vande çré-kåñëa-caitanya-

nityänandau sahoditau

gauòodaye puñpavantau

citrau çan-dau tamo-nudau

(CC Adi Lila 1.2)


Harinaam Diksa :

We have been discussing from Sri Chaitanya Caritamrita, the subject matter of the spiritual master. Within our Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampraday, there are two initiations given to the aspiring devotee. The first is the Hari Nama diksha. This is when the spiritual master after carefully observing the sincerity of disciple. Traditionally for at least one year the disciple chants the holy name of the Lord with a regular discipline according to particular vow, within our tradition we chant 16 rounds minimum and following four regulative principles, no illicit sex, no intoxication, no gambling, and no meat eating. When the spiritual master sees the disciple is been following these vows and also has assumed the consciousness of obedience to the Guru, obedience in service of the Guru, then the spiritual master awards the Hari Nama initiation. And what takes place this time is, there is a formal link between the Guru and the disciple. The disciple is then eternally connected to the disciplic succession of all previous Acharys and Vaishnavas and in this way he is one of the part of this family, the spiritual family.


Other Unbonafied Known Systems :

Within in the Gaudiya Vaishnava Samprada it a spiritual hereditary link. There are many disciplic lines throughout the world, especially here in India, that are based on blood relations, there is a goswami cast, where on the basis of being the child, you are initiated and giving the position of the Acharya  and in a goswami cast you can be initiated, but you can not initiate unless you are the part of the bloodline like the Nitaynanda Vamsha, the Advaita Vamsha. They initiate thousands and thousands of souls but you can not be a Guru, you can not initiate unless you are part of their family or part of the descendants of the Lord Nitaynanda or the descendant of the Sri Advaita.

But we do not also, off course in the temples of Vrindavan, Radha Raman Mandir, Radha Damodar Mandir, Radha Govindaji Mandir where the Goswamis, who take the deity worship seva, pooja and who those people are off course, they are obviously not descendants of Gopal Bhatta Goswami or Rupa Goswami or Sanatana Goswami, because they never married. Nitaynanda Pr. married, Advaita married, so the people in their line who are initiated are direct  descendants. But the Goswamis, their original disciples, many of them were grahastas and they married and when they had children they gave the seva rights to their children, who give to their children, to their children. To this day, those pujaris who has a seva rights are also generally the gurus of that mission, and they also initiate. Also in another like Hari Vamsha Sampradaya, the descendants of Hari Vamsha, they are the only ones allowed to worship Radha Vallabha and they are also the only ones allowed to initiate, to be a Guru.


Spirit Of Bhakti :

But in the line that we follow we do not have any such hereditary connection in the lines of blood or family relations, but it is a connection that has continuity on the basis of spirit, the spirit of bhakti, the spirit of grasping the essence. And as we were discussing the other day RadhaKrishna was asking a question, Tattva and Shymananda, that there appears to be some gaps within our disciplic line of who is listed and just like they were saying, Baladev Vidhya Bhushan and Jagannath das Babaji, there is over a hundred  years between them, there were several generations, but there were initiating spiritual masters between them but were not listed.

Not listed so much because for two reasons. One is that they do not give in so much importance because they may have been very pure themselves, but those particular Gurus did not really contribute so much to the mission of  Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. And another thing is this, we find Baladev Vidhya Bhushan, who is not even initiated in our direct sampradaya but he is one of the Acharya’s, Why? Because he captured the spirit. Although he wasn’t initiated by meeting Srila Visvanath Cakravarti Thakur, he so deeply captured the spirit of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s teaching, he is so much from the core of his heart just grasped the essence of Rupa and Sanatan’s teaching.


Grasping The Essence :

So our disciplic succession is based on the spirit of bhakti and nothing else.  We do not consider, what family one is born. Haridas Thakur was born in a Muslim family but he captured the spirit of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s mercy and his teachings and therefore he is the Nama acharya for all of us. We bow down and accept him as one of our great forefathers.So in this line we are accepting a spiritual master. And the disciple should be aware that the bona-fide spiritual master is one who is grasping the essence, the teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and he is also presenting that essence. One should have not even the slightest hesitation to accept a sudra, or an untouchable, as far as family, as a Guru, if that person has captured the essence of the teaching.


Narottam Das Thakur :

Yesterday we were discussing the life of Narottam Das Thakur. It was his disappearance day. Did you ever know the story how Narottama Das disappeared from this world? Narottama Das Thakur, he lived a long life. All of the six Goswami’s, they had left this planet, his dear most friend Srinivas Archarya had left the planet, his very, very confidential associate Ramchandra Kaviraj, he also left the planet and Narottama Das Thakur wrote that beautiful song “Je aa nilo prema dhana” he was just always in lamentation and separation from the vaishnavas but simultaneously always experiencing the greatest joy, but he was constantly under attack by the cast brahmans.


Caste Consciousness Brings Envy :

Because as I explained he was from the kayastha community, very wealthy, land owner but considered of the sudra cast, and he had so many thousands of disciples and many of them were very, very highly qualified brahmans. One of them for instance,  Ganga Narayan Chakravarti, he was a very learned scholar coming from very stalwart brahman family and Ramchandra Kaviraj was also very, very high birth, very highly recognized person and they were the obedient humble servants surrendered to Narottam Das.

So when Narottama was very, very old and he saw that it was time for him to wrap up his earthly lila, one day he asked his disciples to take him to the river Ganges. In Narottama Vilas by Narahari, this story is explained. He went to the Ganga and he told his disciples to build a funeral pyre for him. So they took the wood and they stacked it and made all the arrangements, decorated it very nicely for the funeral Pyre of their guru, and while they were doing their hearts were breaking in pain and shedding tears. But they had to follow the order of their guru.


Apparant Disappearance :

Then, Narottama, just sat quietly and went into trance for three days. Did not say a word and his disciples just sat and watched and after three days, all of his life symptoms stopped. He left his body. At that time they lifted his body, they put it on the funeral pyre and they began to have their services, the last rites, for their guru maharaja.

When the cast brahmans, they heard of this, they came and they started blaspheming terribly. This guru of yours, so called guru, sudra, he has finally met his befitting end. He is dead. He has offended the whole brahman class, he has offended the sastra and you who are highly born brahmans, you have disgraced the name and honor of your cast, by accepting a suddra for a guru and being a servant of such a person, and they were just blaspheming terribly.


Miracle Born Of Compassion, Mercy :

Ganga Narayanan, he couldn’t tolerate hearing his guru, because usually at the last day, is when the last eulogies, where everyone speaks nicely.

In the Jewish tradition, it is said that, at a person’s funeral, when people speak about him, during the funeral ceremony, the soul hears that and always remembers, what the people have said. Throughout all religions, there is always that ceremony where everyone speaks, their heartfelt appreciations of a person, before his body is buried or burnt.

So this was the last words being heard, so Ganga Narayanan began to weep. He couldn’t tolerate that these people were so offensive and prayed to Narottama, please, please do something to change their hearts. This is terrible.

Right at that time, Narottama, he sat up. His eyes opened. When he did this, by the grace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, his body became so effulgent that light just started going in all directions around. He was brilliant and also a beautiful golden Brahman thread appeared on his body. When the brahmans saw this they all understood that this person is certainly divinely empowered by God, and the Brahmins themselves came and worshipped his feet.

Norottama, with such forgiving compassion, he embraced them all and initiated them in Hari Nama. And then Narottama, just walked away and went to a secluded place where he just did his Nama Bhajan, immersed in his inner meditations of Radha Krishna lila, and several months later, he again asked, his disciples, to bring him to the Ganges.


Disappearance Pastime :

So they brought him to the Ganges, and he went into the Ganges, to take bath and he said, you also come in with me. So they came in with him, and he said, now I want you to take the water with your hands and pour it on my body.

So they took the water and started pouring it on his body, and as they were doing that they saw his skin turned white and it started to melt. They kept doing it and his body as it was being touched by the water of the Ganges, his body was turning into milk and just merging into the Ganges. Their guru was getting smaller and smaller and smaller and little and little and little and they couldn’t stop because their guru ordered them.

It was his will. As they were pouring water on his body, his body was turning into milk, and merging into the Ganges, but even more than his body, there won tears were flowing like anything, merging into his body and the Ganges. So it was just milk and tears just going on and on and on as an offering unto mother Ganga, until finally he disappeared.


Doodh Samadhi :

Then the disciples took that milk that was in the Ganges, mixed with the tears and Ganga water and put it in a big pot and brought it to a place near Keturi, where he lived and built a beautiful Samadhi for him. To this day, the Samadhi is there. It is called Dodhaa samadhi, which means the Samadhi of milk and off course the Samadhi in Vrndavan, there are different versions, some say, part of that milk was also brought to Vrindavan, to be put beside his guru maharaja’s Samadhi, Lokanath Das Goswami.


The Link With Parampara :

Through this beautiful story, we see how within the Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya, in its true essence, this idea of birth, has very little relevance. A guru is to be considered a guru, if he has the qualities, of one who has grasped the essence of the spirit, of the teachings of Lord Sri Krishna. Upon taking Hari Nama Initiation, there is that link with all of the acharyas, which means that in truth, all of the previous acharyas and all of the previous vaisnavas, are agreeing through the grace of your immediate spiritual master, to be overseeing your spiritual life, granting their eternal mercy, their eternal blessings. That link is essential to go beyond a certain point in our spiritual advancement.


Mantra Is Empowered After Initiation :

To take that vow of initiation is essential. Because at that time the spiritual master, the Mantra that you chant, is then and there empowered through parampara, for the rest of your life, until you go back to Godhead. So the chanting of the Holy Names has, although you may not notice it with your own senses, has attained more potency, after initiation because it is imbued with the mercy of previous acharyas.


Gayatri Initiation :

Generally after one year, we are given the Gayatri Mantra initiation. Of the two, the Hari Nama initiation, has a much greater importance. The Gayatri mantra initiation, serves two purposes. One is the reconfirmation of the vow that we have made or the final seal of that vow that we have made on Hari Nama initiation. The giving of Gayatri mantra is meant to help us in our chanting, of the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra.

It is an aid. In and of itself, we do not take it so seriously. What is glorious about the Gayatri mantra is that Krishna’s Name is within it. If Krishna’s Name is not in the Gayatri mantra, we wouldn’t care anything for it. Gayatri mantra as I was saying, it helps us in our purification. It helps us to focus our concentration and our energy on the chanting of Hari Nama. It also helps us to develop more Brahminical qualities, which are also aids in the chanting of Hari Nama.


Comparison Of Two Mantras :

But Gayatri mantra has limitations and Maha Mantra has no limitations. If you give me a piece of paper, I can show you.


Maharaj draws two concentric  circles, one inside the other. So, consequently there are 4 levels, or 4 lines, or 4 stages, one above other.

circle 1,upper limit                             ——————

circle 2, upper limit                            ——————

circle 2, lower limit                            ——————

circle 1, lower limit                            ——————



These two mantras have……our acharyas have

explained it in this way. We will make two circles.

This is the lowest position.

This is a position, a qualified position we have to qualify to have this position.

This is liberation.

This is Goloka Vrndavan.

Can everyone see?

So we see that this circle is the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra. This circle is the Gayatri mantra. The Maha Mantra, reaches down to the lowest possible position. The most degraded, sinful criminal can become purified by chanting the Maha Mantra and the Maha Mantra will take you all the way to the highest position of Goloka Vrndavan.

Whereas the Gayatri mantra, a low sinner cannot chant the Gayatri mantra. You have to have special qualifications to even receive the Gayatri mantra. You have to be Brahminically trained. The Gayatri mantra can at the most bring you to the point of liberation.

Is it clear?

Therefore, our heart, soul and life and full faith is in the Hare Krishna Mantra. We give importance to the Gayatri mantra, because it is very, very very helpful, simply in increasing our attention and our purified lifestyle by which the Maha Mantra will have a better effect.


If You Know The Spirit, There Is No Confusion :

So these are the two initiations that the devotees take from the spiritual master. Sometimes it happens as in Srila Prabhupada’s movement, that a person takes first initiation or Hari Nama initiation from Prabhupada and when Prabhupada left the planet they took second initiation or Gayatri initiation, from one of his godbrothers. Of the two who is of more importance, in regard to the initiation? Hari Nama initiating guru is always of more importance. But they both are of great importance. They should both be given great respect. Factually that person has two gurus. But with the understanding of the essence of what a guru is, the spirit of what a guru is, he understands that a guru is one and when one guru has left he simply leaves him under the care of another. In this way. There should be no….., it is said simultaneously and inconceivably one and different. In ISKCON movement, there was tremendous amount of confusion, of who is my guru. Is Prabhupada my guru or my godbrother who gave me the Gayatri initiation, my guru? Off course this is because the devotees don’t understand the spirit in essence, of what this guru parampara really is. There is no problem, there is no disunity.

So any questions on these matters.


Re-Initiation :

Devotee : So the Hari Nama Guru is Diksha guru?

Maharaja : Yes, they are both Diksha. Diksha means initiation, is it not? You are taking first and second. The Hari Nama guru is giving you the Maha Mantra. The Hare Krishna Maha Mantra is what is going to take you back to Goloka Vrndavan. So therefore yes, that is the most important Diksha.
Devotee : But the sastra say that you can have only one Diksha guru, and many Siksha gurus, they refer to the fact that two people cannot give you the Maha Mantra or Hari Nama Diksha?

Maharaja: Yes, you cannot have any change in gurus. Its very offensive.


Devotee: Then why should a bonafide guru accept to be a Siksha guru for a disciple who has already taken the Hari Nama diksha?

Maharaja: If that guru is in a fallen state, is no longer in a capacity of a guru, then he may do it. But if he is not in a fallen state, it is offensive to do it. If that person, simply is not capable of uplifting his disciple, then it is.


Devotee: If a guru gives Hari Nama Diksha to a disciple of some other guru, then its an indication of what the second guru thinks or the judgment he makes of the first guru?

Maharaja: Either that person is not in a bonafide disciplic succession, under that case, he should initiate such a person or the person is in a fallen condition, where is no longer in a capacity of a guru, then he can be re-initiated. But that should be done with much consideration.

Any other questions?

Sannyasi Must Be Given Samadhi :

Devotee: Narottama Das Thakur (not clear)……………. ……………..

Maharaja: Its not true. They are not necessarily, sometimes they are. Many of them. Many of the six Goswami’s have been cremated. If you see Krishna Das Kaviraj, because of the time, the muslims, were digging up the graves of the samadhis, just as they were destroying the deities and defiling the bodies. So Raghunath Bhatta Goswami, Raghunath Das Goswami, Krishna Das Kaviraj Goswami, all of these people, they were cremated and their ashes were put in the samadhis, so that the muslims could not defile them. Generally, one sanyassi was telling me, if a sannyasi leaves his body, if that some sannyasi has some land then they make a Samadhi for him. But if he has no land, what are they going to do with his body? They burn his body and put his ashes in the river.


Devotee: Even they put the body in the river, if there is piece of land.

Maharaja: Not a sannyasi’s body, they never do that. According to the brahminical culture that’s the worst offense you could offer a person. That’s what they said to do with Haridas Thakur. After he died, don’t burn him don’t bury him, put him in a river and his soul will find no resting place anywhere. That’s considered a great disgrace to just throw a body in the river.


Devotee: Lord Caitanya put the body of Haridas Thakur in the sea?


Real Purpose Of Samadhi :

Maharaj: No he buried it. He bathed it in the sea. Then He took it to the land and personally with His own hands, dug the hole, and placed it and buried it with His own hands. Haridas Thakur’s body was personally put their. But I’m talking about the first time he died, before he rose from the dead, when the executioners were beating him in the 22 market places, they couldn’t kill him. So he saw that they were troubled by his not dying, he died. Then the cast brahmans and the mullas, who hated him, they were wondering what to do? He is a Muslim, he should be buried. The Hindus were saying he is a Hindu, he should be burnt. But as far as we are concerned, he is not worthy of being a Hindu, he shouldn’t be burnt. The Muslims were saying, he is not worthy of being a Muslim, he shouldn’t be buried. We should punish him by throwing him in the water, because according to the smartha principles of the brahmans and the mullas, if the body is not rested either through the ashes or through the ground then the soul finds no resting place, anywhere. So they threw him in the water, as a punishment. Off course, he came back to life. Rose from the dead, and started preaching again.

Generally a paramahamsa is put in a Samadhi, for  what purpose? In spirit. The real reason is, so that people can get inspired from that person and visit that Samadhi from all time to come and also to honor that particular body, because it is a holy spiritual body. But it is not that they cannot be burnt. Often times it just the matter of what is practical according to time and circumstance. Generally a sannyasi is never burnt, but if he has no land and no one wants to give him land, he is supposed to be burnt.


For Pure Devotee – Body Is Immaterial :

Devotee: What about people that throw the body in the Ganges river?

Maharaja: who does?


Devotee: Most of the people they do. one who follow this tradition, they throw the body in the river….. Ashes and body…..its not proper….in Hrishikesh in some other sampradaya where spiritual master, even in their Samadhi….they are immersed in Ganges?

Maharaja: There are different interpretations. This is a ritualistic idea. We are really not so concerned what you do with the body. The body is dead. Its not a very important thing. According to some smartha brahmans, that’s what they said about Haridas Thakur, we consider that bogus too. We consider it totally bogus, that if Haridas or anybody’s body is thrown in the river, the soul finds no resting place. That is all just smartha tradition. The real thing is what a person has done to his life and different traditions have different ways. The Parsis feed the body to birds.
Devotee: Even there saints also, ………….

Maharaja: ……the idea of putting the body of a saint in a special place, is so that people can come to worship that person. What you do with the body, its not in anyway going to influence the destination of the soul. If that person is a pure devotee, you could feed his body to lions, you can give his body to a rakshasha. Doesn’t make any difference. That’s person’s souls is going back to Godhead if he is a paramahamsa, whatever you do. There are different traditions. Within our tradition, we either burn or we bury. There are other religions with other traditions. It’s a detail.


Surrender Only To One :

Devotee: If a person is already initiated in one sampradaya, then he is inspired by somebody and may be he wants to get initiated, then is it a reconfirmation of that or …..

Maharaja: If that sampradaya that he has already been initiated in, is a bonafide vaisnava sampradaya, then there is no question of taking another initiation, unless he wants to be a gross offender to God and that whole disciplic line and all the acharyas of the line that he is rejecting. Upon the blessing of his guru he can receive inspiration and siksha or instruction from another sampradaya but not re-initiation.

This process is just the process of following the ways of the mind, because in due course of time he would want to take initiation from some other sampradaya, then some other sampradaya, whoever inspires you, you just want to surrender. The mind will always find somebody who inspires you a little more, a little more, a little more, why? Then you don’t have to surrender to anybody. If you want to make spiritual advancement, you have a guru, he is a bonafide guru, he is repeating the words of Krishna and whoever inspires you, your loyalty, your legions, your surrender must be to one. Otherwise the whole process is just sense gratification. Do you understand? Just surrendering to your mind. Alright, I’ve taken initiation, but I just heard this person. He is inspiring me more than my guru. I’ll surrender to him. I guarantee, 100%, within a few years, somebody is going to inspire you more than him. Then after a few years, after you become a little familiar with him, somebody is going to inspire you with something different. It will be a higher rasa than what you have now.

In this way throughout your life, you will never surrender to anybody. The scriptures, the acharyas, they condemn this idea. To get inspiration and siksha, it can be anyone, who can give us that spirit of Krishna and we will accept it. But our surrender and obedience, must be to one or those who are in harmony with that one.


Guru Is External Manifestation Of Supersoul

Devotee: I had a discussion with one of the person’s while preaching. He was asking me, if the Supersoul is within the heart, and is guiding from within………. is it possible that without taking formal initiation from anyone, you can still become completely self realized?

Maharaja: What does Krishna say, in Bagavad Gita?

Devotee: Tad vidhi pranipatena…

Maharaja: That’s there, but what else, in regards to hearing the Supersoul, within your heart?

teṣāḿ satata-yuktānāḿ

bhajatāḿ prīti-pūrvakam

dadāmi buddhi-yogaḿ taḿ

yena mām upayānti te

For those who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love, I give direction from within. Are you in that level? Is this person that you are talking to, on the level of being constantly devoted and worshiping Krishna with love? If you are not on that level, you have no connection directly with the Supersoul within your heart. You have to accept the external manifestations of the Supersoul, the spiritual master. The Supersoul, Himself is speaking. Who knows better, you or Him? The Supersoul you are talking about, is saying, for those who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love, I give the direction from within. And we are saying that I’ve Supersoul and I can hear Him. If your constantly devoted and worshiping with love, you don’t need a guru in the first place.

But who is on that platform? Therefore everyone must have a guru. When you are constantly devoted and worship Him with love, after rigorous training under the external manifestation of Supersoul, the guru, then gradually you come to that platform of being constantly devoted and worshiping Him with love. In that stage you are so indebted to your guru for giving you that, you remain his eternal obedient servant. So,In all levels you always need a guru. This is all just sahajiya, just taking things so cheaply.

Devotee: what is the difference between Ritvik Guru and Siksha guru?

Maharaja: Ritvik and Siksha? The difference is in formal position. In spirit one who is inspiring you to surrender to Krishna is guru. The Siksha guru is one who is giving you instruction, who is guiding you, inspiring you. The Ritvik guru has a very formal place besides being a Siksha guru. That is, he is giving that formal initiation on behalf of the supreme guru of your life. Therefore, there is a formal connection with him, just as there is with your diksha guru. When and if the diksha guru leaves the planet, the Ritvik guru becomes fully your guru. You become his disciple, with all formalities. A Siksha guru, doesn’t have those formal, we do not have such formal vows and responsibilities to an ordinary Siksha guru. So the formal position of a Ritvik guru must be taken very seriously.

Devotee: ……………..

Maharaja: Not true. Who do you mean by the Gaudiya Math? Srila Prabhupada, in Caitanya Caritamrita, even in the pages of Chaitanya Caritamrita, it explains that the Gayatri Mantra, can bring you to liberation. Its in Adi Lila, I can find it later and the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra can bring you to Goloka Vrndavan, to pure love of God, the lotus feet of Krishna. Prabhupada very much stressed that Hari Nama is, he gives the Name, you take the vows of Hari Nama. Narayan Maharaj, Shridhar Maharaj, in his books he says that the ultra importance is for the Hari Nama, first initiation. He is also Gaudiya Math. I’ve spoken to him about it. He explains it in the same way.

Devotee: …………………

Maharaja: Its confirmation. But Hari Nama is complete in itself. Hari Nama is complete in itself. It’s a reconfirmation you take, because the guru, because if you are actually a true disciple, you will be willing to accept whatever way help, to progress properly on the spiritual path.

Devotee: Somehow in this life, if we are not able to go back to Godhead, although we have taken initiation, what happens in next life ?


Guru Guides You Eternally:

Maharaja:  You begin wherever you left off.

Devotee: What about the Guru in the next life?
Maharaja: The guru will continue guiding you, in your spiritual life. How he guides you, you may not be able to understand. It will obviously not be in the same physical form. But on a spiritual level, his blessings will always be there and his guidance and his overseeing you. He may appear in another physical form, personally or he may be directing another jivatma in a position of a guru, to help you. Bilvamangala Thakur, his guru spoke through a prostitute named Cintamani, to bring him back to the spiritual path and Bilvamangala Thakur was a paramahamsa, who understands things very clearly as they are.

Written by

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.

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About Me

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.