Guru, Sadhu, Sastra
By Siddhi-lalasa dasi
Dear Tamohara prabhu,
Please accept my most humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I read your reply to Visakha Priya prabhu’s posting on the “zero tolerance policy” about Lord Brahma. I went through the Srimad-Bhagavatam, (3.12.28-34) to see your points and found the following:
“Thus, finding their father so deluded in an act of immorality, the sages headed by Marīci, all sons of Brahmā, spoke as follows with great respect.”
“The sages like Marīci were not in the wrong in submitting their protests against the acts of their great father. They knew very well that even though their father committed a mistake, there must have been some great purpose behind the show.
. . . Therefore, great personalities like Brahmā, even when in the wrong, should not be neglected, nor could the great sages headed by Marīci show any disrespect because of his extraordinary behavior.”
I noted that Lord Brahma was being treated with great respect by the sages. And because of this attitude, the sages were qualified as “great”.
This brought to my mind H.H. Giriraj Swami’s point about dealing with Vaisnavas with care. The sages dealt with Lord Brahma, very carefully. All Vaisnavas are great personalities.
“Let us offer our respectful obeisances unto the Personality of Godhead, who, by His own effulgence, while situated in Himself, has manifested this cosmos. May He also protect religion for all goodness.”
“The Lord gives protection to devotees who are always engaged in His transcendental loving service, and by His causeless mercy He forgives the accidental fall of a devotee. Therefore, sages like Marīci prayed for the mercy of the Lord, and their prayer was fruitful.”
I noted that the sages prayed for the redemption of Lord Brahma and the Lord answered their prayers. They didn’t condemn him. They wanted his reformation, not eternal punishment.
“The father of all Prajāpatis, Brahmā, thus seeing all his Prajāpati sons speaking in that way, became very much ashamed and at once gave up the body he had accepted. Later that body appeared in all directions as the dangerous fog in darkness.”
“The best way to compensate for one’s sinful acts is to give up one’s body at once, and Brahmā, the leader of the living entities, showed this by his personal example.
Brahmā has a fabulous duration of life, but he was obliged to give up his body due to his grievous sin, even though he had merely contemplated it in his mind without having actually done it.
This is a lesson for the living entities, showing how sinful an act it is to indulge in unrestricted sex life. Even to think of abominable sex life is sinful, and to compensate for such acts, one has to give up his body. In other words, one’s duration of life, blessings, opulence, etc., are decreased by sinful acts, and the most dangerous type of sinful act is unrestricted sex.
Ignorance is the cause of sinful life, or sinful life is the cause of gross ignorance. The feature of ignorance is darkness or fog. Darkness or fog still covers the whole universe, and the sun is the only counteracting principle. One who takes shelter of the Lord, the perpetual light, has no fear of being annihilated in the darkness of fog or ignorance.”
Your point is the above purport. But the next purport reveals something deeper.
“Once upon a time, when Brahmā was thinking of how to create the worlds as in the past millennium, the four Vedas, which contain all varieties of knowledge, became manifested from his four mouths.”
I would like to comment here, that the Vedic knowledge is always revealed through Lord Brahma’s heart, as stated in the following purport. And we are referring here to the same Brahma who had the sinful thought.
“As a fire can consume anything and everything without being contaminated, so, by the grace of the Lord, the fire of Brahmā’s greatness consumed his desire for the sinful act of sex with his daughter. The Vedas are the source of all knowledge, and they were first revealed to Brahmā by the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead while Brahmā was thinking of re-creating the material world. Brahmā is powerful by dint of his devotional service unto the Lord, and the Lord is always ready to forgive His devotee if by chance he falls down from the noble path of devotional service. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.5.42) confirms this as follows:
sva-pāda-mūlaṁ bhajataḥ priyasya
tyaktvānya-bhāvasya hariḥ pareśaḥ
vikarma yac cotpatitaṁ kathañ-cid
dhunoti sarvaṁ hṛdi sannviṣṭaḥ
“Any person who is engaged one hundred percent in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, at His lotus feet, is very dear to the Personality of Godhead Hari, and the Lord, being situated in the heart of the devotee, excuses all kinds of sins committed by chance.” It was never expected that a great personality like Brahmā would ever think of sex indulgence with his daughter. The example shown by Brahmā only suggests that the power of material nature is so strong that it can act upon everyone, even Brahmā.”
So what to speak of us in this age of kali!
This verse indicates that same Brahma who committed a sinful act in his mind was still in the position of the creator of the universe. It could be that our Brahma is a different Brahma, but here it is the same Brahma who is creating the universe.
And Srila Prabhupada confirms this: “Brahmā was saved by the mercy of the Lord with a little punishment, but by the grace of the Lord he did not lose his prestige as the great Brahmā.”
Therefore we see that though Lord Brahma was doing an abominable act that could have had repercussion for the common men, still he was forgiven by the Supreme Lord, after “a little punishment.”
What is this little punishment?
You quoted a whole section about how Lord Brahma was put to death, but here we find after a few verses that he is creating the universe. So who was put to death?
It is explained that he gave up his bad consciousness. Lord Brahma doesn’t have a gross body like ours. In Satyaloka, the body is most subtle. Lord Brahma discarded his sinful mental body and continued with his devotional service.
The words: “Once upon a time,” indicates that after some period of purification, Lord Brahma was again reinstated in his original position.
This principle applies to all the great personalities in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Even when Lord Indra killed Vrtasura, a brahmana, he was punished, but was again reinstated.
Similarly our devotees are not ordinary people. They may make some mistake, but when they recognize their mistakes and are punished for them, they are reinstated.
At present, His Holiness Dhanudhara Swami is giving us Krishna consciousness. His past is over. To hold a devotee guilty for past sinful activity that he has already purged is not dharma. Once prarabdha karma is over, it is over. We cannot give further punishment, unless reformation is not complete.
We’ll go further into the Srimad-Bhagavatam to examine what is justice. It is the famous case of Ajamila who was being taken to the court of Yamaraja. According to the judgment of the Yamadutta, he was sinful and had to be punished. According to the court of the Visnudutta, Ajamila had already incurred his sentence and was now free from his sins.
Let us remember that karma for a devotee is quickly burnt by the fire of repentance and the chanting of the holy names, what to speak of being surrendered to Srila Prabhupada and spreading the movement of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Those among us who are benefiting from His Holiness Dhanurdhara Swami’s siksa, know what valuable service he is doing for us and all members of ISKCON.
Srimad-Bhagavatam, canto 6, ch.1, 2 &3
“The blessed messengers of Lord Viṣṇu, the Viṣṇudūtas, said: If you are actually servants of Yamarāja, you must explain to us the meaning of religious principles and the symptoms of irreligion.”
“What is the process of punishing others? Who are the actual candidates for punishment? Are all karmīs engaged in fruitive activities punishable, or only some of them?”
“One who has the power to punish others should not punish everyone. . . .”
“Human beings, who are advanced in consciousness, are responsible, but not all of them are punishable.”
“Those engaged in advanced pious activities are beyond punishment. Only those who engage in sinful activities are punishable.
Therefore the Viṣṇudūtas particularly inquired about who is punishable and why Yamarāja has been designated to discriminate between who is punishable and who is not. How is one to be judged? What is the basic principle of authority? These are the questions raised by the Viṣṇudūtas.”
In this purport Srila Prabhupada makes the point that human beings who are advanced in consciousness are responsible but not all of them are punishable.
Criminals are judged by Yamaraja and the state laws, not Vaisnavas, because they are so advanced, responsible and are undergoing an extremely potent method of purification—that is Krishna consciousness.
The Yamadutas reply:
“In proportion to the extent of one’s religious or irreligious actions in this life, one must enjoy or suffer the corresponding reactions of his karma in the next.”
“This man Ajāmila did not undergo atonement. Therefore because of his sinful life, we must take him into the presence of Yamarāja for punishment. There, according to the extent of his sinful acts, he will be punished and thus purified.”
“. . . punishment by Yamarāja is a process of purification for the most abominable sinful persons.”
The court awards punishment upon a person to purify him, not as an act of retaliation. If the devotee is already purified and this is evident from the fact that His Holiness Dhanudhara Swami is able to inspire Krishna consciousness in the hearts of others, then where is the need for further punishment as means of purification.
Chapter 2, text 2
“The Viṣṇudūtas said: Alas, how painful it is that irreligion is being introduced into an assembly where religion should be maintained. Indeed, those in charge of maintaining the religious principles are needlessly punishing a sinless, un-punishable person.”
Just imagine, the Visnuduttas are speaking of Ajamila, who committed the most abominable acts!
“The Viṣṇudūtas accused the Yamadūtas of violating the religious principles by attempting to drag Ajāmila to Yamarāja for punishment. Yamarāja is the officer appointed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead to judge religious and irreligious principles and to punish people who are irreligious. However, if completely sinless people are punished, the entire assembly of Yamarāja is contaminated.
This principle applies not only in the assembly of Yamarāja, but throughout human society also. In human society, properly maintaining religious principles is the duty of the king’s court or the government. Unfortunately, in this yuga, Kali-yuga, the religious principles are tampered with, and the government cannot properly judge who is to be punished and who is not.
“A king or governmental official should be so well qualified that he acts as a father, maintainer and protector of the citizens because of affection and love. He should give the citizens good advice and instructions according to the standard scriptures and should be equal to everyone. Yamarāja does this, for he is the supreme master of justice, and so do those who follow in his footsteps. However, if such persons become polluted and exhibit partiality by punishing an innocent, blameless person, where will the citizens go to take shelter for their maintenance and security?”
The mass of people follow the example of a leader in society and imitate his behavior. They accept as evidence whatever the leader accepts.
The decision of the GBC on this matter is most serious and will set a precedent for the future.
Although Ajāmila was not punishable, the Yamadūtas were insisting on taking him away to Yamarāja for punishment. This was adharma, contrary to religious principles. The Viṣṇudūtas feared that if such irreligious acts were allowed, the management of human society would be spoiled. In modern times, the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is trying to introduce the right principles of management for human society. . . . The Hare Kṛṣṇa movement is the right movement for ameliorating the fallen condition of human society, and therefore governments and public leaders in every part of the world should support this movement to completely rectify humanity’s sinful condition.
In Kali-yuga, everybody is fallen and prone to commit mistakes and abominable acts. But Srila Prabhupada says in the above purport that this movement is meant to ameliorate the fallen condition of human society. An act that has been committed 20 years ago, which has been judged and rectified, why should further punishment be inflicted? What is the basis for such a decision?
“People in general are not very advanced in knowledge by which to discriminate between religion and irreligion. The innocent, unenlightened citizen is like an ignorant animal sleeping in peace with its head on the lap of its master, faithfully believing in the master’s protection. If a leader is actually kindhearted and deserves to be the object of a living entity’s faith, how can he punish or kill a foolish person who has fully surrendered in good faith and friendship?”
“The Sanskrit word viśvasta-ghāta refers to one who breaks faith or causes a breach of trust. The mass of people should always feel security because of the government’s protection. Therefore, how regrettable it is for the government itself to cause a breach of trust and put the citizens in difficulty. . . . One who betrays the confidence of a living entity who takes shelter of him in good faith . . . is extremely sinful.”
His Holiness Dhanurdhara Swami is surrendered to the mission of Srila Prabhupada. He has faith in Srila Prabhupada’s love for him, his compassion and protection. How can his representatives betray his trust in him?
“Ajāmila has already atoned for all his sinful actions. Indeed, he has atoned not only for sins performed in one life but for those performed in millions of lives, for in a helpless condition he chanted the holy name of Nārāyaṇa. Even though he did not chant purely, he chanted without offense, and therefore he is now pure and eligible for liberation.”
The Yamadūtas had considered only the external situation of Ajāmila. Since he was extremely sinful throughout his life, they thought he should be taken to Yamarāja and did not know that he had become free from the reactions of all his sins.
A devotee who constantly engages in devotional service, even if he accidentally commits a sinful act, is considered sadhu. Why? Because very quickly he becomes righteous again, due to his engagement in devotional service–our process of chanting and hearing works.
Krsna says he reinstate the devotee to his original position.
“Authorities who are learned scholars and sages have carefully ascertained that one should atone for the heaviest sins by undergoing a heavy process of atonement and one should atone for lighter sins by undergoing lighter atonement. Chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, however, vanquishes all the effects of sinful activities, regardless of whether heavy or light.”
Punishment is inflicted according to gravity of the sin, not whimsically, as a means of rectification. And a sadhu is automatically purified of his sin.
Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: My dear King, having thus perfectly judged the principles of devotional service with reasoning and arguments, the order carriers of Lord Viṣṇu released the brāhmaṇa Ajāmila from the bondage of the Yamadūtas and saved him from imminent death.
Judgment of a sadhu, a devotee, is according to the principles of devotional service, not according to the state laws. As it is, the state laws are corrupt, uneducated and blind. How can we have recourse to them? Brahmanas are judged by other enlightened brahmanas, not corrupt law-makers.
The next chapter elucidates the point about who is qualified to give justice.
Chapter 3, text 5
“If in this universe there are many rulers and justices who disagree about punishment and reward, their contradictory actions will neutralize each other, and no one will be punished or rewarded. Otherwise, if their contradictory acts fail to neutralize each other, everyone will have to be both punished and rewarded.”
“If there were many authorities who gave different judgments, which could be contradictory, a person might be wrongly punished or wrongly rewarded, or he might be neither punished nor rewarded. . . . However, in the law of nature or the court of the Supreme Personality of Godhead there cannot be such contradictory judgments. The judges and their judgments must be perfect and free from contradictions.”
It is true that some abominable acts have been committed and punishment must be given. But there are other considerations.
“Actually the position of Yamarāja was very awkward in the case of Ajāmila because the Yamadūtas were right in attempting to arrest Ajāmila, but the Viṣṇudūtas had baffled them.”
Is the law of the state the only applicable law?
The Yamadūtas continued: Since there are many different karmīs, or workers, there may be different judges or rulers to give them justice, but just as one central emperor controls different departmental rulers, there must be one supreme controller to guide all the judges.
We were bringing the most sinful Ajāmila toward the hellish planets, following your order, when those beautiful persons from Siddhaloka forcibly cut the knots of the ropes with which we were arresting him.
What we may think is justice, may not be justice.
“As soon as the sinful Ajāmila uttered the name Nārāyaṇa, these four beautiful men immediately arrived and reassured him, saying, “Do not fear. Do not fear.”
The basis of defending His Holiness Dhanurdhara Swami is he is constantly chanting the holy names of the Lord, and he is glorifying the names, forms and activities of the Lord. He inspires faith in those who hear him speak, and he enlightens them with knowledge.
“The order carriers of Yamarāja, being very much aggrieved because of their defeat by the four Viṣṇudūtas, wanted to bring them before Yamarāja and, if possible, punish them. Otherwise they desired to commit suicide.”
Ordinary justice doesn’t apply to sadhus.
Yamarāja said: My dear servants, you have accepted me as the Supreme, but factually I am not. Above me, and above all the other demigods, including Indra and Candra, is the one supreme master and controller.”
The karmis are ruled by ordinary justice, but devotees are under the justice of the Supreme Lord.
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead is self-sufficient and fully independent.”
“The Viṣṇudūtas protect the devotees of the Lord from the hands of enemies, from envious persons and even from my jurisdiction, as well as from natural disturbances.”
The question that is arising is, “what is justice” and “what is injustice?” The answer is given here.
“Real religious principles are enacted by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Although fully situated in the mode of goodness, even the great ṛṣis who occupy the topmost planets cannot ascertain the real religious principles, nor can the demigods or the leaders of Siddhaloka, to say nothing of the asuras, ordinary human beings, Vidyādharas and Cāraṇas.”
“Herein it is stated that the real religious principle is that which is given by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That principle is stated in Bhagavad-gītā. Sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja: [Bg. 18.66] one should give up all other duties and surrender unto the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. That is the real religious principle everyone should follow.”
His Holiness Dhanudhara Swami has accepted this principle. Therefore, he is following the “real religious principles”. Hence the justice applicable to him is not the law of Yamaraja, the state law, meant for the karmis, but the law of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
These last verses give the final verdict.
“Considering all these points, therefore, intelligent men decide to solve all problems by adopting the devotional service of chanting the holy name of the Lord, who is situated in everyone’s heart and who is a mine of all auspicious qualities. Such persons are not within my jurisdiction for punishment. Generally they never commit sinful activities, but even if by mistake or because of bewilderment or illusion they sometimes commit sinful acts, they are protected from sinful reactions because they always chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra.”
“. . . a devotee who commits sinful acts, which he may do unwillingly or accidentally because of his former habits, is excused. That is the value of the saṅkīrtana movement.”
H.H. Dhanudhara Swami was a young, unmarried man who didn’t know how to deal with children. He was ignorantly harsh and never dreamt what would be the consequences of his acts.
But now the GBC, knowingly, may take a decision that will cause great turmoil in the lives of disciples. We know the suffering of losing a spiritual master. It causes such psychological and emotional damage. Devotees lose faith and go away from Krishna consciousness.
If we take a wrong decision, there is also consequences for us, as stated in this last verse and purport.
“My dear servants, please do not approach such devotees, for they have fully surrendered to the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They are equal to everyone, and their narrations are sung by the demigods and the inhabitants of Siddhaloka. Please do not even go near them. They are always protected by the club of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and therefore Lord Brahmā and I and even the time factor are not competent to chastise them.”
“Those devotees are so respectable and exalted that Lord Viṣṇu personally protects them with the club in His hand. Therefore, regardless of what you have done this time, henceforward you should not approach such devotees; otherwise you will be killed by the club of Lord Viṣṇu. This is my warning. Lord Viṣṇu has a club and cakra to punish nondevotees. Do not risk punishment by attempting to disturb the devotees. Not to speak of you, if even Lord Brahmā or I were to punish them, Lord Viṣṇu would punish us. Therefore do not disturb the devotees any further.”
Yours in service to Srila Prabhupada,
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