Hansaduta Swami's men have arrived from Germany, facing
accusations by the remaining German devotees of behaving like gangsters by
stripping the temples of vehicles, equipment, men and money. Hansaduta himself
is said to have taken at least 100,000 DMs for his sojourn in India.
Although Prabhupada originally agreed that they may
come to France to see him personally to resolve the issue, he decided that his
two GBCs, Bhagavan and Jayatirtha, should try to produce a solution without
his direct involvement. Together with Harikesa Maharaja they met with the men,
deciding that they should not take the vans, so the vehicles have been parked
and the keys handed over.
* * *
More news came about Brahmananda Maharaja in East Africa.
It seems that for some time he has not been living in the temple. Tamal
Krishna Maharaja is making plans to visit him to find out what is actually
going on, and to help him. Srila Prabhupada has said very little about it and
is leaving it to the GBC to deal with.
* * *
In the afternoon Yogesvara announced the arrival of
Professor Francois Chenique, a scholar whose favorable review of Prabhupada's
books is being reprinted on the jacket of the new French edition of
Bhagavad-gita Telle Quelle Est. He has written: "Srila Prabhupada's edition
thus fills a sensitive gap in France, where many hope to become familiar with
traditional Indian thought, beyond the commercial East-West hodgepodge that
has arisen since the time Europeans first penetrated India. Whether the reader
be an adept of Indian spiritualism or not, a reading of the Bhagavad-gita As
It Is will be extremely profitable. For many this will be the first contact
with the true India, the ancient India, the eternal India." Needless to say,
his comments have been much appreciated by Prabhupada, especially his
perception that Srila Prabhupada is presenting "the true India." Prabhupada
has often referred to this in conversation.
Professor Chenique is teaching the Gita in his course
on Religious Sciences at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris. He also
translates the works of Sankaracarya into French, and teaches at the
Federation of Yoga. Yogesvara said he regards himself as a "Christian
Before the professor came in, Yogesvara posed a
question about our French publications. "On the front of Back to Godhead
magazine, in the English edition and other language editions, they have kept
the phrase: 'Godhead is light, darkness is nescience. Where there is Godhead
there is no nescience.' Now in French it is difficult to translate that; there
is no word Godhead. And if you say, 'God is light' in French it sounds very
impersonalist. In French, Dieux est lumiere, 'God is light' -- many groups say
like that. We use the word Godhead, and that distinguishes us from the other
groups. Now is the phrase very important? And do you want us to keep it on the
front of the magazine?"
Prabhupada nodded. "There is a little difference
between God and Godhead. Isvarah paramah krsnah. Isvara, more or less
everyone, but isvarah paramah, that is Godhead. The Mayavadis, they do not
distinguish between one isvara to another isvara. That may be on the ordinary
level, but there is parama isvara."
Yogesvara suggested an alternative. "One possibility
would be to say God the Supreme Person is light; that we can translate."
"God means Supreme Person," Prabhupada agreed. "But
these Advaita-vadi, Mayavadis, they have made God everyone. God means Supreme
Person, that is the dictionary word. Supreme Being. God does not mean
ordinary, but they have made ordinary, anyone God. 'I am God, you are God, he
is God.' Then what is meaning of God?"
"Therefore we say Godhead," Yogesvara said.
"Yes. Head man. There are many men, he is the head
man." Prabhupada added that the word Godhead is found in the dictionary. "You
Yogesvara read out the vague definition. "'Godhead:
being God or a God; divine nature, Deity, the Godhead, God.'"
"They do not know what is God, what is Godhead,"
Prabhupada said. "They think all these are fictitious. Throughout the whole
world they do not know what is God. Simply they know the word, that's all;
what it means they do not know. That we are giving -- here is God. Godhead.
Nobody knows, nobody cares to know. That is nescience. They think it is an
idea, that's all. Actually there is God, there is kingdom of God, one can go
and speak with Him, dance with Him. They cannot believe there are... It is
beyond their poor fund of knowledge; therefore they do not accept Krsna as
God. God is the Supreme Person, Supreme Being. Actually there is place where
God lives; they do not know. This is first time, the Krsna consciousness
movement, we are giving these ideas; otherwise, who knows it? Nobody knows it.
And religion means to accept God as the Supreme Person. They do not know God,
then what is meaning of religion? Religion means to accept a Supreme Person as
the supreme controller, that is religion. How the Supreme Person is working in
manufacturing this flower, let the scientists explain. There is no brain? Just
nicely painted, symmetrically, each flower of the same class, another class,
another class, another class."
At this point Professor Chenique entered the room along
with his daughter, a girl in her early teens. With them came Bhugarbha prabhu,
Janadradhi dasa, one of our French translators, and Hayesvara dasa, who
translated the recently published Danish Bhagavad-gita. We were pleasantly
surprised to see the slimly-built middle-aged professor dressed in a dhoti,
with japa beads around his neck. Sitting cross-legged on the carpet in front
of Prabhupada's desk, Professor Chenique seemed a mild-mannered, humble man
with a great deal of respect for Srila Prabhupada. Although he could
understand English, he couldn't speak it very well, so he let Bhugarbha and
Yogesvara translate for him.
Preliminary introductions done, Professor Chenique said
he was keen to see Prabhupada's Srimad-Bhagavatam come into use. There is only
one other French translation of it, done in the 1800s, and that has no
commentary. Yet at the university level he said the French are meticulous
about maintaining the grammatical standards of their language. He was politely
concerned that our translations "should not smell of English," as he put it.
He felt that since our books are translated from English, the French literary
expression is not always exactly correct. Describing French as a more compact
language than English, he wondered whether it might not be better to translate
directly from the Sanskrit into French.
Prabhupada was not very concerned. Whilst acknowledging
that if possible improvements could be made to future editions, he explained
that as yet, no French devotee had become a Sanskritist. But besides that, it
is not a question of scholarship; the translator must be a realized soul. He
said that although there are many Sanskrit scholars in India, they cannot
understand the Srimad-Bhagavatam. "He must be French, expert in language -- at
the same time a devotee. Then he can explain, otherwise no. Caitanya
Mahaprabhu's secretary, Svarupa Damodara, he asked that bhagavata pada giya
bhagavata-sthane: 'Go and study Bhagavata from bhagavata.' I have discussed
this in the beginning of translation of Bhagavata. So Bhagavata, that is the
limit of education. Vidya bhagavatavadhih: One has to study and take education
up to Bhagavatam; that is, if one understands Bhagavatam, he's finished his
The professor assured Prabhupada that he wasn't in any
way criticizing, but he was concerned that Prabhupada got the widest possible
audience. He felt that an improvement in the way the French editions were
written would ensure that.
Srila Prabhupada appreciated his concern but continued
to stress his point. "That is from scholarship point of view, but our point is
this Bhagavata must be presented by bhagavata. And there is no much
scholarship required. Just like Bhagavata begins with the words janmady asya
yatah. This Sanskrit word means the Absolute Truth is that from where
everything emanates. Now that Absolute Truth further explained, anvayad
itaratas ca abhijnah svarat, that Absolute Truth is aware of everything,
directly and indirectly, of all this creation. In this way, if you
step-by-step study, it is not very difficult so far the word meanings are
concerned, but it is a question of realization. Unless one is realized, he
cannot explain properly. That is the secret. Therefore we have given the life
of Caitanya Mahaprabhu in our Bhagavatam because He's living
Janadradhi said the professor felt that in Prabhupada's
purports there was too much repetition of a point. Stylistically speaking,
this is difficult to reproduce in French since their language is compact and
something is usually expressed only once. However, Janadradhi said he and our
other translators felt that keeping that repetition is important, because
Srila Prabhupada had written it that way so the reader will properly
Prabhupada confirmed that it is the Vedic system to
repeat things for emphasis and better understanding. He gave the example of
how Krsna describes the immortality of the soul in verse after verse of the
second chapter of the Bhagavad-gita. He had a couple of these verses read
The professor said he had no objection to that kind of
repetition, his concern was of grammatical style.
Bhugarbha gave him a book, asking him to describe how
he would change one of the purports. However, to everyone's amusement,
including his own, the professor said that the particular purport he chose was
Nevertheless, Srila Prabhupada accepted the suggestion
that the professor could read our publications and make recommendations how
they might be improved. "I have no objection. It is welcome." Then he
explained his rationale in pushing ahead despite such apparent deficiencies.
"The idea is, suppose I am in France; I do not know French language, but there
is fire in my room, and I have to call my neighbors; so somehow or other I
call and take their help."
Professor Chenique laughed. He complimented Srila
Prabhupada on achieving the highest record in distribution for this sort of
book. He added that he felt a very small, pocketbook size Bhagavad-gita would
sell very well.
Prabhupada smiled. "That is Caitanya Mahaprabhu's
mission: prthivite ache yata nagaradi grama/ sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama.
He has to preach in every village and every town on the surface of the globe
about this Krsna consciousness. So our business is... Just this example
I have given, that there is fire; I do not know the language, still I have to
call and take help. So I am doing like that. There is a story. In Calcutta
when the Britishers were establishing themselves, so one clerk was working in
the office and some monkey came and scattered the office files and everything.
So his boss came, he asked him, 'What is this? Why you?' So he cannot explain.
So he began to jump like monkey, that on account of the monkey coming within
the room ... So when the language is unknown we have to jump and show that the
Professor Chenique appreciated both the opportunity to
personally meet His Divine Grace and also the Vaisnava point of view. He said
he felt that the work of the Movement was very important, given the decline of
religion in the West. He added that he did not think he could personally live
up to standard of a bhakta however, it would be a difficult life for
Prabhupada praised his humility and remarked that his
admission, "I cannot follow," was a good qualification and would help
Having been trained more according to Sankarite and
Buddhist lines, the professor said that he felt himself more of a jnani, but
he very much appreciated bhakti. He said he was happy to meet the
devotees whereas meeting "all these intellectuals who know so many things but
cannot understand anything" was depressing.
Prabhupada continued to encourage him by saying that
without jnana one cannot become a bhakta; one who becomes a devotee without
knowledge is a sentimentalist. He then had Bhugarbha read out the
brahma-bhutah prasannatma verse and purport from the Bhagavad-gita. At the end
he added, "So without becoming fully in knowledge, nobody can become
Professor Chenique asked, "What about the opposite:
people becoming devotees without knowing anything?"
"Devotee cannot be without knowing anything,"
Prabhupada replied. "A devotee means he knows everything. Yasmin vijnate
sarvam idam vijnatam bhavati. This is Vedic injunction: one who knows the
Absolute, knows everything."
Yogesvara asked, "Srila Prabhupada? That verse, does
that mean that one who is neophyte ..."
Prabhupada cut him off. "Neophyte is neophyte. Why do
you bring him to become a devotee? A devotee is different. A 'one plus one
equal to two,' he's not mathematician, he's learning. There is hope one day
he'll be a big mathematician. There are three stages: kanistha-adhikari,
madhyama-adhikari, uttama-adhikari. So when you speak of devotee, that is this
uttama-adhikari, so he knows everything. Rather, the so-called jnani, he does
not know. Because he does not know Krsna, he does not know what is Personality
of Godhead. He's impersonalist. Therefore he is still unaware of the Absolute
Truth, therefore he's not jnani; his jnana, his knowledge, is lacking.
Therefore in the Bhagavad-gita it is said, bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam
prapadyate/ vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma su-durlabhah. If one jnani is
impersonalist he's not jnani, he is still unaware of the Absolute Truth;
therefore he's not jnani, he's claiming to be jnani. Such jnani will take many
hundreds of births to come to the position of real jnani. When he understands
Krsna and surrenders to Him, then he's jnani. Sa mahatma su-durlabhah. That
kind of jnani is very, very rare. The impersonalist means ajnani, yes, because
he does not know Krsna, the person."
He quoted another verse from the Srimad-Bhagavatam
stating that those who strive for monism, oneness with God, fall down to
material life due to not having any shelter. Then he said, "Just like so many
sannyasis in India they are very learned, they have come to the platform of
Brahman realization, but after some time they come to the material field for
political work, for social work. They give up this world, brahma satyam jagan
mithya. If jagat is mithya, is false, why does he come for social work? Just
like these people going to the moon planet, but because they do not get any
shelter, they take some sand and come back again. So what is the use of going
there and spending so much money and come back with little sand? And
satisfied, 'Now we have studied'; because they have no shelter. So the jnanis,
they have no shelter. Yes. They may go very high in the sky, but because they
have no shelter they come back again. Punar musiko bhava, again become a
mouse. So that is not jnani, that is ajnani. Jnani is described here,
mad-bhaktim labhate param. Brahma-bhuta is jnani, aham brahmasmi.
Brahma-bhutah prasannatma, 'I have nothing to do with material world.' Na
socati na kanksati, there is no lamentation, there is no hankering. When he
has attained that brahma-bhuta stage, reality, then he is entrance in the
bhakti, otherwise a neophyte."
The professor, despite his affinity to the path of
jnana, obviously valued Srila Prabhupada's words. He responded that the
knowledge of any person on the path of knowledge who rejects the Personality
of Godhead is finished.
"That is sublime knowledge," Prabhupada affirmed. "When
you talk with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, dance with, that is sublime
perfection. Otherwise, you will have to dance with the dog."
Professor Chenique explained that he had been reading
the Gita since he was very young. He had been trying to combine the paths of
jnana and bhakti whilst following the teachings of all the great religions. He
wondered if he should continue on that same path.
Prabhupada told him it was not necessary. "If you want
to know the Absolute Truth, ultimately, then bhakti is required, that is
stated in the Bhagavad-gita: bhaktya mam abhijanati yavan yas casmi tattvatah.
If you want to know the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Being, then you have to go
through bhakti. Bhakti includes everything; but jnana does not include bhakti,
it is imperfect. In jnana there is little touch of bhakti, but in bhakti there
is full jnana. Those who are on the stage of Brahman and Paramatma, they're
not in the Absolute Truth, part of it. But when one understands Bhagavan, then
he understands Paramatma and Brahman -- that is full knowledge. There are
three things: sat, cit, ananda. So Brahman realization is sat; Paramatma
realization is cit; but ananda is not there. But if he does not get ananda,
then falls down. Ananda-mayo 'bhyasat. This is the Vedanta. We are, as spirit
soul, being part and parcel of the Supreme, ananda is our goal, blissfulness.
But that blissfulness you cannot get simply by understanding sat-cit, you must
come to the platform of ananda. That is Krsna. So because these so-called
jnanis they do not have the entrance into the ananda platform, they come to
this material ananda, this material pleasure. Therefore they take to this
hospitality, or opening a school, or philanthropic work, another type of this
material pleasure. Therefore Sankaracarya recommended: bhaja govindam bhaja
govindam bhaja govindam mudha-mate/ samprapte sannihite kale na hi na hi
raksati dukrnkarane. Your simply this grammatical jugglery of words will not
help you -- bhaja govindam. Therefore we, govindam adi-purusam tam aham
bhajami. Our principle is to worship Govinda the adi-purusa. So without coming
to that stage, perfection is not complete."
A brief discussion of Christianity ensued, finally
bringing the eighty minute darsana to a close. Prabhupada gave the young girl
a garland and the professor genuinely thanked Srila Prabhupada for being
afforded the opportunity to meet with him. He apologized that he could not
attend the installation ceremony tomorrow because they were on their way to a
Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the south. Prabhupada was pleased to find the
professor so favorable to our Movement and philosophy. He wished them well as
they took their leave.
(to be continued next week)
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