Found in Sanga, Sanga 2000.

Q. Does Mahaprabhu’s movement have the potency to take the masses (who don’t take initiation) back to Godhead in this lifetime? In a previous Q & A you said, “Even though the mantra has inherent power, if one does not receive it in the guru parampara it will not express that power.” When newcomers hear the mantra at a public program, are they receiving the mantra from the parampara?

A. Krishna nama is independent of initiation. Anyone who comes to a public program and hears the holy name of Krishna is benefited. Such persons can engage in kirtana themselves. This, however, is different from mantra diksa. Mahaprabhu’s movement is for everyone, but not everyone will go back to Godhead in this lifetime. It takes many lifetimes. At the same time you will go back in ONE of these lifetimes. And when you think, “I must go back to Godhead in this lifetime,” after several lifetimes of thinking and acting like this, you will be successful. Such persons are astute enough to take all the help they can get.

Q. In a recent Sanga you said, “God is for everyone. Krishna, however, is something more.” God and Krishna aren’t the same? I was sad to hear that Krishna is not for everyone.

A. It makes me sad to hear that Krishna is not for everyone too. It is difficult to understand why everyone does not love Krishna. He is certainly all-lovable. Are Krishna and God the same? They are the same and not the same at the same time. As four-armed Narayana, Krishna is God and only God. As Krishna, he is God and more than God as well. He is more than God because of his weakness for love that causes him to become the friend or lover of his devotees, under which influence he does not think of himself as God, nor do his devotees think of him that way. After all, does God ever get defeated in wrestling, throw a tantrum when he does not get enough sweets, or loose sleep over whether or not his beloved loves him?

Q. I very much appreciated your point about religious pluralism in the last Sanga. What was the potentially “more viable” and “indirect” approach of Bhaktivinoda regarding Caran Dasa Babaji’s chant that you referred to?

A. Regarding Bhaktivinoda Thakura and his approach to Caran Dasa Babaji, I was referring to the Thakura’s approach in general. Although he was opposed to many things going on in the name of Gaudiya Vaisnavism, he did not openly oppose them in the same way that Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura did. For example, he once wrote twelve songs in the Baul style of music in which he indirectly exposed the Baul misconceptions. Once while meeting with a sahajiya guru his young son Bimala Prasada came and paid respects to him from a distance. When the sahajiya commentated, “Oh, what a nice son you have, so respectful,” Bhaktivinoda Thakura replied, “He has taken a vow not to come within one hundred feet of a sahajiya, and you are a sahajiya.” Then he went on talking with that sahajiya.

In other words Bhaktivinoda Thakura intermingled with these people even while objecting to their conceptions, whereas Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura openly declared war on them. I have no doubt that Sarasvati Thakura did the right thing at that time, but at this time the approach of Bhaktivinoda, or something similar, might be a viable alternative. Things change, and sometimes we need to change with them. Furthermore, we are all individuals.

Q. Could you explain the connection between following rules and regulations and committing offenses? I have heard that by following the four regulative principles, which Srila Prabhupada asked us to follow, one can avoid committing offenses.

A. I have not heard this anywhere. Following such regulations is one thing, avoiding offenses another. Many people follow these regulations, some of whom are not Vaisnavas. However, many who follow them also offend Vaisnavas, Deities, the dhama, nama, etc.

Q. I hold weekly programs and recite the Bhagavatam. Should I take Srila Prabhupada literally when he writes in the second canto, “The conclusion is that those who are still entrapped by sex indulgence should never progress to meditation above the feet of the Lord. Therefore recital of Srimad Bhagavatam should be restricted to the First and Second Canto.”

A. Your programs sound very nice. Prabhupada’s statement in the Second Canto, if taken literally, contradicts his own actions and stated desires. He published the Krishna Book and wanted to see it widely circulated before he published the Second Canto. After he published the Second Canto he continued to reprint the Krishna Book and desired to see it circulated and read. He personally told me that the Krishna Book was an excellent introductory literature.

As you know, this book is a summary study of the Tenth Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam. It tells the story of Krishna’s lila, including all the events leading up to the union of Radha-Krishna in the rasa-lila. The five chapters dealing with this lila are also included and discussed in some detail. He encouraged his disciples to read this book daily. Prabhupada also encouraged the reading and mass distribution of all of the cantos of the Bhagavatam.

So you have to use your common sense. While Prabhupada has written that one entrapped by sex indulgence should not read beyond the Second Canto, and Visvantha Cakravarti Thakura, perhaps the most liberal of the rasika-acaryas in our line, has commented similarly in his commentary on the Second Canto, these statements have to be balanced with other statements they have made to the contrary. If one is too much troubled by sex desire they should not read about Radha-Krishna’s intimate lilas.

The particular statement of Prabhupada, “entrapped by sex indulgence,” is thus a matter of interpretation. In our times, it might well refer to persons who are addicted to pornography or much worse—certainly not sadhakas, or those attending spiritual programs like yours.

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