ISKCON Srila Prabhupada giving class at Krishna Balaram Temple Vrindavan

Published on September 23rd, 2000 | by mahavegavati-dasi | Full size image

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Criticizing Srila Prabhupada to Justify Compromised Vaisnavism…

The bonafide guru being the external manifestation of supersoul, how can anyone criticize or find fault with him? The bonafide guru is compared to the captain of the ship. It is he by whose expert guidance, a proper disciple takes proper direction, and thus is enabled to go back home to Godhead so long as the diciple is not duplicitous.

Hare Krsna. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. Please accept my fallen obeisances. I am submitting this for the consideration to all the assembled Vaisnavas for their consideration:

saksad dharitvena samasta sastrair
uktas tatha bhavyata eva sadbhi
kintu prabhur ya priya eva tasya
vande guror sri caranavindam

The (bona fide) Spiritual Master is to be honored as much as the Supreme Lord on account of his being the most confidential Servitor of the Lord. This is acknowledged in all revealed Scriptures, and is followed by all authorities. Therefore I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master.

yasya prasadad bhagavat prasado
yasya prasadana gatih kuto pi
dhyayan stuvams tasyaiya sastri sandam
vande guror sri caranavindam

By the mercy of the spiritual master one attains the mercy of Krsna. Without the grace of the spiritual master no one can make any advancement. Therefore I shall always remember my spiritual master and at least three times a day I shall offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master.

In CC Madhya lila 23.39,40 Lord Caitanya explains to Sanatan Goswami, “Even the most learned man cannot understand the words, activities and symptoms of a person situated in love of Godhead. Even a most learned scholar cannot understand the activities and symptoms of an exalted personality in whose heart love of Godhead has awakened.”

It is NOT possible for the materially conditioned mundane person to understand the unconditioned soul who is situated in pure love of Godhead. Lord Caitanya confirmed this when He spoke about the glories of Mukunda, who became absorbed in ecstatic trance upon seeing the peacock fan being used to shade the king of whom he was the court physician. “Mukunda das externally appears to be a royal physician engaged in governmental service, but internally he has a deep love for Krsna. Who can understand his love?”

Srila Prabhupada explains in that purport, “Unless Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu discloses the fact, no one can understand who is actually a great devotee of the Lord engaged in His service.” Srila Prabhupada goes on to quote the above mentioned verse, CC Madhya lila 23.39 and continues, “Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu knew this very well, but ordinary men could not understand it, for the activities and plans of a Vaisnava cannot be nderstood by ordinary men.”

We also have the example of Pundarika Vidyanidhi, who to Gadadhar Pandit’s eyes, at first appeared to be a materialist due to Pundarika Vidyanidhi’s material opulence and external appearance. But when Mukunda Dutta recited the Srimad Bhagavatam verse 10.6.38 concerning the liberation given to Putana Rakshasi, Gadadhar Pandit seeing the ecstatic reactions exhibited by Pundarika Vidyanidhi, realized the elevated position of this pure Vaisnava. These examples are given in scripture for us to realize that it is not necessarily so easy to ascertain the position of such advanced personalities, that even great devotees may become bewildered in this regard, what to speak of beginning practitioners like ourselves. Thus, the true glories and elevated position of such pure devotees can not be realized unless one has the grace of the Lord or the grace of another pure devotee who is able to reveal those glories. Therefore it is explained in the Vedic scriptures that one must approach a bonafide spiritual master, and understand spiritual matters through him. One cannot know Krsna or His pure devotee through one’s material scholarship or mental and/or philosophical speculation.

I have noticed how so many devotees are criticizing Srila Prabhupada even to the point of considering him to be a materially conditioned soul. It is very amazing to me considering how it is Srila Prabhupada who has given us all the opportunity to come to Krsna’s Lotus Feet, be it directly or indirectly. Seems to me, if one reflects on it honestly, it is Srila Prabhupada who has been THE person to open the door to the world for the extensive preaching of Gaudiya Vaisnavism irregardless of who one’s diksa (or siksa) guru is. Ultimately everyone outside of India who has come to Krsna consciousness, irrespective of their diksa guru, has come due to Srila Prabhupada’s mercy. And so many people from inside India, as well.

(SB 4.19.37) “Any living being acting as the incarnation of Lord Visnu is thus empowered by Lord Visnu to preach the bhakti cult. Such a person can act like Lord Visnu and defeat demons by arguments and preach the bhakti cult exactly according to the principles of sastra. As indicated in Bhagavad-gita, whenever we find someone extraordinary preaching the bhakti cult, we should know that he is especially empowered by Lord Visnu, or Lord Krsna. As confirmed in Caitanya-caritamrta (Antya 7.11), krsna-sakti vina nahe tara pravartana: one cannot explain the glories of the holy name of the Lord without being specifically empowered by Him. If one criticizes or finds fault with such an empowered personality, one is to be considered an offender against Lord Visnu and is punishable. Even though such offenders may dress as Vaisnavas with false tilaka and mala, they are never forgiven by the Lord if they offend a pure Vaisnava. There are many instances of this in the sastras.”

The bonafide guru being the external manifestation of supersoul, how can anyone criticize or find fault with him? The bonafide guru is compared to the captain of the ship. It is he by whose expert guidance, a proper disciple takes proper direction, and thus is enabled to go back home to Godhead so long as the diciple is not duplicitous.

nr deham adyam su labham su dulabham
plavam su kalpam guru karnadharam
mayanukulena nabhasvateritam
uman bhavabdhim na taret sa atma ha

“This human body which is rarely attained is the best of all bodies being given all facilities for crossing over the ocean of material nescience. It is compared to a boat, and the Guru is the expert captain for guiding that boat in the proper direction towards its goal. The Vedas are favorable breezes meant to help push the boat in the proper direction. For one who has been given these facilities, but does NOT take proper advantage of the, that person is to be known as an ‘atma ha‘ a killer of the self.”

Thus, the guru is the captain of the ship who guides it to its final goal. Without a captain, a ship will go off in any direction and for all practical purposes, that ship will never reach it’s intended goal.

Vidura explains in SB 3.7.10

yat sevaya bhagavatah
kuta sthasya madhudvisa
rati raso bhavet tivrah
padayor vyasanardanah

“By serving the feet of the spiritual master, one is enabled to develop transcendental ecstasy in the service of the Personality of Godhead. Vidura goes on to explain, “Persons whose austerity is meager can hardly obtain the service of the pure devotees who engage 100% in glorifying the Supreme Lord Who is the Lord of the demigods and the controller of all living entities.”

Because Krsna is residing within the hearts of all living entities and it is from Him that remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness come, (BG 15.15), then don’t we understand that whatever the pure devotee is saying is perfect in that it is Krsna Who is arranging the pure devotee’s words. The pure devotees are 100% surrendered to the Lord. Thus, when the pure devotees are speaking on Krsna’s behalf, WHY would Krsna allow those pure devotees to make mistakes with relation to Him?

We also have Prahlad Maharaja’s verse, SB 7.5.34,

naisam matis tavad urukramanghrim
sprsaty anartha pagamo yad arthah
mahiyasam pada rajo ‘bhisekam
niskincananam na vrnita yavat

“Unless they smear upon their bodies the dust of the lotus feet of a Vaisnava completely freed from material contamination, persons very much inclined towards materialistic life cannot be attached to the lotus feet of the Lord. Only by becoming Krsna conscious and taking shelter of the Lotus Feet of the Lord in this way, can one be freed from material contamination.”

Srila Prabhupada explains in his SB 3.7.29 purport, “Unless one achieves AT LEAST the brahminical qualifications, one cannot understand the Vedic hymns.” How many of us can make the claim that we have AT LEAST achieved the brahminical qualifications, (which using the list given by Krsna in BG 18.42, consist of peacefulness, self-control, truthfulness, austerity, mercy, cleanliness (in both body and heart), wisdom knowledge)? So WHO are WE to put so many questions in such a challenging manner to the statements that Srila Prabhupada has made? We are not only questioning Srila Prabhupada’s purports, AFTER TAKING DIKSA within Srila Prabhupada’s line of disciplic succession, but we are ALSO questioning the Bhagavatam verses themselves. The questions in and of themselves are not the problem, but rather the challenging attitude with which they are presented. Then there is the fact that some “devotees” go so far as to think, infer, say and even try to convince other devotees that Srila Prabhupada “was conditioned,” and they point fingers to what they consider “questionable” purports.

Do we really believe that HDG Srila Prabhupada was “conditioned by Indian culture,” “conditioned by his material education” etc., and that this was the reason why he wrote the purports that he did? Srila Prabhupada himself revealed to the devotees that his purports were simply a matter of Krsna’s dictating to him, and his writing down those dictations. We should take into consideration what was Srila Prabhupada’s “motives” in making his statements, both his written and spoken statements. ONLY OUR Krsna consciousness. Other than that, the order of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur, and the empowerment of Krsna, Srila Prabhupada had NO reason to leave Vrndavan to come to this ghastly Western world to preach to the likes of us and give us his association.

Do some of really DARE to go that far in our mind to think that Srila Prabhupada “incorrectly” translated or “misinterpreted” or even “misunderstood” the Srimad Bhagavatam verses (and other literatures as well) due to “his conditioning” or “his mistakes”? After all, quite a number of devotees now do NOT seem to like, and/or question many of the statements that are taken STRAIGHT from the translations of the verses of Srimad Bhagavatam, etc. Some of them are either calling for “footnotes” or getting rid of those “controversial” verses altogether. Whatever happened to dharmah projjhita kaitavo ‘tra paramo nirmatsaranam satam? (This Bhagavat Purana kicks out ALL kinds of cheating religions and propounds the HIGHEST truth.) Thus, it speaks the truth; NO compromise. But our false egos, (from which the false bodily conception originates), and minds do NOT like to accept these truths.

SB 1.5.11 explains that that literature which contains the transcendental description of the glories of the name, fame, form and pastimes of Krsna is presented “to create a REVOLUTION,” (a change in one’s heart and in society in general), in the lives of this world’s MISDIRECTED civilization. (“Viplavah” is the word used in the verse meaning “revolutionary”.) The words of the pure devotee will also have this SAME heavy effect on the hearts of listeners. Those words are NOT meant to titilate or placate our false egos; instead they are meant to free us from it. They are meant to BREAK the false ego of the conditioned soul. They are meant to FREE us from that bondage to the body which that false ego creates. We are so STUCK to all of our own materialistic conceptions to which we hold on to so tightly due to the false ego. The pure devotees’ words are meant to free us from the bondage of these false egos, even when those words come in the form of a smash with relation to how we see ourselves in our own body, or in the form of words which may shock us with relation to our other misconceptions, both spiritual AND material. The frog in the well knows only his well and sees everything with relationship to THAT limited experience. Our knowledge, (gained through our limited and imperfect senses), does not go past our conditioning. The pure devotee teaches that which Krsna speaks.

How can he possibly speak imperfectly? How can he make mistakes in what he is presenting? It is Krsna Who is speaking through him. It is Krsna Who uses the pure devotee as His mouthpiece. Would we dare to question Srila Prabhupada’s credibility and say that he was “lying” to us when he told us that it was Krsna Who was dictating to him the purports?

Srila Prabhupada in his purport to SB 3.7.26 explains, “yasmin vijnate sarvam evam vijnatam bhavati. This Vedic hymn declares emphatically that the devotees of the Lord knows everything material and spiritual in relationship with the Lord. The pure devotee acts according to how Krsna directly empowers him/her to act. The pure devotee both knows and does not know whatever it is that Krsna wants him/her to know or not know for his/her service to Krsna. Devotees are not simply emotional as is ill conceived by certain less intelligent men. Their direction is practical. They know everything that is and all the details of the Lord’s domination over the different creations, and if they don’t know, it is because Krsna chooses to arrange that they should not know, (ie. as in the case of Mother Yasoda’s not knowing that Putana was a demon coming to kill Krsna). In terms of the bonafide spiritual master, s/he is given whatever knowledge is necessary for him/her to preach Krsna consciousness and to deliver Krsna to the disciple, and the disciple to Krsna.

Krsna Himself says in SB:

acarya mam vijaniyan
nava manyeta karhicit
na martya buddhya suyeta
sarva devo mayam gurum

“One should know the acarya to be My very self and should never disrespect him in any way. One should not envy him thinking him to be an ordinary man for he is the sum total of the demigods.” These are KRSNA’S words. Who are WE to deny what Krsna HIMSELF has said about His pure representative? How, after seeing all of Srila Prabhupada’s accomplishments can we even THINK that he was not Krsna’s pure and empowered representative? It is like one’s seeing Krsna in action directly and NOT believing Him to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Simple fact of the matter is that due to one’s desire to NOT fully surrender to Krsna, Krsna will cover over one’s consciousness; thus, one will not be able to see Krsna’s empowered representative as being the pure devotee representative of Krsna that he is, and thus, one has “good reason” NOT to surrender and accept the pure devotee as he is.

We are thinking, “Who is Srila Prabhupada to say…? I know better. How can he say that women…? How can he say the sun…? Where did he get THOSE numbers from? How does he know…?” And there are even devotees who are calling Srila Prabhupada “fanatical” – yes, they use that EXACT word – when it comes to following the four regulative principles, specifically with regard to the “no illicit sex” and “no intoxication” and they will say, “It is IMPOSSIBLE…” Other devotees question the 50 rounds for having a child. And then there is, “Hey, what’s wrong with a little pot now and then?” And the list goes on. No problem; if you want “compromised Vaisnavism” for yourself, fine, but admit that that is what YOU want. And DON’T try to find fault with the unadulterated Vaisnava philosophy as it is, or the pure devotee who lives it and presents it on Lord Caitanya’s behalf. One of the most important qualities on the spiritual path is honesty. One MUST be honest with oneself about where one is at, where one is strong, and where one is weak, and one can NOT compromise or misuse the philosophy to facilitate one’s weaknesses. Rather, one should know what the standard is, what his weaknesses are, and accept the fact that one may be weak, and aspire to eventually overcome one’s weaknesses and vices. If one does not have this mentality, (born out of humility), then one can NEVER attain the goal, being stopped by pride, falsity, conceit, arrogance, and the like.

Published in a December 1931 issue of the “Harmonist” Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur explained, “In order to be put on the track of the Absolute, listening to the words of the pure devotee is absolutely necessary. The spoken word of the devotee is the Absolute. It is only the Absolute who can give Himself away to the constituents of His power. The Absolute appears to the listening ear of the conditioned soul in the form of the name on the lips of the sadhu. This is the key to the whole position. The works of Thakur Bhaktivinode direct the empiric pedant to discard his wrong method and inclination on the threshold of the real quest of the Absolute. If the pedant still chooses to carry his errors into the realm of the Absolute Truth, he only marched by a deceptive bye-path into the darker ignorance by his ARROGANT STUDY of the scriptures. The method offered by Thakur Bhaktivinode is identical with the object of the quest. The method is not really grasped except by the grace of the pure devotee. The arguments, indeed, are these. But they can only corroborate, but can never be a substitute for, the words from the living source of the truth who is none other than the pure devotee of Krsna, the concrete personal absolute.”

These are the words of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur, one of Krsna’s pure devotees, and acknowledged in the academic world as the greatest scholar of his time. With that combination, who are any of us to try to discount these words? Thus, the pure devotee IS the person who KNOWS Krsna, and he KNOWS the ESSENCE of the scriptures. The acarya is also the person who, by Krsna’s EMPOWERMENT, knows how to implement Krsna consciousness according to circumstance, place and time. So many devotees are putting forth so many criticisms of Srila Prabhupada – from A to Z – and we have NO proper understanding of WHO Srila Prabhupada REALLY is.

In CC Madhya 2.93 Srila Prabhupada in the purport says, “According to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, there are three kinds of devotees, know as bhajana-vijna (experts in devotional service), bhajana-sila (devotees engaged in devotional service), and krsna-name diksita krsna-namakari (initiated devotees engaged in chanting). The author of CC begs the mercy of all these devotees and asks them to be pleased with him. He says, ‘Let the neophyte devotees – the devotees who are very expert in arguing though they have no sense of advanced devotional service, who think themselves very advanced because the imitate some smarta brahmana – let such devotees not be displeased with me, thinking that I have committed errors in this regard. I beg their pardon with great humility, but I am submitting that I personally have no desire to add or subtract anything. I have only written what i have heard in the disciplic succession because I am dedicated to the lotus feet of previous acaryas like Svarupa Damodara, Raghunath das Gosvami and Rupa gosvami. I have only written what I have learned from them.'”

I think we should take heed of this paragraph and apply it to His Divine Grace’s spoken AND written word, and be VERY CAREFUL NOT to make offenses to Srila Prabhupada’s Lotus Feet.

I remain your fallen servant,

Mahavegavati Dasi

Hare Krsna

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