Vaisnava etiquette and/or the lack of it–SP

May 2, 2021 in Articles by Damaghosa dasa

Hare Krsna-Below we have some statements by Srila Prabhupada regarding past acaryas and also Bhaktivinode Thakurs son Lalita Prasada who was brother to Srila Bhaktisiddhant maharaja. These interactions show us the delicate nature of relationships between Lord Caitanya and Vallabha Bhatta as well as between Srila Prabhupada and his own guru’s brother, Lalita Prasad.
Antya 4.129--“My dear Sanātana, although you are the deliverer of the entire universe and although even the demigods and great saints are purified by touching you, it is the characteristic of a devotee to observe and protect the Vaiṣṇava etiquette. Maintenance of the Vaiṣṇava etiquette is the ornament of a devotee.
Madhya 19.61–At that time, Śrī Vallabha Bhaṭṭa was staying at Āḍāila-grāma, and when he heard that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu had arrived, he went to His place to see Him.
PURPORT-Vallabha Bhaṭṭa was a great learned scholar of Vaiṣṇavism. In the beginning he was very much devoted to Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, but since he thought that he could not receive proper respect from Him, he later joined the Viṣṇusvāmī sect and became ācārya of that sect. His sect is celebrated as the Vallabhācārya-sampradāya. This sampradāya has had great influence in Vṛndāvana near Gokula and in Bombay. Vallabha Bhaṭṭa wrote many books, including a commentary on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam called Subodhinī-ṭīkā, and notes on the Vedānta-sūtra, in the form of an Anubhāṣya. He also wrote a combination of sixteen short works called Ṣoḍaśa-grantha. …. His book known as Ṣoḍaśa-grantha and his commentaries on Vedānta-sūtra (Anubhāṣya) and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (Subodhinī) are very famous. He has written many other books besides.
Aug 7 1976 letter
Madame Sumati Morarji,
…I am sorry to learn that you have become a little agitated regarding the publication of an article in our Back to Godhead magazine. It is certainly unpleasant, but the officers who publish the magazine do not know satyam bruyat priyam bruyat, in this material world only palatable truth should be spoken. Unpalatable truth should be carefully avoided. The cause of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s agitation was much the same as your own. As you are irritated by the criticism of Sri Vallabhacarya, similarly Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was also agitated when Vallabhacarya criticized Sridhara Svami.
Sridhara Svami is accepted as the original commentator on the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Perhaps you know that there is an edition of the Srimad-Bhagavatam by Krsna Sankara Sastri “abhinavah sukah” Vedantacarya, Sahitya-tirtha, sribhagavatasudhanidhi, from Ahmedabad. In his book he has given almost all the important commentaries on the Bhagavatam, as follows: 1. Sridhara Svami 2. Sri Vamsidhara 3. Sri Gangasahaya 4. Srimad Viraraghavacarya 5. Srimad Vijayadhvaja Tirtha 6. Srimad Jiva Gosvami 7. Srimad Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura 8. Srimad sukadeva 9. Gosvami Sri-giridharalal (Vallabhacarya Sampradaya) 10. Sri Bhagavat-prasadacarya, etc..
Among all commentaries, Sridhara Svami’s is given the first position. This parampara has existed for a very long time. It was also accepted during Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s time, but Sri Vallabhacarya violated the system. Instead of acknowledging Sridhara Svami’s pre-eminent position, he wanted to take it himself. … I would like to draw your attention to verse 113 on page 55 where Vallabha Bhatta says:
“In my commentary on Srimad-Bhagavatam,” he said, “I have refuted the explanations of Sridhara Svami. I cannot accept his explanations.”
Moreover, verse 114 states:
“Whatever Sridhara Svami reads he explains according the circumstances. Therefore he is inconsistent in his explanations and cannot be accepted as an authority.”
Vallabha Bhatta’s declaration certainly agitated Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Consequently, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu remarked sarcastically that He considered that anyone who did not accept the svami (or Sridhara Svami) as an authority was a prostitute. Prabhu hasi kahe; but he smiled and said this jokingly, because they were friends.
Although this point is very controversial, it is not based on hearsay, as you have stated, but it is authoritatively documented by the Caitanya Caritamrta. As you have written in a friendly spirit, I do not wish to discuss this point further. If you will kindly take a little trouble to read this chapter “Lord Caitanya meets Vallabha Bhatta” you will understand the whole situation. Actually Vallabha Bhatta should not have criticized Sridhara Svami, because even now Sridhara Svami is very respected. Even authorities like Sri Jiva Goswami and Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura mention in their commentaries, svami caranat, as we have learned it from the lotus feet of Sridhara Svami. So when Vallabha Bhatta criticized Sridhara Svami, Caitanya Mahaprabhu criticized Vallabha Bhatta strongly. This is a fact, but this does not mean that Vallabha Bhatta and Caitanya Mahaprabhu were inimical. Vallabha Bhatta honored Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu as a superior. Sometimes Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would chastise Vallabha Bhatta and sometimes He would favor him, because this was their relationship. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would never refuse the occasional invitations of Vallabha Bhatta.
Now we turn to Lalita Prasad the brother of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta maharaja
Note-In the following letter Srila Prabhupada explains the etiquette to be followed when visiting an older Godbrother or special person of spiritual status. So this was early on in dealing with Lalita Prasad…
Sept 2 1971 letter to jayapataka
P.S. Whenever our men go to visit Lalita Prasad Thakura they must take some presentation, cash or kind, worth not less than Rs. 50/- at least. Some nice presentation should be always given. Not that you go empty handed. It is customary to make a presentation to the Deity and Spiritual Master. Lalita Prasad Thakura is son of Bhaktivinode Thakura and younger brother of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati so he is considered my spiritual master.
ACBS/adb

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