Spiritual Traditions in Gaudiya Vaishnavism

Sri Chaitanya's Sankirtana Party / New Vrindavan Question: I have done spiritual research especially on Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy for several years and would like to clarify a few things. First, are there any similarities between Vaishnavism and Vaijirayana Buddhism? I started my spiritual path with Tibetan Buddhism and see similarities.

Answer: Vaishnavism is much older than Buddhism. It is rooted in the Vedas. So it cannot be derived from Buddhism. If there are some similarities, that may be a coincidence. All spiritual paths from the East have something in common. After all, they are all dealing with a metaphysical, trans-material subject.

Question: I want to understand why in Kaliyuga, Vaishnavism imposes the rules of Satyayuga (no meat, no intoxication, etc. etc.). In my study I found that the mahamantra is free of rules of purity.

Answer: Why do you think that no meat and no intoxication are Satyayuga rules and should not be imposed in Kaliyuga?

One of the basic principles of Vaishnavism is that a Vaishnava does not consume anything without first offering it to Vishnu. And Vishnu is neither a meat-eater nor likes intoxicants. He is param sattvika and thus only sattvika items are offered to him. Another basic principle of Vaishnavism is non-violence because all beings belong to Vishnu. These principles do not depend on any yuga. They are universal.

Question: If a person is weak, it may happen that an Ayurvedic doctor gives him meat to eat. Since Ayurveda is given by Vishnu, it must be allowed to eat it.

Answer: Ayurveda has medicines that may contain meat in it. But it is one’s own choice whether to take it or not. Everything comes from Vishnu, even poison. Ayurveda also describes various types of poison and their qualities. But that does not mean that one must take it. Ayurveda is a book of medical science and thus gives properties of even stool and urine. Vishnu has also given us buddhi to make decisions and discriminate what is good for oneself. Vaisnavas have their own scriptures like Bhagavad Gita and Bhagavata Purana, which are also coming from Vishnu. For a Vaishnava, if there is conflict between theses scriptures and any other book, such as Ayurveda, then the former takes precedence.

Question: What is the Tantra tradition in Gaudiya Vaishnavism, is there a process of awaken Kundalini to rise to the various chakras?

Answer: Tantra in Gaudiya Vaishnavism is called Satvat-tantra. It does not have the process of awakening Kundalini. It gives process of worship, mantra chanting, details about temple construction etc.

Tantra is of three types – Saiva, Sakta and Vaishnava. They are not all the same. You may have knowledge of Buddhist Tantra.

Question: So Vishnu is sattvic, but Krishna (the avatari) is beyond the gunas?

Answer: Vishnu is also beyond the gunas,  but He is in charge of sattva, Brahma is in charge  of rajas and Siva of tamas.

Question: Spiritual Life means to have predominantly sattva or balance sattva, rajas, and tamas in order to transcend them.

Answer: Sattva promotes proper understanding, rajas brings misconception and tamas ignorance about life. Therefore, sattva has importance.

Battlefield of KurukshetraQuestion: I find it difficult to understand that if Vaishnavism is for peace and ahimsa, then why does Krishna order Arjuna in Bhagavad Gita to kill his own family of Arjuna?

Answer: That simply means that you have misunderstood Bhagavd Gita. Krishna is not promoting violence although most people think so. It is not easy to understand the Gita without a qualified teacher.

Question: About the origin of Vaishnavism, many Tibetan Buddhists believe that the Puranas were written after Buddhism came to India and that Bhagavad Gita is a synthesis.

Answer: Belief is one thing and truth may be different. Some Christians believe that all Puranas were written after Christ, and that bhakti in India is a product of Christianity. Buddhists cannot accept that something good existed before Buddha and in the same way Christians cannot think that people were civilized before Christ.

Question: The Vedas promote the worship of demigods and in the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna disregards them, just as Buddha does. The same is indicated in Bhagavata Purana in the story of Govardhana.

Answer: If you want to understand the Vedas or the Gita, you need to study from an insider. An insider has one understanding and an outsider another. Unfortunately most of the work written on the Vedas is by outsiders. Indology has been hijacked by outsiders. Come to India and study from a traditional teacher. Then you will see another side of the Vedas and the Gita.

Question: I think Shakta Tantra (Kundalini etc.) is possible only in Advaita, because there jiva is one with  Brahman, while in Vaishnavism, the jiva and Paramatman are different, or not?

Answer: True.

 

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Comments ( 10 )
  1. scooty ram

    From the number of times the stress is made to study sastra from an insider, it appears there is more harm than good in reading texts independently off the shelf or from internet.They do not do much good. Ironically in iskcon the books are the basis and independent sastric self-study is alone seen. Unless an insider like Babaji(or anyone who has sat under a guru and learnt the sastra) points out the misconceptions and puts a stop, the real teachings are never known.Each reader will form his own opinion and match it with what he has read in some other book. When it comes to westerners , the problem is critical and crucial since they do not have any form of exposure to vedic tradition. They naturally map the teachings to xtianity of some western religion whose fundamentals are totally different from vedic tradition.
    Sooner these teachings gets digested. Digestion means something is separated and removed from its origin and a new understanding prevails. We must have insiders view preserved, protected and guarded.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebsBucPcYoU
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDbH3QomBmg
    Regards

    • Malatimanjari Post author

      Thank you very much, Scooty! Babaji was very delighted to read this. He said it matches his heart.

  2. Vayu.

    If we go deep into this issue, we are facing an ancient epistemological tension that is an universal constant: »nicht Cäsar sein, um Cäsar zu verstehen«.

    When there is an evident dichotomous view (insiders and outsiders), mutual regard and opening dialogue of the parties is a strong need to grow togheter.

    Bābājī’s work may be an important landmark in the history of Vaiṣṇavism.

    • nanda nandana

      i am very fortunate to have loath of Your audio lectures, and my soul is full of joy listening Your messages, which are fulfilled with transcendental knowledge , but i wish to make clear one point of acintya-bhedabheda-tattwa in Yours and lot more others discourses about Vaishnava philosophy. namely, spontaneously oneness and different is a core of transcendence according to the message of The Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. so, i wish to understand how to relate to, often, “softly” insisting on difference in lectures and discourses by many Gurus and Acharyas in the Vaishnavism…
      with deepest respect…
      nanda nandana

  3. snd

    The insistence on difference is from the practical point of view in our present state of conditioning. It will be very flattering to our ego to feel oneness with God and thus continue in our conditioned state. To avoid this problem, the stress on difference is given. Oneness will be realised naturally when one attains love. The basic disease of the living entity is vaimukhya – feeling oneself independent of God and thus considering oneself as the master and enjoyer. The solution for this disease is samukhya – becoming devoted to God. For that, a sense of difference is a must.

    • Nanda Nandana

      Thank You very much. Nice answere, and if i can go foreward, is it possible, that a lack of oneness, or lack of need for oneness prolongs egoistic elements during process of sadana. To be more clear, is it possible that Sadaka insist on relation without oneness to keep his ego alive? And Krishna never insist on surrendering of his Bhakta. It seems to me that complete surrendering implicit oneness. “I and Father are one”. Duality and oneness together. Is it to danger, to “playing” with oneness. Hoping that i set a question clear, and apologizing for taking Your time, with deepest respect Nanda Nandana

  4. snd

    Absolute oneness is not possible. Two things cannot become one. Even in the material sense, if a drop is dropped into an ocean, the drop does not become the ocean. It still remains a drop and part of ocean. We may be unable to identify it separately as a drop, but if the drop had an individuality, then it would know itself within ocean. There would be oneness in the sense that the drop does not exist any more outside the ocean, but it would also have its individual identity.
    So real oneness of a devotee with Krishna is in love only and not that a devotee loses his/her identity as an individual. Thus there is oneness and difference simultaneously. The difference is stressed to root out the impersonalistic idea of losing our identity, and also to keep us aware of our position as a servant.

    • nandanandana

      Thank You so much, lot of inspirational instructions in every answer, and again i feel like my capability to set a clear question is so poor. And i give a one try more, counting on Your tolerance. And i go “in the center” because, to set problem indirectly will take long time, it seems. Is it possible, that ahankara, in fear from death, accept sadana and Bhagavan, but ignore all instructions they can harm her existence, In that case, the omnipresent manifestations of Bhagavan, Paramatma anda Brahman are “dangerous” and not so attractive for ahankara. I can not explain way is this so important to me, but my experience is, that “ego” in bhakti yoga have aversion to Brahman, and indifference to Paramatma… This question is considering only bhakti yoga, not impersonalists.

  5. snd

    Dear Nanadanandana
    Your first observation regarding ego is correct. It fears its annihilation and thus avoids any act that will endanger its existence.
    But the second observation is not correct. First of all there is no aversion to Brahman and Paramatma in Bhakti yoga. Aversion is to have them as the ultimate goal. That aversion is not because of fear of losing the ego. A bhakta understands that the highest manifestation of his/her personality comes only in love. In case of Brahman being the goal, there is no possibility of love and thus a bhakta completely abhors such a destination. In case of Paramatma the love cannot manifest to its full extent. In fact, there is hardly any manifestation of love. Moreover Paramatma’s manifestation is not permanent. Thus only with Bhagavan the love can manifest fully.

    • nandanandana

      Hare Krishna Babaji,
      i receive more then i asked, now i understand much clearer, not only Your answer, but even more, myself…
      thank you from my heart

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