Back to Godhead Magazine

Volume 10, Number 08, 1975


In San Diego, California and around the world...
What is a Guru?
Celebrating the Birth of Lord Krsna
The Killing of Putana Witch
Delivering the Message Unchanged
The Most Blessed Event
Sri Vyasa-puja Offering
The Universal Teacher

© 2005 The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International

In San Diego, California and around the world...

Nearing the end of its arduous journey from Calcutta to New York ten years ago, the cargo ship Jaladuta docked briefly in Boston. One of the few passengers on board was His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who at the age of sixty-nine was making his first journey outside of India. His mission, given him by his spiritual master, was to teach the science of Krsna consciousness to the people of the Western world. When he stepped off the boat, Srila Prabhupada noticed how materially inclined the people of the West were. He saw what a difficult task he would have, and he prayed to Lord Krsna for help. A year later, in a humble storefront in New York City, he founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) and began the movement that's surprising the world with its remarkable growth and popularity.

Over the past nine years, Srila Prabhupada has established ISKCON centers (like the one above in San Diego) in over seventy major cities throughout the world. His message is simple and clear: "Chant Hare Krsna, and your life will be sublime." The Hare Krsna mantra is a chant or prayer requesting the Supreme Lord to engage us in His service.

The disciples of Srila Prabhupada, who have taken his advice and experienced the pleasure of chanting Hare Krsna and serving the Lord, are naturally eager to express their gratitude to him. They'll do this formally on August 31, his birthday anniversary, which is called Vyasa-puja. By a wonderful coincidence, Vyasa-puja falls on the day following Lord Krsna's birthday celebration (Janmastami). Therefore both events are observed side by side with equal enthusiasm. You'll find out more about the significance of these two days as you read through this issue of BACK TO GODHEAD.

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What is a Guru?

A lecture given by
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
on Vyasa-puja day, 1973, at Bhaktivedanta Manor, England

om ajnana-timirandhasya
caksur unmilitam yena
tasmai sri-gurave namah

"I was born in the darkest ignorance, and my guru, my spiritual master, opened my eyes with the torch of knowledge. I offer my respectful obeisances unto him."

The word ajnana means ignorance or darkness. If all the lights in this room immediately went out, we would not be able to tell where we or others are sitting. Everything would become confused. Similarly, we are all in darkness in this material world, which is a world of tamas. Tamas or timira means darkness. This material world is dark, and therefore it needs sunlight or moonlight for illumination. However, there is another world, a spiritual world, that is beyond this darkness. That world is described by Sri Krsna in Bhagavad-gita:

na tad bhasayate suryo
na sasanko na pavakah
yad gatva na nivartante
tad dhama paramam mama

"That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. One who reaches it never returns to this material world." (Bg. 15.6)

From Darkness to Light

The guru's business is to bring his disciples from darkness to light. At present everyone is suffering due to ignorance, just as one contacts a disease out of ignorance. If one does not know hygienic principles, he will not know what will contaminate him. Therefore due to ignorance there is infection, and we suffer from disease. A criminal may say, "I did not know the law," but he will not be excused if he commits a crime. Ignorance is no excuse. Similarly, a child, not knowing that fire will burn, will touch the fire. The fire does not think, "This is a child, and he does not know I will burn." No, there is no excuse. Just as there are state laws, there are also stringent laws of nature, and these laws will act despite our ignorance of them. If we do something wrong out of ignorance, we must suffer. This is the law. Whether the law is a state law or a law of nature, we risk suffering if we break it.

The guru's business is to see that no human being suffers in this material world. No one can claim that he is not suffering. That is not possible. In this material world, there are three kinds of suffering: adhyatmika, adhibhautika and adhidaivika. These are miseries arising from the material body and mind, from other living entities and from the forces of nature. We may suffer mental anguish, or we may suffer from other living entities—from ants or mosquitoes or flies—or we may suffer due to some superior power. There may be no rain or there may be flood. There may be excessive heat or excessive cold. So many types of suffering are imposed by nature. Thus there are three types of miseries within the material world, and everyone is suffering from one, two or three of them. No one can say that he is completely free from suffering.

We may then ask why the living entity is suffering. The answer is: out of ignorance. He does not think, "I am committing mistakes and am leading a sinful life; that is why I am suffering." Therefore the guru's first business is to rescue his disciple from this ignorance. We send our children to school to save them from suffering. If our children do not receive an education, we fear that they will suffer in the future. The guru sees that suffering is due to ignorance, which is compared to darkness. How can one in darkness be saved? By light. The guru takes the torchlight of knowledge and presents it before the living entity enveloped in darkness. That knowledge relieves him from the sufferings of the darkness of ignorance.

Guru is One

One may ask whether the guru is absolutely necessary. The Vedas inform us that he is:

tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet
samit-panih srotriyam brahma-nistham
(Mundaka Up. 1.2.12)

The Vedas enjoin us to seek out a guru; actually, they say to seek out the guru, not just a guru. The guru is one because he comes in disciplic succession. What Vyasadeva and Krsna taught 5,000 years ago is also being taught now. There is no difference between the two instructions. Although hundreds and thousands of acaryas have come and gone, the message is one. The real guru cannot be two because the real guru does not speak differently from his predecessors. Some spiritual teachers say, "In my opinion you should do this," but this is not a guru. Such so-called gurus are simply rascals. The genuine guru has only one opinion, and that is the opinion expressed by Krsna, Vyasadeva, Narada, Arjuna, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the Gosvamis. Five thousand years ago Lord Sri Krsna spoke Bhagavad-gita, and Vyasadeva recorded it. Srila Vyasadeva did not say, "This is my opinion." Rather, he wrote, sri bhagavan uvaca, that is, "The Supreme Personality of Godhead says." Whatever Vyasadeva wrote was originally spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Srila Vyasadeva did not give his own opinion.

Consequently, Srila Vyasadeva is a guru. He does not misinterpret the words of Krsna but transmits them exactly as they were spoken. If we send a telegram, the person who delivers the telegram does not have to correct it, edit it or add to it. He simply presents it. That is the guru's business. The guru may be this person or that, but the message is the same; therefore it is said that guru is one.

In the disciplic succession we simply find repetition of the same subject. In Bhagavad-gita Sri Krsna says:

man-mana bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yaji mam namaskuru
mam evaisyasi yuktvaivam
atmanam mat-parayanah

"Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, become My devotee, offer obeisances and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me." (Bg. 9.34) These very instructions were reiterated by all the acaryas—Ramanujacarya, Madhvacarya and Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The six Gosvamis also transmitted the same message, and we are simply following in their footsteps. There is no difference. We do not interpret the words of Krsna by saying, "In my opinion, the Battlefield of Kuruksetra represents the human body." Such interpretations are set forth by rascals. In the world there are many rascal gurus who give their own opinion, but we can challenge any rascal. A rascal guru may say, "I am God," or, "We are all God." That is all right, but we should find out from the dictionary what the meaning of God is. Generally, a dictionary will tell us that the word God indicates the Supreme Being. Thus we may ask such a guru, "Are you the Supreme Being?" If he cannot understand this, then we should give the meaning of supreme. Any dictionary will inform us that supreme means "the greatest authority." We may then ask, "Are you the greatest authority?" Such a rascal guru, even though proclaiming himself to be God, cannot answer such a question. God is the Supreme Being and the highest authority. No one is equal to Him or greater than Him. Yet there are many guru Gods, many rascals who claim to be the Supreme. Such rascals cannot help us escape the darkness of material existence. They cannot illumine our darkness with the torchlight of spiritual knowledge.

The bona fide guru will simply present what the supreme guru, God, says in bona fide scripture. A guru cannot change the message of the disciplic succession. Once there was a gentleman named Vallabhacarya, who was very devoted to Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Vallabhacarya wrote a commentary on Srimad-Bhagavatam, and he presented it to Caitanya Mahaprabhu, saying, "Lord Caitanya, please hear my commentary on Srimad-Bhagavatam. You will find that it is far better than Sridhara Svami's." Sridhara Svami was a very ancient commentator Caitanya Mahaprabhu immediately rejected Vallabhacarya, saying, "Oh, are you claiming that you have written something better than Sridhara Svami?" Caitanya Mahaprabhu then chastised Vallabhacarya, saying, svamike yini na manena, tini vesya. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu sarcastically used the word svami, which also means husband. He said, "I think that one who does not recognize the svami [husband] is a prostitute." In other words, "If you do not recognize Sridhara Svami, then you are a prostitute. How can I hear from a prostitute?"

No Research Necessary

We must understand that we cannot carry out research to find the Absolute Truth. Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself said, "My Guru Maharaja considered me a great fool." He who remains a great fool before his guru is a guru himself. However, if one says, "I am so advanced that I can speak better than my guru," he is simply a rascal. In Bhagavad-gita Sri Krsna says:

evam parampara-praptam
imam rajarsayo viduh
sa kaleneha mahata
yogo nastah parantapa

"This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost." (Bg. 4.2)

Taking on a guru is not simply a fashion. One who is serious about understanding spiritual life requires a guru. A guru is a question of necessity, for one must be very serious to understand spiritual life, God, proper action and one's relationship with God. When we are very serious about understanding these subjects, we need a guru. We shouldn't go to a guru simply because a guru may be fashionable at the moment. Surrender must be there, for without surrender we cannot learn anything. If we go to a guru simply to challenge him, we will learn nothing. But we must accept the guru just as Arjuna accepted his guru, Sri Krsna Himself:

karpanya-dosopahata svabhavah
prcchami tvam dharma-sammudha-cetah
yac chreyah syan niscitam bruhi tan me
sisyas te 'ham sadhi mam tvam prapannam

"Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of weakness. In this condition I am asking You to tell me clearly what is best for me. Now I am Your disciple and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me." (Bg. 2.7)

From "God" to Dog

This is the process for accepting a guru. The guru is Krsna's representative, the former acaryas' representative. Krsna says that all acaryas are His representatives; therefore the guru should be offered the same respect one would offer to God. As Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura says in his prayers to the spiritual master: yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasadah. "By the mercy of the spiritual master, one receives the benediction of Krsna." Thus, if we surrender to the bona fide guru, we surrender to God. God accepts our surrender to the guru.

In Bhagavad-gita, Krsna instructs:

sarva-dharman parityajya
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah

"Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear." (Bg. 18.66) Someone may argue, "Where is Krsna? I shall surrender to Him." But no, the process is that we first surrender to Krsna's representative; then we surrender to Krsna. Therefore it is said, saksad-dharitvena samasta-sastraih: the guru is as good as God. When we offer respects to the guru, we are offering respects to God. Because we are trying to be God conscious, it is required that we learn how to offer respects to God through God's representative. In all the sastras, the guru is described to be as good as God, but the guru never says, "I am God." The disciple's duty is to offer respect to the guru just as he offers respect to God, but the guru never thinks, "My disciples are offering me the same respect they offer to God; therefore I have become God." As soon as he thinks like this, he becomes a dog instead of God. Therefore Visvanatha Cakravarti says, kintu prabhor yah priya eva tasya. Because he is the most confidential servitor of God, the guru is offered the same respect that we offer God. God is always God, guru is always guru. As a matter of etiquette, God is the worshipable God, and guru is the, worshiper God (seva-bhagavan). Therefore the guru is addressed as prabhupada. The word prabhu means "lord," and pada means "position." Thus prabhupada means "he who has taken the position of the Lord." This is the same as saksad-dharitvena samasta-sastraih.

Only if we are very serious about understanding the science of God is a guru required. We should not try to keep a guru as a matter of fashion. One who has accepted a guru speaks intelligently. He never speaks nonsense. That is the sign of having accepted a bona fide guru. We should certainly offer all respect to the spiritual master, but we should also remember how to carry out his orders. In Bhagavad-gita Sri Krsna Himself tells us the method of seeking out and approaching the guru:

tad viddhi pranipatena
pariprasnena sevaya
upadeksyanti te jnanam
jnaninas tattva-darsinah

"Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth." (Bg. 4.34) The first process is that of surrender. We have to find an exalted person and willingly surrender before him. The sastras enjoin that before we take a guru we study him carefully to find out whether we can surrender to him. We should not accept a guru suddenly out of fanaticism. That is very dangerous. The guru should also study the person who wants to become a disciple to see if he is fit. That is the way a relationship is established between the guru and disciple. Everything is provided, but we must take up the process seriously. Then we can be trained to become a bona fide disciple. First we must find a bona fide guru, establish our relationship with him and act accordingly. Then our life will be successful, for the guru can enlighten the sincere disciple who is in darkness.

Perfecting Our Life

Everyone is born a rascal and a fool. If we are born learned, why do we need to go to school? If we do not cultivate knowledge, we are no better than animals. An animal may say that there is no need of books and that he has become a guru, but how can anyone obtain knowledge without the study of authoritative books on science and philosophy? Rascal gurus try to avoid these things. We must understand that we are all born rascals and fools and that we have to be enlightened. We have to receive knowledge to make our lives perfect. If we do not perfect our lives, we are defeated. What is this defeat? The struggle for existence. We are trying to obtain a better life, to attain a superior position, and for this we are struggling very hard. But we do not know what a superior position actually is.

Whatever position we have in this material world must be given up. We may have a good position or a bad position; in any case, we cannot remain here. We may earn millions of dollars and think, "Now I am in a good position," but a little dysentery or cholera will finish our position. If the bank fails, our position is gone. So actually there is no good position in this material world. It is a farce. Those who try to attain a better position in the material world are ultimately defeated because there is no better position. Bhagavad-gita (14.26) says what the better position is:

mam ca yo 'vyabhicarena
bhakti-yogena sevate
sa gunan samatityaitan
brahma-bhuyaya kalpate

"One who engages in full devotional service, who does not fall down in any circumstance, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman."

Is there any science that gives us the knowledge by which we may become immortal? Yes, we may become immortal, but not in the material sense. We cannot receive this knowledge in so-called universities. However, there is knowledge contained in the Vedic scriptures by which we may become immortal. That immortality is our better position. No more birth, no more death, no more old age, no more disease. Thus the guru takes on a very great responsibility. He must guide his disciple and enable him to become an eligible candidate for the perfect position, immortality. The guru must be competent to lead his disciple back home, back to Godhead. Thank you very much.

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Celebrating the Birth of Lord Krsna

Five thousand years ago, Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, descended from the spiritual world and appeared in Vrndavana, India. Naturally an occasion of great joy for His devotees, His birthday, Janmastami, was celebrated with opulence and gaiety. The original Janmastami took place in Vrndavana at the house of Krsna's foster father, Nanda Maharaja. Learned brahmanas and astrologers led the festivities, and all the town's residents joined in the singing, dancing, and feasting. Each year since then Lord Krsna's devotees have marked the auspicious event in the same way. Today, people from many nations, having heard about this wonderful day, take pleasure in celebrating Janmastami. The following pages depict last year's festival at Bhaktivedanta Manor, near London, England.

The Birth of Lord Krsna
An International Holiday
by Madhavananda dasa

Many Indian people who have left their homeland in search of material prosperity in the West have become estranged from their own culture. But when they see young Westerners taking to the essence of the Vedic tradition in the form of Krsna consciousness, they are moved to review their neglected heritage and revive their practice. Thus thousands of Indians regularly visit Krsna consciousness centers around the world. One of them, Bhaktivedanta Manor, is pictured here.

Bhaktivedanta Manor is a large estate in the countryside near London, England. Its bountiful gardens, orchards, pastureland and dairy accompany an exquisite temple graced by Deities of Lord Krsna and His eternal consort, Radharani. The formal name of the Deities, Sri Sri Radha-Gokulananda, honors Gokula, a farming village in India where Krsna lived thousands of years ago.

Drawn by these perennial attractions, busloads of Indian guests come to the Manor every Sunday. As they arrive, they bow down before the altar, offering prayers, fruits, grains and flowers. The Indian guests feel quite at home doing this, for as His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has said, "Most Indian people are by nature Krsna conscious, but being attracted by the glare of material life in the West, they have forgotten their great culture and heritage."

Of course, Indians are not alone in this regard. The cultural mainstream of all human civilization, East and West, is its spiritual heritage, and all contemporary societies are beset by forgetfulness of this fact. It is the aim of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness to remind us all, regardless of background, of our permanent relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Indians and native-born Britishers alike appreciate the transcendental qualities of a Sunday feast at the Manor.

Last August at Bhaktivedanta Manor, a celebration of the birthday, or appearance day, of Lord Krsna drew over five thousand people to the temple. That gathering is seen on these pages. Krsna's appearance day, called Janmastami, is the most important holiday on the Vedic calendar. Expecting a crowd, the devotees erected a large tent on the front lawn. Inside the tent, festivities—plays, movies, slides, discourses and congregational chanting of the Lord's holy names—continued through the day and evening until midnight. Then a magnificent ceremony called abhiseka was performed. The Deities were bathed in yogurt, milk, rose water, clarified butter and honey, with fifteen hundred guests staying to watch. At its conclusion, everyone enjoyed a sumptuous feast of food offered to Krsna. That evening, inspired by the transcendental mission of ISKCON, eleven guests enrolled in the society's life membership program.

Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

On many days that summer, the Deities were taken from Their altar, placed on a palanquin and carried through the local village of Letchmore Heath. Hundreds of participants followed, chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. And in November a throng of nine thousand came to the Manor to celebrate a favorite holiday, Govardhana-puja, which commemorates Krsna's transcendental pastime of lifting Govardhana Hill.

On hearing about the marvelous programs at Bhaktivedanta Manor, Srila Prabhupada commented, "This movement of Lord Caitanya's is so wonderful. There are so many festivals—Janmastami, Gaura-purnima, Govardhana-puja, Jhulana-yatra, Ratha-yatra, Rasa-lila. Practically speaking, there is a big festival every two months. So let there be many such wonderful programs, and let everyone come and see the blissful life of Krsna consciousness." The devotees of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness extend this invitation to all readers of BACK TO GODHEAD. We hope you'll join us at the ISKCON center nearest you for this month's Janmastami celebration on August 30.

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The Killing of Putana Witch

Even as a child, Lord Krsna demonstrated His divinity by performing superhuman feats. The following account of His slaying the witch Putana is taken from Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

After consulting with his demoniac ministers, Kamsa instructed a witch named Putana, who knew the black art of killing small children by ghastly, sinful methods, to kill all kinds of children in the cities, villages and pasturing grounds. Such witches can play their black art only where there is no chanting or hearing of the holy name of Krsna. It is said that wherever the chanting of the holy name of Krsna is done, even negligently, all bad elements—witches, ghosts and dangerous calamities—immediately disappear. And this is certainly true of the place where the chanting of the holy name of Krsna is done seriously—especially in Vrndavana when the Supreme Lord was personally present. Therefore, the doubts of Nanda Maharaja were certainly based on affection for Krsna. Actually there was no danger from the activities of Putana, despite her powers. Such witches are called khecari, which means they can fly in the sky. This black art of witchcraft is still practiced by some women in the remote northwestern side of India. They can transfer themselves from one place to another on the branch of an uprooted tree. Putana knew this witchcraft, and therefore she is described in the Bhagavatam as khecari.

Putana entered the county of Gokula, the residential quarter of Nanda Maharaja, without permission. Dressing herself just like a beautiful woman, she entered the house of Mother Yasoda. She appeared very beautiful with raised hips, nicely swollen breasts, and flowers in her hair. She looked especially beautiful on account of her thin waist. She was glancing at everyone, with attractive looks and smiling face, and all the residents of Vrndavana were captivated. The innocent cowherd women thought that she was a goddess of fortune appearing in Vrndavana with a lotus flower in her hand. It seemed to them that she had personally come to see Krsna, who is her husband. Because of her exquisite beauty, no one checked her movement, and therefore she freely entered the house of Nanda Maharaja. Putana, the killer of many, many children, found baby Krsna lying on a small bed, and she could at once perceive that the baby was hiding His unparalleled potencies. Putana thought, "This child is so powerful that He can destroy the whole universe immediately."

God is Always God

Putana's understanding is very significant. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, is situated in everyone's heart. It is stated in the Bhagavad-gita that He gives one necessary intelligence, and He also causes one to forget. Putana was immediately aware that the child whom she was observing in the house of Nanda Maharaja was the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. He was lying there as a small baby, but that does not mean that He was less powerful. The materialistic theory that God-worship is anthropomorphic is not correct. No living being can become God by undergoing meditation or austerities. God is always God. Krsna as the child-baby is as complete as He is as a full-fledged youth. The Mayavada theory holds that the living entity was formerly God but has now become overwhelmed by the influence of maya. Therefore they say that presently he is not God, but when the influence of maya is taken away, then he again becomes God. This theory cannot be applied to the minute living entities. The living entities are minute parts and parcels of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; they are minute particles or sparks of the supreme fire, but they are not the original fire, or Krsna. Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, even from the beginning of His appearance in the house of Vasudeva and Devaki.

Krsna showed the nature of a small baby and closed His eyes, as if to avoid the face of Putana. This closing of the eyes is interpreted and studied in different ways by the devotees. Some say that Krsna closed His eyes because He did not like to see the face of Putana, who had killed so many children and who had now come to kill Him. Others say that something extraordinary was being dictated to her, and in order to give her assurance, Krsna closed His eyes so that she would not be frightened. And yet others interpret in this way: Krsna appeared to kill the demons and give protection to the devotees, as it is stated in the Bhagavad-gita (4.8): paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskrtam. The first demon to be killed was a woman. According to Vedic rules, the killing of a woman, a brahmana, cows or of a child is forbidden. Krsna was obliged to kill the demon Putana, and because the killing of a woman is forbidden according to the Vedic sastra, He could not help but close His eyes. Another interpretation is that Krsna closed His eyes because He simply took Putana to be His nurse. Putana came to Krsna just to offer her breast for the Lord to suck. Krsna is so merciful that even though He knew Putana was there to kill Him, He took her as His nurse or mother.

There are seven kinds of mothers according to Vedic injunction: the real mother, the wife of a teacher or spiritual master, the wife of a king, the wife of a brahmana, the cow, the nurse and the mother earth. Because Putana came to take Krsna on her lap and offer her breast's milk to be sucked by Him, she was accepted by Krsna as one of His mothers. That is considered to be another reason He closed His eyes: He had to kill a nurse or mother. But His killing of His mother or nurse was no different from His love for His real mother or foster mother Yasoda. We further understand from Vedic information that Putana was also treated as a mother and given the same facility as Yasoda. As Yasoda was given liberation from the material world, so Putana was also given liberation. When the baby Krsna closed His eyes, Putana took Him on her lap. She did not know that she was holding death personified. If a person mistakes a snake for a rope, he dies. Similarly, Putana killed so many babies before meeting Krsna, but now she was accepting the snake that would kill her immediately.

A Sword in a Decorated Case

When Putana was taking baby Krsna on her lap, both Yasoda and Rohini were present, but they did not forbid her because she was so beautifully dressed and because she showed motherly affection towards Krsna. They could not understand that she was a sword within a decorated case. Putana had smeared a very powerful poison on her breasts, and immediately after taking the baby on her lap, she pushed her breastly nipple within His mouth. She was hoping that as soon as He would suck her breast, He would die. But baby Krsna very quickly took the nipple in anger. He sucked the milk-poison along with the life air of the demon. In other words, Krsna simultaneously sucked the milk from her breast and killed her by sucking out her life. Krsna is so merciful that because the demon Krsna came to offer her breast milk to Him, He fulfilled her desire and accepted her activity as motherly. But to stop her from further nefarious activities, He immediately killed her. And because the demon was killed by Krsna, she got liberation. When Krsna sucked out her very breath, Putana fell down on the ground, spread her arms and legs and began to cry, "Oh, child, leave me, leave me!" She was crying loudly and perspiring, and her whole body became wet.

Nightmare Finished

As she died screaming, there was a tremendous vibration both on the earth and in the sky, in all directions, and people thought that thunderbolts were falling. Thus the nightmare of the Putana witch was over, and she assumed her real feature as a great demon. She opened her fierce mouth and spread her arms and legs all over She fell exactly as Vrkasura when struck by the thunderbolts of Indra. The long hair on her head was scattered all over her body. Her fallen body extended up to twelve miles and smashed all the trees to pieces, and everyone was struck with wonder upon seeing this gigantic body. Her teeth appeared just like ploughed roads, and her nostrils appeared just like mountain caves. Her breasts appeared like blind wells, and her two thighs appeared like two banks of a river; her two hands appeared like two strongly constructed bridges, and her abdomen seemed like a dried-up lake. All the cowherd men and women became struck with awe and wonder upon seeing this. And the tumultuous sound of her falling shocked their brains and ears and made their hearts beat strongly.

When the gopis saw little Krsna playing on Putana's lap, they very quickly came and picked Him up. Mother Yasoda, Rohini and other elderly gopis immediately performed the auspicious rituals by taking the tail of a cow and circumambulating His body. The child was completely washed with the urine of a cow, and the dust created by the hooves of the cows was thrown all over His body. This was all just to save little Krsna from further inauspicious accidents. This incident gives us a clear indication of how important the cow is to the family, society and to living beings in general. The transcendental body of Krsna did not require any protection, but to instruct us on the importance of the cow, the Lord was smeared over with cow dung, washed with the urine of a cow and sprinkled with the dust upraised by the walking of the cows.

After this purificatory process, the gopis, headed by Mother Yasoda and Rohini, chanted twelve names of Visnu to give Krsna's body full protection from all evil influences. They washed their hands and feet and sipped water three times, as is the custom before chanting mantra. They chanted as follows: "My dear Krsna, may the Lord who is known as Maniman protect Your thighs; may Lord Visnu who is known as Yajna protect Your legs; may Lord Acyuta protect Your arms; may Lord Hayagriva protect Your abdomen; may Lord Kesava protect Your heart; may Lord Visnu protect Your arms; may Lord Urukrama protect Your face; may Lord Isvara protect Your head; may Lord Cakradhara protect Your front; may Lord Gadadhara protect Your back; may Lord Madhusudana, who carries a bow in His hand, protect Your eyesight; may Lord Visnu with His conchshell protect Your left side; may the Personality of Godhead Upendra protect You from above, and may Lord Tarksya protect You from below the earth; may Lord Haladhara protect You from all sides; may the Personality of Godhead Hrsikesa protect all Your senses; may Lord Narayana protect Your breath; and may the Lord of Svetadvipa, Narayana, protect Your heart; may Lord Yogesvara protect Your mind; may Lord Prsnigarbha protect Your intelligence, and may the Supreme Personality of Godhead protect Your soul. While You are playing, may Lord Govinda protect You from all sides; and when You are sleeping, may Lord Madhava protect You from all danger; when You are working, may the Lord of Vaikuntha protect You from falling down; when You are sitting, may the Lord of Vaikuntha give You all protection; and while You are eating, may the Lord of all sacrifices give You all protection."

Thus Mother Yasoda began to chant different names of Visnu to protect the child Krsna's different bodily parts. Mother Yasoda was firmly convinced that she should protect her child from different kinds of evil spirits and ghosts—namely Dakinis, Yatudhanis, Kusmandas, Yaksas, Raksasas, Vinayakas, Kotara, Revati, Jyestha, Putana, Matrkas, Unmadas and similar other evil spirits who cause persons to forget their own existence and give trouble to the life air and the senses. Sometimes they appear in dreams and cause much perturbation; sometimes they appear as old women and suck the blood of small children. But all such ghosts and evil spirits cannot remain where there is chanting of the holy name of God. Mother Yasoda was firmly convinced of the Vedic injunctions about the importance of cows and the holy name of Visnu; therefore she took all shelter in the cows and the name of Visnu so that He might save the child. Vedic culture has taken advantage of keeping cows and chanting the holy name of Visnu since the beginning of history, and persons who are still following the Vedic ways, especially the householders, keep at least one dozen cows and worship the Deity of Lord Visnu, who is installed in their house.

Loving Protection

The elderly gopis of Vrndavana were so absorbed in affection for Krsna that they wanted to save Him, although there was no need to, for He had already protected Himself. They could not understand that Krsna was the Supreme Personality of Godhead playing as a child. After performing the formalities to protect the child, Mother Yasoda took Krsna and let Him suck her own breast. When the child was protected by Visnu mantra, Mother Yasoda felt that He was safe. In the meantime, all the cowherd men who went to Mathura to pay tax returned home and were struck with wonder at seeing the gigantic dead body of Putana.

Nanda Maharaja recalled the prophecy of Vasudeva and considered him a great sage and mystic yogi; otherwise, how could he have foretold an incident that happened during his absence from Vrndavana? After this, all the residents of Vraja cut the gigantic body of Putana into pieces and piled it up with wood for burning. When all the limbs of Putana's body were burning, the smoke emanating from the fire created a good aroma of aguru. This aroma was due to her being killed by Krsna. This means that the demon Putana was washed of all her sinful activities and attained a celestial body. Here is an example of how the Supreme Personality of Godhead is all-good: Putana came to kill Krsna, but because He sucked her milk, she was immediately purified, and her dead body attained a transcendental quality. Her only business was to kill small children; she was only fond of blood. But in spite of being envious of Krsna, she attained salvation because she gave her milk to Him to drink. So what can be said of those who are affectionate to Krsna in the relationship of mother or father?

Immense Profit

The pure devotees always serve Krsna with great love and affection, for He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Supersoul of every living entity. Therefore it is concluded that even a little energy expended in the service of the Lord gives one immense transcendental profit. This is explained in the Bhagavad-gita: sv-alpam apy asya dharmasya trayate mahato bhayat. Devotional service in Krsna consciousness is so sublime that even a little service to Krsna, knowingly or unknowingly, gives one the greatest transcendental benefit. The system of worshiping Krsna by offering flowers from a tree is also beneficial for the living entity who is confined to the bodily existence of that tree. When flowers and fruits are offered to Krsna, the tree that bore them also receives much benefit, indirectly. The arcana process, or worshiping procedure, is therefore beneficial for everyone. Krsna is worshipable by great demigods like Brahma and Lord Siva, and Putana was so fortunate that the same Krsna played in her lap as a little child. The lotus feet of Krsna, which are worshiped by great sages and devotees, were placed on the body of Putana. People worship Krsna and offer food with great reverence and devotion, but automatically He sucked the milk from the body of Putana. Devotees therefore pray that if simply by offering something as an enemy Putana got so much benefit, then who can measure the benefit of worshiping Krsna in love and affection?

One should only worship Krsna if for no other reason than so much benefit awaits the worshiper. Although Putana was an evil spirit, she gained elevation just like the mother of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is clear that the cows and the elder gopis who offered milk to Krsna were also elevated to the transcendental position. Krsna can offer anyone anything, from liberation to anything materially conceivable. Therefore, there cannot be any doubt of the salvation of Putana, whose bodily milk was sucked by Krsna for such a long time. And how can there be any doubt about the salvation of the gopis who were so fond of Krsna? Undoubtedly all the gopis, cowherd boys, cows and everyone else who served Krsna in Vrndavana with love and affection were liberated from the miserable condition of material existence.

When all the inhabitants of Vrndavana smelled the good aroma from the smoke of the burning Putana, they inquired from each other, "Where is this good fragrance coming from?" And while conversing, they came to understand that it was the fumes of the burning Putana. They were very fond of Krsna, and as soon as they heard that the demon Putana had been killed by Krsna, they offered blessings to the little child out of affection. After the burning of Putana, Nanda Maharaja came home and immediately took up the child on his lap and began to smell His head. In this way, he was quite satisfied that his little child was saved from this great calamity. Srila Sukadeva Gosvami has given a blessing to all persons who hear the narration of the killing of Putana by Krsna: they will surely attain the favor of Govinda.

Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Sixth Chapter of Krsna, "Putana Killed."

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Delivering the Message Unchanged

by Satsvarupa dasa Gosvami

The day on which a disciple celebrates the appearance of his spiritual master is called Vyasa-puja. The word "Vyasa" indicates Srila Vyasadeva, a powerful incarnation of Krsna (God) who compiled all of the Vedic literature, and "puja" means worship.

Vyasadeva appeared five thousand years ago, at the dawn of the present Age of Quarrel, just when widespread moral deterioration was about to begin. He could foresee that the people of this age would be short-lived, unfortunate and always disturbed.

Before Vyasadeva, all the Vedic scriptures were taught and received verbally in disciplic succession. The memories of both the students and the spiritual masters of those ages were so sharp that once they heard a transcendental message from their spiritual master, the message was immediately imprinted into their brains and considered a written language.

To give the unfortunate people of the modern age a chance to partake of the knowledge contained in the Vedas, Sri Vyasadeva undertook the enormous task of compilation. He composed the millions of Sanskrit verses of the Mahabharata, the Vedanta-sutra and the Puranas, including Srimad-Bhagavatam. No one else in history can compare with him as a poet, philosopher or writer, and he is thus known as Mahamuni (the great sage). He is the spiritual master of all who follow the teachings of the Vedas. His final, mature work, Srimad-Bhagavatam, is known as the "ripened fruit of the Vedas" and is sufficient in itself for God realization. The precious Bhagavatam has been handed down in disciplic succession, from guru to disciple, in an unbroken chain, and today His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, spiritual master of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, is delivering it in turn to his disciples.

Out of his causeless mercy, Srila Vyasadeva wrote Srimad-Bhagavatam for the benefit of the fallen people of Kali-yuga (the modern age), and out of his causeless mercy Srila Prabhupada is personally translating and expanding this monumental work—and he is preaching it throughout the western world as well. At the advanced age of seventy, he traveled under great hardship from India to America to found the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, and today, nine years later, he tirelessly works eighteen to twenty hours a day, still translating and preaching the eternal message of Srimad-Bhagavatam: pure, unalloyed service to Krsna (God).

There are many so-called gurus, in India and elsewhere, who preach something other than pure devotional service to God. But such "Gurus" are condemned by Vyasadeva at the beginning of Srimad-Bhagavatam: "The supreme occupation for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted in order to completely satisfy the self." (Bhag. 1.2.6) And they are condemned by Lord Krsna Himself in Bhagavad-gita: "Just give up all other forms of religion and surrender unto Me. I will protect you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear." (Bg. 18.66) Those who are followers of the Absolute Truth, the source of all emanations, accept that all knowledge of the Absolute Truth is coming from the Vedic scriptures compiled by Vyasadeva, which include Srimad-Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita. The emphatic conclusion of these scriptures, which are the cream of the Vedas, is that Lord Krsna is the source of all incarnations and manifestations. And this conclusion has been reiterated by all the spiritual masters in disciplic succession, such as Lord Brahma, Narada, Vyasadeva and, in the modern age, Lord Caitanya, who stressed the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra.

Therefore one who is an actual spiritual master, who is imparting genuine knowledge of the Absolute Truth, must preach the message of Vyasadeva without change. So on his appearance day, the disciples of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada will worship him as a bona fide representative of Vyasadeva, who is faithfully preaching the pure message of Vyasadeva throughout the world.

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The Most Blessed Event

In 1969 a unique book was discovered—a collection of tributes to Thakura Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada written by his disciples, one of whom was Abhay Caran Das, later to become His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Those who came upon it were students of His Divine Grace, and they were inspired by it to print a similar volume in his honor. Since then it has become an annual publication, presented to Srila Prabhupada on his appearance day. This selection from last year's book was written by Giriraja dasa, now President of the ISKCON center in Bombay, India.

Dear Srila Prabhupada, your appearance day is the most historic event in the history of man. Under your divine guidance the whole world is being inundated by Krsna consciousness. As stated in Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi 7.26):

saj-jana, dur-jana, pangu, jada, andha-gana
prema-vanyaya duvaila jagatera jana

"The Krsna consciousness movement will inundate the entire world and will drown everyone, whether one be a gentleman, a rogue or even lame, invalid or blind."

In this Age of Quarrel everyone is full of lust, anger and greed, being engrossed in the modes of passion and ignorance. We, all your disciples, were also born in that same ocean of material desires. We have been suffering in the hellish darkness of the material world since time immemorial. But you are a beam of light, pure and transcendental to this godless world, glowing with love of God. All the evils that we know are completely unknown to you, and all of the bliss in which you are immersed is alien to us. And yet you have so kindly extended your all-merciful hand to pull us out of this dark well of material life. As Narottama dasa Thakura has said:

caksudana dila-yei, janme janme prabhu sei
divya-jnana hrde prakasita
prema-bhakti yaha haite avidya vinasa yate
vede gaya yanhara carita

"The spiritual master opens my darkened eyes and fills my heart with transcendental knowledge. He is my lord, birth after birth. From him ecstatic love of God emanates; by him ignorance is destroyed. The Vedic scriptures sing of his character."

You have thus established the truth of the wonderful vision of sastra (Vedic scriptures). Not only have you delivered all your disciples from the clutches of sinful life (meat-eating, intoxication, illicit sex and so on), but you have also inculcated them with divine qualities such as self-control, austerity, simplicity, non-violence, truthfulness and cleanliness. Who but your divine self could have brought about such astounding changes? As Narottama dasa said in his prayer to a Vaisnava:

yahara nikate gele papa dure yaya
emana dayala prabhu keba kotha paya

"Whose association but yours can cause the sinful reactions of the most sinful man to run away? Who is so merciful as Your Divine Grace? Search as I may, I cannot find him." You are the greatest Vaisnava because you are the most magnanimous and because you are bestowing upon us the highest perfection: prema-bhakti (love of God).

You are so kind and humble that you do not take any credit for all your achievements. Taking unflinching shelter at the lotus feet of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati and Srila Rupa Gosvami, you give all the credit to them. Your spiritual master is now glorified all over the world. We, who are so polluted by this Age of Kali, have nonetheless been accepted by you, so we simply pray earnestly to Lord Caitanya and the six Gosvamis to help us glorify Your Divine Grace all over the world.

One day, on your morning walk, a man started blaspheming you, saying that you are always criticizing everyone else. Your disciples were with you, and they were going to take him away, but you stopped them, smiled and said, "I'm just saying what Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita." After a while the man came to his senses. He bowed down and touched your feet, and you accepted him. Who can stand against you? Your patience and determination are limitless. You are causelessly merciful because of being always absorbed in love of Radha-Krsna. You are on the transcendental platform, free from anxieties. You have no business dealings with mundane people; you only deal with them to show them your causeless mercy. Somehow they must become attracted to Krsna. That is your only concern.

The transcendental name of Krsna vibrated through your lips surpasses Krsna the singing of the Gandharvas, the celestial singers. As soon as the name "Krsna" is mentioned to you, your face beams like the morning sun. O Srila Prabhupada, when will we deserve to be your disciples? When will we give up our petty little worlds? When shall we be allowed entry into the world of the paramahamsas (perfected human beings) with Your Divine Grace? Even after hearing so much from you, still we do not understand the value of the soul, especially the soul who has surrendered to Krsna. Nor have we any appreciation of our Godbrothers.

But you have started this movement from zero. Long before starting ISKCON, you struggled unsuccessfully for many years to find just one person who could learn pure Krsna consciousness from you. Even though you now have thousands of disciples, you never lose sight of the value of each and every one of them. Each of them receives boundless mercy from you. You do not look at anyone's faults. Someone may be ninety-nine percent in illusion and one percent in Krsna consciousness, but you just look at his one percent and immediately devise a trick to increase his Krsna consciousness and expand his service.

My dear father, on this day of your divine appearance we make a meager offer of love at your lotus feet, and we beg that you accept it. We pray for the strength required to recognize our Godbrothers and Godsisters as your loving children. We beg for the cooperative spirit to push on this movement throughout and even beyond this world. We pray that Krsna may give us the intelligence to act for your pleasure.

This material existence is a nightmare, Srila Prabhupada. We do not want to come back here. You have brought us this far; now please take us further away from this hellish place, back to where the supremely attractive person is playing upon His flute, enjoying eternal sports with the gopis. Please take us back to Krsna.

sri-guru karuna-sindhu
adhama janara bandhu
lokanath lokera jivana
ha ha prabhu kara daya
deha more pada-chaya
ebe yasa ghusuk tribhuvana

"Our spiritual master is an ocean of mercy, the friend of the poor and the lord and master of the devotees. O master, be merciful unto me. Give me the shade of your lotus feet. Your fame is spread all over the three worlds."

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Sri Vyasa-puja Offering

Forty years ago, a disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura composed a poem in honor of the appearance of his spiritual master. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta greatly appreciated this simple expression of reverence and love. The disciple, Abhay Charan Das, was to become His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder-acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.

Adore adore ye all
The happy day,
Blessed than heaven,
Sweeter than May,
When He appeared at Puri,
His Divine Grace.

Oh! My Master,
The evangelic angel,
Give us Thy light,
Light up They candle.
Struggle for existence
A human race
The only hope
His Divine Grace

Misled, we are
All going astray.
Save us, Lord,
Our fervent pray.
Wonder Thy ways
To turn our face,
Adore Thy feet,
Your Divine Grace

Forgotten Krsna,
We fallen souls
Pay most heavy
The illusion's toll.
Darkness around
All untrace,
The only hope,
His Divine Grace.

Message of service
Thou hast brought,
A healthful life
As Caitanya wrought.
Unknown to all,
It's full of brace.
That's your gift,
Your Divine Grace

Absolute is sentient
Thou hast proved,
Impersonal calamity
Thou hast removed.
This gives us a life
Anew and fresh.
Worship thy feet,
Your Divine Grace.

Had you not come,
Who had told
The message of Krsna,
Forceful and bold?
That's your right,
You have the mace.
Save me, a fallen,
Your Divine Grace.

The line of service
As drawn by you
Is pleasing and healthy,
Like morning dew.
The oldest of all,
But in new dress
Miracle done,
Your Divine Grace.

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The Universal Teacher

The following speech was given by Abhay Charan Das (His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada) before the members of the Sri Gaudiya Matha in Bombay, in February 1936, on the occasion of the appearance anniversary of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.

saksad-dharitvena samasta-sastrair
uktas tatha bhavyata eva sadbhih
kintu prabhor yah priya eva tasya
vande guroh sri-caranaravindam

"In the revealed scriptures it is declared that the spiritual master should be worshiped like the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and this injunction is obeyed by pure devotees of the Lord. The spiritual master is the most confidential servant of the Lord. Thus let us offer our respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of our spiritual master."

Gentlemen, on behalf of the members of the Bombay branch of the Gaudiya Matha, let me welcome you all because you have so kindly joined us tonight in our congregational offerings of homage to the lotus feet of the world teacher, Acaryadeva, who is the founder of this Gaudiya Mission and the president-acarya of Sri Sri Visva-vaisnava Raja-sabha—I mean my eternal divine master, Paramahamsa Parivrajakacarya Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja.

Sixty-two years ago, on this auspicious day, the Acaryadeva made his appearance by the call of Thakura Bhaktivinoda at Sri-ksetra, Jagannatha-dhama at Puri.

Gentlemen, the offering of such an homage as has been arranged this evening to the Acaryadeva is not a sectarian concern, for when we speak of the fundamental principle of gurudeva, or acaryadeva, we speak of something that is of universal application. There does not arise any question of discriminating my guru from yours or anyone else's. There is only one guru, who appears in an infinity of forms to teach you, me and all others.

The guru, or acaryadeva, as we learn from the bona fide scriptures, delivers the message of the absolute world, the transcendental abode of the Absolute Personality, where everything nondifferentially serves the Absolute Truth. We have heard so many times: mahajano yena gatah sa panthah ("Traverse the trail which your previous acarya has passed"), but we have hardly tried to understand the real purport of this sloka. If we scrutinizingly study this proposition, we can understand that the mahajana is one, and the royal road to the transcendental world is also one. In the Mundaka Upanisad [1.2.12] it is said:

tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigaccet
samit-panih srotriyam brahma-nistham

"In order to learn the transcendental science, one must approach the bona fide spiritual master in disciplic succession, who is fixed in the Absolute Truth."

Thus it has been enjoined herewith that in order to receive that transcendental knowledge, one must approach the guru. Therefore, if the Absolute Truth is one, about which we think there is no difference of opinion, the guru also cannot be two. The Acaryadeva to whom we have assembled tonight to offer our humble homage is not the guru of a sectarian institution or one out of many differing exponents of the truth. On the contrary, he is the Jagad-guru, the guru of all of us; the only difference is that some obey him wholeheartedly, while others do not obey him directly.

In the Bhagavatam [SB 11.17.27] it is said:

acaryam mam vijaniyan navamanyeta karhicit
na martya-buddhyasuyeta sarva-deva-mayo guruh

"One should understand the spiritual master to be as good as I am," said the Blessed Lord. "Nobody should be jealous of the spiritual master or think of him as an ordinary man, because the spiritual master is the sum total of all the demigods." That is, the acarya has been identified with God Himself. He has nothing to do with the affairs of this mundane world. He does not descend here to meddle with the affairs of temporary necessities, but to deliver the fallen, conditioned souls—the souls, or entities, who have come here to the material world with a motive of enjoyment by the mind and the five organs of sense perception. He appears before us to reveal the light of the Vedas and to bestow upon us the blessings of full-fledged freedom, after which we should hanker at every step of our life's journey.

The transcendental knowledge of the Vedas was first uttered by God to Brahma, the creator of this particular universe. From Brahma the knowledge descended to Narada, from Narada to Vyasadeva, and from Vyasadeva to Madhva, and in this process of disciplic succession the transcendental knowledge was transmitted by one disciple to another till it reached Lord Gauranga, Sri Krsna Caitanya, who posed as the disciple and successor of Sri Isvara Puri. The present Acaryadeva is the tenth disciplic representative from Sri Rupa Gosvami, the original representative of Lord Caitanya who preached this transcendental tradition in its fullness. The knowledge that we receive from our Gurudeva is not different from that imparted by God Himself and the succession of the acaryas in the preceptorial line of Brahma. We adore this auspicious day as Sri Vyasa-puja-tithi because the acarya is the living representative of Vyasadeva, the divine compiler of the Vedas, Puranas, Bhagavad-gita, Mahabharata, and Srimad-Bhagavatam.

One who interprets the divine sound, or sabda-brahma, by his imperfect sense perception cannot be a real spiritual guru, because in the absence of proper disciplinary training under the bona fide acarya, the interpreter is sure to differ from Vyasadeva (as the Mayavadis do). Srila Vyasadeva is the prime authority of Vedic revelation, and therefore such an irrelevant interpreter cannot be accepted as the guru or acarya, howsoever equipped he may be with all the acquirements of material knowledge. As it is said in the Padma Purana, sampradaya-vihina ye mantras te nisphala matah: "Unless you are initiated by a bona fide spiritual master in the disciplic succession, the mantra that you might have received is without any effect."

On the other hand, one who has received the transcendental knowledge by aural reception from the bona fide preceptor in the disciplic chain, and who has sincere regard for the real acarya, must needs be enlightened with the revealed knowledge of the Vedas. But this knowledge is permanently sealed to the cognitive approach of the empiricists. As it is said in Svetasvatara Upanisad [6.23]:

yasya deve para bhaktir yatha deve tatha gurau
tasyaite kathita hy arthah prakasante mahatmanah

"Only unto those great souls who simultaneously have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed."

Gentlemen, our knowledge is so poor, our senses are so imperfect, and our sources are so limited that it is not possible for us to have even the slightest knowledge of the absolute region without surrendering ourselves at the louts feet of Sri Vyasadeva or his bona fide representative. Every moment we are being deceived by the knowledge of our direct perception. It is all the creation or concoction of the mind, which is always deceiving, changing, and flickering. We cannot know anything of the transcendental region by our limited, perverted method of observation and experiment. But all of us can lend our eager ears for the aural reception of the transcendental sound transmitted from that region to this through the unadulterated medium of Sri Gurudeva or Sri Vyasadeva. Therefore, gentlemen, we should surrender ourselves today at the feet of the representative of Sri Vyasadeva for the elimination of all our differences bred by our unsubmissive attitude. It is accordingly said in Sri Gita [Bg. 4.34]:

tad viddhi pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya
upadeksyanti te jnanam jnaninas tattva-darsinah

"Just approach the wise and bona fide spiritual master. Surrender unto him first and try to understand him by inquiries and service. Such a wise spiritual master will enlighten you with transcendental knowledge, for he has already known the Absolute Truth."

To receive the transcendental knowledge we must completely surrender ourselves to the real acarya in a spirit of ardent inquiry and service. Actual performance of service to the Absolute under the guidance of the acarya is the only vehicle by which we can assimilate the transcendental knowledge. Today's meeting for offering our humble services and homage to the feet of the Acaryadeva will enable us to be favored with the capacity of assimilating the transcendental knowledge so kindly transmitted by him to all persons without distinction.

Gentlemen, we are all more or less proud of our past Indian civilization, but we actually do not know the real nature of that civilization. We cannot be proud of our past material civilization, which is now a thousand times greater than in days gone by. It is said that we are passing through the age of darkness, the Kali-yuga. What is this darkness? The darkness cannot be due to backwardness in material knowledge, because we now have more of it than formerly. If not we ourselves, our neighbors at any rate have plenty of it. Therefore, we must conclude that the darkness of the present age is not due to a lack of material advancement, but that we have lost the clue to our spiritual advancement, which is the prime necessity of human life and the criterion of the highest type of human civilization. Throwing of bombs from airplanes is no advancement of civilization from the primitive, uncivilized practice of dropping big stones on the heads of enemies from the tops of hills. Improvement in the art of killing our neighbors by means of machine guns and poisonous gases is certainly no advancement from primitive barbarism, which prided itself on its art of killing by bows and arrows. Nor does the development of a sense of pampered selfishness prove anything more than intellectual animalism. True human civilization is very different from all these states, and therefore in the Katha Upanisad [1.3.14] there is the emphatic call:

uttisthata jagrata prapya varan nibodhata
ksurasya dhara nisita duratyaya
durgam pathas tat kavayo vadanti

"Please wake up and try to understand the boon which you now have in this human form of life. The path of spiritual realization is very difficult; it is sharp like a razor's edge. That is the opinion of learned, transcendental scholars."

Thus, while others were yet in the womb of historical oblivion, the sages of India had developed a different kind of civilization, which enabled them to know themselves. They had discovered that we are not at all material entities, but that we are all spiritual, permanent, and indestructible servants of the Absolute. But because we have, against our better judgment, chosen to completely identify ourselves with this present material existence, our sufferings have multiplied according to the inexorable law of birth and death, with its consequent diseases and anxieties. These sufferings cannot be really mitigated by any provision of material happiness, because matter and spirit are completely different elements. It is just as if you took an aquatic animal out of water and put it on the land, supplying all manner of happiness possible on land. The deadly sufferings of the animal are not capable of being relieved at all until it is taken out of its foreign environment. Spirit and matter are completely contradictory things. All of us are spiritual entities. We cannot have perfect happiness, which is our birthright, however much we may meddle with the affairs of the mundane things. Perfect happiness can by ours only when we are restored to our natural state of spiritual existence. This is the distinctive message of our ancient Indian civilization, this is the message of the Gita, this is the message of the Vedas and the Puranas, and this is the message of all the real acaryas, including our present Acaryadeva, in the line of Lord Caitanya.

Gentlemen, although it is imperfectly that we have been enabled, by his grace, to understand the sublime messages of our Acaryadeva, Om Visnupada Paramahamsa Parivrajakacarya Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja, we must admit that we have realized definitely that the divine message from his holy lips is the congenial thing for suffering humanity. All of us should hear him patiently. If we listen to the transcendental sound without unnecessary opposition, he will surely have mercy upon us. The acarya's message is to take us back to our original home, back to God. Let me repeat, therefore, that we should hear him patiently, follow him in the measure of our conviction and bow down at his lotus feet for releasing us from our present causeless unwillingness for serving the Absolute and all souls.

From the Gita we learn that even after the destruction of the body, the atma, or the soul, is not destroyed; he is always the same, always new and fresh. Fire cannot burn him, water cannot dissolve him, the air cannot dry him up, and the sword cannot kill him. He is everlasting and eternal, and this is also confirmed in the Srimad-Bhagavatam [SB 10.84.13]:

yasyatma-buddhih kunape tri-dhatuke
sva-dhih kalatradisu bhauma ijya-dhih
yat-tirtha-buddhih salile na karhicij
janesv abhijnesu sa eva go-kharah

"Anyone who accepts this bodily bag of three elements [bile, mucus, and air] as his self, who has an affinity for an intimate relationship with his wife and children, who considers his land as worshipable, who takes bath in the waters of the holy places of pilgrimage but never takes advantage of those persons who are in actual knowledge—he is no better than an ass or a cow."

Unfortunately, in these days we have all been turned foolish by neglecting our real comfort and identifying the material cage with ourselves. We have concentrated all our energies for the meaningless upkeep of the material cage for its own sake, completely neglecting the captive soul within. The cage is meant for the undoing of the bird; the bird is not meant for the welfare of the cage. Let us, therefore, deeply ponder this. All our activities are now turned toward the upkeep of the cage, and the most we do is try to give some food to the mind by art and literature. But we do not know that this mind is also material in a more subtle form. This is stated in the Gita [Bg. 7.4]:

bhumir apo 'nalo vayuh kham mano buddhir eva ca
ahankara itiyam me bhinna prakrtir astadha

"Earth, water, fire, air, sky, intelligence, mind, and ego are all My separated energies."

We have scarcely tried to give any food to the soul, which is distinct from the body and mind; therefore we are all committing suicide in the proper sense of the term. The message of the Acaryadeva is to give us a warning to halt such wrong activities. Let us therefore bow down at his lotus feet for the unalloyed mercy and kindness he has bestowed upon us.

Gentlemen, do not for a moment think that my Gurudeva wants to put a complete brake on the modern civilization—an impossible feat. But let us learn from him the art of making the best use of a bad bargain, and let us understand the importance of this human life, which is fit for the highest development of true consciousness. The best use of this rare human life should not be neglected. As it is said in Srimad-Bhagavatam [SB 11.9.29]:

labdhva sudurlabham idam bahu-sambhavante
manusyam arthadam anityam apiha dhirah
turnam yateta na pated anumrtyu yavan
nihsreyasaya visayah khalu sarvatah syat

"This human life is obtained after many, many births, and although it is not permanent, it can offer the highest benefits. Therefore a sober and intelligent man should immediately try to fulfill his mission and attain the highest profit in life before another death occurs. He should avoid sense gratification, which is available in all circumstances."

Let us not misuse this human life in the vain pursuit of material enjoyment, or, in other words, for the sake of only eating, sleeping, fearing, and sensuous activities. The Acaryadeva's message is conveyed by the words of Sri Rupa Gosvami:

anasaktasya visayan yatharham upayunjatah
nirbandhah krsna-sambandhe yuktam vairagyam ucyate

prapancikataya buddhya hari-sambandhi-vastunah
mumuksubhih parityago vairagyam phalgu kathyate

"One is said to be situated in the fully renounced order of life if he lives in accordance with Krsna consciousness. He should be without attachment for sense gratification and should accept only what is necessary for the upkeep of the body. On the other hand, one who renounces things which could be used in the service of Krsna, under the pretext that such things are material, does not practice complete renunciation."

The purport of these slokas can only be realized by fully developing the rational portion of our life, not the animal portion. Sitting at the feet of the Acaryadeva, let us try to understand from this transcendental source of knowledge what we are, what is this universe, what is God, and what is our relationship with Him. The message of Lord Caitanya is the message for the living entities and the message of the living world. Lord Caitanya did not bother Himself for the upliftment of this dead world, which is suitably named Martyaloka, the world where everything is destined to die. He appeared before us four hundred fifty years ago to tell us something of the transcendental universe, where everything is permanent and everything is for the service of the Absolute. But recently Lord Caitanya has been misrepresented by some unscrupulous persons, and the highest philosophy of the Lord has been misinterpreted to be the cult of the lowest type of society. We are glad to announce tonight that our Acaryadeva, with his unusual kindness, saved us from this horrible type of degradation, and therefore we bow down at his lotus feet with all humility.

Gentlemen, it has been a mania of the cultured (or uncultured) society of the present day to accredit the Personality of Godhead with merely impersonal features and to stultify Him by claiming that He has no senses, no form, no activity, no head, no legs, and no enjoyment. This has also been the pleasure of the modern scholars due to their sheer lack of proper guidance and true introspection in the spiritual realm. All these empiricists think alike: all the enjoyable things should be monopolized by the human society, or by a particular class only, and the impersonal God should be a mere order supplier for their whimsical feats. We are happy that we have been relieved of this horrible type of malady by the mercy of His Divine Grace Paramahamsa Parivrajakacarya Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja. He is our eye-opener, our eternal father, our eternal preceptor and our eternal guide. Let us therefore bow down at his lotus feet on this auspicious day.

Gentlemen, although we are like ignorant children in the knowledge of the Transcendence, still His Divine Grace, my Gurudeva, has kindled a small fire within us to dissipate the invincible darkness of empirical knowledge. We are now so much on the safe side that no amount of philosophical argument by the empiric schools of thought can deviate us an inch from the position of our eternal dependence on the lotus feet of His Divine Grace. Furthermore, we are prepared to challenge the most erudite scholars of the Mayavada school and prove that the personality of Godhead and His transcendental sports in Goloka alone constitute the sublime information of the Vedas. There are explicit indications of this in the Chandogya Upanisad [8.13.1]: syamac chavalam prapadye savalac chyamam prapadye. "For receiving the mercy of Krsna, I surrender unto His energy [Radha], and for receiving the mercy of His energy, I surrender unto Krsna." Also, in the Rg Veda []:

tad visnoh paramam padam
sada pasyanti surayah
diviva caksur atatam
visnor yat paramam padam

"The lotus feet of Lord Visnu are the supreme objective of all the demigods. These lotus feet of the Lord are as enlightening as the sun in the sky."

The plain truth so vividly explained in the Gita, which is the central lesson of the Vedas, is not understood or even suspected by the most powerful scholars of the empiric schools. Herein lies the secret of Sri Vyasa-puja. When we meditate on the transcendental pastimes of the Absolute Godhead, we are proud to feel that we are His eternal servitors, and we become jubilant and dance with joy. All glory to my divine master, for it is he who has out of his unceasing flow of mercy stirred up within us such a movement of eternal existence. Let us bow down at his louts feet.

Gentlemen, had he not appeared before us to deliver us from the thralldom of this gross worldly delusion, surely we should have remained for lives and ages in the darkness of helpless captivity. Had he not appeared before us, we would not have been able to understand the eternal truth of the sublime teaching of Lord Caitanya. Had he not appeared before us, we could not have been able to know the significance of the first sloka of Brahma-samhita:

isvarah paramah krsnah sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah
anadir adir govindah sarva-karana-karanam
[Bs. 5.1]

"Krsna, who is know as Govinda, is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal, blissful, spiritual body. He is the origin of all, He has no other origin, and He is the prime cause of all causes."

Personally, I have no hope for any direct service for the coming crores of births of the sojourn of my life, but I am confident that some day or other I shall be delivered from this mire of delusion in which I am at present so deeply sunk. Therefore let me with all my earnestness pray at the lotus feet of my divine master to allow me to suffer the lot for which I am destined due to my past misdoings, but to let me have this power of recollection: that I am nothing but a tiny servant of the Almighty Absolute Godhead, realized through the unflinching mercy of my divine master. Let me therefore bow down at his lotus feet with all the humility at my command.

Abhay Charan Das

For Members, Sri Gaudiya Matha, Bombay

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