All Glories to Srila Prabhupada!
All Glories to all the Vaishnava Devotees of the Lord!
My Dear Prabhus,
In the past few days the IRM group has sent out an email, which again tries to show that there is a difference between Srila Prabhupada’s teaching and Srila Narayana Maharaja.
Of course this is very easy to do if you quote out of context and then add your own twist to the meaning.
We shall present the IRM’s statement first.
The above are hardly descriptions of an impure 'bhakta' who ?could not serve Krishna'. Rather Prahlada Maharaja is THE example par excellence of HOW we should serve Krishna and practice bhakti (devotional service to the Supreme Lord).
So once again Narayana Maharaja has shown that he disagrees with the siksa (instructions) given by Srila Prabhupada even on such a basic point, namely whether or not Prahlada Maharaja is a pure devotee.
This is the statement referred to.
"Prahlada Maharaja was a very bona fide bhakta, and he never wanted anything worldly, but he could not serve Krsna. His bhakti was mixed with jnana, knowledge of the Lord's opulence. If you have some worldly desire, or any desire, then your bhakti may be sanga-siddha bhakti or aropa-siddha bhakti, but not pure transcendental bhakti"
(Narayana Maharaja, Hawaii, 17/2/2001)
On a quick first reading one may agree with IRM, but if you carefully study the quote based on an understanding of tattva and rasa, the real meaning and import becomes clear. Please note the topic changes to ourselves when Srila Narayana Maharaja uses the word “you”. He is not talking about Prahlada Maharaja, as the IRM suggests.
Let’s break the statement into two sections.
"Prahlada Maharaja was a very bona fide bhakta, and he never wanted anything worldly, but he could not serve Krsna. His bhakti was mixed with jnana, knowledge of the Lord's opulence.
This statement is certainly true, "Prahlada Maharaja was a very bona fide bhakta, and he never wanted anything worldly”
The second half of the sentence may be confusing for new devotees.
“but he could not serve Krsna. His bhakti was mixed with jnana, knowledge of the Lord's opulence.”
If you do not understand tattva-siddhanta then it is impossible to understand that Prahlada was not worshiping Krsna.
Krsna’s pastimes take place in Vrindavan, Mathura and Dvaraka not Vaikuntha, where Lord Visnu is the predominating deity.
Therefore Srila Narayana Maharaja’s statement is correct, “but he could not serve Krsna.” In a general way Srila Prabhupada has always used Krsna in discussing Prahlada Maharaja. But those who deeply study Srila Prabhupada’s books will find the same conclusions!
Here are a few quotes.
“Prahlada asserted that his Lord is present everywhere.”
“Prahlada Maharaja was seeing always, constantly Nrsimhadeva. Mahabhagavata. Premanjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena santah sadaiva hrdayesu vilokayanti.”
“Prahlada wanted to satisfy Narayana, and he wanted to become a devotee of Narayana.”
“Prabhupada: But Prahlada Maharaja never worshiped kambha.(?) But he knew that Krsna is everywhere. So that vision is possible by Prahlada Maharaja, not by you or me.”
So we can see by these quotes that Prahlada Maharaja was not a Krsna Bhakta but a Narayana or Nrsimha Bhagavan Bhakta. Did Prahlada ever tell about Sri Radhe? No, never! But Srila Prabhupada said this “So anyone who comes before Radharani to serve Krsna, oh, She becomes so pleased.” So is Srila Prabhupada teaching something different then Prahlada Maharaja, no, but in understanding Rasa yes.
Srila Prabhupada explains these different points in a letter to Satsvarupa Maharaja (and many other places).
Letter to: Satsvarupa
My dear Satsvarupa Maharaja,
Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated Jan. 5th, 1975 and have noted the contents. Thank you very much for doing your work so nicely.
So, you are all advanced students. You should understand the importance of each and every item of devotional service. Do not make any misunderstanding by devaluating any of the spiritual activities. You are one of the advanced students. One who distinguishes a particular type of service as inferior or superior, he does not know the value of devotional service. It is all transcendental. Whatever item is suitable, that is accepted as very elevated. Just like Maharaja Pariksit. He simply listened to Sukadeva Gosvami. That is sravanam. And Sukadeva Gosvami simply narrated Srimad-Bhagavatam. This is kirtanam. Prahlada Maharaja simply contemplated--smaranam. Prthu Maharaja simply did deity worship--arcanam. Arjuna only remained as friend of Krishna--sakhyam. Hanuman remained only engaged in carrying out the order of Lord Ramacandra--dasyam. And Bali Maharaja surrendered everything to Krishna--atma-nivedanam. So, any devotee executing any one of the nine is transcendentally glorious. One devotee may be proud that his process of service is the best. That is not inglorious. This is called transcendental competition. Everyone should feel proud of his particular type of devotional service, but that does not mean that other types of service are inferior. Everyone should feel proud of becoming sincere servant of Krishna, but the pure devotee never minimizes the importance of other devotees. Krishna is the enjoyer of varieties of service. It is not stuck up with any particular type of service. Krishna takes pleasure with devotees even by fighting service. When Grandfather Bhisma was trying to injure the body of Krishna by sharpened arrows, in full devotion in the mellow of chivalry, Krishna was feeling the piercing of the arrows as good as worshiping him with soft rose flowers. The conclusion is that everyone should be very very sincere. There is no more the question of inferior or superior.
I hope this meets you in good health.
Your ever well-wisher,
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Svami
To further clarify Srila Narayana Maharaja’s position we provide the following quotes which show that He is 100% inline with the Parampara and Srila Prabhupada.
Tridandisvami Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja
WHAT KIND OF DEVOTEE IS DHRUVA MAHARAJA?
Murwillumbah, Australia: Dec. 5, 2002 (evening – part 2)
There are many gradations of bhakti and bhaktas, as explained by Srila Sanatana Gosvami in his Brhat Bhagavatamrta. The first category is the sakama-bhakta (the devotee who, like Dhruva Maharaja, has material desires), then the jnani-bhakta (the devotee who, like Prahlada Maharaja, has full awareness of God's powers and opulence), then the suddha (pure) bhakta (the devotee who, like Ambarisa Maharaja, serves Krsna Himself), the premi-bhakta (the devotee who, like Hanuman, is always serving), the premapara-bhakta (the devotee, like the Pandavas, who is related to Krsna and has some knowledge of His opulence), and finally the prematura-bhakta (the devotee who, like Uddhava, is most intimate, having many relationships with Krsna, and who has some knowledge of His opulence).
(Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, December 14, 2000, pm)
Today is a very sacred day. The last day we were speaking of Prahlada Maharaja. How he was a very bold and strong devotee.
Srila Narayana Maharaja: Then this bogus father, Hiranyakasipu became very angry, and he wanted to kill him at once. At once he poisoned, a very strong poison was given to Prahlada Maharaja, he was thrown in ocean, thrown from mountains, he was thrown out, so many poisonous snakes were, but all failed. They could not do anything to Prahlada Maharaja, because Krishna was always saving him. Krishna has promised, "Those who will take shelter of Me, I will always protect and save them."
Srila Narayana Maharaja: Then all the boys, they thought that he's a perfect guru, Prahlada Maharaja. Prahlada Maharaja told that, "Now we should begin sankirtana." And when they began to loudly chant. What?
[Loud kirtana performed by all devotees for some minutes.]
Devotees: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
Srila Narayana Maharaja: I'm very happy that you have assembled here and heard me. Now our classes are going to be finished. But I think that you should obey Prahlada Maharaja. Even I'm going from this Rio, but you should not forget to chant Hare Krishna Hare
Public Preaching Program
-- Appreciation of Swamiji; Narada's disciples; Story of Prahlada Maharaja.
29 April 1999 (pm)
[BVNM]: Thus a powerful demon was killed, and Prahlada Maharaja was saved. He never prayed [to] Nrsimha Bhagavan or Krsna that, “You should save me.” He was satisfied that, “Whether I will die or not, whether Krsna is saving me or not, I should chant and remember Krsna.” And that is why he was pure devotee. So we should try to follow Prahlada Maharaja, then we can be happy. This is the message of Srimad-Bhagavatam. You should not be weak, as you are being weak. Don’t be weak, always [be] very strong, very bold, like Prahlada Maharaja. Krsna will surely save you. Krsna will come Himself, or He will send Sudarsana-cakra, or very powerful any devotee, and they will save us. You should try to advise others also, that, “You should chant and remember and be happy.” Don’t give up chanting and remembering. Whether you are in married life, or in renounced order, oh, always chant and remember Krsna and be happy.
SECOND REPLY FROM PURU DAS
Date: Mon, 15 Sep 2003 16:00:34 -0400
From: "Ralph H. Somershein"
IRM's misundersanding is not worthy of much responce. Srila Prabhupada very clearly writes in Cc. Ai lila 5.203 that to understand bhakti you must read the Brhad Bhagavatamrta of Srila Sanatana Gosvami:
"Sri Sanatana Gosvami Prabhu, the teacher of the science of devotional service, wrote several books, of which the Brhad-bhagavatamrta is very famous; anyone who wants to know about the subject matter of devotees, devotional service and Krsna must read this book."
HDGACBSP Cc. Adi lila 5.203 purport
It is in that book that the different levels of bhakti are explained when Narada searches for the greatest recipient of Krsna's mercy. First Narada approached a King, then Lord Indra, who told him to go on to speak to Prahlada. Prahlada says in his own words in this conversation with Narada how his bhakti is not on the highest level and clearly explains the limitations of his relationship with Nrsmhadeva in detail. Then he tells Narada that he should go speak to Hanuman. Hanuman directs him to the Pandavas. The Pandavas to the wives of Dvaraka and they direct Narada to the gopis. So IRM can take up their useless argument with Prahlada Maharaja himself or Srila Sanatana Gosvami.
SP also said very clearly on one morning wlk in LA that there are different levels of pure devotees. No one understood him then and IRM can't follow it now.
Can we find any description in the shastra of Prahalada offering Narasimhadeva anything except prayers? Hedoes not cook for him, he does not massage his feet, like Hanuman.does for Lord Rama. And Hanuman cannot be as intimate with the Lord as Arjuna, who sleeps on the same bed his face to Sri Krsna's feet and visa versa.
Then Arjuna is not as intimate with Krsna as the wives of Dvaraka. Key is reading Brhad Bhagavatamrta under guidance. IRM will never do that and therefore never understand anything. It appears that Prahlada's relationship with Narasmhadeva is of santa rasa mixed with some dasya The four kumaras worship also in a similar mood of santa rasa when they approach their istadeva with a mood of aisvarya (opulence) when they offer their prayers to Lord Narayana
My conclusion is that IRM simply publishes spurious diatribe.
> Is there a rebuttal to IRM's ridiculous claims against SNM re: Prahlada Maharaj? > I know I read it somewhere, but cannot find it. . .
Best rebuttal are Prahlada's own words:
from fourth chapter of Brhad Bhagavatamrtam.
Perhaps IRM would like to disagree with them!!!:
16 Sri Prahlad said: O my lord, O my spiritual master, please consider how it was
that in my childhood I learned about pure
devotional service to Lord Krishna.
17-18 When a person is instructed by great pure devotees of Lord Hari, he
naturally becomes glorious. He is never
defeated by any obstacles, he has the power to preach the truth of spiritual life even
to children, he is compassionate to the
suffering conditioned souls, and he easily rejects impersonal liberation and all other
19 The great souls know that these things are not the real signs of Lord Krishna's
mercy. O noble one, Lord Krishna's
mercy is given only to those who engage in devotional service.
20 I never rendered direct service to the Lord as Hanuman and many others did. I
simply meditated on the Lord when my
heart was troubled.
21 You may praise the Lord's affectionately embracing me, but some say that
embrace was only a feature of the Lord's
illusory potency, and others think it was only a pastime of the Lord.
22 Great souls like yourself may consider the Lord's embracing me to be a sign of
His genuine love. For myself I consider it
like a dream, or, even if it is true, it is not a sign of the Lord's mercy to me.
23 Saintly persons consider that the wonderful gift of direct devotional service the
Lord gave to Hanuman and other
devotees to be His real kindness. They do not consider anything else to be the
display of the Lord's mercy.
24 Lord Nrsimha's pastimes were not performed to show mercy to me. They were
meant for the protection of the devotee
demigods and the deliverance of the Lord's two eternal associates (Jaya and
25 They were meant to establish the truthfulness of the words of Brahma and his
sons the Kumaras. They were meant to
show the great glory of pure devotional service.
26 O best of the great saints who have taken a vow of poverty, when the Lord
gave me a kingdom I could understand that
He was not merciful to me.
27 The Lord has said (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.27.16): "When I desire to show
mercy to someone I take away his material
wealth and opulence." The instructions of the great devotees also bear witness to
these words of the Lord.
28 Look at me! I am so absorbed in ruling my kingdom and so much surrounded
by friends, relatives, and servants, that I
have now completely given up the worship of the Lord! Fie on me! Fie! I do not
even lament for my own misfortune!
29 If this were not so then why would I, who am trapped in this world of repeated
birth and death, have personally fought
with the glorious Supreme Personality of Godhead at Visala-tirtha?
30 When I preached the truth of spiritual life I mingled with many miseducated
demons, and by their association I became
infected with a host of dry, non-devotional theories. Even today not a single
wretched fragment of those false theories has left
31 By pure devotion one attains the mercy of the Lord. What pure devotion do I
have? As I meditate on the misdeeds of
Bana I can see the clear signs of my own lack of devotion.
32 I have heard that the Lord bound Bali, imprisoned him, and now stands at the
door to prevent his escape. What is his
fate now? I do not know.
33 Ravana and others have seen the Lord there as the gatekeeper, and Durvasa
has also seen Him. From devotional faith
the sight of the Lord is obtained.
34 One who yearns to attain the Lord may attain Him in any place. He need not
travel to the Lord's abode.
35 If the Lord always stays at Bali's gate, then why did I travel so far to
Naimisaranya to see Him, the Lord who wears
36 By your lordship's mercy the Supreme Personality of Godhead may have some
affection for me. Still, the glory of that
affection is very insignificant in comparison to the great mercy received by even the
37 O lord whose heart melts with limitless mercy, why should I make you suffer by
describing my own great misfortune?
Better that you place your glance on the great mercy the Lord has given to the
38 O lord, please know that when the Supreme Personality of Godhead appeared
in His half-man half-lion form to kill my
father, He very quickly did His work and then disappeared again.
39 I was not able to see the Lord to my heart's content. On the shore of the great
ocean I saw Him for only a moment. It
was like a flickering dream.
40 Hanuman was very fortunate. He was able to enjoy the happiness of directly
serving the Lord for many thousands of
years without obstruction.
41 Even in his childhood he was extremely strong. By the mercy of the demigods
he received many benedictions. He is
always free from old-age and death.
42 He is completely fearless, a follower of austere vows, saintly, a heroic fighter,
and the uncommon servant of Lord
43 He casually jumped over the fathomless, eight-hundred mile wide ocean. He
expertly comforted the distressed Sita
captive in the palace of the king of raksasas.
44 He taunted his enemy, burned Lanka, destroyed its fortifications, returned with
news of Sita, and was firmly embraced
by his master.
45 He was the great carrier of his master. His tail became a white parasol shading
his master, and his broad back became a
comfortable seat for his master. He was the leader of those engaged in building the
bridge at Setubandha.
46 He fulfilled the needs of Vibhisana, broke the strength of the raksasas, and,
with his great strength, brought the medicinal
47 He brought life again to the army. He greatly pleased both his master and his
master's younger brother. He became the
devoted carrier of both his master and Sri Laksmana.
48 With very intelligent tactics he attacked and defeated the enemy. He chanted
the transcendental glories of his master, the
killer of the raksasa king.
49 He brought great happiness to Sita. He is the object of the great transcendental
mercy of his master. Even though he is
not able to bear separation from his master, he remains in this world by His order.
50 He sustains himself by always hearing the glories of his master. Even today he
stands beside the transcendental Deity
form of his master as he had always stood by Him in the past.
51 My lord, the scriptures declare: "The monkey-king Hanuman attained
perfection by serving the Supreme Lord." In this
way Hanuman's glory is famous in this world. His service brought him the Lord's
52 I offer my respectful obeisances to Hanuman. Even if it were to come to him of
its own accord, he has no desire to
accept any kind of liberation that would check his service to Lord Vishnu, the son of
53 I have left much unsaid, still, your lordship knows his glorious position very
well. Please go now to Kimpurusa-varsha.
See him and become happy.
54 Sri Pariksit said: O mother, Narada then exclaimed: "Ah! This is very
auspicious! Ah! This is very auspicious!" He then
rose from his seat, and travelled through outer space to Kimpurusa-varsa.
IRM will also have to take exception to the words of Uttara, the mother of Pariksit Maharaja. Brhad Bhagavatamra is a discussion between Jaimini and Janmanjaya, the grandson of Uttara (Mother of King Pariksit and wife of Abhimanyu). . He (Jaimini rshi) narrates a discussion between Pariksit and his mother Uttara, after Pariksit heard SB from Sukadeva and before he departed the planet from the bite of the snake bird. Uttara says this to her son at the beginning of the Varigyam Nama chapter 1 of part two. Different levels of bhakti are again mentioned.
"16 Some are devotees situated in knowledge (jnana-bhakta), some are pure devotees (suddha-bhakta), some are devotees situated in love (prema-bhakta), some are devotees situated in great love (premapara-bhakta), and some are overwhelmed by love (prematura-bhakta).
Note: Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that here four and a half, with the jnana-bhaktas the half, kinds of love are described. The devotion of the jnana-bhaktas is mixed with the desire for knowledge. The knowledge here is not the pathetic liberation of the impersonalists, but rather the awareness of the glories of serving the Lord's lotus feet. Maharaj Bharata is an example of the jnana-bhaktas.
The suddha-bhaktas are devoted to the nine processes of devotional service. Their devotion is not distracted by fruitive work, the desire for knowledge, or non-devotional renunciation. Maharaj Ambarisa is an example of the suddha-bhaktas.
The prema-bhaktas want only to serve the Lord's lotus feet with love. Hanuman is an example of the prema-bhaktas.
The premapara-bhaktas are the Lord's affectionate associates who by the Lord's boundless mercy are tied by the chains of affectionately gazing at the Lord, gazing at the Lord with the longings of love, friendship with the Lord, and close friendship where they joke with the Lord. The Pandavas are examples of the premapara-bhaktas.
The prematura-bhaktas are always overwhelmed by the treasure of wonderful love. Uddhava and the Yadavas are examples of the prematura-bhaktas.
Although Vaikuntha cannot be attained without love for the Lord, there are varying degrees of that love. Thus the prema-bhaktas are better than the suddha-bhaktas, the premapara-bhaktas better than the prema-bhaktas, and the prematura-bhaktas better than the premapara-bhaktas.
17 These different kinds of devotees do not attain the same results. Still, in Vaikuntha one is not considered better than the others.
18 Sarupya-mukti, Samipya-mukti, and the other kinds of liberation are also all equal. What place is better than Vaikuntha? The Vedas do not say.
Note: Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that sarupya-mukti is the liberation where one attains a four-armed form like the Lord's, and samipya-mukti is the liberation where one always stays near the Lord.
19 Each in his own part of Vaikuntha, each according to his own kind of love, and each attaining his own object of love, everyone is happy. Note: Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that Ayodhya, Dvaraka and the many other abodes of the Lord are situated in Vaikuntha. This is described in the Vedic literatures:
The Lord's many favourite cities that rest on the earth also exist in Vaikuntha so the Lord may enjoy different pastimes in them.
20 The devotees in the different mellow have all attained the highest happiness. Still, what is the destination of they who are devoted to the Lord who performs the rasa-lila?
21-22 My heart is not happy if others attain the same destination attained by the loving devotees who chant the holy names and who, indifferent to all material goals, yearn to become Sri Radha's maidservants. I cannot tolerate that others attain the same destination as that attained by Nanda, Yasoda and their associates.
Note: Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that the "others" here are the Pandavas and Yadavas.
23 The most sublime of millions of glories rest in them as many rivers enter the ocean.
24 They must have their own place above Vaikuntha. Please show it to me and rescue me.
Note: Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that the word "prakasya" means "please show me by describing it" and "uddharasva" means "please rescue me from this ocean of unhappiness filled with waves of doubts and whirlpools of illusions."
The description of the glories of Goloka Vrndavana, which is above the material worlds, which is not destroyed at the time of cosmic devastation, and which is above even the realms of Vaikuntha, is the answer to this question of Uttara-devi.
25 Sri Jaimini said: Delighted by his mother's beautiful question, the son bowed before her and shedding tears and the hairs of his body erect in ecstasy, began to speak.
Puru das, das anudas
Uttarapaksa (Refutations) Archive