The true hierarchically theological position of HDG ACBSP and other acaryas along with the proper method of scriptural interpretation defined.
- Clarification of HDG ACBSP’s & His Contemporaneous ISKCON’s (not today’s deviated one) Position In Comparison With The Overall Caitanyaite Lineage.
The undisputed and unanimously accepted sole theological founders of Sri Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya are the principal six Gosvamis of Vrndavana, amongst which Sri Rupa and Sanatana are the foremost. Since Sri Krsnacaitanyadeva did not author any treatise directly, but preferred to impart all His divine sermons to His two direct pupils viz., Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatana, all the voluminous literary canon penned by them stands as the foremost dogmatic authority in the Caitanyaite lineage. These two illustrious apostles of Gaurasundara were given fourfold decree to implement as Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami puts thus (vide Sri Caitanya Caritamrita 2.23.102-104):
purve prayage ami rasera vicare / tomara bhai rupe kailuń sakti-sancare //
Previously, I empowered your brother Rupa Gosvami to understand these mellows. I did this while instructing him at the Dasasvamedha-ghata in Prayaga.
tumiha kariha bhakti-sastrera pracara / mathuraya lupta-tirthera kariha uddhara //
O Sanatana, you should broadcast the revealed scriptures on devotional service and excavate the lost places of pilgrimage in the district of Mathura.
vrndavane krsna-seva, vaisnava-acara / bhakti-smrti-sastra kari’ kariha pracara //
Establish devotional service to Lord Krsna and Radharani in Vrndavana. You should also compile bhakti scriptures and preach the bhakti cult from Vrndavana.
In the Bhaktivedanta Purport of Sri Chaitanya-Caritamrita 2.23.104 attributed to Srila Prabhupada, the following assertion is found:
..This Krsna consciousness movement continues the tradition of the six Gosvamis, especially Srila Sanatana Gosvami and Srila Rupa Gosvami. Serious students of this Krsna consciousness movement must understand their great responsibility to preach the cult of Vrndavana (devotional service to the Lord) all over the world….
Hence, it is proved that the position of the theological founders of a sampradaya everlastingly remains topmost than all succeeding latter mentors. This is proved by the writings attributed to Srila Prabhupada as follows:
The present Krsna consciousness movement is also based on the authority of Srila Rupa Gosvami Prabhupada. We are therefore generally known as rupanugas, or followers in the footsteps of Srila Rupa Gosvami Prabhupada.
A prima facie contention is lashed here by citing the first clause of the ordinance directive of mandatory amendments issued on 22nd July, 1974 AD and signed in New York by Srila Prabhupada aka HDG ACBSP and his two disciples viz., ex Balimardan Das Goswami & ex Brahmananda Swami, who were the then GBC Zonal Secretaries – as follows:
It is declared that His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad is the Founder-Acharya of (ISKCON) International Society for Krishna Consciousness. He is the supreme authority in all matters of the society. His position cannot be occupied by anyone else, and his name and title must appear on all documents, letterheads, publications, and buildings of the Society….”
On the basis of the above document, our honourable contenders argue that since Srila Prabhupada is declared as the Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, it is improper to consider Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatana to be the theological founders and the greatest siksa-gurus of the lineage.
But, their such opinion is untenable, because Srila Prabhupada is the Founder of ISKCON only in an institutional and legal context. Otherwise, the founders of the theological substratum of ISKCON are only the principal six Gosvamis headed by Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatana. Srila Prabhupada has not written the above quoted phrases in vain “…continues the tradition of the six Gosvamis..” and “…is also based on the authority of Srila Rupa Gosvami Prabhupada..”. ISKCON’s theology is a continuation of the theology of the Gaudiya Sampradaya. It is not a new invention. If it were to be a new invention, Srila Prabhupada would not have considered the original authority to be Srila Rupa Gosvami and thus would not have duly paid his allegiance to him. Only if ISKCON is seen as disconnected from the Caitanyaite tree of Gaudiya Sampradaya, can Srila Prabhupada be considered to be the theological founder of ISKCON and not otherwise. A branch of Caitanyaite tree cannot have its independent philosophical system. Why? Because, in the writings attributed to Srila Prabhupada, the following assertion:
..Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami therefore offers equal respect to all the preachers of the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who are compared to the branches of the tree. ISKCON is one of these branches, and it should therefore be respected by all sincere devotees of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu…
From the above citation, it is very explicitly transparent that Srila Prabhupada is an institutional Founder of a branch of the overall Caitanyaite tree (and not of the tree itself) i.e. ISKCON and that also, only in an institutional legal sense and not in the theological sense. A branch of Caitanyaite tree cannot have its independent philosophical system. If somebody argues that just as Gaudiya Sampradaya is a branch of Madhva Sampradaya, similarly, ISKCON is also a new Sampradaya, then, our reply is that Gaudiya Sampradaya is only a nominal offshoot of the Madhvas and our philosophy is totally different than theirs both in terms of ‘upasana’ (worship) and the school of thought i.e. vada. We, Gaudiyas, follow the path of ‘raganuga-bhakti’ (and sometimes vaidhi also, but always unmixed with karma and jnana;) and consider Nandanandana Krsna to be Svayam Bhagavan, whereas, they follow the path of sole ‘vaidhi-bhakti’ along with ‘bhagavad-arpita-niskama-karma-yoga’ and consider Narayana to be Svayam Bhagavan. Their school of thought is dualism or ‘dvaita-vada’, whereas, ours is ‘acintya-bhedabheda-vada’. There are many more such major differences not to be counted here due to irrelevance. Hence, Gaudiyas’ connection with Madhvites is only nominal and for the sake of etiquette or ‘sistacara’ only. If not so, CC 1.9.10 would not have considered Sri Madhavendra Puri to be the first acarya in the lineage to have the seed of raga-margiya-prema-bhakti. All this proves that Madhva Sampradaya acaryas upto Sri Laksmipati Tirtha only retain a nominal connection with the Gaudiyas. Hence, their case is inapplicable in the context of the relation between a branch of the Caitanya tree i.e. ISKCON and the overall tree itself i.e. Caitanya Sampradaya. Moreover, if a branch of Caitanyaite tree claims to have an autonomous theological system than the tree it belongs to, its case will be similar to the of the rejected triple sons of Sri Advaitacarya Prabhuvara and which can be substantiated as under Sri Caitanya Caritamrita Adi 12.8:
prathame ta’ eka-mata acaryera gana / pache dui-mata haila daivera karana //
At first all the followers of Advaita Acarya shared a single opinion. But later they followed two different opinions, as ordained by providence.
keha ta’ acarya ajnaya, keha ta’ svatantra / sva-mata kalpana kare daiva-paratantra //
Some of the disciples strictly accepted the orders of the acarya, and others deviated, independently concocting their own opinions under the spell of daivi-maya.
acaryera mata yei, sei mata sara / tańra ajna lańghi’ cale, sei ta’ asara //
The order of the spiritual master is the active principle in spiritual life. Anyone who disobeys the order of the spiritual master immediately becomes useless.
In the BV Purport of Sri Caitanya Caritamrta Adi 12.10 attributed to Srila Prabhupada, following comments are found:
Here is the opinion of Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami. Persons who strictly follow the orders of the spiritual master are useful in executing the will of the Supreme, whereas persons who deviate from the strict order of the spiritual master are useless.
Hence, if it is considered that Srila Prabhupada is the independent and autonomous Founder of the theology of ISKCON, it would become as parallel to say that Srila Prabhupada is a deviant heterodox as analogous to the triple heretic sons cum disciples of Sri Advaitacarya Prabhuvara – who were also alleged to have formed their separate and independent conjectures later.
For the said reason, it cannot be accepted that a branch of the Caitanyaite tree is liable to have its own new theology independent of the continuing age-old tradition of the lineage. If it does formulate its independent philosophy, it ceases to exist as a branch any further. Since, the ISKCON branch (as well as any other legalized institutional branch) cannot have its new and independent philosophy in comparison with the overall broader denomination of the Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya, it also cannot have a theological founder different than the classical theological founders of the overall Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya viz., the Six Gosvamis.