etam sa asthaya paratma-nistham
adhyasitam purvatamair mahadbhih
aham tarisyami duranta-param
etam—this; sah—such; asthaya—being completely fixed in; para-atma-nistham—devotion to the Supreme Person, Krsna; adhyasitam—worshiped; purva-tamaih—by previous; mahadbhih—acaryas; aham—I; tarisyami—shall cross over; duranta-param—the insurmountable; tamah—the ocean of nescience; mukunda-anghri—of the lotus feet of Mukunda; nisevaya—by worship; eva—certainly.
"[As a brahmana from Avanti-desa said:] 'I shall cross over the insurmountable ocean of nescience by being firmly fixed in the service of the lotus feet of Krsna. This was approved by the previous acaryas, who were fixed in firm devotion to the Lord, Paramatma, the Supreme Personality of Godhead."
In connection with this verse, which is a quotation from Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.23.57), Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says that of the sixty-four items required for rendering devotional service, acceptance of the symbolic marks of sannyasa is a regulative principle. If one accepts the sannyasa order, his main business is to devote his life completely to the service of Mukunda, Krsna. If one does not completely devote his mind and body to the service of the Lord, he does not actually become a sannyasi. It is not simply a matter of changing dress. In Bhagavad-gita (6.1) it is also stated, anasritah karma-phalam karyam karma karoti yah sa sannyasi ca yogi ca: one who works devotedly for the satisfaction of Krsna is a sannyasi. The dress is not sannyasa, but the attitude of service to Krsna is.
The word paratma-nistha means being a devotee of Lord Krsna. Paratma, the Supreme Person, is Krsna. Isvarah paramah krsnah sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah. Those who are completely dedicated to the lotus feet of Krsna in service are actually sannyasis. As a matter of formality, the devotee accepts the sannyasa dress as previous acaryas did. He also accepts the three dandas. Later Visnusvami considered that accepting the dress of a tridandi was paratma-nistha. Therefore sincere devotees add another danda, the jiva-danda, to the three existing dandas. The Vaisnava sannyasi is known as a tridandi-sannyasi. The Mayavadi sannyasi accepts only one danda, not understanding the purpose of tri-danda. Later, many persons in the community of Siva Svami gave up the atma-nistha (devotional service) of the Lord and followed the path of Sankaracarya. Instead of accepting 108 names, those in the Siva Svami sampradaya follow the path of Sankaracarya and accept the ten names of sannyasa. Although Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted the then-existing order of sannyasa (namely eka-danda), He still recited a verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam about the tridanda-sannyasa accepted by the brahmana of Avantipura. Indirectly He declared that within that eka-danda, one danda, four dandas existed as one. Accepting ekadanda-sannyasa without paratma-nistha (devotional service to Lord Krsna) is not acceptable to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In addition, according to the exact regulative principles, one should add the jiva-danda to the tri-danda. These four dandas, bound together as one, are symbolic of unalloyed devotional service to the Lord. Because the ekadandi-sannyasis of the Mayavada school are not devoted to the service of Krsna, they try to merge into the Brahman effulgence, which is a marginal position between material and spiritual existence. They accept this impersonal position as liberation. Mayavadi sannyasis, not knowing that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was a tridandi, think of Caitanya Mahaprabhu as an ekadandi-sannyasi. This is due to their vivarta, bewilderment. In Srimad-Bhagavatam there is no such thing as an ekadandi-sannyasi; indeed, the tridandi-sannyasi is accepted as the symbolic representation of the sannyasa order. By citing this verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted the sannyasa order recommended in Srimad-Bhagavatam. The Mayavadi sannyasis, who are enamored of the external energy of the Lord, cannot understand the mind of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
To date, all the devotees of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, following in His footsteps, accept the sannyasa order and keep the sacred thread and tuft of unshaved hair. The ekadandi-sannyasis of the Mayavadi school give up the sacred thread and do not keep any tuft of hair. Therefore they are unable to understand the purport of tridanda-sannyasa, and as such they are not inclined to dedicate their lives to the service of Mukunda. They simply think of merging into the existence of Brahman because of their disgust with material existence. The acaryas who advocate the daiva-varnasrama (the social order of catur-varnyam mentioned in the Bhagavad-gita) do not accept the proposition of asura-varnasrama, which maintains that the social order of varna is indicated by birth.
The most intimate devotee of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, namely Gadadhara Pandita, accepted tridanda-sannyasa and also accepted Madhava Upadhyaya as his tridandi-sannyasi disciple. It is said that from this Madhavacarya the sampradaya known in western India as the Vallabhacarya sampradaya has begun. Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, who is known as a smrty-acarya in the Gaudiya-Vaisnava-sampradaya, later accepted the tridanda-sannyasa order from Tridandipada Prabodhananda Sarasvati. Although acceptance of tridanda-sannyasa is not distinctly mentioned in the Gaudiya Vaisnava literature, the first verse of Srila Rupa Gosvami's Upadesamrta advocates that one should accept the tridanda-sannyasa order by controlling the six forces:
vaco vegam manasah krodha-vegam
etan vegan yo visaheta dhirah
sarvam apimam prthivim sa sisyat
"One who can control the forces of speech, mind, anger, belly, tongue and genitals is known as a gosvami and is competent to accept disciples all over the world." The followers of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu never accepted the Mayavada order of sannyasa, and for this they cannot be blamed. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted Sridhara Svami, who was a tridandi-sannyasi, but the Mayavadi sannyasis, not understanding Sridhara Svami, sometimes think that Sridhara Svami belonged to the Mayavada ekadanda-sannyasa community. Actually this was not the case.
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