Real and Apparent Religion

by Avadhuta Maharaja

As a further ado to the proposition by Shreeman Jananivas (The Grace of Gaura) that the Movement (ISKCON) is presently dominated by artificial religion, I would feel that he may be in the better position to know. Although for a fact, as long as we are still 'sadhakas', or perhaps more correctly 'ajata-rati-sadhakas', not having realized our true spiritual identity, we are then more or less going through the motions, if you know what I mean.

The religion is real but until we know who we are, and I am not just speaking theoretically, but on a level of realization which is what Jananivas seems to be emphasizing here, we are to one degree or another artificial. Of course, no one is bluffing, I would hope, as regards their 'sadhana' and service, yet we all wish for the day that the light turns on and we can see (Krishna, of course). Prabhu, seems to have achieved something in that direction, or at least claims to have by virtue of focusing on the Supersoul in the heart.

As the ultimate solution to all problems of our individual and collective selves we must surrender to that Supreme Person, no doubt. But my proposal is that the Lord in the form of the Acharya is that very Supersoul in flesh and blood. He is 'sakshad Hari' and everyone who has contact with such a perfect person knows how much his consciousness is all-pervasive. He knows all. He may not tell all. Or he may not reveal all as per his divine prerogative, yet his vision is not impeded in the least.

I would applaud anyone who can say he has understood the Lord within to some degree or other, but still how much more exalted are those souls who have and are able to play with Krishna and arrange 'nikunja leelas' in the forest of Vrindaban as per the Shree Guruvastakam prayers?

Now, my respected god-brother has demanded us to surrender to the Lord in the heart and give up all false-prestige, envy and illusion. This is almost akin to the proddings of Raghunatha Das in his Manah Siksha verses 4, 5, 6, & 7. No doubt all the problems in any society or with any individual are solved by active Krishna consciousness. If Prabhu or any others have honestly realized their spiritual capacity then by all means let them come forward and lead us. We need God-realized souls in the forefront. While the pro's and con's of the 'Ritvik agenda' is being debated or the pro's and con's of non-realized gurus gets an OK or not, we should see that our ideal men are protected, heard and obeyed. Is that not what Srila Rupa Goswami is saying in the Upadeshamrita , verse 5? "One should associate with and faithfully serve that Pure devotee who is advanced in undeviated devotional service and whose heart is completely devoid of the propensity to criticize others." That is our best program. But how to recognize such devotees? How do we know who is there or not?

Jananivas Prabhu has criticized the one we and many others with 'diksha' from Srila Prabhupada have faith in. We saw, we heard and we surrendered. But, I am doubtful if many of the protagonists have actually seen and heard, and if so, whether they did so with an open heart or not.

Jananivas has put the remark forward that Srila Narayana Maharaja is encouraging us to embrace higher rasas, but is Krishnadas Kaviraj not also guilty of that same thing? Look at the Chaitanya-caritamrita Adi.79-80; 4.44; 4.115. and Madhya 8.88: ' paripurna krsna praapti ei premaa haite ei premaara vasha krshna-kahe bhagavate', " Complete attainment of the lotus feet of Lord Krishna is made possible by love of Godhead, specifically ' maadhurya-raasa, or conjugal love. Lord Krishna is indeed captivated by this standard of love. This is stated in the Srimad Bhagavatam." Or Madhya 8.201-202, ' The pastimes of Radha and Krishna are very confidential. They cannot be understood through the mellows of service, fraternity or parental affection. Actually only the gopis have the right to appreciate these transcendental pastimes, and only from them can these pastimes be expanded." Also, Madhya 8.206, "Unless one takes shelter of the gopis, one cannot enter in the company of Radha and Krishna. Who can be interested in Their spiritual pastimes without taking their shelter?" Or Madhya 8.230," Unless one follows the footsteps of the gopis he (she) cannot attain the service of the lotus feet of Krishna. If one is overcome by knowledge of the Lord's opulence, he cannot attain the Lord's lotus feet, even though he is engaged in devotional service ." Or the Adi Purana, 'ni jaangam api yaa gopyo' ," O Arjuna there are no greater receptacles of love for Me, than the gopis." ' man-maahaatmyaam mat-saparyam mac-chvaddaam man-mano-jatam jaanati gopikaah partha!', " O Parhta, the gopis know My greatness, My loving service, respect for Me and My mentality - others cannot really know."

No doubt anyone who has read Srila Prabhupada's books knows these facts. Yet, they also know that Srila Prabhupada stated in the purport of Madhya 8.255, "By practicing the regulative principles one should rise to the platform of spontaneous attraction for Krishna. Then and only then should one hear about Radha and Krishna's lilas. Conditioned souls should not hear them."

So, then we should know who is on the level of spontaneous love. It is stated by Srila Narayana Maharaja in his comments to the Upadeshamrita of Srila Rupa Goswami that one who has attained ' ruchi' will automatically leave ' vaidhi bhakti' for ' raganuga bhakti' , although in principle all the angas' or branches of ' vidi bhakti' are still for the most part followed in ragamarga. Thus, if the devotees who have been strictly following the rules and regulations and have developed a certain 'greed' for hearing the pastimes of the Lord, then by that 'greed' or ' ruchi' they have the necessary qualifications to hear the topics of Krishna and the loving agents in Vrajamandal.

Then of those even qualified to hear such topics, how many have achieved ' bhava' by which ones ' siddha deha' is revealed? Very few, as I mentioned in the last letter. Still, since that stage will come for those who are progressing we have seen how in the Bhajana Rahasya of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, the appreciation of the Maha-mantras eight couplets is divided into two standards; that is those who are ' jata-rati-sadhakas ' and ' ajata-rati-sadhakas', or those who have realized their internal form and those that have not. We can hanker and pray for that stage to come, but even better is having someone at that stage to associate with and serve. Then something may just rub off, right?

Did not our Srila Prabhupada say that he created this society of devotees (ISKCON) for that purpose? So, why not open the doors of ISKCON for that purpose? We need all the help or association we can get. Since, the doors have been closed by the closed-minded, in my humble opinion, the society has not had what it needs and although the glories of one who is in touch with the Supersoul as per Jananivas's article are glorious, then what can be said for one who is directly in touch with Radha and Krishna, as was our Srila Prabhupada?

If devotees are doing due diligence, then naturally the process of raganuga bhakti will enfold, while at the same time an institution must nourish and care for those whose 'taste' has not awakened. Somewhere along the line these two processes, which are included in ' sadhana bhakti', have to be harmonized. We cannot avoid it for too long. Must those devotees who are ready for raganuga bhakti go outside of the institution that practises only vaidhi bhakti? No. It is just a matter of careful adjustment by that personality who is endowed with ' ragatmika bhakti' and who has strictly followed the principles of ' vaidhi bhakti'. Srila Prabhupada's house that the whole world can live in, should just add an extension. It may have not been necessary before, but now it is by virtue of the very process itself.

That is obviously one reason why Shree Krishna has sent Srila Narayana Maharaja and will no doubt send others in the future. Srila Prabhupada has paved the way and those standards should always be respected since no one goes to raganuga bhakti without first having executed successfully the path of ' vidi', or rules and regulations of Krishna consciousness in the association of other Vaishnavas.

Can we really say that Srila Narayana Maharaja is guilty of one-upmanship? You can say anything you want , but is it true? If we are guilty ourselves of making false accusations then the brunt of the offense comes on our heads and everyone knows that even if one is highly advanced, he can still loose it all in one stroke by a bad judgment.

One of Srila Satsvarupa's installments in the Srila Prabhupada-lilamrita, is called 'Who Will Lead Us?' Do we not need someone like Srila Prabhupada? Who can show the way unless they are at least, as Jananivas says, in divine communion with the Supersoul. But all the better if that person is the manifested form of the Supersoul as the bona-fide ' shiksha guru '. Would you rather listen to the Lord within or hear from him face-to-face? There may be some possibility of clear signals not coming through the Paramatma, but when directly before the ' shiksha guru' there can be no mistake what he wants us to do. Of course, we can also say that what the Supersoul dictates within should be confirmed by such a paramahansa, just to be on the safe side.

So therefore, I see the present debate issue on the future of Vaishnavism as either one of the four choices: one, accept only Srila Prabhupada through his books; two, accept a certified follower of Srila Prabhupada as guru; three, accept a devotee, certified or not, who has achieve union with the Supreme; four, accept a paramhansa, swan-like personality who has achieved ' bhava' and by whose presence the name of Krishna erupts.

If we do accept the proper person in our personal approach to Truth, then the debate subsides automatically and Krishna Consciousness can go on splendidly, as Sriman Jananivas is saying. There is nothing artificial about real Krishna consciousness. I do not have it, but I feel in my heart that 'Yes, I have seen it'.

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