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Prabhupada: Shaktyavesha Avatar
By Raghavendu das adhikari (ACBSP, '71)
Om ajnana timisrandasya
"I was born in the darkest of ignorance, and my spiritual master opened my eyes with the torch of knowledge. I offer my respectful obeisances unto him."
I cannot agree with the viewpoint of Eka Buddhi Prabhu in his article "Did Lord Nityananda Enter the Body of Srila Prabhupada?" I have been told that Sridhar Maharaja said that the Grace of Lord Nityananda entered into Srila Prabhupada (without use of the word "body"). What I heard was that this meant that Srila Prabhupada is a Shakyavesha Avatar of Lord Nityananda. Upon further inspection we will find that the Grace of Lord Nityananda is essentially the inspiration to distribute Lord Chaitanya's Sankirtan Movement to the Jagais and Madhais of this degraded Age of Kali Yuga.
We can judge by the results: Srila Prabhupada had this inspiration to the highest degree possible, to the infinite degree. In Chaitanya Charitamrita Antya Lila 20.12 ,we find, Kali-kalera dharma—krsna-nama-sankirtana/ krsna-shakti vina nahe tara pravartana. "The fundamental religious system in the age of Kali is the chanting of the holy name of Krsna. Unless empowered by Krsna, one cannot propagate the sankirtana movement. The meaning of krsna-shakti vina is, "without being empowered by Lord Krsna."
A basic tenet of our philosophy is that everything is ultimately a person. Here it is applied in its most essential form. Krsna shakti literally means the energy or power of Krsna. Who is Krsna shakti? Ultimately it is Srimati Radharani. But in our present stage it will be more appropriate to see that the Krsna shakti who propagates the movement of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is none other than Sri Guru, the spiritual master.
Many times Srila Prabhupada has described Lord Nityananda as the original spiritual master. He explains in his explanation of Narottama das Thakur's song, "Nitai Pada Kamala," that no one can aproach Lord Chaitanya or Radha Krsna without first getting the Mercy of Lord Nityananda. Consequently it follows that we must always see the Grace of Lord Nityananda within the bona fide spiritual master.
Eka Buddhi Prabhu says, "To use this as an explanation of Prabhupada's achievements takes away from him as a great soul and puts the responsibility of action on something unattainable by man. Something that has to be waited for and is bestowed upon rather than achieved. This represents a passive relationship to higher forces (Krishna)."
This explanation is not the philosophy of pure bhakti but rather the philosophy of Jainini, karma-mimamsa. Jainini says that if we act in a particular way then the Lord is required to give us the result. The real understanding is that, "yam evaisha vrnute labhyas/ tasyaisha vivrnute tanum svam. "The Lord is obtained only by one whom He Himself chooses. To such a person He manifests His own form."
The Lord is svarat, fully independent. What Srila Prabhupada achieved a man (an ordinary man) could never achieve. In fact an ordinary devotee could never achieve such a result either. Isn't it an offense to see the spiritual master as an ordinary man? In Srimad Bhagavatam we find in the eleventh canto, "acaryam mam vijaniyam," Lord Krsna says, "One should know the acharya as Myself." This is true of all bona fide acharyas; so is it not true of the Acharya who spread Krsna Consciousness all over the world fulfilling the prophecies of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur?
The entire point of Bhagavad Gita is that we must be like Arjuna and surrender to the Lord and become his instrument. Arjuna told Sri Krsna that he did not want to fight. But the Lord told him that almost everyone on the battlefield of Kurukshetra would die even if Arjuna did not participate. In fact although externally the members of both armies appeared to be alive, they were in one sense already killed by the Will of the Lord. Is it safe to say that Srila Prabhupada became an instrument of Sri Krsna in spreading His Name, Fame, and Glories throughout every corner of the earth?
Krsna das Kaviraja Gosvami says in the beginning of Sri Chaitanya-Charitamrita, krsna, guru, bhakta, shakti avatara, prakasha/ krsna ei chaya-rupe karena vilas. "Lord Krsna enjoys by manifesting Himself as the spiritual masters, the devotees, the diverse energies, the incarnations, and the plenary portions. They are all six in one" (C.C. Adi 1.33). So in a very real sense this shows that from one point of view the spreading of the Krsna Consciousness Movement to every town and village is a part of Krsna's Lila. This is a major theme of Krsna Conscious philosopy (siddhanta) and cannot be overlooked.
Of course there is always the achintya-bheda-abheda, simultaneous-one-and-difference aspect of reality. Consequently the question arises, "How much free will is involved in the act of surrender to the Lord in devotional service?" The acharyas of the different schools of Vaishnavism have debated this issue for thousands of year. Remember the story of Srila Prabhupada asking Govinda dasi seemingly out of nowhere, "Who is better the cat or the monkey?" He explained to her that when the mother cat picks up the kitten by the scruff of the neck, the kitten does nothing. It is all done for it.
On the other hand when the mother monkey takes hold of the baby monkey, if the baby does not help by grabbing on, then the baby will fall. Lord Chaitanya and His followers generally tend towards the side of the monkey over the cat and for this reason we have been exhorted by our acharyas to try to engage in sadhana bhakti and to whole-heartedly try to serve the pure devotee (and His instructions), the Vaishnavas and the Lord in the mood of surrender.
What result the devotee will get will be entirely up to Krsna. There will be no disappointment here because it is not a mundane endeavor but rather as Srila Prabhupada has said, "a labor of love."
Raghavendu das adhikari (ACBSP, '71)
© CHAKRA 8 March 2002
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