Shrimad Bhagavad-gita

by Narayana Gosvami | 2013 | 327,105 words

The Bhagavad-gita Distinguished Service to the Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya, English translation, including the Vaishnava commentaries Sarartha-varsini-tika, Prakashika-vritti and Rasika-ranjana (excerpts).

Distinguished Service to the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Sampradāya

In his old age, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura spent most of his time in a semi-conscious or internal state, deeply absorbed in bhajana. During that time, a debate broke out in Jaipur between the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas and Vaiṣṇavas who supported the doctrine of svakīyāvāda, or the Lord’s pastimes of wedded love. The Vaiṣṇavas from the antagonistic camp [of the Śrī Rāmānuja line] had led King Jaya Singh II of Jaipur to believe that the worship of Śrīmatī Rādhikā with Śrī Govindadeva is not supported by the scriptures. Their contention was that Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s name is neither mentioned in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam nor in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa, and that She was never married to Śrī Kṛṣṇa according to Vedic ritual.

The antagonistic Vaiṣṇavas further objected that the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas did not belong to a recognized sampradāya, or line of disciplic succession. From time immemorial, there have been four Vaiṣṇava sampradāyas: the Śrī sampradāya, the Brahma sampradāya, the Rudra sampradāya and the Sanaka (Kumāra) sampradāya. In this age of Kali, the principal ācāryas of these four sampradāyas are, respectively, Śrī Rāmānuja, Śrī Madhva, Śrī Viṣṇusvāmī and Śrī Nimbāditya. The Rāmānuja Vaiṣṇavas said that Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas were outside these four sampradāyas and therefore without pure lineage. Further, they argued that because Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas did not have their own commentary on Brahma-sūtra (also known as Vedānta-sūtra), they could not be following a genuine Vaiṣṇava disciplic succession.

Mahārāja Jaya Singh knew that the prominent Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava ācāryas of Vṛndāvana were followers of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, and he summoned them to Jaipur to take up the challenge of the Śrī Rāmānuja Vaiṣṇavas. The elderly Śrīla Cakravartī Ṭhākura was fully absorbed in the transcendental bliss of bhajana, so he sent his student Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa to address the Jaipur assembly. Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava vedānta-ācārya Śrī Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa, the crown of the assembly of learned scholars and the greatest among exalted teachers of Vedānta, left for Jaipur, accompanied by Śrīla Cakravartī Ṭhākura’s disciple Śrī Kṛṣṇadeva.

The caste gosvāmīs had forgotten their own connection with the Madhva sampradāya and disrespected the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas’ doctrinal view, saying it has no connection with Vedānta. This caused considerable disturbance to the true Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas. But Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa used irrefutable logic combined with powerful scriptural evidence to prove that the Gauḍīya sampradāya is a pure Vaiṣṇava sampradāya, called the Śrī Brahma-Madhva-Gauḍīya-Vaiṣṇava sampradāya, coming in the line of Śrī Madhvācārya. Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, Śrīla Kavi Karṇapūra and other previous ācāryas also accepted this as fact. The Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas accept Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam as the genuine commentary on Vedānta-sūtra. For this reason, no one in the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava sampradāya had written a separate commentary on Vedānta-sūtra.

The name of Śrīmatī Rādhikā, the personification of the pleasure-giving potency (hlādinī-śakti) and the eternal beloved of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, is mentioned in various Purāṇas. Throughout Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, particularly the Tenth Canto in connection with the description of the Lord’s Vṛndāvana pastimes, Śrīmatī Rādhikā is referred to indirectly and discreetly. Only rasika and bhāvuka devotees conversant with the conclusions of scripture can understand this confidential mystery.

In the learned assembly in Jaipur, Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa refuted the arguments and doubts of the opposing party, and they were silenced by his presentation. He established that the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas are in the disciplic succession from Śrī Madhvācārya. Despite his victory, however, the contesting party did not accept the Gauḍīya sampradāya to be of pure Vaiṣṇava lineage, because the Gauḍīyas had no commentary on Vedānta-sūtra. Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa therefore composed the famous Gauḍīya commentary, Śrī Govinda-bhāṣya. Once again the worship of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Govinda commenced in the temple of Śrī Govindadeva, and the validity of the Śrī Brahma-Madhva-Gauḍīya sampradāya was firmly established.

It was only on the authority of Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura that Śrī Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa was able to write Śrī Govinda-bhāṣya and prove the connection of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas with the Madhva sampradāya. There should be no doubt in this regard. This accom-plishment of Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, performed on behalf of the sampradāya, will be recorded in golden script in the history of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism.

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