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Thursday, August 28, 2014

sat-kriyā sāra dīpikā and saṁskāra dīpikā

Sat Kriyā Sāra Dīpikā and Saṁskāra Dīpikā are two manuals with rituals for Vaiṣṇavas, the former dealing with rules for householders and the latter with rules for aspirant renunciants. They are said to be written by Gopāl Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, but they are nowhere mentioned as being his work, nor have any post-six-Goswāmī-ācāryas ever quoted them in their works. Other books by the Gosvāmīs are well known and accepted. The Bhakti-ratnākara, which was written in the 18th century, gives an extensive and correct list of the works of all the Gosvāmīs. It has a long discussion of Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī in the first chapter, but says nothing of this text. The only two texts that are associated with Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī in the Bhakti-Ratnākara are the Hari-bhakti-vilāsa and a commentary on the Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta.

In the third chapter of the text, the author of Sat-kriyā-sāra-dīpikā recommends the worship of Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī in the Vaiṣṇava homa, “oṁ gopāla bhaṭṭāya svāhā”. Gopāl Bhaṭṭa Goswāmī was so humble that he did not want his name mentioned in Caitanya Caritāmṛta, so it would be a total contradiction if he would prescribe worship of himself in a book he wrote. Worship of the Pañca Tattva and Madhvācārya, which is nowhere prescribed in the Goswāmīs’ books, is recommended (Saṁskāra Dīpika 30), and in the same paragraph is the sentence vaiṣṇavatvena dvijatva siddheḥ, “being a Vaiṣṇava makes one a dvija“, which is as Gauḍīya Maṭh-ish as coals are from Newcastle. Then there is the ‘gopībhāvāśraya’ sannyāsa-mantra (Saṁskāra Dīpika 40), which is also not found anywhere in the Goswāmīs’ books. The same paragraph carries the text kutsitaṁ malinaṁ vāso varjanīyaṁ viśeṣataḥ kaṣāya-rahitaṁ vastraṁ, “Ugly and dirty clothes and clothes which are not saffron are to be given up“, but Haribhakti Vilāsa (4.147) says nagno rakta paṭaḥ “For a Vaiṣṇava, wearing red cloth is like being naked.” Although that is said in the context of arcanā, it is a general statement because a pūjārī does not change the color of his cloth when he gets off the altar. Saffron should not be worn by a Vaiṣṇava, on or off the altar – rakta vastra vaiṣṇavera poḍte nā yuwāy (Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 13.61).
Haribhakti Vilāsa also states: śukla-vāso bhaven nityaṁ raktaṁ caiva vivarjayet (4.152) “The Vaiṣṇava should always wear white cloth and give up red cloth.”

dhārayed vāsasi śuddhe paridhānottarīyake
acchinna sudaśe śukle ācamet pīṭha saṁsthitaḥ

“One must wear clean dhoti and chador, untorn and white, then take a seat and do ācamana.” (4.161)

kṛtopavāsaḥ śiṣya atha prāta-kṛtyaṁ vidhāya saḥ
śukla-vastraḥ suveśaḥ san viprān dravyena toṣayet

“The candidate for dīkṣā should fast and finish his morning duties. Dressed in a nice white garment he should satisfy the brāhmaṇas with gifts". (Haribhakti Vilāsa 2.110)

If Sat Kriyā Sāra Dīpikā and Saṁskāra Dīpikā were written by Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, they would contradict his other book, Haribhakti Vilāsa. It could have been written by any other Gopāla Bhaṭṭa, as every other boy in India is named Gopāl, and Bhaṭṭa is also a common surname for Brahmins. Surely there are thousands of Gopāla Bhaṭṭas in India at any given time.

Other opinions on these books are inconclusive. In his Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Sāhitya (2nd volume, page 2), Haridās Dās suspects the authenticity of this scripture. He also suggests the two booklets were written by another Gopāla Bhaṭṭa, not the Gopāl Bhaṭṭa who was one of the six Goswāmīs. He says that he asked Vanamālilāl Goswami, one of the Radharaman Goswamis, who was responsible for the service of Radharaman, about the book. Vanamalilal Goswami said that it was written by a Gopāl Bhaṭṭa who was a disciple of Hita Harivaṁśa. In support of this he points to a reference in the tilaka-section to the form of the tilaka being described as “rādhā-vallabhīya”, relating to the deity of Hita Harivaṁśa, not a Gauḍīya deity. 

These arguments are not so sound, because why would another sampradāya’s teacher speak so much of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism, if at all?

Naresh Candra Jana, in his book Vṛndāvaner Chaya Gosvami (p. 212-213), considers it to be the work of a later author of unknown name who passed it off as a work of Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī. He points to similar inconsistencies. Dr. Jana, however, is a mundane scholar from Calcutta - what is his spiritual authority? 

Some say this Gopāl Bhaṭṭa was the grandson of Nārāyan Bhaṭṭa (the author of Vraja Bhakti Vilāsa, who was in the lineage of Gadādhar Pandit), or Vaikuṇṭha Vācaspati, a later Brahmin scholar.

Despite this, I am personally convinced these are not works of any Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, for the following reasons -

Samskāra Dīpikā contains modern Bengali words like bhek, Bengali for veśa or sannyāsa, but meaning ‘frog’ in Sanskrit (Saṁskāra Dīpikā 21 – guruṇā data bahirvāsavād bhekāṅga-bhūta cīra-khaṇḍa-yugma, and bheka-dhāriṇām tu, Saṁskāra Dīpikā 29). It also controversially claims that Nityānanda Prabhu gave kaupina etc. to Raghunātha dāsa Goswāmī (Samskāra Dīpikā 22 - nityānandena prabhuṇā svayam eva śrī raghunātha dāsa gosvāmine kaupīnādikaṁ dattam).

Sat Kriyā Sāra Dīpikā states early on, in text two, that included in gṛhi brāhmaṇas (householder brāhmaṇas) are anyone of any caste, if initiated by a sat-guru – such a statement also has a distinct Gauḍīya Maṭh-flavor. Later ‘Gopāl Bhaṭṭa’ states that a brahmacārī is greater than a person who follows brahminical principles from the cradle to the grave. It is no wonder that all editions I saw of these booklets were published by Gauḍīya Maṭh or ISKCON, as it fits their agenda very well.

In the upanayana-chapter, paragraph one, it is said ṣoḍaśa varṣa paryantam upanayanādhikāraḥ ataḥ paraṁ sāvitrī patito brāhmaṇo nopanetara – A brāhmaṇa can get the upanayana (thread-ceremony) until the age of sixteen, if he does not receive it by then he is called fallen from sāvitrī and cannot receive the Brahmin-thread anymore.” 
Makes me wonder how 40-year old western hippies can receive it then?

Later the concept of mantravān pāñcarātrika brāhmaṇa (a brāhmaṇa with pāñcarātrika mantra-dīkṣā according to the translator) appears in the book. pāñcarātrika is also a typical Gauḍīya Maṭh concept which is nowhere mentioned in the Haribhakti Vilāsa. The dating of these books apparently makes it impossible that they are Gauḍīya Maṭh-products, but since they suit their agenda so well, they have always been their main publishers.


  1. A response to this article has been posted at:

    Duplicate Link:

  2. A brief response to the response by Hariparsad das, who supports most of his views with quotes that are given nowhere by the Goswamis -

    (Unfortunately his text did not allow copy/paste so the kind reader will have to look up his points in his document)

    1. You suggest Vrindavan Research institute had a copy of these booklets before Gaudiyamath published it? Gaudiyamath may have produced it in the 1910s. Books are not brought from Bengal to Vraja?

    2. You admit that editors insert things, so these booklets may be themselves an 'editing' on the whole?

    3. Haribhakti Vilasa may be for grhasthas, but Caitanya Caritamrita Antya 13.61 is not - Sanatan Goswami is hardly a grhastha? There he says vaisnavera - any Vaishnava, not just grihasthas.

    4. This sannyasa mantra is accidentally the same which is used in Gaudiyamath? What about sampradaya vihina ye mantras te nisphala mata? A mantra outside sampradaya is fruitless? Who gives diksa in Gaur gopal mantra and how is it decisive in Gaudiya Vaishnava status as in becoming a sannyasi?

    5. If wearing red cloth is shakta practise, that means Gaudiyamath is a shakta movement?

    6. Yes, the word pancaratrik is mentioned in that Haribhakti Vilasa verse but where is the pancaratrika diksa mentioned, which Gaudiyamath is constantly talking about? That is what i meant in the blog.

  3. A response to the points mentioned above (but before I do that, I should say that passing judgments on the sources used by others, especially questioning sources such as kalidasa and patanjali who are widely accepted in the scholastic world does not make us look very credible. Our acharyas also have referred to the yoga-sutras and previous kavyas in their works. If a reference is needed I will be glad to provide the same.)

    1) I am not sure what this point is supposed to suggest. Does it suggest that the Gaudiya Math (or someone on its behalf) bought the manuscript on purpose to Vrindavan because someone knew that later there will be a Vrindavan Research Institute where the manuscript can be stored?

    2) I had suggested clearly that the manuscript needs to be made available for everyone to see. Intellectual dishonesty is not something exclusive to one group. One example of this is the Nityananda caritamrita. Therefore my suggestion was to not jump to conclusions before we see the manuscript.

    3) If we see CC Antya 13.52, the red cloth (worn by an advaiti sannyasi) was actually an initial source of joy for Sri Jagadananda Pandita. Thus, it was not the red cloth which caused the loving dispute between both of them. The fact that it came from someone other than Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is what caused the dispute.

    4) This is not a response to my post. It is simply raising more questions. Sorry to say but this point is not even phrased properly. Kindly see the original context in which i made my point and rephrase.

    5) Wearing deep red dhoti (rakta) for a grihastha is an indication of being a worshipper of shakti. The mild saffron (kasaya) and the deep red colors are allowed for a sannyasi Not grihastha.

    6) If needed, we can sit down and discuss the various pancharatrik terms found in the diksha-prakarana from the first vilasa of Hari-bhakti-vilasa. After that we can also try to see how many terms of siddha-deha initiation are mentioned in the same vilasa. Should we try?

  4. 3) রক্ত বস্ত্র বৈষ্ণবের পড়িতে না যুযায - "Red cloth is not to be worn by a Vaisnava" (13.61) There is no adjectives given here, it is a blanket prohibition which was followed by the entire sampradaya until 1918. Jagadananda Pandit was in ecstasy not because of seeing red cloth but because he was reminded of Mahaprabhu.
    6) a. About siddha pranali - two wrongs don't make one right.
    b. Siddha pranali was preached left and right by Bhaktivinode, Dhyanacandra and Gopal Guru Goswami.
    c. As I feared, we are expanding the debate beyond the original parameters, creating a wider conflict.

  5. In order to conclusively prove that the book was not authored by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura or anyone from the Gaudiya Math, I have uploaded many notices of manuscripts of these books that predate the Gaudiya Math. These can be seen at:

    Now as a principle of scholastic honesty, I would request that you remove the assumptions made against Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura and the Gaudiya Math.

  6. Blog adjusted accordingly on September 10th. Thank you for the information.

  7. This text shows how favorable this text was found by GM -

    Shri Shrimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Prabhupada

    (Translated from the original Bengali)

    "According to the instructions of Shriman Mahaprabhu, Shrila Sanatana Goswami Prabhu compiled a Vaishnava smriti called the 'Hari Bhakti Vilasa' which was published by Shri Gopala Bhatta Goswami Prabhu. Shri Gopala Bhatta Goswami also wrote a book on the ten samskaras which is known as 'Sat Kriya Sara Dipika' and a manual called 'Samskara Dipika', which is a book on the rules for taking sannyasa.
    Almost half a century after the Hari Bhakti Vilasa was published, the non-Vaishnava smriti compiler, Raghunandana Bhattacarya Mahashaya, wrote a work called 'Astavimshati Tattva'. Before that, the paddhati of Bhavadeva and the Sat Kriya Sara Dipika were the most famous books on samskaras in Bengal. After this, due to the strong influence of the Smartas, Sat Kriya Sara Dipika became
    obscure. The 'Nrisimha Paricarya' of Shri Krishnadevacarya and 'Smriti Nibandha' of Shri Keshava Bhatta were also published before another non-Vaishnava paddhati, 'Nirnaya Paddhati' of Kamalakara Bhatta was compiled.
    We can observe from the writings of the Smarta Bhattacaryas that there are certain differences of opinions between Vaishnava smriti and non-Vaishnava smriti, in other words, between the smarta-smriti paddhatis and the Shri Hari Bhakti Vilasa of the Vaishnavas. There were many obstacles in the preaching of the Vaishnava-smriti due to the popularity of the non-Vaishnava smritis. The Vaishnava and non-Vaishnava paddhatis differ in many places regarding demigod worship, shraddhas, ekadashi vratas etc. Also, due to a lack of genuine Vaishnava grihastas, for some time, the Smarta ceremonies were accepted as Vaishnava. Non-Vaishnava rituals are not accepted as bona-fide by the Vaishnava world, and since this has been logically proven with shastric evidence, those sense-enjoyers who are inimical to pure devotional service find this fact unpalatable.
    Therefore, they have endevoured to stop the publication of books containing Vaishnava rituals and etiquette. However, there is no doubt that the vain hopes and desires of the non-Vaishnavas will be uprooted by the re-publication of this book. Those whose hearts feel pain as if pierced by a lance, by the spreading of Vaishnava-smriti, will not be able to appreciate topics of devotional service. Nonetheless, the customs of the society of pure Vaishnavas, being like the Pole Star will shine forth brightly even in the darkness of the new moon. It is not that the erroneous smartavada misconceptions have only penetrated the Vaishnava community of Bengal, they have also spread to other Vaishnava societies all over India; in some places more, in others, less. Therefore, the Sat Kriya Sara Dipika is not very famous now. By the endevour of Sri Srimad Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who re-established the flow of pure devotion, this book was published again some time ago. Now, this is the third printing and we view this as an opportunity to propagate the Vaishnava faith and the rules, regulations and etiquette of devotional service.
    For some time now, many people, who understood the value of following Vaishnava sadacara, felt the neccesity of printing this book again after the second edition was depleted. By the desire of Shriyukta Avidyaharana dasadhikari and Sevabandhava Mahashaya, Mahopadeshaka Pandita Sriyukta Yadavara Bhaktishastri (Sampradaya Vaibhavacarya, M.A. B.L.) has helped to correct this new edition. Without his endevour, this book would not have been published in such a nice way. He takes full credit from the
    Gaudiya Vaishnava community for this work.
    In this edition of Sat Kriya Sara Dipika we have also included the 'Veshashraya Paddhati' with the Bengali translation of Shrila Thakura Bhaktivinoda."

    It leaves the question, 'What was wrong with Haribhakti Vilasa in the first place?'