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Understanding Śāstra Properly
Questions & Answers Shastra

Understanding Śāstra Properly

devotee studying shastra

Question: In Bhagavad Gīta 4.12, Śrī Kṛṣṇa states that people approach the devas for quick benefits. It is also said that devas like Lord Śiva, “Āśutoṣa”, become quickly pleased with their worshipers. 

However, in Bhāgavatam 3.24.27, Kardama Muni says in his glorification of Kapiladeva that a deva becomes pleased with the worshiper only after a long time. How do we understand the seemingly contradictory statements? 

Answer: Whenever you study such contradictory statements, the important thing to look for is the context and the intention of the speaker. In Bhagavad Gīta, the context is that Kṛṣṇa is teaching Arjuna about karma-yoga. In the Bhāgavata, Kardama is neither teaching nor learning. His statement is more of a glorification of Kapiladeva, who has become his son. Kardama is marveling at his own fortune by saying that even to please a devatā takes a long time; how then is it possible that the Lord Himself has become pleased with him and appeared as his son? He is not trying to make a philosophical point, nor is he talking about karma-yoga. Moreover, what is quick and what is a long time is a relative consideration. What seems to be a short time for Kṛṣṇa, could be a long time for Kardama.  


Question: Is it possible for a pure devotee of Śrī Kṛṣṇa to misinterpret śāstra or to have an improper understanding of śāstra, resulting in inconsistencies and misconceptions in his writings? Someone tells me that a pure devotee is only judged by “his love” for Śrī Kṛṣṇa, which is ultimately demonstrated by his hard work (preaching efforts, book distribution, chanting many rounds, etc.). I would like some clarity.

Answer: There are two paths, namely the path of śāstra and the path of the crowd.  Then there is third path, the khicaḍi path, which is mixture of the first two. Those on the third path follow śāstra as per their convenience. However, those following the second and third paths may also claim to follow the path of śāstra and even believe it. So you have to decide which path you will follow. 

In śāstra, there is the definition of a pure devotee, which is very clear. If you knew that definition, you would not be asking this question. Please read Bhaktirasāmṛta Sindhu 1.1.11 for the definition of uttama-bhakti and also read 1.2.16-19, which give the definition of the three kinds of adhikārisuttama, madhyama and kaniṣṭha. Once these definitions are clear to you, you will have the answer to your question. On the second path, there is no fixed definition but simply beliefs of the people, by the people, for the people. For that I cannot give an answer unless I know your belief. The same can be said of the khicaḍi path.

1 Comment

  • Sandipa Krishna Dasa September 8, 2019

    Thanks Babaji Maharaj, for very concise, crisp and clear answers more so for the second question.

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