Siddha pranali misconceptions

Introduction:

Siddha-praṇālī is yet another widely misunderstood and very controversial subject. There are many misconceptions associated with it so it’s not surprising that so much confusion exists. There have been, and still are, unscrupulous people who have tainted the integrity of siddha-praṇālī by their improper implementation of this well established tradition.

Such people and their activities are the primary reason Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī and Śrīla Prabhupāda criticized those involved in these questionable dealings. That does not, however, infer that siddha-praṇālī itself is not legitimate, nor did either of them denounce it directly as wewill discover in this section.


 

Examining Srila Prabhupada’s statements

Śrīla Prabhupāda mentions siddha-praṇālī briefly in Nectar of Devotion:

In this connection, we should be careful about the so-called siddha-praṇālī. The siddha-praṇālī process is followed by a class of men who are not very authorized and who have manufactured their own way of devotional service. They imagine that they have become associates of the Lord simply by thinking of themselves like that. This external behavior is not at all according to the regulative principles.

The so-called siddha-praṇālī process is followed by the prākṛta-sahajiyā, a pseudo sect of so-called Vaiṣṇavas. In the opinion of Rūpa Gosvāmī, such activities are simply disturbances to the standard way of devotional service. NOD, Chapter 15, Page 108

Examining these statements carefully reveals that Śrīla Prabhupāda’s harsh attack primarily has to do with these people (specifically males) dressing up as gopīs (external behavior), which we know is not a valid part of rāgānugā-bhakti, and is therefore outside of that which is taught and approved by the ācāryas. Therefore, Śrīla Prabhupāda justly criticized them.


 

Srila prabhupada has not  provided full understanding of siddha pranali in order to protect from deviations:

However, Śrīla Prabhupāda’s statement above does not describe what siddha-praṇālī is factually, nor does it provide a complete picture or full understanding of siddha-praṇālī as it has been properly implemented in genuine Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava lineages for centuries. After objectively examining the facts, it will be clear that Śrīla Prabhupāda was trying to protect his disciples from exposure to the many deviant sects claiming to be followers of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.


Understanding Bhaktivinode Thakura:

 

The truth of the matter is that siddha-praṇālī is most certainly not a bogus practice followed only by prākṛta-sahajiyās – far from it. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, received the full siddha-praṇālī details of his disciplic succession when he was initiated (dīkṣā) by Vipina Vihari (Bipin Bihari) Gosvāmī, and Bhaktivinoda also gave siddha-praṇālī-dīkṣā to his youngest son, Lalitā-prasāda Ṭhākura, as well as many of his other disciples.

I have included Śrīla Bhaktivinoda’s siddha-praṇālī chart (dīkṣā-patra) on the following pages, both hand-written in Bengali by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda himself, and in English for reference. These documents were obtained by a disciple of Śrīla Prabhupāda, Sukavak Dāsa, a Ph.D. linguistics scholar, as he describes in his well researched book about Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Hindu Encounter With Modernity:

Interestingly, Bhaktivinoda provides a letter of initiation (dīkṣā-patra) that outlines the details of his siddha-deha. I include a reproduction of a handwritten copy of the dīkṣā-patra in Bengali (p. 202) along with its transcription and translation (p. 232-233) that I originally obtained from Bhaktivinoda’s maternal family home. The dīkṣā-patra gives both the siddha-praṇālī and the ekadāśa-bhāva for Bhaktivinoda’s entire dīkṣā line running back to Śrī Jāhnavā Mā, the wife of Nityānanda Prabhu. HEWM, Page 230

Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura thus received the ekadāśa-bhāvas of his siddha-deha, which are listed in that document, including his siddha name – Kamalā-mañjarī. These same exact details are given in two of his most important books, namely, Jaiva-dharma and Harināma-cintāmaṇi, thus confirming Śrīla Bhaktivinoda’s acceptance of this system. Harināma-cintāmaṇi was written during Śrīla Bhaktivinoda’s retirement in rāgānugā-bhajana in Jagannātha Purī, near the samādhi of Haridāsa Ṭhākura, which is a further indication of the relevance of these matters.

More from Sukavak’s book:

To substantiate the information found in the dīkṣā-patra, we find that in the Siddhi-lālasā section of Gītā-mālā, one of Bhaktivinoda’s songbooks, he includes a selection of verses(only partially quoted by me) where he describes his mañjarī-svarūpa as follows:

My bodily complexion is like lightning and the color of my dress is like a cluster of stars. My name is Kamalā-mañjarī, I am eternally 12-1/2 years old, and my residence is called Svānanda Sukhada kuñja. My sevā is to bring camphor and I am in Lalitā’s group. Our party leader is Śrī Rādhā, and the Lord of my Goddess is Śrī Nandānandana [Kṛṣṇa]. They are the treasure of my life. GM, SL, 1-2

If we compare this description with the information found in Bhaktivinoda’s dīkṣā-patra we find that they match perfectly. All this evidence shows that Bhaktivinoda personally participated in and promoted the path of rāgānugā-bhakti-sādhana that included the process of siddha-praṇālī as defined by Gopāla Guru and Dhyānacandra Gosvāmīs. HEWM, Pages 230-231

Some people claim that Śrīla Bhaktivinoda rejected his guru, Bipin Bihari Gosvāmī, along with his teachings, but those assertions are patently false hearsay and wholly unsubstantiated. Unconfirmed stories and gossip can never be accepted as valid proof of anything spiritually related. Such statements are misleading and highly offensive to both Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and his revered guru, whom he refers to in Gītā-mālā (1893) by his siddha name, Vilāsa-mañjarī, as seen in the chart above.

When will Vilāsa-mañjarī and Anangā-mañjarī [Jāhnavā Mā] see me and, being merciful, speak the following essential words? GM, 3.1

O Vilāsa-mañjarī, Anangā-mañjarī and Rūpa-mañjarī, please notice me and accept me at your feet, bestowing on me the essence of all perfection? GM, 5.4

To provide more relevant context, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura was initiated by Bipin Bihari Gosvāmī in 1880, so the Gītā-mālā quoted above was written 13 years after his initiation and before or during the time when he was writing Jaiva-dharma. Here are more details from Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s hand written auto-biography, Svalikhita-jīvanī, as presented in Shukavak’s book:

I had been searching for a suitable guru for a long time, but had not found one, so I was feeling disturbed. Whenever I met someone who inspired my devotion, when I studied his character, I became disappointed and lost faith. I was anxious to find a guru and so I prayed to God.

One night in a dream the Lord indicated that soon I would receive initiation. The next morning I felt relieved. In a few days Gurudeva finally wrote a letter saying, “I will come soon and give you initiation.” When Gurudeva finally came both my wife and I received initiation and we were pleased. From that day on I felt compassion towards all beings and the sin of meat eating vanished from my heart and compassion arose towards living beings. SJ, 155-156.

I have taken the time to include this information because some devotees try to minimize Śrīla Bhaktivinoda’s connection with Bipin Bihari Gosvāmī and siddha-praṇālī. For further information, I have provided a separate pdf file of an article titled, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s relationship with Bipin Bihari Gosvāmī. This article provides well researched historical facts that will clear up the misconceptions and falsehoods, and supply valuable and factual insights into this area of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda’s spiritual life. I also highly recommend reading Shukavak’s book, Hindu Encounter With Modernity.


Understanding bonafide siddha pranali:

So what exactly is the correct understanding of siddha-praṇālī versus the versions that are so heavily criticized? Let’s start by first defining what siddha-praṇālī means. Siddha, of course, means a perfected self-realized soul. Praṇālī means lineage or channel or succession. Siddha-praṇālī literally means the delineation of one’s disciplic succession from the perspective of each guru’s eternal spiritual (siddha) identity, i.e., who they are in kṛṣṇa-līlā.

Lineage refers to one of the disciplic successions descending directly from the associates of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, such as Nityānanda, Advaita, Gadādhara, Lokanātha (Narottama), Syāmānanda and so on. Each of these lineages is also known as a “guru-praṇālī,” a branch of the main sampradāya (Brahmā-Madhva-Gauḍīya-sampradāya), and the same lineage using each guru’s siddha identity is known as the “siddha-praṇālī” of that guru-praṇālī.

Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s siddha-praṇālī chart shows the unbroken disciplic succession he was connecting with, i.e., the actual sequential lineage of gurus, each one being the direct disciple of the previous guru in the list, all the way back to Lord Nityānanda’s wife, Jāhnava Ṭhākurānī, who is Ananga-mañjarī – Rādhā’s younger sister in kṛṣṇa-līlā. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura was placed 12th on the list from her. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura reveals his desired relationship with Ananga mañjarī in a number of his prayers and songs, such as Navadvipa-bhāva-taranga, 132-165 (1899), and the Gītā-mālā mentioned earlier.

Śrīla Bhaktivinoda’s siddha-praṇālī chart lists the names of each guru as they were known in this world, i.e., their initiated sādhaka names. Then, next to each guru’s name is the name of their eternal siddha-svarūpa identity, thus revealing the siddha-praṇālī of his guru-praṇālī. Additionally, in the chart there are the other details of each guru’s ekadāśa-bhāvas, which reveal those additional aspects of their siddha identities.

Siddha-praṇālī in the simplest terms is a guru confidentially revealing to a qualified disciple,“This is my eternal identity in vraja-līlā. You will be associating with me in vraja-līlā in this identity. I’ll teach you the method I was taught to attain my eternal identity, so you can attain your eternal identity too. And here are the siddha names of our disciplic succession.” That’s really the essence of it. There is nothing deviant about such confidential dealings between a guru and his disciple.

Thus, in part, receiving siddha-praṇālī means a disciple is given this detailed information about his or her particular disciplic succession. The other component of siddha-praṇālī is receiving or discussing the details of the disciple’s own siddha-deha and its ekadāśa-bhāvas. Knowing the siddha identities of one’s guru lineage means they can be included in meditations in one’s siddha-deha, because there will be a connection with them in Kṛṣṇa’s eternal līlā, similar to what Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura expressed in his songs quoted previously.

This is also described in Dhyānacandra’s, Gaura Govindārcana-smaraṇa-paddhati, and is perhaps the first written reference to siddha-praṇālī. The word praṇālī is found in the verse.

tatradau mañjarī-rūpan gurvadin tu sviyan sviyan pranaly-anusarena samsmaret śrīgurūparama-guru-krameneti tatah śrī-Rādhikām dhyayet, tatah śrī-nandanandanam

Concerning that dhyāna (meditation), before anything else, the sādhaka should perform smaraṇa (remembrance) of the mañjarī forms of his guru-praṇālī, beginning with his guru, then parama-guru, and so on. Then he shall meditate on Śrī Rādhikā, and after that Śrī Nandānandana. GGSP, 344

Viśvanātha Cakravartī also follows this same etiquette when he refers to his siddha-praṇālī in Sankalpa-kalpadrumah, where he addresses his guru, Rādhāramana Cakravartī, who is Tūlasīmañjarī, his grand-guru, Kṛṣṇa-carana Cakravartī, who is Raṅga-mañjarī, and his great-grandguru, Ganga-Nārāyana Cakravartī, who is Prema-mañjarī:

Where am I, whose heart is filled with deceit and hundreds of other faults, and where is this sudden resolve concerning this rare subject matter? O Tūlasī, you are the personification of shelter for the helpless. You are my only refuge. Your unconditional mercy accepted me without counting my faults. SK, 90

O Raṅga-mañjarī, please bestow your mercy upon me. O Prema-mañjarī, please grace me with your compassionate glance. O Vilāsa-mañjarī, attracting me to your lotus feet and making me your servant, please accept me with the other sakhīs. SK, 91

Śrīla Bhaktivinoda initiated (dīkṣā) his son, Lalitā Prasada Ṭhākura, into his disciplic succession and gave him the same siddha-praṇālī chart, with a space at the bottom for his son to add his own information below his own details. Several of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s early disciples also took initiation from Lalitā Prasāda and they too received the same chart and added their details. In addition, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda gave dīkṣā to some of his other disciples and provided them with the same siddha-praṇālī chart, as confirmed by Lalitā Prasāda to his American disciples.


 

Spiritual greed  is the qualification :

Now let’s isolate the primary issue of contention. As will be discussed in the following sections, learning or hearing about one’s siddha-deha and its ekadāśa-bhāvas (i.e., the stage of śravaṇadaśā), normally takes place when, due to the appearance of spiritual greed (lobha) for a desired rasa with Kṛṣṇa, one becomes qualified to engage in rāgānugā-bhakti. Until reaching that point, it is normally considered premature for a disciple to inquire about these matters.

Typically, but not always, the qualifications for this stage will appear only after a disciple has received dīkṣā and has subsequently been engaged in serious sādhana-bhakti for many years. Even then, as we learned in Chapter 3, the appearance of spiritual greed only manifests due to the mercy of Kṛṣṇa or a rasika devotee, who bestow this rare gift on worthy practitioners. So it may or may not take many years. There are no quantitative factors involved, only divine mercy.

Therefore, the proper bestowal of siddha-praṇālī in terms of initiation (dīkṣā) would not necessarily include giving neophyte disciples the details of their siddha-deha and ekadāśa-bhāvas, because they almost certainly would not be qualified for rāgānugā-bhakti at that time. However, it does appear that Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura received these details at his initiation, implying that he was qualified at that time.

In fact, only when disciples are genuinely qualified and thus ready to engage in rāgānugā-bhakti, would they be deemed fit to learn about their siddha-deha and its ekadāśa-bhāvas. This is confirmed by Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura in Harināma-cintāmaṇi:

When, on examining the disciple’s natural tendencies, the spiritual master verifies that he truly has the qualifications for serving in śṛṅgāra-rasa, he informs him of the eternal form(siddha-deha) that he should cultivate as a mañjarī in Lalitā’s subgroup of Śrīmatī Rādhāranī’s group of gopīs.

Then the spiritual master explains the mutual relation between the eleven components (ekadāśa-bhāvas) of that spiritual identity (siddha-deha) necessary for the practice and the object of that practice – the pastimes the Lord enjoys throughout the eight periods of the day and night (aṣta-kālīya-līlā). He especially shows the disciple his spiritual name, form, qualities, and principle service. HC, 15.64-68, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda’s Notes to the verses.


 

Improper implementation by few gurus is leading to the criticism of the entire process:

Śrīla Bhaktivinoda has thus summarized the proper implementation of this process according to his experience and realizations. Therefore, the improper implementation would be when a guru gives new disciples the details of their siddha-deha and ekadāśa-bhāvas even if they are not qualified(No lobha). In some cases, the guru may also be unqualified to give this confidential knowledge and guidance.

This is specifically what is criticized and rightly so. This unauthorized type of siddha-praṇālī initiation still exists today, and it is not in line with Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s instructions, nor the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava ācāryas. Such confidential details and instructions must never be given to, or by, unqualified people.

 

In the next section, knowledge of the implementation of one’s siddha-deha and ekadāśa-bhāvas will be proven beyond any doubts to be valid and essential components for progress in the final stages of rāgānugā-bhajana. But such knowledge should only be given to qualified disciples who are ready to implement these details in their personal bhajana. Gurus who indiscriminately provide these details to unqualified initiates, by whatever methods, are doing a disservice to those disciples in particular, and to Caitanya Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism in general.

This is really the crux of the matter concerning the controversies about siddha-praṇālī – whether or not the guru and disciple are both qualified. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s acceptance, continuance and teachings about the most important aspects of siddha-praṇālī, namely the siddha-deha and its ekadāśa-bhāvas as core elements of rāgānugā-bhajana, are undeniable proof of the validity of those aspects for Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas. But there is still more to consider, so let’s continue.

There are various methods employed by each guru regarding establishing the disciple’s siddha-deha and ekadāśa-bhāvas. Some gurus, presumably being bhāva-bhaktas themselves, enter into a meditative state, wherein they are said to receive these details from the nitya-siddha gopīs. They then reveal that information to their disciple after their meditation. Some gurus give or assign these details to the disciple based on their personal evaluation of the disciple’s inclinations.


Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura’s actual position on siddha pranali

Although Śrīla Bhaktivinoda gave siddha-praṇālī-dīkṣā to his son, Lalitā Prasāda, as well as to other disciples, for whatever reasons, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura did not give the same dīkṣā and siddha-praṇālī information to his son, Bimala Prasāda – Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī – and this brings up the next important point in our discussion on this subject.

As far as I have read, there is also no written account of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī receiving siddha-praṇālī-dīkṣā from his guru, Gaura Kiśora dāsa Bābājī. Nevertheless, it is well known by many that Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī’s siddha-svarūpa identity is Nayana Mani-mañjarī.

Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī was a disciple of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī, and thus Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Godbrother and friend. He also initiated Prabhupāda into the sannyāsa āśrama. In Śrīla B.V. Nārāyana Mahārāja’s biography of his guru, Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī, he recounts a discussion between his guru and another disciple regarding Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī and siddha-praṇālī:

In those days Śrīla Gurudeva’s dear sevaka, Śrīpāda Nārāyana Dāsādhikārī inquired from him privately, “Did your Gurudeva reveal the identity of the siddha-deha of any of his own disciples or not?”

Solemnly, [Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī] replied, “He has certainly done so. Śrīla Prabhupāda (Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī) has given the identity of the siddha-deha and śikṣā in bhajana-praṇālī to some of his qualified disciples; otherwise the Śrī Rūpānugā line would come to an end. He also mercifully gave this praṇālī to me.”

Śrī Nārāyana Prabhu again asked, “Will you bestow your mercy and reveal the name of your siddha-deha?”

Śrīla Gurudeva replied, “Not just now; it will be disclosed at the appropriate time.”


 

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s deviation from traditional process:

Quite revealing indeed, and extremely important facts to integrate with our analysis and broader understanding. Notwithstanding these facts, Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī did not present his guru’s disciplic succession as his own, along with the siddha-praṇālī details. Instead, he compiled a new disciplic succession of Vaiṣṇava ācāryas, which was not specifically a line of gurus and their direct disciples as shown in Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s guru-praṇālī chart, as well as in most other lineages at that time.

Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī’s disciplic succession was essentially a compilation of the most prominent Vaiṣṇava ācāryas coming in succession from Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. In some cases there were large gaps of time between each member in his succession list. He of course included his father, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, whose dīkṣā guru was not Jagannatha dāsa Bābājī, as we have learned.

Nor was Śrīla Bhaktivinoda the dīkṣā guru of Gaura Kiśora dāsa Bābājī, who was in the Advaita lineage from Śāntipura. None of the previous ācāryas in Śrīla Bhaktivinoda’s lineage were listed in Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī’s compiled lineage. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda passed away before Bhaktisiddhanta implemented this new disciplic succession, so we have no way of knowing how Śrīla Bhaktivinoda would have reacted and dealt with this situation.

This same disciplic succession presented by Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī was then passed on by Śrīla Prabhupāda to his disciples and the world as the reigning Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava paramparā from Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Under these circumstances, there was obviously no possibility of obtaining a siddha-praṇālī chart with the ekadāśa-bhāva details of each guru in that disciplic succession. That practice has not been continued since in their line.

Bhaktisiddhanta and Śrīla Prabhupāda have thus chosen to take the focus off of that particular aspect of the previously and currently prevalent system employed by the different Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava praṇālīs descending directly from Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.

When Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī introduced this new disciplic succession, it was of course met with great criticism by many people in the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava communities in India, both in Navadvīpa and Vṛndāvana. Some Vaiṣṇavas in India still question the validity of the lineage presented by Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī.


 

Actual reason for Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s deviation from the traditional process:

Bhaktisiddhanta appears to have done this because he wanted to separate his mission from those who were improperly implementing the siddha-praṇālī system, as well as those caste gosvāmīs who were making a monopolistic business of giving dīkṣā into their family disciplic successions, without providing proper guidance and instruction as well.

Rather than represent Gaura Kiśora dāsa Bābājī’s lineage, which was one of many valid praṇālīs at the time, and which was a time honored tradition, he chose to establish a disciplic succession that represented the descending transmission of essential knowledge passed down from Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, and which was not tied to a particular family, group or party. Thus, it could be said that it is a śikṣā-guru lineage. Some have called it a Bhāgavata-paramparā.
Bhaktisiddhanta’s innovations were also made in consideration of the unique circumstances wherein Vaiṣṇavism was beginning to spread all around the world to a whole new class of potential practitioners, none of whom would be qualified to hear about siddha-praṇālī, the siddha-deha or ekadāśa-bhāva. It would have been confusing and inappropriate. It was, rather, a time for laying the foundations of the science of bhakti-yoga worldwide, to be built upon and expanded throughout the future generations of Vaiṣṇavas.

 


 

Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī and  Śrīla Prabhupāda did not wrote about or discussed the siddha-deha and ekadāśa-bhāva to any great extent .

And, as anyone who has studied their writings knows, neither Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī nor Śrīla Prabhupāda wrote about or discussed the siddha-deha and ekadāśa-bhāva to any great extent. They more or less avoided it and that is especially noteworthy because they were immediate direct representatives of Bhaktivinoda Thakura. However, we just heard that Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī did in fact give these details and instructions to his qualified disciples, so it was most certainly not something he rejected entirely.


 

Srila Prabhupada’s actual position on siddha pranali

In spite of what Śrīla Prabhupāda wrote about siddha-praṇālī in his Nectar of Devotion, this excerpt from a private conversation with Hrsikeśa dāsa, an early disciple of Śrīla Prabhupāda, in Māyāpura India, (circa 1973), reveals very telling facts about Śrīla Prabhupāda’s actual position on this subject:

ACBSP: So what you have learned in Vṛndāvana?

HD: About Nitya-līlā, Gurudev.

ACBSP: And?

HD: Siddha-praṇālī, aṣta-kālīya-līlā-smaraṇam. Right, Gurudev!?

ACBSP: YES, but who is siddha?

HD: One out of millions of seekers (quoted the verse Bhagavad Gītā, manusyānām sahasreṣu…” But isn’t this (nitya-līlā) our goal , Gurudev?

ACBSP: Yes, we are the followers of Rūpa-Raghunath. This is the highest understanding, to be dāsanudās in Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s līlā.

HD: But what about siddha-praṇālī? How to qualify? Who will give?

ACBSP: Guru will give. You just chant Hare Kṛṣṇa.

HD: (I mentioned the story of Chota Krishnadās, who tried to quit his body by jumping into Mānasa-gangā, when he heard that only his Guru, who had already departed, could give him siddha-praṇālī) …How to receive this eternal information, Gurudev?

ACBSP: Guru will give. There is no material consideration about Guru is here or there. When you reach that level, Guru will give.

HD: Gurudev, what about mānasi-sevā, like the Brāhmana who burnt his finger in meditation? Isn’t that bhajana?

ACBSP: Kṛṣṇa makes no distinction. But if you serve Kṛṣṇa by mind He will accept. That is sure!

HD: Gurudev, whenever I mention anything about Rūpānugā-bhakti many of my Godbrothers get angry and say it is all a bunch of Gauḍīya Math nonsense, and you never taught that!

ACBSP: Everything is coming, they will also know it.

HD: Gurudev, is the aṣta-kālīya-līlā by Kaviraj Gosvāmī the REAL Nitya-līlā detail?

ACBSP: Yes.

This conversation reveals a dramatically different attitude from Śrīla Prabhupāda’s initial statement about siddha-praṇālī. Here he says, “Guru will give. There is no material consideration about Guru is here or there. When you reach that level, Guru will give.” This appears to be a contradiction to his original statement, but it isn’t. It is perfectly congruent with my assertion that he wasn’t directly criticizing siddha-praṇālī, just the bogus implementation by unauthorized sects. In the above conversation he clearly indicates that it is a valid part of bhakti and that he eventually planned to give all of this knowledge to his disciples, “Everything is coming, they will also know it.”


Srila Prabhupada : “Everything is coming, they will also know it”

This is further proof of my original assertions that Śrīla Prabhupāda understood these details and planned to reveal everything in due course of time. It is clear from the above conversation that Śrīla Prabhupāda was acutely aware of his disciples’ neophyte status, and therefore made the necessary adjustments to his presentation of this confidential knowledge.
Furthermore, connection to a bonafide lineage does not always guarantee the spiritual credentials and qualifications of the guru. We have all witnessed far too many supposedly bona fide gurus from bona fide lineages falling by the wayside and sometimes even rejecting bhakti altogether. Once again, we must choose our gurus wisely and carefully.


 

Siddha pranali can be obtained from siksha guru:

There is also no mandate in the ācāryas’ writings that disciples must receive these confidential details only from their dīkṣā guru and no one else. Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī said that in a letter, “On the other hand, if a devotee receives some inspiration after sincerely chanting for a long time, he should go to the sad-guru or advanced devotees and ask for it to be confirmed and purified by them.”

In Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s Jaiva-dharma, the main character, Vijaya Kumāra, received some of this higher knowledge from his dīkṣā-guru, and later he obtained even more esoteric knowledge, including more details about the ekadāśa-bhāvas, from his śikṣā-guru, Gopāla Guru Gosvāmī, who was a qualified rasika Vaiṣṇava in another lineage. No conflicts of lineage were indicated in that context and no disloyalty to their guru either.
Thus, as the guru within the heart (caita-guru) Kṛṣṇa will direct all qualified devotees to study these teachings for their eternal benefit, and then He will reveal the proper understanding of this knowledge according to the qualifications of each devotee. That is primarily how Kṛṣṇa bestows His mercy upon us. These details and instructions were compiled for obvious reasons and should not be ignored or minimized, in favor of anticipated and very rare divine emancipation.

To illustrate these points, here are some highlights summarizing the opening conversation in Jaiva-dharma, Chapter 39 – Entering līlā:

…Vijaya: Prabhu, by your unlimited compassion, I have learnt everything, but I cannot control my real self, so I cannot firmly establish myself in kṛṣṇa-līlā. Kindly bestow upon me whatever instructions you may think suitable for me in my present condition.

…Gopāla Guru Gosvāmī: In other words, you should completely abandon śāstric reasoning and logic, and engage in the sādhana of rāgānugā-bhakti according to the greed developed in your heart. Render profuse loving service to Śrī Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa in Vraja. That is, engage in the bhajana of vraja-rasa.

…Vijaya: Prabhu, now I will put aside all the logical arguments of the śāstras and all the other paths, for I am becoming very eager to render appropriate services in aṣta-kālīya-līlā, as taught and demonstrated by Śrī Gaurangadeva, under the guidance of my guru-rūpa-sakhī. Please instruct me how can I make my mind steadfast in this attitude, so that I can achieve my goal.

…Gopāla Guru Gosvāmī: Before performing rādhā-kṛṣṇa-smaraṇa, always remember gaura-līlā, because it will stimulate and awaken your bhāvas of aṣta-kālīya-līlā. Always realize bhajana-gurudeva as none other than a Vraja yuthesvari or sakhī. Enter into vraja-līlā by performing bhajana in this way.

…Gopāla Guru Gosvāmī: Two subjects are to be clearly understood in this connection: upāsya-pariṣkṛti and upāsaka-pariṣkṛti. Upāsya-pariṣkṛti means to refine the conception and realize the true nature of the upāsya, or the object of one’s sevā. You have already accomplished upāsya-pariṣkṛti, for you have understood rasa-tattva.

There are eleven bhāvas with respect to upāsaka-pariṣkṛti; you have gained almost all of them, but you need to be somewhat more firmly established in them.

Vijaya: Kindly explain these ekadāśa-bhāvas to me thoroughly once again. JD, Chapter 39, Pages 837-839

This comprehensive and conclusive analysis of the origins and validity of siddha-praṇālī, according to the writings of the Gauḍīya ācāryas, is of vital importance for all serious Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, especially those who are desirous of engaging in rāgānugā-sādhana-bhajana.


 

By HG Uttamasloka Das, Disciple of HDG A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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