According to the Vedas, the Lord and the living entity are equal in quality but different quantitatively. The real philosophy of the Absolute Truth states that the Lord and His creation are inconceivably and simultaneously one and different. The conclusion is that the Māyāvādī philosophers are actually atheists. There was much discussion on this issue between Sārvabhauma and Caitanya Mahāprabhu, but despite all his endeavors, the Bhaṭṭācārya was defeated in the end.
Pāṣaṇḍas, or atheists, cannot understand the pastimes of the Supreme Lord or transcendental loving service to the Lord. They think that devotional service is no better than ordinary fruitive activities (karma). As the Bhagavad-gītā (4.8) confirms, however, the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His devotees, saving the righteous and chastising the miscreants (paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṁ vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām), always curb these nonsensical atheists. Miscreants always want to deny the Supreme Personality of Godhead and put stumbling blocks in the path of devotional service. The Lord sends His bona fide representatives and appears Himself to curb this nonsense.
Thus the Lord is equipped with sharp weapons in the form of His parts and plenary portions. All these weapons are competent enough to crush the faithless atheists.
One who says that ten million aśvamedha sacrifices are equal to the chanting of the holy name of Lord Kṛṣṇa is undoubtedly an atheist. He is sure to be punished by Yamarāja.
"There are two classes of men in the created world. One consists of the demoniac and the other of the godly. The devotees of Lord Viṣṇu are the godly, whereas those who are just the opposite are called demons."
This is a verse from the Padma Purāṇa. Viṣṇu-bhaktas, or devotees in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, are known as devas (demigods). Atheists, who do not believe in God or who declare themselves God, are asuras (demons). Asuras always engage in atheistic material activities, exploring ways to utilize the resources of matter to enjoy sense gratification. The viṣṇu-bhaktas, Kṛṣṇa conscious devotees, are also active, but their objective is to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead by devotional service. Superficially both classes may appear to work in the same way, but their purposes are completely opposite because of a difference in consciousness. Asuras work for personal sense gratification, whereas devotees work for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord. Both work conscientiously, but their motives are different.
The perfect knowledge propounded in the revealed scriptures is confirmed by the great ācāryas, who have left ample commentations upon them; none of these ācāryas has disbelieved in the śāstras. One who disbelieves in the śāstras is an atheist, and we should not consult an atheist, however great he may be. A staunch believer in the śāstras, with all their diversities, is the right person from whom to gather real knowledge. Such knowledge may seem inconceivable in the beginning, but when put forward by the proper authority its meaning is revealed, and then one no longer has any doubts about it.
Persons with a poor fund of knowledge conclude that a place void of material qualities must be some sort of formless nothingness. In reality, however, there are qualities in the spiritual world, but they are different from the material qualities because everything there is eternal, unlimited and pure. The atmosphere there is self-illuminating, and thus there is no need of a sun, a moon, fire, electricity and so on. One who can reach that abode does not come back to the material world with a material body. There is no difference between atheists and the faithful in the Vaikuṇṭha planets because all who settle there are freed from the material qualities, and thus suras and asuras become equally obedient loving servitors of the Lord.
Śrīpāda Rāmānujācārya has also refuted the arguments of Śaṅkara in his own commentary on the Vedānta-sūtra, which is known as the Śrī-bhāṣya: “Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya has tried to equate the Pañcarātras with the philosophy of the atheist Kapila, and thus he has tried to prove that the Pañcarātras contradict the Vedic injunctions. The Pañcarātras state that the personality of jīva called Saṅkarṣaṇa has emerged from Vāsudeva, the supreme cause of all causes, that Pradyumna, the mind, has come from Saṅkarṣaṇa, and that Aniruddha, the ego, has come from Pradyumna. But one cannot say that the living entity (jīva) takes birth or is created, for such a statement is against the injunction of the Vedas. As stated in the Kaṭha Upaniṣad (2.18), living entities, as individual spiritual souls, can have neither birth nor death. All Vedic literature declares that the living entities are eternal.
Just as a woman can deliver a child after being impregnated by the semen of a man, so material nature can supply the material elements after being glanced upon by Mahā-Viṣṇu. Therefore pradhāna cannot be independent of the superintendence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā (9.10): mayādhyakṣeṇa prakṛtiḥ sūyate sa-carācaram. Prakṛti, the total material energy, works under the superintendence of the Lord. The original source of the material elements is Kṛṣṇa. Therefore the attempt of the atheistic Sāṅkhya philosophers to consider material nature the source of these elements, forgetting Kṛṣṇa, is useless, like trying to get milk from the nipplelike bumps of skin hanging on the neck of a goat.
The Vedic conclusion is that the cosmic manifestation visible to the eyes of the conditioned soul is caused by the Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead, through the exertion of His specific energies, although in the conclusion of atheistic deliberations this manifested cosmic exhibition is attributed to material nature. The energy of the Absolute Truth is exhibited in three ways: spiritual, material and marginal. The Absolute Truth is identical with His spiritual energy. Only when contacted by the spiritual energy can the material energy work and the temporary material manifestations thus appear active.
"It would be better to be an atheist by slighting both brothers than a hypocrite by believing in one and slighting the other."
The first conclusion is accepted by the Vedānta philosophers, and the second is supported by the atheistic philosophical system of the Sāṅkhya smṛti, which directly opposes the Vedāntic philosophical conclusion. Material scientists cannot see any cognizant spiritual substance that might be the cause of the creation. Such atheistic Sāṅkhya philosophers think that the symptoms of knowledge and living force visible in the innumerable living creatures are caused by the three qualities of the cosmic manifestation. Therefore the Sāṅkhyites are against the conclusion of Vedānta regarding the original cause of creation.
The followers of the Vedas unanimously accept the authority of Manu and Parāśara in the disciplic succession. Their statements, however, do not support the atheistic Kapila, because the Kapila mentioned in the Vedas is a different Kapila, the son of Kardama and Devahūti. The atheist Kapila is a descendant of the dynasty of Agni and is one of the conditioned souls. But the Kapila who is the son of Kardama Muni is accepted as an incarnation of Vāsudeva. The Padma Purāṇa gives evidence that the Supreme Personality of Godhead Vāsudeva takes birth in the incarnation of Kapila and, by His expansion of theistic Sāṅkhya philosophy, teaches all the demigods and a brāhmaṇa of the name Āsuri. In the doctrine of the atheist Kapila there are many statements directly against the Vedic principles. The atheist Kapila does not accept the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He says that the living entity is himself the Supreme Lord and that no one is greater than him. His conceptions of so-called conditioned and liberated life are materialistic, and he refuses to accept the importance of immortal time. All such statements are against the principles of the Vedānta-sūtra.
The word ācārya means "teacher." The special function of such a teacher is to make people Kṛṣṇa conscious. A bona fide teacher following in the footsteps of Advaita Ācārya has no other business than to spread the principles of Kṛṣṇa consciousness all over the world. The real qualification of an ācārya is that he presents himself as a servant of the Supreme. Such a bona fide ācārya can never support the demoniac activities of atheistic men who present themselves as God. It is the main business of an ācārya to defy such imposters posing as God before the innocent public.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was an ideal ācārya. An ācārya is an ideal teacher who knows the purport of the revealed scriptures, behaves exactly according to their injunctions and teaches his students to adopt these principles also. As an ideal ācārya, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu devised ways to capture all kinds of atheists and materialists. Every ācārya has a specific means of propagating his spiritual movement with the aim of bringing men to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Therefore, the method of one ācārya may be different from that of another, but the ultimate goal is never neglected.
"Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, who are lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons do not surrender unto Me." The Māyāvādī sannyāsīs are āsuraṁ bhāvam āśritāḥ, which means that they have taken the path of the asuras (demons), who do not believe in the existence of the form of the Lord. The Māyāvādīs say that the ultimate source of everything is impersonal, and in this way they deny the existence of God. Saying that there is no God is direct denial of God, and saying that God exists but has no head, legs or hands and cannot speak, hear or eat is a negative way of denying His existence. A person who cannot see is called blind, one who cannot walk is called lame, one who has no hands is called helpless, one who cannot speak is called dumb, and one who cannot hear is called deaf.
Since the purport of the Bhagavad-gītā is now being presented as it is, however, within four or five short years thousands of people all over the world have become Kṛṣṇa conscious. That is the difference between direct and indirect explanations of the Vedic literature. Therefore Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, mukhya-vṛttye sei artha parama mahattva: "To teach the Vedic literature according to its direct meaning, without false commentary, is glorious." Unfortunately, Śrī Śaṅkarācārya, by the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, compromised between atheism and theism in order to cheat the atheists and bring them to theism, and to do so he gave up the direct method of Vedic knowledge and tried to present a meaning which is indirect. It is with this purpose that he wrote his Śārīraka-bhāṣya commentary on the Vedānta-sūtra.
"The Māyāvāda philosophy," Lord Śiva informed his wife Pārvatī, "is impious (asac chāstra). It is covered Buddhism. My dear Pārvatī, in Kali-yuga I assume the form of a brāhmaṇa and teach this imagined Māyāvāda philosophy. In order to cheat the atheists, I describe the Supreme Personality of Godhead to be without form and without qualities. Similarly, in explaining Vedānta I describe the same Māyāvāda philosophy in order to mislead the entire population toward atheism by denying the personal form of the Lord." In the Śiva Purāṇa the Supreme Personality of Godhead told Lord Śiva:
- dvāparādau yuge bhūtvā kalayā mānuṣādiṣu
- svāgamaiḥ kalpitais tvaṁ ca janān mad-vimukhān kuru
"In Kali-yuga, mislead the people in general by propounding imaginary meanings for the Vedas to bewilder them." These are the descriptions of the Purāṇas.
Why the daivī-māyā, or illusory energy of Kṛṣṇa, takes away the knowledge of the Māyāvādī philosophers is also explained in the Bhagavad-gīta by the use of the words āsuraṁ bhāvam āśritāḥ, which refer to a person who does not agree to the existence of the Lord. The Māyāvādīs, who are not in agreement with the existence of the Lord, can be classified in two groups, exemplified by the impersonalist Śaṅkarites of Vārāṇasī and the Buddhists of Saranātha. Both groups are Māyāvādīs, and Kṛṣṇa takes away their knowledge due to their atheistic philosophies. Neither group agrees to accept the existence of a personal God. The Buddhist philosophers clearly deny both the soul and God, and although the Śaṅkarites do not openly deny God, they say that the Absolute is nirākāra, or formless. Thus both the Buddhists and the Śaṅkarites are aviśuddha-buddhayaḥ (SB 10.2.32), or imperfect and unclean in their knowledge and intelligence.
Vyāsadeva composed the Vedānta-sūtra to deliver the conditioned souls from this material world, but Śaṅkarācārya, by presenting the Vedānta-sūtra in his own way, has clearly done a great disservice to human society, for one who follows his Māyāvāda philosophy is doomed. In the Vedanta-sūtra, devotional service is clearly indicated, but the Māyāvādī philosophers refuse to accept the spiritual body of the Supreme Absolute Person and refuse to accept that the living entity has an individual existence separate from that of the Supreme Lord. Thus they have created atheistic havoc all over the world, for such a conclusion is against the very nature of the transcendental process of pure devotional service. The Māyāvādī philosophers' unrealizable ambition to become one with the Supreme through denying the existence of the Personality of Godhead results in a most calamitous misrepresentation of spiritual knowledge, and one who follows this philosophy is doomed to remain perpetually in this material world.
The material potency is the energy of darkness, or complete ignorance of spiritual activities. In the material potency, the living entity engages himself in fruitive activities, thinking that he can be happy through expansion in terms of material energy. This fact is prominently manifest in this Age of Kali because human society, not understanding the spiritual nature, is busily expanding in material activities. The men of the present day are almost unaware of their spiritual identity. They think that they are products of the elements of the material world and that everything will end with the annihilation of the body. Therefore they conclude that as long as one has a material body consisting of material senses, one should enjoy the senses as much as possible. Since they are atheists, they do not care whether there is a next life. Such activities are described in this verse as avidyā-karma-saṁjñānyā.
The separated, material energy bewilders the living entities (jīvas), and thus they work very hard under its influence, not knowing that they are not fulfilling their mission in life. Unfortunately, most of them think that they are the body and should therefore enjoy the material senses irresponsibly since when death comes everything will be finished. This atheistic philosophy also flourished in India, where it was sometimes propagated by Cārvāka Muni, who said:
- ṛṇaṁ kṛtvā ghṛtaṁ pibet yāvaj jīvet sukhaṁ jīvet
- bhasmī-bhūtasya dehasya kutaḥ punar āgamano bhavet
His theory was that as long as one lives one should eat as much ghee as possible. In India, ghee (clarified butter) is a basic ingredient in preparing many varieties of food. Since everyone wants to enjoy nice food, Cārvāka Muni advised that one eat as much ghee as possible. One may say, "I have no money. How shall I purchase ghee?" Cārvāka Muni, however, says, "If you have no money, then beg, borrow or steal, but in some way secure ghee and enjoy life." For one who further objects that he will be held accountable for such unauthorized activities as begging, borrowing and stealing, Cārvāka Muni replies, "You will not be held responsible. As soon as your body is burned to ashes after death, everything is finished."
It is the statement of Cārvāka Muni that one should beg, borrow or steal money to purchase ghee and enjoy life (ṛṇaṁ kṛtvā ghṛtaṁ pibet). Thus even the greatest atheist of India recommends that one eat ghee, not meat. No one could conceive of human beings' eating meat like tigers and dogs, but men have become so degraded that they are just like animals and can no longer claim to have a human civilization.
Unfortunately, Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya purposely claimed the jīva-tattva, or living entities, to be equal to the Supreme God. Therefore his entire philosophy is based on a misunderstanding, and it misguides people to become atheists, whose mission in life is unfulfilled. The mission of human life, as described in the Bhagavad-gītā, is to surrender unto the Supreme Lord and become His devotee, but the Māyāvāda philosophy misleads one to defy the existence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and pose oneself as the Supreme Lord. Thus it has misguided hundreds of thousands of innocent men.
It should be noted that unless one worships Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu it is useless to become a devotee of Kṛṣṇa, and unless one worships Kṛṣṇa it is also useless to become a devotee of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Such devotional service is to be understood to be a product of Kali-yuga. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura remarks in this connection that atheist smārtas, or worshipers of the five kinds of demigods, worship Lord Viṣṇu for a little satisfaction in material success but have no respect for Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Thinking Him to be one of the ordinary living entities, they discriminate between Gaurasundara and Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Such understanding is also demoniac and is against the conclusion of the ācāryas. Such a conclusion is a product of Kali-yuga.
If even a great atheist hears Śrī Caitanya-maṅgala, he immediately becomes a great devotee.
One can very easily understand this fact. The production of fruits and flowers depends not upon our will but upon the supreme will of the Personality of Godhead. If He is pleased, He can supply enough fruits, flowers, etc., but if people are atheistic and godless, then nature, by His will, restricts the supply of food. For example, in several provinces in India, especially Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and other adjoining states, there is sometimes a great scarcity of foodstuffs due to lack of rainfall. So-called scientists and economists cannot do anything about this. Therefore, to solve all problems, one must seek the good will of the Supreme Personality of Godhead by becoming Kṛṣṇa conscious and worshiping Him regularly in devotional service.
Unfortunately, people in general do not know what is to take place in the next life. To prepare oneself for his next life is common sense, and it is a principle of the Vedic civilization, but presently people throughout the world do not believe in a next life. Even influential professors and other educators say that as soon as the body is finished, everything is finished. This atheistic philosophy is killing human civilization. People are irresponsibly performing all sorts of sinful activities, and thus the privilege of the human life is being taken away by the educational propaganda of the so-called leaders. Actually it is a fact that this life is meant for preparation for the next life; by evolution one has come through many species, or forms, and this human form of life is an opportunity to promote oneself to a better life.
When Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu started the saṅkīrtana movement, even He was unnecessarily criticized by Māyāvādīs, atheists and fools. Naturally we are also criticized by such men. They will always remain and will always criticize anything that is actually good for human society. But the preachers of the saṅkīrtana movement should not be deterred by such criticism. Our method should be to convert such fools gradually by asking them to come and take prasādam and chant and dance with us. This should be our policy. Anyone who comes to join us, of course, must be sincere and serious regarding spiritual advancement in life; then such a person, simply by joining us, chanting with us, dancing with us and taking prasādam with us, will gradually also come to say that this movement is very good. But one who joins with an ulterior purpose, to get material benefit or personal gratification, will never be able to grasp the philosophy of this movement.
One who has no idea what God actually is thinks that any form he imagines or any rascal he accepts can be God. This acceptance of cheap gods or incarnations of God is actually atheism. It is to be concluded, therefore, that those who worship demigods or self-proclaimed incarnations of God are all atheists. They have lost their knowledge, as confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā (7.20): kāmais tais tair hṛta-jñānāḥ prapadyante ’nya-devatāḥ. "Those whose minds are distorted by material desires surrender unto demigods." Unfortunately, those who do not cultivate Kṛṣṇa consciousness and do not properly understand the Vedic knowledge accept any rascal to be an incarnation of God, and they are of the opinion that one can become an incarnation simply by worshiping a demigod. This philosophical hodge-podge exists under the name of the Hindu religion, but the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement does not approve of it.
Not only the misguided descendants of Advaita Ācārya but anyone who is against the cult of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu should be considered an atheist subject to be punished by Yamarāja.
The central point of all Vaiṣṇava philosophy is to accept the inconceivable potency of Lord Viṣṇu. What sometimes appears contradictory from a material viewpoint is understandable in connection with the Supreme Personality of Godhead because He can perform contradictory activities by dint of His inconceivable potencies. Modern scientists are puzzled. They cannot even explain how such a large quantity of chemicals has formed the atmosphere. Scientists explain that water is a combination of hydrogen and oxygen, but when asked where such a large quantity of hydrogen and oxygen came from and how they combined to manufacture the great oceans and seas, they cannot answer because they are atheists who will not accept that everything comes from life. Their thesis is that life comes from matter.
Unfortunately, atheistic science will not accept that matter comes from life. Scientists insist upon their most illogical and foolish theory that life comes from matter, although this is quite impossible. They cannot prove in their laboratories that matter can produce life, yet there are thousands and thousands of examples illustrating that matter comes from life. Therefore in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī says that as soon as one accepts the inconceivable potency of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, no great philosopher or scientist can put forward any thesis to contradict the Lord's power. This is expressed in the following Sanskrit verse.
There are many kinds of offenses, but the offense known as nāma-aparādha, an offense at the lotus feet of the holy name, is extremely dangerous. The Lord therefore warned everyone not to see the face of the offender. The Lord immediately took a bath in the Ganges with all His clothes on to teach everyone to avoid such a nāma-aparādha. The holy name is identical with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There is no difference between the person God and His holy name. This is the absolute position of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore one who distinguishes between the Lord and His name is called a pāṣaṇḍī, or nonbeliever, an atheistic demon. Glorification of the holy name is glorification of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One should never attempt to distinguish between the Lord and His name or interpret the glories of the holy name as mere exaggerations.
In the mood of Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva, Lord Caitanya ran through the city streets, club in hand, ready to kill all the atheists.
It is mentioned in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam that when Uddhava came from Lord Kṛṣṇa with a message for the gopīs, all the gopīs, especially Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, denounced Kṛṣṇa in various ways. Such denunciations, however, reflect an exuberant loving attitude that an ordinary man cannot understand. When the foolish student questioned Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Lord Caitanya similarly rebuked Lord Kṛṣṇa in loving exuberance. When Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was in the mood of the gopīs and the student advocated the cause of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Lord Caitanya was greatly angry. Seeing His anger, the foolish student, who was an ordinary atheistic smārta-brāhmaṇa, foolishly misjudged Him. Thus he and a party of students were ready to strike the Lord in retaliation. After this incident, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu decided to take sannyāsa so that people would not commit offenses against Him, considering Him an ordinary householder, for in India even now a sannyāsī is naturally offered respect.
In the Bhagavad-gītā it is said, māyayāpahṛta-jñānā āsuraṁ bhāvam āśritāḥ: when one becomes inimical to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, adopting an atheistic attitude (āsuraṁ bhāvam), even if one is a learned scholar the essence of knowledge does not become manifested in him; in other words, the essence of his knowledge is stolen by the illusory energy of the Lord. In this connection Śrī Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura quotes a mantra from the Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (6.23):
- yasya deve parā bhaktir yathā deve tathā gurau
- tasyaite kathitā hy arthāḥ prakāśante mahātmanaḥ
- (ŚU 6.23)
The purport of this verse is that one who is unflinchingly devoted to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu, and similarly devoted to the spiritual master, with no ulterior motive, becomes a master of all knowledge. In the heart of such a devotee, the real essence of the Vedic knowledge becomes manifested.
As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.2.12), bhaktyā śruta-gṛhītayā. This means that devotional service is acquired from Vedic knowledge. Tac chraddadhānāḥ munayaḥ. Devotees who are actually serious attain bhakti, scientific devotional service, by hearing Vedic literatures (bhaktyā śruta-gṛhītayā). It is not that one should create something out of sentimentality, become a sahajiyā and advocate such concocted devotional service. However, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura considered such sahajiyās to be more favorable than the impersonalists, who are hopelessly atheistic. The impersonalists have no idea of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The position of the sahajiyās is far better than that of the Māyāvādī sannyāsīs. Although the sahajiyās do not think much of Vedic knowledge, they nonetheless have accepted Lord Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Lord. Unfortunately, they mislead others from authentic devotional service.
After visiting the temples of Tirumala and Tirupati, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu had to subdue some atheists. He then visited the temple of Ahovala-nṛsiṁha.
Many atheists and blasphemers came and fell at the lotus feet of the Lord, and the Lord in return excused them and gave them love of Kṛṣṇa.
The atheists cannot understand how the Supreme Personality of Godhead, appearing in the form of the Deity, can eat all the food offered by His devotees. In the Bhagavad-gītā (9.26) Kṛṣṇa says:
- patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ yo me bhaktyā prayacchati
- tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam aśnāmi prayatātmanaḥ
"If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water, I will accept it." The Lord is pūrṇa, complete, and therefore He eats everything offered by His devotees. However, by the touch of His transcendental hand, all the food remains exactly as before. It is the quality that is changed. Before the food was offered, it was something else, but after it is offered the food acquires a transcendental quality. Because the Lord is pūrṇa, He remains the same even after eating. Pūrṇasya pūrṇam ādāya pūrṇam evāvaśiṣyate (Īśo Invocation).
Not understanding the transcendental behavior of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, these rascals slur His character and immediately fall into the category of miscreants (rascals, lowest among men, demons and those whose knowledge is taken away by the illusory energy). Kṛṣṇa explains in the Bhagavad-gītā:
- na māṁ duṣkṛtino mūḍhāḥ prapadyante narādhamāḥ
- māyayāpahṛta-jñānā āsuraṁ bhāvam āśritāḥ
"Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, who are lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons do not surrender unto Me." (BG 7.15)
The son of the elderly brāhmaṇa was an atheist and a follower of the Raghunātha-smṛti. He was very expert in dealing with pounds-shillings-pence, but he was fool number one. Consequently, he did not believe in the spiritual position of the Deity, nor did he have any faith in the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore, as a typical idol worshiper, he considered the form of the Lord to be made of stone or wood. Thus he assured his father that the witness was only a stone Deity and was not capable of speaking. Besides that, he assured his father that the Deity was situated far away and consequently could not come to bear witness. In essence, he was saying, "Have no anxiety. You do not have to lie directly, but you should speak like a diplomat, like King Yudhiṣṭhira when he spoke to Droṇācārya—aśvatthāmā hata iti gajaḥ. Following this principle, simply say that you do not remember anything and are completely unaware of the statements given by the young brāhmaṇa. If you make the background like that, I shall know how to fill in the argument and defeat him by word jugglery. Thus I shall save you from having to give your daughter to him. In this way, our aristocracy will be saved. You have nothing to worry about."
As the Supersoul within the heart of all living entities, Kṛṣṇa knows everyone's desire, everyone's request and everyone's prayer. Although all these may be contradictory, the Lord has to create a situation in which everyone will be pleased. This is an instance of a marriage negotiation between an elderly brāhmaṇa and a youthful one. The elderly brāhmaṇa was certainly willing to give his daughter in charity to the young brāhmaṇa, but his son and relatives became impediments to this transaction. The elderly brāhmaṇa considered how to get out of this situation and still offer his daughter to the young brāhmaṇa. His son, an atheist and a very cunning fellow, was thinking of how to stop the marriage. The father and son were thinking in a contradictory way, yet Kṛṣṇa created a situation wherein they agreed. They both agreed that if the Gopāla Deity would come and serve as a witness, the daughter would be given to the young brāhmaṇa.
The atheistic son thought, "It is not possible for Gopāla to come and bear witness." Thinking thus, the father and son agreed.
Hearing the emphatic statement of the younger brāhmaṇa, some atheists in the meeting began to cut jokes. However, someone else said, "After all, the Lord is merciful, and if He likes, He can come."
This is typical of all Māyāvādīs or atheists who interpret the meaning of Vedic literature in their own imaginative way. The real purpose of such foolish people is to impose the impersonalist conclusion on all Vedic literature. The Māyāvādī atheists also interpret the Bhagavad-gītā. In every verse of Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā it is clearly stated that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In every verse Vyāsadeva says, śrī-bhagavān uvāca, "the Supreme Personality of Godhead said," or "the Blessed Lord said." It is clearly stated that the Blessed Lord is the Supreme Person, but Māyāvādī atheists still try to prove that the Absolute Truth is impersonal. In order to present their false, imaginary meanings, they must adopt so much word jugglery and grammatical interpretation that they finally become ludicrous. Therefore Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu remarked that no one should hear the Māyāvādī commentaries or purports to any Vedic literature.
The statements of the Bhagavad-gītā are themselves proof that there is a place of religious pilgrimage named Kurukṣetra where the Pāṇḍavas and Kurus met to fight. After meeting there, what did they do? This was Dhṛtarāṣṭra's inquiry to Sañjaya. Although these statements are very clear, atheists try to interpret different meanings of the words dharma-kṣetra and kuru-kṣetra. Therefore Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī has warned us not to depend on any kind of interpretation. It is better to take the verses as they are, without interpretation.
When the atheistic philosophers or the Māyāvādīs, being unable to understand the inconceivable energies of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, imagine an impersonal void, their imagination is only the counterpart of materialistic thinking. Within the material world, there is nothing inconceivable. High-thinking philosophers and scientists can tackle the material energy, but not being able to understand the spiritual energy, they can simply imagine an inactive state, such as the impersonal Brahman. This is simply the negative side of material life. By such imperfect knowledge, the Māyāvādī philosophers conclude that the cosmic manifestation is a transformation of the Supreme.
"(Lord Śiva informed goddess Durgā, the superintendent of the material world:) "In the Age of Kali I take the form of a brāhmaṇa and explain the Vedas through false scriptures in an atheistic way, similar to Buddhist philosophy.""
The word brāhmaṇa-mūrtinā in this verse refers to the founder of Māyāvāda philosophy, Śaṅkarācārya, who was born in the Mālabara district of southern India. Māyāvāda philosophy states that the Supreme Lord, the living entities and the cosmic manifestation are all transformations of illusory energy. To support this atheistic theory, the Māyāvādīs cite false scriptures, which make people bereft of transcendental knowledge and addicted to fruitive activities and mental speculation.
These philosophers were all atheists, for they did not believe in the existence of God. Atheists may be very expert in mental speculation and may be so-called great philosophers, but they can be defeated by a Vaiṣṇava firmly situated in his conviction and God consciousness. Following in the footsteps of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, all the preachers engaged in the service of ISKCON should be very expert in putting forward strong arguments and defeating all types of atheists.
Śrī Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura comments that all the Buddhist disciples were actually initiated by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu into the chanting of the holy name of Kṛṣṇa, and when they chanted, they actually became different persons. At that time they were not Buddhists or atheists but Vaiṣṇavas. Consequently they immediately accepted Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu's order. Their original Kṛṣṇa consciousness was revived, and they were immediately able to chant Hare Kṛṣṇa and begin worshiping the Supreme Lord Viṣṇu.
In the Śrī Caitanya-candrodaya (beginning of the eighth act) Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu says, "Sārvabhauma, I have traveled to many holy places, but I cannot find a Vaiṣṇava as good as you anywhere. However, I must admit that Rāmānanda Rāya is wonderful."
Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya replies, "Therefore, my Lord, I requested that You see him."
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu then says, "There are, of course, many Vaiṣṇavas in these holy places, and most of them worship Lord Nārāyaṇa. Others, who are called Tattvavādīs, are also Lakṣmī-Nārāyaṇa worshipers, but they do not belong to the pure Vaiṣṇava cult. There are many worshipers of Lord Śiva, and there are also many atheists. Regardless, My dear Bhaṭṭācārya, I very much like Rāmānanda Rāya and his opinions."
Not understanding the process of disciplic succession, so-called logicians put forward the theory of pañcopāsanā, in which a person worships one of five deities—namely Viṣṇu, Śiva, Durgā, the sun-god or Ganeśa. In this conception the impersonalists imagine one of these five deities as supreme and reject the others. Such philosophical speculation, which is certainly idol worship, is not accepted by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu or by Vaiṣṇavas. This imaginary deity worship has recently been transformed into Māyāvāda impersonalism. For want of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, people are victimized by the Māyāvāda philosophy, and consequently they sometimes become staunch atheists. However, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu established the process of self-realization by His own personal behavior.
Another meaning of antara is "this body." The body is an impediment to self-realization because it is always engaged in sense gratification. Similarly, antara means "money." If money is not used in Kṛṣṇa's service, it is also an impediment. Antara also means janatā, "people in general." The association of ordinary persons may destroy the principles of devotional service. Similarly, antara may mean "greed"—greed to acquire more money or enjoy more sense gratification. Finally, the word antara may also mean "atheistic ideas," by which one considers the temple Deity to be made of stone, wood or gold. All of these are impediments. The Deity in the temple is not material—He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. Similarly, considering the spiritual master an ordinary human being (guruṣu nara-matiḥ) is also an impediment. Nor should one consider a Vaiṣṇava a member of a particular caste or nation. Nor should a Vaiṣṇava be considered material.
In the beginning, when Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī heard of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu's activities, he considered them to be those of a pretender. Consequently he called Him a loka-pratāraka, a pretender. Māyāvādīs cannot understand the transcendental symptoms exhibited by a devotee; therefore when such symptoms are manifest, the Māyāvādīs equate them with temporary emotional feelings. However, Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī’s statement is offensive, and consequently he should be considered an atheist (pāṣaṇḍī). According to Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, since Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī was not engaged in the Lord's devotional service, his sannyāsa is to be considered phalgu-vairāgya. This means that since he did not know how to use things for the Lord's service, his renunciation of the world was artificial.
“Because the Māyāvādīs are great offenders and atheistic philosophers, the holy name of Kṛṣṇa does not come from their mouths."
The spreading of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra in the West has become successful because the young people were not offenders. The youths who joined this movement were not very advanced as far as purity is concerned, nor were they very well educated in Vedic knowledge, but because they were not offenders, they could accept the importance of the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement. We are now very happy to see that this movement is advancing more and more in the Western countries. We therefore conclude that the so-called mlecchas and yavanas of the Western countries are more purified than offensive Māyāvādīs or atheistic impersonalists.
In the material world, the word mahātmā is understood in different ways by different religionists. Mundaners also come up with their different angles of vision. For the conditioned soul busy in sense gratification, a mahājana is recognized according to the proportion of sense gratification he offers. For instance, a businessman may consider a certain banker to be a mahājana, and karmīs desiring material enjoyment may consider philosophers like Jaimini to be mahājanas. There are many yogīs who want to control the senses, and for them Patañjali Ṛṣi is a mahājana. For the jñānīs, the atheist Kapila, Vasiṣṭha, Durvāsā, Dattātreya and other impersonalist philosophers are mahājanas. For the demons, Hiraṇyākṣa, Hiraṇyakaśipu, Rāvaṇa, Rāvaṇa's son Meghanāda, Jarāsandha and others are accepted as mahājanas. For materialistic anthropologists speculating on the evolution of the body, a person like Darwin is a mahājana.
Sometimes people accept as mahājanas demons like Pūtanā, Tṛṇāvarta, Vatsa, Baka, Aghāsura, Dhenuka, Kālīya and Pralamba. Some people accept imitators and adversaries of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, such as Pauṇḍraka, Śṛgāla Vāsudeva, the spiritual master of the demons (Śukrācārya), or atheists like Cārvāka, King Vena, Sugata and Arhat. People who accept such imitators as mahājanas have no faith in Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Rather, they accept godless cheaters who present themselves as incarnations of God and cheat foolish people within the material world by word jugglery. Thus many rascals are accepted as mahājanas.
“A foolish person who says that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the same as the living entity is an atheist, and he becomes subject to punishment by the superintendent of death, Yamarāja."
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, “‘A person who has the pure characteristics of a brāhmaṇa due to devotional service, which is like a blazing fire burning to ashes all the sinful reactions of past lives, is certainly saved from the consequences of sinful acts, such as taking birth in a lower family. Even though he may be born in a family of dog-eaters, he is recognized by learned scholars. But although a person may be a learned scholar in Vedic knowledge, he is not recognized if he is an atheist.
According to Christianity, the supreme father, God, provides the living entities with all of life's necessities. Therefore they pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." Any religion that does not accept the Supreme Lord as the absolute father is called kaitava-dharma, or a cheating religion. Such religious systems are rejected in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.1.2): dharmaḥ projjhita-kaitavo ‘tra. Only an atheist does not accept the omnipotent supreme father. If one accepts the omnipotent supreme father, he abides by His orders and becomes a religious person.
This was spoken by Kapiladeva to His mother Devahūti and is recorded in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.25.38). Kapiladeva instructed His mother in sāṅkhya-yoga, but the importance of bhakti-yoga is mentioned here. Later sāṅhkya-yoga was imitated by atheists, whose system was founded by a different Kapiladeva, Ṛṣi Kapiladeva.
Māyāvādī philosophers, who have a poor fund of knowledge, simply dismiss the subject by explaining that kṛṣṇa means "black." Not understanding the qualities of Kṛṣṇa, these atheistic rascals do not accept Him as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Although the Lord is described and accepted by great personalities, ācāryas and sages, the Māyāvādīs still do not appreciate Him. Unfortunately, at the present moment human society is so degraded that people cannot even provide themselves with life's daily necessities, yet they are captivated by Māyāvādī philosophers and are being misled. According to the Bhagavad-gītā, simply by understanding Kṛṣṇa one can get free from the cycle of birth and death. Tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti mām eti so ‘rjuna (BG 4.9).
(22) One should dry the entire body of the Lord with a towel. (23) A new dress should be put on the Lord's body. (24) A sacred thread should be placed on His body. (25) Water should be offered for cleansing His mouth (ācamana). (26) Nicely scented oils like liquid sandalwood pulp should be smeared over the Lord's body. (27) All kinds of ornaments and crowns should be placed on His body. (28) Then one should offer flower garlands and decorative flowers. (29) One should burn incense. (30) Lamps should be offered. (31) Precautions should always be taken so that demons and atheists cannot harm the body of the Lord. (32) Food offerings should be placed before the Lord. (33) Spices for chewing should be offered. (34) Betel nuts should be offered. (35) At the proper time, there should be arrangements so that the Lord may take rest in bed. (36) The Lord's hair should be combed and decorated. (37) First-class garments should be offered.
“Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya has given his interpretation and imaginary meaning. It does not actually appeal to the mind of any sane man. He has done this to convince the atheists and bring them under his control."
Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya's propaganda opposed the atheistic philosophy of Buddha. Lord Buddha's intention was to stop atheists from committing the sin of killing animals. Atheists cannot understand God; therefore Lord Buddha appeared and spread the philosophy of nonviolence to keep the atheists from killing animals. Unless one is free from the sin of animal-killing, he cannot understand religion or God. Although Lord Buddha was an incarnation of Kṛṣṇa, he did not speak about God, for the people were unable to understand. He simply wanted to stop animal-killing. Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya wanted to establish the predominance of one's spiritual identity; therefore he wanted to convert the atheists through an imaginary interpretation of the Vedic literatures. These are the secrets of the ācāryas. Sometimes they conceal the real purport of the Vedas and explain the Vedas in a different way. Sometimes they enunciate a different theory just to bring the atheists under their control. Thus it is said that Śaṅkara's philosophy is for pāṣaṇḍas, atheists.
“The atheists, headed by the Māyāvādī philosophers, do not care for liberation or Kṛṣṇa's mercy. They simply continue to put forward false arguments and countertheories to atheistic philosophy, not considering or engaging in spiritual matters."
It is typical of mundane philosophers to want to establish their own opinions and refute those of others. Therefore: (1) The Mīmāṁsaka philosophers, following the principles of Jaimini, stress fruitive activity and say that if there is a God, He must be under the laws of fruitive activity. In other words, if one performs his duties very nicely in the material world, God is obliged to give one the desired result. According to these philosophers, there is no need to become a devotee of God. If one strictly follows moral principles, one will be recognized by the Lord, who will give the desired reward. Such philosophers do not accept the Vedic principle of bhakti-yoga. Instead, they give stress to following one's prescribed duty. (2) Atheistic Sāṅkhya philosophers like Kapila analyze the material elements very scrutinizingly and thereby come to the conclusion that material nature is the cause of everything. They do not accept the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the cause of all causes. (3) Nyāya philosophers like Gautama and Kaṇāda have accepted a combination of atoms as the original cause of the creation. (4) Māyāvādī philosophers say that everything is an illusion. Headed by philosophers like Aṣṭāvakra, they stress the impersonal Brahman effulgence as the cause of everything. (5) Philosophers following the precepts of Patañjali practice rāja-yoga. They imagine a form of the Absolute Truth within many forms. That is their process of self-realization.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu continued, “To say nothing of ordinary living entities, even Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva cannot be considered on the level of Viṣṇu or Nārāyaṇa. If one considers them as such, he is immediately considered an offender and atheist.
An ordinary living being cannot actually understand the meaning of the Vedānta-sūtra. One can understand the meaning if he hears it from the authority, Vyāsadeva himself. For this purpose, Vyāsadeva gave a commentary on the Brahma-sūtra in the form of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. He had been instructed to do this by his spiritual master, Nārada. Of course, Śaṅkarācārya distorted the meaning of the Brahma-sūtra because he had a motive to serve. He wanted to establish Vedic knowledge in place of the atheistic knowledge spread by Lord Buddha. All these necessities are there according to time and circumstances. Neither Lord Buddha nor Śaṅkarācārya is to be blamed. The time required such an explanation for the understanding of various types of atheists. The conclusion is that one cannot understand the meaning of the Vedānta-sūtra without going through Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and rendering devotional service. Caitanya Mahāprabhu therefore further explains the matter in the following verses.
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura states that without studying Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam one cannot understand the purport of the Brahma-sūtra (Vedānta-sūtra) or the Upaniṣads. If one tries to understand Vedānta philosophy and the Upaniṣads without studying Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, one will be bewildered and, construing a different meaning, will gradually become an atheist or an impersonalist.
In this way I have described Dāmodara Paṇḍita's verbal chastisements. As one hears about this, atheistic principles and ignorance depart.
A landholder named Rāmacandra Khān was the zamindar of that district. He was envious of Vaiṣṇavas and was therefore a great atheist.
By no means could he find any fault in the character of Haridāsa Ṭhākura. Therefore he called for local prostitutes and began a plan to discredit His Holiness.
This is typical of atheistic men, but even among so-called religionists, sādhus, mendicants, sannyāsīs and brahmacārīs, there are many enemies of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement who always try to find faults in it, not considering that the movement is spreading automatically by the grace of Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, who wanted it spread all over the world, in every town and village. We are trying to fulfill the Lord's desire, and our attempt has become fairly successful, but the enemies of this movement unnecessarily try to find faults in it, exactly like the old rascal Rāmacandra Khān, who opposed Haridāsa Ṭhākura.
"In the Age of Kali, mlecchas, or lowborn people who have not undergone the purifying process of saṁskāra, who do not know how to apply that process in actual life, and who are covered by the modes of passion and ignorance will take the posts of administrators. They will devour the citizens with their atheistic activities." A person who is not purified by the prescribed process of saṁskāra is called asaṁskṛta, but if one remains kriyā-hīna even after being purified by initiation—in other words, if one fails to actually apply the principles of purity in his life—he remains an unpurified mleccha or yavana. On the other hand, we find that Haridāsa Ṭhākura, although born in a mleccha or yavana family, became Nāmācārya Haridāsa Ṭhākura because he performed the nāma-yajña a minimum of 300,000 times every day.
The Vedic civilization recommends that one give charity to brāhmaṇas and sannyāsīs, not to the so-called daridra-nārāyaṇas. Nārāyaṇa cannot be daridra, nor can daridra be Nārāyaṇa, for these are contradictory terms. Atheistic men invent such concoctions and preach them to fools, but charity should actually be given to brāhmaṇas and sannyāsīs because whatever money they get they spend for Kṛṣṇa. Whatever charity one gives to a brāhmaṇa goes to Kṛṣṇa, who says in the Bhagavad-gītā (9.27):
- yat karoṣi yad aśnāsi yaj juhoṣi dadāsi yat
- yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kuruṣva mad-arpaṇam
"Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform—do that, O son of Kuntī, as an offering to Me." Everything actually belongs to Kṛṣṇa, but so-called civilized men unfortunately think that everything belongs to them. This is the mistake of materialistic civilization.
Rāmacandra Khān was naturally a nondevotee. Now, having offended the lotus feet of Haridāsa Ṭhākura, he became just like a demoniac atheist.
For two purposes—to spread the cult of bhakti and to defeat and subdue the atheists—Lord Nityānanda, the most dedicated devotee of the Lord, moved throughout the country.
Lord Kṛṣṇa appears in every millennium for two purposes, namely to deliver the devotees and to kill the nondevotees. His devotees also have two similar purposes-to preach the bhakti cult of Kṛṣṇa consciousness and to defeat all kinds of agnostics and atheistic demons. Nityānanda Prabhu carried out the order of Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu in this way, and those who strictly follow Nityānanda Prabhu perform the same activities. There are two classes of devotees. One is called goṣṭhy-ānandī, and the other is called bhajanānandī. A devotee who does not preach but always engages in devotional activities is called a bhajanānandī, whereas a devotee who not only is expert in devotional service but who also preaches the cult of bhakti and defeats all kinds of agnostics is called a goṣṭhyānandī.
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura writes, "The Hari-bhakti-vilāsa was originally compiled by Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī. Later, Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī produced a shortened version of it and added the Dig-darśinī-ṭīkā. In the Hari-bhakti-vilāsa there are so many quotations from the sātvata scriptures that sometimes it is inquired how the atheistic smārtas can refuse to accept them and instead imagine some other opinions. What is recorded in the Hari-bhakti-vilāsa strictly follows the Vedic scriptures and is certainly pure, but the attitude of the karmīs is always one of giving up the conclusion of pure Vaiṣṇava understanding. Because the karmīs are very much attached to the world and material activities, they always try to establish atheistic principles that oppose the understanding of the Vaiṣṇavas."
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura comments that although the atheists who have deviated from the order of Śrī Advaita Ācārya introduce themselves as followers of Advaita Ācārya, they do not accept Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa. Yadunandana Ācārya, one of the most confidential followers of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, was the initiated disciple of Advaita Ācārya. He was not polluted by sentimental distinctions classifying Vaiṣṇavas according to birth. Therefore, although Vāsudeva Datta had not been born in a brāhmaṇa family, Yadunandana Ācārya also accepted him as his spiritual master.