Some philosophers say that the manifestation of material nature is false, but according to the philosophy of Bhagavad-gītā or according to the philosophy of the Vaiṣṇavas, this is not so.
Vaisnava philosophy (Books)
- 1 Bhagavad-gita As It Is
- 2 Srimad-Bhagavatam
- 3 Sri Caitanya-caritamrta
- 4 Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
Bhagavad-gita As It Is
BG Preface and Introduction
SB Canto 3
The four principles of the Vaiṣṇava philosophic doctrine are śuddha-advaita (purified oneness), dvaita-advaita (simultaneous oneness and difference), viśiṣṭa-advaita and dvaita. All four principles of Vaiṣṇava philosophy are based on the thesis of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam explained in these two verses.
The four principles of the Vaiṣṇava philosophic doctrine are śuddha-advaita (purified oneness), dvaita-advaita (simultaneous oneness and difference), viśiṣṭa-advaita and dvaita. All four principles of Vaiṣṇava philosophy are based on the thesis of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam explained in these two verses.
Lord Caitanya advised, asat-saṅga-tyāga: one should avoid persons who are attached to the temporary. Asat is one who is too materially attached, who is not a devotee of the Lord and who is too attached to women or enjoyable material things. Such a person, according to Vaiṣṇava philosophy, is a persona non grata.
The oneness of the Māyāvādī philosophers and the oneness of Vaiṣṇava philosophers are different. The Māyāvādī and Vaiṣṇava philosophers both want to merge into the Supreme, but the Vaiṣṇavas do not lose their identities. They want to keep the identity of lover, parent, friend or servant.
Māyāvādī philosophers declare this diversity to be false. But Vaiṣṇava philosophers do not accept the different manifestations as false; they accept them as nondifferent from the Supreme Personality of Godhead because they are a display of His diverse energies.
The philosophy that the Absolute is true and this creation is false (brahma satyaṁ jagan mithyā) is not accepted by Vaiṣṇava philosophers.
SB Canto 4
Sometimes the spiritual master is addressed as Prabhupāda. Prabhu means "the Supreme Personality of Godhead," and pāda means "post." According to Vaiṣṇava philosophy, the spiritual master occupies the post of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, or in other words he is the bona fide representative of the Supreme Lord.
There are many instances of such falldowns, even for great sannyāsīs in the Māyāvāda school.
Therefore Vaiṣṇava philosophers do not accept sāyujya-mukti to be within the category of mukti. According to them, mukti means transferal to the loving service of the Lord from one's position of serving māyā. Lord Caitanya also says in this connection that the constitutional position of a living entity is to render service to the Lord. That is real mukti.
The Vaiṣṇava philosophy in the process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness prohibits the devotee from all kinds of material aspirations. A Vaiṣṇava devotee should always be anyābhilāṣitā-śūnya, free from all material aspirations for the results of fruitive activities or empiric philosophical speculation.
When Svāyambhuva Manu saw that Dhruva Mahārāja understood the philosophy of Vaiṣṇavism and yet was still dissatisfied because of his brother's death, he gave him an explanation of how this material body is created by the five elements of material nature.
According to the Vaiṣṇava philosophy, a devotee is as good as Nārāyaṇa not by becoming Nārāyaṇa but by becoming the most confidential servant of Nārāyaṇa. Such great personalities act as spiritual masters for the benefit of the people in general, and as such, a spiritual master who is preaching the glories of Nārāyaṇa should be accepted as Nārāyaṇa and be given all respects due Him.
Kṛṣṇa claims in Bhagavad-gītā to be the father of all species of living entities; consequently the devotee of Kṛṣṇa is always a friend of all. This is called ahiṁsā. Such nonviolence can be practiced only when we follow in the footsteps of great ācāryas. Therefore, according to our Vaiṣṇava philosophy, we have to follow the great ācāryas of the four sampradāyas, or disciplic successions.
The Lord is always transcendental to the material manifestation, even though it appears that the Lord and the material manifestation are one and the same. According to the Vaiṣṇava philosophy, He is one and different simultaneously. The material energy is a manifestation of His external potency, and since the potency is identical with the potent, it appears that the Lord and individual soul are one; but actually the individual soul is under the influence of material energy, and the Lord is always transcendental to it.
The current Brahma-sampradāya is known as the Madhva-Gauḍīya-sampradāya. Even though Lord Śiva appeared to preach Māyāvāda philosophy, at the end of his pastime in the form of Śaṅkarācārya, he preached the Vaiṣṇava philosophy: bhaja govindaṁ bhaja govindaṁ bhaja govindaṁ mūḍha-mate. He stressed worshiping Lord Kṛṣṇa, or Govinda, three times in this verse and especially warned his followers that they could not possibly achieve deliverance, or mukti, simply by word jugglery and grammatical puzzles. If one is actually serious to attain mukti, he must worship Lord Kṛṣṇa. That is Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya's last instruction.
The Supreme Lord is always independent, but because the living entities are not independent—due to their false idea of becoming independently happy—the material energy is troublesome. Consequently the material energy creates differentiation. Because the Māyāvādī philosophers cannot understand this, they want to be relieved from the material energy. However, because a Vaiṣṇava philosopher is in full knowledge of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he finds no disturbance even in the material energy. This is because he knows how to utilize the material energy for the service of the Lord.
The followers of Buddha do not recognize that there is anything beyond the body; the followers of Śaṅkara conclude that there is no separate existence of the Paramātmā, the Supersoul. The Śaṅkarites believe that the individual soul is identical with the Paramātmā in the ultimate analysis. But the Vaiṣṇava philosopher, who is perfect in knowledge, knows that the body is made of the external energy and that the Supersoul, the Paramātmā, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is sitting with the individual soul and is distinct from him.
Vaiṣṇava philosophers conclude that the living entity is simply a small sample of the original Supreme Personality of Godhead. Qualitatively, God and the living entities are one, but quantitatively the living entities are small fragments of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
SB Canto 5
This is a discussion on impersonal Māyāvāda philosophy and the practical philosophy of Vaiṣṇavas. The Māyāvāda philosophy explains this phenomenal world to be false, but Vaiṣṇava philosophers do not agree. They know that the phenomenal world is a temporary manifestation, but it is not false. A dream that we see at night is certainly false, but a horrible dream certainly affects the person seeing it. The soul's fatigue is not factual, but as long as one is immersed in the illusory bodily conception, one is affected by such false dreams.
A real preacher cannot be bogus; he must first of all realize Lord Viṣṇu as He is. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (4.34), upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ: "one who has seen the truth can impart knowledge." The word tattva-darśī refers to one who has perfectly realized the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Such a person can become a guru and propound Vaiṣṇava philosophy all over the world. The paragon of bona fide preachers and guru is King Pratīha.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has instructed that an unalloyed devotee should consider himself a servant of the servant of the servant of the Supreme Lord (gopī-bhartuḥ pāda-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ (CC Madhya 13.80)). In Vaiṣṇava philosophy, one should not even become a direct servant. Prahlāda Mahārāja was offered all the blessings of an opulent position in the material world and even the liberation of merging into Brahman, but he refused all this. He simply wanted to engage in the service of the servant of the servant of the Lord.
SB Canto 6
The Māyāvādī philosophers say, brahma satyaṁ jagan mithyā: Brahman, the living being, is factual, but his present bodily situation is false. According to the Vaiṣṇava philosophy, however, the present situation is not false but temporary. It is like a dream. A dream does not exist before one falls asleep, nor does it continue after one awakens. The period for dreaming exists only between these two, and therefore it is false in the sense that it is impermanent.
SB Canto 7
Prahlāda Mahārāja's teachers were astonished that a small boy could speak such exalted Vaiṣṇava philosophy. Therefore they inquired about the Vaiṣṇavas who stealthily taught it to him, in order that these Vaiṣṇavas might be arrested and killed in the presence of Prahlāda's father, Hiraṇyakaśipu.
As long as one adheres to the philosophy of duality, thinking one person a friend and another an enemy, he should be understood to be in the clutches of māyā. The Māyāvādī philosopher who thinks that all living entities are God and are therefore one is also mistaken. No one is equal to God. The servant cannot be equal to the master. According to the Vaiṣṇava philosophy, the master is one, and the servants are also one, but the distinction between the master and servant must continue even in the liberated stage. In the conditioned stage we think that some living beings are our friends whereas others are enemies, and thus we are in duality. In the liberated stage, however, the conception is that God is the master and that all living entities, being servants of God, are one.
The Absolute, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is most intimately related to all living entities. Therefore if one understands the Vaiṣṇava philosophy, which explains how He is present everywhere and how He acts everywhere, to worship the Supreme Lord or to realize Him is not at all difficult. Realization of the Lord, however, is possible only in the association of devotees.
As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (12.13.16): vaiṣṇavānāṁ yathā śambhuḥ: Lord Śiva is the best of the Vaiṣṇavas, the devotees of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Indeed, he is one of the mahājanas, the twelve authorities on Vaiṣṇava philosophy (svayambhūr nāradaḥ śambhuḥ kumāraḥ kapilo manuḥ, etc. (SB 6.3.20)). Lord Kṛṣṇa is always prepared to help all the mahājanas and devotees in every respect (kaunteya pratijānīhi na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati (BG 9.31)).
The Māyāvādī philosophers, therefore, adhering to the slogan brahma satyaṁ jagan mithyā, want to refrain from false, materialistic activities. They want to stop all activities and merge in the Supreme Brahman. According to the Vaiṣṇava philosophy, however, if one simply ceases from materialistic activity one cannot remain inactive for very long, and therefore everyone should engage himself in spiritual activities, which will solve the problem of suffering in this material world.
SB Canto 8
Śrīmad Vīrarāghava Ācārya, in his Bhāgavata-candra-candrikā, describes the Vaiṣṇava philosophy as follows. The cosmic manifestation is described as sat and asat, as cit and acit. Matter is acit, and the living force is cit, but their origin is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in whom there is no difference between matter and spirit. According to this conception, the cosmic manifestation, consisting of both matter and spirit, is not different from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Idaṁ hi viśvaṁ bhagavān ivetaraḥ: "This cosmic manifestation is also the Supreme Personality of Godhead, although it appears different from Him."
This śloka explains that in relation to the material body even the factual truth cannot exist without a touch of untruth. The Māyāvādīs say, brahma satyaṁ jagan mithyā: "The spirit soul is truth, and the external energy is untruth." The Vaiṣṇava philosophers, however, do not agree with the Māyāvāda philosophy. Even if for the sake of argument the material world is accepted as untruth, the living entity entangled in the illusory energy cannot come out of it without the help of the body. Without the help of the body, one cannot follow a system of religion, nor can one speculate on philosophical perfection. Therefore, the flower and fruit (puṣpa-phalam) have to be obtained as a result of the body. Without the help of the body, that fruit cannot be gained. The Vaiṣṇava philosophy therefore recommends yukta-vairāgya. It is not that all attention should be diverted for the maintenance of the body, but at the same time one's bodily maintenance should not be neglected. As long as the body exists one can thoroughly study the Vedic instructions, and thus at the end of life one can achieve perfection.
SB Canto 10.1 to 10.13
We should be careful to note that although the supreme source is one, the emanations from this source should be separately regarded as inferior and superior. The difference between the Māyāvāda and Vaiṣṇava philosophies is that the Vaiṣṇava philosophy recognizes this fact. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu's philosophy, therefore, is called acintya-bhedābheda—simultaneous oneness and difference. For example, fire and heat cannot be separated, for where there is fire there is heat and where there is heat there is fire. Nonetheless, although we cannot touch fire, heat we can tolerate. Therefore, although they are one, they are different.
CC Preface and Introduction
We have often heard the phrase "love of Godhead." How far this love of Godhead can actually be developed can be learned from the Vaiṣṇava philosophy. Theoretical knowledge of love of God can be found in many places and in many scriptures, but what that love of Godhead actually is and how it is developed can be found in the Vaiṣṇava literatures. It is the unique and highest development of love of God that is given by Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
It is not that Rādhārāṇī is separate from Kṛṣṇa. Rādhārāṇī is also Kṛṣṇa, for there is no difference between the energy and the energetic. Without energy, there is no meaning to the energetic, and without the energetic, there is no energy. Similarly, without Rādhā there is no meaning to Kṛṣṇa, and without Kṛṣṇa there is no meaning to Rādhā. Because of this, the Vaiṣṇava philosophy first of all pays obeisances to and worships the internal pleasure potency of the Supreme Lord. Thus the Lord and His potency are always referred to as Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.
The great Vaiṣṇava philosopher Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa has very nicely explained the materialistic conclusion in his Govinda-bhāṣya, a commentary on the Vedānta-sūtra.
Māyāvādī sannyāsīs address one another as Nārāyaṇa because they think that they are all going to be Nārāyaṇa or merge with Nārāyaṇa in the next life. Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī appreciated that Caitanya Mahāprabhu had already directly become Nārāyaṇa and did not need to wait until His next life. One difference between the Vaiṣṇava and Māyāvādī philosophies is that Māyāvādī philosophers think that after giving up their bodies they are going to become Nārāyaṇa by merging with His body, whereas Vaiṣṇava philosophers understand that after the body dies they are going to have a transcendental, spiritual body in which to associate with Nārāyaṇa.
Monist philosophers like Śaṅkarācārya and his followers want to establish that God and the living entity are one, and instead of worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead they present themselves as God. They want to be worshiped as God by others. Such persons do not accept the philosophies of the Vaiṣṇava ācāryas, which are known as śuddhādvaita (purified monism), śuddha-dvaita (purified dualism), viśiṣṭādvaita (specific monism), dvaitādvaita (monism and dualism) and acintya-bhedābheda (inconceivable oneness and difference). Māyāvādīs do not discuss these philosophies, for they are firmly convinced of their own philosophy of kevalādvaita, exclusive monism. Accepting this system of philosophy as the pure understanding of the Vedānta-sūtra, they believe that Kṛṣṇa has a body made of material elements and that the activities of loving service to Kṛṣṇa are sentimentality. They are known as Māyāvādīs because according to their opinion Kṛṣṇa has a body made of māyā and the loving service of the Lord executed by devotees is also māyā. They consider such devotional service to be an aspect of fruitive activities (karma-kāṇḍa). According to their view, bhakti consists of mental speculation or sometimes meditation. This is the difference between the Māyāvādī and Vaiṣṇava philosophies.
The Vaiṣṇavas are by far the greatest philosophers in the world, and the greatest among them was Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī Prabhu, whose philosophy was again presented less than four hundred years later by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Mahārāja. Therefore one must know very well that Vaiṣṇava philosophers are not sentimentalists or cheap devotees like the sahajiyās. All the Vaiṣṇava ācāryas were vastly learned scholars who understood Vedānta philosophy fully, for unless one knows Vedānta philosophy he cannot be an ācārya.
If the Supreme Personality of Godhead is a fact, how can His creation be false? Even in ordinary dealings, one cannot think the material cosmic manifestation to be false. Therefore Vaiṣṇava philosophers say that the cosmic creation is not false but temporary. It is separated from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but since it is wonderfully created by the energy of the Lord, to say that it is false is blasphemous.
Māyāvādī philosophers cannot understand these simple facts explained in the Bhagavad-gītā, and yet they are very proud of being Vedāntīs. Sometimes, therefore, we refer to the Vedāntī philosophers as Vidantīs, those who have no teeth (vi means "without," and dantī means "possessing teeth"). The statements of the Śaṅkara philosophy, which are the teeth of the Māyāvādī philosopher, are always broken by the strong arguments of Vaiṣṇava philosophers such as the great ācāryas, especially Rāmānujācārya. Śrīpāda Rāmānujācārya and Madhvācārya break the teeth of the Māyāvādī philosophers, who can therefore be called Vidantīs, "toothless."
Māyāvādī philosophers are satisfied simply to understand Brahman to be the sum total of knowledge, but Vaiṣṇava philosophers not only know in detail about the Supreme Personality of Godhead but also know how to approach Him directly.
The actual purpose of Lord Caitanya's stay at Vārāṇasī after coming back from Vṛndāvana was to meet Sanātana Gosvāmī and teach him. Sanātana Gosvāmī met Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu after the Lord's return to Vārāṇasī, where the Lord taught him for two months about the intricacies of Vaiṣṇava philosophy and Vaiṣṇava activities. After completely instructing him, He sent him to Vṛndāvana to execute His orders.
In Vaiṣṇava philosophy there are three ways for perfection—namely sādhana-siddha, perfection attained by executing devotional service according to the rules and regulations, nitya-siddha, eternal perfection attained by never forgetting Kṛṣṇa at any time, and kṛpā-siddha, perfection attained by the mercy of the spiritual master or another Vaiṣṇava. Kavirāja Gosvāmī here stresses kṛpā-siddha, perfection by the mercy of superior authorities. This mercy does not depend on the qualifications of a devotee. By such mercy, even if a devotee is dumb he can speak or write to glorify the Lord splendidly, even if lame he can cross mountains, and even if blind he can see the stars in the sky.
The prākṛta-sahajiyās who chant nitāi-gaura rādhe śyāma have very little knowledge of the Bhāgavata conclusion, and they hardly follow the Vaiṣṇava rules and regulations, and yet because they chant bhaja nitāi-gaura, their chanting immediately evokes tears and other signs of ecstasy. Although they do not know the principles of Vaiṣṇava philosophy and are not very much advanced in education, by these symptoms they attract many men to become their followers. Their ecstatic tears will of course help them in the long run, for as soon as they come in contact with a pure devotee their lives will become successful. Even in the beginning, however, because they are chanting the holy names of nitāi-gaura, their swift advancement on the path of love of Godhead is very prominently visible.
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura says that sometimes these smārta caste gosvāmīs write books on Vaiṣṇava philosophy or commentaries on the original scriptures, but a pure devotee should cautiously avoid reading them.
The Lord replied to His mother, "Why did you conceal self-realization by not teaching Me this practical philosophy in the beginning?"
If from the beginning of life one is taught the Vaiṣṇava philosophy of duality or variety, the monistic philosophy will not bother him very much.
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.
"In explaining the glories of the Lord, inexperienced men may compose poetry with many faults, but because it contains glorification of the Lord, great personalities read it, hear it and chant it." Despite its minute literary discrepancies, one must study poetry on the merit of its subject matter. According to Vaiṣṇava philosophy, any literature that glorifies the Lord, whether properly written or not, is first class. There need be no other considerations.
Kṛṣṇa's accepting the part of the gopīs is certainly contradictory according to any mundane calculations, but the Lord, by His inconceivable character, may act like the gopīs and feel separation from Kṛṣṇa, although He is Kṛṣṇa Himself. Such a contradiction can be reconciled only in the Supreme Personality of Godhead because He has energy that is inconceivable (acintya), which can make possible that which is impossible to do (aghaṭa-ghaṭana-patīyasī). Such contradictions are very difficult to understand unless a devotee strictly follows the Vaiṣṇava philosophy under the direction of the Gosvāmīs.
In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.19.21) Kṛṣṇa says, mad-bhakta-pūjābhyadhikā: "It is better to render service to My devotee." Thus, according to the Gauḍīya-Vaiṣṇava philosophy of Caitanya Mahāprabhu, it is better to be a servant of the servant of God (CC Madhya 13.80). One should not try to serve Kṛṣṇa directly. A pure Vaiṣṇava serves a servant of Kṛṣṇa and identifies himself as a servant of a servant of Kṛṣṇa. This is pleasing to Lord Kṛṣṇa.
Sometimes we take part in a marriage ceremony for our disciples, but this does not mean that we are interested in karma-kāṇḍa activities. Sometimes, not knowing the Vaiṣṇava philosophy, an outsider criticizes such activity, maintaining that a sannyāsī should not take part in a marriage ceremony between a young boy and a young girl. However, this is not a karma-kāṇḍa activity, because our purpose is to spread the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. We are giving all facility to the general populace to take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and in order to fix the devotees in concentration on the service of the Lord, marriage is sometimes allowed.
Although the Buddhists are directly opposed to Vaiṣṇava philosophy, it can easily be understood that the Śaṅkarites are more dangerous because they accept the authority of the Vedas yet act contrary to Vedic instruction. Vedāśraya nāstikya-vāda means "agnosticism under the shelter of Vedic culture" and refers to the monistic philosophy of the Māyāvādīs.
Before becoming Caitanya Mahāprabhu's disciple, Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya considered Rāmānanda Rāya an ordinary viṣayī because he was a householder engaged in government service. However, when the Bhaṭṭācārya was actually enlightened in Vaiṣṇava philosophy, he could understand the exalted transcendental position of Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya; therefore he referred to him as adhikārī. An adhikārī is one who knows the transcendental science of Kṛṣṇa and is engaged in His service; therefore all gṛhastha devotees are designated as dāsa adhikārī.
It is the Māyāvāda sampradāya that does not accept the transcendental form of the Lord. If a Vaiṣṇava sampradāya is also carried away by that impersonal attitude, that sampradāya has no position at all. It is a fact that there are many so-called Vaiṣṇavas whose ultimate aim is to merge into the existence of the Lord. For example, the sahajiyās' Vaiṣṇava philosophy is to become one with the Supreme. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu points out that Śrī Mādhavendra Purī accepted Madhvācārya only because his sampradāya accepted the transcendental form of the Lord.
Even though Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He placed Himself in the position of a gopī. He also accepted the King's son directly as the son of Mahārāja Nanda, Vrajendra-nandana Hari. This is perfect vision according to the direction of the Vedic culture, as confirmed in Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā: paṇḍitāḥ sama-darśinaḥ (BG 5.18). Such acceptance of the Absolute Truth according to Vaiṣṇava philosophy is explained in both the Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad (3.2.3) and the Kaṭha Upaniṣad (1.2.23) in the following words:
- nāyam ātmā pravacanena labhyo
- na medhayā na bahunā śrutena
- yam evaiṣa vṛṇute tena labhyas
- tasyaiṣa ātmā vivṛṇute tanūṁ svām
"The Supreme Lord is not obtained by expert explanations, by vast intelligence, nor even by much hearing. He is obtained only by one whom He Himself chooses. To such a person He manifests His own form."
A devotee knows that there is oneness in diversity. The mantras of the śāstras do not support the monistic conclusions of the impersonalists, nor does Vaiṣṇava philosophy accept impersonalism without variety. Brahman is the greatest, He who includes everything, and that is oneness.
Kṛṣṇa is the origin of all viṣṇu-tattvas, including Mahā-Viṣṇu, Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu and Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. He is the ultimate goal of Vaiṣṇava philosophy.
"'A prākṛta-bhakta, or materialistic devotee, does not purposefully study the śāstra and try to understand the actual standard of pure devotional service. Consequently he does not show proper respect to advanced devotees. He may, however, follow the regulative principles learned from his spiritual master or from his family who worships the Deity. He is to be considered on the material platform, although he is trying to advance in devotional service. Such a person is a bhakta-prāya (neophyte devotee), or bhaktābhāsa, for he is a little enlightened by Vaiṣṇava philosophy.'"
So-called caste systems and national divisions are artificial. According to our Vaiṣṇava philosophy, these are all external bodily designations. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is not based upon bodily designations. It is a transcendental movement on the platform of spiritual understanding.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is the teacher of the entire world, and therefore He enforced this exemplary punishment to establish that illicit sexual connections are never allowed by Vaiṣṇava philosophy. This was His purpose in chastising Junior Haridāsa.
At present, many Vaiṣṇavas are coming to our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement from among the Europeans and Americans, and although men like Rāmacandra Khān are always envious of such Vaiṣṇavas, one should follow in the footsteps of Śrī Advaita Ācārya by treating all of them as Vaiṣṇavas. Although they are not as exalted as Haridāsa Ṭhākura, such Americans and Europeans, having accepted the principles of Vaiṣṇava philosophy and behavior, should never be excluded from Vaiṣṇava society.
"There are many different kinds of devotees, but even a Vaiṣṇava coming from a family of mlecchas or yavanas is understood to be a learned scholar, complete in knowledge, if he knows the Vaiṣṇava philosophy. He should therefore be given charity, for such a Vaiṣṇava is as worshipable as the Supreme Personality of Godhead."
Svarūpa Dāmodara Gosvāmī informed the Bengali poet, "Because of your ignorance and your leaning toward Māyāvāda philosophy, you cannot distinguish the difference between the Māyāvāda and Vaiṣṇava philosophies. Therefore the process you have adopted to praise Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and Lord Jagannātha does not follow the proper system; indeed, it is irregular and offensive. Fortunately, however, through your words, the goddess of learning, mother Sarasvatī, has tactfully offered her prayers to her master, Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu."
(Vallabha Bhaṭṭa was thinking:) "I am a great Vaiṣṇava. Having learned all the conclusions of Vaiṣṇava philosophy, I can understand the meaning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and explain it very well."
Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
Teachings of Lord Caitanya
We have often heard the phrase "love of Godhead." How far this love of Godhead can actually be developed can be learned from the Vaiṣṇava philosophy. Theoretical knowledge of love of God can be found in many places and in many scriptures, but what that love of Godhead actually is and how it is developed can be found in Vaiṣṇava literatures. It is the unique and highest development of love of God that is given by Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
It is not that Rādhārāṇī is separate from Kṛṣṇa. Rādhārāṇī is also Kṛṣṇa, for there is no difference between the energy and the energetic. Without energy, there is no meaning to the energetic, and without the energetic, there is no energy. Similarly, without Rādhā there is no meaning to Kṛṣṇa, and without Kṛṣṇa, there is no meaning to Rādhā. Because of this, the Vaiṣṇava philosophy first of all pays obeisances to and worships the internal pleasure potency of the Supreme Lord. Thus the Lord and His potency are always referred to as Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.
The ecstasy of transcendental love has two components—the context and the cause of the excitement. The context is also divided into two parts—the subject and the object. The exchange of devotional service is the subject, and Kṛṣṇa is the object. The transcendental qualities are the causes of excitement. This means that the transcendental qualities of Kṛṣṇa excite the devotee to serve Him. The impersonal (Māyāvādī) philosophers say that the Absolute Truth has no specific qualities, but the Vaiṣṇava philosophers say that the Absolute Truth is described as nirguṇa (without qualities) because He has no material qualities.
There are four different sects of Vaiṣṇava ācāryas—the Śuddhādvaita, Viśiṣṭādvaita, Dvaitādvaita and Acintya-bhedābheda. All the Vaiṣṇava ācāryas in these schools have written commentaries on the Vedānta-sūtra, but the Māyāvādī philosophers do not recognize them. The Māyāvādīs distinguish between Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa's body, and therefore they do not recognize the worship of Kṛṣṇa by the Vaiṣṇava philosophers.
Thus this cosmic manifestation is not false, as Śaṅkarācārya maintains. Actually there is nothing false here. The Māyāvādīs say that this world is false because of their ignorance. It is the conclusion of Vaiṣṇava philosophy that this cosmic manifestation is a by-product of the inconceivable energies of the Supreme Lord.
Because the impersonalist experiences material activity as miserable, he wants to establish spiritual life without activity. He has no understanding of the activities of devotional service. Indeed, spiritual activity in devotional service is unintelligible to the voidist philosophers and impersonalists. The Vaiṣṇava philosophers know perfectly well that the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, can never be impersonal or void because He possesses innumerable potencies.
Nectar of Devotion
One should not neglect to offer due respect to the demigods. One may not be a devotee of demigods, but that does not mean that he should be disrespectful to them. For example, a Vaiṣṇava is not a devotee of Lord Śiva or Lord Brahmā, but he is duty-bound to offer all respects to such highly positioned demigods. According to Vaiṣṇava philosophy, one should offer respect even to an ant, so then what is there to speak of such exalted persons as Lord Śiva and Lord Brahmā?
Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead
The highest welfare activity for living entities is the preaching of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It is stated herein that those who are specifically favored by the Lord can become absolutely Kṛṣṇa conscious and be engaged in the work of preaching the Vaiṣṇava philosophy.
On hearing these statements of Mahārāja Parīkṣit's, Śukadeva Gosvāmī was overwhelmed with devotional ecstasy because of King Parīkṣit's advanced understanding of the Vaiṣṇava philosophy. Śukadeva Gosvāmī was already engaged in describing the activities of the Lord, and when asked by Mahārāja Parīkṣit to describe them further, he continued to narrate Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam with great pleasure.
According to Māyāvāda philosophy, this manifested world, or material world, is mithyā or māyā, false. The Māyāvādī preaching principle is brahma satyaṁ jagan mithyā: "Only the Brahman effulgence is true, and the cosmic manifestation is illusory, or false." But according to Vaiṣṇava, philosophy this cosmic manifestation is true because it is caused by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the Bhagavad-gītā the Lord says that He enters within this material world by one of His plenary portions and thus the creation takes place. From the Vedas also we can understand that this asat, or temporary cosmic manifestation, is an emanation from the supreme sat, or fact. From the Vedānta-sūtra also it is understood that everything has emanated from the Supreme Brahman. As such, the Vaiṣṇavas do not take this cosmic manifestation to be false. Because the Supreme Personality of Godhead has entered this cosmic manifestation in the form of His plenary expansion and caused the creation, the Vaiṣṇava philosophers see everything in this material world in relationship with the Supreme Lord.
The material world was created for the enjoyment of living entities who wanted to give up the eternal service of the Lord to become the supreme enjoyer themselves. According to Vaiṣṇava philosophy, when a living entity desires to gratify his senses and forgets the service of the Lord, he is given a place in the material world to act freely according to his desire, and therefore he creates a condition of life in which he either enjoys or suffers.
The Lord is ever-existing, and the energies are ever-existing. Some of the energy is temporary—sometimes manifested and sometimes unmanifested—but this does not mean that it is false. The example may be given that when a person is angry he does things which are different from his normal condition of life, but the fact that the mood of anger appears and disappears does not mean that the energy of anger is false. As such, the argument of the Māyāvādī philosophers that this world is false is not accepted by the Vaiṣṇava philosophers.
When a thing is taken as fact but actually has no existence at all, it is called false. But if something is mistaken for something else that exists, that does not mean it is false. The Vaiṣṇava philosophers use a very appropriate example, comparing this material world to an earthen pot. When we see an earthen pot, it does not at once disappear and turn into something else. It may be temporary, but the earthen pot is taken into use for bringing water, and we continue to see it as an earthen pot. Therefore, although the earthen pot is temporary and different from the original earth, we cannot say that it is false. We should therefore conclude that the earthen pot and the entire earth are both truths because one is the product of the other.
Sometimes the Māyāvādī philosophers push forward the argument that if this material world is truth, then why are householders advised to give up their connection with this material world and take sannyāsa? But the Vaiṣṇava philosopher's view of sannyāsa is not that because the world is false one must therefore give up material activities. The purpose of Vaiṣṇava sannyāsa is to utilize things as they are intended to be utilized.
That the cosmic world is only temporarily manifested does not mean that it is false or that the source of its manifestation is false. Since the source of its manifestation is truth, the manifestation is also truth, but one must know how to utilize it. The example of the earthen pot may be cited again: the earthen pot produced from the whole earth is temporary, but when used for a proper purpose the earthen pot is not false. The Vaiṣṇava philosophers know how to utilize the temporary construction of this material world, just as a sane man knows how to utilize the temporary construction of the earthen pot. When the earthen pot is used for a wrong purpose, that is false.
When one has one million dollars in currency notes, he is actually holding only a huge bunch of papers, but if he utilizes it for a purpose, then he benefits. Similarly, although this material world may be false, just like the paper, it has its proper beneficial utilization. Because the currency notes, although paper, are issued by the government, they have full value. Similarly, this material world may be false or temporary, but because it is an emanation from the Supreme Lord, it has its full value. The Vaiṣṇava philosopher acknowledges the full value of this material world and knows how to utilize it properly, whereas the Māyāvādī philosopher fails to do so, just as those who mistake a currency note for ordinary paper discard it and cannot utilize the money.
Renunciation Through Wisdom
Śrī Aurobindo rose beyond this limited sphere of thinking and talked about "supramental consciousness" in such books as Life Divine. We consider this book a hazy attempt to present the Supreme Lord's transcendental potencies. He accepted that the Supreme Lord is endowed with transcendental potency, and therefore we have some appreciation for him, but we feel that many persons cannot understand Śrī Aurobindo's explanation of transcendence in his books. Although he uses fairly simple English, the reader remains puzzled. Those who are unacquainted with such Vaiṣṇava philosophies as Viśiṣṭādvaita, Śuddhādvaita, Dvaitādvaita, and finally Lord Caitanya's acintya-bhedābheda-tattva, cannot understand Śrī Aurobindo. And those who are learned only in impersonal philosophy, who are searching for the nondual Brahman, have even less access to Śrī Aurobindo's works.
Much of Śrī Aurobindo's stream of thinking has been borrowed from Vaiṣṇava philosophy.