Category Archives: General

Dealing with the Unlimited

Question: Are there a precise number of souls at the beginning of creation, or do the souls multiply?

Answer: Do you mean to ask, at the beginning of this particular creation? This is not the first creation but the latest one. Creation follows dissolution, and then it repeats. The cycle of creation and dissolution has no beginning. Our mind is very limited and it has only experience of limited objects and activities. It does not have experience of objects that are unlimited in time and space. Therefore, the mind assumes that there are no unlimited objects. The souls, or jīvas, neither multiply nor are there a definite number. Rather, there are an infinite number of jīvas. Although we use the word infinite, and we may have studied some series or numbers in Mathematics that are infinite, yet it is not easy to truly encompass what the word “infinite” means. It is just a convenient word for something that our mind cannot comprehend. One of the names of God is “Unlimited,” Ananta. Although He may be depicted in a apparently limited form, He is unlimited, and everything about Him is unlimited. The jīvas are His parts, and as God is unlimited, the parts are also unlimited. An unlimited object cannot have limited parts. Indeed, to say that jīvas are His parts can also be misleading because we think of parts as constituents of a whole. A whole is thus conceived to be made of parts. But the jīvas are not parts in that sense; they are called parts because they are dependent on Him. 

Like the jīvas, the material universes are also infinite in number. There is not only one world. So everything about God is unlimited, and everything about human beings is limited unless they become united with God; then they also become unlimited. Because we are limited and God, whose parts we are, is infinite, we have the tendency to be unlimited. We are all trying to be unlimited; that is why we want more and more. 

There is a popular saying in the USA, „Shop until you drop“. Shopping is not just because one has a need for something. It is also a means for satisfying the craving to possess. People know no limit, but if the limit comes, it is because we cannot digest it or manage it, or afford it.

Otherwise, we want to eat more and more, we want to possess more and more, and if we have the ability, we want to have more and more friends or followers. So everybody is trying to be unlimited because we are limited. But we will always be limited unless we come to be united with God. 

There are two ways to be united with God – by identifying with His infinite aspect, called Brahman or to unite with Him in love. The first one is not a smart solution because it is devoid of any reciprocation. Thus the only proper choice is the second one. That is the highest possible achievement. Without that, we will always remain incomplete and limited. And therefore, we will never be perfectly happy. No matter what we do or achieve, there will always be something lacking. 

Śāstra prescribes to limit our needs, lābho jīveta yāvatā (SB 1.2.10). The very first limb of Aṣṭāṅga Yoga prescribes aparigraha, or limited possessions. Otherwise, even the wealthiest person feels that he needs more. If his property is worth 90 billion, he wants another property worth 100 million. He appears wealthy to others but he himself still feels unfulfilled. So this is the problem. Therefore, we have no choice but to become devotees of God. That is the only way we can become perfect, sa ca anantāya kalpate (Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 5.9). There is no other way. Many celebrities whom people look up to and praise drink and take drugs. This means they are not satisfied. If they were satisfied and happy, they would not do so. Such behavior is a sign of their dissatisfaction. 

In conclusions, the number of souls are unlimited but an individual soul is limited.

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Question: How much greater is the bliss of Kṛṣṇa and His abode? Can it be expressed with a number, since saying “unlimited” gives no clear idea?

The Ānandavallī chapter of the Taittiriīya Upaniṣad gives a progression, where the happiness of a young, healthy, and wise emperor of the entire earth planet is considered one unit of happiness. If this happiness is multiplied by 100, that equals one unit of the happiness of a human Gandharva. In each higher heavenly realm, the unit of happiness is multiplied by 100-fold. Eventually we reach the bliss of Brahma-loka, which is 1020 times the bliss experienced by our imagined human emperor of the earth.

It is further described in Bṛhad Bhagavatāmṛta that the bliss of the souls living in the first shell around the universe is millions of times greater than the bliss of those living in Brahma-loka. The bliss of the residents of the second shell is again millions of times greater than that of the first shell. The bliss of the third shell millions times greater than that of the second shell, etc.; this amplification of bliss continues throughout the eight shells of the universe.

Beyond the coverings of the universe, there is the Brahmajyoti, then Maheśa Dhāma, Vaikuṇṭha, Ayodhyā Dhāma, Dvārakā Dhāma, Mathurā Dhāma, and finally Goloka Vrindavan, each with increasing levels of ānanda. By my calculations, the bliss of Kṛṣṇa’s abode is 10108 more splendid than what we experience on our planet Earth, so there can be no resemblance between Kṛṣṇa and matter.

One could then reason that numbers are finite and are only used to express a comparison of superiority. Still, the concept of “unlimited” bliss has little meaning or value. It seems to make Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa’s abode invisible, unapproachable, unknowable, sort of nonexistent in its infinity. Can it be expressed with a number, since saying “unlimited” gives one no idea?

Answer: I have not seen any number. But generally, parārdha is considered the highest number. So you can take “unlimited” as more than that. This way you can give a figure instead of saying “unlimited.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bhakti-ratna Course 3

Syllabus

Our new course will start on October 16th. The class schedule as per Indian Standard Time from Monday through Friday is as follows:

4:30 pm – 5:30 pm IST Sanskrit Reading: Bhagavad Gītā with ṭīkā, continued (by Jagadananda Das)
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm Sanskrit for Beginners (by Jagadananda Das)
8:00 pm – 9:00 pm Bhakti Sandarbha, continued (by Babaji), followed by Prīti Sandarbha.
9:00 pm – 10:00 pm Nyāya Sūtras of Gautama, continued (by Babaji), followed by Vaiśeṣika Sūtras by Kaṇāda. 

Saturdays:

8 pm – 9 pm Harināmāmṛta Vyākaraṇam (by Babaji)

Sundays

8 pm – 9 pm Readings from Caitanya Caritāmṛta (by Sri Krsna Saranana Das Babaji)

Every morning there is kīrtana at 10.30. We will have a winter break from 25.12 to 7.1.2024.

Course Information

Prīti Sandarbha is the last of the Six Sandarbhas, called Bhāgavata Sandarbha or Ṣaṭ Sandarbha. It explains that prīti is the ultimate purpose (prayojana) of human life, superior to mukti.

The word prīti is translated as “love” which is a very common word used by all of us, but what
Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī explains is completely different from whatever we have experienced.
He defines the intrinsic characteristic prīti as follows: “The irrevocable affection which ignorant persons have for sense objects, let that similar affection  for You not slip out of my heart while remembering You.” 

Vaiśeṣika-darśana and Nyāya are sister philosophies, they go hand in hand. There are certain principles that are more elaborately explained by one of them and are used more by the other, therefore they have to be studied hand in hand. 

For example, the pañca-avayava, which forms the basis of anumāna, is dealt with in the Nyāya-sūtra and not in Vaiśeṣika, but the Vaiśeṣika-darśana accepts it as it is. Similarly, the seven padārthas are elaborately described in Vaiśeṣika-sūtra and Nyāya-darśana accepts them. 

Registration

You can purchase access to the daily recordings as audio files if want to follow the classes from home at your convenience. Additionally, we will live-stream all classes in a private Facebook group for all registered students, where these videos will be available to watch on demand.

New students are welcome to join, but we advise that they make themselves familiar with the subjects already taught. If you like to register, please first pay your registration fee, and then fill in the registration form.

Registration is required for all students!

If you have any questions about the registration or the course, please write to bhaktiratna-admin@jivaseva.com

Pricing

Registration: $ 250 or 18750 INR.
Food per month: $ 250.
Accommodation: Ashram: $ 150 per month. $ 800 for 6 months in advance.
Student Hostel: $ 210 per month. $ 1100 for 6 months in advance.
Guest House: $ 300 per month. $ 1600 for 6 months in advance.

Remote, On-Line Study:
For $150 students already registered for Bhakti-ratna get the audio recordings of the whole course here.
Each course can also be purchased individually at the end of the semester. Details can be given upon request.
For $90 register for only Sanskrit including recordings.

Teachers

Satyanarayana Dasa is the founder and director of the Jiva Institute of Vaishnava Studies in Vrindavan, India. He received a postgraduate degree from IIT Delhi and a doctorate in Sanskrit along with a degree in law from Agra University. He has authored 20 books related to Indian culture and philosophy and several important publications in many prestigious journals. In 2013, he was honored by the president of India, Pranab Mukherjee, for his extraordinary contribution in presenting Vedic culture and philosophy, both nationally and internationally. In 2015, he was officially installed as a Mahanta of Jiva Institute.

Since 2016, he is conducting 6-month courses on Indian philosophy known as Ṣaḍ-darśana, and the Ṣaṭ Sandarbhas, which are the foundational works of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism. He also conducts courses on Vedic Psychology.

Jagadananda Das

Jagadananda Das, a.k.a. Jan K. Brzezinski (b. 1950), joined ISKCON in Toronto, Canada, in 1970 and was initiated by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. In 1979, he joined the son and disciple of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur, Lalita Prasad Thakur from whom he took dīkṣāand vairāgya (bābājī veṣa) and was given the name Jagadānanda Dās Bābājī. For the next five years he studied the literature of the sampradāya in Nabadwip and was given the title Bhakti-śāstrī in 1982. In 1985, he took courses in comparative religious studies and the history of religions at McGill University in Canada, getting top honors. In 1988 he was awarded the Commonwealth Scholarship to study for his doctorate at the School of Oriental and African Studies. In 1992 he was awarded a Ph.D. in Sanskrit Literature, the subject of which was the Gopāla-campū of Śrīla Jīva Goswāmī. In 2007, he returned to India where he taught Sanskrit, and studied yoga meditation at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama in Rishikesh. Since 2010 he has been living in Vrindavan where he has been working with Satyanarayan Dasa on translating and editing the Sandarbhas.

Jagadananda Das is the editor of the Gaudiya Grantha Mandir, an online repository of Sanskrit texts, and of the online magazine Vrindavan Today.

Authority and Pramana on Gaura-lila

Question: Who are the ācāryas we take as final authorities to settle differing opinions?

Answer: Caitanya Mahāprabhu is the propounder of our sampradāya. Therefore, Caitanya Mahāprabhu is the ultimate authority. But He did not write any philosophical works, as is seen in the case of the propounders of other sampradāyas, such as Śrī Rāmānujācārya. However, he personally instructed Rūpa Gosvāmī, and Sanātana Gosvāmī who wrote many books on the basis of His instructions. Therefore, they are our original authorities. Closely following them is Śrī Gopala Bhaṭṭ Gosvāmī, Śrī Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī and then Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī. What they say is the siddhānta because they are the ones who had the direct link to Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī did not personally meet Caitanya Mahāprabhu but he is the direct disciple of Śrī Rupa Gosvāmī, besides being his nephew.  Anyone who is aligned with them, such as ŚrI Kṛṣṇa Dāsa Kavirāja, is accepted as authority. 

Question: So, based on this statement, how are we to accommodate the fact that none of the six Gosvāmīs said that there is a Gaura-aprakaṭa-līlā? Because sādhus like Gopāla Guru, Dhyānacandra, Viśvanātha Cakravartī, and so on did indeed say that, but as far as my knowledge goes, I don’t know of any direct statement from the six Gosvāmīs about this point. And in that regard, I know devotees from, for example, the Advaita Parivāra, who state that according to abhāva-pramāṇa it is proven that there is no Gaura-aprakaṭa-līlā. So, I would like to know your opinion in this regard. Do you consider the Gosvāmī-grantha as our ultimate pramāṇa, and how do we establish the eternality of Gaura-aprakaṭa-līlā, if they didn’t openly speak about it?

Answer: Rūpa, Sanātana, Jīva Gosvāmīs did not write on Gaura-līlāprakaṭa or aprakaṭa. They did compose some verses in praise of Caitanya Mahāprabhu but did not specifically write any book describing His līlā. But we know from their writings that all avatāras, such as Rāma, have their spiritual abode. The word avatāra means descent, which signifies that He descends into the material world. That is possible if He is already present in the spiritual world. In numerous salutary verses, Mahāprabhu is also acknowledged as avatāra by the Gosvāmīs. So, He must have His own abode, otherwise, the word avatāra would be misleading or meaningless. 

One logic that Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī gives about the eternality of Kṛṣṇa, His associates, and abode is that Kṛṣṇa is described as worshipable, i.e., as an object of achievement. Anything that is not eternal cannot be the goal of worship. You attain whom you worship. This is also stated in the Bhagavad Gītā (9.25). The Gosvāmīs accept Mahāprabhu as an object of worship or the ultimate object of achievement. So, He must have an eternal abode. Otherwise, all prescriptions to worship Him, chant His name, and meditate on Him would be futile. One may object that devas like Indra are also stated as worshipable. But they are prescribed as objects of worship for material gain. Nowhere it is prescribed to worship them to attain mukti or a final destination.

The Veda is the supreme authority. But there are many things that are not clearly explained in the Vedas. We understand those topics from the Purāṇas and Itihāsas. Similarly, things that are not clearly explained by the six Gosvāmīs are understood from the writings of later ācāryas like Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda. When I say that Rūpa, Sanāntana, and the other Gosvāmīs are the pramāṇa, I mean anything that they say or that matches with what they say is acceptable. Anything that contradicts them is not acceptable.  So if later ācāryas like Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda say that Gaura has a prakaṭalīlā, then it is acceptable because it does not contradict our original ācāryas and moreover, it is in line with their writings in relation to other avatāras.

What is abhāva-pramāṇa? I have never heard of such a pramāṇa. So I am not clear what is really meant by it. I know that Pūrva-mīmāṁsā and Advaita-Vedanta accept anupalabdhi pramāṇa. However, the way you have used it is not a pramāṇa. The Gosvāmīs hardly wrote about Gauraprakaṭalīlā. Then by abhāva-pramāṇa, I should reject Gauraprakaṭalīlā also. It is like saying that because I do not see Kṛṣṇa (abhāva), there is no Kṛṣṇa. This is applicable only to those things that are objects of our sense perception. For example, if I do not see a book on the table, then because of non-perception of a book, I understand that there is non-existence of the book on the table. But I cannot apply the same process to something that is imperceptible to the eyes. For example, I do not see air in my room, so I cannot conclude that there is no air. This is because air is not perceptible to the eyes.



 

 

 

Politics and Religion

Question: I am of the opinion that politics and religion should be separate. One should not mix them while working for the government. Is it wrong to have such an opinion? 

Answer: Wrong from whose point of view? Politics is called rājanīti—the principles followed by a king for administering his kingdom. The king or ruler was considered the representative of God. Śrī Kṛṣṇa counts a king as one of  His vibhūtisnarāṇāṁ ca narādhipam (Gītā 10.27). The king’s main duty was to make sure that everyone followed his or her dharma. The kings ruled by dharma-śāstra. An atheist or nonbeliever could not be a king. King Vena became an atheist, so he was removed by the sages. Why were people like Rāvaṇa considered to be asuras? Because they opposed God. Why was Jarāsandha killed? From the point of view of modern politics, they were not bad kings at all. The kingdom of Rāvaṇa, Laṅkā, is described as made of gold. This implies that the kingdom was very prosperous. The same is true of Jarāsandha. Yet from a dharmic point of view, they are not considered good kings and were killed respectively by Rāma and by Bhīma under the guidance of Kṛṣṇa. Politics without dharma will bring corruption (adharma). You can see this all over the world. Can you expect a modern politician to be an ideal king like Yudhiṣṭhira or Bharata? There can be no basis for morality or ethics without dharma. Modern politicians are not trained to rule. They are chosen by people who themselves are ignorant about raja-dharma or the duties of a king. The candidates who compete for a political post are also equally ignorant. Anyone who can make better promises to supply the demands of the people gets voted into office. Most politicians forget their promises once they are elected.

Question: As a devotee of Bhagavān, is it a good practice to influence people to take up bhakti? I have started reading Śrī Guru Darśanam, and your Guru Mahārāja stated that only through the grace of Īśvara can one attain Kṛṣṇa. Based on this, I believe it is not proper for one to push people to take up bhakti. Please let me know if my understanding is correct.

Answer: You should not push but you can enlighten people about God. There is no harm in this. If someone is inquisitive about God and willing to hear, then we should help such a person.

Question: Countries such as Switzerland, Denmark, New Zealand, Singapore, etc., are perceived to be some of the least corrupt countries in the world. To my knowledge, these countries are secular nations and are not known to follow any dharma. Yet, the quality of life is relatively high in those countries. At the same time, the politicians are not abducting women like Rāvaṇa or imprisoning other monarchs or politicians like Jarāsandha. 

Although there are imperfections in these countries, they appear to be doing better than countries that believe in God or gods. These countries are more progressive with regard to economic development, fair wages, respect for individual rights, greater tolerance for homosexuals, etc. Even though they do not talk about God, they have been quite successful in running their nations. How do I understand this? 

Answer: You have to first ascertain what your goal in life is. Do you believe in only one life? Do you believe in the law of karma? Then we can compare and talk. Otherwise, it is like comparing an Indian cow to a Jersey or Holstein. If both countries have the same goals, then it is proper to compare them. But if the goals and beliefs of the countries are different, then such a comparison is flawed because there is no common ground. If the goal is to have a better standard of life, then certainly the countries that you mention are doing better than others. 

Question: I do not believe that we live only once. We are constantly transmigrating from one body to another. I also believe in karma, and that everything happens for a reason. You seem to make the point that certain people or countries may be more successful due to their past karma

Another point that arises is that nothing is permanent in this material world. A jīva is eternal, but the body in which it resides is temporary. 

As a seeker of truth, we have to decide what we want out of life: material or spiritual. We can either choose to continue our time here in the material world, or we can choose to use our time and energy to attain God. 

One cannot compare the two paths as they do not lead to the same goal, which is Kṛṣṇa. That is the reason why you are making a point that it is not acceptable to compare an Indian cow with a Jersey cow.  Is my understanding correct?

Answer: You gave the examples of Rāvaṇa and Jarāsandha as corrupt politicians who were yet religious. By this comparison, you want to show that religion and politics are a bad combination. But all you did was pick examples that prove your own point. What about the great kings like Yudhiṣṭhira, Bharata etc., whom I mentioned?

You also mentioned a few countries, like Switzerland, as examples of freedom from corruption, supposedly because they are secular states. But why not consider your own country—the great India? India is a secular state and there are many other secular states on earth that are corrupt.

Then there is the whole issue about the purpose of life. There may be less corruption in some materially advanced countries, but what happens to the citizens after they die? If they are born as subhumans, then what good was their human life, devoid of corruption? You need to see life in its entirety and not do a piecemeal analysis.

 

 

Conclusion of Brahma-vimohana Lila

Question: My understanding is that the commentaries to the Brahma-vimohana-līlā are used by the Gosvāmīs to show how Kṛṣṇa expands into Nārāyaṇa and other Viṣṇu forms. Apart from SB 1.3.28—kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam, is this conclusion, that Kṛṣṇa is the source of all other Viṣṇu forms, based purely on Śrīmad Bhāgavata?

My observations from the commentaries to Canto 10, Chapters 13-14:

  1. When Brahma saw all the cowherd boys, including Kṛṣṇa, in four-handed forms, he was astounded. My understanding is that Brahma only realized Kṛṣṇa’s position when he saw His four-handed form. Later, when Brahma offered prayers to Kṛṣṇa’s two-handed form, the word “Nārāyaṇa” was used to refer to His forms in the Kāraṇa ocean. These prayers were a recollection of the four-handed forms.

  2. Brahma’s prayers were offered after his vision of Kṛṣṇa’s four-handed form. Therefore, the prayers of Brahma calling him “Nārāyaṇa” are appropriate and do not necessarily indicate that Kṛṣṇa expanded into Nārāyaṇa. Calling Kṛṣṇa “Nārāyaṇa” is neither wrong nor inconsistent. It is Nārāyaṇa who is Kṛṣṇa.

As requested, does the Brahma-vimohana-līlā have any independent scriptural strength to show that Kṛṣṇa is source of all forms, apart from SB 1.3.28—kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam?

Answer: First of all, let us consider the brahma-vimolana-līlā. You say, “When Brahma saw all the cowherd boys, including Kṛṣṇa, in four-handed forms…”

I think this is where the difference in our understanding lies. You are including Kṛṣṇa in the vision of the four-handed forms and we do not. Our understanding is that only the cowherd boys turned into four-handed forms while Kṛṣṇaremained standing in His two-handed form. Sarve vatsa-pālāḥ (10.13.46) can include or exclude Kṛṣṇa. But the natural sense of the verse is not to include Kṛṣṇa. The word vatsa-pālāḥ refers to cowherd boys who were stolen by Brahmā. It is improper to include Krṣṇa among them just because He is also a cowherd boy. Similarly, we take verse 10.14.18 to mean that it was Kṛṣṇa who expanded Himself into Viṣṇu forms. It would be wrong to think that it is Nārāyaṇa who expanded into Kṛṣṇa. There is no hint of that in this verse.

In any case, these cowherd boys were expansions of Kṛṣṇa who expanded into four-handed forms. Is there any mention in śāstra of the four-handed Viṣṇu or Nārāyaṇa form turning into the two-handed Kṛṣṇa form? I am personally not aware of any such reference. And I do not consider the reference for the four-handed form that appeared in the prison of Kaṁsa in front of Vasudeva and Devakī, because that is Kṛṣṇa Himself who can appear as two- or four-handed, as He wishes. In 10.3.44, He Himself says that He has manifested this form to remind them of their past lives. For Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, this is independent proof of Kṛṣṇa being the source of Viṣṇu, independent of kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam. The other verses that are worth considering in support of kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam are SB 10.2.40, 10.14.20, 10.87.46, 11.29.49, 10.1.23, 10.47.60, 9.24.55, and 11.16.29.

Then you can also consider the following verses from other śāstra that show that Kṛṣṇa is svayam bhagavān. These are from sources other than the Bhāgavata Purāṇam.

sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭo mattaḥ smṛtir jñānamapohanaṁ ca

vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyo vedānta-kṛd veda-vid eva cāham

“I am situated in the hearts of all beings. From Me come memory, knowledge, and their loss [i.e., forgetfulness]. I alone am to be known through all the Vedas. Indeed, I am the author of the Vedānta, and I alone am the knower of the Vedas.” (Bhagavad Gītā 15.15)

It is clearly stated here that from all the Vedas only Kṛṣṇa is to be known.

 devī sarve’vatārāstu brahmaṇaḥ kṛṣṇa-rūpiṇaḥ

 avatārī svayaṁ kṛṣṇa saguṇo nirguṇo svayam

O Devī! All avatāras emanate from the Supreme Brahman in theform of Kṛṣṇa. But Kṛṣṇa, who is both inclusive of attributes (saguṇa) and beyond all attribution (nirguṇa), is the avatārī Himself.” (Nārada Purāṇa 2.8.45)

sarve cāṁśa-kalā puṁsaḥ kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam

“All these [avatāras] are either portions or minute portions of the Puruṣa, but Kṛṣṇa is Svayaṁ Bhagavān.” (Brahma-vaivarta Purāṇa 4.117.12)

avatārā hy asaṅkhyātāḥ kathitā me tavāgrataḥ

paraṁ samyak pravakṣyāmi kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam

“I have described to you the unlimited avatāras. I shall now explain categorically that Kṛṣṇa, however, being Svayaṁ Bhagavān, is supreme among them.” (Śrī Kṛṣṇa-saṁhitā Chapter 92)

sahasra-nāmnāṁ puṇyānāṁ trir-āvṛttyā tu yat phalam

ekāvṛttyā tu kṛṣṇasya nāmaikaṁ tat prayacchati

“By repeating Kṛṣṇa’s name just once, one attains the same benefit that accrues from thrice repeating the thousand holy names of Viṣṇu.” (Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa 236.19):

But please note: I am not interested in arguing with you or in changing your understanding. You are free to continue with your understanding and to think that we are biased in our understanding. I have no problem with that. I am replying to you only because you wanted our view of this pastime.

 

Myth, Significance of Gotra, Gopala-mantra

Question: In present times, other cultural literature is deemed as mythology by the general and intellectual masses. These include Hindu, Christian, Islamic, Greek, Roman, Japanese, Chinese, Norse, and other literature. While I would like to believe that Hindu philosophy is true, I wonder about other literature and cultures. There has to be one truth; consequently, all others must be mythology. 

Where should the line be drawn? Hindu philosophy is extensive and inexhaustibly profound. It also reveals details that closely match modern scientific findings about the universe, whereas other “myths” seems childish.

Can we say that the naivety of these texts has led to the creation of a “myth notion” among the masses which people have generalized to all cultures, eventually engulfing our Vedic philosophy?

Answer: Your question is very black and white. It is not true that everything in non-Vedic literature is a myth. They also contain some truth.

For example, Buddhism has many principles that match with the Yoga Sūtras, Bhagavad-gītā, Advaita Vedanta, etc. You cannot say that the whole of Buddhism is a myth. For example, Buddhism says that everything is temporary. This is very true for anything material. Buddhism says that there is suffering everywhere. This is also very true; even Krsna says so.

Therefore, you have to study each piece of literature and then distinguish between truth and myth. 

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Question:  What is the significance of gotra in Sanātana Dharma?

Answer: Gotra played a great significance in Vedic rituals, especially in marriage. For every ritual, such as the daily sandhyāvandana, one has to pronounce one’s gotra along with the present day, time, and place. Gotra is also needed when making saṅkalpa before any yajña. Marriage between a boy and a girl of the same gotra is forbidden. The gotra gave one a very clear sense of identity.

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Question: The mantrakliṁ kṛṣṇāya govindāya gopī-jana vallabhāya svāhā” is described in both SB and Brahma Saṁhitā. Does it appear in any other scripture? Also, could you kindly explain the various purposes of this mantra? Some authorities claim that this mantra clears up negative emotions.

Answer: This mantra is also found in Krama-dīpikā and in Gopāla-tāpanī Upaniṣad. The prime purpose of the mantra is to get Kṛṣṇaprema. But being like a kalpa-vṛkṣa tree, one can chant it for whatever one desires.

Question: Is there any śāstra-pramāṇa about Parīkṣit Mahārāja’s spiritual identity after his death by Takṣaka?

Answer: I have not read anything. But I would say that because the Pāṇḍavas are eternal associates of Kṛṣṇa and Parīkṣit is their grandson who had direct darśana of Kṛṣṇa, he will be part of the Pāṇḍavas’ eternal līlā with Kṛṣṇa. 

Question: What is the original source for saying that Anaṅga Mañjarī is the svarūpa-śakti expansion of Balarāma? If I´m not mistaken, this originally comes from Anaṅga-mañjarī-sampuṭikā by Ramai Gosai, but I don´t think this information is present in any Gosvāmī  literature.

Answer: I do not know another source except what you mentioned above. 

 

 

Can Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu Grant Mādhurya-bhāva?

Recently I received a few emails from devotees, inquiring if my Gurudeva said that Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu and Advaita Ācarya could not grant mādhurya-bhāva or mañjarī-bhāva. It seems that one of my satīrthas (the Sanskrit word used for a person who has the same guru as oneself, commonly translated as “godbrother”) posted a conversation between a devotee and my Gurudeva. This is very disturbing to me and certainly to those who belong to the Śrī Nityānanda and Śrī Advaita Ācārya parivāras. I am herein making a clear statement on this issue, based on my extensive association with Gurudeva.

Nityananda vamsa Mandir
Nityananda vamsa Mandir in Navadvipa

From the very outset, I categorically state that my Gurudeva never made any such adverse remarks against Śri Nityānanada Prabhu or Śrī Advaita Ācārya. How can any Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava dare to disrespect any of the Pañcha-tattva? How can anyone who disregards the Pañcha-tattva be considered a Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava, a follower of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu? From history, we know that Śrī Advaita Ācārya disowned some of his own sons who did not align with the teachings of Śrī Mahāprabhu.

I do not like to flaunt my credentials, but if my Gurudeva’s honor is at stake, then I do not mind doing so. I proclaim that among my satīrthas, no one had as much association, including intimate association, with Gurudeva as I had. I had his association for about 26 years. This association did not consist of merely being around him. For the major part of 26 years, I directly studied under him. Gurudeva was an unparalleled scholar not only of the Gauḍīya school but of all the six darśanas. He had nine śāstrī (graduate) degrees from Benaras. His life was exemplary, and he lived it based on śāstric

Babaji studying from his guru Sri Haridas Shastri Maharaja ji
Babaji studying from his guru Sri Haridas Shastri Maharaja ji

principles. From him I have studied all the major works of the Gauḍīya school, such as the Śat Sandarbhas, Sarva-saṁvādini on the Śaṭ Sandarbhas, Bhagavad Gītā with the commentaries of Viśvanātha Cakravarti and Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa, Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛtam with the commentary of Sanātana Gosvāmi, Laghu Bhgavatāmṛtam with the commentary of Baladeva Vidyābhūṣṇa, Bhakti-rasāmrta-sindhu with the commentaries of Jīva Gosvāmī and Viśvanātha Cakravarti, Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi with the commentaries of Jīva Gosvāmī and Viśvanātha Cakravarti, Govinda-bhāsya of Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa on Vedānta Sūtra, Alaṅkāra Kaustubha with the commentary of Viśvanātha Cakravarti, Brahma-saṁhitā with the commentary of Jīva Gosvāmi,  Caitanya Caritāmṛta, Śrimad Bhāgavatam with the commentaries of Śrīdhara Svāmi, Jīva Gosvāmī, and Viśvanātha Cakravarti, Hari-bhakti-vilāsa with the commentary of Sanātana Gosvāmī, Harināmāmṛta Vyākaraṇam, Siddhānta-ratnam with the commentary of Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa, Prameya-ratnāvalī with the commentary of Kṛṣṇadeva Sārvabhauma, Vedānta-syamantaka, Śloka-vartika of Kumārila Bhaṭṭ (only a part of it), and Tattva-cintāmaṇi of Gaṅeśa Upādhyāya (only a part of it). Besides this, I served him personally and alongside him in the gośālā. I

Nitaichand in Ekacakra
Nitaichand from Ekacakra

rendered all types of intimate services to him. So, I know his mood very well and I can say categorically that he did not minimize Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu or Śrī Advaita Ācārya.

We observe Their appearance days just as we observe Mahāprabhu Jayanti and the appearance day of Śrī Gadādhara Paṇḍīta. Gurudeva made a pañjikā which included lists of the fasts that we observe. He would not list Gadādhara Paṇḍīta’s appearance day as a vrata. But the appearance days of Nityānanda Prabhu and Advaita Ācārya were always listed as vratas. When I asked him about this, he replied that it is only we who observe the vrata on Gadādhara’s appearance day, but the appearance days of Nityānanda Prabhu and Advaita Acarya are observed by all Gauḍīya Vaiṣnavas. After my Gurudeva’s disappearance, I began listing Śrī Gadādhara’s appearance day as a vrata. As our daily practice, we also chant the gāyatrī mantras for all the Pañca-tattva. That means we pray to Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu and Śrī Advaita Ācārya for their mercy. If our goal is to attain mādhurya-bhāva, then it would make no sense to pray to someone who is not capable of giving that.

Advaita Prabhu Sitanath
Advaita Prabhu Sitanath

I have compiled a book called Guru Darśanam, which is based on dialogues between Gurudeva and visiting devotees. One can read for oneself topic number 74—Pañca-tattva (i.e., page numbers 278, 280), and topic 76—Paramparā (i.e., page numbers 283–284). By consulting these pages, it will become clear to the reader that Gurudeva did not deny the authenticity of other parivāras. His main point was that if one followed śāstra properly, then he was authentic. Otherwise, even if one belongs to the Gadādhara parivāra but does not follow śāstra, then he is inauthentic.

By reading these pages, however, it is possible to surmise that Gurudeva only emphasized the authenticity of the Gadādhara parivāra. This is natural and even desirable. Everyone considers their parivāra the best. Just because a disciple considers his guru the best, does not mean that he disregards all other gurus as inauthentic. If he does so, that is a grave mistake. The same principle applies to one’s parivāra. There is a popular principle in pūrva-mīmāṁsa on this subject. It states that the purpose of criticism is not to criticize the object of criticism but to establish the subject under discussion (na hi nindā nidyaṁ ninditum prayujyate. Kiṁ tarhi? Ninditāt itarat praśaṁsitumŚābara Bhāṣya 4.2.21) For example, sometimes in śāstra there are derogatory statements about women. The purpose of these statements is not to put women down but to establish the importance of what is being discussed. Generally, such statements are found where vairagya, renunciation, is being discussed. For a sannyāsī, association with a woman is not conducive to his spiritual life. Therefore, śāstra warns against it. The purpose of the warning is not to declare that women as a class are dangerous but to caution sannyāsīs to be careful. Ignorant of this principle, many modern scholars conclude that śāstra is against women. They theorize that because śāstra is written by men, therefore, women are disparaged. This sounds logical but it is wrong. This is pure ignorance of śāstric hermeneutics. Śāstra is written by people who are beyond bodily conditioning; otherwise, śāstra would be no different than any other book. Modern scholars do not accept this fact and thus they analyze śāstra from their conditioned vision.

Nityananda parivara
Nityananda parivara

The same principle should be applied when a follower of one parivāra glorifies one’s own parivāra and stresses its importance and uniqueness. In conclusion, I say that anyone who spreads the idea that my Gurudeva believed that the Nityānanda parivāra was not authentic or that Nityananda Prabhu could not give mādhurya-bhāva, is simply foolish.

Satyanarayana Dasa