Does Taking a Siksha Guru Mean Rejecting One's Diksha Guru?

by Srila Bhakti Bibudha Bodhayan Maharaja

All Glories to Sri Guru, Sri Saraswata Gaudiya Vaishnavas and Sri Gauranga!

I have recently heard that a particular group of preachers has taken a position that is, in my opinion, quite unusual. They say that Srila Sachidananda Bhaktivinode Thakur rejected his diksha gurudeva, Bipin Bihari Goswami, and they support this as legitimate by citing the example of Shyamananda Prabhu, who they say rejected his guru Hridaya Chaitanya Thakur.

I have not been able to understand their object in spreading this particular point of view, which I take as wrong. I personally saw the way our guru-vargas related to Bipin Bihari Goswami. As I saw it, they kept sound faith in Bipin Bihari Goswami even though His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur Prabhupada did not include him in our Bhagavata parampara, nor place his photo on the altar for worship.

It is clear from Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur's writings that he held Srila Bipin Bihari Goswami in a favorable light, for we find the following statements:

1. In the mangalacaranam (auspicious beginning) of Sri Krishna Karnamritam, Bhaktivinode Thakur writes:

sri-krsna-caitanya-krpa-patra-sri-bilvamangalaya namah
guror hareh padam dhyatva sri-vipina-viharinah
krsna-karnamrtasyeyam bhasa-vyakhya viracyate
Simple translation: "I offer respectful obeisance to Sri Bilvamangala Thakur, the recipient of Lord Krishna Chaitanya's mercy. Meditating on the holy feet of my guru Sri Bipina Bihari and Lord Hari, I am writing this Bengali translation and explanation of the Krishna Karnamritam.

2. In two of the concluding verses of the Amrita-pravaha Bhashya to the Chaitanya Charitamrta, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur writes:

bipina bihari hari, tanr sakti avatari,
bipin bihari prabhuvar
sri guru-goswami rupe, dekhi more bhava-kupe
uddharila apana kinkar

tad-ajna palana kame, amrta-prabaha name
caitanya-caritamrta artha
racilam sayatane, arpilam bhakta-gane
path kari ghucao anartha

Translation: "Lord Hari, who loves playing in Vrindaban, incarnated (as) His potency in the form of my spiritual master Bipin Bihari Prabhu. In this form as my Sri Guru Goswami, he saved me, his servant, who had fallen in the pit of material existence. In order to carry out his instruction, I have carefully composed this commentary named Amrita-pravaha Bhashya, which describes the true meaning of Chaitanya Charitamrita. I herein dedicate this commentary to the devotees of the Lord and sincerely wish that people in general will be able to remove all the sinful impediments and obstacles in their lives by reading it in devotion."

3. In a concluding verse of Bhagavatarka-marichi-mala, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur writes:

bipin bihari prabhu mora prabhu vara
sri vamsi-vadanananda-vamsa-sasadhara
sei prabhupader anujna sire dhari
bhagavata-slokasvada nirantar kari
Translation: "Bipin Bihari Prabhu is my spiritual master, who is like a moon in the succession of Sri Vamsivadanananda Thakur. Respectfully taking my Prabhupada's (Bipin Bihari Prabhu's) instruction on my head, I engage in tasting the verses of Srimad Bhagavatam constantly."

In my continuing research I have not yet discovered any conclusive statement confirming that Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur rejected his diksha guru, Srila Bipin Bihari Goswami, even though they may sometimes have had differences of opinion. We remain open-minded on this matter and ready to accept any valid proof to the contrary.

Now, is it true that Shyamananda Prabhu rejected his guru?

Shyamananda Prabhu was first initiated by Sri Hridaya Chaitanya Thakur of Ambika Kalna and his initiated name was Krishna Das. Later, inspired by Srila Hridaya Chaitanya Thakur and through the affectionate guidance of Srila Raghunath Das Goswami Prabhu, he came in contact with Srila Jiva Goswamipad and accepted him as his beloved siksha gurudeva. He was then given the name Shyamananda. Finally, he received the benevolent mercy of Srimati Radharani when She imprinted Her anklet on his forehead in a tilaka-shape, promoting him to be a servitor in the spirit of madhurya-rasa.

However, it is nowhere said that Shyamananda rejected his diksha guru in order to accept Jiva as his siksha guru. Rather, he accommodated both Srila Hridaya Chaitanya Thakur and Srila Jiva Goswami Prabhu with full respect. In Bhakti-ratnakara, Narahari Chakravarti clearly states that Hridaya Chaitanya Prabhu accepted Shyamananda's activities and that Shyamananda continued to glorify his guru even after changing his mood from the sakhya rasa to the madhura rasa.

vrindavane shyamananda je je karya kare
se kevala sri-gurudeva-ajna anusare
Translation : "Whatever activities Shyamananda engaged in in Vrindavan, all was done only in accordance with the order of his spiritual master." (Brk 1.404)

sri guru sri hridaya caitanya prabhu boli
yamunara tire sada nace bahu tuli
siddha bhakta kriya na bujhiya jiva murkha
karaye kutarka ithe paya maha duhkha
Translation: "[After receiving Radha's mercy] Shyamanada would dance on the banks of the Yamuna with his arms raised, saying, `My Guru is Sri Hridaya Chaitanya Prabhu!' Foolish jivas do not understand the activities of the perfected devotees and so fall into the misery of useless arguments. (Brk 6.56-57)

Even the Prema-vilasa, where it is said that Hridaya Chaitanya Thakur did not immediately accept Shyamananda's changes, comes to the conclusion that the question was resolved to everyone's satisfaction and that Shyamananda's guru accepted his disciple's activities and relation to Jiva Goswami. Shyamananda continued to respect Hridaya Chaitanya as his initiating spiritual master.

It is thus clear that taking a siksha guru does not mean we have to reject or avoid the instruction of our diksha guru. The diksha and siksha gurus should be accepted in harmony with each other. This siddhanta is fully supported by the shastras.

Neither Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur nor Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur ever mentioned in any of their writings that he rejected Srila Bipin Bihari Goswami, nor that Shyamananda Prabhu rejected his diksha guru, Hridaya Chaitanya Prabhu.

I have refuted these proposals, with which I was confronted while engaged in my preaching activities. If anybody can establish that I am wrong with authentic statements by Srila Prabhupada or Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, please inform me so I may be cured of my foolish ignorance in these matters. I humbly request, however, that any responses not be based on any self-motivated speculation or logic. Speculation and emotion are the cause of our demotion.

Those who have been speculating in the name of my grand spiritual master in this way are doing a great disservice because they go against one of the most fundamental teachings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, found in the Sikshastaka's third shloka--amanina mana- dena kirtaniyah sada harih. Whereas we are to always pay due respects to even unqualified persons to chant the Hare Krishna maha mantra in humility, we are instead doing the opposite in the name of spreading the teachings of Mahaprabhu.

The actual inner meaning of religion is proper adjustment of our identity--to realize the purpose of this human birth by establishing ourselves as the eternal servants of God. The purpose of the established religious institutions of our sampradaya, the Brahma Madhva Gaudiya Saraswata Sampradaya, is to preach this message, to enforce the proper behavior of all its members and to respect all Vaishnavas like family members. But instead of doing that, we are quarreling with each other within our own sampradaya.

Where are the activities by which we show honor to each other?

All the Vaishnava institutions should be unified to fight against the impersonal philosophy and to open the eyes of ignorant people to the glories of the guru, Vaishnavas and Krishna, the Supreme Lord of all the universes.

B.B. Bodhayan

Sri Gopinath Gaudiya Math
P.O. Sree Mayapur
District Nadia, West Bengal
PIN 741313, INDIA
p: 91-3472-45307

352 Summit Ave
San Rafael, CA 94901

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