Why we criticize Mayavadis?
Many people write to us asking why Srila Prabhupada criticizes Mayavadis and impersonalists. Often they appear to accept the Mayavadi ideas that currently flood the world.
Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport to Caitanya-caritamrta Adi. 10.84: “Obeisances are therefore offered to the spiritual master as sarasvata-deva, or a member of the Sarasvata family (namas te sarasvate deve), whose mission is to broadcast the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu (gaura-varni-pracarine) and to fight with impersonalists and voidists (nirvisesa-sunyavrdi-pascitya-desa-tariae). This was also the occupational duty of Sanatana Gosvami, Rupa Gosvami and Anupama Gosvam?.”
So Prabhupada clearly defines his mission as “Broadcasting the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and fighting with the impersonalists and voidists“.
Prabhupada has made it clear in so many places that it is also our mission as his disciples to defeat the attacks of the Mayavadis:
“The unfortunate Mayavadi cannot chant. They criticize, “This chanting is sentimentalism.” Even Caitanya Mahaprabhu was criticized at Benares when He was chanting. You know the story. Prakasananda Sarasvati, a great Mayavada sannyasi, he used to criticize that “This sannyasi is sentimental. Sannyasi’s business is reading Vedanta, but this sannyasi is chanting and dancing.” So there was strong criticism. Therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu was arranged to meet this Mayavada sannyasi, and He talked on Vedanta and He defeated him. And the sannyasi , along with his 60,000 disciples, became His followers. So you should not be simply chanting and dancing. Along with, you must know philosophy. There are so many Mayavadis; you have to defeat them. It is not that we are cowards. We are Krsna’s soldiers. So as soon as there is Mayavadi attack, you must immediately defeat them. That is wanted. Therefore so many books are being written. Jnanam ca yad ahaitukam.” (SB 2.3.20 Lecture June 16 1972)
The Mayavadi philosophy is very attractive, and once one has heard it his chances of becoming a devotee are practically destroyed:
“So Caitanya Mahaprabhu warns that mayavadi-bhasya sunile haya sarva-nasa. Anyone who listens to the commentary of the Mayavadi philosopher, then his fate is doomed. He is finished. He will never be able to understand bhakti philosophy. It is so poisonous. Therefore Sanatana Gosvami has warned not to hear from avaisnava about Krsna.”
“Reading the Mayavadi commentaries on Vedanta-sutra is always dangerous. The chief danger is that through these commentaries one may come to consider the living entity to be equal to the Supreme Lord. It is easy for a conditioned living entity to be falsely directed in this way, and once he is so directed he can never come to his actual position or enjoy his eternal activity in bhakti yoga. In other words, the Mayavadi philosophy has rendered the greatest disservice to humanity by promoting the impersonal view of the Supreme Lord. Thus Mayavadi philosophers deprive human society of the real message of Vedanta-sutra.”
“Mayavadi means mayayapahrta-jnana: “Their knowledge has been taken away by maya.” Fools. Either you call them fool or call them lowest of the mankind or the most sinful, whatever way you can call, they are like that. All good qualifications. Therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu has warned, mayavadi-bhasya sunile haya sarva-nasa: [Cc. Madhya 6.169] “If you hear from Mayavadi, then your spiritual life is finished.” It’s so dangerous.”
“Lord Caitanya immediately informed Prakasananda that in the modern age people in general are more or less bereft of all spiritual intellect. When such people come under the influence of Sankaracarya’s Mayavadi (impersonalist) philosophy before beginning the most confidential Vedanta-sutras, their natural tendency toward obedience to the Supreme is checked. The supreme source of everything is naturally respected by everyone, but this natural tendency is hampered when one takes to the impersonalist conceptions of Sankara. Thus the spiritual master of Lord Caitanya suggested that it is better that one not study the Sariraka-bhasya of Sankaracarya, for it is very harmful to people in general. Indeed, the common man does not even have the intelligence to penetrate into the jugglery of words. He is better advised to chant the maha-mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. In this quarrelsome age of Kali there is no alternative for self-realization.”
We could compile dozens of books from the teachings of Srila Prabhupada on the dangers of hearing from Mayavadis and the prime necessity of defeating and exposing the Mayavadis as they pose the greatest danger to the people of this world.
Recently someone asked in the comments section of www.Krishna.org “Why Prabhupada challenges the impersonalists instead of allowing them to follow what they want.” This is a very typical question we are getting these days from the ‘devotees.’ I answered this point but he was not convinced and came back with: “Is it not possible for Krishna to be both Personal & Impersonal; with form & formless? If yes as Lord can do anything then …What is the need of thinking to defeat someone who thinks about Buddhism and impersonalism?”
So these ‘devotees’ are now very, very common and very stubbornly rejecting the teachings of Srila Prabhupada. Because they are Mayavadis, they are not devotees at all…
The Mayavadi philosophy is so dangerous. It is the Mayavadi philosophy that has created the godless materialism than now floods the world. Because the Mayavadis replace the transcendental beauty and attractiveness of Krishna and His pastimes with a void the people no longer find any attraction in spiritual life when it is described by the Mayavadis. So they have no alternative to increasing material sense gratification.
In a 1957 letter Srila Prabhupada wrote: “The Mayavadi philosophy having killed the spiritual variegatedness of the Supreme Being—the people are generally attracted in the variegatedness of material existence. In the vedanta sutras, we have direct information of how a spiritual entity is joyful—full of spiritual bliss. This idea of enjoyment is focused through a material vision and as such the spiritual focus is reflected in a perverted manner. The attention of the people in general is attracted by the cinemas in place of temples, because the Mayavadi philosophy—impersonality of Godhead has created a void in the spiritual realm. But in fact the spiritual realm is not at all void. It is full of variegatedness of spiritual mellows. If you create a void in the Spirit unnecessarily, you have to create necessarily a fill-up in the material existence and that is the cause why temples are being replaced by vulgar cinemas.”
So we can practically see how materialism has flourished in the void created by the Mayavada philosophy. There is no way we can establish Krishna consciousness without defeating the Mayavadis and impersonalists and to a lesser degree the Buddhists. This is Lord Caitanya’s mission, it is mission of the Six Goswamis of Vrindavan, it is Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s mission, it is Srila Bhaktsiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s mission, it is the mission of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and therefore it must be the mission of any true follower of Srila Prabhupada.
“Sunyavadi, they say, “There is no God, and there is nothing, fact. Everything is combination of some illusory things.” This is sunyavadi. And the Mayavadi, they say, “Yes, there is God, but He has no form.” Therefore we have to kill both of them. Nirvisesa-sunyavad-pascatya-desa-tarine. The whole Western world are filled up with these sunyavadi and impersonalists. India is also nowadays, but there are, still there are devotees in the acarya-sampradaya. They are fighting against sunyavada and nirvisesa.” (Srila Prabhupada Morning Walk Conversation December 3, 1975)