[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja and his party stayed for a few days, from May 29th to June 2nd, at the home his dear disciples, Arun and Vinodini Verma, in Houston, Texas. Approximately thirty devotees received hari-nama and diksa initiation there, and a grand fire sacrifice took place.
During his evening darsana of June 4th, Srila Maharaja was interviewed for a large Houston radio station called “The Meditation Hour,” which is aired every Sunday from 5pm till 8pm.” *[See endnote 1] The Host and producer of the show, Mr. Jaya Narayana Singh, has been interviewing Srila Narayana Maharaja on his radio station for several years, during Srila Maharaja’s yearly visits to Houston, and he was initiated by him last year. The following is a transcription of this year’s interview.]
Interview for The Meditation Hour at the home of Arun and Vinodini Verma
[Jaya Narayana Singh:] Many Indians in Trinidad, and non-Indians as well, are worshipping demigods as equal to Krsna. We try to explain to them that this is wrong, but they are afraid to stop the worship. How can we convince them to stop?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] “We should discuss this with them in a very sweet mood. We will first have to say that the demigods can fulfill all our desires, so we should respect them and offer them puja (worship). But, we should know who they are. They are maidservants and servants of Sri Krsna. Without Krsna, they cannot give anything to their worshippers. This is discussed in many scriptures, and it has been written in the Bhagavad-gita:
ye 'py anya-devata-bhakta
te 'pi mam eva kaunteya
[“Those who are devotees of other gods, and who worship them with faith, actually worship only Me, O son of Kunti, but they do so in a wrong way.”]
If anyone is worshipping the demigods, it is Krsna who fulfills their desires – the demigods cannot do so. Krsna mercifully thinks, “The demigods are My servants, so I should fulfill the desires of their worshipers.” But what will be the result? The worshippers will receive only worldly things, and these worldly things are perishable. For some time they will think, “I am very happy,” but their sense gratification and so-called happiness will soon disappear.
If you worship demigods, after some time you may go to heaven. But then you will come back to this Earthly realm. You must come back. It is better to know who is the master of the demigods – by whose opulence the demigods and goddesses manifest. It is better to worship Him. Krsna will then give you liberation from this world, and you will be happy forever by serving Him. Your transcendental form does not worship demigods; it worships Sri Krsna and Radhika. In this way, we should know what is written in our scriptures.
[Jaya Narayana Singh:] Most of the people understand this to a large extent, but the pandits make big money out of this – Durga-puja, Siva-puja, and Kali-puja.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] I know. Those pandits are greedy, and actually they are not pandits. They are selfish. They are cutting their own feet with their own axe.
[Jaya Narayana Singh:] Another thing is happening now. The whole country was devoted of Rama, but now everyone is worshipping Durga. They do this even on Ram Navami and Janmastami (the Birthdays of Sri Ramacandra and Sri Krsna).
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] This is also going on in Bengal, India. At the time of Rama Navami, the birth of Sri Ramacandra, and also when He accepts His kingdom – on both days they worship Kali.
But we preach everywhere, very mildly, and in this way many of them come to us and follow us. There should be a trick. A fisherman puts something to eat on his hook, and the greedy fish swallows this at once. After that, the fisherman gradually reels in his fishing rod, and when the fish wants to break free, he gives some leeway so that the fish becomes tired. Then, slowly, slowly, slowly, he reels in his line and catches the fish.
Srila Sridhara Svami, the first commentator of Srimad-Bhagavatam, has done this. In order to capture the Mayavadis, he wrote something that sounds like Mayavada philosophy, but is not. He wrote. “The entire world is brahma (meaning the impersonal Absolute Truth).” *[See endnote 2] Actually, the world is not brahma, but it has come from brahma (meaning the Absolute Truth as the Supreme Personality of Godhead), so it sounds similar. In this way the mayavadis think, “He is mayavadi, advaitavadi (impersonalist monist), so we should accept his words.”
Then, very skillfully, Srila Sridhara Svami teaches, “Sri Krsna is the Supreme Lord and we should worship Him. He has a very beautiful, transcendental form, and He has all good qualities.” In this way, Sridhara Svami gradually brings them towards bhakti, pure devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
So it is not that we must at once defeat their arguments; otherwise they will fly away and be against us.
[Jaya Narayana Singh:] So Gurudeva, now, instead of having pictures of Rama and Sita in their temples, they have pictures of the demigods. Should we leave them there?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] No. I tell those who come to me for the first time, “You can worship them, but keep them down at the lotus feet of Rama and Sita. The demigods want to take the remnants of the prasada of Sita-Rama.”
Then gradually, when they are fixed and steady, you can teach them, “Don’t worship demigods. Be one-pointed.”
[Jaya Narayana Singh:]Yes, we really have to put honey in the milk and give it to them to drink. This is the first time I am hearing this – that we can offer the prasada remnants of Krsna to the demigods.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] We can also perform the worship of the demigods by giving them Sri Krsna’s caranamrta. But this does not apply to the manifestations of Krsna, like Rama, Varahadeva, Nrshingadeva, or any Visnu-tattva Deity. We must offer to them separately, and tulasi leaves are also offered to Their lotus feet. They are non-different from Krsna. Krsna has assumed Their forms.
[Jaya Narayana Singh:] I have a question about Vivekananda’s philosophy *[See endnote 3].
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] He is really veveka-ananda (without proper discrimination, one who has no intelligence). Our Guru Maharaja used to tell us that Vivekananda has spoiled the Indian culture. His followers ate beef. Vivekananda himself said that the world is zero – it came from zero and it will become zero – just as the Buddhists proclaim. He also said, “I prefer to play football than to read the Bhagavad-gita.”
[Jaya Narayana Singh:] I am glad this is coming from your lips. Then the people will listen.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] I know everything about this. I am Indian and also Bengali, so I know everything and I have also studied. My age is eighty-eight, and up until now I have been hearing, reading, and learning.
[Jaya Narayana Singh:] One more question: This is outside of our philosophy. It is said that Guru Nanak was never cremated. Who was Guru Nanak?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Guru Nanak was actually a devotee. His disciples began to spread the idea that he was the founder of the Sikh sampradaya and that he was not Hindu, but this is wrong. He has written authentic Vedic knowledge, and he was chanting “Hare Krsna” and “Rama Rama Rama.” It has been written in many places that he was a devotee of Lord Rama. Later, his followers changed his teachings and made a separate religion or sect. They taught, “We are not Hindus, we are Sikhs.”
Arjun Singh [(1563-1606) the fifth Guru in the Sikh Parampara from Guru Nanak.] was also a devotee. In order to protect Hindus, he told them, “We must try to fight with the Moguls and Muslims. Until we finish them, we will not cut our hair. We will keep our hair and moustache and beard.” They promised this. This is why they do not shave, and they also keep one sword and bangle – to commemorate their support of Hindus. Later, the followers became separate.
[Jaya Narayana Singh:] So basically the philosophy is Vaisnava?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Yes, but not fully.
[While in Houston, Srila Narayana Maharaja also resided for a couple of days at the home of Visnu dasa and Arati dasi in Sugarland. There, he was mainly working on his translation and commentary of Srimad-Bhagavatam Tenth Canto, Chapters 1-15, along with his translation of the commentary of Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura.
One morning, visiting the home of Sushil dasa and Vimla dasi, he gave a darsana in which he performed a grain ceremony for their six-month old grandson Kesava dasa, and also instructed the devotees about preaching, book publication, and book distribution:]
Amidst the chanting of auspicious sacred mantras, Srila Narayana Gosvami Mahraja attentively and affectionately fed the baby his first grains in the form of three spoonfuls of a sweet-rice preparation, and requested the baby’s parents, grandparents, and other relatives to each feed him a spoonful.
As it is customary Vedic culture at this time (called anna-prasana) to offer the child both coins and books in order to get some indication of the future tendencies of the child, little Kesava dasa was then presented a tray of various paraphernalia to choose from. On the plate were coins, jewelry, a knife, and a scripture (the Bhagavad-gita). Kesava dasa touched the Bhagavad-gita and the coins, after which Srila Maharaja said he will become a wealthy devotee.
Srila Maharaja left for San Francisco on June 6th. The following transcription is excerpted from the airport darsana.
[Devotee:] Your book Sri Prema-Samput discusses why Krsna left the Rasa dance to be alone with Radharani, and then why He left Radharani after being alone with Her. It is stated there that Krsna thought, “Now, if I leave Radhika for a moment, that will remove Her pride born of good fortune, and it will make Her humble and free from blame in the eyes of the other gopis.” I thought that it was the other way around. I thought He left the Rasa dance to take away the pride of good fortune in the other gopis and to please Radhika in Her maan. In the Srimad Bhagavatam it is stated like that. I don’t understand.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] It has been written in Srimad-Bhagavatam that He wanted to remove the pride of the others, and for breaking Radhika’s maan.
viksya manam ca kesavah
[Lord Kesava, seeing the gopis too proud of their good fortune, He wanted to relieve them of this pride and show them further mercy. He also wanted to appease Srimati Radhika’s maan. Thus He immediately disappeared.]
[Devotee:] Here in Prema-samput it states that Krsna later wanted to remove Radharani’s pride.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] We should not be confused. Krsna wanted to somehow take all the allegation of the other gopis upon Himself (for leaving the Rasa dance to be alone with Radhika). He desired that no one should blame Radhika. That is the reason. What is stated here in Prema-samput is okay, but we should think like this.
We should think that this was a drama of Krsna, and in this way we can reconcile. It was a drama of Krsna. Sometimes He acts in this way for a certain reason. If there is pride in Radhika, it is only to please Sri Krsna. She does nothing for Herself.
[Devotee:] So do you mean that it was like a drama because Radha and Krsna together showed the gopis that She was so humble, and in that way they would feel sorry for Her that Krsna also left Her, and in that way they would not be envious of Her and at the same time appreciate Her superiority in love?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Yes, that is it.
[Thus ends the airport darsana, because Srila Maharaja and his party stood up to leave for the Gate to board his plane.]
[Endnote 1 – Sripad B.V. Bhagavata Maharaja speaks for the first hour of the show every Sunday, which can be heard live on www.kchnradio.com.]
[Endnote 2 – “The materially absorbed conditioned soul can be cured by Krsna consciousness as set forth here in the Gita. This process is generally known as yajna, or activities (sacrifices) simply meant for the satisfaction of Visnu, or Krsna. The more the activities of the material world are performed in Krsna consciousness, or for Visnu only, the more the atmosphere becomes spiritualized by complete absorption. The word brahma (Brahman) means "spiritual." The Lord is spiritual, and the rays of His transcendental body are called brahmajyoti, His spiritual effulgence. Everything that exists is situated in that brahmajyoti, but when the jyoti is covered by illusion (maya) or sense gratification, it is called material. This material veil can be removed at once by Krsna consciousness; thus the offering for the sake of Krsna consciousness, the consuming agent of such an offering or contribution, the process of consumption, the contributor, and the result are-all combined together-Brahman, or the Absolute Truth.
“The Absolute Truth covered by maya is called matter. Matter dovetailed for the cause of the Absolute Truth regains its spiritual quality. Krsna consciousness is the process of converting the illusory consciousness into Brahman, or the Supreme. When the mind is fully absorbed in Krsna consciousness, it is said to be in samadhi, or trance. Anything done in such transcendental consciousness is called yajna, or sacrifice for the Absolute. In that condition of spiritual consciousness, the contributor, the contribution, the consumption, the performer or leader of the performance, and the result or ultimate gain – everything-becomes one in the Absolute, the Supreme Brahman. That is the method of Krsna consciousness.” (Bhagavad-gita 4.24 purport by Srila Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja)]
[Endnote 3 – “That is described in the Bhagavad-gita. Asuram bhavam asritah. Asuri. Asuri-bhava means the attitude of a demon. ‘What is God? Oh, this is all nonsense. Who is God? I am God. Everyone is God. Oh, don't you see? So many Gods are loitering in the street. Why you are finding out another God?’ These are the going on. Vivekananda said that ‘Why you are bothering yourself, finding out God? Don't you see, so many Gods are loitering in the street?’ You see? So ‘God is loitering in the street, daridra-narayana. God has become daridra, poor, and He has come to my door to beg. God is suffering. God is...’ Like that. Laksmi-sahasra-sata-sambhrama-sevyamanam [Bs. 5.29]. We read from Vedic literature that ‘God is being served by millions of goddesses of fortune’ – and He has become daridra, poor?. Wherefrom he got this language, where, how he applied, I do not know.” (lecture by Srila Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja, June 16, 1969)
“One man may choose to slaughter, and another man may choose to help others. Or a man may give charity to others and yet at the same time encourage killing animals. For instance, on the one hand Vivekananda advocated feeding the poor, but on the other hand he suggested feeding them with Mother Kali's prasadam – the flesh of bulls. So what kind of ethics is that? What is the value of ethics if it is based on imperfect knowledge?” (Beyond Illusion and Doubt, by Srila Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja)
“You cannot become self-realized without the help of, without the mercy of, Baladeva. Now, our Vivekananda Swami, he interpreted that ‘Unless you become stout and strong like the bulls and the buffalo, you cannot realize self.’ He interpreted like that. So he engaged people to make gymnastics, exercise. ‘You become very stout and strong, eat meat, and...’ This is going on. This philosophy is going on.” (lecture by Srila Prabhupada, Aug. 3, 1974)]
Editorial advisors: Sripad Madhava Maharaja, Brajanatha dasa, and Prema-prayojana dasa
Assistant Editors: Hariballabha dasi
Reporters: Tulsi dasi and Vasanti dasi
Transcriber: Madana-mohini dasi
Typist: Vasanti dasi
Editor: Syamarani dasi
Proof-reader: Krsna-kamini dasi
Photos courtesy: Lalit-kisori dasi and Madhuvrata dasa
Special thanks to Sripad BV Bhagavata Maharaja for answering questions we had for this report.