661227 - Lecture CC Madhya 20.353-354 - New York

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His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada



661227CC.NY - December 27, 1966



Prabhupāda:

sarvajña munira vākya-śāstra-'paramāṇa'
āmā-sabā jīvera haya śāstra-dvārā 'jñāna'
(CC Madhya 20.353)

We should always think that we are in the modes of ignorance. We are just trying to make progress from ignorance to the goodness, and then transcend. This is the process of spiritual realization. Nobody should think that, "We are perfect." We cannot be. God is . . . only God is perfect, and we are all imperfect. Even our so-called liberated stage, we are still imperfect. Therefore one has to take shelter of authority because, constitutionally, we are imperfect.

Lord Caitanya says, āmā-sabā jīvera haya śāstra-dvārā 'jñāna. So therefore, for real knowledge, we have to consult the scriptures, śāstra. Sādhu-śāstra-guru. Sādhu means pious, religious, honest person. Sādhu. Whose character is spotless, he's called sādhu. Śāstra means scripture, and guru, guru means spiritual master.

They are on the equal level. Why? Because the medium is scripture. Guru is considered to be liberated because he follows the scripture. Sādhu is considered to be honest and saintly because he follows scripture. Sādhu-śāstra-guru-vākya. Nobody can become a sādhu if he does not accept the principles of scripture. Nobody can be accepted as guru, or spiritual master, if he does not follow the principles of scripture. This is the test.

tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum eva abhigacchet
samit-pāṇiḥ śrotriyaṁ brahma-niṣṭham
(Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 1.2.12)

Śrotriyam, śrotriyam means one who has accepted the Vedic literature, the śāstra, scripture, as the guidance. He can be . . . not a extravagant upstart, he makes some group and religious principle of his own and become a guru. No, he's not guru . . .

So Lord Caitanya advises . . . Sanātana Gosvāmī's enquiry is how to know that he . . . here is a avatāra. So Caitanya Mahāprabhu says the medium is śāstra and direction is the guru. Śāstra . . . also, we cannot understand any book, what to speak of the scripture. Sometimes we find contradiction in the scripture. That is not contradiction; that is my poor fund of knowledge. I cannot understand; therefore assistance of guru, a spiritual master, is required.

So, so far incarnation is concerned, here Lord Caitanya says that we have to see through the śāstra whether a person is incarnation or not. We should not blindly accept anybody as incarnation, because there are, nowadays, numberless incarnations.

avatāra nāhi kahe-'āmi avatāra'
muni saba jāni' kare lakṣaṇa-vicāra
(CC Madhya 20.354)

This is another significance of incarnation. Incarnation never says that, "I am incarnation of God." I have read one book about a big avatāra in India. He was canvassing his students, "Do you now accept me as incarnation? Do you now accept my . . . as incarnation?" And the . . . perhaps you know. (laughs) And the disciple was denying, "No." Then, at a time the disciple said: "Yes, I accept you." So this is not avatāra. Here Caitanya Mahāprabhu says avatāra does not canvass that (chuckles) "I am . . ." Guru does not canvass. Sādhu does not canvass. He automatically, by his quality, he becomes accepted. Yes.

So here Caitanya Mahāprabhu says, avatāra nāhi kahe-'āmi avatāra'. Actually who is avatāra, incarnation, he'll never say that "I am avatāra." Muni saba jāni' kare lakṣaṇa-vicāra. Muni, those who are thinkers, who are actually in the line, they see the symptoms and, with symptoms, they specify, "Yes, here is a avatāra." The symptoms . . . how the symptoms are analyzed of a avatāra?

The symptom is, first symptom is that there is reference in the śāstra, scripture, that in such and such time, such and such personality will come, He is the incarnation of God. Even His father's name, His birthplace, everything is written in the scripture. So we have to identify, lakṣaṇa. Then, He will act like this. He will come as this, and He will act like this.

So these things to be analyzed, whether He is actually avatāra. Now, even there are characteristics, somebody does not accept also. Just like Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu, He never said that "I am avatāra." But from His symptoms, from His characteristics, later on great sages, great philosophers, they decided that He's avatāra. Just like here, Sanātana Gosvāmī is stresting, testing, and he's trying to confirm it by Lord Caitanya.

Because Lord Caitanya described here that in this Kali-yuga the avatāra, His symptoms are like this:

kṛṣṇa-varṇaṁ tviṣākṛṣṇaṁ
sāṅgopāṅgāstra pārṣadam
(SB 11.5.32)

He is in the category of Kṛṣṇa; by His complexion, He's non-black. Akṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa-varṇaṁ tviṣākṛṣṇam. And He's always followed by confidential associates. And people who are intelligent, they worship Him by the process of saṅkīrtana. Saṅkīrtanair yajñaiḥ kalau yajanti hi su-medhasaḥ. Su-medhasaḥ means those persons who are . . . who have got good brain substance. Not foolish persons. Su-medhasaḥ, a man of great brain substance, they can understand, "Oh, here is . . ." That is stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, in Mahābhārata, in Upaniṣad, in Purāṇas about Lord Caitanya's appearance. There are many symptomatic explanation. But still there are many fools, they do not accept.

So accept or no accept, His work, His activities, His characterize . . . characteristics will be known because God will be known. Just like Lord Buddha. Lord Buddha is accepted as incarnation in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. And during the time of Emperor Aśoka, he was patronized, Lord Buddha was patronized . . . not Buddha, or Buddhism was patronized by Aśoka. So practically the whole of Far East, including India, all over, the Buddhism was broadcast and everyone become Buddhist. Whole of India, practically, became Buddhist during his time.

But later on, after Śaṅkarācārya's drive against Buddhism, Buddha-ism . . . Śaṅkarācārya wanted to establish the difference of Buddha-ism and Hinduism is that Buddha-ism, Lord Buddha did not accept Vedic authority. He did not accept Vedic authority. But according to Hindu culture, if somebody does not accept the Vedic authority, then he's not a authority.

Vedānta philosophy, there are different parties in India. The Māyā . . . generally, two parties: the Māyāvāda philosophers and the Vaiṣṇava philosophers, or the impersonalist and the personalist. Otherwise, there is no difference. Ultimately, the Māyāvādī philosophers, they say that God, the Supreme Absolute Truth, is impersonal, and the Vaiṣṇava philosophers, they say in the ultimate, Absolute Truth is Person and He is, He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam (SB 1.3.28). This is little difference, and they stick to their position and they fight. Fight means by philosophical arguments. That is going on since a very long time.

But both of them belong to the sanātana Hindu dharma, because both of them will talk on the Vedānta philosophy. They'll simply, they can give different interpretation, but they cannot say that "We don't accept Vedānta." Oh, that will . . . then it is at once rejected. So one must give an interpretation on the Vedānta philosophy; then he will be accepted as ācārya. Three things: Vedānta philosophy, Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. One must be able to explain these three books. Then he'll be accepted ācārya. These are the principles.

So very recently . . . impersonalists, they also accept avatāra. They accept Kṛṣṇa. Śaṅkarācārya accepted Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam. Sa bhagavān svayam kṛṣṇa. Specifically . . . people may misunderstand that Kṛṣṇa may be some other Kṛṣṇa, because, as the present followers of Śaṅkarācārya, they are interpreting in that way. But Śaṅkarācārya, just to specify Kṛṣṇa, devakī vāsudeva jātaḥ. This means Kṛṣṇa who appeared Himself as the son of Devakī and Vasudeva, that Kṛṣṇa. That Kṛṣṇa.

Just like Śaṅkarācārya has a nice prayer of Kṛṣṇa, the present followers of Śaṅkarācārya, they say . . . they cannot say that this is not composed by Śaṅkarācārya. It is very famous.

bhaja govindaṁ bhaja govindaṁ
bhaja govindaṁ mūḍha mate
prāpte sannihite kāle maraṇe
na hi na hi rakṣati ḍukṛñ-karaṇe
(Śaṅkarācārya)

So there is a very famous prayer made by Śaṅkara . . . Śaṅkarācārya has made many prayers about Kṛṣṇa, especially about His Vṛndāvana līlā he has made. He has worshiped Kṛṣṇa in many ways. And last, this is his last composition of poetry. Bhaja govindaṁ bhaja govindaṁ bhaja govindaṁ mūḍha mate: "You fools, you mūḍha mate . . ." Muḍḥa mate means "you fools." He was addressing the whole world, "you fools." Bhaja govindam: "Just become devotee of Kṛṣṇa. Just become Kṛṣṇa consciousness."

Prāpte sannihite kāle maraṇe na hi na hi rakṣati ḍukṛñ-karaṇe: "You are philosophizing. You are talking on grammar and this way and that way." Because these people, they want to establish impersonalism from Bhagavad-gītā by strength of grammar. Such a nonsense they are. They want to understand God by . . . through grammar. You see? God is so cheap that He can be understood through grammar.

Therefore especially he specified, prāpte sannihite kāle maraṇe: "When death will catch you, your grammar, ḍukṛñ, prata, this will not save you. You fools. You please become Kṛṣṇa conscious, Kṛṣṇa conscious." That was the instruction of Śaṅkarācārya. And he has especially mentioned Bhagavad-gītā and Ganges water. He especially mentions. "A little quantity of Ganges water and a little study of Bhagavad-gītā will save you from many dangerous position."

So, because the symptom is bhagavān, so even Śaṅkarācārya has accepted. But there are many people, they do not accept. Śrī Yamunācārya, Śrī Yamunācārya, a great devotee, he's supposed to be the spiritual master of Rāmānujācārya. He was a great king, and later on he became a great devotee. He has written his Alavandaraya. Alavandaru . . . amongst the Rāmānuja-sampradāya, there are twelve great, I mean to say, ācāryas, and he's one of them. So he has written a very nice verse:

tvāṁ śīla-rūpa-caritaiḥ parama-prakṛṣṭaiḥ
sattvena sāttvikatayā prabalaiś ca śāstraiḥ
prakhyāta-daiva-paramārtha-vidāṁ mattaiś ca
naivāsura-prakṛtayaḥ prabhavanti boddhum
(CC Adi 3.87)

Now, he says, "My dear Lord, those who are asura prakṛtayaḥ . . ." Asura prakṛtayaḥ means the atheistic demons. Atheists are called demons. In the Vedic literature, those who are atheist, they are called demons, rākṣasas. Just like Rāvaṇa, he was a great scholar in Vedic philosophy. He was son of a brahmin, and he was very learned. And he materially advanced his kingdom so nice that his capital was called golden.

He was so rich. Everything, he was, in every way, in education, in opulence, in power, everything was so great. Only fault was that he was atheist. Therefore he's called rākṣasa, asura. All the asuras that are mentioned in the śāstra, their only fault is that they are atheist. Otherwise, from education point of view, from opulence, they are very much advanced. So asura prakṛtayaḥ. In the Bhagavad-gītā also: āsuraṁ bhāvam āśritaḥ.

na māṁ prapadyante mūḍhāḥ
duṣkṛtino narādhamāḥ
māyayāpahṛta-jñānā
āsuri bhāvam āśritāḥ
(BG 7.15)

As soon as one becomes atheist, oh, it is very difficult to convince him. You see? Therefore our preaching should avoid the atheist class. Of course, if we stop that, then we cannot find who is theist in the . . . time is so nice that 99.9% all atheist. So we have to take the risk of talking with atheist also. But generally it is advised that preachers should not touch this atheist class because they'll not . . . they simply argue. Their only point is simply argue and waste your time. That's all. They'll never accept. However you may try to convince him with reason and argument, they'll never . . . and here is a śloka by Yamunācārya. It is, say, about one thousand years before, this was the same condition for the atheist. He says:

tvāṁ śīla-rūpa-caritaiḥ parama-prakṛṣṭaiḥ
sattvena sāttvikatayā prabalaiś ca śāstraiḥ
prakhyāta-daiva-paramārtha-vidāṁ mattaiś ca
naivāsura-prakṛtayaḥ prabhavanti boddhum
(CC Adi 3.87)

There are different kinds of authorities. First authority is śāstra, authorized śāstra, scripture. There the description of avatāra, the characteristics and His work, they are mentioned there. And prabalaiś ca śāstrair. Prabala means the very powerful. Just like Vedānta philosophy, it is very powerful. Bhagavad-gītā, it is very powerful. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, it is very powerful.

So even we give evidences from these powerful śāstra . . . not only that; prakhyāta-daiva-paramārtha-vidāṁ mattaiś ca, with the opinion of great stalwarts like prakhyāta, very famous. Who is that? Just like Vyāsadeva. Who can be more famous than Vyāsadeva? He's the compiler of all Vedic literatures in the world, Vyāsadeva. And Nārada, he's greatest ṛṣi, sage. Asita, Devala—there are many. Vasiṣṭha.

There are many stalwarts. And especially these twelve persons, just like Brahmā, Lord Śiva, Manu, Kapila, Mahārāja Prahlāda, Bhīṣma. There are authorities. So even their evidences in the authorized scriptures, even they are accepted by great stalwarts and the sages and munis, still, the asura prakṛti, those who are atheistic person, they'll never accept. They'll never accept. They'll simply go on arguing.

The process is that if . . . Vedic process is if something is mentioned in the Vedas, and it is accepted by the previous ācārya, then it is accepted; I have nothing to bother. That's all. This is the proce . . . the simple process. Suppose I am a fool number one. That doesn't matter. I may be fool, but if I follow the previous authorized ācārya, then I am all right. Just like a child, he may be a child, innocent child, but if he catches the hand of his father, then he's all right. He can walk. He can cross the street. This is the Vedic process.

Vedic process, research, oh, there is no research in Vedic process. What research, nonsense, you'll do? What sense you have got? You shall research about God? The frog philosophy? (chuckles) There is no research. Research, that is not accepted in Vedic philosophy. You have to accept the authority. That's all.

So here Yamunācārya said, "My dear Lord, tvāṁ śīla-rūpa-caritaiḥ parama-prakṛṣṭaiḥ." Oh, just like Kṛṣṇa, His character, His activities. Now, His character was certified by Bhīṣma. Bhīṣma. Bhīṣma was at that time Arjuna's grandfather. So practically he was, in age, Kṛṣṇa's grandfather, Kṛṣṇa's grandfather, Bhīṣma. He was fighting in the battlefield, a great warrior, kṣatriya, a great . . . he's called pitāmaha, Grandfather Bhīṣma. He's known as Grandfather Bhīṣma. Now, his character is spotless. His character. Although he was living as a householder, he was more, more than any sage or any saint. Bhīṣma.

The history of Bhīṣma is that he was son of Ganges. So Ganges was his mother, and his father, Mahārāja Śāntanu, after the death of his mother, he wanted to marry again. At that time, Bhīṣma was elderly. He was about twenty years old. So father, instead of getting the son married, he was himself very much anxious to get him married. So he selected a very beautiful girl, but she . . . he belonged to a . . . that girl belonged to a low-caste family. Kṣatriyas could find . . . marry from anywhere. That is the injunction. They are not within the boundary of caste system. So the girl was a fisherman's daughter.

So Mahārāja Śāntanu wanted to marry that girl, and the father was very cunning. He said: "No, no. I cannot offer my daughter to you. You are old man. You have got your son. So I cannot offer." He was bargaining. "No? Why? I shall give your daughter a palace. This and that so many years." "No, I can offer you my daughter provided if my daughter's son becomes the king after your death. Then I can offer." So, "That I cannot agree, because my eldest son is living. That I cannot agree." "Then I shall . . ."

So Bhīṣma understood that, "My father wants to marry that girl, but the only impediment is that the father of the girl is making a condition that her son should be king, and my father is declining because I am present; I should be king." Oh, he at once approached the father of the girl, "What is your condition, sir?" "This is my condition." "All right, I shall not accept kingdom of my father. Your daughter's son will be king. I agree to this." "Oh, no. You may agree, but your son will again claim, because you are the proprietor, you are the prince." "Oh, you think so? Then I shall not marry. I shall not marry. Is that all right?"

So then, he was so . . . he promised that "I shall never marry in my life. That's all right? Then marry your daughter to my father." He was so pious and so strict. This Bhīṣma was brahmacārī from the very beginning. And Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira performed Rājasūya yajña. Rājasūya yajña means one who performs that sacrifice in that assembly, all the princes of the world are invited, and they select him as the emperor of the world. That is called Rājasūya yajña.

So in that yajña, there were all princes present, and Kṛṣṇa was proposed to become the president of that assembly, although He was young man. So Kṛṣṇa had many . . . not many—especially two, Śiśupāla and Dantavakra, they were very much against Kṛṣṇa. So they objected, "Oh, Kṛṣṇa cannot be. There are many others." He wanted that he become president. The protest meeting.

At that time, Bhīṣma recommended that, "Nobody is present here spotless character as Kṛṣṇa." He recommended like that. "Kṛṣṇa, when He was sixteen years old, He was surrounded by girls, but He had never sex desire. I am brahmacārī from my birth. I think I could not be such restrained personality as Kṛṣṇa." He recommended like that. That is mentioned in Mahābhārata. So this is character.

So tvāṁ śīla-rūpa-caritaiḥ. Rūpa. It is mentioned that Kṛṣṇa, is mention . . . his . . . just like Lord Caitanya's rūpa is mentioned, tviṣā akṛṣṇa: by complexion He's not black. Similarly, everything is mentioned. So Yamunācārya, that "Your character, Your beauty and Your wonderful work, and accepted . . . you are accepted by great authorities. You are mentioned in the śāstras. In spite of all this, those who are atheist, they will never accept." So the characteristics of avatāra are there in the śāstra. So we should follow that and, in that way, we shall select. That question is being asked by Sanātana Gosvāmī.

We discussed this point yesterday and today also, because it is important point, and further we shall discuss tomorrow.

Thank you very much. (end)