Opinions are like… well, noses – everyone has one. But the secret is that some opinions are more valued than others. In this regard, at present, numerous opinions abound about there being or not being an advent of Kalki-avatara at the end of Kali-yuga.
Although Srimad Bhagavatam has mentioned the appearance of Kalki-avatara at the end of this Kali-yuga, some preachers are of the opinion that due to ‘the dawn of the age of love’ there will be no appearance of Kalki-avatara at the end of this Kali-yuga.
Is this a new idea that some preachers have advocated based on their realizations, or has this idea been around for sometime and if so, where did it come from?
Firstly, we can say with absolute certainty that the idea of ‘no Kalki-avatara’ at the end of Kali-yuga did not come from Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Sarasvati Thakura, Srila B.R.Sridhara Maharaja, Srila B.P. Puri Maharaja, Srila B.P.Kesava Maharaja, Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada or any previous acarya in the Caitanya Sarasvata parampara. So where did the ‘no Kalki-avatara’ idea come from and how has it worked its way into the contemporary parampara of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura and his followers?
The answer to our question is found in an open secret, or should we say book ‘The Dawn of the Age of Love’ written by Kanupriya Gosvami, first published in Bengali in 1929 in the Sonar Gauranga monthly magazine. There
Kanupriya has written:
In this Kali-yuga the Lord has no pastimes of taking up weapons. At the climatic point of an ordinary Kali-yuga, when the whole world is filled with sins and offences, then the Lord appears to destroy the mlecchas in His Kalki incarnation. Because the Supreme Lord has Himself taken the responsibility for spreading the yuga-dharma, there is no need for a separate partial or empowered incarnation for any reason.
The above quote is the first reference in any book that we could find that alludes to the concept of ‘no Kalki-avatara’ at the end of Kali-yuga. Since the Gosvami makes no reference for his statement, we are thereby left to conclude that this was his own opinion.
All seems well enough if you have no other point of reference to Kanupriya Gosvami — in which case one may easily accept the ‘no Kalki-avatara’ idea. But upon discovering the background/history of Kanupriya Gosvami, one easily rejects his statement as mere speculation.
Kanupriya Gosvami was a well-known Bengali pundit in the early 20th century, who resided in Bhajanghata in Prachin Mayapura, Navadvipa and who published several books on Caitanya Vaisnavism (Jivera Svarupa O Svadharma, Sri Nama-cintamani, Bhakti-rahasya Kanika, Mahat-sanga Prasanga, Sri Bhagavatamrta Kana and The Dawn of the Age of Love). He was a brahmacari/acarya and by birth his parampara belonged to that of the Kanu Thakura branch of the Nityananda Vamsa.
From the 1920s until his death Kanupriya Gosvami was an outspoken opponent of the Gaudiya Matha.
In the Nadiya Prakasa and Gaudiya publications of that same era numerous articles were written by Bhaktisiddhanta and his followers to defeat Kanupriya’s accusations against Gaudiya Matha and to proclaim to the Vaisnava world that Kanupriya Gosvami’s conceptions were tinged with Sahajiyaism and mental speculation. The mental speculation, amongst other things, was that there will be no Kalki-avatara at the end of Kali-yuga.
It should be obvious to any discerning devotee that when Bhagavatam is being contradicted and no reference to a previous acarya is given, such writings, ideas and conceptions are fit to be rejected. But in Kali-yuga, the general class of devotees often don’t easily take notice of the obvious.
One important acarya to reference in this regard would be Srila Rupa Gosvami, the head of our sampradaya, who was hand picked for that position by Sri Caitanya. In light of these credentials, Rupa Gosvami certainly knows a thing or two about the avatars. Regarding the Kalki-avatara, Rupa Gosvami has written in Laghu-bhagavatamrtam as follows:
avesatvam kalkino'pi visnu-dharme vilokyate:
pratyaska-rupa dhrg devo drsyate na kalai harih
krtadisva iva tenaiva tri-yugah paripasthyate
kaler ante ca samprapte kalkinam brahma-vadinam
anupravisya kurute vasudevo jagat-sthitim
purvotpannesu bhutesu tesu tesu kalau prabhuh
krtva pravesam kurute yad abhipretam atmanah
In the Visnu-dharma Purana it is seen that Kalki is an avesa-avatara: In Kali-yuga Lord Hari is not seen in a directly visible incarnation as He is seen in the Satya and other yugas. Therefore it is stated that He appears in three yugas (triyuga). At the end of Kali-yuga, Lord Vasudeva enters the learned scholar Kalki and corrects the situation in the material world. Then entering many saintly persons who had taken birth before, the Lord fulfills His plan in Kali-yuga. (Laghu-bhagavatamrta 4.41-43)
How does an idea that contradicts the Bhagavatam and the sampradaya-acarya, that has no bona-fide reference anywhere and is propagated by a known Sahajiya and opponent of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura gain entrance into our sampradaya?
How did this bogus idea of ‘no Kalki-avatara’ get new life and make its way into the field of contemporary Vaisnavism among the grand disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta? In short — deviation and a lack of attention to details.
The trail leads back to two infamous Gaudiya Matha personalities, Ananta Vasudeva and Sundarananda Vidyavinoda. Both these personalities were defectors from Gaudiya Matha in 1947 (approximately ten years after the departure of Sarasvati Thakura). After leaving Gaudiya Matha, Ananta Vasudeva went to Vrndavana where he sought out siddha-pranali diksa and Sundarananda Vidyavinoda returned to his family guru in Navadvipa.
Kanupriya Gosvami was formerly the family guru of Sundarananda Vidyavinoda with whom he reconnected. Sundarananda also introduced Fakir Mohan, a third Gaudiya Matha defector, to Kanupriya Gosvami from whom Fakir Mohan took diksa. Fakir Mohan had been a disciple of Ananta Vasudeva as well as a junior editor for Ananta Vasudeva under Sundarananda.
Bhaktivedanta Swami Parbhupada has written the following condemnation of the infamous Vasudeva:
One of your closest disciples, the jackal Vasudeva [srgala-vasudeva], has rejected your instructions [tomara upadesa tyaji]. His regrettable preference for infectious poison has resulted in an epidemic of worshipping and serving sahajiyas [sahajiya-seva]. Where are your instructions still being followed? As it is said: 'punar musika bhava' – everyone has ‘again become a mouse’ [‘punara-musika’ sab haila apani]. Today the lion's food has been stolen by the jackal and everyone is reduced to tears as they are caught in Maya's clutches. (Viraha-astakam, ch 5)
That Kanupriya Gosvami may be at the root of numerous Sahajiya concepts that have crept there way into contemporary Vaisnavism is confirmed from the following statement of an ISKCON acarya in 1994.
Yes. Kanupriya Gosvami has said that after 500 years of Mahaprabhu’s appearance we observed a festival, the 500th year, the fifth centennial of Mahaprabhu’s appearance. He has said it will spread more, particularly in the west. That has happened now. In Russia, you find it is banned, but there are so many Russians and they are coming to India in great numbers. That is the symptom. In the west it spreads more than in India. That is because they cannot get peace, going from the top of material enjoyment, you see, the highest level, no peace. So now it is catching up. It is spreading there. In India it is not spreading so much. India is like the wet well [the grass is very green around it] and the west is like a dry well [the grass is very dry around it]. The west is like a dry well; the fire catches easily; but India is a wet well. Kanupriya Gosvami said this. It is because in India there are so many organizations and they all say, "O, I know", "We know, we know". So it is not spreading so much. But in the west it is spreading. After the 500th anniversary of Mahaprabhu it will spread. He has said that, and it is taking place. He said that from 1986, (Mahaprabhu’s 500th anniversary, 1486 to 1986, 500 years) Mahaprabhu’s movement will spread. Devotees will come up, then Kali will become weaker, so Kali became weaker from that day in 1986. Then he said, "Still Kali will stay in the movement; he has some strength and it will last for 10 years." That will be from 1986 to 1996. For ten years it will remain but it will become weaker and weaker. But in 1996, no more! Prema, prema – love will come. "The Prema-yuga will come", he said. Kanupriya Gosvami also said this. He was from Navadvipa and he comes in the line of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Then there is Fakir Mohan Das, a local research scholar, he is a Vaisnava. He is a professor at Utkal University. He has a Ph.D in Sanskrit and is presenting a thesis on Mahaprabhu. In this thesis he has written all that Kanupriya Gosvami has predicted. So aparadhas, nama-aparadhas are still there now, but after 1996 there will be no nama-aparadha. Then the prema-yuga will come. Kanupriya Gosvami has predicted this. (Recorded in Bhubaneshwar, India 1994)
It seems that the above prediction, despite its boasting of Kanuriya Gosvami and Fakir Mohan as reputable Vaisnavas, has failed to come true. There is still plenty of nama-aparadha to be found and misconceptions have now become mainstream conceptions among many western Vaisnavas and particularly in ISKCON.
Another ISKCON member further confirms the influence of Kanupriya Gosvami upon ISKCON with the following statement.
From what I have heard from tapes and from the mouths of Fakir Mohan Prabhu and our Guru Maharaja, they did not meet so many times. Prabhu [Fakir Mohan] would sometimes bring books of his diksa-guru's writings (Srila Kanupriya Gosvami) for our Guru Maharaja. Maharaja was very appreciative and they spoke a number of times about the prema-yuga and about the esoteric significance of Jagannath Puri Dham. Our Guru Maharaja requested him to be in charge of a vaishnava college that he wanted to start in Orissa. [Bhubaneshwar, India 2005]
[*Note: Fakir Mohan continues to the present day to act in the capacity of giving siksa to the residents of ISKCON, Bhubaneshwar]
But the ISKCON section of Vaisnavas are not alone, as certain Indian born, second generation disciples of Bhaktisiddhanta [posing as Gaudiya Matha] are also championing the misconceptions of Kanupriya Gosvami by preaching that there will be no Kalki-avatara in this Kali-yuga. One such acarya is quoted as saying:
Srila Maharaja mentioned a few times that in this age of kali, Kalki-avatara doesn’t come… Not in this Kali-yuga. He won’t come. But if he comes; no harm. He will be raising his arms and chanting, “Haribol, Haribol” in Mahaprabhu’s sankirtana movement.
The argument is that Kalki-avatara is a lila-avatara and that there are no lila-avataras in Kali-yuga. To support this premise Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s purport to Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 6.99 is quoted. There Kalki-avatara is mentioned as the last of the twenty-five lila-avataras. The rationale has become — Kalki-avatara equals lila-avatara, equals no Kalki-avatara in this Kali-yuga! However, this simple reading of the purport and convenient conclusion is certainly something that only a thirty-two ounce brain (or less) could come up with.
What is missed in the reading is that Buddha, who also appeared in Kali-yuga is mentioned as a lila-avatara (as were Parasurama, Narada, Prthu, the Four Kumaras and Vyasa in other yugas) yet the deeper study of Bhagavatam and Vaisnava literature in general confirms that Buddha as well as Kalki-avatara and the others mentioned here are actually avesa-avatars. In this regard we have already quoted Rupa Gosvami above.
Our conclusion is supported by previous acaryas, such as Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and our siksa-guru Srila B.R. Sridhara Deva Gosvami, that Kalki-avatara will appear at the end of this Kali-yuga — if one doesn’t want to be here when that happens then one should give up all connection with Kanupriya Gosvami and those influenced by his misconceptions.