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Krsna Answers All of Arjuna’s Questions

Wednesday, 09 February 2011 / Published in Articles / 5,387 views

By Pancha Tattva dasa

I was taken aback to read a recent piece on your website by Mother Abhaya Mudra dasi, the author, who said that Krsna “never really answers the question asked by Arjuna” in verse 54 of the second chapter of Bhagavad-gita:

Arjuna said: “What are the symptoms of one whose consciousness is thus merged in Transcendence? How does he speak, and what is his language? How does he sit, and how does he walk?”

The author says that this is “the one question left unanswered in the epic conversation between Krsna and Arjuna,” and explains that “a Vaishnava is never to be judged by his exterior manifestations.”

But Krsna does answer Arjuna’s question – completely. To suggest otherwise does not do credit to the speaker of Bhagavad-gita, the Supreme Lord Himself. It would have been far better to write that Krsna answers Arjuna’s question, but in a way differently than what one might expect if he is thinking only of external symptoms.

It may seem to be a matter of symantics, but the author has clearly said – twice
– that Krsna did not answer Arjuna’s question – and that’s simply not true. The bona fide spiritual master is competent to answer all questions on the transcendental subject matter. And the original spiritual master, Lord Krsna, is certainly qualified and competent. He would not fail to answer such a serious question from His disciple. To suggest so is misleading, at best.

In “Surrender to Me” by Bhurijana dasa, the excellent supplement to Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is, the author cites the Bhagavad-gita commentary of Srila Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura to show that Krsna answers each part of Arjuna’s question, in detail. Bhurijana explains that “although these questions seem to deal only with such a person’s external behavior, Srila Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura reveals each question’s internal meaning.”

Bhurijana relates that Arjuna’s question may be accepted in four parts: 1) what are the transcendentalist’s symptoms, 2) how does he speak and what is his language, 3) how does he sit, and 4) how does he walk?

Arjuna’s first question regarding the transcendentalist’s characteristics is answered immediately by Krsna in verse 55:

“The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: O Partha, when a man gives up all varieties of desire for sense gratification, which arise from mental concoction, and when his mind, thus purified, finds satisfaction in the self alone, then he is said to be in pure transcendental consciousness.”

Bhurijana Prabhu writes: “The sthita-prajna reveals his position by having no material affection. He is detached from both happiness and misery. Rather, he is fully satisfied by fixing his consciousness on the self.”

Bhurijana goes on to cite the internal meaning of Arjuna’s next query: How does the transcendentalist speak? “This question means: ‘How are his intelligence and words affected by another’s affection, anger or neutrality? In other words, how does he respond?'” Krsna answers this question in verses 56 and 57:

“One who is not disturbed in mind even amidst the threefold miseries or elated when there is happiness, and who is free from attachment, fear and anger, is called a sage of steady mind. In the material world, one who is unaffected by whatever good or evil he may obtain, neither praising it nor despising it, is firmly fixed in perfect knowledge.”

Arjuna’s next question is: How does he sit? According to Srila Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, this means “How does he not engage his senses? What is his mentality when his senses are restrained from their objects?” Lord Krsna answers in verses 58 and 59:

“One who is able to withdraw his senses from sense objects, as the tortoise draws its limbs within the shell, is firmly fixed in perfect consciousness. The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness.”

Then Bhurijana explains that Arjuna’s last question is answered beginning with text 64 and running until almost the end of the second chapter: “How does the transcendentalist walk?” Bhurijana writes, “The purport of this question is: ‘How does a man in transcendence engage his senses?'”

Krsna says: “But a person free from all attachment and aversion and able to control his senses through regulative principles of freedom can obtain the complete mercy of the Lord. For one thus satisfied [in Krsna consciousness], the threefold miseries of material existence exist no longer; in such satisfied consciousness, one’s intelligence is soon well established… etc.”

In conclusion, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krsna, answers Arjuna’s question perfectly, by citing the internal symptoms of the stitha-prajna transcendentalist. I humbly refer the reader to Srimad Bhagavad-gita As It Is, by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, and his mature disciple Bhurijana Prabhu’s supplemental guide, “As They Surrender to Me,” for a deeper understanding. I have quoted only briefly from both texts.

Your servant,

Pancha Tattva dasa

26 Responses to “Krsna Answers All of Arjuna’s Questions”

  1. Sita Rama das says :

    Tattvavit Prabhu,
    Please accept my humble obiesances.
    All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
    Regarding Arjuna’s questions on the transcendental walking you say,(referring to Krishna), “He would not fail to answer such a serious question from his disciple. To suggest otherwise is misleading at best”. However there is no reason to consider Arjuna’s question as serious, unless one reads Srila Visvanatha Cakravati Thakura’s commentary wherein walking is defined as engaging the senses in general. Visvanatha Cakravati Thakura’s commentary is certainly valid but the commentary by Srila Prabhupada is especially meant for us. From what Srila prabhupada gives us it is justifiable to take Arjuna’s question at face value and as such Krishna’s competence would not be questioned by His failure to answer this question. And Mother Abhay Mudra’s statement that Krishna did not answer the question as Arjuna answered it is a valid conclusion based on the contents of Bhagavada Gita As It Is.
    As such this conclusion is perfect because it is the direct understanding we get from reading Srila Prabhupada’s, Bhagavada Gita As it Is. We do not have to read the commentaries of Previous Archarya’s, (which Srila Prabhupada choose to leave out of his purports) to get a complete understanding. The only conclusion is there are two ways to see Arjuna’s question, take it as it is- he is asking does a transcendentalists have a specific walk, which is the way we see it from Srila Prabhupada’s commentary or see it as having some symbolic meaning as described by previous Acharya’s. They are both valid. Srila Prabhupada translation shows the point we most need to understand. To imply that the proper understanding is only available after reading commentaries by past Acharya’s is erroneous.

  2. scooty.ram says :

    Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: 53. Oh, I’ll finish this sentence. “Persons in Kṛṣṇa consciousness transcend the limit of śabda-brahma or the range of the Vedas and Upaniṣads.” 53: “When your mind is no longer disturbed by the flowery language of the Vedas and when it remains fixed in the trance of self-realization, then you will have attained the divine consciousness (BG 2.53).” 54: “Arjuna said, ‘What are the symptoms of one whose consciousness is thus merged in transcendence? How does he speak and what is his language? How does he sit and how does he walk?’ ” (BG 2.54)

    Prabhupāda: This is very important thing. The symptoms, the characteristics, of Kṛṣṇa conscious persons, they are described there, item by item.

    From this it is clear that each question was answered item by item which will include the question about walking(if one intends to take this literally)

    However by providing these quotes i do not intend to anyway indicate that one should reject Previous acharya’s comments based on Srila Prabhupada’s opinion.
    Nor do I provoke anyone to look for such supporting statements for establishing one’s stand.

    An inconsistent and contradictory opinion(If any) between acharyas will make the sampradaya weak.


  3. panchatattvadasa says :

    Dear Sita Ram dasa,

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

    Who is Tattvavit?

    Thank you for your kind comments. Nevertheless, Krsna has answered Arjuna’s question. If you feel that Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura’s commentary is not meant for you, then what can I say? Srila Prabhupada drew from the commentaries of the previous acharyas often as he wrote his Bhaktivedanta purports. I’m sure that he didn’t pass over the Thakura’s commentary on Arjuna’s question just so that devotees could come along later and say, “Aha! Krsna didn’t answer Arjuna’s question!”

    Even without considering the Thakura’s commentary, Krsna has responded, in a whole series of statements, to Arjuna’s question. It is an answer, or rather, a series of answers. And nowhere in Srila Prabhupada’s commentary do we find Prabhupada saying that Krsna did not answer Arjuna. That is your statement and that of the other writer in question. Why should you say such a thing, if Srila Prabhupada did not?

    To insist that Krsna has not answered his disciple’s question, in what is the most important literature on spiritual fundamentals in our Vaishnava literature, the book which Gaudiya Vaishnavas refer to the world over to answer questions on Krsna consciousness, is an onerous mistake. That is my objection.

    Simply Krsna’s answer must be understood with a little intelligence: Arjuna asked, and Krsna answered. And if one of Srila Prabhupada’s expert, surrendered, intelligent disciples, following in his footsteps and quoting from our trusted acharyas, shows another wonderful aspect of this particular exchange in the second chapter of Bhagavad-gita – about which whole books could be written – then I for one will not be averse to increasing my understanding and sharing it with others. I’m quite certain that Srila Prabhupada is proud of Bhurijana Prabhu’s service.

    Your servant,

    Pancha Tattva dasa

  4. Sita Rama das says :

    Pancha Tattva Prabu,
    First, neither I nor Mother Abhay Mudra say Krishna did not answer Arjuna’s question regarding how to identify one who is transcendental. Krishna simply did not say that such a person walks in this or that way. You ask me why should I say such a thing if Srila Prabhupada did not. It is because Srila Prabhupada did not say Arjuna’s question was supposed to be taken in some figurative way; that it means something entirely different from what is denoted by the word, walk. Since Krishna never says a transcendentalist can be known by this or that manner of walking it is concluded Krishna did not answer Arjuna’s question as it was asked.
    If you are going to insist that my understanding of the Gita is invalid, I am open to that, but you must do so by citing Bhagavada Gita As It is. Other wise, implicit in your argument is the assumption that the correct understanding is only available after reading commentaries of previous Acharya’s. I will never accept that I am wrong about the Gita when I base a conclusion exclusively on Srila Prabhupada’s, Bhagavada Gita As It Is. The biggest mistake we can make is to not understand that Srila Prabhupada’s books are the ultimate authority for Lord Caitanya’s movement for the next 10,000 years.
    Why do you insist that Krishna and the spiritual master have to answer a question that includes a false assumption about spiritual life? Arjuna is playing the role of someone who does not understand transcendence, and based on this he asks how such a person walks. He is implying that a transcendentalists has some particular manner of moving about, by which he can be identified. We know this is not the fact, a brahmana may stroll along with a peaceful demeanor but the Pandava’s had gates that resembled a lion stalking its prey. Replying that a transcendentalist cannot be identified by their gate does not explain the real nature of transcendence. Krishna explained the real nature of transcendence and implicit in this is that the gate does not matter. What is the problem?

  5. Abhaya Mudra Dasi says :

    From Abhaya Mudra Dasi

    A disciple may ask a question and expect a certain answer from his guru, but a qualified spiritual master may not always satisfy the expectations of his disciples. At the battle of Kurukshetra, Arjuna took the position of a disciple and Shri Krishna was his spiritual master.

    Arjuna is most praiseworthy because he choose to ask all his burning questions directly to the Supreme Lord. He did not try to solve his problems by asking materialistic personalities. So whatever his questions were, they were perfect because they were directed at the Supreme Person who is most qualified to answer any question.

    Nonetheless, Shri Krishna cannot be compared to ordinary gurus who just like the professors from mundane universities give tanto for tanto answers. That is their concept of education centered upon self promotion which does not keep the welfare of the disciple at the center.

    By not answering the question of Arjuna at face value Shri Krishna actually establishes His superior position in the conversation. He can answer or not answer. He is the Supreme controller. He took the question of Arjuna as an opportunity to further direct the conversation. After all, Shri Krishna is standing right there as the best example and answer to the question.

    We have to be aware that whoever asks Shri Krishna directly is going to get the best instructions how to approach Him. Shri Krishna is not going to waste His time explaining mundane matters.

    At the time of the beginning of the battle of Kurukshetra, Arjuna was distressed. His mind was dwelling on the attachment to his relatives and he automatically transfered this material contamination into his query. From the beginning of second chapter of Bhagavad Gita Shri Krishna was engaging the mind of Arjuna by throwing at him all the basic transcendental topics of Bhagavad Gita. These topics were like a bombardment and sooner or later Arjuna was going to be hit by the arrows of transcendental knowledge in the midst of his despair.

    continues ->

  6. Abhaya Mudra Dasi says :

    When Arjuna asked the question in BG (2.54) it was his confirmation that he is trying to catch on with Shri Krishna’s transcendental argument. We can practically experience the mixture of the question. The question is aimed at understanding a transcendental matter, the devotee of the Supreme Lord. On the other hand, Arjuna is still affected by his material identification and for that he applies material identifications to the devotee. Thus he places his question before the Lord partially out of distress and partially out of intelligence. For Shri Krishna this was a good sign that his friend, and now student, is staring to pick up on the transcendental topics. The Supreme Lords immediately, and with great enthusiasm, starts directing Arjuna towards topics aimed at reestablishing his true position.

    We do not need to wonder that Shr Krishna did not answer the questions of Arjuna the way it was put and expected to be answered. That only proves that Shri Krishna had the best in store for his devotee; just like when Dhruva Maharaja went to the forest to ask for wealth but received the personal darshan of Shri Vishnu. Dhruva Maharaja later said in his prayers addressing the Lord that, “ I was asking for glass beads but received the diamond, Your association.”

    These are the ways of the Supreme Lord.

  7. There is a standard way by which most devotees learn the precepts of the Bhagavad-Gita through our colleges and seminars. We memorise some important verses and understand how Lord Krishna weaved His way through various systems of thought and deed, gradually rising up to full surrender. In addition, Srila Prabhupada’s purports help to comprehend what could otherwise be any layman’s claim to tainted truth, as the number of false editions of Bhagavad-Gita show.

    But whatever the accepted standard, the words of Lord Krishna cannot be subjected to any finality, or blanket communal understanding. The ever-fresh realisations that accrue from reading and studying this sacred dialogue, attest to the truth that the Lord’s words have no limit. Indeed, some commentaries of Bhagavad-Gita, written by our previous acaryas, displayed traits of rasika thoughts suitable to their inner fulfilment.

    This is to say that whether a child or seasoned devotee expresses some realization on reading or studying Bhagavad-Gita As It Is, it should be encouraged. Otherwise we run the risk of turning our learning into dogma, and limiting the unlimited words of Lord Krishna. If this happens we easily fall prey to intolerance. This is not a broadminded development of Krishna consciousness.

    Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

  8. Dear Pancatattva Prabhu,

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

    Thank you for your excellent text as well as your equally good response to the dissenting opinion.

    Visvanatha Carkravarti Thakura is one of our purvacaryas and it is perfectly acceptable to access his commentaries or the commentaries of any authorized acarya for clarification or if there is a point of doubt. There is certainly no contradiction between what he and Srila Prabhupada have written.

    Your humble servant

    Shyamasundara Dasa
    krsne matirastu

  9. Sita Rama das says :

    Shyamasundara Prabhu,
    We may need clarification on a point but this is distinct from doubting what is unambiguously being stated by Srila Prabhupada and Krishna. Do we doubt because we do not clearly understand or because we do not accept what is clearly spoken? That is determined by our level of exposure to the philosophy. For instance for a newcomer the question- “Why am I suffering” – is laudable. But if we ask this question as initiated devotees, after being told several times, it means we are unwilling to accept the clear explaination.
    Similarly before accepting Srila Prabhupada as Guru or Parama Guru we accept his manner of explaining Bhagavada Gita. Srila Prabhupada makes it abundantly clear from the title, the introduction, and throughout the text that we accept the direct,(or dictionary definition) of the words used by Krishna and Arjuna. Therefore by, “ walk “,we accept that Arjuna means, “walk” or a synonym such as gait. As followers of Srila Prabhupada there is no basis for doubting this. It has been described with absolute clarity. We either accept what we have heard from Srila Prabhupada numerous times or we don’t. That decision is up to us. But we should be honest about it.

  10. panchatattvadasa says :

    Dear Sita Rama Prabhu,

    Thank you for the stimulating and thoughtful discussion. I respond in two parts. This is part one.

    You write, “Why do you insist that Krishna and the spiritual master have to answer a question that includes a false assumption about spiritual life?”

    Since you insist on referring only to Srila Prabhupada’s purports on this matter, then let’s just consider the very first sentences of Prabhupada’s purport for Bg. verse 2.54, wherein Arjuna submits his question:

    “As there are symptoms for each and every man, in terms of his particular situation, similarly one who is Krsna conscious has his particular nature—talking, walking, thinking, feeling, etc. As a rich man has his symptoms by which he is known as a rich man, as a diseased man has his symptoms by which he is known as diseased, or as a learned man has his symptoms, so a man in transcendental consciousness of Krsna has specific symptoms in various dealings.” (First sentences from Bg 2.54 purport)

    Srila Prabhupada goes on to write that the most important symptom of a Krsna conscious man is his speech.

    Here Srila Prabhupada clearly refers to a Krsna conscious person having a particular nature in terms of “talking, walking, thinking, feeling, etc.,” which is exactly what Arjuna was asking about. (Oh, that silly, bewildered Arjuna!) If you want to continue splitting symantic hairs, you could make an argument about “sitting,” but since Srila Prabhupada specifies walking, I’m hoping you’ll recognize the obvious: Srila Prabhupada wrote that a transcendentalist has a particular nature of walking – in other words, all of his activities, external and internal, are meaningful – not meaningless.

    And please note Srila Prabhupada’s mention of “specific symptoms in various dealings.” In this regard, the commentary of Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura cited by His Grace Bhurijana Prabhu is perfectly, ecstatically complimentary to Srila Prabhupada’s commentary.

    Srila Prabhupada has directly contradicted you in the first two sentences of his Bhaktivedanta purport for Bg. 2.54. So, where is the “false assumption about spiritual life?”

  11. panchatattvadasa says :

    Dear Sita-Rama Prabhu,

    Here’s part two.

    My position still stands: Arjuna asked a pertinent question, and Krsna answered it. Neither Krsna nor Srila Prabhupada (nor Srila Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura) regard Arjuna’s question as irrelevant, inappropriate or off-subject. I continue to insist that it is a mistaken departure from the spirit of the Bhagavad-gita to treat Arjuna’s question in this way, or to suggest that Krsna does not answer, or has no interest in answering.

    As Srila Prabhupada says in “Easy Journey to Other Planets:”

    “Similarly, the Bhagavad-gita was spoken by the Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, to Vivasvan, the presiding deity of the sun, and when the aural chain of disciplic succession was broken, Lord Krsna repeated the Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra. At that time, Arjuna took the role of disciple and student in order to receive transcendental knowledge from Sri Krsna. In order to drive out all misgivings which the gross materialists of the world may have, Arjuna asked all relevant questions, and the answers were given by Krsna so that any layman can understand them. Only those who are captivated by the glamour of the material world cannot accept the authority of Lord Sri Krsna.”

    Please note: “Arjuna asked all relevant questions, and the answers were given by Krsna so that any layman can understand them.” Perfect questions, perfect answers.

    Nowhere in Srila Prabhupada’s writings or recorded lectures does he say that Krsna did not answer Arjuna’s question. Why would you insist otherwise? You are demanding acceptance of Srila Prabhupada’s purports as the exclusive all-in-all, aren’t you? Where does Srila Prabhupada say that Arjuna’s question is irrelevant? Where does he say that Krsna does not answer it? This is the bottom line: If you cannot point out such a statement by Srila Prabhupada then you have no authority to state it yourself.

  12. Sita Rama das says :

    Pancha Tattva Prabhu,
    Please accept mu humble obeisances.
    All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    I believe I have given good reason explaining why I feel it is extremely important to accept the direct dictionary definitions of Vedic statements, we all know Srila Prabhupada stressed this.
    If you accept the direct meaning of terms and insist Krishna gives a direct answer, then you must directly answer, How does a devotee walk?, using the direct meaning of walk.That is not possible. Something has to give. You feel the direct meaning should be given up. I feel the statement that it was directly answered must be given up. I have given my reason why the direct meaning can’t be given up. But you have not answered what is wrong with my statement. You have stated it is wrong to say Arjuna’s question was irrelevant and Krishna did not answer it. I agree with you and do not presume to have the authority to say that. You have not said what is wrong with my actual statement- Krishna explained to Arjuna’s full satisfaction how to recognize a transcendentalist but did not say s/he had a certain walk. A devotee walks for Krishna that is the essence of Krishna’s answer.
    That Krishna gave indirect answers to some of Arjuna’s questions was explicitly stated by Srila Prbhupada in chapter 1 of “Message of Godhead”, regarding the first statements by Krishna to Arjuna- that the living entity, unlike physical substances,cannot be burnt,cut,dried up,etc we read “Thus to illustrate that the living entity,or spirit entirely metaphysical, the above explanation is given as INDIRECT PROOF BY NEGATION
    of material attributes.
    But I will not press you for an unarguable answer. I think there is a higher point- not offending the sentiments of devotees. Therefore; from now on I will TRY to be careful to explain any vital fact regarding this concept without explicitly saying Krishna did not directly answer. If something can be stated in such a way as to minimize the chance of disturbing devotees sensibilities regarding the Supreme Lord than that should be done. I feel obliged to do this in reciprocation for your sensitivity to my compulsion to use Srila Prabhupada’s purports as the last word when debating issues.
    Sita Rama das

  13. Pancha Tattva dasa says :

    Dear Sita-Rama Prabhu,

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

    (I answer in two parts. Here is part one.)

    Thank you for your gracious reply. I would not have pursued the matter further, but for your question to me regarding Arjuna’s alleged “false assumption about spiritual life.” My contention, as supported by Srila Prabhupada’s purport, was that Arjuna’s question did not contain a false assumption. I think we have established this much. The fact that Lord Krsna goes directly to describing the transcendentalist’s consciousness and dealings does not invalidate Arjuna’s question. Nor does it mean that it’s not answered.

    The false assumption about spiritual life is made by persons who think that Arjuna is wondering if a transcendentalist walks with baby steps or is pigeon-toed. The false assumption is made by persons who think that Arjuna questions whether he sits in a straight-back chair or in a recliner, or whether he “talks in a deep voice” or a whisper. Now, those are false assumptions! Let’s at least allow Arjuna credit for a little more intelligence than that. He’s not an idiot. He is an eternal associate of the Lord, and he was a contemporary of Srila Vyasadeva and many other great transcendentalists. The fact that we cannot grasp Arjuna’s poetic use of language (this is Sanskrit poetry) which he uses to ask about ‘specific symptoms in various dealings’ [Prabhupada’s purport] does not mean that Krishna and our acharyas – past and present – don’t understand him. They understand him very well.

    We are the ones who sometimes don’t understand – although we may insist on pretending to, at the risk of intellectual dishonesty. Our misunderstanding is cleared by submissively hearing from Srila Prabhupada and the previous acharyas. If they concluded that Arjuna asked a dumb question, they would certainly have told us, and then we would have been obliged to accept this and preach it all over the world. But’s that’s not what they say. Quite the opposite. And, since it is the opposite (see Srila Prabhupada’s purports, and those of Srila Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura, if you dare), by not accepting, we run the risk of misleading people with our unsupported, so-called “insights” into the Bhagavad-gita.

  14. Pancha Tattva dasa says :

    Dear Sita-Rama Prabhu,

    Here is part two.

    In regard to whether or not Krsna answers Arjuna’s question, you may recall that, in my original post, I wrote this:

    “The author (Abhaya Mudra dasi – ed.) writes that Krsna “never really answers the question asked by Arjuna”, and, further, this is “the one question left unanswered in the epic conversation between Krsna and Arjuna.”

    I then wrote:

    “It would have been far better to write that Krsna answers Arjuna’s question, but in a way differently than what one might expect if he is thinking only of external symptoms.”

    I hope we can agree that this is a fair approach. Arjuna is asking important, pertinent questions and Krsna is answering his questions. Not that Arjuna has asked an impertinent, stupid question and Krsna chose not to answer it.

    Your servant,

    Pancha Tattva dasa

  15. Re: text #9

    Dear Sita Rama Prabhu,

    Please accept my best wishes. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    Srila Prabhupada’s purports are perfect but not complete. Why do I say that? Read on to find out. They cannot be complete because the subject is not finite matter but the ever expanding transcendence. Thus no commentary can ever be complete. The Gita is ever fresh and when it is read again it is as if we never read it before and our realizations are also expanding.

    Let us also consider the following: Mahabharata on this world is 100,000 slokas long, in Pitri loka it is 1,400,000 slokas, in Gandhavaloka it is 1,500,000 long and in Devaloka it is 3,000,000 long. Similar is the case with the Bhagavatam and other literature including the Vedas. We have only a fragment of the Vedas considering that previously there were over 1000 shakhas of the Rig Veda now there a less than a handful and they are quickly dying out. And, where are the other 99 chapters of the Brahma Samhita?

    As for commentary on the sastras Lord Caitanya gave 64 explanations of the Atmarama verse and He could have continued. Our paramguru, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saravati Thakura spoke at length every day for a month just explaining the first verse of the Srimad Bhagavatam and said the same could be done for each verse. In fact a one-month discussion of each verse was not a limit but just a start for him.
    Madhvacarya in his commentary on the Mahabharata has pointed out that each and every word can be understood on ten (10) different levels. And that each word in the Vedas on three (3) different levels. That means the room for commentary is infinite. And, Sripad Ramanuja Acarya’s Sri Bhasya commentary on just the first sutra of the Vedanta Sutra is 192 pages long.

    What to speak of these great souls Lord Anantadeva with His unlimited mouths has been describing the glories of the Lord for eternity and not yet reached a conclusion. And, what to speak of Lord Anantadeva, Lord Krsna Himself cannot know the extent of His glories and qualities because they are ever expanding.

    Considering this we are not surprised that no matter how perfect a commentary may be it is not complete because more can always be said.


  16. Part 2

    Regarding my level of exposure to the philosophy. Well I don’t know about what you were exposed to, but as a bhakta I was taught that our system rested on the bedrock of GSS, that is, Guru, Sadhu and Sastra. By Sadhu is meant our purvacaryas like Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura and other recognized Acaryas such as Ramanuja, Madhvacarya, Lokapillai Acarya, Vedanta Desika, etc. But it seems that in order to win an argument you want to change GSS to just GS by eliminating Sadhus and only keeping Guru and Sastra.

    If you do a search for Visvanatha Cakravarti in the Veda Base you will get over 1000 hits indicating that Srila Prabhupada referred to and respected him as an authentic Sadhu whose opinion he valued. I also strongly resent your innuendo that if Pancatattva Prabhu or Bhurijana Prabhu or myself refers to the works of Visvanatha Cakravarti or any other recognized Sadhu then we are guilty of lack of faith in Srila Prabhupada. To be blunt I find it insulting and offensive, especially coming from someone who is not even a disciple of Srila Prabhupada.

    Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada

    Shyamasundara Dasa
    krsne matirastu

  17. Pancha Tattva dasa says :

    Dear Shyamasundara and Sita-Rama Prabhus,

    I reply in two parts. Here is part one.

    I thank you both for the engaging and thought-provoking debate concerning the dialogue between Krsna and Arjuna that constitutes the crown jewel of the Mahabharata, the Gitopanisad, or Bhagavad-gita. I especially applaud Shyamasundara’s last response, which emphasizes the expansive nature of commentary on Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. I also appreciate his points regarding guru, sadhu and sastra.

    At the same time, as a grand-disciple, I understand and empathize with Sita-Rama Prabhu’s sentiments for Srila Prabhupada’s Bhaktivedanta purports. I acknowledge that, even without approaching the commentaries of other Vaishnava acharyas, everything necessary for perfection of one’s spiritual life is present in Srila Prabhupada’s books. It is important to understand, however, that Srila Prabhupada amplified upon the previous acharyas’ commentaries throughout his writings. He did not disregard them or consider them incorrect, antiquated or inexplicable.

    An article appearing in a 2002 issue of Back to Godhead magazine, #36-04, illustrates this adherence very nicely. In “Serving the Words of His Predecessors,” His Grace Gopiparanadhana, senior BBT editor, explores Srila Prabhupada’s commentary on a single verse from Srimad Bhagavatam – Fourth Canto, Chapter 28, verse 51. A careful reading of this article gives a glimpse into the spiritual fidelity of Srila Prabhupada’s commentary with those of the previous acharyas. This article can be found in the Vedabase, if you are interested.

  18. Pancha Tattva dasa says :

    Dear Shyamasundara and Sita-Rama Prabhus,

    Here is part two.

    Having said that, it is not misguided to study the works of the previous acharyas – unless it is done without full experience and mature understanding of Srila Prabhupada’s books. As a nod to Sita-Rama Prabhu, I have sometimes seen devotees rush with great enthusiasm to the books of the Goswamis and other confidential texts while not having full knowledge of Srila Prabhupada’s books and the other spiritual assets required.

    But I do not believe this applies in the case of “Surrender Unto Me,” by His Grace Bhurijana Prabhu. His book is offered as a supplement (not a subsititute) to Bhagavad-gita As It Is and is entirely loyal to Srila Prabhupada’s purports, while drawing on the commentaries of Srila Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura and Srila Baladeva Vidyabushana to further elucidate upon the text. Any apparent differences in meaning or interpretation are, in Bhurijana’s own words, “relevant to particular contexts, with differing emphases, each meant to carry the reader to the same point: “Surrender unto Me.””

    And I conclude, with reference to Srila Prabhupada and the previous acharyas, and without equivocation, that Arjuna’s question in the 54th verse of the Second Chapter of Bhagavad-gita was relevant, and that Lord Sri Krsna answered his question.

  19. Sita Rama das says :

    Shamasundara Prabhu,
    Please forgive my offensive innuendo. I will try to speak my point directly. I am not saying that senior devotees lack faith in Srila Prabhupada simply because they refer to statements of previous Acharya’s, which are translated by Srila Prabhupada’s disciples, and not found in Srila Prabhupada’s books. But these references must be seen in the proper preceptive.

    Although I am not even a disciple of Srila Prabhupada I am a follower. As such I accept him as the ultimate authority. This leads to some conclusions:
    1. The statements of previous Acharya’s which are translated and applied by Srila Prabhupada are given more weight than statements of previous Acharya’s which are translated and applied by those who are NOT the the Founder Acharya. Therfore: However intimate a disciple of Srila Prabhupada may be their translation of previous Acharya’s,( that Srila Prbahupada himself did not translate and apply),are not on the same level as translation of an Acharya by THE ACHARYA, and cannot change the meaning of Srila Prbahupada’s books.
    2.Srila Prabhupada stated many times that the meaning of his purports are the direct meaning based on dictionary definitions. Therefore: I reject the argument that I am wrong about the Bhagavada Gita because someone, not on the level of the Founder Acharya, claims a previous Acharya tells us to see things in a figurative way. That goes against a foundational principal of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings- we accept the direct the meanings.
    3.As a member of ISKCON I have every right, and am obligated, to assert that Srila Prabhupada’s books are the ultimate authority within ISKCON. An advanced disciple of Srila Prabhupada should be pleased that I am also accepting Srila Prabupada as the ultimate authority.
    I have deference for you as a personal disciple of Srila Prabhupada. Frankly that is all I know about you and Burijana prabhu, I do not know anything about either of you in terms of level of experience, or your service within ISKCON. But I am simply requesting that if you want to correct my understanding please do it with reference to Srila Prabhupada books. I see no reason why you should find this request offensive.

  20. I just wanted to clarify that Srila Prabhupada was perfectly capable of giving even more elaborate and voluminous commentaries. But, no matter how long or detailed he commentaries were the subject matter of Krsna consciousness is such that more can always be said.

  21. Sita Rama 108 says :

    Please post this more respectful response to comment 16 by Sita Rama das I changed my log in due to password forgetting.
    Shyamasudara Prabhu,
    Please accept my humble obeisances.
    All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
    I apologize for my offensive innuendo. I simply have a different perspective than you do. My intent is to express it, not to offend my God Uncles. I do not question your, or any devotees, faith because you quote statements of previous Acharya’s, which are not given in Srila Prabhupada’s books. However I feel these statements must to be seen in the proper perspective. I feel a quote translated and applied by a disciple does not have the same weight as quotes of previous Acharya’s given by THE FOUNDER ACHARYA HIMSELF. They cannot be used to change important aspects of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings.
    I become doubtful when a person uses a commentary translated by a disciple as grounds for correcting my understanding of Srila Prabhupada’s books. In this case my doubt was especially great because a devotee was claiming a previous Acharya instructs us to see statements of the Bhagavada Gita in a figurative way. This goes against my understanding of Srila Prabhupada’s teaching- that I must accept the direct meaning of statements based on the dictionary definition.
    I have deference for you as a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, and I am quite willing to concede that I am wrong about the issue of transcendental walking. I simply request that your correction be based on Srila Prabhupada’s books. I assume a direct disciple will be pleased that I accept Srila Prabhupada books as the ultimate authority although I am not even a disciple.
    Yes my understanding of Guru, Sastra, and Sadhu,(GSS), is quite different from yours. I do not presume to have the authority to try to change your understanding, I simply request you to honor mine. I accept Sastra as the totality or Srila Prabhupada’s books. Sadhu means a group of authoritative saintly devotees- this is the GBC. There are several levels of Guru but in all cases s/he is someone who is teaching within the guidelines of Sastra and Sadhu as defined above. Please understand that I see it as my sacred duty to Srila Prabhupada to accept his books as the ultimate authority. You may have a different perspective but it seems you could also respect mine.
    Your servant,
    Sita Rama das

  22. Panca Tattva Prabhu wrote:

    “Having said that, it is not misguided to study the works of the previous acharyas – unless it is done without full experience and mature understanding of Srila Prabhupada’s books. As a nod to Sita-Rama Prabhu, I have sometimes seen devotees rush with great enthusiasm to the books of the Goswamis and other confidential texts while not having full knowledge of Srila Prabhupada’s books and the other spiritual assets required.

    This is a very important point that I fully agree with. I did not read any other books (except for astrology books, which was my service) until after I had read all of Srila Prabhupada’s books twice. Why? Because then I had a yardstick by which I could measure the worth of any subject. Was it consistent or inconsistent with Srila Prabhupada’s teachings? Did it supplement and compliment his teachings or did it contradict and undermine them?

    We have experience of some pseudo-intellectuals who try to independently understand the teachings of Bhaktivinode and in so doing come to conclusions contrary to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta and Srila Prabhupada. I posted an article by Suhotra Svami attacking these pseudo-intellectuals to my Vedic Astrology forum on PAMHO it was then reposted onto the net and can be found here.

    Reverting to the original article, Panca Tattva Prabhu’s (via Bhurijana Prabhu) quotations from Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura do not contradict or undermine the teaching of Srila Prabhupada but rather compliment and supplement them. To call into question Visvanath Cakravarti’s comments is ill advised.


  23. Part 2.

    Now (in #21) Sita Rama Prabhu has redefined Sadhu to mean only a member of the GBC, and excluded Visvanatha Chakravarti from such a position even though he is one of our Purva acaryas coming in the Guru Parampara. So now our own purva acarya (#27 in the disciplic succession) is not even considered a sadhu who can be quoted. How odd. It is not only odd but falls in the category of sadhu-ninda — 1st offense against the Holy Name. If his statements are not acceptable then our guru parampara is broken bringing into question the legitimacy of everyone after Visvanatha Cakravarti including Srila Prabhupada.

    Sita Rama Prabhu has also redefined “Sastra” to mean only Srila Prabhupada’s books. Do you mean to say that the Vedas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas, Upanishads, Vedanta Sutra, Mahabharata, Ramayana, Puranas, Pancaratrika Agamas, writings of Madhva Acarya, Ramanuja, the Six Gosvami’s, Bhaktivinode, Bhaktisiddhanta, etc. are not Sastras? This falls into the category of Sastra ninda –4th offense against the Holy Name. Srila Prabhupada himself wanted to translate and write commentaries on a number of books including Padma Purana, Visnu Purana, Vedanta Sutra etc, but could not because of his age. He also, in several places in his writing, referred readers to consult other sastras for more information on the subject, thus Srila Prabhupada himself contradicts your statement.

    Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada

    Shyamasundara Dasa
    krsne matirastu

  24. Sita Rama 108 says :

    You say it is important not to jump into other books until Srila Prabhupada’s books are understood. You did not read other books until after reading all of Srila Prabhupada’s twice, so you could use these as a yardstick for the truth.
    Simply by reading the introduction to one of the primary books- Bhagavada GitaAs It Is, one learns that we accept direct dictionary definitions of words. That is a big part of the yardstick that should be applied.I am just trying to discourage people from bending the yardstick of Srila Prabhupada’s books. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with quotes from past Acharya’s but there is a possibility of them being misunderstood and improperly applied. It is even possible for people to misunderstand and incorrectly apply Srila Prabhupada’s own writings. In any case it is not offensive to elicit a discussion on these topics.

  25. In Gita 2.54 Arjuna asks:

    “What are the symptoms of one whose consciousness is thus merged in Transcendence? How does he speak, and what is his language? How does he sit, and how does he walk?”

    The last three questions pertaining to speech, sitting and walking and their answers seem to be puzzling some people. They say the answer should be according to the dictionary meaning. That language should be related to some type of literary usage– does the devotee use slang, does he enunciate properly, is his natural way of speaking in prose or meter, etc? Does he sit in chair or on the ground, etc? And does he walk slowly, quickly, with a limp, with regal gait, like an elephant or lion, does he wear shoes, if so what kind of shoes, etc? This to some would be dictionary meanings. Some have suggested that asking this type of question is meaningless indicating that Arjuna is asking stupid questions. Abhaya Mudra dd even stated that Krsna never answered the questions at all.

    They object that when Visvanatha Cakravarti comments he explains by using Krsna’s own words using subsequent verses relating to sense control. How does he control his speaking? And how does he control his moving (walking) and not moving (sitting)? In general how does he control his senses in different situations. The critics think that stress on sense control is not according to the direct dictionary meaning. What do speaking and moving and not moving have to do with the senses? To find out read on.

    In the West we are conditioned to only accept five senses: eyes, nose, ears, tongue, and skin. But in Lord Krsna’s Vedic civilization there are ten senses. The previous five mentioned senses: eyes, nose, ears, tongue, and skin—are the jnanindriyas—knowledge acquiring senses. The other five senses are called the karmendriyas — working senses. They are the active organ for speaking, the active organs for working, and those for traveling, generating and evacuating. This is explained in the Sankya yoga system and many other places in Srila Prabhupada’s books.

    “The senses for acquiring knowledge and the organs for action number ten, namely the auditory sense, the sense of taste, the tactile sense, the sense of sight, the sense of smell, the active organ for speaking, the active organs for working, and those for traveling, generating and evacuating.” SB 2.26.13


  26. part 2

    The need for a transcendentalist to control his working senses is vital, failure to do so entraps him in material bondage.

    “Impelled by deep-rooted material desires, the embodied living entity engages his active sense organs (karmendriyas) in fruitive activities. He then experiences the results of his material actions by wandering throughout this world in so-called happiness and distress.” SB 11.3.6

    Thus according to the Vedic definition how a person speaks, moves or does not move is determined by his karmedriyas so it makes complete sense, from a Vedic perspective, to discuss the subject in terms of sense control as Lord Krsna did and which Visvanatha Cakravarti elucidates in his commentary.

    Shyamasundara Dasa

    krsne matirastu

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