Dear Shri Raoji
I hope Mrs Ravishankar will not mind me coming in to answer some of
the very interesting points you have raised. I am the temple
president of the Hare Krishna Mandir in Manchester, England, and a
second generation disciple of Srila Prabhupada. I hope you will
forgive the format, I do not have a mailing programme which will
Most of the questions in your text are quite thoroughly answered
by Srila Prabhupada in his introduction alone. That introduction warrants
a very careful study. It is, to my mind, the door to understanding the
Notwithstanding all that, here's a few answers that come to mind, dealing
with the questions paragraph by paragraph:
Paragraph one; "Interpretation" actually means to expound the meaning of
a thing. And that is exactly what Srila Prabhupada does. In the sense
used by Prabhupada in this particular quotation, I would say he means
"without MISinterpretation, or more specifically, without twisting the
meaning. Anyone familiar with Srila Prabhupada will know this to be the
case; it is a point he repeatedly stresses. On the other point: The Gita
certainly does have direct application to our lives "pratyaksavagamam
dharmyam..." (9.2) Admittedly we may not be ksatriyas about to fight a
battle, but the Gita's message can be put into any context. How to apply
that message in our own life is the teaching of the guru, in our case
Prabhupada and his representatives.
Two: The Gita Mahatmya (also quoted in the introduction to As It Is)
explains the position of the Gita. The Mahabharat is for "stri sudra
dvija bandhunam" (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.4.26) The purport to that verse
states: "The purpose of the Mahabharat is to adminster the purpose of the
Vedas, and therefore within it the summary Veda of Bhagavad Gita is
placed....Vyasadeva and Lord Krishna collaborated in doing good to the
fallen souls of this age." The Gita comes in the middle of the attractive
Mahabharat stories and in that way the lower class of persons get the real
message of the Vedas.
You suggest that the Gita does not say it is the "most perfect" What about
"rajavidya raja guhyam..." (9.2)
Three: Here is the critical point; i.e. how we accept Krishna. Again, in
his introduction Prabhupada makes it clear that unless we accept Krishna as
the supreme authority then there is no point reading the Gita. And if He
is accepted as the Supreme then obviously the Gita is supreme knowledge.
Prabhupada does not forbid the reading of other vedic scriptures, he simply
says that there is no NEED. And indeed this true. The words of the
Supreme Lord are sufficient in and of themselves.
Four: "Which statement of the Gita is being referred to...?" Chapter 10
verses 12 to 14, from "param brahma" to "vidur deva na danava". Especially
the statement "sarvam etad rtam manye".
Five: Why does Krishna's presence in every living being indicate that
"Krishna is part of every living being"? The hand is in the glove; is it a
part of the glove?
Six: Thankyou for the very nice quotation from Sri Madhvacarya. Fully in
concordance with the Gita, although the Gita philosophy develops Madhva's
points more completely.
(p.s. According to the Gita philosophy our consciousness is the same nature
as Krishna's, but we are anu (small) and He is vibhu (great).
"Mamaivamso..." (Bg 15.7) Or "apareyam..." (Bg 7.5) Just as a drop of
sea water is the same nature as the ocean, but it is not the whole ocean.)
Seven: (Sorry if I am losing count of the paragraphs - I hope it is clear
which questions I am trying to answer)
Demigods; Worship of demigods is very good, but better to worship the
source and controller of those gods; Sri Krishna Himself. He can give
whatever the demigods can offer, and indeed they depend upon Him for their
own powers. "Sa taya sraddhaya..." (Bg 7.22) (Prabhupada gives the
example of the government: better to pay your taxes to the government than
to try to bribe individual government minsiters) If "salutations offered
to all gods go to Keshava" then why not just worship Keshava?
Eight: "Vedic literatures" certainly includes the Gita and the Bhagavatam
etc (sruti and smrti). I dealt with this in Three above.
Nine: The Name as a "symbol"? If I may ask, where did this idea
originate? Here is a quote from Padma Purana:
nama cintamanih krsnas
purnah suddho nitya-mukto
"The holy name of the Lord is fully identical with the Lord, not partially.
The word purna means "complete." The Lord is omnipotent and omniscient, and
similarly, His name, form, qualities, paraphernalia and everything
pertaining to Him are complete, pure, eternal and free from material
Why cannot the name of God and God be one? Why also can the Name "exist
only in the mind while being chanted"? Even materially this is not so. I
can think of a mountain; is that mountain only in my mind? Forgive my
suggestion, but I think you may be struggling a little here with the
concept of absolute existence. The definition of absolute existence is
that there is no duality. This is beyond our experience in the material
world. Indeed, it is called "acintya" or inconceivable. So it is not
surprising that we have problems. Here's another quote from Mahabharat:
"acintyah khalu ye bhava na tams tarkena yojayet" (Bhisma parva 5.22): The
Supreme Lord and His form, name, pastimes and paraphernalia are
inconceivable to nondevotees, and one should not try to understand such
realities simply by logical arguments. They will not bring one to the right
conclusion about the Absolute Truth. (SB 6.9.36)
Ten: Finally, the Hare Krishna mantra comes from the Kali Santarana
Upanisad, spoken by Lord Brahma. But for ISKCON, of course, it is
delivered by our parampara coming from Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
I hope this is helpful, of course each point could be elaborated much more,
but please do request any further clarification where you find it
Krishna Dharma das