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Sri Ramanujacharya Disappearance




Today is a super excellent auspicious day and I want to speak a few words on this topic of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. In our line of Gaudiya Vaishnavism there are four sampradayas, Sri, Brahma, Rudra and Sanaka Sampradayas. In one of the four sampradayas, Sri Sampradaya, Ramanujacharya, was a very prominent acharya. Yesterday, I briefly explained the meaning of sampradaya. Sampradaya means group or section. In this verse in Padma Purana, Vyasadeva mentions the four sampradayas in Vaishnavism:


sampradāya-vihīnā ye mantrās te niṣphalā matāḥ

ataḥ kalau bhaviṣyanti catvāraḥ sampradāyinaḥ

śrī-brahma-rudra-sanakāḥ vaiṣṇavāḥ kṣiti-pāvanāḥ

catvāraste kalau bhāvya hyutkale puruṣottamāt


Padma Purana (Prameya-ratnavali, 1.5)


[Any mantra that does not come in disciplic succession is considered to be fruitless. Therefore, four divine individuals will appear in the age of Kali to found disciplic schools. The founders of these four Vaishnava sampradayas are Lakshmi or Sri, Brahma, Rudra and Sanaka Rishi, and the acaryas of the Kali Age who follow their lines will appear in the holy city of Purushottama in Orissa.]


If you receive diksha-mantras from one of the four Vaishnava sampradayas, then you will attain your perfected goal. As today is Ramanujacharya’s disappearance day, I will briefly describe his life history and contributions. Ramanujacharya established shuddha-bhakti and cut the philosophy of Shankara, also called mayavadi (impersonalist) philosophy. Many people do not know the differences between mayavadi and Vaishnava philosophies. They think we are all the same. But, this is not true. Mayavadi philosophies or Shankara philosophies say, “We are Brahma.” — ‘Brahma satyaṃ jagat mithyā, jīvo brahmaiva nāparah’ —  “Brahma is called the absolute truth – ‘Brahma satyam. Jagat mithyā’ — this material world is completely false, there are no living entities or jivas. Actually, Brahma appeared in the form of jivas.”


Mayavadis believe that Brahma becomes illusioned by maya and takes this identification and thinks, “I am a jiva. I am a living entity.” Mayavadi philosophy states that there are no living entities— this is also known as Shankara philosophy. However, the Vedas, Puranas, Upanishads and Bhagavad-gita very clearly explain otherwise. Krishna Himself says:


mamaivāṁśo jīva-loke

jīva-bhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ

manaḥ-ṣaṣṭhānīndriyāṇi

prakṛti-sthāni karṣati


Bhagavad-gita (15.7)


[The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.]


Krishna says, “All living entities are My part and parcel and are eternal and transcendental.” The Vedas, Puranas and Upanishads also explain that Krishna is one— God is one. ‘Ekam evadvitiyam’ — He is one without second. But, He has His inconceivable potency, achintya-shakti. And with His inconceivable potency, He manifests many forms. Without His potency, shakti, no one would be able to perform their activities. 


Yesterday, I mentioned how we also have shakti. And it is because of this shakti that we can perform our daily activities. What potency do we have? I mentioned yesterday how we have the potency to see— Sanskrit word is drishti-shakti. You can see. You also have the potency to walk. 


This is called shakti and it is very prominent. And, there is shakti and shaktiman. Krishna is known as shaktiman. Shaktiman means the possessor of potency. On the other hand, jivas are called shakti all the jivas have shakti present. Through his speculative philosophy, Shankaracharya tried to establish that there are no jivas. However, the Vedas, Puranas and Upanishads clearly state: 


bālāgra-śata-bhāgasya

śatadhā kalpitasya ca

jīva-bhāgaḥ sa vijñeyaḥ

sa anantyāya kalpate


Shvetashvatara Upanishad 5.9


[When the upper point of a hair is divided into one hundred parts and again each of such parts is further divided into one hundred parts, each such part is the measurement of the dimension of the spirit soul.]


The Lord is one, He is supreme, but there are innumerable living entities. There is one president in your country. But are there not many ministers? There are many ministers, police officers, workers and subjects. Still, only one president. However, you cannot say the president is one in the same way God is one. ‘Ekam evadvitiyam’ — God is one without second. And He is unique and unparalleled. No one is equal to Him. Who is higher than the Lord? Our Vedas, Puranas and Upanishads very clearly explain this conception:


na tasya kāryaṁ karaṇaṁ ca vidyate

na tat-samaś cābhyadhikaś ca dṛśyate

parāsya śaktir vividhaiva śrūyate

svābhāvikī jñāna-bala-kriyā ca


Shvetashvatara Upanishad (6.8)


[Lord has nothing to do personally, for everything is done through His different potencies, and no one is found to be equal to or greater than Him, for everything is done naturally and systematically by His multifarious energies.]


Our Upanishads very clearly explain this tattva-siddhanta or philosophical truth. Many do not want to enter tattva-siddhanta. Due to this, they can not fully understand what Vaishnava philosophy truly is. Vaishnava philosophy is very deep or gambhira. For this reason, all of our acharyas have cut Shankara philosophy and helped establish shuddha-bhakti. Ramanujacharya was a very prominent acharya in the Sri Sampradaya— he was very powerful. 


Who is Sri Ramanujacharya actually? He is the younger brother of Lord Ramacandra, also known by the name Rama Anuja. What does anuja mean? It means ‘younger brother’. Ramacandra is Bhagavan and His younger brother is Lakshmana. That same Lakshmana appeared in the form of Ramanujacharya, this is why he was also known as Lakshmana Deshika. Ramanujacharya was born in Madras in South India. He was very intelligent and as a small boy was admitted to a school of a mayavadi teacher whose name was Yadava Acharya. 


Because of Shankaracharya’s philosophy, everybody’s mind was completely polluted. They were thinking, “We are all Brahma.” Actually, this is not true. How can you all possibly become Brahma? What is the actual meaning of the Sanskrit word Brahma? In the term ‘brihan dhatu’, there is one verbal Sanskrit root, brihan, which means great, unique and unparalleled. The Sanskrit word brihan, brihad infers that no one is equal to Him. 


So, how is it possible that all jivas will become Brahma? Shankaracharya established his own speculative philosophy by denying other philosophies and saying, “This is not true, this is not true…neti, neti.” You will better understand once I tell you the very nice example Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja would give. 


Once, there was a wolf and he was drinking water at the top of a mountain. Beautiful waterfalls were nicely descending from atop the mountain, and in that place the wolf was drinking water. Suddenly, he saw a very beautiful sheep at the bottom of the mountain. It was a baby lamb, no more than two months old. The baby lamb was beautiful, he had a soft white colour and was delightfully cuddly. 


When the wolf noticed the lamb he became very greedy, and saliva began automatically dripping from his mouth. The wolf thought, “Oh, today I have to eat this beautiful and delicious food that has come.” So, the wolf shouted, “Hey sheep! Why have you contaminated my drinking water?” The lamb replied, “Sir you are up there and I am down here. Does water flow upwards or downwards? Upwards. So, I am down here and you are up there. That means you are drinking water that then flows down to me. How can I possibly contaminate your drinking water?” 


After hearing the lamb’s response, the wolf then became very angry and shouted, “Hey! Stupid nonsense! You are a small baby, but are speaking with a big mouth!” The wolf was very angry, while puffing his big body he began thinking, “I am the king,” not noticing his own faults. Doesn’t someone become angry when you show them their faults? In the same way, the wolf became very angry and thought, “This is nonsense, you are only a small baby. Are you looking at my faults?”


Then, the wolf said, “You may have not contaminated my drinking water today, but you did contaminate it six months ago.”  “Sir, I am just two months old. How could I have possibly contaminated your drinking water six months ago?” replied the small lamb. The wolf then said, “Hey! Again with the stupid nonsense! Okay, you did not contaminate my water. But, your father did contaminate my drinking water.” 


The lamb said, “My father has never come here.” The wolf angrily replied, “Hey, again with your big mouth. Okay, you did not contaminate my water and your father did not contaminate my water. But your forefathers did contaminate my drinking water, so I have to punish you.” Afterwards, the wolf jumped from atop the mountain, grabbed and killed the young lamb.


So, what is the purport of this story that Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja would tell? Impersonalists try to establish their own speculative philosophy by declaring, “This is not true, this is not true, this is not true...” I just asked you. How can all jivas possibly become Brahma? If you have knowledge of Sanskrit, you would know Brahma means one who is great. ‘Brahma'-śabde mukhya arthe kahe – 'bhagavān’ - the origin and principal meaning of Brahma is: Lord Bhagavan Krishna, and He is unique and unparalleled, no one is equal to Him. 


How is it possible that all jivas will become Brahma? Is this a simple way of understanding this concept or not? Shankaracharya explained that once Brahma is covered with maya he is given an identification as a jiva. Now, another question may arise. Who is higher, Brahma or maya? Brahma is higher. Knowing this, how can maya cover Brahma? Tell me, is my tee-shirt bigger or smaller than my body? In order to cover your body, your tee-shirt or cloth has to be slightly larger than your body— this way it will be covered. That said, how is it possible that maya can cover Brahma? 


Here is another thing. Shankaracharya would say that Brahma is illusioned by maya. How can maya possibly make Brahma illusioned? The Vedas and Puranas all say that this is not possible. Brahma can not be illusioned by maya. Now, this may bring forth another question. Shankaracharya philosophy states that Brahma is one. ‘Eka Brahma, dvitiya naste’. 


Where is Brahma coming from? Where is maya coming from? Who is maya? Who is she? Do you understand these questions? Our Srila Jiva Gosvamipada asked these same things to Shankaracharya. Since Shankaracharya explained, “Eka Brahma, dvitiya naste – there is only one Brahma without second,” Jiva Gosvami asked him, “So, where is maya then?” If you explain maya and Brahma, you will realise they are two. How can it be established that Brahma is one? In this way, our acharyas cut the speculative Shankara philosophy. And is called speculative because there are no foundations found in our scriptures. Shankaracharya merely provided his own speculative imaginations. Similar to the story just mentioned of the wolf and the lamb.  


However, the Vedas, Puranas and Upanishads very clearly explain the difference between shakti and shaktiman. Lord has innumerable potencies, ananta-shakti. Not only chit-shakti (The Lord’s internal energy) jiva-shakti (marginal energy of the Lord) and maya-shakti (external energy of Bhagavan). Without shakti there can be no activities. Try to understand these things.


Why am I mentioning this? Because all of these acharyas, Ramanujacharya, Madhvacharya, Vishnusvami & Nimbaditya have cut down Shankaracharya’s speculative philosophy. As, once this Shankara philosophy or mayavada philosophy contaminates your heart, you cannot perform bhajana and sadhana. This is very important. One whose heart is contaminated by Shankara, mayavada philosophy, cannot perform bhajana and sadhana to the Lord. 


Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu established certain truths in order to remove the speculative Shankara philosophy. Still, nowadays people believe we are all equal. But, we are not. We are not all equal. Does the Lord not create variety? Just look at your hands. How many fingers do you have in one hand? Five fingers. But are they all equal? No. Why not? If all of your fingers were equal, we could not do anything with our hands. 


The Lord is Supreme, He creates everything. And how is everything created? It is all previously calculated by the Lord. In the same way an engineer or designer calculates and designs something, the Lord creates, and determines that this finger will be this size, this one will be that size, etc. Every finger has specific coding, designed for specific tasks. For example, we cannot even write without our thumbs. 


The Lord creates everything properly as He is the Supreme. Some may think they are higher than God, but this is impossible. He creates everything perfectly. That said, how can we possibly still say, “We are all equal”? In this material world there is discrimination everywhere. There are discriminations between males, females, etc. Males work, females give birth to children. Can you really still say we are all equal? You cannot. God creates everything with variety— discrimination is everywhere. 


This is the nature of this prakriti (material nature). And who creates this prakriti? The Lord. Why am I saying these things? To show you that can never become equal to Brahma or Bhagavan. Whether in our liberated stage or in our bonded stage, differences are still found everywhere.


Ramanujacharya established the philosophy of Visishta-advaitavada, he established this very important sampradaya-vichara (group conception). We must enter in our sampradaya-vichara. Four acharyas have given their own very nice and beautiful conceptions, Vaishnava conceptions or vaishnava-vavicharatattva-vichara. So Ramanujacharya explained  Vishishta-advaitavada philosophy (non-dualistic school of Vedanta philosophy). Here, a special term vishishta (complex, qualified) is used. Vishesha (object) and visheshama (qualification) are technical words. Vishesha is a noun and visheshama is an adjective. For example, one may say, “A red cow.” What is the word cow? Simply put, ‘cow’ is the noun and ‘red’ is the adjective. 


As mentioned, the Lord is one, this is true, but He has many varieties and potencies. And in this way, Ramanujacharya established his philosophy and defeated the mayavadis. He was a very powerful acharya with a very nice and beautiful life story.


As a small boy, he was admitted to the school of Yadava Acharya who was a Shankara philosopher. One day, Ramanujacharya was servicing his mayavadi-guru, Yadava Acharya. At that time his guru gave an explanation on the Lord’s eyes. He spoke on how beautiful the Lord’s eyes are. 


While speaking, he used a Sanskrit term, kapasham. Kapi means monkey and asha means the backside of a monkey. In this way, Yadava Acharya explained that Lord’s eyes are very reddish in colour— similar to the backside of a monkey which is reddish in colour. When the small boy Ramanujacharya heard this, he cried and tears began rolling down his face. Then, his impersonalist guru, Yadava Acharya asked, “Why are you crying?” 


The small boy Ramanujacharya answered, “Gurudeva, all of the Vedas and Puranas explain that the Lord’s eyes are very beautiful, pundarika-aksha. His eyes are like a blossomed lotus. So, why do you compare the Lord’s eyes to the backside of a monkey? Why have you given this bad example? You can glorify someone very nicely by beautifully chanting words, but you cannot use this slang language— this is not good.” The Vedas, Puranas, and Upanishads all describe the beautiful the form of the Lord: 


barhāpīḍaṁ naṭa-vara-vapuḥ karṇayoḥ karṇikāraṁbibhrad vāsaḥ kanaka-kapiśaṁ vaijayantīṁ ca mālāmrandhrān veṇor adhara-sudhayāpūrayan gopa-vṛndairvṛndāraṇyaṁ sva-pada-ramaṇaṁ prāviśad gīta-kīrtiḥ


Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.21.5)


[Wearing a peacock-feather ornament upon His head, blue karnikara flowers on His ears, a yellow garment as brilliant as gold, and the Vaijayanti garland, Lord Krishna exhibited His transcendental form as the greatest of dancers as He entered the forest of Vrindavana, beautifying it with the marks of His footprints. He filled the holes of His flute with the nectar of His lips, and the cowherd boys sang His glories.]


Srimad-Bhagavatam very nicely describes the beautiful form of Lord Krishna when He used to go cow herding with His friends. Shukadeva Gosvamipada said, “Hey Parikshit Maharaja, when Krishna used to go herding the cows with His friends, Krishna’s face was very beautiful and so attractive.” ‘Barhāpīḍaṁ’ - a peacock feather is on His turban.  ‘Naṭa-vara-vapuḥ’ - He has a very beautiful dancing pose, His three-bend fold. ‘Karṇayoḥ karṇikāraṁ’ - Krishna keeps one kind of flower that is called ‘karnika pushpa’. It has a slight reddish colour, sometimes He wears it on one side of His face and at times the other. ‘Bibhrad vāsaḥ kanaka-kapiśaṁ’ - He wears beautiful and delightfully ripened-yellow coloured garments. ‘Vaijayantīṁ ca mālām’ – He wears a very nice and beautiful vaijayanti mala. His neck is decorated with His garland— vaijayanti mala.” Do you understand what a vaijayanti mala is? It is a kind of special garland made of five different types of flowers. ‘Randhrān veṇor adhara-sudhayāpūrayan gopa-vṛndair’ - He plays the flute. And what happens to everyone when He plays the flute? Everyone becomes intoxicated. He also captivates the hearts of all the living entities with His very beautiful and romantic sidelong glance.


The Vedas, Puranas and Upanishads all explain that the Lord has a beautiful form. Thus, Ramanujacharya asked his mayavadi-guru Yadava Acvharya, “Why did you compare the Lord’s beautiful lotus face with the monkey’s bottom?” Then, his guru responded, “Okay, you can explain. Because shastras use the Sanskrit word kapasham.” Then, Ramanujacharya, even as a small boy, gave a very nice and beautiful explanation on the perfect meaning of kapasham


He said, “The sun rises and the lotus blossoms…” In this way, he very nicely continued explaining the true meaning of kapasham, “And the Lord’s face is like a blossomed lotus.” Now, Yadava Acharya’s eyes became very, very big and he thought, “Oh, when this boy grows up, he will destroy Shankara philosophy.” Similar to the saying, ‘nip it in the bud’ - an idea begun by his impersonalist guru Yadava Acharya, to kill young Ramanujacharya. 


There was also the pastime of a princess who became possessed by a ghost, brahmarakshasi. After hearing the news, the king called Yadava Acharya, “Oh, you are an acharya. You are a magnanimous scholar. You know many mantras and tantras. So, remove the ghost from my daughter.” Then the princess, who was possessed by the brahmarakshasi said, “Hey stupid Yadava Acharya, you cannot remove me from this body. You are stupid and this is nonsense. Get out of here!” Afterwards, everybody asked the ghost, “How will you leave the body of this princess?” The brahmarakshasi answered, “I will leave this body only if Ramanujacharya comes and gives me his footbathing water. If I drink the footbathing water of Ramanujacharya, then I will be delivered from my rakshasi body.” 


At that moment, the king called Ramanujacharya, who at the time, was still a small boy named Lakshmana Deshika. Upon his arrival, the king worshipped the lotus feet of Ramanujacharya and gave the water to his daughter. His possessed daughter then drank the water, and the ghost immediately left her body. When Yadava Acharya witnessed this he lamented, “My God, nobody will respect me now. My disciple is higher than me. Who will show me respect now?” Yadava became very jealous of his disciple. And filled with envy of Ramanujacharya, he began thinking, “I have to kill my disciple.” Hence, for both these reasons Yadava Acharya concocted his plan to kill him. 


As mentioned earlier, Ramanujacharya is the direct incarnation of Lakshmana. And who is Lakshmana? He is akhanda-guru-tattva (undivided Guru philosophical truth). Try to understand this guru-tattva. Ramacandra is Svayam Bhagavan, He is Krishna, and Lakshmana is Baladeva Prabhu. According to tattva-siddhanta, Krishna appeared in Dvapara-yuga in the form of Rama, and Baladeva Prabhu appeared in the form of Lakshmana. Lakshmana-tattva is baladeva-tattva— this is guru-tattva. Gurupada-padma (the lotus feet of the spiritual master), Gurudeva is very powerful. 


So Yadava Acharya, the impersonalist guru was now thinking, “If Ramanujacharya stays in this material world, I will not be able to preach mayavada philosophy anymore.” For this reason, he was contemplating how to kill him. Except, who can kill you if Krishna protects you? In his kathas, Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja many times would use this Bengali verse: If the Lord protects you, no one can kill you and if Lord is thinking, “I will kill him.” Who can protect you? So sent Ramanujacharya into the forest. But, the Lord saved him and he safely returned. Then Ramanujacharya, who at the time was known as Lakshmana Deshika, thought, “This is stupid nonsense, this guru cannot give me shuddha-bhakti. For this reason, he rejected Yadava Acharya, the mayavadi-guru


Our scriptures explain that you must reject a guru if the guru is not a shuddha-bhakta. If the guru does not have pure bhakti then you have to reject him. You have to receive diksha-mantras from a bona fide vaishnava-guru. Try to understand that advaitavadis or impersonalists do not say they are Vaishnavas. And our shastras explain that you have to receive diksha-mantras from a bona fide vaishnava-guru— not an avaishnava-guru. You must clearly understand this very important topic.


avaiṣṇava-mukhodgīrṇaṁ

pūtaṁ hari-kathāmṛtam

śravaṇaṁ naiva kartavyaṁ

sarpocchiṣṭaṁ yathā payaḥ


Padma Purana


[One should not hear anything about Krishna from a non-Vaishnava. Milk touched by the lips of a serpent has poisonous effects; similarly, talks about Krishna given by a non-Vaishnava are also poisonous.” One must be a bona fide devotee, and then he can preach and impress devotional service upon his listeners.]


Our scriptures very clearly explain that you should never listen to bhagavat-katha (pastimes of  the Lord) from an avaishnava. Do you fully understand what an avaishnava is? They are impersonalists— this is a simple way of comprehending. Rather, you have to listen to hari-katha from Vaishnavas only. And who are Vaishnavas? Those who belong to the four sampradayas


If you ask mayavadis, impersonalists, “Are you a Vaishnava?” They will reply, “No, we are not Vaishnavas.” And since our shastras state you have to receive diksha-mantras from a Vaishnava, Ramanujacharya rejected his impersonalist guru, Yadava Acharya. Around that time, there was a very prominent vaishnava-guru whose name was Yamunacharya. Ramanujacharya thought, “I have to receive diksha-mantras from Yamunacharya.” But, when he arrived at the ashrama of Yamunacharya, Yamunacharya had just left his body. Then, Ramanujacharya became upset and thought, “What will I do now?”


When Ramanujacharya came to the ashrama of Yamunacharya, he saw his transcendental body there. Ramanujacharya saw that Yamunacharya’s body was very neat, clean, beautiful and attractive. He noticed his three middle fingers were folded down and two fingers raised. Ramanujacharya asked everyone, “Why did he fold his three fingers?” They replied, “We do not know.” This seemed odd as naturally, when people give up their bodies, their fingers either remain open or closed. 


On seeing that Yamunacharya’s three fingers were folded, Ramanujacharya then made three promises  in front of the transcendental body of Yamunacharya.  He promised, “I have to receive diksha-mantras from this guru. Yamunacharya is my guru.” Astonishingly, one finger automatically opened. Next, he promised, “I will preach shuddha-bhakti, shuddha-sadachar (perfect Vaishnava behaviour) and vaidhi-bhakti (devotional service under rules and regulations.).” Now, the second finger opened. 


After this, Ramanujacharya said, “I will have to take sannyasa, and I will also compose the commentary of Vedanta-sutra.” Finally, the third finger opened. These promises by Ramanujacharya are called Sri Bhashya. After his three fingers opened, Ramanujacharya sat in front of Yamunacharya’s transcendental body and recited the sannyasa-mantra. This is the process. A guru should be this way. 


If a guru is not bona fide or is a mayavadi-guru or an asad-guru, one should reject that asad-guru. Do you understand what an asad-guru means? One who is not following the rules and regulations of the scriptures. One who criticises Vaishnavas. This is very important. In one lecture, Gurudeva very clearly explained this. You can read Gurudeva’s lecture where he says, “One who criticises Vaishnavas is not even a human being, what to speak of being a Vaishnava.” 


Even Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said: 


kāhāre nā kare nindā

'kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa' bole ajaya

caitanya sei jinibeka hele


Chaitanya-bhagavata (Madhya 10.312)


[One who never criticises anyone and always chants the name of Krishna will conquer Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who is unconquerable.]


Never criticise any Vaishnava. This is very important. One may now ask. Who is a Vaishnava and who is avaishnava? One who criticises Vaishnavas is avaishnava, they are not a Vaishnava or even a human being. Nowadays, many politicians foolishly criticise each other and glorify themselves, “I am the best.” No. You should not criticise anyone. This is aparadha, an offence. 


If you hear someone criticise guru or Vaishnavas you always think he is avaishnava. You must always think one who criticises guru and Vaishnavas is avaishnava, he is not a Vaishnava. And you should never associate with him. 


[Jaya Sri Ramanujacarya ki jaya!]


Gaura Premanande! Hari Hari bol!



Date: 4 February 2020 Location: South Africa



 

Transcriber: Sanatana dasa (USA) Editor: Sanatana dasa (USA) Proofreading: Chandrika dasi (UK) Integrity check: Chandrika dasi (UK) Image: Navina-krishna dasa (Holland)



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