शापव्याजेन विप्राणां सञ्जह्रे स्वकुलं विभु: ॥ ५ ॥
sañjahre sva-kulaṁ vibhuḥ
My dear King Parīkṣit, when the supreme almighty Lord, whose desire always comes to pass, had thus made up His mind, He withdrew His own family on the pretext of a curse spoken by an assembly of brāhmaṇas.
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura has made a very important comment on this verse. He states that since the intentions of the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇacandra, are always perfect, it was certainly in consideration of the greatest benefit for the entire world that He destroyed His own family on the pretext of a curse by brāhmaṇas. In this connection, Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura has shown a parallel in the pastimes of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, who is Kṛṣṇa Himself appearing as His own devotee.
Lord Caitanya appeared along with His first plenary expansion, known as Lord Nityānanda Prabhu, and with Lord Advaita Prabhu. All three personalities — Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Nityānanda Prabhu and Advaita Prabhu — are accepted by Vaiṣṇava ācāryas to be in the category of viṣṇu-tattva, the full status of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. These three Personalities of Godhead perceived that in the future Their so-called seminal descendants would get undue recognition and thus, being puffed up, would commit grave offenses against those who were actually Vaiṣṇava gurus or representatives of the Lord.
Every living being is part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, as stated in the Bhagavad-gītā (mamaivāṁśaḥ). Every living entity is originally a son of God, yet to execute His pastimes the Lord selects certain highly qualified living entities whom He allows to take birth as His personal relatives. But those living entities who appear as descendants of the Lord’s personal family may undoubtedly become proud of such a position and thus abuse the great adulation they receive from ordinary people. In this way such persons may artificially get undue attention and divert people from the actual principle of spiritual advancement, which is to surrender to the pure devotee who represents the Lord. The last eight verses of the Twelfth Chapter of Bhagavad-gītā give a description of the pure devotees the Lord permits to act as ācāryas, or spiritual leaders of mankind. In other words, simply to take birth in the personal family of Kṛṣṇa is not the qualification for being a spiritual master, since according to Bhagavad-gītā, pitāham asya jagataḥ: every living entity is eternally a member of the Lord’s family. Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā, samo ’haṁ sarva-bhūteṣu na me dveṣyo ’sti na priyaḥ: “I am equal to everyone. No one is My enemy, and no one is My special friend.” If the Supreme Personality of Godhead appears to have a special family, such as the Yadu dynasty, such a so-called family is a special arrangement of the Lord’s pastimes in order to attract the conditioned souls. When Kṛṣṇa descends, He acts as if He were an ordinary person in order to attract the living entities to His pastimes. Therefore Kṛṣṇa acted as though the Yadu dynasty was His personal family, although in fact every living entity is a member of His family.
Ordinary people, however, not understanding the higher principles of spiritual knowledge, easily forget the actual qualifications of a bona fide spiritual master and instead give undue importance to people born in the Lord’s so-called family. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, therefore, avoided this impediment on the path of spiritual enlightenment by leaving behind no children. Although Caitanya Mahāprabhu married twice, He was childless. Nityānanda Prabhu, who is also the Supreme Personality of Godhead, did not accept any of the natural sons born of His own son, Śrī Vīrabhadra. Similarly, Lord Advaita Ācārya divested of His association all of His sons except Acyutānanda and two others. Acyutānanda, the chief faithful son of Advaita Ācārya, had no seminal progeny, and the remaining three of the six sons of Lord Advaita fell from the path of devotion to the Lord and are known as rejected sons. In other words, the appearance of Caitanya Mahāprabhu allowed little facility for continuing a so-called seminal family to create confusion. The respect shown to the conception of seminal lineage in deference to the ideas of the smārtas is unfit to be accepted by one who actually understands the supreme truth from Vedic authority.
Other ācāryas, or spiritual masters, have also demonstrated this point in their own families. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, our own beloved spiritual master, who is the mighty author of this Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam series, was born in a family of pure devotees, and he himself exhibited all the symptoms of pure devotional service from his very childhood. Śrīla Prabhupāda eventually came to the Western countries and exhibited unprecedented spiritual potency in establishing the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement all over the world. In a few short years, he translated more than fifty large volumes of Vedic philosophy. By his practical activities he is certainly understood to be a most empowered representative of the Lord. Nonetheless, his own family members, although devotees of Kṛṣṇa, did not at all come up to the proper standard of devotional service and are therefore not given attention by the members of ISKCON. The natural tendency for the members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness would be to offer all reverence and worship to the members of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s immediate family. But since by Kṛṣṇa’s arrangement these family members are not at all on the platform of pure devotional service, the members of ISKCON give them hardly any attention but instead worship those who actually exhibit the qualities of highly advanced Vaiṣṇavas, regardless of their so-called birth. In other words, birth cannot constitute the qualification for a respectable person, even when one is born in the Lord’s own family or in the ācārya’s family, what to speak of an ordinary wealthy or learned family.
In India there is a class of men known as nityānanda-vaṁśa, who claim to be direct descendants of Lord Nityānanda and therefore worthy of the highest respect for their position in devotional service. In this regard, Śrīla Prabhupāda has written in The Nectar of Devotion, “In the Middle Ages, after the disappearance of Lord Caitanya’s great associate Lord Nityānanda, a class of priestly persons claimed to be the descendants of Nityānanda, calling themselves the gosvāmī caste. They further claimed that the practice and spreading of devotional service belonged only to their particular class, which was known as nityānanda-vaṁśa. In this way they exercised their artificial power for some time, until Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, the powerful ācārya of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava sampradāya, completely smashed their idea. There was a great hard struggle for some time, but it has turned out successful, and it is now correctly and practically established that devotional service is not restricted to a particular class of men. Besides that, anyone who is engaged in devotional service is already a high-class brāhmaṇa. So Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s struggle for this movement has come out successful. It is on the basis of his position that anyone, from any part of the universe, can become a Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava.”
In other words, the essence of spiritual knowledge is that every living being, regardless of his present status in life, is originally a servant of the Supreme Lord, and it is the mission of the Lord to reclaim all of these fallen living entities. Despite his past situation, any living being who is willing to surrender again at the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord or His bona fide representative can purify himself by strictly adhering to the rules and regulations of bhakti-yoga and thus act as a high-class brāhmaṇa. Nonetheless, the seminal descendants of the Lord think themselves to have acquired their ancestor’s character and position. Thus the Supreme Lord, who is the well-wisher of the entire universe and especially of His devotees, bewilders the discriminatory power of His own descendants in such a contradictory way that these seminal descendants become recognized as deviant and the actual qualification to be a representative of the Lord, namely unalloyed surrender to the will of Kṛṣṇa, remains prominent.