- Namita Purohit
- Life Stages
Gaudiya Vaishnavas are the followers of the mystic avatar Sri Chaitanya (1486-1534). Sri Chaitanya worshiped Radha and Krishna and popularized the practice of kirtan (congregational chanting of the names of God – Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare). His followers revere him as an incarnation of Krishna, prophesied in the later chapters of the Srimad Bhagavatam, who appeared to teach the path of Bhakti.
Sri Chaitanya taught the belief in one supreme God, the ultimate manifestation being in the form of Krishna, accompanied by Radha, whose power and majesty is secondary to his beauty, love and sweetness. They believe that the Absolute Truth, or God, is all-attractive and has both a male and female nature that is beyond the influences of this temporary world.
Regarding the nature of the self, Sri Chaitanya taught that consciousness is not a product of matter but is rather a symptom of the soul. All souls are eternal, never losing their individuality. They are simultaneously the same as God in nature, yet different, being always dependent. In their conditioned state they are under the influence of matter and in their liberated state they are free in their natural expression of pure devotion with God.
Sri Caitanya taught that the ultimate realization of God is intimate and personal. The discovery of a personal relation with the Absolute is “the most secret of all secrets”, the highest truth which sages, yogis and philosophers have been seeking since the dawn of time. After penetrating into the deepest, most confidential aspect of the spiritual journey one finds God to be a person whose beauty, charm and love is all pervading and infinite. The essence of spiritual perfection for a Bhakti-yogi is to awaken ecstatic love for God, which is the intrinsic nature of the soul.
What is Vaishnavism?
Vaishnavism is a tradition, commonly understood as a branch of Hinduism, which holds reverence and devotion for Vishnu or Krishna as the highest manifestation of divinity and the source of all existence.
In the history of Indian spirituality the most important scriptural sources are Vaishnava sacred texts – The Mahabharata (includingBhagavad-gita), The Ramayana, and the The Srimad Bhagavatam. There are several ancient, time-tested lineages of Vaishnava saints that focus and expound on the teachings of these Bhakti related texts. These texts and teachings have had a tremendously profound influence on Indian culture, (music, dance, literature, poetry, theater and art). But beyond their cultural influence, through exquisite, heartfelt poetry, they manage to integrate profound theological discourse and astute social thought to support an evolved presentation of Bhakti-yoga. Though these lineages are particularly popular in India, their devotional teachings crosses all social borders and are highly relevant to all of humanity because they address the most essential needs of the soul.
The lineage known as Gaudiya Vaishnavism has significantly increased the awareness, recognition and growth of Vaishnavism internationally since the mid-1900’s, largely through the activities of The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), founded by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.