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Excerpted from chapters 12 and 13 of Sri Srimad Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja’s book, My Revered Spiritual Master
Prabhupada Laid the Foundation
Devotee: You were explaining how “räma” in the mahä-mantra refers to Krishna. But Srila Prabhupada sometimes explained that “räma” in the mahä-mantra refers to Balaram. Gour Govinda Swami: Yes, Prabhupada said that. Balaram is dvitéya-deha, the second body of Krishna. They have the same two-handed form. varëa-mätra-bheda — Only there is a difference in their complexion. Krishna is black and Balaram is white. Everything else is the same. And Balaram is always with Krishna. So Prabhupada said it in simple way. It is not easy for everyone to understand why Krishna is referred to as Rama. When Prabhupada was asked by a particular devotee, he knew that the devotee could not understand. Therefore Prabhupada didn’t say so at the time. But Jiva Goswami has said it; Bhaktivinode Thakur has said it. All of our äcäryas have described why Krishna is known as Rama.
Time Place and Circumstance
An äcärya like Srila Prabhupada teaches according to time, place and circumstances. People can understand only according to their consciousness. Neophytes cannot comprehend higher things, subtle philosophy. Just speak to them according to their capacity and let them make advancement. When the time comes, then all the subtle points will come out. Äcärya teaches like that. You should not think that there is some hard and fast rule as to what they must explain in the beginning. You should try to understand Srila Prabhupada’s purpose. Following the orders of his revered spiritual master, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, our Prabhupada went to the Western
world, the country of mlecchas and yavanas. The people there have very low consciousness. Vaishnava philosophy, Mahaprabhu’s philosophy, is the highest, most sublime philosophy. Caitanyacaritämåta is post-graduate study. It is difficult for Western people to understand. Therefore, Prabhupada stressed, “You first chant ‘hare kåñëa’. Let your consciousness be purified. Hear the transcendental sound vibration.” Buddhadeva is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, but he blasphemed the Vedas. He is the origin of the Vedas, why will he speak like that? Because at the time it was needed. The people were indiscriminately killing animals for sacrifice. If you would ask them, “Why are you killing?” tthey would say, “The Vedas say we should.” But they could not understand the purport of the Vedas. They were in the mode of ignorance. How could they understand? Unless one comes to the level of sattvaguëa, mode of goodness, one cannot understand what the Vedas say. At that time it was needed for Buddhadeva to teach people to stop following the Vedas. He told them to give up indiscriminate
killing of animals. In that way they could elevate themselves to the mode of goodness. Then they would be able to understand. At that time it was needed. But Buddha’s followers cannot understand the real reason why he did so.
Work of an Acharya
Similarly, you cannot understand why Prabhupada said what he did. Tat-kälika, at that time it was needed. But not for all time. He was laying the foundation. Before building a mansion you should lay the foundation, and the foundation should be very strong. Then you will be able to build a big mansion, skyscraper. If the foundation is not strong the skyscraper will collapse. Prabhupada laid the foundation. Then he left it for you: “Now you build a mansion.” That time has now come. Don’t stay in the foundation only. Now a mansion should be built. This is gradual development. Buddhadeva came and did this thing. He criticized the Vedas and the people became atheists. Then when the Vedas were about to be lost, Lord Narayan ordered Shivaji, who is mahä-bäla, very powerful: “Shiva, you go and establish the Vedas.” Then Shivaji came in the form of Shankaracharya. It is all mentioned in Caitanya-caritämåta. Shankara was not at fault. His master ordered him, so he preached this mäyäväda philosophy. It was needed at the time. When you establish something, you first start from the lower and then go to the higher part. You cannot all of a sudden establish the higher part. Shankara established the lower part of the Vedas, karma-käëòa, jïäna-käëòa section, which is gauëa, secondary. Shankara laid the foundation. Therefore Mahaprabhu has accepted Shankara as äcärya because he did the work of an äcärya. Mahaprabhu said, “Shankara has helped us. He has laid the foundation. Now I have to build the mansion.” This was the need at that particular time.
’’Krishna’. They are committing a great offense at the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada — leaving ISKCON, joining another camp and criticizing ISKCON’s teachings, Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. Nonsense! I get so much pain in my heart from this. Such rascals will definitely go to hell. So I have taken up this task: now the time has come we’ll teach all this higher philosophy. Prabhupada left it in a seed form. Now that seed should be fructified, and a big tree will come out. That is our duty. Prabhupada was teaching Westerners, mlecchas and yavanas, eating beef, and drinking liquor. They were hippies — mad fellows taking strong drugs, LSD, and marijuana. What they can understand of this philosophy? He did what was needed for them at that particular time. He did a great job and brought us to the path. Otherwise so many persons would not have come here. But now the time has come to understand this philosophy.
You mention that many devotees are losing faith in ISKCON and are leaving our society to find shelter elsewhere. That is not good. They should not leave ISKCON; that will never please Srila Prabhupada. Develop patience and tolerance and pray to Srila Prabhupada from the core of your heart. How is it that he will not help you? (Letter, 18 December 1993) There are three things that are very important to me. One is that I want to preach to the preachers. It causes me so much pain to see the devotees falling down and going away. The second thing is that I want to show how everything is in Prabhupada’s books. Those persons who are saying that Srila Prabhupada only gave ABC, it causes me so much pain in my heart. I want to make them silent. And the third thing is that I want to show how everything is in ISKCON and that devotees do not have to go elsewhere for higher teachings. (Conversation with devotees in New York City, July 1994:) My opinion is that Srila Prabhupada will not be happy with these senior devotees going outside of ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada has said that everything is in his books. If you try to understand this, then by the mercy of Srila Prabhupada it will all be made clear to you. It is a fact that if an elevated vaiñëava is there, then one should go and take his association. There is no harm in that. But in this case, there is
That is what an äcärya does, and in the same way Srila Prabhupada did the work of an äcärya. Fools and rascals criticize him. I say they cannot understand Srila Prabhupada. They can’t understand what he has done. He has done what was needed at that particular time. He has laid the foundation. Now the time has come, we have to build the mansion. These fools cannot understand
a danger that the discipline in our organization will be affected adversely. If the leaders are going outside of ISKCON, how will we be able to maintain discipline? Srila Prabhupada has formed this society, and this threat to his society will only cause him pain. With this consideration, they should not go. That will only lead to indiscipline in our society. Two sides are there, philosophical and organizational. On the organizational side, this practice is not good. Therefore we have this GBC body, which makes so many rules to maintain the discipline of the members of our society. But how will we be able to keep discipline now? No one will listen: “If the leaders are going, why should we listen? We will also go.” This will create only trouble. (Letter, 3 November 1994) Devotee: You said we should always seek the association of advanced devotees. When Srila Prabhupada left the planet, some of his disciples took shelter of one of his godbrothers. Gour Govinda Swami: Thereby they committed a mistake. For the clarification of some philosophical doubt or to accept çikñä, one may go to another vaiñëava, but why leave? Devotee: Some people took shelter of this maharaja, and naturally, because he was giving some instruction, they became attached to him and accepted him as çikñä-guru. Because of this, in some cases, it seems that our society rejected them rather than they rejected our society. Gour Govinda Swami: Let me be excused at the feet of a vaiñëava. This Maharaja is a great vaiñëava. I pay my obeisance to him. He is my guru. He is the godbrother of my guru. But he should have taught these ISKCON devotees, “Don’t leave ISKCON. Take çikñä from me if you have some doubts. I am prepared to clarify them. But don’t leave ISKCON.” Why didn’t he teach this thing? Devotee: So it’s all right for Srila Prabhupada’s disciples to accept another çikñä-guru, but they should not leave ISKCON? Gour Govinda Maharaja: Why should they leave ISKCON? Devotee: I spoke to one devotee who had taken shelter of a maharaja outside of ISKCON and he said that his life was made very difficult within ISKCON and he could no longer preach. He was so restricted. Therefore, in order to preach, he left ISKCON.
Gour Govinda Swami: What difficulty is there in preaching the message of Gauranga Mahaprabhu? Mahaprabhu says, “I will help you. You’ll never be affected by mäyä.” If you have no faith in Mahaprabhu, then you will be put into difficulties. Don’t be afraid of problems. ’’Krishna’ is there. His representative, the guru, is there. They are always with you. They are always prepared to help you. These dangers, these problems, difficulties will help you to become fixed. They are welcome. Therefore Kuntidevi says, vipadaù santu täù çaçvat tatra tatra jagad-guro — “I wish that all those calamities would happen again and again.” WWhy did she say like that? Devotee: Because by those troubles she was always able to remember Krishna. Gour Govinda Swami: Yes. Difficulties, dangers, and problems help one to be more attached to Krishna. Unless there are difficulties, one will not turn his face towards Krishna. Thereby he is in a fool’s paradise, thinking, “I am OK.” But he is in danger. He cannot understand it. So all of these difficulties, problems, and dangers, they are kåpä, mercy in disguise. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupada Maharaja said, “Accept all the sufferings in this material world as the mercy of the Supreme Lord.” (Evening darshan, Bhubaneswar, 20 November 1989) Devotee: You have to give us your blessings, Maharaja. Gour Govinda Swami: I have this blessing, “Get the blessings of my guru-mahäräja, Srimad A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupadji Maharaja. Be a member of ISKCON, the society he founded worldwide. Serve him. Remain in the society. Serve guru and Gauranga.” This is my blessing. Nothing else. This is everything. Thank you. (Darshan, South London, 29 September 1991)
Drawings by Anuradha Dasi
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?