After Srila Gurudeva (Srila Bhakti Dayita Madhav Goswami Maharaj) took sannyasa, just prior to Indian independence (1947) and afterward, he went on an extended preaching tour throughout India and East Pakistan (modern-day Bangladesh) with several devotees. While in Jamurki-Pakulla in Mymensingh district, Srila Gurudeva gave a lecture in a pandal set up at the local high school. More than a thousand people of both Hindu and Muslim faiths were present in the audience that gathered that day. Several local policemen gave Srila Gurudeva a friendly warning that following partition, the situation was tense in the new country of Pakistan. He was told to be careful about what he said and did because the government was watching him. If complaints were made that something he said went against Pakistan's interests, he could be jailed.
After having received this warning and seeing the large numbers of police officers present in the crowd, Srila Gurudeva started to worry about the difficulties a devotee would have to face if put in prison, where contact with untouchable foodstuffs would be inevitable. Seeking to avoid any possibility of trouble, he requested the listeners to save their questions for the end of his discourse, at which time he would leave fifteen to twenty minutes to address them. He also said that he would entertain further inquiries on matters not related to his lecture in his quarters at another time. He requested that no one interrupt the lecture to ask questions, for it would disrupt the proceedings and cause a disturbance to the other listeners.
Despite this request, however, after Srila Gurudeva had been speaking for half an hour, a maulvi (Muslim priest) stood up and asked, "What is the reasoning behind the Hindu custom of worshipping idols (but-parasti)?" Many of the people in the audience were irritated by the interruption, and told him to be quiet and Srila Gurudeva not to answer. But Srila Gurudeva welcomed the maulvi's question by praising it, saying that it was deserving of an answer from which everyone present could profit.
Furthermore, by answering it he would not wander from the subject under discussion, but would rather enrich it.
He then proceeded to deal with the maulvi's question as follows. He said that before answering him, he wished to ask him a question: "Do you believe in God (khuda)?"
"Of course I do."
"Do you believe in Khuda's omnipotence?"
The maulvi loudly declared, "Khuda is all-powerful!"
Srila Gurudeva then laughed and said, "There, you have your answer."
Not realising the implications of the word "omnipotent," the maulvi was at first confused by Srila Gurudeva's answer. So Gurudeva started to clarify by asking, this time with the help of an example: "Is God powerful enough to take a Mymensingh elephant and to push him through the hole of the smallest needle without even harming a hair on his body?" When the maulvi remained silent, Srila Gurudeva continued, "Perhaps Maulvi Saheb does not know the extent of Khuda's powers, but the fact is that nothing is impossible for the omnipotent Lord. Kartum akartum anyatha kartum yah samarthah sa eva isvarah. He can do whatever He wishes, not do something if he does not wish to do it, or undo or change whatever He has done. The Supreme Lord is all-powerful and nothing is beyond His abilities. The omnipotent Lord is not limited to the powers which we ascribe to Him; that is not what is meant by omnipotence. The sarva-saktiman is one who possesses all powers imaginable and unimaginable. Once we have accepted that the Supreme Lord is omnipotent, we cannot say, 'He can do such and such, but not this or that.' So, in accordance with His wishes, the supremely powerful Lord can appear in any form He desires, at any time, with His full complement of powers. If you say that He cannot, then there is no point in claiming that He is all-powerful.
"Any figure that a man may create out of the five elements, or any entity that he imagines with his material mind-whether with form or formless-is all material. That is what we call a putala or idol. There is no regulation in sanatana-dharma for the worship of such idols. What is ordained, rather, is service to the Lord's Deity Form or Sri Vigraha. The Sri Vigraha is that form which the all-powerful Supreme Lord feels obliged to accept as a result of His devotee's love for Him. There is a gulf of difference between an idol and the Lord's Deity Form. Even though the Lord's Deity Form is purely spiritual, cid-ananda-maya, a materially conditioned soul is unable to recognise Him, just as he would be unable to recognise the Lord if He appeared directly before him. One can only perceive the Lord's Divine Form with the eyes of pure devotion. A vision of the Lord which has not been earned is not a true vision of the Lord."
This book is a collection of divine sermons of a pure devotee --- Most Revered Srila Bhakti Dayita Madhava Gosvami Maharaja, the most affectionate disciple of Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur Prabhupad, the founder-acarya of Sri Caitanya Gaudiya Math. These thought-provoking sermons are empowered with divinity and are the cure for our material miseries. A sincere reader will be benefited by their clear and astoundingly factual revelations about devotional service to Lord Sri Krishna.
I want to say to you
Have I Made a Mistake
How to achieve the absolute
The Necessity of Monasteries and Temples
Non-Violence and Love
Offences to the Holy Name
Reasoning about the Supreme Lord
any many more.
224 pages, paperback. $10.95 US, postage paid worldwide.
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