Srila Giri Maharaja “Our Defect: To Want To Understand . . . Everything”

Date: 3/25/13

To: Sriman Dayalu Dulal dasa Adhikari

My obeisances Dayalu Prabhu,

I am very much happy to converse with you always.

Because you are always introducing some subject about Krishna, His devotees, philosophy of KC, etc. This always leads to happy talks:

mac-citta mad-gata-prana
bodhayantah parasparam
kathayantas ca mam nityam
tusyanti ca ramanti ca

I looked up the reference to the foot bite of Takshaka:

aham brahma param dhama
brahmaham paramam padam
evam samiksya catmanam
atmany adhaya niskale
dasantam taksakam pade
lelihanam visananaih
na draksyasi sariram ca
visvam ca prthag atmanah

WORD-FOR-WORD MEANINGS
aham — I; brahma — the Absolute Truth; param — supreme; dhama — the abode; brahma — the Absolute Truth; aham — I; paramam — the supreme; padam — destination; evam — thus; samiksya — considering; ca — and; atmanam — yourself; atmani — in the Supreme Self; adhaya — placing; niskale — which is free from material designation; dasantam — biting; taksakam — Taksaka; pade — upon your foot; lelihanam — the snake, licking his lips; visa-ananaih — with his mouth full of poison; na draksyasi — you will not even notice; sariram — your body; ca — and; visvam — the entire material world; ca — and; prthak — separate; atmanah — from the self.

TRANSLATION
You should consider, “I am nondifferent from the Absolute Truth, the supreme abode, and that Absolute Truth, the supreme destination, is nondifferent from me.” Thus resigning yourself to the Supreme Soul, who is free from all material misidentifications, you will not even notice the snake-bird Taksaka when he approaches with his poison-filled fangs and bites your foot. Nor will you see your dying body or the material world around you, because you will have realized yourself to be separate from them.

>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 12.5.11, SB 12.5.12, SB 12.5.11-12

At your convenience, would you send me the Mahabharata reference you spoke of that differed with this and showed Maharaja Pariksit fighting with Takshaka?

I wonder how Takshaka could defeat the very powerful Maharaja Pariksit? Perhaps due to Takshaka being protected by Indra, as happened in the yajna performed by Janamejaya Maharaja?

Also, Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s answer to your question would be a nice subject to write about. Why not write an article about that?

I misspoke yesterday when I said the narration we received in our Bhagavatam came from Sri Shukadeva. It comes from Sri Suta Goswami, as told by Sri Vyasadeva. Below are some relevant portions pertaining to our discussion:

TRANSLATION
Suta Gosvami said: Thus requested, the saintly son of Srila Vyasadeva gave his permission to King Pariksit. Then, after being worshiped by the King and all the sages present, Sukadeva departed from that place.

SB 12.6.9, SB 12.6.10, SB 12.6.9-10

TEXTS 9-10
TEXT

pariksid api rajarsir
atmany atmanam atmana
samadhaya param dadhyav
aspandasur yatha taruh
prak-kule barhisy asino
ganga-kula udan-mukhah
brahma-bhuto maha-yogi
nihsangas chinna-samsayah

WORD-FOR-WORD MEANINGS
pariksit — Maharaja Pariksit; api — furthermore; raja-rsih — the great saintly King; atmani — within his own spiritual identity; atmanam — his mind; atmana — by his intelligence; samadhaya — placing; param — upon the Supreme; dadhyau — he meditated; aspanda — motionless; asuh — his living air; yatha — just as; taruh — a tree; prak-kule — with the tips of its stalks facing east; barhisi — upon darbha grass; asinah — sitting; ganga-kule — on the bank of the Ganga; udak-mukhah — facing north; brahma-bhutah — in perfect realization of his true identity; maha-yogi — the exalted mystic; nihsangah — free of all material attachment; chinna — broken off; samsayah — all doubts.

TRANSLATION
Maharaja Pariksit then sat down on the bank of the Ganges, upon a seat made of darbha grass with the tips of its stalks facing east, and turned himself toward the north. Having attained the perfection of yoga, he experienced full self-realization and was free of material attachment and doubt. The saintly King settled his mind within his spiritual self by pure intelligence and proceeded to meditate upon the Supreme Absolute Truth. His life air ceased to move, and he became as stationary as a tree.

SB 12.6.11
TEXT 11
TEXT

taksakah prahito viprah
kruddhena dvija-sununa
hantu-kamo nrpam gacchan
dadarsa pathi kasyapam

WORD-FOR-WORD MEANINGS
taksakah — the snake-bird Taksaka; prahitah — sent; viprah — O learned brahmanas; kruddhena — who had been angered; dvija — of the sage Samika; sununa — by the son; hantu-kamah — desirous of killing; nrpam — the King; gacchan — while going; dadarsa — he saw; pathi — upon the road; kasyapam — Kasyapa Muni.

TRANSLATION
O learned brahmanas, the snake-bird Taksaka, who had been sent by the angry son of a brahmana, was going toward the King to kill him when he saw Kasyapa Muni on the path.

SB 12.6.12
TEXT 12
TEXT

tam tarpayitva dravinair
nivartya visa-harinam
dvija-rupa-praticchannah
kama-rupo ‘dasan nrpam

WORD-FOR-WORD MEANINGS
tam — him (Kasyapa); tarpayitva — gratifying; dravinaih — with valuable offerings; nivartya — stopping; visa-harinam — an expert in counteracting poison; dvija-rupa — in the form of a brahmana; praticchannah — disguising himself; kama-rupah — Taksaka, who could assume any form he wished; adasat — bit; nrpam — King Pariksit.

TRANSLATION
Taksaka flattered Kasyapa by presenting him with valuable offerings and thereby stopped the sage, who was expert in counteracting poison, from protecting Maharaja Pariksit. Then the snakebird, who could assume any form he wished, disguised himself as a brahmana, approached the King and bit him.

PURPORT
Kasyapa could counteract the poison of Taksaka and demonstrated this power by bringing a palm tree back to life after Taksaka had burned it to ashes by biting it with his fangs. According to the arrangement of destiny, Kasyapa was diverted by Taksaka, and the inevitable took place.

SB 12.6.13
TEXT 13
TEXT

brahma-bhutasya rajarser
deho ‘hi-garalagnina
babhuva bhasmasat sadyah
pasyatam sarva-dehinam

WORD-FOR-WORD MEANINGS
brahma-bhutasya — of the fully self-realized; raja-rseh — the saint among kings; dehah — the body; ahi — of the snake; garala — from the poison; agnina — by the fire; babhuva — turned; bhasma-sat — to ashes; sadyah — immediately; pasyatam — while they were watching; sarva-dehinam — all embodied living beings.

TRANSLATION
While living beings all over the universe looked on, the body of the great self-realized saint among kings was immediately burned to ashes by the fire of the snake’s poison.

[Translations & Purports by Hridayananda dasa Goswami] >>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 12.6.8

Actually, I never read the Bhagavatam past the tenth canto translations of Srila Prabhupada. I heard, I believe from Sripada Goswami Maharaja, that Srila Prabhupada said only two persons were qualified to translate the SB, himself and Srila Sridhara Maharaja. I don’t know if this statement can be verified, but it seems reasonable and accurate, in line with Srila Prabhupada’s thinking, so I accepted it.

It was clear, after its dismissal of Srila Sridhara Maharaja, that ISKCON had become apa-sampradaya. I never saw any reversal of that position, the whole thing seemed rotten to me, having left many of Srila Prabhupada’s most vital instructions and adopting a culture of tolerance for offense to pure devotees, and even to the founder of Sri Gaudiya Math, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakura. What attraction, then, could I have for the books they produced subsequent to that?

I use their books for reference (as you see above), particularly verse translations, but look very scrutinizingly at the purports.

Probably 90% or more of what they produce is accurate. The same would be true of a great number of sanskrit scholars’ translations, so why not these men who at least have some touch with KC? But 90% accurate means unreliable, in the Absolute sense. The pure thread of Krishna Consciousness must run through a translation of the scripture for it to be completely reliable. That is the vital point.

The uttama adhikari can honor the prasadam from the temples established by the six goswamis of Vrndavana without fear of contamination. But the madhyama adhikari will be more cautious and must consider whether the Deity puja is being conducted purely, or mixed with some offense in the mind of the acharya, under whose direction the puja is being conducted.

Then shall we not consider such points in viewing scriptural translations?

In any event, I cannot help but consider such things and approach such matters with great caution.

tad-vag-visargo janatagha-viplavo
yasmin prati-slokam abaddhavaty api
namany anantasya yaso ‘nkitani yat
srnvanti gayanti grnanti sadhavah

WORD-FOR-WORD MEANINGS
tat — that; vak — vocabulary; visargah — creation; janata — the people in general; agha — sins; viplavah — revolutionary; yasmin — in which; prati-slokam — each and every stanza; abaddhavati — irregularly composed; api — in spite of; namani — transcendental names, etc.; anantasya — of the unlimited Lord; yasah — glories; ankitani — depicted; yat — what; srnvanti — do hear; gayanti — do sing; grnanti — do accept; sadhavah — the purified men who are honest.

TRANSLATION
On the other hand, that literature which is full of descriptions of the transcendental glories of the name, fame, forms, pastimes, etc., of the unlimited Supreme Lord is a different creation, full of transcendental words directed toward bringing about a revolution in the impious lives of this world’s misdirected civilization. Such transcendental literatures, even though imperfectly composed, are heard, sung and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest.—[Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami] SB 1.5.11

“Such transcendental literatures, even though imperfectly composed, are heard, sung and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest.”

If I were sadhavah, “purified” and “thoroughly honest”, I could easily and readily accept these literatures produced by our Godbrothers, faults and all. But because I am below that standard, I am apprehensive. So I am trying to follow the example I heard from Srila Sridhara Maharaja about the cataka bird.

Here Srila Prabhupada uses the same example of Srila Rupa Goswami:

Prabhupada: Oh. Oh. We have got an idea of thunderbird. The bird flies in the, near the cloud in expectation of water, and they are not afraid of thunder. That is called cataka. That example is given by Rupa Gosvami. The cataka does not take water from ground. They will take water when it falls from the cloud. So in the beginning of every cloud there is thunder. So this bird, because they expecting water from the cloud, the cloud is giving him thunder, but still he does not, will not take water from ground.

Dhira Krsna: In what connection do the Gosvamis use that example to illustrate?

Prabhupada: Example means a devotee will take mercy from Krsna, not from the material world. Even there is thunder, Krsna does not give mercy but puts him into difficulty, still, he will not take any mercy from the material world. This is the ex… [break]

Dhira Krsna: You are showing your mercy upon us. How do we prevent ourselves from becoming guru-druha, or ungrateful for the benediction you are giving us?

Prabhupada: So, you want to be guru-druha? Eh?

Dhira Krsna: No.

Prabhupada: That’s nice. [break] …come when there will be lightning, thunder but there will be no rain. (end)

>>> Ref. VedaBase => Morning Walk — July 6, 1975, Chicago

So, even though there is no rain, no “new” scriptures for me to read, I am not feeling any deficiency.

Even Srila Govinda Maharaja, who is so learned, and whose scriptural knowledge (realization of the scripture) surpasses all those who came after Srila Sridhara Maharaja, confessed that he had not read the entire Bhagavatam, although he knew it, by hearing about it from Srila Sridhara Maharaja.

Thus, without reading the fourteenth chapter [SB 10.14.3] of Srimad Bhagavatam we can still gather the meaning of the important verse jnane prayasam udapasya namanta eva simply by hearing the words of our Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja, who have explained it many times.

In a similar vein, I recently wrote this letter to Sriman Uddharan and his wife Srimati Lilavati Devi:

Dear Sriman Uddharana Prabhu and Srimati Lilavati Devi,

Please accept my humble obeisances.

In pursuance of our discussion yesterday, I thought you might appreciate something I heard early this morning (2:15 or so) and had to get up from bed to transcribe-

After quoting the verse-

jnane prayasam udapasya namanta eva
jivanti san-mukharitam bhavadiya-vartam
sthane sthitah sruti-gatam tanu-van-manobhir
ye prayaso ‘jita jito ‘py asi tais tri-lokyam

[ . . . ]

SB 10.14.3

Srila Sridhara Maharaja spoke-

83.11.06.B_83.11.07.A
@ 38:10
jnane prayasam udapasya namanta eva. jnane prayasam udapasya, it is our defect when we want to understand anything and everything. It may be qualification here, but in relation to the transcendental Truth, of the highest order, it is disqualification. That everything we want to know? The clue of everything, the key of everything, we want to have in our possession. But this is really bar to progress. If we assert in this way, we rather lose confidence there. And there will be some delay to extend the key to us. If a servant, getting engagement in a, in his master’s house, is very particular to have the key of the store, very particular, then the master will suspect him.

So that is a type of disease, to know anything and everything. The understanding element in us is enemy to our progress. This is difficult of course, to accept. Still it is so.

Surrender. What understanding the gopis had? Knowledge of the shastra, this or that, nothing.

Rather, what we understand to be standard purity, knowledge, all these things, they’re disqualification in the case of the Absolute pleasure.

A hard pill to swallow, this one:

[Srila Sridhara Maharaja ]

“So that is a type of disease, to know anything and everything. The understanding element in us is enemy to our progress. This is difficult of course, to accept. Still it is so.

Surrender. What understanding the gopis had? Knowledge of the shastra, this or that, nothing.

Rather, what we understand to be standard purity, knowledge, all these things, they’re disqualification in the case of the Absolute pleasure.”

Surrender, and surrender to whom? What was it that attracted us to our gurudeva? We saw he was surrendered to his guru, and him to his, and so on, culminating in Sri Radha’s total and complete surrender to Sri Krishna. Srimati Radharani, the one thought to have the most scandalous reputation among the gopis, she is our leader, or exemplar, the standard bearer for devotion to our Lord.

But why Sri Radha? Were there no pure brahmanas in Vrndavana? No scholars? No brahmacharis or sannyasis? No Vedantists? Why do we look to her as our Divine Mistress instead of one of these others as our Divine Master? jnane prayasam udapasya Giving up all other considerations, Krishna came first. His wish, His happiness, His pleasure, what was in His interest, was her only interest to fulfill.

Unreserved, unqualified surrender to Her Lord, our Lord, is her life and breath. Whoever shows that sort of extraordinary quality is our guru and we must try to be the slave of him.

Mother Yashoda was told by a mystic physician that she needed water from the Yamuna, carried in a porous pot by a chaste lady, to cure Krishna’s sickness. She was perplexed. “Where will I find a chaste lady in Vrndavana?” (paraphrasing Srila Sridhara Maharaja).

After those thought to be chaste, due to their constant rants against the promiscuous activity of others, failed in their attempts to bring the water, Srimati Radharani tried, and succeeded, to the amazement of all.

Are these not the qualities we saw in our gurus? Chastity. Chastity to their guru, the quality Srila Govinda Maharaja said he valued the most in a disciple. Is it not this chastity that attracted us to them and causes us to continue to try and follow them in the same way they followed their gurus? They showed the way. They gave us the formula to follow. If we will only follow it, should we not expect to attain the same wonderful results we saw with them.

Please excuse me if I appear to be preaching to the choir. It’s not that I think you need to hear these things from me. These thoughts just came to me and I don’t know who else to express them to.

At least I hope you will be satisfied with the short transcription at the beginning of this letter. Perhaps you can accept that as some small payment in exchange for reading what I wanted to say.

Affectionately yours,

Giri Maharaja

So, Goswami Maharaja asked Srila Prabhupada about guru-druha and received his response “come when there will be lightning, thunder but there will be no rain.” I think my point regarding surrender follows this same line of thought.

Surrender does not manifest when we are comfortably situated, but “when there will be lightning, thunder but there will be no rain.” Only those willing to serve in those extreme conditions will be known as surrendered.

aslisya va pada-ratam pinastu mam

Surrender shows itself in those who have no interest but the interest of Krishna. na dhanam, na janam, na sundarim only unto those who are ahaituki, without any self interest or motivation, does real bhakti unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead manifest.

Because you are always encouraging this sort of thinking and remembrance in me, I must also be very happy with our conversations.

I pray this finds you well in all respects.

Giri Maharaja