Scholarship vs Divine Revelation

Dec 3 2002 - Krishna Talk 41

Question: I have read an article by a scholar (Mr. Jan Brzezinski, aka. Jagadananda Dasa/ Jagat) in which he suggests that Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has counterfeited three books; Caitanya-upanisad, Prema-vivarta and Navadvipa-satakam. My question is: How much attention or credit should a practicing devotee give to the opinions of scholars. (See Appendix at the end of this article for the quote by Brzezinski)

Narasingha Maharaja: Scholarship, in and of itself, is no qualification for understanding Divinity or Revelation. Those who go by the name 'scholar' are simply licking the jar of nectar from the outside. Thus they have no capacity to understand Divine Revelation.

All too often scholars want to study some books and through the acquisition of knowledge they want to be recognized as an authority of a particular spiritual tradition. However, without actually following spiritual principles they cannot do so. In particular the Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition mandates that one take shelter of the spiritual master and remain under his instruction. This is an indispensable instruction for those who want to become successful in spiritual life.

guru-pada-asraya-astasmat, krsna-diksadi-siksanam
visrambhena guroh seva, sadhu-vartmanu-varttanam

"Submissively taking shelter of the feet of the guru, receiving initiation and spiritual training regarding Krsna, serving the guru with affection and zeal, and following in the path of sadhus (saints). These are indispensable parts of Bhakti." (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, txt 74)

Neglecting this instruction and simply becoming a scholar will not make one spiritually advanced. Scholarship alone is but a fruitless glory.

Divine Revelation is a subjective experience and unless one is steadfast under the shelter (asraya) of guru, Divine Revelation does not descend. One must have full faith in the guru before one can understand the truth. This is concurred by all acaryas and throughout the Vedic literature, Upanisads, Puranas and so forth.

yasya deve para bhaktir, yatha-deve tatha gurau
tasyaite kathita hy arthah, prakasante mahatmanah

"Only unto those great souls who have complete faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed." (Svetasvatara-upanisad, 6.38)

What the Vaisnavas call Divine Revelation the scholars, like Mr. Brzezinski, prefer to call "counterfeiting." Counterfeiting suggests cheating, which is certainly a material defect, or a "human failing" as Brzezinski points out. But what Brzezinski seems to have failed to understand, despite his studies, is that the pure devotee of Krsna is above the material defects of bhrama, pramada, vipra-lipsa, karanapatava (mistake, illusion, cheating and defective perception).

bhrama, pramada, vipra-lipsa, karanapatava
arsa-vijna-vakye nahi dosa ei saba

"Mistakes, illusions, cheating and defective perception do not occur in the words of the authoritative sages." (Cc, Adi. 2.86)

There are indeed many defects in this material world. Certainly the material bodies of all living beings are defective. Even the pure devotee has to pass stool. However, because the pure devotee is fully surrendered to the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord all his apparent defects are ignored and the Supreme Lord accepts him as His very own. Indeed, the Supreme Lord even embraces the so-called material body (even diseased body) of his pure devotee. Such was the case with Sanatana Gosvami who was embraced by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

more na chuniha, prabhu, padon tomara paya
eke nica-jati adhama, ara knadu-rasa gaya

"My Lord, please do not touch me. I fall at your lotus feet. I am the lowest of men, having been born of a low caste. Besides that, I have infections on my body." (Cc, Antya. 4.20)

balatkare prabhu tanre alingana kaila
kandu-kleda mahaprabhu sri-ange lagila

"Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, however, embraced Sanatana Goswami by force. Thus the moisture oozing from the itching sores touched the transcendental body of Sri Caitanya." (Cc, Antya. 4.21)

prabhu kahe, —“vaisnava-deha ‘prakrta’ kabhu naya
‘aprakrta’ deha bhaktera ‘cid-ananda-maya’

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “The body of a devotee is never material. It is considered to be transcendental. Full of spiritual bliss.” (Cc, Antya. 4.191)

diksa-kale bhakta kare atma-samarpana
sei-kale krsna tare kare atma-sama

Mahaprabhu continued, “At the time of initiation, when a devotee fully surrenders unto the service of the Lord, Krsna accepts him to be as good as Himself.” (Cc, Antya. 4.192

The Supreme Lord can ignore the apparent defects of the pure devotee and embrace him to His heart but the scholars, because they lack faith in God, cannot do so.

Perfection cannot be found in the objective study of this material world or in the objective study of the pure devotee or the Supreme Lord. When seen with the eye of empirical knowledge even God Himself is seen to have so many 'failings.' Therefore, perfection can only be seen with the subjective eye or with subjective knowledge. As Srila Prabhupada used to say, "Don't see the tree, see Krsna."

To the scholar this may appear as a type of self-imposed hypnosis, but in reality it is the scholar who is under the hypnosis of the material energy and it is the pure devotee who is able to see the truth, by the grace of Hari, Guru, and Vaisnava.

If one considers the pure devotee (or guru) as an ordinary mortal, all his endeavors to know the truth are a useless waste of time. This is the main defect in the scholars.

kim ca satyam bhuyasyam api bhaktau, gurau manusya-buddhitve sarvam eva vyarthan bhavatity-aha yasyeti. saksad bhagavati bhagavad-amsa-buddhir api gurau na karyeti bhavah.

"It is most important to understand that even if someone performs intense devotional practices to the Lord, it is a useless waste of time if he considers his guru to be an ordinary mortal. This is pointed out in this verse. The words saksad-bhagavati clearly means that the spiritual master must be considered to be the Supreme Lord Himself and not even a mere expansion of Him." (Srila Visvanatha Cakravartipada in his commentary to the Bhagavatam 7.15.26)

However, scholars do not like to admit that there is actually anyone who is above their own misgivings. To the scholars, spirituality is more or less an intellectual exercise. And sraddha or faith (the very foundation of spiritual life) is considered by scholars to be a mental conjecture. Being the victims of a poor fund of knowledge the scholars do not know that sraddha (faith) is a spiritual substance more real than all their empirical knowledge and research combined.

Mr. Brzezinski states that he thinks that Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has counterfeited three books: Caitanya-upanisad, Prema-vivarta and Navadvipa-satakam. As evidence Brzezinski says that the falsity of the books is obvious in that they were "found by chance in mysterious circumstances only to disappear again" and that "the text contains elements of language and content that not only point to a modern origin, but to the very person who claims to have found the manuscript."

That Brzezinski finds fault with the "mysterious circumstances" surrounding Bhaktivinoda's discovery seems in itself a strange complaint for one who has supposedly studied Indian spiritual traditions. Indeed, 'mysterious' is a circumstance that surrounds almost all Divine occurrences in India or for that matter all Divine occurrences throughout the whole world.

There is an example in the Sri-sampradaya of the loss of and then the later rediscovery of the 4000 verses of the Prabandhams written by the Alvars in ancient times, which is certainly mysterious. All but ten verses of the 4000 Prabandhams (the Tamil Veda) had been lost for many centuries. One day in the village of Kattumannar Koil, the celebrated Vaishnava, Nathamuni heard a group of devotees chanting ten beautiful hymns in Tamil. As he listened, he discovered that the name of the author was Satakopa (Nammalvar) and that the ten verses that the devotees recited were only a part of the original 1000 stanzas.

Nathamuni then questioned the devotees but they knew virtually nothing, except that if he went to the town of Tirukurugur maybe someone there could help him.

On reaching Tirukurugur, Nathamuni went door-to-door inquiring from all the inhabitants of that place, but to no avail. Finally one man told him that he should question a local mendicant whose name was Parankusa Dasar. Prostrating before Parankusa Dasar, Nathamuni told him of his mission and asked him for help. Parankusa Dasar explained that the hymns were known as the Prabandhams and had been composed by great devotees centuries before, but in time they had become lost. In order to retrieve them, Nathamuni was told by Parankusa Dasar to recite the prayers of Madhurakavi praising Nammalvar 20,000 times. Parankusa Dasar had procured a copy of these ancient hymns and he readily gave them to Nathamuni with the further instruction that he should recite them under Nammalvar's tamarind tree in Tirunagari.

Nathamuni performed this penance and on completion he was blessed with the vision of Nammalvar. The Alvar inquired why Nathamuni was engaging in such austerities. Nathamuni answered, "You who opened the inner-eye of Madhurakavi! You who gave the essence of the Vedas in Tamil! You who are called Satakopan! Please bless me by revealing these 1000 hymns." Nammalvar informed Nathamuni that there were in fact 4000 hymns, not 1000, and went on to teach him all the Prabandhams of the Alvars, along with their esoteric meanings.

After learning the Prabandhams, Nathamuni went on to codify them into four sections and put them to music according to the instructions of Nammalvar. (Note: Nammalvar had been deceased for about 4000 years by the time of Nathamuni)

This short story from Sri Vaisnava tradition, is certainly mysterious. The fact is that there is no empirical evidence that such a revelation ever occurred to Nathamuni or that the Alwars actually composed the Prabandhams in the first place. Verifiable or not, the 4000 verses of the Prabandhams currently exist and they are accepted by all Sri Vaisnavas as having been written by the Alvars.

If maintaining the original document of any given literature were necessary proof of origin then where is the proof that Vyasadeva wrote the Vedas, Puranas, Mahabharata, and so on? Unfortunately, the original manuscripts of Vyasadeva do not exist, yet only a 'doubting Thomas' has reservations about who actually wrote the Vedas.

It seems that the scholars should have realized by now that the people in India (especially in the past) were not at all concerned with preserving original materials other than the Deity. What they were concerned with however, and which is far more lasting, is the tradition of the guru-disciple succession - that being a living thing.

It is doubtful that Srila Bhaktivinoda found the original Caitanya-upanisad written by the hand of Vyasadeva. If so it would have been close to 5000 years old. In all likelihood the text that Bhaktivinoda received must have been very old and in poor condition. Considering this as a possibility, after its publication the original document may well have been consecrated to the ocean or the Ganga as was the practice in India for thousands of years or the text may even have been returned to its original owner. Have the scholars taken the time and trouble to find out or are they simply being carried away by their assumptions?

What we do know is that it is mentioned by the biographers of Bhaktivinoda Thakura that, "Thakura Bhaktivinoda of village Chotimangalpura in Kendrapara District, Orissa, also collected the Sri Caitanya Upanisad of the Paippalada branch from Pandita Madhusudana Dasa of Sambalpura, Orissa, publishing it in 1887 (the same year as its discovery).

It is peculiar why Brzezinski has suggested that the Caitanya-upanisad contains elements of language that point to a modern origin when in fact the text of the Caitanya-upanisad is written in classical Sanskrit with "svara"(only taught in South India), which is not practiced even in Bengal. We have shown the text of Caitanya-upanisad to several Sanskrit scholars at the Sanskrta-Sansodhana-Samsat Academy of Sanskrit Research in South India and their comments were the same, "The text is in perfect Vedic Sanskrit and the 'svara' shows its origin to be from antiquity."

It is also interesting to note that Bhaktivinoda Thakura himself had only a modest knowledge, no formal training, of Sanskrit. Bhaktivinoda received some tutoring in Sanskrit from Isvarachandra Vidyasagara and Satyendranatha Tagore in Calcutta in 1874 and then began some writings in Sanskrit. So it is unlikely, given his limited experience in Sanskrit, that Bhaktivinode would ever have written such a classical Sanskrit text 'with svara' as Caitanya-upanisad.

That the Prema-vivarta has elements of the Bengali of Bhaktivinoda's time is also not surprising. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura published his books for the benefit of the devotees at large and could easily have changed some of the grammar to suit his audience. This is called editing, not cheating or lying as Brzezinski suggests. The same is true of Navadvipa-satakam, written in Sanskrit of the Bengali style.

In any case we are happy with the conclusion of many senior Vaisnavas that Bhaktivinoda received many of his writings via Divine Revelation.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was a highly qualified acarya and as such, nothing to date has been substantially shown to stain his spotless record. Only the limited ability of the scholars to understand Divine Revelation seems to be the real issue at hand (the "masi bindu" is on the scholars).

In this regard one may be interested to hear what Sarasvati Thakura had to say regarding Divine Revelation, as opposed to the comparative study of religion by modern scholars.

Sarasvati Thakura: "Sri Krsna Caitanya insists on the transcendence of the worship of Godhead with an emphasis that distinguishes His teaching from that of all the prophets and teachers of religion. The mystery of the worship of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna, taught and practiced by Him and His followers, is unapproachable by any mundane contrivance. It is for overlooking this fundamental consideration that the comparative study of religion by modern scholars has so utterly failed to produce unanimity of conviction. It is high time to pay our best attention to the proper method of approaching the transcendence which is part and parcel of the revelations." (The Harmonist, Statement of Purpose, Sept. 9, 1935)

Furthermore one may be interested to hear what Srila B.R. Sridhara Maharaja had to say about this matter.

Sridhara Maharaja: "That (Caitanya-upanisad) may not be found anywhere. This detail also, Brahma-samhita is not to be found, it is taken by Caitanyadeva. It is written by Caitanyadeva? Bhaktivinoda Thakura has written and we do not find any book by Caitanyadeva. If Brahma-samhita comes from Him, then we are very much proud and we are satisfied that He has left at least one book. But Jiva Gosvami has shown, written, that there was really Brahma-samhita, with one hundred chapters and this is one chapter out of that."

Devotee: "Prema-vivarta was written by Bhaktivinoda, somebody told, not Jagadananda."

Sridhara Maharaja: "If we can think that the teachings of Sri Caitanyadeva are the highest, full-fledged theism as told by Prabhupada and Bhagavat is the highest development, then that has got reality, that is true, that cannot but be true. Whatever is felt, any more, any single division, that is generally bona-fide."

"That is the only truth. That the revealed truth means that thousands and thousands of years back it was revealed in some rsi and that the revelation cannot come at present. I don't think like that. Any time the revelation may come to support this highest form of theism, whatever the revelation. I also told that this Jaiva Dharma, it is fictitious, but I think that these things actually must have been true, found in the creation. When it has come in the consciousness of Bhaktivinoda Thakura, it is not contradictory. It is floating and sometimes appearing and sometimes disappearing. It is all eternal truth. Hare Krsna. Gaura Haribol. Nitai-Gaura." (Darsana, Sri Caitanya Sarasvata Matha, July 20, 1983)

Devotee: "That deals more philosophically. He deals philosophically in that book, Prema-vivarta."

Sridhara Maharaja: "Yes, many things in the name of Gauranga, association mentioned there which helps much for the propaganda of Gaudiya Matha. So a particular section, the opposition camp of Gaudiya Matha they say that in the name of Jagadananda this is written by Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Their opinion is such because that book supports Gaudiya Matha decision very well. Just as the sahajiya section they think that when we live in Puri, the maha-prasada, no observance of Ekadasi necessary. In Caitanya-caritamrta it is found. So when there is maha-prasada, even Ekadasi day we should not fast, take maha-prasada. But in Jagadananda Pandita's Prema-vivarta it is clearly written that Mahaprabhu was offered maha-prasadam, but He touched it on His head and He kept it respectfully and the whole day and night chanted sankirtana, then after that He took that prasadam. It is mentioned there."

"Similarly many things which are very helpful for the preachers of the Gaudiya Matha - it is found there (Prema-vivarta) proof positive. So one Professor Majumdar, one scholar he was university professor. Perhaps he came from the sahajiya family or so. At least he accepted something of Mahaprabhu but he could not tolerate the criticism of the sahajiya section from Gaudiya Matha. So he has written a book and there he has mentioned carefully, very cleverly, who has written this book (Prema-vivarta) is not clearly known, but what the Gaudiya Matha people they preach, they have got full support from this book (Prema-vivarta)." (Darsana, Sri Caitanya Sarasvata Matha, Feb. 11,1982)

Historically it looks like the sahajiya section was the first to lodge a complaint against the authorship of Prema-vivarta and the scholars simply picked up on the argument later on.

However, Srila Sridhara Maharaja fully supported the idea that Bhaktivinoda Thakura received many of his writings via Divine Revelation and not by the process of speculation, intellectual achievement, or mental conjecture. What Bhaktivinoda Thakura wrote throughout his books exists in eternity and Bhaktivinoda has received that through Divine Revelation.

We accept the opinion of Srila Sridhara Maharaja as regards the Divine Revelation of Bhaktivinoda Thakura because we feel that Srila Sridhara Maharaja's opinion has its roots in higher realization. The realizations of Srila Sridhara Maharaja were, in fact many times confirmed in the presence of his guru and in later years by senior Vaisnavas. Should we accept the opinions of conditioned souls (scholars) or should we accept the opinions of the tattva-darsis, (Bg. 4.34) those who have seen the truth? Our choice is obvious - we accept the tattva-darsis.

Scholarship Revelation
Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami

Some scholars conjecture that although Kaviraja Gosvami narrates in his Caitanya-caritamrta that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu found the text of Brahma-samhita being recited at the Adi Kesava temple in the remote village of Tiruvattar, near Kanya Kumari, that it was actually Sri Caitanya who wrote the Brahma-samhita in order to give support to His own conception of Krsna. This view is commonly held among modern scholars.

Thus according to scholars the revered Kaviraja Gosvami was also a liar as Brzezinski suggests of Bhaktivinoda. One might wonder if Brzezinski would agree with his fellow scholars that the integrity of Kaviraja Gosvami was also not above suspicion. Indeed, Brzezinski does think exactly that. In another of his articles "Prabodhananda Sarasvati - From Banaras to Braj" on the identity of Prabodananda and Prakasananda, Brzezinski states that the story of the conversion of Prakasananda as told by Kaviraja Gosvami "cannot be accepted as entirely true."

Thus Brzezinski joins hands with a host of mundane scholars and ridicules the most revered biographer of the pastimes of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Not only does Brzezinski belittle Kaviraja Gosvami, but he indirectly belittles the Supreme Lord for it is the admission of Kaviraja Gosvami that he does not write Caitanya-caritamrta. Kaviraja Gosvami says that Caitanya-caritamrta is the dictation of Sri Madana Mohana.

ei grantha lekhaya more 'madana-mohana'
amara likhana yena sukera pathana

"Actually Sri Caitanya-caritamrta is not my writing but the dictation of Sri Madana-mohana. My writing is like the repetition of a parrot."

What we find lacking in some scholars, rather than lacking in our acaryas, is their own integrity. Are the scholars unbiased souls in search of truth or do they have some agenda, such as to destroy the very fiber of Divinity, the very fiber of the Gaudiya-sampradaya? My suspicion is that their motives are something other than pure.

It is interesting to note that many of the arguments that Brzezinski presents against the Gaudiya Matha and Iskcon sampradayas are almost identical to those found in an essay written by the scholar Sundarananda Vidyavinoda. This scholar was a disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, but he later rejected his guru and vilified the Gaudiya Matha and its founder. One might wonder if Brzezinski has taken his arguments directly from Sundarananda Vidyavinoda or whether he was tutored by someone who was familiar with such arguments?

The various complaints that Brzezinski makes in his articles against Gaudiya Matha and Iskcon, such as; Yoga-pitha not being the real birth site of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, sannyasa not being authorized for Kali-yuga, whether or not Sarasvati Thakura was actually initiated by Gaura Kishora Dasa Babaji, Bhaktivinoda having presented false literature, the Gaudiya-sampradaya not having an actual link with the Madhva-sampradaya and more, are for the most part all reiterations of arguments made against the Gaudiya Matha almost 60 years ago by Sundarananda Vidyavinoda. By comparison it begins to look like Brzezinski is the reincarnation of Sundarananda Vidyavinoda.

Indeed, in more ways than one Brzezinski is in a position quite like that of Sundarananda. Unfortunately in the same way as Sundarananda rejected his guru (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta) so Brzezinski (once Hiranyagarbha Dasa) also rejected his guru (Srila Prabhupada). Brzezinski rejected his guru shortly after the disappearance of Srila Prabhupada. Having rejected Srila Prabhupada, Brzezinski took initiation from Lalita Prasada. Brzezinski took babaji-vesa and siddha-pranali from Lalita Prasada but later gave that up to become a family man and a scholar. And now it seems that Brzezinski is also rejecting Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the guru of Lalita Prasada.

It is mentioned in the Puranas and also stated by Sri Jiva Gosvami that one who rejects his guru is as good as an atheist.

bodhah kalusitas tena, dauratmyam prakati-krtam
gurur yena parityaktas, tena tyaktah pura harih

"One pollutes his own intelligence and exhibits severe weakness of character when he rejects his own spiritual master. Indeed, such a person has factually already rejected Lord Hari." (Bhakti-sandarbha, Annucheda 207 quoting Brahma-vaivarta Purana)

Our humble thinking is that only the opinions of pure devotees (acaryas) and the opinions of the faithful disciples of such acaryas are of any value to the practicing devotees. Let the so-called scholars first surrender to the lotus feet of Sri Guru and Krsna. Then we may give some attention and credit to their opinions - otherwise not.

(quote from Jan Brzezinski, "Bhaktivinode's Relationship With Bipin Bihari Goswami,"

"However, three books that the Thakur published as ancient works were almost certainly composed by him. These three -- Caitanyopanisad (1887), Prema-vivarta (1906) and Navadvipa-satakam (n.d.) have certain common characteristics - they were all connected to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the glorification of his birthplace. The motives are fairly clear: the Thakur was trying to promote Mahaprabhu's birthplace and he did it in a fashion time-honored in India. He simply wrote the material he needed and attributed it to someone who had historical credibility. Rather than attributing his works to Vyasa or Narottam Das Thakur as did the counterfeiters of the past, he used the names of Jagadananda Pandit and Prabodhananda Saraswati.

"Bhaktivinoda Thakur did in fact publish many rare manuscripts of genuine Vaishnava literature, such as Sri Krishna Vijaya, many padyavalis, etc. He was not the only one in his time who yielded to the temptation of counterfeiting. Nevertheless, I personally find it problematic that someone who contributed so much to the Vaishnava religion, who worked so hard to instill a spirit of morality and honesty into Vaishnavism, whose life was in general a monument of commitment to service to Mahaprabhu and His principles, who in his worldly life was a justice and so presumably knew a thing or two about ethics and the law, saw fit to take such a chance.

"Furthermore, in view of his familiarity with scholarly historical method, it is hard to understand how he thought that he could get away with it. Perhaps he thought his personal probity put him above suspicion. But did he really think that a single manuscript found by chance in mysterious circumstances only to disappear again after its publication would not cause people to examine the published text more carefully? And if that text contains elements of language and content that not only point to a modern origin, but to the very person who claims to have found the manuscript, will our suspicions not be confirmed?

"I can only say that in his enthusiasm to see Mahaprabhu's birthplace be glorified and become a center of pilgrimage - as it has indeed become - the Thakur took a chance with his personal reputation and that of his religion. He succeeded in making Mayapur a magnet for pilgrims from around the world. His disciples, grand-disciples and great-grand-disciples have succeeded in creating an environment that is quite extraordinary. Nevertheless, one cannot help but wonder at the masi-bindu that stains his otherwise sparkling white cloth. Can we not expect people to ask the question that naturally arises: How can a religion that needs lies to spread its message make any claims to be the truth.

"It does not give me pleasure to remind us, who are accustomed to thinking negatively of Bipin Bihari Goswami as someone who was rejected for his caste consciousness and bad habits like tobacco smoking, that he publicly renounced Bhaktivinoda Thakur as his disciple shortly before dying in 1919. The reason he gave for this drastic act was precisely for 'preaching falsehoods' connected to the birthplace of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. It is easy to condemn Bipin Bihari Prabhu for having some self-interest in this matter, but the doubts that have been brought up in this article tend to give justification to the Goswami.

"I find it rather painful to bring the matter up, and I do so in the full expectation of being heartily condemned, but I would like to see those who love the Holy Name and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu face this problem head on, much in the way that Roman Catholics have decided to accept the terrible things in their history - things which are many times worse than those we have mentioned here - and still find a way to justify their faith.

"Faith has to be honest to be genuine, and such honesty has to extend to our forefathers, even those to whom we have attributed the highest spiritual perfection. It is a shock to accept that our divinities may have had human failings, but I think this is a necessary step in facing our own failings.

"Human psychology is such that we often compensate for our own human frailties by placing faith in someone else. We say, I am not perfect, but my guru is. I have no personal qualifications, but this does not matter because the parampara is perfect. This is a psychological trick and results in ego-inflation. By identifying with the guru and the parampara, we appropriate their perfection and their authority for ourselves. Unfortunately, this expands into the kind of distorted personal psychology that is not only historically present in Iskcon, but in many of the interactions between devotees who are otherwise sincere."