Adjustments according to Time and Society
Question: On Gosvami’s literature, you have recently said: ‘These books were written from a cultural, social and political background which is different from today. Even though their philosophical conclusions are eternal, they need to be studied and applied in the modern context.’ I have not any idea what it exactly means? What means studied and applied sastras in the modern context? Please, kindly explain to me all about this matter.
Answer: We live in a particular society and every society follows certain norms, social customs. We cannot absolutely reject them externally, otherwise we become unsocial and may not be able to function in a society. For example, putting tilak, keeping shikha and wearing dhoti was normal in India. But not anymore, and even less so in the West. If you work in an office, you cannot go in this attire. Even outside your house these things will be or may be seen as strange and people may discriminate against you. So you have to adjust.
Previously one studied under a guru. Now you can listen to lectures on CD, Youtube etc. This is adjustment. When you speak to a Western person about Vaisnavism you cannot use the same terminology as the Gosvamis used. You have to explain it so that the listener will grasp your point. When you listen to my lectures given in the West, you will understand. Heaven, hell, sin and piety do not make much sense to the modern mind. Nor does karma-kanda.
These are some of the examples of adjustment. But we do not change our philosophy.
Question: Some devotees are preaching that Sri Guru is present in every atom, as if he were identical to Paramatma. The reference is SB 10.30.9. I do not find this interpretation correct. Can you comment?
Answer: The verse you have referred to (10.30.9) is about the Gopis searching for Krsna when Krsna disappeared from the Rasa Dance. I see no link of this verse with the Guru being present in every atom. Only Paramatma is present in every atom. Although Guru is worshipped as God – Saksad Hari – yet he is a dasa of the Lord (kintu prabhoryah priya eva tasya). Guru is a jiva and it makes no sense that he is in every atom, unless you mean to say that Guru is Krsna Himself. Guru’s presence in every atom serves no purpose.
Question: I am looking for any legitimate use of the phrase dvesa-bhakti, either in the Bhagavata or in Goswami literature.
Answer: There is no such statement in Bhagvatam or the Gosvami literature. In Bhagavatam, dvesa is counted one of the means to fix the mind on Krsna (7.1.29). But it is not accepted as bhakti because it is not favorable. It is clear from the verse. We do not accept dvesa-bhakti or bhaya-bhakti (bhakti out of fear). Our Gosvamis do not accept even karmarpanam as bhakti.
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