Found in Sanga, Sanga 2001.

Q. I heard recently that someone is saying that Sri Advaita Acarya cannot give Vraja-bhakti. Do you agree?

A. Advaita cannot give Vraja bhakti in the sense that this is Krishna’s prerogative. Thus he calls for Krishna’s descent. However, the Advaita parivara (the lineage coming from Advaita) does facilitate the development of Vraja bhakti, and through this lineage he does distribute Vraja bhakti. In a general sense Advaita is Maha Visnu, but in the role of Advaita he tastes Vraja bhakti himself. The Advaita parivara considers him to be a partial incarnation of Yogamaya. Kavi Karnapura gives this position to his consort, Sita. Overall we consider the two as one, Sitadvaita (and different).

The lineage of Advaita teaches that Advaita initiated both of his young wives and instructed them in manjari seva, just as Purnamasi initiated and trained the two dutis (gopi messengers) Vira and Vrinda in Vraja and instructed them in manjari seva. Advaita himself was initiated by Madhavendra Puri, in whom the seed of Vraja bhakti first manifested. Advaita also worshipped the yugala murti of Radha Krishna in Santipura.

We should be very careful when discussing the position of persons like Advaita Acarya. He is God himself and a personal associate of Mahaprabhu. If we denigrate him in any way, we will go down. The Vraja gopis worship even the Sun God, what to speak of Narayana. Their bhakti is characterized by the humility and respect for others mandated by Mahaprabhu that extends to even the inanimate.

Vraja bhakti is not merely a theory that we can gather in our head by collecting information. It is not a cheap thing that we can wave about and denigrate even God with, thinking it our property merely because we have heard about it. It involves giving up selfishness and entering the domain of self forgetfulness. Smaranam involves maranam. We must die in this plane of material ego to live in the plane of dedication and love.

Q. If someone has not developed a feeling for manjari bhava even though initiated by a sat guru who probably does (this person has a deep feeling for Krishna but in some other manner, one that coincides perhaps with some other sampradaya, e.g. the Kumara sampradaya), should this person continue following their guru but in their own bhava or should they find another guru?

A. If one’s guru is attached to manjari bhava, this does not necessarily mean that all of his disciples will develop this same bhava. Thakura Bhaktivinoda taught that one’s svarupa, which is constituted of bhava, is inherent in the heart in a seed form. Through diksa, siksa, and the requisite spiritual practices it develops, ‘krishna prema nitya siddha, sadhya kabhu nay, sravanadi sudha citte, karaye udaya.’ When the disciple reaches the stage of ruci, the guru will guide him in terms of cultivating that ruci. If he deems it necessary to send his disciple to a siksa guru who is attached to the sentiment that corresponds with his disciple’s ruci, he will do so.

Overall this should not be a concern. Your ruci will guide you, when you attain this advanced stage. The ‘deep feeling’ you mention must correspond with other symptoms of advancement in order that it be considered spiritual rather than merely a mental consideration.

Q. In a previous Sanga you said, ‘Because while ordinarily the yuga avatara of Kali yuga disseminates nama sankirtana and thus delivers the people of the age, in this Kali yuga Krishna himself (svayam bhagavan) has come in the place of the yuga avatara in the ecstasy of Srimati Radharani.’ Who then is the ordinary Kali yuga avatar?

A. The yuga avatara is Gaura Narayana. He engages in sankirtana and delivers the world with taraka brahma maha mantra. His emphasis is thus on devotional liberation as opposed to the prema of sringara rasa. Our Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Radha Krishna coming in the place of this yuga avatara. Thus the activities of the yuga avatara are similar to those of our Mahaprabhu, but in this special Kali yuga the dispensation is higher. What he came to give has not been given for a long time. It happens once in the day of Brahma (if we are lucky).

Q. Is there any difference between the kirtan of the yuga avatara and that of Mahaprabhu?

A. The kirtana of Gaura Narayana can take one to Vaikuntha. Whereas when Krishna himself comes as the yuga avatara in the mood of Radha he distributes Vraja bhakti through his kirtana.

Q. It is said that hearing the holy name from a non-devotee is like tasting milk touched by the lips of a serpent. But if Krishna’s name, pastimes etc. are absolute and transcendental, how can they become contaminated?

A. The holy name cannot become contaminated. However, when those who do not have faith in Krishna speak about him, they share their lack of faith with us. They may have many misconceptions about Krishna, and hearing these misconceptions will not help us to understand the actual position of Krishna. We should hear about Krishna from advanced devotees, and as we gradually develop in terms of sambandha jnana (a proper conceptual orientation), we will be better situated to chant purely.

Of course if one is advanced and expert, he or she can ‘take gold from a filthy place.’ This kind of devotee can take the good and leave the bad behind, just as a swan can separate milk from water. Sometimes nondevotees do say insightful thinks about Krishna. Indeed, everyone is talking only about Krishna. This is the vision of great souls.

Q. In a previous Sanga you talked about deva-lila and nara-lila. If in the deva-lila there is no change in Krishna’s body, how can the desire of Satyavrata Muni, who is always desiring to see the Gopal form of the Lord, be satisfied?

A. The verses of Satyavrata Muni in his Damodarastakam are progressive realizations that take place over Yugas. His final aspiration is expressed in these words, ‘namo radhikayai tvadiya priyayai, namonanta lilaya devaya tubhyam.’ He desires to enter the lila of Radha Krishna and prays to Sri Radha. Otherwise it is true that in the deva-lila Krishna is an adolescent (Kishore). At the same time, each of the ages of Krishna, kumara, pauganda, and kishore, are eternal. Passing from one place they appear in another. Sri Jiva Goswami deals with this subject matter in his Krishna sandarbha.

Q. Western indologists say the Vedic scriptures are not 5,000 years old nor were they written by one person. With references to linguistics and the differences in the style of sanskrit, etc., they contradict everything our tradition says about the history of India’s sacred literatures. What are we to think about this?

A. You should not be too concerned about the dating of the scriptures. Be assured the knowledge within them remains timeless. They come through the parampara system and in this sense they come from one author. Guru is one while appearing in many forms. Scripture represents the meeting of time and eternity. At this juncture, the eternal takes on a temporal appearance, while speaking to us about that which is eternal. If we take the scripture to heart, we will experience eternality. What then must its nature be?

Q. Why do you wear tilaka?

A. Tilaka is the symbol that differentiates one lineage from another. Adorning oneself with Visnu tilaka is a sign of love. Devotees often write the name of their deity on their sadhaka deha (practitioner’s body) as well. Krnsa wears tilaka because he is a Vaisnava and his family worships Narayana. If you want to know why Narayana wears tilaka you will have to ask someone from his sampradaya.

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