Web         Gaudiya Discussions
Growth of the online community, standards of moderation, feedback on both the content and the technicalities of the site, related announcements.

What is a traditional Gaudiya Vaishnava? - Clarification of the term

Madhava - Sun, 20 Feb 2005 10:24:01 +0530
Traditional Gaudiya Vaishnavas are defined as the main target audience of Gaudiya Discussions. There is a need to clarify the exact meaning of the term in the context of this website to avoid misunderstandings.

Traditional in the definition of the target audience of of Gaudiya Discussions refers to devotees who have received diksha and are engaged in the sadhana-practices taught in one of the many unbroken diksha-paramparas (disciplic successions traced through mantra-initiation) traced back to the companions of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, such as Nityananda Prabhu, Advaita Prabhu, Gadadhar Pandit, Lokanath Goswami, Gopala Bhatta Goswami and Gopala Guru Goswami.

A traditional Gaudiya Vaishnava may or may not cook traditional Indian food, play traditional Indian instruments or adopt traditional Indian gender roles. Social traditions are beyond the scope of the definition here. The word traditional has been selected in favor of other alternatives, such as orthodox or classical, for lack of a better term. The word orthodox is misleading as (1) it implies that there is a particular, single orthodoxy that is followed, which is by no means the case in the vast plurality of our tradition, and (2) among traditional Gaudiya Vaishnavas, there is also much disagreement over what exactly constitutes an orthodox view on some issues. The word classical, while being a good alternative, is not as inclusive a word as traditional.

The division into traditional and non-traditional is made in particular with ISKCON and Gaudiya Matha in mind. We do not regard them as being a part of traditional Gaudiya Vaishnavism, given the fact that Gaudiya Matha's founder, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, was very explicit in his desire to break off from most of the existing traditions, for all practical purposes forming a new kind of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. While we respect his reform and innovations, we may disagree on several of its aspects, and therefore feel it as being essentially outside the scope of this forum.

This post is really only an announcement, not an attempt to start a discussion on the topic. It is therefore not open to replies. If you feel a need to clarify or correct something in this note, please send me a PM with your good suggestions.