Nov 1, 1998
He wanted the whole world to know Krsna.
UPON THE invitation of the Gita Bhavan (“Gita Center”), in December 1970 Srila Prabhupada and a party of disciples traveled to Indore, in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, to take part in the week-long celebration of the anniversary of the day on which Lord Krsna spoke the Bhagavad-gita. Most of the other speakers were Mayavadi impersonalists, who did not preach Bhagavad-gita as it is or present Krsna as He is.
In Indore many gentlemen would come to meet Srila Prabhupada in his room, usually with their own ideas of spiritual life. Srila Prabhupada complained, “They come to the guru with their own opinions to see if the guru will agree. If the guru agrees, he is very good. But if the guru disagrees, they think, ‘He is not good.’ “
One argument between Prabhupada and some guests was especially instructive. On the previous night, Prabhupada had delivered a lecture at the Gita Samiti [“Society”] Hall and was appalled to find there was no picture of Krsna. The next day Prabhupada raised the issue with his guests to make the point that people don’t properly understand and present Bhagavad-gita and its speaker, Lord Krsna. Prabhupada said that his mission was to present Bhagavad-gita properly as it is and to expose those who do not.
Srila Prabhupada: A bona fide spiritual master is one who carries out the order of higher authorities. We are carrying out the order of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, or Krsna. Krsna taught Bhagavad-gita,and He stated, “Anyone who preaches the confidential message of Bhagavad-gita is very dear to Me.”
Guest (1): We believe in an incorporeal God, nirakara.
Srila Prabhupada: Who says “incorporeal”? Who says?
Guest (1): You find it all over India, that incorporeal form, jyotir-linga.
Srila Prabhupada: You are bringing something else besides Bhagavad-gita. Just try to understand. In this International Society for Krishna Consciousness, we are preaching Bhagavad-gita. Jyotir-linga these theories may be in other literature, but we are particularly interested in preaching Bhagavad-gita. And because the Gita is being preached wrongly all over the world with nonsense commentary, we want to rectify it. Therefore our society is especially named “Krishna Consciousness.”
Guest (1): What is wrongly preached about Gita?
Srila Prabhupada: Here is an example: Yesterday I went to that Gita Samiti. There is a lamp. Why is there a lamp instead of Krsna? Krsna is a lamp? Therefore I say it is being wrongly preached. Why is there a lamp? Bhagavad-gita is spoken by Krsna. So why is there no picture of Krsna? That means you have not understood Krsna. Therefore your so-called Gita Society is not bona fide.
Even in ordinary affairs, if there is some political meeting, you keep Gandhi’s photo, Nehru’s photo, because they are the political leaders. Gita Samiti is preaching Bhagavad-gita, and there is not a single picture of Krsna. This is misguided.
Gita Bhavan has invited me because we are teaching Bhagavad-gita. But they celebrate Gita’s jayanti and the speaker of Gita is not present? Therefore I say there are so many places, even here, which are wrongly representing Bhagavad-gita. So our position is to rectify that wrong propaganda.
Guest (2): What is that wrong propaganda?
Srila Prabhupada: There are many examples. In the ninth chapter of the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krsna says, man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru: “Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, become My devotee, offer obeisances to Me, and worship Me.” But one well-known commentator says, “It is not the person Krsna to whom you must surrender.” Where does he get this nonsense idea?
Guest (1): No, [an influential impersonalist] also has said that.
Srila Prabhupada: Therefore I say they are all nonsense. They are all nonsense who deviate from the original text of the Bhagavad-gita.
The guests challenged Srila Prabhupada’s statement that his presentation of Bhagavad-gita was correct while the presentations of others were not. They said he should see and treat others with “equal vision.”
Guest (3): If each person has an individual identity of soul above the body, you must treat everyone as equal.
Srila Prabhupada: They are not equal. There are three gunas, or modes of material nature, and Bhagavad-gita analyzes: “These persons are in sattva-guna [goodness], these persons are in rajo-guna [passion], these persons are in tamo-guna [ignorance].”
Guest (3): That is not the personality of the atma. The atma is everyone’s soul. You have the potency to rise and go higher and higher.
Srila Prabhupada: You are not in the atma stage; I am not in the atma stage. You are in the bodily stage.
Still, if you see everyone equally, why do you find fault in me? If you are in the atma stage, you have no argument with me. Panditah sama-darsinah. This is stated in the Bhagavad-gita:
brahmane gavi hastini
suni caiva sva-pake ca
[The humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge, see with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog, and a dog-eater (outcaste).]
Guest (4): That is the correct position.
Srila Prabhupada: That is the correct position, but if you find that “Swamiji is not on the standard,” that means you are not in the position sama-darsinah, equal vision.
Guest (4): But what if a person commits a murder?
Srila Prabhupada: In the very high stage of sama-darsinah, there is no distinction between sin and virtue. As soon as you see, “This is virtue and this is sin,” it is not sama-darsinah. Here it is said clearly, vidya-vinaya-sampanne brah-mane. A brahmana is learned and vinaya, “very humble” these are signs of goodness. Suni means “dog.” He sees a dog and a learned brahmana the same. Now, the dog is supposed to be sinful, and the learned brahmana is supposed to be virtuous. Therefore in his vision the virtuous and the sinful are the same. That is sama-darsi.
Guest (1): I think they have made many mistakes in writing the slokas [verses].
Srila Prabhupada: Now you are finding faults in Vyasa. Who can talk with you? Please excuse me. Please go out. You are finding fault with Vyasa.
Guest (5): We only want you to be understood here.
Srila Prabhupada [shouting]: I am not sama-darsi. I don’t say I am sama-darsi. You say you are sama-darsi.
Guest (2): You should be sama-darsi.
Srila Prabhupada: But I’m not in that stage. I say that because you don’t surrender to Krsna, you are sinful. That is my darsana [vision].
Guest (3): You should also be seeing as sama-darsinah.
Srila Prabhupada: No, why shall I? I am not in that position. I am simply repeating the words of Krsna. That is my point. I may be sama-darsi, I may not be sama-darsi. My position is simply to repeat. That’s all.
In his books Srila Prabhupada explains that a person on the highest platform does not make distinctions; he sees everyone as being engaged in the service of the Lord. But when one takes the position of guru, he must make distinctions for the sake of instructing and delivering others. Even the best devotee has to act on that platform when he teaches. Although he sees everyone as servant of Krsna, he also sees differences:
keha mane, keha na mane, saba tanra dasa
ye na mane, tara haya sei pape nasa
“Some accept Him, whereas others do not, yet everyone is His servant. One who does not accept Him, however, will be ruined by his sinful activities.” (Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 6.85)
I thought of Srila Prabhupada’s strong criticism of people still in the bodily concept of life who try to imitate the highest devotee, the uttama-adhikari. In his purport to Sri Isopanisad, Mantra 6, Prabhupada writes: “The uttama-adhikari knows that there is no difference between a vastly learned brahmana and a dog in the street because both of them are part and parcel of the Lord, although they are embodied differently according to the qualities of material nature. … Such a learned devotee is not misled by material bodies but is attracted by the spiritual spark within the respective entities. Not considering the respective actions of the brahmana and the dog, the uttama-adhikari tries to do good to both.
“Those who imitate an uttama-adhikari by flaunting a sense of oneness or fellowship but who behave on the bodily platform are actually false philanthropists.”
Srila Prabhupada’s arguments in this purport to Sri Isopanisad closely parallel his discussion with the gentlemen in Indore.
Because Srila Prabhupada had said his position is simply to repeat, another guest raised the ultimate question.
Guest (6): But every successive teacher has added some interpretations of the knowledge, no?
Guest (5): You are the successor of somebody.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes.
Guest (3): Then what is your contribution? That is what we are asking. What is your sama-darsi? Have you become sama-darsi?
Guest (6): You are instructing others to be sama-darsi, but are you sama-darsi?
How Srila Prabhupada had to fight for Krsna! Preaching really means fighting, and Prabhupada was always fighting for Krsna. He was a real spiritual warrior.
Srila Prabhupada: My sama-darsi is, Why should only Hindus know Krsna? The whole world should know Krsna. But if you, the Hindus, refuse to know, what can I do?
Srila Prabhupada had answered their challenge: By his practical work he had made Krsna consciousness available to everyone, all over the world. That was his equal vision. And that was his contribution to his predecessors and to us. Prabhupada had presented Krsna and Bhagavad-gita as it is, and people all over the world were accepting and becoming Krsna’s devotees. Now if the guests wanted, they could also follow and benefit.