Let All the Knowledge of So-Called Scholars Go to Hell (12/12/02)
Dear Śrīpāda B___ Mahārāja,
I have received a forwarded copy of B___’s ‘apologies’ and here are my comments below.
I would like first of all to apologise for any statements I have made that may have hurt or offended you or any of the other devotees in the line of Siddhanta Sarasvati Thakur or Bhaktivinoda Thakur. I am a well-wisher of the movement of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and pray for the multiplication and glorification of this movement in all its forms. I am also an ardent admirer of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur and by no means wish to undermine his work or legacy. If Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur is himself displeased with me, I beg him for his forgiveness.
This is nice, but the fact remains that B_ has numerous articles on his website wherein he criticises Sarasvatī Ṭhākura and Bhaktivinoda. If he is actually ‘apologizing’ then he should remove those articles from his website He says that Sarasvatī Ṭhākura is not actually initiated. He says that Yogapīṭha is the false birthsite of Mahāprabhu. He says that Bhaktivinoda was a counterfeiter. He says that we have no link with the Madhva sampradāya. He says that Sarasvatī Ṭhākura was rejected by Bhaktivinoda. He says that sannyāsa in Kali-yuga is bogus. And he says many more things of this nature. He is in complete support of the sahajiyā section like Tin Kori Baba, Lalitā Prasāda, Vipina Vihārī and so on.
I have been trained as an academic and have a PhD from the University of Londons School of Oriental and African Studies. Part of that training involves the use of historical method. No one in the academic world can simply accept the words of his spiritual master as the only valid evidence in a discussion.
It is better to give up this body rather than to go against the words of one’s spiritual master. Many of my guru’s disciples are highly educated but they do not commit the sin of going against the words of their spiritual master.
If he or she did so, they would not be accepted as genuine scholars.
It is better to remain a fool than to criticise the words of the spiritual master even if one does not understand the spiritual master. One who criticises the guru is lost in spiritual life.
The words of a spiritual master are scrutinized like the statements of any other person, and indeed this is proper.
This is never proper for a disciple. But B__ thinks because he has some mundane education that he can challenge his spiritual master. In olden times for such a mentality a person like B__ would be completely rejected by the Vaiṣṇava community.
There are many spiritual masters who disagree with each other.
Yes, spiritual masters may disagree with each other, but a disciple should not go against the words of his own guru.
If everyone simply closed his mind to everyone else, there would be only strife and no possibility of any dialogue whatsoever.
It is the opinion of śāstra that one should not listen to many authorities or even read many books (bahu-śāstra bahu-vākye citte bhrama haya). It is better to be a faithful disciple and simply carry out the order of guru.
There are many kinds of evidence that must be studied and conclusions drawn on the basis of that evidence.
What B__ says here is that we should look for so-called evidence and if found, we should reject the birthsite of Mahāprabhu, reject the initiation of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, reject our connection with the Madhva-sampradāya and so on.
There are, naturally, debates which ensue when new evidence turns up or when there are disagreements about the interpretation of evidence. This is the nature of academic discourse. I thus welcome any new evidence or interpretation of the known evidence that will improve my understanding of the issues.
B__ wants to base his understandings on mundane knowledge and not on the words of the spiritual master. This is a spiritual defect in him and people with that defect should be avoided.
In my academic life, I have been drawn to many questions that have caused contention and discord in the Gaudiya Vaishava world. I did not invent these questionsthey are already there and will not disappear by wishing them away or placing a hex on anyone who wishes to discuss them. I have tried, to the best of my ability, to analyze the data that is available and to draw the most rational conclusions that I can from them.
Transcendence (Kṛṣṇa consciousness) is above ‘rationalism’. Rationalism, as it were, is the method of the atheist. Rational thought is ascending and thus always remains within the domain of māyā. The words of the guru are śabda-brahman, or transcendental sound vibration coming from the spiritual world. Therefore we are not interested in B__’s “rationalism”.
Unfortunately, these conclusions are not always pleasing to everyone. However, my intention is not to use these conclusions as an arm against anyone, but rather to stimulate discussion and, ultimately, to deepen our understanding and advance the cause of Gaudiya Vaishnavism.
If B_’s statement is true, then he should follow the ācāryas and not use harsh language and misplaced logic against them.
My historical work has always been intended to serve my work as a Gaudiya Vaishnava theologian. Historical issues often give rise to important theological questions. In the world today, one cannot discuss theology without being realistic about history. If Gaudiya Vaishnavism is to play anything more than a marginal role in the modern world, it must be able to find answers to the questions that the world will ask it.
The world is not asking the questions that B__ raises. Only B__ and some other sahajiyās (those who have left the line of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura) are asking those questions. Millions of people around the world chant, dance and take prasādam. Only the offenders and mundane scholars ask the type of questions that B__ raises.
It is not enough to hide behind the words of authority. For the simple bhakta, it may be unnecessary and even detrimental to get entangled in such researches, but for the preacher who wishes to expertly defend the essence of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, it can never be enough to accept everything blindly without synthesis.
This may be true, however as regards the birth-site of Mahāprabhu, Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s initiation and other such issues, we stand firmly behind our authority, our ācāryas. B__ on the other hand, wants us to admit that we are wrong and thus we actually have no paramparā. B__ thinks that Kṛṣṇa consciousness can exist without a paramparā and that our ācāryas are simply mundane people.
I therefore welcome the section of Narasingha Maharaj’s article where he attempts to respond to the possibility that what I have written is true. The dynamic understanding of revelation as taught by Sridhara Maharaj is an important step in the right direction.
If B__ accepts Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja then that is a step in the right direction for B__. Now, the next step will be for B__ to continue to accept Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja and his opinions regarding Yogapīṭha, Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s initiation and so on.
If any fruitful discussion arises out of my work, I will feel as though I have been able to serve all my guru-varga.
So what is the guru-varga of B__? He rejected Śrīla Swami Mahārāja and Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. Now B__ is in the sahajiyā-varga at best.
At the bottom of all B__’s work, he simply wants devotees to accept that there is no fault in his having rejected Śrīla Swami Mahārāja and that he is properly situated as a so-called disciple of Lalitā Prasāda. He will then have us accept Tin Kori Bābā as a paramahaṁsa and reject Sarasvatī Ṭhākura as an offender to Vipina Vihārī.
In conclusion, I would like to make two points: (1) that my faith in the essentials of Gaudiya Vaishnavism: Kṛṣṇas tu bhagavAn svayam, jivera svarupa hoy Kṛṣṇa nitya Dāsa, Kṛṣṇa bhakti koile sarva karma krita hoy, sarva dharmAn parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja, etc. , remains intact, (2) that my professional honor as a translator would not allow me to do anything but to translate a text as it is, without adding or subtracting any statement of any author, even if I did happen to disagree.
In conclusion, my opinions remain the same: B__ is a mundane scholar and a sahajiyā whose opinions are detrimental to pure devotional service. If one follows B__’s opinions, then one will become an offender to one’s spiritual master. B__’s association with Mandala is certainly a cause of regret and thus should be terminated.
B__’s apology amounts to a few words in an attempt to keep his job and the rest of his letter instructs us in the root of his misconceptions and justifies his having criticised our paramparā.
I realize that the academic and devotional approaches are different.
Yes, they are different. The ‘academic’ is mundane or even ‘demonic. And the devotional is purely spiritual.
This may be a source of confusion to some.
Yes, the neophytes can be confused, but those who are firmly fixed in devotion at the lotus feet of Śrī Guru never take the opinions of scholars above those of our ācāryas.
The neophytes and other devotees will and certainly are confused why Mandala has a person like Jan as a translator of the divine writings of Śrīla Purī Mahārāja.
But I believe that consolidating the two is ultimately a necessary step in the advancement of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement.
By consolidating the two, as B__ suggests, I believe we would reduce pure devotion to mundane Hinduism. Actually B__ wishes to put scholarship above devotion. B__ does not appear to have real śraddhā and thus his spiritual life has gone astray. Advancement in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is only possible when one is firmly fixed in devotion at the lotus feet of Śrī Guru. Let all the knowledge of the so-called scholars go to hell. We are slaves of the dust of the lotus feet of Śrī Guru. And this should be preached in very town and village of the world.
I beg you to forgive me if there has been misunderstanding.
I do not think that there has been any misunderstanding. B__ is always quite clear in what he writes. And what he writes is anything but spiritual.
Ask B__ to take all those articles off his website wherein he speaks against the conclusions of Bhaktivinoda and Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, and to make a public apology on all the internet forums where he has been speaking against our ācāryas. If he cannot do that, then tell him to get another job.
That’s about all I have to say. The final choice is yours. Gaura-haribol!
I hope this meets you well.
Swami BG Narasiṅgha