Conceptions of the Mahāmantra

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QUESTION 1: What are the proper conceptions of the Name for persons who are just beginning to chant (i.e. those who are without attachment to Krishna in any particular rasa, but with a desire to somehow or other obtain such an attachment)?

Everyone has some “sambandha” with Krishna, and everyone should invoke his name in the context of that sambandha.

Sambandha means “bond” or “relationship.” Sambandha-jñāna (“knowledge of ones relationship to Krishna”) includes both the abstract and specific aspects of that relationship. The abstract aspects are much more relevant to the beginner, whose comprehension of Krishna is still abstract and somewhat vague. The specific aspects become more relevant as the practitioner clarifies his or her heart and soul through study and application of the mantra.

The abstract aspect of sambandha-jñāna is to know Krishna as the threefold manifest advaya-jñāna-tattva – the ultimate root of all beings and all things, including one’s very own self. Even the newest begginer to bhakti-yoga can be directly instructed about this philosophy. As they begin to comprehend this sambandha, their chanting of Krishna’s name naturally imbibes the sense of calling to the root of all reality, calling to the root and sustainence of one’s very own self.

“You are the root and essence of all the is real.”

“You are the root and essence of my very self.”

These conceptions of relationship to Krishna are pertinent and appropriate to every sādhaka, no matter how neophyte or advanced. But for the neophyte, this is all there is. For the advanced there is this and much more.

QUESTION 2: What are some possible conceptions after the appearance of greed in the heart for a specific relationship with Krishna?

In our quest for sambandha-jñāna we must hear about advaya-jñāna-tattva not only as the essence of everything (brahman), not only as the root of everyone and everything (paramātmā), but also as the delightful epitome of life itself – the Supreme Person (bhagavan). Then, hearing about Bhagavan in more detail from the śāstra, through the guidence of sādhu-guru, we will fairly soon find some details or aspects of Bhagavan that really “speak to” us, that “click” with us, and truly attract our heart and attention uncommonly and undeniably. This is the beginning of a rati-bija (seed of affection), described as laulya or lobha (longing and wanting, or “greed”).

If this never happens, we develop a bija for śānta-rati which is directed upon Paramātmā. If it does not happen with any specificity, but only as a general attraction, then we develop bija for service in general, dāsya-rati, directed upon Nārāyaṇa

In most cases, by attentively and thoughtfully hearing Srimad Bhagavatam from sādhu-guru, the attraction should gradually develop increasing specificity.  Once we notice a spark of specific interest, we must enthusiastically fan that spark into flame – by hearing more and more about that topic of interest.

The more we recognize this spontaneous, undeniable interest in us for particular qualities of Krishna that express themselves in particular līlā with particupar parikara (associates), the more our sambandha develops some specificity, and moves away from the general, abstract sambandha characteristic of the yogi-bhaktas of śānta-rasa and the aśwarya-bhaktas of dāsya-rasa.

As specificity develops, the sādhaka would invoke Krishna’s name with increasingly specific subjective feeling. Somewhat generic examples include… “O Krishna my master,” or “O Krishna my friend,” “O Krishna my son,” “O Krishna my darling lover.”

With more clarity, one always hankers to keep Krishna with the devotee whose affection one cherishes. So for example, instead of “O Krishna my darling lover,” It could become “O Krishna our darling lover.” Or, “O Krishna, Rādhā’s darling lover.”

Each name in the mahāmantra takes an appropriate context relative to the chanter’s sambandha. For example, to one whose sambandha is mādhurya/ujjvala (Romantic), Hare means something like, “O Krishna’s enchanting beloved Rādhā.” Krishna means something like, “O Rādhā’s all-attractive beloved.” Rāma means something like, “O Radha’s delight/delighter.”

QUESTION 3: I’ve heard some devotees quote Aindra prabhu in saying that in the beggining one can conceive of the Name to be Gaura-Nitai.

“In the beginning” means in the beginning of the Kīrtan or initial batch of japa “rounds,” to evoke the presence of Sri Caitanya and his principle associates. He did not mean “in the beginning stages,” so far as I understand.

In Gauḍīya tradition, Kīrtan is performed for their pleasure, and it begins by inviting them to participate and dance in the kīrtan. This is usually done with specific songs and mantras. For example, in ISKCON and many similar Gaḍīya branches it is customary to chant “śrī kṛṣṇa-caitanya prabhu nityānanda…” before chanting “hare kṛṣṇa, hare kṛṣṇa…”

Aindra’s specific service, however, was to perform akhaṇḍa-nāma-kīrtan – 24 hour “unbroken” kīrtan of Krishna-nām. The Gauḍīya tradition is that akhaṇḍa kīrtan is purely hare kṛṣṇa mahāmantra unmixed with any other mantra – which even excludes śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanya… Aindra’s unique service (coupled with his unique depth of practice) gave him a special realization about the viability of using the Hare Krishna mahāmantra to invoke the blessings and presence of Sri Caitanya Mahāprabhu and his principle associates.

His understanding, as far as I understand it:

Gadādhara Prabhu is one form of Rādhārānī in Gaura-līlā. So the name “Hare” (which primarily invokes Rādhārānī) can invoke Gadādhara. Mahāprabhu is Krishna in Gaura-līlā. So the name “Krishna” can invoke Him. Thus, “hare kṛṣṇa, hare kṛṣṇa, kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa, hare hare” can be sung with the sambandha of relationp to Gaura-līlā, to the effect of invoking “gadai gaura, gadai gaura, gaura gaura, gadai gadai.”

In Gaura-līlā Rādhārānī also appears as Mahāprabhu’s mood. Hence “Hare” can also represent Mahāprabhu’s mood. Balarāma appears as Nityānanda Prabhu in Gaura-līlā, hence “Rāma” can be used to refer to Nitai. Thus, “hare rāma, hare rāma, rāma rāma, hare hare” invokes “gaura nitai, gaura nitai, nitai nitai, gaura gaura.”

Vraja Kishor dās

www.vrajakishor.com

Love is the Highest Goal

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The Veda presents four goals of life. The first is kāma“pleasure.” This is the root of every goal, for everyone – from insects to gods.

More evolved people, however, don’t just focus on immediate pleasure, they try to insure that they can also enjoy tomorrow. This is the second goal, artha“wealth.” The purpose of which is to make pleasure sustainable.

Still more evolved people don’t just try to earn wealth, they try to protect it. Eventually they realize that the most effective way to do that is to create a cooperative society where people respect one another’s property and rights. This is the third goal of life, dharma – “morality.”

Very evolved people who pursue pleasure through moral wealth eventually come to realize a few things: (1) the rules of morality are often impositions, they want more freedom, (2) they get tired making money, they need a break, (3) their concept of pleasure seems flawed. Thus, people eventually evolve to desire the fourth goal of life, mokṣa“liberation.”

The Veda lauds mokṣa as the highest goal of life because liberation is the most refined pleasure, mokṣa is the most refined kāma. It is so because it frees pleasure from being dependent on external objects and situations, and by so doing, frees us from all sources of pain and suffering. Without pain and suffering, we can experience an existence that is carefree, peaceful and tranquil, unbounded, and effortless to maintain.

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s school, however, brings out a fifth goal from the Veda – one which Vyāsa makes particularly clear in his book dedicated to it: Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. This goal points out that pleasure is not merely freedom from suffering. Within the purely conscious self accessed by a liberated soul, one can discover the Superself; the root of oneself, and the root of everything – Krishna. Discovering this all-important and all-attractive entity, one falls in love!

It is not the love of an external object. It is love for the root of one’s own being! Since the object of love is not extrinsic to one’s own conscious being, it does not have the flaws of external kāma, flaws which demand money (artha) and laws (dharma). It is love built on the freedom and enlightenment of liberation (mokṣa) – but without mokṣa’s shortcoming of merely being tranquil, and not being passionate and thrilling. Love is superior to freedom, because the thrilling pleasure of love vastly outclasses the peaceful pleasure of freedom!

Thus prema truly is the supreme goal of life, the “fifth goal” of the Veda.

Harmony in Contradiction

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Because I speak in my own words, what I say often seems brand new or different than what you’ve heard before. I like this because it encourages people to think.

Sometimes what I say may seem different than what you’ve heard Śrīla Prabhupāda say.

I consider myself a grateful follower of Śrīla Prabhupāda, so I don’t intentionally say or teach anything that contradicts him. But, depending on your current idea of what Śrīla Prabhupāda said on a given subject, you may sometimes have to be willing to do a lot of thinking with an unbiased mind if you want to see that harmony for yourself.

You may well find this unnecessary, after all I am no one’s “guru,” but if so, I humbly request that you not express an un-investigated judgement of my supposed disharmony with Śrīla Prabhupāda. Just leave me as “undecided” and turn your attention to something more essential.

I humbly request that you not express an un-investigated judgement of my supposed disharmony with Śrīla Prabhupāda.

Even if you find it unnecessary to discover the harmony between my words and Prabhupāda’s, you will certainly find it necessary to discover the harmony between his words and his other words – because, like every guru, he often says things that appear to point in contrary directions.

To discover harmony in apparent contradictions, we have to  abandon the safety blanket of rushing to conclusions based on isolated quotes.

If you survey everything Prabhupāda said, in the context of when, where, why, and how he said it, and the context of his behavior and character – you will surely come to profoundly deep conclusions about his teachings. I think you would then find complex harmony in all his words and deeds, and (if you care to) would also discover how what I say is in service to and harmony with Śrīla Prabhupāda.

Vraja Kishor

www.vrajakishor.com

How to Remember what you Learn?

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Question: “I have the tendency to spend a lot of time studying, and then forgetting all I’ve studied. Same goes for hearing classes and notetaking. How to study sastra/hear classes in such a way as to remember everything, and especially not loose the message/or essence in the process?

Budhi (intellect) has three functions:

(1) detecting patterns in the data it gets through the ears, eyes, etc.,

(2) comprehending those patterns by matching them with the fully or partially comprehended patterns it has stored in memory, and

(3) (a) filling up the “memory” with comprehended patterns through “education” and (b) keeping those patterns sharp and organized for efficient indexing and access.

When you study or listen to a teacher, you are doing “3.a.” You are asking about a “memory leak” – where the patterns seem to go in, but then leak back out.

Patterns leak out of memory when they are not frequently used.

Budhi is an organic, hyper-physical supercomputer. It keeps its “hard disk” (memory) efficient and organized. One way it does so is by deleting unimportant “files” (comprehended patterns). The deletion is gradual, just as modern computer OS’ first move the file to a “trash bin” and only later “empty the trash.” Similarly, memories “fade” as they get more and more flags from the budhi “OS” marking them as candidates for deletion.

The key to remembering what you learn is to use and interact with it regularly.

A “file” of information in your memory will be marked for deletion if it hasn’t been used in a while. So the key to remembering what you learn is to use it and interact with it regularly.

If you learn something from a book or a class, for example, you should immediately try to write it in your diary or notebook in your own words, and try to make it relevant and useful by linking it to other “patterns” in your life, investigating what it means in context of various things you believe or do or think. This will put a “useful” flag on the bit of info, which is very important.

If you want to remember something – ask questions about it! Ask the author, ask the speaker, ask your mother’s uncle, or even ask yourself – but ask! The more clearly you understand the relevance of information, the longer it will persist in your memory. Like Google, when things are related to other things, they are more “relevant,” and so come up more frequently in “searches” and thus get more “traffic.” The more traffic a bit of memory gets, the more important it must be, and thus the more carefully budhi keeps it stored.

Ask questions while learning. Otherwise the info won’t get “written to the Hard Disk.”

Asking questions and writing the ideas out in your own words right away is very important for remembering things, because information has to be marked “useful” soon after we get it, otherwise it will not be transferred from short- to long- term memory, but will instead disappear when the short term memory is “refreshed” (which happens frequently). Just like a regular computer, buddhi has “RAM” (immediate, working memory), which it cleans much more frequently and than its “Hard Disk” (long term memory). So, if you immediately try to use the info you’ve learned by putting it in your own words or asking how it relates to other things that currently exist in your own life and outlook, then you mark the info as useful while it is in “RAM” short-term memory, and thus allow it to survive the dangerous and frequent “RAM refreshes” and get transitioned to the “Hard Disk” (long term memory).

Apply the new information to how you live, how you act, and how you see the world. This will keep it relevant – and budhi will then make sure it remains sharp and clear at the top of your “memory stack.”

Once information is on memory’s “Hard Disk” you still have to utilize the pattern, or it will fade gradually. You do this by applying the pattern of information to how you live, act, and see the world. This keeps it relevant – and budhi will then make sure to keep it sharp and clear right at the top of your “memory stack.”

So, to reiterate, we remember useful things. So if we want to remember something from a book or a lecture, we have to make it useful to us – which means we need to incorporate it into our daily life – our conversations, our actions, and our way of looking at things.

Vraja Kishor

www.vrajakishor.com

Following Rules

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Doubt: I’ve found in the past, when I try to follow the rules of a particular tradition, at some point I lose interest and they cease to have the allure they once did: they lose their magic and/or I lose my passion.

My Reply:

We have to pay attention to following the rules effectively – not just checking them off when we mimic the external form. If we follow a rule effectively, we should get the promised result.

Following a rule should give a result.

When we follow a rule, we can evaluate the result and come to one of four conclusions:

  1. This rule doesn’t give the promised result – it’s bunk!
  2. This rule hasn’t yet given the promised result, but I’m still not sure if it’s bunk. Maybe I don’t understand the rule deeply and am not practicing it effectively. I should get some guidance and clarity, and then see if I get the result.
  3. This rule gives the promised result!  But I realize now that I don’t really need this result.
  4. This rule gives the promised result, and I love it! I’ll stick with it to get more of the same.

The rules (practices) of bhakti promise to result in nitya-siddha-bhāva – eternally, effortlessly perfect ecstacy, joy.

“Nitya siddhasya bhāvasya prākaṭyaṁ hṛdi sadhyatā.” The rules (practices) of bhakti promise to result in eternally perfect joy.  No one abandons joy. We abandon promises of joy that don’t seem to deliver. We abandon results that aren’t truly joyous. But no one ever abandons joy.

If we are not getting joy from following the rules of bhakti, we have those four conclusions to consider:

Is the rule bunk? Maybe. Maybe it was made up by someone recent and inexperienced – and not one of the original 64 practices enumerated by Śrī Rūpa Goswāmī, etc. How do we know? Well, we should research, and not expect the perfect sādhana and siddhānta to be hand delivered on a silver spoon to us as we lounge about in lotus posture. Still, one shortcut is, if sādhus follow the same rule and seem to taste profound joy in it – it’s probably not bunk. (You can’t always rely on this shortcut, though, because you may not be experienced enough to differentiate a real sādhu from an imposter, or real joy from its imitation. So you should always combine this shortcut with the longcut of actual reasarch of the śāstra and its explanations by the ācāryas).

If I have good reason to believe the rule is not bunk, maybe my understanding of it is wrong? I should get better guidence and try to figure out how my understanding and implementation of the rule differs from how those sādhus understand and implement it.

If I get that guidance and still can’t get the result, I am more inclined to consider the rule “bunk” but if my research proves me wrong (i.e. the successful ācāryas followed and recommended this rule, and I see contemporary sādhus successfully employing the rule), then I conclude that the rule may be grand, but isn’t appropriate or plausible for me as an individual at this particular point in my life. I should try to find a more appropriate and realistic rule/practice of bhakti and focus on that.

If I follow the most appropriate rule, with good guidance and sincerity, I should very soon, if not immediately, get the result: joy which is far superior to any other joy I’ve experienced elsewhere. If somehow I can’t get this result, I have to conclude that either the bhakti-mārga is junk (which is difficult to do after some exposure to the sādhus and ācāryas) or that I need to focus initially on a different mārga (“path”) like the more science-meditation-oriented paths of jñāna-mārga or the more religion-deeds-oriented paths of karma-marga.

But this would not be an expected outcome. With the right guidence, anyone can quickly experience the superior joy of bhakti by applying themselves to the key practices/rules.

If I follow the most appropriate rule, with good guidance and sincerity, I should very soon, if not immediately, get the result: joy which is far superior to any other joy I’ve experienced elsewhere.

In conclusion: Following rules is not enough. Following rules effectively and getting the result is what we are after! We need more than rules, we need results. No rule will get boring or seem impossible to stick to if it gives the result it promised.

 We need more than rules, we need results.

Guidance is always the first priority in following any rule, because without guidance it is very unlikely that we will apply the rule effectively.

The five most important sādhanas are the best rules to focus on because they give the most profound results, and do so the most quickly.

Vraja Kishor das

www.vrajakishor.com

 

Why do Spiritual Paths have Rules?

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Question: Why do you think so many spiritual traditions (and most religions) have ‘rules’ for practitioners to follow? I want to know why rules are used as a technology in spiritual traditions. Why are “do and don’t lists” so important?

My Reply:

I think it’s simple. If you want to get from point A to point B, but have no idea how to do it, you need directions. Directions are a list of do’s and Don’t’s: “Turn right, don’t turn left.”

Rules and regulations are particularly important for the neophyte who has no idea how to go forward. The more experience we get with navigation (often as a result of observing those rules and regulations) the more we develop our own compass. With our own compass, we follow the directions (the rules and regulations) without really feeling like we are. We start to naturally know the right way to proceed, and the rules and regulations point in the same direction.

How Things Work: Senses, Intellect, & Mind

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Here is a breakdown of how it all works, based on Kapila’s sankhya, explained in the final chapters of Śrīmad Bhagavatam’s Third Canto.

The senses feed their data into the intellect.

The intellect has three sub-organs within it. Each performs its own function:

1) Pattern recognition
2) Pattern matching
3) Memory (storage of patterns)

So, intellect can take the raw data from the senses, recognize the patterns, and figure out what the patterns are – by matching those patterns with the information stored in memory. “Education” is the process of putting recognized patterns into the memory.

The mind observes the intellect. Mind reflects consciousness. With this reflected consciousness it observes the intellect, so it observes the processed data from the senses, and the order and meaning that the intellect has digested from that data. Then the mind reacts to it. It also has three sub-organs, each performing its own function:

1) Preference
2) Desire
3) Emotion

Observing a recognized pattern presented by the intellect as an object, the mind develops a preference towards that object, or away from it. For example, the nose smells something. The intellect comprehends the pattern of olfactory data to be the scent of roasting spices. The mind, which always observes the intellect, reacts to this by a perference: “I love this!” or “I hate this!” Or something somewhere in between these two extremes.

Next, the mind establishes desire based on that preference. If the preference is “I love it” the desire is “I want more of it.” If the preference is “I hate it” the desire is “I want less of it”

Next the mind produces emotions based on that desire. If the desire is fulfilled, the emotion is happiness. If the desire is unfulfilled, the emotion is sadness. Other emotions represent various versions of or precursors to happiness or sadness.

How Can I Give Up LUST? (Is Krishna Lusty?)

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Question: I want to give up lust, but I always have lusty thoughts. How can I renounce lust?

My Answer: You ask how it might be possible to renounce lust. It is impossible. I am sorry.

Even the gods cannot get free from lust. Even Brahmā became confused by it and began to pressure the goddess Vāk for intercourse. Even the greatest yogī (Śiva) has to contend with it – he had to burn the god of lust with his third eye, thus disturbing his meditation.

Nara-nārāyaṇa Ṛṣi, however, is noteworthy, for conquering lust is effortless for him. Nara-Nārāyana is Viṣṇu with his devotee. This is the key. I will try to explain it.

Lust is a permutation of love. When love is directed mainly upon one’s own gratification, it is “lust.”

Lust is a permutation of love.

Although sex is a very powerful way to explore lust, Sex is not inherently identical to lust. Krishna, for example, is extremely sexually active – but there is not even an atomic iota of lust in any of that sexual activity. Why? Because lust is the thirst to please oneself. There is no “thirst” in Krishna’s sexual activity, no sense of “need” or “emptiness to fill.” Krishna’s playful activities are not a search for happiness, they an expression of happiness. They are not attempts to fill a void of happiness, but are endeavors to share a surplus of it. His sexual activity is not an attempt to gratify himself, it is an endeavor to share his surplus bliss with other entities and thus please them.

Lust is undefeatable, but in the face of love, it disappears. This happens because love is the natural state of existence, and lust is a permutation that occurs only when existence is projected into some unnatural condition.

Lust only exists when a person feels emptiness and dissatisfaction inside; for lust is the endeavor to fill up that emptiness and remove that dissatisfaction. If we were completely satisfied, happy and effortlessly blissful – there would be no seed of lust.

So, never concentrate on “renouncing lust” – it will be a hopeless battle. Don’t try to take this enemy head-on. You can’t fight it head on, you have to cause it to surrender. Surrender to it is another option, but it never manages to fill the emptiness inside, so surrender to it is not a wise option. Better to make it surrender to you!

You can’t fight it head on, you have to inspire it to surrender!

But how?

The true self has svānanda (inherent bliss) in abundance. And the true self has an eternal, effortless relationship with the Supreme Self. This relationship facilitates Supreme Love, which causes an exremely abundant, overflowing happiness and joy, prema-ānanda. Try to realize this. It will cause lust to surrender to you.

Lust will begin to slacken as you begin to grasp the first hints of the first hints of the first hints of prema (Supreme Love). Eventually it will simply stop fighting, because it too becomes delighted by the Supreme Love, and wants to become involved in it, as a servant of that love.

Renunciation is hopeless.

So, don’t try to renounce lust, or anything else for that matter. Renunciation is hopeless. The ātmā is so small and dependent. Trying to renounce things and be independent from them is extremely difficult, painful, and almost surely doomed to failure since it is ultimately impossible for an ātmā to be absolutely self-sufficient. Instead of breaking yourself in this impossible battle, try to gain more and more cognizance of your true self, your eternal nature as a conscious being, your relationship to the Supreme Consciousness, and the divine love that is possible in that relationship.

Then lust will go away without effort, and merely as a side-effect.

Thus we see that people with a lot of prema, a lot of divine love, are very often very, very simple, minimalist, “renounced” people – because they have no wants or desires, because the prema satisfies them so completely. But it is a mistake to take this by-product of prema as if it were the main goal.

Try for renunciation: be prepared to fall on your face forever.

Try for prema: renunciation happens as a matter of fact, without effort, and very naturally and wholesomely.

– Vraja Kishor dās
www.vrajakishor.com

Reincarnation Established by Logic

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In this section of Gita, Krishna establishes reincarnation by way of logic alone, without reference to scripture. Vraja Kishor explains it by reading from his book, A Simple Gita – which is available at www.vrajakishor.com

Did Prabhupāda know things that the Six Goswami’s Did Not?

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When discussing certain topics – like the answer to the essential question, “Where do I come from?” – I have a few times heard senior disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda suggest that Prabhupāda told us things that are different from what Śrī Jīva Goswāmī told us. If asked how Prabhupāda could teach something different from what he was taught, they explain that he could do so because Krishna directly gave him this new information. If asked which version we should accept and adopt, they explain that it is our duty as followers of Śrīla Prabhupāda to accept only his opinion, and reject the opinion of the previous ācārya.

I can accept that Prabhupāda may have known more than his gurus, or better understood how to explain certain things to the people he was teaching, because this is not unprecedented and doesn’t go against the fundamental principle of guru paramparā. (For example: Śuka is glorified as being even more capable of fully revealing the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam than his father and guru, Vyāsa.) However that’s not exactly what is being suggested in the above scenario. What is being suggested there is that Prabhupāda can contradict his gurus’ conclusions – because Krishna told him to.

I disagree. First of all, it goes against everything I learned from Prabhupāda about guru paramparā. Secondly, it definitely seems unrealistic that Prabhupāda received fundamental information from Krishna that contradicts what his own guru received from Krishna, what Śrīla Bhaktivinoda received from Krishna, and especially what the founders of Gauḍīya Siddhānta – Śrī Rūpa, Sanātana, and Jīva Goswāmīs – received from Krishna. Did Krishna change his mind about reality recently?

When I find Prabhupāda saying something that seems to contradict his gurus, I have three options:

(a) conclude that Prabhupāda doesn’t purely represent his guru-paramparā. 

(b) conclude that I misunderstood Prabhupāda.

(c) conclude that I misunderstand Prabhupāda’s gurus.

Everyone of us who have been introduced to Krishna as a result of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s compassion and love, will surely want to explore every option before considering option a.

Option c may seem the most likely option, and often may be. It may be hard to understand Prabhupāda’s gurus because most of what they wrote was not written in English, for example. But, if we penetrate the language barrier by learning Sanskrit and/or Bengali, or taking recourse to someone who has, we find the words of ācāryas previous to Prabhupāda to be patently clear because their only surviving words are preserved in textbooks deliberately written to be concise, definitive, and self-contained.

Additionally, there are many gurus previous to Prabhupāda, so we can look for confluence to confirm our understanding of any single one of them. If we have, say, five important ācāryas all saying the same thing on a topic, it is in fact very difficult to misunderstand the topic.

Such is the case in the issue of the question, “Where do I come from?” This makes option b the most likely possibility – we misunderstand Prabhupāda. Although Prabhupāda wrote in English and comes from a relatively contemporary background, it is really not very hard to misunderstand him because so many people base so much of their understanding of his message on things he is merely reputed to have said once or twice to someone, or that he is recorded to have said in his hundreds of recorded lectures, conversations, and letters – which are very contextually sensitive words relevant to very specific individuals, at very specific times, in very specific circumstances.

Then, why do many devotees refuse to choose option b? Some even refuse to choose b or c and inadvertently choose “a” by claiming that Krishna delivered a new version of siddhānta to Śrīla Prabhupāda.  By choosing option a, unknowingly or not, we paint an absolutely unacceptable picture of Prabhupāda as someone who does not represent his own gurus on fundamental principles.

To insist on interpreting Prabhupāda’s statements in a way that would put them at odds with Śrī Jīva and the Goswāmīs is an inadvertent insult to Śrīla Prabhupāda, because it indirectly says, “he doesn’t purely represent the Six Goswāmīs. He has different opinions.”

I wish more people would desist from insisting that Prabhupāda has a “second opinion” on tattva, because that insistence  means he doesn’t represent his guru-paramparā and therefore isn’t a bona-fide guru. Insisting that Prabhupāda could reach a different conclusion from an absolutely essential ācārya like Śrī Jīva Goswāmī inadvertently turns out to be an insult to the most important and compassionate Vaiṣṇava in our contemporary world: A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swāmī, because it indirectly says, “he doesn’t purely represent the Six Goswāmīs.”

This causes such a problem for everyone.

There are infinite possible ways to illustrate, explain, clarify, and apply a tattva, but there are never multiple, contradictory versions of a tattva. If we think there are two versions of tattva to choose from, we are wrong.

In guru pamaparā there are never “two opinions” on any fundamental subject. There is one opinion, with infinite ways of expressing, explaining and applying that opinion. If someone has an opinion different from the opinion of Bhāgavata Purāṇa as explained by Śrī Jīva, that person is simply not a representative of Śrī Jīva’s Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava school. Maybe their opinion is brilliant, maybe its ridiculous, that’s unsure. What is sure is that, if it differs from the opinion of the Six Goswāmīs it is not a gauḍīya vaiṣṇava opinion.

There are infinite possible ways to represent, illustrate, explain, clarify, and apply a siddhānta (a philosophical conclusion), but there cannot be two contradictory siddhāntas in the same school. 

If we think there are two to choose from, we are wrong.

Vraja Kishor das

www.vrajakishor.com