The following is an excerpt from a lecture delivered by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja in Badger, California, on June 14, 2005


Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura tells us in his Bhāgavatārka-marīci-mālā. “I am going to write something, but I fear to do so.” Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī also feared when he was writing Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta. He considered, “Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta is so high class that very rare persons are qualified to read this; so what should I do? Should I not write it?” But then he concluded, “If I do not write about these transcendental topics, they will disappear from this world.” He felt compelled, thinking, “Birds like the cuckoo only eat the mañjarīs (buds or stamen) and sweet essence of mango. A crow cannot do this. Crows only like bitter things, like the juice of nima. If I write this Caitanya-caritāmṛta, then naturally the cuckoo-like devotee will read it, and the crow-like non-devotee will not have interest. So I must write”.

Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s fear was different. He wondered, “What should I do? If I write, then a desire for fame may develop in my heart, and this is very bad for a Vaiṣṇava. He also considered, though, “I was thinking I should not tell these very secret topics to others, but then I remembered the words of my Gurudeva. I determined, ‘If he has ordered me to write, I must do so. If I do not write about all the topics ordered by him, I will be ungrateful. I must do it!’ I threw out my shame and began to write, ‘O Gurudeva Vipina-bihārī Prabhu, O exalted Vaiṣṇavas, if I have committed any offences, please forgive me.’”

Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura has not mentioned the name of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s Guru in the list of ācāryas in our guru-paramparā. Prabhupāda was against the caste Gosvāmīs. Vipina-bihārī Prabhu once put his feet on the head of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, who is a manifestation of Śrī Gadādhara Paṇḍita – Śrīmatī Rādhikā – and Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda could not tolerate this. He told Vipina-bihārī Prabhu, “What nonsense are you doing? Do you know who he is? He is one of the Gosvāmīs – Gaura-śakti Gadādhara Paṇḍita – and still you have put your feet on his head? He thus rebuked Vipina-bihārī Prabhu, who then ran away.

Still, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura gave him so much respect. [He was a Vaiṣṇava, but not so high-class like Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s self-realized instructing Guru.] Vipin-bihārī’s Gurudeva is in the line of the self-realized spiritual master, Śrī Vamśī-vadanānanda, who used to drink tea.

Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura continued, “I took the order of my Gurudeva on my head and began to write down this verse [SB 1.1.1], because he had told me, ‘Go on reading and try to understand. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself. Everything will be revealed in your heart.’

“Then, as soon as I began to write, Śrī Svarūpa Dāmodara appeared to me – not in a dream, but in a sphūrti (momentary vision) – as Śrīmatī Rādhikā used to see Śrī Kṛṣṇa in a sphūrti and Śacī-maiyā saw Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu in that way. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu would regularly come from Purī to His home in Māyāpura, and take prasādam there.

Excerpt from the book Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma and Other Prominent Holy Places of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas in Śrī Gauḍa-maṇḍala, Second Edition by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja

In Godruma, 1893, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura performed a great harināma-saṅkīrtana festival under the auspices of Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja. At that time Śrī Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja went with many Vaiṣṇavas to take darśana of Śrī Māyāpura. Overwhelmed by ecstatic sentiments, he himself pointed out Mahāprabhu’s birthplace, the lost Yogapīṭha-Māyāpura. The 144-year-old Bābājī Mahārāja became overwhelmed with ecstasy and jumped into the air, crying out, “This is the birthplace of Gauracandra, our very life and soul!” Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, many famous writers of Bengal, many high-posted government officers, editors of famous magazines and others witnessed the event. Amongst them was Śrī Śyāmalāla Gosvāmī, the great and erudite Vaiṣṇava. Also present were Śrī Śaśībhūṣaṇa Gosvāmī, Śrī Rādhikānātha Gosvāmī, Śrī Vipina Bihārī Gosvāmī, Śrī Rāya Vanamālī, Śrī Rāya Bahādura, Śrī Śiśīra Kumāra Ghoṣa, Śrī Dvārikānātha Sarakāra and Śrī Naphara Kumāra. Some huts were eventually made here and the temple construction began. Gradually, faithful devotees from the various states of India came here to take darśana, and now, crowds of people come from all over the world to this holy place.

Excerpt from the book Śrī Brahma-saṁhitā, Fifth Chapter, First Edition by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja


Śrī Śacīnandana Gaurahari, who is the ocean of compassion and the only friend of the living entities suffering in Kali-yuga, found this book while travelling in the holy places of Southern India, and carefully kept it with Him. Then, after having many copies made, He gave it to His associates. Later, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī wrote a beautiful, comprehensive commentary on this book, full of examples and conclusions from various scriptures, and mercifully gave it to the devoted followers of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.

Considering Śrī Brahma-saṁhitā with Śrī Jīva Gosvāmipāda’s commentary to be extremely beneficial for the devotees, my Gurudeva, Śrī Vipina-bihārī Gosvāmī, ordered me to write a further explanation of the aforementioned commentary in readily accessible language. Taking his order on my head, I have included several additional points of consideration in my Tātparya (purports). If the faithful devotees study this book with pure and simple hearts, keeping in mind the difference between the mundane (prākṛta) and the transcendental (aprākṛta), then this servant will consider his life successful and śuddha-bhakti will be propagated everywhere.

O Rūpa Gosvāmī, you are the life and soul of the devotees! O Sanātana Gosvāmī! O Jīva Gosvāmī! Your mercy is like an unlimited and fathomless ocean. The significance of your commentary on this Brahma-saṁhitā is also extremely profound. Therefore, have mercy on this foolish person. Kindly invest me with the power to comprehend this commentary and express its hidden meanings. The statements of Śrī Jīva Gosvāmipāda are elegant like a row of tender flowerbuds. It is my internal desire to make those fragrant flower buds blossom so that, after offering praṇāma to śrī guru and Kṛṣṇa, I may offer them into the lotus hands of the śuddha-bhaktas.

Excerpt from the book Ācārya Kesarī Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī – His Life and Teachings, 2nd Edition by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja


Śrī Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura: According to the pāncarātrika-guru-paramparā, the dīkṣā-guru of Śrī Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura is Śrī Vipinabihārī Gosvāmī, who comes in the pāncarātrika-paramparā of Śrī Jāhnavā Ṭhākurānī. From another viewpoint, vaiṣṇava-sārvabhauma Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja is the bhajana-śikṣā-guru of Śrī Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura in bhāgavata-paramparā. Vaiṣṇava-sārvabhauma Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja is a disciple of the famous Madhusūdana dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja in the paramparā of Śrī Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa. It is not even necessary to say that vaiṣṇava-sārvabhauma Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja is superior to Śrī Vipina-bihārī Gosvāmī in tattva-jñāna, bhajana-śikṣā, etc. No one can deny that Śrī Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s life is imprinted with the stamp of Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja’s guidance.

Excerpt from the book Śrī Jagannātha Ratha-yātrā, An Account of its Origins and a Description of the Confidential Moods of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, First Edition by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja


In the pāncarātrika-paramparā, if there is a lack of deep relationship between the disciple and the guru, it can lead to differences in conceptions and moods. Therefore, the knowledge received in this paramparā does not flow purely. But in the bhāgavata-paramparā, the disciple’s relationship with the guru is very close, and the disciple’s bhajana-sādhana arises simply according to the bhāvas of the śikṣā-guru. Therefore, the current of bhakti flows purely through the medium of the bhāgavata-paramparā.

That is why Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura gave greater significance to Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja than to his dīkṣā-guru, Śrī Vipina-bihārī Gosvāmī. Śyāmānanda Prabhu, Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura, and Śrīnivāsa Ācārya also gave more importance to Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī than to their respective dīkṣā-gurus. Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī gave greater respect to his śikṣa-gurus, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, than to his dīkṣā-guru, and at the end of every chapter of his Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta he has begged for their mercy:

śrī-rūpa-raghunātha-pade yāra āśa
caitanya-caritāmṛta kahe kṛṣṇadāsa

Only desiring the guidance of the lotus feet of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrī Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, Kṛṣṇadāsa narrates Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta.

This is the bhāgavata-paramparā, and if the dīkṣā-guru is also in this bhāgavata-paramparā, that is the best of all.

The sādhaka should obtain the goal of kṛṣṇa-prema by taking shelter of the lotus feet of guru and performing bhajana endowed with knowledge of his relationship (sambandha-jñāna) with Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

veda-śāstre kahe sambandha, abhidheya, prayojana
kṛṣṇa, kṛṣṇa-bhakti, prema, — tina mahā-dhana

Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 20.143)

In the Vedic scriptures, three treasures have been described: Śrī Kṛṣṇa as sambandha-tattva, kṛṣṇa-bhakti as abhidheya-tattva, and kṛṣṇa-prema as prayojana-tattva.

Excerpt from the book Discerning the True Sentiments of the Soul, the revised and enlarged edition of the booklet Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism versus Sahajiyāism, First Edition by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja


Some persons challenge Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, demanding, “Who was his guru?” Actually, he accepted Vipina Bihārī Gosvāmī as his dīkṣā-guru, initiating spiritual master, in the line of pāñcarātrika-guru-paramparā*, and he has written in his Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta commentary that his śikṣā-bhāgavata-paramparā** guru, his instructing spiritual master, was Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja. Śikṣā-guru is not less than dīkṣā-guru, and sometimes he may be more than dīkṣā-guru. For example, we accept Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, and Rūpa Gosvāmī as our śikṣā-gurus, as Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī accepted the six Gosvāmīs as his śikṣā-gurus:

śrī-rūpa, sanātana, bhaṭṭa-raghunātha
śrī-jīva, gopāla-bhaṭṭa, dāsa-raghunātha

ei chaya guru — śikṣā-guru ye āmāra
tāṅ’-sabāra pāda-padme koṭi namaskāra

 (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 1.36–37)

[Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī, Śrī Bhaṭṭa Raghunātha, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī, Śrī Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, and Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī; these six are my instructing spiritual masters, and therefore I offer millions of respectful obeisances unto their lotus feet.]

There need be no doubt in this connection, that sometimes the śikṣā-guru may be superior to the dīkṣā-guru. For example, I have so much faith in my gurudeva, but I know that Rūpa Gosvāmī is guru of my gurudeva. Similarly, although Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura is our jagad-guru, he personally considered Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrīmatī Rādhikā to be his śikṣā-gurus.

Śrī Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura has prayed in his book, Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta:

cintāmaṇir jayati somagirir gurur me
śikṣā-guruś ca bhagavān śikhi-piñcha-mauliḥ
līlā-svayaṁvara-rasaṁ labhate jayaśrīḥ

[All glories to Cintāmaṇi, and my initiating spiritual master, Somagiri. All glories to my instructing spiritual master, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who wears peacock feathers in His crown. Under the shade of His lotus feet, which are like desire trees, Jayaśrī (Rādhārāṇī) enjoys the transcendental mellow of an eternal consort.]

Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura states here that his śikṣā-guru is Kṛṣṇa, Nanda-nandana Himself, with peacock feathers in His turban and a flute to His lips. Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura’s dīkṣā-guru was Somagiri, but he gave more preference to his śikṣā-guru, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. He had faith in his dīkṣā-guru, but at the same time he respected his śikṣā-guru as superior. We should not forget these truths.

Can you say who was the guru of Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura? When Brahmā and Prahlāda Mahārāja combine together in the form of Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s associate (Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura), he doesn’t need any formal initiation. Can you say who was the guru of Svarūpa Dāmodara or Srīvāsa Paṇḍita? Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita is Nārada Ṛṣi, and Murāri Gupta is Hanumān. Perhaps they were initiated by someone else, but Caitanya Mahāprabhu accepted them all as His own. Similarly, although we may not know who their guru is, we also accept them as bona fide.

Similarly, we need have no doubt about Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja, thinking that he has no guru-paramparā. His dīkṣā-guru was Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī’s dīkṣā-guru was Śrīla Gaura Kiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, and his śikṣā-guru was Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura. He accepted as his dīkṣā-guru Śrīla Gaura Kiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, who was not only a pure Vaiṣṇava, but a mahā-bhāgavata, the greatest of pure devotees, and he received so much instruction from him regarding bhajana. At the same time, he received most of his conceptions for bhajana from Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, as well as all his conceptions for establishing and spreading the principles of pure bhakti in this world.

Without bhāgavata-paramparā***, guru-paramparā**** is nothing.***** Regarding Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, even if he were to have had no dīkṣā-guru, as was the case with Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura and others, still he is a pure Vaiṣṇava. But he did have a dīkṣā-guru.

* The disciplic line based on receiving formal mantras –Ed.

** The succession of bona fide gurus rooted in receiving and following transcendental instructions from their predecessors –Ed.

*** The disciplic succession of mahā-bhāgavata gurus wherein the disciple accepts his guru’s mood and siddhānta irrespective of formal initiation. –Ed.

**** The disciplic succession of gurus who may or may not be mahā-bhāgavatas, and from whom one accepts formal initiation. –Ed.

***** An excerpt from Ācārya Kesarī Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī – His Life and Teachings, Part Four:

The system of bhāgavata-paramparā is superior to that of pāñcarātrika-paramparā, and is founded on the degree of proficiency in bhajana (bhajana-niṣṭhā). The charm and superiority of bhāgavata-paramparā is that pāñcarātrika-paramparā is included within it. In bhāgavata-paramparā there is no obstruction in regard to time. From the viewpoint of pure bhakti, the doctrines of pāñcarātrika and of bhāgavata both explain the same teachings with the same objective. In Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 19.169) it is said, “pañcarātra bhāgavate ei lakṣana kaya – these symptoms are described in Vedic literatures such as the Pañcarātras and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam”.

The prākṛta-sahajiyā sampradāya, while claiming to be followers of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, accumulate offences to the lotus feet of Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī. Similarly, nowadays the jāti-gosvāmīs and those who accept their remnants – such as several members of the sahajiyā, kartābhajā, kiśorībhajā, and bhajanākhājā sampradāyas – proudly conceive of themselves as followers of Cakravartī Ṭhākura, but cast calumnies against the commentator Śrī Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa (who is Śrīla Cakravartī Ṭhākura’s main disciple and successor). In this way, they are growing excessively hateful and progressing towards hell.

[…] Several additional facts are worthy of our consideration on the subject of pāñcarātrika-guru-paramparā and bhāgavata-paramparā:

(1) The guru of lower rasa: If a pāñcarātrika-dīkṣā-guru in his constitutional spiritual form (siddha-svarūpa) is situated in a rasa that is lower than that of his disciple, how can he give bhajana-śikṣā (instructions on how to perform one’s spiritual practices) pertaining to the more elevated rasa? In this situation, the disciple must go elsewhere and take shelter of a Vaiṣṇava who is qualified to give the appropriate superior guidance. For example, Śrī Hṛdaya Caitanya is an associate in sakhya-rasa (attachment for Kṛṣṇa in the mood of a friend) in kṛṣṇa-līlā (Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes), whereas his disciple Śrī Śyāmānanda Prabhu (Duḥkhi Kṛṣṇa dāsa) is an associate in madhura-rasa (conjugal love). Therefore Śrī Hṛdaya Caitanya personally sent Duḥkhi Kṛṣṇa dāsa to Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī to receive higher bhajana-śikṣā in madhura-rasa.

(2) The less qualified guru: It may happen that guru and disciple in pāñcarātrika-guru-paramparā are in the same rasa, but that the guru is not so highly qualified as the disciple. Under such circumstances, the disciple must go and take shelter of an uttama (topmost) Vaiṣṇava for higher bhajana-śikṣā‚ and this Vaiṣṇava will be called his guru in the bhāgavata-paramparā.

We can see from these two considerations that the pāñcarātrika process has some inherent defects, whereas the bhāgavata-paramparā is completely free from these defects and is flawless in all respects.

(3) Śrīman Mahāprabhu is not pāñcarātrika-guru of anyone: All members of the Gauḍīya sampradāya accept Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu as jagad-guru and consider themselves to be His followers. However, on what basis do they maintain this conviction? There is no recorded account anywhere of Śrīman Mahāprabhu giving dīkṣā-mantra (the mantras given by the guru at the time of initiation) to anyone. This means that Śrīman Mahāprabhu is not anyone’s guru in the pāñcarātrika-paramparā, although He Himself is a disciple of Śrī Īśvara Purī.

Therefore, if the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava community accepts the guidance and discipleship of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, it can only be on one basis, and that basis is bhāgavata-paramparā.

(4) All Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas are rūpānuga (followers of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī) on the basis of bhāgavata-paramparā only: Each and every Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava is proud to call himself rūpānuga. But the point to consider is this: how many disciples did Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī initiate by the pāñcarātrika method? The fact is that Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī is his one and only dīkṣā disciple, and Śrī Rūpa is not actually a dīkṣā disciple of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. So on what basis do members of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava community accept Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī as their guru? How is it possible to be a follower of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī and at the same time be a follower of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu? Even Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī, who is the śikṣā-guru (instructing spiritual master) of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, has not a second thought about calling himself rūpānuga. The basis of all these examples is one – bhāgavata-paramparā.

[…] Who is the pāñcarātrika-dīkṣā-guru of Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī? We cannot say, because he has not mentioned the name of his pāñcarātrika-dīkṣā-guru in any of his writings, but he has named his śikṣā-gurus in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi-līlā 1.37): “These six gurus (the six Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana) are my śikṣā-gurus and I offer countless obeisances at their lotus feet.” At the end of each chapter of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta he has written, “śrī-rupa-raghunātha-pade yāra āśa, caitanya caritāmṛta kahe kṛṣṇa dāsa – Praying at the lotus feet of Śrī Rūpa and Śrī Raghunātha, always desiring their mercy, I, Kṛṣṇadāsa, narrate Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, following in their footsteps.”  In these statements he has specifically accepted Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrī Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī as his śikṣā-gurus on the basis of bhāgavata-guru-paramparā.

From these facts it becomes thoroughly obvious that bhāgavata-paramparā, which includes pāñcarātrika-paramparā, always shines forth brilliantly.

An excerpt from a morning walk with Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja in Marina di Massa, Italy, on July 3, 2010, published in Walking with a Saint – Morning Walks and Conversations 2010

Śrīpāda Dāmodara Mahārāja: The bābājīs are saying, “We are Jāhnavā vaṁśa (dynasty).” “We are Nityānanda vaṁśa.” From which vaṁśa are the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas?

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: We are also in the Nityānanda vaṁśa.

Śrīpāda Dāmodara Mahārāja: But didn’t Ṭhākura Bhaktivinoda take dīkṣā in Jāhnavā Ṭhākurāṇī vaṁśa?

Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: Not vaṁśa; line [the disciplic line of Jāhnavā Ṭhākurāṇī].

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda did not accept that Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura accepted dīkṣā in her line.

Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja: Vipina-bihārī Gosvāmī.

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: For a transcendental person, an ordinary family guru cannot be accepted as guru. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has cheated the worldly audience, for he accepted his dīkṣā-guru, Vipina-bihārī Prabhu, only as a formality, not for transcendental attainment.***

*** Adapted from Ācārya Kesarī, Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja – His Life and Teachings, Part Four, Pāñcarātrika-paramparā and bhāgavata-paramparā:

If the dīkṣā-guru is less qualified than the disciple, then accepting dīkṣā-mantras from him is like a camouflage, or cheating, for the worldly audience. The current of bhakti remains alive by śikṣā (teaching) of the transcendental message by realized souls. When the sincere disciple understands that his dīkṣā-guru is not so qualified, he accepts śikṣā from a highly qualified Vaiṣṇava. This is called śikṣā-paramparā, or bhāgavata-paramparā. The bhāgavata-paramparā (which includes the dīkṣā-paramparā when the dīkṣā-guru is also a highly qualified Vaiṣṇava) is the authorized way to transmit and receive transcendental knowledge.

Those who believed that the dīkṣā-guru-paramparā is the only authorized system were cheated by this behaviour of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura. The Ṭhākura’s real purpose was to teach sincere souls by his own example of accepting śikṣā-paramparā. He accepted Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja as his śikṣā-guru, and thus received all transcendental knowledge and bhajana from him.

An excerpt from Śrī Guru and His Grace, Chapter 10, by Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Mahārāja:

The highest truth of Kṛṣṇa consciousness comes down through the channel of śikṣā-gurus, instructing spiritual masters. Those who have the standard of realization in the proper line have been accepted in the list of our disciplic succession. It is not a dīkṣā-gurū-paramparā, a succession of formal initiating gurus.

Dīkṣā, or initiation, is more or less a formal thing; the substantial thing is śikṣā or spiritual instruction. And if our śikṣā- and dīkṣā-gurus, or instructing and initiating spiritual masters, are congruent, then we are most fortunate. There are different gradations of spiritual masters. In the scriptures, the symptoms of the guru and the symptoms of the disciple have been described; the guru must be qualified in so many ways, and the disciple must also be qualified. Then when they come in connection, the desired result will be produced.

Note from the editor: Bhāgavata-paramparā – there are two lines of disciplines: the pañcarātrika-guru-paramparā and the bhāgavata-guru-paramparā. The bhāgavata-guru-paramparā is the disciplic succession of self-realized souls who may be acting as either śikṣā-gurus (instructing spiritual masters) or dīkṣā-gurus (initiating spiritual masters). Pañcarātrika-guru-paramparā is the disciplic succession consisting of dīkṣā-gurus who may or may not be self-realized souls and who perform the formal procedures of initiation as delineated in śāstra.
The pañcarātrika-guru-paramparā will be included in the bhāgavata-paramparā if the dīkṣā-guru is a self-realized soul who can bring his disciple to the ultimate goal of life. Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, and Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī have all accepted this bhāgavata-guru-paramparā.
Sometimes, when the dīkṣā-guru is a conditioned soul, the pañcarātrika-guru-paramparā may be against bhakti. In a case like this, the pañcarātrika-guru-paramparā stands alone and is not included in the bhāgavata-paramparā. The bhāgavata-paramparā, however, under the guidance of śikṣā-gurus like Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī, Śrī Svarūpa Dāmodara, and Śrī Rāya Rāmānanda, is always authentic.
If a pañcarātrika-dīkṣā-guru, in his constitutional spiritual form, is situated in a rasa which is lower than that of his disciple, the disciple must ultimately go elsewhere and take shelter of a Vaiṣṇava who is qualified to give the appropriate superior guidance. It may happen that the guru and disciple in pañcarātrika-guru-paramparā are in the same rasa, but that the guru is not very highly qualified. Under such circumstances, the disciple must take shelter of an uttama Vaiṣṇava for higher bhajana-śikṣā, and this Vaiṣṇava will be called his guru in bhāgavata-paramparā. Thus the pañcarātrika process has some inherent defects, whereas the bhāgavata-paramparā is completely free from these defects and is flawless in all respects. — Svarūpa of the Jīva, Our Original Spiritual Identity, A Treasury of Wisdom from Prominent Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Ācāryas, Glossary, First edition


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Unless indicated differently, all verse translations and quotes are from the books by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja Prabhupāda (

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