Found in Sanga, Sanga 2000.

Q. I heard that generally it takes three lifetimes to become a Vaisnava, because the blood runs thick from eating meat. The body totally changes at death, although personal and family values remain in the subtle body to begin the next life. Is that true?

A. I’ve never heard anything like that. It seems very mundane. Prabhupada clearly felt that his Western disciples had all potential for becoming pure in this life, if they took complete shelter of the Holy Name. There is an odd bias out and about these days regarding gurus and the need for them to have been born in India. I say odd because I have heard it from Prabhupada’s disciples, when it was he who made it abundantly clear that his own opinion was quite different.

Regarding purity, it appears that Mahaprabhu did not think that this depended on birth. To that end he danced holding the body of Haridasa Thakura, and personally dug his samadhi, telling others that worship of the place where the Thakura’s body was entombed would purify them. This lila underscores the doctrine of nama-dharma, in which it is stated that the holy name has the power to remove one’s prarabdha-karma. This karma represents one’s present body.

Q. In your book Tattva-sandarbha, there is mention of the Sama Veda. Is the Sama Veda relevant for devotees of Krishna? Has any great teachers of Vaisnavism commented on this Veda?

A. The import of the pramana khanda of Tattva-sandarbha is that the Bhagavatam is important for devotees of Krishna. You should be concerned with this book, if you are interested in devotion to Krishna. The Sama Veda is not important for devotees of Krishna, and no Vaisnava acarya has commented on it to my knowledge. The Bhagavatam has been compared to the Sama Veda because just as the Sama Veda is the most important of the Vedas, similarly the Bhagavatam is the best of the Puranas.

The Sama Veda is the best of the Vedas in the sense that it deals with worship—hymns of praise. It emphasizes this, and it is by praise in song that we shall be delivered. Regardless of the object of worship, the Sama Veda stresses the principle of praise and worship, and this is the central theme of all the sacred literature. Krishna has also identified the Sama Veda with himself in Bhagavad-gita 10.22. There he says, “Of the Vedas, I am the Sama Veda.”

Q. Srila Sridhara Maharaja says, “In Krishna consciousness, independence ends in slavery.” How can independence end in slavery?

A. Independence from material life and entrance in Vraja-bhakti gives one immense independence with which to deal with the Absolute. While others offer Krishna regard from a distance, mother Yasoda is chasing him with a stick! However, this independence when scrutinized has at its foundation in utter surrender. One’s own will becomes one with Krishna’s. This is divine slavery. The devotee surrenders even any spiritual selfishness, and Krishna uses such devotees to express himself in love. Their love is the expression of his love reflecting in their hearts.

Q. In the last Sanga, “Sadhana-Siddha, Nitya-Siddha,” you suggest that the spiritual master may or may not be eternally liberated. This seems to indicate to me some misunderstanding of guru tattva.

A. The guru can be sadhana-siddha or nitya-siddha. To suggest that he is possibly a sadhana siddha does not indicate any misunderstanding. Are there no sadhana-siddha gurus? Yes, there are many of them. If someone conceives of their gurudeva as sadhana-siddha or if he teaches to think of him as such, as did B.D. Madhava Maharaja, there is nothing wrong with this. What is the actual position of a particular guru is not the point. The point is that a sadhana-siddha or nitya-siddha devotees can serve in the capacity of Sri Guru.

Only a neophyte will be disturbed by the fact that some persons may think his guru is a sadhana-siddha, rather than a nitya-siddha. His weak faith and lack of scriptural knowledge show up in his insistence (with an outward show of great faith) on his guru being in the latter category (unless of course he has realized the fact of his Guru’s nitya-siddha position, or he insists on others seeing in this way for the benefit of neophytes).

Q. In the hymns of the Rg Veda, various rsis speak very powerfully on their cognitions of devas and universal laws. They hardly mention Lord Visnu at all. Traditionally, Vedic rsis belong to the Satya-yuga. Why is it in that age of purity, the great ontological reality of Lord Krishna seems to be beyond their field of perception?

A. Although the Vedas mention Visnu sparsely in comparison to other Gods, the quality of the utterances in glorification of Visnu reveal his superior position. Om tad visnoh paramam padam. Krishna is also mentioned in the Vedas along with Radha, radhaya madhavo devo madhavenaiva radhika/ vibhrajante janesu: “Among all persons, it is Sri Radha in whose company Lord Madhava is especially glorious, as she is especially glorious in his.”

Krishna reveals his lila in Dvapara-yuga, and it is accessible for the most part in Kali-yuga, although some fortunate souls such as the Dandakaranya rsis, etc. who followed the raga-marga and chanted the Gopala-mantra are said to have also entered Krishna-lila.

God is for everyone. Krishna, however, is something more. If one wants to enter Krishna-lila one must follow the path leading there. The psychology of most rsis makes it difficult for them to follow this path, even if they are aware of it. It was also not possible for Laksmi to follow it. Do not doubt its authenticity because others who are in many ways more advanced than you do not know of it or follow it. Don’t call for justice in the face of mercy.

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