Gaudiya Vaishnavite Society

   The Gaudiya Vaishnavite Society developed in the 1980s. It arose in part as a result of differ-ences among followers of the late Swami A.C. Gaudiya Vaishnavite Society 165 J
   Prabhupada BHAKTIVEDANTA, the founder of the INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR KRISHNA CONSCIOUS-NESS (ISKCON). Within ISKCON, one group of conservative thinkers wanted to venerate all teachers in the organization as GURUS. A reform faction led by B. V. Tripurari opposed other ISK-CON gurus’ accepting veneration in the same manner as had been shown Prabhupada. Eventu-ally Tripurari led many of the reform group away from the original organization and this group formed the Gaudiya Vaishnavite Society.
   Tripurari Swami first met Prabhupada, a saintly holy man, when he visited the United States in September 1965. He became a student of the master and after a short time became a sannyasi, one who renounces the world to live a holy life. Amid the turmoil that follow Prabhupada’s death in 1977, Tripurari remained loyal to his lineage, pointing reformists to honor Bhakti Rakshak Srid-hara Maharaj (1895–1988), Prabhupada’s god-brother (meaning that they had received their initiations from the same guru).
   While Prabhupada had concentrated on the development of a mission in the United States. Sridhara Maharaj had developed an international following related to the work he had started through the Sri Chaitanya Saraswati Math in West Bengal, India. As knowledge of his work spread, he had built up communities abroad that sup-ported his mission.
   Several challenges emerged when the Gaudiya Vaishnavite Society became active in missionary efforts. In 1986, the city of San Francisco forbade society members to pass out their literature on the streets. The Gaudiya Society took the case to court and won. In 1988, the organization began to print its periodical The Clarion Call, similar in design and perspective to ISKCON’s main magazine, Back to Godhead. This periodical was able to cross reli-gious boundaries and reach far beyond the follow-ers of the society. It especially addressed a variety of issues important to the New Age community, such as human and animal rights, reincarnation, holistic health ideas, vegetarianism, and spirituality.
   The Gaudiya Vaishnavite Society remains in harmony with the religious beliefs and principles initially articulated by ISKCON. The major issue originally confronting ISKCON was resolved as its members spiritually realigned to Sridhara Maharaj as their leader. There was never any problem with remaining loyal to the spiritual ideal promoted by ISKCON. Society members, however, now trace their lineage from Sridhara Maharaj and not Prabhupada.
   The Gaudiya Vaishnavite Society teaches a form of BHAKTI (devotional) yoga that encourages mem-bers to engage in temple worship, in contrast with other forms of Hinduism that focus on worshipping at a home altar. Precepts include belief in a theistic (personal) deity. The society’s views thus differ from the traditional perspective of ADVAITA (non-dualist) VEDANTA, which supports a monist perspective in which the ultimate divine is conceived in imper-sonal terms. The Gaudiya Vaishnavite Society (and related groups such as ISKCON) build their rela-tionship with God through personal devotion. A major element in that devotional activity concerns the frequent repetition of the following MANTRA that calls upon the name of God: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, / Krishna, Krishna, Hare, Hare, / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, / Rama, Rama, Hare, Hare.
   The mantra is chanted several hours daily by devotees as a means of elevating their conscious-ness, quickening enlightenment, and hastening progress to SAMADHI, an elevated state of con-sciousness.
   Further reading: Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Deva Goswami, The Golden Volcano of Divine Love (San Jose, Calif.: Guardian of Devotion Press, 1984); ———, The Hidden Treasure of the Absolute (West Bengal: Sri Chait-anya Saraswati Math, 1985); Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, Sri Chaitanya Mahapradhu: His Life and Precepts (Brook-lyn, N.Y.: Gaudiya Press, 1987); Swami B. V. Tripurari, Ancient Wisdom for Modern Ignorance (Eugene, Ore.: Clarion Call, 1994); ———, Rasa, Love Relationships in Transcendence (Eugene, Ore.: Gaudiya Vaishnava Society, 1993).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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