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Foreword by Shri Nrisimha dasa Adhikari
Pushpanjali is a welcome addition to a growing body of transcendental literature being produced by learned disciples of ISKCON's founder-acharya. A few years ago, just after the physical departure (maha-samadhO of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhak-tivedanta Swami Prabhupada, one of my God-brothers said to me, "Our Guru Maharaja has already written all the books we need; his disciples don't need to write any books at all." Although I first appreciated this "staunchly" loyal, if not naive, sentiment, a few years later I could understand why it is not completely correct. Certainly Prabhupada did write all the books we need for spiritual enlightenment. Certainly he wanted his disciples to preach Shri Chaitanya's message each in his own way with his own words and according to each personal and unique realization of Krishna consciousness. Supplementary literature is valuable as long as we keep in mind that our written works are indeed supplementary to the main body of spiritual knowledge given by our spiritual master. Our writings must help to illuminate and illustrate that Guru Maharaja was empowered to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world. If the disciple who follows in the footsteps of the spiritual master can communicate the conclusions (siddhanta) of the great disciplic chain as Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya sampradaya, it is only because the sat-gurudeva had breathed that eternal spiritual realization into him. This is the efficacy of disciplic succession—evam parampara praptam.
Another expression of doubt I've sometimes heard regarding books written by some disciples of Prabhupada runs more or less like this: "What can be the value of books written by Vaishnavas who are not yet completely self-realized (atma-tattwa). Such questions arise from perhaps not altogether needless doubts. Yet inquiries like these are much like asking, "Why should devotees who have not attained full Krishna consciousness try to preach or help others to advance in bhakti-yoga or devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead." Patita Pavana Prabhu has accurately answered these questions (in a different context) in Chapter Three, text 119, which reads as follows:
"Just as a young child does not speak with any degree of articulation, yet his slurred syllables give immense pleasure to his proud father, similarly, the neophyte devotee, though by no means rich in transcendental knowledge, may attempt to preach the glories of Krishna consciousness. And by doing so, he will fill his spiritual master with joy" —Pushpanjali 3:119
No one should doubt that Shrila Prabhupada will bless the attempts of his disciples who try to please him by presenting the philosophy of Krishna consciousness without change or novel mental speculations, yet in new and interesting ways. No doubt it is genuine to simply repeat verbatim what has been heard from the spiritual master, as did the humble disciple of Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati who memorized his guru's lecture and delivered that at a meeting. Yet repetition alone does not indicate a devotee's progressive realization or even his diligent study. It is one thing to memorize and recite transcendental words as disciples repeat faithfully 16 rounds ot the Hare Krishna maha-mantra daily, but it is quite anothei thing to meditate deeply on transcendental purports and pure spiritual sound. Every teacher—mundane or spiritual—wants a student to speak and write in a way that indicates the level of his developed understanding; in other words he will ask the student to use his acquired knowledge to explain essential truths in a variety of ways and in diverse contexts. When the student has done this well, the teacher knows his student is truly hearing and understanding. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, through His devotion to Shri Ishwara Puri, demonstrated—not for His benefit but for ours—that the highest realization of Krishna consciousness can be communicated only via the blessings of the pure devotee spiritual master.
Patita Pavana Das has illustrated his thorough understanding of Prabhupada's books in Pushpanjali's hundreds of texts (or sutras) which illustrate the major points of Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy. In Chanakya-style maxims that follow a clear and consistent development, he begins very appropriately with powerful refutations of the cunning mayavada philosophy, which Prabhupada so painstakingly and repeatedly tore to shreds. I believe Shri Pushpanjali will be especially valuable to preacher-devotees who are eager to sharpen their jnanasim, the transcendental sword of their knowledge. Pushpanjali could be accurately subtitled "A Preacher's Handbook." Indeed I suggest that no preacher leave on tour of areas dominated by mayavadis or impersonalists without it. Those who cannot easily defeat the illusory and false—yet seemingly strong—arguments of anti-devotional philosophies, particularly the poisonous sting of mayavada, embarrass and offend the sacred memory of our beloved gurudeva and run the risk of becoming diverted from the path of pure devotion.
When I asked Patita Pavana "for whom is Pushpanjali intended?" (I was hinting that I might like to offer him some advice how to improve the book's fictional aspect for the sake of non-devotees). He replied in strong words saying, "The book is for Vaishnava devotees. It is not intended to offer the mushy pabulum of compromise." In these times when would-be preachers would dream up schemes of contacting new fields and thereby occasionally form alliances with non-devotee groups—even sometimes hesitating to directly mention Hare Krishna or our Gaudiya or Vedic roots, I have found it very refreshing indeed to be in touch with the very bold and direct preaching of Pushpanjali.
The book employs a fictional dialogue form, as used by Plato, to illustrate the way of pure devotional service. The format is very simple: Krishna das our perhaps not unimaginary Godbrother, (or disciple of Shrila Prabhupada) meets an old friend who has fallen under the spell of mayavadis or impersonalists. Kenneth and Nathan, now known respectively as Krishna das and Nirvishesh, had gone to the same high school together in San Francisco. Both had an interest in mysticism and Eastern philosophies, yet their paths veered off on quite different courses. When they happen to meet on the U.C. Berkeley campus after an ecstatic San Francisco Rathayatra that had been attended personally by Shrila Prabhupada, they begin discussing their different views of self-realization. This is the basic plot of Pushpanjali; one that opens the door to hundreds of Shrila Prabhupada favorite "examples" or analogies.
Now, we'll leave it to the readers to find out who convinces who and what results from this fascinating conversation, which is indeed a very fragrant flower. I believe Lord Shri Krishna will be very pleased to accept this flower.
Shri Nrisimha Das 23 May 1988