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 Ṭhākuraon 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 “ekāntikabhaktas” 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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The Vedas are beginningless. Just as God is without a beginning, then his knowledge is also without a beginning. It may be revealed at a certain point in time to a specific person, but that does not mean that the Veda did not exist before. God’s knowledge is eternal because it’s God’s knowledge. The attributes of an eternal object are also eternal. That is why we are also eternal. We also have no beginning. The soul is not created because it is one of the potencies of God.