Home > Spiritual discourses > The meaning of Gaudiya Vedanta

The subject of our class today is "What is gaudiya-vedanta" ? We utilize those words very frequently, bhaktivedanta and gaudiya sampradaya. But what is precisely gaudiya vedanta ? Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupada he was emphasizing the vedanta and it's morphology and it's ontology as a very important aspect, as the foundation of his movement. Gaudiya vedanta is the tika, the explanation of the vedic scriptuers from the basis of the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Gaudiya vedanta is originally the Sikshastaka, thats where it starts. Of course the eight verses of the Sikshastakam have been expanded in many different ways and points of angles by the confidental servants of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who received that particular charge to write the bhakti-granta, outstandingly the sandharbas. Because there Srila Jiva Goswami he backs all the teachings of the previous acharyas who are somewhat out of the blue, of course not really out of the blue, Sanatan Goswami, Rupa Goswami. But they definetely introduced things which were somewhat kind of unheard of. Or at least unheard of the connection which was brought about, Padma purana, Vishnu purana, Bhagavat purana, Upanishad, how the gaudiya vedanta, the gaudiya vedanta acharyas explained all this to come to the conclusion of the devotional attitude which we try to develop in the footsteps of our predecessor acharyas.

Gaudiya vedanta is also being contributed through Baladeva Vidyabhusana in his famous Govinda-bhasya. There he precisely goes to the Vedanta-sutra and gives a tika from the point of all the gaudiya teachings. You see vedanta is such a vast, vast information, it is the end of all vedic knowledge, vedanta. Therefore it has to be taken into consideration, Vamandas, the disciple of Sadhananda, a godbrother of Srila Prabhupada, he wrote in a very insteresting way, he says: In India, when people interpret or explain the vedas according to their vision, they all contradict each other. Each one says something which excludes some parts of the vedas. Each one takes out of context one part and bases the philosophy on top of that. And on top of that they decry the interpretation of the others to an extreme degree. So he says only the gaudiya vedantists they don't do that. They give each an every part of the vedic teachings their location and create a homogenuous understanding how this is a step by step understanding in the theological evolution of mankind, according to the development of desire, to come to the final conclusion which is quite openly emphasized at several aspects. Like you may talk about the impersonal interpretation of the truth. The impersonalist excludes the personal revelation. They simply ignore that and focus on a few Upanishadic shlokas which lend to believe that all is one, or lend to believe that unity and liberation is the highest. But because they ignore other sections they cannot substantialize their way of thinking. Whereas the gaudiya vedantist he don't excludes anything, and he can give within it's perspective, within it's portion a proper understanding of Durga-worship, Shiva-worship, Ganesh-worship, of Surya of whatever you may mention, unless it is some really speculative thing. Like Rajneesh, or something like that. He is just a bogus thing, but basically even the tantric processes they find their location, they have their meaning. Like it is a tantra to tell a Kali-worshipper to kill a goat at the new moon and to whisper into the goats ear: My dear animal, because of my weakness I am killing you, I want to eat you. But I am accepting that you gain the same right to do that with me in a future life. So thats a tantra, a particular mantra, a particular understanding for upliftment of that person in that particular condition.

So the gaudiya vedantist, they have a very, very solid standing, because they don't reject anything. They can understand and put into it's place for certain type of people, for certain type of mood, this is being said. Whereas others cannot do that. Impersonalists cannot deal with the descriptions of Goloka Vrindavan. They cannot deal with it, they don't know what to say. Oh they make another claim, they say: Oh yeah this is for entertaining our minds while we are still in the conditioned world and once we get a little higher we will reach the brahman. But thats not substantiated in the scriptuers. It says: brahmano ham pratistha, Krishna says: I am the source of that brahman. The Isopanishad says: Please remove this shining effulgence so that I can see your personal, your form. What Arjuna says ? Krishna please this universal form is too much, I want to see your personal, original form, kiritinam gadinam cakra-hastam icchami tvam drastum aham tathaiva tenaiva rupena catur-bhujena sahasra-baho bhava visva-murte. There are so many descriptions, there are so many hints clearly given that there is a Supreme Person behind everything. So can you imagine how wonderful this is ? How the Supreme Personality of Godhead has been so kind with us, and sent us this gaudiya vedanta ? Because, we may not forget that the vedanta is the explanation which has to lead us to the yuga-dharma. Because without yuga-dharma we will be quite lost.

The yuga-dharma which is for this age is the kali kalera dharma krsna nama sankirtan, krsna sakti vina nahe tara pravartana, it is the chanting of the holy names. And that is also directly drawn from the vedantic teachings. It is there in the Kali santara Upanishad that in this age of kali the chanting of Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare is that process which will bring us liberation. Then after Lord Chaitanya it became Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. And that Rama all of a sudden was not the Ramachandra but it was the Radha-Raman, Ram, the Krishna who wants to please Radha. So it is very important the yuga-dharma, which the yuga-avatar is bringing for our liberation.

Gaudiya vedanta this is such an important thing to understand. To understand the validity and the importance of our acharyas. And it has been neglected in India due to the influence of the west to actually pay good attention on gaudiya vedanta, or to vedanta in general. People are not really discussing. Without discussing they cannot come to a clue. Navadvip was a place of learning, Varanasi was a place of learning. They were places of debate on vedanta, nyaya and all these different aspects of understanding the scriptures. That was the essence, thats what they were doing. And the conclusion was that the acharyas who were really capable of explaining this in the most magnificent way, they should be followed. Because the essence, substance should be maintained alive. So gaudiya vedanta is the study of the Brhat-bhagavatamrita, is the study of the Bhagavatam, is the study of the Sandharbas, is the study of all the different books like Gopala-champu etc, etc. and again and again come back to square one. What is square one ? Isvarah paramah krsnah sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah, anadir adir govindah sarva-karana-karanam. This is square one. Isvarah paramah krsnah, Krishna is the supreme controller. Knowledge and the end of knowledge means to know whats the origin, whats the middle and whats the end. Like Srila Prabhupada often used to make a little fun of the scientists. He used to say: You have become so specialist. You specialize and specialize and finally you know everything about nothing, because you specialized on such a tiny little thing which is really nothing. But they think they can do so, extract knowledge about a fragment and know the whole. But you can study a painting for 3 trillion years and wont know who painted it. Even if you take apart every atom of the painting and do anything and everything you want. There is no way for you to find out who is the painter. The painter will only be known when he reveales himself to you, when he says: yes I painted that. Or somebody who reveals him to you, so in the same way we cannot get knowledge of the Supreme. Vedanta, bhagavat-dharma, bhagavata-parampara in one or another way all these words mean the same, they mean truth. Veda is truth, bhagavat-parampara is the school of truth. The truth is Bhagavan. Bhagavan is the supreme original fountainhead of all existing manifestations.

So the gaudiya vedanta is the truth as being revealed today at this time and place by the grace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. And Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the teachings given by His beloved devotees, it is so deep and so confidential and such an exclusive thing that when you go around the Yamuna and you see all the scenery and you hear all the peacocks and you see the beautiful trees and you see all these mixtures you most probably are going to get lost and forget it, because you cannot see it with your eyes. It is not an eye-exercise. That gaudiya vedanta of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is entirely a heart issue. You can only understand it through the heart of the devotees. There you will hear the gaudiya vedanta takes us all the way to madhurya-rasa. Vekantha Bhatta clearly stated there is nothing higher then Laxmi-Narayan. And when Mahaprabhu said: Yes, then could you please explain to me why Laxmi-devi wanted to go to Vrindavan to be with Krishna ? Then Vekantha Bhatta thought and thought and could no really think of an answer. But then Mahaprabhu came with a second slap, because He said: And why it was that she could not get entrance into Vrindavan, your Supreme Goddess of Goddesses ? Then he was shaking. Vekantha Bhatta sayed, no, please give me the clue ! Guide me in understanding this, this is too much, I cannot tolerate this idea. There are very great devotees in south india. Very dedicated to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So, Laxmi-devi the Supreme Mother cannot go somewhere ? Why is that ? Because She is an eternal associate of Lord Narayan in aisvarya. And that place has been reserved for Srimati Radhika and Her gopi friends. Actually it is just a lila that Laxmi-devi wants to come and cannot come in. It is just a way to enhance the sweetness and greatness of Braj and the association of Braj. This you can again only see and understand within the hearts of hearts. This is so deep. And what comes from that, what emanates from that, that has been described in such books like Vidhagda Madhava, when you see the loving pastimes of Radha and Krishna, you see that there is something so loving, so sweet, so personal, so aprakrita, similar to our world, and not of it. But the fountainhead of all transcendental feelings is where everything turns around Sri Krishnas sweet love, in a very unique way. Because when Krishna comes to this world and He playes with His gopis then some people just can't get it. They can't figure it out. Jatila and Kutila they really have some trouble with that situation. And they are hearing here and there that our beloved Radha is being troubled by this fellow. He wants to capture Her, and not only Her. Nobody can figure out the gopi love for Krishna. Krishna is really playing an amazing lila. He is practically snatching away the love of the cowherd damsels for His heart, while their husbands and families cannot understand what happens to them. I mean it is a real story. It is not fiction. And Abhimanyu manifests in this Gokul pastimes, he is there. I mean you have heard the story like, I mean Krishna has quite some jokes in store.

One time Mother Yashoda wanted to send some gift to Radharani, because She cooks always for Krishna. Mother Yashoda is so thankful because Radharani received a boon that whoever eats the food cooked by Her never gets sick. Then everybody made the arrangements that She could cook for Krishna. This was another trick, anyhow. So mother Yashoda said: Let me give a nice gift. So she was making a box, and she is filling it with all kinds of nice saris and jewels and like that. And Abhimanyu was told: Mother Yashoda is sending a gift box for Radharani, you want to come and pick it up ? Then Abhimanyu said, yes, the King is sending a gift-box to us, thats great. Krishna goes and sees this box, and He is asking: Mom, maiya, where is this going ? Oh, my darling boy, these are some gifts I am preparing for Radharani. Really ? And how is it going to get there ? Oh, Abhimanyu is coming and he will get the box and he will bring it. Oh, maiya, very nice. And then Mother Yashoda goes off, and Krishna takes out some of the gifts and He lie Himself in the box. And He covers and puts some clothes and says: Thats a good new way, I didnt think of how I will get there to Yavat. And very shortly after comes Abhimanyu and Mother Yashoda says: Oh here is the box, please take it directly into Radharanis room. Some very special gifts I am sending for Her. All this is written by Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura. So in this way, Abhimanyu said, Oh is this heavy this box. That must be pure gold and jewels. So he carried and it was very hard for him bringing this box all the way to Yavat. And he said: Radharani I am bringing the most precious jewels you can imagine. And he brings it directly into Her room. And very politely he leaves so that She can figure out. And Radharani she feels something, and opens the box, and who is lying in the box with a big smile ? I mean you gotta leave it to Krishna, He is making real exciting pastimes. Doing it in a very unique way. And don't think this is only one of His tricks. He is just full of them. Every day He does a different one. He plays, He is so playfull. Krishna is an unlimited fountain of playfullness. And He plays with His devotee. That part is not exactly known to me, but since He don't have never troubles, and when He gets some troubles He somehow figures out to get out of them. Anyhow He made it there to meet His beloved Radha right at Her home, being brought there by Abhimanyu. Many times they have been accused of doing something inapropriate, but Krishna never does anything innapropriate. Everything He does is just out of His love for His devotee.

Can you imagine carrying the Supreme Personality of Godhead to His beloved ? All glories to Abhimanyu. This is just an amazing service. He is in Radha-dasyam. That person who we hear sometimes being talked about a little bit indirect that he is not the most intelligent, he is doing service to Srimati Radharani in a very extraordinary way. So in this way we are seeing that the pastimes of Krishna are unlimited. And it will go on and on. Because the Bhagavatam in the higher planetary systems has thousands of volumes. There is no end to it, there is no end to it. It is always dynamic growing of Krishnas wonderful lilas. So we are very greatful to our acharyas to have given us this gaudiya vedanta. And it should be part of our life to understand it clearly. Even thought we know that by getting lots of knowledge we should be careful not to be proud of it. Gaudiya vedanta is a heart issue, and if you understand something of Mahaprabhus trnad api sunicena taror api sahisnuna, if you like to serve, if you like to go and to make yourself available to the transcendental sweet desire of Krishna, if you really like to do that do you know what happens ? Then this meaning, this inner substance it will become revealed to you. The Supreme Lord in your heart will help you to understand that. You will awake spiritually. And the spiritual awakening comes about by taking fully shelter of the lotus feet of ones spiritual Master, not in any artificial fashion. You cannot bribe your way into the spiritual world. You cannot cut corners. Of course you can pray for mercy, that you can do. But if I really pray for mercy then why should I not try to act in such a way to really get that mercy ? Otherwise it is just a lip-service. Give me mercy, give me mercy, but I am going on just as I always did-just for my own pleasures. doesn't make much sence. So the gaudiya vedantists they are surrendering to the will of Krishna. The gaudiya vedantists they are very concerned with the spiritual upliftment of this world. When the sages of Naimisaranya united and Saunaka Rshi started the inquiry and Suta Goswami was elected as the appropriate speaker, they were thinking of how to understand the solution of vedanta for this age. So as members of Srila Prabhupadas family we are all supposed to go into the line of gaudiya vedantists. And Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is the supreme gaudiya vedantist, as his name reveals. The gaudiya vedantists are the bhaktivedantas-those who understand the loving message of the vedanta. That love reigns supreme, love is all in all and that love governs even Krishna. Even God Himself is a slave of love, nobody can conceive of anything separate from that. So if you have any questions in this regard ?

Question: What pleases the Guru most ?

Answer: That depends upon the time. Famous example the Guru asks for a glass of water and the disciple was very smart and thought milk is better then water, so he brought milk and the Guru wasnt pleased. So what pleases the Guru most is a general question, I think that is so obvious, that the devotee becomes a pure devotee. One time Srila Prabhupada was asked the same question by a stern book distributor who wanted to kind of get into his portfolio this last statement of book distribution that there is nothing higher in the world. And he was sure that he was going to get that statement for his portfolio. And Prabhupada he could understand this agenda. And he said: It pleases me the most that you become pure devotees of the Supreme Lord. So they had no way to go out, find any ritual or any other thing to do. Really becoming a pure devotee that entitles to be very cautious that the details don't escape. Because what are the details ? Love is a question of details. There are so many details. And those details means you care. Like a detail is if you have salt on a table or not at the time of eating. It may be a little detail, but it is important. So in the path of spontanuous devotional service, these teachings of Srila Rupa Goswami, we find that the details are according to time and place different, and according to rasa they are also different. Like what the gopas do for Krishna has a different priority then what the gopis do. And what the elder members of Vrindavan do has another priority. So in this way even that is very hard to say. Srila Prabhupada used to say: A disciple takes the order of his spiritual Master as his life and soul. And whatever that order was and whatever he can make out of it, that I guess will be his path to get that love.

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