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Literalism vs Essence
by Ramacandra das

Dear Maharaja,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. All glories to your service.

Thank you for addressing the question concerning literalism vs essence. It is not the differences in presentation of the acharya I am concerned with, Maharaja, but rather my personal understanding of the Bhagavata Purana or, for that matter, the Vedas in general. Any uncertainty in this area can be quite damaging and a Pandora's box of questions and doubts can open, thus staggering a simple minded but faithful follower.

If for example Maharaja Ugrasena did not have 4 billion personal body guards, if 600 million warriors could not possibly fit onto the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, if the punishments of hell as described in the Srimad Bhagavatam are in fact imaginary.... at what point does it stop? Those stories (?) then are similar to the parables as told by Jesus in the Bible, which are indeed a major stumbling block in themselves as in... "What the heck does that mean...?"

If I disregard the punishments of hell, then certainly I will disregard the functioning of Daksa's goat head as bestowed upon him by Lord Shiva. Then how absurd to believe that Lord Brahma appears as the unborn on a lotus flower arising from the navel of Lord Visnu for the purpose of creation. Certainly that lila is less believable than the punishments of hell. The whole canon of Krsna's and his devotees’ pastimes dissolve into the morass of the unbelievable, and when that happens one might as well be an impersonalist.

And so, did Maha Visnu's toe pierce the covering of the universe thus causing the Ganges to fall upon the head of Lord Shiva? Of course not, don't be absurd! That is merely an illustration of how immense the Lord is and how wonderful his devotee Lord Shiva must be and to glorify the Ganges. Therefore the Srimad Bhagavatam boils down to marvelous propaganda dreamed up by Srila Vyasadeva, as instructed by Narada Muni (indeed, a space wanderer carrying about and playing on a vina) to enthuse the sudra masses of this time and place into the oohing and aahing of astonishment, wonder and praise of a character said to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead.(That's a good one, a blackish beautiful youth, a cowherd, playing on a flute and wearing peacock feathers in his hair. That's rich. I wonder who made that up?).

So let's dispense with the Puranas and Itihasas altogether and get to the essence of all that be. The essence of all that be is Krsna's love for Radha (and vice versa if you will). Forget about everything else, it is all imaginary propaganda. And what is the role of the jiva? To serve and assist in the loving pastimes of Radha and Krsna. Unless of course it is all Indian mythology concocted by some great thinker who foresaw the carnal bestiality of the scourge of the earth, the human being, and thought to himself (herself), "Jeez, I better come up with something really good to divert these insatiable consumers from their abhorrent decadence and self destruction."

Hence the tinkling of ankle bells and the wafting of gentle flute tones in the fragrant kunjas of Vrndavan. Can I not aspire to be one of the minions of Lord Shiva, urinating on the sacrificial fire of Daksa? Can I not ride with the troops of Arjuna or cast a spell upon some great enemy or sing and dance in the celestial gardens with my heroic friends and beautiful consorts? Can I not run out into the early morning mists to catch up, breathless, with Krsna and Balarama as they head out to the pasturing grounds with the cows and the calves amongst laughter and comradeship, looking forward anxiously to the sharing of kauchoris and ladhu with my best of friends at lunch time?

Only if I take it all literally Maharaja. Otherwise I beat myself out with logic, analytical thought and introspection. Who needs it!? As part and parcel of Krsna, do you know what my inclination is? It is to have fun. It's hereditary. And the only way to ensure that I can have fun eternally with Krsna is to make sure that he finds me fun to be with. Literally. Total blind faith in Srila Prabhupada is better than partial faith skewered by a feeble intellect and a contemplative false ego. Just like paramour love is better than conjugal.

Hari bolo,
Ramacandra das

© CHAKRA 5 November 2001

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