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Bhakti over Varnasrama

Thursday, 13 December 2012 / Published in Articles / 1,833 views

Govardhan Retreat – Day 4 (Madhavananda P.) Bhakti over Varnasrama

Brahma-patni-lila — obstacle of valuing minor rules over devotion removed

***Bhakti over Varnasrama (and VAD still respected)***

Madhavananda Prabhu: Yesterday we have heard how the pride of expertise in external rules prevented brahmanas from acknowledging Krsna and His representative.

As far as we know it is the first time this books has been translated into English “Govdinda-mangala” by Duhkhi Syamdas, disciple of Syamananda, very important acarya in our line. He is a very learned scholar. … He sings … “Brahmanas say: ‘Who is this cowherd? He does not distinguish between important and unimportant’… The boys cried, pained by these words.” Krsna is called Jagannath here – the brahmanas are supposed to do yajnas for Him but cannot recognize Him. Asoka-vana is a very appropriate name — ‘asoka’ means ‘no lamentation’.

In SB 10.23.8 the boys tell the brahmanas (which shows the boys’ knowledge):

diksayah pasu-samsthayah sautramanyas ca sattamah anyatra diksitasyapi nannam asnan hi dusyati

Except during the interval between the initiation of the performer of a sacrifice and the actual sacrifice of the animal, O most pure brahmanas, it is not contaminating for even the initiated to partake of food, at least in sacrifices other than the Sautramani.

From Sri Bhaktivinod we know that this pastime represents people attached to the ceremonies and rituals and because of that cannot respect Krsna’s devotees.

Jiva Gosvami: “Sukadeva gives his comments in these verses. Though they heard the request of the Lord full of all powers, which he made because of his mercy, they did not respect it since it was a request for food send through the boys. Because of their disrespect Sukadeva criticizes them in anger in two and half verses. They are involved in many rituals with insignificant desires since they have no intelligence (balisah) and are proud. Or, they were unintelligent because they did not know that one can achieve the great goals by devotion to the Lord with little effort. Why did they not search out the truth? They thought that they had great knowledge already.”

In SB 10.23.9 Sukadeva Gosvami himself criticizes these brahmanas:

iti te bhagavad-yacnam srnvanto ‘pi na susruvuh ksudrasa bhuri-karmano balisa vrddha-maninah

The brahmanas heard this supplication from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, yet they refused to pay heed. Indeed, they were full of petty desires [like liberation] and entangled in elaborate rituals. Though presuming themselves advanced in Vedic learning, they were actually inexperienced fools [like children].

Vrddha means also “advanced in age and knowledge”, but here they are just “old”. Someone may be very expert in lecturing, cooking, selling books or other activities, but if they don’t see the purpose. their seniority is that only of age.

In SCaitanyaSiks. 2.2 Bhaktivinoda Thakura describes 8 levels of respect:

1. Nara-matra maryadam – even being a human is rare and respected 2. Sabhyatara maryada – civilized 3. Raja-pada maryada – ruler (Navab Hussein was respectfully greeted by the brahmanas and Vaisnavas when he came to Sanatana’s house) 4. Vidya maryada – because of knowledge 5. Sad-guna maryada – good qualities 6. Varna maryada – especially brahmanas (already have all the other good qualities) 7. Asrama maryada – someone who is practicing spiritual life 8. Bhakti maryada – whether they have all the other qualities

The most important is bhakti. So Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says, whom should you respect more, a lady with devotion or an exalted sannyasi without bhakti? … Ramananda Ray was given more respect. ,,, In this pastime we see some tension between Varnasrama and Bhakti and invariably we see that in such contention we always side with bhakti, bhakti is respected more.

In those sacrifices the brahmanas were chanting hum, phat, vausat, but not the names of Krsna. How could the boys have had taste without Krsna’s names: na kascid krsna mukhya
– still, they RESPECTED that yajna. That is very important. Krsna sent the brahmanis back. The boys were told to respect these brahmanas. This is an important and subtle point. It is not black and white, it is not that we reject Varnasrama. No, it is important.

In 3.25.25, if we want to hear rasayana-katha, satam PRAsangam, not sangam – we don’t go hearing about the Bible or vegetarianism. At the same time we do not reject it. We respect vegetarianism, giving people free food and Krsna said to respect those brahmanas.

Sukadeva G. describes the nature of those brahmanas: desah kalah prthag dravyam mantra-tantrartvijo ‘gnayah devata yajamanas ca kratur dharmas ca yan-mayah tam brahma paramam saksad bhagavantam adhoksajam manusya-drstya dusprajna martyatmano na menire

Although was first class there — but because they saw Krsna as an ordinary human being, dusprajna, wicked intelligence – they were sacrificing to Visnu, then Visnu came and said “Feed Me!” – and they did not give proper respect to those boys:

SB 10.23.10-11

There is another Bengali book by Nandakisora Gosvami “Vrindavana-lilamrta”
(according to Vrndavan tradition, he had a darsan of Krsna). We’ll sing his description of these brahmanas.

“‘These are just simple village boys… They just wander aimlessly. They don’t even know how to speak properly… They don’t understand who we are. We are yajnika brahmanas! We feed Bhagavan! We don’t feed cowherd boys… We know Veda, Vedanta, we know how to perform rites. After offering we will feed the brahmanas, and then distribute food to others”

They are bound by the ropes of regulations, which prevent them from serving the Lord when He comes before them.

Sri Jiva: These verses show their ignorance by showing the truth. Prithag dravyam means various materials. All ingredients are parts of the Lord because he is the supreme Brahman, he is Bhagavan endowed with all powers, and he is beyond the senses. Though he had appeared directly to them by his mercy, they did not respect him, because they had no discrimination, because they considered themselves their bodies

SB 10.23.12 na te yad om iti procur na neti ca parantapa gopa nirasah pratyetya tathocuh krsna-ramayoh When the brahmanas failed to reply even with a simple yes or no, O chastiser of the enemy [Pariksit], the cowherd boys returned disappointed to Krsna and Rama and reported this to Them.

Sri Visvanatha comments: Seeing that Pariksit Maharaj was becoming angry on hearing this, Sukadeva said, “O subduer of enemies (parantapa), if you had been there, even though they were the best of brahamans, you would have punished them like enemies.”

So we should be angry when someone does not give proper respect to Krsna’s representative.

There was not even a minimal response.

The boys said, “We didn’t go their homes after their silence because You had been disrespected by them. We came in Your name. All we got is utter humiliation. The only thing we brought back was the smoke we inhaled and got into our eyes”.

Duhkhi Syamdas describes Krsna’s response: Jewel of Gokula just smiled: Don’t bother with them. Go their wives. Go and speak MY name to those yajna-brahmanas’s wives and see the difference. This katha of Govinda is very rare on this planet. [It is very rare even in Vraj – we hear cinema music:] Duhkhi Syamdas drinks this nectar.

SB 10.23.13 tad upakarnya bhagavan prahasya jagad-isvarah vyajahara punar gopan darsayan laukikim gatim

‘Hearing what had happened, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Lord of the universe, simply laughed. Then He again addressed the cowherd boys, showing them the way men act in this world.’

Srila Prabhupada comments in “Krsna” book that this is what happens when we sometimes go to beg.

Balarama’s response is not described – He was so angry. The brahmanas were engaged in vedic rites but if you neglect the essence, satisfying Krsna, the Adi Guru Balarama is very angry. … Still, a beggar should not be depressed if refused even if asking in the name of Krsna.

Begging is an important principle. We send devotees to sell books and beg around the world. Maybe we are not so qualified, but at least we get opportunity to develop humility. … When Gangamata requested to become a disciple, she – a princess – was sent begging door to door. She would only be carried in a palanquin before, and now she would definitely be abused by some.

So, rather we should respect the brahmanas, they are doing something religious.

You may remember in our first discussion, Krsna had told the boys how generous and benevolent were the trees. So are these brahmanas as munificent as these brahmanas? Krsna told the boys that is is to establish the comparative excellence of these trees and these brahmanas.

What is Krsna saying here? Even the nonmoving creatures in Vrndavan are more charitable than the brahmanas – caught in regulations and rituals would not give anything. … Jiva Gosvami:” This is one curious pastime with a special point. After showing that humans are inferior to the trees, he shows that those devoted to chanting the Vedas and doing sacrifices but who are not devotees of the Lord end up suffering with faults of pride etc. and do not attain auspiciousness, whereas devotees without these faults are topmost. He performed this pastime to show this point to the people by the behavior of the brahmanas and their wives. ”

… “They are engaged in fire yajnas, but their charity does not extend beyond their own bellies”

SB 10.23.14 mam jnapayata patnibhyah sa-sankarsanam agatam dasyanti kamam annam vah snigdha mayy usita dhiya [Lord Krsna said:] Tell the wives of the brahmanas that I have come here with Lord Sankarsana. They will certainly give you all the food you want, for they are most affectionate toward Me and, indeed, with their intelligence reside in Me alone.

Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura comments: “Just tell the wives of the brahmanas that we are coming. You do not have to tell them that we are hungry, for if they hear that we are hungry, they will become miserably thinking that we are suffering.” “But how will they give us food, if we do not tell them you are hungry?” “Seeing that you are hungry, they will give for us.” “But their husbands will prevent them.” “They have great affection for me. They will not consider the obstructions of their husbands, for their minds dwell in me (mayi usita dhiya). They live in their husbands’ houses in body only.”

Niyamagrahah: they are so absorbed in rules that they don’t recognize the Lord and His devotees right in front of them, but also niyamagrahah- we should not neglect the rules prematurely, we still respect the brahmanas. Krsna has sent the boys back and tomorrow we will see what will the husbands do.

? Sri Jiva Gosvami uses the word “Krsnakhya-bhakti” we do all 9 angas of bhakti, if we chant and some service comes, we think that Krsna has come as a response to my nama-japa, asking for service, and this is a part of my nama-seva; but if it distracts us away from the nama-japa, that is where we draw the line.
(…Monkey story…)

? How do we know what is more important: satam sangam or satam prasangam in a particular situation? In London Srila Prabhupada was invited to an Asiatic Society for a talk. Srila Prabhupada asked, “What do they want to hear: about Krsna?” – “No, vegetarianism” – “Then we will not go”. So he has shown we want satam PRAsangam. But Srila Prabhupada translated “Krsna”book and satam sangam, following the rules is important, for without them we become sahajiyas. I feel the importance of discussing these pastimes. We emphasize their importance to us, their relevance. Srila Prabhupada mixes always some ‘satam sangam’ – religious principles, proper behaviour. Otherwise people may become charmed by Krsna but without also this satam sangam they may become something like sahajiyas. So thank you very much, very good question!


The full recordings (without my -APD- mistakes, omission, and miscomprehensions:-) will be available at under “Audio”, in a few weeks time.

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Begging for your kind blessings, on behalf of your servants at VIHE, Das Adi Purusha

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