Yesterday I talked about one self-appointed ācārya who looked fairly civil and knowledgeable until all hell broke loose, just in time for my post. His real face, without the veil of fake humility, was rather ugly and his accusations against Prabhupāda’s translation of one verse in Caitanya Caritāmṛta were not only spurious but totally senseless, as if he can’t comprehend simple English sentences.
Today I want to catch up with another “ācārya” and check what he has been up to in a couple of years since I last came across his site. I think I wrote about him here already but I don’t remember details so brief history first. He joined ISKCON in India in 1989 and served out of Bombay temple until 2000 or so. Then he left and got reinitiated by some old devotee in Gauḍiyā Maṭha and shortly afterwards received sannyāsa there as well.
He took the name “Gaurangapada” and that’s how he first became known in vaiṣṇava circles. Actually, he was fairly active on ISKCON’s COM out of Sweden but then he was just one brahmacārī out of thousands. As a newly minted sannyāsī he started his own mission and started chanting his own mantras.
He promoted chanting of Pañca-tattva mantra on beads instead of Hare Kṛṣṇa and he collected a lot of supporting quotes for his rather unusual choice. That was weird but Pañca tattva mantra can’t hurt anybody and offenses are heavily discounted so it was all fairly innocent.
More importantly, he was the person behind nitaaiveda.com which is a nice online repository of Gauḍiyā literature. Whatever you want to find is there in an accessible format, no messing with pdfs, easy to search, easy to read. Just for this service alone we can forgive minor eccentricity on his behalf, he is harmless and he doesn’t rail against ISKCON like others, at least I haven’t seen him doing that. I don’t think he is involved with that site anymore and it’s maintained by someone else – the hosting fees, DNS registration etc, but it’s a kind of service benefits of which will stay with you forever.
Then things started to get really weird. First, he claimed to be a śikṣā disciple of Śrīla Prabhupāda. He joined ISKCON over a decade after Prabhupāda’s departure so how could that be possible? I once had a long argument with one of his supporters on this topic. His reasoning is very simple – he reads Prabhupāda’s books therefore he considers himself Prabhupāda’s disciple. He doesn’t claim to having received dīkṣa from Prabhupāda and therefore he thinks his “śikṣā disciple” title is not unreasonable.
On some level it resembles rittviks but he is not one of those. He really thinks Prabhupāda is his guru. He doesn’t need Prabhupāda’s confirmation of that, mind you, he thinks that Prabhupāda is merciful enough to accept anyone who wants to claim to be his disciple. This goes against ISKCON practice instituted by Prabhupāda himself – devotees needed recommendations from their authorities for their names submitted for initiation, no one in his right might could have claimed to be Prabhupāda’s disciple without Prabhupāda’s personally accepting him as such, but who cares, the title of “Prabhupāda disciple” is too attractive to resist, I guess.
And why stop there? On his current site he claims to be a śikśā disciple of Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, too. And Kṛṣnadāsa Kavirāja and Vṛndāvana Dāsa Ṭhākura as well. Look how modest he is – he doesn’t claim being a disciple of Six Gosvāmīs or Vyāsadeva himself. We often read Brahma-Saṁhitā, why not claim being disciples of Lord Brahmā, too? Someone with insatiable ego would stop at nothing but this devotee displays true humility and restricts himself to being a disciple of “only” Kṛṣnadāsa Kavirāja.
Btw, the name “Gauranhapada” is gone, he is a devotee of Nitāi now and that’s the only mantra he apparently chants – “Nitāi”. Lord Nityānanda is very merciful and a couple of years ago this devotee attained svarūpa siddhi and now he is engaged in nitya-līlā “under Kamal Manjari and Rupa Manjari, and in the Ekachakra Navadvipa Yogapeeth of Jahnava Nitai under Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakur.” Yep, just so you know… The Goloka address is given, you can go and check yourself.
He is not kidding, he declares these things very seriously and he talks about it as a matter of fact. There are some videos on his site where he sheds tears in front of the camera while talking about his visions of Nitāi. Speaking of videos – he has a youtube channel and at the moment the first row has three that look like someone is making funny faces for the camera. We are not supposed to judge vaiṣṇavas by their appearance but it was hard for me to contain a chuckle when I saw the thumbnails. I clicked on a couple and it’s the same thing – a display of supposedly transcendental emotions for his disciples to appreciate.
I bet his disciples think that this dude is for real. How can you prove otherwise? What if his “Nitāi” mantra really works and we, and the whole of Gauḍiyā Maṭha for that matter, completely missed the point and followed a wrong path, chanting our Hare Kṛṣṇa for nearly a century without any substantial progress. This guy attained svarūpa siddhi in ten years, maybe less than five if we count from the moment he switched exclusively to chanting “Nitāi”.
Our Śrīla Prabhupāda didn’t know the secret, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī didn’t know the secret either. This dude serves directly under Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, however, so he knows mantras that they didn’t. Or maybe he got his from Vṛndāvana Dāsa Ṭhākura who was a devotee of Lord Nityānanda.
Conditioned nature is very predictable in such cases – even if the proposition is completely ridiculous people still harbor hopes that it might come true. What if? What if everybody is wrong and there’s this one shortcut to riches? What if that guy on the phone offers you a real once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy stock that will surely go up tomorrow? What if this traditional medicine can indeed cure cancer or enhance certain body parts? What if that Nigerian prince really needs to move his money through your account? Some fools will always bite.
Otherwise, it’s an indictment of the modern state of Gauḍiyā vaiṣṇavism, outside of ISKCON, that is. We couldn’t put enough brains in him when he was with us so partly it’s our fault. But what about two senior devotees in Gauḍiyā Maṭha who initiated him? Do they care what he is doing in their name? I think they have left this world already, though, so no one can stop this lunacy.
We can only hope that there aren’t too many nutcases like this. And maybe we shouldn’t worry about the image of Gauḍiyā vaiṣṇavism at all. Compared to ISKCON it’s practically a non-entity anyway and when we preach we preach “Kṛṣṇa consciousness”, we do not overburden people with our exact position on the Gauḍiyā tree.