TLC 18 (1968)
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The Conversations With Prakasananda
According to the principles of the Mayavadi Sannyasis, singing, dancing, and playing on musical instruments are strictly prohibited; they are called three kinds of sinful activities. The Mayavadi Sannyasi is supposed to engage his valuable time simply in the matter of Vedanta study. When the Mayavadi Sannyasis in Benares saw that Lord Chaitanya was indulging in singing, dancing and playing musical instruments, and was always chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, they concluded that this Sannyasi was not educated, and, out of sentiment, He was misleading some of the followers. Sankaracharya has said that a Sannyasi should always be engaged in studying Vedanta, and should be satisfied simply having one cloth and nothing more. Lord Chaitanya was neither studying Vedanta in formality, nor did He cease from singing and dancing, and so He was criticized by all the Sannyasis at Benares, as well as by their householder followers.
Lord Chaitanya got this news from His students and disciples, and when He heard that they were all criticizing Him, He simply smiled and started for Mathura and Vrindaban. But He came back again to Benares on His way to Jagannath Puri from Mathura. When He came back to Benares, He stayed at the house of Chandra Sekhar, who was considered a Sudra because he was a clerk. In spite of Sekhar being a Sudra, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu made His residential quarter at his place. Lord Chaitanya made no such distinction between Brahmin or Sudra—anyone devoted, He accepted. Customarily, a Sannyasi is supposed to take shelter in the house of a Brahmin, or eat at the house of a Brahmin, but Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, as the independent Supreme Personality of Godhead, had His own discretion, and He decided to stay at Chandra Sekhar's house.
In those days, by misuse of the Brahminical hereditary principle, the Brahmins made it a law that anyone who was not born of a Brahmin family was a Sudra. So even the Kshatriyas and the Vaidyas were also called Sudras. Vaidyas are supposed to be descendents of Brahmin fathers and Sudra wives, and therefore they are sometimes called Sudras. So Chandra Sekhar Acharya, although born of a Vaidya family, was called, at Benares, a Sudra. As long as Lord Chaitanya stayed at Benares, He stayed at Chandra Sekhar's apartment, and He used to take His food at the place of Tapan Mishra.
When Sanatan Goswami met Lord Chaitanya at Benares he learned from Lord Chaitanya the process and principles of devotional service during two months of continuous teaching. The instructions of Lord Chaitanya to Sanatan Goswami have been described in our First Part of Lord Chaitanya's teachings. After that teaching, Sanatan Goswami was authorized to propagate the principles of devotional service and the Srimad Bhagwatam. But, during this time, both Tapan Mishra and Chandra Sekhar Acharya were feeling very sorry about strong criticism against Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and they came together and prayed for the Lord to meet the Mayavadi Sannyasis.
They informed Lord Chaitanya: "We have been mortified by hearing unfavorable criticism from the Mayavadi Sannyasis against You. It has become intolerable for us." They requested He do something so that these criticisms would be stopped.
While they were thus discussing the criticism of the Mayavadi Sannyasis, a Brahmin came to Lord Chaitanya and invited Him, as he had invited all the other Sannyasis, to his place. Only Chaitanya had not been invited, and so he now had come to invite Him. He knew that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu did not mix with the Mayavadi Sannyasis, and therefore he fell down at Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's feet and implored Him: "Although I know that You do not accept invitations, still, it is my request—please come and take Prasadam at my place with the other Sannyasis. If You accept this invitation it will be considered a special favor to me."
The Lord took this opportunity and accepted the invitation of the Brahmin, in order to meet the Mayavadi Sannyasis. It was, practically, an arrangement made by the Lord Himself. The Brahmin who invited Him knew that Lord Chaitanya did not accept any invitations, but still he was very eager to invite Him.
The next day Lord Chaitanya went to the house of the Brahmin. He saw that all the Mayavadi Sannyasis were sitting there. He offered His respects to all the Sannyasis, as was usual, and then He went to wash His Feet. After washing His Feet, He sat down at that spot, not amongst the Mayavadi Sannyasis, but in a place where water was kept for washing the feet. While He was sitting there, the other Sannyasis saw a glaring effulgence emanating from His body. All the Mayavadi Sannyasis were attracted by this glaring effulgence, and they stood up and showed Him respects. Amongst them there was one Sannyasi whose name was Prakasananda Saraswati. He was the chief amongst all the impersonalist Sannyasis, and he addressed Lord Chaitanya with great humility, and asked Him to come and sit amongst them.
He said, "My dear sir, why are You sitting in that filthy place? Please come and sit with us."
Lord Chaitanya replied: "Oh, I belong to an inferior sect of Sannyasis. Therefore I think I should not sit with you. Let Me sit down here."
Prakasananda Saraswati was surprised to hear such a thing from such a learned man, and he actually took His hand and requested Him to please come and sit down with him. Lord Chaitanya was seated, and Prakasananda Saraswati enquired, "I think Your name is Sri Krishna Chaitanya, and I understand that You belong to our Mayavadi sect because You have taken Your Sannyasa from Keshav Bharati, who belongs to the Sankara Sampradaya."
According to the Sankara sect, there are ten different names for Sannyasi. Out of them, the three names, Tirtha, Asram and Saraswati, are considered to be the most enlightened and cultured among the Sannyasis. Lord Chaitanya was a Vaishnava, and therefore naturally He was humble and meek, and He wanted to give the better place to Prakasananda, who belonged to the Saraswati Sampradaya. According to Sankara principles, a disciple of the Bharatic school is called Chaitanya. But Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, although He took Sannyasa, kept His Brahmachary name, without the title Bharati.
Prakasananada Saraswati inquired from Lord Chaitanya: "Well sir, You belong to our Sankara sect, and You are living at Benares. Why don't You mix with us? What is the reason? Another thing—You are a Sannyasi. You are supposed to engage Your time simply in Vedanta study. But we see that instead of doing that You are always engaged in chanting, dancing, and playing on musical instruments. What are the reasons? These things are done by emotional and sentimental people. But You are a qualified Sannyasi. Why should You not engage Yourself in the study of Vedanta? By Your effulgence it appears to us that You are just like the Supreme Narayana, the Personality of Godhead, but Your behavior appears to be otherwise. So we are inquisitive to know, what are the reasons?"
Lord Chaitanya replied: "My dear sir, I may inform you that My Spiritual Master saw Me as a great fool, and therefore he more or less punished Me and said that, because I am such a fool, I have no jurisdiction in the study of Vedanta. So he kindly gave Me the chanting of Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. My Spiritual Master told Me: 'You go on Chanting this Krishna Mantra, and it will make You all-perfect.'"
Actually, Lord Chaitanya was neither a fool nor ignorant of the principles of Vedanta, but His purpose was to demonstrate to modern society that for fools who have no penance and austerity behind them, and simply for some recreational purpose want to study Vedanta—that is not recommended. In His Sikshastak, Lord Chaitanya said that one should be in a humble state of mind, should think of himself as lower than the grass on the street, more tolerant than the tree, devoid of all false sense of prestige, and ready to offer all kinds of respects to others. In such a state of mind, one can chant Vedanta philosophy or the Holy Name of God constantly. He also wanted to teach that a serious student of transcendental science should follow exactly the words of the Spiritual Master. According to the calculation of the Spiritual Master, Lord Chaitanya appeared to be a fool, so he said that He should not indulge in the study of Vedanta but should go on chanting the Krishna Mantra. Therefore, He strictly obeyed. In other words Lord Chaitanya impressed on the Mayavadis that the words of a bona fide Spiritual Master must be strictly followed. That would make one perfect in all respects.
Vedanta means that the last word of the Vedic knowledge is to understand Krishna: Vedaischa sarvai aham eva vedyam: Actual understanding of the Vedanta is to know Krishna, and our relationship with Krishna. And one who understands Krishna understands everything. The knower of Krishna is always engaged in the transcendental loving service of Krishna. The Lord confirms this in Bhagavad Gita: "I am the Source of everything, and everything emanates from Me. Therefore, one who knows Me perfectly well is fully engaged in My transcendental loving service." A living entity is eternally related with Krishna by that relationship of Master and servant, and once that service is wanting—or, in other words, when one is not situated in Krishna Consciousness—it is to be understood that his study of Vedanta is insufficient. When one does not understand what is Krishna Consciousness, or is not engaged in the trascendental loving service of Lord Krishna, it is to be understood that he is adverse to the study of Vedanta or understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The path shown by Lord Chaitanya in the matter of studying Vedanta philosophy, as explained in this connection, should be followed by all. A person who is puffed up over his so-called education, has no humility and therefore does not seek after the protection of a bona fide Spiritual Master, thinks that he does not require a bona fide Spiritual Master, and, rather by his own effort, he can achieve the highest perfection. Such persons are not eligible for the study of Vedanta Sutra. Those who are under the spell of the material energy, instead of following the instructions of the disciplic succession, try to manufacture something of their own, and thereby step outside the sphere of Vedanta study. A bona fide Spiritual Master must always condemn such independent mental speculators. If the bona fide Spiritual Master directly points out the foolishness of a disciple, that should not be taken otherwise. In other words, a person who is completely innocent in the Science of God is actually not learned. And, more or less, everyone who is not in Krishna Consciousness is subject to that foolishness.
Sometimes we display our foolishness by accepting somebody who is barely even educated as our Spiritual Master. That is another sign of our foolishness. It is our duty to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Whose Lotus Feet are worshipped by all the Vedas. One who does not understand that Supreme Personality of Godhead, and is proud of his false understanding of Vedanta, is actually a fool. Mundane attempts at academic knowledge are another foolishness. So long as one cannot understand the cosmic manifestation as a representation of the three modes of material Nature, one must be considered in the darkness of inebriety and caught in the duality of this material world. Actually, a person who is in perfect knowledge of the Vedanta becomes a servitor of the Supreme Lord, Who is the Maintainer and Sustainer of the whole cosmic manifestation. So long as one is not transcendental to the service of the limited, he cannot be a person with Vedanta knowledge.
So long as one is in the limited jurisdiction of fruitive activities, or involved in mental speculation, he is perhaps eligible for studying or instructing on the theoretical knowledge of Vedanta Sutra, but he cannot be on the platform of understanding the Supreme, Eternal, transcendental (completely liberated) vibration of Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. In other words, anyone who has achieved his perfection in chanting the transcendental vibration Hare Krishna does not have to learn separately the philosophy of Vedanta Sutra.
Persons who are not eligible by thorough understanding of the transcendental vibration as nondifferent from the Supreme, and who try to become Mayavadi philosophers and expert in Vedanta Sutra, are all fools according to the teaching of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, or the bona fide Spiritual Master. To study Vedanta Sutra by the ascending process is another sign of foolishness. On the other hand, he who has attained the taste for chanting the transcendental vibration is actually situated at the conclusion of Vedanta. In this connection there are two verses of Srimad Bhagwatam which are very instructive: The purport of the first is that, even if a person is born in the family of the lowest of human beings, but is engaged in chanting the transcendental vibration, then it is to be understood that he has already performed all kinds of renunciation and austerities, and has performed all kinds of sacrifices, and has studied all the Brahma Sutras—so that he is now able to chant Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The purport of the second verse is that a person who is chanting the two syllables Ha-re (ray) must be considered as having studied all the Vedas: the Rig Veda, Atharva Veda, Yaju Veda and Sama Veda.
On the other hand, there are many so-called devotees who think that Vedanta is meant for a particular class of men, and is not meant for the devotees. They do not know that Vedanta is the only plaform of pure devotees. All the great Acharyas of the four Sampradayas of the Vaishnava sect have made their commentaries on the Vedanta Sutra, but the so-called devotee class, who are known as Prakrita Sahajia, carefully avoid the study of Vedanta Sutra. The Prakrita Sahajia misunderstand the pure devotees and Vaishnav Acharyas as being mental speculators or fruitive actors. As a result of such a conclusion, they themselves become Mayavadis, and leave the service of the Supreme Lord.
Understanding the Vedanta Sutra by academic knowledge never qualifies a man for understanding the value of the transcendental vibration. Such persons who are entangled in academic knowledge are conditioned souls who are confused about the facts of I and My understanding. As such, they are unable to detach their minds from the external energy.
When a person actually attains transcendental knowledge, he becomes free from this duality and becomes engaged in transcendental loving service of the Supreme Lord. The transcendental loving service of the Supreme Lord is the only means for being detached from material activities. A person properly initiated by a bona fide Spiritual Master, and engaged in chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, gradually becomes freed from the conception of I and Mine, and therefore becomes attached to the transcendental loving service, in one of the five different transcendental relationships. Such transcendental service is not subject matter for the gross and subtle bodies. When, however, one can understand that there is no difference between the Supreme and His Name, at that time only can he be situated in Krishna Consciousness. At that time he has no longer any necessity for grammatical adjustment of the language. Rather, he becomes more interested in the subject matter of the address: Hare Krishna—O my Lord, O energy of the Lord, please engage me in Your service!
Lord Chaitanya explained all this to Prakasananda Saraswati and told him that He had heard it from His Spiritual Master in these words. He informed Prakasananda Saraswati that His Spiritual Master had taught Him that the actual commentary on the Vedanta Sutra is Srimad Bhagwatam, as it is stated in the Srimad Bhagwatam by Vyasadeva, the Author of Vedanta Sutra.
The perfection of a student is to understand the identity of the Holy Name and the Supreme Lord. And, without being under the shelter of such a realized Spiritual Master, one's understanding of the Supreme is simply foolishness. One can, however, fully understand the transcendental by service and devovotion. When Lord Chaitanya uttered Krishna without any offense, or when He offenselessly chanted the Krishna Mantra, or Maha Mantra, He declared that it can at once deliver a conditioned soul from the material contamination. In this Age of Kali there is no other alternative to chanting this Maha Mantra. It is stated that the essence of all Vedic literature is to chant this Holy Name of Krishna: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. He also said to Prakasananda Saraswati that, in order to convince Me about this essential fact of Vedic knowledge, he has taught Me a verse from Brihad Naradiya Puranam:
- Harer Nama Harer Nama Harer Nama Eva Kevalam. Kalau Nasteva Nasteva Nasteva Gatir Anyatha.
"In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, the only means of deliverance is to chant the Holy Name of the Lord—and there is no other means of success."
In three out of the four millenniums, namely the Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga and Dvapara Yuga, there was honor in understanding transcendence through the path of disciplic succession. In the present age, on account of Kali, people have no interest in the matter of the disciplic succession, but they have invented many paths of argument and logic. Such an ascending process of understanding transcendence is not approved according to the Vedic way. The Absolute Truth must descend from the Absolute platform. It is not to be understood by the ascending process. The Holy Name of the Lord, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare is a transcendental vibration. Therefore it comes down from the transcendental platform, the Supreme Abode of Krishna. And, because there is no difference between Krishna and His Name, therefore the Holy Name of Krishna is as pure, as perfect, and as liberated as Krishna Himself For understanding the transcendental nature of the Holy Name of God, the academic scholars have no entrance by their logic and argument. The single path to understanding the transcendental nature of Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, is to chant these Names with faith and adherence. Such chanting will release one from the designated conditions of gross and subtle bodies.
In this age of logical argument and disagreement the chanting of Hare Krishna is the only means for self-realization, and because this transcendental vibration alone can deliver the conditioned soul, therefore it is the essence of the Vedanta Sutra. In the material conception there may be duality and differences between the Name, Form, quality, emotion and activities of a person and the person himself; but so far as this transcendental vibration is concerned, there is no such limitation, because it descends from the Spiritual World. In the Spiritual World there is no such difference between the Name of the Person Whose Name is a Quality, and the Person of the Quality. There is no such difference as there is in the material world. The Mayavadi philosophers cannot understand this, and therefore they are not eligible to utter the transcendental vibration.
Lord Chaitanya then said to Prakasananda Saraswati that, because He got that order from His Spiritual Master, therefore He was constantly engaged in chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
"As a result of this chanting, sometimes I become impatient and cannot restrain Myself from dancing and laughing or crying or singing—just like a madman. When I first wondered whether I had become a madman by chanting this Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, I approached My Spiritual Master and informed him that by chanting this Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, 'I am becoming just like a madman, so what is my actual position?'"
In the Narada Pancharatra it is stated that all the Vedic rituals and Mantras and understanding are compressed into the eight words Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare. Similarly, in the Kalisantra Upanishad, it is stated that Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—these sixteen words—are especially meant for counteracting the contamination of Kali. To save oneself from the contamination of Kali there is no other alternative than these sixteen words.
Lord Chaitanya informed Prakasananda Saraswati that when His Spiritual Master understood Him, the Spiritual Master said: "It is the transcendental nature of the Holy Name of Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare to transport a man into spiritual madness. Anyone who sincerely chants this Holy Name is actually elevated very soon onto the platform of love of God, and therefore he becomes mad after Him. This madness of love of God is the first perfectional stage of the human being." Generally the human being is after religiousness, economic development, sense gratification, and liberation. But this love of God is above all such perfections of life, The process is that a bona fide Spiritual Master chants the Holy Name, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, and the transcendental sound vibration enters into the ear of the disciple. If the disciple follows in the footsteps of his Spiritual Master and chants the Holy Name with equal respect, that becomes the worship of the transcendental Name.
When the transcendental Name becomes worshipped by the devotee, the Name Himself spreads His Glories within the heart of the devotee, and when he is perfectly qualified in chanting such transcendental vibration of the Holy Name, he is quite fit to become a Spiritual Master for delivering all the people of the world. The chanting of the Holy Name is so powerful that, gradually, it establishes its supremacy above all in the world. And the devotee who chants it becomes transcendentally situated in ecstasy, and sometimes he laughs and cries• and dances in his ecstasy. Sometimes less intelligent persons put some hindrances in the way of the chanting of Hare Krishna, or the Maha Mantra; but one who is situated on the platform of love of Godhead chants the Holy Name loudly for the benefit of all persons concerned. As a result of that, everyone becomes initiated in chanting the Holy Name, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. By the chanting and hearing of the Holy Name of Krishna, a person can remember the Forms and Qualities of Krishna.