Hari-katha by Paramadhyatama Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, spoken on 16 June 1996, in Houston, published by Bhaktabandhav.com
Srila Gurudeva: Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said, “If there is even a word of the mayavadis in this world, then it is very difficult to preach bhakti. Suddha bhakti will not come in this world up until there will be even one conception of the mayavadis. Therefore, mayavada should be uprooted from this world.”
Actually mayavada is covered Buddhism; it has come from Buddhism. It is the same wine in a new bottle. Buddhism means “sunyavad,” voidism. But all our Acaryas beginning from Ramanuja, Madhvacarya, Visnusvami, Nimbaditya, Nimbarka, Vallabhacarya, Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and others have refuted mayavada. Jiva Gosvami has put forward some questions to the advaitavadis. He has taken these questions from Madhva and Madhva sampradaya.
One of his questions is:
“You say that Brahma is alone. He has no duality. You say that Brahma is advaya-vastu, advaita. But even in the word, ‘Advaita’ there is dvaita, duality. So, how can you refute this argument? There is dvaita in everything, but yet, you say, ‘Brahma is Advaita.’ So, you should know that there is unity in diversity.”
“Brahma is Advaita,” means the name is equal to Him. So, in Advaita, there is arupa—formlessness. But there is rupa, form. Without rupa, it cannot be. You cannot say the word, “Arupa,” without first understanding that there is rupa. The next word is, “Guna,” qualities. The word, “Nirguna,” has come from guna. Even the word nihsakti has come from the word, “Sakti.” Nihsakti means nothing. No word can be used to describe nothingness. So, all these terms like, “Nirguna, nihsakti, and arupa,” have come from the root words—guna, sakti, and rupa respectively.
Therefore, Jiva Gosvami questions, “So, why do you say that Brahma is zero? You will have to take the help of dvaita. You will have to consider guna, sakti, rupa, and everything.”
Another question put forward by Srila Jiva Gosvami to the mayavadis is:
“Brahma is nirguna and advaita. He is kevala-vastu; He is alone. Then, how did maya come?”
What is maya? The mayavadis say, “We are all Brahma—Sarvam khalv idam brahma.” Khalv means surely. Idam refers to all the things of this world regardless of whether they have life or not. They say that all are Brahma—sarvam khalv idam brahma. Another favorite statement of theirs is “Tat tvam asi,” which means, “You are the same as He.”
And, there is also the statement, “Satyam-jnanam-anantam-brahma.” Brahma is satya, the truth; He is ananta and jnana-purna. But there are three adjectives here; so how can three be one? Do you understand? Brahma has three qualities—satyam, jnana, and ananta. So, Brahma has three qualities; but the mayavadis say He is nirguna. How can they say this? Another question Jiva Gosvami puts forward is:
“I will present a question. If you say, ‘Yes,’ to it, then you will be in danger. You will also be in danger if you say, ‘No.’ Thus, you will have to adopt duality; certainly you will have to. Now, you should answer my question. You say that ‘All are Brahma.’ But why are the conditioned souls so foolish? They are completely ignorant. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow. We don’t know where the atma is. We don’t know anything. Then, how has this ajnana, ignorance come?”
The mayavadis say, “Due to maya, Brahma has become a jiva now and has become an ajnani.”
Then, Jiva Gosvami tells them, “Oh there are two entities—Maya and Brahma. Maya is more powerful than Brahma because she makes Brahma an ajnani.”
Do you understand my argument? But, Brahma is satyam-jnanam-anantam—He is full of knowledge. Then how has this ignorance come to Brahma? Sankara says, “Maya is nothing.” Maya means illusion, but whose illusion is this? Is there illusion in Brahma? But you cannot say. Then what is illusion? Sata is nihsata, without any existence. You cannot say what asat is. Anar vacan itvat—that cannot be defined by any word. Then what is this? There must be some sat or asat, it cannot be both. Asat means nothing and sat means everything. It is the whole thing, it is purna.
om purnam adah purnam idam
purnat purnam udacyate
purnasya purnam adaya
—Sri Isopanisad, Invocation
[The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the Complete Whole is also complete in itself. Because He is the Complete Whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance.]
He is always purna. So, how can this illusory maya, which is not sat or asat, and which is not even both, come in Brahma? How can this ignorance come in Brahma? But the mayavadis say as such.
The mayavadis say, “No, this maya doesn’t touch Brahma. Rather, it covers the jivas.”
Maya only covers the jiva. But who is the jiva? The jiva is also Brahma. There were no jivas when Brahma was not covered by maya. Then, where is your maya? Also, Jiva Gosvami asked Sankaracarya, “Are you really liberated or not? If you are liberated, then you have become Brahma. Brahma cannot speak anything. And if you are not liberated and are covered by maya, then all your conceptions and arguments are like zero because you are not liberated.”
Did you understand what I just said?
Jiva Gosvami has finished all mayavada-tattva just by putting forward these questions.
Devotee: Maharaja, but sometimes they will say that, “This knowledge has been given by a realized person.”
Srila Gurudeva: Who says this?
Devotee: Oh, they are saying so many things anyway.
Srila Gurudeva: We ask Sankaracarya, “Are you liberated Brahma, who is without ajnana? Or are you covered by maya? If you are liberated, then you have become one with Brahma—brahma-sayujya. Then, you are not a jiva. But, nirguna brahma is out of maya. He cannot speak. He has no qualities; he has no power. He has nothing. He has no shape or anything. Then, how can Brahma say anything? And if you are not liberated, then all your arguments are false. We cannot consider your arguments.”
Devotee 2: Maharaja, you say that if they are liberated, they are like Brahman.
Srila Gurudeva: Not Brahman, Brahma.
Devotee 2: So, they have to go beyond that impersonal conception, beyond the light.
Srila Gurudeva: No, they say, “Even today, even in this form, we are Brahma. But we have no realization because of maya.” They say as such.
But, we tell them, “At the same time, you also say, ‘There is no maya or nothing. Brahma is nirguna. There is no vastu other than Brahma.’ Then from where did this maya come from? What is maya? If she is the power of Brahma, or if she is different from Brahma; if she can control and cover Brahma and Brahma becomes an ajnani, then she is more powerful than Brahma. Maya is an entity separate from Brahma.”
So, there is duality. If Brahma and His sakti, maya, become two, then where is advaita? And if you say, “There is no maya,” then there is no question of the existence of this material world and the souls being conditioned by maya. Another very good argument can also be put forward here:
The mayavadi can be told, “If all the things in this world are Brahma—sarvam khalv idam brahma, then I am also Brahma, he is also Brahma. And it is the truth, then there are so many truthful things in this world. There are lakhs and lakhs of truthful things in this world. So, you will have to hear what we have to say in a group. You are only alone and you say, ‘There is one Brahma. This is true.’
And we all say, ‘You are asatya, false.’”
There is the statement, “Tat tvam asi.”
The mayavadis say, “Tat-tvam-asi, you are Brahma.”
But this word is not there. Rather, it is said, “Tasya tvam asi,” tat means tasya. Tasya means, “You are His. I am His servant.” This is the actual meaning. Who is saying and who is hearing the statement, “Tat tvam asi?” For whom are these three words intended? So, there must be three things. Do you understand? “Tat tvam asi,” is told for someone.
The intended meaning of the mayavadis is, “You are the same as He.” Tat means He and tvam means the jivatma, the soul. There are three intended considerations. Therefore, the mayavadis are asked, “Why do you say that there is no duality and everything is one? There are so many dualities. Yet, you say, ‘You are the same; you are the same.’”
From where have the three words—you, He, and I been taken from? If everything is one, then why these separate words? Sankaracarya has no explanation for this; he has not given an explanation anywhere. His followers keep changing their opinions all the time. They don’t stick to one point. Sometimes, they say, “This world is pratibimbha, a reflection, and we are the pratibimbha of Brahma as well.” To support their claim, they quote the example of the sun’s reflection on water.
But, Jiva Gosvami says, “If the sun’s reflection is seen on water, then I am seeing this occurrence. Everyone is seeing this as well. The water is there, the sun is there, and I am also there. Thus, there are three separate things here.”
So, why do the mayavadis say, “Everything is one.”
Do you understand my argument? The sun, water, and the seer are considered here. If there is no water, then there is no reflection. There must be a seer who is seeing this reflection. So, there are three things. Where is Brahma being reflected and who is seeing this? So, there are three considerations; not just three, but there are lakhs and lakhs of considerations.
The mayavadi then says, “No. This is wrong.”
It is like sukti-rajat, where a rope is mistaken for a snake. And, the residents in a ship also mistake some oyster shells in the ocean for silver. One day, when it was night, a person’s feet touched a rope. Seeing this rope, he at once cried out, “Oh serpent! Oh serpent!”
But, a person came with a lamp and said, “Oh this is just a rope.”
Then the person became calm. Otherwise, he could have become mad. Sankaracarya says that the existence of this world is like the illusion of considering a rope to be a snake. He also says that when the sunrays fall on the oyster shells, they glitter and are mistaken for silver. But there is no silver and the rope can never be a snake. Sankaracarya has argued like this.
He says, “We are seeing all these things. But actually, everything is brahma.” And he has put forward these two arguments.
Jiva Gosvami asks, “If the rope is mistaken for a serpent, then the existence of a serpent must be considered. Also, who is looking at the rope and mistaking it to be a serpent? So, there are three considerations here as well. And this is the truth. The rope is not a serpent. But you know what a serpent is, you have seen it. Only after seeing it, do you have the illusion that the rope is a serpent. Otherwise, you cannot commit the mistake of considering the rope to be a serpent.”
Therefore, there are three perspectives here—the serpent, the rope, and the seer. So, the argument of the mayavadis is wrong. They make the foolish people even more foolish. They don’t say anything correct. So, mayavada is actually not bona fide. Hence, Srila Jiva Gosvami has refuted all the arguments of the impersonalists. If the jiva is brahma, then where has this ajnana, ignorance come from? Because Brahma is satyam-jnanam-anantam. He is infinite. These statements quoted from the Vedas are not full sentences. To cheat people, Sankaracarya has cleverly taken some portions of any vakyas, sentences from the Vedas.
For instance, there is a sentence that reads, “Rama is not a thief.”
I only take the words “Rama,” and “thief,” from the sentence and exclude the other words. Thus, the sentence reads, “Rama is a thief.” In this way, Sankaracarya has very cleverly taken some portions and words from the Vedas and presented all his arguments.
It has been said, “You are brahma.”
Here, Jiva Gosvami tells us that this has been stated as an example.
A person tells another person, “You are a lion because you don’t fear anyone and you always speak the truth. You don’t fear from anyone and are so strong.” But that person is not really a lion. An example is given here and the person is likened to a lion.
A person says, “This horse is flying in the air.” He actually means that the horse is running so fast. The horse is not really flying in the air.
A person says in anger, “Oh you are an ass.” The person who is called an ass is not really an ass. He doesn’t have four legs and he doesn’t bray like an ass. But we say, “You are a foolish ass.”
So, when we say, “You are Brahma,” it means that you are a sat-cit-ananda part of Him. You are qualitatively one with Him. You are not a worldly thing. Only this has been meant by the statement, “You are Brahma.” You are not Brahma in all senses. When we see any imitation gold, we may mistake it to be real gold. But actually, it is not gold although it glitters as real gold. So in that sense it has been said that the soul is Brahma. The soul has no birth and death. The soul is a part of Brahma.
mamaivamso jiva-loke jiva-bhutah sanatanah
—Bhagavad Gita 15.7
So, the soul is like Brahma, but the soul is not Brahma Himself. Once, a postman came to a house and said, “This is some money sent to a person who bears the name, ‘Rama.’”
Rama’s son at once came and said, “Yes, yes. I am Rama.”
But this boy is not the father or the husband of his mother. But he can take his father’s money because he is the heir to his father’s belongings. So, the son is not actually the person, “Rama.” He is the son of Rama. In this way, sometimes it has been written like this in the Vedas. But it has also been written:
Nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam
—Katha Upanisad 2.2.13
There is One Nitya among innumerable nityas. He is the Supreme eternal being among all eternal beings. He is also the Supreme living entity of all living entities. So, who are the other eternal, conscious beings? They are the souls, the jivas.
Nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam
There are so many cetanas, so many conscious jivas. And among them, Krsna is the supremely conscious personality. Why did Krsna say, “mamaivamso jiva-loke jiva-bhutah sanatanah?”
He said, “The soul, the jiva is My part and parcel. But although the soul can forget, I cannot forget; I am Brahma.”
So, Krsna said:
mam ekam saranam vraja
—Bhagavad Gita 18.66
Why did Krsna not tell Arjuna, “All are Brahma?”
Why should all the jivas take shelter at the lotus feet of Krsna? Why? Hence, Krsna said:
mattah parataram nanyat
kincid asti dhananjaya
—Bhagavad Gita 7.7
Krsna says, “Nanyat kincid asti—in this whole world no one is like Me or superior to Me. All are My subordinates. So, you should surrender unto My lotus feet.”
Why did Krsna say this? So, we should know that Brahmavada is only made up of false statements because Krsna told Sankara, “You should create a philosophy based on false statements. Your explanation of Brahma-sutra should be false as well so that unqualified people, who want everything from Krsna, will be cheated. They are like demons.”
Thus, the adherents to the above philosophy think, “Everything is false. The sun is false; the moon is false. Brahma is false. Nothing is true in this world.”
Then, they should be asked, “How can you be true? Why should you be true? You cannot be true.”
Devotee: According to Sankaracarya, where is this jnana coming from?
Srila Gurudeva: Jnana is only coming from Krsna.
Devotee: Yes, only from Krsna. But he didn’t talk about the vigraha aspect.
Srila Gurudeva: Yes. In the Caitanya Caritamrita, a very good discourse between Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya and Caitanya Mahaprabhu has been told. You should also read the discourse between Prakasananda Sarasvati and Mahaprabhu. Mahaprabhu and Prakasananda Sarasvati met in Kasi, while Mahaprabhu met Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya in Puri. Before meeting Mahaprabhu they followed mayavada. When they tried convincing Mahaprabhu of their philosophy, Mahaprabhu defeated both while speaking very little. And they were bound to follow the philosophy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya told Mahaprabhu, “I am following the Brahma-sutra.”
Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied, “You are not following the Brahma-sutra because where has it been written in the Brahma-sutra that Brahma has no form, potency, attributes, or qualities? Where has it been written like this?”
To support his claim, Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya said:
arupavat eva hi tat-pradhanatvat
He said, “Here, it is written as such.”
Mahaprabhu said, “You are explaining a false statement. Krsna is not arupavat, formless. He is God Himself. Any vigraha of Krsna is not a representation; the deity is Krsna Himself. And that form is pradhana, primary. The form is not secondary. Krsna has a form because it has been stated in the first sloka of Brahma-sutra.
athato brahma jijnasa
In the Brahma-sutra and in various texts of the Vedas, the form and personality of Krsna has been stated. It has also been stated that:
janmady asya yatha tad brahma
Everything is coming from Brahma, from Lord Krsna. If He has no shape, quality, sakti; if He is nothing, then from where has this world come? If it is not in the seed, then anything cannot come from that seed.
So, all the potencies are there in the seed. If you plant the seed of a banyan tree and nourish it with water and sunshine, then it will become a very big tree having so many leaves, and branches. Everything is there as a potency in that seed. If there is no potency in the seed, then the tree cannot come. So, the potency of everything is in Brahma. Therefore, why do you say that Brahma is without any potency?” asked Mahaprabhu.
Devotee: Maharaja, in the Bible, the formlessness of God is sometimes stated.
Srila Gurudeva: No. It has been especially told in the Bible that “God created man after His own image.” He has knowledge; He has everything. He has a voice. It is said in the Bible that at end of creation, the Lord blesses and forgives everyone. It has been told there. If He is zero and formless, then He has no pity and mercy, so why should we pray to Him if He has no mercy? What is the use of a merciless, formless person?
God can define Himself and that definition is found in our Vedas.
Devotee: If they accept the Srimad Bhagavatam, they will understand the form and personality of the Lord.
Srila Gurudeva: If they really go deep into the purports of the Bible, then they will see the Lord’s form and personality everywhere. Everything is there.
God’s son Jesus was sent to this world. Jesus told everyone, “You should go to God.”
But how will they go to God, if He has no mercy, form, or other qualities. There are so many arguments that can be told.
Devotee: “Santi matra,” how is it related to the Vaisnavas?
Srila Gurudeva: It is related to Krsna. In the Gita, Krsna has said, “Santim upayiti.”
What is the meaning of santi? We don’t want santi.
Devotee: We don’t want santi?
Srila Gurudeva: Never, never. This is only salvation. Santi means sayujya-mukti. There is no action, words, or anything. Rather, we want to bathe in the rasa-samudra, the ocean of nectarean mellows. In this ocean there are five kinds of waves. These five kinds of waves give rise to lakhs and lakhs of waves that are very sweet. These waves go up and down according to the transcendental moods. Where there is nothing, there is santi. A stone always has santi. The stone has nothing to think; it never moves. Even if you cut it into lakhs and lakhs of pieces, it will not know. It will remain in santi.
Devotee: It is not written anywhere about having santi.
Srila Gurudeva: No, it has been written in the Upanisads.
Om harir santi santi
In our Hari-bhakti-vilasa, it has been written. It has been stated in the Gita also that “Santim upayiti.” Santi here refers to liberation. This santi is the ground for Dasya-bhava, Sakhya-bhava, Vatsalya-bhava, and Madhurya-bhava. Santi ultimately means nistha, firm faith towards Krsna.
A devotee thinks, “I have a firm belief that Krsna can give bliss and santi to all.” This is the platform for bhakti. There are no worldly desires. This is the platform; this is santi. There are no worldly desires at all. This is santi.
krsna-bhakta—niskama, ataeva ‘santa’
—Caitanya Caritamrita Madhya 19.149
A devotee of Krsna has no worldly desires. He has no problems at all. So, this is santi. And after this comes Dasya-bhava. Sakhya-bhava, Vatsalya-bhava, and Madhurya-bhava respectively follow Dasya-bhava. So, santi is only a platform that there are no worldly desires or problems. Then, kamana, a desire will come to serve Krsna. How to serve? In Dasya-bhava, the mood of a servant, then in the moods of Sakhya, Vatsalya, and Madhurya, which are services rendered to Krsna in the mood of a friend, parent, and beloved. Then many waves of prema will come.
Devotee: Most mayavadis chant Om.
Srila Gurudeva: Why do they chant? Om has a form. Om has some qualifications. He is merciful. Om means A-U-M, there are three personalities. So, why do they chant, “Om.” A-U-M makes Om. “A,” denotes Krsna; “U,” denotes Srimati Radhika; “M,” denotes the jivas.
a-karenocyate krsnah sarva-lokaika-nayakah
u-karenocyate radha ma-karo jiva-vacakah
This has been told in the Upanisads. But they don’t want to use their brain.
I am thankful to you. You have served Krsna by giving my arguments in that book.
Devotee: When you get on the radio Maharaja, you are really reaching out to the crowd there.
Srila Gurudeva: If you will tell Krsna…
[Break of audio]
Srila Gurudeva: In Satya Yuga, one will perform austerities for lakhs and lakhs of years. But in Kali Yuga, if anyone chants Krsna’s name or Rama’s names or if the person chants, “Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare,” then he chants the Holy Names sixteen times. So, the person chants the Holy Names sixteen times in the Hare Krsna Maha-mantra. It has been told that even chanting one Name will do. But by chanting the mahamantra, you are chanting sixteen Holy names. So, why can’t we chant? So, this mahamantra is so sublime.
Devotee: Do you live in Mathura, Maharaja?
Srila Gurudeva: I live in Mathura and Vrndavana.
Devotee: I am coming to India, hopefully next year.
Srila Gurudeva: Yes. You should meet me there. I should go.