newly discovered entries of In2-DeepFreeze       First Generation Animations

Takonin, Czech Republic
20 June 2004

I received this yesterday from Vidvan Gauranga, a young grhasta veteran of the ISKCON gurukula in Mayapur. He is a nice pandita and very engaged on the forefront of our movement's activities in Mayapur and Calcutta.

The following article by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura appears in 1999 year's issue of The Sarasvata Gaudiya Vaisnava, an annual journal of Sarasvata Gaudiya Vaisnava Association, Sridham Mayapur, Nadia, West Bengal, India. This Association was convened by HH Jayapataka Maharaja on behalf of Bhaktivedanta Swami Charity Trust to help fulfill Srila Prabhupada's desires to help reunite the disciplic descendants of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. The Association also meets once a year and also holds joint Vyasa Puja celebrations of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.

Especially at this time when several devotees do not mind associating with the nondevotees or do not mind learning our scriptures from them or with them, there are several very instructive points made by the great Simha Guru in this article to be considered. I have also considered the following article to be a sufficient rebuttal-in-anticipation to the speculative ideas of devotees such as Shukavak Das.

Even though the article is long, I hope that you would be happy to read this. Therefore I have taken the opportunity to send it to so many senior devotees.

Your servant,
Vidvan Gauranga das

"Understanding the Writings of Bhaktivinoda Thakura"

By Prabhupada Sri Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Thakura

[An article originally published in the December 1931 issue of the Harmonist magazine, under the title of "Thakura Bhaktivinoda"]

We avail of the opportunity offered by the advent of Thakura Bhaktivinoda to reflect on the right method of obtaining those benefits that have been made accessible to humanity by the grace of this great devotee of Krishna. Thakura Bhaktivinoda has been specifically kind to those unfortunate persons who are engrossed in mental speculation of all kinds. This is the prevalent malady of the present age. The other Acharyas who appeared before Thakura Bhaktivinoda did not address their discourses so directly to the empiric thinkers. They had been more merciful to those who are naturally disposed to listen to discourses on the Absolute without being dissuaded by the specious arguments of avowed opponents of Godhead. Srila Thakura Bhaktivinoda has taken the trouble of meeting the perverse arguments of mental speculations by the superior transcendental logic of the Absolute Truth. It is thus possible for the average modern readers to profit by the perusal of his writings. That day is not far distant when the priceless volumes penned by Thakura Bhaktivinoda will be reverently translated by the recipients of his grace into all the languages of the world.

The writings of Thakura Bhaktivinoda provided the golden bridge by which the mental speculationists can safely cross the raging waters of fruitless empiric controversies that trouble the peace of those who choose to trust in their guidance for finding the truth. As soon as the sympathetic reader is in position to appreciate the sterling quality of Thakura Bhaktivinoda's philosophy, the entire vista of the revealed literature of the world will automatically open out to his reclaimed vision.

There have, however, already arisen serious misunderstandings regarding the proper interpretation of the life and teachings of Srila Thakura Bhaktivinoda. Those who suppose they understand the meaning of his message without securing the guiding grace of the acharya are disposed to unduly favor the method of empiric study of his writings. There are persons who have got by heart almost everything that he wrote without being able to catch the least particle of his meaning. Such study cannot benefit those who are not prepared to act up to the instructions lucidly conveyed by his words. There is no honest chance of missing the warnings of Thakura Bhaktivinoda. Those, therefore, who are misled by the perusal of his writings are led astray by their own obstinate perversity in sticking to the empiric course which they prefer to cherish against his explicit warnings. Let these unfortunate persons look more carefully into their own hearts for the cause of their misfortunes. The personal service of the pure devotee is essential for understanding of the words of Thakura Bhaktivinoda. The spiritual meaning of the words of Thakura Bhaktivinoda, has been trying to draw the attention of all followers of Thakura Bhaktivinoda to this all important point of his teachings. It is not necessary to try to place ourselves on a footing of equality with Thakura Bhaktivinoda. We are not likely to benefit by mechanical imitation of any practices of Thakura Bhaktivinoda on the opportunist principle that they may be convenient for us to adopt. The guru is not an erring mortal whose activities can be understood by fallible reason of unreclaimed humanity. There is an eternally impassable line of demarcation between the savior and the saved. Those who are really saved can alone know this. Thakura Bhaktivinoda belongs to the category of the spiritual world teachers who eternally occupy the spiritual position.

The present editor has all along felt it his paramount duty to try to clear up the meaning of the life and teachings of Thakura Bhaktivinoda by the method of submissive listening to the transcendental sound from the lips of the pure devotee. The guru who realizes the transcendent meaning of all sounds, is an a position to serve the absolute by the direction of the absolute conveyed through every sound. The transcendental sound is Godhead, the mundane sound, is non-Godhead. All sound has got these opposite aptitudes. All sound reveals its divine face to the devotee and only presents its deluding aspect to the empiric pedant. The devotee talks apparently the same language as the deluded pedant who had got by heart the vocabulary of the scriptures. But not withstanding apparent identity of performance, the one has no access to the reality while the other is absolutely free from all delusion.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura

Those who repeat the teachings of Thakura Bhaktivinoda from memory do not necessarily understand the meaning of the words they mechanically repeat. Those who pass an empiric examination regarding the contents of his writings are not necessarily also self-realized souls. They may not at all know the real meaning of the words they learnt by the method of empiric study. Take for example the name "Krishna. " Every reader of Thakura Bhaktivinoda's work must be aware that the name manifests Himself on the lips of His serving devotees although He is inaccessible to our mundane senses. It is one thing to pass the examination by reproducing this true conclusion from the writings of Thakura Bhaktivinoda and quite another matter to realize the nature of the holy name of Krishna by the process conveyed by the words.

Thakura Bhaktivinoda did not want us to go to the clever mechanical reciter of the mundane sound for obtaining access to the transcendental name of Krishna. Such a person may be fully equipped wjth all the written arguments in explanation of the nature of the divine name. But if we listen to all these arguments from the dead source, the words will only increase our delusion. The very same words coming from the devotee will have diametrically opposite effect. Our empiric judgment can never grasp the difference between the two performances.

The devotee is always right. The non-devotee in the shape of the empiric pedant is always and necessarily wrong. In the one case there is always present the substantive truth and nothing but substantive truth. In the other case there is present the apparent or misleading hypothesis and nothing but untruth. The wording may have the same external appearance on both cases. The identical verses of the scriptures recited by the devotee and the non-devotee, may be apparently misquoted by the devotee but the corresponding values of the two processes remain always categorically different. The devotee is right even when he apparently misquotes, the nondevotee is wrong even when he quotes correctly the very words, chapter and verse of the scriptures.

It is not empiric wisdom that this is the object of quest of the devotee. Those who read of scriptures for gathering empiric wisdom will be pursuing the wild-goosechase. There are not a few dupes of their empiric scriptural erudition. These dupes have their admiring under-dupes. But the mutual admiration society of dupes does not escape by the mere weight of their number, the misfortune due to the deliberate pursuit of the wrong course in accordance with the suggestions of our lower selves.

What are the scriptures? They are nothing but the record by the pure devotees of the divine message appearing on the lips of the pure devotees. The messages conveyed by the devotees are the same in all ages. The words of the devotees are ever identical with the scriptures. Any meaning of the scriptures that belittles the function of the devotee who is the original communicant of the divine message contradicts its own claim to be heard. Those who think that the Sanskrit language in its lexicographical sense is the language of the Divinity are as deluded as those who hold that the divine message is communicable through any other spoken dialects. All languages simultaneously express and hide the Absolute. The mundane face of all languages hides the Truth. The transcendental face of all sound expresses nothing but the Absolute. The pure devotee is the speaker of the transcendental language. The transcendental sound makes His appearance on the lips of His pure devotee. This is the direct, unambiguous appearance of the Divinity. On the lips of non-devotees the Absolute always appears in His deluding aspect. To the pure devotee the Absolute reveals Himself under all circumstances. To the conditioned soul, if he is disposed to listen in truly submissive spirit, the language of pure devotee can alone impart the knowledge of the Absolute. The conditioned soul mistakes the deluding for the real aspect when he chooses to lend his ear to the nondevotee. This is the reason why the conditioned soul is warned to avoid all association with nondevotees.

Thakura Bhaktivinoda is acknowledged by his all-sincere followers as possessing the above powers of the pure devotee of Godhead. His words have to be received from the lips of pure devotee. If his words are listened to from the lips of nondevotee they will certainly deceive. If his works are studied in the light of one's worldly experience, their meaning will refuse to disclose itself to such readers. His works belong to the class of eternal revealed literature of the world and must be approached for their right understanding through their exposition by the pure devotee. If no help from the pure devotee is sought, the works of Thakura Bhaktivinoda will be grossly misunderstood by their readers. The attentive reader of those works will find that he is always directed to throw himself upon the mercy of the pure devotee if he is not to remain unwarrantably self-satisfied by the deluding results of his wrong method study.

The writings of Thakura Bhaktivinoda are valuable because they demolish all empiric objections against accepting the only method of approaching the Absolute in the right way. The person to whom the acharya is pleased to transmit his power is alone in a position to convey the divine message. They cannot and were never intended to give access to the Absolute without help from the pure devotee of Krishna. They direct the sincere inquirer of the truth, as all the revealed scriptures do, to pure devotee of Krishna to learn about Him by submitting to listen with open mind to the transcendental sound appearing on his lips. Before we open any of the books penned by Thakura Bhaktivinoda, we should do well to reflect a little on the attitude with which as the indispensable pre-requisite to approach the study. It is by neglecting to remember this fundamental principle that the empiric pedants find themselves so hopelessly puzzled in their vain endeavor to reconcile the statements of the different texts of the scriptures. The same difficulty is already in process of overtaking many of the so-called followers of Thakura Bhaktivinoda and for the same reason.

The person to whom the acharya is pleased to transmit his power is alone in a position to convey the divine message. This constitutes the underlying principle of the line of succession of the spiritual teachers. The acharya thus authorized has no other duty than that of delivering intact the message received from all his predecessors. There is no difference between the pronouncement of one acharya and another. All of them are perfect mediums for the appearance of the Divinity in the form of the transcendental name who is identical with His form, quality, activity and paraphernalia.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura

The Divinity is absolute knowledge. Absolute knowledge has the character of indivisible unity. One particle of the absolute knowledge is capable of revealing all the potency of the Divinity. Those who want to understand the contents of the volumes penned by Thakura Bhaktivinoda by the piece-meal acquisitive method available to the mind on the mundane plane are bound to be self-deceived. Those who are sincere seekers of the truth are alone eligible to find Him and through the proper method of His quest.

In order to be put on the tract of the Absolute, listening to the words of the pure devotee is absolutely necessary. The spoken word of the devotee is the absolute. It is only the Absolute who can give Himself away to the constituents of His power. The Absolute appears to the listening ear of the conditioned soul in the form of the name on the lips of the sadhu. This is the key to the whole position. The works of Thakura Bhaktivinoda direct the empiric pedant to discharge his wrong method and inclination on the threshold of the real quest of the Absolute. If the pedant still chooses to carry his errors into the realm of the Absolute Truth, he only marches by a deceptive by-path into the regions of darker ignorance by his arrogant study of the scriptures. The method offered by Thakura Bhaktivinoda is identical with the object of request. The method is not really grasped except by the grace of the pure devotee. The arguments, indeed, are these. But they can only corroborate, but can never be a substitute for, the words from the living source of the truth who is none other than the pure devotee of Krishna, the concrete Personal Absolute.

Thakura Bhaktivinoda's greatest gift to the world consists in this that he has brought about the appearance of those pure devotees who are at present, carrying on the movement of unalloyed devotion to the feet of Sri Krishna by their own wholetime spiritual service of the Divinity. The purity of the soul is only analogously describable by the resources of the mundane language. The highest ideal of empiric morality is no better than the grossest wickedness to the transcendental perfect purity of the bona fide devotee of the Absolute. The word "morality" itself is a mischievous misnomer when it is applied to any quality of the conditioned soul. The hypocritical contentment with a negative attitude is part and parcel of the principal of undiluted immorality.

Those who pretend to recognize the divine mission of Thakur Bhaktivinoda without aspiring to the unconditioned service of those pure souls who really follow the teachings of the Thakura Bhaktivinoda by the method enjoined by the scriptures and explained by Thakura Bhaktivinoda in a way that is so eminently suited to the requirements of the sophisticated mentality of the present age, only deceive themselves and their willing victims by their hypocritical professions and performances. These persons must not be confounded with the bona fide member of the flock.

Thakura Bhaktivinoda has predicted the consummation of religious unity of the world by the appearance of the only universal church, which bears the eternal designation of the Brahma-sampradaya. He has given mankind the blessed assurance that all theistic churches will shortly merge in the one eternal spiritual community by the grace of the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna Chaitanya. The spiritual community is not circumscribed by the conditions of time and space, race and nationality. Mankind has been looking forward to this far off divine event through the long ages. Thakura Bhaktivinoda has made the conception available in its practicable spiritual form to the open-minded empiricist who is prepared to undergo the process of enlightenment. The keystone of the arch has been laid which will afford the needed shelter to all awakened animation under its ample encircling arms. Those who would thoughtlessly allow their hollow pride of race, pseudo-knowledge or pseudo-virtue to stand in the way of this long hoped for consummation, would have to thank only themselves for not being incorporated in the spiritual society of all pure souls.

These plain words need not be misrepresented by arrogant persons who are full of the vanity of empiric ignorance as the pronouncement of aggressive sectarianism. The aggressive pronouncement of the concrete truth is the crying necessity of the moment for silencing the aggressive propaganda of specific untruth that is being carried on all over the world by the preachers of empiric contrivances for the amelioration of the hard lot of conditioned souls. The empiric propaganda clothes itself in the language of negative abstraction for deluding those who are engrossed in the selfish pursuit of worldly enjoyment. But there is positive and concrete function of the pure soul, which should not be perversely confounded with any utilitarian form of worldly activity. Mankind stands in need of that positive spiritual function of which the hypocritical impersonalists are in absolute ignorance. The positive function of the soul harmonizes the claims of extreme selfishness with those of extreme self-abnegation in the society of pure souls even in this mundane world. In each concrete realizable form the function is perfectly accessible to the empiric understanding. Its imperfect and misleading conception alone is available by the study of the scriptures to the conditioned soul that is not helped by the causeless grace of the pure devotee of Godhead.


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