Our Affectionate Guardians: Chapter Five ~ Doubts

Is Srila Sridhara Maharaja's Preaching Different Than Prabhupada's?

That Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja's understanding of the philosophy is congruent is clear from the following excerpt from chapter one: A Transcendental Relationship:

Krsna and Prabhupada [Srila Bhaktisiddhanta] liked [him] to prepare me. Sridhara Maharaja lived in my house for many years [at the time of the breakup of the Gaudiya Math and afterwards], so naturally, we had very intimate talks and he was my good advisor. I took his advices, instructions, very seriously because from the very beginning I know he is a pure Vaisnava, a pure devotee, and I wanted to associate with him and I tried to help him also. Our relationship is very intimate. (Srila Prabhupada, 1973 Room Conversation)

Contradictions: Real and Apparent

Apparent contradictions between Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja provide us with a chance to more deeply scrutinize our understanding of Krsna consciousness and help us make progress towards our infinite Lord. Srila Prabhupada himself wrote in a letter on 19 February 1972 that, "there is no reason why acaryas cannot differ on certain points." Generally speaking, apparent contradictions can be eventually understood to be either a difference based on rasa or preaching techniques-wherein preaching and siddhanta may not always be the same. An example of the former is the disagreement that eternally exists between vatsalya and madhurya rasas. Simply put, Yasodamayi very much wants her son Krsna to have a good nights sleep, while the gopis headed by Srimati Radharani want him to leave the house and dance with them in the Vrndavana night. In the case of the latter, preaching is surrounded by contradictions, as the preacher may say different things at different times to awaken divine faith in the hearts of the fallen jivas. Thus, preaching and siddhanta are apparently not always in concert. The highest truth is to give Krsna consciousness. In the field of preaching, at one time one instruction may be given; at a later stage we may be told the opposite.

In a Conversation on March 9, 1976, Srila Prabhupada clarified this idea:

Madhudvisa: In the eighteenth chapter of the Bhagavad-gita, in one of your purports, you say that a sannyasi should never discourage a young man from getting married. But on the other hand, we understand that a sannyasi should encourage young men to remain brahmacari. So it seems to me like there's some kind of contradiction.

Prabhupada: According to time and circumstance. Just like Krsna says, nityatam kuru karma tvam: "Always be engaged in your prescribed work." (Bg, 3.8) And at last he says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam varja. (Bg. 18.66) So now you adjust. That is not a contradiction. It is just suitable to the time and circumstance.

Madhudvisa: But is there some conclusion?

Prabhupada: The real aim is that you have to become the eternal servant of Krsna.

When apparent contradictions are not resolved by the advancing devotee, they give rise to real contradictions. Real contradictions deviate one from the pure devotional conclusions. These real contradictions are based on anarthas and they must be transcended. Rasam-anandam is the purest white, and material desire is the darkest black. In the transition from the dark black of material life to the pure white of our highest spiritual prospect, there are many shades of gray through which we must pass, resolving apparent contradictions along the way.

What follows is an example of an apparent contradiction in the writings of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja. Resolving this is a valuable exercise of our Krsna consciousness. In Srila Prabhupada's translation of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, he translates the following verse thus:

aparyaptam tad asmakam
balam bhismabhiraksitam
paryaptam tv idam etesam
balam bhimabhiraksitam

"Our strength is immeasurable, and we are perfectly protected by grandfather Bhisma whereas the strength of the Pandavas, carefully protected by Bhima is limited." (Bg. 1.10) The same verse, however, is translated quite differently by Srila Sridhara Maharaja in his Bhagavad-gita (Hidden Treasure of the Sweet Absolute). Here, we find the verse reads as follows: "Our army, headed by Bhisma, is inadequate, whereas the army of the Pandavas, protected by Bhima, is competent." Which translation is correct? Could both of them be correct?

Srila Prabhupada dedicated his Gita commentary to Baladeva Vidyabhusana (who gave the world Govinda bhasya) because his concern was to give the overall siddhanta of our sampradaya to the world, rather than focus on a few of the precious jewels of our devotional conclusions in his commentary. Many previous translations of the Gita had not produced a devotee, yet, Srila Prabhupada's Gita produced and continues to produce thousands of devotees. No doubt he had something specific in mind as he set out to translate and comment on the Gita.

The Gita is a deep book, from which even the highest truth of parakiya-bhava can be drawn directly from the text by those who are themselves deeply immersed in the mellows of pure devotion. Srila Prabhupada relished these finer points of siddhanta with Srila Sridhara Maharaja when they lived together at Sita Kanta Banerjee Lane in Calcutta. At that time, Srila Prabhupada was working on his Gita translation. Srila Prabhupada appreciated Sridhara Maharaja's perception of the catur-sloka of the Gita. When it was brought up to Srila Prabhupada for his opinion, he remarked to Sridhara Maharaja, "Yes, it must be." Yet, in his own treatise, Srila Prabhupada had something different in mind-wide-scale distribution of Krsna consciousness.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja however, preferred to keep close company with fewer devotees and examine and relish the finer points of Gaudiya siddhanta. He tended to discuss the mood of the circumstance rather than relate the circumstance itself, much like Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, the contemporary of Baladeva Vidyabhusana. Their differences are only apparent, and they are analogous to the differences in emphasis and style of Baladeva Vidyabhusana, who gave the siddhanta as it is, and his substantial guru Visvanatha Cakravarti, who consistently presented the hidden treasure in his commentaries. On this particular text, Baladeva Vidyabhusana translates aparyaptam as immeasurable; thus, giving the upper hand to Bhisma, and paryaptam as limited, while Visvanatha Cakravarti gives the upper hand to Bhima. The Sanskrit dictionary tells us that both these words, aparyaptam and paryaptam, can have opposite meanings, and can therefore be used to support either translation.

Bhisma was the greatest of ksatriyas; thus, he certainly strengthened Duryodhana's army, in accord with Srila Prabhupada's translation. Yet, Bhisma also was a weak element in the military arrangement of Duryodhana, for although outwardly the strongest to oppose the Pandavas, he was inwardly the weakest. Bhisma was formally on the side of Duryodhana, while at heart and in spirit he was a member of the Pandavas army. Bhisma loved the Pandava brothers and Sri Krsna with all of his heart. How could such a person, however strong militarily, be someone Duryodhana could count on?

The straight truth as it is, is that Bhisma was a formidable fighter and an asset to Duryodhana. The hidden treasure is that he was weakened in his support for Duryodhana because of his deep love for the Pandavas. This sweet truth is also alluded to in Srila Prabhupada's commentary on text eleven of the first chapter of the Gita. There Srila Prabhupada says, "Although he [Duryodhana] knew that the two generals [Bhisma and Dronacarya] had some sort of affection for the Pandavas, he hoped that all such affection would now be completely given up by them, as was customary during the gambling performances."

When discussing the lives and writings of the acaryas, we should enter into such discussion with a feeling for what Vaisnavism is all about, otherwise we may become victims of offenses to Vaisnavas (aparadha). Their lives are all about love, which resolves all contradictions. Love harmonizes all things as nothing else can. The lives of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja and their relationship with one another are something from which we can learn about the spirit of love. To date, there has been considerable debate about the nature of their relationship. Be assured it is one of absolute love, which as Ujjvala-nilamani tells us, moves in a crooked way. Thus, it is not understood by all, and certainly not without looking beneath the surface. In love there must be differences, apparent differences. The higher harmony is that which we seek, beyond the material conceptions of friends and enemies.

In the Madhya-lila of the Caitanya Bhagavat, Vrndavana dasa Thakura writes, "Sometimes there are differences of opinion among the Vaishnava devotees of the Lord which might appear like an argument, but in fact it is an amazing relationship between devotees. Foolish rascals, who do not understand this exchange, praise one Vaishnava and denounce the other. Such a mentality will lead to destruction of faith and knowledge." And in Antya-lila: "The Vaisnavas are extensions of the Lord's limbs, so how can one benefit by serving him with one hand and inflicting pain on Him with the other? One who hears, glorifies, and understands these transcendental subjects can always avoid vaisnava-aparadha."

Madhurya Rasa

Some say that Srila Sridhara Maharaja's tasteful illuminations of the most sublime aspects of madhurya-rasa and the tantamount importance of Srimati Radharani and Her dearmost Rupa Goswami [Manjari] are not in line with Srila Prabhupada's teachings. One GBC even requested Srila Sridhara Maharaja to not introduce madhurya topics into ISKCON. But the fact of the matter is that we cannot deny that we are a madhurya-rasa sampradaya--and it is just this which distinguishes us from other sampradayas. It is our Gaudiya Sampradaya's prominent teaching and was dealt with skillfully and tastefully by Srila Prabhupada. He continually warned us not to read Tenth Canto neglecting the first Nine Cantos but presented Krsna Book early on, showing us the standard. We invite our readers to read Loving Search For the Lost Servant by Srila Sridhara Maharaja in this light. Srila Sridhara Maharaja's article Fools Rush In Where Angels Fear to Tread [Bookmark for later] clearly shows him upholding the dignity of the Rupanuga Gaudiya Sampradaya.

Srila Prabhupada wrote,

Oh! It is not that the gopis are boycotted. The policy should be that because people may not understand the gopis--they may think they are ordinary girls--we should be careful how we present the gopis. It does not mean that we shall not even utter the word gopis, that we have taken a vow to boycott the gopis. No. They are worshipful devotees. How can we avoid them? [Srila Prabhupada Conversation, 24 December, 1969]

One who has not been attracted by the transcendental beauty of rasa will certainly be dragged down into material attraction, thus to act in material contamination and progress to the darkest region of hellish life but by understanding the conjugal love of Radha and Krsna one is freed from the grip of attraction to material so-called love between man and woman. Similarly if one understands the pure vatsalya, sakhya and dasya love for Krsna one will not be attracted by their material counterparts. [Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila 4.35]

Another testiment to Srila Sridhara Maharaja's preaching being in concert with Srila Prabhupada's is that many of Srila Prabhupada's stalwart sannyasis formerly greatly appreciated Srila Sridhara Maharaja's penetrating realizations:

For example, Jayapataka Maharaja, hearing Srila Sridhara Maharaja's explanation of Bhag. 10.82.49 wherein the innermost hearts' feeling of Srimati Radharani is poignantly expressed said, "Please go with us to America. This beautiful sloka of Bhagavatam you have to explain there."

Also, Jayadvaita Maharaja responded with, "Yes, that's very clear. Thank you very much," in appreciation of Srila Sridhara Maharaja's lucid explanation of how to see the guru in light of the nikunjo yuno rati keli siddhai verse of the samsara prayers [Our spiritual master is very dear because he expertly assists the gopis in tastefully arranging the conjugal loving affairs of Sri Sri Radha and Krsna].

And in 1980 Satsvarupa Maharaja was so encouraged by the depth and clarity of Srila Sridhara Maharaja's realizations that he made copies of Sridhara Maharaja's darshans and freely distributed them to his disciples along with a taped introduction by himself, "I think its very encouraging for everyone to hear how our spiritual uncle Srila Sridhara Maharaja . . . [is helping us]."

Bhakti Caru Swami revealed confidence in Srila Sridhara Maharaja's capabilities at the time, "That is what most of the godbrothers also feel. They feel that whatever Srila Sridhara Maharaja says, we will accept that decision."

In March of 1981, Tamal Krsna Maharaja happily expressed his appreciation for Srila Sridhara Maharaja's nectarean krsna-katha, "The babies are full of milk now. We are well fed. We have been fully fed today. We think you are like a surabhi cow."

Giriraja Maharaja wrote in September of 1978, "Both in terms of relative rank and absolute realization, Sridhara Swami is far beyond any of us."

Srila Sridhara Maharaja was especially qualified to speak of the higher dealings of Krsna and his confidential associates, always doing so in the most tasteful way. His explanations are readily available to all in any of his innumerable books and tapes.

The acaryas in our parampara are predominantly of madhurya-rasa. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's lila is audarya-lila--the distribution of spontaneous love of God [samarpayitum unnata ujjvala-rasam sva-bhakti-sriyam]. (Cc. Adi 1.4)

prema-rasa-niryasa karite asvadana
raga-marga bhakti loke karite pracarana

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu desired to taste the sweet essence of the mellows of love of God [madhurya], and He wanted to propagate devotional service in the world on the platform of spontaneous attraction. (Cc. Adi 4.15)

The very name of Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Deva Goswami Maharaja--Bhakti Raksaka, means literally Guardian of Devotion, a name given by his Guru Maharaja, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, in recognition of his purity in the line of Srila Rupa Goswami. Srila Sridhara Maharaja's penetrating explanation of Sri Brahma Gayatri [Bookmark for later] as signifying the summit of devotional worship unto Srimati Radharani [Radha-dasyam] revealed his profound depth of realization and is deeply appreciated by those fortunate and intelligent devotees who are aware of the relishable beauty of pure devotional service. He revealed the precious gift of the hidden treasure of the internal purport of Sri Bhagavad-gita, revealing profound inner-truths — that are the very life-nectar for the devotees hearts and spiritual senses. His brilliant and penetrating madhurya commentaries charmed and captured our hearts but Srila Sridhara Maharaja always gave us a pound of caution with every ounce of madhurya nectar. His distaste for the sahajiya section was well known-referring to the premature siddha-pranali advocates as pukura-curiwale — pond thieves, their so-called sakhi  identity being false and imaginary and their achievement sheer concoction — the anartha-nivrti   stage is not effected thereby — they are trying to jump over the many planes of consciousness without recognizing the ontological gradation from Viraja to Brahmaloka, Vaikuntha and Goloka.

Examine the quality of Srila Sridhara Maharaja's writings-one cannot help but realize his substantial connection with the topmost object of our aspirations, his total internal absorption and dedication to the highest ideals of Vaisnavism. That Srila Sridhara Maharaja continuously presented the most profound realizations and deepest knowledge of the scriptures is self-evident to the unbiased observer. And this is the critereon for judging a Vaishnava as given by Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhupada, to evaluate his internal absorption not judge his external activities. One simply has to read his literatures or listen to recordings of his talks to see that his unique presentation of the Gaudiya siddhanta is unprecedentedly crystal clear and worthy of the title Sastra-nipuna [one who has very deep realization of the scriptures] awarded by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.

Those who have nourished their wilted creeper of devotion in the divine elixer spontaneously everflowing from Srila Sridhara Maharaja's humble personage cannot properly and sufficiently express his endless glories. Srila Sridhara Maharaja tirelessly preached to the dissatisfied, the disinterested and faithless who were headed for the unknown quarter. Such a grand affinity for Krsna-katha is indeed difficult to achieve--a symptom in itself of his noble and lofty position. For a glowing eulogy of Srila Sridhara Maharaja by the seniormost Gaudiya Vaisnava on the planet, we refer the readers to chapter two: [Exalted Glorification of] Parama-Pujyapada Srila Sridhara Dev Goswami Maharaja by His Holiness Srila Bhakti Promod Puri Goswami Maharaja.

As a final substantiation in this section we present an excerpt illustrating the expert manner that Srila Sridhara Maharaja explained to one of Srila Prabhupada's disciples, Srila Prabhupada's statement in Chaitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 1.46: "In all the ancient literatures of devotional service and in the more recent songs of Srila Narottama dasa Thakura, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura and other unalloyed Vaishnavas, the spiritual master is always considered either one of the confidential associates of Srimati Radharani or a manifested representation of Srila Nityananda Prabhu."

Srila Sridhara Maharaja answers: We may see this according to rasa-vicara. In madhurya-rasa, the guru is the representation of Radharani, and in other rasas, he is the representation of Nityananda Baladeva. Two divisions. Representation of Himself, representation of the highest servitor in a particular department, and also representation of any of the special servitors in any of these camps. These threefold rasas may be discussed and understood. The three phases. First, the Lord Himself is guru. Next, we are told the most favorite and that most favorite may be in a different rasa. Then, the three there: in the first darsana--only the top of Everest. And next, the nearby peaks, and then, what is suitable for my special personality according to the atmosphere, so much cold, where I can take shelter, what is suitable to me-what cave will be suitable for me, for permanent living; in this way, it is to be adjusted at least in three different planes. First to the Lord Himself, then in the next stage we find the first class servitor, the head of every department of service and finally, thirdly, my particular department. One servitor may have different departments, then any particular department there is head Under his care, I shall begin my eternal life. The manjari class. Radharani-Rupa Manjari. First Krsna, Radharani, Rupa Manjari, -madhurya-rasa. Krsna, Baladeva and then Subala or any other friend-sakhya-rasa. In this way. In vatsalya-rasa, Krsna and Yasoda, Nanda, and then any other helping hand to Yasoda, Nanda. In this way, the location is to be traced. And there are three stages.

Devotee: So, there are different groups . . .

Srila Sridhara Maharaja: There are different groups. And then fighting between the groups: Radharani's group and Candravali's group, they are of fighting temperament. That is also there . . .

Devotee: There, all are harmonized in the transcendental plane, there is complete harmony within.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja: But that harmony, that difference is there also to promote the intensity of service. There, it is harmonized. The competition; there, there is competition. Swami Maharaja utilized this competitive spirit in his propaganda. That competition there enhances the central capital. So, that has been given, that plan, that design has been accepted there. The competition, the Yogamaya, the competition enhances the degree of serving mood. And that is utilized. What is here is a perverted reflection. So, competition is also utilized, the spirit of competition. And because that is all harmonizing, that is all good

Origin of the Jiva

The controversy concerning the origin of the jiva has been undecided for many years. We are amazed that not only hasn't this issue been resolved satisfactorily but a considerable number of devotees have reached the wrong conclusion. Although one's ego perhaps doesn't like to accept that Srila Prabhupada sometimes preached down to us or we are unable to personally adjust his conflicting statements on this subject, we nevertheless are more or less forced to accept the siddhantic  conclusions as enunciated by all the acaryas  in our line (and even those out of our line for that matter). At the time, Gour Govinda Maharaja, who was a prominent and respectfully situated ISKCON acarya  was so much disturbed by the GBC's ongoing superficial handling of this and other issues, that he very privately revealed to several of his closer disciples that he was seriously considering leaving ISKCON. Pejwara Swami, one of the most respected and well known swamis  in the line of Madhva, who is especially respected and sought after by many ISKCON leaders, in a visit to Sridhama Mayapura just prior to Gaura Purnima 1995, responded upon hearing of this controversy with, "the siddhanta  is clear [that we do not fall from Vaikuntha], how can there be any question?"

Proponents of the "Fall from Vaikuntha Theory" say that they cannot tolerate that "we" say that Srila Prabhupada says things which are not true. Isn't it the maxim of the Krsna conscious preacher, to convince others one way or another, "by hook or by crook" -- yena tena prakarena manah krsne nivesayet?   -- Somehow or other bring them to Krsna consciousness and later gradually introduce the rules and regulations [and finer philosophical points] (Rupa Goswami) Didn't Srila Prabhupada continuously do this? So many examples come to mind, such as tricking the child to take medicine -- "it's candy." What "we" really say is that we can't tolerate that they say that -- "when Srila Prabhupada says something which is not in accordance with sastra, that it is not a preaching strategy -- that he has introduced (manifested) a new siddhantic  conclusion" (which just happens to be in opposition to all existing sastra ).

The bottom line is that nowhere does sastra  state that "the living entity falls from the spiritual world." There are many ambiguous quotes which can easily be misconstrued and misunderstood and in the bhakti-sandarbha there is the scant single reference that states that a person who eats grains on Ekadasi becomes a murderer of his mother, father, brother and spiritual master, and even if he is elevated to a Vaikuntha planet, he falls down. This is however a far cry from the many many quotes that directly and clearly state that the living entity never falls from the spiritual world. This subject has been covered more thoroughly in a separate presentation entitled, Origin of the Jiva. Bookmark for later.

Even in cases such as King Citraketu being cursed, his bhakti was not covered as is clear from his prayers as Vrtrasura. Or consider Jaya and Vijaya, the gatekeepers in Vaikuntha who are often given as examples of fall down to the material world. Srila Sanatana Goswami states in Brhad-bhag. 2.4.183, saktya sampaditam yat tu sthiram satyam ca drsyate,  that all the manifestations of the internal potency are stable and real--once one attains bhakti it becomes part of the devotees essential nature and cannot be destroyed or reduced. Additionally, Srila Jiva Goswami states in his Priti-sandarbha, 7, that when Jaya and Vijaya became demons, within they knew themselves and kept their spiritual form. They came down as part of the Lord's lila. And Srila Prabhupada writes, "Therefore it is to be understood that when Jaya and Vijaya descended to this material world, they came because there was something to be done for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Otherwise it is a fact that no one falls from Vaikuntha." Bhag. 7.1.35, purport.

Some advocates of the Fall Theory, theorise that since there are so many emphatic scriptural statements that once going to the spiritual world, one never leaves [i.e. Bhagavad-gita] -- that fall is only possible for those nitya-muktas  who are already in the spiritual world but not for the nitya-baddhas  who perfect their devotional service in the material world and thereby qualify for entrance into the spiritual world. There exists not one shred of evidence in sastra  to support this theory [nor do sanskrit terms exist for it] and it is offensive. This theory implies that nitya-muktas  (eternally liberated residents of Vaikuntha) are inferior to baddha-muktas  (the bound who become liberated). Nitya-muktas  must come to the material world to become really fall-proof-to get a better education-i.e., one cannot be a gentleman unless he visits a prison house. It also implies that bhaya-bhakti,  devotion produced by fear or suffering, is superior to prema-bhakti,  for only bhaya-bhakti  gives complete protection to a devotee. It also introduces the unallowable concept of fear into the spiritual world, for if one can fall down and witness others fall down, certainly there must be fear-which decries the very name Vaikuntha (without anxiety).

Ideas such as falling from Vaikuntha are illogical. They are based on one's material conception projected upon the transcendental reality. Arguments given in support of fall down-which ultim-ately seek to impose an imperfection on the perfect world or on the perfect devotees-are only kutarka, false logic. They stem from a poor understanding of the Lord's svarupa-sakti.  Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur in his Vivrti  on Bhagavatam  3.7.11 emphatically states exactly this. All planets in the material world are places of fall down and by the influence of maya, people equate Vaikuntha to these material planets. If this was correct, then what would be the significance of Lord Krsna's statement, abrahma-bhuvanal lokah . . . punar janma na vidyate ?  What would be the value of His statement that in the material world all beings are fallible and in the spiritual world all beings are infallible?

We have personally witnessed prominent leaders, unable and/or unwilling to answer the overwhelming evidence against their conclusions, shake their heads and say "anyway, we accept what Prabhupada says." But Srila Prabhupada says both things. It is not possible that both theories are true, as they are contradictory (and not examples of acintya-bhedabedha-tattva ), so this is an embarrassing position for the Fall advocates, having been strongly advocating the Fall Theory for so long. Prabhupada has given us what is clearly the siddhanta,  that the living entity never falls and he has sometimes told that we should "be careful, you can fall from any position, even from Vaikuntha," sometimes stating this strongly, etc.-the primary emphasis being on getting fixed up and only secondarily that you can fall. In Srila Prabhupada's books [referred to as the spiritual lawbooks for the next 10,000 years], he mostly supports in his purports the no fall-down from Vaikuntha and sometimes his statements appear to be ambiguous. Most of Srila Prabhupada's statements which appear to favor the Fall theory are found in letters, lectures and conversations. Thus it could be said that it appears to not be a clear case either way -- as the confusion of many devotees attests. So, we must harmonize these conflicting statements. Those who know the siddhanta  have no problem with this, however many devotees do not understand or are not aware of the actual siddhanta.

We have seen GBC proponents of the Fall Theory change their position on the jiva issue in midstream. Formerly they postured that the living entity fell from Vaikuntha. In light of (surprising to them) sastric  evidence to the contrary, they changed their view to the ambiguous 'we both fell and we didn't fall,' with the GBC mandated stipulation that no one can state anything definitive regarding this matter, as we are judging Srila Prabhupada's intention from our lower position. However, because the statements of Srila Prabhupada that we fell from the nitya-lila  of the Lord differ from the siddhanta  it is very clear (providing we know clearly what is the siddhanta ) that it is a preaching strategy. To think that Srila Prabhupada invented a new siddhanta  [which is diametrically opposing all existing siddhanta  ] is incorrect and is no credit to Srila Prabhupada. This is adequately substantiated with quotes from Srila Prabhupada below. Certainly we recognize that Srila Prabhupada added many divine realizations to the existing siddhanta,  providing further enlightenment, but it is not at all Srila Prabhupada's mood to directly oppose Vedic authority and the parampara  in this presumed way. Hardly is it a glorification of Srila Prabhupada to present him as the origin of a new "siddhanta " which contradicts the direct words of Krsna Himself. We find this idea very disturbing. Aside from above mentioned manytimes ambiguous statements of fall [and equally no fall] by Srila Prabhupada in his own writings and talks, it is not the conclusion of sastra  that the living entity falls from the spiritual world. To think that after so much purification and seva  in the progressive elevation of Krsna consciousness-finally obtaining the platform of ecstatic perfection of love of God (krsna-prema), that we can in a second be thrown down to repeated births and deaths and entanglement in lust and greed and other material qualities-qualities which we have spent our lives purifying ourselves of, is also absurd. To claim this, means that we do not understand this progressive development in Krsna consciousness from sraddha to anartha-nivriti  to nistha, ruci, bhava  and finally krsna-prema --one cannot understand the ultimate goal of life and claim that "that place from which having gone, one never returns" is fallible. We have dealt more thoroughly with this topic in our separate Jiva Presentation. Interested devotees desiring to understand the origin and bondage of the jiva are recommended to study this subject thoroughly. The truth is what it is and will not be hidden for long, despite so many arguments to the contrary. As the Sat-sandarbhas, it is difficult to refute. We are all hopefully looking for the Absolute Truth (Krsna) so we must pursue it. Personal investigation has revealed that most devotees do not understand the philosophical points presented therein nor really care to. The arguments presented against this line of siddhanta  seem to be based more on sentiment than logic and philosophy. Fair and open discussion is discouraged in spite of the great controversy. We would venture to say that opponents would be made to look completely foolish in an open debate where both sides are represented equally. We are reminded of many preaching encounters with the fanatical section of Christians who, when defeated, either walk away or change the subject. What is our position if in the name of blindly following the guru we go against sadhu  and sastra . Those who are real sadhus  (fixed up devotees who know the siddhanta ), are very upset by the authorities decision in this regard. One prominent GBC acarya  in a private conversation responded to the statement that "there are a great many statements (both texts and purports) which clearly and definitively state that the living entity never falls from the spiritual world," with, "that's in Prabhupada's books?" It was then revealed that he seldom reads Srila Prabhupada's books.

To try to separate Srila Prabhupada from his guru and from the predecessor acaryas  such as Jiva Goswami is unthinkable, yet there are those who propose just such a thing, that Prabhupada is the origin of a new sampradaya  -- a new siddhanta.  Srila Prabhupada emphasized over and over again that his only credit was that he did not manufacture anything, that he followed his guru and sastra  exactly. A few notable quotes by Srila Prabhupada follow:

Guru must come from the parampara system by disciplic sucession (and) five thousand years or five millions of years, what was spoken by the Supreme God or guru, the present guru also will say the same thing. That is guru. That is bona fide guru. Otherwise he's not guru. Simple definition. Guru cannot change any word of the predecesssor. [730822LE.LON]

My only credit is that I am presenting Krsna as He is. That's all. I am not diluting Krsna. And therefore because it is pure, everyone accepts . . . So many swamis came before but no devotees, now they come by the thousands because we present the pure thing . . . We have not manufactured anything. [721130BG.HYD]

I am not perfect. None of us claim to be perfect; we have so many faults. But because we don't speak anything beyond Krsna's teachings, our teaching is therefore perfect. [Consciousness: The Missing Link, pages 13-14]

The parampara system does not allow one to deviate from the commentaries of the previous acaryas. By depending upon the previous acaryas, one can write beautiful commentaries. However, one cannot defy the previous acaryas . . . This system of commenting in one's own way is fully condemned by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu."[Chaitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila 7.134. purport]

You cannot change even a single letter of the sastra. They cannot be changed."[Lecture 6/24/72]

Don't be lazy. Always try to understand Krsna. Siddhanta, by siddhanta, by Vedic conclusion. Not by manufacturing ideas-siddhanta. [760909SB.VRN]

Personally I have no credit for myself, but I am trying to act as a faithful servant of my predecessors and just presenting without any adulteration the message which I have received from my spiritual master. [Letter to Krsnadasa, 1st June, 1968]

Actually I cannot claim any credit for myself, but I say if any credit is due, it is due to the fact that I have not deviated from the original instructions. Whatever I have learned from my spiritual master I have presented before you and similarly whatever success you are having only it is due to the purity of the message which you are carrying. [Letter to Krsnadasa, 18th December, 1970]

I also thank you very much for your appreciation of my books and letters and for my speaking in the meetings. They are not my words, as I have repeatedly informed you that I am simply the bearer of the message from Lord Chaitanya through the disciplic succession and I do not make any addition or subtraction. [Letter to Bhagavan dasa, 10 January, 1970]

In a 1971 conversation with Revatinandana, Srila Prabhupada said,

These questions are not to be discussed in public. They require a much higher understanding. For the public it should be, 'This is matter, this is spirit.' That's all.

This is one example of a preaching technique by Srila Prabhupada. A well known example of preaching something other than siddhanta is that of Jiva Goswami's advocation of parakiya-rasa over svakiya-rasa for the spiritual benefit of his disciples, while simultaneously always following Rupa Goswami internally. Srila Prabhupada writes,

He could understand that sahajiyas would otherwise exploit the parakiya-rasa,  as they are actually doing at the present. Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila 10.85, purport

A further example is that of Bhaktivinode Thakura's Sri Krsna Samhita  wherein he states that the lilas of Lord Krsna are not to be taken literally and further that the descriptions of the planetary systems in the fifth canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam  are allegorical. How are we to view these statements? Certainly he has a particular preaching purpose in mind. Srila Prabhupada wrote in 1968, "The statements of Bhaktivinode Thakura are as good as scriptures because he is a liberated person." [Ltr Janardhana April 26, 1968] Here again preaching doesn't always mean presenting the siddhanta.

Also, Jiva Goswami states in his Tattva-sandarbha  that he cites only those portions of the revered Sridhara Swami's commentary that follow the natural spirit of the Bhagavatam  and its Vaishnava conclusions. This is because Sridhara Swami interspersed his Bhagavatam  commentaries with monistic advaitin  interpretations not as conclusions, but as a tactic to attract the followers of Sankara from their dry cakes of impersonal philosophy to the Bhagavatam's  nectarean descriptions of Krsna-lila. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself greatly appreciated Sridhara Swami's Bhagavatam  commentaries and became very much disturbed when Vallabacharya did not show proper respect to Sridhara Swami.

Most of our readers must also be aware that the siddhanta  presented by Srila Sridhara Maharaja [and the entire Gaudiya Math] is the same as In Vaikuntha Not Even the Leaves Fall,  which is the Gaudiya Vaisnava siddhanta.  Not understanding this jiva-tattva  properly many called Srila Sridhara Maharaja a liberationist and even accused him of being a Mayavadi  for putting forth that which is clearly and repeatedly enunciated by Srila Jiva Goswami in his Sat-sandarbhas.  Not having access to these literatures, most devotees are not aware of the extent, nor the depth of Srila Jiva Goswami's description of Vaikuntha and its innumerable glorious transcendental qualities. Chapter after chapter he gives crystal clear explicit explanations of all these points discussed above and many more intricate points, leaving no room for doubt as to the infallibility of the spiritual world (unfortunately, only for those who are aware of these points) -- thus the controversy goes on. Srila Prabhupada writes that, "one should be enchanted by this information [wondrous all inviting glory of Vaikuntha]."

As far as the efficacy of the Sat-sandarbhas  are concerned, Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami writes

Srila Jiva Goswami compiled the book named Bhagavata-sandarbha,  or Sat-sandarbha,  which is the essence of all scriptures. From this book can can obtain a conclusive understanding of devotional service and the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Caitanya-caritamrta Antya-lila  4.229

And in London on August 6, 1971 Srila Prabhupada said, "So these Sandarbhas  [are so philosophically sound] that throughout the whole world there is not a single philosopher who can defy Jiva Goswami's six Sandarbhas."

Personally, we feel that this issue is basically not so important -- however it has become important by virtue of a fundamental lack of overall understanding of the siddhanta  underlying this issue by a great many devotees. Srila Sridhara Maharaja hardly spoke on this subject but when he did, he was not hesitant to give the siddhanta  -- especially when requested to clarify this misunderstanding. Similarly, all the Gaudiya Math acaryas  that we have knowledge of [B. R. Sridhara Maharaja, Bhakti Promod Puri Maharaja, Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja, Vamana Maharaja, Bhakti Vallab Tirtha Maharaja, etc] have emphatically stuck to this same siddhanta that they heard either directly from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura or from a disciple who heard it directly from him.

The logic of the GBC position eludes us. In the opening statement of the GBC position paper regarding this decision it is stated that the living entity does not fall from the spiritual world. However, they go on to say that as Srila Prabhupada preached sometimes one way, that the living entities never fall from Vaikuntha and sometimes that we can fall, that the policy in ISKCON will be that we will preach both things as Prabhupada did. The question is whether or not they understand what is the actual siddhanta  and that for preaching we can preach something else. It appears that they do not seem to accept this logical point. When we are preaching to neophytes, non-devotees and the likes we should tailor our preaching such that we most easily capture their faith, as Srila Prabhupada did--yena tena prakarena.  However, when elucidating the finer points of siddhanta  to mature devotees or in discussions with scholars who in many instances are fully aware of the siddhanta  we must preach the siddhanta.  The mature sincere devotees will settle for nothing less and the scholars will simply think we are foolish and don't understand our own philosophy. We have already mentioned earlier the comment of a prominent acarya  of the Madhva sampradaya.  Another case in point is a recent revue of Bhaktivinode Thakura's book Prema-pradipa in the ISKCON World Review Vol 13, No. 6, March/April 1995. Herein a passage is quoted from this book apparently revealing that Bhaktivinode Thakura supports the Fall Theory, as though this is the siddhanta.  The translater of this book, a well known proponent of the Fall Theory, has been shown to have previously given his own interpretation of certain passages during his breakneck translations of the Brhad-bhagavatamrta  and other books in a manner so as to favor the Fall Theory. One example of this is his translation of Brhad-bhagavatamrta  2.6.76, "Having attained me, a friend more dear than life He had not seen for a long time, taking my hand in His left lotus hand, asking me wonderful questions . . . " Here the Sanskrit word "iva " translated in this author's word for word "as if" has been conveniently left out of the translation, thus completely changing the meaning from "as if He had not seen for a long time."

In Search For Sri Krsna, Srila Sridhara Maharaja explains:

How does the soul first appear in this world? From what stage of spiritual existence does he fall into the material world? This is a broad question, which requires some background information.

There are two classes of souls, jivas,  who come into this world. One class comes from the spiritual Vaikuntha planets by the necessity of nitya-lila,  the eternal pastimes of Krsna. Another comes by constitutional necessity.

The brahmajyoti,  the nondifferentiated marginal plane, is the source of infinite jiva  souls, atomic spiritual partices of nondifferentiated character. The rays of the Lord's transcendental body are known as the brahmajyoti,  and a pencil of a ray of the brahmajyoti  is the jiva. The jiva  soul is an atom in that effulgence, and the brahmajyoti  is a product of an infinite number of jiva  atoms.

Generally, souls emanate from the brahmajyoti  which is living and growing. Within the brahmajyoti,  their equilibrium is somehow disturbed and movement begins. From nondifferentiation, differentiation begins. From a plain sheet of uniform consciousness, individual conscious units grow. And because the jiva  is conscious it is endowed with free will. So, from the marginal position they choose either the side of exploitation or the side of dedication.

Srila Prabhupada writes the same thing:

The symptoms of the rainy season may be compared to the symptoms of the living entities who are covered by the three modes of material nature. The unlimited sky is like the Supreme Brahman, and the tiny living entities are like the covered sky, or Brahman covered by the three modes of material nature. Originally, everyone is part and parcel of Brahman. The Supreme Brahman, or the unlimited sky, can never be covered by a cloud, but a portion of it can be covered. As stated in the Bhagavad-gita,  the living entities are part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But they are only an insignificant portion of the Supreme Lord. This portion is covered by the modes of material nature, and therefore the living entities are residing within this material world. The brahmajyoti  -- spiritual effulgence -- is just like the sunshine; as the sunshine is full of molecular shining particles, so the brahmajyoti  is full of minute portions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Out of that unlimited expansion of minute portions of the Supreme Lord, some are covered by the influence of material nature, whereas others are free." [Krsna Book,  Ch. 20, Description of Autumn]

. . . nor can one come back from Vaikuntha after once taking birth there. All these incidents, therefore, were designed by the Lord Himself for the sake of His pastimes in the material world. Thus he plainly says that it was done with His approval. Otherwise, it would have been impossible for inhabitants of Vaikuntha to come back to this material world simply because of a brahminical curse. The Lord especially blesses the so-called culprits: 'All glories unto you.' A devotee, once accepted by the Lord, can never fall down. That is the conclusion of this incident.
(Bhag. 3.16.29, purport)

The conclusion is that the origin of all life is the bodily effulgence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
(Bhag. 4.30.5, purport)

Thus the body is considered material and the soul is considered spiritual. The origin of them both, however, is the same Supreme Personality of Godhead. . . Everything is born of the Supreme Brahman, from which everything emanates as different energies.
(Bhag. 8.12.8, purport)

The all-pervading feature of the Lord which exists in all circumstances of waking and sleeping as well as in potential states and from which the jiva-sakti  (living force) is generated as both conditioned and liberated souls-is known as Brahman.
(Isopanisad,  Text 16, purport)

In the sruti-mantra it is stated that the absolute whole, or Brahman, is the ultimate source of everything. Everything emanates from Him, ...
(Teachings of Lord Chaitanya, Chapt. 23, 17th paragraph)

We do have more to say. Please Bookmark for later our more complete presentation, on the Origin of the Jiva.

Number of Rounds

Most of the controversy surrounding the subject of how many rounds Srila Sridhara Maharaja recommended one to chant centers on a misrepresentation of Srila Sridhara Maharaja's teachings for various reasons. In the following section we present selections from his book Search for Sri Krsna, Reality The Beautiful,  which give his actual instruction.

One should chant sixteen rounds, as recommended by Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja, but if there is any emergency, he must chant at least four rounds; the mala  should not be kept fasting.

This harinama maha-mantra is found in the Upanisads,  as well as in the Agni Purana  and the Brahmanda Purana.  In the Kalisantarana Upanisad,  it is recommended as the highest mantra, and scholars have mentioned this mantra as a means of address only; no appeal should be attached to it. This Hare Krsna maha-mantra  is the yuga dharma nama,  or the process of God realization especially meant for the present age: Kali-yuga.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura emphasized that kirtana  means not only loudly singing the holy name, but preaching. There is a difference between the preaching mission of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura and the so-called bhajana  of the sahajiyas,  or imitationists.

Once, one of our godbrothers (Niskincana Krsna Dasa Babaji Maharaja) was the subject of our guru maharaja's  stern remark. He was a man of good character, but his tendency was generally towards nama bhajana.  He did not like to do any other service, but was only inclined to chant the name of Krsna on his beads. I was in charge of the Delhi temple at the time, and was intimate with him, so I wrote to Prabhupada [Bhaktisiddhanta]: 'If you permit, I would like to engage my godbrother in some preaching work here in the Delhi temple.' The letter that Prabhupada wrote is still here. He wrote me in his letter,

If you can bring him there and make him help you in the work of preaching, then you will be doing the service of a real friend to him. I don't recognize that sitting in the jungle of Balihati only chanting, counting beads, is krsnanusilanam,  the proper cultivation of Krsna consciousness.

So, kirtana  means preaching, sravanam, kirtanam. Kirtana  does not simply mean loudly chanting, but preaching. And preaching means there must be a fight with the opposition party. Kirtana  means a fight. Kirtana  creates the divine vibration which will fight with all the ordinary vibrations that are floating in this world in subtle and gross waves. So, our Guru Maharaja told us that our tulasi beads should not fast. His minimum advice was that we must do some service in the form of chanting Hare Krsna while counting on beads, at least once daily. His exact words were malika upabasa na:  'The beads should not fast.' And his general instruction was to preach as much as possible.

GBC Guru Not Chanting

Bhakti Caru Swami: If one deviates from the strict disciplic succession that means...

Dhira Krsna: His guru and the predecessor acaryas

Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Yes, deviation in the particular case can be overlooked to some degree. Some degree, he may again recoup. It may be possible. That this is deviation in whose sight? That will be the first thing, whether it is deviation or not? Any change in the policy, may not be deviation.

Dhira Krsna: Let me give you an example. One of the requirements to be an initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupada is to chant 16 rounds of maha-mantra daily.

Bhakti Caru Swami: (Bengali) Repeats Dhira Krsna's question that it's a deviation.

Dhira Krsna: Prabhupada said that this was the most important instruction of the spiritual master.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja: (Bengali)

Bhakti Caru Swami: (Bengali translated)
Maharaja is telling that, say for instance, Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he said that one should chant at least 64 rounds. Right? But if somebody due to his other activities, engagements and other services cannot chant that many rounds, that can be tolerated. Like so it has to be understood.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja: If busily engaged in other services, we should not hurry, we should not hurry.

Bhakti Caru Swami: But Maharaja, Prabhupada gave us 16 rounds as a minimum. Like he said that we must, everybody in this line

Srila Sridhara Maharaja: (Bengali translated)
Srila Sridhara Maharaja insists on knowing whether it's the only deviation. Is there any further deviation than that? This deviation is not sufficient criteria to be considered a deviation. Mahaprabhu has advised all of us to chant at least 64 rounds. Even better than a lakh is three lakh names. But that is not possible because of overwhelming practical devotional service; it's not possible. So the question that I am asking, is why has he reduced the number of rounds? Is it because of negligence or apathy? Maybe he has turned his attention more towards other practical services. But the consideration of the other service is, with what depth of sincerity and intensity that service is being executed. That must be measured. We simply cannot judge by saying that he has deviated. All these things have to be taken into consideration. Mahaprabhu said that until and unless a devotee chants a minimum of 64 rounds I shall not accept any prasadam from his hands.

Bhakti Caru Swami: Srila Prabhupada being a devoted servant and servitor of Lord Caitanya is more merciful than Lord Caitanya Himself and so he recommends only 16 rounds.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja: But at the same time, he said that it is better to chant one lakh names. Generally, it is seen that it is not possible for missionaries to complete that many rounds. At least four rounds minimum should be chanted so that we see that the mala does not get starved.

Bhakti Caru Swami: But if this is a case of negligence?

Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Negligence. If it is a clear example of negligence not due to other engagement of service then we may wait for some time to see the next future stage. We may be slothful for some time and again he may have redoubled energy to do the thing. It may be possible.

Srila Prabhupada's letter to Paramananda on July 29, 1969 shows the same mood. Following the line of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Prabhupada states:

But wherever you go, either in New Vrindaban or New York, you should make effort to finish your 16 rounds whenever possible. Of course, if you are always engaged in Krsna's service, and always chanting Hare Krsna, even if not on your beads, that is also nice status. As you are an important worker there and you have many important duties, especially to take care of the cows, it may not be possible for you to stop your work for chanting 16 rounds. This is no great loss, and you should not feel badly about it. Krsna sees your sincerity in Krsna consciousness, and He will be very kind upon you for this. But as much as possible you should try to fulfill the goal of 16 rounds daily. If you must fall short of this because you have so much service to render to Krsna, do not be disturbed by this. But you should not fall too much short of this goal. That will not be good.

Sixteen Rounds

Srila Sridhara Maharaja continues,

Once I had a talk with one of the big spiritual leaders of the Udipi temple in Madras. He told me, 'Sometimes I preach about Madhvacarya and the bhakti  cult, but I have no time for sadhana.'  I supported him. Our guru maharaja  said that hari-katha,  preaching about Krsna, is no less important than sadhana.  Rather, it is a more living thing, pran ache yar sie hetu prachar.  Preaching is more vital. When we are preaching, automatically we must have the maximum concentration. On the other hand, while chanting on our japa beads, we may be absentminded. When we are speaking about Krsna to another person, we must be all-attentive. Otherwise we cannot speak accurately. All our attention will automatically be concentrated when we talk about Krsna. And in writing about Krsna, accuracy is even more necessary than in speaking about Krsna. So, writing is also kirtana. The cultivation of Krsna consciousness may even be more intense when we are engaged in writing about Krsna.

So, the preaching mission of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, the Gaudiya Math, has declared totalitarian war against maya, illusion, and even all other existing conceptions of religion. What is really all-important is the spirit of service. We are not told that the gopis  always count the name on tulasi  beads, yet they possess the highest position in the service of Krsna in Vrndavana.

So, krsna nama  will help us greatly to go towards Vrndavan. Its importance is there. Like an express train, the holy name of Krsna carries us to the goal without stopping at any other station. My guru maharaja's  general recommendation for his initiated disciples was to chant twenty-five thousand names, sixteen rounds daily, or at least four rounds minimum. When someone had no work, he could chant one hundred thousand names, or sixty-four rounds.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja is enunciating the teachings of his Guru Maharaja Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, so one should be careful not to simply criticize these instructions of our param guru.

chapter five cont. ~ mood