© 1999 VNN
January 20, 1999 VNN2889
Gita, Sukriti, Sannyas
BY SWAMI B.V. TRIPURARI
EDITORIAL, Jan 20 (VNN) (from Sanga email@example.com) Question: (RE: Sanga, 12/29/98, 'B-gita: The Essential Message of the Upanishads') What do you mean by, "To do so within the context of a worldly yet religious story line is the mastery of the Mahabharata."? Isn't the story line religious in the Mahabharata? - Siksa dd
Swami B.V. Tripurari: Yes, its transcendental message is couched in a religious story line, thus encouraging the irreligious to become religious, and the religious to awaken to spiritual experience and ultimately, prema bhakti. If you study the Mahabharata, you will appreciate its approach.
Question: You write, "It is at this moment that Vyasa wisely inserted the Gita". Isn't the Mahabharata, like all of Vyasadeva's literatures, in addition to being transcendental, also historical literature? - siksa dd
Swami B.V. Tripurari: A discussion of the historicity of the Mahabharata would be useful for all concerned. Although a historical account may be settling to the conditioned soul, trying to prove such could prove unsettling. However, if we accept it as an historical event in time, this does not mean one must describe Krishna's sacred conversation with Arjuna, as it is one of many events, all of which have not been related. Vyasa recongnized it as the essence of the events surrounding the times and thus he did relate it. However, he could have in his narration placed it somewhere else, although it did also fall in the palce he mentioned it in terms of chronology. One has to allow Vyasa, or any empowered devotee, a literary license. After all, Vyasa has told the history of the curse of Pariksit Maharaja much differently in Mahabharata from his description of the same event in the Bhagavatam. There are many instances of this.
There is also a class of devotees that consider Mahabharata differently, as they do the Bhagavatam. Rather than historical events, as one might think of them, they consider that which appeared in the spiritual mind of Vyasa to be reality, 'samadinanusmara tad vicestitam urukramasyakhila.'. Narada told Vyasa to meditate in trance on "the one whose steps are uncommon" and this gave birth to the Bhagavatam.
Whatever appears in the mind of a pure devotee is reality. In this scenario, the Bhagavatam occured in the trance of Vyasa. He envisioned the eternal prakata lila of Krishna in a particular way and described it. In turn, Sukadeva related it in terms of his ecstasy, and not necessarily chronologically, as pointed out by Sanatana Goswami. So there are different ways to think about these things.
Question: (RE: Sanga, 1/13/99, 'Finding a Qualified Guru') You write, "Over lifetimes we have acquired sukrti, 'bhakty-unmukhi sukrti'. Proportionate to our sukrti, we are qualified to connect with the transcendental realm and its ambassadors." What is sukrti? How do we aquire it? - B.K.
Swami B.V. Tripurari: Sukriti is 'merit', which is gathered knowingly or unknowingly through contact with devotees and devotional service. When it has accumulated to a certain extent, it culminates in 'sraddha'. This sraddha (lit. faith), leaves one with the conviction that service to Krishna is the best use of one's life.
Question: You write, "As like attracts like, our sincerity in connection with our sukrti will attract a representative of Godhead." I seem to attract/be attracted to both excellent teachers and dubious amateurs. Is this a conflict between my sukrti and my sincerity? - B.K.
Swami B.V. Tripurari: It is the fruit of your sukriti.
Question: (From http://www.swami.org, 'Questions and comments') I am under the impression that in order to attain perfection, one must be a member of the renounced order (sannyas.) It seems that even if one is a householder, one must eventually renounce household life. I can also appreciate the need for detachment and even abandonment to God in order to truly satisfy the soul, but to renounce family life at any age in this lifetime, which has proved time and again to be a very positive spiritual base, seems inappropriate for me. I am eager to change society by working within it, and I find that my most important growth comes from working and living with others, especially in the context of a spiritually centered family. - Dan
Swami B.V. Tripurari: It is not necessary to accept sannyasa in order to attain perfection in the Gaudiya tradition. There are many examples of siddhas who were married. If family life is such a positive experience for you, I see no need for you to change your social status.
Renunciation is actually a transitional stage in the Gaudiya tradition. Detatchment from material objects, etc. affords one an unbiased look at material life. This tends to turn one away from the world of illusory names and forms, mere mental concepts. However, when one sees the world with an unbiased eye through the culture of devotion, the possibility for loving the world in relation to Krishna manifests. While other traditions emphasize renunciation through knowledge, the Gaudiya tradition stresses the culture of divine love which includes within it detatchment from the notion of individual proprietorship by way of pointing to the supreme proprietor.
The Gaudiya tradition is indeed a form of divine humanism. It has everything to do with the world. Careful study of the Gaudiya ontology reveals that it validates, perhaps more than any other mystic tradition, that which is so close to the human heart - the desire for a loving relationship.
Question: (From http://www.swami.org, 'Questions and comments') Is it harmful to one's spiritual development to have more than one spiritual teacher in the following circumstances: two teachers are in the same spiritual tradition, but they are not 'godbrothers' and neither one of them is the student of the other. Possibly they are like spiritual 'cousins'. A student feels benefit from hearing from both. From the student's perspective, their differences seem more insititutional than philosophical. Due to long distances, the student is not in a position to associate in person with either, or to join any institution they may head, but only seeks their guidance through books, the internet, etc. What should the student do? Is it OK to hear from both teachers? - Anonymous
Swami B.V. Tripurari: If you find in your heart that you are benefiting spiritually from this, then you already know the answer. At the same time, it is wise to seek external confirmation as you have done. Remember this: formalities aside, the most important guru is the one who helps you the most.
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