October 21 2008

This one is from Anuj, who bought a set of my books from me in Atlanta this summer at the Panihati festival.

Panihati festival Atlanta

He’s experiencing a common phenomena that attacks a lot of new devotees:

“For the past few weeks,†I have tried to remain fixed in my service to Sri Sri Radha Krsna, but impersonalist thoughts seem to be polluting my mind. I have debated quite extensively with Mayavadi’s online in various religious forums and this has had a negative effect on my spiritual life. My mind seems to be more inclined in accepting Impersonalistic convictions although†I am only really satisfied in serving Krsna.

“I keep reminding my self that the great Acharyas including Ramanuja,

Ramanujacarya

Madhva,

Madhvacarya

Lord Chaitanya

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu

and Srila Prabhupada

Srila Prabhupada

all preached against Mayavadism yet the fact that so many people in India and elsewhere are immersed in such impersonalism seems to persuade me that there must be some truth in their philosophy. I really dislike the way in which Mayavadi’s state that the Absolute Truth referred to in the Bhagavad Gita is not actually Krsna in his personal form but rather the Impersonal Absolute within Krsna. I really do want to want to remain fixed in my service to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu but Impersonalism seems to be the stumbling block on my path.”

“Since you were such an intimate servant of Srila Prabhupada,†I wanted to ask you how Prabhupada would interact with such impersonalists and the way in which we can best preach to the Mayavadis. Although†I have been advised to stay away from impersonalists,†I always feel that it is my duty to preach to them. I don’t understand why†I get such inclinations but is there any way in which†I can remain convinced that Krsna’s personal form is his highest feature?”

Answer:

†As you say, impersonalism is a pollution of the mind. It brings no satisfaction to the soul and that’s why all the big mayavadi’s ultimately come down again to the material platform and indulge in altruistic or humanitarian acts. Although they claim the material realm is mithya, illusion, they are very fond of remaining in that illusion.

†The natural function of the soul is to love. That means three things-the lover, the beloved and the exhange between them.

Without this there is no life. Impersonalism is not liberation but spiritual death. It is suicidal and an escape from the fact that we are eternal personalities.

†Mayavadi philosophy depends on word jugglery and taking indirect meanings from direct statements. Krsna says “To Me” but Mayavadi rascals say “not to Krsna, to something else.” It is dishonest.

†Of course there is an impersonal feature of the Supreme. Our philosophy does not deny the impersonal feature. We accept it, but it is not the ultimate feature of the Supreme. “Brahmeti, paramatmeti, bhagavan iti sabdyate.” There are three features, not one and shastra clearly states this.

You say you feel it is a stumbling block but†it is only a stumbling block because you think that you are the mind. Therefore whatever comes into your mind you are treating it as if it is the absolute truth. Why?

†Just as we are not the body, we are also not the mind. The mind is filled with many nonsense thoughts at every moment. If we tried to act upon them all we would go crazy. We have to use our intelligence to discriminate which thoughts are valid and useful and which are not. The mind has to be controlled by good intelligence, and good intelligence comes to us from above†”dadami buddhi yogam tam — when we become advanced, Krsna gives us intelligence by which we can understand Him.

†What is happening to you is a typical test that new devotees go through. Maya tests us to see if we have really understood who Krsna is and whether we really want to surrender to him. Every living being in the material world is infected with some tinge of mayavada because all of us are in denial of Krsna’s supreme position. That’s why we came here in the first place. That denial is multi-layered like an onion and when we begin devotional service it is like peeling back those layers.

†As we become purified we become aware of all our false ideas and conditioning. When these become exposed, we are then challenged. We have to decide whether to hold onto them, and thus fall back, or dispense with them by spiritual light and guidance from our acaryas, shastra and sadhus.

†So really it is just a question of letting these foolish ideas go. Then the mind becomes peaceful and we can make further progress.

†There is no validity in stating that ultimately there is nothing. It is a foolish and premature conclusion made by neophytes who do not understand the shastra correctly due to their own prejudice and envy towards the Supreme Person.

You asked for an example how Srila Prabhupada dealt with mayavadis.†One nice instance†occured in Bombay in 1975:

December 22 1975 -Bombay, disappearance day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati

SBSSTís disappearance day

“One of the visitors was a disciple of a well-known impersonalist. The lady unabashedly glorified her guru and began spouting his philosophy. Perhaps the disappearance day of Srila Prabhupada’s own Guru Maharaja was not the best time for her to have come. Prabhupada immediately countered nearly every comment she made. Using sharp logic and common sense he did not hesitate to point out the defects of her Svami’s philosophy. He especially attacked the Svami’s commentary on the Gita. A typical Mayavadi, this guru is well-known for having said that the word krsna means “dark.” According to him, dark means “unknown,” and therefore the Absolute is unknowable, that is to say, impersonal.
“If dark is unknown,” Prabhupada said, “or if Krsna is unknown, then why does he [her guru] bother to comment on Krsna’s words in the Gita? Why does he comment on that which he does not know? Therefore only the bhakta, only the devotee, can comment on the Bhagavad-gita, not others. Because Krsna says bhaktya mam abhijanati yavan yas casmi tattvatah [Bg. 18.55], ‘to the devotees I am known.'”
After the lady left Prabhupada told us that her Svami is also well-known for having affairs with his secretaries and wealthy widow followers.”

As far as preaching to impersonalists go, if you don’t have a proper understanding yourself then how can you preach to others? Then you will become confused. It is not that there is a defect in our philosophy of acyintabhedabheda tattva but because you have not fully absorbed it, therefore you are getting into difficulties. Better thing is not to attempt such preaching until you become more fixed up in the proper understanding.

†You can become convinced by reading Srila Prabhupada’s books regularly. There are many discussions about the defects of mayavada philosophy and you can learn all these arguments by proper hearing. In Caitanya Caritamrta there are some extensive discussions on this topic. You can especially refer to the meetings with Sarvabhouma Bhattacarya when Lord Caitanya first went to Jagannath Puri and Praksananda Sarasvati when He went to Benares. If you understand that portion all your doubts and disturbances will be removed.

First comes hearing, then chanting. If you don’t hear properly then how will you chant?

Your humble servant,
Hari-sauri dasa

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