Recently our attention was drawn to a small pamphlet entitled Guru Nirṇaya Dīpikā written by Mahānta Kṛṣṇa Balarāma Svāmī, who considers himself to be a disciple of His Divine Grace Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedanta Svāmī Prabhupāda. In Guru Nirṇaya Dīpikā the author has strongly advocated that only a Vaiṣṇava born in a brāhmaṇa family has the right to initiate disciples and confer dīkṣā-mantras to them. Coincidentally, the author just happens to be born in a brāhmaṇa family.
The author has gone to great lengths to prove his theory that the brāhmaṇa caste has a monopoly on imparting spiritual knowledge and has sifted through many śāstras, extracting those particular verses that help substantiate his philosophy. However, despite his creating a facade of erudition, his essay is fraught with serious philosophical errors that are not in harmony with the opinions of the previous ācāryas of our sampradāya.
Eighty-two years ago, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda was requested by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura to address an assembly of paṇḍitas in Midnapura to prove the superiority of the Vaiṣṇava over the brāhmaṇa. His caste-brāhmaṇa opposition claimed that even an uttamādhikārī Vaiṣṇava, if he is not born in a brāhmaṇa family, is not qualified to perform the duties of an ācārya. Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura spoke for two hours and utterly silenced the opposing party (he later wrote an essay based on his lecture called Brāhmaṇa o Vaiṣṇavera Tāratamya Viṣayaka Siddhānta, which we have referred to in this essay to address the various points of contention found below.)
Unfortunately the bombastic boasting of the caste brāhmaṇas and their mundane beliefs have again appeared to plague the world of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism and it is somewhat ironic that this time they have seeped into the very line of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura.
In truth, it takes a great deal of tolerance to sit and write refutations to such conceited statements and gross misconceptions the likes of which are found in Guru Nirṇaya Dīpikā. Nonetheless, since we have been instructed by the senior Vaiṣṇavas to do so we have responded to some of the points in Guru Nirṇaya Dīpikā below:
POINT 1: Only such perfect traditionally born qualified brāhmaṇas can act as gurus for human society.
REFUTATION: Firstly one should ask, what is a ‘perfect traditionally born brāhmaṇa‘? ‘Traditionally born’ implies that the garbhādhāna-saṁskāra (ritual of impregnation) has been performed. This is one of the most important rites for a brāhmaṇa to ensure pure progeny. However, in this day and age, we see that most people born in brāhmaṇa families do not follow scriptural injunctions strictly, nor do they perform the duties of a brāhmaṇa (such as sandhyā-vandana, tarpaṇa, agnihotra etc). Added to this, the fact that many brāhmaṇas tend to take up low-class professions such as clerks and salesmen, would seem to suggest that most brāhmaṇas today do not perform the garbhādhāna-saṁskāra anymore. Indeed, some who have been born into brāhmaṇa families even take the śūdras occupation of a chowkidhār (night watchman) for the sake of money. However, when such fallen brāhmaṇas discover that the occupation of a guru is more financially lucrative, they again turn to their so-called brāhmaṇism with great fervour.
Whether one is a night-watchman (rātri-jāgraka), government servant (rāja-sevāka), a salaried teacher, (bhṛtakādhyāpaka), a bank-clerk (vaṇijaka), a doctor (cikitsikā) or a computer programmer or is involved in any other kind of technology (yantra-vidyāka), all of these professions fall under the category of śūdra-karma. A brāhmaṇa never takes employment (thus becoming dependant) from anyone (especially from those who are śūdras and lower). A brāhmaṇa must be independent. This is explained in the Kūrma Purāṇa –
go-rakṣakan vaṇijakān tathā kārukā-śilinaḥ
preṣyān vārdhuṣikāṁś caiva viprān śūdra-vad ācaret
“Those brāhmaṇas who make a living from protecting cows, engage in trade, become artists, take the occupation of servants, and loan money on interest are no better than śūdras.”
In the case of an emergency then Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (11.17.47) explains that a brāhmaṇa may perform another occupation –
sīdan vipro vaṇig–vṛttyā paṇyair evāpadaṁ taret
khaḍgena vāpadākrānto na śva-vṛttyā kathañcana
“If a brāhmaṇa cannot support himself through his regular duties and is thus suffering, he may adopt the occupation of a merchant and overcome his destitute condition by buying and selling material things. If he continues to suffer extreme poverty even as a merchant, then he may adopt the occupation of a kṣatriya, taking sword in hand. But he cannot in any circumstances become like a dog, accepting an ordinary master.”
In other words, a brāhmaṇa may take up the occupations of the kṣatriyas and vaiśyas, but never that of the śūdra. So, if one takes his birth in a brāhmaṇa family, and takes up the occupation of, for example, a night-watchman, then according to the scriptures, he loses his brāhmaṇatva (brahminical status) and becomes a śūdra. But if such a person later takes initiation from a bona-fide guru, he may again become a brāhmaṇa through the purifying process of initiation.
yathā kāñcanatāṁ yāti kāṁsyaṁ rasa-vidhānataḥ
tathā dīkṣā-vidhānena dvijatvaṁ jāyate nṛṇām
“Just as bell-metal is transformed into gold by alchemy, a common man is transformed into a twice-born (brāhmaṇa) by dīkṣā from a bona-fide guru.” (Tattva-sāgara, quoted in Hari Bhakti-vilāsa 2.12).
In his Dig-darśinī-ṭīkā to this verse, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmīpāda has clearly stated thus:
nṛṇām sarveṣām eva dvijatvaṁ vipratā
“Any person of any status (nṛṇām sarveṣām), if properly initiated with the correct mantras, can become a brāhmaṇa (vipratā).”
So, if a fallen brāhmaṇa can again become a twice-born through the process of dīkṣā, why not one who was not initially born into a brāhmaṇa family?
It is stated in the Skanda Purāṇa, ‘kalau śūdra sambhavah’ – in Kali-yuga everyone is basically a śūdra. It is only by brahminical qualifications and acceptance of pañca-saṁskāra dīkṣā from Śrī Guru that one can actually attain the status of a brāhmaṇa in the age of Kali. Therefore, the Mahābhārata states:
na yonir nāpi saṁskāro na śrutaṁ na ca santatiḥ
kāraṇāni dvijatvasya vṛttam eva tu kāraṇam
“Neither birth, nor saṁskāras, nor learning, nor progeny are the qualifications to be a brāhmaṇa. Only brahminical conduct is the basis for brahminical status.” (Anuśāsana-parva 143.50)
Mere birth in a particular caste does not entitle one to be called a brāhmaṇa and the right to disseminate divine knowledge to others is not transferred through the gross medium of sexual intercourse. If the author of Guru Nirṇaya Dīpikā believes that brāhmaṇatva is only by birth, then let him successfully trace his familial line all the way back to Lord Brahmā to prove his pedigree; let him also confirm that all his descendants never wavered from brahminical behaviour and constantly engaged in brahminical activities throughout their entire lives. According to Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura it is practically impossible to ascertain if a person has descended in a thoroughly pure line of brāhmaṇas:
“It is especially difficult to ascertain whether a given person is born from a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, or other caste father. Other than trusting a person’s words there is no way to investigate his caste. The caste of those belonging to brāhmaṇa and other caste dynasties coming from Lord Brahmā and said to be purely descending to the present day cannot be known in truth without definitely validating every person in the line. Śrī Nīlakaṇṭha, the commentator on the Mahabharata, quotes from the Vedas as follows:
na caitad vidmo brāhmaṇāḥ smo vayam abrāhmaṇā veti
“We do not know whether we are brāhmaṇas or non-brāhmaṇas“
“Such doubts arose in the hearts of the truthful sages.” (Brāhmaṇa o Vaiṣṇaver Tāratamya viṣayaka Siddhānta)
Furthermore, Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura writes:
“Similar to the prākṛta-sahajiyā sect, who, while claiming themselves to be the followers of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, amass heaps of offences at the holy feet of Śrīpāda Jīva Prabhu, are some modern caste gosvāmī-type sahajiyās who proudly proclaim themselves to be the followers of Cakravartī Ṭhākura. Yet they actually go to hell by using humiliating expressions in regard to the commentator (Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa Prabhu) on the strength of their prākṛta-sahajiyā conceptions. Such pseudo-brāhmaṇas try to conceal the statement of the smṛti:
yo ‘nadhītya dvijo vedaṁ anyatra kurute śramam
sa jīvan eva śūdratvam āśu gacchati sānvayaḥ
“A brāhmaṇa who instead of studying the Vedas engages himself in any other pursuits (being keen for honours, money and worldly advantages), becomes a śūdra together with his whole family in this very life”. (Manu-smṛti 2.168)
Such seminal pseudo-brāhmaṇas of dim understanding strive to be acknowledged as (pseudo-) brāhmaṇas and claim that if one is born in anything other than a pseudo-brāhmaṇa lineage, he can never become a Vaiṣṇava ācārya, bear the title of ‘vidyābhūṣaṇa‘ or study the śruti and other śāstras. Their lack of awareness of the historical facts is extremely deplorable.
Vidyābhūṣaṇa Mahāśaya was himself the person who smashed to pieces their speculative arguments. It is from vṛtta–brāhmaṇas (brāhmaṇas by aspiration and engagement) that the lineage of seminal brāhmaṇas sprang, who accepted the smārta-dharma established by Manu and other ṛṣis.
The Gītā has taken a stand for the vṛtta determination of varṇa against the above concoctions. Lacking in a working knowledge of the relevant portions of Mahābhārata, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, the accompanying Gosvāmī literature, Agama-pramāṇya, Nārada and other Pañcarātras, Rāmārcana–candrikā and other paddhati literature, the Smārtas of Bengal became an obstacle to the path of transcendental revealed sound. (śrauta-panthā). Śrī Ṭhākura Narottama, Śrī Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī, Śrī Hari Dāsa Ṭhākura and other great ācāryas have broken the elephant tusk-like form of the dry argumentative approach (tarka-panthā) of the empiricists. Srauta-pantha is another name for the path of devotion (bhakti–pātha). Tarka–panthā takes its birth in the appetites of unsurrendered atheists. Having obtained a clear understanding of all these truths, a reader of the Gītā can easily traverse along the path leading to the highest goal of life. (Introduction to Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa’s Bhagavad-gītā commentary by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Prabhupāda)
Birth in a brāhmaṇa family is not a major qualification to take up the responsibilities of a spiritual master. The actual prerequisites to such are thus explained by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī:
vāco vegaṁ manasaḥ krodha-vegaṁ
etān vegān yo viṣaheta dhīraḥ
sarvām apīmāṁ pṛthivīṁ sa śiṣyāt
“A sober person who can control the urge to speak, the mind, the urges of anger, the tongue, belly, and genitals is qualified to make disciples all over the world.” (Upadeśāmrta verse 1)
Only a Vaiṣṇava who is dhīra (sense-controlled) is qualified to become a spiritual master. Nowhere in this verse does it mention that he must be born in a particular family or caste. In other words, any qualified brāhmaṇa can act as a guru for human society, whether he is a brāhmaṇa by birth (saukra-brāhmaṇa) or a brāhmaṇa by dīkṣā (daikṣā-brāhmaṇa). This is the opinion of the Gosvāmīs and their true followers.
POINT 2: The conversion of non-brāhmaṇas into the brāhmaṇa order began in the early Twentieth Century by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Ṭhākura to encourage everyone to take to spiritual life. Even though such conversions are accepted by the scriptures to allow one to advance in spiritual life, it does not allow converted brāhmaṇas to function as gurus.
REFUTATION: It is wrong to assume that the conversion of non-brāhmaṇas into brāhmaṇas only began in the early Twentieth Century with Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. Throughout history, many personalities who came from non–brāhmaṇa backgrounds became brāhmaṇas and functioned as gurus. The following is a list of personalities who were born in non-brāhmaṇa families who became qualified brāhmaṇas and ācāryas due to their qualities.
The famous sage Viśvāmitra was previously known as Maharaja Gādhi of the Candra-vaṁśa, but became a brāhmaṇa through the strength of his austerities. This is explained in Mahābhārata, Ādi-parva 174:
kṣatriyo ‘haṁ bhavān vipras tapaḥ-svādhyāya-sādhanaḥ
sva-dharmaṁ na prahāsyāmi neśyāmi ca balena gām
dhig balaṁ kṣatriya-balaṁ brahma-tejo-balaṁ balam
balābalaṁ viniścitya tapa eva paraṁ balam
tatāpa sarvān dīptaujāḥ brāhmaṇatvam avāptavān
“Viśvāmitra said to Vasiṣṭha: You are a brāhmaṇa, endowed with the qualities of austerity and Vedic knowledge. I am a kṣatriya, so on the basis of my nature I will forcibly take this cow (Nandinī).
“Later, when Viśvāmitra was defeated, he declared that the strength of the kṣatriya was inferior to that of the brāhmaṇas. He thus decided that the performance of austerities was the only way to empower one with superior strength.
“The greatly effulgent Viśvāmitra thus performed all kinds of austerities and attained the position of a brāhmaṇa.”
It is well known that Viśvāmitra was a brāhmaṇa by conversion, yet he was also a guru with many disciples. Amongst his most famous disciples who received mantra from him were Lord Śrī Rāmacandra and His brother Śrī Lakṣmaṇa, Śunaśepha, and Gālava. At present many brāhmaṇa families in India trace their gotra (lineage) to Viśvāmitra. Furthermore, Viśvāmitra is the ṛṣi (seer) of many mantras of the Ṛg Veda including the brahma-gāyatrī which is chanted by all brāhmaṇas thrice daily.
In Chapter 30 of the Anuśāsana-parva of Mahābhārata, the story is given of Mahārāja Vītahavya who was originally a kṣatriya king who became a brāhmaṇa by the mercy of Bhṛgu Muni. His son, Gṛtsamada became a brahmacārī and a brāhmaṇa sage who was equal to Bṛhaspati. Sucetā, the son of Gṛtsamada, also became a brāhmaṇa. In this dynasty was born the sage Pramiti and Śaunaka Ṛṣi. Śaunaka wrote many works on the Ṛg Veda and also wrote the Bṛhad-devatā. He was also the guru of Sage Aśvalāyana. Aśvalāyana’s disciple was Kātyāyana, and his disciple was Patañjalī Muni.
The caste of Satyakāma Jabālā was unknown, yet his guru Gautama Ṛṣi accepted him as a brāhmaṇa simply due to his truthful nature. Satyakāma went on to initiate many disciples, out of which Upakośala was the most prominent.
Agniveśya Muni was born as the son of the king Devadatta, and the brahminical dynasty known as the Agniveśyāyana śākha appeared from him.
Both Medhātithi and Kaṇva Muni were born in the kṣatriya dynasty of Puru.
The sage Citramukha was born a vaiśya, yet he became a brahmāṛṣi with many disciples.
There were also other great personalities in Vedic history that were not born in brāhmaṇa families, but acted as gurus. In the Padma Purāṇa, the original brāhmaṇa, Lord Brahmā says:
sac-chrotriya-kule jāto akriyo naiva pūjitaḥ
asat-kṣtrakule pūjyo vyāsa-vaibhāṇòukay yathā
kṣatriyāṇāṁ kule jāto viśvāmitro’sti matsamaḥ
veśyāputro vasiṣṭhaś ca anye siddhā dvijātayaḥ
yasya tasya kule jāto guṇavāneva tairguṇaiḥ
sākṣād brahmanayo vipraḥ pūjīyah prayatnataḥ
“If one is born in a family of brāhmaṇas who are absorbed in hearing divine sound, but has bad character and behaviour, he is not worshipable as a brāhmaṇa. On the other hand, Vyāsa and Vaibhāṇḍaka Muni were born in unclean circumstances, but they are worshipable. In the same way, Viśvāmitra Muni was born a kṣatriya, but he became a brāhmaṇa by his qualities and activities. Vasiṣṭha was born of a prostitute. Many other great personalities who manifested the qualities of first-class brāhmaṇas also took birth in similar humble circumstances, but they are also called perfect. The place where one takes birth is of no importance in determining whether one is a brāhmaṇa. Those who have the qualities of brāhmaṇas are recognized everywhere as brāhmaṇas, and those who have such qualities are worshipable by everyone.” (Padma Purāṇa, Srsthi-kaṇḍa 43.321,322, Gautamīya-saṁskārana)
A similar verse is found in the Vajrasūcikā Upaniṣad of the Sāma Veda:
tarhi jātir brāhmaṇa iti cet tan na. tatra jāty-antara-jantuñu aneka-jāti-sambhavā maharśayo bahavaḥ santi. ṛṣyaṣṛṅgo mṛgaḥ. kauśikaḥ kuśāt. jāmbuko jambukāt. vālmīko valmīkāt. vyāsaḥ kaivarta-kanyāyām. śāśa-pṛṣṭhāt gautamaḥ. vaśiṣṭhaḥ ūrvaśyām. agastyaḥ kalase jāta iti śrutatvāt. eteṣāṁ jātyā vināpy agre jñāna-pratipāditā ṛṣayo bahavaḥ santi. tasmān na jātiḥ brāhmaṇa iti.
“Does birth make a brāhmaṇa? No, this is also not the case. Many great sages have been born of other living entities. Ṛṣyaśṛṅga was born from a deer, Kauśika was born from kuśa grass, Jāmbuka was born from a jackal, Vālmīki was born from an ant-hill, Vyāsadeva was born from a fisherman’s daughter, Gautama was born from the back of a rabbit, Vasiṣṭha was born from Ūrvaśī and Agastya was born from a pot. Apart from these personalities, there are many other wise persons born from other castes who became sages. Therefore birth does not make a brāhmaṇa.”
All the great historical personages mentioned above were not born brāhmaṇas or had mixed parentage, yet they acted as spiritual masters to thousands of disciples.
In more recent times, many Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava ācāryas who were not born in brāhmaṇa families have accepted the role of guru. These personalities include Śrīla Gadādhara Dāsa Ṭhākura, Śrī Mukunda Dāsa, Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura, Śrīla Śyamānanda Gosvāmī, Śrīla Rasikānanda Prabhu, Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa, Uddharana Datta Ṭhākura, Śrīla Jagannātha Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, Śrīla Gaura Kiśora Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, and Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. Amongst the many disciples of Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura who were not born in brāhmaṇa families, but who acted as ācāryas are such personalities as Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedanta Svāmī Prabhupāda, Śrīla Bhakti Pradīpa Tīrtha Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhakti Vilāsa Tīrtha Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhakti Kevala Auḍulomi Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Mahārāja and Śrīla Bhakti Kumuda Śānta Mahārāja.
However, at least two stalwart disciples of Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, namely Śrīla Bhakti Pramoda Purī Gosvāmī Mahārāja and Śrīla Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Mahārāja were both born in illustrious brāhmaṇa families, yet they gave the power of succession to two of their senior disciples who were not born brāhmaṇas, namely Śrīpāda Bhakti Vibudha Bodhāyana Mahārāja and Śrīpāda Bhakti Vallabha Tīrtha Mahārāja.
It is also interesting to note that according to the memoirs of Śrī Paramānanda Vidyāratna Prabhu in Sarasvatī Jayaśrī, (the first official biography of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura written during his lifetime), Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura visited the śrīpaṭa of Śrīla Narahari Sarakāra Ṭhākura in 1912 and learned that upanayana and other saṁskāras were being performed since ancient times for vaidyas (ayurvedic doctors). Vaidyas were considered as śūdras, yet the descendants of Śrīla Narahari still initiated them with gāyatrī etc. This information was given to Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura by the mahānta of Śrīkhaṇḍa, Śrīyukta Rādhikānanda Mahāśaya. It is also noteworthy that Śrīla Narahari Sarakāra Ṭhākura himself was not a brāhmaṇa, yet he gave initiation to Śrīla Locana Dāsa Ṭhākura who was born in a brāhmaṇa family.
Of course, we expect the author of Guru Nirṇaya Dīpikā will attempt to refute all the above evidence by claiming that all these personalities were extraordinary and such devotees cannot be found in this day and age. Nonetheless, these great personalities have set the precedence and we find none of them speaking to the contrary. As Śrī Kṛṣṇa has stated in Bhagavad-gītā (3:21):
yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhas tat tad evetaro janaḥ
sa yat pramāṇaṁ kurute lokas tad anuvartate
“Whatever a great man does, the world follows. Whatever standards he may set, the world follows in his footsteps.”
Thus the conjecture that converted brāhmaṇas cannot function as ācāryas has no basis in paurāṇika history or in the history of our sampradāya and thus the idea should be rejected.
POINT 3: Actually, our Guru Mahārāja (A.C. Bhaktivedanta Svāmī Prabhupāda) appeared in the chain of the brahma-kāyastha family in the Dālabhya dynasty. I know this after learning of his father’s last name and gotra. In Vedic civilisation, the brahma-kāyastha caste is equal to brāhmaṇa in every way.
REFUTATION: If we accept the words of Śrīla Prabhupāda (the guru of the author of Guru Nirṇaya Dīpikā) then we can only conclude from the above statement that the author of Guru Nirṇaya Dīpikā is a victim of misinformation, or that he has deliberately fabricated evidence in support of his own theory.
Śrīla Prabhupāda has stated in various places that his family belonged to the suvarṇa-vaṇik community who were gold-merchants. Furthermore, his family gotra was Gautama and not Dālabhya and his father’s surname was De, a prominent name amongst the mercantile class of Bengal.
“Our family gotra, or original genealogical line, is the Gautama gotra, or line of disciples of Gautama Muni, and our surname is De. But due to their accepting the posts of zamindars in the Muslim government, they received the title Mullik.” (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, purport to Ādi-līlā 10.84)
“Calcutta was developed under British rule by the influential mercantile community, and especially by the suvarṇa-vaṇik community who came down from Saptagrāma to establish their businesses and homes all over Calcutta. They were known as the Saptagrāmī mercantile community of Calcutta, and most of them belonged to the Mullik and Sil families. More than half of Calcutta belonged to this community, as did Śrīla Uddhāraṇa Ṭhākura. Our paternal family also came from this district and belonged to the same community. The Mulliks of Calcutta are divided into two families, namely the Sil family and De family. All the Mulliks of the De family originally belong to the same family and gotra. We also formerly belonged to the branch of the De family whose members, intimately connected with the Muslim rulers, received the title Mullik.” (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, purport to Ādi-līlā 11.41)
It should also be noted that Śrīla Prabhupāda’s spiritual master, Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura and Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura both appeared in the kāyastha community which in Bengal is considered to be a śūdra caste.
“It is said that the Bengali kāyasthas were originally engaged as servants of brāhmaṇas who came from North India to Bengal. Later, the clerical class became the kāyasthas in Bengal. Now there are many mixed classes known as kāyastha. Sometimes it is said in Bengal that those who cannot claim any particular class belong to the kāyastha class.” (Caitanya-caritāmṛta. Purport, Madhya-līlā 7.64)
In his autobiography, Svalikhita Jīvani, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura gives his family lineage and nowhere does he mention that his family belongs to the brāhmaṇa–kayastha caste:
“I was born a descendent of Puruṣottama Datta, a Kanyākubja kāyastha. Among the five kāyasthas who came to the Gauḍa region on the invitation of Mahārāja Ādiśūra, namely Makaranda Ghoṣa, Daśaratha Vasu, Kālīdāsa Mitra, Daśaratha Guhā and Purusottama Datta, Puruṣottama Datta was the foremost.”
Datta is a standard kāyastha surname in Bengal and certainly not the title of a brāhmaṇa. If indeed Bhaktivinoda was a brāhmaṇa–kāyastha, why does he not mention it in his autobiography? Why is there no reference to his upanayana ceremony in his autobiography, and how is it that we do not see him wearing a sacred-thread in any photograph?
Due to the fact that Śrīla Siddhānta Sarasvatī gave mantra-dīkṣā, especially to those born in brāhmaṇa families, many smārta–brāhmaṇas and Vaiṣṇava brāhmaṇa gurus in Bengal became outraged to the point that they hired gūṇḍās to physically attack members of the Gauḍīya Matha on several occasions and even made attempts to assassinate Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. If we are to accept the author’s opinion in Guru Nirṇaya Dīpikā , then we must also accept that Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura, Śrīla Śyāmānanda Gosvāmī, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura were ineligible to initiate since they all came from a so-called śūdra class. Thus, according to the logic presented in Guru Nirṇaya Dīpikā, our whole paramparā becomes faulty and invalid thus also implying that it’s authors initiation into our paramparā via Śrīla Prabhupāda is also ineffectual. Thus the author of Guru Nirṇaya Dīpikā has in effect, ‘shot himself in the foot.’
POINT 4: The translations and purports of my Guru Mahārāja were dictated on a dictaphone, unless the tapes are produced, we must believe that the purports have been altered making it look as if anyone can become guru… English was his second language, and to understand his exact meaning one would have to refer back with him. The message given in these books is altered because of this lack of communication between the author and the editors.
REFUTATION: Here, the author of Guru Nirṇaya Dīpikā makes a very unique assumption suggesting that from the very beginning of Iskcon there was a conspiracy by Śrīla Prabhupāda’s western disciples to change any reference to brāhmaṇa–gurus in his books in order that they could become spiritual masters themselves later. Even if, for arguments sake, we entertain such an absurd idea, there are recorded lectures, room conversations and morning walks with Śrīla Prabhupāda wherein he makes exactly the same points on brāhmaṇism that he does in his books. All of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s book dictations on cassette, his original letters and other resources are readily available at the BBT archives in North Carolina, U.S.A. for anyone to review, or will the author also claim that Prabhupāda’s recorded lectures and conversations have also been tampered with by ambitious disciples? Below are a few examples of lectures and letters of His Divine Grace speaking on the qualification to be a guru:
“If a man from the śva-pacaḥ family, or the caṇḍāla family, he becomes a Vaiṣṇava, strictly according to the orders, then he can become guru, but not a brāhmaṇa if he’s not a Vaiṣṇava. This is the stricture. Even one is born in the family of a brāhmaṇa, and he’s not only born, he’s qualified, ṣaṭ–karma–nipuṇo… Nipuṇo means qualified.” (Bhagavad-gītā lecture, London July 28th 1973)
“Generally, a qualified brāhmaṇa becomes guru. That is natural. A brāhmaṇa is the head of the society. So he is… And without becoming brāhmaṇa, nobody can become guru. That is also fact. Because brāhmaṇa means brahma janatiti brāhmaṇah. One who knows Brahman, Brahman. So guru must be a brāhmaṇa, mean a qualified brāhmaṇa, not born brāhmaṇa, so-called brāhmaṇa. Qualified brāhmaṇa.” (Bhagavad-gītā lecture, Ahmedabad Dec.7th 1970)
“Anyone who is qualified with Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he can become guru. It doesn’t matter where he is born, what is his family and identification. It doesn’t matter. He must know the science. It is very practical. Just like when you go to consult an engineer or a medical man or some lawyer, you do not ask him whether he’s a brāhmaṇa or a śūdra. If he’s qualified, if he can help you in the particular subject matter, you consult with him, you take his help. That is practical. So similarly, in the spiritual matter it doesn’t matter what he is. If he knows Kṛṣṇa, then he can become guru. It doesn’t matter.” (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam lecture, Bombay Nov. 7th 1974)
“So one may be very illiterate, no education, or no scholarship, may not be born in brāhmaṇa family, or may not be a sannyāsī. There are so many qualification. But one may not have all these qualifications. He may be rascal number one, but still, he can become spiritual master. How? Āmāra ajñāya. As Kṛṣṇa says, as Caitanya Mahāprabhu says, if you follow, then you become spiritual master. One may be rascal number one from material estimation, but if he simply strictly follows whatever is said by Caitanya Mahāprabhu or His representative spiritual master, then he becomes a guru.” (Vyāsa-pūjā address, London, August 1973)
“So at the present moment, because these purificatory processes are not accepted, even in India… Accepted, they’re unable. Everything has topsy-turvied. Therefore the śāstra says that: “Accept everyone as śūdra.” Kalau śūdrah sambhava. There is no more brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya or vaiśya. All śūdras. We have to accept. Because no Vedic culture, no garbhādhāna-saṁskāra. They are born like cats and dogs. So where is this division? There cannot be.
Therefore, accept them as śūdra. Varṇa-saṅkara is less than śūdra. So at least, śūdra they should be. So there is no Vaidika dīkṣā. For śūdra, there is no dīkṣā, there is no initiation. Initiation is meant for the persons who are born in brāhmaṇa family, kṣatriya family, or vaiśya family. The śūdra has no initiation. So in India there are professional gurus. They initiate śūdras, but do not eat foodstuff touched by the disciple. So there are so many things, that if he’s initiated, how he can remain śūdra? But they keep him śūdra; at the same time, they become guru. Sanātana Gosvāmī gives direction in the Hari-bhakti-vilāsa that: tathā dīkṣā–vidhānena dvijatvaṁ jāyate nṛṇām. If properly initiated, he becomes immediately brāhmaṇa. Dvijatvaṁ. Dvija means second birth. Yathā kāñcanatāṁ yāti kāṁsyaṁ rasa-vidhānataḥ. There is a chemical process that kāṁsya, bell metal, can be turned into gold by mixing with proportionately mercury. Now here is a hint of chemistry. If anyone can prepare gold… But it is very difficult to mix mercury. As soon as there is little heat, immediately the mercury’s finished. So there is a process. Everything has process. Many yogīs know how to make gold from copper. Actually, chemically, copper, tin and mercury, if you mix proportionately, it will be gold. So Sanātana Gosvāmī gives this example. As the copper and tin, these two metals, mixed with mercury, there can be production of gold, similarly, by proper initiation, by the proper spiritual master, one śūdra, even though he’s a śūdra, less than śūdra, varṇa-saṅkara, or caṇḍāla, he can become dvija, brāhmaṇa. So our process is to make dvija. Pañcarātrika-vidhi. Pañcarātrika-vidhi. That is recommended.”(Bhagavad-gītā lecture, London, July 28th 1973)
“Sei guru. Who can become guru? Generally a brāhmaṇa, a sannyāsī, that is, that is, they are forced. A brāhmaṇa is the guru of other varṇas, and sannyāsī is the guru for all varṇāśrama. This is… But Caitanya Mahāprabhu says that is social system. If there is a brāhmaṇa, if there is a sannyāsī, one should accept, give preference to him, to accept guru. But Caitanya Mahāprabhu says, “That is not the criterion. One must be well expert, experienced, well aware of the science of Kṛṣṇa. He shall be guru.” (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam lecture, Vṛndāvana, Oct.30th 1976)
“Regarding the validity of the brahminical status as we accept it, because in the present age there is no observance of the Garbhādhāna ceremony, even a person born in brāhmaṇa family is not considered a brāhmaṇa, he is called dvija-bandhu or unqualified son of a brāhmaṇa. Under the circumstances, the conclusion is that the whole population is now śūdra, as it is stated kalau śūdra sambhavaḥ. So for śūdras there is no initiation according to the Vedic system, but according to the pañcarātrika system initiation is offered to a person who is inclined to take Kṛṣṇa consciousness. During my Guru Mahārāja’s time, even a person was coming from a brāhmaṇa family, he was initiated according to the pañcarātrika system taking him to be a śūdra. So the birthright brahmanism is not applicable at the present moment. The sacred thread inaugurated by my Guru Mahārāja according to pañcarātrika system and Hari-bhakti-vilāsa by Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī must continue. It does not matter whether the priestly class accepts it or not. When my Guru Mahārāja, Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Prabhupāda, introduced this system, it was protested even by His inner circle of godbrothers or friends. Of course, He had actually no godbrothers, but there were many disciples of Bhaktivinode Ṭhākura who were considered as godbrothers who protested against this action of my Guru Mahārāja, but He didn’t care for it.” (Letter to Acyutānanda, 14th Nov. 1970)
We will now see what the author of Guru Nirṇaya Dīpikā has to say about the following verse:
kibā viprā kibā nyāsī śūdra kene naya
yei kṛṣṇa-tattva-vettā sei guru haya
“Whether one is a brāhmaṇa, a sannyāsī, or a śūdra, one who knows the science of Kṛṣṇa is to be accepted as guru.” (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 8.128)
POINT 5: This verse (kibā viprā kibā nyāsīi...) is written in Bengali language. Sanskrit is the timeless, changeless, language of God. Nowhere in Sanskrit literatures is such a statement written pertaining to the initiating guru.
REFUTATION: We must emphatically state that indeed Bengali is the language of God! Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself spoke Bengali and Bengali is spoken in the eternal Navadvīpa. The Caitanya-caritāmṛta written by Śrīla Kṛṣṇa Dāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmīpāda, the incarnation of Śrī Kastūrī Mañjarī, the intimate associate of Śrī Rūpa Mañjarī and Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, was written in Bengali. Any literature written by such an exalted personality, in whatever language, should be considered on par with the Vedas. To denigrate such a transcendental literature merely because it was not written in Sanskrit certainly betrays a lack of faith in the previous ācāryas and in Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
Sanskrit is indeed an important language, but it must be remembered that in the Goloka Vṛndāvana Kṛṣṇa does not speak Sanskrit. Kṛṣṇa speaks Vraja-bhāṣa.
The author of Guru Nirṇaya Dīpikā is of the opinion that Śrīla Prabhupāda’s purport to this verse (kibā viprā kibā nyāsī śūdra kene naya) has been hijacked by his unscrupulous and ambitious disciples. However, what the author does not seem to understand is that Śrīla Prabhupāda’s purport, like most of his purports to his books, is simply a summary of his Guru Mahārāja’s purport to the same verse. Herein we are presenting both the purports of Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura and Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura below in both Bengali and English to confirm that Śrīla Prabhupāda’s purport is in harmony to that of his guru-varga.
varṇe brāhmaṇi hana vā kṣatriya-vaiśya-śūdra-hana, āśrame sannyāsī hana vā brahmacārī-vanaprastha-gṛhasthī hana, ye kona varṇe vā ye kona āśrame-i avasthita hana, kṛṣṇa-tattva-vetta-i guru arthāt vartma-pradarśaka, dīkṣā-guru u śikṣā-guru haite paren. gurura yogyatā kevala-mātrā kṛṣṇa-tattva-jñātara upari nirbhara kare – varṇa vā āśramera upara nirbhara kare nā. śrī mahāprabhura ei adeśa śāstriya adeśera viruddha nahe. ei tatpāryānusāre śrī viśvambhara mahāprabhu śrī īśvara purī-sannyāsīra nikaṭa, śrī nityānanda prabhu mādhavendra purī gosvāmī (matāntare śrīmad lakṣmīpati tīrtha) sannyāsīra nikaṭa, śrī advaita ācārya ei śrī mādhavendra purī sannyāsīra nikaṭi dīkṣīta hayāchilen. śrī rasikānanda śrotra-brāhmaṇe tarakulodbhūta śrī śyāmānandera nikaṭa, śrī gaṅgā-nārāyaṇa cakravartī u śrī rāmakṛṣṇa bhattācārya śrotra-brāhmaṇetara kulodbhava śrīla narottama ṭhākurera nikaṭa, katoyāra śrī Yadunandana cakravartī śrī dāsa gadādharera nikaṭa pañcarātrika dīkṣāya hana. dharma-vyādhādi anekarāta śikṣā-guru haybāra vyāghata chila nā. mahābhāratera spaṣṭa adeśa-samuha evaṁ śrīmad bhāgavate saptam-skandha ekādaśa adhyāya 32 śloke – “yasya yal lakṣaṇaṁ proktaṁ puṁso varṇābhivyañjakam yad anyatrāpi dṛśyeta tat tenaiva vinirdiśet” – ei vākye vidhilikha prayoge vaiṣṇava-viśvāsānugamane kṛṣṇa-tattva-vettara vṛtta-brāhmaṇatāi svabhāvika, sūtaraṁ kali-pracalita śrotra-sambandha vyātita brāhmaṇatā yekhane haite pāre nā, tat-sthāle kṛṣṇa-tattva-vitta haile śrotra-śūdra u śāstriya brāhmaṇata lābha kariyā guru haite pāren – ihai śrī mahāprabhu sukṣmabhāve bujhāiyā dilen. ye sakala kṛṣṇa-tattva-vita vaidika vajasaneya śākhaurgata kātyāyana gṛha-sūtrakta sāvitrya-saṁskāra gṛhaṇa karena nā, tāhāra – ekayāna-śākhi daikṣya-brāhmaṇa mātrā. kintu nirboddha lokera tāhāra-dig ke aneka samaya ‘acyuta-brāhmaṇa’ baliyā bujhite nā pariyā nirāyagami haya; tajjanya rasikānanda prabhura vaṁśa, śrīkhaṇḍera śrī mukunda dāsera vaṁśa, navanī hoḍera vaṁśa sāvitrya-brāhmaṇa-saṁskāra evaṁ śrotra-vipra-śiṣya-sampradāyera ācārya-kārya avāhaman-kāla caliyā asiteche. bhajanānandi vaiṣṇava-gaṇa sāvitriya-saṁskāra gṛhaṇa karena nāi baliyā ye eka-mātrā vidhi haibe, eka-rupa nahe. vaiṣṇava-gaṇa lakṣaṇa-dvārā varṇa nirṇaya kariyā thāken, kintu nirboddha-gaṇa adṛśa lakṣaṇa dvārā varṇa karate asamarta baliyā śrī mahāprabhu spṣṭabhāvei śāstra-tatparya bujhiyā dilen. hari-bhakti-vilāse samgṛhita siddhānta śrī mahāprabhura nija adarśācāra u upadeśera sahita eka haile u nirboddhera vicāre bhinna baliyā pratīta haya. ei saṅkhyādhṛta ‘guru’ śabdetita tāhāra vicāre śravaṇa-guru, vā bhajana-śikṣā-guru-i udiṣṭa. dīkṣā vā mantra-data guru udiṣṭa hana nāi; kena nā tāhāra mate vaṁśa-paricaya arthāt rakta vā śukrāi divya-jñāna-datara adhikāra nirṇaya u paricaya pradāna kare. sūtaraṁ śuddhātmā-vṛtti kṛṣṇa-bhāti tāhāra mate nirapekṣa nahe; viśeṣataḥ dīkṣā-guru vā mantra-datara śreṣṭhatva u mahātmya tāhāra murkhatānusāre ‘śravaṇa-guru’ athavā ‘bhajana-śikṣā-guru’ apekṣa adhikātara! e-sambandhe adhi, 9m p. 41 saṅkhyara anubhāṣya viśeṣabhāve ālocya. vastutaḥ eirūpa dharana tāhādera akṣaja-jñānajanita aparādhera phala-mātrā.
“Let him be a brāhmaṇa by caste, or let him be a kṣatriya, vaiśya or śūdra; let him be a sannyāsī according to his āśrama or a brahmacārī, vanaprastha or gṛhastha; let him be situated in any caste or stage of life – he who has understood the science of Kṛṣṇa can become a guru, i.e. a vartmana–pradarśaka-guru, a śikṣā–guru or a dīkṣā-guru. The qualification to be a guru rests only upon the knowledge of the science of Kṛṣṇa – it does not rest upon caste or varṇa; this direction of Śrīman Mahāprabhu is not opposed to the scriptural injunctions. By following the purport of this Śrī Viśvambhara Mahāprabhu was initiated by the sannyāsī Śrī Īśvara Purī. Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu was initiated by the sannyāsī Śrī Mādhavendra Purī Gosvāmī (by Śrīmad Lakṣmīpati Tīrtha according to another opinion) and Śrī Advaita Ācārya was initiated by the sannyāsī Śrī Mādhavendra Purī. Śrī Rasikānanda took pañcarātrika dīkṣā from Śrī Śyāmananda who appeared in a family who were not seminal brāhmaṇas, Śrī Gaṅgānārāyaṇa Cakravartī and Śrī Rāmakṛṣṇa Bhattācārya (both seminal brāhmaṇas) were initiated by Śrī Narottama Ṭhākura who appeared in a family who were not seminal brāhmaṇas, and Katwa’s Śrī Yadunandana Cakravartī was initiated by Śrī Dāsa Gadādhara. Even being a religious-minded hunter etc. was not even an obstacle for many personalities to become instructing gurus. This is considered to be the proper application of the Mahābhārata’s clear injunctions in pursuance of the Vaiṣṇava faith and by the utterance in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam’s Seventh Canto, Eleventh Chapter, 32nd verse
yasya yal lakṣaṇaṁ proktaṁ puṁso varṇābhivyañjakam
yad anyatrāpi dṛśyeta tat tenaiva vinirdiśet
“The qualities that divide mankind into castes have been described, wherever those qualities are observed then the appropriate caste will be ascertained there accordingly. (Caste will not be ascertained by birth alone).”
One who is conversant with the science of Kṛṣṇa naturally has the character of a brāhmaṇa. Therefore, wherever it is said that anything apart from ‘seminal brāhmaṇism’ is lower (a concept which has only been introduced in the age of Kali) will not do, Mahāprabhu has carefully given us the understanding that even a ‘seminal śūdra‘ who knows the science of Kṛṣṇa is able to become a guru because he has attained scriptural brahmanism. Those acquainted with the science of Kṛṣṇa who do not accept the sāvitra-saṁskāra (the ceremony of acceptance of the sacred thread), which is mentioned in the Kātyāyana Gṛhya-sūtra within the Vedika Vājasaneya section, are actually all brāhmaṇas initiated in the ekāyana system. However, most of the time, some foolish people cannot understand that these Vaiṣṇavas are infallible brāhmaṇas (acyuta brāhmaṇas) and thus such fools become condemned to hell. It is for this reason that the sacred thread ceremony and the function of acting as ācāryas even for seminal brāhmaṇa sects has been going on since the very beginning in Rasikānanda Prabhu’s family, in Navanī Hoḍa’s family and in Mukunda Dāsa’s family of Kheturī. It is not that because the bhajanandi Vaiṣṇavas have not accepted the sāvitra–saṁskāra that this is the only system. Vaiṣṇavas ascertain caste by characteristics. But, as foolish people are unable to ascertain caste in that manner, Śrī Mahāprabhu has clearly given the understanding of the purport of the scriptures. Even though the compiled conclusions of the Hari Bhakti-vilāsa are in conjunction with Mahāprabhu’s exemplary behaviour and instructions, some people, due to their foolish judgment, are under the belief that they differ. By their judgment the quoted word ‘guru’ only alludes to the śravaṇa–guru or to the bhajana–guru and does not refer to the initiating or mantra-giving guru, since, in their opinion, the fitness to be the bestower of divine knowledge can only be ascertained and introduced by family reputation, that is, by blood or semen. Therefore, by their opinion, devotion to Kṛṣṇa, the propensity of the pure soul, is not independent. Moreover, according to their foolishness, they believe that the dīkṣā-guru is superior to the śravaṇa-guru and the instructing guru on bhajana. Factually, the only result of this idea which is born from sensory knowledge is spiritual offence.” (Anubhāṣya of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura)
śrī hari-bhakti-vilāse ucchāraṇe yogya-puruṣa thākete, hīna varṇa vyāktira nikaṭa haite kṛṣṇa-mantra layā ucita naya – erupa ye kathā ācche, tāhā lokapekṣa-vaiṣṇava para; arthāt saṁsāre yāhāra pracalita-vidhimate kathāñcita paramārthera uddeśa karate icchā karen, tāhādera pakṣe. parantu yāhāra vaidhi u rāgānuga-bhaktira tatparya janiyā viśuddha kṛṣṇa-bhakti paite icchā karen, tāhādera sambandhe upayukta kṛṣṇa-tattva-vettā ye kona varṇe va ye kona āśrame-i pauya yauika nā kena, tāhākei ‘guru’ baliyā varaṇa karāi vidhi. śrī hari-bhakti-vilāsa-dhṛtā padma purāṇa vacana –
na śūdrā bhagavad-bhaktās te tu bhāgavatā matāḥ
sarva-varṇeṣu te ṣūdrā ye na bhaktā janārdane
avaiṣṇavo gurur na syād vaiṣṇavaḥ śva-paco guruḥ
maha kulaprasuto’pi sarva yajnesu diksitah
sahasra śākha dhyāyī ca na guruḥ syāda vaiṣṇavaḥ
vipra kṣatriya vaiśyās ca guravaḥ śūdra janmanām
śūdrāś ca guravas teṣāṁ trayāṇāṁ bhagavat-priyāḥ
“When it is mentioned in the Hari Bhakti-vilāsa that if there is a fit person of a high caste present then it is improper to accept Kṛṣṇa-mantra from a person of a lower caste, then this should be understood to be Vaiṣṇavism relative to society. In other words, it is for those who practice family life by the customary rules and who have somewhat of a desire for spirituality. But for those people who know the import of vaidhi and rāgānuga–bhakti and who wish to get pure devotion for Kṛṣṇa, the rule for them is that in whatever caste or stage of life the suitable knower of the truth of Kṛṣṇa may be in, he should be respectfully accepted as guru. In the words of the Padma Purāṇa quoted in the Śrī Hari Bhakti-vilāsa:
“Those who have taken recourse to the devotion of Kṛṣṇa are never to be considered as śūdras but they are to be glorified as bhāgavatas. Amongst all castes, those people who are devoid of devotion to Lord Janārdana are śūdras. A brāhmaṇa who is expert in the six works and also in mantras and the tantra should not be selected as a guru if he is a non-Vaiṣṇava. If someone from a dog-eater family is a Vaiṣṇava he may be accepted as a guru. Even if one is born in the best of families, even if one is initiated in all the sacrifices and is learned in all the branches of the Vedas, if he is a non-Vaiṣṇava he is unable to become a guru. Generally, brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas and vaiśyas should be the gurus of śūdras but even śūdras can be the gurus of these three castes if they are dear to God.” (Amṛta-pravāha Bhāṣya of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura)
It is clear from the words of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda and Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura that any Vaiṣṇava, irrespective of his birth and caste, is eligible to become guru if he has the necessary adhikāra. The transcendental dīkṣā-mantras are not the sole property of a particular class of men. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has said that anyone who knows the science of Kṛṣṇa is qualified to be guru. If one says that it is imperative that the guru must be born in a brāhmaṇa family, he has clearly not understood the science of Kṛṣṇa consciousness and is therefore unqualified to initiate disciples.
1) According to the śāstras and the previous ācāryas, anyone who is a qualified brāhmaṇa, by birth or by initiation, may take up the responsibility of ācārya.
2) There are numerous examples in history of persons appearing in non-brāhmaṇa families and converting into brāhmaṇas, including Śrīla Prabhupāda and other members of our sampradāya. Such personalities are qualified to accept disciples.
3) According to the Anubhāṣya of Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, any person, whatever his birth, can become a dīkṣā-guru if he is conversant with the science of Kṛṣṇa-consciouness. The word ‘guru’ does not necessarily mean that a non-brāhmaṇa can only function as a śikṣā-guru.
4) Those scriptural verses which indicate that one should take dīkṣā only from a person born in a brāhmaṇa family should be understood to be promoting Vaiṣṇavism relative to mundane society. Those who desire pure bhakti may accept dīkṣā from any advanced Vaiṣṇava no matter what his caste may be. This is the conclusion of Śrīla Ṭhākura Bhaktivinoda.