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Authenticity of Shrila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati’s initiation

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post-1-0-78303000-1357099586.jpgAuthenticity of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati’s initiation

Answers by Swami Tripurari

Q: Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati during his visits to Vrindavan was in habit of visiting Srila Ramakrishna Das Pandit Babaji who without a doubt was one of the most respected Gaudiya Vaishnavas during the 1920s - 1930s. On one occasion Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati was highly praising Srila Gaura Kishora Das Babaji Maharaj in Srila Ramakrishna Das Pandit Babaji’s presence. Srila Ramakrishna Das Pandit Babaji asked him if he had received initiation from him. Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati answered that he had received it in a dream. Srila Ramakrishna Das Pandit Babaji said that was fine, but he should receive it in the body since that is the only type of initiation accepted in the Chaitanya tradition. Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati said he will receive and then finished his visit.

Years later Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati being the famous man returned to Vrindavan as the acarya of Gaudiya Math. He visited Srila Ramakrishna Das Pandit Babaji again and was asked by him if he had gotten initiation from Srila Gaura Kishora Das Babaji Maharaj. His answer was the same, and Srila Ramakrishna Das Pandit Babaji got extremely angry with him for making disciples without proper initiation. This incident was witnessed by Srila Kisori Mohan Gosvami, Srila Kisori Das Babaji and Srila Advaita Das Babaji of Govardhan.

A: There is no record of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati ever going to Vrindavan before he started Gaudiya Math, nor did he ever tell anyone that his was initiated in a dream. He has related the story of his initiation in writing. The story is well known. Why would he then tell someone else he received it in a dream? We do not accept the above account as anything more than hearsay. Also, the burden of proof lies with the accuser, not us. Hearsay is not proof.

Q: There is no indication in any of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati’s objective biographies that he was initiated by Srila Gaura Kishora Das Babaji Maharaj. Objective means compiled by anyone who was not preconceived being his follower and thus accepting his statements. The brother of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati, Srila Lalita Prasad Thakur, denies that he received diksa from by Srila Gaura Kishora Das Babaji Maharaj. Pujari and other residents of Srila Gaura Kisora Das Babaji Maharaja’s bhajan-kutir knew about only four his disciples, but Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati was not among them.

A: I am unaware of any biographies of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati other than those of his followers. The objector must first produce one. For that matter, if there is one, what makes it objective? Those opposed to Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati may be prejudiced against him. Secondly the objector is implying that the disciples of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati who have written about him and of their experiences with Srila Gaura Kishora Das Babaji Maharaj, his affection for Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati, etc. are all liars. This is not reasonable.

Where has Srila Lalita Prasad Thakur written that Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati was not initiated? History reveals that he was serving under Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati in the beginning of the formation of Gaudiya Math, and that at that time Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati was accepting disciples while Srila Bhakti Vinoda Thakur and Srila Gaura Kishora Das Babaji Maharaj were still present, that is, with their blessings. Later on after the disappearance of Srila Bhakti Vinoda Thakur Srila Lalita Prasad Thakur parted ways with Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati.

Q: Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati did not reveal the parampara of Srila Gaura Kisora Das Babaji Maharaja to his followers. In fact, even the name of Srila Gaura Kisora Das Babaji Maharaja’s diksa-guru was not revealed by Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati. Indeed, there is so much confusion that even the author states on page 51 (in one of the books of Srila Bhakti Vedanta Narayana Maharaja – note of editor) that Srila Gaura Kisora Das Babaji Maharaja received diksa in the line of Srimati Jahnava Thakurani, whereas he is actually a member of the Advaita-parivara, having received diksa from Srila Nanda Kisora Gosvami of Shantipura. Now, why wouldn’t a disciple reveal the diksa-parampara of his guru? It is a common practice that at the time of diksa the guru reveals his guru-pranali, or the succession of gurus back to the time of Sriman Mahaprabhu and His associates. Could it be that Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati was not initiated and did not receive information about the guru-parampara of Srila Gaura Kisora Das Babaji Maharaja, and therefore he had to produce a parampara of his own design?

A: The obvious answer to this is that Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati stressed his conception of a Bhagavata or siksa guru parampara.

Q: According to Hari Bhakti Vilasa (2.8.5), at the time of diksa the guru bestows the specific sectarian signs he carries unto the disciple:

sampradayikamudradi bhusitam tam krtanjalim

In his commentary on this verse Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains: sampradayikamguru-paramparasiddham - ”this sampradayika refers to the guru-parampara,” and mudra tilaka maladi - ”and mudra refers to tilaka and strings of beads.” Consequently, the recognized parivaras, like Nityananda-parivara, Advaita-parivara and Syamananda-parivara, have their specific tilaka-svarupa. If Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati received diksa, why have he and his followers adopted a tilaka which was not worn by his diksa-guru, who must has given have a specific tilaka-svarupa to Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati at the time of diksa?

A: If you look at the pictures of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati's tilaka you will see that he wears either the tilaka of the Advaita-parivara or a generic brand of Gaudiya tilaka. Can you prove to us what the tilaka of Srila Gaura Kisora Das Babaji looked like? This is a silly argument.

Q: Where from did Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati receive the sacred thread and the Brahma-gayatri, which he passed on to his disciples? Certainly not from Srila Gaura Kisora Das Babaji, who was a vaisya by birth, and did not chant the Brahma-gayatri, nor wear a sacred thread.

A: These were innovations of his own under the influence of Srila Bhakti Vinoda Thakur, under whose direction he received the Brahma-gayatri.

Q: What is the origin of the specific set of mantras given in the line of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati? Hari Bhakti Vilasa mentions Gopala-mantra and Kama-gayatri as diksa-mantras. The paddhatis of Srila Gopal Guru Goswami and Srila Dhyanacandra Goswami give an elaborate list of mantras for raganuga-sadhana, but the guru-mantra and guru-gayatri given by Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati are different from the ones given in these paddhatis. It is not out of place to mention that even the author (Srila B.V. Narayana Maharaja – note of editor) and his siksa-guru Srila Bhakti Vedanta Swami have given the diksa-mantras in a slightly different way, although they are supposed to have a common origin - Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati.

A: The mantras are the same in meaning and 99% the same in form. He gave Gopala-mantra and Kama-gayatri, along with Gaura and Guru mantras/gayatris. There is only a slight difference in the guru mantra from that given in some of the other Gaudiya lines. This is not a substantial argument, nor are any of the above points of any real substance, especially in he face of so much evidence to the contrary.

These arguments basically say, "We thing your guru was not initiated." And they ignore all of the evidence to the contrary as well as spiritual commonsense. They prove nothing other than the fact that the doubter doubts the source of his own faith in Krishna consciousness.

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