Found in Sanga, Sanga 2000.

Q. Recently you wrote, “I cited the example of Prabhupada, who told us to discontinue sankirtana in the streets of Bombay when people were disrespectful.” While I agree with the principal of finding diverse ways of broadcasting Krishna Consciousness, can we take this particular example as a basis for neglecting public Hari Nama?

A. My point was that if we find that people disrespect the Hari-nama-sankirtana, it would be in their interest to discontinue it. Of course, it is circumstantial. If circumstances change, so, too should our policy. Furthermore, we are the champions of a dynamic idea of sankirtana, brhat-mrdanga, etc. What will be the loss, if owing to unfavorable circumstances, we discontinue one form of sankirtana temporarily, while initiating another?

It is my experience that nama-sankirtana is not appreciated in the streets. This does not mean that nama-sankirtana should be discontinued altogether, nor is it a mandate for all to follow. Others may have a different experience. But in San Francisco, or any major metropolis near my residence, I would not recommend this as a means to introduce people to our tradition at this time. However, I do participate in nama-sankirtana daily at my residence.

Q. In the last Sanga you wrote, “I think the Internet is perhaps the best venue to broadcast the glories of Krishna to the masses.” Doesn’t it seem to be broadcasting mostly criticism and blasphemy?

A. The Internet is the biggest street out there, and I am on it every day. It is unfortunate that it is being abused by so many, but it is undoubtedly the new medium of our time, and our Internet kirtana will eventually silence all those abusing it in Krishna’s name.

Q. In your recent discussion on Gaura-Gadadhara you mentioned that Gadadhara appeared in a barren place. Where is that?

A. He appeared in Bharatpur, which at present is in the District of Murshidabad near the place of Nityananda Prabhu’s appearance, Ekacakra. It is in Radhadesa, previously known as Radha on the southern side of the Ganges.

Q. Since Sri Caitanyadeva is Radha-Krishna in one person, and Sri Gadadhara is an incarnation of Srimati Radharani, is their relationship in sakhya or madhurya-rasa?

A. The worship of Gaura-Gadadhara is in madhurya-rasa. They are worshipped like Radha and Krishna. Gadadhara is Radha standing next to the Gaura Krishna who has stolen her/his bhava. She wants it back. Unite them, the divine couple Radha-Krishna/Gaura-Gadadhara. Sometimes the devotees will see them as Radha-Krishna, and sometimes as Gaura-Gadadhara. Bhaktivinoda Thakura has written an arati song for Gaura-Gadadhara describing Radha-Krishna. This is the internal reality. It is all very esoteric.

Q. It is told that Haridasa Thakura chanted 300,000 names a day yet I have never read if he is situated in a particular rasa.

A. Thakura Haridasa is said to be an incarnation of Brahma. Previously Brahma questioned Krishna’s divinity when he saw him with his friends, eating with his left hand and putting food in their mouths and then eating it himself. Brahma is also known as Viddhi. He is the personification of ritualistic observance, rules and regulations. After understanding the divinity of Krishna, who manifested innumerable Narayanas from his own form before Brahma’s eyes, Brahma prayed to take birth a as a particle of dust in Vrindavana, the place of Krishna’s intimate lila. This Brahma took birth in Gaura-lila as Thakura Haridasa. He took birth in a family of untouchables, who have no sense of Vedic viddhi.

Haridasa is also sometimes compared to Prahlada. As Prahlada was tortured by his father for his devotion to Krishna, Haridasa was tortured by the Muslim magistrate for chanting Krishna-nama. Both Prahlada and Haridasa never budged from their devotion to Krishna in spite of this torture.

Prahlada is cited as an example of santa-rasa, the bhava of neutrality, in Sanatana Goswami’s Brhat-bhagavatamrta. The dust of Vrindavana is sometimes considered to be in santa-rasa as well. Thus we can conclude that Haridasa Thakura was also in santa-rasa. This however does not say everything about his spiritual position. Examples of Brahma, Praladha, Haridasa, and so on are there to teach us about a particular bhava, but this does not mean that they themselves have no access to anything higher than that which they exemplify in the literature.

Q. In Canto 3, Chapter 21, verse 20 of Srimad Bhagavatam Kardama Muni addresses the Lord saying, “My dear Lord, although it is not your desire, you manifest this creation of gross and subtle elements just for our sensual satisfaction.” In your book Aesthetic Vedanta you quote a verse stating that the world was created out of the joy of God. How can these two apparent contradictory statements be harmonized?

A. The idea is that the living beings (baddha-jiva) have desires and thus karma, and in one sense these desires cause the world to manifest. However, it is also a fact that the Lord (Maha Visnu) desires to become many and interact lovingly with these jivas, who previous to his expressing this desire are in a homogeneous condition of deep sleep (susupti). So while the world is in one sense manifest to facilitate the desires of the jivas, it is also manifest out of the love of the Lord for them, giving them an opportunity to meet their maker. The Lord does not want the jivas to be entangled in sense gratification, yet it appears to be an inevitable consequence of his love for them that they, being of his own stamp and thus possessed of will, misuse their will and remain in bondage. Owing to this, out of love the Lord manifests the Vedas, and appears as various avatars as well.

Otherwise, the verse can be understood thus. Although it is not the Lord’s desire that the living entities enjoy sense gratification, he manifests the world which facilitates this. Over and above this the Lord manifests the world out of love for the jivas to give them a chance to be liberated.

Q. The conchshell which Krishna blows on the battlefield of Kuruksetra is named Pancajanya. Is this conchshell somehow related to the demon Pancajana?

A. Yes. Krishna killed Pancajana and took the shell that had grown from his body. Because his guru’s son was not within the conch Krishna went to Yamaraja to find him. It is well known that Krishna’s conch blown by him at the gates of hell when he went there to retrieve his guru’s son stopped all the suffering therein. The Skanda Purana, Avanti-khanda, describes the wonderful things that happened when Krishna sounded his conchshell at hell’s doorstep: “The hell known as Asipatra-vana lost the sharp, sword like leaves on its trees, and the hell named Raurava became free of its ruru beasts. The Bhairava hell lost its fearfulness, and all cooking (of people) stopped in the Kumbhipaka hell. Their sinful reactions eradicated, all the inhabitants of hell attained liberation and approached the spiritual world.”

Q. In many of Srila Prabhupada’s purports in the Bhagavad-gita, the word yoga is translated as devotional service. Couldn’t the word yoga be translated as hatha, jnana, or any other form of yoga?

A. The second and third chapter of the Gita are primarily about niskama-karma-yoga. The word yoga in these chapters is almost exclusively in reference to karma-yoga. However, niskama-karma-yoga is taught in the Gita such that it leads to bhakti-yoga. Indeed, it is very similar to bhakti, and karma-misra-bhakti in particular. It stresses the foundation of yoga, its heart of selflessness. One cannot be a yogi without this (Bg. 6.2), and the best yoga is bhakti (Bg. 6.47). Thus Prabhupada takes a license in his translation in rendering yoga in these early chapters as devotion. In doing so he follows the lead of Baladeva Vidyabhusana Prabhu, whom he dedicated his commentary to. Baladeva Vidyabhusana does not distinguish between karma-yoga and bhakti-yoga.

The term buddhi-yoga appearing in the second chapter refers to niskama-karma-yoga. However, when it appears in the tenth chapter (Bg. 10.9) it refers to bhakti. Thus it is reasonable to render it as bhakti in the second chapter as well in consideration of the import and drift of the entire text of the Gita.

Q. Should a devotee accept money that is offered as a donation from somebody, if you know that this person is earning it in some bad way?

A. Jiva Goswami states in Sat-sandarbha that one should only accept money that has been acquired by appropriate means.

Q. In your Gita commentary on verse 4.2, you explain the need for continual renewal of our spiritual tradition. You write, “While renovators justify their innovations with scriptural references, renegades cannot marshal scriptural support for their deviation.” Since it is our experience that “even the devil quotes scripture,” and since it’s not easy for lay people to even understand the scripture, how is one to really know the difference between innovation and deviation, and separate the renovators from the renegades?

A. This is the difficulty we are faced with. Only our sincerity will help us. Like attracts like. Be truthful with yourself, and truth will be attracted to you.

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