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Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Gauḍīya Sampradāya is not a branch of the Madhva Sampradāya


There is a gulf of difference between the Madhvaites and Gauḍīyas in sādhana and siddhānta. In Galta Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa may have presented the Gauḍīya Sāmpradaya as a part of the Madhva Sampradāya, to gain legitimacy for regaining the service of Govinda Mandir, but that was only for preaching purposes. The dvaita philosophy of the Madhvaites is very different from the acintya bhedābheda philosophy of the Gauḍīyas, and the Gauḍīyas have a totally different sādhana (pure rāgānugā) and goal (mañjarī bhāva in the service of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana). Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa has recognized certain differences of opinion with the teachings of the Madhva sampradāya in his commentary on Tattva sandarbha (28):

bhaktānāṁ viprānām eva mokṣaḥ devah bhakteṣu mukhyāḥ viriñcasyaiva sāyūjyaṁ lakṣmyā jīva-koṭitvam ity evam mata viśeṣāḥ

“Only a brāhmaṇa-devotee is eligible for liberation (born brāhmaṇa of course), the demigods are foremost among devotees, Brahmā attains sāyūjya-mukti (merging in Brahman), and Lakṣmī-devī is included among the jīvas – these are differences in opinion.”
Other differences include:

  1. The Madhvaites practice upāsana on vidhi-mārga, filled with moods of aiśvarya (majesty) while the Gauḍīyas’ worship is one of rāga-mārga, where mādhurya (sweetness) predominates.
  2. The Madhvaites worship Nartaka-Gopāla alone, whereas the firm resolve of the Gauḍīyas who follow the footsteps of Śrī Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī is substantially different: ya ekaṁ govindaṁ bhajati kapaṭī dāmbhikatayā “Whoever worships Govinda alone is a cheater and a hypocrite”. To highlight the contrast, it may be noted that many proponents of the Madhva-sampradāya contest the existence of Śrī Rādhā altogether, since she is not presented in the literature of their sampradāya as a consort of Gopāla! While She is the very goal of the Gauḍīya Sāmpradāya!
  3. Madhva taught the concept of dvaita, or absolute duality, whereas Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu presented the refined concept of acintya-bhedābheda-tattva, the doctrine of simultaneous oneness and difference.
  4. Moreover, we find the following words spoken by Śrīman Mahāprabhu Himself to an ācārya of the Madhva-sampradāya in the Caitanya Caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā, 9.273-277):
śuni’ tattvācārya hoilo antare lajjita;
prabhura vaiṣṇavatā dekhi, hoilo vismita
ācārya kahe – tumi yei kaha, sei satya haya;
sarva-śāstre vaiṣṇavera ei suniścaya
tathāpi madhvācārya ye kariyāche nirbandha;
sei ācāriye sabe sampradāya-sambandha
prabhu kahe karmī, jñānī, dui bhakti-hīna;
tomāra sampradāye dekhi sei dui cihna
sabe, eka guṇa dekhi tomāra sampradāye;
satya-vigraha kari’ īśvare karaha niścaye
“Hearing these words of Śrīman Mahāprabhu, the ācārya of the Tattva-vāda sampradāya became ashamed, and was struck with wonder upon seeing His degree of Vaiṣṇavism. The ācārya said, “Whatever you have told, that is the truth proclaimed in all scriptures, and the firm conviction of the Vaiṣṇavas. However, whatever Madhvācārya has firmly established, that we practice due to our sampradāya-connection with him.” Prabhu said, “Karmīs and jñānīs are both devoid of bhakti. In your sampradāya, I can see symptoms of both. All in all, the only qualification I see in your sampradāya is your firm acceptance of the truth of the Lord’s form.”
Hence it should not be a surprise that a majority of the Gauḍīyas have little or no identification as members of the Madhva sampradāya. The fact that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu speaks of the Madhva Sampradāya as tomāra sampradāya, or ‘your tradition’, in verse 277, is the strongest confirmation that the Gauḍīya Sampradāya is not Madhva- or Madhva-alllied.
I had the following Iṣṭagoṣṭhī with my friend Anantagovinda, who told me –

“Mādhavendra and Īśvara Puri were from Śankara-sampradaya; they were inclined to bhakti, as it is one of the upāsana of Advaita-vedānta. The title Puri was nowhere in the Madhva-line. Mahāprabhu took sannyāsa from Keśava Bhārati without any problem and doubt; same sampradāya, which was very popular, and they all followed the same line of Śrīdhar Swāmi who was also from advaita-vedānta: they were inclined to bhakti and Śrīdhar Swāmī started this inclination in the advaita-sampradāya.”
Advaitadas: Did you ask the Madhvaites? They say they have no Puri-titles?
Anantagovinda: Sure, they say all Tīrthas are documented; all Yatis are documented.
Advaitadas: So Mādhavendra Puri was not among them?
Anantagovinda: No, for sure. This I read from Jagat, which is the same I got from Madhvaites:

“The problem that Vyasa Raya’s dates presents for the Gaudiya tradition is self- evident. Vyasa Raya’s disciple was Lakṣmipati, whose disciple was Madhavendra, whose disciple was Isvara Puri, Caitanya’s guru, and yet he outlived them all! Though at a stretch of the imagination, it is possible that such a connection existed, the general custom in non-Udupi institutions such as that of Vyasa Raya typically have only one "reigning" pontiff who designates someone to take his place only when it comes to prepare for his departure. Thus, had Lakṣmipati Tirtha been Vyasa’s successor, he would not have acceded to this position before 1539, after Chaitanya’s disappearance. The question we are left with, even if the connection were possible, is how could such mistakes and omissions creep into the Gaudiya knowledge of the disciplic succession, especially in the matter of who was Vyasa Tirtha’s spiritual master, when they were not only contemporaneous, but neighbors? Vyasa Tirtha’s dates are given as 1469-1539, which means that he postdated Caitanya’s death by five years. Interestingly, from 1498 to the end of his life, Vyasa Tirtha lived in Vijayanagara, the capital city of Kṛṣṇadeva Raya, directly to the south of the Orissan kingdom of Prataparudra. These two kingdoms were frequently at war during this time. According to B. N. K. Sharma, Krishnadeva Raya had a lot of regard for Vyasa Tirtha, making several honorific references to him in his writings, even calling him his kuladevata.”
Anantagovinda: Lakṣmīpati is not madhvaite: he is advaitine: they have no any Lakṣmīpati in their line
Advaitadas: So he was not a śiṣya of Vyāsa tirtha?
Anantagovinda: No. It is not mentioned in any Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava grantha and it is not mentioned in any madhvaite protocol.”
Advaitadas: He was the guru of the guru of the guru of Sītānāth, at least supposedly...
Anantagovinda: Yes, but that is not possible. More Jagat :
“The connection of Madhavendra Puri to the Tattvavadi gurus is not mentioned in the most current biographies, Caitanya-bhagavata or Caitanya- caritamṛta, nor even in the Caitanya-candrodaya-nataka, where Madhavendra’s name is mentioned, but not connected to Madhvacharya (CCN 1.21). Nor does Karnapur mention any connection to the Madhva line in his earlier work, Caitanya- carita-mahakavya.”
Anantagovinda: Mahāprabhu wanted only Sridhar's commentary: not Madhva's, not Ramanuja's. Nowhere Vṛndāvan das or Krsnadas mentioned Madhva, nor did Sanātana or Rūpa. Puri is not a Madhvaite's title. It is the same title as Bhārati or Caitanya.”
Advaitadas: Madhvaites use only the tīrtha-title?
Anantagovinda: Yes only tīrtha. No one is Puri among them. Madhva is Ānanda Tīrtha: Puri is advaita-sampradāya sannyāsa who practices bhakti. Baladeva needed to get back Govinda’s service (so he wrote about us being Madhvaites, a recognized sampradāya at the time). Why did he made a separate Vedānta bhāṣya if we are Madhvaites? Because it is a new movement among the advaita sampradāya. Everybody knew that Mādhavendra Puri, Īśvara Puri, Paramānanda Puri, Viṣṇu Puri were advaitines, but they started a bhakti cult. Thus Caitanya Mahāprabhu formed a new doctrine, completely separate: The ārādhyo bhagavān-verse is showing a totally different conception than Madhva's. Īśvara Puri never spoke about Madhva, nor did Mādhavendra Purī. Just compare how Mahāprabhu was in love with the Rāmānujaites: 4 months kathā and kīrtan in their house. Mādhavendra, Īśvara Puri and Caitanya Mahāprabhu dug out bhakti from the śāstras themselves without any help: only with the help of Śrīdhara Swāmī, who was the first māyāvādī inclined to bhakti.


  1. Radhe Radhe. So you're suggesting that we leave Madhva out when designating our sampradaya? So it would be just Brahma Gaudiya Sampradaya? I've always felt a dissonance when using Brahma Madhva. I'm surprised that there aren't more comments on this posting. Thank you. Radhe Shyama.

  2. Satya mātājī, it is not mentioned in the Goswāmīs' books that we descend [as a sampradāya] from Brahmā, If we truly accept Mahāprabhu as Bhagavān, then calling ourselves 'Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Sampradāya' should suffice.

  3. Radhe Radhe. I thought part of the purpose of the designation was to align with one of the four major Sampradayas. That in so doing would give legitimacy and a place among them. This commentary-- Prabhupada's reasoning. For myself, I have no problem with simply "Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya." comments? Radhe Shyama.

  4. Yes that is correct and I referred to that in the beginning of the blog too. Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa made the Madhva-link in some of his books to retrieve the service of Rādhā-Govinda in Galta, and forged a link with Madhva for that purpose [the other tactic being writing a Vedānta bhāṣya, the Govinda Bhāṣya]. He may also have made the Madhva-link because his roots were Madhvaite originally.

  5. That commentary of ACBS is complete fiction. There is no any confirmation of what he said there.

  6. Satya mātā, I studied the link you placed in your comment and searched for verification of its claims.
    1. Madhva was the founder and establisher of tattva-vāda [], Tattva-vādīs were thus not a merely related branch of the Madhva-sampradāya.
    2. Madhva had two more names or titles - Ānanda Tīrtha and Pūrṇaprajña. The name Gauḍa Pūrṇānanda ids not found at google for Madhva [except for links to that ACBS purport]

  7. Prabhuji pranam, this I am writing is just to correct my self understanding. Sankaracarya had denied the jivas and he only accepted brahman. Sanyasi means samyak rupe naas (destruction in the form of equilibrium) total destruction of the self. If we look at the concept of Mahaprabhu, he says that jiva is Krishna’s mere dasa which means a jiva also does not have any existence of it own. The example of finger is given which do not have any independent identity and it relates itself to the body. The surname Puri of Sri Mahavendra Puri, Sri Iswara Puri, Sri Keshab Bharati and also the title Chaitanya all are names of asramas belonging to Sankara Sampradaya. The 64 mahantas most of them are great panditas also came from the advaita school, as far as I could understand. The teaching of Mahaprabhu, what I have gathered, takes the side of Sankara except that he clearly opposed the idea of jivas becomeing Bhagavan when it comes out of maya.But sajujya mukti says.
    My guru maharaj says these confusions will be cleared after self realization. Jay Radhe

  8. Pārtha, yes that is true. I never intended to claim that Mādhavendra Puripāda had a māyāvādī heart. He was a bhakta in the Śankar sampradāya, which was just now confirmed by my Guru-bhāi Tapan Kumār Adhikāry.

  9. Radhe Radhe,
    "The Gaudiya Sampradaya is not a branch of the Madhva Sampradaya". I agree with Adwaita das on his points regarding this.I am not here to discuss this from a philosophical standpoint, but from a cultural one, based on my own Brij ancestral heritage and religious upbringing,although my great grandparents were brought to the west over 2 centuries ago, yet they maintained their Brij Vaishnava culture. The Gaudiya and the Brij cultures have many common similarites regarding the worship of Radha and Krishna. Both traditions acknowledge Krishna as Rasa Raj, Dhira Lalita, Dhira Santa, Dhiradhatta. Krishna's qualites predominantly in Madhuraya Rasa. However,I must say that "Manjari worship" is unique to the "goswamies". I also knew that only the adults in my family were allowed to read Krishna leela due to his erotic pastimes and they read, books like "prem sagar" etc and they would talk about the gopies but I never knew anything about "manjaries". Hence the children and young adults were taught "Ram Leela"instead of Krishna leela. When I mentioned similarites and differences between the Brij and Gaudiya traditions. I mean for eg: the brij follow Ekadassie only by eating sweet fruits and drinking water, hence we called Ekadassie "the Jaal phal day", unlike the Gaudiyas who can eat salty, cooked foods, with the exception of mustard seeds and grains. Same with Kartik, the Brij call it Kartik Snaan and they take daily baths in holy places or Kartik Nahan (persian word) and the Gaudiyas have kartik with emphasis on "Niyam Seva". However, with the Madhavaite and Shankarite Vaishnavas, I was told they don't really follow Ekadassie etc. I do know however, they worship Krishna in the "Aishwarya mode" majesty and never in his "Madhurya Rasa" There is no Radha with Krishna on their altars. However, the last time I was in Kerala(the birthplace of Sankararcharya) they told me that "Radha's name is Nappinai.
    Jai Sri Radhe Shyam