The Sri Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya is in the Line of Sri Madhva

by Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja

[An Excerpt from "Acarya Kesari Sri Srimad Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Gosvami - His Life and Teachings"]

The followers of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu accept the Sri Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya as the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya on the strength of the guru parampara.  This is mentioned by the prominent Gaudiya Vaisnava Acaryas Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, Sri Kavi-karnapura and Gaudiya Vedanta Acarya Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana. Thus Gaudiyas consider themselves to be a branch of the Sri Madhva Sampradaya. Vaisnava Acaryas such as Srila Jiva Gosvami, Sri Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Jagadguru Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati have also accepted this opinion. However these days some people are trying to establish their own concocted opinion that the Sri Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya is an independent sampradaya of which Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the original  founder.

Sri Sundarananda Vidyavinoda (who became opposed to his own guru Sri Ananta Vasudeva) has tried, together with some other personalities, to prove that the sampradaya of Sriman Mahaprabhu is not included in the Sri Brahma-Madhva Sampradaya.  They state instead that it is included in the impersonalist advaita-vadi sampradaya. Originally, Sri Sundarananda Vidyavinoda Mahodaya accepted in his Acarya Sri Madhva that Mahaprabhu’s sampradaya is included in the Sri Madhva Sampradaya. However, afterwards he considered that his own previous evidence was not authentic. In his later book Acintya-bhedabheda, he tried unsuccessfully to prove that the Sri Gaudiya Sampradaya is an independent sampradaya. All the arguments of the contending party are evident in his book.

Paramaradhya Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharajaji, who is like a lion for the elephant-like heretics, wrote his own essay entitled Acintya-bhedabheda, in which he uses scriptural evidence and incontrovertible reasoning to refute all the arguments in Sundarananda Vidyavinoda’s book. This essay has been published in several issues of the Bengali Sri Gaudiya Patrika and the Hindi Sri Bhagavata Patrika. We shall now briefly mention some of those arguments and evidence.

The Sri Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya is in the line of Sri Madhva

First we shall mention two currently prominent arguments which Sri Sundarananda Vidyavinoda has put forward.

Objection 1: “According to Sri Caitanya-caritamrta and Sri Caitanya-candrodaya-nataka, Sri Caitanyadeva accepted sannyasa vesa from a kevaladvaita-vada sannyasi, Sri Kesava Bharati, and He has referred to himself as a mayavada sannyasi. In addition to this, Prakasananda Sarasvati, who was the guru of the mayavada sannyasis of Kasi, also described him as a sannyasi of the mayavadi sampradaya.

kesava bharatira sisya tahe tumi dhanya
sampradayi sannyasi tumi raha ei grame
“Sarvabhauma Bhatta Acarya has also accepted this: bharati sampradaya ei hayena madhyama (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 6.72)”

Refutation: This argument of the opposing party is totally unfounded, for the following reasons.

After a jiva has realised that material existence in the chain of birth and death is useless and distressful, he can recognise that the attainment of service to the lotus feet of Bhagavan is the supreme auspiciousness. Therefore one who is extremely fortunate accepts diksa and siksa from a person who is thoroughly versed in sabda-brahma, who is adorned with realisation of Bhagavan and who has no attachment for sense gratification. That jiva then enters into paramartha, the acquisition of his highest spiritual objective. In Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s nara-lila (human-like pastimes),  He went to Gaya Dhama on the pretext of making offerings (pitr-sraddha) for the benefit of his deceased father. There He offered Himself fully at the lotus feet of Sri Isvara Puripada, who was the bud of the desire-tree of prema. He was also a supremely rasika and bhavuka disciple of Sri Madhavendra Puri, the root of that desire-tree of prema.

prabhu bale gaya yatra saphala amara
yatra ksane dekhilan carana tomara
(Sri Caitanya Bhagavata, Adi 17.50)

samsara-samudra haite uddharaha more
ei ami deha samarpilan tomare

krsna-pada-padmera amrta-rasa pana
amare karao tumi ei cahi dana

ara dine nibhrte isvara puri sthane
mantra diksa cahilena madhura-vacane  
(Sri Caitanya Bhagavata, Adi 17.54)

tabe tana sthane siksa-guru narayana
karilena dasaksara mantrera grahana
(Sri Caitanya Bhagavata, Adi 17.107)

According to this section of Sri Caitanya-Bhagavata, Sri Nimai Pandita performed the pastime of surrendering his heart at the feet of Sri Isvara Puri.  He prayed to him for the diksa-mantra in order to get release from material existence and to attain Sri Krsna prema, and Sri Puripada very affectionately gave him diksa by the ten-syllable mantra.

Sometime afterwards, Sri Nimai Pandita accepted sannyasa vesa in Katva from the advaita-vada sannyasi Sri Kesava Bharati. After accepting sannyasa he set off for Vrndavana, saturated in the madness of prema. When he arrived in Radha-desa, absorbed in prema, he chanted a verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam.

etam sa asthaya paratmanistham
adhyasitam purvatamair maharsibhih
aham tarisyami durantaparam
tamo mukundanghri nisevayaiva
(Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.23.57)
“I shall easily cross over the insurmountable ocean of nescience by rendering service to the lotus feet of Sri Krsna. This was approved by the great rsis of ancient times, who were fixed in firm devotion to Mukunda.”

prabhu kahe sadhu ei bhiksuka-vacana
mukunda sevanavrata kaila nirdharana
paratmanisthamatra vesa-dharana
mukunda-sevaya haya samsara-tarana
sei vesa kaila ebe vrndavana giya
krsna-nisevana kari’ nibhrte vasiya
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 3.7.9)
After accepting sannyasa, Mahaprabhu said, “This promise of the tridandi-bhiksu is supremely true because the vow to serve the lotus feet of Sri Krsna is fixed by accepting this vesa. Having renounced dedication to material sense objects, the purpose of accepting this vesa is paratma-nistha, single-pointed devotion to the lotus feet of Sri Krsna. I have accepted this vesa, so now I will go to Vrndavana and serve the lotus feet of Krsna.”

In the above verse, the phrase ‘paratmanisthamatra vesa-dharana’ is particularly worthy of consideration. It indicates that Mahaprabhu only accepted vesa from Sri Kesava Bharati because it was favourable for the cultivation of bhagavad-bhakti. He did not accept any mantra or any doctrines of advaita-vada. On the contrary, throughout His life He refuted kevaladvaita-vada and the conclusions of mayavada. It is clear that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted only Sri Isvara Puripada as his genuine guru, because it is Sri Isvara Puripada’s suddha-bhakti that He accepted, preached and propagated throughout His life. Sri Madhavendra Puripada and Sri Isvara Puripada are included within the Madhva Sampradaya, so Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and his followers, the Gaudiya Vaisnavas, are also included in the Madhva Sampradaya. Moreover, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s con-temporary pastime associates Sri Nityananda Prabhu, Sri Advaita Acarya, Sri Pundarika Vidyanidhi, Brahmananda Puri and others are also followers of the Sri Madhva Sampradaya because they are all in the line of Sri Madhavendra Puri.

Sriman Mahaprabhu always respected the disciples of Sri Madhavendra Puri as his gurus, and He treated the disciples of Sri Isvara Puri as Godbrothers. Guru ajna haya avicaraniya: “One should not deliberate on the validity of the order of the guru.” According to this conclusion, he accepted Govinda as his servant. It is proved by this that Isvara Puri was actually his Guru.

Another point is as follows. Sri Madhva Acarya accepted sannyasa from Acyutapreksa, who was also a kevaladvaita-vadi. Suppose we accept the opinion of the opposing party, just for the sake of argument. In that case, if Mahaprabhu is a kevaladvaita-vadi sannyasi, then by the same logic so is Madhva Acarya as well. Where, then, is the obstacle to Sriman Mahaprabhuji’s being in the Madhva Sampradaya, if both of them accepted the advaita-vadi Sankara’s sampradaya? There is a second point here. Sri Madhva Acarya accepted eka-danda (a single staff of renunciation) according to the customs and regulations of the Sankara sampradaya. It would be logically consistent to say that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu followed his ideal example, and also accepted eka-danda sannyasa from a sannyasi of the Sankara sampradaya, namely Sri Kesava Bharati. From this it seems clear that Gaudiya Vaisnavas are in the line of Sri Madhva Acarya.

Objection 2: “Gaudiya Vaisnava Acarya Sri Jiva Gosvami has not mentioned any sort of relationship between the Gaudiya Sampradaya and the Madhva Sampradaya any-where in his  literatures such as Tattva-sandarbha or Sarva-samvadini. This idea has been introduced by Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana, who was initiated into the Madhva Sampradaya in the early part of his life and only later entered the Gaudiya Sampradaya. For this reason he had a natural inclination toward the Madhva Sampradaya. Therefore Baladeva Vidyabhusana has forced the issue out of prejudice, and has mentioned the Sri Madhva Sampradaya in his commentary on Tattva-sandarbha. In his Prameya Ratnavali he delineated a guru-parampara which includes Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His sampradaya within the Sri Madhva Sampradaya.”

Refutation: These accusations are completely groundless and imaginative fabrications. Actually Jiva Gosvami acknowledged the tattva-vada of Sri Madhava Acarya, who is the guru of tattva-vada, and took support from it when he compiled his Tattva-sandharbha, Bhagavata-sandarbha and so on. Not only this, but he also cited in his literatures the fundamental pramana or substantiating verses of  tattva-vada such as, ‘vadanti tat tattva-vidas tattvam’ (S.B. 1.2.11)

Of the four vaisnava sampradaya-acaryas, only Madhva Acarya is celebrated by the name of tattva-vadi. Since Sri Jiva Gosvami has personally established tattva-vada, the Vaisnavas of the Madhva-Gaudiya Sampradaya are therefore tattva-vadis. In the third sloka of the mangalacarana (auspicious invocation) of Tattva-sandarbha, Sri Jiva Gosvami glorifies his guru Sri Rupa Gosvami and his paramguru Sri Sanatana Gosvami as ‘tattvajnapakau’ (the acaryas who proclaim tattva). Similarly, the crown of the dynasty of vaisnava acaryas, Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana Prabhu, has also designated Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatana as ‘tattvavid-uttamau’ (the highest of all knowers of tattva) in his commentary on this same sloka.

It is clear from this that Sri Jiva Gosvami has offered respect to Sri Madhva Acarya, and that Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana has followed Jiva Gosvami in honouring Madhva Acarya. Baladeva Vidyabhusana Prabhu, has not shown any prejudice towards Madhva Acarya. On the contrary, if we compare Jiva Gosvami with Baladeva Vidyabhusana, we find that Baladeva Vidyabhusana has glorified the two Gosvamis Sri Rupa and Sanatana more than Jiva Gosvami has.

There is no doubt whatever that Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana is situated in the amnaya-dhara (the transcendental current of conclusive evidence) or the paramapara of Sri Gaura-Nityananda Prabhus and of Srila Jiva Gosvamipada who immediately follows them. Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana is in the ninth generation from Sri Nityananda Prabhu according to bhagavat-parampara, and in the eighth generation according to pancaratrika-parampara. Historians have accepted his pancaratrika-parampara as follows: Sri Nityananda, Sri Gauridasa Pandita, Hrdaya Caitanya, Syamananda Prabhu, Rasikananda Prabhu, Nayanananda Prabhu and Sri Radha-Damodara. Sri Baladeva Prabhu is the initiated disciple of this Sri Radha-Damodara and is also the most prominent siksa disciple of Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti.

Historians have declared that in no branch of the Madhva guru-parampara were there any brilliant scholars of such widespread fame as Baladeva. In fact, at that time no one in any sampradaya anywhere in India could equal Sri Baladeva’s knowledge in logic, in Vedanta and in sastra such as the Puranas and itihasas. It is true that he stayed for some days in the most prominent matha established by Sri Madhva Acarya in Udupi, and that he studied the Sri Madhva commentary on Vedanta; however, the Sri Gaudiya Sampradaya was more of an influence upon him than was the Sri Madhva Sampradaya.

It is natural for scholarly personalities, who are worshipful throughout the worlds and who are the preceptors of great precepts, to follow in the lotus-footsteps of the vaisnava acaryas of the very influential Madhva-Gaudiya Sampradaya. Sri Baladeva thoroughly studied the commentary of Madhva,  and also made a meticulous study of the commentaries of Sankara, Ramanuja, Bhaskara Acarya, Nimbarka, Vallabha and others. It is illogical to say that he is included in each one of those sampradayas because he had studied those groups of philosophers.

Sri Baladeva Prabhu has described historical events and quoted the conclusions of the previous Gaudiya Vaisnava acaryas in many literatures, such as his Govinda-bhasya, Siddhanta-ratnam, Prameya-ratnavali and his commentary on Tattva-sandharba. He has enabled all the philosophers of the world to understand that the Sri Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya is included within the Madhva Sampradaya. In this regard all the scholars of the world, eastern and western, ancient and modern, have bowed their heads in reverence, and have unanimously accepted the siddhanta and opinions of Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana Prabhu.

Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana was sent by Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti to protect the honour of the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya in the Galata Gaddi in Jaipura. There he defeated the objecting panditas of the Sri sampradaya in scriptural debate. There are no second opinions about this.

Does this not show that Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura personally inspired his siksa disciple Baladeva Vidyabhusana to prove that the Gaudiya Vaisnavas are in the line of Madhva Acarya? Srila Cakravarti Thakura sent his diksa disciple Sri Krsnadeva Sarvabhauma with Sri Baladeva to help him. If Sri Cakravarti Thakura had not been so aged and weak at that time, he certainly would have gone to Jaipur in person to take part in this debate about the sampradaya. He would also have established the very same conclusion as Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana. There is no sound evidence to prove that Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana was first an acarya or disciple in the Madhva Sampradaya. There may be hearsay and imaginative rumours, but no one has given any substantial proof.

The opposition party has alleged that Srila Jiva Gosvami has not mentioned anywhere in his literature that Gaudiya Vaisnavas are in the line of the Madhva Sampradaya. This accusation is born of ignorance and is absurd in the extreme. In numerous places in Tattva-sandarbha, Srila Jiva Gosvami mentions his being in the line of Madhva. Moreover, while composing Sat-sandarbha, he accepted the guidance of acaryas in the Sri Madhva Sampradaya such as Vijayadhvaja, Sri Brahmanyatirtha and Vyasatirtha, and collected many scriptural proofs from their literatures. It is true that he has also quoted the statements of Sri Ramanuja Acarya and Sridhara Svamipada in many places, but he has not considered these acaryas to be previous acaryas of the Sri Gaudiya Sampradaya. Sri Jiva Gosvami has even accepted the statements of sages of different philosophical schools such as Kapila and Patanjali when they are favourable to bhakti. Nonetheless, that does not mean that he is within those sampradayas. One may establish a specific point of siddhanta which supports the views of an acarya of a particular sampradaya. That does not mean that one is then a member of that sampradaya. Only when the siddhanta is established by taking all the opinions of the acarya’s disciple and grand-disciple is the person establishing that conclusion considered to be in that sampradaya, otherwise not.

A part of the writings of Sila Jiva Gosvami in regard to this topic is quoted here:

atra ca sva-darsitartha-visesa-pramanyayaiva. na tu srimad-bhagavata-vakya-pramanyaya pramanani sruti-puranadi vacanam yatha drstam evodaharani yani. kvacit svayamadrstakarani ca tattva-vada-gurunamadhunikanam srimac chankaracarya sisyatam labhva’pi sri bhagavatapaksapatena tato vicchidya, pracura-pracarita vaisnavatama- visesanam daksinadi-desavikhyata-'sisyopasisya-bhuta'-’vijayadhvaja’-’jayatirtha’-’brahmanyatirtha’-vyasatirthadi-veda-vedartha vidvadvaranam ‘sri-madhvacarya-caranam’ bhagavata tatparya-bharata-tatparya, brahma-sutra-bhasyadibhyah sangrhitani. taiscairamuktam bharata tatparye (2.1.8)

sastrantarani sanjanan vedantasya prasadatah
dese dese tatha granthan drstva caiva prthag vidhan
yatha sa bhagavan vyasah saksan narayanah prabhuh
jagada bharatadyesu tatha vaksye tadiksaya iti
(Tattva-sandarbha 97-98)

tatra taduddhata srutis catur veda sikhadya, puranan ca garudadinam
samprati sarvatra-pracaradrupamamsadikam; samhita ca mahasam
hitadika; tantranca tantra bhagavatam brahma tarkadikamiti jneyam.

“I (Jiva Gosvami) have quoted various authentic scriptural statements as evidence in the Sat-sandharbha literature. This is to establish the authenticity of my own interpretation or opinion which I have expressed in this literature; it is not to try to prove that the statements or conclusions of Srimad-Bhagavatam are authentic. Srimad-Bhagavatam, like the Vedas, is self-evident (svatah-pramana) and therefore does not depend upon any second evidence. In this literature I have quoted various statements of evidence from the original texts of sruti-smrti, the Puranas and so on, exactly as I have personally seen them in those literatures. Besides that, my predecessor acaryas from among the guru-varga of tattva-vada have cited evidence which I, the author of Tattva-sandarbha (tattva-vadi), have also quoted although there are several of the original texts which I have not seen personally. These tattva-vadi predecessor gurus, such as Sri Madhavendra Puri, have accepted the sisyatva of Sri Sankara Acarya by accepting sannyasa from acaryas in the Sankara sampradaya. Nonetheless, because of their strong inclination to Bhagavan, they remained completely aloof from the doctrines of Sankara. They broadly promulgated vaisnava doctrines of acaryas which contain various specialities from the conclusions of the acaryas. The disciples and grand-disciples of the renowned Ananda-tirtha, Vijayadhvaja, Brahmanyatirtha and Vyasatirtha have collected evidence from literatures such as Bhagavata-tatparya, Bharata-tatparya and Brahma-sutra-bhasya composed by Sriman Madhva Acarya, the best of those who know the Vedas and their inner purport.

“In his Bharata-tatparya, Sriman Madhva Acarya has also written, ‘By the grace of Vedanta and the Upanisads, I will establish the siddhanta, since I know the confidential mystery of various other sastras, I have investigated varieties of literature from different countries and I have honour for the conclusions expressed in texts such as the Mahabharata written by the direct manifestation of Narayana, Sri Krsna-dvaipayana Vedavyasa.’

“I (Jiva Gosvami) am composing Tattva-sandarbha following the above statements of Sriman Madhva Acarya. I am accepting statements quoted by him and those in his line, without having personally seen the originals of many of the texts. This includes tantra such as samhita and mahasamhita, tantra-bhagavata and brahmatarka.”

This evidence clearly proves that Sri Jiva Gosvami has accepted only Sriman Madhva Acarya as the predecessor acarya of the Sri Gaudiya Sampradaya. Nowhere does Sri Jiva Gosvami such a clear statement in regard to Sri Ramanuja Acarya or Sridhara Svamipada. Specifically he has not accepted all the conclusions of the disciples and grand-disciples of any sampradaya acarya other than Madhva. Sri Ramanuja Acarya had many disciples and grand-disciples, and Sridhara Svami also had many disciples, but Jiva Gosvami has not written down their names anywhere. What to speak of mentioning Nimbarka Acarya’s name, we cannot find even a scent of his existence anywhere in Jiva Gosvami’s literature.

Objection 3: “Srila Jiva Gosvami has described the glories of Sriman Mahaprabhu in a verse in the mangalacarana of his Sarva-samvadini. Praying to Mahaprabhu, he has described Him as ‘sva-sampradaya-sahasradhidaiva' (the eternal presiding Deity of thousands upon thousands of sampradayas founded by Him). How, then, can He be included within any other sampradaya? He is personally the founder of the independent Gaudiya Sampradaya.”

Refutation: This objection is quite ridiculous. The complete verse from the mangalacarana of Sarva-samvadini reads as follows:

durlabha-prema-piyusaganga-pravaha-sahasram sva-sampradaya-sahasradhidaivam sri krsna caitanyadeva namanam sri bhagavantam
Sri Sundarananda Vidyavinoda and other antagonists have interpreted ‘sva-sampradaya-sahasradhidaivam’ in this verse to mean ‘the presiding Deity of thousands of sampradayas which Sriman Mahaprabhu has personally inaugurated.’ The salient point here is that Sriman Mahaprabhu has not founded thousands of sampradayas; He has established only one sampradaya, which is called the Sri Madhva-Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya. Therefore their interpretation is completely mistaken.

Sri Rasikamohana Vidyabhusana Mahodaya has inter-preted ‘svasampradaya-sahasradhidaiva’ in another way as ‘the supreme presiding Deity of his own sampradaya.’ This meaning is quite appropriate, and all Gaudiya Vaisnavas have accepted it. One may say, “Sriman Mahaprabhu is Svayam Bhagavan, and is directly Sri Krsnacandra. Is it necessary for Svayam Bhagavan Gauracandra to consider any other personality as His guru, and to accept diksa and siksa from him?” The answer is, “Yes, it is necessary, when Sri Bhagavan performs his nara-lila (human-like pastimes).” Sri Ramacandra has exhibited the pastime of accepting diksa and siksa from Vasistha Muni, Sri Krsna from Sandipani Muni, and Sriman Mahaprabhu from Isvara Puripada. These activities do not effect their bhagavatta (Godhood) even in the slightest way. Svayam Bhagavan performs such pastimes in order to give instructions to the world

There is no question of Sriman Mahaprabhu’s tattva being lost if He is included in any sampradaya. It is not the personal duty of Bhagavan to found a sampradaya; His devotees do that. History shows that in all cases only Visnu sakti or the servants of Visnu have ever founded a sampradaya. Granted, Sri Bhagavan is the original, eternal personality of sanatana-dharma which He Himself establishes, as is evident in scriptural statements such as 'dharman tu saksat bhagavat pranitam' (Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.3.19) and 'dharmo jagannathah saksat narayanah' (Mahabharata, Santi-parva 348.54). Still the statement 'akarta caiva karta ca karyam karanam eva ca' (Mahabharata, Santi-parva 348.7) shows that Bhagavan has no direct agency in the business of establishing a sampradaya. Rather, He accomplishes this task through his empowered representatives. If it were not so, then instead of the Brahma, Rudra, Sanaka and Sri Sampradayas, there would be the Vasudeva, Sankarsana and Narayana Sampradayas.    

Objection 4: “While touring in South India, Sriman Mahaprabhu went to Udupi. There he had a discussion with a tattva-vadi acarya, who was in Sri Madhva Acarya’s sampradaya. Mahaprabhu refuted the views of the tattva-vadis, so He can never be included in that sampradaya.” Refutation: Sriman Mahaprabhuji did not directly refute Madhva Acarya’s ideas about suddha-bhakti. Rather, He refuted the distorted opinions of the tattva-vadis which had entered into the Madhva Sampradaya in the course of time. Readers can understand this simply by looking in this section of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 9. 276.277)

prabhu kahe — karmi, jnani, dui bhaktihina
tomara sampradaye dekhi sei dui cihna
sabe eka guna dekhi tomara sampradaye
satya-vigraha isvare karaha niscaye
“Karmis and jnanis are devoid of devotion, and it is seen that both of these are respected in your sampradaya. Still, in your sampradaya there is one very great quality—the form of Bhagavan or sri vigraha has been accepted. Not only this, but sri vigraha has also been accepted as Vrajendra-nandana Sri Krsna Himself. He is worshipped in your sampradaya in the form of Nrtya-Gopala.”

This proves that Sriman Mahaprabhu refuted distortions which later entered the Madhva Sampradaya in the course of time. He did not refute Madhva Acarya’s opinions on suddha-bhakti or the fundamental conclusions that he expressed in his commentaries. On the contrary, we have already shown that literatures such as Tattva-sandarbha and Sarva-samvadini have been based on the conclusions of Sri Madhva and his disciples and grand-disciples. In this connection we should point out that a difference of sampradaya does not generally arise from some minor difference of opinion. Rather, the difference between sampradaya comes from the differences of theory about the principal object of worship.

Objection 5: “Madhva Acarya’s doctrine includes the following specific points: (a) liberation is only attained by brahmanas who have taken birth in a brahmana dynasty; (b) among devotees, the devas are prominent; (c) only Brahma merges with Visnu; (d) Laksmiji is in the category of jiva; and (e) the gopis are in the category of the apsaras of Svarga. However, in the opinion of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the Vaisnava acaryas in his line these conceptions of Madhva are contradictory to the conclusions of suddha-bhakti. Under such circumstances, why would Sri Caitanyadeva accept the Madhva Sampradaya? That being the case, how can the acaryas following in his Gaudiya Sampradaya be included within the Madhva Sampradaya?”  

Refutation: When Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana was in Galta Gaddi in Jaipur, he used sastric evidence and incontrovertible logic to break to pieces all these arguments of the opposition party. He quoted the conclusions of Madhva Acarya as well as those of his disciples and grand-disciples such as Vijayadhvaja, Brahmanyatirtha and Vyasatirtha. Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana has refuted all such accusations in his literary compositions such as his commentary on Tattva-sandarbha, his Govinda-bhasya, Siddhanta-ratnam and Prameya-ratnavali, and he has proved that the Sri Gaudiya Sampradaya is included within the Madhva Sampradaya.

In the Galta Gaddi assembly, Baladeva proved that Madhva considered Laksmiji to be the dear consort of Visnu. Madhva taught that her spiritual body is composed of knowledge and pleasure and, like Visnu, she is also completely free from defects, such as the misery of being confined in the womb prior to birth. She is all-pervading, and she also enjoys in unlimited forms along with the unlimited forms of Visnu. When the avatara of Visnu descends, Laksmiji also descends and remains splendidly present in the form of that avatara’s dear beloved consort.

Like Visnu, Laksmiji also has various names and forms (Brhad-aranyaka Bhasya 3.5, written by Sri Madhva).

Further-more, Laksmidevi is Visnu’s subservient embodiment of all knowledge. She is also superior to and more qualified than Caturmukha Brahma. She exists radiantly on the limbs of Bhagavan in the form of various types of ornaments, and it is she who manifests all facilities for the pleasure of Visnu, such as his bed, seat, throne, ornaments and so on. (This is from Sri Madhva Acarya’s explanation of Brahma-sutra 4.2.1, supported by Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.9.13) Nowhere has Sri Madhva described Sri Laksmiji to be in the category of jiva.

Similarly, the ideas that only brahmanas attain liberation, that the devas are the prominent devotees, that only Brahma merges with Visnu and so on, are all foreign to the Madhva Sampradaya. On this subject Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has explained in his The Teachings of Sriman Mahaprabhu why Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has accepted the Madhva Sampradaya.

“Sri Jiva Gosvami, having determined the authenticity of one whose speech is true, has also ascertained the authenticity of the Puranas. Ultimately he has proved that Srimad-Bhagavatam is the crest jewel of all evidence. He has shown that the same characteristic qualities which qualify Srimad-Bhagavatam as the topmost evidence also apply to the scriptures certified by Brahma, Narada, Vyasa, Sukadeva and after them in sequence Vijayadhvaja, Brahmanyatirtha, Vyasatirtha, and their tattva-guru Sriman Madhva Acarya. These scriptures, then, are also in the category of authentic literatures.

“It is clearly evident from this that the Brahma-Madhva Sampradaya is the guru-pranali (system) of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas who have taken shelter of Sriman Mahaprabhu. Kavikarnapura confirmed this same idea in his delineation of the guru-parampara in his Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika. The commentator of Vedanta-sutra Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana has also accepted this same succession. There is no doubt at all that those who do not accept this succession are prominent enemies of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas who are following in His footsteps.

“The doctrine of bhedabheda or dvaitadvaita which Nimbarka propounded is incomplete. It is in accepting the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu that the vaisnava world has attained the complete perfection of the doctrine of bhedabheda. The principal foundation-stone of acintya-bhedabheda is sac-cid-ananda vigraha, and it is because Sri Madhva Acarya has accepted the sac-cid-ananda vigraha that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has accepted the Sri Madhva S ampradaya. “There is a technical difference between the philosophical ideas which the previous Vaisnava acaryas have propagated because there some slight incompleteness in those philosophical ideas. The difference in sampradaya is due to this technical difference. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is directly para-tattva, has shown compassion on the world and given His own thoroughly pure and realised doctrine of acintya-bhedabheda. By the power of His omniscience, He has completed and made flawless all those opinions which were suffering from some deficiency, for example, Madhva’s sac-cid-ananda nitya-vigraha, Ramanuja Acarya’s sakti-siddhanta, Visnu-svami’s suddhadvaita siddhanta and tadiya sarvasvatva and Nimbarka’s nitya dvaitadvaita siddhanta.” (The Teachings of Sriman Mahaprabhu, p. 110).

Another reason for Sriman Mahaprabhu’s acceptance of Madhva’s opinion is that Madhva’s doctrine distinctly refutes mayavada or kevaladvaita-vada, which is opposed to bhakti-tattva in all respects. A third point is that Sri Madhva Acarya manifested and worshipped Nanda-nandana Nartaka-Gopala in Udupi. When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had darsana of the Deity, He became overwhelmed in ecstatic love and began to dance. He had not seen such a Deity anywhere else during his tour of South India. This is also powerful evidence for His being in Madhva’s line.

In his Sri Krsna Vijaya, Sri Gunaraja Khan wrote the line, Nanda-nandana krsna—mora prananatha: “Nanda-nandana Krsna is the Lord of my life” (quoted in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 15.100), and for this utterance Sri Caitanya Maha-prabhu sold Himself forever into the hands of Sri Gunaraja Khan’s descendants. Why, then, would He not sell Himself to the parampara of those disciples and grand-disciples for whom Nanda-nandana Nartaka-Gopala is their most worshipful Lord? This is also specific evidence that the Gaudiya Sampradaya is in the line of Madhva.

Although there is some slight difference of opinion between Gaudiya Vaisnavas and Sri Madhva in regard to Brahman, jiva and jagat, this simple difference of opinion is not the cause of a difference of sampradaya. The difference between Vaisnava  sampradayas has been created on the basis of a difference in upasya-tattva (the object of worship) or on the basis of gradations of excellence between aspects of para-tattva. Even if there is some slight difference in regard to sadhya, sadhana and sadhaka-tattva, this is rarely considered to be the cause of a difference of sampradaya. Actually, it is the difference in realisation of para-tattva or upasya-tattva (the worshipful Supreme Truth) which is the main cause of distinct sampradayas. This was why  Sriman Mahaprabhu overlooked the philosophical differences with the tattva-vadis and, focusing on the worship of para-tattva Nartaka-Gopala, accepted Sri Madhva Acarya as the prominent  sampradaya acarya.      

Objection 6: Some persons who are ignorant of sampradaya-tattva say, “Sri Madhavendra Puri and Isvara Puri cannot be sannyasis of the Madhva Sampradaya because they have the designation ‘Puri’, whereas sannyasis in the Madhva Sampradaya are called ‘Tirtha.’ If Sri Madhavendra Puri is not included within the Madhva Sampradaya, then there are no grounds for claiming that Sriman Mahaprabhu has accepted the Madhva Sampradaya.”

Refutation: Sri Madhavendra Puripada’s title ‘Puri’ is his sannyasa name. Actually, he was the initiated disciple of Laksmipati Tirtha, who was in the Sri Madhva Sampradaya. Sri Madhavendra Puripada later accepted sannyasa from a sannyasi bearing the name ‘Puri,’ just as Sriman Mahaprabhu first accepted diksa from Sri Isvara Puri and later manifested the pastime of accepting sannyasa fron Sri Kesava Bharati. There is no rule that the diksa-guru and sannyasa-guru have to be the same person. In some cases they may be, and in others not. Sri Madhva Acarya himself was first initiated in a Vaisnava sampradaya by the Visnu mantra and after that accepted sannyasa-vesa from an advaita-vadi, Acyutapreksa. After some days, Sri Madhva Acarya influenced Acyutapreksa and brought him into the Vaisnava conception. Even after taking sannyasa from an advaita-vadi, Sri Madhva Acarya did not accept advaita-vada. On the contrary, he powerfully refuted all the ideas of advaita-vada and, having established tattva-vada, he preached and spread it everywhere. The same is also seen in the life of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

It is true that sannyasis in the Madhva Sampradya are called ‘Tirtha’, but ‘Tirtha’ is not the title of grhastha-vaisnavas or brahmacaris in that sampradaya. Since Sri Madhavendra Puri did not have the title ‘Tirtha’ before taking sannyasa, when he accepted vesa from a sannyasi in the advaita-sampradaya, his title had to be ‘Puri.’ This is not illogical.

Objection 7: Some say, “The sadhya (goal) and sadhana (practice) of the Sri Madhva Sampradaya differ from that of the Sri Gaudiya Sampradaya. Therefore the Sri Gaudiya Sampradaya cannot be considered to be within the Sri Madhva Sampradaya.”

Refutation: This objection is thoroughly false, and rooted in ignorance. Madhva’s doctrine acknowledges bhagavat-bhakti as the sadhana in all respects. As with Sri Gaudiya Vaisnavas, the initial sadhana prescribed for kanistha-adhikari sadhakas (neophyte practitioners) is offering the results of ones’ fruitive activities to Krsna (krsna-karmarpanam). However, bhagavat-parama-prasada sadhana (i.e suddha-bhakti) has been established as the principal practice.

Sri Madhva Acarya has established bhakti as we see from his Sutra-bhasya (3.3.53): bhaktir evainam nayati bhaktir evainam darsayati bhaktivasah puruso bhaktir eva bhuyasi iti matharasrutah. In sutra 3.3.45 he writes, varahe ca  guru-prasado balavanna tasmad valavattaram/ tathapi sravanadis ca karttavayo moksa-siddhaye: “The mercy of Sri Gurudeva is more powerful than anything else for attaining the perfection of liberation in the form of service to Visnu’s lotus feet. Yet it is still more necessary in engagement in the limbs of sadhana-bhakti such as sravana and kirtana.” In his text Mahabharata-tatparya-nirnaya (Defining the Purport of Mahabharata) the position of bhakti is seen throughout: sneho bhaktir iti proktastaya muktir na canyatha (1.105) and bhaktyaiva tusyati harih pravanatvam eva (2.59). We have not given more evidence simply because of lack of space.

In the Madhva Sampradaya, love of Bhagavan is the only sadhya. Although Sriman Madhva Acarya has accepted moksa as the goal in some places, his definition of moksa is, visnav-anghri labhah mukti: “Liberation is the attainment of service to the lotus feet of Visnu.” Thus, the Sri Madhva Sampradaya accepts the definition of mukti spoken by Srimad-Bhagavatam, muktir hitvanyatha rupam svarupena vyavasthitih: “The jiva carries the conception of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ arising from the gross and subtle designations which are accomplished by the action of maya. Mukti means to be released from this false identity and to be established in rendering loving service to Bhagavan in one’s pure constitutional form.” Madhva Acarya’s mukti is not the sayujya (merging with Brahman) spoken of by Sankara. Rather, it is based on love of Bhagavan. Nowhere has he accepted sayujya in the form of the oneness of Brahman and jiva. On the contrary, he has refuted it in every way. Madhva is well known as a bheda-vadi because he accepts the jiva and Brahman as being different both in the stage of bondage and of liberation—abhedah sarva-rupesu jivabhedah sadaiva hi.

Although Sriman Madhva emphasises bheda (difference), he does not at all disregard srutis which indicate abheda (non-difference); instead he has accepted their compatibility. In other words, we find a hint of the acceptance of acintya-bhedabheda, as Srila Jiva Goswami has suggested in his Sandharbha literature. According to Vedanta-sutra, sakti saktimator abhedah: “The potency and the potent are not different.” An indication of acintya-bhedabheda is found in a statement of Brahma-tarka which Sri Madhva supported.

visesasya visistasyapy abhedas tadvad eva tu
sarvam ca cintya-saktitvad yujyate paramesvare
tac chaktyaiva tu jivesu cid-rupa-prakrtavapi
bhedabhedau tad-anyatra hy ubhayor api darsanat
Thus there is no particular difference between Madhva Acarya and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu regarding sadhya and sadhana. Whatever slight difference is evident is only mutual vaisistya (specific distinction).

There is a very specific similarity between the Madhva and Gaudiya Sampradayas. The sannyasis presiding over the eight mathas of the tattva-vadis in Udupi perform bhajana in the mood of the gopis under the guidance of Sri Krsna’s eight beloved nayikas (heroines) in Vraja. On this subject, Sri Padmanabhacari, the author of Sri Madhva Acarya’s biography, has written, “The monks who take charge of Sri Krsna in rotation are so many gopis of Vrndavana who moved with and loved Sri Krsna with an indescribable intensity of feeling, and are taking rebirths now for the privilege of worshipping Him” (Life and Teachings of Sri Madhva Acarya by C.M. Padmanabhacari, Chapter XII, page 145).

Even today, the service of Yasodanandana Nrtya-Gopala is seen in the prominent matha in Udupi. Srila Madhva Acarya has praised his istadeva Nartaka Gopala Sri Krsna in this way in the fifth verse, chapter six of his Dvadasa stotram.

devakinandana nanda-kumara vrndavananjana gokulacandra kandaphalasana sundara-rupa nanditagokula vanditapada
Similarly, in the Sri Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya, service to Sri Krsna under the guidance of the gopis has been ascertained as the sadhya in the writings of Srila Rupa, Sanatana, Raghunatha, Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami and others.

In this way, by evaluating the opinions of the Gaudiya Vaisnava acaryas from first to last, one can conclude that the Sri Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya is included within the Sri Madhva Sampradaya and that this is consistent with reason in all respects.

Objection 8: “The Madhva Sampradaya is bheda-vadi, whereas the Gaudiya Sampradaya is acintya-bhedabheda-vadi. Therefore there is a vast difference of opinion between them.”

Refutation: We have said previously that, although the Madhva Sampradaya accepts five kinds of bheda between Brahman, jiva and jagat, still there is a hint of acintya-bhedabheda-vada in their teachings. The Vedic scriptures give evidence both for bheda and abheda in relation to Brahman, jiva and jagat. However, although there is both bheda and abheda, we only have experience of bheda, not of abheda. In the field of bhakti, the difference (bheda) between upasya (the object of worship) and upasaka (the worshipper) is the back-bone of worship, and this bheda is proved both in the stage of sadhana and siddha. Otherwise, if there were no difference between the worshipper and the object of worship, then worship would not be possible.

Thus, although there may be some mutual difference between the Sri Gaudiya and Madhva Sampradayas, this cannot be the cause of a difference in sampradaya. The object of worship is Bhagavan, the method of worship is bhakti and the objective is moksa in the form of bhagavat-seva. Vaisnavas of the four Vaisnava sampradayas hold slightly different opinions in regard to these tattvas, but we cannot say that they are fundamentally different. They are all adherents to the same religious principles.

The difference between Vaisnava sampradayas has been created only on the basis of difference in upasya-tattva (worshipful Deity) or a difference of excellence in regard to para-tattva. Though there may even exist a difference in sadhya, sadhana and sadhaka-tattva, this is rarely considered the cause of a difference between sampradayas. Actually the difference in realisation of para-tattva and upasya-tattva is the principal cause of differences between sampradayas. The upasya-tattva has been considered superior in proportion to the degree of excellence exhibited.

Sri Murari Gupta is one of Mahaprabhu’s internal associates and he is described in the Gaudiya Sampradaya as an avatara of Hanuman. Although Sriman Mahaprabhu informed him that Vrajendra-nandana Sri Krsna has more madhurya (sweetness) than Bhagavan Sri Ramacandra, Murari Gupta was not attracted to Krsna bhajana. His worshipful Deity was Rama, and he went on worshipping Sri Rama until the very end. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was very pleased to see his dedication to his worshipful Lord. Srivasa Pandita is also one of the principal associates of Mahaprabhu. His worshipful Deity is Sri Laksmi-Narayana, and Sri Karnapura has considered him to be an avatara of Sri Narada. It is well known that he personally preferred the worship of Laksmi-Narayana to Sriman Mahaprabhu’s unnata-ujjvala rasa.

Some ignorant and misguided persons say that there is a difference of opinion between Sri Rupa Gosvami and Jiva Gosvami because Sri Jiva Gosvami has rejected Sri Rupa Gosvami’s explanation of the parakiya-rasa of the Vraja gopis, and has instead supported svakiya-rasa. Actually this accusation is completely unfounded and incorrect. The truth is that Sri Jiva Gosvami supported svakiya-vada for the benefit of some of his followers who had taste for svakiya-rasa. His internal consideration was that unqualified persons entering into the transcendentally wonderful parakiya vraja-rasa should not fall into any adulterous behaviour. It is offensive to consider him an opponent of the transcendental vraja-rasa, and he is not considered to be outside the Gaudiya Sampradaya on account of this simple divergence of views.

We also see differences of opinion among the acaryas of the mayavadi or kevaladvaita-vadi sampradaya; the mayavadis themselves accept this point. However, they are all within the advaita-vadi Sankara Sampradaya. Some believe in vivarta-vada, some believe in bimba-pratibimba-vada, some have accepted avicchinna-vada, some admit abhasa-vada, and they have refuted each others’ opinions. Even so, they are included within the same sampradaya. Similarly, although there are some slight mutual differences of opinion between the Sri Madhva and the Sri Gaudiya Sampradaya, it is thoroughly appropriate to accept that the Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya follows Madhva Acarya.

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