Srila Prabhupada: Saktyavesa and Sakhya-rasa

By B. R. Sridhara Deva Goswami

When he was going to America, on the journey he expressed his feeling to play with Krishna in sakhya-rasakata bane chutachuti bane khai lutaputi sei din kabe habe mor, “Running and frolicking in the many forests of Vraja, I will roll on the ground in spiritual ecstasy. O when will that day be mine?” This was his “Prayer to the Lotus Feet of Krishna.” When he was passing through the Atlantic, he gave vent to feelings that may be the salient points in his Vraja lila. It struck me like that, Vrindavana sakhya-rasa.

When he departed from this consciousness of worldly preaching propaganda, then he is there. It is clearly expressed in these sayings there in the Atlantic. He discovered the unmanifest (aprakata) pastimes in Vrindavana, and in Vrindavana, he established Krishna-Balarama and Gaura-Nitai. That is indicative of sakhya-rasa. From this, we can conclude that he is in sakhya-rasa, and he has entered into those pastimes. This is my understanding about his present position. He has expressed himself, his eternal position, the acme of his aspiration. In Vrindavana he has established Balarama and Krishna and Nitai-Gaura, and he is saying like that, Nitai-Gaura are Krishna and Balarama. It’s almost clear that he comes from that group. And now he’s again there. Hare Krishna.

He expressed his own position in eternal lila in his poem. I conjecture like that. Hare Krishna! In his diary, in Bengali, he wrote, “Today I cooked some bati-caccari. It was quite delicious. So I ate something. Today I expressed my inner feelings to my friend and wrote a poem about that.”

And that friend came to his aid. He was so earnest in his prayer to Krishna that he might be able to discharge the duty that had been given to him by his Guru Mahåråja that Krishna came down to help him, his friend helped him in this propaganda work. So saktyavesa-avatara. I take him; I cannot but take him to be so.

Addressing Krishna he wrote, “You are my eternal friend. Forgetting you, I have come to this world and I have been suffering the kicking of Maya, the goddess of misconception. If you come to help me in this campaign, then after finishing this I can again join you. When I shall be united with you again. I shall wander along with you the whole day in keeping the cows in the forest. Running this side and that side in the jungle, in the forest. And then, lutaputi, to fall on the ground in different shows of play. I aspire after that day. I have got this good chance to serve my Gurudeva. For that reason, my heartfelt appeal to You is that You please come to help me. I am Your eternal servitor; therefore, so much aspiration I have got for You. You, no other, are my only resort.”

So after performing this service, he aspires after a life in the cow-keeping lila of Krishna, and he is appreciating that sort of friendly service of Krishna very much from the core of his heart, his aspiration after finishing his worldly preaching campaign.

I take it that Nityananda Prabhu has given some special recognition to the section of the suvarna-vanik community from which Swami Maharaja has come. He has special grace for that particular section and the preaching about Gauranga, and this is mentioned in the scriptures. The suvarna-vanik are the most favorite section of Nityananda Prabhu. It is mentioned in the sastraCaitanya-bhagavata. I thought that Nityananda Prabhu is also in charge of preaching about Mahaprabhu’s glory. So I took it that Nityananda Prabhu must have awakened some special dedication in him in his last days which helped him to inundate with such an inconceivable magnitude, the whole of the world.

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68 Responses to Srila Prabhupada: Saktyavesa and Sakhya-rasa

  1. It is amazing to see how one great soul appreaciates the other one. So much sweetness, so much realisation! We are very lucky to be in touch with such devotees through their words and followers.

    How different from envious, sectarian people who think that there can be only one saint…

  2. “He was so earnest in his prayer to Krishna that he might be able to discharge the duty that had been given to him by his Guru Mahåråja that Krishna came down to help him, his friend helped him in this propaganda work. So saktyavesa-avatara. I take him; I cannot but take him to be so.”

    What a sweet and humble way to make such a bold declaration.

    It appears to me that a true saint is characterized by their ability to create/inspire the appearance of many more saints… Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur ki jay 🙂 Guru parampara ki jay!

  3. Or he’s sent by Nityananda Prabhu.. I think that some think of Prabhupada as a manjari because sakhya rasa is unknown in our line of acharyas from Rupa Goswami.. Is it not so? What he accomplished was amazing from any angle of our sampradaya, and would take a special empowerment of a ‘special’ soul. Nityananda shakti… but who is holding that shakti? I dunno… The example is there for all of us, but the achievement is beyond amazing, inconcievable… When in the past five hundred years has the sankirtan movement been so fired up and so extensive as in the time of Swami Maharaja? And now it has gone back down to ordinary levels.. maintenance levels.. But it is worldwide now, and could get kicked up to the next level…

    Mangal Maharaja told me that when Yayavara Maharaja declared Prabhupada to be a shaktyavesa avatara in the celebration of Srila Prabhupada that was arranged by Narayana Maharaja nine days after Prabhupada’s entering maha-samadhi, that there was grumbling amongst some sections of the Gaudiya vaisnavas present there at that time. He explained that in the Gaudiya Matha, unlike in the greater Hinduism, declaring someone to be an avatar was not done whimsically. Not at all!! So when Mangal Maharaja went back to Mayapur and approached Sridhar Maharaja and told him what Yayavar Maharaja had said, Sridhar Maharaja leaned back and rubbed his head for a while, and then said those words, “it cannot but be so.” When Mangal Maharaja told it to his own guru, Madhava Maharaja remained silent, but a brahmacari who was sitting beside him got up and was going to hit Mangal Maharaja. Such was the controversy amongst Prabhupada’s Godbrothers, around giving Prabhupada the distinction of being called Saktyavesha Avatar.

    • I think that some think of Prabhupada as a manjari because sakhya rasa is unknown in our line of acharyas from Rupa Goswami.. Is it not so?

      This has been addressed in O My friend! ( There are a number of Gaudiya Vaisnava gurus in our line who embraced sakhya rasa, as far back as Nityananda Prabhu and Gauridasa Pandita and as recent as Akincana Krsnadasa Babaji and my guru maharaja, the most venerable Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

      • Maharaja, I was thinking of the shiksha lineage of Acharyas from Rupa Goswami.. the Rupanugas.. I don’t think there is a sakhya devotee on that list..It is know as a manjari lineage is it not? But of course, there are sakyha devotees appearing in it. And of course Prabhupada. But the lines from Nityananda are more that sort of thing.. unless they are from Jahnavi Devi, which is another manjari line. Prabhupada appearing in this line is interesting and gives rise to lots of speculation for me.. but I’ll spare you that.. It’s just fanciful speculation.. But the power of Nityananda Prabhu was definitely there to do the herculean task set out for him..

        • Well, Nityananda Prabhu himself is in that list just before Sri Rupa. Some say that Baladeva Vidyabhusana was in sakhya rasa. Nothing definitive however.

          But the logic that “because from Sri Rupa onward no one is in sakhya rasa therefore Prabhupada cannot be in sakhya rasa” is surely lacking. For if as soon as someone exhibits sakhya rasa we say this cannot be so because no one before him from Rupa onward has shown this, we create a self fulfilling prophecy of sorts that denies evidence to the contrary. And why start with Rupa Goswami? Why not Nityananda and Gauranaga?

        • I certainly am not saying that Prabhupada cannot be in Sakhya Rasa.. The mountain of evidence is sufficient for me. Of course it can’t be proved beyond a shadow, and so there can be various opinions. It seems that we see him through whatever lens we are looking. More than one stalwart Vaisnava has said that they believe him to be a manjari. One, Gaura Govinda Maharaja, even had a sphurti if I remember correctly. It can be a very subjective experience, and an empowered incarnation would have some of that potency to be all things to all people. But before I saw your evidence, I was of the opinion that Prabhupada was in Sakhya Rasa. It would sure explain his chivalrous rasa, among a plethora of other qualities.

          The lineage as i understand is from Mahaprabhu to Svarupa Damodar, then Rupa Goswami. That is how I remember it anyway. Defintely in Madhurya Rasa. That Prabhupada would appear in a Manjari lineage would seem to say that it is opening up to a wider audience, becoming more universal, an international society. Or that the times required a heavy lifter for a task that was not being accomplished by the available help. Just speculations..

        • You will find the line drawn by BSST begins with the Madhvas and then comes to Madhavendra, Nityananda and Adviata and then to Isvara Puri and then Sri Caitanya, Rupa and so on. So Nitai is in the line, as he should be. Indeed, in many respects he started it. It was he who began the worship of Gaura! bhaja gauranga kaha gauranga laha gauranger nama re ye jana gauranga bhaje se amara prana re.

      • I believe in Caitanya Caritamrta there is information that Arjuna himself is a cowherd boy and if my memory serves me right he is Subal

        • Pandava Arjuna is a puri sambandhi, a metropolitan friend of Krsna. Thus his sakhya rasa is slightly different and less intimate that that of Krsna’s rural sakhas like Sridama, Sudama, Subala and others.

  4. Guru Maharaja did not make any absolute proclamations concerning Swami Maharaja’s rasa with Krishna. He made it clear that it could very well have been the mood of Lord Nityananda coming through him as a shaktyavesa avatar of Lord Nityananda. He stated plainly and it is recorded on the tape archives that this sakhya-bhava of Swami Maharaja could have been due to the influence of Lord Nityananda upon him and that Swami Maharaja’s true rasa with Krishna could have been madhurya-rasa. To claim that Guru Maharaja made absolute proclamations that Swami Prabhupada was in sakhya-rasa is ill-informed and misinformed. As a shaktyavesa avatar of Lord Nityananda, Swami Maharaja was non-different from Lord Nityananda Prabhu and as such fully representing the mood and feelings of Lord Nityananda and not the jiva soul that was being empowered by Lord Nityananda tattva. What we see presented here on the Harmonist is an excerpt of what Guru Maharaja said about the rasa of Swami Maharaja, not the whole deliberation given by Guru Maharaja Sridhardev Goswami.

    • Actually what was printed here and in O My Friend! was the personal opinion of Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja. Only after giving that opinion and after some Iskcon members criticized his opinion did he offer a possible alternative analysis to pacify them. You could say he left it open for others to think as they like, but his own personal opinion was that Prabhupada was in sakhya rasa, and for good reason. Have you read O My Friend!? (

      Also the empowerment of Prabhupada as envisioned by Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja occurred on the Jaladutta
      after Prabhupada composed his famous Prayer to Lord Krsna. Note that it is in this prayer before his empowerment that Prabhupada clearly expressed his desire to join Sri Krsna in sakhya rasa. And it was this prayer in particular that Pujyapda Sridhara Maharaja pointed to as evidence for Prabhupada’s sakhya rasa affinity. So again, Prabhupada expressed his strong affinity for sakhya rasa before experiencing the avesa of Nityananda Prabhu and thus his interest in sakhya rasa was not a result of his being empowered by Nitaicand but rather the culmination of his own bhakti that was followed by such empowerment.

      • To say that Guru Maharaja bowed to pressure from some ISKCON men and changed his opinion about the rasa of Swami Maharaja is again a questionable accusation. Guru Maharaja did not cater to ISKCON opinion or views. As best I can recall there is no such gap in these statements of Guru Maharaja. He delivered both opinions at the same time and did not come back later after giving one opinion and give another opinion which he changed under pressure from ISKCON members. Guru Maharaja would not have suggested that this sakhya-bhava of Swami Maharaja was due to the influence of Nityananda-vesa unless he believed within himself that it was in fact a very real possibility. He was not in the business of changing his conclusions under pressure from ISKCON devotees. The best way to resolve this matter properly and satisfactorily would be to go back to the original tapes archive and transcribe the exact dates and exact statements of Guru Maharaja fully rather than depend upon vague recall of something spoken by Guru Maharaja in the early 80’s. We need proper and thorough coverage of the statements of Guru Maharaja and not selected excerpts that serve our own personal feelings the most. Otherwise, these partial and opinionated presentations will never do fair justice to the legacy of Guru Maharaja. We need someone with access to the whole tape archive to go through the records and give us the whole story, not just a snapshot that serves our personal opinions on either side of the discussion. Let’s be fair to Guru Maharaja and present his entire deliberation on the issue and not partial excerpts that in fact don’t do justice to his legacy.

        • You misunderstand. Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja did not bow to pressure form Iskcon, but rather in his harmonizing style he tried to accommodate their thinking while maintaining his own. You are wrong about the chronology of the statements. The recorded record is there to verify this. Surely you must have it. So do your homework before charging this publication with misrepresenting. His attempt to harmonize and accommodate came after he voiced his opinion and some members of Iskcon reacted offensively.

          Guru Maharaja would not have suggested that this sakhya-bhava of Swami Maharaja was due to the influence of Nityananda-vesa unless he believed within himself that it was in fact a very real possibility

          Here you take the liberty to speculate. But, as I said, he did leave the door open for others to think differently while stating his own opinion. But you have neglected the chronology of the empowerment envisioned by Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja that I pointed out, the chronology in relation to Prabhupada’s prayer. Indeed, Prabhupada showed affinity for sakhya rasa throughout his life, even long before the prayer. Again, have you read O My Friend!?

        • Here again you are asking everyone to [just trust me] that your recollection of the matter is perfect and precise. If you have such copies of the tapes and the dates concerned and the names and statements of ISKCON men who objected then why not present them in a scholarly way as opposed to the [just trust me] approach? There must be a reason why you are not presenting all the names, dates and statements that you are referring to. Why not defend your position authoritatively with proper reference and transcription of the recordings? Just asking everyone to trust your personal recollection of things heard from the early 80’s is not the scholarly way of presenting the subject matter. It’s a very questionable method of scholarship or lack thereof. Why not present all the statements of Guru Maharaja in context with dates and the names and statements of ISKCON men that objected to his opinions? Why these excerpts taken out of context? Why should we just trust you that you own the issue when in fact you refuse to post proper transcriptions, names and references? I don’t have the tapes. All I have is remembrances from what I heard from Guru Maharaja. But, as it seems here that is about all you are relying on as well. Both of us are too old and it was too long ago for us to be relying on recall alone. Let’s do this right or not do it at all. It’s too important an issue to deal with in such a casual fashion. It should be all or nothing when dealing with these statements of Guru Maharaja.

        • I have supplied the dates. Here they are again:

          The earliest date that Pujyapada SM speaks of a possible alternative way to see Prabhupada other than sakhya rasa is August 14 1981. Whereas he stated his own personal opinion that Prabhupada is in sakhya rasa on Feb 26 1981 and earlier.

        • Nityananda Shakti is Jahnava Devi, Ananga Manjari in Krsna Lila.

          Balaram’s wives Varuni and Revati became Vasudha and Jahnavi, the two wives of Nityananda Prabhu, in Chaitanya-lila. Both of them were the daughters of Surya Das, who was as effulgent as the sun. He was Kakudman, the father of Revati, in his previous birth. According to another opinion, Jahnava was the incarnation of Ananga Mjari. Both these opinions are possible, as we have shown that more than one identity can be joined in associates of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
          (Gaura-ganoddesha-dipika 65-6)

          So Balaram can have a manjari form in a sense. Like Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaja says above, we have been shown that more than one identity can be joined in associates of Mahaprabhu. That would be a possible explanation why this can be so controversial and subjective. Fun though!!

        • Yes, of course Jhanava is Ananga manjari, etc., but it is clear that Nitai expressed sakhya rasa himself. So it is in the line.

        • The earliest date that Pujyapada SM speaks of a possible alternative way to see Prabhupada other than sakhya rasa is August 14 1981. Whereas he stated his own personal opinion that Prabhupada is in sakhya rasa on Feb 26 1981 and earlier.

  5. …”intelligence is that we should again go back to home, go back to Krsna,
    and dance with Him in His rasa dance. That will be our pleasure.”
    >>> Ref. VedaBase => Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.26.19 — Bombay, December 28, 1974

    Clearly, this was not Srila Prabhupada voicing sakhya-rasa sentiments. Here he clearly says that his pleasure would be to dance with Krishna in the rasa dance.

    • Vrajakumar, what are you out to accomplish? As with dozens of adement protestors to the conclusion of “O My Friend!,” you will not just plainly admit that you have not read the text. Your objections, thrown together in a matter of minutes, do not even begin to contend with the thoroughly researched (and referenced!) text of “O My Friend!” You cite here one single statement of Prabhupada speaking about the general siddhanta of Gaudiya Vaishnavism and you feel satisfied that this counters the numerous quotations of him speaking far more directly about his own spiritual attraction? This is a comical, especially when you start accusing people of not being scholarly.

      But most importantly, don’t try to defeat something you have not even read, because that is just arguing with yourself. Furthermore, It is the common understanding within SCSMath that Sridhara Maharaja believed Prabhupada was in sakhya rasa. Perhaps your objection has some underlying ulterior objective?

      • Still, you refuse to publish the other statements that Guru Maharaja remarked about Swami Maharaja being shaktyavesha of Nityananda and that his sakhya-rasa bhava being Lord Nityananda coming through him. Why don’t you publish everything he said about the subject instead of just the parts that serve your purpose? Obviously, there must be some ulterior motive here.
        You also fail to mention that Sripad Narayana Maharaja and all his followers disagree with your conclusions and firmly believe that Swami Maharaja was in madhurya-rasa. By the way I have read the book that you accuse me of not reading. I find that it is mostly simple conjecture with very little else. Even Guru Maharaja said that his opinion about Swami Maharaja being in sakhya-rasa was “conjecture” [speculation]. He never claimed to know for certain but he “conjectured” which is far from absolute certainty. Guru Maharaja based his opinion on one or two statements of Swami Maharaja. He had never gone through the whole body of works of Swami Maharaja. He simply heard a few lines from a poem. Those who are familiar students with the whole body of works of Swami Maharaja are far less hasty to make such as conclusion as to try and state with any certainty that Swami Maharaja was in sakhya-rasa.

        • If you read through the comments on this website on all the relevant articles, you will find people have made much more substantial arguments than you, and they have all been dealt with. Ultimately, no logic can overcome someone who does not want to be objective, but it can silence counter-arguments, which has been done very extensively in regard to this subject. My suspicion is that you have some affection or formal connection with Sripad Narayana Maharaja, and find the notion of a well-reasoned disagreement with him disturbing. This is what I was alluding to when I spoke of an ulterior motive. And my assumption here may be wrong, but it is based on numerous examples surrounding this discussion. Further, Swami Tripurari and Babhru himself within the book have offered a siddhantically-sound way to harmonize this tension. Tarun, for example, an initiated disciple of Sripada Naraya Maharaja, does not find his faith threatened when he acknowledges that there is a “mountain of evidence” for Srila Prabhupada’s sakhya-rati.

        • Still, you refuse to post and discuss the other statements of Guru Maharaja on the subject of Swami Maharaja’s rasa with Krishna. You just keep sidestepping the facts with arguments, criticisms and innuendo. Why not just publish the other statements of Guru Maharaja instead of making excuses that he was coerced or prodded into speaking other possibilities? Who has the right to conjecture about why Guru Maharaja said what he said with excuses that he was simply trying to harmonize with criticism coming from senior ISKCON men? Lord Brahma is in sakhya-rasa as the creator God of the universe, but internally he is a maidservant of Krishna. Swami Maharaja could very well have expressed sakhya-rasa sentiments as being more appropriate for his mission to bring Krishna consciousness to the western world and for doing battle with impersonalists and voidists. Still, just like Lord Brahma he could be externally in sakhya-rasa and internally in madhurya-rasa. We know that he did express sakhya-rasa sentiments in his poem. However, he was in preparation for his preaching mission in the western world and seeking empowerment from Lord Nityananda whom Guru Maharaja explained oversees all preaching outside of Brahmanical society. Without empowerment from Lord Nityananda no preacher will have authority to preach outside of Brahminical society.
          There is a very important discourse delivered by Guru Maharaja on this whole topic but for some reason your camp seems to prefer to ignore that important discourse and in fact discredit that discourse with accusations of coercion or as you say harmonizing with ISKCON mentality.
          Swami Maharaja had a male form in this world. It is only proper that he externally manifest sakhya-rasa sentiments in that form as the acharya of the western world. However, internally no one can really say with certainty that Swami Maharaja has a male form. In fact he could have a female form and that was also admitted by Guru Maharaja Sridhardev Goswami. Why discredit what has been admitted by Guru Maharaja with conjecture as to his reasoning or motivation for voicing those opinions?
          Just publish the other statements that you refuse to publish instead of making excuses. That would be the honorable and fair thing to do.

        • No excuses are being made here. Indeed I have told you the context of the statements of Sridhara Maharaja and provided the dates for the different statements, which you wrongly claim were made in the same conversation. You simply dismiss my explanation and posit ulterior motives. And again, the alternate explanation of Sridhara Maharaja has been brought up elsewhere on this site. The fact that some members of Iskcon complained about SM’s original statements and accused him of having ulterior motives for stating that Prabhupada was in sakhya rasa is also clear from his statements expressing astonishment and asking “Do they think it is a bad thing (sakhya rasa),” when he stated he thought it was a compliment. You simply do not know the history and do not want to learn it from those that do.

          Lord Brahma is in sakhya-rasa as the creator God of the universe, but internally he is a maidservant of Krishna

          This statement makes no spiritual sense. The position of Brahma is viewed differently by different devotees. VCT and Prabhupada place him in sakhya rasa BSST places him in gopi-hava. VCT and Prabhupada do so on the basis of the language of the Bhagavatam itself. BSST bases his opinion on the strength of the sampradaya’s prominent leaning in the direction of gopi-bhava.

          Swami Maharaja could very well have expressed sakhya-rasa sentiments as being more appropriate for his mission to bring Krishna consciousness to the western world and for doing battle with impersonalists and voidists.

          This statement also makes no spiritual sense. Nowhere in his detailed explanation of the ramifications of sakhya rasa does Sri Rupa state that sakhya rasa is more appropriate for preaching to impersonalists, etc. This is a silly idea that betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of rasananda.

          Swami Maharaja had a male form in this world. It is only proper that he externally manifest sakhya-rasa sentiments in that form as the acharya of the western world

          There is no support or such foolishness.

          However, internally no one can really say with certainty that Swami Maharaja has a male form.

          Many have said it including Prabhupada himself.

          In fact he could have a female form and that was also admitted by Guru Maharaja Sridhardev Goswami. Why discredit what has been admitted by Guru Maharaja with conjecture as to his reasoning or motivation for voicing those opinions?

          Yes, I admit that SM did leave that open for others to think this way. But there is no conjecture as to why he said what he did, only a statement of facts

        • Still, you refuse to publish the other statements that Guru Maharaja remarked about Swami Maharaja being shaktyavesha of Nityananda and that his sakhya-rasa bhava being Lord Nityananda coming through him. Why don’t you publish everything he said about the subject instead of just the parts that serve your purpose? Obviously, there must be some ulterior motive here.

          As Nitaisundara mentioned, this and more has all been discussed on the Harmonist. If you feel that you have more to contribute based on the words of Sridhara Maharaja, etc. or that O My Friend! is inconclusive, it would be helpful if you would publish a comprehensive. response. Earlier Dhanurdhara Maharaja did so and we published it and a lengthy discussion followed. Narayana Maharaja’s
          position on the issue has been presented and discussed at length as well. You seem to be a late comer to the discussion. And the particular article you object to was not published to establish that Prabhupada is in sakhya rasa. It was published as a glorification of Prabhupada on the part of Sridhara Maharaja, and it was complete unto itself. As I have pointed out, you wan to tie tie two different conversations separated by half a year together into one, and may I add, while ignoring the context of both.

          As for conjecture, this has its place. But the proper term to use is sastra-yukti. And those who have gone through the whole body of Prabhupada’s works will find all the things mentioned in O My Friend!. Again, if having gone through them yourself you have come to another conclusion, please present it. And incidentally, that is not what Narayana Maharaja did to reach his conclusion. You criticize and posit ulterior motives on the part of those who say on the basis on Prabhupada’s own words, those of Sirdhara Maharaja in context, Puri Goswami Maharaja, sound scriptural reasoning, etc., while pushing your own conjecture without the same support.

          You are entitled to your own opinion as to Prabhupada’s spiritual affinity, but in his poem aboard the Jaladutta in pursuit of empowerment for preaching he has clearly stated his affinity, his particular prema-proyojana. And he has done so elsewhere as well.

          But two difference between you an me are that while I disagree with Gaura Govinda Maharaja and Narayana Maharaja concerning my Gurudeva’s bhava, I do not question their motives for presenting their opinion and I have comprehensively supported my opinion. You disagree with me, but you question my motives and fail to offer any real support for your position other than one line from the Veda base out of context and a misunderstanding of the context surrounding Sridhara Maharaja’s statements on the subject. With regard to the latter you have considerable homework to do. With regard to the former you border the offensive.

  6. This “mountain of evidence” that Swami Maharaja was in sakhya-rasa is in my view a mole-hill. It seems that there is an effort here to make a mountain out of a mole-hill. That being said, I have no problem at all with Swami Maharaja being in sakhya-rasa. I wish there were good proof one way or the other but I think Swami Maharaja intentionally concealed all this. This mole-hill of evidence is a mountain of conjecture and that’s all. I wish your book dealing with this matter was conclusive and convincing but in fact it is simply speculation and not anything concrete. The reasons for Swami Maharaja expressing sakhya-rasa sentiments have long since been dealt with by Guru Maharaja. Despite Guru Maharaja’s final conclusion that the rasa of Swami Maharaja cannot be stated with any certainty you have gone on to the next level as if knowing more and better than Guru Maharaja. I don’t see you have sufficient evidence. I wish you did. Your book is conjecture and little else.
    We learn from bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu that the sage Narada represents the mixed rasas of sakhya and dasya rasa. However, that is in his form as Narada. We also learn from authorities that Narada has a gopi form as Naradi gopi in Goloka where he is in madhurya-rasa.
    I am not so convinced about your conclusions due to such examples as I have presented regarding Narada Muni and Naradi gopi.
    Your mountain of evidence is a mole-hill if we consider the nature of such personalities as Narada Muni.
    In my view Srila Prabhupada was very much a Narada Muni type of devotee. Therefore, I cannot accept your conclusions as final due to other factors which you refuse to include in your calculations.

    • If the mountain of evidence that Prabhupada is in sakhya rasa is a mole hill, the evidence that he is in madhurasa is a mustard seed. And you are entitled to your conjectures, despite the fact that you do not afford this courtesy to others even when such conjectures constitute a serious exercise in sastra yukti. And it is you who misrepresent Sridhara Deva Goswami. I take exception to that.

      Back to your ulterior motives theory, why did Narayana Maharaja not present all the evidence that Prabhupada was in sakhya rasa in his book about him being in madhurasa? Why did he ignore it all—every bit of it? His book is little more than conjecture based upon the fact that the sampradaya is predominantly a madhurasa sampradaya. Still, I do not question his motives and his conjecture does represent and exercise in sastra yukti, one much less compelling than O My Friend! in my opinion. At least O My Friend! acknowledges a madhurasa component of Prabupada’s reality and harmonizes it quite will with his sakhya rasa sentiments. So if you have no motives yourself, you should take at least equal if not more exception to Narayana Maharaja’s book. Do you?

      As for souls like Narada, they are parsadas of Bhagavan. My guru maharaja did not teach that he was a parsada. Such parsada’s are constituted of svarupa-sakti and their possibilities in lila are different from that of souls constituted otherwise. Still if you like to think of Prabhupada in this way, I have no objection. But with regard to Narada’s actual position, I would take Bhaktirasamrita-sindhu more seriously that stories about Narada gopi. Do you know where such stories have been written and supported by the Goswamis?

    • Vrajakumar,

      Srila Guru Maharaja’s serious statements regarding Srila Prabhupada in Sakya rasa were no less than astounding to everyone present in darshan with him at the time; thus your cavalier remarks on the matter along with your misrepresentation of their chronology and the political climate of the times prove that you were nowhere near Sridhara Maharaja when he made those remarks at Sri Caitanya Saraswati Math in 1981.

      Shortly afterwards Iskcon leaders objected to these statements and Guru Maharaja vigorously defended them citing Raghunatha dasa Goswami, remarking that Iskcon’s objections were tantamount to going “Where Angles Fear to Tread.”

      Later still, in a private conversation that I was not present for although I was at the Math at the time; (and there may not be a tape for—I certainly never heard one.) Sudhir Goswami told me that Srila Guru Maharaja had presented an alternative saying that Srila Prabhupada’s madurya sentiments may have been veiled by the empowerment of Nityananda and thus it was possible that he could be in Madurya rasa. Afterwards Srila Guru Maharaja said that he would not discuss the matter any more.

      Brahma dasa

    • Boy takes a day’s break from the ‘net, and this is what happens.

      You seem to be getting something from chanting the “molehill” mantra, but you haven’t actually advanced an argument yourself here. All you have done is express your opinion. There’s a big difference between the two. Since you keep hollering about out not having posted everything Srila Sridhara Maharaja said on the subject (and hollering mistakenly, as has been pointed out. for anything more you post here to have any legitimacy, you would have to deal with Sripad Narayana Maharaja’s failure to acknowledge any of the evidence we present in his booklet, as Swami suggests.

      As Nitaisundara says, we’ve dealt with the dozens of devotees who have objected to our thesis comprehensively, and happily. And we have also dealt just as happily with the hundreds of devotees, so many of Srila Prabhupada’s own disciples among them, and including devotees from pretty much every mission (including siksa and diksa disciples of Sripad Narayana Maharaja) who have expressed their appreciation for the work we’ve done in bringing all this evidence together. (And, believe me, there’s more to come.) So many devotees have found our case not just compelling but charming. (And more devotees than have objected have told us that they now have more solid evidence for what they already sensed, some going back to the ’60s.)

      I did not set out to write a Supreme Court brief, and I’m not making a case for proving Fermat’s last theorem. I never claim to have proved anything absolutely. My purpose was to glorify my eternal spiritual master using sastra yukti to the best of my ability. That you’re even thinking about it, albeit with a closed min, is something I find gratifying. That you won’t open your mind is something I find a little sad but not astonishing. And that you seize this offering of glorification of our spiritual master to stir up controversy for its own sake is something I find more than a little sad.

  7. As far as Narada being constituted of svarupa shakti and therefore a parshada of Krishna we cannot forget that he was previously the illegitimate son of a maidservant who got the blessings of Maha-Bhagavats and went on to become a nitya-siddha or actually a mixed siddha [sadhana/nitya siddha].
    As far as Swami Maharaja not being a nitya-siddha I would have to say that he seemed to indicate differently in his own writings as found in SB 2.3.15 purport. Please refresh your memory in this regard.
    Swami Maharaja taught that the sign of a nitya-siddha is that they are born in devotee families and develop devotional service from birth. He referred to his Gurudeva and himself as both having had that same opportunity.
    I don’t see how you can make the argument that Narada Muni is in any category of devotee higher than Swami Maharaja. In fact, Swami Maharaja himself inferred in his own writings that he and his spiritual master were both nitya-siddha Maha-Bhagavats.
    That you don’t consider Swami Maharaja as nitya-siddha Maha-Bhagavat is quite astounding. I would never have expected to hear you vent such feelings, but then again you never fail to surprise us with many things you say, do and write.

    Are you suggesting that Sripad Narayana Maharaja pulled this story of Naradi gopi from out of thin air? Is that what you think of his great scholarship and learning that is undoubtedly far beyond your own? Again, why should we be surprised at anything you bold to state?

    Swami Maharaja is no less than Narada Muni. Please let me quote his own words:
    Madhya 24-258 purport –
    “The spiritual master, being in the disciplic succession stemming from Narada Muni, is in the same category with Narada Muni. A person can be relieved from his sinful activity if he surrenders to the lotus feet of a person who actually represents Narada Muni.”

    As well, we know from the Gaudiya texts that Narada Muni in his form as Srivasa Pandit of the Panca-tattva is classified as “marginal tatastha shakti”. I don’t think you can present any proper shastric evidence to support your claim that Narada Muni is in fact of the svarupa-shakti. In fact I think you are quite mistaken about all this.

    • You misunderstand what Prabhupada has written about himself in his purport to SB 2.3.15. He has stated the opposite of your understanding. Therein he has described himself as one born in he family of transcendentalists, as he has elsewhere. This is opposed to being born in a pious family. Both types of birth are mentioned in the sixth chapter of the Gita. Prabhupada is referring to the rarer birth wherein one is born in the family of Vaisnavas. Still some feel that he was a nitya siddha parsada, etc. And this purport could be construed to be identifying Prabhupada as a nitya siddha. I do not object to that, but to say that he expressly taught us that is simply not true. And I believe that he more readily taught that he was a sadhana siddha. But it would be interesting to collect al the evidence and examine it.

      But you make the mistake of describing nitya siddha as higher devotees than sadhana siddhas, as if to say that I have labled my guru a lower devotee. I am uncomfortable with that and I do not think it is warranted. Prabhupada definitely did not teach that and he states this in the purport you cited. The two are different, no doubt. I could see how one could argue that the nitya siddha ragatmika is higher in that such devotees are to be followed by sadhana siddhas. Then again Sanatana Goswami has argued that the sadhana siddhas are better because their love has been tested! So I prefer not to look at one as higher than the other. Both are siddha, that’s all. And that is how Prabhupada dealt with the issue.

      Regarding Narada, he is a complex figure. Indeed Jiva Goswmai comments in Krama-sandarbha that sometime jivas take the post of Narada! In that section of the text (SB 1.5) he is referred to as Bhagavan. At any rate I personally do not see my guru to be like Narada or other paradimatic figures of the Bhagavatam that follow Bhagavan in his various avataras appearing in numerous forms and expanding into different personalities in different rasas. But you are wrong to think that this means I think less of him than you do.

      Unfortunately I find only party spirit, argumentativeness, and unsupported accusations in your posts, not real spiritual interest. I do not think such posts are in your spiritual interest. You accuse me of criticizing Narayana Maharaja because I stated that I had not seen any clear reference to Narda gopi anywhere. Had I known that Narayana Mahraja had stated this I might have looked at it differently. I did not know he had. Still I would like to see a scriptural reference for it, but that does not in any way mean that I have no respect of the scholarship of Narayana Maharaja.

      In conclusion I have no interest in continuing to discuss with you. Think whatever you like.

      • Maharaja, bravo for such a tight closing statement. You have carried Guru Maharaja’s mood and thinking very nicely here. As he exhibited, real spiritual discourse depends upon correct mood, realization and spiritual thinking, as well as siddhanta, most of which I find lacking in the case of the opposing parties statements above!

    • I have heard a story several times over the years that when asked about his previous birth, Srila Prabhupada said that he was a very pious doctor. One recollection is presented here: Hari das Prabhu: “One day Prabhupada was alone in his room. Usually he was quiet, but this day he was laughing and talking with himself. I went by his room and inquired, “Srila Prabhupada, why are you laughing?” Prabhupada said, “The reason I was laughing was that I just remembered my past life.” Then I asked, “So, Prabhupada, what was your past life?” He replied, “I was a medical person and I had not committed any sin. I had a guru. I was fanning my Guru Maharaja and he could see in the rain that there was one snake and he make me go kill that snake.” Then he said, “Now I remember why my Guru Maharaja made me kill that snake, so I had to take birth again in this life to save so many snakes like all of you.”
      This quote is taken from DVD #30 Memories Series of Videos by Shriman Siddhanta das Prabhu (or vol. 3 of the books), an interview with Shriman Hari das Prabhu of Hare Krishna Land. This event took place in Srila Prabhupada’s quarters Hare Krishna Land, Bombay around 1976.

      The disciples are typically very eager to glorify their guru. That is only natural. But I’m not sure that SP himself was floating the idea of him being a nitya siddha.

      • In his commentary on Bg 6.42, the verse that describes the almost mature yogi/devotee that takes birth in a family of transcendentalists having not finished his spiritual culture, Prabhupada identifies himself as such a devotee.

  8. Thanks for posting the article, it has stirred something in me which compels me to voice a few doubts.
    I deeply respect the feelings of all followers of Shrila Prabhupada, and I also have a lot of respect for both Shrila Prabhupada and the author of the article Shrila Shridhar Maharaj.

    The following may be very provocative, and it may sound offensive to some readers. When a devotee expressed his doubts regarding Shri Nityananda to Shri Chaitanya, Shri Chaitanya explained to him patiently the glories of Shri Nityananda Prabhu. Like that I am also expressing doubts about Srila Prabhupada, I will be happy if someone can clear them.

    Well, I am not really convinced that Shrila Prabhupada is a shaktyavesha avatar. The work he did was certainly momentous .The books he authored the world wide movement he led, temples he built and making Krishna Consciousness accessible to all is no small feat. He touched the hearts of so many people.
    Even now, he continuous to be a source of inspiration to millions(myself included).

    When I first read his books, I felt in my heart this person really knows Shri Krishna and serving Shri Krishna is his only goal of life, and even now I feel the same way when I read his books.

    But I also see some anomalies which I cannot explain, and this may be because of certain experiences I had when I was actively involved in an ISKCON community.

    I will describe my experience which led me to question this which may help the readers understand my viewpoint. I have met many so called “senior devotees” who gave spiritual guidance to me. They told me what is best for my spiritual life and when I practiced it, it had a negative effect on me. I never knew what was going wrong, until I met a sagacious matured devotee whose advice worked for me. And then I could see clearly, the so called “senior devotees” and “councellors” were simply giving advice based on some passage in the scripture or some lecture they had heard. Most devotees who give such guidance never even think twice what effect their words will have on others lives, and IMO this is irresponsible. So I feel some anger against these people who don’t really know what they are talking about and giving spiritual life coaching to others(of course everyone is not like that). They are good for being friends, but not as guides.

    But what about Shrila Prabhupada ? Did he give instructions with great care? or did he simply read it out from some book or some outdated research ?

    He had devotees work round the clock to get the CC volumes out, the devotees worked themselves so much for him. Did he really have their welfare in his mind or is it that he didn’t care and just wanted the books out. If he was alive, could I really trust him? Is he actually my ever well wisher or is it that he just wants to expand the movement at any cost, just like those ” senior devotees” and “councellors”.

    He gave sannyasa to those whom shouldn’t have been given sannyasa. Some of the decisions he took, did affect negatively, the spiritual lives of many. I don’t think it was possible for him to give personalized instructions to all of his disciples, so then why did he take that much responsibility? All these projects to expand the movement came with a great cost.

    The culture in the Hare Krishna movement is mostly about preaching. Almost all the devotees I have met in the Hare Krishna movement only desire to spread Krishna Consciousness, it seems nobody wants to understand, who actually is Shri Krishna. ( Of course this cannot be generalized, I have met only a small sample, but still the culture is very visible).
    So in one sense isn’t Shrila Prabhupada responsible for at least some part of this?

    The activities of an avatar are always auspicious for everyone, so when we see such anomalies, how can we say for certain he is a saktyavesha avatar?

    His books and his personality are a great source of inspiration to me, but because of these doubts I also feel little angry and fearful.

    I would appreciate any thoughts on this subject matter.



    • Bhusan-ji, I understand your inner turmoil over these issues. Many devotees who have never met Srila Prabhupada experience similar doubts. I can share with you some of my understanding of these issues.
      1. SP instructions worked well for some disciples, and less well for others. On one hand he had a very sweet personality that many people found more important (and more convincing) than philosophy, on other hand he was very demanding that his disciples accept Krsna consciousness exactly the way he was presenting it, which was hard for many to swallow (famous example was the Moon controversy, which caused lots of devotees to leave Iskcon). That was just his way of preaching, which overall was a great success.
      2. SP had a great faith in the power of the Holy Name and the process of KC. That is why he gave sannyasa to the otherwise completely unfit disciples. He was hoping they will be purified. SP always expected miracles in preaching, like they were something extremely common. And many miracles did indeed happen, but clearly not in every case.
      3. The way I understand him being a shaktyavesa avatar is that without this special empowerment from Krsna this Western expansion of Mahaprabhu’s movement would have never happened. He received special powers to make it happen.

      Srila Prabhupada is a real person, with all kinds of natural complexities. We should keep in mind the following verse (NOI 6):
      “Being situated in his original Krishna conscious position, a pure devotee does not identify with the body. Such a devotee should not be seen from a materialistic point of view. Indeed, one should overlook a devotee’s having a body born in a low family, a body with a bad complexion, a deformed body, or a diseased or infirm body. According to ordinary vision, such imperfections may seem prominent in the body of a pure devotee, but despite such seeming defects, the body of a pure devotee cannot be polluted. It is exactly like the waters of the Ganges, which sometimes during the rainy season are full of bubbles, foam and mud. The Ganges waters do not become polluted. Those who are advanced in spiritual understanding will bathe in the Ganges without considering the condition of the water.”

      • Kula-pavanaji,

        Thank you for the insightful reply and especially the ending verse. This is digressing from the topic a bit but probably it will add to my understanding.

        2. SP had a great faith in the power of the Holy Name and the process of KC. That is why he gave sannyasa to the otherwise completely unfit disciples. He was hoping they will be purified. SP always expected miracles in preaching, like they were something extremely common. And many miracles did indeed happen, but clearly not in every case.

        This is extremely interesting and probably this is something which is difficult for me to accept.
        This idea of formulaic miracles/grace i.e. execution of some formulas( 16 rounds, preaching etc etc) will guarantee a seat in Goloka for me is hard to swallow. Like taking risks for Shri Krishna makes one noticeable in the eyes of Shri Krishna. ( To be on the fair side, I have heard stories from reliable people that Shri Krishna did respond in some cases.)

        I have met many devotees who believed that if they chanted the 16 rounds, followed the principles stayed in association of devotees they would go back to Godhead. I have even heard of stories of Shrila Prabhupada making a separate spiritual planet for his followers and that he has given some concession that his followers need to be only 50% Krishna Conscious to be given entrance to the spiritual world.

        Of course these stories are simply stories, to give people hope that their future will be secure if they execute the formulas. Yes it is true that pleasing a pure devotee please Shri Krishna, but the best way to please a saint is to actually become a saint( or at least try ones best).

        So I dismiss the proponents of these stories as snake oil salesmen(almost all proponents, are actually, well meaning and friendly and want to share something they believe in).

        In some conversations/lectures of SP when I read this formulaic kind of arguments, one hand I cannot dismiss them as attempt to sell me snake oil, but then they don’t seem to make much sense either.

        So they way I reconcile them is that, maybe Shrila Prabhupada is just speaking those things as that occasion demands it, maybe the attendees needed to hear that at that time.

        In the books, his purports are very logical( the SB) and systematic, there isn’t any formulaic magic, rather he discusses principles and concepts.

        What do you think, about some of these formulaic instructions of Shrila Prabhupada? Do you think he said them, because maybe the disciples needed that, at that time? Or did he really believe that these formulaic things could miraculously give results?

        What I mean by formulaic things is: The 4 principles, 16 rounds, attending morn program, distributing books etc etc, done in a formula based ritualistic manner in the expectation of some spiritual rewards after death/future.

        Thanks again.


        • Bhusan-ji, the formulaic things you talk about are a very good thing in the beginning. They are inspirational and simplify very complex things, making them accessible to fairly simple people. And a good part of SP audience consisted of rather unsophisticated people. It was a matter of ‘present necessity’. He also laid down the more detailed and sophisticated requirements for his followers, expecting them to eventually mature and discover the ‘complex truth’. Too bad some of his disciples did not mature, and after all these years they still only pay attention to the ‘simplified truth’.

        • Bhushan ji,
          Most people have told that there was a difference between meeting SP personally and just knowing him first hand. So perhaps we will never know about SP completely because every disciple gives a different version of him according to their mood. At least we know that he is responsible for our exposure to Gaudiya Vaisnavism. Whether, we don’t completely agree with his preaching is a different matter. We need some exposure before even trying to know what will resonate with our heart. If you want you can email me at and we can stay in touch.

    • Yajavara Maharaja and Sridhara Maharaja did refer to Prabhupada in this way. But Sirdhara Maharaja also explained what he meant. Nityananda Prabhu empowered SP at some point and for some time—Nityananda avesa. We find this kind of empowerment in Cc as well in the case of Nakula Brahmacari, who was “filled with the presence of Mahaprabhu” and is described therein as “Caitanya avesa.” However, Nakula Brahmacari is not added to the list of saktyavesa avataras or referred to as such in any commentary on Cc or elsewhere. Maybe he should be, but I would be hesitant to add Prabhupada to this list. There are two types of saktyavesa, direct (saksad) and indirect (vibhuti). The avesa of Prabhupada is clearly not indirect. This kind of avesa is a reference to powerful manifestations of nature that are said to represent Krsna, as found in the tenth chapter of the Gita. Direct empowerment refers to empowerment with a particular sakti of Bhagavan, such as his ruling sakti (palana sakti) in the case of Prthu. The presence of Nityananda in Prabhupada on the other hand is not empowerment of a devotee with a particular sakti of Bhagavan, but rather the presence of Bhagavan Nityananda within him. That’s no small thing, but . . .

      Perhaps what I am really expressing is that I feel uncomfortable with the way in which the term saktyavesa avatara is sometimes used by fanatical devotees in reference to Prabhupada. I think it is abused, especially when it is accompanied by vilification of Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja. I have no doubt that Prabhupada was empowered by Nityananda Prabhu to preach in the West, but devotees tend to abuse this idea and almost make Prabhupada out to be God. I feel very uncomfortable with this. Just had to get that out.

      But Bhushan, I don’t think your assessment or concern is valid. The overwhelming sense of all of his disciples who met him personally was that he loved them more than anyone they had ever met. Indeed, he gave them a new new meaning to love. He pushed them, or was pushed to push them, and something extraordinary was accomplished. The fact that there may be a relative downside to this should not take away from to absolute upside. In the larger picture it is all good. Krsna pushed Arjuna to kill his relatives and engage in a fratricidal war. And some people criticize him for it and on this basis dismiss the Gita altogether or question his divinity.

  9. I would like to admit that in fact I do believe that Srila Prabhupada did express sakhya-rasa sentiments on a number of occasions. However, my view of these expressions are different than the view of some others. I think Srila Prabhupada did at times prefer to lead his disciples to think that in fact he was in sakhya-rasa. It’s hard to argue against that. Obviously, it worked. However, I do not think that Srila Prabhupada ever wanted or expected that a section of his disciples would compile a book to try and prove definitively that Srila Prabhupada was in sakhya-rasa eternally and exclusively. I don’t think Srila Prabhupada approves of the book or the friction it causes among his followers.
    My view is that Srila Prabhupada did in fact express sakhya-rasa in the mood of guardianship of his movement being turned into a gopi-bhava club that did not accommodate any other rasa. We know that Guru Maharaja Sridhardev Goswami is known as the guardian of devotion but in fact I don’t consider Swami Maharaja as any less of the guardian of madhurya-rasa from the sahajiyas and neophyte interlopers.
    That is my thought on the matter. Sure, Swami Maharaja led some to believe he was a cowherd boy in sakhya-rasa. But, we learn from the teachings of Srila Rupa Goswami that in fact all the subordinate rasas are contained in madhurya-rasa. As such, the gopis are not only lovers of Krishna but also friends of Krishna as well. The gopis feel conjugal love and friendship with Krishna. Therefore, a devotee in conjugal rasa can manifest sakhya-rasa at any time as a part of the conjugal rasa.
    That Srila Prabhupada expressed sakhya-rasa at any given time does not preclude him from ultimately being in madhurya-rasa. To take the sakhya-rasa expressions of Srila Prabhupada and thus eliminate him from the group of conjugal lovers is in fact not possible according to the science of rasa inasmuch as the sakhya-rasa is contained within and is a part of the madhurya-rasa of conjugal love.

    • In his poem aboard the Jaladutta, Srila Prabhupada prays for the sakti/empowerment/avesa to fulfill the desire of his Gurudeva for worldwide preaching, and then upon completing this seva to enter Sri Krsna’s cowherding-lila. Syamarani has suggested that this poem can be understood in light of the gopis such as Radharani having sakhya-bhava within their madhurya-bhava. Although it could be said that Sri Radha may at times desire fraternal love with Sri Krsna and that her manjaris may also taste this through their complete identification with her bhava, no manjari or devotee engaged in bhajana to attain manjari-bhava would pray fervently, as my Gurudeva has, for the day when she could spend the entire day wandering with Krsna, herding the cows, and frolicking with him in the forest. The mood expressed in this poem is simply inconsistent with the nature of a manjari, despite the fact that sakhya-bhava is contained within madhurya. And of course manjaris characteristically avoid any direct interaction with Krsna. They aspire only to serve Radha. Prabhupada’s prayer is in the mood of bhajana and expresses an aspiration for sakhya rasa. If we look at him as a sadhana siddha pining for manjari bhava, this prayer is simply inconsistent with manjari-bhava upasana. To say that he is a nitya siddha and that this prayer in his private moments is part of an elaborate deception aimed at guarding madhurya rasa from being misunderstood is as stretch to say the least. And for that matter, how does pretending to be in sakhya rasa or even being in sakhya rasa protect one’s students from misunderstanding madhurya rasa? And Prabhupada did directly teach the truth concerning madurya rasa anyway, just as every other acaryas has. He was not particularly madhurya light in his presentation, although rasa light in general. Sahajiyaism also is not exclusive to madhurya rasa. Prabhupada sought to protect his disciples from this pitfall of taking rasananda cheaply, be it sakhya rasa or any other rasa. Nonetheless in the context of doing so his own bhava expressed itself for the discerning follower.

      And any further detailed study of Prabhupada’s expressions of sakhya rasa make it clear that they are not expressions of sakhya within madhurya. However, it is clear that his expressions of madhurya do fit perfectly within his sakhya. The priyanarma sakha’s sakhya bhava includes a madhurya component. For this reason and others the book O My Friend is an important one—in order that such distinctions can be made clear, especially when other books had already been published positing different conclusions that do not fit with the evidence. One who takes exception to the publishing of O My Friend must also take exception with Gauravani Pracarine being published, that is if they care to be consistent and objective and not suspect.

      Finally, why insist on subsuming the prominent sakhya rasa of Prabhupada within madhurya rasa when it is beautiful unto itself and consistent with siddhanta and tradition, especially when attempting to do so is obviously not the most parsimonious approach. Such efforts betray an agenda.

    • Vrajakumar108 wrote,

      However, I do not think that Srila Prabhupada ever wanted or expected that a section of his disciples would compile a book to try and prove definitively that Srila Prabhupada was in sakhya-rasa eternally and exclusively.

      This is the definition of the straw-man fallacy: Mischaracterize the other side, then argue against that fake position. Very transparent. Both in the book itself and in so many places over the last couple of years, including my last post, I have stated explicitly that there is no pretense that this is definitive proof of anything. Neither, however, is it idle speculation. We used sastra and Vaishnava history to see if we could discern the sense in the pattern of evidence that had made itself apparent. That’s called sastra yukti, analysis on the basis of scripture. If you can show me any place I claim to offer definitive proof, I will happily apologize for these remarks. Otherwise, I think you owe those on this forum an apology. trinad api sunicena . . .

      As far as the other odd things you offer as possible reasons for the evidence I have compiled and analyzed in this booklet, it is all speculation, some of perhaps bordering on the offensive. And none of it actually supported by sastra, beyond what Swami has conceded in his reply. Moreover, you’d be foolish to think that we did not consider all these points beforehand; I addressed those that we felt had merit in the booklet.

      And none of this is your original speculation, either. These are the same objections trotted out by those from your group for a long time. And it may interest you to know that a good many members of that group not only do not object to this book but find it charming, even convincing.

      I would be interested to see if you have any actual evidence from guru, sadhu, and sastra that demonstrate that my spiritual master’s eternal bhava is not that of a cowherd boy, as he himself said. Otherwise, I have difficulty seeing how you are really arguing at all; rather, it seems, you feel a need to bicker based on some perceived sectarian perspective.

  10. My personal feeling about the whole issue of Swami Prabhupada’s rasa is that without his revealing his specific name and other qualities as was apparently done by Srila Saraswati Thakur, it should be obvious that he was keeping his svarupa a secret from everyone. That being said, we can assume that Srila Swami Prabhupada did not want his rasa to be conjectured about in the way that the “Oh My Friend” book has done. If in fact he was svarupa-siddha and in full knowledge of that he did not reveal details but only expressed some friendly mood towards Krishna at a certain stage of his spiritual life which was progressive as is all spirituality. I think it should be left at that. I don’t feel that the book “Oh My Friend” was appropriate or authorized in any way by higher authorities. Just as Srila Prabhupada rejected Satsvarupa’s request to do his biography on two different occasions, we can assume with full confidence that Prabhupada would never have personally sanctioned any book that attempts to speculate on his rasa with Krishna based upon the very scanty evidence that he expressed or revealed. There is no known precedent in all of the Gaudiya history of the disciples of an acharya having to speculate and conjecture about the svarupa of the acharya that was otherwise never revealed by the acharya himself.
    The conclusions of “Oh My Friend” might every well be spot on. That does not however authenticate or validate that Srila Prabhupada would have ever approved of the gathering together of all these things to be presented in a book and distributed widely. It’s not so much that I disagree with the conclusions of the book as I disagree with the compiling, publishing and distribution of the book. I think the contents of the book should have at most remained the personal research and conclusions of the authors to be kept in private, not for public distribution to the world at large.
    My personal feelings is that Swami Prabhupada could very well have been in sakhya-rasa. At the same time, I think he could very well have been ultimately in madhurya-rasa. I am not convinced perfectly of either possibility. The book “Oh My Friend” has not swung me to the author’s conclusion. However, my feelings as well is that it is just something that a disciple should keep within his own heart and not something that should be written about in an effort to convince others that a small handful of disciples have copious evidence of something that Srila Prabhupada never directly expressed or revealed with any degree of certainty.
    The bottom line for me concerning this whole issue is not so much that I feel that “Oh My Friend” has promoted an erroneous conclusion as much as I feel it has invaded a private space in Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual legacy that he did not want delved that deeply into.
    If the authors of “Oh My Friend” were just doing research for their personal curiosity that is not so objectionable as is their efforts to publish their findings and convince others of their conclusions.

    And, As Swami Tripurari Maharaja has stated, I should just as equally disagree with all the papers and publications on the other side of the coin by Syamarani etc. trying to establish Srila Prabhupada as in madhurya rasa. I don’t think either side should be publishing their findings and conclusions on this matter but rather keeping such opinions and views privately to themselves. It’s not anything that should be made a public spectacle over as it has been.
    In my arguments I was not promoting that Swami Prabhupada was in madhurya-rasa as much as I was promoting that the possibility exists. Like Sivarama Swami has stated, I have not come to any perfect conclusion or opinion on the issue. For all I know Srila Prabhupada could have been in dasya-rasa aspiring to ascend to sakhya-rasa. None of us known any of this with any good certainty. It is conjecture and speculation on both sides of the issue. I am not on either side. I am a fence setter. I am setting on the fence and saying that the whole debate is unpleasing to Srila Prabhupada and improper for on either side of the campaign. I am not ultimately on either side despite any appearances to the contrary.
    Neither am I convinced by Sripad Narayan Maharaja’s statements that he knows within himself that Swami Prabhupada was in madhurya-rasa. He may very well have been. He may very well have been in sakhya-rasa. I don’t see enough evidence of direct revelation by Swami Prabhupada to believe that an argument should be made concerning either side. I believe that the whole issue should have been taboo inasmuch as Swami Maharaja never directly revealed his svarupa or the details of his name, location, dress, ornaments etc. in Krishna lila.

    Nobody will ever convince me that “Oh My Friend” would have ever been approved by Swami Prabhupada for publication and distribution. Neither would he have approved of the anti-party’s opposing propaganda.
    When a disciple of Prabhupada can come forward and declare that he has realized his own svarupa and is therefor qualified to reveal the svarupa of Swami Maharaja, then I might be willing to listen if the disciple has the credibility of being so advanced.
    Until then, I will set on the fence unless and until the day comes when Swami Prabhupada appears to me in his spiritual form and reveals himself to me.
    I apologize for any offenses that I may have committed in posting on this topic of the Harmonist. I think this post expresses my true intentions the most despite any appearance that I was try to establish that Swami Prabhupada was in madhurya rasa. I was simply trying to state that the possibility exists as far as I am concerned and I do not agree with the conclusions of “Oh My Friend”.

    Syamarani and Narayana Maharaja made some good points in their counter propaganda that should well be considered before one jumps to any hasty conclusion as the authors of “Oh My Friend” have done.
    That being said, neither side has enough evidence as far as I am concerned that justifies either conclusion being postulated by either of the parties in this debate.

    I don’t disagree with either side. I just disagree that the whole issue ever came up for public consumption.
    That being said, I think it is only appropriate that I now cease participating any further in the discussion.
    I thank you for your kind consideration to allow me to post on your web page. This is my final word on the matter. Best wishes to all!

    • My personal feeling about the whole issue of Swami Prabhupada’s rasa is that without his revealing his specific name and other qualities as was apparently done by Srila Saraswati Thakur, it should be obvious that he was keeping his svarupa a secret from everyone.

      There is no evidence that BSST revealed the details of his svarupa. Based on a particular letter to Kunja Baba some disciples cenjectured that his name was Nayanamani-manjari and he did not object to their idea. No other details were “revealed” externally. Indeed, BSST was for the most part against the idea of such detailed external revelation that was common at the time and more often than not constituted sham. Still it was of course clear that he was in madhurya rasa, as is Rupa Goswami and so many others. Otherwise, O My Friend details the extent to which Prabhupada himself externally did reveal his sentiment for sakhya rasa. It should be obvious that when Prabhupda said that “My Guru Maharaja is a gopi but I am a cowherd boy,” that he is in sakhya rasa and that he gave his disciples the direction as to where to look for him in Krsna-lila, leaving the details to be realized within. So he revealed this much externally and repeatedly, as O My Friend detials, not more. Those are the facts. You speculation contradicts them. And to say that one’s guru is in a particular rasa is about as broad of an explanation of his or her prayojana as one can give. Such broad, general explanations are everywhere in Gaudiya Vaisnaviasm. It is the details that are often kept more undercover.

      I don’t feel that the book “Oh My Friend” was appropriate or authorized in any way by higher authorities.

      By this you reveal that you do not consider me a higher authority, and by stating that you do not think Narayana Maharaja’s book should have been printed, I can assume that you do not consider him a higher authority either. Gaura Govinda Maharaja also is said to have publicly taken a stance on Prabhupda’s svarupa and for that matter so did Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja. He celarly gave his personal opinion and made it public. One can only question who you consider to be a higher authority since none of the above mentioned had no problem with discussing this subject publicly, not even Prabhupada himself, as O My Friend demonstrates.

      There is no known precedent in all of the Gaudiya history of the disciples of an acharya having to speculate and conjecture about the svarupa of the acharya that was otherwise never revealed by the acharya himself.

      You seem to be unfamiliar with the writing of Kavi Karnapur. His Gaura-ganoddessa-dipika is the model followed in O My Friend—an exercise in sastra-yukti that spiritually conjectures as to the Krsna-lila svarupas of Mahaprabhu’s associates on the basis of external evidence and the insights of their followers. Kavi Karnapura has made the nature of his exercise in this book clear within the book itself. It involved collecting evidence and testimony. You might also read Sri Narayana Maharaja’s biography of his guru Pujyapada B.P. Kesava Maharaja, where NM explains how he and others disciples determined to their satisfaction KM’s svarupa on the basis of external evidence. When Sridhara Maharaja was asked what he meant when he said Swami Maharaja and I are not one, he replied, that he considered SP to be inclined toward sakhya rasa and himself toward madhurya rasa. What other or definitive evidence do we have that SM is madhurya rasa? He did not externally reveal any details about his svarupa, yet all of his disciples place him in madhurya rasa and no one takes any exception to this public position, including you.

      However, my feelings as well is that it is just something that a disciple should keep within his own heart and not something that should be written about in an effort to convince others that a small handful of disciples have copious evidence of something that Srila Prabhupada never directly expressed or revealed with any degree of certainty.

      The book merely collects all that SP said on the subject. From there it points to a rather obvious conclusion. And while you are free to think as you like, many, many disciples of SP disagree and have found inspiration and confirmation in the book.

      For all I know Srila Prabhupada could have been in dasya-rasa aspiring to ascend to sakhya-rasa. None of us known any of this with any good certainty.

      Rupa Goswami does not teach that one ascends through different rasas, first attaining dasya, then sakhya, etc. He teaches that a sthayi-bhava for one of these rasas will awaken in the devotee’s heart in bhava bhakti and that this bhava will be cultivated in bhava-bhakti leading to prema in the rasa that the sthayi-bhava is in. Otherwise you can only speak for yourself as to your own unknowing in this matter. You make it clear that you don’t know but you cannot credibly conclude on the basis of your own ignorance that no on else knows.

      Syamarani and Narayana Maharaja made some good points in their counter propaganda that should well be considered before one jumps to any hasty conclusion as the authors of “Oh My Friend” have done.

      Actually all of their points were addressed in O My Friend and thus their “rebuttal” causes one to question how well, if at all, they even read O My Friend!

  11. I would disagree with your interpretation of sthayi-bhava. Sthayi-bhava means that one has a permanent foundation in his heart from which no digression can occur. It does not mean that no higher evolution can ever awaken in the devotee. It means that the attainment is a permanent part of the devotee’s heart just as sakhya-rasa is a permanent and eternal part of madhurya-rasa.

    Swami Prabhupada’s teaches that rasa evolves in stages as did Srila Rupa Goswami:
    TLC. ch.1
    “The transcendental rasas, or relationships, can be divided into five. The initial stage is called śānta-rati, wherein one who is liberated from material contamination appreciates the greatness of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One who attains this stage does not exactly engage in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, for this is a neutral stage. In the second stage, which is called dāsya-rati, a person appreciates his position as being everlastingly subordinate to the Supreme Lord, and he understands that he is eternally dependent on the causeless mercy of the Supreme Person. At that same time there is an awakening of natural affection, such as is felt by a son who grows up and begins to appreciate his father’s benedictions. At this stage the living entity wants to serve the Supreme Lord instead of serving māyā, illusion. In the third stage, called sakhya-rati, transcendental love is developed, and one associates with the Supreme on an equal level of love and respect. As this stage is further developed, there is joking and such relaxed exchanges as laughing and so on. On this level there are fraternal exchanges with the Supreme Person, and one is free from all bondage. At this stage one practically forgets his inferior position as a living entity, but at the same time he has the greatest respect for the Supreme Person.
    In the fourth stage, called vātsalya-rati, the fraternal affection evinced in the preceding stage develops into paternal affection. At this time the living entity tries to be the parent of God. Instead of worshiping the Lord, the living entity, as a parent of the Supreme, becomes an object of worship for the Supreme Person. At this stage the Lord depends on the mercy of His pure devotee and puts Himself under the control of the devotee to be raised. The devotee in this stage attains the position wherein he can embrace the Supreme Lord and even kiss His head. In the fifth stage, called madhura-rati, there is an actual transcendental exchange of conjugal love between the lover and the beloved. It is at this stage that Kṛṣṇa and the damsels of Vraja glanced at one another, for on this platform there is an exchange of loving glances, motions of the eyes, pleasant words, attractive smiles, etc.”

    Sthayi-bhava is not the rasa of the devotee. It is the foundation upon which the rasa can evolve. Rasa is always evolving in stages until it reaches the zenith in madhurya-rasa

    “When one actually becomes situated on the transcendental platform, he becomes steady. Unless one is so situated, his position may not be steady and he may fall down. When one is actually situated transcendentally, there is no fear of falling down. This stage of understanding is technically called sthāyi-bhāva. There are even stages beyond this position, and they are known as vibhāva, anubhava, sāttvika and vyabhicārī. After one attains these, there is actually an exchange of rasa, or transcendental activity with the Supreme Lord. This exchange in loving reciprocation between the lover and the beloved is generally called kṛṣṇa-bhakti-rasa. It should be noted that the transcendental loving exchanges stand on the steadfast position of sthāyi-bhāva, as explained before. The basic principle of vibhāva is sthāyi-bhāva, and all other activities are auxiliary for the development of transcendental love.”
    TLC ch.1

    Sthayi bhava is not the rasa with Krishna. It is the platform upon which eternal rasa evolves.
    Srila Prabhupada, based upon the teachings of Mahaprabhu to Srila Rupa Goswami, has shown how rasa evolves in the devotee from the foundation of sthayi bhava unless and until that devotee attains the topmost platform of madhurya rasa.
    This is the teaching of Mahaprabhu as given to Srila Rupa Goswami.
    Rasa evolves in stages. That is a fact of Gaudiya siddhanta.

    Swami Prabhupada certainly taught that rasa in the heart of the devotee evolves in stages and this cannot be denied if we study his teachings.
    Swami Prabhupada also taught that when the followers of Nityananda Prabhu come in connection with Mahaprabhu they too become elevated to the platform of madhurya-rasa from the platform of sakhya-rasa.
    This is in his books. I am sure you are well aware of the reference.

    • The reason I said that Rupa Goswami does not teach that one evolves through different rasa is because he does not. There is absolutely no evidence for this idea anywhere in Brs. And we are to understand Prabhupada in light of Rupa Goswami. Thus it is clear that in the excerpt of Srila Prabhupada you have cited he is merely saying that each rasa builds upon the other in that whatever is in daysa, for example, is in sakhya plus more, etc. He is not teaching that one evolves through different rasas to reach one’s destination in a particular rasa. Indeed, the excerpt you cite from TLC to support your misunderstanding corresponds with the 19th chapter of the Madhya-lila. TLC is basically a reiteration of Cc. In Madhya 19 you will see that Mahaprabhu explains to Sri Rupa that each rasa contains within in that which is found in the lower rasas plus more. Thus a gradation of rasa is being explained, not an evolution of the jiva through different rasas in pursuit of finality in one. Thus although the English in the excerpt you cite may lend itself (kind of) to the misinterpretation of siddhanta that you have arrived at, when we look at the source material it is representing (both Rupa Goswami and Cc), we can understand it properly. Again, it is merely teaching that each rasa contains that found in the previous rasa plus something of its own—a gradation in the quality of rasa and not an evolution of the jiva through different rasas. Remember also that the cultivation of one rasa does not lead the the experience of another. What one cultivates in one’s practicing life is what one experiences in perfection. This is the siddhanta.

      Sthayi-bhava is the basis of rasa, but this means that it must be in place in oder for one to taste rasa. Once it is in place and the other ingredients of rasa are also assembled, one can taste rasa. The basic sthayi-bhavas are santa, dasya, sakhya, and madhurya. They appear in two states, a budding stage in bhava bhakti and a mature stage as svarupa siddhi is attained. It is not that one attains dasya rasa and then evolves to sakhya rasa once one attains rasa in the context of svarupa siddhi. No, one tastes rasa in a siddha deha in Krsna lila internally and then externally in the prakata lila. We are not to think that after attaining rasa in dasya in the requisite svaupa that one changes ones svarupa—one’s spiritual body and identity in the lila—into another identity with another set of parents or undergoes a sex change or whatever to move from sakhya to madhurya and so on.

      Furthermore your misunderstanding states that one evolves in rasa until reaching madhurya rasa. You state,

      rasa evolves in the devotee from the foundation of sthayi bhava unless and until that devotee attains the topmost platform of madhurya rasa.

      If this were so we would expect all sakhya rasa upasikas, etc. to eventually become gopis. In other words we are still waiting for the Brihad-bhagavatamrita to finish to see the sakha Gopa Kumara/Sarupa evolve into a gopi. You espouse a dangerously misleading understanding of rasa tattva and the nature of prema prayojana.

  12. Thank-you for your reply Maharaj:
    I believe this quote from CC supports my understanding of what I have stated. Notice at the end of the quote where Srila Prabhupada refer to a “stages” of “promotion” of the devotee until reaching the final stage.

    “Śrī Caitanya Caritāmṛta Ādi 7.17

    gadādhara-paṇḍitādi prabhura ‘śakti’-avatāra
    ‘antarańga-bhakta’ kari’ gaṇana yāńhāra

    gadādhara — Gadādhara; paṇḍita — of the learned scholar; ādi — headed by; prabhura — of the Lord; śakti — potency; avatāra — incarnation; antarańga — very confidential; bhakta — devotee; kari’ — accepting; gaṇana — counting; yāńhāra — of whom.

    The devotees headed by Gadādhara Paṇḍita are to be considered incarnations of the internal potency of the Lord. They are confidential devotees engaged in the service of the Lord.

    In connection with verses 16 and 17, Śrī Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura explains in his Anubhāṣya: “There are specific symptoms by which the internal devotees and the unalloyed or pure devotees are to be known. All unalloyed devotees are śakti-tattvas, or potencies of the Lord. Some of them are situated in conjugal love and others in filial affection, fraternity and servitude. Certainly all of them are devotees, but by making a comparative study it is found that the devotees or potencies who are engaged in conjugal love are better situated than the others. Thus devotees who are in a relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead in conjugal love are considered to be the most confidential devotees of Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Those who engage in the service of Lord Nityānanda Prabhu and Lord Advaita Prabhu generally have relationships of parental love, fraternity, servitude and neutrality. When such devotees develop great attachment for Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, they too become situated within the intimate circle of devotees in conjugal love.” This gradual development of devotional service is described by Śrī Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura as follows:
    gaurāńga balite habe pulaka śarīra
    hari hari balite nayane ba’be nīra
    āra kabe nitāicāńda karuṇā karibe
    saḿsāra-vāsanā mora kabe tuccha habe
    viṣaya chāḍiyā kabe śuddha habe mana
    kabe hāma heraba śrī-vṛndāvana
    rūpa-raghunātha-pade ha-ibe ākuti
    kabe hāma bujhaba śrī-yugala-pirīti
    “When will there be eruptions on my body as soon as I chant the name of Lord Caitanya, and when will there be incessant torrents of tears as soon as I chant the holy names Hare Kṛṣṇa? When will Lord Nityānanda be merciful toward me and free me from all desires for material enjoyment? When will my mind be completely freed from all contamination of desires for material pleasure? Only at that time will it be possible for me to understand Vṛndāvana. Only if I become attached to the instructions given by the six Gosvāmīs, headed by Rūpa Gosvāmī and Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, will it be possible for me to understand the conjugal love of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa.” By attachment to the devotional service of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu, one immediately comes to the ecstatic position. When he develops his love for Nityānanda Prabhu he is freed from all attachment to the material world, and at that time he becomes eligible to understand the Lord’s pastimes in Vṛndāvana. In that condition, when one develops his love for the six Gosvāmīs, he can understand the conjugal love between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. These are the different stages of a pure devotee’s promotion to conjugal love in the service of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa in an intimate relationship with Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.

    I don’t see how there can be any misunderstanding about this concept of promotion of the devotee through stages of bhakti-rasa.

    Thank-you for your patience.

    • Yes, I am familiar with this purport. But the song of Narottama cited within it does not say what the purport could be interpreted to be saying. It merely says that by taking shelter of Nitai one becomes free from samasara and then by taking shelter of Rupa and Raghunatha one enters the seva of Radha Krsna. It says nothing about changing or evolving through rasas. The “stages” Prabhupada refers to are in relation to his explanation of Narottama’s song, not stages of rasa. They are in Prabhupada’s words,

      1. By attachment to the devotional service of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu, one immediately comes to the ecstatic position.
      2. When he develops his love for Nityānanda Prabhu he is freed from all attachment to the material world, and at that time he becomes eligible to understand the Lord’s pastimes in Vṛndāvana.
      3. In that condition, when one develops his love for the six Gosvāmīs, he can understand the conjugal love between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa.

      Prabhupada says, “These are the different stages of a pure devotee’s promotion to conjugal love . . .” The stages are not first attaining dasya rasa, then one attains sakhya rasa, etc.

      Prabhupada writes, “Those who engage in the service of Lord Nityānanda Prabhu and Lord Advaita Prabhu generally have relationships of parental love, fraternity, servitude and neutrality (not always). When such devotees (devotees of Nityananda and Advaita) develop great attachment for Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, they too become situated within the intimate circle of devotees in conjugal love.” I do not think Prabhupada means to say that the devotees in sakhya rasa of Nitai, for example, gradually develop conjugal love by the association of Sri Caitainya. Indeed, we do not see evidence of this nor is it the teaching or Rupa Goswami. Nitai had many sakhya rasa associates and his associates initiated many and helped them to pursue sakhya rasa, and all of them also loved Mahaprabhu but they never “advanced to the stage of madhurasa” as a result of Mahaprabhu’s association. So to interpret this purport to be saying that devotees evolve gradually through different rasas is a stretch in the least, and when Prabhupada cites Narottama Thakura to confirm the point he is making, we then clearly see what point he is making. I have explained that point above. Furthermore we need to understand the purport not only in light of Rupa Goswami, but also in light of the entirety of what Prabhupada himself has written. Throughout his books he teaches that one attains one rasa by cultivating that rasa. Thus this purport must be understood in this light, not out of context and in opposition to the greater balance of his siksa and that of Sri Rupa.

      However, it is possible that some devotees may as a result of their particular association develop an affinity for say sakhya rasa but later find that their actual spiritual destiny and affinity is madhurasa. But I would not characterize Prabhupada’s affinity for sakhya rasa in this way.

      I do appreciate your familiarity with and interest in the texts and Gaudiya siddhanta, as well as your appreciation of my patience. It was running thin before you expressed that. So much to learn, so much progress to be made. We must use our heads, however, to soften our hearts. That is an art.

  13. Maharaja, my view is that both your position and my position on this matter are supported in the teachings of Srila Prabhupada. I get my Rupa Goswami from Prabhupada not my Prabhupada through the lens of Sri Rupa as I am not qualified or learned enough to test the teachings of Prabhupada up against the actual writings of Sri Rupa. All I know is what I understand from the writings of Srila Prabhupada. Neither do I think it proper that I follow the process of personally checking Srila Prabhupada up against my own or some Sanskritist’s understanding of the writings of Sri Rupa. I get my Rupa from Prabhupada alone and not through the filter of some Sanskritist who might disagree with the translations or summary studies written by Srila Prabhupada.
    What Srila Rupa Goswami has written directly I do not know neither am I interested in testing the translation work of Srila Prabhupada up against the corrective efforts of such persons as Jagadananda das or any other Sanskritist.
    As I said above, I think that your understanding and my understanding are both supported by the writings of Srila Prabhupada. I don’t have any direct access to Sri Rupa apart from what Srila Prabhupada has given. I think that both these concepts are supported to accommodate the receiving capacity of the students concerned.
    I can’t say that you are wrong. I say that your position can be supported on the writings of Prabhupada and the Goswamis and that my position can be supported as well and that was the master plan of the author – Srila Prabhupada. It’s similar to the “fall-from-goloka” issue. Both sides of the debate seem to be supportable by the writings of Prabhupada to accommodate two different mentalities among the students and their predisposition to understand it one way or the other.

    So, all I have is the writings of Srila Prabhupada Swami Maharaja. I am not the least bit concerned to have his translations checked for accuracy by the likes of Jagadananda the Sanskritist or anyone else. I take Prabhupada’s writings on their face and am not attempting to screw some obscure or esoteric meaning from them. If Prabhupada’s works lend themselves to misunderstanding then I will forever withhold that misunderstanding as I will never submit to reading the corrective works of his critics.

    I have my faith in Prabhupada’s translations and his grasp of the English language. I don’t think he translates in a way that leads to misunderstanding rather in a way that is very conducive to a clear understanding that may or may not be acceptable to the likes of Jagadananda das and those of his color.

    Please pardon my agitation. I am not really trying to be a trouble maker or a fault finder, just a person defending his own understandings that were directly derived from the exclusive writings of Srila Prabhupada. I don’t accept these accusations that I have misunderstood these things due to the shortcomings of Srila Prabhuapda’s way of writing in English. I think that this is exactly what Srila Prabhupada has written and intended to write and that what I have presented is what Prabhupada wrote and meant to convey to his readers.
    You are right. So am I. I find this same harmonizing contradiction several times in the teachings, writings and sayings of Srila Prabhupada. It might sound contradictory to some, but to me it is all about accommodating and reaching out to the two different kinds of thinkers who are predisposed to understanding these issues one way or the other.
    Please forgive my terribly offensive character. I am trying in some small way to gradually chip away at the mountain of false ego that my soul is buried under, but it is indeed a monumental task.
    I wish you had the dynamite to smash this mountain to pieces, but then again that would be too easy and I would miss out on all that learning experience that comes with task.
    I do think that all of Srila Prabhupada’s Godbrothers were neophyte compared to Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada said as much. I have that much faith in Prabhupada, though I must admit some of the things he said and did pushed my faith quite strenuously. It seems that whenever I have had doubts and persevered with faith and trust that eventually I came to see the virtue and value of everything he said and did, even those things which gives so much trouble to many other devotees.
    Having said all this, I don’t foresee that I should try to belabor the issue any further.

    thank-you for your patience and understanding,

    • It is not a question of checking Prabhupada against Rupa Goswami as much as it is that a better understanding what Prabhupada is saying is often arrived at by tracing his words to the source material he draws from. The example of the TLC quote you cited viewed through the lens of Cc is a perfect example. And Prabhupada has encouraged us in his books to read the source material, and fortunately some of his disciples and other Guadiya Vaisnavas are engaged in translating this material, as he would have hoped. It is not good to isolate Prabhupada from the lineage he is part of. And it is Prabhupada who taught us that his own credibility derives from his ability to accurately represent the pervious acaryas.

      I do not agree that you idea of an evolution through rasas is taught by Srila Prabhupada. I have pointed out why and demonstrated how you have misinterpreted a couple of passages from his books. Your view and that of our acaryas are not compatible and neither is the view that one falls from Vaikuntha compatible with the view that one does not. Just summing up here. I am content to leave it at that.

    • If the evolution from one rasa to another were the standard then such a common occurrence would be barely worthy of mention. But we find just the opposite in the famous case of Syamananda (Duhkhi Krsna dasa). His claim that he had been taken into the camp of madhurya-rasa by the will of Sri Radha was so extraordinary–unheard-of, even–that an assembly of the senior Vaisnavas was called to judge the case. They were on the verge of finding him a heretic and guru-tyagi and it was only through information given to him while in trance that he was able to prove himself. Extraordinary circumstances all around, clearly not the norm.

  14. It is clearly stated by Srila Prabhupada in NOD ch. 4 that sometimes the liberated devotees of Vaikuntha become attracted to Krishna and ascend to Krishnaloka. These are liberated souls established in their siddha-deha, yet they can and do evolve beyond Vaikuntha to become devotees of Krishna in Vrindavan.

    Out of these five liberated stages, the one which is known as sāyujya, or to merge into the existence of the Lord, is the last to be accepted by a devotee. The other four liberations, although not desired by devotees, still are not against the devotional ideals. Some of the liberated persons who have achieved these four stages of liberation may also develop affection for Kṛṣṇa and be promoted to the Goloka Vṛndāvana planet in the spiritual sky. In other words, those who are already promoted to the Vaikuṇṭha planets and who possess the four kinds of liberation may also sometimes develop affection for Kṛṣṇa and become promoted to Kṛṣṇaloka.

    NOD ch. 4

    So, we can know from this that there is still a process of spiritual evolution going on even for the liberated devotees of Lord Narayana in Vaikuntha.
    Who is to say that such evolution of consciousness and advancement in spiritual life must stop upon attaining the first stages of Krishna bhakti in Goloka?
    Is spiritual life on Goloka stagnant?
    Cannot the devotees of Goloka also make advancement in Krishna consciousness from the lower levels to the highest level?
    Surely spiritual advancement is not denied the devotees of Goloka.
    Goloka is a dynamic spiritual plane. It is not a place where one get’s locked eternally in the lower levels of Krishna prema never to ascend to greater heights of devotion, service and surrender.

    • Yes, this is a reference to krama mukti, which is also illustrated in Sanatana Prabhu’s Brihat-bhagavatamrta. Krama mukti is the possibility of experiencing liberation “step by step.” “Krama” means “step.” But we must note that even in Vaikuntha, Gopa Kumara of Brihat-bhagavatamrita saw Narayana as Gopala. In other words, he saw his ideal of devotion in sakhya rasa even in Vaikuntha and thus he was sent to Goloka where he belonged.

      Gopas are not becoming gopis, etc. in Goloka. To think so is to misunderstand the very nature of prema, in which each devotee thinks his rasa is the best. And it is! Now that is beautiful.

  15. Here again is an example of Lord Brahma being in sakhya-rasa as Lord Brahma but internally situated in madhurya-rasa as a maidservant of Krishna.
    SB 2.9.30 purport:

    Lord Brahmā is definitely situated in the humor of friendship with the Lord. Every living being is eternally related with the Personality of Godhead in one of five different transcendental humors, namely śānta, dāsya, sakhya, vātsalya and mādhurya. We have already discussed these five kinds of humors in relationship with the Personality of Godhead. It is clearly exhibited herein that Lord Brahmā is related to the Personality of Godhead in the transcendental humor of friendship. A pure devotee may be related with the Lord in any one of the transcendental humors, even in the humor of parenthood, but the devotee of the Lord is always a transcendental servitor. No one is equal to or greater than the Lord. That is the version of the Bhagavad-gītā. Brahmājī, although eternally related with the Lord in the transcendental humor of friendship, and although entrusted with the most exalted post of creating different grades of living entities, is still conscious of his position, that he is neither the Supreme Lord nor supremely powerful.

    However, we learn from Brahma Samhita that Lord Brahma is internally situated on madhurya-rasa.

    BS 5.28 purport:

    Brahmā thought thus within himself, “By the recollection of kāma-gāyatrī it seems to me that I am the eternal maidservant of Kṛṣṇa.” Though the other mysteries in regard to the condition of the maidservant of Kṛṣṇa were not revealed to him, Brahmā, by dint of his searching self-consciousness, became well acquainted with the ocean of truth.

    Clearly, these examples show that Lord Brahma is in the mood of sakhya-rasa as the creator god of the universe, but internally in Goloka he is situated in madhurya-rasa.

    Srila Guru Maharaja Sridhardev Goswami says:

    “Everything in Vrndavana is Krsna conscious; every tree, creeper, and
    shrub. How can they be useless or ordinary shrubs and creepers?
    Uddhava is the greatest devotee of Krsna and he aspires to take birth
    as a creeper or a shrub in Vrndavana. What then, is the value of the
    shrubs and creepers of Vrndavana! Should we think that Uddhava’s
    aspiration is imaginary or theoretical, with no practical value?”

    • I have already mentioned that Prabhupada and VCT see Brahma in sakhya rasa wheres BSST/bVT see him in madhurya. You have referred us to one statement of SP and another of BSST. But more importantly it must be understood that Brahma is not externally in one rasa and internally in another. His work as creator does not constitute any rasa at all. Indeed, that is his conditioning. In this he exemplifies not rasa but rather the influence of rajas.

      Once he is initiated the possibility of sadhana bhakti and ultimately rasa comes to the fore. VCT explains Brahma’s mood thus, “May I attain bhakti with a feeling of friendship!” Again, Brahma’s work of creation, etc, is not rasananda. It is ultimately dovetailing. And this dovetailing helps him to gradually attain his inner aspiration in rasananda, either sakhya or madhurya. Brahma’s dovetailing is termed gauna bhakti yoga by BVT, not sakhya rasa. In the words of BVT Bhagavan instructs Brahma,

      “‘Perform your worldly duties along with meditating upon me
      and worshiping me on the path of formal deity worship.’

      “Within Brahma’s heart there is a desire to create. If Brahma
      considers the task of creation to be Bhagavan’s order, and carries
      it out while meditating upon Him, then, because he is surrendered
      to Bhagavan, this may be included within bhakti as a secondary
      function favorable to the nourishment of devotion. Thus
      it was appropriate for Bhagavan to instruct Brahma in this way,
      although this type of instruction is not required for a living entity
      who has attained bhava, because he is naturally detached from
      any subject other than Sri Krsna.”

  16. Vrajakumar108, it is clear to me now that you are operating under an alias, as you always do. You are Ksamabuddhi dasa, who has slunked around this site for years under aliases such as KB and Worminstool. You are also the same Sonic Yogi of the Audarya Fellowship forum. This means you have brought up this issue 3 times already and unhesitatingly proceeded to suck up the time Tripurari Maharaja and others. You have shown yourself to have zero intellectual integrity and no respect for other bhaktas, Tripurari Maharaja first and foremost. He, on the other hand, has been extremely patient with you, to the bewilderment of many.

    You continue to show up all over the internet hiding behind aliases and new email addresses and subject the Gaudiya community to your nonsense philosophical conjectures that often turn into biting aparadha when all your faulty reasoning is deconstructed, as if you ever have a consistent and coherent position in the first place. Without any sarcasm I sincerely think that you need professional psychiatric help because the extremes that you oscillate between seem like they cannot harmoniously exist within a single individual.

    From now on I will be doubly alert to your shenanigans on the Harmonist and be sure to call you out far in advance of you wasting copious amounts of my Guru Maharaja’s time. Do you think Prabhupada would smile upon your intellectual cowardice and disrespect for your godbrothers who are devoting themselves to actual guru-seva?

  17. Vikram Ramsoondur

    Very apposite, Nitaisundaraji. It was a number of things generally, but really two specific bits of poppycock from his posts that got me to somehow relate this guy to the ((in)famous) Kshamabuddhi. The first was his, curious to say the least, blending of pronouncements made by Srila Sridhara Maharaja and Srila Narayana Maharaja. The groups that spiritually descend from these two venerable acaryas are positioned at the far ends of the Sarasvata spectrum, philosophically speaking, although I am by no means suggesting that they disagree on everything, which would be absurd. At first, Vrajakumar108 gave the impression that he was in some way affiliated with the SCS Math, referring to SM as Guru Maharaja and SP as Swami Maharaja. That facade was blown when he began quoting from the document published by the Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti in order to try and support his position. No devotee associated with the SCS Math (certainly no one I have conferred with) would ever cite material from the statements of Narayana Maharaja so liberally.

    Then came this surprising line:

    I do think that all of Srila Prabhupada’s Godbrothers were neophyte compared to Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada said as much.

    Coming from somebody who just a couple of days earlier had called SM, Guru Maharaja, and SP, Swami Maharaja, this got me, and I suspect others too, rather nonplussed.

    The second give-away was his gratuitous dragging of Jagat’s name into this debate, a behaviour that can aptly be termed irresponsible, cowardly, and immature, to say the least.

    As far as the Audarya Fellowship is concerned, I (along with many others) debated this guy at length a few years ago. Back then, his handle on that forum was ‘Guruvani,’ and as you mentioned, consistency has never been his forté, for at the time, he espoused a number of positions that are plainly at odds with what he’s argued in favour of at other times and elsewhere. It’s not as if one isn’t allowed to alter one’s viewpoints, yet, we all know inconsistency when we are confronted with it.

    • No devotee associated with the SCS Math (certainly no one I have conferred with) would ever cite material from the statements of Narayana Maharaja so liberally.

      Well, this may be true now, but there are quite a number of Prabhupada disciples who became followers of Srila Sridhara Maharaja and after his departure joined the Narayana Maharaja’s sanga. Tirtha Pradha and Ksirodaksai come to mind. Such devotees don’t acknowledge any essential difference between the teachings of Sridhara Maharaja and Narayana Maharaja.

      • There might be some differences, but how much should we make of them? In this day and age, we are getting influences from disparate parts of the Gaudiya lineage; the aforementioned Jagadananda comes to mind. Sometimes disputes start with a disagreement about what seems like very minor points of philosophy. Sometimes it seems like very important differences. Sometimes it’s not pholosophy at all, but actions that cause problems. Sometimes the disputes go on for decades. No need to go there. I hope the Gaudiya line can emerge out of that era and into a more inclusive and unified tradition. WE can accept the truth wherever it appears, and thank the messenger whoever they may be. Why not! We don’t need to train up any more sectarian fanatics.. There are still plenty of them around anyway..

        I do think that all of Srila Prabhupada’s Godbrothers were neophyte compared to Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada said as much.

        What a thing to say!!

        • Tarun prabhu, on one level I agree with your points, and certainly I agree with your end desire, but I cannot but feel like some rifts do indeed have valid footing. It stinks, but its true. If one guru states or insinuates the disqualification of another guru, not only is it reasonable for the belittled guru’s disciple to feel some contempt for the one who made such a statement, but it places a major barrier in the connections between the disciples of each guru with each other. If I love you as a friend and your guru says mine is unqualified, your affection for that person will be somewhat painful for me, as will your disinclination toward my guru, whom I love. These situations get so sticky, and I personally feel that, contrary to the way many like to harmonize it, the onus is on the leaders to make it very clear in no uncertain terms that such sectarianism and disregard for others’ faith is wrong. Whereas many like to fault the disciples for being simplistic and sectarian, I unfortunately see that it can often be traced up the chain.

          This doesn’t mean that all presentations will jive and disagreements will not arise, but in pursuit of honoring other acaryas and the faith of their students, public preachers/acaryas should go out of their way to present their points tactfully and harmonizingly, as we see Srila Sridhara Maharaja would expertly do. But if some of them don’t do this, then it becomes increasingly difficult for those leaders that are trying to maintain harmony to do so. My 2 cents 🙂

        • These situations get so sticky, and I personally feel that, contrary to the way many like to harmonize it, the onus is on the leaders to make it very clear in no uncertain terms that such sectarianism and disregard for others’ faith is wrong. Whereas many like to fault the disciples for being simplistic and sectarian, I unfortunately see that it can often be traced up the chain.

          I agree Nitai, but what to do? I can only do my part. And my part is to not carry on a feud that has been sucking energy from the Sarasvata camp for generations now. The feud between Devananda Gaudiya Matha and Sri Caitanya Sarasvata Matha goes back to at least the early forties. Godbrothers don’t always get along, that’s a fact. But turning it into a Hatfields versus McCoys kind of deal is sad, and makes me wonder if there isn’t something missing from the teachings, or at least something that hasn’t been emphasized enough.

          I prefer to see our acharyas in a transcendent light. Although I haven’t met a guru I haven’t disagreed with about something, still I can see that there are very empowered personalities about, who are very pure and honorable, and most importantly, have something profound to teach me.

          For conditioned souls, it is important to defend the ego and attack the perceived enemies. That is where the ego feels comfortable. These intrafaith feuds seem to be an extended version of the ego battles. The only way out is not victory, but surrender. Surrender the urge for conquest. Rather, better to try to understand what the other sides concerns are. They may not be the demons they have been made out to be. lol! Iskcon is a prime example. Almost everyone but Iskcon devotees loves to bash Iskcon. I must admit I have enjoyed taking a swing or two myself. But it gets ridiculous. They can’t be that bad. They, like us, are just doing the best they can with what they have to work with. Even the 1% of whatever are still thinking that they are doing good. If we can start from there, and find out what is motivating people, get in their corner for a bit, then maybe we can have some influence with them to effect a change of consciousness. Everyone has a story. Trouble is, everyone thinks that their story is the only valid one, and so often it is the victim’s story. And victims can be very nasty, cause they have grievances and will take revenge.

          There will be no victory for some without victory for all. This is the way of the Prema Yuga, and that is what we are heading for, notwithstanding all evidence pointing to the contrary. Kali Yuga and Prema Yuga are diametrically opposed. Quarrel and Love go ill together. Stated like that it becomes a very clear choice.

        • “WE can accept the truth wherever it appears.”
          Very much in the spirit of “Satyam param dhimahi.”, the beginning of the Bhagavat and the avadhuta who learns from 24 gurus. Certainly, we have to come to the point of accepting the truth wherever it comes from. That in my personal opinion is the substance of the principle of Sri Guru. Obviously, we respect our teachers to varying degree, but this underlying current is there in a lot of traditions. For example, Abhinavgupta, one of the pioneers of the rasa theory had 15 gurus though he singles out one for special mention. However, he learned different things from his other gurus that he could not from that guru. Still he says that it is due to the mercy of that guru, he could learn better from others. Anyway, this maybe just my speculation.

  18. Am I mistaken in recalling that Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s bosom friend and godbrother, Srila A. B. Bhaktisaranga Goswami, was born in a Nityananda-vamsha line of gurus that propagated sakhya-rasa? Bhaktisaranga Goswami departed before Srila Prabhupada came to the West, so we in the West have heard very little about him. Yet we know that the two were very close, as Srila Prabhupada even stayed in (and managed) one of his mathas for a while. Srila Prabhupada also styled his sannyasa name in the manner of his friend, retaining the “A. C.” he received at his first initiation. So, I wonder: has anyone researched the writings of Srila Bhaktisaranga Maharaja to see whether he retained the sakhya-rasa inclinations of his family lineage?

  19. Kunjabihari Adhikari

    I mentioned this some years back and it was a bit of a ‘wrench in the works’ then, but I have definitely heard it said, or read that the ‘cowherd boys’ also have ‘manjari svarups’.
    Just as Balaram has a desire to participate in madhurya rasa and thus manifests the form known as Ananga Manjari, similarly the same can be so with the other cowherd boys.

    • There is no scriptural support for either of these notions, nor are they supported by scriptural logic. The logic: Sakhas that have a desire for madhurya rasa do exist. This is possible because madhurya and sakhya are compatible. Sri Rupa explains that when such desire occurs, madhurya becomes the anga rasa of these sakhas’ angi rasa (sakhya), and the purpose of the anga rasa is only to sweeten their angi sakhya rasa, just as sugar sweetens the yogurt it is mixed with. As such there are priyanarma sakhas, who are empathetically (tad anumodana) involved Radha and Krsna’s madhurya rasa. This pertains to only one sector of sakhas, not all four. However, is is quite possible that over the generations as the spiritual current and understanding of tattva diminished and madhurya rasa become prominent that some sakhya rasa lineages began to make such spiritually unsound claims.

      Regarding Balarama, there is also no scriptural description of him “desiring to taste madhurya rasa” and his bhava is sankula bhava, consisting of a bundling of sakhya with dasya and vatsalya, both of which are incompatible with madhurya. Ananga is his sakti but that does not mean that he experiences madhurya through her. If that were so, Krsna would experience madhurya through his sakti, Radha, and there would be no need for Maharpabhu. In Gaudiya Vedanta, sakti and saktiman are simultaneously one and different, but the difference appears not in tattva but rather in bhava, and we emphasize the difference—the bhava—and thus he difference between Ananga Manjari and Baladeva.

  20. Srila Prabhupada Abay Caranaravinda ki, Jaay!
    Very surprised by all the Siddhantic sustenance shared in context despite some comments out of this, but like a derailed rail that does not lead to destination, taking the appropriate it will arrive at some time in this or other lives (I say it for me mainly). It is very valuable as an example, be appreciating and thanking the teaching on how we can misunderstand a reading without have careful neither pay attention of a possible case of How does a deviation arise? and a possible origin of apasiddhanta that detonate in aparadha? how I have hear Svami BP Padmanabha said it.
    All this speaks of the great service (headed by Srila Tripurari Maharaj) that they have carried out for many years to show more and more the evident in living words that you transmit; not only in this case the humor of Srila Prabhupada, also of other saragrahis teachings presented in other way that are enlightening even though many do not want to recognize it.
    I am left with the inspiration and gratitude to try continue processing since humility in sadhu sanga and to learn more since there. Pranama for all. =)

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