— Chapter Seven —

Criticizing the Vedic Scriptures

All glories to Srila Gadadhara Pandit, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Sri Nityananda Prabhu, Sri Advaita Acarya, and to all the devotees of Lord Gauranga.

The Vedas are the only evidence

SRILA HARIDASA THAKURA said, "My Lord! To criticize the Vedic literature and other literatures in pursuance of the Vedic version is a serious offense that denies a person the ecstasy of pure devotion.

"The sruti-sastra (the Vedic literature), which includes the Upanisads, the Puranas and other corollary scriptures, has emanated from the Supreme Lord Krsna's own lips. This literature establishes and proves the spiritual truth. It contains transcendental knowledge that is beyond the range of the material senses, and this knowledge is understood by Lord Krsna's grace alone. The senses are capable of experiencing only material objects; transcendence lies beyond their bounds.

The science of Krsna consciousness is completely spiritual; hence it is transcendental. That knowledge of transcendence has been mercifully given by Lord Krsna in the Vedic literature for the ultimate benediction of humanity. The word veda actually refers to this spiritual knowledge as it is received in the proper authorized disciplic succession, or parampara.

"Human beings are born with four natural faults: they commit errors, they are subject to illusion, they have the propensity to cheat, and they have imperfect senses. Everything they do is tainted by these faults. Vedic literature is free from any mistakes or discrepancies; it is the only means to spiritual salvation. The transcendental Vedic knowledge was revealed by Lord Krsna and was afterward compiled by the sages. The sages received this knowledge in samadhi, or in total spiritual absorption.

Ten principal teachings of the Vedas

"The Vedic literature unequivocally teaches the rejection of both mundane fruitive activities (karma) and empirical speculative knowledge (jnana), and concludes that cultivation of pure devotion offers all perfection. The Lord Himself has repeatedly taught this, and has shown by His own example the way of pure devotion. In the Vedas there are ten principal instructions; the first is that the proof or basis of real knowledge is the Vedas, and the other nine are ascertained from the Vedas as the teachings that destroy nescience and establish true spiritual knowledge.

The first three teachings pertain to Krsna

"The first teaching explains that Hari, Krsna, is the only Supreme Absolute Truth. The second, that He is omnipotent; all energies are self-contained within Him. The third emphasizes that He is Rasamurti, the embodiment of all spiritual mellows. He is the source of bliss for all living entities and He eternally resides in His abode in the spiritual sky. These first three teachings pertain solely to the Supreme Lord, Krsna.

The second three teachings pertain to the jivas

"The fourth principle discusses how the jivas are the Lord's separated parts and parcels. The jivas comprise the innumerable living entities, all infinitesimal spiritual sparks. Jivas are of two types: eternally conditioned and eternally liberated; they populate both the material planets and the spiritual planets. The fifth principle points out how the conditioned soul is enamored by the glitter of maya's illusory potency. He has forgotten Krsna and remains eternally bound in this phenomenal world, enjoying and suffering material existence. The sixth principle is that the eternally liberated jivas or nitya-muktas are eternal associates of Lord Krsna. They reside in the spiritual world and enjoy spiritual loving relationship's. These three, then, are the teachings about the jivas found in the srutis.

The seventh teaching: acintya-bhedabheda-tattva

"Everything material and spiritual comes under acintya-bhedabheda-sambandha. Jiva and matter are both transformations of Lord Krsna's energy. This is inconceivable. Knowing acintya-bhedabheda-tattva, the jiva understands that he is the servant of Krsna and is like the spark or ray of the spiritual sun that is Krsna. Such transformations of the Lord's energy are inconceivable, says the sruti; but the so-called 'transformations' of theSupreme Lord Himself that the mayavadis would, like to have everyone believe in are only mischievous and offensive postulation.

"So far, these seven teachings comprise sambandha-jnana or knowledge of the eternal relationship. The Vedas further point out abhidheya, or the easiest means to achieve that goal.

Abhidheya: the nine limbs of devotional service

"The nine limbs of devotional service are: hearing, chanting, remembering, worshipping, praying, rendering service, carrying out the orders of the Lord, being a friend of the Lord and completely surrendering to the Lord. The chanting of the holy name is the most important devotional activity. The Vedas have volumes describing the glories of the holy name.

The prayojana (necessity) is krsna-prema

"The jiva must take shelter of the pure devotional process. By the mercy of Lord Krsna he will attain krsna-prema, or love of Godhead. Pure devotion is indicated by the human proclivity to always render favorable devotional service to Krsna. Pure devotion strives only for further excellence in devotion, being satisfied with nothing else. It is unencumbered by the desire for fruitive action or empirical knowledge. Pure devotion is uncontaminated by fruitive activity or empirical knowledge. The Vedas recommend that one can cultivate pure devotion by taking full shelter of the holy name: this is essential.

To criticize the Vedic teachings is offensive

"Sruti substantiates the nine ascertainable teachings, and the guru who is well versed in the scriptures is able to reveal these truths. Anyone who criticizes the srutis commits a heinous crime. He is a sinner and an offender to the holy name.

"Jaimini, Kapila, Nagna, Nastika, Sugata and Gautama are six philosophers who were stuck by the fangs of mundane logic and reasoning. They simply did some lip service to the teaching of the Vedas, but they did not accept God. Jaimini propagated that the best knowledge the Vedas has to offer is the fruitive ritualistic portion known as karma-kanda. Kapila dared to state that God was imperfect; he accepted the process of yoga, but without understanding its deeper implications. Nagna spread poison by teaching a practice of tantra that is in the mode of ignorance. Carvaka Nastika was an atheist who never accepted the authority of the Vedas, and Sugata the Buddhist imposed a different meaning upon them. Gautama propagated logic and did not worship the Supreme Lord.

"These mischievous interpretations are in fact offenses against the Vedas. Through sophism, such philosophers speak half-truths that are likely to confuse the ordinary listener, though an experienced Vedantist can easily detect their ruse. Avoid dabbling in such philosophical concepts because they are detrimental to spiritual growth. The mayavadi philosophy is equally dangerous, for it suppresses the natural devotional mood. Mayavadi philosophy is factually camouflaged Buddhism. In Kali-yuga the propagation of this philosophy, which is a perversion of the Vedic truth, has been authorized by the Supreme Lord. On the Lord's behest, Lord Siva became its propagator. As Jaimini seemingly upheld Vedic authority but practically propounded a warped version of the Vedic conclusions, similarly mayavadi gurus give Vedic proof to establish their covert Buddhism; thus they obscure the essence of the Vedas, which is the science of devotional service.

"Astavakra, Dattatreya, Govinda, Gaudapada, Sankaracarya and all of Sankara's materialist-philosopher followers are known

as mayavadi gurus. In Buddhism, the principal teaching is the nonexistence of the soul. Buddhism does not admit a concept of brahman. The theory of nothingness, the last word in Buddhism, is rendered by the mayavadis into the concept of the formless, impersonal brahman, which is so conceived by them in order not to be material. But these concepts are diametrically opposed to the eternal science of devotional service. Any affiliation with such thoughts automatically makes the jiva commit namaparadha. Some accept the mayavadi philosophy but chant the holy name, but this is an offense against the name.

How to apply the sruti conclusion

"When all the cardinal conclusions of the Vedic philosophy are brought together, they add up to pure devotional service, by which the jiva attains pure love of Godhead. Wherever the principal teachings are applicable, it is wrong to substitute secondary teachings in their place. These principal meanings all indicate and uphold the science of Krsna consciousness. To artificially impose secondary meanings upon the Vedic statements is a sin that distances one from the Absolute Truth. From beginning to end, the Vedas expound the superexcellence of om or the holy name. By chanting the Lord's name, the jiva attains the highest spiritual abode. The pure devotees always take shelter of the holy name. The holy name is transcendental, being an exact replica of the Supreme Lord. Simply by namabhasa chanting, all perfection is attained in this material world. Only unfortunate fools will purposefully try to disregard the Vedic teachings and thus ruin their lives by offenses.

The Vedas teach only the pure name

"The devotee who is attached to chanting the pure name will also have the knowledge of the Vedas revealed to him. Gradually he'll also attain krsna-prema. The Vedas unequivocally declare that by chanting the holy name one experiences ecstatic bliss, as the holy name is the source of everything. The Vedas further explain that all the liberated souls are residing in the spiritual sky and are always engaged in chanting the pure name.

Tantric practice is opposed to the Vedas

"In Kali-yuga more and more people are worshipping maya, the material energy. They give up the opportunity to chant the Supreme Lord Krsna's holy name, which is full of ecstatic spiritual mellows. They take up Tantric worship in the mode of ignorance and criticize the Vedas, They digress from the real path of religion, eat meat, drink alcohol and perform other sinful activities. These offenders can never receive the shelter of the holy name, nor can they enter the Supreme Lord's eternal abode of Vrndavana.

Maya-devi's mercy is essential

"Maya-devi forces atheists to perform sinful activities and in this way deprives them of the nectar of chanting the holy name. But if she becomes appeased by an atheist's rendering service to saintly Vaisnavas, she showers him with her grace and connects them to Lord Krsna's lotus feet. Maya is an eternal maidservant of Lord Krsna. She punishes the wayward jivas who drift away from serving Lord Krsna. Those who want to serve maya are simply cheaters who can never know happiness. Yet Maya-devi rewards those who chant the holy name; she helps them cross over the ocean of material nescience.

"Maya-devi is known and worshiped in the forms of Durga, Kali, etc. The superior spiritual energy is Lord Krsna's original and primeval energy; maya is its shadow. Her intention is to rectify the erring jivas who fall away and bring them back to Krsna consciousness; this is her prime duty to the Lord. Maya showers two kinds of graces—niskapata (honest and unrestricted) and sakapata (capricious and illusory). By her niskapata mercy she gives the science of devotional service to Lord Krsna subtly mixed with material knowledge. In the case of sakapata mercy she offers temporary material favors and comforts, and thus controls the jiva. When she is dissatisfied with the jiva's behavior, she casts him into the brahmajyoti through sayujya liberation; thus the jiva is doomed.

"Therefore avoid committing the offense of criticizing the sruti scriptures. Absorb yourself in constant chanting of the holy name. If inadvertently one criticizes the sruti then he should sincerely repent his error by properly glorifying the sruti He should worship the Vedic literature and Srimad-Bhagavatam feeling great joy and respect, offering flowers and tulasi.

Srimad-Bhagavatam is the essence of the Vedic teachings and is the literary incarnation of Lord Krsna. The Bhagavatam will certainly show- er mercy upon the offender, because the Bhagavatam is an ocean of mercy. Only the reprobates criticize Srimad-Bhagavatam."

One who hankers for the dust of the lotus feet of Srila Haridasa Thakura will wear this gem necklace called Harinama Cintamani around his neck.