Deconstructing the Lilamrta - Part 2
BY: SUN STAFF
Nov 9, CANADA (SUN) A critical analysis of the Srila Prabhupada-Lilamrta by Satsvarupa das Goswami.
The Lilamrta speculates that Srila Prabhupada was attached to matter.
"In the 88th Chapter of the 10th Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, he (Srila Prabhupada) came upon a verse in which Lord Krsna said something that startled him: yasyaham anugrhnami harisye tad-dhanam sanaih tato dhanam tyajantyasye sva-jana dukhi-duhkhitam, "When I feel especially mercifully disposed towards someone, I gradually take away all his material possessions. His friends and relatives reject this poverty-stricken and most wretched fellow." Abhaya shuddered as he read the verse. It seemed to speak directly to him. "But what does it mean? Does it mean", he thought, "that Krsna will take away all my money?" Was that what was actually happening? Was that why his business plans were failing?"
Lilamrta I, p.88
Webster's Dictionary defines shuddered as: "to tremor convulsively; to quiver or to shake."
The sastra, however, informs us that the pure devotee only cares for Krsna's happiness - not any material situation for himself. Krsna's happiness is his happiness.
"Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says that a devotee does not care about his own happiness and distress. He is simply interested in seeing that Krsna is happy, and for that purpose he engages in various activities. A pure devotee has no way of sensing happiness except by seeing that Krsna is happy in every respect. If Krsna becomes happy by giving him distress, such a devotee accepts that unhappiness as the greatest of all happiness."
Being fully surrendered to Krsna, the pure devotee knows that Krsna will take care of him. He never worries about such things.
C.C. Antya 20.52
"Anything sent by God is a blessing for the devotee."
"The pure devotee is fully surrendered unto the lotus feet of the Lord, and the Lord takes charge of him, as stated in Bhagavad-Gita: "aham tvam sarva papebhyo moksayisyami" (B.G. 18.66). The father knows the necessities of the son and supplies them, and the Supreme Lord knows the necessities of the living entities and supplies them sumptuously."
One who is concerned about material benefits from Krsna can be a pious man, but he cannot be a pure devotee.
"The word arta refers to one who is physically distressed, and artharthi refers to one who is in need of money...Unless one is pious, one cannot approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead. However, although a pious man may receive some material benefit, one who is concerned with material benefits cannot be a pure devotee."
The verse cited by Lilamrta, concerning Krsna's taking away the wealth of a devotee who is still attached to possessions and society, does not appear to be relevant, because it does not apply to Srila Prabhupada. It applies to the imperfectly realized devotee, who still has material desires.
"If a devotee is not mature, Krsna will take away all his opulence. This principle is sated by the Supreme Personality of Godhead: "Yasyaham anugranami harisye tad-dhanam sanaih." My first mercy shown to my devotee is to take away all his material opulence."
"Yasyaham...This is a special favor of the Lord toward a sincere devotee. If a sincere devotee wants Krsna above everything but, at the same time, is attached to material possessions which hinder his advancement in Krsna consciousness, by tactics the Lord takes away all his possessions."
PRABHUPADA HAD TO BECOME SETTLED IN DETACHMENT?
The Lilamrta claims that Srila Prabhupada was so attached to family life, that he had to become artificially settled in detachment.
"His spiritual emotions were so turbulent that he wasn't thinking of going to Jhansi. He wanted to take a train to...ANYWHERE."
Lilamrta I, p. 163
"Abhaya spent his time in Jhargram chanting the Holy Name and becoming settled in detachment from his family."
Ibid., p. 222
PARAMAHAMSA AS HIGHEST PERFECTIONAL STAGE OF LIFE
BEYOND ATTACHMENT AND RENUNCIATION
However, the sastra states that the nitya-siddha paramahamsa is beyond both attachment and renunciation.
"A sannyasi cannot act like a householder, nor can a householder act like a sannyasi, but above these two kinds of persons, one who engages in material activities and one who renounces...there is a person who is transcendental to both. His is the paramahamsa stage, the highest perfectional stage of life...for a person who has attained this stage, neither the Vedic activities for realizing material enjoyment nor those for renunciation are applicable."
PRABHUPADA IN AWE OF HIS TEACHERS?
PURE DEVOTEE IS CALLOUS TO INSTRUCTIONS
OF DEMONS AND NON-DEVOTEES
The Lilamrta says that His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada felt mundane awe, admiration, and tension towards and in relation to karmis.
"But to Abhay, Calcutta and the British were not alarming, and he even held a certain fondness for his Scottish teachers. Although he looked up to them with a mixture of awe, distance and some tension, he admired their moral uprightness and their gentlemanly courteous behavior with the boys."
Webster's Dictionary defines awe as: "fearful veneration inspired by something sacred."
Lilamrta I, p. 24
The sastra, however, tells us that the pure devotee never has a high regard for atheistic teachers, no matter what their so-called "good qualities" are.
"A devotee does not care for the instructions of the asuras. When they give instructions, he remains silent. A devotee cares about the instructions of Krsna, not those of demons or non-devotees. He does not give any respect to a demon, even though the demon be his father."
According to sastra, neither does the pure devotee make bodily distinctions, which are always based on ephemeral high and low positions.
"In the material world, we are situated in designative positions only, but pure devotional service begins when one is freed from all designations. When love of Krsna is awakened, then the designative positions are overcome."
C.C. Adi 4.31
VISION AND QUALITY OF HIGHLY ADVANCED PERSON
"Those who are highly advanced in spiritual understanding do not care about a person's material condition. A spiritually advanced person sees the spiritual identity of every living being, and consequently he makes no distinction between a learned brahmana, a dog, a chandala, or anyone else. He is not influenced by the material body, but sees a spiritual identity."
Although respectful to all living entities (B.G. 5.18), a pure devotee doesn't view karmi teachers as actually being superior or more educated than the others. They are all ignorant, being devoid of Krsna consciousness.
C.C. Madhya 10.54
"Devotees are equal to everyone, seeing no distinction between lower and higher classes. Panditah sama darshinah. They look upon everyone as a spirit soul who is part and parcel of the Supreme Lord...such preachers in Krsna consciousness are called paramahamsas."
"The Bhaktivedantas are impartial in distributing the transcendental knowledge of devotional service. To them no one is an enemy or friend; no one is educated or uneducated. No one is favorable or unfavorable."
The Lilamrta speculates that His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada was shocked, shaken, and greatly affected by the hellish conditions of this world, especially in the cities.
"Although Prabhupada's home had suddenly become an insane terror, the street at its door was also a hellish, dangerous place. He was shaken."
Webster's Dictionary defines shocked as: "a violent shake or jar, a sudden or violent disturbance in the mental or emotional faculties."
Lilamrta II, p. 95
"America seemed so opulent, yet many things were difficult to tolerate (for Srila Prabhupada). The sirens and bells from fire engines and police cars seemed like they would crack his heart."
Ibid., p. 37
"Prabhupada moved quickly down the four flights of stairs. He had not stopped to gather up any of his belongings or even to decide where he would go or whether he would return. There had been no time to consider anything. He had taken quite a shock and now he was leaving the arena of David's madness."
Ibid., p. 95
Webster's Dictionary defines shaken as: "to tremble as a result of physical or emotional disturbance; to experience a state of inability."
POSITION OF PURE DEVOTEE
Sastra, to the contrary, states that heaven or hell are the same for the pure devotee, because he is transcendental to both. He is never shaken, even amidst the greatest difficulty.
"In that joyous state, one is situated in boundless transcendental happiness and enjoys himself through transcendental senses. Established thus, one never departs from the truth, and upon gaining this, he thinks that there is no greater gain. Being situated in such a position, one is never shaken, even in the midst of the greatest difficulty."
"...when a man is suddenly shocked by some great loss, he forgets his identification with the gross body...Because of our ignorance of the spiritual body, of which we have no experience, we do not know the activities of the spiritual body, and in ignorance, we jump from one false platform to another. We act sometimes in relation to the gross body and sometimes in relation to the subtle body. If by Krsna's grace, we act in our spiritual body, we can transcend both the gross and subtle bodies. In other words, we can gradually train ourselves to act in terms of the spiritual body."
- PURE DEVOTEE ALWAYS SITUATED
The Lilamrta offers that His Divine Grace was affected by the hellishness of America, to such a degree that he wanted to get away and return to Vrndavana as an escape.
Prabhupada: "Yes, I am not happy here."
But sastra tells us differently, that the pure devotee is always in Vrndavana or Vaikuntha. He is always experiencing Vrndavana or Vaikuntha, and he creates that asmosphere even for others, wherever he goes.
Woman: "Yes, I know."
Prabhupada: "I shall be happy to return to my Vrindaban, that sacred
Lilamrta II, p. 59
"A devotee engaged in the service of Narayana is always in equilibrium. A devotee actually lives transcendentally. Although he may appear to have gone to heaven or hell, he does not live in either place. Rather, he always lives in Vaikuntha."
Sometimes we compare His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada with ourselves. We can think, "Prabhupada is engaged in devotional service, and I am engaged in devotional service. Prabhupada is in Vaikuntha, and I am in Vaikuntha. He says that the temples are Vaikuntha, and I am in the temples." However, we don't actually experience Vaikuntha, due to the conditioned covering. We experience all too often our own minds, the sounds on the street, etc. We can think of Vaikuntha as a concept only, and we may not even realize that we are intellectualizing. We are engaged in sadhana-bhakti. However, His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada is, and always was, engaged in prema bhakti. Therefore, he actually experiences Vaikuntha.
"A devotee always lives with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, engaging in His service and, therefore, he is always transcendental to hellish or heavenly residences."
"When that original consciousness is completely spiritual, it is called Krsna consciousness. One who lives in such consciousness is actually living in Vrndavana. He may live anywhere; material location does not matter (to such a pure devotee). When, by the grace of Krsna, one thus advances, he becomes completely uncontaminated by the material body and mind and, at that time, factually lives in Vrndavana."
C.C. Madhya 8.139
"It does not matter whether one lives in a holy place like Vrndavana...or in the midst of European cities where the materialistic way of life is very prominent. If a devotee follows the instruction of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he lives in the company of the Lord. Wherever he lives, he converts that place into Vrndavana or Navadvipa."
C.C. Madhya 7.129
"The pure devotee lives constantly in the abode of the Supreme Lord, even in the present body, which apparently belongs to this world. The pure devotee is not exactly on the material plane, since he is absorbed in the transcendental thought of the Supreme...He could simultaneously reach the Supreme planet and still appear in the world."
PRABHUPADA EXPERIENCED SUCCESS AND FAILURE OF THE VENTURE?
The Lilamrta speculates that His Divine Grace deeply felt his successes and failures.
"Only Bhaktivedanta Swami deeply experienced the successes and failures of the venture."
Lilamrta I, p. 267
"I would ask him, "Swamiji, did you have any good contacts?" He would say, Not much today. I didn't get much and it is depressing. Tomorrow Krsna will give me more details.'"
Ibid., p. 283
PURE DEVOTEE UNATTACHED TO RESULTS OF ACTIVITIES
ALWAYS IN DIRECT CONTACT WITH KRSNA
However, the sastra tells us that the pure devotee, in direct and unadulterated contact with the Supreme Lord at every moment, is not attached to the results of his activities in devotional service.
"The Supreme is the Lord. And, because He Himself is telling Arjuna to fight, Arjuna has nothing to do with the results of the fight. Gain or victory are Krsna's concern; Arjuna is simply advised to act according to the dictation of Krsna."
"Lord Krsna now directly says that Arjuna should fight for the sake of fighting because He desires the battle. There is no consideration of happiness or distress, profit or gain, victory or defeat in the activities of Krsna consciousness. That everything should be performed for the sake of Krsna is transcendental consciousness, so there is no reaction to material activities. He who acts for his own sense gratification is subject to the reaction, good or bad."
"But, action in Krsna consciousness is transcendental to the reactions of good or evil work. A Krsna conscious person has no attachment for the result but acts on behalf of Krsna alone. He engages in all kinds of activities, but is completely unattached."
"I do not know whether I shall be a success or failure. It does not matter. My duty is completed if I can present before you what I have heard from my spiritual master."
SSR, p. 283
PRABHUPADA - FEAR OF A PURE DEVOTEE?
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MUNDANE FEAR
AND TRANSCENDENTAL FEAR
One may raise a question here. Srila Prabhupada once said that he himself felt anxiety about retaining the land in Juhu Beach. He said that kind of anxiety was bhakti yoga. He compared it to the gopis being in anxiety when they considered that Krsna's soft feet were walking over the hard stones. "In such anxiety, they fainted." Srila Prabhupada's anxiety about this movement is also verified in his own purport in the Tenth Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam:
"As Kamsa was not expected to kill the beautiful child of Devaki and Vasudeva, the uncivilized society, although unhappy about the advancement of the Krsna consciousness movement, cannot be expected to stop it. Yet, we must face many difficulties in many ways. Although Krsna cannot be killed, Vasudeva, as the father of Krsna, was trembling because in affection he thought that Kamsa would immediately come and kill his son. Similarly, although the Krsna consciousness movement and Krsna are non-different, and no asuras can check it, we are afraid that at any moment the asuras can stop this movement in any part of the world."
Srila Prabhupada's comparing himself to Vasudeva is significant. A careful study of this purport reveals that we cannot begin to understand the nature of Srila Prabhupada's transcendental fear, any more than we can understand Vasudeva's trembling. It is transcendental rasa. Srila Prabhupada is fully aware that Krsna can protect Himself, as well as His own movement. Srila Prabhupada sees personally how Krsna is controlling the universes - as did Vasudeva and Devaki. Srila Prabhupada's being "afraid" has nothing whatsoever to do with the fear of this material world to which a conditioned soul is repeatedly subjected.
"Vasudeva and Devaki, therefore, being situated in a completely pure devotional state, are beyond the material world and are not subject to material fear. In the transcendental world, however, because of pure devotion, there is a similar conception of fear, which is due to intense love."
"The word suvismita, meaning "astonished", is significant in this verse. Devaki and her husband, Vasudeva, were assured that their child was the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and couldn't be killed by Kamsa, but because of affection, as they thought of Kamsa's previous activities, they were simultaneously afraid that Krsna would be killed. This is why the word suvismita has been used. Similarly, we are also astounded upon thinking of whether this movement will be killed by the asuras, or will continue to advance without fear."
There is a difference between emotional ecstasies and mundane anxieties. Emotional ecstasies are not produced by anything in this material world. The pure devotee is not affected by anything produced in this world. This is quite clearly defined in the sastra. Generally, we cannot know what specific ecstasies are being experienced by the completely realized soul, at a specific time. We can hear about them, sometimes, from the pure devotee himself. We can also hear of the ecstasies of self-realized souls from authoritative revealed scriptures, and appreciate the truly self-realized pure devotee of the Lord in terms of sastra.
PRABHUPADA FRUSTRATED, BAFFLED
The Lilamrta claims that Srila Prabhupada became materially frustrated, baffled, and perplexed.
"But, then the worst thing happened. The manuscript was stolen... Abhay was baffled; so much work had been undone. He felt he had worked so many months for nothing."
The definition, according to Webster's Dictionary, of predicament is: "a perplexing situation". The Dictionary further defines baffled as: "to be defeated or checked by confusion". Frustrated is defined as: "to defeat in an endeavor; to make invalid; to bring to nothing".
Lilamrta I, p. 135
"But his first attempts to arrange a meeting were unsuccessful. Frustrated at being put off by Mrs. Morarji's officers, he sat down on the front steps of her office building, determined to catch her attention as she left for the day."
Ibid., p. 276
"The two paths were at war...it was a predicament."
Ibid., p. 120
"He had little idea of what to do as he walked off the ship onto the pier. I did not know whether to turn left or right.'"
Lilamrta II, p. 8
Sastra rejects this claim, and informs us that His Divine Grace could never have been baffled. As the bonafide spiritual master, he took all others who surrendered to him (due to their becoming baffled as to the right path of action) to the shelter of Krsna consciousness, which is free from perplexity.
"In the material world, the conditioned soul is generally baffled, although sometimes he is relieved after great difficulty. The human form is an opportunity to take shelter of the bonafide spiritual master and, through him, the Supreme Lord. This Krsna Consciousness Movement has been started to give an opportunity to all members of human society who are misled by foolish leaders."
"By nature's own way, the complete system of material activities is a source of perplexity for everyone. In every step there is perplexity and, therefore, it behooves one to approach a bonafide spiritual master who can give one proper guidance for executing the purpose of life. All Vedic literatures advise us to approach a bonafide spiritual master to get free from the perplexities of life, which happen without our desire...The Vedic wisdom, therefore, advises that in order to solve the perplexities of life and to understand the science of the solution, one must approach a spiritual master who is in the disciplic succession. A person with a bonafide spiritual master is supposed to know everything."
"Maharaja Pariksit was neither afraid of, nor bewildered, by such things. That is the sign of a pure devotee of the Lord."
"My lord, everything that is mysterious is known to you because you worship the creator and destroyer of the material world and the maintainer of the spiritual world, the original Personality of Godhead, who is transcendental to the three modes of material nature. PURPORT: A person who is centpercent engaged in the service of the Lord is the emblem of all knowledge."
"The spiritual master is one who solves all confusion. If a spiritual master cannot save his disciple from confusion, he is not a spiritual master. The spiritual master is one who has received the mercy of God, and he can deliver the solution to a confused man."
Srila Prabhupada - BTG (to Mr. O'Grady)
PRABHUPADA SORROWFUL & MOROSE?
PURE DEVOTEE UNAFFECTED BY DUALITIES
The Lilamrta speculates that sometimes Srila Prabhupada either became or looked sorrowful and morose, in mundane fashion:
"Prabhakar Misra advised Abhay to go back to Allahabad to recover what he could. No,' Abhaya said. This is good for me. I was sad, but now one great attachment has come to an end...'"
However, sastra states that Srila Prabhupada was never actually unhappy at any time. He is always in equilibrium and bliss in all material circumstances.
Lilamrta I, p. 157
"When Abhay left Bharati Bhavan, with its six-foot-high lettering "League of Devotees" painted across the outside wall, he felt sad."
Ibid., p. 170
"But he found the Swami just the opposite - very straightforward and even cutting in his speech and his mouth turned down at the corners, making him look mournful."
Lilamrta II, pp. 231-2
"Sitting cross-legged, his back to the shelf with its assortment of potted plants, a whitish chadar wrapped in wide, loose folds across his body, Prabhupada looked grave, almost sorrowful."
Ibid., p. 89
"Because this transcendental position is at once achieved by one who is in Krsna consciousness, the devotee of the Lord is unaffected by dualities of material existence, like distress and happiness, cold and heat, and so on. This state is called samadhi, or absorption in the Supreme."
Unaffected means just that - unaffected. It does not mean affected, but struggling to be unaffected. This may indeed be our position, but that is not the pure devotee's position. He does not even feel the dualities, according to sastra.
BTG, 14, I
"Following the advice of Krsna (B.G., 2.14), one should not be morose or unhappy because of circumstantial changes. This is the symptom of a devotee. A devotee carries out his duty in Krsna consciousness, and is never unhappy in awkward circumstances."
We cannot understand Srila Prabhupada's mood by direct sense perception, what to speak of understanding it by looking at a photograph. One disciple was once given a photograph of Srila Prabhupada, by His Divine Grace. The disciple saw it and commented, "You look sad in this photo, Srila Prabhupada." Srila Prabhupada corrected her, answering, "No, that was a moment of ecstasy."
"Those who are not narayana-para, pure devotees, must be disturbed by this duality of the material world, whereas devotees who are simply attached to the service of the Lord are not at all disturbed by it... despite the disturbing dualities in the material world, they are not disturbed at all. Because they fix their minds on the lotus feet of the Lord, they do not feel the so-called pains and pleasures caused by the dualities of this material world."
"For a learned person who sees how things are taking place, there is no question of being sorry or happy because of the waves of material nature...One who is fully conversant with the laws of nature is never jubilant or morose because of nature's activities."
As neophytes, we have a tendency to consider the spiritual master through the restricted vision of our own conditioning. Either consciously or unconsciously, we have a tendency to think, "If I do not experience material pain and pleasures, I will not enjoy the varieties of life. Therefore, if the spiritual master doesn't feel these varieties also, then he must similarly be situated in the "void". Therefore, he must also be feeling the material world."
The pure devotee is like the ocean; material happiness and distress are like the rivers; and Krsna is like the moon. So many rivers may enter the ocean, but the ocean remains calm and steady. However, when the moon rises in the sky, no one can check the ocean tide. Similarly, so many material happinesses and distresses may try to disturb the pure devotee, but he always remains undisturbed, calm and steady. However, when the Moon of Krsna rises in the pure devotee's heart, he becomes like a madman, full of transcendental emotions.
The Lilamrta says that His Divine Grace felt embarrassed.
"But it was embarrassing for him when he could not pay."
Webster's Dictionary defines embarrassing as: "to cause or experience a state of self-conscious distress, an influence which impedes thought, speech, and action".
Lilamrta I, p. 186
To the contrary, the sastra states that the liberated soul is never embarrassed by any material condition. Embarrassment is the plight of the conditioned soul.
"The conditioned soul, however, is always covered by ignorance and embarrassed by the three-fold miseries of life. Thus, he is a treasure-house of all kinds of tribulations."
C.C. Madhya 18.114
NO MYSTERY FOR PURE DEVOTEE
The Lilamrta theorizes that things were sometimes mysterious for His Divine Grace.
"A stray cow...suddenly charged him, goring his side with her horn, and knocked him down...As he lay there, he wondered why it had happened."
However, sastra states that nothing remains a mystery to the pure devotee.
Lilamrta I, p. 194
"My Lord, everything that is mysterious is known to you because you worship the creator and destroyer of the material world and the maintainer of the spiritual world, the original Personality of Godhead, Who is transcendental to the three modes of material nature." PURPORT: "A person who is cent-percent engaged in the service of the Lord is the emblem of all knowledge."
PRABHUPADA ASHAMED? REGRETTED?
The Lilamrta offers that His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada made mistakes and felt shame, regret, and had to check himself from violent emotions on occasion.
"To their surprise, Professor Urguhart immediately turned to the jokester and answered in Bengali, and Abhay and the others felt ashamed."
But sastra tells us differently, that the fully liberated soul, unlike the conditioned souls, is not subject to mistakes, nor does he possess the other three disqualifications of conditioned life. He never has any reason to feel regret or shame about anything he is doing, nor does he have to check himself from any violent emotions, because he has no material emotions and cannot make the mistakes which cause conditioned souls to vent material emotions.
Lilamrta I, p. 23
"The biggest pharmaceutical company in India, Bengal Chemical, made him an offer, but when they did not fulfill all his conditions, he turned them down - though later he regretted it."
Ibid., p. 79
"Prabhupada took it seriously, and he was upset, especially about the violence. He hit you?' he asked the boy. I will go down myself and kick him in the head.' But then Prabhupada thought about it and said that Don should be asked to leave."
Lilamrta II, p. 154
"Presently, people are so fallen that they cannot distinguish between a conditioned soul and a liberated soul. A conditioned soul is hampered by four defects: He is sure to commit mistakes, he is sure to become illusioned, he has a tendency to cheat, and his senses are imperfect. Consequently, we have to take direction from liberated persons."
"He is always in everyone's heart, but only the devotee can realize the Lord's presence, and thus he is directly connected, and he takes instructions from the Lord at every moment. Therefore, there is no chance of a devotee's being in error."
"...mistake, illusion, cheating, and imperfection, which are four flaws of all conditioned souls. The liberated souls are above these flaws. Therefore, they can see and foretell things which are to take place on different future dates."
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