Found in Sanga, Sanga 2000.

Q. Re: the recent Sanga discussion “Internet Sankirtana.” It seems to me the Internet is mostly for those who already know about Krishna consciousness while public nama-sankirtana and book distribution do more to influence those who don’t know anything about it. I myself found out about Krishna consciousness by finding a book lying on the street.

A. I don’t think you can say that people on the Internet don’t stumble onto our tradition the same way people on the street sometimes do. Book distribution can be done as effectively on the Internet as on the street—perhaps more effectively. Sometimes we miss the principle and identify only with an isolated time and circumstance application. This is exactly what Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was preaching against when he declared the printing press “brhat-mrdanga”—the big drum. At that time people were criticizing, “sankirtana must be done barefoot,” etc., while Sarasvati Thakura wore patent leather shoes and considered the printing press a more effective drum than the clay mrdanga.

If you like the idea of doing Hari-nama-sankirtana in the streets, then go ahead and do it, and distribute books as well. But don’t just talk about it and question the practices of those who are playing a bigger drum. If you want to spread Krishna consciousness and become Krishna conscious, you must be prepared to change.

Q. In a recent Sanga it was said most Internet discussion by devotees is “abuse” and “blasphemy.” Do you then support the abuse so many people suffered at the hands of Iskcon?

A. I think you have misunderstood what was said. Someone mentioned that the Internet, while being potentially a good medium for propagating Gaudiya Vaisnavism, is often abused. I agreed that often discussions on the Internet in relation to our tradition are not in the best of taste. Otherwise, I am sympathetic to those who have been abused by Iskcon. After all, those who know my history are aware that I was abused by Iskcon and its policy re: Om Visnupada B. R. Sridhara Deva Gosvami Maharaja. One of the main reasons for this and other abuses is misunderstanding and misapplying the philosophy of our tradition. Therefore it is important to speak from scripture and personal realization on the proper philosophical conclusions of Gaudiya Vaisnavism. Others may have their own ways of helping the cause of Mahaprabhu, and that is fine, but I am called to do it in this way, along with setting an example of actual spiritual practice.

Q. In the last Q & A someone asked, “Would we have a mother and father and friends in Goloka Vrindavana?” to which you answered: “Yes, but they all love Krishna.” Isn’t the real answer “no” since there is no birth or death in Goloka Vrindavana and we have no parents other than Krishna, our true father?

A. Actually the answer is “yes.” Even Krishna has a father and mother in Goloka. Devotees who have advanced to the stage of svarupa-siddhi in this life take birth in Gokula, where Krishna is manifesting his prakata-lila in the material world. There they have a mother and father. From svarupa-siddhi in the prakata-lila, in association with the nitya-siddha associates of Radha-Krishna, devotees advance to vastu-siddhi and thus enter the aprakata-lila in Goloka. Everyone there has a father and mother, even though, as you say, Krishna is the father and mother of everyone. There the fathers and mothers love Krishna more than one another, and more than they love their own sons and daughters. And the sons and daughters love Krishna more than they love their fathers and mothers. In this way everyone is in agreement.

Q. In the last Sanga you wrote: “In the Vraja-lila the devotees worship Narayana as God and love Krishna as their son, friend, lover, etc.” Is this true of Arjuna as well? Didn’t Arjuna know that Krishna was Narayana?

A. The loving relationship between Krishna and Arjuna is discussed at length in my new book Bhagavad-gita: Its Feeling and Philosophy. Chapter 11, verse one is very instructive. Here is an excerpt.

“Arjuna said: Out of fondness for me you have spoken about that which is most secret, your supreme nature. Thus my delusion is gone.” (Bg 11.1)

Arjuna is overwhelmed as he opens this chapter, his heart both melted and awed. He is melted by Krishna’s affection (anugrahaya) and awed by the fact that Krishna, his dear affectionate friend, is the source of the universal God (Adhyatma/Paramatma). Krishna’s fondness for his devotee Arjuna has caused him to give Arjuna confidential spiritual knowledge about himself. As Arjuna speaks in realization of this, he trembles. The first line of this verse reflects this trembling. Thus the irregularity of an extra syllable that appears to blemish the anustubh meter is more an ornament reflecting the feeling of the verse.

The nature of Arjuna’s love for Krishna is such that the opulence of Krishna’s godhood can sometimes overshadow Arjuna’s emotion of friendship. This begins to happen in this verse and fully manifests later in the chapter. The love of Vraja never suffers from a display of Krishna’s opulence. When Yasoda saw the universe within Krishna’s mouth, she never stopped thinking of him as her son to pay respect to him as God. Indeed, she experienced this vision in the course of chastising her son for eating dirt.(1) She thought that her son, Krishna, had been blessed to have the power of Visnu/Narayana, but never considered him to be Narayana.

The nature of her love for Krishna and that of all the gopis and gopas of Vraja is such that it can never be covered by the fact that Krishna is God. Arjuna’s love on the other hand is mixed with a sense of Krishna’s godhood. Thus as we shall see, when Krishna manifests his opulence further, Arjuna questions the appropriateness of his intimate friendly behavior with Krishna.(2)

When Arjuna says that his delusion is now gone (moho ‘yam vigato mama), he refers to his delusion regarding both the nature of the self (tvam) and the nature of God (tat). With regard to the self, he had been thinking earlier in terms of bodily egoic concerns. Now he understands that he is the soul within the body. Significantly, his understanding of this is voiced after Krishna has revealed knowledge of God (himself). The implication is that self realization is most effectively accomplished in the context of pursuing God realization, and upon realization of the individual soul, one continues to be interested in God himself. This is the path of devotion, as opposed to niskama-karma-yoga or jnana-yoga aimed merely at self-realization.

Regarding Arjuna’s delusion about God, he had been thinking of Krishna as his friend. While this kind of spiritual delusion is ultimately desirable, owing to Krishna’s speech about his opulence it has now receded to the back of Arjuna’s mind. Otherwise, at this point in Sri Gita readers in general should not be in any illusion as to the godhood of Arjuna’s chariot driver. As mentioned in the previous chapter, knowledge of Krishna’s godhood is both initially necessary for inspiring a life of devotion to him, and unnecessary, if not bothersome to those exalted souls who develop intimate spiritual love for him. In this chapter Arjuna demonstrates this by first continuing to ask about Krishna’s extraordinary opulence, only to be bothered by it when it fully manifests later in the chapter.

Footnotes:

1. SB 10.8
2. See Bg 11.41

Leave a Reply

* Name, Email, and Comment are Required