Understanding Srila Prabhupada

I believe that Srila Hridayananda das Goswami Acharyadeva has presented the most lucid, rational and authentic way to understand the teachings of Srila Prabhupada in these words:

“I accept Srila Prabhupada as a pure devotee of Krishna who came to this world to powerfully establish Lord Caitanya’s movement in every town and village. As Prabhupada tirelessly taught us, he speaks infallibly because he repeats the words of Lord Krishna and shastra. He did not invent or concoct anything. He is my eternal spiritual master and I have dedicated my life to serving his mission.  Prabhupada did not claim material omniscience or infallibility, and the scriptures do not claim it for him. Indeed he many times denied that he was materially omniscient or infallible. Thus I see Prabhupada as spiritually perfect, and accept his own clear claim that he is not materially omniscient or infallible.  I sincerely hope ISKCON does not follow the path of the ancient Church that persecuted those who accepted the words of Jesus when he spoke of himself, insisting rather that Jesus was more than he himself claimed to be.”

This is repeatedly confirmed by Srila Prabhupada himself. One such example (of hundreds), is:

“So we are preaching that “Here is God, Krsna.” Our preaching is simple. Krsna says, “I am the Supreme.” We say, “Krsna is the Supreme.” That’s all. We repeat. We don’t manufacture. What is the use of manufacturing? I am imperfect. Whatever I manufacture, that is imperfect. So better to repeat the words of the perfect. That is Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission. He said, “Every one of you become guru and deliver your surrounding persons, either you are in family or in neighborhood or in society or in nation, as much as you can.” Amara ajnaya guru hana tara’ ei desa [Cc. Madhya 7.128]. So whatever limited circle, you just become guru and deliver them. Deliver means deliver from the ignorance. Everyone is in ignorance, dehatma-buddhih. Yasyatma-buddhih kunape tri-dhatuke, sa eva go-kharah [SB 10.84.13]. So we have to teach them that “You are not this body. You are pure soul. Your business is different.” And that is enlightenment. That is the business of guru. So we can do that business. And how to do it? That is… Caitanya Mahaprabhu says, yare dekha tare kaha krsna-upadesa [Cc. Madhya 7.128]. You haven’t got to manufacture anything. What Krsna has already said, you repeat. Finish. Don’t make addition, alteration. Then you become guru. Very simple thing. If I say that “My father said, ‘This is a bell,’ ” I am correct because I have learned it from my father, authority. I may be fool, rascal. It doesn’t matter. But because I have learned it from the authority and presenting it that “This is a bell,” this is perfect. Similarly, I cannot become guru because I am imperfect. My senses are imperfect. I cannot see even what is beyond this wall, although I am very much proud of my eyes. I want to see. What you can see? Imperfect, all senses. But if some authority says that “Beyond this wall this is the…, like this,” it is all right. So we have to follow this path, that you become guru, deliver your neighborhood men, associates, but speak the authoritative words of Krsna. Then it will act. So our, this Krsna consciousness movement is like that. We do not manufacture ideas. That has spoiled the whole world. Just like you said about Christ. That he never said “Supreme Lord.” He said, “I am son of God. I have brought message of Him.” Similarly, our position is that “We have got a message from Krsna. Take it.” So we have no difficulty. Anyone can say. If you study Bhagavad-gita nicely, assimilate and repeat it, it will act. Krsna says, man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru [Bg. 18.65]. We are teaching that “You always think of Krsna. You become a devotee. You worship Him and offer your obeisances.” It doesn’t require that you become very learned scholar. Anyone can do. A child can do. That’s it.”

>>> Ref. VedaBase => Evening Darsana — May 11, 1977, Hrishikesh



Filed under HDG Uvaca, Realizations on Krishna Consciousness

16 responses to “Understanding Srila Prabhupada

  1. True. But why make a big thing out of it?

  2. Arun

    Exactly the symptoms exhibited when Guru is considered to be an ordinary man. “Gurusu narah matih…” and if anyone disagrees, he’s a fundamentalist.

    Keep going on. The day will come, when we’ll see the reality and by that time, it’ll be too late.

    Jai Srila Prabhupada.

  3. Dear Giridhari prabhu,

    Hare Krishna. PAMHO; AGTSP.

    What do you mean by fundamentalist? I find this general definition given at wikipedia fitting my understanding, “For religious fundamentalists, sacred scripture is considered the authentic and authoritative word of their religion’s god or gods.”

    So what’s not a fundamentalist? Someone who does not believe sastra is authentic and authoritative. That’s practically the fourth offense against the Holy Name.

    When I read HDG’s statement, I find it as a rejection of some essential Vaishnava principles. If I recall correctly, this statement was given as justification for finding fault with many of Srila Prabhupada’s Srimad Bhagavatam purports, openly saying that Srila Prabhupada was wrong about many things based on modern science.

    It’s not just saying that Srila Prabhupada lacks omniscience. It says that he suffers from the defects of material conditioning: imperfect senses, making mistakes, being in illusion, and cheating. All four defects are implied by HDG’s declaration.

    If someone has limited knowledge, he can say, “I don’t know.” Presenting false knowledge as authoritative by giving it as a purport Srimad Bhagavatam is something else entirely. HDG would have us believe that Srila Prabhupada did this a lot.

    Srila Prabhupada sometimes criticized so-called teachers who didn’t actually know what they were talking about, calling them cheaters, rascals, etc. HDG is implying that Srila Prabhupada wrote false purports due to his material conditioning, and I find that very offensive. I would not read Srila Prabhupada’s books if I shared HDG’s view.

    The quote of Srila Prabhupada given above reveals what’s called “a manner of speaking.” Srila Prabhupada often spoke in general terms and described himself in the position of a materially conditioned soul obviously for the sake of humbly giving instruction, and one should not take these statements out of context and thereby misunderstand the message. For example, he says above that “Everyone is in ignorance.” It does not mean that he and all his disciples are in ignorance. “Everyone,” in this context, means the general mass of people, not every person in existence.

    He says, “Similarly, I cannot become guru because I am imperfect. My senses are imperfect. I cannot see even what is beyond this wall, although I am very much proud of my eyes.” Taken out of context, Srila Prabhupada appears to be confessing that he’s a bogus guru because he’s imperfect and yet proud of his material senses. That seems to be what HDG is doing.

    If we recognize the context, it comes across as a chastisement against HDG’s mentality. Immediately preceding he said, “I am correct because I have learned it from my father, authority. I may be fool, rascal. It doesn’t matter. But because I have learned it from the authority and presenting it that ‘This is a bell,’ this is perfect.” He’s saying that he’s bona fide because he is giving knowledge received through authorities in disciplic succession. HDG implies that Srila Prabhupada breaks the rule he has given, by presenting false, mundane cultural knowledge in many S.B. purports. Srila Prabhupada says, “We do not manufacture ideas,” but HDG indicates that Srila Prabhupada has manufactured many ideas or taken ideas manufactured by others and presented them as authority in Srimad Bhagavatam purports. It looks to me like a flat-out rejection of the guru parampara system in favor of modern science. Otherwise, what is HDG contrasting Srila Prabhupada’s statements with to judge them as false?

    I look forward to your response. Hare Krishna.

    Sincerely, your servant,
    Pandu das

    • Giridhari Das

      Dear Pandu Prabhu, please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

      One definition would be: “a fundamentalist is he puts on equal levels all statements of the guru, be they backed by shastra or not, be they on material or spiritual topics”.

      For example, you accuse Srila Hridayananda Das Goswami of being offensive, but this is solely due to the fundamentalist approach you give – not being able to distinguish spiritual claims from mundane claims. Unless you can cite shastric proof and commentaries by Srila Prabhupada that state that a guru is materially perfect, your position is clearly unsound and irrational.

      Pure devotees, even of the caliber of our founder-acharya Srila Prabhupada, commit mistakes on the material platform. They make spelling and grammatical errors, take wrong turns, make bad business choices, don’t maintain the most healthy diet, get some facts about history, sociology, politics and biology wrong, etc. There is nothing wrong with this, so long as their spiritual claims are perfect, repeating shastra.

      Since we are not reading Prabhupada’s purports in the Srimad Bhagavatam in search of material facts, but spiritual enlightenment, there is no fault on the part of Srila Prabhupada if, for the sake of explaining a spiritual truth, he may take some example from the material world that happened to be wrong. For example, for the sake of emphasizing the need for not practicing illicit sex, Srila Prabhupada may state that even animals don’t perform homosexual activities. That fact that animals do in fact perform homosexual activities does not lessen the spiritual perfection of the teaching: do not perform illicit sex.

      A non-fundamentalist does not feel his faith in the guru challenged when confronted with such things, nor accuse a devotee of the caliber of Srila Hridayananda Das Goswami, who has done outstanding service to ISKCON, bringing literally thousands of people to Srila Prabhupada’s lotus feet, and shown perfect behavior for his entire life in ISKCON, of being offensive for pointing this out.

      Your servant,
      Giridhari Das

  4. What I meant is – it is your view, someone else may have a different view – so what – not everyone has the same view of on the person or teachings of the guru. Of course when it becomes extreme (as was the case with Brahmananda 1970 and co who said Prabhupada was Krsna himself, omniscient etc), then you need to excommunicate them. Otherwise let the sleeping dogs…

  5. Pandu das

    Hare Krishna.

    Where did you get that definition? It looks made-up.

    I’m fairly certain that I can find support in the Vedabase for considering the devotee Bhagavat equal to the book Bhagavat, if I get time to look.

    Do you really see something like a misspelled word as in the same category as giving false knowledge in Bhagavatam purports? I’m not at my computer, so I can’t check references, but I recall reading that Srila Prabhupada said that Krishna dictated the purports to him. I do remember clearly that he said, “I have never said anything which is not spoken by Krishna.”

    You say that we don’t look to Bhagavatam for material facts, but then why are they in there? A lot of the Bhagavatam describes features of the material world. Do you reject whatever does not make sense to you?

    I certainly don’t understand everything in Srimad Bhagavatam, but I strongly believe that my faith in it, including Srila Prabhupada’s purports, will make me a devotee someday.

    Maya’s job is to undermine our faith in sastra and Krishna’s pure devotee, and she is very expert. From what I know about Krishna, it seems like He might find fooling scientists a little amusing. I got a science degree before reading Bhagavad Gita As It Is, so I have the experience of discovering that everything I thought I knew was wrong and having to start over. I never did study gay sex among animals though.

    As I recall, Srila Prabhupada made the statement about animal sex to emphasize how abominable gay sex is. HDG’s challenge to him is not only a matter of the animal sex, but specifically to undermine his opposition to sex between men, which is well within the jurisdiction of religious authority.

    I do not feel my faith challenged when things I see or hear contradict sastra. Maya is doing that, but our job is to see through the eyes of sastra. Not that we should see with material vision and judge sastra unfavorably.

    I appreciate all the service HDG has done, but that does not give him license to publicly find fault with Srila Prabhupada, what to speak of claiming his unflattering view of Srila Prabhupada is the “correct” view. He titled his video, “Understanding Srila Prabhupada’s Teachings Correctly,” as if to say those of us who are trying to cultivate unflinching faith in Srila Prabhupada are mislead. However, Srila Prabhupada had this to say:

    “The Vedas indicate that only to one who has unflinching faith in the Supreme Lord as well as in the spiritual master is the Vedic conclusion revealed.” (SB 4.9.5p)

    Hare Krishna.

    Sincerely, your servant,
    Pandu das

  6. Giridhari Das

    Dear Pandu Prabhu, obeisances.

    You wrote:
    “The Vedas indicate that only to one who has unflinching faith in the Supreme Lord as well as in the spiritual master is the Vedic conclusion revealed.” (SB 4.9.5p)

    I have unflinching faith in my spiritual master, Srila Hridayananda das Goswami, and in Srila Prabhupada.

    However, I just don’t believe, AGAINST the instructions of the spiritual masters AND shastra, that they have to get all their material facts right, always, in order to be perfect spiritual masters.

    Until you can prove to me, by quoting shastra AND Srila Prabhupada, that a spiritual master never gets any material fact wrong, you have no support for your argument.

    Other arguments won’t help you. For example, the statement that the book Bhagavata is not different from the person Bhagavata, means that the person Bhagavata is as pure as the book Bhagavata, as spiritually potent, that person Bhagavata teaches the same message of the book Bhagavata and that the person Bhagavata lives his or her life in accordance to the teachings of the book Bhagavata.

    If you quote Prabhupada on Krishna writing the books, I certainly do not accept the notion that Prabhupada meant this in the sense that he was merely a transcriber, a human device like a printer or audio system for Krishna. I understand this to mean that Krishna inspired him and that he took spiritual facts from the scriptures, but that he still manifested those teachings and inspiration in his own words, sometimes making use of material facts of the world as he had learned them, which may not have always been correct.

    Your servant,
    Giridhari Das

  7. candrodaya

    Actually in a deeper sense one can not possibly understand the mind of an acharya or a vaisnava vaisnavera kriya mudra vijne na bujhaya. On the other hand acaryam mam vijaniyan – spiritual master is the sum total of all demigods. That is, the acarya has been identified with God Himself. However AT the *same time* one should clearly understand that guru is not God, one can only repeat it, He is not God, but he is the *dearmost servant of God*. If you do not understand that you are in a real trouble of not knowing who you are and how to related to Radha Krishna and Krishna Balarama. It is all about relationships, we want to please Prabhupada and our gurus, but to consider guru to be God is not pleasing to him. Seeing mistakes in his presentation (even if there are some), is not very smart too; There such a scope of seeing good in Prabhupada and seeing it differently, that any other approach is faulty.

  8. Hare Krishna.

    Maybe it’s because I’ve had a high fever all day and can’t think straight, but I’ve been perplexed pondering how Srila Prabhupada, or anyone, can be spiritually pure and materially conditioned.

    >>”Until you can prove to me, by quoting shastra AND Srila Prabhupada, that a spiritual master never gets any material fact wrong, you have no support for your argument.”

    I will gladly do just that.

    “And the Upanisad says, kasmin tu bhagavo vijnate sarvam idam vijnatam bhavati. If you simply understand the Supreme Absolute, then you understand everything.”
    >>> Ref. VedaBase => Bhagavad-gita 2.46-62 — Los Angeles, December 16, 1968

    “If you know Krsna, you know everything. You know science, you know mathematics, you know philosophy, you know geography, everything. There is no dirth of knowledge. Don’t think that a Krsna conscious person actually, he can be a foolish man. No. That is given guarantee in the Bhagavad-gita,
    tesam evanukampartham
    aham ajnana-jam tamah
    nasayamy atma-bhava-stho
    jnana-dipena bhasvata
    [Bg. 10.11]
    A devotee who is always in Krsna consciousness, for him there is nothing unknown. He knows everything. Just like we can give information of the whole creation. Not only of this material world, of the spiritual world. Clear conception. Where is where, what is what, everything. That is Krsna consciousness. The more you make progress, then you fully, I mean to say, conversant with all departmental knowledge. Everything is completed.”
    >>> Ref. VedaBase => Bhagavad-gita 2.46-62 — Los Angeles, December 16, 1968

    Srila Prabhupada actually repeated this instruction many times. Here’s another:

    “And the Vedic injunction is that “If one knows Me, or knows the Absolute Truth, God, then he knows everything.” Kasmin tu bhagavo vijnate sarvam idam vijnatam bhavati. If somehow or other one knows the Absolute Truth, then he knows everything. Kasmin tu bhagavo vijnate sarvam idam vijnatam bhavati. That is the benefit of knowing the Absolute Truth. So a devotee knows everything. How it is possible? That is explained in Bhagavad-gita, … [quotes Bg. 10.11 Sanskrit]
    One may challenge, “How a person can know everything?” So Krsna immediately replies that “I help him specifically.” Tesam evanukampartham. “Just to show My personal, especial favor upon him, I light up the torch of knowledge, and he knows everything.” So if Krsna helps one to know everything, who can check it?”
    >>> Ref. VedaBase => “Life Comes From Life” Slideshow Discussions — July 3, 1976, Washington, D.C.

    These “mistakes” that HDG thinks are in Srila Prabhupada’s purports are not simply trivia, they’re related to religious principles. If he was indeed a sexist and a racist due to material conditioning, then it means he did not know right from wrong. Sri Krishna describes the demons like that (B.g. 16.7). Contaminating Srimad Bhagavatam with irreligious propaganda would certainly qualify him as a bogus guru, if not a complete demon.

    I’m sorry but if I think of Srila Prabhupada the way HDG seems to be portraying him, the whole Hare Krishna motivation unravels for me, making the movement look mundane and corrupt from the very beginning. Why should I accept that someone who can’t even see his own material faults to keep them out of his commentaries on sastra can somehow still reveal pure knowledge about Srimad Bhagavatam’s inconceivable subject matter? In other words, if Srila Prabhupada cannot understand women, for example, who are merely a somewhat mysterious part of Krishna’s energy within our field of senses, then how can he understand Krishna, who is beyond the senses and inconceivable?

    Anyway, I don’t want to ramble after having proven my point. I wonder if you can bring yourself to say your guru is wrong when saying his guru is wrong, though it makes for a rather odd disciplic succession.

    >”I understand this to mean that Krishna inspired him and that he took spiritual facts from the scriptures,…”

    I don’t see Srila Prabhupada as like a transcribing machine, but I do believe that he had a personal dialogue with Krishna all the time. I hope we can agree that Srila Prabhupada had a personal relationship with Krishna, not just theoretical.

    I vaguely remember what I think was an interview with a reporter, wherein Srila Prabhupada explained that Krishna personally tells him what to do, and that he doesn’t do anything without Krishna’s direction. For some reason my Vedabase copy has not been producing complete search results, and I’m having trouble finding the conversation. If you know of it, I’d much appreciate a clue.

    (Caitanya Candrodaya Prabhu, I think we all understand that Srila Prabhupada is not God. I’m objecting to the notion that Srila Prabhupada put irreligious propaganda in his Bhagavatam purports.)

    Hare Krishna.

    Sincerely, your servant,
    Pandu das

    • Giridhari Das

      Dear Panduji, obeisances.

      So, you claim that Prabhupada did not make any mundane mistakes in his life, for this would lessen his spiritual perfection.

      So, if he says: “At least, in animal society there is no homosex. ” Ref. VedaBase => Room Conversation — August 25, 1971, London

      But we do, in fact, observe that animals practice “homosex”. So, what is the situation here?

      Prabhupada says: “A woman who has no husband declares herself independent, which means that she becomes a prostitute.” Ref. VedaBase => SB 6.5.14

      Yet we can know so many very chaste, very serious, very devoted women who have no husband and are not prostitutes. So, what is the situation here?

      Or when Prabhupada speaks on history like this:
      “Siddha-svarupa: The Japanese didn’t have any atom bombs to send back, though.
      Prabhupada: No. It was in possession of Hitler. And your American stolen and kept it. Hitler wanted to use it, but, good sense, he did not like. He said that “I can do it immediately, but I will not do it.” So three bombs they kept ready, and when Germany was in awkward condition these Americans, they stolen, and they used it in Japan. This was manufactured by the German.” Ref. VedaBase => Morning Walk — June 16, 1975, Honolulu

      Yet it is a undisputed fact that Germany did NOT have atomic bombs in the WWII, only an initial prototype. So, what is the situation here?

      Prabhupada himself explained this issue nicely in this famous conversation:

      “Prabhupada: Yes. Pure devotee does not aspire anything, simply to be engaged in loving service to the Lord, wherever it may be. It doesn’t matter.
      Jayadvaita: They know everything and they are perfect in everything. But sometimes, from our material viewpoint, we see some discrepancies. Just like we think that …
      Prabhupada: Because material viewpoint. The viewpoint is wrong; therefore you find discrepancies.
      Jayadvaita: So we should think that we have the defect.
      Prabhupada: Yes. Acarya is explained, bhakti-samsanah: “One who’s preaching the cult of devotional service, he’s acarya.” Then why should you find any discrepancy?
      Jayadvaita: Because we see … For instance, sometimes the acarya may seem to forget something or not to know something, so from our point of view, if someone has forgotten, that is an imperfection.
      Prabhupada: Then you do not understand. Acarya is not God, omniscient. He is servant of God. His business is to preach bhakti cult. That is acarya.
      Jayadvaita: And that is the perfection.
      Prabhupada: That is the perfection. Hare Krsna.
      Jayadvaita: So we have a misunderstanding about what perfection is?
      Prabhupada: Yes. Perfection is here, how he is preaching bhakti cult. That’s all.
      Satsvarupa: Prabhupada, in one purport in the Bhagavad-gita, you write that a disciple of a bona fide spiritual master is supposed to know everything.
      Prabhupada: Yes, if he follows the spiritual master.
      Satsvarupa: But how could he know? … What does that mean, “everything?”
      Prabhupada: Everything means whatever his guru knows, he should know, that much. Not like God, everything. Within his limit, that’s all. If he tries to understand whatever his guru has said, that much is “everything.” Otherwise, “everything” does not mean that we know everything, like God, like Krsna. That is not possible. If he regularly chants and follows the regulative principles, follows the orders of guru, then he knows everything. That’s all. Not very much … knows everything, then what is the use of reading books when he knows everything? You cannot expect anyone to know like Krsna, everything.
      Jayadvaita: Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita that one who knows Him knows everything.
      Prabhupada: Yes. Because if he knows that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then he knows everything. That’s all. Not that he should know as Krsna. Yasmin vijnate sarvam eva vijnatam … If he accepts Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Absolute Truth, then he knows everything. That is finish.
      Jayadvaita: That knowledge itself is complete.
      Prabhupada: Yes.
      Satsvarupa: If there’s some material information that such a person doesn’t know, that’s not really knowledge anyway.
      Prabhupada: I did not follow.
      Satsvarupa: If he doesn’t know how many people live in …
      Jayadvaita: Just like Gaurakisora could not write. So it appeared that he did not, there was something that he did not know, although he knew Krsna.
      Prabhupada: Yes. He knows everything. Otherwise how Bhaktisiddhanta accepted him as guru? He knows Krsna. That’s all.
      Nalini-kanta: What the spiritual master says, that is also perfect?
      Prabhupada: Yes. Because he does not say anything concocted. Whatever he says, he says from sastra and guru.”

      >>> Ref. VedaBase => MGM 8-23: A Snake, a Rope, a Scorpion, or a Crab?

      This explains what Prabhupada means by saying a pure devotee knows “everything”:

      “Well, when you feel Krsna, that is, He is… Krsna is the central point. If you know what is milk, then you know what is butter, what is cheese, what is yogurt, everything, because everything is milk product. So if you know Krsna, everything is Krsna product, so you know everything. That is universal knowledge.”

      >>> Ref. VedaBase => Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.7.22-26 — San Francisco, March 10, 1967

      Here we see that Prabhupada is not being literal when he uses the term “everything”:

      “Then you get everything. If you know Krsna, then you know everything. If you get Krsna, then you get everything. Why should you try to get this thing, that thing, that thing? Simply try to get Krsna, Krsna’s protection. Then you get everything. You simply try to know Krsna; then you know everything. ”

      >>> Ref. VedaBase => Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.9.11-15 — Tokyo, April 28, 1972

      A pure devotee does not “get everything” in the sense of owning all the cars and bank accounts of the world. He “gets everything” because he has achieved the perfection of loving Krishna. Similarly, he “knows everything”, because, in the philosophical sense, he knows the source of everything, Krishna. Not, that he knows how many hairs are on my head or details of history and biology. This is not knowledge. Prabhupada clearly distinguishes between spiritual and mundane knowledge:

      “Therefore knowledge must be taken from the Vedic literature. Veda means full knowledge. And that full knowledge, when it is properly utilized, then you can understand Krsna. Vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah [Bg. 15.15]. First of all you have to take to take to the Vedic literature for real knowledge. And when you come to the platform of real knowledge, then you can understand Krsna. Before knowing Krsna, you are in darkness. You are in darkness. Because it is said, vedais ca sarvaih. Veda means knowledge. The ultimate goal of knowledge is to understand Krsna. And therefore it is called Vedanta. Vedanta. Veda means knowledge, and anta means the ultimate. Vedanta. Vedanta philosophy. So Vedanta philosophy gives you direction that what is the object of knowledge. Athato brahma jijnasa: “Now object of knowledge is to understand the Supreme, the origin of everything.” That is object of knowledge, philosophy. Philosophy means science, anything. Science also trying, “What is the original cause of this creation? What is the original cause of life?” But because andha yathandhair upaniyamanah [SB 7.5.31], the so-called philosophers, scientists, they have been taught by another unscientist, not scientist, so he is also not scientist, not philosopher, because he has been taught by another andha. Just like one blind man leads other blind man. So what he will get, knowledge? So therefore, according to Vedic civilization, it is enjoined, it is ordered, that “If you want to take knowledge,” tad-vijnanartham, “to understand the complete science,” tad-vijnanartham, “the spirit,” sa gurum eva abhigacchet, “oh, you must approach a bona fide guru.” Otherwise there is no knowledge. That is not knowledge.”

      >>> Ref. VedaBase => Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.16.12 — Los Angeles, January 9, 1974

      A guru, a pure devotee, has pure knowledge in the sense of a pure understanding of spiritual facts, not of mundane details of God’s creation, which are not explained in the Vedas.

      But, Prabhu, I accept that for you it is not possible to distinguish between such points and that it disturbs you to think that a pure devotee can make little mundane mistakes or quote wrong facts. This being the case, I beg that you please ignore my points and not be disturbed. I will not comment further on your points, as there is not end to this disagreement.

      Your servant,
      Giridhari Das

  9. candrodaya

    I quite like a variety of views on this subject.

    That is healthy. There could be people who are thinking that they are faithful because they are following Prabhupada word for word. There could be people who do it by trying to understand and adjust them according to time and place. In both cases I do not think devotees are seeing ‘mistakes’ in his presentation. The most complete list of possible adjustments that I know was published by Krsna Ksetra Prabhu and TKG in their paper: “Re-Visioning ISKCON: Constructive Theologizing for Reform and Renewal”. I suggest you read it — (we know Ravindra Svarupa have edited it on the request of TKG to read in such a way as to discourage people with lesser then average phd student braincells to read it, still…) The list there is extensive, but I do not see any of the issues as faults, just a way you would present Prabhupada teachings according to time a place, if you can and if you can not, just stick to your cut and paste strategy:-). There is absolutely not problem in taking one instruction of Prabhupada on a practical subject and ignoring another instruction according to time and place on the same subject, in fact that is the right and personal thing to do. For example we know well that at times he expressed a strong view on the college education system. At the same time he encouraged ‘on occasion’ devotees to go ahead and get PhDs. So there is always a choice to interpret, as long as you do it with the preyas in mind. Accusing others of being ‘unfaithful’ just because they choose to take one and not the other view on Prabhupada, or thinking that he made a mistake by issuing a ‘contradictory’ instruction is wrong.

    Krishna issued contradictory instructions (a lot), but we take his words as perfect words. Of course we all know the mistakes Krsna has made in his practical dealings (I can not be specific here, but all Krishna’s mistakes are described in Gosvamis’ books:) Thanks for confirming that you do not think that Prabhupada is Krsna, Pandu, sometimes I am not so sure. . . with others that is.

    He did not make “mistakes”, it is our mistake that we take him out of context and do not admit that first of all — vaisnavera kriya mudra vijne na bujhaya. We do not see mistakes in our guru, we see a variety of ways we can implement the spirit of his instructions. We should know by now — it is a form of pride to start correcting others before correcting oneself, so I will probably better start doing it to myself; but discussion with such a [b]nice[/b] devotees like Pandu and Giridhari was really helpful. Great to see that you have different views, sad to see you resort to soft ad humanum false logic, resolve it like gentlemen please.

    Yes at the same time Prabhupada gets direct instruction from Krsna and will call in his secretary and ask his view, will argue back and then accept other persons view. There is not contradiction in it. BTW just because he had a different view to his secretary (whoever he may be from the list) and then issued an instruction based on the view of the secretary. It does not make him less of a direct communicator of Krsnas will. He was just teaching us that we should listen even if we do not agree, and that others ‘may’ have a better idea.

    Did it help Panduji?

  10. Conditioned souls have four imperfections. He is in illusion, he has the tendency to commit mistakes, he cheats, and he has imperfect senses. Do we consider Srila Prabhupada as such? The problem is we have some pain about something Prabhupada either said or didn’t do. Better we address this pain, which is at the root.

    One moment Lord Rama was wandering in the forest looking for Sita like an ignorant person, and Parvati couldn’t make sense of this. So she tested Him, making herself appear identical to Sita, and coming before Him. “Mother Parvati, where is Siva?” he asked her. By yoga-maya, one minute God was in illusion, and the next moment, not. According to Jiva Gosvami, Krsna empowers His pure devotee with His own qualities. Krsna has so many qualities, and one of His best qualities is that He empowers His pure devotees with sarvajnata and mugdata: omniscience and bewilderment or lack of knowledge.

  11. Hare Krishna.

    I’m surprised that although I met your challenge, you did not acknowledge it at all. Moving the goal is not fair.

    Then again, when I see you write this:
    “A guru, a pure devotee, has pure knowledge in the sense of a pure understanding of spiritual facts, not of mundane details of God’s creation, which are not explained in the Vedas.”

    after I quoted Srila Prabhupada saying this:
    “If you know Krsna, you know everything. You know science, you know mathematics, you know philosophy, you know geography, everything. ”

    …It makes me wonder if you even read what I wrote. In fact, the material energy is a subset of the spiritual energy, and both belong to Krishna. It’s quite reasonable that knowing Krishna brings all kinds of knowledge.

    I have faith in what Srila Prabhupada has said, even though I don’t understand every detail yet due to my own lack of Krishna consciousness. Because I know Srila Prabhupada to be such an inconceivably great devotee of Krishna, I accept whatever he says as true, even if it contradicts my own senses. I’m under the four material defects, as are all the mundane scientists, so our ascending method of knowledge is not trustworthy. For example, I accept Srila Prabhupada’s statement that the moon is covered with plants, even though it doesn’t look green. It just means there are plants that I cannot see.

    I wonder, what would you say is the standard of knowledge? If there is a contradiction between the Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and your own perception, how is it resolved? I would expect your answer to be to check against sadhu and sastra, but of course he would’ve done that already. He’s the one who taught us that principle.

    I don’t know what was the basis for the following statement, but it at least shows that the view I’m supporting isn’t just something from my own head (though it’s also not from this quote either):

    “Remember that the bona fide disciple will accept the words of the guru as absolute in all circumstances. If the guru tells the disciple that a rope is a snake, the disciple will respond, “Yes, it is a snake.” And if the guru then says, “No, it is a rope,” the disciple will agree. This is a basic principle of obedience to the spiritual master.”
    >>> Ref. VedaBase => OOP 13: A Letter (from Harikesa to an unnamed devotee)

    Being very unfortunate, I can only dream of having that degree of faith.

    >”we do, in fact, observe that animals practice “homosex”.

    I’ve never observed such a thing. If scientists think they’ve seen it, perhaps they’ve made a mistake or misunderstood what’s happening. It wouldn’t be the first time scientists were wrong. It’s as if you think scientists are free from material defects but that Srila Prabhupada is not.

    The prostitute remark looks to me to be explaining that Vedic culture considers an independent woman as a prostitute. Western culture has a comparatively narrow definition. I don’t think Srila Prabhupada was saying that every woman without a husband supports herself by actually renting out her body for sex. There’s no need to portray him as an idiot.

    I don’t know anything about Germany’s bombs, so I can’t really comment on that.

    These “little mundane mistakes” you’ve mentioned are indeed relatively trivial; but there are much more serious controversies at issue. Some devotees last year tried getting Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavatam purports modified or annotated, as you probably know. That’s serious, and I would say a very bad idea.

    I have no problem just agreeing to disagree, offering my obeisances, and moving on to nicer topics. I’m always trying to emphasize devotees’ bonds over their differences, but HDG hasn’t made it easy to make such a resolution. HDG titled his class on this subject, “Understanding Srila Prabhupada’s Teachings Correctly.” The word “correctly” in his title is a way of saying that other ways of understanding Srila Prabhupada are wrong. I don’t believe he’s qualified to make that assessment. Although he calls himself Acaryadev, he was neither identified as a successor acarya by Srila Prabhupada, nor is he self-effulgent as one. He does not have the authority to declare that devotees with more faith in Srila Prabhupada than he has are wrong. If he does not want to create opposition, perhaps he should consider keeping such opinions between himself and his disciples. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for an ISKCON guru to respect devotees faith in Srila Prabhupada.

    (Caitanya Candrodaya Prabhu, Yes, your comment was helpful. Thank you.)

    Hare Krishna.

    Pandu das

  12. Sri

    We don’t need any intermediary to understand Prabhupada’s teachings. All he asked us to do is chant 16 rounds, follow the 4 reg. pples & engage in devotional service. To make it easier he put everything in simple English. After all this, if there is still some misunderstanding, then people need psychiatric assistance.

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