Yuga Theory in the Gauḍīya Tradition

Question: I am working on my honors thesis in religion.  My project is a comparison of the ways in which the Gauḍīya and Swāmi Nārāyaṇa traditions treat the theories of yugas

Particularly, I am interested in whether or not the Gauḍīya tradition poses the idea of a Satyayuga within Kaliyuga created by the practice of bhakti.  This is present in the Swāmi Nārāyaṇa tradition, so I was hoping I might have something to refer to.  

Answer: For the Gauḍīya tradition, the highest authority is Śrīmad Bhāgavata. The time span of the four yugas is given in SB 3.11.18. You can read the verses after that for more details. The definition of yugas is found in SB 12.3.27-30. The basic characteristics of the four yugas are described in SB 1.17.24, 25. The beginning point of Kali is stated in 1.18.6. The avatāras of the four yugas are described in verses SB 11.5.20-38. Also check out 11.17.10 onwards.

If you can read the commentaries of Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī and Śrī Visvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura on these, that will give you a very good idea of the Gauḍīya view on yugas. I have no knowledge of a Satyayuga within Kaliyuga in the Gauḍīya tradition. I have not read anything like this in the major Gauḍīya literature, but according to SB 12.3.27, “Whenever one’s mind, intellect, and senses are situated in sattva and one is inclined to cultivate spiritual knowledge and engage in austerity, that is known as Satyayuga.” 

Question: The philosophical argument in the Swāmi Nārāyaṇa tradition is that the karmas of “ekāntika bhaktas” can override the force of kāla itself.  So, even if it is Kaliyuga, the force of bhakti can transform the yuga. A jīva’s karmas do not play a part in what yuga they are born in.

Does this sound familiar for the Gauḍīya tradition?

Answer: Yes, this is very familiar, and you will see some of this in the references I sent you from Śrīmad Bhāgavata, especially verses 12.3.27 through 30. 

However, the jīva’s karma does play a role. One jīva’s karma is intertwined with other jīvas and to mete out the result of one’s karma, one has to be born with them. Karma matures in time, and therefore it does have an influence, just as a seed grows into a plant in due course of time. So time influences karma, even though karma is an independent ontological category. 

Regarding the influence of kāla and karma, refer to SB 2.5.14, 2.5.21,22,34.

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Comments ( 4 )
  1. Chetan

    In Bhagavatam 11.5.19&20

    kasmin kāle sa bhagavān
    kiṁ varṇaḥ kīdṛśo nṛbhiḥ
    nāmnā vā kena vidhinā
    pūjyate tad ihocyatām

    nānā-varṇābhidhākāro
    nānaiva vidhinejyate

    Is this question and answer about how The Lord is worshipped (ijyate, pujyate) in different yugas or about incarnations (avatara) appearing in the yugas? Do these refer to yuga avataras for the time period of the yugas just like manvantara avataras for the time period of manvantaras? If these refer to yuga avataras, who are they?

    • Babaji Post author

      > Is this question and answer about how The Lord is worshipped (ijyate, pujyate) in different yugas or about incarnations (avatara) appearing in the yugas?

      It is about both. It is clear from the question in 11.5.19 and the answer given in the verses that follow it.

      > Do these refer to yuga avataras for the time period of the yugas just like manvantara avataras for the time period of manvantaras?

      yes

      > If these refer to yuga avataras, who are they?

      They are Vaikuṇṭha, Yajña, Vāsudeva, Caitanya Mahaprabhu (as per Gaudiya Vaiṣṇavas)

  2. Chetan

    Thank you soo much for your kind reply Babaji Maharaj. Could you please clarify my another doubt?

    How can we understand that they refer to avatara since they speak of just ijyate & pujyate?

    Also since yuga avatara has to be for the time period of the entire yuga just like manvantara avatara for the entire manvantara, how can we understand that Vasudeva etc can be those since they didn’t stay on earth for the entire yuga?

    Did Yajna & Vaikuntha appear on earth or somewhere else?

    • Babaji Post author

      > How can we understand that they refer to avatara since they speak of just ijyate & pujyate?

      So how would you worship someone who never manifested here? To worship, you have to have the knowledge of a form of the worshipable.

      > Also since yuga avatara has to be for the time period of the entire yuga just like manvantara avatara for the entire manvantara, how can we understand that Vasudeva etc can be those since they didn’t stay on earth for the entire yuga?

      Why do they have to stay on earth for the entire Yuga? Is it written in some śāstra like that?

      > Did Yajna & Vaikuntha appear on earth or somewhere else?

      It is not clear from the description where exactly they appeared.

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