The Journey to KumbhipakaBhakta Ashish (Anonymous writer)
When I first moved into an Iskcon temple I had already read Prabhupada’s Bhagavad Gita As It Is twice, as well as a few other of Prabhupada’s books. So when I first moved into the ashram and I started reading Radhanath Swami’s The Journey Home almost right away (like most new bhaktas these days it seems) I noticed that Radhanath Swami was praising various bogus gurus and yogis. I found this to be somewhat perplexing as Srila Prabhupada strongly criticized these types of people all throughout his books. I don’t remember asking anybody about this apparent contradiction between what Radhanath Swami was saying about these people and what Prabhupada says about these types of people, however I somehow or other came to the standard Iskcon approved understanding that The Journey Home is a preaching/introductory book and that Radhanath Swami’s intention when praising these pseudo-spiritualists is just to attract people to Krishna without upsetting them with strong criticism.
Now I do not claim to know what Mr. Swami’s intentions were when he wrote The Journey Home, and maybe he chose to change the preaching tactics that Prabhupada taught us (such as calling Mayavadis “rascals” and “cheaters”) in accordance with time, place and circumstance. However, I thought that I would write a small commentary on selected excerpts from The Journey Home so that people do not become confused about the position of non-devotee “sadhus” verses Vaishnava sadhus. I have entitled my humble commentary “The Journey to Kumbhipaka”. As I feel an explanation of this title will be better understood after one reads the points made in this paper, a full explanation will be given in the concluding thoughts. Also, as I am very fallen and foolish, and thus unfit to write a Vaishnava commentary, this commentary will consist primarily of the words of our previous Acharyas. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
“I was sincerely impressed with Swami Rama. When I appealed for his blessings, he said in his deep voice, “The foundation of your spiritual path will be to keep the company of holy people.” He raised his open palm to me. “The blessings of sages will carry you across all obstacles on the path.” (page 99)
According to Wikipedia Swami Rama was a Mayavadi sannyasi in the line of Shankaracharya. Here are some relevant words of wisdom from Srila Prabhupada:
[Dr. Patel:] You have been bracketing so many good people with the bad, and I feel strongly about this philosophy of yours.
[Prabhupad:] Where are good people? All rascals! Let them come. Yes, I shall kick on their face, I am so strong. Where is good man? I have already kicked that Bala Yogi-“He’s a dog!”-in a public meeting. If anybody is a Mayavadi, he’s a dog. Kick him on his face!” (Conversation, 23 Feb 1974)
And the transcendental opinion of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur:
The Mayavadis do not accept the eternal name, form, qualities, and pastimes of the Supreme Lord. They consider the living entity as a product of maya; therefore in their opinion the living entity has no eternal existence. They do not consider devotional service eternal; rather, they consider it a temporary method to cultivate knowledge. All the Mayavadi conclusions are opposed to the principles of devotional service. Therefore by associating with Mayavadis, one’s devotion gradually disappears. (Sri Bhaktyaloka page 33)
Regarding Sarvabauma Bhattacarya’s Mayavadi opinions before he received the mercy of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and became a Vaishnava:
The Bhattacarya’s statements were discussed before Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Gopinatha Acarya and Mukunda Datta disapproved of the Bhattacarya’s statements because they caused mental pain. (Chaitanya Charitamrta Madhya-lila chapter 6 verse 115)
So I agree with Swami Rama’s statements in verse one about the importance of keeping the company of holy people and receiving their blessings. However we should understand that only devotees of God can actually be considered holy, and it is only the blessings and association of saintly Vaishnavas, not impersonalists, Mayavadis, Buddhists, etc. that can truly benefit us.
“Obviously, the Maharishi was a powerful, loving force and everybody had been so kind.” (page 119)
This verse is referring to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Now that we have heard Mr. Radhanath Swami’s opinion of the “Maharishi”, let’s hear Srila Prabhupada’s opinion of him:
[Govinda Dasi:] “….a few years ago when Maharishi Mahesh Yogi [indistinct].
[Prabhupad:] “He is cheating [indistinct] He’s a rascal, and offended many Vaisnavas. George was after him.” (Conversation, 1 Jul 1971)
So Srila Prabhupada does not seem to share Mr. Swami’s opinion about the “Maharishi” being a “powerful, loving force”.
Here are some more thoughts from Maharishi Srila Prabhupada (Srila Prabhupad actually is a Maharishi, unlike this other miscreant):
No compromise-Ramakrishna, avatars, yogis, everyone was enemy to Guru-maharaja. He never compromised. Some godbrothers complained that his preaching was chopping technique and it would not be successful. But we have seen that those who criticized fell down. For my part, I have taken up the policy of my guru-maharaja-no compromise. (Letter, 27 Jul 1973)
Now we should never think that anyone who is envious of Krishna, or who denies his existence is a “powerful, loving force”, and then seek out their “powerful, loving” association and “blessings”. In the Chaitanya Bhagavata of Srila Vrindavana Dasa Thakur, there is the pastime of Lord Chaitanya denying His mercy to Mukunda because Mukunda would freely mingle with different spiritual groups. This pastime is meant to teach us a valuable lesson about the importance of carefully selecting our association:
“The Lord said, “Wherever this fellow goes, he mingles with the persons there and speaks like one of them. When he studies Yoga-vasistha in Advaita’s association, he takes a straw in his teeth and sings and dances in a devotional mood. When he mingles with another sampradaya, he constantly beats me with a stick by not accepting devotional service.” (Madhya-khanda chapter 10 verses 188-190)
So we should understand that if we mingle with impersonalists and atheists, and behave as though we are happy with their activities and philosophy, then we are beating Lord Chaitanya with a stick. If we find ourselves in such a degraded condition then, instead of beating Lord Chaitanya with a stick, we should beat our mind with a stick. I have also heard that a shoe is a suitable object to beat our minds with and that this beating should be done every morning and evening for proper results; at least according to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur.
“Minutes later a door opened and the Dalai Lama glanced toward me, eyes sparkling with joy behind his brown-rimmed glasses.” (page 178)
Although the Buddhists are unfit for discussion and should not be seen by Vaisnavas, Caitanya Mahaprabhu spoke to them just to decrease their false pride. (Chaitanya Charitamrta Madhya 9.48)
And now, swayed under the influence of this non-ecstatic philosophy, your actual blissful spiritual nature has not entered your heart. Therefore your so-called impersonal Brahman realization has actually short-changed you from your true ecstasy, and thus you simply remain in scarcity for want of true love. Renouncing this logical jugglery, just take shelter of beautiful moon-like Krishna, who is the ecstatic manifestation of supreme bliss. (Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, Kalyana Kalpa Taru First Branch song 5)
Also, I do believe that Buddhist philosophy technically falls into the “non-ecstatic” category.
And now here is a technical philosophical analysis by Srila Prabhupada of the various gurus/incarnations/avatars that were currently popular at the time:
[Journalist:] I think an awful lot of our readers, and an awful lot of people in the United States, are terribly confused with the many people who claim to be gurus and gods and who pop up in this country, one after the other, and they say that…
[Prabhupada:] I can declare that they are all nonsense.
[Journalist:] I wonder if you could elaborate on that a little bit?
[Prabhupada:] I can say, furthermore, they’re all rascals.” (Journey of Self-Discovery, 4.1)
“The next day, I returned and found Maharaji surrounded by a few followers reciting the story of Hanuman’s devotion from the Ramayan. Transfixed, Neem Karoli Baba trembled, tears streaming from his eyes.” (page 253)
Well-practiced in artificially shedding tears and in suddenly leaping here and there, you like to fall on the ground and pretend to be unconscious in ecstatic love for Krishna. You perform such mischievous pranks only to cheat the innocent public and thereby broadcast and popularize your own wicked association. This is all such nonsense just so you can attract women and money. (Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, Kalyana Kalpa Taru First Branch, song 18)
Next here are some verses from the Chaitanya Charitamrta that describe a person named Ramadasa Vishvasa who constantly chanted and appeared to be a great devotee. However, appearances can be deceiving:
Thus Ramadasa carried the baggage of Raghunatha Bhatta and served him sincerely. He constantly chanted the holy name of Lord Ramacandra day and night. (Antya 13.99)
When Ramadas Visvasa met Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Lord did not show him any special mercy, although this was their first meeting. Within his heart, Ramadasa Visvasa was an impersonalist who desired to merge into the existence of the Lord, and he was very proud of his learning. Since Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the omniscient Supreme Personality of Godhead, He can understand the heart of everyone, and thus He knew all these things.” (Antya 13.109-110)
And some words of warning from Srila Prabhupada:
[break] …sentiment this Karoli Baba. Nim Karoli…
Gurudasa: Nim Karoli Baba.
Prabhupada: What is that meaning, Nim Karoli
Gurudasa: I don’t know? [break]
Prabhupad: …it is very difficult to wash it. Therefore Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has said, mayavadi-bhasya sunile haya sarva nasa. One who once hears mayavadi, mayavadi-bhasya, he is doomed. His life is spoiled.” (Conversation Oct 31, 1973)
So I could pull many more quotes out of The Journey Home and compare them to many more quotes from our Acharyas and shastra, however, I think at this point that most potential confusion has been pretty much clarified.
As I said previously, I am not an Acharya and therefore do not understand how to change the presentation of Krishna Consciousness according to time place and circumstance. And although Mr. Radhanath Swami’s book may have been written in the way it was as a preaching tactic, I just wanted to make sure that new devotees do not become confused about our philosophy. So I would like to conclude this article by presenting a few more quotes from Shastra and our previous Acharyas that I believe are relevant to this discussion, and then add a few closing thoughts:
These rascals will not understand Krsna. Just like the owl. The owl will never open his eyes to see that there is sunlight. However, you may say “Mr. Owl, please open your eyes and see the sun”-“No, there is no sun. I don’t see.” This owl civilization. So you have to fight with these owls. You must be very strong, especially the sannyasis. We have to fight with the owls. We have to open their eyes by force. This Krsna consciousness movement is a fight against all the owls. (Srila Prabhupada, Lecture, 19 Jul 1975)
I am very glad that you are challenging all of these so-called swamis and gurus. My guru-maharaja appreciated devotees who boldly present our Vaisnava philosophy. We must take advantage of every opportunity to defeat these rascals and drive them away, so please continue this strong attitude. (Srila Prabhupada, Letter, 30 Nov 1971)
Preaching is always difficult-that I am repeatedly saying. You cannot take preaching as very easygoing. Preaching must be a fight. Do you mean to say that fighting is easy? Fighting is not easy. Whenever there is a fight, there is a danger, there is responsibility. What is preaching? Because people are ignorant, we have to enlighten them. That is preaching. (Srila Prabhupada, Conversation, 12 Dec 1973)
If I were to desist from speaking the impartial truth for fear that some listeners might be riled, I would be deviating from the path of Vedic truth to accept that of untruth. I would become inimical to the Vedas, an atheist, and would no longer possess faith in Bhagavan, the very embodiment of truth. (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, Gaudiya 5.25)
We don’t make any flattery to satisfy the whims of the audience. We speak from Srimad-Bhagavatam, we speak from Bhagavad-gita, and present them as it is, without any adulteration. This is our position. If you like, then you make progress. If you don’t like, that is your option. But we cannot make any compromise. We must present the sastra as it is.(Srila Prabhupada, Lecture 27 Sep 1974)
We don’t make any compromise. What we believe, we are preaching that. People are accepting. So you believe or not believe, it doesn’t matter for us. (Srila Prabhupada, Conversation 13 Nov 1975)
For this reason, the Gaudiya Matha so firmly sticks to its words and cannot participate in others’ functions. It cannot become one of the hodgepodge or cheap, falsely devotional groups, simply for entertaining the public. (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, Gaudiya 14.172-74)
I named my small commentary on Mr. Radhanath Swami’s book “The Journey to Kumbhipaka” because that is where one might end up if they think that there is nothing wrong with freely associating with bogus yogis, cheating gurus, Mayavadis, Buddhists, sahajiyas, etc. You see, Kumbhipaka is one of the hells described in the 5th Canto of the Bhagavatam (5.26.13) where sinful rascals get boiled in oil. I am also a sinful rascal who is probably destined for a vacation in Kumbhipaka, yet I hope that if I keep doing services for Prabhupada’s movement, like criticizing nonsense deviations, then maybe Krishna will let me off with a lighter sentence.
His Holiness Bhakti Vikasa Swami has written numerous books on the subject of keeping it real. His book On Speaking Strongly in Srila Prabhupada’s Service is a must read for those who wish to properly understand Srila Prabhupada, in my opinion. Bhaktivikasha Maharaj’s book Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Vaibhava is an encyclopedic masterpiece, and in my opinion, an essential read for any devotee who wants to understand Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, and therefore also understand Srila Prabhupada who is repeating the instructions of his spiritual master. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.