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Shri Pushpanjali means "an offering of flowers." As Lord Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, says in Shri Bhagavad Gita:
patram pushpam phalam toy am yo me bhaktya prayacchati tad aham bhaktya-upahritam asnami mahatmanah.
"If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it,"
—Bhagavad Gita As It Is, 9.27 by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Shri Krishna makes this request only after He has been shown in the Bhagavad Gita to be the Sole Enjoyer, the Primeval Lord, and the True Object of all sacrificial offerings. Actually, our natural position is found in offering loving devotional service to Lord Shri Krishna, and this is the essential message of Shri Pushpanjali.
Each verse of Shri Pushpanjali spoken by our hero Krishna das in his unlikely yet thought-provoking conversation with Nirvishesh of the anti-devotional cult (mayavada), is also meant as a flower offered to you, the reader. Contained herein is a collection of Vedic proverbs, significant verses, parables, and analogies, which can be extremely useful in understanding the philosophy of Krishna consciousness.
Of course analogies are limited and our Guru Maharaja, Shrila Prabhupada, often used the word "crude" to describe many of his favorite analogies. For example, Lord Krishna's beauty is sometimes likened unto a lotus flower. Thus we understand that the Supreme Lord is softer, sweeter and more delicate than any conceivable person. Yet, Shri Krishna is actually so very beautiful that if one were able to properly perceive His beauty, one would—it is said—even spit upon the so-called beauty of a lotus. The analogies presented in Shri Pushpanjali can be helpful in gradually learning step-by-step subtle truths which might otherwise be comprehended only with greater difficulty and lengthier explanation. For this reason, all Vedic shastras are resplendent with subtle analogies that self-realized preachers or acharyas have used to teach their lessons to the world. And by hearing such examples from Vaishnava scriptural authorities, we are slowly lifted into new regions of spiritual awareness and realization.
Although deceptively childlike in appearance, these analogies impart deeper truths through their simplicity. Their poetic or sometimes comical quality renders them easily remembered. Indeed, when well applied at the correct moment, a challenging atheist or charging antagonist can be hushed into silence with but a few gentle and firm words of analogy. Of course, avid impersonalists like our friend Nirvishesh are also often equipped with their own barrage of analogies, and the young monist freely shares many of his.
The ideas and examples related in Pushpanjali are not my own; these analogies were collected by me as notes between 1968 and 1976 when the manuscript was completed. During those years it was mv "rest °ood fortune to hear literally thousands of hours of Shrila Prabhupada's lectures, both personal and taped, and from disciples who had studied under him. As a result, and also through studying the voluminous works of Guru Maharaja, these examples have been collected, and this text has been produced.
The teachings of my spiritual master are my eternal sustenance, and there is always fresh inspiration in studying or re-tudying his books. I hope I have captured herein some of the most-often employed and most prized analogies His Divine Grace used in explaining Krishna consciousness to his European and American audiences from 1966 until his mahasamadhi in 1977- Older devotees will recall most of them; beginners, new to the path of Krishna-bhafeti, will find many of them hitting home.
That this collection has Shrila Prabhupada's blessings is seen in a letter he sent me from Delhi on December 8, 1971. His Divine Grace wrote, "Your idea to publish a booklet of arguments against impersonalists is a very good proposal. Do it nicely by mutual consultation with your learned elder Godbrothers and Godsisters." I pray that this humble attempt fulfills the purport, a favorite word of Shrila Prabhupada, of that divine order.
In another letter I received in the winter of 1974 in London, he also pointed out the need to refute impersonalistic theories with the words:
"I have heard...that you are giving lectures in the temple. I have also seen your "Krishna's Column" in the Gujarati newspaper, and I am very pleased. Somebody must speak, and you have heard what I am speaking, so you should just speak what you have heard, and it will have the potent effect. This is the power of parampara, disciplic succession. So you must be prepared to meet all opposition, because practically everyone is a mayavadi. They do not have faith in Lord Krishna's words in Bhagavad Gita. Therefore, we have a great responsibility to present the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna's words without any change. Please do the needful. Your speaking should be continued."
Concerning the history of mayavada, the impersonalistic path that denies form and feature to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, some valuable instructions are given in Shrila Prabhupada's monumental translation of the great Bengali classic, Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita by Shrila Krishnadas Kaviraj. In that holy text's first portion or Adi-lila (chapter seven), the episode regarding Lord Chaitanya's meeting with a group of mayavadi sannyasis at their Benares stronghold is related. In converting this monistic crowd to Vaishnavism, Shriman Mahaprabhu explained how their original preceptor, Shri Shankaracharya (who propagated impersonalism over a thousand years ago) is not to be blamed for his teachings. Lord Chaitanya explained to the impersonalists of Benares (Varanasi), "Shankaracharya is not at fault for he has covered the real purpose of the Vedas under the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead." (CC. Adi. 7.110)
Quoted hereunder is Prabhupada's explanation of how impersonalism or mayavada was popularized by Shrila Shankaracharya, the incarnation of Lord Shiva (the supreme Vaishnava) by the Supreme Lord's order. These enlightening words are Shrila Prabhupada's Purport to the above verse, which all devotees will do well to study very carefully:
"Vedic literature is a source of real knowledge, but if one does not take it as it is, one will be misled. For example, Bhagavad Gita is an important Vedic literature which has been taught for many years, but because it was commented upon by unscrupulous rascals, people derived no benefit from it, and no one came to the conclusion of Krishna consciousness. Since the purpose of Bhagavad Gita is now being presented as it is, however, within four or five short years thousands of people all over the world have become Krishna conscious. That is the difference between direct and indirect explanations of Vedic literature. Therefore Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, mukhva-vrittye sei artha parama mahattva: 'to instruct Vedic literature according to its direct meaning, without false commentary, is glorious.' Unfortunately, Shri Shankaracharya, by the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, compromised between atheism and theism in order to cheat the atheists and bring
them to theism, and to do so he gave up the direct method of Vedic knowledge and tried to present a meaning which is indirect. It is with this purpose that he wrote his Shariraka Bhashya commentary on the Vedanta Sutra. One should not, therefore, attribute very much importance to the Shariraka Bhashya. In order to understand Vedanta philosophy, one must study the Shrimad Bhagavatam, which begins with the words, om namo hhagavate vasudevaya, janmady asya yato 'nvayad itaratash chartheshv abhijnah sva-rat: "I offer my obeisances unto Lord Shri Krishna, son of Vasudeva, who is the Supreme All-pervading Personality of Godhead. I meditate upon Him, the transcendent reality, who is the primeval cause of all causes, from whom all manifested universes arise, in whom they dwell and by whom they are destroyed. I meditate upon that eternally effulgent Lord who is directly and indirectly conscious of all manifestations and yet is fully independent." (Bhag. 1.1.1) Shrimad Bhagavatam is the real commentary on the Vedanta Sutra. Unfortunately, if one is attracted to Shri Shankaracharya's commentary, Shariraka Bhashya, his spiritual life is doomed.
"It may be argued that since Shankaracharya is an incarnation of Lord Shiva, how is it that he cheated people in this way? The answer is that he did so on the order of his master, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is confirmed in the Padma Purana in the words of Lord Shiva himself:
mayavadam asach-chastram pracchannam hauddham uchyate
mayaiva kalpitam devi kalau hrahmana-rupina
brahmanash chaparam rupam nirgunam vakshyate maya
sarvasvam jagato'py asya mohanartham kalau yuge
vedante tu maha-shastre mayavadam avaidikam
mayaiva vakshyate devi jagatam nasha-karanai
"'The mayavada philosophy," Lord Shiva informed his wife Parvati, "is impious [asach-chastra]. It is covered Buddhism. My dear Parvati, in the form of a brahmana in Kali Yuga I teach this imagined mayavada philosophy. In order to cheat the atheists, I describe the Supreme Personality of Godhead to be without form and without qualities. Similarly, in explaining Vedanta I describe the same mayavada philosophy in order to mislead the entire population toward atheism by denying the personal form of the Lord." In Shiva Purana the Supreme Personality of Godhead tells Lord Shiva:
dvaparadau yuge bhutva kalaya manushadishu svagamaih kalpitais tvam chajanam mad-vimukhan kuru
'"In KaliYuga, mislead the people in general by propounding imaginary meanings for the Vedas to bewilder them." These are the descriptions of the Pur anas.
"Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura comments that mukhya-vritti ('the direct meaning') is abhida-vritti, or the meaning which one can understand immediately from the statements of dictionaries, whereas gauna-vritti ('the indirect meaning') is a meaning that one imagines without consulting the dictionary. For example, one politician has said that Kurukshetra refers tc the body, but in the dictionary there is no such definition. Therefore this imaginary meaning is gauna-vritti, whereas the direct meaning found in the dictionary is mukhya-vritti or abhida-vritti. This is the distinction between the two. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu recommends that one understand the Vedic literature in terms of abhida-vritti, and the gauna-vritti He rejects. Sometimes, however, as a matter of necessity, Vedic literature is described in terms of the lakshana-vritti or gauna-vritti, but one should not accept such explanations as permanent truths.
"The purpose of the discussions in the Upanishads and Vedanta Sutra is to philosophically establish the personal feature of the Absolute Truth. The impersonalists, however, in order to establish their philosophy, accept these discussions in terms of lakshana-vritti, or indirect meanings. Thus instead of being tattva-vada, or in search of the Absolute Truth, they become mayavada, or illusioned by the material energy. When Shri Vishnusvami, one of the four acharyas of the Vaishnava cult, presented his thesis on the subject matter of shuddhadvaita-vada, immediately the mayavadis took advantage of this philosophy and tried to establish their advaita-vada or kevaladvaita-vada. To defeat this kevaladvaita-vada, Shri Ramanujacharya presented his philosophy as vishishtadvaita-vada, and Shri Madhvacharya presented his philosophy of tattva-vada, both of which are stumbling blocks to the mayavadis because they defeat their philosophy in scrupulous detail. Students of Vedic philosophy know very well how strongly Shri Ramanujacharya's vishishtadvaita-vada and Shri Madhvacharya's tattva-vada contest the impersonal mayavada philosophy. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, however, accepted the direct meaning of the Vedanta philosophy and thus defeated the mayavada philosophy immediately. He opined in this connection that anyone who follows the principles of the Shariraka Bhashya is doomed. This is confirmed in the Padma Purana where Lord Shiva tells
shrinu devi pravakshyami tamasani yathakramam
yesham shravana-matrena patityam gyaninam api
apartham shruti-vakyanam darshayal loka-grhitam
karma-svarupa-tyajyatvam atra cha pratipadyate
sarva-karma-paribhramshan naishkarmyam tatra cocyate
paratma-jivayor aikyam may atra pratipadyate
'"My dear wife, hear my explanations of how I have spread ignorance through mayavada philosophy. Simply by hearing it, even an advanced scholar will fall down. In this philosophy, which is certainly very inauspicious for people in general, I have misrepresented the real meaning of the Vedas and recommended that one give up all activities in order to achieve freedom from karma. In this mayavada philosophy I have described the jivatma and Paramatma to be one and the same.' How the mayavada philosophy was condemned by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His followers is described in Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya-lila, Second Chapter, verses 94 through 99, wherein Svarupa Damodara Gosvami says that anyone who is eager to understand the mayavada philosophy must be considered insane. This especially applies to a Vaishnava who reads the Shariraka Bhashya and considers himself to be one with God. The mayavadi philosophers have presented their arguments in such attractive flowery language that hearing mayavada philosophy may sometimes change the mind of even a maha-bhagavata, or very advanced devotee. An actual Vaishnava cannot tolerate any philosophy that claims God and the living being to be one and the same."
In Prabhupada's early years of teaching Krishna consciousness on New York City's lower East Side, he repeatedly stressed the difference between the Vaishnava and mayavadi siddhanta or conclusions. One elder disciple, Brahmananda, observed, "We thought he was talking about some other Indian religion. We did not realize at first that he was preaching to us; that we were the mayavadis."
Prabhupada partly blamed the 1950's-60's intrusion of mayavada in the USA upon Vaishnavas who ignored the necessity of preaching personalism in paschatya-desh (the Western countries). The whole hippie movement he pointed out, grew from mayavada.
Even among the Christians, this problem ol mayavada is prevalent. Whereas some Christians worship Lord Jesus as God's son, or representative, or servant—as the Christ so wished— there are others who worship him as God Himself. In just the same way, many Indian village babajis have been promoted to Almighty Godhead or Bhagavan by the votes of ignorant bumpkins.
Indeed every major religion, and "ism" of the world has suffered to some degree the infection of mayavada. We find ourselves bombarded by the false lullaby of oneness in poetry, literature, on TV or the car radio. The "I am you and we are God so we can do no wrong" concept has even been used in the upscale advertising of Japanese electronics in slick periodicals; the con being that "since we are one, there can be no cheating here." The ugliest visage of mayavada has been witnessed amongst sahajias who claim to be Krishna in search of a lrasa-lila." Our great great-grand Guru Maharaja, Shrila Bhaktivinode Thakur, a government magistrate, had one such rascal sahajia jailed for lewd acts performed while impersonating God! Exposed and humiliated, the false Krishna drank poison and died behind bars! As Shri Thakurji used to say. "It is the worst of sins to address a jiva (soul) as God!"
Our Grand Guru Maharaja, Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami, said that the Leader of our sampradaya, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, "...had a detestation for mayavada—that phase of pantheism in which the eternal service is practically denied and pedantic aspersions are found to predominate over the aspects ol Transcendental Manifestive Truth."
Recently I happened to read a brochure that an ex-ISKCON swami was marketing himself with. The brochure promised "the swami would take us through the different stages of love's journey from selfish yearning to release from attachments, and finally to the myriad ecstasies of devotion in loving union with the infinite." Now a pure devotee wants to experience "loving union with the infinite" as much as a sailor yearns to merge with the ocean while in the middle of the sea! Compromising with mayavadis has never been a means of measuring success in preaching Krishna consciousness. Since the insidious problem of mayavada is much closer to home than we may care to admit or even be aware of, Shri Pushpanjali is timely indeed.
1 am indebted to all kind and generous well-wishers who have helped me to produce Shri Pushpanjali. First let me thank the Gujarati Hindu devotees of the Radha-Krishna Temple in Leicester, England who kindly cared for me while 1 stayed at their mandir to organize the text in 1975. Mr. Patel, Shri Chaturbhuj, and Shri Giriraja Goswami were most kind and helpful. Later on 1 was actually blessed to nearly complete the text while daily sitting at the feet of Shrila Prabhupada during his morning sun-sittings in Mumbai. Aditya devi dasi, the head of the secretarial department of Mumbai's Hare Krishna Land kindly arranged for typing the manuscript and kept it safely for several years during my global peregrinations. Other devotees, Cintia Guerrero Stammers of Sao Paulo, and Dr. Naranji Patel of Alamo, CA, have donated generously to this project. My dear friend Shri Krishna Acharya Brahmachary of Shri Rangam, Tamil Nadu is to be remembered for his intellectual input. I thank my dear Godbrothers Shri Nrisimha das, a respected Vaishnava author, for his eloquent Foreword; and Shri Ananta Shakti das for his incredible abiity to capture Shrila Prabhupada with pen and ink. Dr. Heather Thompson, my mentor at CPU, kindly went through the text in its form as a thesis and offered her advice, help and appreciation which I was glad to have. My wife Raagini and daughter Chandini are to be remembered for putting up with me and helping me in every way. Lastly, by Krishna's grace, Smt. Mayapriya devi dasi, "the Mother of Vedic publishing" came to my rescue with her expertise in publishing Vaishnava literature.
My learned elder Godbrothers will kindly forgive any flaws or oversights since the only goal of this writing, nay, this life, is the glorification of service unto the all-spiritual lotus feet of Lord Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, through Shrila Prabhupada's loving guidance.
Shri Patita Pavana Das
5 July 1997