Devidasa Vidyaratna was a teacher, and for a long time he had been firmly convinced that the brahmanas were foremost among all varnas. He believed that no one except brahmanas are fit

to obtain the highest goal of life, and that unless he takes birth in a brahmana family, the jiva cannot attain mukti. He also believed that birth in such a family is the sole cause of developing the characteristic

nature of a brahmana. When he heard the discussions between the Vaisnavas and the descendant of Chand Kazi, he became completely dissatisfied. He could not penetrate the statements of Kazi Sahib at all, for they were full of deep, fundamental truths.

Perturbed at heart, Devidasa Vidyaratna began to think, Indeed the Muslim race is a strange phenomenon, and one cannot makeany sense of what they say. Of course, father has studied Farsi and Arabic, and he has been studying religion for a long time, but why does he give so much respect to the Muslims? A Hindu is obliged to take a bath in order to purify himself if he as much as touches a

Muslim, so what could Paramahamsa Babaji Maharaja have been thinking when he invited such a person to be seated in the assembly and offered him so much respect?

That very night Devidasa said, Sambhu! I cannot remain silent in this matter. I shall ignite a blazing fire of logical debate and burn this heretical view to ashes. It was here in Navadvipa that stalwart

scholars like Sarvabhauma and Siromani discussed the nyayasastra, and Raghunandana churned the twenty-eight truths from the smrti-sastra. How is it that the Hindus and Muslims are now intermingling in this very same Navadvipa? Perhaps the teachers of Navadvipa have not gotten wind of this news yet. Vidyaratna applied himself wholeheartedly to his task for a couple of days.

At daybreak a light drizzle had fallen. By mid-morning, oppressed by the clouds, the sun had not been able to cast a single glance upon the earth. Devi and Sambhu finished a meal of khichri before

ten oclock and got ready, sensing that the appropriate moment was upon them. In Sri Godruma, the Vaisnavas had been delayed in their madhukari. However, almost all of them had honored prasada, and were sitting in a large kutira to one side of the madhavimalati bower.

Paramahamsa Babaji, Vaisnava dasa, Pandita Ananta dasa from the village of Sri Nrsimha-palli, Lahiri Mahasaya, and Yadava dasa from Kuliya started chanting hari-nama on their tulasi-mala, absorbed

in paramananda. At that time, the famous pandita, Krsna Cudamani, arrived, together with Vidyaratna Mahasaya, Caturbhuja Padaratna from Samudragarh, Cintamani Nyayaratna from Kasi, and Kalidasa Vacaspati from Purva-sthali. The Vaisnavas offered great respect to the learned brahmanas and had them seated.

Paramahamsa Babaji said, It is said that an overcast day is inauspicious, but this day has become most auspicious for us. Today the brahmana-panditas of the dhama have purified our kutira with

the dust of their feet.

Vaisnavas naturally consider themselves more insignificant than grass, so they all offered pranama saying, vipra-caranebhyah namah: Obeisances unto the feet of the brahmanas. The brahmanapanditas, who considered themselves to be respectable scholars, responded by offering blessings to the Vaisnavas, and then sat down. The brahmanas whom Vidyaratna had prepared for a debate offered pranama to Lahiri Mahasaya, because he was senior to all of them. Lahiri Mahasaya, who was by now conversant with the confidential truths of the sastras, immediately returned pranamas to the panditas.

Of all the panditas, Krsna Cudamani was the most eloquent. He had debated the meaning of the sastra with many other panditas in Kasi, Mithila and numerous other places, and had defeated all of his opponents. He was short, with a lustrous dark complexion and a grave countenance, and his eyes shone like a pair of stars. Now he began the discussion with the Vaisnavas.

Cudamani said, Today we have come to take darsana of the Vaisnavas. Although we do not support all your conduct, we very much admire your exclusive devotion. Sri Bhagavan Himself states in Bhagavad-Gita (9.30):


api cet su-duracaro bhajate mam ananya-bhak

sadhur eva sa mantavyah samyag-vyavasito hi sah


Even if one is an abominable sinner, if he worships Me with exclusive devotion,

he is to be considered a sadhu, for his is firmly situated in the proper determination.


This statement of the Bhagavad-Gita is our evidence, and it is because of this conclusion that we have come to take darsana of the sadhus today. But we have one complaint. Why do you associate with Muslims on the pretext of bhakti? We wish to discuss this matter with you. Whoever amongst you is most expert in debate should step forward.

The Vaisnavas were distressed by Krsna Cudamanis words, and Paramahamsa Babaji said very humbly, We are fools. What do we know of debate? We simply act in accordance with the behavior

shown by the previous mahajanas. You are all scholars, so you may recite the instructions of the sastra, and we will listen in silence.

Cudamani said, How can you act according to such a statement? You are under the auspices of Hindu society, and if you perpetrate practices and teachings that are opposed to the sastra, the world

will come to ruin. We will practice and preach against sastra, and at the same time claim that we are on the path of the mahajanas. What kind of talk is this? Who is a mahajana? One can be truly known as a mahajana only if his behavior and teachings are in accordance with sastra. How can there be any benefit for the world if we simply label anyone we like a mahajana, and then quote the saying, mahajano yena gatah sa panthah: One should follow the path of the mahajanas.?

Cudamanis words became intolerable for the Vaisnavas, so they left and consulted with one another in a separate kutira. They concluded that, since the mahajanas were being accused of being at

fault, it was imperative that they refute the charges as long as it was in their power to do so. Paramahamsa Babaji chose not to participate in the debate. Pandita Ananta dasa Babaji was a scholar of the nyaya-sastra, but everyone requested Sri Vaisnava dasa Babaji to conduct the debate. The Vaisnavas could immediately understand that Devidasa Vidyaratna had instigated this turmoil. Lahiri Mahasaya was also present, and he added, Devi is extremely proud. His mind became disturbed on the day he witnessed our behavior

with Kazi Sahib, and that is why he has now brought all these brahmana-panditas here.

Vaisnava dasa took the dust of Paramahamsa Babajis feet on his head and said, I shall bear the order of the Vaisnavas upon my head. Today the knowledge that I have imbibed must certainly bear fruit.

By this time, the sky was clear. A broad sitting place was spread out in the malati-madhavi grove, and the brahmana-panditas sat on one side and the Vaisnavas on the other. All the brahmanas and panditas of Sri Godruma and Madhyadvipa had been called there, and many neighboring students and scholarly brahmanas also joined the assembly, so it was by no means a small gathering. About a hundred brahmana-panditas were seated on one side and about two hundred Vaisnavas on the other. Vaisnava dasa Babaji, calmand composed, sat at the head of the assembly by the request of the Vaisnavas. Just then, an astonishing incident occurreda cluster of malati flowers fell on Vaisnava dasas head from the vines

above. This enlivened the Vaisnavas, inspiring them to utter thename of Hari loudly. This is to be understood as the mercy of Sriman Mahaprabhu, they declared.

On the other side, Krsna Cudamani grimaced and said, You may think that, but flowers will not do. The tree shall be known by its fruit.

Dismissing the matter, Vaisnava dasa began, This meeting that is taking place in Navadvipa today resembles the assemblies which take place in Varanasi, and this is a cause of great happiness for

me. Although I am a resident of Bengal, I spent many years studying and lecturing in Varanasi and other places, so I am not so accustomed to speaking in Bengali. It is my request that in todays assembly the questions and answers be made in Sanskrit.

Cudamani had studied the sastra very diligently, but he could not speak Sanskrit fluently, apart from some slokas that he had committed to memory. He was somewhat dismayed by Vaisnava dasas proposal, and said, Why? We are meeting in Bengal, so it is best to speak in Bengali. I cannot speak Sanskrit like the panditas of the Western provinces.

Everyone could understand by observing their respective moods that Cudamani was becoming fearful of debating with Vaisnava dasa. They all requested Vaisnava dasa to speak in Bengali, and he agreed.

Cudamani raised the first objection by asking, Is jati, or caste, nitya (invariable)? Are the Hindus and Muslims not different castes? Do the Hindus not become fallen by associating with Muslims?

Vaisnava dasa Babaji replied, According to the nyaya-sastra, jati (a term that refers to race, caste, or species) is invariable. However, the term jati-bheda (caste distinction) mentioned there does

not refer to the difference of caste among human beings born in different countries. This term refers to the difference of species, such as that which is found between cows, goats, and human beings.

Cudamani said, Yes, what you say is quite true. But does that mean that there is no jati-bheda (caste distinction) between Hindus and Muslims?

Vaisnava dasa said, Yes, there is a distinction between the castes, but that type of jati is not eternal. Human beings have only one jati, which in this case means species. Within the human species, many different jati, or castes, have been invented, based on the differences of language, country, styles of dress, and skin color.

Cudamani: Is there no difference in terms of birth? Or does the difference between Hindus and Muslims consist of nothing more than the difference in clothing and other such things?

Vaisnava dasa: Jivas are born into higher or lower varnas, castes, according to their previous karma; and in congruity with their varnas, they are eligible for different types of work. Brahmanas, ksatriyas, vaisyas, and sudras are the four varnas. All others are antyaja, which means that they are low-born and outside the caste system.

Cudamani: Are the Muslims not outcaste?

Vaisnava dasa: Yes, according to the sastra, they are outside the jurisdiction of the four varnas (antyaja).

Cudamani: Then how can Muslims be Vaisnavas, and how can respectable Vaisnavas associate with them?

Vaisnava dasa: Vaisnavas are those who have pure bhakti, and all human beings are candidates for vaisnava-dharma. Muslims are not eligible to perform the duties prescribed for the different varnas in the varnasrama system because their birth disqualifies them. However, they have every right to participate in the practices of bhakti. One can never say that he knows the actual purport of the sastras until he has minutely examined the subtle differences between karma-kanda, jnana-kanda, and bhakti-kanda.

Cudamani: Very well, when one performs ones prescribed karma, the heart is gradually purified so that one becomes eligible for jnana. Amongst the jnanis, some are nirbheda-brahmavadis, who advocate the undifferentiated impersonal brahma, while others are Vaisnavas, who accept the personal form of Bhagavan possessing transcendental attributes (savisesa-vada). According to this progression, one cannot become a Vaisnava without first completing ones eligibility for karma. Muslims are not eligible even to

perform the prescribed karma within the varna system, because they are outcastes, so how can they become eligible for bhakti?

Vaisnava dasa: Outcaste human beings have every right to practice bhakti. All the sastras accept this, and Bhagavan Himself has stated it in Srimad Bhagavad-Gita (9.32):


mam hi partha vyapasritya ye pi syuh papa-yonayah

striyo vaisyas tatha sudras te pi yanti param gatim


O Partha, women, vaisyas, sudras, and low-born people who have

taken birth in sinful families can attain the supremedestination by

taking shelter of Me.


Here the word asritya, taking shelter, refers to bhakti. This is corroborated in the Skanda Purana,Kasi-khanda (21.63):


brahmanah ksatriyo vaisyah sudro va yadi vetarah

visnu-bhakti-samayukto jneyah sarvottamas ca sah

quoted in Hari-bhakti-vilasa (10.106)


Whether one is a brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, sudra, or an

outcaste, if he has taken shelter of visnu-bhakti, he is considered

to be superior to all.


It is said in the Naradiya Purana.


svapaco pi mahipala visnu-bhakto dvijadhikah

visnu-bhakti-vihino yo yatis ca svapacadhikah

quoted in Hari-bhakti-vilasa (10.87)

Cudamani: You may give many quotations from sastra as evidence, but it is important to see what is the underlying principle in this consideration. How can the defect of degraded birth be removed? Can a defect relating to ones birth be removed without taking another birth?

Vaisnava dasa: The defect of a degraded birth is the result of prarabdha-karma, previous activities that have begun to bear fruit in this life, and this prarabdha-karma can be destroyed by uttering the name of Bhagavan. The proof of this is stated in Srimad- Bhagavatam (6.16.44):


yan-nama sakrc chravanat pukkaso pi vimucyate samsarat


Even a low-born dog-eater can be delivered from material

existence simply by hearing Your holy name once.


It is also stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (6.2.46):


natah param karma-nibandha-krntanam

mumuksatam tirtha-padanukirtanat

na yat punah karmasu sajjate mano

rajas-tamobhyam kalilam tato nyatha


Those who desire liberation from the bondage of material existence have no means of rooting out sin except by the chanting of the holy names of Bhagavan, who sanctifies even the holy places by the mere touch of His lotus feet. The reason is that when one performs nama-sankirtana, the mind does not become attached to karma again, whereas when one practices any other means of atonement, the mind is again contaminated by the qualities of passion and ignorance, since the tendencies to commit sin have not been destroyed at the root.


Again in Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.33.7) it is stated:


aho vata svapaco to gariyan

yaj-jahvagre vartate nama tubhyam

tepus tapas te juhuvuh sasnur arya

brahmanucur nama grnanti ye te


Oh! What more can be said about the greatness of a person who chants the holy name of Sri Hari? A person whose tongue utters Your holy names is superior to all, even if he has taken birth in a family of dog-eaters. His brahminical status has already been established in his previous birth. Those fortunate

jivas who chant sri-hari-nama have already undergone austerities, performed fire sacrifices, bathed at the holy places, followed the rules of proper conduct, and thoroughly studied the Vedas.


Cudamani: Then why is it that a candala who chants hari-nama is barred from performing yajnas and other brahminical activities?

Vaisnava dasa: One must take birth in a brahmana family to perform yajnas and other such activities, and even one who is born in a brahmana family must be purified by the ceremony of investiture with the sacred thread before he is eligible to perform the duties of a brahmana. Similarly, a candala may have become purified by taking up hari-nama, but he is still not eligible to perform yajnas until he acquires seminal birth in a brahmana family. However, he can perform the angas (limbs) of bhakti, which are infinitely greater than yajnas.

Cudamani: What kind of conclusion is that? How can a person who is disqualified from an ordinary privilege be qualified for something that is much higher? Is there any conclusive evidence for this?

Vaisnava dasa: There are two types of human activity: material activities that relate to practical existence (vyavaharika); and spiritual activities that relate to the ultimate truth (paramarthika). A person may have attained spiritual qualification, but that does not necessarily qualify him for particular material activities. For example, one who is a Muslim by birth may have acquired the nature and all the qualities of a brahmana, so that he is a brahmana from the spiritual point of view, but he still remains ineligible for certain material activities, such as marrying the daughter of a brahmana.

Cudamani: Why is that? What is wrong if he does so?

Vaisnava dasa: If one violates social customs, one is guilty of vyavaharika-dosa, secular impropriety, and members of society who take pride in their social respectability do not condone such activities. That is why one should not perform them, even if he is spiritually qualified.

Cudamani: Please tell me what is the cause of eligibility for karma, and what is the cause of eligibility for bhakti?

Vaisnava dasa: Tat-tat-karma-yogya-svabhava-janmanature, birth, and other such vyavaharika, or practical, causes that make one suitable for a particular type of work are the sources of eligibility

for karma. The source of eligibility for bhakti is tattvikasraddha, faith that is rooted in the Absolute Truth.

Cudamani: Dont try to intimidate me with the language of Vedanta.

Explain clearly what you mean by tat-tat-karma-yogya-svabhava.

Vaisnava dasa: The qualities that are found in the nature of a brahmana are: sama (control of the senses), dama (control of the mind), tapah (austerity), sauca (purity), santosa (satisfaction), ksama (forgiveness), saralata (simplicity), isa-bhakti (devotion to Bhagavan), daya (mercy), and satya (truthfulness). The natural qualities of a ksatriya are teja (prowess), bala (physical strength), dhrti (resoluteness),

saurya (heroism), titiksa (tolerance), udarata (magnanimity), udyama (perseverance), dhirata (gravity), brahmanyata (devotion to the brahmanas), and aisvarya (opulence). The qualities that characterize

the vaisyas are astikya (theism), dana (charity), nistha (faith), adambhikata (absence of pride), and artha trsna (eagerness to accumulate wealth). The natural qualities of a sudra are dvija-go-devaseva

(service to the brahmanas, cows, and celestial deities), and yathalabha- santosa (satisfaction with whatever is obtained). The qualities in the nature of an antyaja (outcaste) are asaucam (uncleanliness), mithya (dishonesty), caurya (thievery), nastikata (atheism), vrtha kalaha (futile quarrelling), kama (lust), krodha (anger), and indriya-trsna (hankering to satisfy ones senses).

The sastras prescribe that ones varna should be determined according to these different natures. The determination of varna on the basis of birth alone is a recent practice. An individuals inclination for a specific type of work and his expertise in it are both related to these natures. A persons nature gives rise to his inclination and taste for particular activities, and it is this particular nature (svabhava) that is known as the nature according to specific types of work (tat-tat-karma-yogya-svabhava).

some cases, birth is the prominent factor in ascertaining a persons nature, and in other cases association is the primary factor. Nature is formed by association, which begins from birth, so birth is certainly one cause that determines the development of nature. Indeed, nature develops from the moment of birth but that does not mean that birth is the only cause of nature and eligibility for a particular type of work. It is a great mistake to think like this, for there are many other causes. Therefore, the sastras prescribe that one must study a persons nature when one assesses eligibility for work.

Cudamani: What is meant by tattvika-sraddha, faith in the Absolute Truth?

Vaisnava dasa: Tattvika-sraddha is pure-hearted faith in Bhagavan, which gives rise to a spontaneous attempt to attain Him. Atattvikasraddha (unreal faith) is that which is based on an erroneous conception

of Bhagavan, which arises in an impure heart on seeing worldly activities, and which gives rise to self-interested endeavors rooted in pride, prestige, and worldly desires. Some mahajanas have described tattvika-sraddha as sastriya-sraddha, faith in the sastras. It is this tattvika-sraddha that is the cause of eligibility for bhakti.

Cudamani: Let us admit that some people have developed faith in the sastras although their natures are not elevated. Are such people also eligible for bhakti?

Vaisnava dasa: Sraddha is the only cause of eligibility for bhakti. Nature is the cause of eligibility for karma, but not for bhakti. This is clearly stated in the following slokas from Srimad-Bhagavatam



jata-sraddho mat-kathasu nirvinnah sarva-karmasu

veda duhkhatmakan kaman parityage py anisvarah

tato bhajeta mam pritah sraddhalur drdha-niscayah

jusamanas ca tan kaman duhkhodarkams ca garhayan


sadhaka who has developed faith in narrations about Me, and who is disgusted with all kinds of fruitive activity, may still be unable to give up material enjoyment and the desire for such enjoyment. Knowing that such so-called pleasures are actually sources of misery he should condemn himself while attempting to enjoy them. Thereafter, in due course of time, he may be able to worship Me with love, faith and fixed determination.


proktena bhakti-yogena bhajato masakrn muneh

kama hrdayya nasyanti sarve mayi hrdi sthite

bhidyate hrdaya-granthis chidyante sarva-samsayah

ksiyante casya karmani mayi drste khilatmani

Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.20.29-30)


When the sadhaka constantly worships me by the metho of bhakti-yoga that I have described, I come and sit in his heart. As soon as I am established there, all material desires and samskaras, the impressions, on which the material desires are based are destroyed. When the sadhaka directly sees

Me as Paramatma situated in the hearts of all living entities, the knot of the false ego in his heart is pierced, all of his doubts are cut to pieces, and his desires for fruitive activities are completely eradicated.


yat karmabhir yat tapasa jnana-vairagyatas ca yat

yogena dana-dharmena sreyobhir itarair api

sarvam mad-bhakti-yogena mad-bhakto labhate njasa

svargapavargam mad-dhama kathancid yadi vanchati

Srimad-Bhagavatam (11. 20. 32-33)


Whatever results are obtained with great difficulty through fruitive activities, austerity, knowledge, renunciation, practice of yoga, charity, religious duties, and all other auspicious types of sadhana are easily obtained by My bhaktas through the power of bhakti-yoga. Although my bhaktas are free from all ambition, they could easily obtain promotion to the celestial planets, or attain liberation, or residence

in Vaikuntha, if they at all desired such things.


This is the systematic development of bhakti-yoga that arises from sraddha.


Cudamani: What if I dont accept the authority of Srimad-


Vaisnava dasa: This is the conclusion of all the sastras. If you dont

accept the Bhagavatam, you will be troubled by other sastras. There

is no need for me to quote many different sastras. You may simply

consider what is said in Bhagavad-gita, which is accepted by the

adherents of all philosophical systems. In fact, all instructions are

present in the Gita sloka that you uttered when you first arrived

here (Gita 9.30):


api cet su-duracaro bhajate mam ananya-bhak

sadhur eva sa mantavyah samyag vyavasito hi sah


When one has no object of devotion other than Me and his faith is thus exclusively fixed in Me, he remains absorbed in worshiping Me by hearing hari-katha and chanting hari-nama. Such a person has adopted the path of sadhus, and should therefore be considered a sadhu, even if he behaves in opposition to the path of karma due to an abominable and depraved nature.


The purport is that the system of varnasrama that belongs to karma-kanda is one type of path; the process of knowledge and renunciation that belongs to jnana-kanda is a second type of path; and faith in hari-katha and hari-nama that develops in sat-sanga is a third type of path. Sometimes these three paths are taken together as a single yoga system, identified either as karma-yoga, jnana-yoga, or bhakti-yoga, and sometimes they are practiced as separate systems. The practitioners of these different systems are known as karma-yogis, jnana-yogis, and bhakti-yogis. Amongst all of these, the bhakti-yogis are the best, because bhakti-yoga is endowed with unlimited auspiciousness and is unparalleled in its supremacy. This conclusion is supported in the statement of the Gita (6.47):


yoginam api sarvesam mad-gatenantaratmana

sraddhavan bhajate yo mam sa me yuktatamo matah


O Arjuna, of all yogis, I consider the topmost yogi to be the

one who constantly worships Me with great faith, with his

mind deeply absorbed in loving attachment to Me.


The Gita (9.31-32) further explains:


ksipram bhavati dharmatma sasvac-chantim nigacchati

kaunteya pratijanihi na me bhaktah pranasyati

mam hi partha vyapasritya ye pi syuh papa-yonayah

striyo vaisyas tatha sudras te pi yanti param gatim


It is essential that you clearly understand the purport of the sloka, ksipram bhavati dharmatma. Faithful people who have adopted the path of ananya-bhakti, exclusive devotion, are quickly purified

of all faults in their nature and behavior. Dharma surely follows wherever there is bhakti, because Bhagavan is the root of all dharma, and He is easily conquered by bhakti. As soon as Bhagavan is established in the heart, maya, who binds the jivas in illusion, is immediately dissipated. There is no need of any other method of sadhana. Dharma appears as soon as one becomes a bhakta, and makes the bhaktas heart virtuous. The moment ones desires for mundane sense enjoyment have dissipated, peace pervades the heart. That is why Sri Krsna promises, My bhakta will never perish. The karmis and jnanis may fall prey to bad association in the course of practicing their sadhana, because they are independent, but the bhaktas do not fall down, because the influence of Bhagavans presence saves them from bad association. The bhakta has the supreme destination in his grasp, whether he takes birth in a sinful family or in the home of a brahmana.

Cudamani: Look here, the provision found in our sastras for determining caste by birth seems to me to be superior. One who has taken birth in a brahmana family comes to the platform of knowledge by regular practice of sandhya-vandana, and in the end he is destined to obtain liberation. I cannot understand how sraddha develops. Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam explain that Bhakti arises from sraddha, but I would like to know clearly what the jiva should do to attain this sraddha.

Vaisnava dasa: Sraddha is the jivas nitya-svabhava (eternal nature), but faith in the performance of varnasrama duties does not arise from this eternal nature; rather it arises from naimittika-svabhava

(the circumstantial or temporary nature). It is said in the Chandogya Upanisad (7.19.1):


yada vai sraddadhaty atha manute, nasraddadhan manute,

sraddadhad eva manute, sraddha tv eva vijijnasitavyeti

sraddham bhagavo vijijnasa iti

Sanat-kumara said, When a person develops sraddha, he think about a subject and understand it, whereas one cannot do so without sraddha. Indeed only a person who has sraddha can reflect upon anything. Therefore you must inquire very specifically about sraddha. Narada said, O Master, I particularly wish to know about this sraddha.


Some people who are learned in the conclusions of the sastras have explained that the word sraddha means to have faith in the Vedas and in the words of sri-guru. This meaning is not wrong, but

it is not entirely clear. In our sampradaya the meaning of the word sraddha is given as follows:


sraddha tv anyopaya-varjam

bhakty-unmukhi citta-vrtti-visesah


Sraddha is the characteristic function of the heart that

strives toward bhakti alone, which is totally devoid of karma

jnana, and which desires nothing other than the exclusive

pleasure of Krsna. (Amnaya-sutra 57)


When the sadhaka regularly hears the instructions of sadhus in the association of suddha-bhaktas, a conviction arises in his heart that he cannot obtain his eternal welfare by the methods of karma, jnana, yoga, and so on, and that he has no means of success unless he takes exclusive shelter at the lotus feet of Sri Hari. When this conviction appears, it may be understood that sraddha has arisen in the sadhakas heart. The nature of sraddha is described as follows:


sa ca saranapatti-laksana


Sraddha is characterized by its external symptom known as

saranagati, surrender to Sri Hari. (Amnaya-sutra 58)


Saranagati is described in these words.


anukulyasya sankalpah pratikulyasya varjanam

raksisyatiti visvaso goptrtve varanam tatha

atma-niksepa-karpanye sad-vidha saranagatih

(Hari-bhakti-vilasa 11.47)


There are six symptoms of self-surrender. The first two are anukulyasya sankalpa and pratikulyasya varjanam: I will only do that which is favorable for unalloyed bhakti, and I will reject all that is unfavorable. This is called sankalpa or pratijna, a solemn vow. The third symptom is raksisyatiti visvaso, faith in Bhagavan as ones protector: Bhagavan is my only protector. I can derive absolutely no

benefit from jnana, yoga, and other such practices. This is an expression of trust (visvasa). The fourth symptom is goptrtve varanam, deliberate acceptance of Bhagavan as ones maintainer: I cannot obtain anything, or even maintain myself, by my own endeavor. I will serve Bhagavan as far as I am able, and He will take care of me. This is what is meant by dependence (nirbharata). The fifth symptom is atma-niksepa, surrender: Who am I? I am His. My duty is to fulfill His desire. This is submission of the self (atma-nivedana). The sixth symptom is karpanye, meekness: I am wretched, insignificant, and materially destitute. This is what is meant by humility (karpanya or dainya).

When these moods become established in the heart, a disposition arises that is called sraddha. A jiva who has this sraddha is eligible for bhakti, and this is the first stage in the development of

the svabhava like that of those pure jivas who are eternally liberated. Therefore this is the nitya-svabhava of the jivas, and all other svabhavas are naimittika.

Cudamani: I understand. But you still have not explained how sraddha developes. If sraddha develops from sat-karma, virtuous deeds, then my argument is still stronger, because sraddha cannot arise without properly performing the sat-karma and svadharma of varnasrama. Muslims do not perform sat-karma, so how can they be eligible for bhakti?

Vaisnava dasa: It is a fact that sraddha arises from sukrti, pious deeds. It is stated in the Brhan-Naradiya-Purana (4.33).


bhaktis tu bhagavad-bhakta-sangena parijayate

sat-sangah prapyate pumbhih sukrtaih purva-sancitaih

The inclination for bhakti is awakened by association with

Bhagavans bhaktas. The jiva obtains the association of

suddha-bhaktas by the accumulated effect of spiritually pious

activities performed over many lifetimes.


There are two types of sukrti: nitya and naimittika. The sukrti by which one obtains sadhu-sanga and bhakti is nitya-sukrti. The sukrti by which one obtains material enjoyment and impersonal liberation

is naimittika-sukrti. Sukrti which bears eternal fruit is nityasukrti. Sukrti which bears temporary results which are dependent upon some cause is naimittika or anitya-sukrti.

All types of material enjoyment are non-eternal because they clearly depend on some cause. Many people think that mukti is eternal, but this is only because they do not know the actual nature of mukti. The individual atma (soul) is suddha (pure), nitya (eternal), and sanatana (primeval). The cause (nimitta) of the

jivatmas bondage is association with maya, and mukti is the complete dissolution of this bondage. The act of deliverance or release from bondage is accomplished in a single moment, so the act of release is not in itself an eternal action. All consideration of mukti ends as soon as emancipation is attained, so mukti is nothing more than the destruction of a material cause. Therefore, since mukti is only the negation of a temporary material cause, it is also naimittika, causal and temporary.

On the other hand, rati, or attachment, for the feet of Sri Hari never ends once it is established in the heart of the jiva. Therefore, this rati or bhakti is nitya-dharma, and if we analyse its practices

(angas) correctly, none of them can be said to be naimittika. The type of bhakti that terminates at the point that it bestows mukti is only a type of naimittika-karma, while bhakti that is present before, during and after mukti is a distinct and eternal truth, and it is the nitya-dharma of the jivas. Mukti is but an irrelevant, secondary result of bhakti. It is said in the Mundaka Upanisad (1.2.12):


pariksya lokan karma-citan brahmano

nirvedam ayan nasty akrtah krtena

tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet

samit-panih srotriyam brahma-nistham


A brahmana who has exhaustively studied the sastras will become disinterested in the performance of karma by carefully examining the temporary, impure and miserable nature of Svarga-loka and the other celestial planets which are attainable by performing material pious deeds. This is because the nitya-vastu, Bhagavan cannot be obtained by worldy karma, for He is beyond the reach of karma. To

gain factual knowledge and realization of that eternal supreme Person, one should find a qualified guru who is learned in the Vedas, who is firmly established in the service of Bhagavan, and who knows the Absolute Truth. One should then approach that guru carrying wood for kindling a sacrificial fire, and should surrender body, mind, and words to him with faith and humility.


Karma, yoga, and jnana all produce naimittika-sukrti. Bhaktasanga, the association of bhaktas, and bhakti-kriya-sanga, contact with acts of devotion, produce nitya-sukrti. Only one who has accumulated nitya-sukrti over many lifetimes will develop sraddha. Naimittika-sukrti produces many different results, but it will not lead to the development of faith in unalloyed bhakti.

Cudamani: Please explain clearly what you mean by bhakta-sanga and bhakti-kriya-sanga (contact with acts of devotion). From what type of sukrti do these arise?

Vaisnava dasa: Bhakta-sanga means conversing with suddha-bhaktas, serving them, and hearing their discourses. Suddha-bhaktas perform the activities of bhakti such as public congregational chanting of sri-nama. Participation in these activities or performing them on ones own is called bhakti-kriya-sanga, contact with acts of devotion.

In the sastras, activities such as cleansing the temple of Sri Hari, offering a lamp to Tulasi, and observing Hari-vasara (Ekadasi, Janmastami, Rama-navami, and other such days) are called bhaktikriya.

Even if one performs them accidentally or without pure sraddha, they still create bhakti-posaka sukrti, virtue that nourishes devotion. When this sukrti acquires strength after many lifetimes, sraddha for sadhu-sanga and ananya-bhakti (exclusive devotion) develops.

It must be acknowledged that every vastu, substance, has some particular potency which is known as vastu-sakti, the inherent potency of that substance. The potency to nourish bhakti is found only within the activities of bhakti. These activities produce sukrti even if they are performed indifferently, what to speak when they are being performed with faith. This is expressed in the Prabhasakhanda quoted in Hari-bhakti-vilasa (11.451):


madhura-madhuram etan mangalam mangalanam

sakala-nigama-valli-sat-phalam cit-svarupam

sakrd api parigitam sraddhaya helaya va

bhrgu-vara nara-matram tarayet krsna-nama


Sri-krsna nama is the sweetest among all things that are sweet, and it stands

supreme amongst all that is auspicious.It is the eternal, fully ripened spiritual fruit

of the wishfulfilling tree of the Vedas. O best of the Bhrgus, if anyone even once

offenselessly chants sri-krsna nama, either with faith or indifference, sri-krsna nama

immediately delivers that person from the ocean of material existence.


Thus, all types of sukrti that nourish bhakti are nitya-sukrti. When this sukrti becomes strong, one gradually develops sraddha in ananya-bhakti (unalloyed bhakti), and one attains sadhu-sanga. Birth in a Muslim family is the result of naimittika-duskrti, or temporary impious deeds, whereas faith in ananya-bhakti is the result of nitya-sukrti, eternal pious deeds. What is surprising about this?

Cudamani: This is what I meant by my previous question. If there is such a thing as bhakti-posaka-sukrti (virtue that nourishes devotion), it must arise from some other type of sukrti. But Muslims do not have any other type of sukrti, so it is not possible for them to have bhakti-posaka-sukrti either.

Vaisnava dasa: That is not a fact. Nitya-sukrti and naimittika-sukrti are classified separately, so they do not depend on one another. Once there was a sinful hunter who was full of impious deeds, but who chanced to stay up all night and fast on Siva-ratri. Because of the nitya-sukrti he accrued from this, he developed eligibility for hari-bhakti. It is said in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (12.13.16): vaisnavanam yatha sambhuh: Among Vaisnavas, Sivaji is the best. From this statement it is understood that Mahadeva is the most

worshipful Vaisnava, and one obtains hari-bhakti by observing a vow to please him.

Cudamani: So do you mean to say that nitya-sukrti comes about by chance?

Vaisnava dasa: Everything comes about by chance. This is also the case on the path of karma. What is the circumstance by which the jiva first entered the cycle of karma? Can it be anything other than a chance occurrence? The mimamsa philosophers have described karma as anadi (being without beginning), but actually karma does have a root. The chance occurrence that brings ones original karma into effect is indifference to Bhagavan (bhagavad-vimukhata).

Similarly, nitya-sukrti also seems to be a chance occurrence. It is said in the Svetasvatara Upanisad (4.7):


samane vrkse puruso nimagnonisaya socati muhyamanah

justam yada pasyaty anyam isam asya mahimanam eti vita-sokah


The jiva and the indwelling Paramatma both reside in thesame tree, namely

the material body. The jiva is attached to material sense enjoyment, and is

therefore sunk in the bodily conception of life. Bewildered by maya, he cannot

find any means of deliverance, and thus he laments. However, by the influence of

sukrti acquired over many lifetimes, he can obtain the mercy of Isvara or His

suddha-bhaktas. At that time, he will see in his heart that there is a second individual

within the tree of his body. This is Isvara, who is eternally by His unalloyed bhaktas.

When the jiva witnesses uncommon glories of Sri Krsna, he becomes free from all



It is said in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.51.53):


bhavapavargo bhramato yada bhavej

janasya tarhy acyuta sat-samagamah

sat-sangamo yarhi tadaiva sad-gatau

paravarese tvayi jayate ratih


O Sri Acyuta, You are eternally situated in Your original, spiritual form. The jiva has

been wandering in the cycle of birth and death since time without beginning. When the

time for his release from this cycle approaches, he obtains sat-sanga, and through this,

he becomes firmly attached to You, who are the supreme goal of attainment for the sadhus

and the controller of both spirit and matter.


And (3.25.25):


satam prasangan mama virya-samvido

bhavanti hrt-karna-rasayanah kathah

taj-josanad asv apavarga-vartmani

sraddha ratir bhaktir anukramisyati


In the association of suddha-bhaktas, the recitation and discussion of My glorious

activities and pastimes are pleasing to both the heart and the ears. By cultivating

knowledge in this way, one becomes established on the path of liberation and progressively

attains sraddha, then bhava, and finally prema-bhakti.


Cudamani: In your opinion, is there no difference between an Aryan and a Yavana?

Vaisnava dasa: There are two kinds of differences: paramarthika, those that relate to absolute reality; and vyavaharika, those that relate to practical experience. There is no paramarthika difference between Aryans and Yavanas, yet a vyavaharika difference does exist.

Cudamani: Why do you insist on repeatedly showing off your verbosity in Vedanta? What do you mean by a vyavaharika difference between Aryans and Yavanas?

Ignoring Cudamanis impertinence,Vaisnava dasa answered, The term vyavaharika refers to worldly customs. In domestic life Yavanas are considered untouchable, so their association is unsuitable

from the vyavaharika or practical point of view. Aryans should not touch water and food that has been touched by a Yavana. The body of a Yavana is insignificant and untouchable because of his unfortunate birth.

Cudamani: Then how can there possibly be no difference between Aryans and Yavanas from the absolute point of view? Please explain this clearly.

Vaisnava dasa: The sastras have affirmed this lucidly. Bhrgu-vara nara-matram tarayet krsna-nama: O best of the Bhrgus, sri-krsnanama delivers all men. According to this sloka, Yavanas and all

other human beings have an equal opportunity to attain the supreme goal of life. Those who are devoid of nitya-sukrti are known as dvi-pada-pasu, two-legged animals, because they have no faith in krsna-nama. Such people have no human qualities, even though they have attained a human birth. It is said in the Mahabharata:


mahaprasade govinde nama-brahmani vaisnave

svalpa-punyavatam rajan visvaso naiva jayate


O King, one whose past pious deeds are very meager cannot

have faith in mahaprasada, in Sri Govinda, in sri-krsnanama,

or in the Vaisnavas.

Nitya-sukrti is great sukrti that purifies the jiva. Naimittika-sukrti is insignificant sukrti that does not have the power to awaken sraddha toward transcendental objects. In this material world there

are four transcendental objects that awaken spiritual consciousness; mahaprasada, Krsna, krsna-nama, and Vaisnavas.

Cudamani smiled slightly at this statement. He said, What kind of strange idea is this? This is simply the fanaticism of the Vaisnavas. How can rice, dahl, and vegetables be cinmaya, spiritual? There is nothing that you Vaisnavas are incapable of.

Vaisnava dasa: Whatever you do, please do not criticize the Vaisnavas. This is my humble request. In a debate, one should argue the points in question. What is the use of deriding the Vaisnavas? In this material world mahaprasada is the only food which is fit to be accepted, because it provokes spiritual consciousness

and dissolves ones materialistic nature. Therefore, Sri Isopanisad (1) says:


isavasyam idam sarvam yat kinca jagatyam jagat

tena tyaktena bhunjitha ma grdhah kasyasvid dhanam


Everything animate and inanimate within the universe is situated in Isvara,

and is also pervaded by Him. Therefore, in a detached mood, one should

accept only what is necessary for ones maintenance, considering all things to

be the remnants of Isvara. One should not be attached to anothers wealth,

considering himself to be the enjoyer.


Whatever exists within the universe is connected to Bhagavans potency. One will give up the worldly-minded spirit of enjoyment if he considers everything to be related to Bhagavans cit-sakti, spiritual potency. An introspective jiva will not be degraded if he accepts only those worldly things that are necessary for the maintenance of his body, considering them to be the remnants of Bhagavan; on the contrary, his inclination toward spiritual consciousness will be aroused. The remnants of food and other

articles offered to Bhagavan are known as mahaprasada. It is a great misfortune that you have no faith in such extraordinary objects.

Cudamani: Let us drop this subject and return to the original point of our discussion. What is the proper behavior between the Yavanas and you people?

Vaisnava dasa: As long as someone remains a Yavana, we remain indifferent to him. However, when someone who was formerly a Yavana becomes a Vaisnava by the influence of nitya-sukrti, we no longer consider him a Yavana. This is very clear in the following statement from the Padma Purana:


sudram va bhagavad-bhaktam nisadam svapacam tatha

viksate jati-samanyat sa yati narakam dhruvam

quoted in Hari-bhakti-vilasa (10.119)


If one considers a devotee of Bhagavan to be a member ofthe lowest of the four

castes (sudra), a member of an aboriginaltribe of hunters (nisada), or an outcaste

dog-eater(svapaca), merely because the devotee has taken birth insuch families,

one is assuredly destined for hell.


The Itihasa-samuccaya also says:


na me priyas catur-vedi mad-bhaktah svapacah priyah

tasmai deyam tato grahyam sa ca pujyo yatha hy aham

quoted in Hari-bhakti-vilasa (10.127)


A brahmana who has studied the four Vedas, but has no bhakti, is not dear to Me,

whereas My bhakta is very dear to Me, even if he has taken birth in a family of

dog-eaters. Such a bhakta is fit to receive charity, and whatever he offers

should be accepted. Indeed, he is as worshipable as I am.


Cudamani: I understand. Then can a grhastha Vaisnava make a marriage relationship with a Yavana family?

Vaisnava dasa: From the general point of view, a Yavana remains a Yavana in the eyes of the general populace until he relinquishes his body. But from the absolute point of view, he is no longer regarded

as a Yavana once he attains bhakti. Marriage is one of the ten kinds of social rites (smarta-karma). If a grhastha Vaisnava is an Aryan, that is, if he is included within the four varnas, he should only marry within his own varna.

Even though the religious duties associated with the four castes are naimittika in nature, they are still recommended for the maintenance of domestic life. One cannot become a Vaisnava simply by giving up the social customs of the four varnas. Vaisnavas should adopt whatever is favorable for bhakti, and one can only give up the duties of the varnas when he has become qualified to do so by genuine detachment. Then one can give up the duties of the four varnas, and everything associated with them.

Varna-dharma can be given up easily when it becomes unfavorable to bhajana. Similarly, a Yavana who has awakened faith in bhakti has the right to give up the association of the Yavana

community if it becomes unfavorable for bhajana. Suppose that one Vaisnava is an Aryan who is qualified to give up the four varnas, and another Vaisnava is a Yavana who is qualified to give up his community. Then what is the difference between them? Both of them have given up vyavahara, that which relates to ordinary life, and both have become brothers in regard to paramartha, spiritual reality.

However, this principle of rejecting varna-dharma does not apply to a grhastha Vaisnavas. A grhastha Vaisnava should not give up domestic society until he is fully qualified to do so, even if it is

unfavorable to bhajana. However, he can easily give up worldly society when firm attachment and affection for that which is favorable to bhajana awakens in his heart. It is said in the Srimad- Bhagavatam (11.11.32):


ajnayaivam gunan dosan mayadistan api svakan

dharman santyajya yah sarvan mam bhajet sa tu sattamah


Sri Krsna says, In the Vedas I have given duties to humanbeings, explaining

what are positive attributes and whatare faults. One is considered the best of

sadhus if he knowsall this but abandons his duties to worship Me exclusively,

with the firm conviction that all perfection may be attained by bhakti alone.


This is corroborated by the ultimate conclusion of the Bhagavadgita



sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja

aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami ma sucah


Abandon all varieties of naimittika-dharma, such as karma and jnana, and surrender

only unto Me. Do not lament, for I will deliver you from all sinful reactions incurred

by giving up your prescribed duties.


is supported further in Srimad-Bhagavatam (4.29.46):


yada yasyanugrhnati bhagavan atma-bhavitah

sa jahati matim loke vede ca parinisthitam


Bhagavan bestows his mercy upon a jiva with whom He is pleased because of

his self-surrender, or serving Him with complete absorption of his inner faculties

At that time, the jiva gives up attachment for all social customs and religious

rituals prescribed by the Vedas.


Cudamani: Can you eat food, drink water, and conduct other such activities with a Yavana who has truly become a Vaisnava?

Vaisnava dasa: A renounced Vaisnava who is indifferent to all social restrictions is known as nirapeksa (without any needs or requirements), and he can honor mahaprasada with such a Vaisnava. A grhastha Vaisnava cannot sit and eat with him in the context of ordinary social or family dealings, but there is no such objection when it comes to honoring Visnu or Vaisnava prasada; in fact, it is his duty.

Cudamani: Then why is it that Yavana Vaisnavas are not permitted to worship and serve the Deities in the Vaisnava temples?

Vaisnava dasa: It is an offense to refer to a Vaisnava as a Yavana, simply because he has taken birth in such a family. All Vaisnavas have the right to serve Krsna. If a grhastha Vaisnava serves the Deity in a way that breaks the rules of varnasrama, it is considered to be a fault from the worldly point of view. Nirapeksa Vaisnavas are not required to worship the Deity, because that would hinder their quality of being free from all external requirements and dependencies (nirapeksata). They remain engaged in serving Sri Radha- Vallabha through service carried out by the internally-conceived spiritual form (manasi-seva).

Cudamani: I understand. Now please tell me what you think about the brahmanas.

Vaisnava dasa: There are two types of brahmanas: brahmanas by nature (svabhava-siddha) and brahmanas by birth alone (jatisiddha). Those who are brahmanas by nature should be respected by adherents of all philosophical systems because they are practically Vaisnavas. Those who are only brahmanas by birth are given conventional respect by everyone, and this is also approved by the Vaisnavas. The conclusion of the sastra on this topic is expressed in Srimad-Bhagavatam (7.9.10):


viprad dvi-sad-guna-yutad aravinda-nabhapadaravinda-

vimukhat svapacam varistham

manye tad-arpita-mano-vacanehitarthapranam

punati sa kulam na tu bhurimanah


A bhakta who is born in a family of dog-eaters, but who hasdedicated his mind, words,

activities, and wealth at the lotus feet of Krsna, is superior to a brahmana who has all

twelve brahminical qualities, but who is averse to the lotusfeet of Bhagavan, whose navel

is shaped like a lotus. Such a bhakta can purify himself and his whole family, whereas the

brahmana who is puffed-up with false prestige cannot even purify himself. That is my opinion.


Cudamani: Sudras are not eligible to study the Vedas, so can a sudra study the Vedas when he becomes a Vaisnava?

Vaisnava dasa: From the absolute point of view, when one becomes a pure Vaisnava, he automatically attains the status of a brahmana, whatever caste one may belong to. The Vedas are divided into two

sections: instructions regarding karma, the performance of prescribed duties, and instructions regarding tattva, the Absolute Truth. Those who are qualified as brahmanas in a worldly sense are eligible to study the Vedas that promote karma, and those who are brahmanas by spiritual qualification are qualified to study the Vedas that promote tattva. Pure Vaisnavas can study and teach the Vedas that promote spiritual truth, no matter what caste they are born into, and it is practically observed that they do so. It is said

in the Brhad-aranyaka Upanisad (4.4.21):


tam eva dhiro vijnaya prajnam kurvita brahmanah


A brahmana is a sober and spiritually enlightened personwho clearly knows

para-brahma, and serves Him throughprema-bhakti which is a manifestation

of the highest knowledge.


It is also said in the Brhad-aranyaka Upanisad (3.8.10):


va etad aksaram gargy aviditvasmal lokat praiti sa krpanah

atha ya etad aksaram gargi viditvasmal lokat praiti sa brahmanah


O Gargi, he who quits this world without knowing thesupreme imperishable being,

Sri Visnu, is a wretched miser, whereas he who quits this world knowing the supreme

being is recognized as a brahmana.


Manu has said the following in regard to those who are brahmanas by vyavaharika, or social considerations.

yo nadhitya dvijo vedam anyatra kurute sramam

sa jivann eva sudratvam asu gacchati sanvayah

Manu-smrti (2.168)


A brahmana, ksatriya, or vaisya becomes twice-born by investiture with the sacred thread, and this prepares him for studying the Vedas. If a dvija fails to study the Vedas after receiving the sacred thread, and instead studies other subjects such as economics, science or logic, he and his family members quickly become degraded in this very life to the status of sudras.


Svetasvatara Upanisad (6.23) explains the eligibility to study the Vedas that promote spiritual truth:


yasya deve para bhaktir yatha deve tatha gurau

tasyaite kathita hy arthah prakasante mahatmanah


All the confidential truths described in this Upanisad will be revealed to that great

soul who has the same exclusive, uninterrupted, transcendental devotion (para-bhakti) for

his guru that he has for Sri Bhagavan.


The word para-bhakti in the above sloka means suddha-bhakti (pure bhakti). I dont want to elaborate any further on this topic. You should try to understand it yourself. In short, those who have

faith in ananya-bhakti are eligible to study the Vedas that promote tattva, spiritual truth, and those who have already attained ananyabhakti are eligible to teach those Vedas.

Cudamani: Then do you people conclude that the Vedas that promote tattva teach only vaisnava-dharma and no other religion?

Vaisnava dasa: Dharma, is one, not two, and it is also known as nitya-dharma or vaisnava-dharma. All other forms of naimittikadharma taught in the Vedas are simply steps leading to that eternal religion. Sri Bhagavan has said:


kalena nasta pralaye vaniyam veda-samjnita

mayadau brahmane prokta dharmo yasyam mad-atmakah

Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.14.3)


Sri Bhagavan said: The Vedas contain instructions onbhagavata-dharma.

At the time of annihilation, that message was lost by the influence of time.

Then, at the beginning of the next creation known as Brahma-kalpa, I again

spoke the same Vedic message to Brahmaji.


The Katha Upanisad (1.3.9) states:


sarve veda yat padam amananti

tat te padam sangrahena bravimi

tad visnoh paramam padam sada


I shall now describe to you in brief that ultimate truth that all the Vedas have

repeatedly described as the supreme object of attainment. That abode of Visnu

(the all-pervading Paramatma, Vasudeva) is the only supreme destination.


By this point in the discussion, the faces of Devi Vidyaratna and his associates looked pale and withered, and the teachers enthusiasm was shattered. It was nearly five oclock in the afternoon, so everyone agreed to adjourn the days discussion, and the meeting ended.

The brahmana-panditas departed, enthusiastically praising the scholarship of Vaisnava dasa, and the Vaisnavas left for their respective places, loudly chanting the names of Hari.






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