In honour of Sri Lalita-saptami, we are presenting a talk of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur in which he explains the position of Svarup Damodar and the definition of a Gaudiya Vaishnav.
Sri Bhakti Siddhanta Vani Number Four
Question: Who are Gaudiya devotees?
Answer: The devotees of Vishnu are Vaishnavs, the devotees of Krishna are Karshnas and the devotees of Sri Radha are Gaudiyas.
The devotees of Sri Gaura who are followers of Sri Rupa (Rupanugas) and are sheltered within parakiya-madhura-rasa are Gaudiyas. The Gaudiya devotees are followers of Sri Svarup Damodar Goswami Prabhu, the avatar of Sri Lalita Devi. Because of this the Gaudiyas are the followers of Sri Svarup Damodar and Sri Rupa Goswami, and Sriman Mahaprabhu therefore said to Sri Svarup Damodar Prabhu, “tomara Gaudiya kare eteka vyavahara, your Gaudiya behaves such.”
The Gaudiyas serve within the manjari system. Sri Radha-Govinda, Sri Radha-Gopinath and Sri Radha-Madan-mohan are the Deities of the Gaudiyas. The scripture says:
śrī rādhā saha śrī madana-mohana
śrī rādhā saha śrī govinda-charaṇa
śrī rādhā saha śrīla śrī gopīnātha
ei tina ṭhākura haya gauḍīyara nātha
“Sri Radha with Sri Madan-mohan, Sri Radha with Sri Govinda and Sri Radha with Sri Gopinath—these three Deities are the Lords of the Gaudiyas.”
ei tina ṭhākura gauḍīyāke kariyāchena ātma-sāt
e tinera charaṇa vando̐, tine mora nātha
(Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta: Ādi-līlā, 1.19)
“These three Deities have accepted the Gaudiyas as Their own. I offer my obeisance at the feet of these three Deities, they are My Lords.”
The Deities of the Gaudiya Vaishnavs are indicated in the eighteen-syllable mantra: Krishna is Madan-mohan, Govinda is Govinda and Gopi-jana-vallabha is Gopinath. Experience of Madan-mohan Krishna is sambandha, the service of Govinda is abhidheya and being attracted by Gopijana-vallabha is prayojan.
Madan-mohan Krishna is the Deity of sambandha. Govinda is the Deity of abhidheya and Gopinath is the Deity of prayojan.
Generally, the devotees who are sheltered at the feet of Sri Gaura are known as Gaudiyas. The devotees of the land of Gauda (Central West Bengal) are also known as Gaudiyas. Just as the devotees from the land of Utkal are known as Udiya devotees, the devotees from Bengal are also denominated as Gaudiya devotees.