śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!

Rays of The Harmonist On-Line Edition

Year 10, Issue 9
Posted: 13 October 2017

Dedicated to
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda

Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja

Inspired by and under the guidance of
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda

Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja

Vaiṣṇava Philosphy and Vedānta

by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda


Śrīla Prabhupāda’s answers to questions posed by Professor Albert E Luthers, of the University of Ohio, USA, in January of 1929.

One-sided and biased critics may understand the term “Indian Vedantism” to refer to absolute monism, but those who are impartial and who judge things from all angles of vision find that the transcendental personality of Godhead is the final conclusion of the Vedāntic doctrine. The Vedānta philosophy of India describes the universal reality. The theory of non-distinction – which is an imperfect, partial and distorted conception of Vedānta – has been wrongly preached on the strength of the claim that it is propounded in Vedānta. It has been broadcast in disguise, to all those in the world who are averse to God. In reality the doctrine of the personality of Godhead is the proper conclusion of Vedānta and it is its true interpretation according to unbiased, learned scholars.

The unique and genuine interpretation of Vedānta contained within the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam points at the true Vedāntic doctrine. Śrī Vyāsdeva, the compiler of the Vedānta-sūtras, has himself, as commentator, elucidated the true meaning of his sūtras, or aphorisms, in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatamreveals the sūtras’ intrinsic import and thereby equalizes all sides, reconciles all diversities and is beyond all sectarian conflicts created by various professors of empiric knowledge, who give different shapes to the Vedānta in the laboratories of their mental research. They alone can save themselves from the danger of falling into the ditches of their various imaginary principles and ill-concevied sectarianism, and they alone can secure for themselves the true Vedāntic principles by seeking them within the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.

To be brief, the difference between the followers of Māyāvāda, or absolute monism, and the Vaiṣṇava Vedantists is that the former has a bias for the idea of nirviśeṣa, or non-distinction, whereas the latter accepts the eternality of Personal Godhead. The monists are atheists in disguise. On the other hand, the Vaiṣṇavas are sincere theists. The former are followers of the method of induction – as in, the process of reasoning from particular data to a generalized theory – and the latter are followers of the deductive method of reasoning by which we arrive at the necessary consequences of admitted or established premises. In other words, a monist is inimical to surrender the self to God, while a Vaiṣṇava is inclined towards it. Most of the intelligentsia of present day India are empiricists and as such, they are more or less supporters of the māyāvāda doctrine of the monists. Ācārya Śaṅkara has extensively propagated this māyāvāda by dint of his great intelligence, which can captivate the minds of men.

The supporters of saviśeṣa-vāda, the doctrine of the eternality of the personal Godhead – are known as Vaiṣṇavas, or theists. We shall call any person of any country and any era a Vaiṣṇava, or theist, to the extent that saviśeṣa-vāda is found in them. We think that the noble Jesus propagated saviśeṣa-vāda, as ācāryas Śrī Viṣṇu Svāmī, Śrī Rāmānuja, Śrī Madhva, Śrī Nimbarka and others like them have done in our India. The saviśeṣa-vāda propagated by teachers throughout the world found perfection in the preaching of the Indian ācāryas, and has occupied the climax of the mutual reconciliation of all souls, as pure knowledge distinct from matter. This saviśeṣa is the conclusion of Mahāprabhu Śrī Krsna Caitanyadeva, who, though He was God Himself, played the part of a supra-human professor of the University of Nadia.

(The next passages are in reply to Dr. Luthers’s inquiry as to whether the worshippers of Kṛṣṇa encourage the obscenity of the engravings seen on many Hindu Temples…)

Those who are actual worshippers of Kṛṣṇa are never in favour of indecencies. All decency and morality rest within the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. The highest sense of morality for the pure soul exists in its love for the Oversoul. And the culmination of this pure love is found only in the devotees of Kṛṣṇa. If the best of the moral rules preached by the noble Jesus were increased thousands of billions of times, and thereby reached perfection, they would become attendants of the principle of the amorous love found only in the devotees of Kṛṣṇa, and they would seek service therefrom.

Adapted from The Gaudiya Volume 5, Number 10
by the Rays of The Harmonist team

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