Shushruma Dhiranam: The Key to Transcendental Knowledge

November 30, 2023 in Articles by Narasimha das

“It is said that one result is achieved by worshiping the Supreme Cause of all causes, and that another is obtained by worshiping what is not supreme. All this was heard from the undisturbed authorities who clearly explained it.” (Sri Isopanisad, Mantra Thirteen) In his purport to this verse, Srila Prabhupada explains, “Unless one hears from the bona fide acarya, who is never disturbed by the changes of the material world, one cannot have the real key to transcendental knowledge.” Iti susruma dhiranam, ye nas tad vicacaksire.

Devotees who have traveled and preached in India can easily understand what Srila Prabhupada identified as the main problem with modern India: “In modern times the numbers of such pretenders has increased in considerable numbers, and it has become a problem for the pure devotees of the Lord to save the mass of people from the unholy propaganda of these pretenders and imitation incarnations of God.” (Sri Isopanisad, Mantra 13, Purport) Although people in India have natural devotion to the Supreme Lord and His great devotees, such as Lakshmi, Hanuman and Garuda, most are confused or ignorant about the conclusions of the scriptures and thus sometimes get misled into “worshiping what is not supreme.” This is because they hear from bogus preachers rather than the pure devotees of the Lord. For this defect, they are unable to distinguish between matter and spirit.

“Presently people are so fallen that they cannot distinguish between a conditioned soul and a liberated soul.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.18.5, Purport)

“If one tries to mingle the worship of yogamaya and mahamaya, considering them one and the same, he does not really show very high intelligence.” (Caitanya-Caritamrta, Madhya 8.90, Purport)

Monkey Worshipers and Hanuman Offenders

I am presently residing at Sri Kishkindhya Kshetra, the birthplace of the pure devotee avatar Sri Hanumanji. In a few days from now, a half million people will converge on the nearby tiny village of Hampi for Hanuman Jayanti. Many of the pilgrims, local tour guides and residents here refer to Hanuman’s divine birthplace as “The Monkey Temple.” In fact, all over India, Hanuman is referred to as “the monkey god.” At the same time, here, and at other places in South India, monkeys are worshiped as Hanuman. People feed them all kinds of sweets and junk food. This causes them to become deranged and destructive; they constantly create havoc in the temples and villages. At remote small farms they often destroy entire crops of coconuts and bananas for sport. Nonetheless, they are not only tolerated but freely fed and adored by foolish, misguided persons who consider them expansions of Hanuman. (According to modern Indian law it is illegal for a farmer to kill a single monkey to protect his livelihood, yet it is perfectly legal for big businessmen to export millions of cows for slaughter.)

The other day, while I was walking into the Virupaksha temple (at Hampi) with a bunch of ripe bananas to offer to Lord Shiva, I was attacked by three large languor monkeys, commonly known as “Hanuman monkeys.” Fortunately, I had my umbrella and was able to fight them off. Seeing the fray, some pilgrims protested, shouting, “No, no, give them the bananas. They are Hunuman!” I exclaimed, “Monkeys are animals! Hanuman is a devata!”

Actually, Hanuman is much more than an ordinary devata; he is a great devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is offensive to consider Hanuman a monkey or to consider monkeys to be Sri Hunuman-ji. Similarly, it’s offensive to worship a demigod as God or to consider the Supreme Lord a demigod. Such worshipers are condemned in the Bhagavad-gita and in Sri Isopanisad. “Those who are engaged in the worship of demigods enter into the darkest regions of ignorance, and still more so do the worshipers of the Absolute.” (Sri Isopanisad, Mantra 12) Persons who consider the bona fide spiritual master an ordinary man and persons who worship a pretentious upstart as the spiritual master are on the same dangerous path. All such foolish mistakes are avoided by understanding the difference between matter and spirit. Proper discrimination is achieved by hearing from “theundisturbed authorities who clearly explained it.” Iti susruma dhiranam, ye nas tad vicacaksire.

Vaikuntha Avatars

Queen Kunti Devi prayed to Lord Krishna, expressing her feelings that His pastimes as a human being were sometimes bewildering.  Although she was fully aware that Krishna was the Supreme Personality of Godhead, she expressed wonderment at how He seemed to act exactly like an ordinary human being in many ways. For instance, He seemed to take birth from the womb of Devaki. He would offer Kunti Devi and other so-called superiors His humble obeisance. He once cried in lamentation when the mystic demon Shalva presented an illusion before Him wherein Shalva appeared to be beheading Krishna’s father, Vasudeva. As a child, He cried when Mother Yasoda chased Him with a whipping switch. Srila Prabhupada comments in this regard that when Lord Krishna plays a role, He does it perfectly. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu played this “human” role more completely than any other avatar of God by strictly following the rules and regulations of varnashrama-dharma. Similarly, the eternally liberated spiritual master plays the role of an ordinary human being for the benefit of all living entities, to show everyone how to become a pure devotee.  And he does it perfectly.

“A nitya-siddha devotee comes from Vaikuntha upon the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and shows by his personal example how to become a pure devotee. (anyabhilasita-sunyam…) A pure devotee, therefore, is a practical example for all living entities, including Lord Brahma.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.10.3, Purport)

“The Personality of Godhead, from His Kingdom, sends His bona fide servants to propagate this mission of going back to Godhead, and sometimes He comes Himself to do this work.” (Sri Isopanisad, Mantra 11, Purport)

“Whenever and wherever there is decline in religious practice, O descendent of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion – at that time I descend Myself.” (Bhagavad-gita As It Is 4.7)

In the case of some pure devotees, there is another reason they descend: to show sadhakas the pitfalls on the devotional path, as did the great devotee Bharata Maharaja, who became a deer in his next life due to becoming attached to a pet. Sometimes a liberated devotee acts as if he were bewildered or perplexed. In truth, he allows himself to come under the spell not of mahamaya, or material illusion, but Krishna’s yogamaya. Srila Prabhupada mentions that when a pure devotee speaks as if he were fallen or unqualified, he is not making a show; rather, he truly feels this way due to deep humility, which is inspired by the Lord’s internal spiritual potency. Usually when a great devotee appears to be in illusion or ignorant, it is for the sake of enacting a pastime of the Supreme Lord. For instance, Arjuna was apparently bewildered on the battlefield of Kurukshetra before the fight, and this gave rise to the great lila of Krishna speaking the Bhagavad-gita. Those who have heard about the transcendental character of Arjuna from undisturbed authorities, know there could be no material reason why Arjuna would hesitate to do his duty, especially with Krishna by his side, driving his chariot.

Pilgrims to Hell

Srila Prabhupada points out that there is another reason that Krishna sometimes acts like an ordinary human being. It is to bewilder the envious atheists –to give them full opportunity to deny God and go to hell. “If a living being wants to go to hell, the Lord allows him to do so without interference, and if he wants to go back home, back to Godhead, the Lord also helps him to do that.” (Sri Isopanisad, Mantra Eight, Purport) The mission of the Pure Devotee is the same as that of Lord Krishna. Although he is said to be more merciful than Krishna Himself, his mission is fundamentally the same.

Duplicitous, mischievous persons sometimes deride the authorized acharya. The memoirs and writings of such polluted conditioned souls should be avoided by those serious about advancing in Krishna consciousness. To a grossly conditioned soul, Srila Prabhupada might have sometimes appeared temperamental, angry, capable of making mistakes, or ignorant of certain facts, but thoughtful disciples are not misled by external appearances. Maya can create any illusion before a conditioned soul. These are tests. Only those who are knowledgeable and willing to surrender can understand Sri Guru and Sri Krishna in truth. Otherwise, if one has some other agenda in the Krishna consciousness movement, he will likely make fatal miscalculations regarding Srila Prabhupada, his disciples, or Lord Krishna Himself.

“If the spiritual master is considered an ordinary man, the disciple surely loses his chance to advance further.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.12.14, Purport)

“Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature as the Supreme Lord of all that be.” (Bhagavad-gita As It Is 9.11)

Why would the self-effulgent pure devotee hide his true glory from his own disciples? He would not. The sastras, however, are full of stories of disciples being tested by the guru, or by maya’s agents. But a sincere student passes the tests. Duplicitous pretenders fail. They get weeded out. Despite their opportunity to associate with Srila Prabhupada and witness his extraordinary devotional mood and unique transcendental qualities, some of his original disciples have fallen from the path due to their “envy of the exalted status of the spiritual master.” Under the tight grip of illusion, they began thinking, “My guru is a regular guy. Let me exploit him and his mission for my own sense gratification.” Such mundane students are quickly ruined. “One should consider the spiritual master to be as good as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In spite of all of these instructions, if one considers the spiritual master an ordinary human being, he is doomed.” Some so-called disciples deliberately conspired to minimize Srila Prabhupada and remove him as the spiritual master of the Hare Krishna movement. Their motive? They coveted his post. Srila Prabhupada prophetically warned of this: “As soon as a foolish disciple tries to overtake his spiritual master and becomes ambitious to occupy his post, he immediately falls down.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.12.14, Purport)

Many modernly educated Indians have concluded that Krishna’s pastimes on Earth were a myth. Such people have all been indoctrinated by Western traditions of atheism and speculation. “Such faithless persons are described in Bhagavad-gita as mudhas, foolish as the ass. It is said that the mudhas deride the Supreme Personality of Godhead because they don’t have complete knowledge from the undisturbed acaryas. One who is disturbed by the whirlpool movements of the material energy is not qualified to become an acharya. (Sri Isopanisad, Mantra 13, Purport)

Such shallow people are unable to appreciate that Lord Krishna has been worshiped as the Supreme Personality of Godhead for thousands of years by the most intelligent and highly qualified people who ever lived in this world. For example, Srila Vyasadeva, Sri Sukadeva Goswami, Sri Madhvacarya, Sri Alavandar, Srila Ramanujacarya, Bilvamangala Thakura, Emperor Kulashekara, King Prataparudra, Emperor Krishnadeva Raya, Ramananda Raya, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Six Gosvamis of Vrindaban, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati and Srila Prabhupada have all accepted Krishna as the Supreme Absolute Truth, as have innumerable other great persons throughout history. Yet according to many deluded, modern-day Hindu leaders, the hundreds of millions of Krishna bhaktas throughout the past 5,000 years, and prior, were naïve fools.

In fact, the pseudo-humanitarian politicians and Godless Hindu scholars are the fools. They have tried to exploit Krishna’s words and fame for mundane social and political causes while simultaneously claiming Krishna is a myth. Secular party politics and atheistic systems of education have done the worst violence to millions of innocent Indian people by indoctrinating them with a sectarian socio-political consciousness imported from the West. This type of indoctrination leads to disastrous, bloody conflicts or full-scale war. Godless social ideals of secularism and party politics aim to repress the natural, native-born Krishna consciousness of all Indian people. Avajananti mam mudha, manusim tanum asrita. (Bg. 9.11)

Another type of miscreant understands that Krishna was a genuine historical personality, yet they think He was an ordinary king who died by an accidental wound to the foot. This brand of ignorant person fails to consider that according to all historical accounts, Krishna easily defeated the greatest warriors and their powerful weapons and armies. Even as a child He easily killed the most powerful mystic demons. So how was it possible that He could be killed by a hunter’s single small arrow in His foot? Bad luck? Yet this misleading story of a hunter shooting Krishna’s lotus foot is there in sastras. Why? Srila Prabhupada explains that one reason is to give envious persons facility to go to hell. Krishna thus fulfills the desires of those who would rather be pilgrims to hell than pilgrims to Vaikuntha.  “If a living being wants to go to hell, the Lord allows him to do so without interference…” Na mam duskritino mudhah, prapadyante naradhamah. (Bg. 7.15)

Dull-minded fools who never hear from proper authorities cannot understand why Krishna disappeared in an apparently ordinary way and seemed to leave a material body behind. Similarly, although Valmiki Rishi described in Ramayana how Ravana kidnapped Mother Sita, the liberated acharyas who know the conclusions of all the sastras know this incident was a pastime enacted under the Supreme Lord’s internal spiritual potency. Lord Chaitanya Himself discovered the passages in the Kurma Purana that explain that Ravana kidnapped an illusory form of Mother Sita. This is fully explained in Sri Caitanya-Caritamrita. Ravana could never capture the all-spiritual Srimati Sita Devi, who is more powerful than Durga Devi and all demigods combined.

Srila Prabhupada’s translations and purports give the final conclusions of all Vedic scriptures. In Srimad-Bhagavatam, he explains, “Persons who are addicted to the impersonal feature of the Lord, whether in meditation or otherwise, are all pilgrims to hell, because as stated in Bhagavad-gita(12.15), impersonalists simply waste their time in mundane mental speculation because they are addicted more to false arguments than reality.” (SB. 3.9.4, Purport)  Such people who teach that Krishna’s form is temporary or mundane, part of the illusory maya-shakti, will certainly go to hell. “Impersonalists who consider the transcendental forms of the Lord to be products of the material world are surely destined for hell.” He warns that their association is most dangerous and condemned by Lord Brahma, because in truth the personal forms exhibited by the Supreme Lord are meant for blessing everyone in all the universes. “Therefore the association of impersonalists is condemned herewith by Lord Brahma.” Equally as toxic is the association of Western indoctrinated pseudo-sadhus, pseudo-Hindu politicians and professors, and Hindus, Christians and Muslims who teach that Krishna is a myth. It would be far better for those unwilling to accept the authority of the authorized guru-parampara to avoid speculating on the Absolute Truth and the Vedic scriptures. In this way, they could avoid causing great harm to themselves and those who hear from them.

So-called disciples and others who think Srila Prabhupada was an ordinary man are not intelligent. They have not carefully understood Srila Prabhupada’s exalted character, unique qualities and predicted activities and symptoms. They have obviously neglected a careful study of his books. Such people, and those who like to publish, distribute and read their polluted memoirs, will likely suffer serious reactions. For them, there may be hell to pay. Perhaps Srila Prabhupada will save them, or perhaps not. Srila Prabhupada said one malicious ex-disciple would get another bona fide guru after ten million lifetimes. “… gurusu nara-matirnaraki sah: One who considers that the spiritual master is an ordinary human being… is considered a naraki, a candidate for hellish life.” (CC. Antya 6.294, Purport)

Materialistic devotees (prakrita-bhaktas) might argue, “Srila Prabhupada himself said he was an ordinary man, and he  presented himself in that way. Why would he mislead us?” Srila Prabhupada answers, “That is the teaching of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Guru more murkha dekhi. Caitanya Mahaprabhu is murkha? Why is it He’s posing Himself as that murkha?—‘I am fool number one.’ That means that is liberation. You must always be ready to be chastised by the guru. Then one is liberated.” (Conv. August 16, 1976, Bombay)

Liberated saints, such as Srila Sanatana Gosvami and Srila Raghunath Das Gosvami, although on the same level as Krishna Himself, often speak of themselves as being fallen and lowly. Such statements are due to their feelings of transcendental ecstasy and should never be taken literally. Liberatedacharyas show the proper mood that should be cultivated in devotional service. Prakasananda Sarasvati, though an impersonalist at the time of his first meeting with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, was not a dull fellow or an offender. He never accepted that Lord Caitanya was a fool. In spite of the Lord’s testing him with the statement: “guru more murkha dekhi,” Prakasananda Sarasvati understood that Lord Chaitanya was personally the self-effulgent source of the brahma-jyoti. Similarly, sincere disciples are not misled by Srila Prabhupada’s examples of humility but rather appreciate his unique, transcendental character and symptoms, which are self-effulgent.

People who think Srila Prabhupada was ignorant or deficient in any way are, at best, foolish and dense. Those who imply that he speculated about the future or lacked full command of English or Sanskrit, or that he neglected to give important instructions, are certainly narakis, or candidates for hellish life. Their association may be more dangerous than diehard impersonalists, who Srila Prabhupada said are “pilgrims to hell.”

As Good As Krishna Himself

Those who carefully read Srila Prabhupada’s books and develop fundamental faith in the bona fide spiritual master learn that the supernatural perfections of mystic yoga “constitute very little of his godly opulence.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.5.6, Purport) The eight-fold mystic powers intensely sought by great rishis and demigods, which are rarely achieved by anyone in full, are an insignificant part of the power of a pure devotee –particularly one who acts as Lord Krishna’s empowered representative (saksad hari). It is described in sastras that all the powers of the demigods and great rishis, as well as full liberation, which is high above all such powers, wait with folded hands as maidservants of the pure devotee, who generally neglects them.

“Since one cannot visually experience the presence of the Supersoul, He appears before us as a liberated devotee. Such a spiritual master is none other than Krishna Himself.” (Caitanya-Caritamrta, Adi-lila 1.58)

“On the whole, the spiritual master is an agent of Krishna. Either he is assistant to the gopis or assistant to the cowherd boys. He is on the level of Krishna. That is the verdict of all scriptures.” (Letter, Sept. 26, 1969)

“One should consider the spiritual master to be as good as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In spite of all of these instructions, if one considers the spiritual master an ordinary human being, he is doomed. His study of the Vedas and his austerities and penances for enlightenment are all useless, like the bathing of an elephant…” (SB. 7.15.26, Purport)