārya by dint of their mastery in pure devotional conclusions (bhaktisiddhānta) and preaching the sermons of the śāstras and personally following them. An ācārya can manifest within the guileless heart and words of non-envious godbrothers who are expert in devotional conclusions. But so-called fellow godbrothers who are cunning, envious and ignorant about spiritual topics, who are themselves greedy for mundane wealth, women and prestige, who are occupied in trying to become gurus themselves, who are proud and arrogant, who desire to lord over others – even if such persons engage in all sorts of malicious acts, reject a kṛṣṇa-tattva-vit, become envious of him and criticise the pure character of a Vaiṣṇava – it will not reduce the position of the kṛṣṇa-tattva-vit ācārya in any way.

On Titles and Accolades

QUESTION: Is there a requirement that if someone becomes an ācārya he must be called paramahaṁsa, oṁ viṣṇupāda aṣṭottara-śata-śrī, cid-vilāsa, sampradāya-rakṣaka, śrī-rūpānuga-vara etc. If he is not addressed in such a way, is there any fault? Should his fellow godbrothers also use the same titles for their godbrother ācārya?

ANSWER: The words ācārya, paramahaṁsa etc. have the same meaning. Ācārya means guru. The sampradāya one follows, or those who attempt to follow, designate the ācārya by such titles as paramahaṁsa, oṁ viṣṇupāda aṣṭottara-śata-śrī etc. If one refuses to say that, then one creates an offence by disregarding the position of guru. Just as the emperor is addressed as ‘His Majesty’, ‘Defender of the Faith’ etc; the Viceroy or Governor, who is the King’s representative is addressed as ‘His Excellency’; the judge of the high court is addressed as ‘His Lordship’; Christian priests are addressed as ‘His Holiness’ or ‘His Grace’ etc. according to custom. Similarly, in Bhārata-varṣa also the spiritual ācārya is referred as paramahaṁsa, oṁ viṣṇupāda aṣṭottara-śata-śrī, cid-vilāsa, sampradāya-saṁrakṣaka, śrī-rūpānuga etc. according to the instructions of śāstra and proper etiquette. In the Sanskrit poem Kutarka-bhedika (‘The Destruction of Fallacious Arguments’) in The Gauḍīya, there is discussion on this topic.

“Although we accept him as a father, we will not call him father” – such an argument has its origins in modernity. If one does not show proper respect towards the ācārya befitting his position, one will fall down from devotional service and as a result, one’s arrogant mentality will increase. If materialistic people do not accept this, the ācārya will feel no harm – on the other hand, it only attests to the supreme misfortune, inauspiciousness and foolishness from their side.

As regards godbrothers:

sajātīyāśaye snigdhe sādhau sangaḥ svato vare
(Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Pūrva-vibhāga 40)

The meaning is this – despite being endowed with a certain type of affection for the Lord, still, one who is serious aspires for the association of a sādhu, superior to his own self, and will consider that godbrother who is the best amongst all godbrothers, as a kṛṣṇa-tattva-vit and as being non-different from His Śrī Guru-pāda-padma. Otherwise it may happen that after the aprākṛta-līlā of Śrī Guru-pāda-padma, one may consider a godbrother as the best amongst those who are kṛṣṇa-tattva-vit as being like his guru (by doing this the eternal uniqueness of Śrī Guru-pāda-padma is not destroyed, instead true devotion to Śrī Guru-pāda-padma is established) in order to attain the service of Śrī Gurudeva under his guidance. One can refer to him as oṁ viṣṇupāda aṣṭottara-śata-śrī meaning that he considers him to be non-different from his Guru-pāda-padma.

Śrīpāda Bhakti Pradīpa Tīrtha Mahārāja, the initiated disciple of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, used to display devotion befitting an ācārya to Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Prabhupāda by honouring him with titles such as oṁ viṣṇupāda aṣṭottara-śata-śrī, Prabhupāda, paramahaṁsa, cid-vilāsa.

In the article entitled Madīśvara Śrīla Śrīla Prabhupāda in The Gauḍīya, Śrīla Tīrtha Mahārāja also referred to Om Visnupada Śrīla Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura as ‘Prabhupāda’ just as he referred to Oṁ Viṣṇupada Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura as Prabhupāda. If it is an offence or tattvāviruddha (going against spiritual truth) to honour the śikṣā-guru with the same titles as the pañcarātrika dīkṣā-guru, then how could Śrīla Prabhupāda, the monarch of all devotional conclusions (bhakti-siddhānta) and the best amongst the dedicated followers of Svarūpa-Rūpa, tolerate it?

If one becomes a justice of the High Court after working at the Bar, or if a certain civilian becomes the governor, then his previous colleagues instead of calling him “My friend” will call him “My lord” and the previous civilian colleagues who were like brothers, will address the governor as “His Excellency.” They do not think that he is simply special amongst civilians. They give this respect to the office that he holds. If this can happen in the mundane world, which is a perverted reflection of the transcendental world, then such ideas that oppose this are simply the enviousness of impersonalists. After this, if someone does not display proper faith in the ācārya due to being influenced by mundane knowledge, then what harm can it do to the ācārya? Those persons who resists showing proper faith, or show disrespect are the ones who fail to enter the realm of devotion.

Similarly, many materialistic people and those belonging to the prākṛta-sahajiyā class used to refer to Jagat-guru Śrīla Prabhupāda by his name from his previous āśrama. Even some disciples who had accepted the Holy Name from Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura were reluctant to address Śrīla Prabhupāda with titles befitting an ācārya. What to say of that, instead of referring to Oṁ Viṣṇupāda Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura as ‘Ṭhākura,’ a few people who were followers of Śrīla Jagannātha Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja rarely used to refer to him as Bhaktivinoda Mahāśaya – most of the time they would refer to him by his name from his previous āśrama with the word ‘Bābu’ added to it. By doing this, no harm is inflicted upon the ācāryas, but others make offences by showing disrespect towards them.

How Can an Ordinary Man Become an Ācārya?

QUESTION: How can one who was chastised and instructed by Gurudeva, whom we have always seen as a man of flesh and blood like ourselves, be a nitya-siddha ācārya? Can a person become an ācārya at a young age?

ANSWER: One who is given unreserved mercy by Śrī Gurudeva, whom Gurudeva does not want to deceive, is considered to be a disciple who is worthy of chastising and instructing. He does not cheat his most beloved disciple by offering all sorts of eulogies like, “You are so good,” “I am a dog in your house” or by giving members of the seminal succession (śaukra-vaṁśa) plenty of wealth, clothes, jewellery and rasagūlas to enjoy. One who wholeheartedly accepts the auspicious chastisement of Śrī Gurudeva is a real disciple. And the disciple who thinks, “I will control Gurudeva! Śrī Gurudeva will go, stand up, sit down etc. when I tell him,” or “Gurudeva considers me to be dearest to him more than all others” – by nurturing the wicked mentality of making Gurudeva his disciple, such a person believes an illusion of guru to be the actual guru himself. Great praises are not a symptom of an intimate relationship. When the one who is served disciplines the servant, considering him as very close, then he is truly accepted as a servant.

jagadānande piyāo ātmīyatā-sudhā-rasa
more piyāo gaurava-stuti-nimba-niśindā-rasa
ājiha nahila more ātmīyatā-jñāna
mora abhāgya, tumi—svatantra bhagavān

“You force Jagadānanda to drink the nectar of intimate mellows, yet by offering me great praise you force me to drink the bitter juice of nīma and niśindā. Up till now, You have not felt that I am close to You. This is my misfortune. You are the independent Supreme Lord.” (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 4.163-164)

We have also heard from the divine mouth of Śrīla Prabhupāda that sometimes Śrīmad Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and Śrīmad Gaura Kiśora Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja revealed a supremely intimate relationship with Śrīla Prabhupāda by considering him as a disciple engaged in viśrambha-bhajana (intimate worship). Śrī Gurudeva does not give his highest affection to one who is merely a good speaker. Whoever is the best, he establishes as the dearest.

“How can someone whom we have always seen as a human being of flesh and blood like ourselves be an eternally perfected ācārya?” – such a consideration is made by materialists. At one time, the atheistic Hindus also had such a mundane conception about Śrīman Mahāprabhu. This is described in detail in Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata and Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta. A few days back, some well-known writers of the prākṛtasahajiyā class wrote about Mahāprabhu, “How can someone who began learning how to write ka, kha, ga, gha, later become the eternally perfect avatāra of the Supreme Lord?” The conception of being eternally perfected (nitya-siddha) by the materialistic section is completely false. What more can be said when even the foremost pure devotee Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita taught the world intense attachment to hari-bhakti by pretending to think that, “Nimāi is not able to get devotion to Hari.” Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya was also very concerned how Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanyadeva would be able to maintain His sannyāsa at such a young age! In order to instruct the world, Śrīla Gadādhara Paṇḍita enacted the pastime of doubting the Vaiṣṇava qualities of Śrīla Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi and Pradyumna Miśra also enacted the pastime of doubting the moral character of Śrī Rāya Rāmānanda. Through these pastimes, the Supreme Lord Śrī Gaursundara and His associates have revealed the mentality of the materialists. Who is said to be a nityasiddha? This topic has been discussed in detail in the 37th Issue, 15th Year of the weekly Gauḍīya. In a few words, Śrīla Prabhupāda has explained the symptoms of one who is eternally perfected:

“Those who are eternally inclined to serve Hari are nityasiddhas. The symptom of a nitya siddha is the inclination of service at the liberated stage. The nityasiddha may appear as a sādhana-siddha from the contaminated vision of the worldly eyes.” (Śrīla Prabhupādera Vāṇī, The Gauḍīya, 4th Year, 43rd Issue).

Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu has given the following definition of a nitya-siddha:

ātma-koṭi guṇaṁ kṛṣṇe premānaṁ paramaṁ gatāḥ
nityānanda-guṇāḥ sarve nitya-siddhā mukundavat

“Those whose qualities are eternal and blissful like Mukunda and those who love Śrī Kṛṣṇa crores of times more than their own self are eternally perfected.” (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Dakṣiṇa-vibhāga 1.150)

Śrī Śaṅkarācārya manifested himself as an ācārya as soon as he reached eight years of age. In order to reply to the philosophy of Śrī Śaṅkarācārya, our previous ācārya Śrīman Madhvācārya, or Ānanda Tīrthapāda, manifested himself as an ācārya when he approached twelve years of age, despite his father’s complete aversion to it. Śrīman Mahāprabhu Himself, who enacted the pastime of acting as the Guru-pāda-padma of all jagat-gurus, manifested Himself as an ācārya during His youth. Ten spiritual masters before Śrī Caitanyadeva, Śrī Jayatīrtha appeared and in his previous āśrama, he enacted the part of a general. As a soldier riding on a horse, he crossed a river and had the good fortune of meeting his guru Akṣobhya Tīrtha. He then became famous as Jayatīrtha and manifested himself as an ācārya. During his līlā as a brahmacārī, the most worshipable Śrīla Prabhupāda manifested himself as an ācārya, then many years later, he decided to enact his sannyāsa-līlā. Therefore, youth, adolescence, old, ancient, man, woman – all these parametres are not impediments to the self-manifested position of an ācārya. Expertise in kṛṣṇatattva is the qualification for the position of an ācārya.

Different Types of Ācāryas?

QUESTION: What is the differences between an ācārya belonging to a non-devotee society and a Gauḍīya Maṭha ācārya, or an ācārya sanctioned by the Śrīmad Bhāgavata and the Gosvāmīs?

ANSWER: The difference between the so-called ācāryas belonging to the impersonalist and voidist societies and the ācārya sanctioned by Śrī Gauḍīya Maṭha or the Gosvāmīs is like the difference between heaven and hell. The ācāryas of the impersonalist society are appointed priests or employees. The ācārya of the māyāvādī sampradāya is a temporary adviser who is ‘Brahman’ himself that has fallen into the clutches of the five material elements. The ācārya of a university is a professor of material subjects such as science etc. The ācārya of the prākṛta-sahajiyā sampradāya is one who carries a blood connection to a family lineage, and the ācārya of Śrī Gauḍīya Maṭha described by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda, Gaura Kiśora, Śrīla Prabhupāda, the Six Gosvāmīs, Śrīman Mahāprabhu or the Śrīmad Bhāgavata – they are mahā-puruṣas exclusively dedicated to ācāra (personal behaviour) and pracāra (preaching) and are kṛṣṇa-tattva-vit. Similarly, there is no requirement in considering birth, caste, age, material scholarship, material beauty, wealth etc. for being an ācārya.

“Only people with the name ‘Gosvāmī’ can become an ācārya.” “Only people who have accepted sannyāsa can become an ācārya!”– this was never the consideration of Śrīla Prabhupāda. If one simply has a thread, he is a ‘brāhmaṇa’; if one is rubber-stamped as belonging to a Gosvāmī family, he is an ‘ācārya’; if one simply wears saffron dress or holds a daṇḍa, he is a ‘sannyāsī’. The fact that this is not Prabhupāda’s opinion is known by even a preliminary student in the Gauḍīya Mission. Śrīla Prabhupāda has said:

“A man can be a highly designated paramahaṁsa Vaiṣṇava, despite appearing as a householder. Again, he can be a paramahaṁsa or a high level sannyāsī appearing as a vanacārī, brahmacārī or sannyāsī. ‘Sannyāsa’ is when one leaves lowly endeavours and with body, mind and words, tries to satisfy Kṛṣṇa with all-expansive endeavours. If someone is a Vaiṣṇava he is the best amongst all sannyāsīs. Another word for Vaiṣṇava is paramahaṁsa. (Śrīla Prabhupādera Vaktṛtāvali, 1st Section, Page 31).

Śrīla Prabhupāda has said in another place:

“Someone whom my mind can reject if he is not compatible with me or someone who will support my wicked activities cannot be termed as an ‘ācārya’ or ‘guru’.” (Śrīla Prabhupādera Vaktṛtāvali, 4th part, Page 85)

The ācārya, according to the opinion of the Śrīmad Bhāgavata, as well as ācāryas like Śrīman Madhvācārya and the Gosvāmīs, is the svayaṁ-bhāgavata prakāśa-vigraha (the manifested form of the Supreme Lord Himself), kṛṣṇa-tattva-vit, bhakti-siddhānta-vit (expert in devotional conclusions) and ācāra-pracāra-parayaṇa (dedicated to proper behaviour and preaching). He is non-different from the Supreme Lord Himself as sevaka-bhagavān (the Supreme Lord as a servitor). And the ācārya belonging to impersonalist school is a mortal jiva under the influence of the four material faults of bhrama, pramāda etc. He is simply an expert in mundane scriptures by the strength of his own intellect or he may have very little knowledge. But concerning the ācārya, the Śrīmad Bhāgavata says:

ācāryaṁ māṁ vijānīyān nāvamanyeta karhicit
na martya-buddhyāsūyeta sarva-devamayo guruḥ

“One should consider the spiritual master to be as good as Me. One should never be jealous of him or think of him as an ordinary person, for he is the sum total of all demigods.” (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.17.27)

On this topic there is a detailed discussion in the article, Ācārya Ke? in The Gauḍīya, 15th Year, 48th Issue and in the articles, Ācāryavān Puruṣo Veda, and Oṁ Viṣṇupāda Aṣṭottara-śata-śrī etc.

“Let me never meet the atheist who considers my Gurudeva as different from Śrī Nityānanda even in my dreams.” (Śrīla Prabhupāda’s lecture, Saptagrāma, 18th Māgha month, Bengali Year 1331)

“The Supreme Lord Himself manifests as the ācārya to the disciple. The exclusive worship of the ācārya indicates his bhāgavata-prakāśa (the manifestation of his connection with the Supreme). The Ācāryadeva is non-different from the Supreme Lord who is to be served.” (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 1.46 Anubhāṣya)

Godbrother Gurus?

QUESTION: If a godbrother performs the activities of an ācārya or mahāntaguru, then what should the other godbrothers feel regarding that aforementioned ācārya? Should he be considered on the same level as their own Gurudeva? If one thinks like this on the basis of imagination and considers the disciple to be the same as the guru, will this be a great offence? How can the disciple be equal to a nitya-siddha guru?

ANSWER: If a godbrother acts as an ācārya or mahāntaguru, the other godbrothers within the family will genuinely feel very happy internally. In every manner they will be ready to help one who is the most advanced amongst them as a service to glorify Śrī Guru-pāda-padma. Seeing him as a true manifestation of spiritual refuge due to the mercy of Śrī Guru, they will become dedicated to preach the desire of Guru-Gaurāṅga with the friendship and direction of their ablest brother, in a world where everyone desires to become the masters themselves. The opposite mindset of this is nothing but enviousness, which is atheistic and goes against bhāgavatadharma.

The other godbrothers in the same family will consider the ācārya as non-different from their own Gurudeva. There is no question of imagination in such a case – it is the actual truth. Considering Śrīla Jīva Prabhu as non-different from Śrī Rūpa, Śrīla Ṭhākura Narottama as non-different from Śrīla Kṛṣṇa Dāsa Kavirāja or Śrīla Prabhupāda as non-different from Śrīla Bhaktivinoda and Śrīla Gaura-Kiśora does not lead to the annihilation of the eternal uniqueness of each of the ācāryas, but is the very conclusion of devotion.

Śrīla Prabhupāda has written:

“The śikṣā-guru is the āśrayavigraha, or the abhidheyavigraha. Therefore, the āśrayavigraha is non-different from the dīkṣāguru who gives us sambandhajñāna. Both are Śrī Gurudeva. An offence is created when one considers them as different to each other. (Caitanyacaritāmṛta, Ādilīlā 1.47, Anubhāśya)

Śrīla Prabhupāda has said:

“A nitya-siddha can apparently appear as a sādhanasiddha through mundane eyes and contaminated vision. Even if they display pastimes of impartiality, they should be considered as a nityasiddha. Those that assist Śrī Gaurāṅga in His pastimes of divine separation (vipralambha-līlā) are the true friends of Gaurāṅga. Friend means associate. Those who enrich the mood of vipralambha are nityasiddhas. (Śrīla Ṭhākurera Kīrtana, The Gauḍīya, 4th Year, 43rd Issue)

Tridaṇḍi-bhikṣu –
Śrī Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara

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Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Mahārāja appeared in this world in the village of Hapaniya, West Bengal, in 1895 within a high class Bhaṭṭācārya brāhmaṇa family. After studying philosophy at Krishnanath College in Berhampore, he met his guru, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, and accepted initiation from him in 1926 and sannyāsa in 1930. In 1942 Śrīla B.R. Śrīdhara Mahārāja founded the Śrī Caitanya Sārasvata Maṭha and remained there until his departure from this world in 1988. He was recognised by his godbrothers for his dispassionate nature and common sense, as well as for his superlative Sanskrit compositions and profound philosophical insights.
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