Previous Acharyas have already written many commentaries on Bhagavad Gita. Then why did Srila Prabhupada write another commentary?
The Bhaktivedanta purports as Srila Prabhupada‘s commentary popularly called are based on the commentaries of the previous acaryas.
Srila Prabhupada would work from a Bengali translation of the Bhagavatam, with commentaries by twelve acaryas, such as Vishvanatha Cakravarti, Jiva Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami, Sridhara Svami, Bir Raghava Gosvami, Madhvacarya, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, Bhaktivinoda Thakura. The Bhagavad-gita is dedicated to and follows the commentary of Srila Baladeva Vidyabhushana; the Caitanya-caritamrita purports are summarized from those written by Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati and Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Even if we consider that Prabhupada’s purports are partly translations of previous commentaries, this does not diminish our gratitude for his preaching and giving us access to the thoughts and devotion of the disciplic succession. Once, the devotees were commenting on how quickly Prabhupada was writing. Prabhupada said “O, I can finish very quickly, but I have to present it for your understanding. It requires deep thought, very carefully to present”. (Srila Prabhupada-lilamrita)
And neither were his purports just static translations of other commentaries, but he struggled to apply the words of the previous acaryas to the present-day mentality of the westerners. We can imagine how difficult this must have been trying to present the principles of Vedic government, or the position of women in Vedic culture, or even the necessity to avoid sinful life to persons who were addicted to sense gratification and who had no idea what was wrong with it. He saturated his purports with Krishna, and built the groundwork to supply his readers with the cultural language to enable them to enter into the pages of the Bhagavatam.
Q. Who is Srila Prabhupada?
A. Srila Prabhupada, the founder-acharya of the Hare Krishna movement, is an empowered messenger of God who appeared in this world to help us reawaken to our spiritual identity. He had a special mandate from his spiritual teacher to bring the eternal spiritual truths of Krishna consciousness, contained in the Vedic scriptures of India, to the Western world. Continue reading Srila Prabhupada
Q. How for levels of sound vaikhar• v•k, madhyam• v•k , paœiant• v•k and p•r•vak relate to the progressive chanting towards to the pure Name of Krishna?
A. Generally, the scriptures declare that upamsu-japa (chanting softly, inaudible to others) is one thousand times better vaikhari-japa (verbal chanting, audible to others, not shouting). However, manasic-japa (silent mental chanting) is ten million times better than loud chanting. Continue reading Pure name of Krishna
Q. What does Hare Krishna mean?
A. ‘Hare Krishna’ refers to the Sanskrit prayer we sing (the maha-mantra, or ‘great chant for deliverance’) and to our group. Since we are often seen chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, we are referred to as the ‘Hare Krishnas’.
Srila Prabhupada came to the United States from India in 1965 to introduce the Western world to bhakti-yoga, which features the chanting of Hare Krishna as its main spiritual practice.
Srila Prabhupada represents a lineage of teachers dating back into antiquity, but which was revitalized 500 years ago by the incarnation of God named Lord Chaitanya.
The voluminous Vedic scriptures of India contain everything we need to know about how to live happily in the world while we realize our spirituality and our relationship with God. These scriptures describe many methods of spiritual attainment, but they specifically recommend the chanting of Hare Krishna as the most effective method of God realization for the time we live in.
Since God is unlimited, He has unlimited names with different purposes and meanings. The purpose of the Hare Krishna prayer is to awaken us to our eternal nature as servants and lovers of Krishna.
The Hare Krishna mantra is composed of three Sanskrit words: Krishna, Rama and Hare. Krishna and Rama are both names for God. Krishna means “the all-attractive,” and Rama means “the supreme pleasure.” We can approach the all-attractive Supreme Lord, and experience the supreme pleasure of His company, through the help of His devotional or pleasure energy, Hare.
Placed together the words of the prayer mean “O Lord, O energy of the Lord, please engage me in Your loving service”. By chanting Hare Krishna we become purified of material conditioning and become reinstated in our normal eternal position.
Why do you chant the Hare Krishna Mahamantra and why specifically 16 rounds?
There are four yugas i.e. Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kaliyuga and for every yuga a specific process has been recommended in the scriptures for self realization.
Satyayuga – Meditation
Tretayuga – Yajna (sacrifice)
Dwaparyuga – Deity worship
Kaliyuga – Harinaam sankirtan (congregational chanting)
The scripture Kali Santaran Upanishad mentions the specific Mahamantra (comprising of the Holy name of the Lord) i.e. “Hare Krishna Mahamantra” to be chanted as the only process required for self realization in Kaliyuga.
Moreover, this Mahamantra has been given by Lord Chaitanya who is none other than Lord Krishna himself. So as followers of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu we chant this Mahamantra.
Srila Prabhupada, the founder Acharya of ISKCON always recommended that we should chant the whole day. But seeing the restless nature and hectic lifestyle of the present yuga he mercifully reduced it to 16 rounds.
Q. What relevance the Hare Krishna movement has in today’s society?
Can you please spare some of your thoughts on the topic?
A. Srila Prabhupada, the founder of the movement, used to say that we’re giving society a brain. Presently, society has no ‘spiritual’ direction. The leaders of society don’t know the purpose of human life. They mislead people under the misconception that this life is all there is. Just try to enjoy as much you can with your senses.
But we’re spiritual beings, and human life is the chance to reawaken our love for God and return to Him. If we waste our time in material pursuits and neglect our spiritual life – which should be our main business – we’ll have to return to this world after death and take birth in any one of millions of species of life. The Hare Krishna movement is relevant to anyone who wants to make the proper use of human life. We’re an educational institution, teaching people about God, our relationship with Him and the process for going back to Him.
Q. Srila Prabhupada said ‘preaching is the essence’, what does this mean? What are the qualifications of the preacher? Are performing nagar sankirtan and book distribution a kind of preaching? What are the levels in preaching?
A. Preaching is the essence of our movement because this is an exhibition of the highest and most compassionate part of a vaisnava’s character, the essential nature of a devotee – trying to awaken Krsna bhakti within the hearts of the suffering souls. This was the essence of Lord Caitanya’s pastimes, to freely distribute love of God. Without preaching neither our movement, nor our own individual bhakti creeper will continue to grow, rather they will both become weakened. Especially in this age full of faults and disturbances, only by being in a preaching spirit and thus attracting and achieving the mercy of Lord Caitanya can we sustain and increase our Krsna consciousness. Without that spirit we can easily become distracted, slackened and overwhelmed by the material energy.
Srila Prabhupada said anyone can preach, if they hear attentively from a bona fide speaker in disciplic succession and simply repeat what he has heard, without concoction. One of Prabhupada’s disciples had a 5 year old daughter, and she used to go the visitors and ask them, “Do you know who is Krsna?”, and then reply herself, “Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead!”. Prabhupada commented that even a child can preach by simply repeating what they heard. So the most important qualification for a preacher is that they should hear submissively from a bona fide spiritual master and faithfully represent what they have heard, according to their capacity.
Varieties of preaching exist, as do various levels of preaching. We may show people the path of bhakti in an introductory manner, or we may help them traverse the path, or train them, or carry them to the conclusions of bhakti. We each have our capacity, and we should try to preach accordingly.
Q. In your Bhagavad-gita ‘ in text 9.11 the word ‘mudha’ is translated as “rascals,” “fools,” etc. Please don’t use words that pinch new learners. This is my humble request.
A. As Prabhupada himself would point out, he is simply repeating Krishna’s words. Krishna certainly has the right to label someone a fool, and people should know who Krishna considers foolish. That’s part of the wisdom of the Gita. Krishna makes distinctions.
As followers of Srila Prabhupada we don’t feel it is proper for us to interfere with his preaching style. If he felt it was important to repeat Krishna‘s words in pointing out who is foolish, it’s not our position to challenge him.
We ourselves might use a gentler approach when preaching, and Prabhupada did that also, but if Prabhupäda felt that strong words were sometimes needed, we have to agree with that assessment. Besides, we might not be able to predict the effect of strong words. Someone might read them and think, “Oh, Krishna says I’m a fool. So I should stop being a fool and surrender to Him.”
Srila Prabhupada often spoke strongly and he inspired thousands—maybe millions—of people to become devotees of Krishna.
Q. How to defeat this rascal impersonalist theory or impersonalism? How to make them feel bad about their theories? How to preach them Krishna consciousness?
1. If we scrutinizingly study Srila Prabhupada’s books which present the Vedic knowledge without any adulteration, we can easily defend against any kind of theories – impersonalism, mayavada etc.
2. Instead of making them feel bad about their theories, we have a choice to present to them higher philosophy through Srila Prabhupada’s books and better examples of human beings through ourselves who strive to live by these books. We may learn to hate the disease and not the diseased. And then, we may also help and uplift the diseased. That will help them.
3. If people see a genuine change in ourselves, they will automatically be enthused to take to Krishna consciousness. For this to happen, we have to authentically take to devotional service and follow Srila Prabhupada’s instructions with faith. This will transform us and through us the people who come in contact with us. A happy face will be a great preaching tool.