Found in Sanga, Sanga 2001.

Q. While chanting I began to feel my body vibrate, and fall forward uncontrollably. It was kind of frightening. What do you think happened?

A. Spiritual bliss is not frightening. It is prefaced by sattva guna and the comforting sense of unity with all things. In its budding stage it brings cold, joyful tears to the eyes and a sense of detachment. I am not sure what happened to you. I suggest you pay closer attention to your chanting.

Q. I have read where certain saints in India have had a divine vision (darshan) of Sri Krishna yet they did not appear to become Vaisnavas, and even more, each saint is saying different things about the real position of Krishna. How is this?

A. Krishna is like a valuable jewel. If you look at a beautiful jewel from different angles you will see its different facets. Similarly, Krishna has many aspects. As persons surrender to him, he reveals himself accordingly. He may even give darshan to a nondevotee for reasons of his own. In Kamsa’s wrestling arena he was seen by different persons in different ways. For example, yogis saw him as a manifestation of Paramatma.

Q. What is the main cause of violence and aggression?

A. The cause is lust, unsatisfied desire. Krishna says, kama esa krodha esa, rajo-guna-samudbhavah (Bg. 3.37). The dissatisfaction derived from the pursuit of material desire transforms into anger. Passion transforms into ignorance, lust into anger.

Q. In a recent Sanga you said that the residents of the spiritual world are anxious to join Krishna’s nara-lila because it is like a movie ‘shot on location.’ Why would the Lord’s lila in the material world have this special quality?

A. Because Krishna lila is humanlike. Krishna is God, whom we are taught to love. But Krishna is God when God himself falls in love. Human society best facilitates this humanlike lila of God. In the prakata lila here on Earth, Krishna can actually kill demons in youthful sport, whereas in the aprakata lila there are no demons present. Here he can perform the lila of taking birth, growing to boyhood and adolescence. All of this makes the prakata lila sweeter and more charming. It is called nara-lila as opposed to Krishna’s deva-lila in his aprakata pastimes of Goloka.

Q. I found this verse in Sri Caitanya Caritamrita by Kavi Karnapura. It does not appear to agree with your contention that only the jiva is saguna Brahman. “In this way, that one eternal atman will remain as shesha (this one eternal atman will exist after the dissolution of the worlds), it is the Brahman with upadhi (guna) that emerges out of upadhi, otherwise that Brahman with upadhi is also called jiva.” (6.67) [Excerpted from an ongoing discussion thread.]

A. Yes, in this verse the jiva is being identified as saguna Brahman. But how you can use this to form a conclusion about Mahaprabhu’s entire philosophy is beyond me. In this verse, the word guna has various meanings. Vaisnavas don’t usually call Krishna ‘saguna brahma.’ But when they do, they don’t mean that God has material qualities, but rather spiritual qualities. This verse uses neither the word guna or brahma, but upadhi and atma, which, though parallel concepts, are not necessarily identical. The verse must be interpreted in light of the entire siddhanta of Mahaprabhu.

Over and over again it is stressed throughout all of the biographies of Mahaprabhu and in all of the books of his followers and their commentaries that the jiva is an eternal unit of consciousness and the plurality of souls in this world is not merely a result of Brahman being influenced by material nature. According to Gaudiya Vedanta, the world is a transformation of the sakti (maya sakti) of Brahman interacting with another of Brahman’s saktis (jiva sakti).

Previously I cited evidence from Padma Purana regarding the saktis of God in relation to the Gaudiya understanding of the Gita (jiva bhuta maha baho yayedam dharyate jagat). In spite of this and the thousands of statements regarding the nature of the jiva in Gaudiya literature, its Vedantic basis of sakti parinam vada, as opposed to Sankara’s vivartavada, etc. you want to think that Mahaprabhu’s teaching supports the idea that the jiva is actually Brahman in every respect, Brahman that is under the influence of material nature thus appearing as many souls. Mahaprabhu taught that the jiva and material nature are Brahman in the sense that they are saktis of Brahman and thus one with Brahman and different from Brahman simultaneously (acintya bhedabheda).

You seem to be following the conclusions of Aurobindo, which is fine. But his conclusions are not the same as those of Mahaprabhu’s followers. I suggested that you read read Tattva-sandarbha if you are truly interested in understanding the Vedanta of the followers of Mahaprabhu. Have you done that? Read his followers’ commentaries on the Gita as well. According to Vaisnava commentaries, the Gita speaks of a plurality of eternal souls beginning with verse 2.12. According to the Vaisnava commentaries, the Gita verses that seem to speak of singularity are actually speaking of a singular class of souls.

Not only the Gaudiyas, but all Vaisnavas sects understand the scripture to be speaking of an eternal plurality of souls whose individuality is not merely a product of association with material nature. Read the Gita commentaries of Madhva, Ramanuja and others. Your conclusions drawn from the Gita are different from those of the followers of Mahaprabhu and all other Vaisnava sects. Surely you don’t think that yours is the only correct understanding?

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