The Māyāvādī sannyāsīs, appreciating Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu, inquired from Him why He did not discuss Vedānta philosophy. Actually, however, the entire system of Vaiṣṇava activities is based on Vedānta philosophy. Vaiṣṇavas do not neglect Vedānta, but they do not care to understand Vedānta on the basis of the Śārīraka-bhāṣya commentary. Therefore, to clarify the situation, Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, with the permission of the Māyāvādī sannyāsīs, wanted to speak regarding Vedānta philosophy.
The Vaiṣṇavas are by far the greatest philosophers in the world, and the greatest among them was Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī Prabhu, whose philosophy was again presented less than four hundred years later by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Mahārāja. Therefore one must know very well that Vaiṣṇava philosophers are not sentimentalists or cheap devotees like the sahajiyās. All the Vaiṣṇava ācāryas were vastly learned scholars who understood Vedānta philosophy fully, for unless one knows Vedānta philosophy he cannot be an ācārya. To be accepted as an ācārya among Indian transcendentalists who follow the Vedic principles, one must become a vastly learned scholar in Vedānta philosophy, either by studying it or hearing it.
Bhakti develops in pursuance of Vedānta philosophy. This is stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (SB 1.2.12):
- tac chraddadhānā munayo jñāna-vairāgya-yuktayā
- paśyanty ātmani cātmānaṁ bhaktyā śruta-gṛhītayā
The words bhaktyā śruta-gṛhītayā in this verse are very important, for they indicate that bhakti must be based upon the philosophy of the Upaniṣads and Vedānta-sūtra. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī said:
- śruti-smṛti-purāṇādi-pañcarātra-vidhiṁ vinā
- aikāntikī harer bhaktir utpātāyaiva kalpate
“Devotional service performed without reference to the Vedas, Purāṇas, Pañcarātras, etc., must be considered sentimentalism, and it causes nothing but disturbance to society.” There are different grades of Vaiṣṇavas (kaniṣṭha-adhikārī, madhyama-adhikārī and uttama-adhikārī), but to be a madhyama-adhikārī preacher one must be a learned scholar in the Vedānta-sūtra and other Vedic literatures because when bhakti-yoga develops on the basis of Vedānta philosophy it is factual and steady.