Part 2: The Confusion of what rasa is Srila Prabhupada in?

The discussion of transcendental subjects is not merely brain exercise. By logic and argument you cannot prove anything; whatever you establish will later be destroyed by a bigger argument. To understand transcendental things requires balanced heart and mind. Sometimes we use only our mind but not heart, and sometimes only our heart but no mind, but to discuss properly we should be neutral, like a judge considering all evidence. Then a proper conclusion can come.

Note from Krishna-Balarama mandira

The last blog post about what rasa Srila Prabhupada is in has the most comments of any post so far, and it has been such an interesting and enlightening discussion that I can only follow and try to understand.

It seems to me that those who argue that Srila Prabhupada is in sakhya-rasa has the best evidence, but the problem is then why Narayana Maharaja has insisted over many years, without changing the message even once, that Srila Prabhupada is a gopi. It would imply that he has been lying.

And a lie is a betrayal. That’s too hefty for a diksa disciple to overcome.

Here is a note from Krishna-Balarama mandir about why Narayana Maharaja said Srila Prabhupada is a gopi.

Here is a very nice refutation of the note from Krishna-Balarama mandir:

Srila BR Sridhara Maharaja pointed out that that there are two points of view on the Guru: the absolute and the relative. Disciples must have an absolute, rather than a relative view, of their Guru Maharaja. They will not second-guess their Guru Maharaja, but will accept his instructions as they are, without improving or interpreting them, unless their Guru Maharaja has a given a specific instruction to do so.


I don’t do well with following blindly, not even my Gurudeva, since I have found that one has to both use the intelligence one has in dealing with spiritual and material life, and one receives intelligence as one progresses in spiritual life. One can simply state that I’m too novice to follow my Gurudeva absolutely, but I’m not so sure about that as well.

The problem I’m having with this all-or-nothing approach to believing my Gurudevas words, is that I don’t think my spiritual life is ruined because I have some doubts. There is ample room for making mistakes in material life, and I would believe there is even more room for it in spiritual life. I don’t even see how this in any way affects my Guru nistha, because I can deal with being wrong. I can deal with living with a contradiction. If I’m proven wrong, I will have no trouble accepting it because I haven’t invested any pride, righteousness or whatever weed that comes of it. What I will invest in is remorse and apologies for whatever I have done wrong if I’m proven wrong.

“Mercy is higher than justice. We are not doing bhajan to get justice. We are doing bhajan to get mercy. Justice is dependent upon the truth. Justice can not even manifest until the truth is known and accepted. But mercy is so much higher. Mercy is independent from what ever the truth might be. And for this mercy to flow there needs to be harmony. It is that greatest harmony that we seek for there we shall find the greatest mercy.”

Narayana Maharaja

I’m having a problem with the argument from Krishna-Balarama mandir that it was a preaching tactic to say SP was a gopi. It is a good argument in that it’s understandable from the objective point as Gurudeva received a lot of criticism and resistance from isckon. But I still don’t buy it, because then Gurudeva would have said something at least once to somebody. I don’t think it was a preaching tactic.

So the argument falls short in that regard. So for me it’s still a mystery to be solved. I can live with that. I can live with a contradiction.

I have learned that I will read Srila Prabhupadas books with an outlook to his mood. I have tried to regard everything neutrally and judge by the evidence. I’m still baffled, and I have learned to appreciate all the moods that reveals itself in this discussion and my spiritual life.

I said in a comment that when this contradiction is explained, I will revel in the explanation.

Well, I’m reveling in a contradiction, and I find it’s a blessedly precious place to be.


Update 25. march 2015: Srimati Syamarani didi has published a paper on the Jaladutta prayers. The paper refers also to a part two with Srila Bhakti Vijnana Bharati Maharaja’s response to Krsna-Balarama Mandira’s claim that he supports their idea. His response was spoken on March 23rd, at Sri Caitanya Gaudiya Matha in Pahar Ganj, Delhi. I’m looking forward to part two.

6 thoughts on “Part 2: The Confusion of what rasa is Srila Prabhupada in?

  1. We cannot have a better view of the understanding of Srila Sridhar Maharaja’s conception on the inner mood of Srila Prabhupada than expressed in this direct question and answer.
    “Devotee: Maharaj, it has been clear now, in a way, that Prabhupada (Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj) was in the sakhya rasa?
    Srila Sridhar Maharaj: At least temporarily he has showed like that. What he has expressed there in that journey there, it is almost clear that he liked that sort of lila best, but it may be, it might have been suppressed purposely; it also cannot be denied, maybe. That is one thing. There may be such a possibility, and he has given, he has said that Radharani was his gurudeva. His gurudeva was Radharani, but he himself was thinking that perhaps madhurya rasa should not be distributed in the first instalment. That might have been his view.
    Because his preaching was mostly helped by Nityananda Prabhu, Baladeva, so influenced by their tendency, their mood, he might have for the time being had that footing. And another thing: there is another sign that he showed affinity for sakhya rasa. In Vrndavana, he has installed Baladeva, Krsna Balarama, and Nitai Gaura. Sakhya rasa preference. That also may be with the previous idea: that generally, by the influence of Nityananda, Nityananda and Baladeva has helped me to preach the lila of Krsna in such a broad way, so in gratitude, he might have place that vigraha.”
    The devotee ask this question with Srila Sridhar Maharaja having already seen the prayer of Srila Prabhupada on the Jaladhuta.
    the devotee insinuates that the matter is clear but from the devotees statement “In A way ” it was apparently not concluded even having seen and commenting on the 9th verse (refer to prayer) Srila Sridhar maharaja says exactly what our Srila Gurudeva said “At least he has TEMPORARILY SHOWED LIKE THAT” Now he makes reference to the Prayer written on the Jaldhuta ” WHAT HE HAS EXPRESSED THERE IN THAT JOURNEY” Then Srila Sridhar maharaja says ” IT IS ALMOST CLEAR THAT HE LIKED THST SORT OF LILA BEST” why say “ALMOST CLEAR” why is it not absolutely clear. “BUT IT MAY BE” by saying this he saying there might be other consideration. “IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN SUPPRESSED PURPOSELY” Obivious question is what might have been supressed purposely?
    ” IT CANNOT BE DENIED” what can’t be denied? ” THERE IS ONE THING THERE MAYBE SUCH POSSIBILITY AND HE HAS GIVEN, HE HAS SAID THAT RADHARANI IS HIS GURUDEVA” This is a reference to the first verse and refrain or main theme of the prayer aboard the Jaladhuta.
    krishna taba punya habe bhai
    e-punya koribe jabe radharani khusi habe
    dhruva ati boli toma tai
    I emphatically say to you, O brothers, you will obtain your good fortune from the Supreme Lord Krishna only when Shrimati Radharani becomes pleased with you.
    “BUT HE HIMSELF WAS THINKING MADHURYA RASA SHOULD NOT BE GIVEN IN THE FIRST INSTALLMENT”. So what was being supressed it was not Sahkya rasa because he was expressing that in the 9th verse it’s clear. So according to his own words above Srila Sridhar Maharaja is saying the mood he has in Relation to Raadharani and Madhurya rasa is what is being supressed and SIRLA Srdhar maharaja says “HE HIMSELF WAS THINKING ” (he meaning Srila Prabhupada) had made this consideration not to openly give Madhurya rasa in the first installment.
    “BECAUSE HIS PREACHING WAS MOSTLY HELPED BY NITYANANDA,BALADEVA, SO INFLUENCED BY THEIR TENDENCY,THEIR MOOD HE MIGHT HAVE FOR THE TIME BEING HAD THAT FOOTING” I presented In a humble attempt to reconcile the words of my Guru padapadma with the words expressed In Srila Prabhupadas prayer on the Jaladhuta In doing that I drew from the words of Srila Sridhar maharaja and expressed that Srila Prabhupada had expressed the mood of Balaram/Nityananda (please reference my reflection of verses 8&9), an extensive reply was given using (with built in assumptions) rasa tattva of our Srila Rupa Goswamipada declaring it to absolutely defeat my statements that I had simply repeated from Mahabagavat devotees, here there is conformation that when intelligence is used to serve the conceptions of ones Guru instead of change them bhakti and life are simple. Above Srila Sridhar Maharaja says the exact same thing that so influenced by the ” tendency and MOOD of Balaram/Nityananda that he held that footing (meaning the mood of shakya rasa.)
    Now Srila Sridhar Maharaja brings another reason some could consider Sakhya rasa. THERE IS ANOTHER SIGN HE SHOWED AFFINITY FOR SAKHYA RASA IN VRINDAVAN HE INSTALLED BALARAM AND NITAI GAURA , SAKHYA RASA PREFERENCE”. Ok close the door it is now a shut case. But we should be patient perhaps there is a reason besides the fact that Srila Prabhupada must absolutely be in Sakhya rasa.
    Srila Sridhar maharaja says”THAT MAY ALSO BE WITH THE PREVIOUS IDEA , THAT GENERALLY BY THE INFLUENCE OF NITYANANDA , NITYANANDA AND BALARAM HAVE HELPED ME TO PREACH THE LILA KRISHNA IN SUCH A BROAD WAY SO IN GRATITUDE HE MIGHT HAVE PLACED THAT VIGRAHA. So Srila Prabhupada himself had answered this question I have quoted it previously in other post and can be found in the presentation of Srimati Syamarani Didi (is Srila Prabhupada in the highest rasa) . But here Srila Sridhar gives insight that is by his and Srial Gurdevas’s mercy on me consistent with what I had expressed in the reflections on Srila Prabhupada’s prayer that is that Sir Baladeva in his merciful form as Nityananda “by the influence of Nityananda he preached.
    we have wanted to reconcile using the words of self realized Vaishnavas supported by sastra and and most importantly Guru, as a disciple can only understand sastra and sadhu vakya through Sri Guru others will be misled is it not said
    yasya deve para bhaktir
    yatha-deve tatha gurau
    tasyaite kathita hy arthah
    prakasante mahatmanah
    Implicit faith in Sri Guru is the back bone of bhakti
    By accepting in a simple way we have a clear path to reconcile how both Sakya and Madhurya rasa was manifest in the divine person of Srila Bhakti Vedanta Swami Maharaja. Our dear Srila Prabhpada.

  2. It’s a good quote you have found from SSM, but he also have some statements that says otherwise.
    When we look at an issue we have to carefully review all the evidence from both sides, and then put a value to them wether we consider an argument to be strong or weak. The SSM statement you refer to is a good statement, but since SSM also have some statements that says otherwise, then the statement itself becomes weaker as an argument. So as evidence goes; it has some merit, but not enough to convince me otherwise.

    If we consider that sakhya-rasa has madhurya in it, then it becomes clear that SP is privy to Krishna’s preference to Radhika. To understand Caitanya-lila, one really has to understand madhurya-rasa, even if one isn’t in the moods of the manjaris.

    Srila Prabhupada has given everything in his books, but in his preaching he had to teach his disciples the ABC first. So he didn’t really go much into any rasa, wether they be madhurya or sakhya, in the first installment anyway. So as evidence goes; it has some merit, but it’s a weaker one.

    Some statements are speculation. I find the argument regarding preaching tactic as speculation, and therefore it becomes a weak argument. I find the argument that the reason SP may have placed the balarama and nitai gaura deities out of gratitude to be a weak one (bordering on speculation). If we consider the jaladutta prayers, SP pastimes recounted from other people which clearly indicate sakhya rasa, and the deity installments as a whole, it becomes a strong argument.

    Devotees enter discussions as a battle that has to be won, where there is a defeated side. It’s so easy to only view arguments that supports one’s contention, and dismiss counter-arguments. It’s so easy to throw out arguments as if they are righteous and absolute. Battle tactics will not win arguments and hearts.

    Both sides have good arguments (and weak ones). I view this issue as something a pure devotee has to shed light upon.

  3. The preaching tactics discussed here are not the betrayal kind of lies. It’s saying what you need to hear at a certain point. We all need to digest the fact that great souls cheat others for a great cause. This is very clear in how the philosophy is introduced to people. It’s “Chant and be happy”, not “Surrender unconditionally”. And this continues into sadhana-bhakti. As we learn more of the philosophy, similar tactics are used by the teacher, but with more sophisticated language. In the Bhagavad-gita, before Krishna starts to teach Arjuna, he smiles. My Gurumaharaja comments on this:

    “Krsna smiles to encourage Arjuna. As Krsna prepared to speak grave topics, he sought to make light of the situation that so overwhelmed Arjuna. The preceptor similarly makes light of the task at hand in the beginning by allowing us to believe that perfection is almost within our grasp, when in fact it may be lifetimes away.”

    A preaching tactic may remain throughout a teacher’s whole teaching period. Jiva Goswami, throughout all of his books, said that there is no parakiya in the spiritual world, only svakiya (which contradict the teachings of the other Goswamis). In one of the books he says, “Some things that I have written are the opinions of others, and some things are my own opinions”. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura used that to make the point that the svakiya-teaching was a preaching tactic. Lilasuka’s story can be used to draw the same conclusion.

    I have also heard more about and researched the higher-vaishnavas-seeing-one-another’s-svarupa idea. It’s very simplistic and linear. The best example for that not being the case is Sri Gaura Ganodesa Dipika, the book describing who is who in Gaura- and Krishna-lila. It’s written by Kavi Karnapur who is a direct associate of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. It’s not that he saw their svarupas and just noted it down. He heard from people who reasoned differently. Text 172 is super sweet:

    “Vraja’s Nandimukhi became Saranga Thakur in Gaura-lila. Some people say that he is Prahlad, but that is not the opinion held by my father.”


    A disciple’s concern is their guru’s svarupa, realizing which is related with realizing one’s own, something which can be glanced at very advanced stages, in deep meditation.

    • I kind of understand the need for preaching tactics, but at the same time I don’t understand it in issues like this. Simply because it will cause more harm than good in the long run…


      considering the level people are at when dealing with differences of opinions.

      Yes, understanding and meditating on one’s Gurus mood is the essence. Now about that deep meditation… what techniques do you use? ;P Just kidding 😉

      • Damodara Maharaja posted a quote that gave me some solace regarding this:

        Srila Sridar Maharaja states, ” “So we need not to worry much. Still it is all undesirable, especially for the beginners, differences between the upper persons whom we consider to be upper rank. They’re quarrelling and the lower class cannot but be disturbed. So they try to avoid as much as possible. At that time they may give their attention towards the scriptures. There is less quarrelling, but in scriptures there is also quarrelling, because they recommend advises of different stages, so there is also quarrel. Everywhere progress means quarrel. Elimination and acceptance, that means quarrel. One condemns another, progress means such. We can’t avoid it altogether, but still the progress is there. We must not be afraid.””

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