Om ajnana timirandasya jnananjana salakayaFirst I would like to offer my unlimited humble dandavat pranams to the lotus feet of my beloved diksa guru Om Vishnupada Paramahamsa parivrajakacharya ashottara shatta Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayan Goswami Maharaj. "Oh Gurudeva, you are so merciful. I offer my humble pranam to you and am praying from the core of my heart that, with the torchlight of divine knowledge, you open my eyes which have been blinded by the darkness of ignorance."
caksur-unmilitam yena tasmai sri-guruve namah
Namah om Visnupadaya Radhikaya Priyatmane
Sri-Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Iti namine
Vanca kalpa tarubhyas ca krpa sindhubhya eva ca
patitanam pavanebhyo Vaisnavebhyo namo namah
In this paper, I hope to clarify any misconceptions carried by Patita Pavan Prabhu in his article "Adwaita Acarya Cannot Give Vraja Bhakti?", and anyone else who expressed bewhilderment at my Gurudeva's lecture about Sri Advaita Acharya spoken to a Los Angeles audience on May 31st, 2000. It appears that the main object of contention is the following quotation uttered by my Gurudeva:
"Who is Maha-Visnu? Sri Advaita Acarya. He is the amsa of the amsa of the amsa of the amsa of the Kala of Krsna Himself. He is a part of the part of the part of the part of Krsna. Being so far away, He can preach with kirtana, but He cannot give Vraja-bhakti. Never. He is not qualified for this. Only Krsna can do this. When He came, therefore, He preached through sankirtana that highest love and affection, as well as the process to achieve it."Patita Pavan Prabhu contends that Sri Advait Acharya can single-handedly bring us Vraja preme (or Vraja bhakti, or Vraja rasa). Fortunately, this is a very simple misconception which can be easily clarified by reading the Sri Caitanya Caritamrta. Patita Pavan Prabhu quotes Srila Prabhupada as saying in a purport, "Sri Adwaita Acarya is the prime spiritual master of the vaisnavas, and He is worshipable by all vaisnavas. Devotees and vaisnavas must follow in the footsteps of Adwaita Acarya, for by so doing one can actually engage in the devotional service of the Lord."
Jaya! Nobody is refuting Srila Prabhupada's purport. Patita Pavan Prabhu then quotes the Sri Caitanya Caritamrta.
Sri Caitanya-Caritamrta continues saying: Sri Adwaita Acarya is the principal limb of the Supreme Lord. His truths, names, and attributes are all wonderful. (CC. 1.6.33)
It is through Him (Adwaita Acarya) that Lord Caitanya spread the sankirtan movement and through Him He delivered the world. The glory and attributes of Adwaita Acarya are unlimited. How can the insignificant living entities fathom them? Sri Adwaita Acarya is a principal limb of Lord Caitanya. Another limb of the Lord is Nityananda Prabhu. (CC 1.6.35-37)I find it curious that he quotes Adi Lila 6.33, followed by 6.35-37. My question to Patita Pavan Prabhu is, why did he skip quoting CC Adi Lila 6.34 in the preceding passage of his article? This is a very important shloka which would clarify his troubled view on my Gurudeva's lecture. For those who do not have the CC handy, I will quote Adi Lila 6.34 here:
yanhara--whose; tulasi-jale--by tulasi leaves and Ganges water; yanhara--of whom; hunkare--by the loud voice; sva-gana--His personal associates; sahite--accompanied by; caitanyera--of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu; avatare--in the incarnation.
He worshiped Krsna with tulasi leaves and water of the Ganges and called for Him in a loud voice. Thus Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared on earth, accompanied by His personal associates."
This Pastime of Sri Advaita Acarya is further described in CC Adi Lila 13.66-71:
"In the house of Advaita Acarya, all the Vaisnavas took pleasure in always talking of Krsna, always worshiping Krsna and always chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. But Sri Advaita Acarya Prabhu felt pained to see all the people without Krsna consciousness simply merging in material sense enjoyment. Seeing the condition of the world, He began to think seriously of how all these people could be delivered from the clutches of maya. Srila Advaita Acarya Prabhu thought, "If Krsna Himself appears in order to distribute the cult of devotional service, then only will liberation be possible for all people." With this consideration, Advaita Acarya Prabhu, promising to cause Lord Krsna to descend, began to worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, with tulasi leaves and water of the Ganges. By loud cries He invited Krsna to appear, and this repeated invitation attracted Lord Krsna to descend."If Sri Advaita Acharya was soley qualified to distribute Vraja preme to the fallen souls of Kali Yuga, why would He call for Krsna's appearance as Mahaprabhu and offer Him tulasi leaves? Surely this was not some mere ritual that Sri Advaita Acharya dutifully performed simply to fulfill vaidhi bhakti. Clearly, this was done because only through the appearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu can Vraja preme be distributed to the conditioned souls.
This can be verified in CC Adi Lila 1.4 (also in Vidagdha-madhava by Srila Rupa Goswami):
anarpita-carim cirat karunayavatirnah kalau samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasam sva-bhakti-sriyam harih purata-sundara-dyuti-kadamba-sandipitah sada hrdaya-kandare sphuratu vah saci-nandanah
anarpita--not bestowed; carim--having been formerly; cirat--for a long time; karunaya--by causeless mercy; avatirnah--descended; kalau--in the Age of Kali; samarpayitum--to bestow; unnata--elevated; ujjvala-rasam--the conjugal mellow; sva-bhakti--of His own service; sriyam--the treasure; harih--the Supreme Lord; purata--than gold; sundara--more beautiful; dyuti--of splendor; kadamba--with a multitude; sandipitah--lighted up; sada--always; hrdaya-kandare--in the cavity of the heart; sphuratu--let Him be manifest; vah--your; saci-nandanah--the son of mother Saci.
May that Lord who is known as the son of Srimati Sacidevi be transcendentally situated in the innermost chambers of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of molten gold, He has appeared in the Age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow what no incarnation ever offered before: the most sublime and radiant spiritual knowledge of the mellow taste of His service."
Furthermore, Srila Rupa Goswami has composed the following verse:
namne gaura-tvise namah
"I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna Caitanya, who is more magnanimous than any other avatara, even Krsna Himself, because He is bestowing freely what no one else has ever given--pure love of Krsna."Srila Rupa Goswami has spoken; and lucidly so, if I may add, in order to eliminate any doubt on this subject. I certainly hope that Patita Pavan Prabhu does not believe that Srila Rupa Goswami is minimizing Sri Advaita Acharya, or any of the other Personalities which are the Pancha Tattva.
The relationship between Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Sri Advaita Acarya is further explored in Adi Lila chapter 6:
CC Adi Lila 6.39-42:
"With all of them Lord Caitanya performed His pastimes, and with them He spread His mission. Thinking 'He [Sri Advaita Acarya] is a disciple of Sri Madhavendra Puri,' Lord Caitanya obeys Him, respecting Him as His spiritual master. To maintain the proper etiquette for the principles of religion, Lord Caitanya bows down at the lotus feet of Sri Advaita Acarya with reverential prayers and devotion. Sri Advaita Acarya, however, considers Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu His master, and He thinks of Himself as a servant of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu."Different incarnations of the Supreme perform specific activities or lilas, as can be seen in CC Madhya Lila Chapter 20 shlokas 245-246:
"There are six types of incarnations [avataras] of Krsna. One is the incarnations of Visnu [purusa-avataras], and another is the incarnations meant for the performance of pastimes [lila-avataras]. There are incarnations that control the material qualities [guna-avataras], incarnations of the Manus [manvantara-avataras], incarnations in different millenniums [yuga-avataras] and incarnations of empowered living entities [saktyavesa-avataras]."Bhaktivedanta Purport of Madhya Lila 20.246:
"The guna-avataras are three--Lord Brahma, Lord Siva and Lord Visnu (Bhag. 10.88.3). The avataras of Manu, or manvantara-avataras, are listed as follows in Srimad-Bhagavatam (8.1.5,13): (1) Yajna, (2) Vibhu, (3) Satyasena, (4) Hari, (5) Vaikuntha, (6) Ajita, (7) Vamana, (8) Sarvabhauma, (9) Rsabha, (10) Visvaksena, (11) Dharmasetu, (12) Sudhama, (13) Yogesvara and (14) Brhadbhanu. Altogether these are fourteen in number, and of these, both Yajna and Vamana are also counted among the lila-avataras. All these Manu incarnations are sometimes called vaibhava-avataras.
The four yuga-avataras are (1) sukla (white) in the Satya-yuga (Bhag. 11.5.21), (2) rakta (red) in the Treta-yuga (Bhag. 11.5.24), (3) syama (dark blue) in the Dvapara-yuga (Bhag. 11.5.27), and (4) generally krsna (black) but in special cases pita (yellow) as Caitanya Mahaprabhu in the Kali-yuga, (Bhag. 11.5.32 and 10.8.13).
The saktyavesa-avatara is categorized into (1) forms of divine absorption (bhagavad-avesa) like Kapiladeva or Rsabhadeva and (2) divinely empowered forms (saktyavesa), of whom there are seven: (1) Sesa Naga in the Vaikuntha world, empowered for the personal service of the Supreme Lord (sva-sevana-sakti), (2) Anantadeva, empowered to bear all the planets within the universe (bhu-dharana-sakti), (3) Lord Brahma, empowered with the energy to create the cosmic manifestation (srsti-sakti), (4) Catuhsana, or the Kumaras, specifically empowered to distribute transcendental knowledge (jnana-sakti), (5) Narada Muni, empowered to distribute devotional service (bhakti-sakti), (6) Maharaja Prthu, specifically empowered to rule and maintain the living entities (palana-sakti) and (7) Parasurama, specifically empowered to cut down rogues and demons (dusta-damana-sakti)."Although Advait Acharya executed the act of introducing our current maha mantra, it is important to realize the nature of maha mantras throughout the four yugas. Fortunately, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura gives us a great description in his introduction to Sri Krsna Samhita (p. 57-58)
"After analyzing peoples' level of advancement, the past compilers of the scriptures have established the appropriate holy names to deliver one in the different ages. The holy names to deliver one in Satya-yuga are as follows:
narayana-para veda narayana paraksarahThe purport of this verse is that Lord Narayana is the goal of all science, language, and liberation, and He is the supreme destination. The name of the Absolute Truth mixed with opulence is Narayana. The Supreme Lord is fully realized in the form of Narayana, who is surrounded by His associates in Vaikuntha. Pure santa rasa and a little dasya rasa is found at this stage.
narayana-para muktir narayana-para gatih
rama narayanananta mukunda madhusudanaThese are the Holy names to deliver one in Treta Yuga. The names that are mentioned in this text indicate Narayana's prowess. At this stage full dasya rasa and a reflection of sakhya rasa are indicated.
krsna kesava kamsare hare vaikuntha vamana
hare murare madhu kaitabhare gopala govinda mukunda saureThese are the holy names to deliver one in Dvapara yuga. The names that are mentioned in this verse aim toward Krsna, who is the shelter of unsheltered persons. IN this stage there is a prominence of santa, dasya, sakhya and vatsalya rasas.
yajnesa narayana krsna visno virasrayam mam jagadisa raksa
hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare hareThese are the topmost sweet names of the Lord. There is no prayer in this mantra. Provocation for all rasas mixed with intimate attachment is found in this mantra. THere is no mention of the Lord's prowess or giving of liberation. This mantra reveals only that a soul has an indescribable attraction for the Supersoul by the thread of love. These names are the mantra for those who are on the path of madhurya rasa."
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare
In the next few quotations, however, it will lucidly state that only Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu can give the ultimate in sweetness which is Vraja preme (Sri Krsna Samhita, Introduction p. 54):
By studying the history of the world, it is found that the spiritual science reached its peak in Navadvipa. The Supreme Absolute Truth is the only object of love for the living entities. Unless one worships him with attachment, however, the living entity can never attain Him. Even if a person gives up all affection for this world and thinks of the Supreme Lord, He is still not easily achieved.In Srila Prabhupada's introduction to CC Adi Lila, he sheds further light about Sri Advaita Acarya:
"Thus Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami discusses Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu as Sri Krsna Himself, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and Lord Nityananda as Balarama, the first expansion of Krsna. Advaitacarya, another principal disciple of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu's, is accepted as an expansion of Maha-Visnu. Thus Advaitacarya is also the Lord, or, more precisely, an expansion of the Lord. The word advaita means "nondual," and His name is such because He is nondifferent from the Supreme Lord. He is also called acarya, teacher, because He disseminated Krsna consciousness. In this way He is just like Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Although Lord Caitanya is Sri Krsna Himself, He appeared as a devotee to teach people in general how to love Krsna. Similarly, Advaitacarya appeared just to distribute the knowledge of Krsna consciousness. Thus He is also the Lord incarnated as a devotee. In the pastimes of Lord Caitanya, Krsna is manifested in five different features, and He and His associates appear as devotees of the Supreme Lord in the form of Sri Krsna Caitanya, Lord Nityananda, Advaitacarya, Sri Gadadhara, and Sri Srivasa. In all cases, Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the source of energy for all His devotees. Since this is the case, if we take shelter of Caitanya Mahaprabhu for the successful execution of Krsna consciousness, we are sure to make progress. One devotional song by Narottama dasa Thakura states, "My dear Lord Caitanya, please have mercy upon me. There is no one who is as merciful as You. My plea is most urgent because Your mission is to deliver fallen souls, and no one is more fallen than I. I beg priority.""Srila Prabhupada asserts above that "In this way He is just like Caitanya Mahaprabhu.", but on the other hand, makes a distinction between the reasons why each Personality of the Panca Tattva appeared. In Adi Lila 12.66, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's role as the source of all that is sweet in Gaudiya Vaishnavism is further substantiated:
"The Advaita Acarya branch received the water supplied by the original gardener, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In this way, the subbranches were nourished, and their fruits and flowers grew luxuriantly.
The branches of Advaita Acarya nourished by the water (jala) supplied by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu are to be considered bona fide acaryas. As we have discussed hereinbefore, the representatives of Advaita Acarya later divided into two groups--the bona fide branches of the acarya's disciplic succession and the pretentious branches of Advaita Acarya. Those who followed the principles of Caitanya Mahaprabhu flourished, whereas the others, who are mentioned below in the sixty-seventh verse, dried up."So His potency is not under debate here, but it is clear from here and the other shastra that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is singularly neccessary for the flow of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. If we read Adi Lila chapter 12 further, we shall come across verse 73, which very lucidly states that Sri Advaita Acharya is not "the original cause of the devotional creeper":
"But nevertheless, under the spell of maya, the most unfortunate condition of a living entity, some of the branches, not accepting the gardener who poured water on them, considered the trunk the only cause of the great bhakti-kalpataru. In other words, the branches or descendants of Advaita Acarya who considered Advaita Acarya the original cause of the devotional creeper, and who thus neglected or disobeyed the instructions of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, deprived themselves of the effect of being watered and thus dried up and died. It is further to be understood that not only the misguided descendants of Advaita Acarya but anyone who has no connection with Caitanya Mahaprabhu--even if he is independently a great sannyasi, learned scholar or ascetic--is like a dead branch of a tree."The nature of Sri Advaita Acarya is further explored in Srila Prabhupada's "Teachings of Lord Caitanya". In one paragraph in "Chapter Seventeen: Lord Caitanya, the Original Personality of Godhead", the Pancha Tattva is described as having "no spiritual difference".
"There is no difference between the energy and the energetic in regard to the Lord's appearance as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His four associates--Nityananda Prabhu, Advaita Prabhu, Gadadhara, and Srivasa. Amongst these five diverse manifestations of the Supreme Lord (as the Lord Himself and His incarnation, expansion and energies) there is no spiritual difference. They are five in one Absolute Truth. For the sake of relishing transcendental flavors in the Absolute Truth, there are five diverse manifestations. These are called the form of a devotee, the identity of a devotee, the incarnation of a devotee, the pure devotee and devotional energy."However, in purely empirical terms there seems to be a contradiction, as we read further:
"By analytically studying the five diverse manifestations of the Supreme Lord, we can come to know that Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the Supreme Absolute and that Lord Nityananda is an immediate expansion of the Supreme Absolute Truth. We can also come to understand that Advaita Prabhu is also in the category of the Supreme Personality of Godhead but is subordinate to Lord Caitanya and Nityananda Prabhu. The Supreme Personality of Godhead and His immediate subordinate expansions are worshipable by the other two--namely the representation of the internal potency and the representation of the marginal potency. The representation of the internal potency, Gadadhara, represents the confidential devotee, and the representation of the marginal potency is the pure devotee. Both of these are worshipers of the other three categories, but all of them are engaged in the transcendental service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
There is a specific difference between the pure devotee and the confidential devotee. Different potencies of the Lord are engaged in serving the Supreme Lord in different transcendental relationships. They are situated in conjugal love, in parental affection, in friendship and in servitude. By impartially judging, one can find that the internal potencies of the Supreme Lord who are engaged in conjugal love with the Lord are the best of all devotees. Thus both internal devotees and confidential devotees are attracted by the conjugal love of the Supreme Absolute Truth. These are the most confidential devotees of Lord Caitanya. Other pure devotees, who are more or less attached to Sri Nityananda Prabhu and Advaita Prabhu, are attracted by other transcendental relationships, such as parental affection, friendship and servitorship. When such devotees are attached to the activities of Lord Caitanya, they at once become confidential devotees in conjugal love with the Supreme Lord."It is stated in the final paragaph, that attachment to Sri Nityananda Prabhu and Sri Advaita Acarya can only bring vatsalya, sakhya, and dasya rasas, not madhurya rasa. This, can only be given by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, as was substantiated by CC Adi Lila 1.4 . Yet Srila Prabhupada writes in the first paragraph that there is "no spiritual difference" between the Personalities of Pancha Tattva, yet their potencies are preceived as different in the final quoted paragraph. This is acintya bheda abheda tattva, and cannot be resolved by empirical logic. It can only be resolved through one's own realization. In other words, only by the mercy of Sri Guru and Sri Sri Gaura Nitai.
Finally, the nature of Vraja preme and its sole deliverer is revealed in Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur's "Sri Navadwip Mahatmya". This passage in "Chapter 17: Jiva Goswami's Questions and Answers", illustrates a dialogue between Nityananda Prabhu and Srila Jiva Goswami:
"Navadwip and Vrindavan are one principle, one is neither less than nor greater than the other. Vrindavan is the receptacle of rasa, the goal of the living entities, but one is not qualified cannot receive that nectar. Therefore, that same dhama has mercifully become Navadvip, where the living entities can attain qualification for that nectar. In other words, Radha and Krsna's pastimes are the highest of all transcendental mellows, therefore one has no immediately right to them.
"After many lifetimes of austerity one reaches the stage of knowledge. When that knowledge matures, one inquires about this rasa. But there are always many obstacles, so to obtain the great treasure of this nectar is very rare indeed. Therefore, anyone and everyone who goes to Vrindavan does not get that rasa. Rather, because of offenses, that sweet nectar turns sour. "In this terrible age of Kali, offenses are continuous, the body is short-lived, and there are many troubles, so even if one wants the Vrindavan rasa, it is not attainable. Therefore, the one method of getting that rasa is by the mercy of Krsna.
"Radha and Krsna have given that mercy to the living entities by manifesting Vrindavan in the form of Navadwip and by incarnating in the womb of Saci in a combined form as Gaurahari. In that form, They have given the process to qualify for Vraja-rasa. Even the initial presence of offenses does not bar one from quickly attaining the goal of prema.
"If one lives in Navadwip and takes shelter of the holy name, his offenses will be destroyed and the qualification for the rasa will appear. Love of Krsna will soon shine within his heart and topics of Radha and Krsna will prevail. In this way, by achieving Gauranga's mercy, the living entity attains Vrindavan, the holy abode of Radha and Krsna's nectarean pastimes. As this is a confidential topic, do not discuss it openly. Actually there is absolutely no difference between Navadvip and Vrindavan. NOw you are qualified to take shelter of the placre where Radha and Krsna's rasa is fully manifested, so you should go to Vrindavan. In a strict sense, there is no need to go to Vraja dhama, for upon attaining qualification that Vraja dhama appears here in Navadwip. Still you should go to Vraja, for that is the Lord's order. FOr living entities it is always proper to first take shelter of Navadwip to obtain the qualification for relishing the rasa of Vraja. Then one may live in Vrindavan, the place for actually acquiring that rasa, and there he will enjoy those transcendental mellows. WHen you get the mercy of Navadwip, you will easily attain Vrindavan."In the "Sri Panca tattva pranam", also CC Adi Lila 7.6, it is said:
panca tattvamakam krsnam bhakta rupa svarupakam"I offer pranams unto Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His five features as a bhakta, bhakta rupa, bhakta svarupa, bhakta avatar, and bhakta sakti." One of His five features, is of course Nityananda Prabhu. All bone-fide gurus are considered representitives of Nityananda Prabhu, as He is also Balarama, guru-tattva. In the 2nd shloka of Srila Narottama dasa Thakura's "Gauranga Bolite Habe", it is said:
bhaktavataram bhaktakhyam namami bhakti saktikam
ara kabe nitaicander karuna hoibe
samsara vasana mora kabe tuccha habe
"And when will the moon of Nityananda Prabhu bestow His mercy on me? When will my material desires be small and insignificant?"Despite the fact that Nityananda Prabhu's causeless mercy is necessary to transcend the material ocean, we cannot rely on this benediction alone in order to attain Vraja Preme. In the fourth shloka:
rupa-raghunatha pade hoibe akuti
kabe hama bhujabo se yugala piriti
"When will I eagerly follow the path of Sri Rupa Gosvami and Sri Raghunatha dasa Gosvami? By their instructions, I will be able to understand the divine love of Sri Radha and Krsna"Again, the exclusive source of Vraja preme is noted in CC Adi Lila 1.4: "May that Lord who is known as the son of Srimati Sacidevi be transcendentally situated in the innermost chambers of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of molten gold, He has appeared in the Age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow what no incarnation ever offered before: the most sublime and radiant spiritual knowledge of the mellow taste of His service."
The entire Gaudiya Vaishnava Guru Parampara, starting with the six Goswamis, worships Mahaprabhu as the distributor of Vraja Preme. In the Bhajan "Gauranga Nahito" by Narahari das Thakura, it is said in the first shloka:
"(yadi) Gaurangau nahito, tabe ke hoito
kemone dharita de
radhara mahima, prema rasa sima
jagate janato ke"
"If Sriman Gauranga Mahaprabhu had not appeared, then what would have become of us? How could we have tolerated living? In this universe who would have ever come to know the glories of Srimate Radharani and the topmost limit of prema rasa?"On the other hand, the Panca Tattva is certainly not ignored as can be seen in such bhajans as "Kali Kukkura" by Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura:
"Gadahara madana nitaiyera pranadhana
advaitera prapujita gora
nimai visvambhara srinivasa isvara
bhakata samuha citacora" (2nd shloka)
He (Sri Sacinandana) is the very life of Gadadhara Pandit and Nityananda Prabhu, and the woshipful lord of Advaita and Srinivas Acaryas. He has many names like Nimai and Visvambara and He steals the minds of His devotees."Patita Pavan Prabhu has, innocently enough, questioned my Gurudeva Srila Narayan Maharaj concerning topics which are frequently discussed and reinfoced by the entire Gaudiya Vaishnava Guru Parampara, then he has inadvertingly questioned the judgement of every bonefide Gaudiya Vaishnava Acarya, starting with Srila Rupa Goswami. Therefore, I hope he either clarifies his questions with lucid shastric reference, or modify his assertations accordingly.
For further discussion of this and other related subjects, I encourage the reading public to read Srila Narayan Maharaj's lecture "The Purpose Of Lord Caitanya's Descent".
For those who are bewhildered by shastra, I wish to conclude this article of mine with a quoted Purport of Srimad Bhagavatam (1.1.5) by His Divine Grace, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada:
"Those who listen to the Bhagavatam may put questions to the speaker in order to elicit the clear meaning, but this should not be done in a challenging spirit. One must submit questions with a great regard for the speaker and the subject matter. This is also the way recommended in Bhagavad-gita. One must learn the transcendental subject by submissive aural reception from the right sources. Therefore these sages addressed the speaker Suta Gosvami with great respect."I realize that I can quote many many shlokas from such sources as the Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, but this will not impart any spiritual realization, but at the very least inspire someone to seek this realization. How can this be acquired? Only through the active siksa of a rasik Gaudiya Vaishnava Acarya. Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhar Maharaj confirms this in a discourse with his disciples:
"Conversations with Srila B.R. Sridhar MaharajaPlease forgive me if I have offended anyone by stating my assertations in this manner. My sole intention is to serve the assembled Vaishnavas by compiling the necessary shastra to ease any confusion.
Devotee: Is the Caittya guru passive?
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: It is not passive but it is somewhat vague within us and we may not always be able to detect its advices. It is difficult to understand its advice.
Devotee: Can the Caittya-guru be a manifestation of our Gurudeva and Krishna also?
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Yes. When we internally as something while standing before our Gurudeva, "Please advise me in this particular position. What am I to do?" Then we may feel something: "My Gurudeva is giving this suggestion." If we are pure then we shall be able to catch the real solution from him. While reading Bhagavad-gita we may also ask Krishna, "What is the real meaning of Your speech? Please allow me to understand." According to our position we will be able to understand if Krishna suggests, "this is the purpose of My speech:….. " But it is vague and depends upon one's capacity of realization.
Devotee: When my Diksha-gurudeva was present he gave me spiritual instructions; therefore he was also my Shiksha-guru. After his departure I receive guidance from his books and tapes as well as his general instructions. Is he still considered to be my Shiksha guru? Are his books and recordings now my Shiksa-guru?
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Of course, but in a passive way. Generally the Chaittya-guru's function is better there. If you fail to understand a particular passage, then you cannot have progress. Passively it is represented to you, but you have to extract the real purpose; and another Vaishnava may see something more there. Therefore it has been said, ‘jaaho bhaagavata pada vaisnavera staane.' If you want to read the Bhagavatam you must go to a Vaishnava acharya, a Vaishnava teacher, and read it under his guidance, otherwise you may fail to understand the real standpoint. You must read Vaishnava scriptures with the help of the Vaishnava Acharya. the passive Shiksha-guru, may help to remind you, but if you fail to understand, the book will not come to remove your misconception. But the living Shiksha-guru, the sadhu, will point out and explain the misunderstanding. Sadhu and shastra are both necessary, but the sadhu is principal. In the absence of the living Scripture ---the sadhu --- the passive Scripture --- the shastra --- is the there to give us help.
Devotee: It is also said, caksu-dana dila yei, janme janme Prabhu sei --- that he who gives transcendental vision is my lord, birth after birth. So, is the connection with the spiritual master eternal birth after birth?
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: "Of course. But we must not identify him with appearance we experience by our physical senses. The inner identification is necessary, and that vision will increase according to our inner growth. Our vision will increase and transform from prakrita to aprakrita, from material to transcendental. As our vision changes, the way we see Gurudeva will change accordingly. A man is generally known first by his external uniform, then by his body, then by his mind, then by his intelligence. As much as our eye will develop to see things rightly, what we see will change its appearance. Acharyyam mam vijaniyat - the Lord says, "It is ultimately I who am the Acharyya. It is My function in different stages and forms." At the same time different Acharyyas may simultaneously work together. They have their common ground in the Sri Gurudeva, but like so many branches of a tree, they differ in many ways. Still, the ideal is acaryyam mam vijaniyat. The ideal is going from gross to subtle. According to the depth of vision of the eye of the viewer some factors are in common, some different. Different depths of vision will disclose different realities of the Acharyya, and it will go in different Rasas (Divine Relationships) to the highest position by a gradual process of realization. Otherwise it will be marttya-buddhi, a material conception of the Divinity, and that is a crime; that is ignorance. It is erroneous. We are to withdraw ourselves from the snare of identifying reality with the physical form presented to our senses. The eye is a deceiver; it cannot see the proper form. The ear also deceives. The form of the Acharyya is not indrya-graya, perceivable by the senses; it is indriyatita, beyond the experience of the senses. Because we are in such a low position we must gradually proceed to the inner world with the help of the figure we see before us. But so much importance is given to seeing deeper. The Acharyya sometimes wears winter clothing and sometimes he wears summer clothing, but we are not identify him with the dress even though it is also indispensably connected with his body. Similarly the Acharyya may show himself to have a young body but later in life he shows an old body. Similarly in one birth he may come in a particular body and another time he may come in another body. The same Acharyya may come differently at different times. From the external we shall have to go to the internal. This applies to us also. If I lose this body of flesh and blood and have instead only a subtle body, then I shall see the Guru in the form of his subtle body, not in the form of this physical type of body. The devatas, gandharvas, and siddhas also have their Gurus, but neither they nor their Acharyyas have a material body. So we are to eliminate the external conception and enter with the internal conception, and that will be all important to a progressive disciple. It does not mean that he will disregard the physical form of Gurudeva, but he will look to the real importance and real presence within. We should worship the remnants of the Acharyya --- his coat, his shoes, his sandals, etc. --- but that does not mean that such things will be superior to his own body. Similarly, if we are eager to do some physical service to him but he does not want that then we should not do it. If I go to massage his feet but he says, "No, no I do not want that," then we should refrain. His internal wish will be higher. In this way we are to make progress from the subtle to the gross, but that does not mean we should abhor all external things. We should respect them, but more importance should be given towards the internal as the higher, deeper representation. Eho bahya, age kaha ara. "This is superficial, go deeper.' As much as we have deeper vision we shall go forward."
Devotee: After the disappearance of the Spiritual Master, is the connection still maintained? Is the Spiritual Master aware of the disciple's activities?
Srila Sridhar Maharaja: Our attitude should be to consider that he is seeing everything from above. We cannot have full knowledge of our Gurudeva. A devotee after fifteen years of continuous service as a sannyasi was told by our Guru Maharaj, Prabhupad Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakura, "You have not seen me. You could not see or meet me." By this example we can understand that it is very difficult for the disciple to know in what plane the Gurudeva is staying. He was one of the most popular sannyasis amongst Srila Prabhupad's disciples, but during Srila Prabhupad's last days that sannyasi took some independent action which caused this remark to come from our Guru Maharaj, "You could not meet me; you could not see who I am." In other words we understood that Guru Maharaj indicated, "You are trying to be a canvasser of the grihasthas ---not my servant. Some men and money are at your disposal and you think I want men and money and so you are supplying me with such things. You think that your property is your men and money, and sometimes you give something to me by way of a bribe, and then you return to keeping your estate. But I require that you be my man and that you will always work cent-percent on my behalf, and never be influenced by the popular opinion of any charm of the material world. You are to handle the world, but not establish any connection or affection in the world. Cent-percent you are to be mine. That should be the attitude. You are to be my man and you are not to incur any obligation to external world. It is not that in the name of Devotion you will come and plead on their behalf to me. You are to be always cent percent mine, and in this way engage yourself with the outside world --- whether with men, money, fame, or anything else. This connection must not be slack." On the other hand Vasudeva Datta said to Mahaprabhu on behalf of the people at large, "Please accept them. I stand as their guarantor. If you wish, you may send me to eternal hell, but please accept them." But that mood is of another type. There is no lacking of faith in the center; rather the most intense degree of faith in the center is displayed by his words, although apparently he pleaded for the public at his own risk."
Vaisnava dasanudas abhilasa,
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