(Introduction of the book "The Authorized Sri Caitanya Saraswata Parampara")
The words 'Sri Caitanya Saraswata Parampara' indicate the disciplic succession (parampara) which was handed down from the time of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to that of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura. This parampara is a disciplic succession of divine knowledge (divya jnanam) also known as the 'Brahma-Madhva Gaudiya sampradaya' or the 'Bhagavata-parampara'.
'Brahma-Madhva' indicates the preceptors from Lord Brahma to Madhvacarya who carried the parampara in ancient times. The use of the term 'Bhagavata-parampara' indicates the preceptorial line of the principles contained in Srimad-Bhagavatam. The Bhagavata-parampara itself began at the outset of this universe wherein Sri Krsna spoke the Srimad-Bhagavatam in four nutshell verses to Lord Brahma. Lord Brahma then spoke those four essential verses of Srimad-Bhagavatam to his disciple Narada who in turn taught those verses to Vedavyasa who in turn, upon his mature realization, compiled the Srimad-Bhagavatam (in twelve cantos) as we know it today. Vyasa's disciple was Sri Madhvacarya. From Madhvacarya the disciplic succession came to Sri Madhavendra Puri the fifteenth preceptor in the line. Madhavendra Puri's disciple was Sri Isvara Puri who became glorious as the spiritual master of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
It is indeed the Srimad-Bhagavatam and its principles therein which figure most prominently in the Bhagavata-parampara. The Vedas have been compared to a kalpa-taru (desire tree) and the mature fruit of that tree is Srimad-Bhagavatam.
nigama-kalpa-taror galitam phalam
pibata bhagavatam rasam alayam
muhur aho rasika bhuvi bhavuka
O expert and thoughtful men, relish Srimad-Bhagavatam, the mature fruit of the desire tree of Vedic literatures. It emanated from the lips of Sri Sukadeva Goswami. Therefore this fruit has become even more tasteful, although its nectarean juice was already relishable for all, including liberated souls. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.1.3)
The Srimad-Bhagavatam contains ten divisions of principles regarding the Absolute Truth.
atra sargo visargas ca sthanam posanam utaya
manvantaresanukatha nirodha muktir asraya
In Srimad-Bhagavatam there are ten divisions of statements regarding the following: the creation of the universe, subcreation, planetary systems, protection by the Lord, the creative impetus, the change of Manus, the science of God, returning back to Godhead, liberation, and the summum bonum (asraya).
The summum bonum of Srimad-Bhagavatam is found in the tenth canto wherein the transcendental pastimes of Sri Krsna with the Vraja gopis are described. This section is the foremost asraya-tattva of the Bhagavatam.
Prior to the advent of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu all ten principles of the Srimad-Bhagavatam were explained by previous acaryas like Madhvacarya. The conception of these acaryas however was that Narayana is the asraya-tattva. The revelation that Sri Krsna is the asraya-tattva had remained undisclosed to any acarya since the advent of the Srimad-Bhagavatam--waiting for the reappearance of Krsna in the form of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to become fully manifest. Indeed it was this conclusive truth that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu came to distribute that which had never been distributed before.
anarpita-carim cirat karunayavatirna kalau
samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasam sva-bhakti-sriyam
sada hrdaya-kandare sphuratu va saci-nandana
May that Lord, who is known as the son of Srimati Sacidevi, be transcendentually situated in the innermost core of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of molten gold, He has descended in the age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow what no incarnation has ever offered before-the most elevated mellow of devotional service, the mellow of conjugal love." (C.c. Adi-lila 1.1.4)
namo maha-vadanyaya krsna-prema-pradaya te
krsnaya-krsna-caitanya namne gaura-tvise nama
I offer my respectful obeisances unto Sri Gaurangadeva, whose divine complexion is a radiant golden hue and who possesses the qualities of the most benevolent incarnation because He distributes what no incarnation ever distributed before, pure love for Krsna (krsna-prema). He is none other than Vrajendra-nandana Krsna known in Kali-yuga as Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu."
One might argue that pure love for Krsna being the purport of Srimad-Bhagavatam was surely realized to some extent by previous acaryas but that such love reaches its highest and fullest expression in the personality of Srimati Radharani is clearly only revealed through the parampara after the appearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. It was Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His followers such as Sri Rupa and Raghunatha dasa Goswamis who announced that Srimati Radharani is the supreme shelter (asrayah) of all living entities. This is the 'asrayah' of which the Srimad-Bhagavatam ultimately speaks. This conception of Srimati Radharani as the supreme asraya-tattva was unknown to any Vaisnava parampara prior to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's appearance and such a conception is still only accessable through His bona fide succession.
Based on the instruction of Srimad-Bhagavatam Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu introduced the sankirtana movement (the chanting of the holy names of God) as the prime benediction for humanity at large-for by such chanting the living entities can be delivered from the darkness of material ignorance.
tam namami harim param
Krsna's holy name can relieve us from all undesirable sinfulness, all filthy characteristics, and all miseries. Let us all bow down to him." (Bhag. 12.13.23)
Similary, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught the esoteric principles of the Srimad-Bhagavatam (asraya-tattva) to His most confidential devotees, thus enabling them to enter into the transcendental pastimes of the Supreme Lord in spontenous love of God.
From Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu the parampara came through Swarupa Damodara Goswami, Rupa Goswami, Sanatana Goswami, Raghunatha dasa Goswami, Jiva Goswami, and Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami to Narottama dasa Thakura, to Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, to Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja, to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji Maharaja, to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura.
However, after the disappearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu from the eyes of this mortal world many deviant paramparas (sahajiyas) immediately began to manifest. In numerous ways the sahajiyas attempted to monopolize the treasure chest of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's gift of divine love, thus causing a great confusion in the minds of innocent people. By the end of the 19th century the line of divinity established by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had almost disappeared from sight. The situation was dismal--rascals and cheaters had destroyed the pure principles of the Bhagavata-parampara and in turn they propagated the lowest standard of sinful behavior in the name of pure spontaneous love, raganuga-bhakti.
For a long time the sahajiyas had continuously misrepresented the principles of pure devotional service under the false practices of raganuga-bhakti and that for which the Srimad-Bhagavatam stood became tarnished and eventually covered. These sahajiya communities are described by Bhaktivinoda Thakura as the Aula, Baula, Kartabhaja, Neda, Daravesa, Sani-sahajiya, Sakhibheki, Smarta, Jata-gosani, Ativadi, Cudadhari and Gauranga-nagari. They had became so degraded that the very word 'Vaisnava' was spoiled in Bengal. Without going into detail it will suffice at this point to say that under the patronage of the above mentioned sahajiya communities 'Vaisnavaism' had become known as a religion or occupation of women hunters, drunkards and beggars. Seeing this situation was intolerable for the pure hearted devotees of the Supreme Lord.
At that time the Supreme Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu sent two of His most confidential servants to take birth in this world. These two confidential servants were Swarupa Damodara and Gadadhara Pandita who appeared as Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji and Bhaktivinoda Thakura respectively. These two great personalities became the shelter of all sincere followers of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu during their time. (See chapter seventeen of The Authorized Sri Caitanya Saraswata Parampara for a detailed explanation).
The intimate disciple of both Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji Maharaja was Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura. Saraswati Thakura appeared in this world as the fourth son of Bhaktivinoda and from his childhood to his old age he dedicated his entire life to removing the clouds of misconception that covered the pure religion of the followers of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Once our spiritual master, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, was asked by a young devotee to say something about Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura. In reply he said, "What can I say to you--he was a Vaikuntha man." Here the meaning of 'Vaikuntha' must be taken in its most fundamental sense, as indicating beyond material conception. Indeed, in a word, this is a most fitting description of Srila Saraswati Thakura, beyond material conception-beyond the reaches of our material calculations. He was cent per cent a man of the upper world whose eternal associates are none other than the Supreme Lords own dearmost servants. Saraswati Thakura descended to this world from the inner circle of the Lord's domain and his philosophical conceptions (siddhanta) were wholly that of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu-one could not trace mundanity in him at any time in his career. Saraswati Thakura appeared in this world on the prayer of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura with a mission to remove the misconceptions that covered the living entities pure consciousness and to illuminate the path of pure devotional service.
vilastu hrdi nityam bhaktisiddhanta-vani
With his first step, he cut to pieces the whole plane of exploitation, and with his second, he crushed the speculation of scholars of salvation and liberation. With his third, he softened vaidhi-bhakti with a touch of divine love (raga-marga). Taking us beyond Vaikuntha, he has introduced us to the highest worship of Sri Radha and Govinda. With the softness of Vrndavana within, and the hardness of a devastator without, he created havoc in the world-fighting with one and all. Single-handedly fighting against the whole world, and cutting everything to pieces--that was his external attitude. And his second attitude was to stop the boasting research of the scholars and doctors of different schools of thought; the third, to minimize and slacken the grandeur of the worship of Narayana, and establish the service of Radha-Govinda as the highest attainment. He caused the domain of love to descend into this plane, with the service of Radha-Govinda, establishing the flow of divine love from the heart as all in all. That was his history-the real existence of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura. May his divine teachings, Bhaktisiddhanta vani, dance eternally within the core of our hearts." ( Srila B.R. Sridhara Deva Goswami Maharaja)
The Sri Caitanya Saraswata Parampara is indeed a bona fide disciplic succession of pure devotees of the Supreme Lord which has existed since the most ancient times yet in modern times the eternal flow of the divine knowledge of that parampara was obstructed by unqualified persons. Unqualified persons posing as spiritual masters had made a mockery of the esoteric principles of the Srimad-Bhagavatam by a cheap show of imitating the higher sentiments of divine love. At that very peak of degradation in Gaudiya Vaisnavaism Srila Saraswati Thakura appeared and recovered the principles of the Srimad-Bhagavatam from the hands of the rogues and resurrected the path of the Bhagavata-parampara.
Unlike many so-called paramparas of his day the parampara of Saraswati Thakura was not simply the succession of bodies wherein dead mantras are passed on from guru to disciple despite their obvious disqualification. Nor was the parampara of Saraswati Thakura the disciplic succession of merchants who make a trade of mantras in exchange for money. Nor was the parampara of Saraswati Thakura a disciplic succession of cheaters who compromise the regulative principles of purity by keeping illicit connection with women claiming that such is not a disturbance to the performance of ones bhajana. The parampara of Saraswati Thakura was however the descent of the highest principles of the Srimad-Bhagavatam exhibited in both deed and concept.
Srila Saraswati Thakura appeared in this world at a time when the storehouse of the proper conception regarding Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's nectarine teachings had been sealed tight by pseudo-Vaisnavas. Saraswati Thakura reopened that storehouse and showed the way of bona-fide access to the highest plane of divinity by his personal example. Saraswati Thakura preached strongly against the abominable practices and concepts of the sahajiyas (imitationists). Within his own movement as well he kept a vigilant eye out against any potential for imitation of pure devotion. His language was strong and he made it clear to his disciples and followers that real devotion was not a cheap sentiment. Devotion he said means submission to Sri-guru, self-discipline, self-sacrifice, and wholehearted effort to render devotional service. Saraswati Thakura stressed that without going through all the stages of regulated practice (vaidhi bhakti) one cannot come to the platform of spontaneous love (raganuga bhakti).
The dress associated with the eternal associates of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu (babaji-vesa) had become identified with the lowest men in society. To save the dignity of the highest order of Vaisnavas (paramahamsas) Saraswati Thakura introduced the saffron colored cloth and the triple staff belonging to the ancient order of renunciates known as Tridandi sannyasa. This of course raised considerable controversy at the time and many dishonest persons criticized Saraswati Thakura for concocting unauthorized means of devotional service. However, Saraswati Thakura had not actually concocted any practices of devotional service--indeed he had reestablished the authorized practices attaining of the lotus feet of Krsna, as authorized by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself. Seeing this illuminating personality standing in the midst of many dark clouds, the honest and sincere Vaisnavas of the time gathered in support of Saraswati Thakura and assisted him in carrying forth the purely theistic principles of the Bhagavata-parampara.
The tenth canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam is the proyojana-tattva (the highest truth) through which one can taste the eternal nectar of divine love. As such the sahajiyas are extremely fond of hearing the tenth canto although they consistantly neglect the first nine cantos. It is the first nine cantos of the Srimad-Bhagavatam which qualify the bona fide candidate for actually entering into the transcendental pastimes of the Supreme Lord. Yet the sahajiyas prefer to jump over the first nine cantos to the tenth canto in the name of 'getting the nectar.' In the opinion of Saraswati Thakura a neophyte devotee should never have access to such topics as the intimate pastimes of the Lord because if one prematurely enters the realm of Krsna's pastimes that will bring more harm than good. If one is not situated above the propensity for sense gratification yet indulges in hearing or meditating on the intimate pastimes of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna one's enjoying spirit will only increase. One must be fully aware of the Lord's transcendental nature before entering into discussions or meditations on the Lord's divine pastimes with His hladini-sakti. Saraswati Thakura did not encourage newcomers to read the tenth canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam. He also disapproved of indiscriminate displays of paintings of Radha-Krsna lila. His standards were high because the goal was high-he did not allow a mockery of the highest conception to be made at any time.
To establish the principles of pure devotional service Saraswati Thakura wrote many articles in The Harmonist magazine, the Gaudiya magazine and the Nadiya Prakash newspaper exposing the false practices of the imitationists. Following in the footsteps of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Srila Saraswati Thakura established a printing press which he called the 'Brhad-mrdanga.' In the transcendental vision of Saraswati Thakura the printing press belonged to the category of raganuga-bhakti and he stressed book distribution and preaching in the same light. A logo for the Gaudiya Math was designed by Saraswati Thakura in which a circle was drawn and various symbols representing the bona fide processes of devotional service were depicted within that circle. The circle was naturally divided into two sections. On the left side the symbols representing vaidhi-bhakti were placed-such as the Pancaratric literature and Laksmi-Narayana representing worship in the mood of awe and reverence according to regulative principles. On the right side of the circle were placed the symbols representing raganuga-bhakti--such as the Srimad-Bhagavatam and Sri Sri Radha-Krsna indicating worship in spontaneous love (raga-marga). The symbols of the mrdanga and printing press were also placed in the raga-marga section.
In the beginning of the book Sri Caitanya Mangala by Locana dasa Thakura it is mentioned that in the future there will appear a sena-pati (a great general) who would cause an inundation of Krsna consciousness throughout the world. Greatly learned scholars and pure devotees of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu who know the purport of the scriptures have understood the 'sena-pati' to have been Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura--who between 1918 and 1936 caused a wave of preaching Krsna consciousness to swell up in Bengal that would indeed inundate the whole world. The sound of the kirtana raised by Saraswati Thakura conquered in all ten directions silencing the atheist non-believers, the impersonalist speculators, and the imitationists, sahajiya sections of pseudo-Vaisnavas.
Saraswati Thakura orchestrated a great preaching movement for eighteen years, awarding the triple staff of renunciation to his disciples and then sending these sannyasis to preach throughout India and eventually to western countries. Before passing away from this world Saraswati Thakura commented that he desired to spend at least ten years preaching Krsna consciousness in the western countries--this Saraswati Thakura was unable to do before his disappearance in 1936. However, through his intimate disciple Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada we see that Saraswati Thakura's last desire for preaching Krsna consciousness in the west was fulfilled. Hence the work of the sena-pati foretold by Locana dasa Thakura was continued by Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and the same continues up to the present day in the form of Saraswati Thakura's numerous disciples and grand disciples.
In the presence of Saraswati Thakura the anti-parties were either silenced or defeated, but now six decades later the anti-parties are again making their propaganda against the Sri Caitanya Saraswata Parampara. This time, however, the anti-parties have a plan to establish their deviant practices in the western world. By the blessings of Srila Saraswati Thakura the road to the western countries for preaching Vaisnavaism was gloriously opened by Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada but now many anti-party spokesmen are also traversing on that road. The anti-parties all claim a monopoly on the process of pure devotional service based on bodily successions and caste consciousness. Rather than following the processes established by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu for the attainment of love of God the anti-parties prefer a 'short cut to perfection' via the process of concocted initiations and mental speculations. Such 'short cuts to perfection' are a dead end in spiritual life. Indeed the anti-parties are misrepresenting the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and are again making a mockery of the sentiments of divine love.
Part One of this book "The Authorized Sri Caitanya Saraswata Parampara" entitled "Refuting the Anti-party," deals with the false propaganda that the parampara of Saraswati Thakura is not a bona fide disciplic succession. This misconception is strongly refuted in the opening five chapters with historical and scriptural evidences, which were originally written and published on the internet in response to direct anti-party criticism of Srila Bhaktivinoda and Srila Saraswati Thakura. Part Two, "The Practice of Pure Devotional Service," presents the bona fide practice of pure devotional service in spontaneous love of Krsna, raganuga-bhakti. These articles have been written according to the opinion of previous acaryas and supported by scriptural evidences. In Part Three, "A Few Words of Guidance," some relevant instruction by Srila B.R. Sridhara Deva Goswami Maharaja and Srila B.P. Puri Goswami Maharaja are given to protect the bona fide devotees from falling prey to imitation of the highest divine mellows of love of God. In particular Srila Sridhara Maharaja, in the fifteenth chapter, cautions that if one is negligent to protect one's self against the imitation tendency one will regrettably be given the inspiration to live in a 'fools paradise' thinking that he has now achieved the higher standard of devotion.
Our readers are requested to make a careful study of this book with a view to establish the principles of pure devotional service throughout the world and to crush the numerous anti-party misconceptions, which if allowed to prosper will eventually spoil the sankirtana movement of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Indeed that would be an intolerable loss for the whole of humanity.