Who is Srila Prabhupada?

by Bhagavat das (ACBSP)

Considering the philosophical problems of the article that has been written I think there is a misunderstanding of who Srila Prabhupada really is. So first of all I would like to explain Srila Prabhupada’s actual position. Because from what I have read of Shiva's article we are just skimming the surface, Shiva is looking at the externals, not the eternals. So I am just going to start with this statement and then explain according to Shastra.

Srila Prabhupada is not a Jiva and he does not have a material subtle body made of mind, intelligence and false ego. That’s right, you read that correctly, I‘ll say it again for you. Srila Prabhupada is not a Jiva and he does not have a material subtle body made of mind, intelligence and false ego. OK, now let me show you how this works from Srila Prabhupada’s books and then you will understand.

Bhakti, devotional service, dissolves the subtle body of the living entity without separate effort, just as fire in the stomach digests all that we eat. SB 3.25.33rd verse.

By practicing Devotional Service, Bhakti Yoga, one dissolves his subtle body and gradually his spiritual body is manifest within the physical body. Srila Prabhupada explains that the first principle of Devotional Service, which dissolves the subtle body, is Sravanam, Hearing. That is in SB 2.2.36 Purport as follows:

“All nine methods are bona fide methods, and either all of them, some of them or even one of them can bring about the desired result for the sincere devotee. But out of all the nine different methods, the first one, namely hearing, is the most important function in the process of bhakti-yoga. Without hearing sufficiently and properly, no one can make any progress by any of the methods of practice.”

So it begins with hearing sufficiently and properly. That is how the process of Bhakti begins the process of dissolving the subtle body. Hearing the BOOK BHAGAVAT from the PERSON BHAGAVAT is how you hear PROPERLY. However, how do we hear sufficiently? Srila Prabhupada explains this in SB 1.1.6 in the purport as follows:

“To hear and explain them (the revealed scriptures) is more important than reading them. One can assimilate the knowledge of the revealed scriptures only by hearing and explaining.”

First Srila Prabhupada elevates the process of hearing the BOOK BHAGAVAT from the PERSON BHAGAVAT above the process of just reading the BOOK BHAGAVAT by saying “it is more important”. However to make sure we understand how important this really is, to hear the BOOK BHAGAVAT from the PERSON BHAGAVAT, Srila Prabhupada explains it again in an exclusivist manner. He says: “One can assimilate the knowledge of the revealed scriptures ONLY by hearing and explaining.” The word only means by its very definition exclusive to everything else that it is the only way. Srila Prabhupada was writing sutras in his purports and every word is laden with meaning.

Now let us look at the word knowledge. Srila Prabhupada has defined knowledge for us so many times before, knowledge means: to understand the difference between matter and spirit and the controller of both. So can someone gain knowledge by reading Srila Prabhupada’s books without hearing from the PERSON BHAGAVAT? Yes absolutely! A conditioned soul who has never met a devotee can go into a Library and inquisitively take a Bhagavad Gita off a shelf and read it carefully and he will intellectually and theoretically understand he is not this body he is the soul and that Krishna is the Supreme Lord and controls both the materiel world and the spiritual world. Any person can get this knowledge. However Srila Prabhupada is saying in this sentence that you can ONLY ASSIMILATE THE KNOWLEDGE, what knowledge, the knowledge of the difference between matter and spirit and the controller of both, by HEARING and EXPLAINING. What does it mean to assimilate the knowledge? The word assimilate has many definitions. The first meaning of assimilate in the dictionary is: “destruction of separate existence by digestion” another related to that is: “To transform (food) into living tissue”.

So now that a conditioned soul has knowledge of what his gross physical body is, of what his subtle body of mind, intelligence, and false ego is, and what his soul is, and who controls both the material and spiritual energies from reading the Gita, how will the conditioned soul dissolve his temporary material subtle body and manifest his eternal spiritual form so he can begin the real process of devotional service to the controller of both, the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna? How shall he digest the subtle body, a process, which will destroy the subtle bodies separate existence and transform it into the living tissue of a manifest spiritual body? Isn’t this exactly what the above mentioned verse is indicating when it compares the dissolution of the subtle body to the digestion of food in the stomach? That the subtle body will be destroyed of its separate existence and then the living spiritual body will manifest? Is this not the implication from the verse by the words dissolve and digest? So when Srila Prabhupada says “one can assimilate the knowledge of revealed scripture” this is the process of assimilation of knowledge, to dissolve the subtle body and manifest the spiritual body and begin the process of your nitya seva in the spiritual world under the guidance of your guru in his eternal spiritual form in the spiritual world.

So at what stage in the process of Devotional Service is the process of assimilation begin? Good question. SB 3.2.5 verse and purport explain when assimilation begins as follows”

“It was so observed by Vidura that Uddhava had all the transcendental bodily changes due to total ecstasy, and he was trying to wipe away tears of separation from his eyes. Thus Vidura could understand that Uddhava had completely assimilated extensive love for the Lord.” SB 3.2.5

Srila Prabhupada’s Purport clarifies when the stage of assimilation begins in the process of Devotional Service as follows:

“Ecstatic bodily changes are manifested from the spiritual plane and are not artificial expressions developed by practice. There are three different stages of development in devotional service. The first stage is that of following the regulative principles prescribed in the codes of devotional service, the second stage is that of assimilation and realization of the steady condition of devotional service, and the last stage is that of ecstasy symptomized by transcendental bodily expression. The nine different modes of devotional service, such as hearing, chanting and remembering, are the beginning of the process. By regular hearing of the glories and pastimes of the Lord, the impurities in the student's heart begin to be washed off. The more one is cleansed of impurities, the more one becomes fixed in devotional service. Gradually the activities take the forms of steadiness, firm faith, taste, realization and assimilation, one after another. These different stages of gradual development increase love of God to the highest stage, and in the highest stage there are still more symptoms, such as affection, anger and attachment, gradually rising in exceptional cases to the maha-bhava stage, which is generally not possible for the living entities.” SB 3.2.5 Purport

So Srila Prabhupada is explaining 3 stages of devotional service here.
1st following the regulative principles
2nd assimilation and steady devotion Bhava stage
3rd Prema, pure love of God, filled with devotional ecstasy

Srila Prabhupada states in this purport what was stated earlier about the 9 processes being the beginning of devotional service specifically hearing. “By regular hearing of the glories and pastimes of the Lord, the impurities in the student's heart begin to be washed off. The more one is cleansed of impurities, the more one becomes fixed in devotional service. Gradually the activities take the forms of steadiness, firm faith, taste, realization and assimilation, one after another.” Realization and assimilation indicate that the sadhaka has sufficiently dissolved his material subtle body and has now had a glimpse of his spiritual form. This stage of Bhava is explained by Srila Visvanath Chakravarti Thakura in Madhurya Kadambini and is discussed by Sripad Tripurari Maharaja in his article.

“When asakti achieves extreme maturity it is called rati or bhava. Bhava is the immature (budding) stage of the three sat-cid-ananda energies of the Lord's svarupa-shakti: sandini, samvit and hladini. In other words, bhakti actually begins to manifest from the stage of bhava.” Sri Madhurya Kadambini, chapter 7, Seventh Shower of Nectar

It should be understood that one cannot receive the transcendental moods of service from a book or tape recorder one can only get transcendental knowledge. Those transcendental moods come from the heart of the sadhu you have taken shelter of. However, if one has taken shelter of a diksha guru and siksha guru then the reading and hearing of books and tapes will be fruitful but not a solution unto itself. Your transcendental eternal spiritual form, service, etc. can only be received by being in direct association with the sad guru diksha or siksha not from any book or tape. Since I want to continue my train of thought about Srila Prabhupada not being a Jiva and not having a material subtle body made of mind, intelligence and false ego I will not go into this point of the necessity of hearing from the manifest sadhu in this article but suggest that if you want the relevant quotes from Srila Prabhupada in this matter you can read a previous article I have writtencalled: "Real Process is Hearing".

So from the above information we have an idea of how the conditioned soul gradually dissolves his/her subtle body, has a darshan of his/her eternal spiritual form, and begins the practice of their eternal devotional service in the spiritual world to the guru in his/her eternal spiritual form. So what does this have to do with Srila Prabhupada not having a material subtle body? You might ask? Well the first thing is that if you are going to dissolve your material subtle body and have your eternal spiritual form revealed to you the person who is guiding you through the process should already be in that position. In other words the guru has to be devoid of a material subtle body and directly inhabiting the physical body we see with our mundane eyes directly with his eternal spiritual body which is endowed with spiritual senses, spiritual mind, spiritual intelligence, and the real eternal spiritual ego identity of his/her form and personality. If the guru guiding you through the process has not already accomplished this then how will he/she bless you to achieve it! However above and beyond this point even if you were to consider Srila Prabhupada a jiva, which he is not, we all know that a Nitya Siddha jiva directly descends from the spiritual world. If we examine the process for a nitya baddha jiva accepting a material body we will see that there is no possible way that a nitya siddha jiva could accept such a process when he descends from the spiritual world.

First of all accepting the false ego is a prerequisite to accepting a material intelligence and a material mind. As the false ego is born of the mode of Ignorance, the intelligence is born of the mode of passion and the mind is born of the mode of goodness. Not only does the nitya baddha jiva accept these coverings he is also forced to accept being covered by the five forms of ignorance as well.

First of all, Brahma created from his shadow the coverings of ignorance of the conditioned souls. They are five in number and are called tamisra, andha-tamisra, tamas, moha and maha-moha. SB 3.20.18th verse

In the purport Srila Prabhupada explains the five coverings as follows: “The conditioned souls, or living entities who come to the material world to enjoy sense gratification, are covered in the beginning by five different conditions. The first condition is a covering of tamisra, or anger. Constitutionally, each and every living entity has minute independence; it is misuse of that minute independence for the conditioned soul to think that he can also enjoy like the Supreme Lord or to think, "Why shall I not be a free enjoyer like the Supreme Lord?" This forgetfulness of his constitutional position is due to anger or envy.” “Andha-tamisra involves considering death to be the ultimate end.” “This andha-tamisra ignorance is due to tamas. The condition of not knowing anything about the spirit soul is called tamas.” “As these attachments increase, moha, or the illusion of the bodily concept of life, also increases. Thus the idea that "I am this body, and everything belonging to this body is mine" also increases, and as the whole world is put into moha, sectarian societies, families and nationalities are created and they fight with one another. Maha-moha means to be mad after material enjoyment. Especially in this age of Kali, everyone is overwhelmed by the madness to accumulate paraphernalia for material enjoyment.” SB 3.20.18 purport

The verse says “the coverings of ignorance of the conditioned souls” Srila Prabhupada says in this purport that “The conditioned souls, or living entities who come to the material world to enjoy sense gratification, are covered in the beginning by five different conditions.” Is Srila Prabhupada a conditioned soul? Is He covered by the five forms of ignorance which are co commitment factors in the acceptance of the false ego? Does anyone believe that Srila Prabhupada when he enters this world, to save the fallen conditioned souls, accepts a material false ego which identifies with the material body and is thus covered by the above mentioned five forms of ignorance? If Srila Prabhupada has not accepted this then He is not covered by a material mind and a material intelligence which are subsequent coverings. Srila Prabhupada directly inhabits the physical body with his eternal spiritual form, spiritual ego identity, spiritual intelligence, spiritual mind, and spiritual senses. Hence Srila Prabhupada’s so called physical material body is completely spiritualized as is explained in this purport of Srila Prabhupada from the Srimad Bhagavatam as follows:

“An advanced devotee, therefore, does not live within the material body but within his spiritual body, just as a dry coconut lives detached from the coconut husk, even though within the husk. The pure devotee's body is therefore called cin-maya-sarira ("spiritualized body"). In other words, a devotee's body is not connected with material activities, and as such, a devotee is always liberated (brahma-bhuyaya kalpate), as confirmed in Bhagavad-gita (14.26). SB 4:22:26 PURPORT

So Shiva has given this convoluted explanation in his article about how the jiva receives intelligence that could apply to an ordinary jiva but where is the question of applying such an explanation to a nitya siddha parikara of the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna? Shiva’s statements in his article exactly mirror Rameshwara’s conceptions of Srila Prabhupada’s thought processes in a Newsday Newspaper interview of Srila Prabhupada on July 14, 1976 in the New York Temple. Let us see how Srila Prabhupada responds to this proposition:

Bali-mardana: In other words, when you decide that someone is to be in charge of a particular temple does Krsna tell you that this person should be in charge.
Interviewer: Or do you by judging him say this person is qualified.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, because a devotee always consults Krsna and He gives order.
Interviewer: It's a more direct communication.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. And He gives order.
Rameswara: Because intelligence, our philosophy is that intelligence comes from Krsna. So if I have some...
Interviewer: And your philosophy is that your daily necessities come from Krsna as well.
Rameswara: Yes, try to understand. Suppose my intelligence sees that this person is qualified, that means Krsna has told me.
Srila Prabhupada: No, not necessarily, Krsna will tell directly. A devotee always consults Krsna and Krsna tells him, "Do like this." Not figuratively.
Interviewer: Does that apply then to other kinds of decisions and other kinds of activities as well?
Srila Prabhupada: Everything. Because a devotee does not do anything without consulting Krsna.
Bali-mardana: But that applies to a very greatly elevated soul that is not an ordinary person.
Srila Prabhupada: That is, therefore the minor devotees, they consult the spiritual master. That is our process. Yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasadau.
Rameswara: I see, I was trying to explain the minor devotees.

So Shiva has given us all an explanation about how the aspiring devotee’s intelligence interacts with Krsna but this has nothing to do with how a Nitya Siddha interacts with Krsna. There is no material intelligence therefore there is no loss of memory, or drawing on ones memory, or creating memories, or thanks for the memories. “A DEVOTEE ALWAYS CONSULTS KRSNA AND KRSNA TELLS HIM “DO LIKE THIS” NOT FIGURATIVELY!” So Shiva, in the future please refrain from minimizing your spiritual master, it will be better for your spiritual advancement. Furthermore you should note that Srila Prabhupada is talking about discussing managing ISKCON with Krsna not translating books or giving discourses but appointing someone to manage a temple. In other words when you made the following statement: “Narada Muni's pastimes within Krishna Lila is also not an appropriate comparison with Srila Prabhupada's management of ISKCON.” You were forgetting that managing ISKCON was Srila Prabhupada’s pastimes with Krsna and so Krsna also directly illuminates His consciousness on that subject and he is aware of what is going on far more than anyone can imagine with their mundane intelligence. Srila Prabhupada is being humble with this man he is not going to say to him oh because he is my disciple I know everything and even more than that I also know the hearts of all living entities if I want. Srila Prabhupada wrote a perfectly good purport about the omniscience of the pure devotee as follows:

“When Dhruva Maharaja was talking with his mother, Suniti, of all the incidents that had taken place in the palace, Narada was not present. Thus the question may be raised how Narada overheard all these topics. The answer is that Narada is trikala jna; he is so powerful that he can understand the past, future and present of everyone’s heart, just like the Supersoul, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (SB 4.8.25, Bhaktivedanta purport)

Here Srila Prabhupada disagrees with you again by stating that Narada Munis Position is like the Supersoul not just what Krsna tells Narada Muni but Narada Muni is blessed with great pervasive vision. However a pure devotee does not say such things about himself in person to others. Of course you might feel like Sripad Tripurari Maharaja about these things. I am going to take exception to Sripad Tripurari’s Swami’s statement in his article as follows: This is not to say that Srila Prabhupada’s purports are not evidence, but what he means in these instances must be balanced with what sastra says when addressing this point directly. This is not what Srila Prabhupada is doing in the purports cited.

First, Sripad Tripurari’s Swami’s says that Srila Prabhupada’s purports are evidence but then you state that His evidence is faulty because He has not balanced His statements with shastra and sadhu when addressing this particular point. I am just going to voice my opinion here that I think this is an inappropriate statement for you to make about your spiritual masters purports. I have some good respect for you, your work, and your position, so I will not say more but I would request that you please rethink this statement. Please try to find a more balanced answer to your own question’s about what is being expressed in these purports rather than finding them imbalanced. If one purport is not balanced with Shastra and sadhu then Srila Prabhupada’s position is undermined. Please consider that in your public evaluations of your spiritual master writings.

In both of your analyses you agree that a person of Srila Prabhupada’s stature will have revealed to him by Krsna what ever he wants or needs to know. Srila Prabhupada himself when in conversations with other devotees takes a similar position. However in his books he expands on that position a lot more by attributing extraordinary powers of perception to Srila Narada Muni. This is always the way Srila Prabhupada operated in person He was very humble about Himself but He wrote the books in such a way that a disciple could understand what Srila Prabhupada’s position actually is by seeing how he described other greatly advanced pure devotees of the Lord.

In the final analyses though these are all descriptions of a Jiva soul whether he is nitya baddha jiva or nitya siddha jiva he is still jiva and there is a vast difference between jiva tattva and other tattva’s. So consider this that there are other nitya siddha parikars who are not jivas. Rupa Goswami, Sanatan Goswami, and all the six Goswami’s are described in Kavi Kanapuras Goura Gonnodesha Dipka as Manjaris in Krsna Lila. Narrottam Das Thakur with Shymananda and Srinivas are all considered Manjaris, by other vaishnava authors. Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura describes himself as Kamala Man Manjari, Srila Saraswati Thakura accepted when he was called Nayana Mani Manjari by his intimate disciples. In fact practically the whole line coming from Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is described in the various Goswami literatures as Manjaris. Srila Prabhupada states in a purport to Antya Lila 1.25 the following about himself:

“Our only desire should be to take birth under the care of a Vaisnava. Fortunately we had the opportunity to be born of a Vaisnava father who took care of us very nicely. He prayed to Srimati Radharani that in the future we would become a servant of the eternal consort of Sri Krsna. Thus somehow or other we are now engaged in that service.”

Besides this statement Srila Prabhupada makes three different references on the folio to the prayer of His father Gour Mohan De for Srila Prabhupada to become a devotee of Srimati Radharani:

“My father used to receive many saintly persons at our home, and to every one of them he used to say, "Kindly bless my son so that he may become a servant of Radharani”

“He used to invite so many saintly persons, and he would pray, "Please bless my son"-I was very pet son-"that he may become a devotee of Radharani. Radharani may bless him." That was his only prayer.”

“But my father said he would never send me to become a mleccha. His only wish was that I become a devotee of Radharani.”

Some may want to argue that Srila Prabhupada is a cowherd boy. However, all the leading preachers that were placed in the Bhagavat Paramapara from Srila Rupa Goswami to the present day by Srila Saraswati Thakura under the guidance of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura were almost all Manjaris, as I pointed out above by the authority of the various Vaishnava authors who wrote their biographies. The only exception is Swarup Damodar who is a Gopi who enjoys directly with Krsna and also directs the service of the Manjaris who do not enjoy directly with Krsna but vicariously through Srimati Radharani. You will notice that his position in the Parampara is before the chief of the Manjaris Rupa Goswami, or Rupa Manjari. Srila Prabhupada’s statements are significant above because He specifically states that his father prayed that he would become a servant of the eternal consort of Sri Krsna not Krishna. This exclusive service to the divine consort of the Lord is executed only by the Manjaris and no one else. Srimati Radharani will participate in pastimes with a priya narma sakha of Sri Krsna’s who is arranging meetings with Krsna for her but those sakha’s do not serve Srimati Radharani intimately or exclusively that is reserved for only the Manjaris. The difference is pointed out by Visvanath Chakravarti Thakura in his Madhurya Kadmbani as follows: “The Divine Couple is surrounded by Lallta-devi and the other girlfriends and maidservants of Radharani. Krsna's friend Subala, and others are also present.” Subal a Priya Narma Sakha is regarded as Krsna’s friend not Radharani’s servant or friend. Lalita devi and other girlfriends indicates just that, the girlfriends of Srimati Radharani and then the maidservants, the Manjaris. The Manjaris are her attendants and are listed separately even from Srimati Radharani’s girlfriends like Lalita devi and are connected directly with her not directly with Krsna. The Manjaris in our Sampradaya who come here to preach are all direct expansions of Srimati Radharani they are not nitya siddha jivas.

That Srila Prabhupada admits that he is now engaged in the service of Srimati Radharani in particular indicates that he is in fact a Manjari and not a priya narma sakha and is therefore not even a nitya siddha jiva, Srila Prabhupada’s particular nitya siddha form is Swarup Shakti. So Srila Prabhupada’s position as Swarup Shakti is vastly different than a jiva especially within the realm of this material world. Although a Nitya siddha jiva is by virtue of the blessings of the Supreme Personality of Godhead able to perform amazing feats if necessary the fact remains that Swarup Shakti is the source of its energy which transforms the jivas in the last stage of devotional practice making them perfectly pure: “suddha-sattva-visesatma”

"When devotional service is situated on the transcendental platform of pure goodness, it is like a ray of the sunlight of love for Krsna. At such a time, devotional service causes the heart to be softened by various tastes, and it is called bhava [emotion].' CC MADHYA 23.5

Srila Prabhupada explains in the purport to the verse after this one:

The word suddha-sattva-visesatma means "situated on the transcendental platform of pure goodness." In this way the soul is purified of all material contamination, and this position is called svarupa-laksana, the constitutional symptom of bhava, emotion. CC MADHYA 23.6 Purport

This ray of sunlight of love for Krsna that transforms the jiva is coming from swarup shakti from Srimati Radharani. She is the greatest devotee of Krsna and it is her love that is bestowed upon the jiva to transform them from their conditioned state to the transcendental state. Since Srimati Radharani is the topmost devotee she is the abode of all RASA. So whatever rasa a jiva is in he will be transformed by Srimati Radharani’s love which is distributed from the heart of her direct expansions the Manjaris. The Nitya Siddha jivas are already imbued with swarup shakti and so they transmit it to the nitya baddha jivas from their hearts which is the abode of such divine love. So one nitya siddha devotee is a direct expansion of Srimati Radharani, which is our Srila Prabhupada and the nitya siddha jiva is infused with Srimati Radharani’s swarup shakti, therefore there is a difference in tattva and a little difference in the extent of their powers because one is the source of the others power.

However when such personalities appear here it may appear some times that they are acting like ordinary human beings. This is part of their Nara Lila or human like pastimes. This however is going on simultaneously with their ability to see everything. This is difficult to understand how Sri Guru is acting like an ordinary human being and can know everything at the same time, but this is in a way another aspect of simultaneous oneness and difference Acintya Beda Abeda Tattva. Guru is one with the Supreme Lord and has aspects of His abilities and yet simultaneously he appears as an ordinary person so he can preach to the ordinary and bring them closer to the divine. However how does the devoted disciple see his Guru Maharaja and glorify him?

“To receive transcendental knowledge, we must completely surrender ourselves to the real acarya in a spirit of ardent inquiry and service. Actual performance of service to the Absolute under the guidance of the acarya is the only vehicle by which we can assimilate transcendental knowledge. Today’s meeting for offering our humble services and homage to the feet of the acaryadeva will enable us to be favored with the capacity of assimilating the transcendental knowledge so kindly transmitted by him to all persons without distinction.” The Sri Vyas Puja offering of Srila Prabhupada to Srila Saraswati Thakura in February l936 at the Sri Gaudiya Math, Bombay

The responsibility of the disciple is to Glorify the Spiritual Master not to minimize him by presenting him as an ordinary person who process knowledge like the common man and makes mistakes in his presentation of the philosophy. When Advaita Acharya told his disciple the rope was a snake, kill it, the disciple went to kill the snake. When Advaita Acharya stopped his disciple by saying it was a rope the disciple obeyed and stopped his efforts. Repeatedly Advaita Acharya said over and over again it is a rope, it is a snake, it is a rope, it is a snake, each time the disciple responded accordingly never refusing to follow the order or questioning his guru’s correctness in asking him to act in one way or another. To assimilate transcendental knowledge from the revealed scriptures one must hear the transcendental sound vibration from the lotus lips of the sadhu guru and then explain. This explaining is how one serves the guru. By explaining the transcendental knowledge he has heard the disciple serves the guru and realizes the transcendental knowledge more and more. Glorifying the spiritual master and his exalted position is the first and foremost service of the disciple and the best form of explaining. One must serve the spiritual master in this mood other wise his efforts perfection will end in failure.

[Home Page] vs.gif - 6443 Bytes

Disciples Page