It is of utmost importance to preserve the teachings of disciplic succesion intact, so that the spiritual medicine of Krsna consciousness remains concentrated and potent to be capable of curing the bhava-roga, material disease of the souls embodied in material nature.
Krsna consciousness, the system of bhakti-yoga, the supermost process and state of spiritual realization was confined in the Vedas, written in Sanskrit language for thousands of years and after the appearance of Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu, when His disciples, the Goswamis of Vrindavana and other Vaisnavas expounded on His teachings, in Bengali language for hundreds of years. One had to be very fortunate to take his birth in India to be able to take advantage of this divine messages, or he had to learn Sanskrit and Bengali to study the original writings. The first pioneer to change this for the benefit of the whole world was Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who first started to write on the topics of Krsna consciousness in English language and was the first to send a book on Lord Caitanya´s life and precepts to the Western educational institution, namely the McGill University in Montreal, Canada. His son, the great acarya Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura continued in his effort to expose the proper conclusions of Vedanta to the English-speaking populace of the world and on the order of His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja, our spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada came to the West, to unlock this long sought after “fountain of youth” of spiritual knowledge, to inundate the whole world with ocean of transcendental nectar that brings about life of eternal knowledge and bliss. He accomplished this great task through the medium of his transcendental books and recorded sound in forms of lectures, conversations, song purports etc. which will circulate around the planet on and on for the next ten thousand years as a crystal-clear guide for those who aspire to make their way back home, back to Godhead.
The message of Godhead descends to the conditioned souls in the material world through an unbroken chain of spiritual masters, where each personality realizes the precepts of his predecessor and then presents them as they are, without any adulteration or self-oriented agenda. Thus such a teacher becomes the transparent via-media through which one can approach God, Sri Krsna, understand one´s relationship with Him and engage oneself in transcendental loving devotional service.
It is of utmost importance to preserve the teachings of disciplic succesion intact, so that the spiritual medicine of Krsna consciousness remains concentrated and potent to be capable of curing the bhava-roga, material disease of the souls embodied in material nature. Transcendental sound is the means to awaken the dormant spirit soul covered by veil of illusion in form of bodily concept of life, just as an alarm clock wakes one up from a bad dream in the morning, so he can engage in his daily duties and activities to pursue his goal of life – happiness. Medicine must be pure and strong and it must be administered by an expert physician in a proper manner. Diluted medicine or medicine given by a quack or taken outside of supervision of such an expert physician will not work, or worse, it will cause even greater suffering. Similarly, the transcendental themes of teachings and pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and methods of spiritual life must be administered by a competent acarya and accepted by a competent disciple. Competence of an acarya lies in his proper grasping the subject matter from his predecessor through submissive hearing – srotriyam and the symptom of this perfect hearing manifests in his taking complete shelter under the lotus feet of Sri Krsna, the Supreme Brahman and abandoning all material desires – brahma-nistham [MU 1.2.12]. When the acarya is qualified in this manner and the hearer is qualified by sincere inquisitiveness about solving the miseries of life and attaining the supreme benefit of the human form, then the transmission of divine knowledge and realization – diksa takes place.
A bona-fide spiritual master, pure devotee maha-bhagavata uttama-adhikari is non-different from the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krsna, because his interest is identical with that of Krsna, that is, to engage all the souls in loving devotional service and bring them back home, back to Godhead. He is not God, but he is non-different from Him. Saksad-dharitvena samasta sastrair uktas tatha bhavyata eva sadbhih (Guruvastakam 7). All the scriptures accept this fact. And because the acarya is non-different from God in this manner, he also exists on the absolute platform of being non-different from his form, activities, pastimes or words emanating from his lotus mouth, just like the Lord Himself. Thus to read the writings of a self-realized acarya means to actually hear from him the transcendental sound coming down in the parampara.
“Anyone who reads the books that is also chanting and hearing. Why distinguish between chanting and book distribution? These books I have recorded and chanted, and they are transcribed. It is spoken kirtanas. So book distribution is also chanting. These are not ordinary books. It is recorded chanting. Anyone who reads, he is hearing.
(Letter to: Rupanuga: Mayapur 19 October, 1974)
Although a physical body is not present, the vibration should be accepted as the presence of the spiritual master. Vibration— what we have heard from the spiritual master—that is living.”
(Lecture, January 13,1969, Los Angeles)
“Lord Brahma underwent penances for one thousand years by the calculations of the demigods. He heard this transcendental vibration from the sky, and he accepted it as divine. Thus he controlled his mind and senses, and the penances he executed were a great lesson for the living entities. Thus he is known as the greatest of all ascetics.
Lord Brahma heard the occult sound tapa, but he did not see the person who vibrated the sound. And still he accepted the instruction as beneficial for him, and therefore he engaged himself in meditation for one thousand celestial years. One celestial year is equal to 6 x 30 x 12 x 1000 of our years. His acceptance of the sound was due to his pure vision of the absolute nature of the Lord. And due to his correct vision, he made no distinction between the Lord and the Lord’s instruction. There is no difference between the Lord and sound vibration coming from Him, even though He is not personally present. The best way of understanding is to accept such divine instruction, and Brahma, the prime spiritual master of everyone, is the living example of this process of receiving transcendental knowledge. The potency of transcendental sound is never minimized because the vibrator is apparently absent. Therefore Srimad-Bhagavatam or Bhagavad-gita or any revealed scripture in the world is never to be accepted as an ordinary mundane sound without transcendental potency.
One has to receive the transcendental sound from the right source, accept it as a reality and prosecute the direction without hesitation. The secret of success is to receive the sound from the right source of a bona fide spiritual master. Mundane manufactured sound has no potency, and as such, seemingly transcendental sound received from an unauthorized person also has no potency. One should be qualified enough to discern such transcendental potency, and either by discriminating or by fortunate chance if one is able to receive the transcendental sound from the bona fide spiritual master, his path of liberation is guaranteed.
Sravanam, hearing – not seeing, touching, smelling, tasting or mentally speculating – is the first and most important item of devotional service and it is only through submissive hearing that one is able to factually surrender to the spiritual master and engage himself in devotional service.
Srila Prabhupada as the person Bhagavata embed himself personally in his transcendental books and as such, his purports are the sound incarnation of his divine grace. Just as the verses of the Bhagavatam or Bhagavad-gita written down by Srila Vyasadeva are sound incarnations of Krsna, so the purports by Srila Prabhupada are sound incarnations of himself.
“By regular attendance in the Bhagwat-class or rendering service unto the pure devotees all that is inauspicious in the heart of a candidate becomes destroyed almost to nil and thus loving service unto the Personality of Godhead, who is praised with transcendental songs, comes into being as an irrevocable fact.
Here is the remedy for eliminating all inauspicious things within the heart considered to be obstacles in the path of self realisation. The remedy is the association of the Bhagwats. There are two types of Bhagwats namely the book Bhagwat and the devotee Bhagwat. Both the Bhagwats are competent remedies and both of them or either of them can be good enough for eliminating the obstacles. A devotee Bhagwat is as good as book Bhagwat because the devotee Bhagwat leads his life in terms of the book Bhagwat and the book bhagwat is full of information about the Personality of Godhead and His pure devotees who are also Bhagwats. Bhagwatam book or the person is identical.
The devotee-Bhagwat is direct a representative of Bhagwan the Personality of Godhead. So by pleasing the devotee-Bhagwat one can receive the benefit of book-Bhagwat. Human reason fails to understand how by serving the devotee-Bhagwat or the book Bhagwat one gets gradual promotion on the path of devotion.
(Delhi SB 1.2.18)
Thus in the books of Srila Prabhupada both these aspects are present and the fortunate reader/hearer has the golden opportunity to associate directly with a pure devotee and the Lord Himself. This is the potency of Srila Prabhupada´s books.
As followers of His Divine Grace A.C. Baktivedanta Swami Prabhupada we are aware of this fact and therefore we understand the importance of preserving the books of Srila Prabhupada as they are given by him, as they have emanated from his lotus mouth. Srila Prabhupada, in his lila, had a particular way of speaking and writing in english, which was not all the time correct from the mundane, grammatical point of view. Therefore, but mostly for the purpose of engaging his disciples in devotional service, he allowed and asked his students to edit his books to “better english”, so that the books may be appreciated in academic circles and by the general english speaking populace as well. Unfortunately, Prabhupada´s editors, conditioned souls as they were, many times misheard, misspelled, misplaced or misinterpreted what Srila Prabhupada actually said or intended to put in his books. Thus in due course of time many of the meanings and instructions of Srila Prabhupada in his books were lost or adulterated. Fortunately, unlike the people of the past willing to follow a spiritual preceptor but unable to approach him through unadulterated record of his teaching, we in this digital age have the opportunity to study the material given by Srila Prabhupada as it is, beginning from the manuscripts and tapes (not all are available though) going up through different editions. Thus we can trace out the evolution of his books and see where the editing is done appropriately and where deviation enters, either by mistake or in a deliberate attempt to eschew meanings to suit selfish motives or political agendas.
Messages of the spiritual master diluted by unqualified or motivated changes by those who pass it on brings about confusion in the understanding of those who hear them. The meaning must be preserved in all circumstances so that the purpose of hearing from the guru, realization of the Supreme Lord is achieved.
“The original purpose of the text must be maintained. No interesting meaning shall be screwed out of it and yet it may be presented in an appreciable manner for the understanding of the audience. This is called realisation. The leader of the assembly Sounaka could just estimate the value of the speaker Sri Suta Goswami simply by his uttering Yathadhitam and Yathamatih and therefore he was very glad to congratulate him in ecstacy. No learned man may be willing to hear a person who does not represent the original Acharya. So the speaker as well as the audience were both bonafide in this meeting where Bhagwat was being recited for the second time. That should be the standard of recitation of Bhagwatam so that the real purpose can be served and Lord Sri Krishna can be realised without any difficulty. Unless this situation is created, Bhagwat recitation for ulterior purposes will be useless labour both for the speaker and the audience.
(Dehli SB 1.4.1 purp.)
Srila Prabhupada should be heard as he has spoken and that is the reason why we desire to read his original books. Hare Krsna!