Found in Sanga, Sanga 2000.

Q. I don’t agree with your last Sanga discussion, “the color of one’s cloth.” The Sarasvata sampradaya has their viewpoint, and the rest of the Gaudiya community has theirs. Radharani puts on a reddish garment when she is in the mood of separation, whereas the Manjaris put on white. Mahaprabhu wore reddish cloth in that mood, whereas the six Goswamis (being Manjaris) wore white. Those following in the footsteps of Rupa (Rupanugas) therefore only wear the white colored cloth. It is also considered offensive to wear saffron because it is imitating Mahaprabhu rather than following in the footsteps of the six Goswamis of Vrindavana.

A. As I mentioned in the Q & A under discussion, the Gaudiya Saraswata sampradaya is not the only Gaudiya sect in which members have donned saffron and accepted tridandi sannyasa. If Mahaprabhu wore red in the mood of Radha’s separation, how is wearing saffron imitating him? I do not mean to sound challenging, but where is it mentioned that Radha wears red and her manjaris wear white when in the mood of separation? And if the Gaudiyas are only supposed to where white, did your dear Gurudeva not depart from tradition by wearing burlap?

Q. Bhaktivinoda Thakur writes that scripture is partially imperfect yet Srila Prabhupada writes that the sastra is always literal and perfect. How do we reconcile these two great acaryas theologically?

A. Preaching involves time and place considerations. One presentation of the philosophy may differ from another in terms of emphasis in relation to the audience. Bhaktivinoda Thakura stated that the hellish planets mentioned in the Bhagavata were not to be taken literally. He considered them a poetic device to push the wicked in the direction of God consciousness.

Prabhupada on the other hand spoke of them as a literal reality. Both were successful in getting people involved in bhakti, in awakening faith in its efficacy. Of course, the question remains as to the nature of the hellish planets, but hopefully you will not have to worry about that. Otherwise, the tension between a literal and figurative approach usually involves the eligibility of the practitioner. Generally, progress turns black and white into gray.

Q. Does karma get transferred from disciple to guru?

A. The guru sets up parameters within which the disciple must live, and these parameters protect him from the brunt of his karma. We see when one declares bankruptcy, the court appoints a lawyer under whose protection one can live without suffering from the full force of one’s indebtedness while his debt is gradually resolved. Similarly, the guru creates an environment in which his disciple can live and pursue spiritual life as his karmic debt is gradually cleared. In this arrangement the guru mentally suffers for his disciple out of compassion if the disciple steps outside of the parameters he establishes.

Q. Certain Gaudiya teachers in India are saying that only one who is in their gopi-vesa, i.e., fully realized siddha-deha gopi body, can give gayatri initiation. They also say that only diksa or gayatri intitiation is real initiation, as opposed to first initiation, which they say is just an encouragement to chant Hare Krishna. What is your opinion?

A. This opinion is not supported by sastra. The madhyama adhikari is qualified to initiate. Such gurus are not “situated” in their svarupa. I would ask the preacher you are talking about how he or she knows which guru is so situated. This kind of preaching is generally concerned more with sectarian propaganda than the truth.

Regarding the diksa of nama and mantra, there are different opinions. Nama is independent of diksa, yet the Hare Krishna mantra is often given as a diksa samskara while labled Hari Nama initiation. Advaita Acarya initiated Sacimata into the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha mantra. However, most sects consider the diksa mantra samskara to be the formal initiation, as opposed to encouraging persons to chant the Holy Name.

Q. Can a practitioner of kundalini or hatha yoga reach the same destintation as a practitioner of bhakti since they refer to the same ultimate goal?

A. The paths of bhakti yoga, hatha yoga, and kundalini are similar goals in many respects. However, hatha yoga aims at preparing one for meditation. The meditation that follows may involve the rising of kundalini sakti. Those interested in this seek mukti (salvation). Bhakti yoga is sometimes practiced with salvation in mind as well. However, what our tradition calls suddha bhakti (pure bhakti ) is concerned with salvation only in a peripheral sense. Its main objective is prema, love of God, a byproduct of which is salvation. This involves the manifestation of the haladini sakti in the heart of the practitioner and the resultant post-liberated involvement in God’s lila. The direct culture of salvation is not conducive to this attainment.

Q. I have been trying to understand the fourth dimension of consciousness as you discuss it in your book Tattva Sandarbha: Sacred India’s Path of Ecstasy, but I am having difficulty.

A. The “fourth” in Sanskrit is called “turiya.” This dimension of consciousness is transcendent consciousness, God consciousness. All three of the other dimensions are material. The third dimension, deep sleep (susupti), represents the self-independent of mind and body, yet not realized as to its independence. For example, when the jivas enter Mahavisnu at the time of cosmic annihilation, this condition is called sususpti. In this condition the mental and physical worlds are shut down. The jivatmas continue to exist in spite of this, yet in the condition of susupti they are unaware of their position and they are still under the influence of karma, even while this karmic influence is temporarily suspended. Because of their unfinished karma, the cycle of manifesting the world again takes place.

Our deep dreamless sleep is analogous to this condition of sususpti. When we awaken from it, we remember that we slept well. Thus we remember existing even though that existence was not one of mental or physical experience, rather restfulness from the world of mental and physical experience. The experience of susupti evidenced by remembrance tells us that our existence is not dependent upon body or mind. Realizing this existence through spiritual practice that resolves our karmic debt and unites us with God. This is called turiya, the fourth dimension.

Q. Is it possible that Krishna might not be completely atmarama (self-satisfied) since he enjoys the company of all his devotees (especially Sri Radha) and he would be unsatisfied without them?

A. Radha represents the fullest expression of Krishna’s svarupa sakti. This sakti belongs to Krishna, just as the moonshine belongs to the moon. The two are inseparable. When Krishna consorts with his svaruap sakti, he does no go outside of himself. Thus, in doing so, he remains atmarama.

This is not the case with his other principle saktis, maya sakti and jiva sakti. He never consorts with his maya sakti, which is his separated sakti (bhinna prakrti). He associates with his jiva sakti only when it is under the influence of his svarupa sakti, when a jiva soul becomes a devotee proper.

Q. In a recent Sanga discussion you stated Rupanugas developing manjari bhava in parakiya rasa. I had previously heard that parakiya rasa is enjoyed by the Lord only in Prakata lila. Is this true? If so, then does it mean that manjari bhava is valid only in prakata lila and has no significance in aprakata lila?

A. This is not true. There is a difference between the prakata and aprakata lila. The former is sometimes called deva lila and the latter nara lila. The deva lila involves a greater degree of aisvarya. For example the kadamba trees there are larger and more majestic. However, both of these lilas are essentially the same. What is the essence of any lila? It’s bhava. Thus parakiya bhava must also be manifest in the aprakata lila. Sri Jiva Goswami emphasizes the svakiya nature of Radha Krishna’s in the aprakata lila for the sake of siddhanta. Sometimes his writing in this regard has been interpreted to imply that he did not accept that parakiya bhava was expressed in the aprakata lila.

However, Visvantha Cakravarti Thakura has explained that Jiva Goswami wrote this way to appease those who could not accept the eternal nature of parakiya bhava, and in the course of doing so, as I mentioned, to stress that fact that from the point of view of tattva the gopis do not belong to anyone other than Krishna. They belong (svakiya) to him alone. The mystic illusion of their belonging to another (parakiya) gives greater pleasure to Krishna, and thus it is the highest reality and expression of dharma.

Q. I’ve heard that Bhagavad-gita was actually written by Sankaracarya. Is that true?

A. Whoever told you that would have a hard time convincing anyone in academia, much less anyone on the spiritual path, be it Vaisnava or Advaitin. I believe that the commonly accepted date of the Gita predates Sankara by several hundered years. If he wrote it, he could have done a much better job of presenting his doctrine of maya.

Q. When will we have your Bhagavad-gita commentary available?

A. It should be ready by the end of the summer and available in bookstores early next year.

Q. Follow instructions, sell books, serve Guru and his associates, then, way down the line, one gets a higher taste. To use one of Prabhupada’s own analogies, isn’t Gaudiya Vaisnava sadhana like a postdated check?

A. The idea that a higher taste should be immediately available contradicts the teachings of Rupa Goswami. He instructs us that because we are afflicted with the jaundice of avidya (ignorance), the sweet sugar cane-like taste of the holy name is not forthcoming. Because the holy name is the cure for avidya, we should chant it and as our ignorance is removed, proportionately we will be able to taste the sweetness inherent within it.

Prabhupada’s own ethic was “work now samadhi later.” This conforms with the teaching of the Bhagavad-gita. One will experience a higher taste in service to Krishna in the context of the work involved in controlling the senses. Some taste will be there for anyone who sincerely practices, but samadhi is not something that we can expect immediately. In my own life, I experienced a higher taste in service to Prabhupada before I was formally initiated, and since then this has only increased.

Q. Swamiji, will I be able to save money?

A. Not if you become attached to Krishna.

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