Srila Prabhupada – Igniting the spark…

Hare Krishna dear devotees,

As we read Srimad Bhagavatam we find that most verses speak directly about the process and instructions Srila Prabhupada gave us. One can’t miss seeing how Srimad Bhagavatam is non different from a person Bhagavat, their teachings being the same.

Let us ‘churn’ the below verse from Srimad Bhagavatam.

ucchiṣṭa-lepān anumodito dvijaiḥ
sakṛt sma bhuñje tad-apāsta-kilbiṣaḥ 
evaṁ pravṛttasya viśuddha-cetasas
tad-dharma evātma-ruciḥ prajāyate 

Once only, by their permission, I took the remnants of their food, and by so doing all my sins were at once eradicated. Thus being engaged, I became purified in heart, and at that time the very nature of the transcendentalist became attractive to me.

(SB 1.5.25)

By their permission: One needs qualification to read vedic scriptures. Even during vedic age there were conditions, based upon one’s qualification, as to who all could read Vedas, Upanishad, puranas, etc. One simply can not pick them like an ordinary book and start reading them.

If one had to have a qualification in vedic age then we can understand how many of us are qualified today in kali yuga to read our scriptures.  When Sri Caitnaya Mahaprabhu came , He openly gave Hare Krishna Maha mantra to everyone, irrespective of their qualification, class or creed, as everyone was unqualified. The lack of qualification itself became the qualification to receive unqualified mercy from the Supreme Lord. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu encouraged His associates to distribute the Holy Name to everyone, as far and wide they could.

In the same glorious disciplic line came Srila Prabhupada who took upon the mission and desire of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and not just translated the two main scriptures for Kali Yuga- Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam, but also pushed his disciples to distribute it all over world, irrespective of nationality, color, qualification, etc. , at a scale which is unprecedented in modern history.

So not only we have the permission to read these scriptures but we also have the blessings of Srila Prabhupada and the entire parampara going up to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, rather we receive spiritual benediction by reading them.

I took the remnants of their food: When we read Srila Prabhupada’s books, which he said were his ‘personal ecstasies’, then in a way we are receiving his remnants.

We can get a glimpse of the ‘storehouse’ these trascendental ‘remnants’ are coming to us, and what would be the result of ‘eating’ these remnants, by reading below verses from Caitanya Caritmrta

The characteristics of Krishna are understood to be a storehouse of transcendental love. Although that storehouse of love certainly came with Krishna when He was present, it was sealed. But when Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu came with His associates of the Pañca-tattva, they broke the seal and plundered the storehouse to taste transcendental love of Krishna. The more they tasted it, the more their thirst for it grew.

Śrī Pañca-tattva themselves danced again and again and thus made it easier to drink nectarean love of Godhead. They danced, cried, laughed and chanted like madmen, and in this way they distributed love of Godhead.

In distributing love of Godhead, Caitanya Mahāprabhu and His associates did not consider who was a fit candidate and who was not, nor where such distribution should or should not take place. They made no conditions. Wherever they got the opportunity, the members of the Pañca-tattva distributed love of Godhead.

Although the members of the Pañca-tattva plundered the storehouse of
love of Godhead and ate and distributed its contents, there was no scarcity, for this wonderful storehouse is so complete that as the love is distributed, the supply increases hundreds of times.

The flood of love of Godhead swelled in all directions, and thus young men, old men, women and children were all immersed in that inundation.

The Krishna consciousness movement will inundate the entire world and drown everyone, whether one be a gentleman, a rogue or even lame, invalid or blind.

(CC Adi 7.20-26)

And by doing so all my sins were at once eradicated:We all have experience how only by reading Srila Prabhupada books our propensity to engage in sinful activities decreased in no time. For many of us it was nothing less than a miracle!

Thus being engaged: From thinking, feeling and to action, everything happens like magic. We immediately develop feelings to serve Krishna, whether it is voluntarily accepting some service at our local temple or a group, serving Krishna and Tulasi Maharani at home, we get quickly engaged in some service.

I became purified in heart : The first shower of mercy on a new reader does not depend upon their good qualities or any qualification. We gradually develop some good qualities by the mercy and potency of Srila Prabhupada, and then they in turn become the cause of further mercy. This cycle is ever expanding.

and at that time the very nature of the transcendentalist became attractive to me: As we read, everything about this world, and the spiritual world, it all starts making sense, it is as if all the pieces of the puzzle are gradually falling into place. As we read Srila Prabhupada books we receive the knowledge flowing down from the scriptures.

This knowledge repeatedly speaks about Sambandha jnana, Who am I, who is God, what is material energy and what is the relationship between all three of them. Once we get the Sambhandha jnana then our goal (prayojana) changes, and we feel internally inspired towards this goal and start the process- Abhideya.

Only once: All this begins by reading just one book of Srila Prabhupada!

So what really happens?

When we read Srila Prabhupada books we get a very precious gift, they ignite a spark of faith and love for Krishna within us.

So ādau śraddhā, how to increase. That is given direction by Rūpa Gosvāmī. This faith, ādau śraddhā tataḥ sādhu-saṅga. If you have little faith don’t try to demolish it. Try to increase it. Just like if there is little spark of fire, if you fan it, it increases. Increases. And you have several times… In this temple, when there is yajsa performance we ignite fire. So we take a little small piece of wood and ignite it. Then gradually it becomes blazing fire. Similarly, this faith is just like little fire, and you have to fan it very nicely.

                                            ( Lecture on BG 10.8 — New York, January 7, 1967)

If you follow these principles, automatically the loving propensity will awaken. It is already there. It is not artificial. It has simply to be awakened by a certain process. So that process we are prescribing: to rise early in the morning, have maìgala-ärätrika, worship Deity, offer foodstuff, eat prasadam, chant Hare Krishna. Anyone who will follow this principle, he will become purified. There is no need of education, because the devotion is already there.
By following these rules and regulations, it will be awakened. As…, as, as in this straw there is fire. Now you ignite it and just fan it, and the fire will come. It is already there, fire. But you know, you must know the process how to ignite fire. Huge fire will come. You can burn the whole garden from this straw. Is it not? So you must know the process, how to ignite fire. Fire is already there, in these trees, in these straws, in this grass. Fire is already there.That…, that is the process. First of all, you must know that fire is already there. Now ignite. Then it comes smoke. Then burning, blazing. So the blazing fire is required. But that will come gradually, if you follow the process.

                                                                                   (Lecture, 14th June, 1974, Paris)

Because we are very minute spark of Krishna, as the spark has the chance of being extinguished out of the fire, similarly, being separated from Krishna, being entangled in this material energy, we have forgotten. Our spiritual quality, burning quality, just like fire, that is now extinguished. It is not exactly extinguished; almost extinguished. We have forgotten. But it can be again brought into the original position by fanning. Just like there is small fire in the charcoal. You fan it, and it will gradually become a big fire. So this Krishna consciousness movement is fanning that spiritual spark to come into full consciousness. Go on fanning like that.

(Lecture, 22 Dec 1973, Los Angeles)

Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport to the above SB verse, SB 1.5.25 : Pure devotion is as much infectious, in a good sense, as infectious diseases.

We need regular association of Srila Prabhupada’s books for us to be ‘infected’ by this transcendental infection.

Here is the remedy for eliminating all inauspicious things within the heart, which are considered to be obstacles in the path of self-realization. The remedy is the association of the Bhāgavatas. There are two types of Bhāgavatas, namely the book Bhāgavata and the devotee Bhāgavata. Both the Bhāgavatas are competent remedies, and both of them or either of them can be good enough to eliminate the obstacles. A devotee Bhāgavata is as good as the book Bhāgavata because the devotee Bhāgavata leads his life in terms of the book Bhāgavata and the book Bhāgavata is full of information about the Personality of Godhead and His pure devotees, who are also Bhāgavatas. Bhāgavata book and person are identical.

(SB 1.2.18p)

Our disease has been diagnosed, the remedy is there, now it is up to us to make good use of this abundant mercy and potency flowing via Srila Prabhupada books, by reading them every day.

 

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga

All glories to Srila Prabhupada

Your servant,

Giriraj dasa

 

Seeing beyond contradictions.

Hare Krishna.

17th December, 2015. Gurgaon.

Krishna

So many times one come across apparent contradictions in scriptures. Yesterday I read a beautiful explanation of inconceivable nature of Krishna by HH Romapada maharaj in reply to a question at http://www.dandavats.com. It is so nice to hear explanations on such topics from a self realised soul, suddenly inconceivable becomes conceivable.

Question: I have a question regarding a statement I heard in the past and remembered recently: Seeming paradoxes are found in various places in scripture. For instance, in one scripture it may be said “all the forms of the Lord are equal,” while in another it may be said, “no other form of the Lord is as complete as Krishna.” While he didn’t use this particular example, I have heard from an advanced Vaishnava that such “contradictions” force us as readers to stop and contemplate instead of speeding along thinking that we understand things. I’m wondering if this understanding is correct and if you can elaborate to provide clearer understanding?

Romapada Swami

HH Romapada Swami: As you have hinted within your question, what ‘appears’ to be paradoxes or contradictions within scripture are only seemingly so; factually, there is no real contradiction.

In some instances, scriptures are deliberately filled with apparent double-talk. A typical example is the language of the Upanishads: e.g., “The Supreme Lord walks and does not walk. He is far away, but He is very near as well. He is within everything, and yet He is outside of everything.” (Isopanishad Mantra 5) Such contradictory statements are provided to indicate His inconceivable, transcendental nature. He walks, but His walking is nothing like the walking within this mundane realm. So, thanks to these paradoxes, we are induced to reconsider and reform the deep-rooted material conceptions in our mind when contemplating the Supreme Absolute Truth.

It is not necessarily that all such contradictions are purposefully presented by the scriptures in order to get us to contemplate. It is just the nature of Absolute Truth, which appears to us to be contradictory when we try to capture it within the limited vocabulary of language or within the limited framework of our material mind and intelligence. But by patient and repeated aural reception of the whole message, and by receiving clarification from a realized soul, such contradictions become resolved. The Bhaktivedanta Purports explicitly serve this purpose!

Some of these apparent contradictions, which often become topics of debate among inter-faith discussions, are resolved by understanding the example of higher and lower level mathematics. One may learn in a simple way in elementary math that it is not possible to subtract a bigger number from a smaller one, but as one progressively learns the concepts of negative numbers, rational and irrational numbers, imaginary numbers and so on, instead of seeing contradictions, one’s understanding becomes wider and deeper.

Are they really contradictions?

Often, what appears as contradiction is due to our own lack of understanding or preconceptions about what God or spiritual life must look like. Sometimes it is seen that even when Reality is presented in a very simple and straightforward manner, people find it hard to reconcile. A common example is in understanding how Krishna favors His devotees like the Pandavas. God is supposed to be impartial and yet He gives different rewards to different living entities and He particularly seems to favor and take the side of His devotees. This is not a contradiction, but appears to be so because of not understanding that He EQUALLY reciprocates with everyone as they approach Him. As one’s spiritual understanding and realization matures, such things cease to be contradictions but rather become another impetus for deeply appreciating the qualities of Krishna.

Another way to understand the same thing is that all contradictions are reconciled in the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna. That is to say, He is simultaneously equal and yet different from all of His other expansions, He is simultaneously impartial and yet partial to His devotees, He is simultaneously present everywhere and yet never leaves His abode in Vrindavan and so on.

Another fundamental reason for seeing contradictions is often due to not understanding Krishna’s Personal nature; Krishna is a Person and He has desires, likes and dislikes, and freedom. Behind all the variegated arrangements one can experience within the material creation, and behind all His dealings with different living entities — is Krishna’s very personal, loving, compassionate nature and inimitable capacity in reciprocating with His different parts and parcels. How He acts and why He does certain things may not always follow a set pattern or formula. Thus, His will is said to be “inscrutable”.

The common tendency amongst those educated in the modern school of rationalism is to try to subject everything, including spiritual topics, to analysis and rationalization and reductionism — but these tools fail us miserably in trying to understand Spirit. You are likely to be familiar with the famous example of the five blind men — each of them came up with completely contradictory pictures of the elephant, while in fact none of them were close to whole truth. Our approach to scripture is often like those blind men, and thus we run into many “contradictions”. Therefore, in order to learn the truth, it is indispensable to approach a seeing man, i.e. a self-realized soul. Under the guidance of such a spiritual master, one can systematically learn to reconcile all contradictions and see the Whole Truth.

We can read this and hundreds of more Q&As by HH Romapada maharaj at http://www.romapadaswami.com/node/2753 . We can even post our questions to maharaj at http://askromapadaswami.com/post-a-question

By reading the above wonderful article by HH Romapada maharaj I learnt that there are no contradictions in scriptures, it is our limited understanding, by trying to see everything through our material intelligence and rationale,  lack of realisations (as opposed to mere information) and above all not knowing the personality of Krishna. The solution is to take shelter of a bonafide spiritual master and by patiently AND regularly reading Bhaktivedanta purports. I will share my own experience of ‘repeated’ hearing in a future blog.

All glories to HH Romapada Maharaj.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.