Bhagavad-gītā As It Is

Raja-vidya

Somehow while reading the Srimad Bhagavatam the other day, I was reminded again that all the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness is contained in the Bhagavad-gita As It Is. It is such an important book. The song of God, sung by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Himself. Hare Krishna!

Whoever knows Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, without doubting, is to be understood as the knower of everything, and he therefore engages himself in full devotional service, O son of Bharata (Bg 15.19)

This is the most confidential part of the Vedic scriptures, O sinless one, and it is disclosed now by Me. Whoever understands this will become wise, and his endeavors will know perfection. (Bg 15.20)

The Lord clearly explains here that this is the substance of all revealed scriptures. And one should understand this as it is given by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Thus one will become intelligent and perfect in transcendental knowledge. In other words, by understanding this philosophy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and engaging in His transcendental service, everyone can become freed from all contaminations of the modes of material nature. Devotional service is a process of spiritual understanding. Wherever devotional service exists, the material contamination cannot coexist. Devotional service to the Lord and the Lord Himself are one and the same because they are spiritual—the internal energy of the Supreme Lord. The Lord is said to be the sun, and ignorance is called darkness. Where the sun is present, there is no question of darkness. Therefore, whenever devotional service is present under the proper guidance of a bona fide spiritual master, there is no question of ignorance. (from purport to Bg 15.20)

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Srila Prabhupada’s Diksa

Bury Place Vyasasana

The following is an article that was sent to me through email sometime back. I just recently got a chance to read it in full. There are many very good quotes by Srila Prabhupada, on the matter of accepting a bona fide spiritual master. I did some slight editing (highlighting) but all the notes and comments are by the author.

Srila Prabhupada’s Diksa
by Vidura Mahatma dasa

In order to attain the highest perfection of life one must approach a bona fide spiritual master coming in the disciplic succession from Lord Krishna Himself. The self-realized spiritual master is able to present the real conclusions of Krishna’s instructions in a way that can be understood and executed as applicable to this day and age. This is the special purpose and great need of accepting a bona fide spiritual master. The rare opportunity to approach a bona fide, self-realized spiritual master coming in the authorized chain of disciplic succession is available to everyone today and is indeed intended for everyone [in every town and village] to take advantage of, owing to the mercy of Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His Divine Grace Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Readers will find this composition instrumental in ascertaining the philosophical basis of taking shelter of Srila Prabhupada – the current approachable link in the disciplic succession – by adhering to the principles and instructions given in his books. The execution of Srila Prabhupada’s discipline will surely elevate one to the perfectional stage of life leading back home, back to Godhead.

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Characteristics of the Bona Fide Guru

bona fide spiritual master Srila Prabhupada

Recently there has been some discussion on the internet about Jayadvaita Swami’s remarks on kirtana standards in his Kirtan Seminar lectures. I cannot repeat here, what he said on the YouTube Lecture, finding it offensive and not worthy of repeating. Rather than dwell on the negetive statements of Jayadvaita Swami, we thought it better to repeat the words of the bona fide spiritual master Srila Prabhupada, who so nicely describes the characteristics of the “Bona Fide Guru” in the pages of the Sri Caitanya-caritmrta.

…The guru must be situated on the topmost platform of devotional service. There are three classes of devotees, and the guru must be accepted from the topmost class. The first-class devotee is the spiritual master for all kinds of people. It is said: gurur nṛṇām. The word nṛṇām means “of all human beings.” The guru is not limited to a particular group. It is stated in the Upadeśāmṛta of Rūpa Gosvāmī that a guru is a gosvāmī, a controller of the senses and the mind. Such a guru can accept disciples from all over the world. Pṛthivīṁ sa śiṣyāt. This is the test of the guru.

…When one has attained the topmost position of mahā-bhāgavata, he is to be accepted as a guru and worshiped exactly like Hari, the Personality of Godhead. Only such a person is eligible to occupy the post of a guru. (purport Madhya 24.330)

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The Nectarean River of Transcendental Sound Vibration

Srila Prabhuapda: Generally a human being is interested in religion, economic development, sense gratification and liberation, but love of God is above all these. A bona fide spiritual master chants the holy names-Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare-and the transcendental sound vibration enters into the ear of the disciple, and if a disciple follows in the footsteps of his spiritual master and chants the holy name with similar respect, he actually comes to worship the transcendental name. When the transcendental name is worshiped by the devotee, the name Himself spreads His glories within the heart of a devotee. When a devotee is perfectly qualified in chanting the transcendental vibration of the holy name, he is quite fit to become a spiritual master and to deliver all the people of the world. The chanting of the holy name is so powerful that it gradually establishes its supremacy above everything in the world. The devotee who chants it becomes transcendentally situated in ecstasy and sometimes laughs, cries and dances in his ecstasy. Sometimes the unintelligent put hindrances in the path of chanting this mahā-mantra, but one who is situated on the platform of love of Godhead chants the holy name loudly for all concerned. As a result, everyone becomes initiated in the chanting of the holy names-Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. By chanting and hearing the holy names of Kṛṣṇa, a person can remember the forms and qualities of Kṛṣṇa. (Teachings of Lord Caitanya – 1968 Edition, Chapter 18)

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Nectar of Devotion Lecture

NOD Lecture in Vrndavan

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…Now our point was that how to see Kṛṣṇa in everything?… By these blunt, material senses, we cannot appreciate, or we can see, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It has to be purified… One must be relieved from all designations. So long one thinks that “I am Hindu. I am Christian. I am Muhammadan. I am this. I am brāhmaṇa. I am śūdra. I am kṣatriya. I am man. I am woman. I am black. I am white.” These are all designations. One has to become free from all these designations. That is called sarvopādhi-vinirmuktam. If you see God, Kṛṣṇa, from the Hindu angle of vision, if you see God from Christian angle of vision, then you cannot see God. That is not seeing God. You have to become freed from all these designations. Just like Caitanya Mahāprabhu taught us, nāhaṁ vipra na ca nara-patir na yatir vā. Caitanya Mahāprabhu says, “I am not a brāhmaṇa. I am not a kṣatriya. I am not a vaiśya. I am not a śūdra. I am not a sannyāsī. I am not a gṛhastha. I am not a brahmacārī.” Then “What You are?” Because within these eight categories, we are living. But Caitanya Mahāprabhu says, “I don’t belong to all these categories.” Then “What You are, Sir?”… “I am the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of Kṛṣṇa, the maintainer of the gopīs.” (The Nectar of Devotion Lecture Vṛndāvana, October 18, 1972)

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The Guru Issue Continued

Prabhupada

As always in our ISKCON Society, since the departure of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, there is an ongoing discussion, debate, and, or, argument on the guru issue. No doubt finding a qualified spiritual master is of utmost importance as is outlined in Easy Journey to Other Planets:

1. The serious candidate must accept a bona fide spiritual master in order to be trained scientifically. Because the senses are material, it is not at all possible to realize the Transcendence by them. Therefore the senses have to be spiritualized by the prescribed method under the direction of the spiritual master.

2. When the student has chosen a bona fide spiritual master, he must take the proper initiation from him. This marks the beginning of spiritual training.

3. The candidate must be prepared to satisfy the spiritual master in every way. A bona fide spiritual master who is fully cognizant of the methods of spiritual science, learned in the spiritual scriptures such as the Bhagavad-gītā, Vedānta, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and Upaniṣads, and who is also a realized soul who has made a tangible connection with the Supreme Lord, is the transparent medium by which the willing candidate is led to the path of the Vaikuṇṭhas. The spiritual master must be satisfied in all respects, because simply by his good wishes a candidate can make wonderful progress along the path.

Recently I have been following on the Sampradaya Sun a slew of posts by Vraja Vilasa Prabhu:
Which were in response to the article by Rakshana Prabhu (which we also posted here):

The Transmission of Transcendental Sound

Followed by his reply:

Surround Sound and the Big Mrdanga

Then of course there was a rebuttal post by Vidura Prabhu in response to Vraja Vilasa Prabhu’s; “Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right”, which was not posted on the Sampradaya Sun, but rather by the Prabhupanuga pages and which we (for the sake of disclosure) will post here. This is a very nice assortment of quotes, for instance…

“Krishna and his representative are the same. Similarly, the spiritual master can be present wherever the disciple wants. A spiritual master is the principle, not the body.” (Letter to Malati, 28/5/68)

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Transcendental Art

Radha Krishna

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This is perhaps the first picture I ever saw of Radha & Krishna. I remember thinking at the time: “This is the most beautiful picture I have ever seen in my life.” Since then I have been fortunate to have relished so many other beautiful pictures of Radha and Krishna, but one always remembers his first love. Srila Prabhupada by his causless mercy, has given us so much in the way of Art, Music, Knowledge, etc. that I am simply in awe!

Transcendental Art
Excrpted from Back to Godhead Magazine 1971, Vol. 1, No. 39

One of the basic principles of Krsna consciousness is that one may utilize whatever talent he has in the service of the Supreme Lord. And it is a symptom of a bona fide spiritual master that he is expert in engaging everyone in practical transcendental devotional service. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has thus engaged a number of very talented artists in the service of the Lord by asking them to use their natural artistic inclination in painting pictures of the Supreme Godhead. According to all the revealed Vedic scriptures, God is not formless or void, but on the contrary He has the most attractive personal form. In fact He has many transcendental forms. Krsna appears and expands Himself in multi expansions and incarnations, and these are described in Vedic literatures such as Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.

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By the Grace of Kṛṣṇa

…There are millions and trillions of living entities everywhere, and they are engaged by māyā in suffering and enjoying the results of their fruitive activity life after life. This is the position of the materially conditioned living entities. Out of many of these living entities, if one is actually fortunate (bhāgyavān), he comes in contact with a bona fide spiritual master by Kṛṣṇa’s mercy.

Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda
Madhya-līlā, Chapter 19, Text 151

brahmāṇḍa bhramite kona bhāgyavān jīva
guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāde pāya bhakti-latā-bīja

brahmāṇḍa bhramite—wandering in this universe; kona—some; bhāgyavān—most fortunate; jīva—living being; guru—of the spiritual master; kṛṣṇa—of Kṛṣṇa; prasāde—by the mercy; pāya—gets; bhakti-latā—of the creeper of devotional service; bīja—the seed.

“According to their karma, all living entities are wandering throughout the entire universe. Some of them are being elevated to the upper planetary systems, and some are going down into the lower planetary systems. Out of many millions of wandering living entities, one who is very fortunate gets an opportunity to associate with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Kṛṣṇa. By the mercy of both Kṛṣṇa and the spiritual master, such a person receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service.”

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Bona Fide Spiritual Master

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…So to find out a bona fide guru is not difficult, provided one is bona fide to search out a guru. Therefore Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, guru-kṛṣṇa-kṛpāya pāya bhakti-latā-bīja [Cc. Madhya 19.151]. By the mercy of guru and Kṛṣṇa… Because by the mercy of Kṛṣṇa one gets a bona fide guru, and by the mercy of bona fide guru, one gets Kṛṣṇa. This is the process. When I am actually serious to have connection with Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa is sitting in everyone’s heart. Īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ hṛd-deśe ’rjuna tiṣṭhati [Bg. 18.61]. So Kṛṣṇa can understand. We cannot hide anything from Kṛṣṇa. That is not possible.

Bona Fide Spiritual Master

Lecture from The Nectar of Devotion
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda
Vṛndāvana, October 31, 1972

Pradyumna: (reading) Page xxi. “In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta, by Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī, Lord Caitanya states that it is a fortunate person who comes in contact with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Kṛṣṇa. One who is serious about spiritual life is given by Kṛṣṇa the intelligence to come in contact with a bona fide spiritual master.”

Prabhupāda: Yes. Here it is stated, “It is…, it is a fortunate person.” Not the unfortunate. “It is the fortunate person who comes in contact with a bona fide spiritual master.” This question, we were just discussing before coming to the class, how to select a bona fide spiritual master. So that is not very difficult. Just like in our ordinary business life, we accept somebody as representative of the firm who is actually come, canvassing for the benefit of the firm. He’s representative. Suppose he’s representing some book seller, publisher, so he should canvass for selling the books published by his firm, not for anything else. Suppose he has taken the advantage of becoming representative of a business firm, but he’s doing his own business. He’s not bona fide. He’s not bona fide. So real guru is Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa… Aham eva āsam agre. Kṛṣṇa existed before the creation. Then He made His representative, Brahma. Tene brahma hṛdā ādi-kavaye. He instructed the original guru, Brahma. Because there was no other living creature, except Brahma, in the beginning of creation, and He instructed Brahma. Tene brahma hṛdā ādi-kavaye. There are other versions in the Vedas, that He instructed Brahma. So therefore, the original guru is Kṛṣṇa. The same guru, Kṛṣṇa, is instructing Arjuna also. Kṛṣṇa became guru of Arjuna. Arjuna accepted Him guru: śiṣyas te ’ham. Arjuna said, “Now I am not talking with You as friend, but I accept You as my guru.” Therefore, by sastric conclusion, Kṛṣṇa is the original guru. Who can deny it? Kṛṣṇa is jagat-guru. He’s guru of everyone, because everyone (is) accepting this authority of Kṛṣṇa. Anyone is accepting the authority of Bhagavad-gītā, he’s accepting, imperceptibly, Kṛṣṇa as guru. Therefore, bona fide spiritual master means who is representing Kṛṣṇa. Who can deny it?

So to find out a bona fide spiritual master is not a very difficult job, because if one is representing guru, Kṛṣṇa, then he must speak of Kṛṣṇa, canvass for Kṛṣṇa. What do you think, Visanji?

Indian man: Jaya, Mahārāja.

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The Spiritual Master: Emissary of the Supreme Person

This is a well researched, nicely written article by Sriman Hayagriva Prabhu, with many quotes from Srila Prabhupada’s books. Worth the read!

The Spiritual Master: Emissary of the Supreme Person
By Hayagriva Dasa Adhikari
Published in Back to Godhead Magazine 1970, Vol.1, No.38

brahmāṇḍa bhramite kona bhāgyavān jīva
guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāde pāya bhakti-latā-bīja

“According to their karma, all living entities are wandering throughout the entire universe. Some of them are being elevated to the upper planetary systems, and some are going down into the lower planetary systems. Out of many millions of wandering living entities, one who is very fortunate gets an opportunity to associate with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Kṛṣṇa. By the mercy of both Kṛṣṇa and the spiritual master, such a person receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service.”(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta: Madhya-līlā 19.151)

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, Srila Prabhupada, once said that religion without philosophy is fanaticism and philosophy without religion is mental speculation. For a sincere student engaged in God realization, major philosophical points should be understood in the light of the guru, scripture and practical devotional service. One of the first points to understand is the position of the spiritual master. How is he related to Krsna? Is he Krsna? Is he an ordinary man? How should the disciple approach him? How can one know that the spiritual master is bona fide? What is the duty of the spiritual master? What are his symptoms? These and other questions concerning the spiritual master and Krsna are discussed herein by way of authoritative evidence compiled from the writings of Srila Prabhupada, the spiritual master himself.

In addition to rendering devotional service to Krsna through the spiritual master, the student should come to a philosophical understanding based on scripture of his own identity and the identity of the Supreme Person, Sri Krsna, and His emissary, the bona fide spiritual master. This understanding should correlate with the basic teachings of the spiritual master and other great saints and sages.

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The Appearance of Sukadeva Gosvami

Srimad-Bhagavatam
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Canto 1:”Creation”
SB 1.19: The Appearance of Sukadeva Gosvami

The great sage Śukadeva Gosvāmī was certainly inspired by Lord Kṛṣṇa to appear voluntarily before Mahārāja Parīkṣit, the great devotee of the Lord, just to give him the teachings of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. One can achieve the nucleus of the devotional service of the Lord by the mercy of the spiritual master and the Personality of Godhead. The spiritual master is the manifested representative of the Lord to help one achieve ultimate success. One who is not authorized by the Lord cannot become a spiritual master. Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī is an authorized spiritual master, and thus he was inspired by the Lord to appear before Mahārāja Parīkṣit and instruct him in the teachings of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.

Simply by such questioning and hearing, one can achieve the highest perfectional stage of life.

Text 37
You are the spiritual master of great saints and devotees. I am therefore begging you to show the way of perfection for all persons, and especially for one who is about to die.

Purport
Unless one is perfectly anxious to inquire about the way of perfection, there is no necessity of approaching a spiritual master. A spiritual master is not a kind of decoration for a householder. Generally a fashionable materialist engages a so-called spiritual master without any profit. The pseudo- spiritual master flatters the so-called disciple, and thereby both the master and his ward go to hell without a doubt. Mahārāja Parīkṣit is the right type of disciple because he puts forward questions vital to the interest of all men, particularly for the dying men. The question put forward by Mahārāja Parīkṣit is the basic principle of the complete thesis of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Now let us see how intelligently the great master replies.

Text 38
Please let me know what a man should hear, chant, remember and worship, and also what he should not do. Please explain all this to me.

Text 40
Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī said: The King thus spoke and questioned the sage, using sweet language. Then the great and powerful personality, the son of Vyāsadeva, who knew the principles of religion, began his reply.

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108 Imporant Slokas from the 1972 Bhagavad-gita As It Is

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Bhagavad-gita As It Is 1972 Edition “Online”

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Raja-Vidya the King of Knowledge

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July 9th Letter

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