Srila Gurudeva (The Supreme Treasure)

by Swami Bhaktivedanta Madhava Maharaja | 2010 | 179,005 words

This page relates ‘Talking with the Learned Scholar Vamsharopana Simha’ of the book dealing with life and teachings of Srila Gurudeva, otherwise known as Shri Shrimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja. Srila Gurudeva is a learned and scholar whose teachings primarily concern the spiritual beauties of Bhakti—devotional service and the qualities and pastimes of Shri Krishna.

Talking with the Learned Scholar Vaṃśaropaṇa Siṃha

One of the people to arrive in the village was Vaṃśaropaṇa Siṃha, a very respectable Vaiṣṇava belonging to the Śrī rāmānuja sampradāya, and a learned scholar and preacher of the viśiṣṭaadvaita philosophy. When Śrī rāmānuja sannyāsīs would visit the area they would always stay at Vaṃśaropaṇa Siṃha’s place.

Beṭā, I heard you have become a sādhu.” In Indian village culture, a younger man is commonly addressed as beṭā, meaning ‘dear son’. Vaṃśaropaṇa Siṃha approached Śrīla Gurudeva, asking, “Can you say something about viśiṣṭa-advaita-vāda?”

Śrīla Gurudeva replied, “Viśiṣṭa-advaita-vāda alone will not do. Besides viśiṣṭa-advaita-vāda, you also have to know dvaita-advaitavāda, śuddha-advaita-vāda, and dvaita-vāda.” Vaṃśaropaṇa Siṃha was surprised to hear these technical terms from him.

Śrīla Gurudeva continued, “Moreover, knowing only these four is not sufficient. You also have to know acintya-bhedābheda-siddhānta. You also have to know many things about the sampradāyas.”

Beṭā, what kind of things do you have to know about sampradāyas?” Vaṃśaropaṇa Siṃha asked.

Śrīla Gurudeva replied, “In order to know any sampradāya, one must first know:

(1) Who started the sampradāya?
(2) Who is the prominent ācārya of that sampradāya?
(3) What is the name of their philosophy and the siddhānta?
(4) Who is their worshipable deity?
(5) What is the commentary of that sampradāya on the Vedāntasūtra?”

Vaṃśaropaṇa Siṃha’s was renowned throughout the surrounding villages, therefore many respectable persons had gathered there to hear his conversation with Śrīman Nārāyaṇa.

“My dear son,” he asked. “First can you please tell about viśiṣṭaadvaita-vāda?”

Śrīla Gurudeva replied, “Viśiṣṭa-advaita-vāda, or the doctrine of ‘specialised monism’, is from the sampradāya called Śrī sampradāya.

(1) Śrī means the goddess of fortune, Lakṣmī-devī, who started this sampradāya, and that is why it is known as Śrī sampradāya.
(2) The prominent ācārya of this sampradāya is rāmānujācārya.
(3) The philosophy of the sampradāya is called viśiṣṭa-advaitavāda, or ‘specified monism’.
(4) Their worshipable deity is Śrī Śrī Lakṣmī-Nārāyaṇa.”

“At some time after its inception, a branch sprouted from the Śrī sampradāya. The branch is called rāmānandī sampradāya. Its members worship Śrī Śrī Sītā-rāma. This sampradāya’s commentary on the Vedānta-sūtra is called the Śrī-bhāṣya.”

“What is your sampradāya?” Vaṃśaropaṇa Siṃha inquired with interest.

“Our sampradāya is the Brahma-Madhva-Gauḍīya sampradāya,” replied Śrīla Gurudeva.

“Can you tell me something about your sampradāya, as you have done for the Śrī sampradāya?”

“Yes,” Śrīla Gurudeva said. Then, he explained Brahma sampradāya:

(1) Brahma sampradāya means that it is the sampradāya that was started by four-headed Brahmā.
(2) The prominent ācārya is Śrī Madhvācārya.
(3) His philosophical opinion is known as dvaita-vāda, or the philosophical position of ‘dualism’.
(4) The worshipable deity of this sampradāya is the dancing form of Bāla-Gopāla.

“Just as the Śrī sampradāya has a branch called the rāmānandī sampradāya, so the Brahma sampradāya has a branch called the Gauḍīya sampradāya. The essential details of this sampradāya are as follows:

(1) The worshipable deity Śrī Śrī rādhā-Kṛṣṇa in the paramour mood.
(2) This sampradāya has three commentaries on the Vedāntasūtra: Brahma-sūtra-bhāṣya, Anubhāṣya and Anuvākhyana.
(3) Later on, in the middle of the seventeenth century, Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa Prabhu wrote a commentary on Vedānta-sūtra, directed by Śrī Govindadeva Himself, named Śrī Govinda-bhāṣya.”

Impressed with the young man’s vast knowledge, Vaṃśaropaṇa

Siṃha asked again, “Can you please explain another sampradāya?” Śrīla Gurudeva then explained rudra sampradāya:

(1) Rudra is one name of Śiva, from whom this sampradāya came.
(2) This sampradāya’s prominent ācārya is Śrī Viṣṇusvāmī.
(3) Its philosophy is called śuddha-advaita-vāda, or ‘purified monism’.
(4) The worshipable deity is Śrī Nṛsiṃhadeva.
(5) The commentary on the Vedānta-sūtra is called Sarvajñasukti.”

“And could you please explain the fourth sampradāya?” requested Vaṃśaropaṇa Siṃha. Śrīla Gurudeva replied:

(1) “The fourth sampradāya is the Sanak sampradāya. There are four Kumāras who always appear like five year old boys. The oldest among them is Sanak, from whom the sampradāya came; hence its name. It is also called the Catuḥsana sampradāya.

(2) Śrī Nimbāditya is the prominent ācārya.

(3) Their philosophical position is known as dvaita-advaitavāda, or ‘dualism and monism’.

(4) Their worshipable deity is rukmiṇī-Dvārakādhīśa. Nowadays, due to the influence of the glories of the Gauḍīya sampradāya, they are serving rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, but they are serving in the mood of svakīya, not in the mood of paramour love.

(5) The name of their commentary on the Vedānta-sūtra is Pārijāta-saurabha-bhāṣya.”

Vaṃśaropaṇa Siṃha was curious, “Why is your sampradāya named Brahma-Madhva-Gauḍīya sampradāya?”

Śrīla Gurudeva happily explained, “The sampradāya started from Brahmājī, and the prominent ācārya is Śrī Madhva. Gauḍīya refers to Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu who appeared in our sampradāya in the fifteenth century AD, to guide us in, and teach prema-dharma–how to serve the Divine Couple Śrī Śrī rādhā-Kṛṣṇa in paramour love. That is why it is called Brahma-Madhva-Gauḍīya sampradāya.”

Comparative Chart of the Four Sampradāyas

Name of Sampradāya Name of prominent Ācārya Name ofphilosophical position Name of commentary on Vedānta-sūtra Name of worshippable deity
Brahma-Sampradāya Śrī Mahvācārya Dvaita-vāda Brahmasūtra-bhāṣya, Anuhāṣya and Anuvākhyana Bāla-Gopāla
Rudra-Sampradāya Śrī Viṣṇusvāmī Śuddhādvaita-vāda Sarvajña-sukti Śrī Nṛsiṃhadeva
Śrī-Sampradāya Śrī Rāmānujācārya Viśiṣṭādvaita-vāda Śrī-bhāṣya Śrī Śrī Lakṣm-Nārāyaṇa
Catuḥsana-Sampradāya Śrī Nimbāditya Dvaitādvaita-vāda Pārijātasaurabha-bhāṣhya Rukmiṇī-Dvārakādhīśa (and nowadays Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa in svakrīya-rasa)

“Previously, you mentioned acintya-bhedābheda siddhānta,”

Vaṃśaropaṇa Siṃha recalled, “What is that?”

Śrīla Gurudeva explained, “Acintya-bhedābheda siddhānta refers to the inconceivable difference and non-difference between the Supreme Lord and His energies. In order to understand this, one has to have a grasp of many philosophical concepts. The ācāryas of all four sampradāyas accepted vastu-pariṇāma-vāda. This means that whatever we see, such as the jīvas (living entities) and the material world, has come from Brahman or Bhagavān. However, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has said, ‘No, it is not that everything has come from Brahman or Bhagavān. It has come from His potencies. Jīvas have come from His jīva potency, and this material creation has come from His material potency.’ This conclusion is that everything has come from the transformation of the Lord’s energy, rather than from the transformation of the Lord Himself. It is called śakti-pariṇāma-vāda, and only Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has explained this philosophy of śakti-pariṇāma-vāda. Before Him, no one knew about it.

“With respect to acintya-bhedābheda, we see in the Kaṭha Upaniṣad (2.2.12):

एको वशी सर्वभूतान्तरात्मा एकं रूपं बहुधा यः करोति
तम् आत्मस्थं ये’नुपश्यन्ति धीरस् तेषां सुखं शाश्वतं नेतरेषाम्

eko vaśī sarvabhūtāntarātmā ekaṃ rūpaṃ bahudhā yaḥ karoti
tam ātmasthaṃ ye’nupaśyanti dhīras teṣāṃ sukhaṃ śāśvataṃ netareṣām

He is one without a second, the Supreme Lord, the indwelling Supersoul of all living creatures. He makes His one transcendental form into many. Those sober-minded persons who see Him in the body (as the Supreme Lord within the heart) alone attain unending tranquility–not others.

Only the devotee who always takes darśana of the Supreme Lord within his own soul can get eternal happiness.

Regarding acintya-bhedābheda siddhānta, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.9.34–35) states:

ऋते’र्थं यत् प्रतीयेत न प्रतीयेत चात्मनि
तद् विद्याद् आत्मनो मायां यथाभासो यथा तमः

ṛte’rthaṃ yat pratīyeta na pratīyeta cātmani
tad vidyād ātmano māyāṃ yathābhāso yathā tamaḥ

The Supreme Absolute Truth is the only real truth. One should understand that which is seen to be separate from this truth, or not existing within it, to be the product of the Supreme Absolute Truth’s deluding potency (māyā).

यथा महान्ति भूतानि भूतेषूच्चावचेष्व् अनु
प्रविष्टान्य् अप्रविष्टानि तथा तेषु न तेष्व् अहम्

yathā mahānti bhūtāni bhūteṣūccāvaceṣv anu
praviṣṭāny apraviṣṭāni tathā teṣu na teṣv aham

The five great elements of material creation (earth, water, etc.) enter into the bodies of all living entities, high and low, from the demigods to the sub-human species. But at the same time, these elements exist independently. Similarly, I have entered into all living entities as the Supersoul, but at the same time I am situated independently in My own svarūpa, and I appear to My surrendered devotees both internally and externally.

Bhagavad-gītā (9.4) also explains acintya-bhedābheda siddhānta:

मया ततम् इदं सर्वं जगद् अव्यक्त-मूर्त्तिना
मत्-स्थानि सर्व-भूतानि न चाहं तेष्व् अवस्थितः

mayā tatam idaṃ sarvaṃ jagad avyakta-mūrttinā
mat-sthāni sarva-bhūtāni na cāhaṃ teṣv avasthitaḥ

This whole universe is pervaded by Me in My svarūpa which is unmanifest to the material senses. All living beings and elements are situated in Me, but I am not in them.

The following is an excerpt from Śrīla Gurudeva’s Prakāśikāvṛtti commentary on the verse mentioned above:

Pariṇāma: Milk is a pure substance. In contact with a souring agent, it turns to yogurt. This is called a transformation.

Thus yogurt is a pariṇāma, or transformation, of milk.

Vivarta: To mistake one object for another is called vivarta. examples of vivarta are mistaking a rope for a snake and thinking that there is silver in an oyster.

The essence of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s instruction lies herein. “This universe is not a pariṇāma (transformation) of Me, nor is it a vivarta (illusion). I have not transformed My existence to become either the individual living entity or the material world. Nor should they be mistaken to be Me, like a rope is sometimes mistaken to be a snake. I am the Absolute, Self-effulgent reality. The jīvas and the material world are also real; both are the transformation of My potency, or śakti. The jīvas are eternal and have come into existence from My marginal potency (the taṭasthā-śakti), but the material world, which is born of My external, material potency (the bahiraṅgā-śakti), is temporary and subject to destruction, even though it is also real.

The jīvas and the material world are transformations of My potency, which is non-different from Me; therefore, they are simultaneously one with and different from Me. This conception is inconceivable (acintya), because it can be understood by scripture only and can not be experienced by ordinary, material intelligence. Wherever one experiences both difference and oneness at the same time, the perception of difference is indeed stronger than the perception of oneness. Therefore, I am the Absolute Conscious entity, different from both the individual living entity and the material world.”[1]

Kṛṣṇa further explains to Arjuna:

न च मत्-स्थानि भूतानि पश्य मे योगम् ऐश्वरम्
भूत-भृन् न च भूत-स्थो ममात्मा भूत-भावनः

na ca mat-sthāni bhūtāni paśya me yogam aiśvaram
bhūta-bhṛn na ca bhūta-stho mamātmā bhūta-bhāvanaḥ

Bhagavad-gītā (9.5)

And yet everything that is created does not rest in Me. Behold My mystic opulence! Although I am the maintainer of all living entities and although I am everywhere, I am not a part of this cosmic manifestation, for my self is the very source of creation.

In his Prakāśikā-vṛtti commentary on this verse, Śrīla Gurudeva explains:

“I pervade the whole material universe. All beings and elements are situated within Me, yet they do not exist in Me.” To clarify this subject further, Śrī Bhagavān tells Arjuna, “Although I am the supporter and maintainer of all beings, I am not situated within them.” This principle has also been confirmed in ŚrīmadBhāgavatam (1.11.38): etad īśanam īśasya prakṛti-stho’pi tadguṇaiḥ na yujyate. This means that the Supreme Controller, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, is not affected by the modes of nature, although He presides over material nature. This is a most wonderful characteristic of His. This act of making the impossible possible is achieved through His mystic potency, or yoga-aiśvarya.

Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura quotes Kṛṣṇa as saying, “All beings and elements exist in Me alone. Do not conclude from this that all beings exist in My actual self. rather, they exist by the power of My māyā-śakti. You, the jīva, will not be able to comprehend this fact by your own limited intelligence. Therefore, understand it to be My mystic opulence, and know Me as bhūta-bhṛt (the supporter), bhūta-stha (all-pervading) and bhūta-bhāvana (the maintainer of all manifestations). Consider My activities to be the functions of My energy. Fix yourself in the conception that there is no difference between Me and My body, as I am absolute spirit. For this reason, I am actually completely aloof, although I am the cause and basis of the material manifestation.”[2]

With respect to śakti-pariṇāma-vāda, it is mentioned in the Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi-līlā, 7.121–127):

vyāsera sūtrete kahe ‘pariṇāma’-vāda
vyāsa bhrānta’—balitāra uṭhāila vivāda

Śrīla Vyāsadeva has explained in his Vedānta-sūtra that everything is but a transformation of the Lord’s energy. But Śaṅkarācārya has misled the world by claiming that Vyāsadeva was mistaken. Thus, he has raised great opposition to theism throughout the world.

परिणाम-वादे ईश्वर हयेन विकारी
एत कहि’ ‘विवर्त’-वाद स्थापना ये करि

pariṇāma-vāde īśvara hayena vikārī
eta kahi’ ‘vivarta’-vāda sthāpanā ye kari

Śaṅkarācārya was of the view that śakti-pariṇāma-vāda, or the theory of the transformation of the Lord’s energy, leads to the conclusion that the Absolute Truth is transformed. Thus, he established his theory of vivarta-vāda.

वस्तुतः परिणाम-वाद—सेइ से प्रमाण
देहे आत्म-बुद्धि—एइ विवर्तेर स्थान

vastutaḥ pariṇāma-vāda—sei se pramāṇa
dehe ātma-buddhi—ei vivartera sthāna

Transformation of energy is a proven fact. It is the false bodily sense of self that is an illusion.

अविचिन्त्य-शक्ति-युक्त श्री-भगवान्
इच्छाय जगद्-रूपे पाय परिणाम

avicintya-śakti-yukta śrī-bhagavān
icchāya jagad-rūpe pāya pariṇāma

The Supreme Lord is full of all opulences. Therefore, His inconceivable energies have transformed to create this material cosmos.

तथापि अचिन्त्य-शक्त्ये हय अविकारी
प्राकृत चिन्तामणि ताहे दृष्टान्त ये धरि

tathāpi acintya-śaktye haya avikārī
prākṛta cintāmaṇi tāhe dṛṣṭānta ye dhari

By its energy, a touchstone turns iron to gold and yet remains the same. Similarly, we can understand that although the Supreme Lord transforms His innumerable energies, He remains unaltered.

नाना रत्न-राशि हय चिन्तामणि हैते
तथापिह मणि रहे स्वरूपे अविकृते

nānā ratna-rāśi haya cintāmaṇi haite
tathāpiha maṇi rahe svarūpe avikṛte

A touchstone[3] produces many varieties of precious gems, but it remains the same. It does not change its original form.

प्राकृत-वस्तुते यदि अचिन्त्य-शक्ति हय
ईश्वरेर अचिन्त्य-शक्ति,—इथे कि विस्मय

prākṛta-vastute yadi acintya-śakti haya
īśvarera acintya-śakti,—ithe ki vismaya

If there can be such an inconceivable potency in material objects, why should we not believe in the inconceivable potency of the Supreme Lord?

Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, when discussing acintya-bhedābheda siddhānta, wrote in his Bhāgavat-sandarbha (Anuccheda 16):

एकम् एव तत् परम्-तत्त्वं स्वाभाविकाचिन्त्य-शक्त्या सर्वदैव स्वरूप-तद्-रूप-वैभव-जीव-प्रधान-रूपेण चतुर्धावतिष्ठाते । सूर्यान्तर्-मण्डलस्थ-तेज इव मण्डलतद्-बहिर्गत-रश्मि-तत्-प्रतिच्छवि-रूपेण । एवम् एव श्री-विष्णु-पुराणे—एक-देश-स्थितस्याग्नेर् ज्योत्स्ना विस्तारिणी यथा । परस्य ब्रह्मणः शक्तिस् तथेदम् अखिलं जगत् ॥ इति ॥

ekam eva tat param-tattvaṃ svābhāvikācintya-śaktyā sarvadaiva svarūpa-tad-rūpa-vaibhava-jīva-pradhāna-rūpeṇa caturdhāvatiṣṭhāte | sūryāntar-maṇḍalastha-teja iva maṇḍalatad-bahirgata-raśmi-tat-praticchavi-rūpeṇa | evam eva śrī-viṣṇu-purāṇe—eka-deśa-sthitasyāgner jyotsnā vistāriṇī yathā | parasya brahmaṇaḥ śaktis tathedam akhilaṃ jagat || iti ||

The Absolute Truth has innumerable inconceivable potencies, which may be grouped into four broad categories:

(1) His internal potency,

(2) The manifestations of His internal potency,

(3) The individual living entities (jīvas),

(4) The unmanifest state of the guṇas (modes of nature), known as pradhāna.

As the sun remains in one place, although its potency, the sunshine, expands in all directions, so the Supreme Personality of Godhead remains in one place, although His various potencies are everywhere. This is described in the following statement of the Viṣṇu Purāṇa (1.22.54):

Just as a fire, which is situated in one place, spreads its illumination all over, so the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Para-brahma, spreads His energies all over this universe.

Since variegated potencies have emanated from the Absolute Truth, they must also be real. They cannot be false. The Personality of Godhead is like the sun and these potencies are like the rays of light emanating from this great sun.

Everything that exists is the potency of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and is simultaneously different and non-different from Him. Because the Lord’s potencies are manifested from His own form they are also simultaneously different and non-different from Him.

This can be understood through the analogy of fire and its potency, heat. Heat is the potency of fire and it has specific burning power obtained from its source, fire. In some ways, the heat is the same as the fire itself, while in other ways, it is different. Similarly, everything that exists is the potency of the Supreme Lord and is simultaneously different and non-different from Him.

Someone may argue that it is contradictory to say that the Supreme Lord remains in one place and is at the same time present everywhere. This objection, however, is not valid, for the Lord possesses all inconceivable potencies by which He can accomplish even the impossible. Thus, He can be simultaneously localised and all-pervading. The jīva cannot understand this by way of his material intelligence because his material intelligence is limited.

Vaṃśaropaṇa Siṃha asked Śrīla Gurudeva, “My dear son, you have mentioned that there are four sampradāyas. Why did Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu choose the Brahma-Madhva sampradāya?”

Śrīla Gurudeva replied, “There are three significant reasons behind this, from three distinct viewpoints. These are called:

(1) the consideration of philosophy (tattva-gata-vicāra),

(2) the consideration of rasa (rasa-gata vicāra), and

(3) the consideration of the self (ātmāgata-vicāra).

(1) The consideration of philosophy (tattva-gata-vicāra),

“In the philosophical consideration (tattva-gata-vicāra), one’s relation with Kṛṣṇa is called sambandha-jñāna. How to please Kṛṣṇa and the process to adopt to please Him is known as abhideya. This is called bhakti. Kṛṣṇa-prema is the prayojana, or ultimate goal. unless and until there are two entities, namely, Bhagavān and the jīva–there can be no perfection in prema. To achieve perfection in prema, two entities are always needed. In Śrī sampradāya (also known as the rāmānujā sampradāya), the doctrine is viśiṣṭa-advaita, or ‘specialised monism’. The doctrine of rudra sampradāya is śuddha-advaita, ‘purified monism’. Sanat sampradāya teaches the doctrine of dvaita-advaita-vāda, or ‘dualism and monism’. There is a scent of monism (advaita) in all three of these sampradāyas. However, the perfection of prema is not possible in monism. On the other hand, in Brahma sampradāya there is not even a trace of monism; there is only dualism. This is the philosophical reason (tattva-gata-vicāra) that Mahāprabhu accepted the Brahma sampradāya.

(2) The consideration of rasa (rasa-gata vicāra),

2. Then, there is Mahāprabhu’s consideration regarding rasa (rasa-gata-vicāra). The worshipable deity in Śrī sampradāya is Śrī Śrī Lakṣmī-Nārāyaṇa, and in the rāmānandī branch of Śrī sampradāya, the worshipable deity is Śrī Śrī Sītārāma. In Rudra sampradāya, where Śrī Viṣṇusvāmī is the prominent ācārya, the worshipable deity is Śrī Nṛsiṃhadeva. In Sanat sampradāya, the worshipable deity is Śrī Śrī rukmiṇī-Dvārakādhīśa. These three sampradāyas all have a strong mood of opulence; but Śrī Kṛṣṇa is not controlled by this mood. In Brahma sampradāya, the worshipful deity is Gopāla, who is holding the churning stick of Mother Yaśodā. He is Vrajendra-nandana Śyāmasundara in Vraja. Thus, the sweet mood of Vraja is present only in the Brahma sampradāya. Kṛṣṇa can be controlled only by the mood in Vraja, and not by any other mood. This is Mahāprabhu’s reason from the point of rasa (rasa-gata-vicāra) for choosing Brahma sampradāya.

(3) The consideration of the self (ātmāgata-vicāra).

3. The final consideration is that of the self (ātmā-gata-vicāra). In Brahma sampradāya, there is mention of the mood of the gopīs of Vṛndāvana (gopī-bhāva) and how Śrī Kṛṣṇa is truly controlled only by the mood of these beautiful beloved cowherd maidens. This view is the same as Mahāprabhu’s, and that is why He chose to accept Brahma sampradāya.”

Vaṃśaropaṇa Siṃha then said, “All right, my dear son; you say that the mood of the gopīs is present in Brahma sampradāya. Does that mean those doing bhajana in this sampradāya are in the mood of the gopīs? Where is the proof of this?”

Śrī Gaura Nārāyaṇa replied, “The biographer of Śrīla Madhvācārya, Mr. C. M. Padmanābhācārya, composed a book entitled The Life and Teachings of Śrī Madhvācārya[4]. In his book, he writes:

The monks who take charge of Śrī Kṛṣṇa by rotation are so many gopīs of Vṛndāvana who move with and love Śrī Kṛṣṇa with an indescribable intensity of feeling and are taking rebirth now for the privilege of worshiping Him. These monks conduct themselves as if they are living and moving with Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The līlās of Śrī Kṛṣṇa are perpetuated in festivities distributed throughout the year. They dance before the Lord of love to the tune of music chanting the chapters of the Dvādaśa-stotram and other songs of an elevating character. As the chant proceeds and the dance goes on their hair stands on end, tears flow from their eyes and their brain is on fire with emotion. Some of the devotees are more emotional than others. Soon, they are overpowered by memories of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s wonderful līlās.

This prompted Vaṃśaropaṇa Siṃha to ask Śrīla Gurudeva, “My dear son, do you know about the Dvādaśa-stotram of Madhvācārya?”

Śrīla Gurudeva began to smile and said, “Yes, I know something from my gurudeva.”

“Can you recite some of its verses?”

Śrīla Gurudeva smiled, “uncle, do you want to test me or do you want to learn?”

“No! I’m not testing you. I have heard about the Dvādaśa-stotram, but I don’t know any of its verses. I’d very much like to learn, if you can recite any of them.”

“Very well, since you really wish to know I will sing some of the ślokas:

नारायणामलतारण (कारण) वन्दे कारण कारण पूर्ण वरेण्य
माधव माधव साधक वन्दे बाधक बोधक शुद्ध समाधे

nārāyaṇāmalatāraṇa (kāraṇa) vande kāraṇa kāraṇa pūrṇa vareṇya
mādhava mādhava sādhaka vande bādhaka bodhaka śuddha samādhe

Stotram (5.3)

देवकी-नन्दन नन्द-कुमार वृन्दावनाञ्चन गोकुल-चन्द्र
कन्द फलाशन सुन्दर-रूप नन्दित गोकुल वन्दित पाद

devakī-nandana nanda-kumāra vṛndāvanāñcana gokula-candra
kanda phalāśana sundara-rūpa nandita gokula vandita pāda

Stotram (6.4–5)

“Very good, my son,” said Vaṃśaropaṇa Siṃha, greatly impressed, “Can you explain the meaning of these ślokas?”

Śrīla Gurudeva replied, “When Śrī Madhvācārya received his deity from inside the block of gopī-candana and was returning to his āśrama, he composed these ślokas and recited them himself. The first one that I have recited means:

‘O Nārāyaṇa, You are the cause of all causes. You are the pure cause and You are complete. You are worshipable, and I worship You and bow down to Your lotus feet. O Mādhava, O Mādhava, O sādhaka, O devastator of the world, You who are full of knowledge. Anyone can receive Your mercy by pure meditation. I bow down to Your lotus feet.

“The second śloka means,

‘O son of Devakī, O son of Nanda, You wander in the forest of Vṛndāvana and are the moon of Gokula. You eat the roots and fruits of the forest, You are most attractive and You increase the pleasure of Gokula. Your lotus feet are worshipped by the whole world.’”

Hearing this, Vaṃśaropaṇa Siṃha began to smile, indicating that he thought that he had caught a flaw in Śrīla Gurudeva’s presentation. “My dear son,” he said, “you said before that in Brahma samprādaya there is mādhurya gopībhāva. However, here you quoted Śrī Madhvācārya referring to Śrī Kṛṣṇa as Devakī-nandana, the son of Devakī (instead of the son of Yaśodā). Devakī is the wife of Vasudeva Mahārāja, who has the mood of opulence of Mathurā and Dvārakā.”

Śrīla Gurudeva replied, “uncle, this is not the real meaning. I have heard from my Śrīla Gurudeva, Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, that the wife of Nanda Mahārāja has two names–Yaśodā and Devakī. This is confirmed in the Ādi Purāṇa, “dve nāmnī nanda-bhāryāyā yaśodā devakīti ca.” Thus, here the name Devakīnandana refers to the son of Nanda Mahārāja’s wife. It does not refer to the son of Vasudeva Mahārāja’s wife. We know this by the mention of the names of Nanda, Gokula and Vṛndāvana in the verse.”

Śrī Gaura Nārāyaṇa’s father, mother and many relatives of all ages were present; delighted to hear this explanation, they began to laugh and clap, cheering for him. Given the complexity of this confidential siddhānta and seeing that some were mere children, it seems improbable that many of them understood the discussion. Still, they were very happy that Śrīman Nārāyaṇa, one of their own, was having a great debate with such a person as Vaṃśaropaṇa Siṃha, the leading, renowned scholar of that area.

Vaṃśaropaṇa Siṃha next asked, “What is the bhajana-praṇālī of Śrī Madhva sampradāya?”

Śrīla Gurudeva replied, “In the Śrī Madhva sampradāya, two sections became visible after Śrīla Madhvācārya’s departure from this world. These have been referred to as dāsakūṭa and vyāsakūṭa.

1. The dāsakūṭa section consists of those who are inclined towards bhajana and kīrtana, but are less inclined towards Sanskrit scripture. In other words, they are bhajana-ānandīs, taking pleasure in their own bhajana. However, it is a mistake to think that such persons are ignorant of śāstra. Many Sanskrit works have come from the dāsakūṭa or bhajana section. These works almost always take the form of beautiful sacred poetry and all members of the Śrī Madhva sampradāya honour this literature.

2. The vyāsakūṭa section, the members of which are also known as goṣṭhy-ānandīs, knows Sanskrit very well. They use their knowledge of Sanskrit and śāstra to spread the teachings of the sampradāya.

Vaṃśaropaṇa Siṃha asked, “My son, can you explain the siddhānta of each of the sampradāyas?”

Śrīla Gurudeva replied, “Yes, I can try to repeat what I have heard from my gurudeva. I did not know you would test me; had I known, I would have prepared. But even so, I can say something.

“In the Śrī sampradāya, where the docrine is viśiṣṭa-advaita-vāda, Śrī rāmānujācārya has acknowledged three tattvas, or fundamental truths. The first is Īśvara, or Bhagavān; the second is jīvātma; and the third is this world of matter. In viśiṣṭa-advaita-vāda, Bhagavān is regarded as the noun and the jīvas and material world are regarded as adjective qualifying that noun. rāmānujācārya explained that the jīvas are of three types. The first type is suffering in this world since beginningless time (baddha). Such a jīva can however be liberated by performing sādhana-bhajana. The second type is the jīva who was once conditioned but has become liberated through sādhana (muktajīva). The third category of jīvas consists of those who are eternally liberated associates of Śrī Bhagavān such as Garuḍa (nityamukta). Śrī rāmānuja explained that the jīva is minute and is part of Bhagavān.

“According to Śrī rāmānujācārya, the Absolute Truth is nondual. In other words, nothing exists separately from or independently of Bhagavān. Thus, there is no svajātīya-bheda or vijātīya-bheda in Bhagavān.

“The absence of svajātīya-bheda means that there is no difference between the viṣṇu-tattva expansions of the Supreme Lord; They are non-different from each other. For instance, tulasī leaves are offered only to Bhagavān, but Vaiṣṇavas offer tulasī leaves to the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Śrī Nārāyaṇa, Śrī Baladeva Prabhu, Śrī rāma and Śrī Nṛsiṃhadeva, because They are all viṣṇu-tattva, and therefore non-different from each other.

Vijātīya-bheda refers to a perceived difference between Bhagavān and His various śaktis, or potencies–such as the jīvas and the material world. Śrī rāmānuja explained that the jīva and the material world depend for their existence on the existence of Bhagavān. They are also always completely under the control of Bhagavān. As a result, Śrī rāmānuja explains, ‘Bhagavān’s śaktis cannot be considered separate from or independent of Bhagavān. Because Bhagavān is the source of everything and is omnipotent, there can be no substance separate from Him.’

“Śrī rāmānuja also considers svagata-bheda or difference between Bhagavān and His form and attributes. Śrī rāmānuja regarded the jīvas and the material world as part of the body of Bhagavān and this led him to conclude that there must be a difference between Bhagavān and His form. In this way he also acknowledges a difference between Bhagavān on the one hand and the jīva and material world on the other.

“rāmānujācārya said that Brahman is the aṃśī while the jīvas and the material world are His aṃśa, or part. Brahman means Bhagavān, who is the soul; the jīvas and the material world are His body. Brahman is the shelter (āśraya), and the jīva and the material world are under the shelter of Bhagavān. The jīva and the material world have some speciality distinct from Bhagavān. That means that although they are different from God, at the same time there is no other entity than God. Taking the analogy of a tree, a tree has a trunk, branches, leaves, flowers and so on. When you consider all these aspects in combination, you have what is called a tree. But when you separate all these aspects, they are called leaves, flowers, and branches and so on. So collectively they are one; but separately they are different. Thus, the opinion of rāmānujācārya is known as viśiṣṭa-advaita-vāda, ‘specialised monism’. It is monistic, but it emphasizes some speciality also.

“Now, Śrī Viṣṇusvāmī taught śuddha-advaita-vāda, or ‘purified monism’. According to this view, Bhagavān is the vastu, or substance. The jīva is a part of that vastu and māyā is the potency of that vastu–in other words, māyā is the potency of Bhagavān. Furthermore, the action of that vastu is this material creation. But these elements are not different from God, or Brahma. Śrī Viṣṇusvāmī proves that the jīva is a part of God by quoting from Brahma-sūtra.

“However, even Bhagavad-gītā (15.7) states:

ममैवांशो जीव-लोके जीव-भूतः सनातनः

mamaivāṃśo jīva-loke jīva-bhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ

The jīvas in this conditioned world are My parts and they are all eternal. Due to being conditioned and opposed to Me, they are struggling intensely with the mind and the senses in this material world.

“Śrī Viṣṇusvāmī explains that this material world is the action of Brahman, or the Supreme Lord, and that it is real and true. He further argues that if Bhagavān is the cause of all causes and is eternal, then the action of that cause–that is, this material world–must be true and eternal also.

“Śrī Viṣṇusvāmī admitted five difficulties (pañca-kleśa). They are:

  1. ignorance (ajñāna),
  2. false identification (viparyāsa),
  3. difference (bheda),
  4. fear (bhaya), and
  5. lamentation (śoka).

“He also admitted the eternality of worship (upāsanā), of the worshiper (upāsaka) and of the worshipable deity (upāsya). He wrote in his commentary, muktā api līlayā vigrahaṃ kṛtvā bhagavantaṃ bhajante: ‘even liberated persons are attracted by the pastimes of the

Supreme Lord and thus engage in bhajana.’

“As I mentioned earlier, the doctrine of Śrī Nimbāditya is known as dvaita-advaita-vāda, or ‘dualism with monism’. Śrī Nimbāditya states that the Vedic literature is the best evidence and the words of one under the guidance of the Vedic literature can also be accepted as evidence. Śrī Nimbāditya explains that there is simultaneous difference and non-difference between the jīva and Paramātmā.

“According to Śrī Nimbāditya, the category of that which is inert (jaḍa), may divided into two: (1) eternal time (kāla) and (2) the illusory potency of Bhagavān (māyā). Time also is of two types: (1) transcendental (aprākṛta) and (2) material (prākṛta). Transcendental time is beyond this material energy of Bhagavān.

“Śrī Nimbāditya explains that Bhagavān has no faults; He is beyond any kind of fault and is worshipped by the soul. The conditional soul has eighteen kinds of faults. Bhagavān eternally possesses a transcendental form. All the limbs of His body are transcendental, for His hands, feet and other features are not material. Some believe that Bhagavān must be formless but one whose intelligence is pure and who follows Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and the Vedic literature, knows that God has an all-attractive, eternally youthful form.

Śrī Gaura Nārāyaṇa now began to discuss Śrī Madhvācārya’s siddhānta.

(Author’s Note: There are some differences in Śrī Madhvācārya’s siddhānta and Gaudiya Vaiṣṇava siddhānta. Therefore, the reader is advised not to mistake Śrī Madhvācārya’s siddhānta for Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava siddhānta.)

“Śrīman Madhvācārya accepted five categories of ontological differences (tattvataḥ bheda):

  1. difference between the jīva and īśvara,
  2. difference between individual jīvas,
  3. difference between īśvara and matter,
  4. difference between the jīva and matter, and
  5. differences in inert matter.

“To quote one reference from Mahābhārata-tātparya-nirṇaya, written by Śrī Madhvācārya:

जीवेश्योर्भिदा चैव जीववेदः परस्परं
जडेशयोर्जडानां च जडजीवविदा तथा
पञ्चवेदा इमे नित्याः सर्वावस्थासु नित्यशः
मुक्तानं च हीयन्ते तारतम्यं च सर्व्वदा

jīveśyorbhidā caiva jīvavedaḥ parasparaṃ
jaḍeśayorjaḍānāṃ ca jaḍajīvavidā tathā
pañcavedā ime nityāḥ sarvāvasthāsu nityaśaḥ
muktānaṃ ca hīyante tāratamyaṃ ca sarvvadā

Mahābhārata-tātparya-nirṇaya (1.70–71)

“According to the teachings of Śrī Madhva, the jīva and īśvara have been different from each other since time immemorial. The theory that the jīva is Brahman covered by ignorance is mischievious, for the following reasons. Brahman is infinite, whereas the jīva is minute and finite. Brahman is free from all fallacies, whereas the jīva is subject to all types of fallacies. Brahman has endless qualities whereas the qualities of the jīva are limited. Brahman is eternally liberated whereas the jīva in this world is conditioned. Hence, we can never imagine that the two are non-different and inseparable. eternal difference between the jīva and Īśvara will continue to exist, even after liberation. The jīva is a separate part and parcel of the Lord, so his function is to serve Lord Viṣṇu, even after liberation.

“Since the jīvas are distinct entities, they are different from each other as well. In material existence, the conditioned jīvas are sometimes happy and sometimes distressed, sometimes poor and sometimes rich; there is no unity among them. In the liberated stage, the jīvas are blissfully engaged in different services to Śrī Viṣṇu according to their taste, their constitutional nature, their fondness, their preference of service, their inclination, their delight, and their moods. Although they are all different, they are all harmoniously serving and pleasing the Lord.

“In some scriptures it is mentioned that at the stage of liberation the jīvas merge with Lord Viṣṇu. For instance, we find the statement, sarve ekībhanti, in the Śrutis. However this should not be interpreted to refer to extreme non-difference. One can use the word ekībhuta in the sentence, “It is dusk, and all the cows have assembled in the pasture.” But here, the word ekībhuta would indicate coming together as a group and not the merging of the cows into a single identity. One must understand the situation of the liberated jīvas in this context. Similarly, if it is said that ‘all the kings became united’, it is absurd to imagine utmost non-difference among the kings; rather we can understand here that the kings were previously opposed to each other, but have now become unified under a single cause or leader. In the same way, in the liberated stage, all the jīvas have a single common mood of service. It should be understood in this way.

“Śrī Madhvācārya explains that there is an eternal difference between Īśvara and matter. Īśvara is eternal and conscious and is untouched by matter. Matter, however is not sentient and it is perishable. Śrī Madhvācārya says that there is no question of sameness or non-difference between these two opposite categories.

“Similarly, the jīvas being conscious entities, are wholly different from lifeless matter.

“There are also differences between one material phenomenon and another. This is self-evident: poison is responsible for the death of a living being and nectar brings him to life; salt is salty, and molasses is sweet. We see opposing characteristics in the things of this world, and therefore, we know that they are not one and the same. According to Śrī Madhvācārya, these five differences are eternal in all time, space and circumstance.”

“After hearing all this, Vaṃśaropaṇa Siṃha pondered, “My son, why didn’t Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu start a new sampradāya?”

Śrī Gaura Nārāyaṇa replied, “I have heard from my paramārādhya Gurudeva that sanātana-dharma comes directly from Bhagavān. For instance, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam states, “dharmaṃ tu sākṣād bhagavat-praṇītaṃ–religious principles are enacted directly by the Supreme Lord” (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 6.3.19).

To start a sampradāya, the Supreme Lord engages His potency or servants. Thus we see that the Śrī sampradāya was started by Śrī, or Lakṣmī-devī, the potency of Bhagavān. The other three sampradāyas were founded by Sanat, rudra and Brahmājī–who are all sevakas, or servants, of Bhagavān. This is why there are four authentic sampradāyas and we do not see a Vāsudeva sampradāya, Saṅkarṣaṇa sampradāya or Nārāyaṇa samprādaya in addition to them. Śrī rāmacandra, Śrī Nṛsiṃhadeva, Śrī Vāmanadeva, Śrī Varāhadeva, Śrī Baladeva Prabhu and other incarnations have never started any sampradāya.

“Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya Mahāprabhu are worshipable by all sampradāyas, but They Themselves do not start any sampradāyas. They reserve this for āśraya-tattva, Their devotees. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has assumed the role of āśraya-vigraha, but He is really viṣaya-tattva because He is Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme enjoyer. Therefore, there is no need for Him to start a new sampradāya.”

Vaṃśaropaṇa Siṃha wanted to know more about the siddhānta of Madhvācārya and about the Brahma sampradāya.

Śrī Gaura Nārāyaṇa continued, “Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣana Prabhu, vedānta-ācārya of the Brahma-Madhva-Gauḍīya sampradāya, included the following verse in his Prameya-ratnāvalī:

श्रीमध्वः प्राह विष्णुं परतममखिलाम्नाय्वेद्यन्च विश्वं
सत्यं भेदञ् च जीवान् हरिचरण् जुषस्-तारतम्यञ् च तेषाम्
मोक्षं विष्ण्वङ् घ्रिलाभं तद्-अमल-भजनं तस्य हेतुं प्रमाणम्
प्रत्यक्षाद्-इत्रयन्चेत्युपदिशति हरिः कृष्ण-चैतन्य-चन्द्रः

śrīmadhvaḥ prāha viṣṇuṃ paratamamakhilāmnāyvedyanca viśvaṃ
satyaṃ bhedañ ca jīvān haricaraṇ juṣas-tāratamyañ ca teṣām
mokṣaṃ viṣṇvaṅ ghrilābhaṃ tad-amala-bhajanaṃ tasya hetuṃ pramāṇam
pratyakṣād-itrayancetyupadiśati hariḥ kṛṣṇa-caitanya-candraḥ

“Śrī Madhvācārya has stated the following:
(1) Only Lord Viṣṇu is the supreme object;
(2) Lord Viṣṇu is omniscient;
(3) Lord Viṣṇu is the Absolute Truth;
(4) the jīva is different from Lord Viṣṇu;
(5) all living entities are the servant of the lotus feet of Lord Hari;
(6) there is a difference between the conditioned and liberated jīvas;
(7) liberation for the jīvas lies at the lotus feet of Lord Viṣṇu;
(8) the cause of the liberation of the jīva depends on unalloyed bhajana for Lord Viṣṇu;
(9) there are three types of evidence–direct perception (pratyakṣa), inference (anumāna), and the word of śāstra (śabda).

“Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya has propagated these nine conclusions.

“It is very clear from these conclusions of Śrī Madhvācārya that Mahāprabhu has accepted these āmnāya[5] of Śrī Madhvācārya. Therefore, the Gauḍīya sampradāya is known as the Brahma-Madhva-Gauḍīya sampradāya.”

Footnotes and references:


From Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā by Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja (Third english edition, CC-BY-ND. Gaudiya Vedanta Publications 2010).


From Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā by Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja (Third english edition, CC-BY-ND. Gaudiya Vedanta Publications 2010).


Although most people today have no knowledge of touchstones, many wise people were aware of such stones during the time of the six Gosvāmīs. Similarly, a hundred years ago, if you would have conceptualised and explained how people in the future would communicate using the internet, people might have called you insane.


This book is in Beṅgali language so the excerpted quote above is an english translation from the book.


Āmnāya–the words of the Vedas which come to us through a bona fide guru-paramparā.

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