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CRITICISM OF THE VEDIC SCRIPTURES (SRUTISASTRA NINDA)
IS THE FOURTH OFFENSE
All glories to Shrila Gadadhara Pandit, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Shri Nityananda Prabhu, Shri Advaita Acarya and all the devotees of Lord Gouranga.
Shrila Haridasa Thakura said, "My Lord! To criticize the Vedic literature and other literatures in pursuance of the Vedic version is a serious offense that denies a person the ecstacy of pure devotion."
The Veda (sruti) is the only proof
The srutisastra (the Vedic literature), which includes the four Vedas, the Upanisads, the Puranas and other collorary scriptures, has emanated from the Supreme Lord Krishna's own lips. This literature establishes and proves the Absolute Truth. It contains transcendental knowledge that is beyond the range of the material senses, and it can be understood by Lord Krishna's grace alone.
The senses are capable of experiencing only material objects; transcendence lies completely beyond their bounds. The science of Krishna consciousness is purely spiritual: hence it is transcendental. That knowledge of transcendence has been mercifully given by Lord Krishna in the Vedic literature for the ultimate benefit of humanity. The word veda specifically refers to scriptural knowledge received through the proper authorized disciplic succession or parampara.
Human beings are born with four natural faults: they commit errors, they are subject to illusion, they have the propensity to cheat, and they have imperfect senses. Everything they do is tainted by these faults. Vedic literature is free from any mistakes or discrepancies. It is the only means to spiritual salvation. The Vedic knowledge was originally revealed by the mercy of Lord Krishna. It was compiled by sages who had received this knowledge while in samadhi, or total spiritual absorbtion, far beyond the range of the four natural human faults.
The sruti teaches ten principles
The Vedic literature teaches that both mundane fruitive activities (karma) and empirical speculative knowledge (jnana) are inferior paths. The conclusion is that perfection is available only through bhakti. The Lord gives karma and jnana for preliminary purification of the jivas, and afterwards gives pure bhakti.
In the Vedic literature there are ten principle instructions. The first is that the proof or basis (pramana) of real knowledge is the sruti. The other nine principles are prameyas ascertained from the pramana. These ten principles destroy nescience and establish true spiritual knowledge.
The nine ascertainable principles: the first three pertain to Krishna
The first of the nine prameyas is that Hari, Krishna, is the only Supreme Absolute Truth. The second is that He is omnipotent. The third is that He is Rasamurti, the embodiment of all spiritual mellows. He is the source of bliss for all living entities and He eternally resides in His abode in the spiritual sky. These first three teaching pertain to the Supreme Lord, Krishna.
The second three pertain to the position of the jiva
The fourth prameya is that the jiva is the Lord's separated part and parcel. The jivas are the infintesimal eternal spiritual sparks of pure consciousness who comprise the innumerable living entities. The jiva is of two types: eternally conditioned, who populate the material world, and eternally liberated, who populate the spiritual world.
The fifth prameya is that the conditioned souls are enamored by the glitter of maya's illusory potency. They have forgotten Krishna and remain eternally in this phenomenal world, enjoying and suffering material existence.
The sixth prameya is that the eternally liberated jivas are associates of Lord Krishna. They reside in the spiritual world and enjoy transcendental loving relationships with the Lord. These three, then, are the teachings about the jiva found in the sruti.
The seventh prameya is acintyabhedabhedasambandha
Everything material and spiritual is acintyabhedabheda-sambandha (simultaneously one and different). The jivas and matter are inconceivably manifested from Lord Krishna's internal potency. Once knowing acintyabhedabhedatattva, the jiva understands that he is the servant of Krishna and is like the spark or ray of the spiritual sun that is Krishna.
The transformations of the Lord's energy are beyond the mind's grasp (acintya), says the sruti. But the socalled transformations of the Supreme Lord Himself that the Mayavadis would like to have us all believe in are only mischievious and offensive postulations.
Thus, so far, the above seven prameyas comprise sambandha-jnana or knowledge of the eternal connection between the Lord and his energies. The sruti further points out abhideya, which is the means to acheive prayojana, the supreme goal. Abhideya is devotional service
The nine limbs of devotional service are: hearing, chanting, remembering, worshiping, praying, rendering service, carrying out the orders of the Lord, being a friend of the Lord and completely surrendering to the Lord. The chanting of the holy name is the most important devotional activity, and for this reason the Vedas glorify the chanting of the syllable om. Devotional service (sadhanabhakti) has two divisions: vaidhi and raga. Abhideya, the ninefold process of sadhanabhakti, is the eighth prameya.
Prayojana is Krishnaprema
By the mercy of Lord Krishna, the jiva who takes shelter of abhideya will attain Krishnaprema or love of Godhead. Krishna prema is the prayojana (necessity and ultimate goal) of the jiva; it is the ninth prameya.
[Footnote 1 by Bhaktivinoda]
Pure devotion is indicated by the human proclivity to always render favorable devotional service to Krishna. Such devotion strives only for further excellence in service, being satisfied with nothing else. Pure devotion is uncontaminated by fruitive activity or empirical knowledge. The Vedic literature recommends that we cultivate pure devotion by taking full shelter of the holy name. [End of footnote 1]
These nine basic principles were ascertained from the sruti by learned spiritual masters who taught them for the guidance of all conditioned souls. But those who criticize the sruti, the very source of spiritual knowledge, are offenders against the holy name and are known as the lowest among men.
Philosophers who opposed the sruti
Jaimini, Kapila, Nagna, Carvaka, Sugata Buddha and Gautama were philosophers who propagated theories based on mundane logic and reasoning. Some of them did some lip service to the teachings of the sruti, but they all rejected God. Jaimini proclaimed that the best knowledge the sruti has to offer is the fruitive ritualistic portion known as karmakanda. Kapila dared to argue that God is imperfect. He accepted the process of yoga, but without understanding its real goal realization of Paramatma. Nagna spread poison by teaching tantric practices in the mode of ignorance. Carvaka Nastika was an atheist who never accepted the Vedic authority, and Sugata devised his own path of religion in place of the sruti. Gautama propagated logic and did not worship the Supreme Lord.
These mischievious interpretations are in fact offenses against the Vedic literature. Through sophism, such philosophers speak halftruths that are likely to confuse the ordinary listener, though a learned devotee knows their sole object is to defame the sruti. One who develops faith in these theories becomes an offender. Therefore the devotee avoids hearing them.
The Mayavadi philosophy is equally as dangerous, for it supresses bhakti in the heart of the jiva. Mayavadi philosophy is factually camouflaged Buddhism. On the Lord's behest, Siva became its chief proponent in the Kaliyuga. As Jaimini seemingly upheld Vedic authority but practically propounded a warped version of the Vedic conclusions, similarly Mayavadi philosophers pervert Vedic proofs to establish their covert Buddhism. Thus they hide the essential message of the sruti, which is the science of devotional service.
Astavakra, Dattatreya, Govinda, Gaudapada, Sankaracarya and his followers are wellknown Mayavadi philosophers. In Buddhism, the principal teaching is the nonexistence of the soul, and there is no concept of Brahman. The theory of nothingness, the last word in Buddhism, is rendered by the Mayavadis into the concept of the formless, impersonal Brahman which they argue is beyond matter. Such ideas diametrically oppose the eternal science of devotional service. Any affiliation with such thoughts automatically makes the jiva commit namaparadha.
The direct meaning is the real meaning
When all the principle understandings of the Vedic philosophy are brought together, they add up to pure devotional service by which the jiva attains pure love of Godhead. Wherever the principle understandings are applicable, it is wrong to substitute secondary understandings in their place. These principle meanings all indicate the science of Krishna consciousness. To artificially impose secondary meanings upon the Vedic statements is a sin that distances one from the Absolute Truth.
From beginning to end, the srutisastra expounds the superexcellence of the syllable om. The omkara is a name of Krishna, and by chanting the Lord's name, the jiva attains the Lord's supreme abode. The Vaishnava devotees of the Shri Sampradaya chant om as a holy name of the Lord. The Vedas declare the holy name to be the trancendental form of the Supreme Lord in this material world; even namabhasa, the holy name's indistinct appearance, grants all perfection. Only unfortunate fools will purposefully disregard such Vedic teachings and thus ruin their lives by offenses.
The sruti teaches pure chanting of the holy name
The devotee who takes shelter of the pure name accepts the absolute authority of the Vedas, and quickly attains the nectar of the name, Krishnaprema. The sruti proclaims that by chanting the holy name of Hari, one experiences ecstatic bliss. Further, it is declared that the eternally liberated residents of the spiritual sky are always engaged in chanting the pure name.
Mayadevi engages the presentday critics of the sruti in sinful practices
As Kaliyuga degrades, more and more people worship maya, the material energy. Even socalled great devotees give up the opportunity to chant the Supreme Lord Krishna's holy name, which is full of ecstacy, and instead take up tantric worship in the mode of ignorance. Evercritical of the Vedic literature, they swerve from the real path of religion to eat meat, drink alcohol and perform other sinful activities. These offenders can never receive the shelter of the name, nor can they enter the Supreme Lord's eternal abode of Vrndavana.
Mayadevi engages such atheists in everincreasing sin, depriving them of the nectar of chanting the holy name. The superior spiritual energy is Lord Krishna's original and primeval energy. Maya (Durga, Kali) is its shadow. Her intention is to rectify the erring jivas who drift away from Krishna and bring them back to Krishna consciousness. Indeed, this is her prime duty to the Lord.
[Footnote 2 by Bhaktivinoda:]
Maya showers two kinds of graces niskapata (honest and unrestricted) and sakapata (capricious and illusory). By her niskapata mercy she gives bhakti by way of jnana (bhaktijnanamisra). Her sakapata mercy gives temporary pleasures that overwhelm the jiva, bringing him under the control of illusion. And when she is thoroughly merciless, she casts the jiva into brahmasayuja liberation; thus he is doomed.
But she becomes pleased when someone renders service to a saintly Vaishnava, and showers him with her true mercy, connecting him to Lord Krishna's lotus feet. Maya is an eternal maidservant of Lord Krishna. She punishes the wayward jivas who drift away from Krishna's service, for those who want to serve maya are simply cheaters who can never know happiness. Yet Mayadevi rewards those who chant the holy name. She helps them cross over the ocean of material nescience. [End of footnote 2]
The remedy for srutininda
One must avoid commiting the offense of criticizing the Vedic scriptures and constantly chant the holy name. If one inadvertently criticizes the sruti, he should sincerely repent his error by properly glorifying the sruti. He should worship the Vedic literature and the Shrimad Bhagavatam with great joy and respect, offering them flowers and tulasi. The Shrimad Bhagavatam is the essence of the Vedic teachings and is the scriptural incarnation of Lord Krishna. The Bhagavatam will certainly shower mercy upon the offender, because the Bhagavatam is an ocean of mercy.
One who hankers for the dust of the lotus feet of Shrila Haridasa Thakur will wear this gem necklace called Harinama Cintamani around his neck.