From sannyasa vesa to babaji vesa


sannyasa dressOne person who received sannyasa from my Gurudeva, Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja, has changed from being a sannyasi to accepting babaji vesa and a new name from Sri Ananta das Babaji of Radha Kunda.

Just to be clear, I have never heard of Sri Ananta das Babaji of Radha Kunda before this situation and I have never read his books. I also don’t know the sannyasi, I have only seen him during festivals.

This is controversial and generates a lot of discussions in the sangha. So whenever I encounter something I know little about, I always try to approach it without judgment and caution.

So the first thing is to figure out what my Gurudeva and the parampara say about this. This fragment of a lecture tells me what the difference between sannyasi and babaji vesa is:

Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: We are not speaking about giving bābājī-vesa. He never gave bābājī-vesa to anyone who was previously given sannyāsa. Our Guru Mahārāja also gave bābājī-vesa, and Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura also gave bābājī-vesa to some, but they never changed anyone from sannyāsa to bābājī.

There is almost no difference between a sannyāsī and bābājī, in the sense that the mantra of both is the same. The main difference is that the bābājī is mostly a bhajanānandī (a renunciant who mostly concentrates on his personal bhajana, spending less time in preaching activities), and the sannyāsī is a goṣṭhyānandī (a preacher who is also engaged in bhajana). Only those who don’t know the principles of either can change their dress. We should not change.

Source: Gaudiya Sannyasis Never Become Babajis

So there really isn’t much difference in terms of meaning except the dress signifying that one focus more on one’s personal bhajana. Of course, I believe there is room for a sannyasi to focus on his personal bhajana as well for longer periods of time if that is needed, but okey.

If there is any philosophical difference between Sri Ananta das Babaji and the Guru parampara, I don’t know.

Today the sannyasi gave a statement:

Sri Sri Guru-Gauranga Jayatah!
Jaya Sri Radhe!Dear Vaishnavas and Vaishnavis, please accept my humble pranams.I am updating my status to share with you my joy of all the great mercy that as been bestowed upon me recently. By the mercy of Srimati Radhika and Her dear maidservants in our glorious Rupanuga Vaisnava lineages I have been blessed in the most unexpected and most glorious way. I am asking for your blessings and prayers as I continue with my spiritual quest to attain the eternal service of Srimati Radhika.
After the departure of our most beloved Gurudeva, Srila BV Narayana Goswami Maharaja, I have been praying for direct guidance in my life of someone who could help me realise what he so expertly instilled a greed in me to realise, the transcendental mood of the maidservants of Srimati Radhika, manjari bhava. Such persons are indeed rare in this world and to meet even one is astonishing. He taught us that if even a drop of greed for these moods comes into our hearts our lives are a success. I cannot say how much greed he gave me but I can say that I want nothing else and have wanted nothing else for many years. So you can imagine my great happiness when I met yet another great Guru and maidservant of Sri Radha who has captured my heart just as Srila Gurudeva, Srila BV Narayana Goswami has done. By the causeless mercy of Radha Kunda Mahant, Sri Ananta das Babaji Maharaja I am proud and overjoyed that such expert guidance is continuing in my life.I realise that this may seem a very radical decision to some of you and that many of you will reject me even after years of close friendship and service to Sri Guru and Gauranga but I pray you will read on a little more and hear my reasons and perhaps you will bless me even if you cannot accept me any longer.
All my life I have pursued Love of God. First as a Christian wanting to love God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength as is the main teaching in that faith. Although I knew very little about God I wanted this above all else. In the mid 80’s I met the Hare Krishnas and was delighted to learn that God is indeed Krishna. Now I was learning so much about Him and His associates. This was and continues to be the greatest revelation of discovering my relationship to Him and His associates. You can well imagine how my Christian colleagues took that “radical” news. I was shunned to say the least. Then after many years of learning more and more about Bhakti I prayed for a Guru like Srila Prabhupada, who in my eyes and heart was like Jesus Christ.Such a great personality finally came into my life in the transcendental personality of Srila BV Narayana Goswami Maharaja, Srila Gurudeva. Instantly he captured my heart and mind and I dedicated myself to his service and pleasure sincerely and fully. Many glorious years of enlightenment followed as he showered me with his mercy. He awakened in me the feeling that I could certainly be a maidservant of Srimati Radhika and encouraged me to fully dedicate myself to this goal. He told me to see that everything I do is connected to that goal. And so, with what I knew and with the boldness that comes with greed for something, I pushed on without compromise. I had been taught that such a Guru needs to be a pure self realised soul, as Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita (4:34). After my most beloved Gurudeva disappeared from this world my heart longed to again be under such guidance. Gurudeva is always present in my heart and is guiding me still from within. Every day more and more mercy comes from him showing me the way forward. We need to always be in sadhu sanga, the association of those who have the mood we aspire for and are affectionate to us, thus giving us a taste of the transcendental love of God they have in their heart.
Then two years ago I did something that was officially shunned by the Institution around Srila Gurudeva, I read the books of Sri Ananta das Babaji of Radha Kunda. The wonderful thing is that I found the exact same mood of my dearest Gurudeva in his books and became very happy, as you might imagine. Then last year I had the good fortune to meet him and my heart immediately recognised Sri Guru! There is no doubt in my heart and mind and I feel Srila Gurudeva, BV Narayana Goswami’s blessings strong as ever to take shelter of him for my further realisation. I know many strongly disagree with this conclusion but I know Guru when I see one. I was ostrecised for leaving ISKCON to come to Gurudeva but soon had my faith confirmed with his association. And now the sanga of devotees that followed Srila Gurudeva officially have rejected me and plan to convince all of you to do the same. I am deeply sorry for any pain this is causing or confusion but I can only follow the flow of greed in my heart towards my goal. I am endeavouring to see that everything I do is connected to my goal of realising my identity as a maidservant of Srimati Radhika. How could I ever reject such an opportunity even at the expense of losing so many sweet friends and well wishers?

And so if you unfriend me I understand and only pray that you bless this little jiva will one day find her way back home to Godhead.

All glories to Srimati Radhika!
All glories to Sri Gauranga!
All glories to Sri Nityananda!
All glories to Sri Rupa Goswami!
All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
All glories to Srila BV Narayana Goswami Maharaja!
All glories to Sri Ananta das Babaji Maharaja!

I have been indeed blessed that they have all blessed me beyond my dreams but in answer to my prayers.

My new name is Madhavananda das and I am wearing Babaji vesha to please Sri Guru.

Your humble,
Madhavananda das

It’s a lovely statement, and usually I would become happy if a person has found genuine sadhu-sanga. People advancing spiritually is a joyous occasion and makes me happy.

Here’s the thing that makes it hard to reconcile:

If there is little difference between babaji vesa and sannyasi vesa, why change dress? Wouldn’t the act of changing dress be a let down of the one giving sannyasa and also the guru-parampara?

Doesn’t the act itself show that one has gone outside the guru-parampara?


(And let me just comment on this statement “And now the sanga of devotees that followed Srila Gurudeva officially have rejected me”. I only speak for myself, but to reject a person is an immature action. The mature action is to welcome a person and deal with something from situation to situation. Krishna wants us all, though sometimes we walk off path, sometimes we follow the path but on the grass and rocks beside the path and sometimes we walk in the wrong direction. Though in my experience is that when those “big” words like rejection is used, it generally doesn’t mean rejection, but that one has been disallowed doing something for a while.)

Update 22.01.2014

The sannyasi linked to an article on about Srila Bhakti Hriday Bon Maharaj who was a disciple of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Maharaja. Hriday Bon Maharaja apparantly gave up sannyasa for babbaji vesa, then took up sannyasa again.

So how to reconcile these things?

Update on 27th january 2014
There’s a sound file where Gurudeva makes some statements about Sri Ananta Das babaji. But I can’t for the life of me understand what he’s saying because of the bad sound quality.

17 thoughts on “From sannyasa vesa to babaji vesa

  1. It’s funny that you updated the blog with the reference to Srila Bon Maharaj, because I was thinking of him when I read the post. 🙂 Did you find his book, btw?

    Sri Ananta Das Babaji is very learned, and I think he would know if it was wrong to give babaji vesa to a sannyasi. Perhaps it’s not wrong in their group, and thus a relative thing.

    Sad that reading his books is “officially shunned”. They’re missing out on the best published commentary on Madhurya Kadambini. Srila Tripurari Maharaj says that Babaji Maharaj has some differences from us, mainly in abhidheya tattva, but that the thoughtful reader can sort that out for him or herself.

  2. I have found his book. I will probably purchase it on my next paycheck.

    It seems like the stance on this situation is pretty much that all Radha-kunda babbajis are to be avoided. From a historical view it’s connected to that after Srila Prabhupadas disappearance many went to the babbajis who gave them their (false) siddha-deha. The sadhakas didn’t want to follow the process and tried to hasten the process by going to the babbajis.

    Isn’t a difference on abhidheya-tattva a very important difference? If there is a difference, does it mean that Sri Ananta Das Babaji is a part of the Guru parampara or not? That there are some organizational/small differences between the sanghas is okey as long as they are preaching the same tattva.

    I’m also wondering if may be the shunning of radha-kunda babbajis (and books) is a circumstantial one. That when Gurudeva say one should stay away it is for the general public, but there might be one diamond amongst the fold and that depending on the circumstance (person, level of realization etc) that one might make an exception.

    I guess this is one of the reasons one need a Guru, to dispel these arising questions.

    I might investigate the shunning of books a bit more and ask around.

    • “Isn’t a difference on abhidheya-tattva a very important difference? If there is a difference, does it mean that Sri Ananta Das Babaji is a part of the Guru parampara or not? ”

      I think you might be confusing Sampradaya with Parampara here. Sri Ananta Das Babaji is in the Gaudiya Sampradaya, but he is in another guru-parampara. There are hundreds, if not thousands of guru-paramparas because Mahaprabhu had so many associates who gave diksha and their disciples gave diksha, all the way down til today, creating so many guru-paramparas.

      • Yes, you’re right. I use the word Guru-parampara with the understanding that Guru-parampara has to be authentic, but that’s not really given, is it.

      • I think you are probably not familiar with Gaudiya-vaishnava history and are assuming there is only one guru-parampara? There are several, because Mahaprabhu had several parikaras, who themselves made disciples, and those disciples made disciples, on down to today. This is all clearly laid out in a book titled Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita written by the author Krishna Das Kaviraj. That is why India and the world is blessed with so many Mahaprabhu bhaktas today.

  3. I’m not proposing that one whimsically enter the jungle of different groups to “look for nectar”. But in the case of Madhurya Kadambini, there isn’t much written at all, and Srila Babaji Maharaj is a serious scholar. He cites the scriptures we all accept, such as the books of the six Goswamis, Caitanya-caritamrta etc. Of course, I probably wouldn’t have read it if my Gurumaharaj hadn’t recommended it.

    He (my Gurumaharaj) has written a small book, incidentally in response to the last chapter of Hindu Encounter With Modernity, that talks about these things, our views compared to the babaji’s views of raganuga-bhakti. It’s available here:

    I think you are right about such warnings being circumstantial. Srila Prabhupada’s godbrother, Dr. Kapoor, once told him that he seems to be teaching his disciples in such a way that in the future they won’t be able to hear from anyone else. Srila Prabhupada replied that it’s like putting a protective fence around a new plant, bu in the future the plant is expected to grow above and reach out over the fence.

    Generally it’s the most natural to stay within one’s own parivar though. But I can’t speak for Madhavananda, because I don’t know him.

  4. I agree on not whimsically enter groups looking for nectar. The analogy of putting a fence around ones disciples, I find very relevant in taking care of ones spiritual life. One have to be careful on what one is letting in. Though, one have to widen the area by fertilizing it with knowledge. This is why I’m loving this discussion – I’m suddenly being aware of history, points of contentions and themes I had no knowledge of.

    I have not read the last chapter of HEWM yet (it becomes so achademic that I fall out, but I still love that it’s academic if it makes sense :). I really love the booklet written by Tripurari Swami. It fits perfectly to this discussion, and contains a lot of things I didn’t know about. I need to study this even more because I see there’s things here I want to know 🙂 Tripurari Swami only mentions it in one sentence, but there seem to be a period of years where it seems like the guru parampara was “broken”.

    I’m not sure if it’s natural to stay within ones parivar (as in group/organization?). My thoughts have always been that I will go wherever there are pure devotees, though I might find service in many groups (and especially in my own).

    Also of note:
    One of the vocal supporters of Sri Ananta Babaji is Tarun Govinda dasa which has a blog entry:

    It’s too much details for me to have any opinions (especially when he goes into the guru parampara), though I know he cites the wrong diksa guru for Bhaktivinode Thakura which is Bipin Bihari Goswami. It’s too bad he doesn’t open for comments since I believe it’s important to have discussions and deal with opposing views.

    • Hmm, Taruna Govinda’s blog does say Vipin Bihari Goswami. Maybe he edited it? That was very worthwhile reading, thank you. I have read some of his writing before and really liked it. He’s on facebook, and might be up for a discussion.

      By parivar I meant family. In Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati’s view, we are in the Bhaktivinode parivar. While one could argue that Lalita Prasad also would be included in that, Lalita Prasad did probably not look at it in that way. So for us, practically, it means the family of missions started by disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, in other words the different Gaudiya Maths and their branches.

  5. This is the way I see it: prabhu here will most likely end up feeling cheated. The real followers of Sri Radhika never feel they have a chance, etc. They feel most fallen and unworthy and are very private and protective of Srimati Radharani..

    Second, to understand Radha Krishna purely, it is essential to approach via Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. How? By preaching His mission, which is what the ISKCON and Gaudiya matha embody. Thus the ABC’s the sahajiyas and babajis shun is meant for helping the fallen souls, thus deriving the pleasure and mercy of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu upon us. They want to jump over, like the newly married bride that can’t wait to get pregnant. The honest ones are bound for disappointment, but like you say, it is like being off the path awhile with the rocks and bumps, so do not worry too much about this prabhu. Honesty, especially with one’s self, is the one remaining leg Kali did not break.

    Third, is being unchaste to one’s spiritual master. The key to success, Srila Prabhupada taught us, is unflinching faith; it is devotion.

  6. Madhavananda das babaji is naistikya-brahmachari. So, no matter what kind of nonsense he does, Brahmaloka is his destination.

    • How he is naisthika-brahmachari if he himself told me he was gay? Perhaps he just kissed boys and never made sex to them?

      • This is the first time I hear this, so I don’t know if its correct or not. Not that it matters – most of us have a sexual orientation whether we practice it or not.

  7. Just to update… Madhavananda has left gaudiya vaishnavism altogether and went back to practicing Christianianty (he was a monk originally).
    So he’ll go to Jesusloka!

  8. Disobey and offend your spiritual master, and Krishna smashes you and takes away your taste for krishna consciousness.
    Shows you cheap this whole thing of westerners going to radhakund and becoming instant manjaris is. One minute your a manjari engaged in direct service to Radharani, the next minute you become a Christian and don’t even believe in Krishna anymore.
    All these folks who think they know better than prabhupada and his “basic abc’s ” teachings….where are they now?

    • What if this is part of the process he is supposed to go through to reach Goloka? I find this strict adherence and outlook on kc to be very restrictive. They way kc is taught and practiced is very strict, and as a devotee you quickly (or in my case – slowly because I’m just too ignorant) go head first into your limitations and boundaries. Except of course, how much you realize that there’s boundaries and limitations to what you can adhere to is different. How much self awareness we have is different. So we try so very hard, get nowhere and somewhere along the way we experience limits and boundaries in ourselves. And then we act on those limits.

      So where are those who have fallen? My answer right now – exactly where they are supposed to be.

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