Personality Cultism is Anti Vaishnava

by Sridam Sakha Das

6 September 1998

Ever since the early nineties, papers by both official GBC sources and independent individuals have been written, giving a multitude of reasons as to why it is not a good idea to go and hear from our spiritual master Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayan Maharaja. Such papers have always been difficult to counter, since accusations and criticisms are always easier to make than to give the necessary exhaustive replies to. Our experience is that any inchoate refutation soon threatens to assume the alarming dimensions of an epic.

Since it is not practical or possible to try to refute all the challenges of such detractors in one fell swoop, we will start instead by addressing a misconception which seems to be common to them all. It is the most ingrained and deep rooted, and upon which all their other fallacies find their basis.

The misconception in question is the premise on the part of the authors that Srila Prabhupada is their sole authority and reference point, and that the relative standards which he set for ISKCON should be continued indefinitely.

For instance, in his paper of June '97 Badrinarayana prabhu states:

"Srila Prabhupada clearly intended the standards he established for the philosophy and practice of Krsna consciousness to remain as the norm for ISKCON for the next ten thousand years."

Similarly, in his recent paper "So many questions", Datta prabhu, after claiming to "fully and unconditionally" accept Srila Prabhupada as his "diksa guru siksa guru and Acarya" states: "The standards for ISKCON have been eternally defined by Srila Prabhupada, its Founder-Acharya. NO-ONE may re-define them" (his emphasis).

Ostensibly, such proclamations arise from the noble sentiments of loyalty and devotion to Srila Prabhupada. However, when we begin to analyze them in terms of the teachings of the personality whom they purport to represent, then it all begins to look less rosy. Why? For the simple reason that Srila Prabhupada never instructed or wanted that any of his disciples focus on him exclusively for posterity, or turn him into a messiah-type figure.

Rather, for the sake of determining truth, he painstakingly taught us that one should refer to *three* sources of authority, namely sadhu, sastra and guru:

"Srila Narottama dasa Thakura says, sadhu-sastra-guru-vakya, cittete kariya aikya. One should accept a thing as genuine by studying the words of saintly people, the spiritual master and sastra. THE ACTUAL CENTER IS SASTRA, the revealed scripture. If a spiritual master does not speak according to revealed scripture, he is not to be accepted. Similarly, if a saintly person does not speak according to the sastra, he is not a saintly person. SASTRA IS THE CENTER FOR ALL." (Madhya-lila: Chapter Twenty, Text 352)

Therefore, one who is truly a follower of Srila Prabhupada should follow the above, wherein he states that it is sastra which is in fact the main reference point, and not guru.

(see also appendix 1)

Out of a misplaced sentiment of loyalty, a disciple may decide that he will not hear from another vaisnava, or accept any other guru after the disappearance of his diksa guru. However, by so doing he will only cause more problems than he thinks to solve.

The reason for this is quite self evident. Coming to the material world, a guru is having to deal with relative conditions, and therefore sometimes his statements and actions will also be relative accordingly. That being the case, a disciple who refers to the teachings of his guru alone will not be able to discern between a teaching which is intended as siddhanta, and one that is meant for a specific person, place or circumstance. With this relativity in mind, Srila Prabhupada tells us:

"To broadcast the cult of Krsna consciousness, one has to learn the possibility of renunciation in terms of country, time and candidate. A candidate for Krsna consciousness in the Western countries should be taught about the renunciation of material existence, but one would teach candidates from a country like India in a different way. The teacher (acarya) has to consider time, candidate and country. He must avoid the principle of niyamagraha--that is, he should not try to perform the impossible. What is possible in one country may not be possible in another. The acarya's duty is to accept the essence of devotional service. There may be a little change here and there as far as yukta-vairagya (proper renunciation) is concerned. ...What is required is a special technique according to country, time and candidate." (Madhya-lila 23.105)

"It is the concern of the acarya to show mercy to the fallen souls. In this connection, desa-kala-patra (the place, the time and the object) should be taken into consideration." (Adi 7.38)

"The Vedas instruct us that knowledge must always be considered in terms of desa-kala-patra. Desa means 'circumstances,' kala means 'time,' and patra means 'the object.' We must understand everything by taking these three elements into consideration." (Life Comes from Life: The First Morning Walk April 18, 1973)

"As an ideal acarya, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu devised ways to capture all kinds of atheists and materialists. Every acarya has a specific means of propagating his spiritual movement with the aim of bringing men to Krsna consciousness. Therefore, THE METHOD OF ONE ACARYA MAY BE DIFFERENT FROM THAT OF ANOTHER, but the ultimate goal is never neglected." (Adi-lila Chapter Seven, Text 37)

"The supreme Lord Shree Krishna Chaitanya in pursuance of the teaching of the scriptures enjoins all absence of conventionalism for the teachers of the eternal religion." (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta saraswati, The Harmonist Vol. XXIX No 7 1932)

Even the Gosvamis were obliged to temper their preaching approach with this consideration in mind:

"Sanatana Gosvami wrote his Vaisnava smrti, Hari-bhakti-vilasa, which was specifically meant for India. In those days, India was more or less following the principle of smarta-vidhi. Srila Sanatana Gosvami HAD TO KEEP PACE WITH THIS, and his Hari-bhakti-vilasa was compiled with this in mind." (Madhya-lila23.105)

However, not only does an acarya sometimes compromise his presentation of the absolute truth for the sake of his disciples and followers, but on occasion he will deliberately speak isolated, outright untruths to them. In fact, he may even go so far as to consistently teach them an utterly false doctrine for the purpose of uplifting them, if he sees that they are sufficiently degraded or illusioned. We see that this was done by Sankaracarya and Lord Buddha.

Such merciful preaching tactics are not confined to them either:

"These are the secrets of the acaryas. Sometimes they conceal the real purpose of the Vedas and explain the Vedas in a different way. Sometimes they enunciate a different theory just to bring the atheists under their control." (Madhya-lila 25.42)

Even in our own vaisnava sampradayas, there are numerous examples of bonafide acaryas who deliberately preached doctrines which were quite contrary to siddhanta, in order to attract a certain class of person. This practice is known as "badasamisa nyaya", meaning the logic of using the bait to catch the fish. One example is that of Srila Sridhara Svami. Because he was writing his commentaries on the Bhagavatam in Varanasi, which is a stronghold of the followers of impersonalism, he introduced some of their faulty teachings into his writings in order to attract them to Vaisnavism. Understanding his reasons for so doing, far from rejecting his commentaries in wholesale fashion, later acaryas merely deleted those parts that were incorrect, and reverently preserved the main body for future generations. In our Rupanuga varga, we also have the example of Srila Jiva goswami, who wrote a book teaching that svakiya rasa (wedded love) is higher than parakiya rasa (paramour love), even though this is contrary to all the teachings of our acaryas. His reason for doing this was because some of his neophyte disciples were too disturbed by the concept of parakiya rasa between Krsna and the gopis. (see appendix 2) More recently, we have the example of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura, whose immediate preaching field consisted largely of intellectual Indians who had been educated by the British. Since he did not want to prematurely jar their false sophistications with too intense a presentation of the Srimad Bhagavatam, he dismissed 5th canto accounts of hellish planets as mere puranic myths. He claimed that their inclusion within was only for the purpose of frightening ignorant and superstitious people into abstaining from sinful activity. (see appendix 3) Nevertheless, although this has never been stated by any other acarya, and is contrary to sadhu sastra and guru, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura is nevertheless revered as "the seventh gosvami" by all subsequent acaryas.

However, despite understanding the above, a disciple may reason that since his means of deliverance from the material energy is from the mercy of his guru, he will not therefore concern himself about whether or not all of the statements his guru has given are all perfectly siddhantic. This logic may work for a time, at least for long as the guru and the extraordinary circumstances in which he is preaching are manifest. However, the guru also wishes that his disciple properly understand the siddhanta and thereby advance in spiritual life. He certainly does not intend for him to remain in ignorance and illusion. Speaking about this, Srila Prabhupada tells us:

"Therefore this imaginary meaning is gauna-vrtti, whereas the direct meaning found in the dictionary is mukhya-vrtti or abhidha-vrtti. This is the distinction between the two. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu recommends that one understand the Vedic literature in terms of abhidha-vrtti, and the gauna-vrtti He rejects. SOMETIMES, HOWEVER, AS A MATTER OF NECESSITY, VEDIC LITERATURE IS DESCRIBED IN TERMS OF THE LAKSANA-VRTTI OR GAUNA-VRTTI, BUT ONE SHOULD NOT ACCEPT SUCH EXPLANATIONS AS PERMANENT TRUTHS." (Adi-lila 7.110)

"Vaisnava who is preaching, it may be in a different way, according to time and place and the party. They have to change something, desa-kala-patra. BUT WE HAVE TO SEE THE ESSENCE." (Prabhupada's Lectures (Prabhupada's Lectures Srimad-Bhagavatam 1974 741008SB.MAY)

"The essence of devotional service must be taken into consideration, and not the outward paraphernalia." (Madhya-lila: 23.105)

"Just this morning we were reading, yah sastra-vidhim utsrjya. If he follows the rules and regulations and, uh, then it is sure that he will come to that stage. BUT YOU SHOULD NOT BE RIGID. Suppose I have come to certain stage. "Oh, therefore I'll take it as final." No. There is no improvement. YOU HAVE TO SEEK OUT, IF THERE IS MORE AND MORE KNOWLEDGE BEYOND THIS. Just like the higher mathematics and mathematics in the infant class." (660826BG.NY Lectures)

Since Srila Prabhupada's preaching mission was undertaken in quite exceptional and unprecedented circumstances, it was necessary for him perhaps more than an any other acarya since Srila Rupa Gosvami to employ the principle of badasamisa nyaya. Indeed, never could time, place and circumstance have been so radically different for preceding acaryas as they were for Srila Prabhupada. Wishing that his disciples and followers understand this principle very clearly, he spoke about it at length and in depth on a number of occasions. (see 4 - 6 in appendix)

Despite this, certain devotees see fit to criticize Srila Narayan Maharaja because some of his preaching and standards differ from those of Srila Prabhupada. Although they seem to think that the more faithfully they copy the external activities of Srila Prabhupada, the more qualified they will be, they are in fact entirely wrong. As has already been shown, there will inevitably always be differences between the preaching approach of one acarya and another. Therefore, far from being a disqualification, adjustment of preaching according to time place and circumstance is what we *would* expect to see from the bonafide acarya. It is in fact the artificial copying of the previous acarya which is condemned:

"One who tries to imitate the mahajanas just to become an imitative spiritual master is certainly far away from following in the footsteps of the mahajanas. Sometimes people cannot actually understand how a mahajana follows other mahajanas. In this way people are inclined to fall from devotional service. " (Madhya 17.185)

"We are not likely to benefit by any mechanical imitation of any practices of Thakur Bhaktivinode on the opportunist principle that they may be convenient for us to adopt." (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, The Harmonist, December 1931, vo l. XXIX No.66)

"The mere pursuit of fixed doctrines and fixed liturgies cannot hold a person to the true spirit of doctrine or liturgy." (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, The Harmonist, December 1931, vol. XXIX No.66)

A conditioned soul needs the personal guidance of a bonafide guru, and cannot make significant spiritual advancement by reference to sadhu or sastra alone. This applies as much to those who may have received diksa or siksa at one time, but are now physically separated from their guru, as it does to those who never had the good fortune of ever associating with a bonafide spiritual master. Indeed, one who refuses to accept a siksa guru after the disappearance of his diksa guru becomes an offender:

"There is no difference between the spiritual master's instructions and the spiritual master himself. In his absence, therefore, his words of direction should be the pride of the disciple. If one thinks that he is above consulting anyone else, INCLUDING A SPIRITUAL MASTER, he is at once an offender at the lotus feet of the Lord. Such an offender can never go back to Godhead. It is imperative that a serious person accept a bona fide spiritual master in terms of the sastric injunctions." (Adi 1.35)

Shortly after the disappearance of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura, there were many of his disciples who were also of the mistaken opinion that they would be able to retain a spiritual connection with their guru independently of siksa guidance. Seeing this, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta saraswati wrote an entire paper to defeat their deluded theory. He states:

"Those who pretend to recognise the Divine Mission of Thakur Bhaktivinode WITHOUT ASPIRING TO THE UNCONDITIONAL SERVICE OF THOSE PURE SOULS WHO REALLY FOLLOW THE TEACHINGS OF THE THAKUR BY THE METHOD ENJOINED BY THE SCRIPTURES and explained by Thakur Bhaktivinode in a way that is so eminently suited to the requirements of the sophisticated mentality of the present Age, only deceive themselves and their willing victims by their hypocritical professions and performances. These persons must not be confounded with the bonafide members of the flock." (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, The Harmonist, December 1931, vo l. XXIX No.66)

Sadhu sanga is our key to success, and is always necessary without exception. Even a madhyama-adhikari (what to speak of a neophyte) is instructed to both "study the sastras and associate with a first-class devotee", or he will "make no progress":

"It should be understood that a madhyama-adhikari, a second-class devotee, is fully convinced of Krsna consciousness but cannot support his convictions with sastric reference. A neophyte may fall down by associating with nondevotees because he is not firmly convinced and strongly situated. The second-class devotee, even though he cannot support his position with sastric reference, can gradually become a first-class devotee by studying the sastras AND associating with a first-class devotee. However, if the second-class devotee does not advance himself by associating with a first-class devotee, he makes no progress." (Madhya 22.71 The Process of Devotional Service)

krsna-bhakti-janma-mula haya 'sadhu-sanga' krsna-prema janme, tenho punah mukhya anga

"The root cause of devotional service to Lord Krsna is association with advanced devotees. Even when one's dormant love for Krsna awakens, association with devotees IS STILL MOST ESSENTIAL." (Madhya 22.83)

The above statement is borne out by the example of Bharata Maharaja who had progressed even to the point of bhava bhakti, but who fell down on account of not having the association of a physically manifest guru:

"Bharata Maharaja did not consult a spiritual master when he became overly attached to a deer. Consequently he became strongly attached to the deer, and, forgetting his spiritual routine, he fell down." (Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 5: Chapter Twelve, Text 14) vatam Canto 5: Chapter Twelve, Text 14)

(see also points 7 & 8 in appendix)

If mono-guru advocates are under the impression that Srila Prabhupada's books are going to yield their priceless contents to them by the simple expedient of independent reference, then they are quite mistaken. The books themselves tell us:

"Great authorities should be followed; otherwise, if we simply depend on the scriptures, we are sometimes misled by rascals, or else we cannot understand or follow the different spiritual injunctions." (SB 3.16.23)

Our process, repeated from sastra by Srila Prabhupada time and time again, is to hear the book Bhagavata from the person Bhagavata. In the Caitanya caritamrta, Srila Svarupa Damodara states:

yaha bhagavata pada vaisnavera sthane ekanta asraya kara caitanya-carane

"'If you want to understand Srimad Bhagavatam', he said, 'you must approach a self-realised vaisnava and hear from him. You can do this when you have completely taken shelter of the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu'". (CC Ant 5.131)

(see also points 9 - 17 in appendix)

Speaking of the teachings of his father, some of whose disciples also asserted that by their study alone they would be able to continue to progress spiritually, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta saraswati states:

"If his works are studied in the light of one's own worldly experience their meaning will refuse to disclose itself to such readers. His works belong to the class of the eternal revealed literature of the world and must be approached for their right understanding through their exposition by the pure devotee. If no help from the pure devotee is sought the works of Thakur Bhaktivinode will be GROSSLY MISUNDERSTOOD by their readers." (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, The Harmonist, December 1931, vol. XXIX No.6)

"The writings of Thakur Bhaktivinode are valuable because they demolish all empiric objections against accepting the only method of approaching the Absolute in the right way. They cannot and were never intended to give access to the Absolute without help from the pure devotee of Krishna." (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, (The Harmonist, December 1931, vol. XXIX No.6)

Unfortunately, although Srila Prabhupada has instructed us:

"The process of speaking in spiritual circles is to say something upheld by the scriptures. One should at once quote from scriptural authority to back up what he is saying. At the same time, such talk should be very pleasurable to the ear." (Bhagavad-gita 17.15)

Those who have seen fit to find fault with Srila Narayan Maharaja have neither quoted from scriptural authority to back up what they are saying, nor have they spoken in a way which is "very pleasurable to the ear". On the contrary, their literary compositions are, quite simply, systematic, slanderous propaganda attempts to invalidate Srila Narayan Maharaja in the eyes of the vaisnava community.

That this kind of conduct is utterly repugnant and the height of bad taste is an axiomatic truth for any vaisnava. However, what is really staggering is the fact that its perpetrators, many of whom are long standing members, appear to have no understanding or appreciation of the fundamental philosophical principles discussed in this paper.

To date, we have not found that any of their writings have ever contained any valid criticisms based on "scriptural authority". Rather, if they are not pushing ad hominem, then their contents otherwise consist of attacks made on the basis that because his preaching activities are not identical to those of Srila Prabhupada, that Srila Narayan Maharaja therefore cannot truly represent him. However, as the evidence of this paper so abundantly illustrates, such a theory is meaningless.

Nevertheless, we will in subsequent publications address the specific criticisms which have been made, and will show how in fact the actions and preaching of Srila Narayan Maharaja are wholely in line with sadhu sastra and guru.



(1) "Narottama dasa Thakura, a great devotee and acarya in the Gaudiya Vaisnava-sampradaya, says that all spiritual activities should be understood from three sources, namely saintly persons, standard scriptures and the spiritual master. These three guides are very important for progress in spiritual life. The spiritual master prescribes standard literature for the prosecution of the yoga of devotional service, and he himself speaks only from scriptural reference. Therefore reading standard scriptures is necessary for executing yoga. Practicing yoga without reading the standard literatures is simply a waste of time." (SB 3.28.4 Purport)

(2) "According to another accusation, Srila Jiva Gosvami did not approve of the principles of the parakiya-rasa of Vrajadhama and therefore supported svakiya-rasa, showing that Radha and Krsna are eternally married. Actually, when Jiva Gosvami was alive, some of his followers disliked the parakiya-rasa of the gopis. Therefore Srila Jiva Gosvami, for their spiritual benefit, supported svakiya-rasa, for he could understand that sahajiyas would otherwise exploit the parakiya-rasa, as they are actually doing at the present. Unfortunately, in Vrndavana and Navadvipa it has become fashionable among sahajiyas, in their debauchery, to find an unmarried sexual partner to live with to execute devotional service in parakiya-rasa. Foreseeing this, Srila Jiva Gosvami supported svakiya-rasa, and later all the Vaisnava acaryas also appoved of it. Srila Jiva Gosvami was never opposed to the transcendental parakiya-rasa, nor has any other Vaisnava disapproved of it. Srila Jiva Gosvami strictly followed his predecessor gurus and Vaisnavas, Srila Rupa and Sanatana Gosvami, and Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami accepted him as one of his instructor gurus." (Adi-lila 10.85)

(3) "The religion of the Bhagavata is free from such a poetic imagination. Indeed, in some of the chapters we meet with descriptions of these hells and heavens, and accounts of curious tales, but we have been warned in some place in the book, not to accept them as real facts, but treat as inventions to overawe the wicked and to improve the simple and the ignorant. The Bhagavata, certainly tells us of a state of reward and punishment in future according to our deeds in our present situation. All poetic inventions, besides this spiritual fact, have been described as statements borrowed from other works in the way of retention of some old traditions in this book which completely superseded them all and put an end to the necessity of their storage." (The Bhagavat: Its Philosophy, Its Ethics & Its Theology, p.25)

(4) "To broadcast the cult of Krsna consciousness, one has to learn the possibility of renunciation in terms of country, time and candidate. A candidate for Krsna consciousness in the Western countries should be taught about the renunciation of material existence, but one would teach candidates from a country like India in a different way. The teacher (acarya) has to consider time, candidate and country. He must avoid the principle of niyamagraha--that is, he should not try to perform the impossible. What is possible in one country may not be possible in another. The acarya's duty is to accept the essence of devotional service. There may be a little change here and there as far as yukta-vairagya (proper renunciation) is concerned. Dry renunciation is forbidden by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and we have also learned this from our spiritual master, His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Gosvami Maharaja. The essence of devotional service must be taken into consideration, and not the outward paraphernalia. Sanatana Gosvami wrote his Vaisnava smrti, Hari-bhakti-vilasa, which was specifically meant for India. In those days, India was more or less following the principle of smarta-vidhi. Srila Sanatana Gosvami had to keep pace with this, and his Hari-bhakti-vilasa was compiled with this in mind. According to smarta- brahmanas, a person not born in a brahmana family could not be elevated to the position of a brahmana. Sanatana Gosvami, however, says in Hari-bhakti- vilasa (2.12) that anyone can be elevated to the position of a brahmana by the process of initiation.

yatha kancanatam yati
kamsyam rasa-vidhanatah
tatha diksa-vidhanena
dvijatvam jayate nrnam

There is a difference between the smarta process and the gosvami process. According to the smarta process, one cannot be accepted as a brahmana unless he is born in a brahmana family. According to the gosvami process, the Hari-bhakti- vilasa and the Narada-pancaratra, anyone can be a brahmana if he is properly initiated by a bona fide spiritual master. This is also the verdict of Sukadeva Gosvami in Srimad-Bhagavatam (2.4.18):

kira ta-hunandhra-pulinda-pulkasa
abhira-sumbha yavanah khasadayah
ye'nye ca papa yad-apasrayasrayah
sudhyanti tasmai prabhavisnave namah

A Vaisnava is immediately purified, provided he follows the rules and regulations of his bona fide spiritual master. it is not necessary that the rules and regulations followed in India be exactly the same as those in Europe, America and other Western countries. Simply imitating without effect is called niyamagraha. Not following the regulative principles but instead living extravagantly is also called niyamagraha. The word niyama means "regulative principles," and agraha means "eagerness." The word agraha means "not to accept." We should not follow regulative principles without an effect, nor should we fail to accept the regulative principles. What is required is a special technique according to country, time and candidate. Without the sanction of the spiritual master, we should not try to imitate. This principle is recommended here: suska-vairagya-jnana saba nisedhila. This is Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's liberal demonstration of the bhakti cult." (Madhya-lila 23.105)

(5) The method of worship--chanting the mantra and preparing the forms of the Lord--is not stereotyped, nor is it exactly the same everywhere. lt is specifically mentioned in this verse that one should take consideration of the time, place and available conveniences. Our Krsna consciousness movement is going on throughout the entire world, and we also install Deities in different centers. Sometimes our lndian friends, puffed up with concocted notions, criticize, "This has not been done. That has not been done." But they forget this instruction of Narada Muni to one of the greatest Vaisnavas, Dhruva Maharaja. One has to consider the particular time, country and conveniences. What is convenient in India may not be convenient in the Western countries. Those who are not actually in the line of acaryas, or who personally have no knowledge of how to act in the role of acarya, unnecessarily criticize the activities of the ISKCON movement in countries outside of India. The fact is that such critics cannot do anything personally to spread Krsna consciousness. If someone does go and preach, taking all risks and allowing all considerations for time and place, it might be that there are changes in the manner of worship, but that is not at all faulty according to sastra. Srimad Viraraghava Acarya, an acarya in the disciplic succession of the Ramanuja-sampradaya, has remarked in his commentary that candalas, or conditioned souls who are born in lower than sudra families, can also be initiated according to circumstances. The formalities may be slightly changed here and there to make them Vaisnavas. (SB 4.8.54)

(6) The expert devotees also can discover novel ways and means to convert the nondevotees in terms of particular time and circumstance. Devotional service is dynamic activity, and the expert devotees can find out competent means to inject it into the dull brains of the materialistic population. Such transcendental activities of the devotees for the service of the Lord can bring a new order of life to the foolish society of materialistic men. Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His subsequent followers exhibited expert dexterity in this connection. (SB 1.5.16)

(7) "One cannot understand Krsna by mental speculation. For one who does not take personal training under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master, it is impossible to even begin to understand Krsna." (Bg 11.54)

(8) "The process is that whatever we offer to the Deity, that is offered to guru. And guru offers to his guru. In this way goes to Krsna. We don't directly offer Radha-Krsna. No. We have no right. Neither He accepts in that way. The pictures of the acaryas, why there are? Actually, one has to offer the plate to his guru, and he'll offer his guru, he offers his guru, his guru. In this way it will go to Krsna. That is the process. YOU CANNOT DIRECTLY APPROACH KRSNA OR OTHER SUBORDINATES TO KRSNA. THAT IS NOT POSSIBLE."

(Prabhupada's Lectures Srimad-Bhagavatam 1971 710215SB.GOR)

(9) "A third-class devotee, therefore, has to receive the instructions of devotional service from the authoritative sources of Bhagavata. The number one Bhagavata is the established personality of devotee, and the other Bhagavatam is the message of Godhead. THE THIRD-CLASS DEVOTEE THEREFORE HAS TO GO TO THE PERSONALITY OF DEVOTEE IN ORDER TO LEARN THE INSTRUCTIONS OF DEVOTIONAL SERVICE." (SB 1.2.12)

(10) "The messages of the book Bhagavata, therefore, have to be received from the devotee Bhagavata, and the combination of these Two Bhagavatas will help the neophyte devotee to make progress on and on." (SB 1.2.18)

(11) "The more progress is made in devotional service under the guidance of the Bhagavatas, the more one becomes fixed in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. The messages of the book Bhagavata, therefore, have to be received from the devotee Bhagavata, and the combination of these two Bhagavatas will help the neophyte devotee to make progress on and on." (SB 3.8.2)

(12) eka bhagavata bada - bhagavata-sastra ara bhagavata - bhakta bhakti-rasa patra

dui bhagavata dvara diya bhakti rasa tanhara hrdaye tanre preme haya vasa

"One of the bhagavatas is the great scripture, Srimad-Bhagavatam. The other is the pure devotee bhagavata, who is absorbed in bhakti rasa. Through the actions of these two bhagavatas the Lord instills the mellows of bhakti rasa into the heart of a living being and thus the Lord, in the heart of His devotee, comes under the control of His devotee's love." (Adi-lila 1.99, 100)

(13) "And Bhagavata means the book Bhagavata and the person bhagavata. The person bhagavata is spiritual master or any exalted devotee. He is bhagavata, maha-bhagavata, bhagavata. So bhagavata-sevaya means not only reading Bhagavad-gita and Bhagavatam, but WE HAVE TO STUDY FROM THE PERSON BHAGAVATA. That is required." (Prabhupada's Lectures Bhagavad-gita 1975 750227BG.MIA)

(14) "Therefore, formerly there was no written book. Sruti, simply by hearing, a brahmacari would be educated, simply by hearing. There was no need of books, writing. Therefore the Vedic literature is known as sruti. It is to be learned by hearing. EVEN THERE IS BOOK, STILL, ONE HAS TO LEARN IT BY HEARING FROM THE REALIZED SOUL." (Prabhupada's Lectures 750730SRIMAD BHAGAVATAM.DAL)

(15) "SIMPLE THEORETICAL BOOK KNOWLEDGE IS NOT SUFFICIENT FOR A NEOPHYTE DEVOTEE. Book knowledge is theoretical, whereas the arcana process is practical. Spiritual knowledge must be developed by a combination of theoretical and practical knowledge, and that is the guaranteed way for attainment of spiritual perfection. THE TRAINING OF DEVOTIONAL SERVICE FOR A NEOPHYTE DEVOTEE COMPLETELY DEPENDS ON THE EXPERT SPIRITUAL MASTER who knows how to lead his disciple to make gradual progress towards the path back home, back to Godhead." (SB 2.3.22)

(16) "The instructions received from the spiritual master must be followed immediately. One should not deviate from or surpass the instructions of the spiritual master. ONE SHOULD NOT BE SIMPLY INTENT ON CONSULTING BOOKS but should simultaneously execute the spiritual master's order (yathopadesam)." (SB 5.5.14)

In the following, Srila Prabhupada is asked point blank by one of his disciples whether or not one can spiritually advance simply by reading his books alone. His answer is a quite definite "no":

(17) Madhudvisa: ...cannot become a medical practitioner by simply reading the books. He must study under a medical practitioner. So in the case of your books, is it possible to become a devotee without actually having personal association with you? Just by reading your books?
Prabhupada: No, it is not that you have to associate with the author. BUT ONE WHO KNOWS, IF YOU CANNOT UNDERSTAND YOU HAVE TO TAKE LESSON FROM HIM. Not necessarily that you have to contact with the author always. Devotee: Just like the textbooks are not written by the teachers; they're written by other professors.
Devotee: Usually you don't even meet the author.
Prabhupada: Simply one who knows the subject matter, he can explain.
Madhudvisa: But can your, would your purports, would that serve as explanation besides...
Prabhupada: NO, NO, ANYONE WHO KNOWS THE SUBJECT MATTER, HE WILL BE ABLE TO EXPLAIN. Not necessarily the author is required to be present there.
(Morning Walk Melbourne, May 21, 1975 750521MW.MEL)

If you would like to read more material on or by Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja, then please contact the following websites:

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Nanda-gopala das adhikari, PO Box 99, Badger, Ca 93603, tel 1-559-337-2448, e-mail

From Europe:

Gour Govinda Gaudiya Math, 32 Handsworth Wood Road, Birmingham B20 2DS, UK 44-121-682-9159

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