Bhaktivinode Parivara

Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhuapda was connected to Gaura Kishore das babaji. He received initiation from him but this initiation from the avadhuta lacked certain formalities that were customary at the time. Thus the argument arose that he was not initiated because these formalities were not observed. However, that is a form over substance argument. Ritual details are not the sum and substance of initiation. For example, after outlining various alternative procedures surrounding diska, none of which incidentally were in vogue at the time of Bhaktisiddhanta, the text of Hari Bhakti Vilas ends the discussion on diksa with the statement that the imparting of the mantra is the essence of diksa, and if that has transpired, diksa has been given. We trust that the Thakura received the mantra from Gaura Kishore and that he was also blessed by Bhaktivinode Thaura. History is clear on the fact that Bhaktisiddhanta began initiating disciples while these two of his gurus were still present and with their blessing.

Why then did he not pass on the names of the gurus in the lineage of Gaura Kishore or those of Bhaktitivinode? With all the emphasis on formality and the lack of spiritual substance and even definitive understanding of the siddhanta in some members of the formal diksa lineages he responded to claims of siddha pranalis with the idea that lineage (pranali) without siddhas is hardly a siddha pranali or line of siddhas, but rather merely a line. Instead, he felt compelled to draw a line from one siddha to another, even if their connection to one another was by siksa rather than diksa, thus drawing his own conception of a siddha pranali. While all of these siddhas were also members of different diksa lines, they stood out as siddhas, as great luminaries crisscrossing various lines that gave life to all the Gaudiya lineages through their contributions.

The Thakura taught his disciples to refer to their lineage as the “Bhaktivinode Parivara,” and following this lead our Prabhupada referred to his movement as the movement of Bhaktivinode. Just as other universally accepted Gaudiya lineages have stressed a particular member of a lineage and and not stressed members of his parampara that preceded him to the same extent, Bhaktisiddhanta did this with Bhaktivinode. Good examples are the well-known Narottama Parivara and the Syamananda Parivara, lines that do not originate with Narottama or Syamananda.

So we are members of the Bhaktivinode Parivara. That said, this preaching idea of Bhaktisiddhanta obviously lends itself to misrepresentation in the form of ritvik-vada. That, however, was not his idea. Not that one can simply declare oneself to be connected to a previous acarya and ignore present day qualified representatives of the sampradaya. This would be a gross distortion of his emphasis that one should be connected to the parampara through the association and service in the present with a devotee of spiritual substance either by diksa and or siksa. And his idea was not that that siksa is more important than diksa. Both the seed and the watering are required. It means that either guru, diksa or siksa, could take precedent in the life of the disciple and one may draw his or her line accordingly.

Initiation (Diksa)

When the guru imparts the diksa mantras, initiation has occurred.

But the sadhaka deha is a work in progress. Initiation falls under sambandha jnana. So the imparting of the mantra is the beginning of something that culminates when sambandha jnana is complete, not only in terms of theoretical knowledge but also realization. Thus initiation, in one sense, is complete when the sambandha jnana imparted in seed at the time of diksa, is realized. Once this is accomplished, one’s practice is fully informed and one enters into bhava-bhakti with a spiritualized practitioner’s body.