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Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the illiterate brahmana and the Bhagavad-gita

From Vaniquotes

Expressions researched:
"Bhagavad-gita" |"Caitanya" |"brahmana" |"illiterate"

Notes from the compiler: Story selected from Vedabase query: illiterate brahmana

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta

CC Madhya-lila

CC Madhya 9.98, Translation:

The brāhmaṇa replied, "I am illiterate and therefore do not know the meaning of the words. Sometimes I read the Bhagavad-gītā correctly and sometimes incorrectly, but in any case I am doing this in compliance with the orders of my spiritual master."

Other Books by Srila Prabhupada

Renunciation Through Wisdom

The Lord was overjoyed to see how attentively the brāhmaṇa was reading, and how tears were streaming down his cheeks. Other brāhmaṇas sitting nearby knew that he was illiterate, and so they wondered how he could possibly read the Gītā.
Renunciation Through Wisdom 4.2:

We understand from Lord Caitanya's teachings and exemplary actions that it is our duty to follow the instructions of the Bhagavad-gītā favorably. During Lord Caitanya's tour of South India, when He entered the premises of the Śrī Raṅganātha temple, He came upon a simple brāhmaṇa engrossed in reading the Bhagavad-gītā. The Lord was overjoyed to see how attentively the brāhmaṇa was reading, and how tears were streaming down his cheeks. Other brāhmaṇas sitting nearby knew that he was illiterate, and so they wondered how he could possibly read the Gītā.

Lord Caitanya easily solved this problem. He said that even an uneducated person can understand transcendental words if he is a fully surrendered soul. But without that mood of surrender, Bhagavad-gītā remains incomprehensible.

When Lord Caitanya saw the brāhmaṇa in tears, He asked him what part of the Gītā moved him to cry. With proper Vaiṣṇava humility, the brāhmaṇa answered,

I am merely pretending to read the Gītā; in truth I am illiterate. But my guru instructed me to regularly read the entire Bhagavad-gītā, though I am unlettered. Not wanting to disobey my guru, I try to execute my duty, and so I make a show of reading the Gītā.

The Lord then asked him why he was crying. The brāhmaṇa replied,

Whenever I sit down to read the Gītā, the form of Lord Kṛṣṇa as Pārtha-sārathi (Arjuna's chariot driver) appears in my heart. And as soon as I see this form I immediately remember how the Lord is bhakta-vatsala (especially kind to His devotees). This thought makes me cry.

The Māyāvādīs are always eager to merge with the nondual Supreme Brahman and become God. But their small brains cannot understand how the Supreme Personality of Godhead can become the charioteer of His devotee and carry out his orders. In truth the Supreme Lord and the jīvas are eternally related, and because of this relationship many wonderful things are possible.

Lectures

Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures

Caitanya Mahāprabhu embraced the brahmana. "Your Bhagavad-gītā reading is perfect. You have taken the essence."
Lecture on BG 2.1-10 and Talk -- Los Angeles, November 25, 1968:

That is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, that we have to try to remember Kṛṣṇa. He's so beautiful, His instructions are so nice. If we simply remember Kṛṣṇa... That was the perfection approved by Lord Caitanya. I think I have narrated the story. When Lord Caitanya was traveling in South India in a big temple, Raṅganātha temple, He went to see the Deity, and He saw one brāhmaṇa was reading Bhagavad-gītā. And people were joking him, "Oh, Mr. brāhmaṇa, how you are reading Bhagavad-gītā?" Because they were the neighbors, they knew that this brāhmaṇa was illiterate and he was studying Bhagavad-gītā. So they were joking. But the brāhmaṇa did not care them. He was taking the book and in his own way he was reading. Caitanya Mahāprabhu saw this incident, He came to the brāhmaṇa. So He asked the brāhmaṇa, "My dear brāhmaṇa, what you are reading?" So he could understand "This persons is not joking with me; He is serious." So he explained, "My dear sir, I am reading Bhagavad-gītā. Unfortunately, I am illiterate. I do not know even the alphabets." "Why you are reading Bhagavad-gītā?" So he said that, "My spiritual master knows that I am illiterate, but still, he has asked me to read Bhagavad-gītā. What can I do? Therefore I have taken this book. I am seeing simply. I do not know how to read." "Oh, that's all right. You cannot read. But I see that you are crying. How you are crying if you are not reading?" "Yes, I am crying. Of course, there is cause." "What is that?" "As soon as I take this Bhagavad-gītā, I remember Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is sitting as driver and Arjuna is hearing. I have heard the story. I know something of the instruction but cannot read. So as soon as I take this book, this picture comes before me and I simply think, 'Oh, how Kṛṣṇa is nice that He has become a charioteer of His devotee. He is so great. Still, He has accepted a menial service of His devotee.' This gives me so much pleasure that I cry." Caitanya Mahāprabhu embraced him, "Your Bhagavad-gītā reading is perfect. You have taken the essence." So this is the thing. If you simply remember Kṛṣṇa is teaching Arjuna and Arjuna is hearing, if you simply remember the picture, that is sufficient. Even if you think that you cannot read.

Just like the brāhmaṇa in South India. He was illiterate; he was reading, trying to read Bhagavad-gītā, but immediately Kṛṣṇa became present before his eyes, and he was crying. He was crying. That is reading.
Lecture on BG 7.1 -- San Diego, July 1, 1972:

Pradyumna: "No one can be a greater authority than Kṛṣṇa..."

Prabhupāda: Yes. Than hearing from Kṛṣṇa. The Bhagavad-gītā, Kṛṣṇa is speaking. So hear from Him. If you say that "Kṛṣṇa is no longer present before me," no, Kṛṣṇa is present by His Bhagavad-gītā. His words and He, there is no difference. Absolute. Absolute. If you pollute the words... Kṛṣṇa is speaking something, and you are rascal, nonsense, explaining in a different way, then it has no meaning. Then Kṛṣṇa is gone. But if you speak as Kṛṣṇa is speaking, then it is..., Kṛṣṇa is present before you by His words. Immediately. By His word, you can see Kṛṣṇa. Just like the brāhmaṇa in South India. He was illiterate; he was reading, trying to read Bhagavad-gītā, but immediately Kṛṣṇa became present before his eyes, and he was crying. He was crying. That is reading.

Srimad-Bhagavatam Lectures

Caitanya Mahāprabhu immediately embraced the brahmana. "Your Bhagavad-gītā reading is perfect."
Lecture on SB 1.5.13 -- New Vrindaban, June 13, 1969:

Just like Caitanya Mahāprabhu approved one brāhmaṇa. He was illiterate. He could not know what is the Sanskrit alphabet or character, what to speak of reading. But when he was initiated, his spiritual master said, "You read daily so many chapters of Bhagavad-gītā." The spiritual master knew that he is illiterate. And he also knew that "I am illiterate. I cannot know what is alphabet, Sanskrit." Still, the order of spiritual master, that is... This is discipleship. "All right, my spiritual master, I shall try to read." So how he was reading? He, he took the book, and he was seeing the book, and "Ohhhh," like... That's all. His friends, who knew that this man is illiterate, and what he is reading: "Mr. such-and-such, how you are reading?" Criticizing. He was silent because he knew that "I am illiterate. My friends are criticizing. That's all right. What can I do?"

Then Caitanya Mahāprabhu saw that these things are going on in the Raṅganātha temple. But He saw that "This brāhmaṇa is very gentle and grave, and he's handling the book. That's all." So He inquired, "My dear brāhmaṇa, what you are reading?" He said... He could understand that "He's not criticizing. He's a, mean, a great man." So he said, "Sir, what can I say? My spiritual master asked me to read every day Bhagavad-gītā, so many chapters, but I am illiterate. I cannot read. Therefore I have taken the book, simply seeing. That's all. What can I do?" "But I see you are sometimes crying. You must be reading. Otherwise, how you are feeling and you are crying?" "Yes, I am feeling. That's a fact." "How, what is that?" "Now, as soon as I take this book, Bhagavad-gītā, the picture of Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna comes before me. I see that both Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna are sitting on the chariot, and Kṛṣṇa is instructing Bhagavad-gītā. So I am appreciating how Lord is kind, that He has accepted the charioteer, to become a charioteer of His devotee. He's so kind. So when I feel this, that 'Kṛṣṇa is so kind that He become the servant of His servant,' that feeling gives me some ecstasy, and I cry." Caitanya Mahāprabhu immediately embraced him. "Your Bhagavad-gītā reading is perfect."

Just like this man, this brāhmaṇa. He was illiterate. He did not know what is Bhagavad-gītā's character, what is written there. But there is samādhi.
Lecture on SB 1.5.13 -- New Vrindaban, June 13, 1969:

One has to come to that stage, samādhi. And samādhi means without any diversion, you have to think always of Kṛṣṇa. So even a... Just like this man, this brāhmaṇa. He was simply... He was illiterate. He did not know what is Bhagavad-gītā's character, what is written there. But there is samādhi. He was thinking of "Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, how they are talking, how they are sitting, how the chariot is going, how Kṛṣṇa is nice." This is thinking. That is samādhi. Samādhi is not an artificial thing, by pressing your nose, or this or... That is... These things are recommended for the third-class men who cannot concentrate his mind in Kṛṣṇa, for the fourth-class, third-class men. It is not for the first-class man. A first-class man is automatically Kṛṣṇa conscious.

So when Caitanya Mahāprabhu came there, Caitanya Mahāprabhu was attracted. The brahmana was illiterate, and he was reading Bhagavad-gītā, and Caitanya Mahāprabhu was attracted. Just see.
Lecture on SB 1.15.27 -- New York, March 6, 1975:

I have narrated several times the story of a brāhmaṇa in South India. He was illiterate, and he was reading Bhagavad-gītā. So his friends, village friends, they knew that "This man is illiterate. How he can read Bhagavad-gītā?" So they were criticizing. "Hello, brāhmaṇa. How you are reading Bhagavad-gītā?" So he did not say anything because he knew that "These friends are criticizing me because I am illiterate. He knows." So when Caitanya Mahāprabhu came there, Caitanya Mahāprabhu was attracted. He was illiterate, and he was reading Bhagavad-gītā, and Caitanya Mahāprabhu was attracted. Just see. So Caitanya Mahāprabhu inquired, "My dear brāhmaṇa, what you are reading?" So he also could understand that "Here is a person who has not come to criticize me. He is serious." "Yes, sir, I am reading Bhagavad-gītā, but I am illiterate. I am illiterate." "Then what you are reading?" "No, I am simply turning the pages. I cannot read anything." "Then why you are reading if you cannot?" "No, my Guru Mahārāja ordered me. My Guru Mahārāja asked me that 'You shall read Bhagavad-gītā daily, eighteen chapters.' " Guru mahārāja knew that he is illiterate, but still ordered. This is called guru-mukha-padma-vākya, cittete koriyā aikya, ār nā koriho mane āśā. This is called firm faith in guru. Guru ordered him that "You read." Guru must know him, that he is illiterate. So what he will read? Why guru is ordering him? But because he had firm faith in guru and he was trying to read, Caitanya Mahāprabhu came to see him. Just see. How this line is important: guru-mukha-padma-vākya, cittete koriyā aikya, ār nā koriho mane āśā. Ār means anything more, you don't try to understand. Whatever your guru says, you just try to carry it out.

Caitanya Mahāprabhu immediately embraced him: "Yes, brāhmaṇa, your reading of Bhagavad-gītā is perfect." So it doesn't matter whether one is illiterate or literate.
Lecture on SB 1.15.27 -- New York, March 6, 1975:

To understand Vedic literature means one must have firm faith in Kṛṣṇa and firm faith in guru, not that "My guru is not so learned, so let me capture Kṛṣṇa directly." That is useless. That is useless. Caitanya Mahāprabhu says, guru-kṛṣṇa-kṛpāya pāya bhakti-latā-bīja (CC Madhya 19.151). One can get the seed of the plant or creeper of bhakti, how? Guru-kṛṣṇa-kṛpā. By the mercy of guru and by the mercy of Kṛṣṇa, not that kṛṣṇa-kṛpā. First guru-kṛpā, then kṛṣṇa-kṛpā. So this brāhmaṇa attracted the attention of Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He was illiterate, and he could not read even one word. What is the truth in it? The same thing. Guru-mukha-padma-vākya, cittete koriyā aikya **. He took guru's order very seriously, that "My Guru Mahārāja has ordered me, and I must carry out. Never mind I cannot read. Let me open the pages and see. That's all." So he was doing that. So others criticized him that "This man is illiterate. What he is reading?" But Caitanya Mahāprabhu did not criticize. Caitanya Mahāprabhu inquired, "Oh, what you are reading, My dear brāhmaṇa?" So he explained, that "This gentleman has not come to criticize me." So Caitanya Mahāprabhu knew that "He is a perfect knower of Bhagavad-gītā." Still, He inquired, "Well, if you are not reading, then how you are crying? I see there are tears in your eyes. What is the meaning?" Then he admitted, "Yes, sir. Yes. That is." "Why you are crying?" "No, as soon as I take this Bhagavad-gītā in my hand a picture comes before me that Arjuna is sitting on the chariot ordering Kṛṣṇa, and Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is carrying out his order and driving the chariot. So that makes me amazed. Therefore I am crying, that 'How Kṛṣṇa is merciful, that He accepted a menial service for His devotee. He is so kind.' " Caitanya Mahāprabhu immediately embraced him: "Yes, brāhmaṇa, your reading of Bhagavad-gītā is perfect." So it doesn't matter whether one is illiterate or literate. Everyone has got these ears. So we should hear from the realized person, guru Vaiṣṇava, not professional, no. That will not help us.

This is trying follow guru's word. The brahmana was illiterate. He cannot read. There is no possibility. But his Guru Mahārāja ordered, "You must read Bhagavad-gītā daily, eighteen chapters."
Lecture on SB 1.15.30 -- Los Angeles, December 8, 1973:

Just like the South Indian brāhmaṇa. As soon as he opened his... He was illiterate, he could not read Bhagavad-gītā. But his Guru Mahārāja said that "You shall read every day eighteen chapters of Bhagavad-gītā." So he was puzzled, that "I'm illiterate, I cannot... All right, take me the..., the Bhagavad-gītā." So he was in a Rāmaṇatha temple. He took the Bhagavad-gītā and went like this. He could not read. So his friends who knew him, they were joking, "Well, brāhmaṇa, how you are reading Bhagavad-gītā?" He did not answer because he knew that his friends are "Joking me because I do not know... I'm illiterate." But when Caitanya Mahāprabhu came, he was also puzzled, "Brāhmaṇa, you are reading Bhagavad-gītā?" He said, "Sir, I am illiterate. I cannot read. It is not possible. But my Guru Mahārāja ordered me to read. What can I do? I've taken this book." This is trying follow guru's word. He's illiterate. He cannot read. There is no possibility. But his Guru Mahārāja ordered, "You must read Bhagavad-gītā daily, eighteen chapters." Now what is this? This is called vyavasāyātmikā buddhiḥ. I may be quite incomplete. It doesn't matter. But if I try to follow the words of my Guru Mahārāja, then I become complete.

The brahmana knew that this gentleman, Caitanya Mahāprabhu, was really inquisitive, so he explained the whole thing, that "I am trying to read Bhagavad-gītā, but I am illiterate. My Guru Mahārāja ordered me to read; therefore I am reading. But actually I cannot read." So frankly he admits. This is staunch faith in spiritual master.
Lecture on SB 1.16.36 -- Tokyo, January 30, 1974:

Devotee (3): We have to... We leave the universe. But then we are associating directly with Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna?

Prabhupāda: Yes. You can associate with Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna every twenty-four hours, by reading Bhagavad-gītā. Why you require to go there? It is already here. You see. You read the Bhagavad-gītā, and you are immediately in the battlefield of Kurukṣetra. His is instructing. That was the instruction. Caitanya Mahāprabhu accepted. You know that story? Illiterate brāhmaṇa was reading Bhagavad-gītā. So he did not know; he was not literary. But because his spiritual master..., he has so staunch faith in the spiritual master... Just see. His spiritual master said that "You read, daily, eighteen chapters of Bhagavad-gītā." Spiritual master knew that he was illiterate, but still he asked him, "You read, eighteen chapters, there will be..." So what can he do? The spiritual master has ordered. So he was simply making a show of reading, "uh-uh-uḥ," like this. So this other friends were criticizing, "Oh, Mr. Such-and-such, how you are reading Bhagavad-gītā?" He knows that this man... His friend is criticizing him, so he did not answer. But when Caitanya Mahāprabhu asked him, "My dear brāhmaṇa, what you are reading?" He knew that this gentleman, Caitanya Mahāprabhu, was really inquisitive, so he explained the whole thing, that "I am trying to read Bhagavad-gītā, but I am illiterate. My Guru Mahārāja ordered me to read; therefore I am reading. But actually I cannot read." So frankly he admits. This is staunch faith in spiritual master. He knew, his spiritual master knew that he is illiterate, and he knew also that "I cannot read Bhagavad-gītā." But still he was trying to read because his spiritual master has said. This is called staunch. Yasya prasādāt. "He has said. I have to satisfy him. I am incompetent—I cannot read—but he has said, therefore I must do it." This is called yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādaḥ.

Caitanya Mahāprabhu embraced the brahmana, that "Your reading of Bhagavad-gītā is perfect. Because you have understood the essence of the Bhagavad-gītā."
Lecture on SB 2.3.23 -- Los Angeles, June 20, 1972:

So he wanted to invite me in talk on Tilak's great task. So I told him that "Tilak does not understand Bhagavad-gītā." So immediately he was surprised. Then we had a talk, and I convinced him that "Tilak was a politician, maybe a big scholar, but that does not mean he can understand Bhagavad-gītā." Bhagavad-gītā is understood by devotee. He may be illiterate. It doesn't matter. Still... As Caitanya Mahāprabhu certified the illiterate brāhmaṇa who was reading Bhagavad-gītā in Raṅganātha temple... You know the story. The brāhmaṇa was illiterate. His guru ordered him that "You read Bhagavad-gītā daily, eighteen chapters." So he could not refuse the order of guru mahārāja; so he was taking the book and simply seeing. So those who knew that he was illiterate, they were criticizing, "Well, brāhmaṇa, how you are reading Bhagavad-gītā?" He could not answer because he knew that "I am illiterate. I do not know." Caitanya Mahāprabhu saw this fun and approached him, "Well, brāhmaṇa, what you are reading?"

So he could understand that this Caitanya Mahāprabhu has not come to criticize him: "He's serious." So he informed Him, "Sir, I am reading Bhagavad-gītā, but I am illiterate. I am illiterate, but my spiritual master has ordered to read. So what can I do? I have taken this book and moving these pages. That's all. What can I do? Actually I cannot read." Then Caitanya Mahāprabhu inquired, "But I see you are sometimes crying." "Yes, sir, I sometimes cry." "Why?" "Now, because as soon as I take this book in my hand and I see the picture that Lord Kṛṣṇa is driving the chariot of Arjuna, I cry. 'Oh, Kṛṣṇa is so kind that He has taken the service of His devotee. He should have been seated on the chariot—Arjuna should have driven the chariot—but He's driving the chariot and Arjuna is sitting on the seat. So Kṛṣṇa is so kind and beloved that He can serve His devotee. It is the duty of the devotee to serve Him, but He's so kind and affectionate that He serves His devotee.' So as soon as I think of this-Kṛṣṇa's magnanimity—I cry."

Then immediately, Caitanya Mahāprabhu embraced him, that "You are... Your reading of Bhagavad-gītā is perfect. Because you have understood the essence of the Bhagavad-gītā."

Caitanya Mahāprabhu immediately embraced him, that "You are reading Bhagavad-gītā. Without any education, you are reading Bhagavad-gītā."
Lecture on SB 3.25.26 -- Bombay, November 26, 1974:

Prema and bhakti, the same thing. Premāñjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena santaḥ sadaiva hṛdayeṣu vilokayanti (Bs. 5.38). I will recite one story in this connection, that one brāhmaṇa in South India, in Raṅganātha temple, he was reading Bhagavad-gītā. And he was illiterate. He did not know neither Sanskrit nor any letter, illiterate. So the people, neighborhood, they knew that "This man is illiterate, and he is reading Bhagavad-gītā." He is opening the Bhagavad-gītā, "Uh, uh," like that he was. So somebody was joking, "Well, brāhmaṇa, how you are reading Bhagavad-gītā?" He could understand that "This man is joking because I am illiterate." So in this way, Caitanya Mahāprabhu also happened to be that day in the Raṅganātha temple, and He could understand that "Here is a devotee." So He approached him and He asked, "My dear brāhmaṇa, what you are reading?" So he could also understand that "This man is not joking." So he said, "Sir, I am reading Bhagavad-gītā. I am trying to read Bhagavad-gītā, but I am illiterate. So my Guru Mahārāja said that 'You must read eighteen chapters daily.' So I have no knowledge. I cannot read. Still, Guru Mahārāja said, so I am just trying to carry out his order and opening the pages, and that's all. I do not know how to read it." Caitanya Mahāprabhu said that "You are crying sometimes, I see." Then, "Yes, I am crying." "How you are crying if you cannot read?" "No, because when I take this Bhagavad-gītā book, I see one picture, that Kṛṣṇa is so kind that He has taken the chariot driver, sārathi, of Arjuna. He is His devotee. So Śrī Kṛṣṇa is so kind that He can accept the position of a servant because Arjuna was ordering, 'Keep my chariot here,' and Kṛṣṇa was serving him. So Kṛṣṇa is so kind. So when I see this picture within my mind, I am crying." So Caitanya Mahāprabhu immediately embraced him, that "You are reading Bhagavad-gītā. Without any education, you are reading Bhagavad-gītā." He embraced him.

So this is... How he was seeing the picture? Because he was a lover of Kṛṣṇa, it doesn't matter, he could read these ślokas or not. But he was absorbed in love of Kṛṣṇa and he was seeing, Kṛṣṇa was sitting there, and He was driving the chariot of Arjuna. This is required, not that education.

Caitanya Mahāprabhu embraced him: "You are reading Bhagavad-gītā. It is not the literacy or education or knowing grammar and putting jugglery of words. That is not reading. If one feels what is the purport of Bhagavad-gītā, that is reading Bhagavad-gītā."
Lecture on SB 5.5.16 -- Vrndavana, November 4, 1976:

One who has got education, he can read Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. But even one has no education—he cannot read—still he has no problem. He can chant: Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare. So he can enjoy anywhere. There is a practical example in this connection. While Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was touring in the southern India, in the Ranganātha temple He saw one brāhmaṇa. He was reading Bhagavad-gītā. So many persons were coming and criticizing him, "Well, brāhmaṇa, how you are reading Bhagavad-gītā?" So he did not reply. So Caitanya Mahāprabhu approached him and He saw the brāhmaṇa was reading Bhagavad-gītā and tears gliding down. So He could understand that "Here is a pure devotee." So He asked him, "Well, brāhmaṇa, what you are reading?" So he said, "Sir, I cannot read. I am illiterate. I am illiterate and I cannot read what is Bhagavad-gītā, especially Sanskrit." His neighbors were criticizing him. They knew that "This brāhmaṇa is illiterate, and he is making a show of reading Bhagavad-gītā." So they were criticizing. But Caitanya Mahāprabhu, He could understand that "Here is a pure devotee."

So He asked him that "What you are reading?" He said frankly, "Sir, I cannot read. I have no education. Illiterate." "Then? It appears that you are reading something. And if you are illiterate, why you are reading Bhagavad-gītā?" "No, my Guru Mahārāja said. He knew that I am illiterate, but still, my Guru Mahārāja said that 'You read every day the ślokas of Bhagavad-gītā.' So on account of his order, although I do not know anything what is written there, I am trying to read." "Oh, that's very nice. You are carrying the order of your Guru Mahārāja. But it appears that you are crying also. How you are crying if you cannot read?" "Yes, Sir, that's... Because as soon as I take this Bhagavad-gītā in my hand I see the picture that Arjuna is asking Kṛṣṇa to place his chariot in the warfield, and Kṛṣṇa is driving the chariot by his order. So this is creating some feeling in me: 'Oh, Kṛṣṇa is so kind, so nice, that although He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He is carrying the order of His devotee as servant.' When I feel this, I cry: 'Oh, how Kṛṣṇa is kind. How Kṛṣṇa is merciful.' " So immediately Caitanya Mahāprabhu embraced him: "You are reading Bhagavad-gītā. It is not the literacy or education or knowing grammar and putting jugglery of words. That is not reading. If one feels what is the purport of Bhagavad-gītā, that is reading Bhagavad-gītā."

So it does not depend on literary career. A devotee is simply satisfied if he can think of Kṛṣṇa.

On inquiry from Caitanya Mahāprabhu what he is reading, the brahmana frankly admitted that "I am illiterate. I do not know even the letters. But my Guru Mahārāja asked me to read Bhagavad-gītā daily, so I am trying to read it. But I cannot read it."
Lecture on SB 7.7.32-35 -- San Francisco, March 17, 1967, (incomplete lecture):

Similarly when one has actually in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, in developed position, his symptom will be that as soon as he hears of Kṛṣṇa, or God, he becomes immediately ecstatic and begins to dance and cry and sing just like a madman. So this stage... We have several times cited the example, that reading of Bhagavad-gītā... When Lord Caitanya was traveling in South India, He saw one brāhmaṇa, he was reading Bhagavad-gītā, but he was illiterate. But he was crying. So on inquiry from Caitanya Mahāprabhu what he is reading, he frankly admitted that "I am illiterate. I do not know even the letters. But my Guru Mahārāja asked me to read Bhagavad-gītā daily, so I am trying to read it. But I cannot read it." Then Caitanya Mahāprabhu inquired, "Then why you are crying?" He replied, "Yes, I get an ecstatic sentiment. As soon as I touch this book, I see the picture, that Kṛṣṇa is driving the chariot, and Arjuna is sitting, and He is instructing. So Kṛṣṇa is so kind, Kṛṣṇa is so faithful to His devotee, that He has taken the menial execution of service to His devotee. These feelings, whenever I feel, I am crying." This is the stage. This is the stage, when one becomes too much, I mean to say, glorifying about the wonderful acts. This is very wonderful act. The Supreme Personality of Godhead who is the greatest, God is great, but He has taken the service of a devotee as a menial driver. So this feeling gave him in ecstasy. This is a sign. It is not artificial. Tad guṇa-sūnavan, er, śruti-mātreṇa.

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Lectures

Caitanya Mahāprabhu said to the brahmana, "You are reading Bhagavad-gītā." At once He embraced him. This is reading Bhagavad-gītā. Kṛṣṇa—minus Bhagavad-gītā commentation, all rascaldom.
Lecture on CC Adi-lila 7.106-107 -- San Francisco, February 13, 1967:

Who is the right person? That right person who is receiving the knowledge by the paramparā system. Not the right person like Dr. Radhakrishnan, because he's very much educated and world-famous, oh, a philosopher, therefore he's the right person. No. He's not the right person. The right person is... He may be a illiterate person, but if he follows the guru-paramparā, the disciplic succession, he's the right person. He's the right person. He may be illiterate. He may not know. Just like Lord Caitanya confirmed that brāhmaṇa, he was illiterate, but he was studying Bhagavad-gītā, and Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, "Yes." He embraced him. "My dear brāhmaṇa, you are really understanding Bhagavad-gītā." Because he knows the central point of Bhagavad-gītā. The central point. I have several times recited this narration, that Caitanya Mahāprabhu, when He was traveling in South India, He saw that one brāhmaṇa was reading Bhagavad-gītā, and his neighbors, they knew it that "This brāhmaṇa is illiterate and he does not know even what is ABCD, and still he's reading Bhagavad-gītā." So they were joking, sometimes criticizing him. The brāhmaṇa, of course, he was reading as far as possible. What possible? So Caitanya Mahāprabhu saw the fun and approached the brāhmaṇa, "Oh, My dear brāhmaṇa, what you are reading?" He understood that "Here is a sincere person. He's not joking me. He's simply inquiring." So he said, "My dear Sir, I am illiterate. I do not know even the alphabets. But my Guru Mahārāja asked me to read every day eighteen chapters of Bhagavad-gītā. So what can I do? I have taken this Bhagavad-gītā in pursuance of my spiritual master. I am simply seeing the cover and trying to understand what is there." Now he's illiterate. By seeing the cover, he's trying to understand Bhagavad-gītā by the order of his spiritual master. This is called Kṛṣṇa consciousness. "Because my spiritual master has ordered me to read Bhagavad-gītā—I know I'm illiterate, I cannot read—oḥ, let me see what it is." Caitanya Mahāprabhu asked him, "Well, you are illiterate, but I see that with feeling you are crying." "Yes, Sir, I am crying." "Why?" "Now, soon as I take this book, the picture of Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna comes before me. I see that Kṛṣṇa is driving the chariot and Arjuna is hearing, and I simply appreciate, 'Oh, Kṛṣṇa is so kind that He has become his chariot driver of His devotee.' Therefore I am crying. Oh, He's so kind." Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, "You are reading Bhagavad-gītā." At once He embraced him. This is reading Bhagavad-gītā. Kṛṣṇa—minus Bhagavad-gītā commentation, all rascaldom. Be careful of these, all these fools and rascals. That is not Bhagavad-gītā. Maybe Dr. Radhakrishnan, Swami Nikhilananda... All rascals because they have made minus Kṛṣṇa. They want to interpret. Similarly, they interpret Vedānta and all this minus God, minus God. So Kṛṣṇa, Caitanya Mahāprabhu warns you that "Don't go to such rascals." There is no mistake. Try to understand Bhagavad-gītā or Vedānta-sūtra or any scripture as it is. Don't try to change it.

Just like Caitanya Mahāprabhu embraced the brāhmaṇa who was illiterate, but he took the essence of Bhagavad-gītā, the relationship between the Lord and the devotee. Therefore, unless we take the real, I mean to say, essence of any literature, it is simply waste of time.
Lecture on CC Adi-lila 7.109-114 -- San Francisco, February 20, 1967:

So when there is such doubt, one can interpret. But when there is no doubt—everyone can understand clearly the meaning—there is no question of interpreting. That is Caitanya Mahāprabhu's stressing, that gauṇa-vṛttye yebā bhāṣya karila ācārya. Therefore each and every aphorism and verse of Vedānta-sūtra has been indirectly interpreted by the Śārīraka-bhāṣya. Such interpretation, if somebody hears, then his future is doomed. Just like our Gandhi, he wanted to prove, from Bhagavad-gītā, nonviolence. The Bhagavad-gītā is being preached in the battlefield, and it is completely violence. How he can prove? Therefore he is dragging the meaning out of his own con... It is very troublesome, and anyone who will read such interpretation, he is doomed. He is doomed because the Bhagavad-gītā is meant for awakening your Kṛṣṇa consciousness. If that is not awakened, then it is useless waste of time. Just like Caitanya Mahāprabhu embraced the brāhmaṇa who was illiterate, but he took the essence of Bhagavad-gītā, the relationship between the Lord and the devotee. Therefore, unless we take the real, I mean to say, essence of any literature, it is simply waste of time.

General Lectures

Caitanya Mahāprabhu immediately embraced him and said, "My dear brāhmaṇa, you are actually reading Bhagavad-gītā." That is the fact. If after reading Bhagavad-gītā we do not realize what is Kṛṣṇa, what is our relationship with Kṛṣṇa, what is our duty towards Kṛṣṇa, and what is the ultimate goal of life, then it is useless study.
Pandal Lecture -- Bombay, March 31, 1971:

Unfortunately, we do not understand or do not try to understand or do not like to understand Bhagavad-gītā as it is. If we try to understand Bhagavad-gītā as it is, then we have to accept a certain prescribed process. Not that because one is very erudite scholar academically, because one has got some degrees of the university he will be able to understand Bhagavad-gītā. It is not like that. Even a very layman, illiterate man, without any understanding of the Vedas, if he is a devotee, he can understand Bhagavad-gītā, whereas a person, very erudite scholar, with reputation, he cannot understand Bhagavad-gītā. I shall cite one example when Lord Caitanya was traveling in the South India. When He was in the Raṅganātha temple of South India, one brāhmaṇa was reading Bhagavad-gītā, and his friends and neighbors knew that the brāhmaṇa was illiterate. He could not know even what is written there, but still he was trying to read Bhagavad-gītā. So some of his friends were criticizing him: "Hello, brāhmaṇa. How you are reading Bhagavad-gītā?" He knew that "They are criticizing," so he remained silent. But Caitanya Mahāprabhu saw that he was reading Bhagavad-gītā with transcendental ecstasy. He therefore approached him, "My dear brāhmaṇa, what you are reading?" The brāhmaṇa could understand that this gentleman, or this sannyāsī—Caitanya Mahāprabhu at that time was a sannyāsī—He was not joking. He was serious. So he informed Him, "My dear sir, I am reading Bhagavad-gītā, but I am illiterate. My Guru Mahārāja asked me to read Bhagavad-gītā a few chapters daily, although he knew that I am illiterate. So I am trying to read Bhagavad-gītā, but I cannot actually read it." But Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, "But I sometimes see that you are in full ecstasy and sometimes you are crying." He said, "Yes, sir. I feel some ecstasy." "What is that?" He said that "As soon as I take this Bhagavad-gītā in my hand I feel that Kṛṣṇa is the chariot driver of Arjuna. So I feel that how Kṛṣṇa is kind that He has accepted a menial service of His devotee. He is driving the chariot and Arjuna is ordering Him, senayor ubhayor madhye rathaṁ sthāpaya me 'cyuta: (BG 1.21) 'My dear Kṛṣṇa, Acyuta, please put up my chariot between the two soldiers.' And He is carrying out the order. So when I see that Kṛṣṇa is so kind that He can become an order carrier of His devotee, that is giving me feeling, and I am therefore crying." Caitanya Mahāprabhu immediately embraced him and said, "My dear brāhmaṇa, you are actually reading Bhagavad-gītā." That is the fact. If after reading Bhagavad-gītā we do not realize what is Kṛṣṇa, what is our relationship with Kṛṣṇa, what is our duty towards Kṛṣṇa, and what is the ultimate goal of life, then it is useless study. It has no meaning. Therefore Lord Kṛṣṇa prescribed it, how to read Bhagavad-gītā. Don't try to read Bhagavad-gītā made by some commentator who has no knowledge of Kṛṣṇa. One who is not a devotee of Kṛṣṇa, he has no business to comment on the Bhagavad-gītā.

If we accept the teachings of Kṛṣṇa, Bhagavad-gītā, immediately we are in presence of Kṛṣṇa. Just like the other day I cited the example of the illiterate brāhmaṇa. So that is transcendental way of understanding Kṛṣṇa.
Pandal Lecture -- Bombay, April 10, 1971:

We should accept Kṛṣṇa, original Kṛṣṇa. Original Kṛṣṇa is there. Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa's words are identical. When you read Bhagavad-gītā, you are exactly in front of Kṛṣṇa, as Arjuna was in front of Kṛṣṇa while Kṛṣṇa was personally speaking. That is transcendental nature of Kṛṣṇa. Why He has left this instruction? Because if we accept the teachings of Kṛṣṇa, Bhagavad-gītā, immediately we are in presence of Kṛṣṇa. Just like the other day I cited the example of the illiterate brāhmaṇa. So that is transcendental way of understanding Kṛṣṇa.

Caitanya Mahāprabhu immediately embraced him, that "You are really studying Bhagavad-gītā." So unless we develop our love for Kṛṣṇa, there is no meaning of reading.
Lecture Excerpt -- Los Angeles, July 5, 1971:

Prabhupāda: ...He was traveling in South India. He saw one brāhmaṇa reading Bhagavad-gītā. And persons who knew him, that "That man was illiterate," it was not possible for him to read Bhagavad-gītā... But still, he was trying to read it, and crying also. So while others were criticizing, Caitanya Mahāprabhu came to him, "Brāhmaṇa, what you are reading?" So he could understand that "This person, He's not come here to criticize me. He's serious." So he talked seriously, "Sir, I am reading Bhagavad-gītā. Unfortunately, I am illiterate." Now see. He is illiterate and he is reading Bhagavad-gītā. Caitanya Mahāprabhu inquired that "How is that, you're reading Bhagavad-gītā and you say you are illiterate?" He said, "Yes, actually I am illiterate, but my Guru Mahārāja asked me that 'You should read every day eighteen chapters.' So what can I do? (laughter) I have to carry out the order of my spiritual master. So I have simply taken this book. I am seeing it." Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, "Oh, you are not seeing it, simply. You are crying also." "Yes, Sir, I am crying also." "Then if you are not reading, how you are crying?" "Sir, I am not reading, but I'm feeling." "What is that?" "As soon as I take this Bhagavad-gītā in my hand, immediately I feel Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna sitting on the same chariot, and Arjuna is ordering Kṛṣṇa that 'You drive my chariot between the two soldiers,' and Kṛṣṇa is driving. So I am simply feeling how Kṛṣṇa is nice, that He can work as a servant of His devotee. When I feel like that, I cry, how Kṛṣṇa is so kind." Caitanya Mahāprabhu immediately embraced him, that "You are really studying Bhagavad-gītā." So unless we develop our love for Kṛṣṇa, there is no meaning of reading. And if we can develop our love for Kṛṣṇa just like this brāhmaṇa, even without reading any book, that is wanted. That is wanted. Mayy āsakta-manāḥ. Therefore Kṛṣṇa also confirms, mayy āsakta-manāḥ, "Simply by increasing attachment for Me." Mayy āsakta-manāḥ pārtha yogaṁ yuñjan mad-āśrayaḥ. Mad-āśrayaḥ. Mad-āśrayaḥ means "under the direction of Me or My representative." Mat.

Labangalatika +
September 11, 0009 JL +
September 11, 0009 JL +
BG: 0 +, SB: 0 +, CC: 1 +, OB: 1 +, Lec: 17 +, Conv: 0 +  and Let: 0 +