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Dandavats! All Glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga!

Who Should Give Bhagavatam Class?

Thursday, 17 May 2018 / Published in Articles / 9,439 views

By Vraja Vilasa dasa

Dear Devotees,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

In response to a few devotees asking me questions on what exactly are the qualifications for giving the Bhagavatam class, I compiled a few quotes for them. I thought it might be useful for the wider devotional community also. I hear many complaints from devotees such that, “They won’t let me give class!” “They threw me off the class roster!” “Why is he giving class? He doesn’t follow the principles!” “Can’t I give class? How can I get to give class?” “Can he say that while giving class? Is that bona fide?”

My intention is to clear doubts, not stir up argument. Thus I have just presented Srila Prabhupada’s exact words on this topic.

Hope this can help others in our ISKCON community.

Your servant,

Vraja Vilasa dasa
Can anyone give class? Should anyone give class? Who should actually give class?

Srila Prabhupada instituted the daily Srimad Bhagavatam class as an essential pillar for ISKCON’s preaching movement. He also left us with many instructions on how we can best benefit from this class. The importance of hearing properly from proper sources is always emphasized by Srila Prabhupada. The first duty, of someone who wants to get the right information in the right way, is to select a proper speaker to hear from: “Therefore, first one should select a competent and bona fide speaker and then hear from him.” (SB 1.8.36). However, we see many different types of speakers of all kinds in ISKCON temples and, because many devotees remain unaware of the necessary qualifications for selecting a speaker for Srimad Bhagavatam class, they may fail to select speakers of the appropriate standard. So, in order to remind everyone of Srila Prabhupada’s merciful instructions on this matter, here are some references to inform their decisions on who exactly should be selected to speak to the assembled devotees in ISKCON temples. Many devotees may be surprised at the standard required.

“According to the Vedic injunctions: yasya deve para bhaktih. Srimad-Bhagavatam can only be recited by one who has unflinching faith in the lotus feet of Krsna and His devotee, the spiritual master. One has to understand Srimad-Bhagavatam through the process of devotional service and by hearing the recitation of a pure devotee. These are the injunctions of Vedic literature – sruti and smrti.” (CC Madhya 22.131

“Nowadays it is fashionable to observe Bhagavata-saptaha and hear Srimad-Bhagavatam from persons who are anything but advanced devotees or self-realized souls”. (CC Antya Lila 13.113)

“One cannot explain about the Lord or His devotee unless one happens to be a pure devotee himself.” (SB 3.13.4)

“Unless one is personally a realized soul in the science of Krnna consciousness, a neophyte should not approach him to hear about the Lord, for this is strictly forbidden by Srila Sanatana Gosvami, who quotes from the Padma Purana.” (SB 10.1.4)

“Those who are not vainnava, those who are not devotees, one should not hear from them. It is useless. It is useless, waste of time…Similarly, as soon as a professional reciter or a avainnava reciter, without any realization, without being a devotee of the Lord cites, recites, that should not be heard. That is restricted by Sanatana Gosvami… Because you’ll not derive any benefit. You go on hearing for thousand of years. Thousands of years, still you’ll remain where you were in the beginning.” (NOD, Bombay, Jan. 10, 1973)

“One can certainly see directly the presence of Lord Sri Krnna in the pages of Bhagavatam if one has heard it from a self-realized great soul like Sukadeva Gosvami. One cannot, however, learn Bhagavatam from a bogus hired reciter whose aim of life is to earn some money out of such recitation and employ the earning in sex indulgence. No one can learn Srimad-Bhagavatam who is associated with persons engaged in sex life. That is the secret of learning Bhagavatam. Nor can one learn Bhagavatam from one who interprets the text by his mundane scholarship. One has to learn Bhagavatam from the representative of Sukadeva Gosvami, and no one else, if one at all wants to see Lord Sri Krnna in the pages. That is the process, and there is no alternative.” (SB 1.3.44)

“A gosvami, or the bona fide representative of Sri Vyasadeva, must be free from all kinds of vices. The four major vices are (1) illicit connection with women, (2) animal slaughter, (3) intoxication, (4) speculative gambling of all sorts. A gosvami must be free from all these vices before he can dare sit on the vyasasana. No one should be allowed to sit on the vyasasana who is not spotless in character and who is not freed from the above-mentioned vices. He not only should be freed from all such vices, but must also be well versed in all revealed scriptures or in the Vedas.” (SB 1.1.6)

“There are various rules and regulations which one should follow. And one should constantly hear Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam from pure devotees.” (Bg 12.9)

“If you want to realize what is Bhagavat, then you must go and learn Srimad-Bhagavatam from a person whose life is Bhagavatam, not the professional Bhagavat reciters. …So we have to serve both. We have to hear daily Srimad-Bhagavatam from the realized person. Nityam bhagavata sevaya.” (CC Madhya lila 22-131)

“Similarly, Srimad-Bhagavatam, the postgraduate study of the science of Godhead, can only be learned by studying it at the feet of a realized soul like Srila Vyasadeva.” (SB 2.1.8)

“So nanta-prayenu abhadrenu nityam bhagavata-sevaya [SB 1.2.18]. Nityam. This point we have discussed. The Bhagavata has to be studied from a person bhagavata. Bhagavata-sevaya. Tad viddhi pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya [Bg. 4.34]. One has to learn Bhagavatam from a person you can surrender. …There is no other alternative.” (SB 1.2.19 Vrndavana, Oct. 30, 1972)

“So the easiest process is simply hearing. Hearing of this Bhagavad-gita or Srimad-Bhagavatam from the realized person, that will train up oneself, one, into the thoughts of the Supreme Being twenty-four hours, which will lead one ultimately, anta-kale, to remember the Supreme Lord, and thus leaving this body, he will have a spiritual body, a spiritual body, just fit for association with the Lord.” (Lecture, New York, Feb. 19-20, 1966)

“It is the duty of the sane to hear Srimad-Bhagavatam from a self-realized soul and not be duped by professional men. One should continue such hearing till the end of one’s life so that one can actually have the transcendental association of the Lord and thus be liberated simply by hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam.” (SB 2.8.3)

“Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has therefore advised us to hear the glories of the Lord from a realized person (bhagavata paro diya bhagavata sthane). It is the injunction of Sanatana Gosvami that one should hear Vedic literature, Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita, from the realized person. Sri Sanatana Gosvami says, … one should not hear hari-kathamrtam from a non-realized avainnava.” (SB 1.1.3 Feb. 24, 1975)

“God has given you the ear. Simply you sit down and hear from a realized person. … You can remain in your position, but try to hear the transcendental message from realized soul. Then gradually you will be enlightened and you will be free from this knot, this material bondage.” (Lecture, SB 1.2.15, LA Aug 18. 1972)

“We have to hear daily Srimad-Bhagavatam from the realized person.” (Lecture, SB 1.2.18 Calcutta Sept 26, 1974)

“You go to a person, realized soul, and hear from him. Simply hear from him. That is recommended in this age, because people are very, very fallen.” (Lecture, SB 3.25.44 Bombay Sept. 12, 1974)

“Now the question is: from whom to hear? So in the sastra it is said, san-mukharitam: “You have to hear from realized saintly person.” It is said in the Bhagavad-gita,

tad viddhi pranipatena

pariprasnena sevaya

upadeknyanti tad jnanam

jnaninas tattva-darsinah

[Bg. 4.34]

You have to hear from a person who has seen or who has understood the Absolute Truth and who is tat, sad-guru. He must be a devotee of the Lord.

Just like milk: it is very nice food, but if it is touched with the lips of a snake, it becomes poisonous. Therefore it is concluded that we have to hear the transcendental message of Krnna from a realized soul, a devotee. So this hearing process is recommended, that you should hear from a realized person who is sadacara-sampanna-vainnava. So who is a bhakta? Because you have to learn from a bhakta, so who is a bhakta? That is also described. So it is stated in the sastras and the Gosvamis as sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam: [Cc. Madhya 19.170] “Anyone who has no more designation and he is pure from material contamination.” (Lecture, SB 6.1.15 Nellore, Jan. 8, 1976)

“In the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is also confirmed that when one becomes purified by executing the process of devotional service, especially by hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam or Bhagavad-gita from realized souls, then he can understand the science of Krnna, or the science of God.” (Bg 9.2)

“The Vedic literature is also understood by hearing from the bona fide spiritual master. Satam prasangan mama virya-samvido bhavanti hrt-karna-rasayanah kathah [SB 3.25.25]. Unless you hear from realized soul, it is not possible. Simply by speculation it is useless waste of time. Tenam klesala eva sinyate. After hearing for many, many years the Vedas from the non-realized soul, simply hearing from this hole of the ear and going out from the other hole—that kind of hearing will not help us.” (Lecture, Bg 13.18 Bombay, Oct. 12, 1973)

“What is the process? San-mukharitam bhavadiya-vartam: “You just try to understand the Supreme from the reliable source.” San-mukharitam. Sat-mukharitam. Mukharita means from the lips, from the lips of realized souls..” (Lecture, Bg 8.14-15 NY, Nov. 16 1966)

“Concerning the study of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu clearly advises that one avoid hearing from a non-Vaisnava professional reciter… Therefore we advise that anyone who wants to learn Srimad-Bhagavatam must approach such a realized soul.” (CC Antya Lila 13.113)

“One has therefore to learn from Krsna directly or from a pure devotee of Krsna — and not from a nondevotee upstart, puffed up with academic education.” (Bg 7.1)

“No learned man should be willing to hear a person who does not represent the original acarya.” (SB 1.4.1)

“They (sages) were not interested in hearing it from a bogus person who would interpret in his own way to suit his own purpose.” (SB 1.4.2)

“One can attain to the highest perfection of life simply by attentive hearing of the transcendental pastimes of the Lord from the right sources, as Sri Narada heard them from the pure devotees (bhakti-vedantas) in his previous life….Krnna is there. You haven’t got to search out Krnna. He is already within you. Simply He wants to see whether you are sincere. That’s all. You cannot deceive, you cannot deceive Caitanya, Krnna. He is always present. Anumanta, upadranta. In the Bhagavad-gita, He is upadranta. So srnvatam sva-kathah krnnah punya-sravana-kirtanah. If you simply hear about Krnna from the lips of pure devotees, then it is punya. Ceto-darpana-marjanam bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam [Cc. Antya 20.12]. It will cleanse your heart. It will cleanse your heart. (SB 1.5.26)

This is the secret of success:

“The secret of success is to receive the sound from the right source of a bona fide spiritual master.” (SB 2.9.8)

“The secret of success in the cultivation of Krsna consciousness is hearing from the right person.” (SB 4.29.39)

“In other words, when a pure devotee speaks, his words act upon the hearts of the audience. What is the secret of hearing and chanting? A professional speaker cannot impress transcendental ecstasy within the hearts of the listeners. However, when a realized soul who is engaged in the service of the Lord is speaking, he has the potency to inject spiritual life within the audience. One should, therefore, seek the association of such pure, unalloyed devotees, and by such association and service a neophyte devotee will certainly develop attachment, love and devotion for the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (Lecture, SB 09-26-74, Calcutta)

Persons who hear from a spiritual master with great labor and for a long time must hear from the mouths of pure devotees about the character and activities of pure devotees. Pure devotees always think within their hearts of the lotus feet of the Personality of Godhead, who awards His devotees liberation. (SB 3.13.4)

Tattva-darsi, one who has seen things as they are. Go there and take knowledge from him, not from one who is speculating. This is the Vedic process. Therefore it is called sruti. (Purport to Parama Koruna, Atlanta, February 28, 1975)

And from (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Amrta Vani)

“We should hear Srimad-Bhagavatam from exalted spiritual masters and pure devotees who are fixed at their own spiritual masters’ lotus feet. We cannot achieve auspiciousness if we hear Srimad-Bhagavatam from those who are not bhagavatas.”

“However, for hearing to be effective, the speaker MUST be transcendental, a pure devotee. The speaker of transcendental sound vibration MUST BE AKINCANA if he is to remove the sense of false proprietorship in the members of his audience.”

Significance of performing/attending mangal aroti
Festival of the Chariots, Bhakti Yoga Culture & Wellness Fest, Daytona Beach

28 Responses to “Who Should Give Bhagavatam Class?”

  1. Vraja Vilasa dasa says :

    Dear Readers,

    Sorry about the diacritics mess. It was sent to Dandavats with the proper font, Balarama, and with diacritics. Site doesn’t use them. My mistake.

    Makes it hard to read. Hope you can wade through it anyway :)

    Your servant,

    Vraja Vilasa dasa

  2. Akruranatha says :

    These are nice quotes. We should understand that to lecture from Srimad-Bhagavatam one is supposed to have these qualities, “nivrtta-tarsair upagiyamana…”

    Still, in practice, at ISKCON temples we are training devotees in the matter of preaching and we want to give devotees a chance to sit on the “hot seat” and represent the disciplic succession by repeating exactly as they have heard according to their realization and learn how to glorify Krsna properly by giving the authoritative information as they have heard from the scriptures and spiritual masters.

    I don’t believe it was Vraja Vilasa Prabhu’s intention to ban all but the purest and most perfect devotees from giving classes in ISKCON temples. I agree it is good to remember that ideally the speaker should be as good as Sukadeva Goswami (or Vyasadeva) and the inquirer should be as good as Maharaja Pariksit and the audience should be so rapt in Samadhi that they can go without eating or drinking or sleeping for days on end as they are absorbed in the Krsna-katha.

    But realistically we should encourage young devotees after they have been practicing Krsna consciousness and studying and hearing for some time to also learn the art of repeating exactly what is said in the authoritative scriptures without adding or subtracting anything, and we find that remarkably it is effective. That is, the potency is there. The hearers also get inspired in Krsna consciousness. Somehow Srila Prabhupada is empowering his faithful disciples and grand-disciples to effectively convey the message of the Bhagavatam to others.

    In practice Srila Prabhupada did this: he gave his young disciples the order to give classes, and trained them to preach and distribute his books. He did not want us to be like the salesman who says, “Oh I cannot say what is in the books; I just sell them.”

    Where devotees who are faithfully practicing Krsna consciousness, even in the neophyte stage, are speaking on the orders of Srila Prabhupada and the disciplic succession, it is not at all like the professional Bhagavatam reciters who may know many verses but who are not trying to live the life of pure devotional service. Srila Prabhupada warned us about milk touched by serpents, but he always encouraged us to follow his example and preach as he was doing, without adding or subtracting anything but repeating what we heard from him.

  3. Vraja Vilasa dasa says :


    Some may even think twice about speaking Bhagavatam, understanding the true standard. They may instead seek out a pure devotee to hear from, so they themselves can become purified first.

    Basically, we need to become pure devotees ourselves. By hearing from one who is contaminated, even subtly, then we simply imbibe their anarthas, neither can they cleanse our own hearts through their katha. If they are not pure, they will not be effective, neither will they be very effective preachers. In fact, we may simply be watering their gross or subtle desires, and in turn they water ours and anyone they come into contact with.

    I leave you with a few more supporting references.

    “However, for hearing to be effective, the speaker must be transcendental, a pure devotee. The speaker of transcendental sound vibration must be akincana if he is to remove the sense of false proprietorship in the members of his audience.” (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura)

    “If you want to realize what is Bhagavat, then you must go and learn Srimad-Bhagavatam from a person whose life is Bhagavatam, not the professional Bhagavat reciters. …So we have to serve both. We have to hear daily Srimad-Bhagavatam from the realized person. Nityam bhagavata sevaya. (Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhyam lila 22-131)

    “We should hear Srimad-Bhagavatam from exalted spiritual masters and pure devotees who are fixed at their own spiritual masters’ lotus feet. We cannot achieve auspiciousness if we hear Srimad-Bhagavatam from those who are not bhagavatas.” (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura)

    Thank you for the opportunity to go deeper on this topic. I appreciate it.

    Your servant,
    Vraja Vilasa dasa

  4. Vraja Vilasa dasa says :

    Dear Akruranatah prabhu,

    Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I ‘ll try my best to respond to your points:

    1. You said, ‘Still, in practice, etc…’

    This is nice, but not what Srila Prabhupada is telling us to do. ‘In practice’ means we are meant to follow Prabhupada’s instructions in this matter, which is clearly to ‘only hear from a self-realized soul.’ That is putting Srila Prabhupada’s instructions into practice.

    2. There is definitely no question of banning. I am simply providing Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on who we should hear from. Prabhupada clearly states:

    “One cannot explain about the Lord or His devotee unless one happens to be a pure devotee himself.” (SB 3.13.4)

    “According to the Vedic injunctions: yasya deve para bhaktih. Srimad-Bhagavatam can only be recited by one who has unflinching faith in the lotus feet of Krsna and His devotee, the spiritual master. One has to understand Srimad-Bhagavatam through the process of devotional service and by hearing the recitation of a pure devotee. These are the injunctions of Vedic literature – sruti and smrti.” (CC Madhya 22.131

    These are injunctions. It is not open to our own speculation on who WE think should give class.

    3. You said, “Ideally the speaker should be as good as Sukadeva Goswami.”

    It is not an ‘ideal,’ it is required. It is necessary. It is essential. We are forbidden by the acaryas to hear from anyone who is not of the same standard. Srila Prabhupada clearly says this again and again and again.

    “Unless one is personally a realized soul in the science of Krsna consciousness, a neophyte should not approach him to hear about the Lord, for this is strictly forbidden by Srila Sanatana Gosvami, who quotes from the Padma Purana.” (SB 10.1.4)

  5. Vraja Vilasa dasa says :

    4. It is also nice that you are trying to encourage others to become effective preachers, however we should definitely understand the instructions of the acarayas and always abide by their advice. New devotees (and seniors for that matter) should always be aware that unless the speaker is a realized soul, one will not become purified from one’s material attachments by hearing from them. This is the standard preached by Prabhupada and the acaryas. This is the message that everyone should constantly hear. Can you imagine the revolution if we all only heard Bhagavatam from pure devotees? It would encourage the speakers to come up to the grade very quickly.

  6. Vraja Vilasa dasa says :

    I think the last comments from me were in reverse order. I am just getting used to this system. Hopefully the next comments from me will be in correct sequence!

    So, if they came up backwards, please read them in numbered order, 1-4 :)


  7. Pusta Krishna das says :

    What to speak of lecturing on the Srimad Bhagavatam, one should not even hear the Holy Name except from the lips of a pure devotee! However, you must appreciate that everything that a disciple does is on the order of the spiritual master. When Lord Chaitanya said that His gurudeva, Iswarapuri, told Him that He was a fool and needed to chant the Holy Names constantly, then He, on that basis, was carrying out the order of His guru.
    In our time, we have seen how Srila Prabhupad managed his disciples. Yes, His Divine Grace knew everything, yet still he encouraged us to chant the Holy Names, and to present the Srimad Bhagavatam class even in his presence…for our purification. The sankirtan principle is that you become stronger and purified in the association of devotees. You know the saying…one stick can easily be broken, but bind together a bunch of sticks, and they cannot easily be broken.

    In essence, Srila Prabhupad demonstrated full faith in the process. He believed that Krishna will purify us if we simply take up the process. Pavitram paramam padam. If one therefore restricts the reciting of Srimad Bhagavatam to highly pure devotees, then one would therefore also avoid chanting the Holy Names with less than the same. Such a restriction would be suicidal to ones aspiration for san-kirtan…doing the seva with others. But, it would not restrict one from going to a hut and hearing and chanting for one’s self. However, then you better be sure that you are a pure devotee, otherwise… will contaminate your very self. Self-delusion is such a tricky thing.
    Pusta Krishna das

    In essence, be encouraging to others to take up the process, and you will also receive encouragement. Be merciful, and you will receive mercy also.

  8. Akruranatha says :

    Yes, I have to agree with Pusta Krishna Prabhu. This is one instance where we have to understand the principle (i.e., that as far as possible we should hear the holy name/Srimad Bhagavatam only from the lips of a pure devotee) in light of Srila Prabhupada’s own example of how he personally applied it. Mahajano yena gatah sa-panthah.

    Those devotees who are following and are careful not to add or subtract anything are empowered by Srila Prabhupada to convey the message, just as an electric wire carries the current from the powerhouse. If this were not so we would not see so many new devotees joining and making palpable advancement.

    Of course, we should also listen directly to Srila Prabhupada’s recorded lectures and discussions, and we must make time to read his books repeatedly, but we also have to follow the whole program as he implemented it. He engaged his “green mango” disciples in giving class. That is his example.

    One may ask, what is the difference from some young devotee in ISKCON giving class and a professional Bhagavatam reciter? The answer is given by Pusta Krsna Prabhu: The young devotee is following the principles and serving in accordance with the orders of Guru and Gauranga. His or her realization may not be complete, but as far as he or she has realized he can convey. Srila Prabhupada would point to little children who said “Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead” and say their preaching is perfect.

    One devotee told me a story on himself. He went on a preaching tour to India in the early days with Srila Prabhupada and a group of devotees. They engaged paid cooks, and this devotee noticed the cooks were smoking bidis; they were not pure devotees. He complained to the leaders that the food they cooked would not be accepted by Krsna, but the senior devotees said Srila Prabhupada approved so it was alright. This devotee thought, “it might be alright for others, but I must only eat prasadam.” He thought Srila Prabhupada would appreciate that he was not eating what the other devotees were eating, that he was more strict, more pure. But when Srila Prabhupada heard about it he only said, “Why is he making trouble?”

    Mainly, we should get over the urge to invent something new. Follow the senior, experienced devotees who saw how Srila Prabhupada was doing things. The secret to success is already known to us. We just have to surrender, not try to distinguish ourselves by adopting some different new policy.

  9. Vraja Vilasa dasa says :

    Dear Pusta Krishna prabhu,

    Undoubtedly, we must follow the instructions of the pure devotee spiritual master:

    “The criterion is that a devotee must know what Krsna wants him to do. This understanding can be achieved through the medium of a spiritual master who is a bona fide representative of Krsna. Srila Rupa Gosvami advises, adau gurv-asrayam. One who is serious in wanting to render pure devotional service to the Lord must take shelter of a spiritual master who comes in the disciplic succession from Krsna. Evam parampara-praptam imam rajarsayo viduh [Bg. 4.2]. Without accepting a bona fide spiritual master coming in the disciplic succession, one cannot find out the real purpose of devotional service. Therefore one has to accept the shelter of a bona fide spiritual master and agree to be directed by him.”

    So, if one has taken shelter of a genuine bona fide spiritual master in disciplic succession, and has received the specific instruction from him to indeed give Bhag. class, then one should consider that one is secure and in line.

    Outside of that, if one is giving class on one’s own whim or ‘personal inspiration,’ (read mental speculation), or that one is asked to give class by someone who is not in parampara, not initiated by a bona fide guru in disciplic succession (specifically authorised by the previous acarya), then one should understand that his speaking is also unauthorized. They will have no potency. Krsna only appears in disciplic succession.

    “The conditions for hearing the transcendental message of the Absolute Truth are set forth herein. The first condition is that the audience must be very sincere and eager to hear. And the speaker must be in the line of disciplic succession from the recognized acarya (SB 1.1.13 purport)

    There are many doctors in the ISKCON hospital and we should locate that person who can free us from our disease. Who is qualified? Who is expert? Who is authorized? That we should know. Otherwise, our ‘submissive aural reception’ will make us more diseased:

    “We have to go to the lawyer who knows things, and he gives us instruction that “You do like this; then you’ll be free.” Similarly, when we are diseased, if I speculate at home that “My disease will be cured in this way and that way,” no. That is useless. You go to an authorized physician, and he will give you a nice prescription, and you’ll be cured. That is the process of knowledge.” (London, Sept 3, 1971)

  10. Puskaraksa das says :

    Yet, there is the absolute consideration, tattva-vicara and the relative consideration, apara-vicara…

    So, on the absolute platform, yes, we should receive the Maha-Mantra from the lips of a pure devotee and we should hear Srimad-Bhagavatam from the person Bhagavata.

    On the relative platform, we are in a training school. So, the trainees train themselves. This is quite natural!

    Just like there are different stages, from shraddha to saddhu-sanga to bhajana kriya to anartha-nivritti… This is the purificatory process.

    We chant the Holy Name and we commit Nama-aparadha, especially in the beginning stage. Still, we pursue our practice, so as to become gradually purified through the nine limbs of devotional service and through good association, which also includes Saddhu-sanga, Sastra-kripa and Prasad-sevaya…

    Similarly, the sadhakas address other sadhakas during the morning Srimad-Bhagavatam class or the evening Bhagavad-gita class, on the order of the Spiritual Master and by His mercy, understanding that everyone is a spirit soul and as such, is sat cit ananda. In this way, we call each other Prabhu and acknowledge the fact that we can all learn something from each other…

    Yet, in the absolute sense, it is a fact that one can become a pure Vaishnava, only by the mercy of another pure Vaishnava. This is why it is so important, i.e. it is vital, for any sincere devotee to try and approach a bona fide spiritual master, that is to say a pure devotee, a nitya-siddha.

    The process of approaching such a Tattva-darshi, a Sat Guru, He who sees Vrajendra-nandana, the Absolute Truth, enquiring from him and serving him, is descrbed by Krishna Himself in Bhagavad-gita (4.34). This is so important, that Srila Prabhupada declared this verse to be the most important verse, out of the 700 verses of Bhagavad-gita.

    As a matter of fact, if everyone is sincere and honest (nirmatsaranam satam), one will not be envious of the pure devotee and one will accept to present himself or herself, according to one’s genuine and legitimate position.

    But if one is crooked (kapatya), one may try to pose as a representative of the disciplic succession, while still being at a conditioned stage. This is when the problems start arising, if one poses as a liberated soul, when he is still a conditioned soul. Then, some cheating is going on, as it can be expected in Kali-yuga, since such a so-called guru does not have the power to liberate his disciples…!

  11. Vraja Vilasa dasa says :

    Hare Krsna prabhus,

    Thanks for your comments.

    Akruranatha prabhu: You state that we should hear the Bhag. from pure devotees, ‘As far as possible.’ But this is not what Srila Prabhupada says. I don’t know where you got your reference for that one:

    “Unless one is personally a realized soul in the science of Krsna consciousness, a neophyte should not approach him to hear about the Lord, for this is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN by Srila Sanatana Gosvami” (SB 10.1.4)

    “One has therefore to learn from Krsna directly OR FROM A PURE DEVOTEE OF KRSNA.” (Bg 7.1)

    “One can certainly see directly the presence of Lord Sri Krsna in the pages of Bhagavatam IF one has heard it from a self-realized great soul like Sukadeva Gosvami. That is the process, and THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE.” (SB 1.3.44)

    One cannot explain about the Lord or His devotee UNLESS ONE HAPPENS TO BE A PURE DEVOTEE HIMSELF. (SB 3.13.4)

    This information from Srila Prabhupada is for those who want to take shelter of him by following his explicit and clear instructions on this matter. It is not for those who are convinced otherwise. What we do should always be assessed according to guru, sadhu and sastra and not from imitating Srila Prabhupada, but following his instructions, which are clearly given here.

    Again, on the point of ‘Prabhupada said we should give class’ that is fine, as long as you got that instruction specifically from him or from another pure devotee in disciplic succession. If not, then you’re really not following the disciplic succession. It is a mental speculation path. The whole process gets watered down in this way. Parampara becomes lost.

    There is absolutely no way around or out of these cautionary statements of Srila Prabhupada. No escape route or wiggle room. No matter how we want to skirt around the issue, Prabhupada left these instructions for us to follow. And follow them we should. We should repose our faith in Srila Prabhupada’s words. He made no mistake. He is trying to help us. Let us keep repeating these words come hell or high water.

    I am fully confident Srila Prabhupada knew exactly how to shelter future generations and instruct them on who or who not to listen from. The evidence is overwhelming. We HAVE to, MUST hear ONLY from a pure devotee. You just have to find them. If one is sincere and serious, Krsna will make arrangement.

    If you have any quotes from Prabhupada to the contrary, I would like to see them.

  12. Akruranatha says :

    “Akruranatha prabhu: You state that we should hear the Bhag. from pure devotees, ‘As far as possible.’ But this is not what Srila Prabhupada says. I don’t know where you got your reference for that one:

    “Unless one is personally a realized soul in the science of Krsna consciousness, a neophyte should not approach him to hear about the Lord, for this is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN by Srila Sanatana Gosvami” (SB 10.1.4)”

    Vraja Vilas Prabhu:

    I want to avoid the kind of tit-for-tat, “debating club” mentality that often for some reason infects internet discussions. But since you ask, I got the “as far as possible” from the recording of “On Chanting Hare Krishna”. Have you heard it? It was something we used to listen to a long time ago (I hope devotees still listen to it). It begins, “As explained on the cover of the record album…”

    Many phrases from that recording of Srila Prabhupada are seared into my memory. This phrase sticks out in my mind and I can still hear it in Srila Prabhupada’s voice: “As far as possible, chanting from the lips of nondevotees should be avoided, as much as milk touched by the lips of a serpent causes poisonous effects.”

    I do not think you and I have a real disagreement. You seem to agree that devotees should attend lectures in ISKCON because they are carried on under the instruction of pure devotees.

    Devotees by nature ought to be able to get along well with one another. They naturally are respectful to all, and display the wonderful daivi-sampat qualities of tolerance and humility. They respect senior devotees, make friends with those on their level and give blessings to juniors.

    I admire your determination to keep the teachings of parampara pure and free from speculative ideas introduced by those without realization.

    I like Pusta Krsna Prabhu’s observation that Srila Prabhupada had faith in the process of chanting Hare Krishna and that his followers, even if lacking in Vedic culture, would become pure devotees over time. Even beginner chanters should be respected in our minds.

    All devotees I know have some degree of transcendental realization, some personal experience with Krsna and the maha mantra. Otherwise they would not be regulating their lives according to the instructions of the scriptures and spiritual master. They may not be fully realized, but they are devotees and we should hear their chanting and encourage them as Srila Prabhupada did.

  13. Akruranatha says :

    Okay I found a recording of “On Chanting hare krishna” on YouTube:

    Most of us have already heard it before but it is the kind of thing that remains always fresh and we can listen over and over again. Srila Prabhupada very clearly and concisely explains the whole philosophy of chanting Hare Krishna. It is really brilliant!

  14. Pusta Krishna das says :

    I believe there is a way to reconcile the issue. First, the style that Srila Prabhupad developed is that the verse(s), after chanting together, is read, word for word is read, translation is read, and then purport if was done is read. These are all flowing through the parampara from Srila Prabhupad. Then, the person “invited” to speak can give his or her comments. We have all heard such speakers say things that are clearly not parampara, and are whimsical or prejudicial. Still, the Srimad Bhagavatam classes, instituted by Srila Prabhupad to serve Krishna through Sravanam, Kirtanam, Smaranam, will continue on.

    As Srila Prabhupad sometimes would say, phalena pariciyate…you judge something by its fruit. Overall, the process has been fruitful, as Akruranath das has said. The Srimad Bhagavatam is fully spiritual, every syllable. So, when we hear it, we can all be benefitted. We will have to tolerate some occasional transgressions by self-interested individuals who cannot appreciate that the great literature is about Krishna.

    Sometimes, when I am driving long distances, I put a tape or disc on of Amalabhakta das reading the Srimad Bhagavatam with his background music. There are times when the story line is difficult to follow, or to see Krishna in…then finally, the story line brings you around to understanding why that story is in the Srimad Bhagavatam, and what point Sukadeva Goswami was trying to make. Patience is necessary. The point will ultimately be made, and our deeper appreciation for Krishna enhanced.

    Srila Prabhupad worked so hard to give us these translations. We should be sensitive to give aspiring bhaktas who desire to preach, an opportunity to develop. We do not know who we might be dealing with. If we cut someone off from the opportunity, then we may be obstructing the flow, the wind as it were, of Sri Krishna’s mercy.
    Have confidence in the process as Srila Prabhupad had deep faith in the process of devotional service. It will benefit one and all.

    Pusta Krishna das

  15. Vraja Vilasa dasa says :

    Dear prabhus,

    Thanks for your points.

    As Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says:

    “One who is lazy in properly understanding the Vaisnava philosophical conclusions can never become free from anarthas, the unwanted bad habits and philosophical misconceptions that impede devotional service.”

    So, we should always seek the conclusion.

    Your reference of ‘As far as possible’ (from ‘On Chanting Hare Krsna) specifically refers to chanting and not giving Srimad Bhagavatam class. In any case, the line previous to that one in that purport is “This chanting should be heard from the lips of a pure devotee of the Lord so that immediate effect can be achieved.” This is what he says prior to that line you quoted – ‘Hear from pure devotees.’ It is very clear. Also, you could translate ‘As far as possible’ to mean ‘To the greatest extent, degree, or amount that is attainable.’ To completely avoid it would therefore be ‘As far as possible.’ This is in line with Prabhupada’s further warning statements in his books (see this article)

    So really, Srila Prabhupada’s statement in that purport clearly does not negate (and even supports) the volumes of explicit statements throughout his books and lectures which implore us to only hear Bhagavatam from self-realized souls:

    “The only thing one has to do is to hear from a self-realized soul with a routine program.” (SB Intro)

    “We should hear Srimad-Bhagavatam from exalted spiritual masters and pure devotees who are fixed at their own spiritual masters’ lotus feet. We cannot achieve auspiciousness if we hear Srimad-Bhagavatam from those who are not bhägavatas.” (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura)

    “Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has therefore advised us to hear the glories of the Lord from a realized person. Unless one is personally a realized soul in the science of Krsna consciousness, a neophyte should not approach him to hear about the Lord, for this is strictly forbidden by Srila Sanatana Gosvami (SB 10.1.4)

    “One has to understand Srimad-Bhagavatam through the process of devotional service and by hearing the recitation of a pure devotee.” (CC Madhya 22.131)

    Actually, the final conclusion on the topic is given by Srila Prabhupada himself:

    “Therefore it is concluded that we have to hear the transcendental message of Krsna from a realized soul, a devotee. (SB 6.1.15 Nellore Jan 8 76)

    Hope this helps.

  16. Part One:

    Here are sone references to think about. In some references Srila Prabhupada said that sincerity was required for speaking Srimad Bhagavatam, or to strictly follow the guru’s instructions. By following properly, one may not be a cent-per-cent maha-bhagavata, as seems to be the demand of this article, but by learning even, and practicing, the purity of Srimad Bhagavatam will act, on the speaker and hearer.

    Since the demand of the article is that only the purest can speak Srimad Bhagavatam, we next have to ask, how to recognise the truly pure? Those who are not pure or who are trying to become pure, will not be able to recognise another pure soul with certainty. So how will one choose the right pure speaker to give class? It is quite common for the impure motivated to externally imitate the mannerisms of pure souls, and how many devotees were fooled this way? Many indeed.

    We appreciate who the ideal pure speaker should be, but practical realities and circumstances have to prevail. Srila Prabhupada was being practical, as seen below:

    Nityam bhagavata-sevaya. Not that we are almost free from all the contamination, but even little washed away… It begins immediately. As soon as you begin hearing and chanting of these literatures or chanting Hare Krsna mantra, immediately the cleansing method begins. And nasta-prayesu abhadresu. Almost cleansed, not that properly, cent percent clean. Nasta-prayesu abhadresu nityam bhagavata-sevaya. Daily. Not this Bhagavata-saptaha, official… (741230SB.BOM Lectures)

    Regarding the Teachings in the temple; everyone of my disciples may become a teacher strictly following my instructions. I am a bonafide teacher as long as I follow the instructions of my spiritual master. That is the only one qualification for becoming a teacher. As soon as one deviates from this principle one is no longer a teacher. (67-10-29 Letter: Nandarani)

    The Krsna consciousness movement is therefore trying to train qualified preachers to recite Srimad-Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita throughout the entire world, so that people in general in all parts of the world may take advantage of this movement and thus be relieved of the threefold miseries of material existence. (SB 10.1.4 P The Advent of Lord Krsna: Introduction)

    Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

  17. Part Two:

    Regarding your third question, morning lecture is also allowed. Lecture is also kirtana, and so as morning kirtana is there, similarly morning lecture can also be delivered. In New York , or even in San Francisco, when I was present I was giving lectures in morning also. So far as girls or boys lecturing in the morning, that doesn’t make any difference. Either girl or boy devotees may deliver lecture if they choose to do. We have no such distinction of bodily designations, male or female. Krishna Consciousness is on the spiritual platform. As such, anyone who is a devotee of the Lord, following in this line of disciplic succession, can deliver lecture, on the teachings of Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, etc. (68-10-21. Letter: Syama)

    Speaking or anything all depends on practice and study. I remember when I was first called for speaking by one of my senior Godbrothers. I felt very much hesitating because I was not practiced to speak. Later on by speaking and hearing or reading I got experience and now we can speak 45 minutes, 50 minutes or one hour at a stretch. So you have to read our books very nicely and gather thoughts, then you can speak for hours without any difficulty. It requires practice. So read your books carefully, especially Nectar of Devotion now published, and practice speaking. It will be alright. (70-06-24 Letter: Upendra)

    Regarding preaching work: If you simply reproduce verbatim the purports which I have given in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, and chant Hare Krishna with ecstasy, that will be sufficient for your preaching work, and as you do it seriously and sincerely, Krishna gives you more and more strength for this noble missionary work. (68-06-10 Letter: Harivilasa)

    As you chant your 16 rounds and follow the four regulative principles, then you will get the strength. The process is that you should memorize the purports of my books and then speak them in your own words. Do not adulterate or change anything. Then you will be the perfect preacher. You should also distribute our books as far as possible. If you do this sincerely, then you will be successful. (75-11-15 Letter: Janajanmadhih)

    Ts Kesava Krsna Dasa.

  18. Vraja Vilasa dasa says :

    Dear Kesava Krsna prabhu,

    Thanks for the comments.

    You ask, “How to recognise the pure?” Prabhupada answers this question.

    If one is very sincere and serious and prays to Krsna to please reveal to me, “Who is your pure devotee? I don’t know. I cannot tell. I don’t want to be cheated,” and completely relies on Krsna, depending on His mercy absolutely, then Krsna will definitely make that arrangement. Prabhupada says that to find such a person is only a question of sincerity:

    “The answer to such questions or inquiries is give herein very properly. The Personality of Godhead may not be present before one’s eyes. but if one is sincere in wanting such guidance the Lord will send a bona fide peson who can guide one properly back home, back to Godhead.” (SB 2.7.46)

    Thus, Krsna will send you someone if you are sincere. Just like Pariksit Maharaja heard from Sukadeva Gosvami or Dhruva Maharaja met Narada Muni.

    Also, as I mentioned previously, if one is instructed by a pure devotee spiritual master to give class, then that is following the instructions of guru and one is in line. Your references were letters from Prabhupada to specific disciples and are to that effect.

    Still, repeatedly, Prabhupada states:

    “The glories of the Lord MUST emanate from the mouths of pure devotees.” (SB 4.20.24)

    “One should be very eager to hear about the activities of the Lord FROM the bona fide source, THE PURE DEVOTEE.” (SB 3.19.37)

    “Unless one is personally a realized soul in the science of Krsna consciousness, a neophyte should NOT approach him to hear about the Lord, for this is strictly forbidden by Srila Sanatana Gosvami (SB 10.1.4)

    We should also understand that we can’t expect a great result if we don’t seek out a pure devotee to hear from:

    “However, for hearing to be effective, the speaker MUST be transcendental, A PURE DEVOTEE. The speaker of transcendental sound vibration MUST BE AKINCANA if he is to remove the sense of false proprietorship in the members of his audience.” (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura)

    “Therefore it is concluded that we HAVE to hear the transcendental message of Krsna from a realized soul. (SB 6.1.15 Nellore Jan 8 76)

    I hope some can appreciate these wonderfully merciful messages from Srila Prabhupada and the previous acaryas that we need to follow to both protect our tender bhakti creepers and make genuine advancement.

  19. veda says :

    dandavats to all

    my tendency when faced with these kind of issues on adhikara for serving or preaching is to reach into my memories from gurukula. As I remember we were told that Srila Prabhupada wanted all of his disciples to give class for different reasons. While giving class the devotee learned how to preach. It also inspired him to read Srila Prabhupadas books. It might help him in his sadhana because you cannot sit on the vyasasana and then not follow vaisnava principles (technically speaking at least). In a sense it was a service to the those who listened and it was a service for the listener to the one giving class. By being attentive to the speaker the listener allows him to serve. We were taught that we would all have to give class and some of us actually did even though we were only young boys. Girls weren’t allowed even though we had evidence that Srila Prabhupada let his lady disciples give class. It wasnt a question of wether we were pure or well educated in philosophy etc. It was a service that was rendered by all. Nowadays the tendency is to have only older devotees or well read devotees to give class – that service attitude is not there. If a younger bhakta gives class (not by age but by time as a devotee) most devotees dont attend. I remember sanyassis listening to younger devotees give class. This was helpfull for all and done in a service attitude. Sometimes the impression is that the class giver has to be a perfect, pure devotee which according to scripture is true; but I’m not sure that that is what Srila Prabhupada implemented in Iskcon. All should be encouraged to give class and it should be done as a service by the giver and the listener.

  20. Part One:

    Let us approach this in another way, because sometimes our insistence on being Absolute can cause us to be inflexible.

    There is an incident in which the Srimad Bhagavatam was spoken by an unqualified speaker, namely Devananda Pandit. As he was speaking, one member of the audience went into raptures of spiritual ecstasy and lost external consciousness – Srivas Thakur.

    According to this article the Srimad Bhagavatam can only benefit others if the speaker is pure. This incident reveals how an unqualified speaker did produce ecstasy. What is happening here? Is Devananda Pandit inducing this? Yes and no.

    Yes, because his words are reciting the verses of Srimad Bhagavatam. No, because although Devananda Pandit was unqualified, something else was causing the ecstasy, and that is the powerful Srimad Bhagavatam itself, through an unqualified speaker.

    By being insistent that only the purest can speak Srimad Bhagavatam – the ideal – practical realities tell us that we cannot underestimate the power of Srimad Bhagavatam to act. Srila Prabhupada knew this, and this is why he wanted Srimad Bhagavatam recited daily in all Iskcon temples, for the Amala–purana is Krishna Himself, able to purify the speaker, the hearers and the temple atmosphere.

    If we wish to be idealistic about the qualifications of the speaker of Srimad Bhagavatam, let us also consider this not uncommon scenario:

    It is almost time for Srimad Bhagavatam class and the designated speaker suddenly becomes unavailable. There are three minutes left. What to do? Are we to be idealistic and say, as you said, “If one is very sincere and serious and prays to Krsna to please reveal to me, “Who is your pure devotee? I don’t know. I cannot tell. I don’t want to be cheated,” and completely relies on Krsna, depending on His mercy absolutely, then Krsna will definitely make that arrangement.” Or does the situation require urgent action?

    Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

  21. Part Two:

    Yet another consideration is, for instance, in one place Srila Prabhupada will write, “Therefore, in conclusion no-one falls from the spiritual world.” Whereas elsewhere he will say differently. This is another topic altogether, but if we make Absolute one statement or another, we’ll often find an exception to the general rule.

    One may quote Srila Prabhupada as saying “…in conclusion…,” but even then we have to be careful about applying Absolute inflexibilities to such statements, otherwise, when some contrary information surfaces that opposes it, we actually let Srila Prabhupada down.

    Indirectly, by insisting on rare ideals for speakers of Srimad Bhagavatam, we might also underestimate the ability of the Spotless Purana to act on our hearts. Besides, so long as the speaker is following sincerely, this sincerity combined with the powerfully pure Srimad Bhagavatam should prove to be a potent force.

    Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

  22. Vraja Vilasa dasa says :

    Dear Kesava Krsna prabhu,

    The science is Absolute. To get the proper result we must follow it as it is. I’m sure you know this.

    Regarding your points, let’s not take one example of a nitya siddha and generalise that as the standard. Generalising the uncommon activities of perfected beings leads to sahajiyaism and creating an apasampradaya. That is not our process of understanding. Our process is to follow the TEACHINGS of Prabhupada on this specific matter. He is our guide in all these matters. He has give us so much help on this issue. Let us understand his teachings and perfect our lives.

    One cannot explain about the Lord or His devotee unless one happens to be a pure devotee himself.
    SB 3.13.4

    Such recitation of Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam must be done by persons completely freed from material desires.
    SB 10.1.4

    “Therefore it is concluded that we have to hear the transcendental message of Krsna from a realized soul, a devotee. (SB 6.1.15 Nellore Jan 8 76)

    And on your other topic:

    The conclusion is that no one falls from the spiritual world
    SB 3.16.26

    Conclusion means ‘the final decision, the judgement, the finish.’ Unless we come to that point, we are simply groping in the dark and will never reach success.

  23. Puskaraksa das says :

    Sravanam is the beginning process, amongst all nine processes of devotional service.

    From sravanam, submissive hearing from a proper source, comes the capacity to do both kirtanam and smaranam, glorifying and remembering the Supreme Lord.

    Nevertheless, Srila Prabhupada being a pure devotee, many of his disciples have had ample opportunity to directly hear from him; yet, how many have fallen down and/or drifted away…?

    So, it appears that simply hearing may not be sufficient, if one doesn’t cultivate the proper attitude and doesn’t follow the nine processes of devotional service, up to the ultimate goal of saranagati, atma-nivedanam corresponding to the uttama-adhikari stage:

    sri-prahrada uvaca

    sravanam kirtanam vishnoh
    smaranam pada-sevanam
    arcanam vandanam dasyam
    sakhyam atma-nivedanam

    iti pumsarpita vishnau
    bhaktis cen nava-lakshana
    kriyeta bhagavaty addha
    tan manye ‘dhitam uttamam

    Prahlada Maharaja said: Hearing and chanting about the transcendental holy name, form, qualities, paraphernalia and pastimes of Lord Vishnu, remembering them, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering the Lord respectful worship with sixteen types of paraphernalia, offering prayers to the Lord, becoming His servant, considering the Lord one’s best friend, and surrendering everything unto Him (in other words, serving Him with the body, mind and words) — these nine processes are accepted as pure devotional service. One who has dedicated his life to the service of Krishna through these nine methods should be understood to be the most learned person, for he has acquired complete knowledge. (S.B. 7.5.23-24)

    Srila Prabhupada and CC Madhya 19.180, confirm:

    All these stages combined are called sthāyibhāva, or continuous love of Godhead in devotional service. In addition to these stages, there are vibhāva and anubhāva.

    “Attachment for Kṛṣṇa never wanes; it increases more and more as one attains different stages. All the stages together are called sthāyibhāva, or continuous existence of ecstasy.
    The nine forms of devotional service are śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ sakhyam ātma-nivedanam (SB 7.5.23).
    When continuous love of Godhead is mixed with the processes of devotional service, it is called vibhāva, anubhāva, sāttvika and vyabhicārī. The devotee thus enjoys a variety of transcendental bliss.”

  24. Vraja Vilasa dasa says :

    Dear Puskaraksa prabhu,

    You ask why many disciples have fallen away if they were hearing.

    You are assuming they WERE hearing when Prabhupada was here, were hearing PROPERLY from him and also that they CONTINUED to hear from realized souls once Prabhupada left.

    Hearing is not simply a matter of sitting in the same room as a self realized soul. Hearing must be done with ‘rapt attention’ and with ‘submissive aural reception.’ One must also be pure in mind and action.

    “One should hear with rapt attention from the real person, and then he can at once realize the presence of Lord Krsna in every page. The secret of knowing Bhagavatam is mentioned here. No one can give rapt attention who is not pure in mind. No one can be pure in mind who is not pure in action. No one can be pure in action who is not pure in eating, sleeping, fearing and mating. But somehow or other if someone hears with rapt attention from the right person, at the very beginning one can assuredly see Lord Sri Krsna in person in the pages of Bhagavatam.” (SB 1.3.44)

    Understanding the science of hearing is fundamental to understanding ISKCON’s history. How to hear properly, who to hear from, the effects of improper hearing, the effects of proper hearing, all these need to be understood.

    At least from the statements of the Bhagavatam it is clear that many such ‘fallen disciples’ never properly applied themselves to the hearing process. If they did, then they would have seen Krsna.

    If one thinks that ‘because I’m a Prabhupada disciple I’m automatically advanced and therefore I do not need bona fide sadhu sanga, pure devotee association to hear from any more,’ then one is assured of falling down. In fact, that is already a fallen condition.

    “In other words, simply becoming initiated does not elevate one to the position of a high-class brahmana.” (NOD)

    Also, many disciples kept hearing from those who were not self-realized and thus they continued to become contaminated. They thus lost whatever little faith they had.

    “One should not hear at least the Bhagavad-gita and the Srimad-Bhagavatam from those who are not devotees of the Lord, who have no realization of God and who are envious of Him. Their touch renders it poison.” (TYS)

    And that is why we see so much preaching activity today that is not in line with Prabhupada – a lack of sadhu sanga and proper hearing.

    “One cannot be freed from maya’s clutches without sadhu-sanga” (SB 5.3.14)

  25. Part One:

    Vraja Vilasa Prabhu,

    Yes, the science of Krishna consciousness Philosophy is Absolute. But how we apply Krishna consciousness according to time, place and circumstance brings with it relative considerations as well.

    What you have done is claimed idealistic Absoluteness in regard to speakers of Srimad Bhagavatam. We all know that what you propose is not feasible in each and every case in realistic practical terms, except to rely on sincerity – this is practical.

    Now, if someone brings up an incident or scenarios that challenges our idealistic stance, it is useful to be broadminded and pause to think that perhaps there are other possibilities, or to respond in a “scientific” way. Not all devotees are impressed otherwise.

    You say not to take examples of nitya-siddhas. Then why are their pastimes recorded for our benefit? Although Srila Prabhupada is our prime source of information and teachings, we still harmonise his efforts with those of sadhu and Sastra, again relative to modern times and practicalities. The behaviour of Nitya-siddhas form a part of our reference base. To dismiss this as £generalisation” is a cop out.

    If, on the other hand we blins Kesava Krsna Dasa.dly accept everything that Srila Prabhupada said or wrote, and dismiss all reasonable contentions that might challenge certain Absoluteness according to your estimation, and dismiss it as folly, then this is a problem.

    We must “follow” Srila Prabhupada and his teachings, as you mentioned. But our method of response does not constitute following if we remain blind to other possibilities besides our estimation of Absoluteness – then it becomes blind followowing as opposed to actually following Srila Prabhupada, which then makes one’s application and version of his teachings unscientific.

    Besides, it is very easy to use Srila Prabhupada to suit our own predilections on life – it is not difficult. But this can be difficult for other broadminded fellow devotees. The art of glorifying Srila Prabhupada encompasses all areas of human experience, and yes, our previous acaryas and “nitya-siddha” greats.

    Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

  26. Part Two:

    One will be doing an injustice if we again take Srila Prabhupada’s “in conclusion” as all in all. As far as the “no one falls from the spiritual world” quote goes, in support of your Absolute thesis, if you accept that as absolute, disregarding all else he said on the “fall” issue, there is likelihood of pre-empting judgement on the matter because it remains largely inconclusive in favour of “Somehow or other My Lord, I have fallen into this ocean of death” as Sri Chitanya Mahaprabhu says in Sri Siksastakam. Pitted against this, we need to balance Srila Prabhupada’s statements, not merely dismiss others to suit your own absolute stance.

    It will be a measure of honesty to acknowledge that perhaps our Absolute postulations are not as airtight as they appear, instead of resorting to making them out to be challenges to Srila Prabhupada himself. In other words, because your Absoluteness was violated, you say it is an affront to Srila Prabhupada or yourselves as an extension. Responding this way is unscientific fanaticism, not properly following Srila Prabhupada on this level.

    I’m’ going to be away for a week, so no responses from me.

    Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

  27. Puskaraksa das says :

    Dear Vraja Vilasa prabhu

    You seem to be ignoring, or at least overlooking, the progressive nature of purification and surrender…


    adau sraddha tatah sadhu-
    sango ‘tha bhajana-kriya
    tato ‘nartha-nivrittih syat
    tato nishtha rucis tatah
    athasaktis tato bhavas
    tatah premabhyudancati
    sadhakanam ayam premnah
    pradurbhave bhavet kramah

    “‘In the beginning there must be faith. Then one becomes interested in associating with pure devotees. Thereafter one is initiated by the spiritual master and executes the regulative principles under his orders. Thus one is freed from all unwanted habits and becomes firmly fixed in devotional service. Thereafter, one develops taste and attachment. This is the way of sadhana-bhakti, the execution of devotional service according to the regulative principles. Gradually emotions intensify, and finally there is an awakening of love. This is the gradual development of love of Godhead for the devotee interested in Krishna consciousness.’ (C.C. Madhya 23.14-15)

    To the contrary, you state that all of Srila Prabhupada disciples who are not pure devotees yet, i.e. who are not Tattva darshis, that is to say, who do not see Krishna – He who is the Absolute Truth devoid of duality but present in Vrindavana as the son of Nanda Maharaja, advaya-jñāna-tattva, vraje vrajendra-nandana (C.c. Madhya 20. 152) – “never properly applied themselves to the hearing process.” For “if they did, then they would have seen Krsna.”

    Besides your putting yourself in a position to judge your seniors, you seem to be suggesting that you may be this most sincere devotee you are referring to, who listens (as a routine ?) with rapt attention and on a daily basis to a pure devotee and thereby sees Krishna…

    Thereby, as according to your statements you ought to be a pure devotee by now, provided you are speaking from a realized platform and not just from a theoretical point of view, we would like to know, both for our benefit and our enlightenment, who is or who are, your diksa guru and siksa guru…?

    Thank you very much

  28. Pusta Krishna das says :

    In regard to the last few comments about sravanam, hearing, and either remaining fixed up in Krishna consciousness or falling away, one has to be reminded that the critical element in all of this is the Person Krishna. tesam evanukampartham…Krishna is the Permitter, the Sanctioner, the Bestower of enlightenment….PERSONALLY. Without the grace of Krishna, there is no supreme destination. He is a Person. This is Krishna consciousness! Why do some thing that simply by going through the mechanics of a process, they will achieve success in spiritual life? It is to awaken consciousness of the Person, Krishna. The braj-vasis of Krishna lila performed their austerities in previous lifetimes perhaps, but they are invited into the intimate relationship with the Supreme Person because of their love for Krishna, and Krishna sanctioning this.
    So, please remember that all the activities of devotional service, are designed to awaken the sense, and the actual consciousness, of relationship with Krishna. Chanting of the Holy Names is paramount in this regard. It should not be mechanistic. It is a personal plea to the Supreme Person and His divine Hladini Shakti personified.
    As far as falling away or truly remaining fixed up, each individual knows his or her experience. Whether living in the temple or outside of the temple, is no guarantee that one is safe in this world. Srila Prabhupad has time and again asked us to measure any so called spiritual advancement by “how much hankering one has to love Krishna.” It is also important to feel one’s self very meek and humble…in essence, save-able by Krishna. Krishna desires to save us, to give us His shelter. If proud, one may think that on the basis of their knowledge, they are safe. In fact, the more knowledge one attains, the more one needs to find Krishna…at every moment. If you want something else, Krishna will give that to you easily. And, do not think that even falling away, one is lost to Krishna. Krishna has His own bank, and as we deposit our devotion in His bank, life after life, it will never be diminished. Only Krishna knows the future, and one must cast their fate to His mercy alone. Pusta Krishna das