Book excerpts Acarya Kesari Part 3: Preaching in Medinipura and Sundarvana

Part 3: Preaching in Medinipura and Sundarvana

In January 1949, Srila Guru Maharaja, Sri Dinartihara Brahmacari, Sri Sajjana-sevaka Brahmacari and Sri Gaura-narayana dasa Adhikari [the author] blessed the house of Hari-carana dasa Adhikari in Jukhiya in the district of Medinipura. They stayed there for some time and Srila Gurudeva gave philosophical lectures on sanatana-dharma, the eternal occupation of the soul, at religious assemblies in the nearby villages.

Early one morning during Srila Guru Maharaja’s sojourn in Jukhiya, Ksiroda-candra Bhuiyam, a retired judge from Mohati Grama, came for a visit. Srila Gurudeva was inside the house chanting harinama on his beads, while I [the author] was studying a book in the sweet rays of the winter sun on the veranda outside. Sri Ksiroda Babu, who was sitting on a mat nearby, asked, “What are you reading?”
I answered, “I am reading Hari-bhakti-vilasa.”
Ksiroda Babu inquired, “Who is the author?”
“Jagad-guru Srila Sanatana Gosvami.”
“Why are you not studying Sankara-bhasya by jagad-guru Sri Sankara Acarya?”
“Because Srila Sanatana Gosvami is much more authoritative than Sri Sankara Acarya.”

Ksiroda Babu exclaimed, “What did you say? The very recent Sanatana Gosvami is a greater authority than Acarya Sankara? Acarya Sankara is the direct incarnation of Sankara (Lord Siva). He is the author of the commentary on Brahma-sutra and he vanquished all the contemporary acaryas of India.”
I replied, “Without a doubt, Acarya Sankara is an avatara of devadhideva Sankara, who is one of the Supreme Lord’s gunavataras (an incarnation who embodies one of the characteristics of the Lord), and he is one of the vibhutis (opulences) of Bhagavan. According to the verse, vaisnavanam yatha sambhuh (Srimad-Bhagavatam 12.13.16), Sankara is the topmost Vaisnava and devotee of Bhagavan. Nonetheless, Sri Sanatana Gosvami is one of Svayam Bhagavan Sri Sacinandana’s most beloved associates, and he is also the dear-most Sri Lavanga Manjari of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna. Therefore, Sanatana Gosvami’s superiority is self-evident.”
Sri Ksiroda Babu was somewhat taken aback by this answer. In the meantime, Acarya Kesari had heard the voices while he was chanting harinama inside the house and had listened attentively to the discussion. He quickly appeared on the scene, and a philosophical battle started between Ksiroda Babu and himself.
Ksiroda Babu asked, “Why don’t you have the brahmacaris study Sankara-bhasya of the Brahma-sutra?”

Gurudeva explained, “We have them study Sri-bhasya, Anu-bhasya, Govinda-bhasya and other commentaries of Vyasa’s Brahma-sutra, but not the commentary of Acarya Sankara.”
“Why not? You do not study Acarya Sankara’s commentary, even though he is an incarnation of Sankara?”
“Even though he is an incarnation of Sankara, the views in his commentary are completely fabricated. This false philosophy is in reality covered Buddhism only, and Sankara took shelter of it by the order of Bhagavan, in order to control the Buddhists who were opposed to the Vedas and the Supreme Lord. This is clearly mentioned in Padma Purana, mayavadam asat-sastram.”
“But don’t you accept the four maha-vakyas of the Vedas: aham brahmasmi, prajnanam brahma, tat tvam asi and ekam evadvitiyam, and the other clauses that Sankara has established?”
“It is not written in the Vedas or Upanisads that these four statements (vakyas) are maha-vakyas. If what you are claiming is true, then please support it with evidence.”

Ksiroda Babu was unable to answer, and sat quietly for some time.

Gurudeva went on, “The only maha-vakya in the Vedas is om ; all other clauses are secondary. Alternatively, you can say that all the clauses in the Vedas are maha-vakyas. Do you consider that the nirakara, nirvisesa, nirguna and niranjana brahma, which Sankara has established, is the same as savisesa, sarva-saktiman and ananda-maya brahma, the shelter of all transcendental qualities, established by Srila Vedavyasa?”
“Why not? All the eminent scholars of India corroborate the doctrine of Sankara.”
“Acarya Sri Ramanuja, Madhva Acarya, Nimbanditya, Visnusvami, Vallabha Acarya, Kumarila Bhatta and other learned persons have completely annihilated the doctrine of Sankara. The nirvisesa, nihsaktik, nirakara brahma can never be ananda-svarupa or ananda-maya. This philosophy is just a kind of hidden Buddhism.”
Ksiroda Babu said, “Your statement is thoroughly confusing. Acarya Sankara clearly established the doctrine, brahma satyam jaganmithya jiva brahmaiva na parah. Additionally, he uses the term ananda-svarupa to indicate brahma. When the jiva attains liberation from maya it becomes one with brahma and perceives ananda-svarupa brahma.”
Gurudeva explained further, “This siddhanta is only Acarya Sankara’s fabrication. It is against sastra. I can destroy Acarya Sankara’s bogus idea that brahma is ananda-svarupa, simply on the basis of its inference. Later on, I will demolish the statement that the jiva becomes brahma by merging into brahma and that the world is false. First, can you explain why you want to merge into the nirvisesa-brahma?”
“Because brahma is ananda-svarupa, the embodiment of bliss, so the jiva who merges into this brahma also becomes ananda-svarupa brahma.”
“I say that Acarya Sankara’s nirvisesa-brahma is an embodiment of stool. Do you have any objection to that? If a jiva is able to merge into ananda-svarupa brahma, then he cannot have a separate experience of it. So how, being brahma, is the jiva able to experience bliss, if by desiring to merge with nirvisesa-brahma it cannot be realized? It is only possible to experience bliss when one’s existence is separate from it. For example, anyone who tastes sugar is able to say that sugar is sweet. But if the person is turned into sugar, how can he experience his own sweetness? Similarly, how can anyone who is turned into stool experience his own bad smell? Therefore, it doesn’t make any difference whether you call nirvisesa-brahma the embodiment of bliss or the embodiment of stool. They are one and the same thing, because there is no separate taster.”
Ksiroda Babu became completely silent. He offered respects to Sri Gurudeva, lowered his head and returned to his home.
While we were staying with Srila Gurupada-padma, we observed him discussing siddhanta with prominent impersonalists (advaita-vadis) in this way. In the face of his deep personality, his brilliant language, his wealth of scriptural evidence and his strong arguments, all were humbled. We will present some of these doctrinal debates in the course of this book.
In the evening Srila Gurudeva gave a brilliant lecture on sanatana-dharma to a huge public audience nearby. For almost two-and-a-half hours, ten to fifteen thousand people sat quietly like wooden dolls, reverentially listening to his speech. The following is the essence of that lecture.
“According to the Vedas, Upanisads, Vedanta-sutra, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita and other scriptures, the root cause of creation and annihilation and the ultimate supreme Truth is Svayam Bhagavan. He is not subject to birth, death or destruction. He is the complete eternal Truth because He exists in the past, present and future. The meaning of the word sanatana (eternal) is sada (always) and tan (to continue), and refers to one who exists in the past, present and future. Thus the meaning of sanatana-dharma is the constitutional function of someone who is ever-existing. In Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.14.32) it is said:

aho bhagyam aho bhagyam
nanda-gopa-vrajaukasam
yan-mitram paramanandam
purnam brahma sanatanam

Oh, how greatly fortunate are Nanda Baba, Yasoda-maiya and all the other gopas and gopis of Vraja! There is factually no limit to their good fortune, because Sri Krsna, who is the abode of supreme bliss (paramananda), and the eternal and complete form of brahma, is their relative and friend.
“Here, Krsna is called the eternal, complete brahma. The jivatma is also acknowledged to be this eternal truth (sanatana-tattva) because the uncountable souls are eternal parts of the eternal supreme brahma Sri Krsna. Sri Krsna Himself calls them His eternal parts in Srimad Bhagavad-gita (15.7):

mamaivamso jiva-loke
jiva-bhutah sanatanah
manah sasthanindriyani
prakrti-sthani karsati

O Arjuna, I am Sarvesvara (the Lord of all). All jivas are My parts and they are eternal. Like the empty space inside a water pot, they are not fabricated or false. Due to being conditioned and opposed to Me, they are struggling intensely with the mind and the five senses in this material world.
“And also, nityah sarva-gatah sthanur acalo ’yam sanatanah (Bhagavad-gita 2.24). ‘This jivatma is changeless and immortal. It cannot be cut by any weapon, burnt by fire, moistened by water or dried by air. It is eternal, all-pervasive, unchanging, steadfast and ever-existing (sanatana).’

“Thus, according to the Vedic scriptures there are two sanatana-tattvas, or eternal principles: one is Svayam Bhagavan Sri Krsna, the undivided, complete sanatana-tattva ; and the other is the jiva, the divided and tiny sanatana-tattva. The nature of Sri Krsna, brhat-caitanya-svarupa (the embodiment of complete consciousness), is unchangeable, but if the jiva is opposed to Bhagavan, his pure nature can be covered due to his being eternal but atomic in size (anu-sanatana-tattva). But by nature, the jiva’s constitutional nature (dharma) is pure and eternal. Prema is the only sanatana-dharma of the jiva. The eternal, pure prema is service to Krsna; therefore the svarupa-dharma or sanatana-dharma of the jiva is service to Krsna.

“The pure sanatana-dharma of the conditioned living being is distorted by maya. In such circumstances, the living entity considers the dharma of the gross and the subtle body to be his dharma, because he only understands the gross and the subtle body. But the dharma of these two bodies is not sanatana-dharma, because it is perishable and prone to change. ‘I am Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist’ and ‘I am a brahmana or ksatriya’ are identifications of the gross body, so this gross dharma is not perpetual. Nowadays, pure sanatana-dharma is rarely preached due to a lack of pure understanding of the Absolute Truth. Actually the relationship of servant and master between the jiva and the Supreme Lord is eternal and ever-existing (sanatana). This relationship is what is known as sanatana-dharma. In different places in the scriptures sanatana-dharma is referred to as bhagavata-dharma or vaisnava-dharma.”

After this, Srila Gurudeva extensively preached pure sanatana-dharma, which is also known as pure bhakti-dharma. Accompanied by Sri Nagendra-govardhana Brahmacari and Sri Ganesa dasa, he preached in the towns of Kulabadi, Hamscauda, Pichlada, Jhinukkhali, Naraghata and Terapekhya. From there they travelled by boat with a party of devotees from Puri to Gadamathura Sector 7, Gadamathura Sector 5, 6 and 8, Aiplata Sector 1, Kedarpura, Aiplata Sector 2, Suryapura and various other places. He returned to the matha in Chunchura a month-and-a-half later.

[CC-by-ND GVP]

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WHY DO WE OFFER OUR COMPLAINTS AND CRITICISMS TO GURU?

If someone becomes a sadhu - a renunciate, then they should not talk about their purva-ashram - previous ashram, or household life. If someone talks to them about it then it is like they will vomit out talking about their past ten lives. They cannot forget these pastimes. They cannot remember the Lord's pastimes but instead only remember their own pastimes.  People ask them and they will say, "Oh how I was. What I did when I was a boy. Who my friends and families were. What I did in the life before that and the life before that. Who my partner was. What I do did for a job. What type of life I lived." They cannot forget this. Therefore if you are renounced you should look forward, not backwards.  It is said by Bhaktivinoda Thakur, purva itihas. How can we forget our past life memories and only remember the Lord, and have the mood that, "You are mine and I am Yours." Even if we leave the forest of samsara, or household life, still it is very difficult to forget our pastimes there, even for renounced sadhus.  Bhaktivinoda Thakur says when someone asks us about our past then we vomit up our past activities and pour them into people's ears. "Oh I did this and I did that." This is all like illusory coverings over the soul. We should forget all these coverings and try to progress in our spiritual life and transcend beyond this world into the spiritual world and not just try to be happy here. One time in Mathura there was a brahmacari who came to Gurudeva and said; "Oh Gurudeva please protect me." Gurudeva asked; "What happened?" The brahmacari said; "Oh I am very sad." Gurudeva asked; "What happened? Tell me. You are serving, you are chanting harinama, you are going to kirtana and arati, so what is the worry?" He said; "I slept and at night I had a dream I was in my house again with my family. Even though I have been in the math for so many years still I cannot forget my house, parents, friends, and partner. I feel I am such a horrible wretch. I cannot forget the past and I cannot be focussed and absorbed in the service of the Lord. I have wandered throughout material existence for so many millions of lives, but I cannot forget these material relationships. Please protect me Srila Gurudeva." Gurudeva said, "Do not worry. I will help you so that wherever you are, while you are chanting harinama and performing bhajan you can think of Guru and Vaisnavas and try and be related with them.”  When we have a place in our mind and heart for Guru and Vaisnavas then material people will not be able to enter our heart and they will run far away. Now we don’t have real love for Vaisnavas, Guru and the associates of the Lord. We have a place in our heart for maya and all the different filth of maya. We are like vultures trying to eat dead flesh. We should try and give up this nature and bring Guru and Vaisnavas and Krsna's associates into our hearts. When they come into our heart, Krsna and all His associates will also come and we will not be seeing any worldly things. Krsna is speaking and joking with the gopis here in an externally indifferent manner. He asks them, "Oh how is your family? Is everything good? Now you should go back home, they will be worried about you." Krsna wants to see if the gopis are now truly renounced and have left everything behind, or are they still thinking about it. Like when someone comes to the temple we give them prasadam and with some compassion, we speak nicely to them. Krsna is speaking with them nicely saying things like, "How can I help you? Is everything well at home? Is everyone happy? If you don't need anything now then you should return home." If we do not know how to swim then we should not jump into the ocean to try and save a person who is drowning. If we are going to try and save others in samsara - the ocean of material existence, but we don't know how to swim ourselves, then we will also drown along with them. That drowning person will pull us down with them into the depths of samsara. Krsna was approached by these millions of gopis. There were millions of sadhana-siddha gopis who had recently become perfected and left the material world and come to Vraja. What happened when Sudama came to Krsna? Sudama was very poor. He did not take anything from Krsna, but he brought some chipped rice for Krsna. Later what did Krsna give him? He gave him palaces bigger than Dwaraka. When 99.9% of people come to Guru what do they bring? They bring their faults and complaints and all their bad things. They think about others and want to show Guru that 'I am so great and everyone else is bad.' They come to Guru offering all these gifts of complaints, fault-findings and bad things that they have collected.  Then they start to find faults in Guru. They say, "Oh Gurudeva, you have this fault also." Or they say, "Oh Vaisnavas are useless. Oh Gurudeva you are supporting these Vaisnavas, you are maintaining these Vaisnavas, therefore you are also bogus."  They will come to Guru and give all these different letters and complaints and fights that they are in. They will go to Krsna and tell Him these things saying; "Oh I have worshipped You so much but my son died and my wealth is lost. What kind of God are You? I will therefore break Your form and throw You in the Yamuna." We see some people do this. They take Deities of Krsna that they have worshiped for many years, and then they break Their arms and legs and throw Them into the river. The jivas in this world are always absorbed in their own selfish enjoyment and are always looking for their self-interest. If they go to Guru, Bhagavan and Vaisnavas what gift do they bring? Whatever comes out of their mouth, that is their gift. What is their mood? Are they only going to Guru to try and get some personal benefit?  Krsna tests these gopis thinking, "What did you bring?" He is shaking them with His speech and He sees, "Oh they don't have any attachment to this samsara. Their husbands tried to stop them by holding sticks and were even ready to beat them. They were even locked inside their rooms. But did they criticize their husbands?”  We see Prahlada Maharaja's father, Hiranyakasipu, disturbed Prahlada so much. Hiranyakasipu tried to kill Prahlada in various ways, but did Prahlada complain to Nrsinghadeva about his father?  A tridandi sannyasi took sannyasa and went begging for alms. One householder pulled his sikha, another householder pulled his kaupins off, and another person took his danda and tried to beat him with it. He was holding out his cloth for alms and someone threw dirt in it, another passed urine on him and someone threw stool on him. What  type of prayer did he offer? tat te 'nukampāṁ susamīkṣamāṇo bhuñjāna evātma-kṛtaṁ vipākam hṛd-vāg-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te jīveta yo mukti-pade sa dāya-bhāk (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.14.8) "My dear Lord, one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy upon him, all the while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds and offering You respectful obeisances with his heart, words and body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful claim." The sannyasi thought this is all my past karma. He then remembered if someone can accept this, then he can become liberated. Even though all these bad things were happening to him, he did not blame God.  The Vraja gopis don't even complain like this thinking; "Oh this is my bad karma." What was their nature? They had no attachments. What is our nature? We are drowning and Guru comes to pull us out of the water, but we want to bring all the weights in this world that were causing us to drown with us. We want to stay with Guru, but be sick. We don't want Guru to cure us. Instead we want to bring all our material sicknesses with us and be sick with Guru.  When any problems come we immediately go to Guru. If we have something bad we go and tell Guru, but if something good comes will we go and tell him? We have this nature of bringing out garbage and filth and that is our gift to Guru, that is our bhajana. Were the gopis like this? Did they come from their house and come to Krsna like this? When the wives of the brahmanas of Mathura came to Krsna with nice foodstuffs for Him, did they complain about their husbands? Before, their husbands would not give the sakhas any nice lunch. Their husbands told the wives not to go, but they went anyway. When they went to Krsna, they did not complain to Him. They said to Krsna; "We have come and we offer ourselves completely to You." Krsna told them to go home and they accepted His instruction. He said; "Do not worry they will now worship you." When the wives of the brahmanas went home, we see that the husbands did worship their wives, and they became respected throughout the whole universe. Did the gopis think like this? "Oh we have come to Krsna and our husbands and families are upset, but Krsna can give us some nice thing now and then we will go home and be glorious all over the universe?" Krsna checks; "Do they want this? Do they have any desire for prestige, name or fame? Whatever they want I will give it to them." Sudama Vipra came to Krsna and gave Him a few pieces of chipped rice, Krsna then gave him a palace greater than any palace in Dwaraka, and maidservants even more beautiful than any of His queens in return. Even though Sudama only brought a very small offering, having been sent by his wife, and only because she had desired these things, Krsna fulfilled them. When we are coming to Guru and Vaisnavas we should always examine ourselves and think, "What is my desire?" Otherwise we will be cheated with material things, and be bereft of the spiritual fruits of their association.  Krsna asked the gopis; "Is everything well in your homes? Is everyone happy? You weren't beaten were you? Did anyone act inappropriately with you and therefore you have come here into the forest in this haphazard way, dressed very strangely? Is there any problem at home?" Krsna is checking, "Do they have any desire? Will they complain?" No one can stay forever with the Lord if they have this mood. Hundreds and thousands of people come to ashrams but they do Vaisnava-aparadha there. They do offences and look at the faults of everyone. They make offences to the dhama, offences in service, offences to Vaisnavas, offences to Guru, offences to the Deity, and offences to the Holy names. We must be very careful.  It is said that Guru will see; "Oh this person is always criticizing others so let him be far away. I will give him many nice things and great facility. I will give him material reputation, wealth and so forth, and will send him far away from me.” Guru and Krsna are very clever like this. If someone is like that Guru and Krsna will not accept him. Hundreds of thousands of people will come, but how many will stay? It is very rare. (CLICK ON THE TITLE TO READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE)

Upadesamrta Verse 1: Six Urges Unfavourable to Bhakti

(1) by the urge to speak or the use of words that create distress for others; (2) by the agitation of the mind or the innumerable desires and plans fabricated within the mind; (3) by anger or the use of harsh words; (4) by the vehemence of the tongue or the greed to relish six kinds of taste, namely sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, salty and astringent; (5) by the urge of the belly or the drive to eat more than necessary; and...

WHAT WILL I GAIN BY LISTENING TO YOUR PRABHU’S KATHA?

I don’t know if my Prabhu’s kathā will be relishable or not for everyone. But someone may think: “What will I stand to gain by listening to your Prabhu’s kathā? Am I using my time and wealth to listen to your Prabhu’s kathā? How will my self-interest be fulfilled by listening to your Prabhu’s kathā? Such questions and various forms of objections arise in a place where there is dvitīya-abhiniveśa (where the mind is absorbed in objects separate from Kṛṣṇa). This is because in this world, each individual is separated from every other by one thing—illusion. In this corporeal plane, the moods of “I, mine, yours, and mine,” are seen. Therefore, the selfish interest of two individuals cannot be reconciled. And, the auspiciousness of one cannot guarantee the auspicious of another. In this world of separate interests, there is a difference between the interests of mother and son, husband and wife, master and servant, and teacher and students. Therefore, by speaking the words, Āmār Prabhura Kathā, in this world, feelings of such disparity or separateness appear in the heart. But such differences are not seen in the spiritual world. In that realm, advaya-jñāna Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is One without a second, is the only viṣaya (object of loving exchanges). The only aim of all the servitors in that realm, referred to āśrayas (abodes of love) is to bring happiness to Śrī Vrajendra-nandana Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, duality can never arise when everyone’s self-interest is one and where only one person enjoys being the cynosure of that interest. In that realm of divinity, there is no conception of “Your Prabhu and my Prabhu.” By speaking of “My Prabhu,” the kathā of “Your Prabhu” is spoken as well. Correspondingly, when the kathā of “Your Prabhu” is spoken, the kathā of “My Prabhu” is spoken as well. The countless eternal associates of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the non-dual Absolute Truth and the one and only object of love, are indeed His fundamental principle of variegatedness. Their exclusive interest is to satisfy the senses of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Disparity of interest can never arise among those who are perpetually absorbed in rousing the pleasure of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s senses. Therefore, in this world of disparity, people may or may not honor the accounts of my master. Nonetheless, since I am a lowly dog who is sustained by my master’s remnants, it is my sole constitutional duty and function (dharma) to extol his glories. I understand the word Prabhu (master) to refer to that person who can extend his authority over me in every way, who can fully and always exercise control over my whole heart, and who in my every act, every footstep, every inhalation and exhalation and every directive of life, he is my sole ideal, goal and guide, or polestar. That person alone is my master. Someone who controls my heart for some time and after a while is expelled from it, who is my role model for a few moments but who, after a short time, does not remain so, is not worthy of being called my master. It therefore becomes apparent to me that such a person or thing is a mere illusion, or a speculation of the mind. By nature I am critical, always looking for faults in others. My heart is so absorbed in attachment to my body and residence that the devo­tees call me gṛha-vrata, one bound by a vow to home and necessities.

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WHAT SERVICE ARE YOU DOING FOR GURUDEVA?

“Someone who has no niṣṭhā (strong faith) in his guru and in the Vaiṣṇavas, no attachment for them, no attachment for their service, and who doesn’t take any responsibility to do sevā—such a person is like an animal with two legs. Taking responsibility can even make an animal into a human. Stay in the maṭhas (temples) under the guidance of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas. Respect them and serve them with strong faith and attachment. “Devotees must take responsibility for service. Wherever Gurudeva sends a disciple, he should do that service with a sense of responsibility. Gurudeva sent me to Mathurā, and I accepted all the responsibility of the maṭha—including fighting in the court, preaching, doing kīrtana, cooking, going house to house and preaching, writing books, and publishing Bhāgavata Patrikā. I took all this upon my head. is was my area of responsibility for Gurudeva.

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