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chakra seva

Bhaktisiddhanta's Disappearance and Christmas

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So this is Christmas

And what have you done

Another year over

And a new one just begun

And so this is Christmas

I hope you have fun

The near and the dear one

The old and the young

(John Lennon from ‘Happy Christmas’)


Many within ISKCON and Gaudiya Math observe the anniversary of the passing of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2010. Interesting how this anniversary coincides with Christmas and I would like to draw some paralells to the two.


For one, Christmas is joyfully remembered with the myth of Santa Claus. Little children are introduced to the myth of Santa from a very young age. I personally do not see harm in this as long as the child grows up and realizes that it is a myth. I still enjoy listening and singing the Christmas carols of Santa and the whole media presentation about Santa, though I very well know that Santa does not exits. His abode in the North Pole does not exist and nor do reindeers that fly, nor little elves making Christmas toys. However, it is a jolly myth because the essence of the theme behind it all is love and joy in the holiday season.


Another is the figure Jesus himself which Christmas is the celebration of his birth. Unlike Santa, he is a historical personality who lived about 2000 years ago in a real land and with a real identity. However, his birth on December 25 is arguable and so are the stories surrounding his life. Nonetheless, it is the essence of his teachings, love of God, respect and helping ones neighbor which are the cause of celebration.


Bhaktisiddhanta’s life to ISKCON and Gaudiya Math is like Santa is to children. Children get toys like toy cars, Barbie dolls, toy buildings, etc., that they believe Santa brings to them and they love Santa for that. Bhaktisiddhanta brought Vedic teachings of bhakti throughout India and through his disciple Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada spread them throughout the world. The young followers received dotis, saris, a new name (das or dasi), vehicles to travel in, land to build temple buildings, complex management systems, publishing houses, farms, and the list goes on. The followers enjoy these gifts of Bhaktisiddhanta and Bhaktivedanta Swami. The greatest gift was Sri Krishna sankirtan, no doubt.


But just as Santa is a myth, so is the essence of what was suppose to have been the driving force of their accomplishments, the parampara. The parampara of Bhaktisiddhanta is a myth, plainly a lie. There was no initiation of Bhaktisiddhanta from Gaura Kishor Das Baba, none whatsoever. He admitted to several prominent Vaisnavas ascetics in Vrindavan that he had a dream of an initiation, but that was the extent of it, a dream. There is no sampradaya connectivity between Bhaktisiddhanta and Gaudiya Vaisnavism. Yes, there are many followers who wear dotis, saris, put various styles of tilak on their foreheads and noses, many temple buildings, publications which people get by hook or crook (whether people want them or not), farms (many almost abandoned), and yes still, new people that get convinced to take up the practices of the institution. However, the essence or fundamental ingredient that distinguishes Sri Caitanya (Gaudiya) Vaisnavism from other variants of respected Hindu religions is Sri Radha-Krishna bhakti conceptualized through the teachings of the Six Goswamis descending through parampara. Bhaktisiddhanta’s taking sannyas from a picture of a deceased Vaisnava (Gaura Kishor Das Baba who was not a sannyasi), varnasrama dharma, all add more confusion to the already confused kitri of teachings extracted from sources outside of the Gaudiya Sampradaya.


Prema bhakti is not inherent within the hearts of the living entity. Bhakti is Sri Krishna’s svarupa shakti, Krishna’s own spiritual transcendental power and it is not the nature of the jiva to possess it in a dormant form independently without the mercy or connectivity of an agency of divinity. Bhakti is eternally manifested and deposited within the hearts of Krishna’s eternal associates, parishads who love and reside with the Lord. When the Lord descends as an avatar to this world for manifest pastimes in this world so goes His associates along with Him. Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu who is Sri Krishna with the color and mood of Sri Radha distributed Sri Radha-Krishna bhakti in this world directly, through His associates and through the diksa initiation lineages that descended from them. A Vaisnava Guru who received bhakti from his Guru, beginning with taking shelter of Guru, receiving diksa, etc., can give real bhakti to others, not otherwise. Temple buildings, land acquisitions, followers that look like Vaisnavas, favorable celebrities are not real marks that genuine bhakti is manifest.


One can be happy with toys and sing Santa is coming to town for the longest. But the dream is over. Santa does not exist, nor does the sampradaya of Bhaktisiddhanta.

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