First of all I offer my unlimited obeisances in the dust of the lotus feet of my most worshipful diksa-gurudeva, nitya-lila pravista om visnupada astottara-sata Sri Srimad Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. I offer the same unlimited obeisances in the dust of the lotus feet of my most worshipful siksa-gurudeva, om visnupada astottara-sata Sri Srimad Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja. My obeisances to our disciplic succession, and to all the assembled devotees.
In January of this year we published on the Internet one of the final conversations that took place between Srila Prabhupada and Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja in October-November of 1977. During the course of that conversation, Srila Prabhupada asked Srila Maharaja to give him Samadhi and to help his disciples and followers. At that time Prabhupada was concerned about how the management of Iskcon would continue after his departure, and Srila Maharaja told him not to worry but to just think of Radha-Krsna, because he had already completed his work.
Then, a few days ago, an article written by the rtvik devotees was published on the Internet, as a response. In that article a question was raised, and questions of this type are sometimes asked by others. "Since Srila Narayana Maharaja had previously told Srila Prabhupada that he had already completed his work, why then, twenty years later, does he sometimes say that Prabhupada did not give everything that he wanted to give, and that if he was here now he would be translating still more books like Ujjvala-nilamani, Lalita-Madhava and so on?"
This is a very good question, and we will try to present a satisfactory answer. Prabhupada gave everything that he planned to give. He was a perfect judge of time, place, and circumstance, and he could read the hearts of his followers and understand their capabilities. He therefore knew what his disciples and followers were able to receive at the time, and thus he gave everything according to our capacity to accept and digest. The rest he concealed within the pages of his books, and at the same time everything is there overtly in his books.
(1) Prabhupada gave everything that he planned to give, and (2) he didn't give everything that he wanted to give. How can we reconcile these two facts? Everything about the goal of pure devotional service is found in His Divine Grace's books, tapes, and transcriptions of lectures. However, so much of the depth of his teachings are under lock and key until the reader is ready for it to be revealed.
Our previous acaryas have explained the meanings behind the pastimes of Krsna and His incarnations in different ways. They have also explained the sastric instructions in different ways, for different levels of readers. Not all readers are on the same level. Some may have many births of offences on the background, and some may have many births of good association, sincere service, and freedom from offences. Past offences and sins create obstacles in understanding and realizing bhakti, and this is explained in Nectar of Devotion, Bhajana Rahasya by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Madhurya Kadambini by Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, Caitanya-caritamrta, Bhagavad-gita and so on. Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita: "Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life, and whose sinful actions are completely eradicated, are freed from the dualities of delusion, and they engage themselves in My service with determination."
Srila Jiva Gosvami, for example, is understood differently by different followers. Both Srila Prabhupada and Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja explain that he was a bona fide, pure and perfect follower of Srila Rupa Gosvami, so much so that Srila Rupa Gosvami accepted him as his one and only diksa disciple. Yet, it appears to uninformed people that he was a supporter of svakiya-bhava, the idea that Radha and Krsna are married. Actually, he only apparently supported it, and the reasons are twofold. One reason is that many of those who he was trying to bring into Gaudiya Vaisnavism would have been critical of Radha and Krsna if he had only preached about Their transcendental paramour love. Secondly, Jiva Gosvami was tri-kala-jna. He knew the future, and therefore he knew that even hundreds of years later, in the name of parakiya-rasa, many sahajiyas would engage their so-called disciples in debauchery.
Sri Jiva Gosvami wrote, "svecchaya likhitam kincitŠWhatever I have written that corresponds with all the instructions of Srila Rupa Gosvami is my own opinion. My opinion is that Radha and Krsna enjoy parakiya-rasa. Whatever I have written that sounds contradictory to Rupa Gosvami was done according to the desire of others, so that I could gradually bring them into Vaisnavism." Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura has written in his commentary to Brahma Samhita's text 37: "The hidden meaning underlying the words of Sri Jiva Gosvami, when it is made explicit, will leave no doubt in the minds of the readers. Sri Jiva Gosvami is our preacher of transcendental truth. He is therefore always under the influence of Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatana. Moreover, in the pastimes of Krsna Sri Jiva is one of the manjaris. So he is conversant with all transcendental realities.There are some who, being unable to understand the drift of his statements, give meanings of their own invention and indulge in useless controversies."
As different acaryas say or write the same, yet apparently different, statements for different levels of hearers and readers, similarly the same acarya's 'everything' is different for different levels of recipients. There is an interesting history in the Puranas to illustrate this idea:
The demon Virocana and the demigod Indra approached Lord Brahma together, and both asked him to teach them about the Absolute Truth so they could be happy. Brahma told them both to be brahmacaris in his asrama for twenty-five years and then return to him. After twenty-five years he spoke to them both in such a way that they thought he was saying the body is the Supreme Truth. Virocana gladly returned to his demonic society and told them that his guru had given him everything and they should all engage themselves to make their bodies happy. Indra, on the other hand, thought, "My guru could not be wrong. My understanding must have been wrong. This body is the source of ignorance and misery." He returned to Brahma and asked again. Brahma told him to practice twenty-five more years in his asrama and then return to him. After the next twenty-five years Brahma spoke in such a way that Indra understood that he said the mind is the Supreme Truth. Again on the way home he had doubts, returned to Brahma, spent another twenty-five years in his asrama, understood from Brahma's next discussion that deep sleep is the Truth, and finally, after the completion of one hundred years, Brahma made him understand the atma and Bhagavan.
Our Prabhupada is also a guru in Brahma's line. Why did he write in 'The Nectar of Devotion' that Nanda Baba is the foster-father of Krsna? It is not a fact. Yet it is said, and Prabhupada has said, "Whatever I wanted to say, I have said in my books." How can we reconcile this? Only another Mahabhagavata can understand a Mahabhagavata like Prabhupada. Prabhupada writes in his purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 7.13.14: " It is therefore said, vaisnavera kriya mudra vijna na bhujhaya. A highly advanced Vaisnava lives in such a way that no one can understand what he is or what he was." Srila Narayana Maharaja explains that Prabhupada is in the line of Srila Sukadeva Gosvami, who, in the beginning of his preaching to Pariksit Maharaja, also indicated that Krsna is the son of Vasudeva and Devaki. Later on, when Pariksit Maharaja was developing a deeper understanding, Sukadeva Gosvami knew that he could now follow him. At that time he told him that Krsna actually took birth in Vrndavana. In Gopi-gita of Tenth Canto Srimad Bhagavatam, beginning 'jayati te 'dhikam janmana vrajah,' Sukadeva Gosvami stated: "The gopis said: 'O beloved, Your birth in the land of Vraja has made it exceedingly glorious, and thus Indira, the goddess of fortune, always resides here.'"
Caitanya Mahaprabhu confirmed this in His teaching to Srila Sanatana Gosvami. He said that the only advaya-jnana para-tattva is Vrajendranandana Syamasundara, with a peacock feather and flute. In His expansion as Vasudeva Krsna, a ksatriya, He thinks that He is the son of Vasudeva and Devaki. Mahaprabhu told Sanatana Gosvami, "O Sanatana, please hear about the eternal form of Lord Krsna. He is the Absolute Truth, devoid of duality, but present in Vrndavana as the son of Nanda Maharaja." (Madhya 20.153)
As one acarya will give different instructions at different times to different disciples, he also gives different instructions at different times for the same disciple. How can one understand this unless he has the guidance of another uttama-mahabhagavata to explain the intention or inner moods of that mahabhagavata? This is especially necessary after the disappearance of the mahabhagavat acarya, when we can no longer hear that acarya with our material ears. When he is in his unmanifest position, we conditioned souls cannot feel when he wants to twist our ears when we understand something in the wrong way.
When Queen Kunti was a young girl, she served Durvasa Muni very nicely and thus received a benediction from him. He told her, "I bless you that you will have five very powerful sons, and they will be very glorious, pure devotees." How was this to take place? There had to be a process. It wasn't that at first she was just a little girl and then suddenly, in a moment, she became the mother of the five Pandavas. First she had to be trained by her superiors, then she had to marry and be a faithful wife to her husband, King Pandu. After that, when the children came, she had to train them so that they would become what they would become.
Similarly any statement about negligent chanting is just to encourage one to begin chanting. Later, by following the process of bhakti, that chanter gradually increases his faith and determination, and then he gets more help from guru and pure Vaisnavas. Or, if his diksa-guru has already departed, he and Krsna arrange a siksa-guru who makes it very clear to him, "No, this offensive chanting will not do. You have to chant like Raghunatha dasa Gosvami if you want to go back to Godhead."
Surely "everything" is in Srila Prabhupada's books. Electricity is everywhere. However, only an expert electrician can tap that electricity in order to put a piece of plastic in the wall so that any layman can make a phone call. In his purport in Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila 10.101 Prabhupada writes: "We have many things to learn about bhajana, or worship of the Lord, by following in the footsteps of Raghunatha dasa Gosvami. All the Gosvamis engaged in such transcendental activities, as described by Srinivasa Acarya in his poem about them (krsnotkirtana-gana-nartana-parau premamrtambho-nidhi)."
Prabhupada certainly gave us everything. He gave us this statement. To fulfill this statement, however, to follow the instructions therein, we have to go to the works of Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, under the guidance of a pure devotee, in order to see what kind of bhajana he did. Then we can see how he rolled on the ground on the banks of Radha Kunda and wept constantly to attain the service of Radha-Krsna.
Everything is there in Prabhupada's books, but in Caitanya-caritamrta, Prabhupada quotes Sri Svarupa Damodara instructing a Bengali poet: "Yaha, bhagavata pada vaisnavera sthane ekanta asraya kara caitanya-carane" (Caitanya-caritamrta Antya-lila 5.131). If you want to understand Srimad Bhagavatam, you must approach a self-realized Vaisnava and hear from him. You can do this when you have completely taken shelter of the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu." Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport: "One should hear Srimad-Bhagavatam from a person who has no connection with material activities, or in other words, from a paramahamsa Vaisnava who has achieved the highest stage of sannyasa."
Prabhupada said what he wanted to say in that purport. He wanted to say that we can't go to a conditioned soul to fully understand what he is translating and purporting in Srimad Bhagavatam. We have to go to a pure devotee and he will explain. Some say that the representative of Prabhupada we consult does not have to be a pure devotee. They say everyone has equal access to Srimad Bhagavatam, but Caitanya-caritamrta says differently.
Paramahamsa: Srila Prabhupada, I remember once I heard a tape where you told us that we should not try to read the books of the previous acaryas.
Amogha: That we should not try to read Bhaktivinoda's books or earlier books of other acaryas. So I was just wondering...
Prabhupada: I never said that.
Amogha: You didn't say that? Oh.
Prabhupada: How is that?
Amogha: I thought you said that we should not read the previous acarya's books.
Prabhupada: No, you should read.
Amogha: We should.
Prabhupada: It is a misunderstanding....we are following the previous acaryas. I never said that.
In the purport to Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila 5.203, Srila Prabhupada wrote:
"Sri Sanatana Gosvami Prabhu, the teacher of the science of devotional service, wrote several books, of which the Brhad-bhagavatamrta is very famous. Anyone who wants to know about the subject matter of devotees, devotional service, and Krsna must read this book. Sanatana Gosvami also wrote a special commentary on the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam known as the Dasama-tippani, which is so excellent that by reading it one can understand very deeply the pastimes of Krsna in his exchanges of loving activities."
In 1972 Srila Prabhupada said in a darsana, "The next important day is on the 12th of September, 1972, the advent day of Sri Jiva Gosvami Prabhu. On that day there are three functions. First of all there is Ekadasi; a special Ekadasi called Parsvaika Ekadasi. Actually, according to the calendar, Ekadasi was to be observed on the 11th of September, but the next day is Vamana Dvadasi. Vamana Dvadasi means the advent of Lord Vamanadeva. Therefore we have Ekadasi fasting, and we thus observe two fasts in one day; Ekadasi and Vamana Dvadasi. We observe Ekadasi, and in the evening there should be a meeting discussing on the life and work of Srila Jiva Gosvami. He is one of the very important acaryas in our sampradaya, so especially his Sandarbhas should be discussed."
Prabhupada gave us everything. He gave us this instruction and told us that the Sandarbhas are the essence of all sastra. In order to follow this instruction, we observe these appearance days and Ekadasis and we discuss the Sat-sandarbhas under proper guidance. In the above-mentioned darsana Prabhupada said that three or four days after Jiva Gosvamipada's appearance day is the appearance day of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and he ordered that we discuss his life history.
The present acaryas don't have to be in the same physical institution as the previous acaryas in order to continue their work. Prabhupada was not in the physical institution of his Guru Maharaja, but he was in the same spiritual institution. Similarly, spiritual Iskcon is greater than we may think. In Nectar of Devotion, ch.19, Prabhupada writes, "There are many societies and associations of pure devotees, and if someone with just a little faith begins to associate with such societies, his advancement to pure devotional service is rapid."
Caitanya Mahaprabhu is God Himself, yet after He spoke to Srila Rupa Gosvami, Rupa Gosvami gave so much more than Caitanya Mahaprabhu externally gave him. Externally Mahaprabhu gave him something, but internally he placed much more in his heart. Such a person, who receives everything in his heart, continues the disciplic succession. In the purport of Adi-lila 5.203 Srila Prabhupada writes, "Srila Rupa Gosvami is described as the bhakti-rasacarya, or one who knows the essence of devotional service. His famous book Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu is the science of devotional service, and by reading this book one can understand the meaning of devotional service." Srila Rupa Gosvami wrote extensively, and his writings included so many pastimes of Sri Sri Radha and Krsna. Yet, Srila Krsna dasa Kaviraja wrote still more about them in his Govinda-lilamrta.
Why, after the time of that great Vaisnava author, Srila Krsna dasa Kaviraja Gosvami, did Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura come and write so many books explaining the works of Srila Rupa Gosvami? This was because the people in general couldn't understand the depth of Rupa Gosvami's works. His teachings were first explained by Srila Narottama dasa Thakura and then by Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura. There was a need for each acarya to explain the previous one, even though the previous ones were pure and perfect and gave everything.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura also gave everything. Why, then, did Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada Thakura write so much? And why did our Srila Prabhupada also write so much? He could have just translated his superior acaryas, but he wrote his own commentaries. On the other hand, how much commentary did he write for each verse of the Bhagavad-gita? One paragraph, or at the most one page. But there is so much to be explained for each verse. Or, to put it another way, Prabhupada's explanations require further explanation in order for us to understand them fully. If this were not true, why did he ask us to attend Bhagavad-gita classes? As well as his own, Prabhupada translated a few lines of Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura's commentary, but he mainly translated a small portion of the commentary of Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana. This was because Baladeva Vidyabhusana's commentary is the basis for understanding that of Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura. Our Prabhupada sprinkled a few lines from Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura here and there in his purports, and as a sequel to Prabhupada's Gita, Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja translated the rest of Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura's commentary.
Krsna is God Himself, but Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura still explained His teachings in the Gita by elaboration, and our Prabhupada will also be explained by his successors. Everyone knows that Prabhupada has planted seeds of bhakti; so if one of those seeds grows into a big branch, what is the harm?
Both Rupa Gosvami and Jiva Gosvami gave everything, but still it takes a third person to explain the following pastime that took place between them. Prabhupada writes: "The first accusation (against Jiva Gosvami) concerns a materialist who was very proud of his reputation as a great Sanskrit scholar and approached Sri Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami to argue with them about the revealed scriptures. Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami, not wanting to waste their time, gave him a written statement that he had defeated them in a debate on the revealed scriptures. Taking this paper, the scholar approached Jiva Gosvami for a similar certificate of defeat, but Jiva Gosvami did not agree to give him one. On the contrary, he argued with him regarding the scriptures and defeated him. Certainly it was right for Jiva Gosvami to stop such a dishonest scholar from advertising that he had defeated Srila Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami, but due to their illiteracy the sahajiya class refer to this incident to accuse Srila Jiva Gosvami of deviating from the principle of humility. They do not know, however, that humility and meekness are appropriate when one's own honor is insulted but not when Lord Visnu or the acaryas are blasphemed. In such cases one should not be humble and meek but must act." (Cc.Adi.10.85)
Because we conditioned souls see things materially, we need help from perfect devotees who are upholding the integrity of the disciplic succession. Without this the world will go to hell. Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja does not teach that Prabhupada gave less than we think, because he didn't give everything he wanted to give. Rather, he constantly shows that Prabhupada gave more than we think, in the matter of all philosophical truths, as well as in the matter of rasa-tattva and still he would have given more had he physically remained with us longer. Surely he would have given more if he remained longer. He was so qualified. Surely he would have translated so many other books by Srila Rupa Gosvami. As Jiva Gosvami taught in his life, it is the duty of the bona fide disciple to see that his guru is never considered 'defeated.' Even if his guru allows it himself, the disciple cannot tolerate it. Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja is defending Prabhupada's glory and integrity as a pure rupanuga-vaisnava all over the world.
Some say that we don't need anyone else to help us understand the 'everything' given by Prabhupada. However, among other questions the question will then arise, "Did we receive everything?" If he gave it we must have received it. Actually although he possessed it and wanted to give it, and he did give it to those who could receive it, if we devotees in general had received everything that he wanted to give, we must have everything now. If that is the case, then why are we so confused? Why are our lives so confused? Why are we always troubled and fighting? And why are we so absorbed in problems instead of being absorbed in Krsna?
In his purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 4.28.48 Prabhupada states: "It is the acarya's duty to spread a bona fide religious system and induce everyone to bow down before the Supreme Lord. One executes the religious principles by rendering devotional service, specifically the nine items like hearing, chanting and remembering. Unfortunately, when the acarya disappears, rogues and non-devotees take advantage and immediately begin to introduce unauthorized principles in the name of so-called svamis, yogis, philanthropists, welfare workers and so on. Actually, human life is meant for executing the orders of the Supreme Lord, and this is stated in Bhagavad-gita (9.34):
man-mana bhava mad-bhaktoThe acarya, the authorized representative of the Supreme Lord, establishes these principles, but when he disappears, things once again become disordered. The perfect disciples of the acarya try to relieve the situation by sincerely following the instructions of the spiritual master." The perfect disciples are only the perfect devotees.
mad-yaji mam namaskuru
mam evaisyasi yuktvaivam
'Engage your mind always in thinking of Me and become My devotee. Offer obeisances and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me.'
Nowadays there is an idea that because Prabhupada already gave everything in his books, there is no distinction in qualification for understanding his books. They say that kanistha-adhikaris, madhyama-adhikaris and uttama-adhikaris are equally qualified to read them. This type of understanding is different from the statements presented in hundreds of places in Prabhupada's books. In his purport to Nectar of Devotion, text 5, Prabhupada writes: "A neophyte Vaisnava or a Vaisnava situated on the intermediate platform can also accept disciples, but such disciples must be on the same platform, and it should be understood that they cannot advance very well toward the ultimate goal of life under his insufficient guidance. Therefore a disciple should be careful to accept an uttama-adhikari as a spiritual master."
Some say that there are no pure devotees any more. Although there have been pure devotees in the world since the beginning of time, they say the last one was Prabhupada.
In 'True Conception of Guru Tattva' Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura is quoted: "This line of guru-parampara is existing up to day without any break and it will continue to exist like this in the future also. To say there is no sad-guru living in the world at present and neither will there be any in the future is an atheistic opinion." In his purport to Bhagavad-gita 6.42, Prabhupada writes: "By the grace of the Lord, there are still families that foster transcendentalists generation after generation." Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura quotes Ananta dasa in chapter 7 of his Jaiva Dharma: "Moreover, the association of sadhus (suddha-bhaktas) is very rare, because even though sadhus are always present, the common man cannot recognize them."
These conclusions are not really controversial, but as they appear to be so in present times, I wanted to speak on the subject for the pleasure of the devotees. In Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila 2.177 Prabhupada translates:
siddhanta baliya citte na kara alasa
Iha ha-ite krsne lage sudrdha manasa
"A sincere student should not neglect the discussion of such conclusions, considering them controversial, for such discussions strengthen the mind. Thus one's mind becomes attached to Krsna."
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