Comments from Brahminical Council:
How disciples of His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, “leaders” of Iskcon, can ask to very advanced devotees like Aindra and others, to give them any respect. Aindra Prabhu speaks in a respectful manner, but he says the truth to these cheap leaders. Aindra Prabhu has not committed suicide, he has been killed. He has been killed by envious people, may be Gaudiya-
Statement by Steven J. Rosen (Satyaraja dasa). ISKCON News 26/10/2012
Tridandi Swami Bhakti Hriday Bon Maharaj (1901–1982) was a prominent disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur (1874–1937), the well-
On the Way to Vaikuntha, the book under review here, is an important addition to our knowledge of this consequential religious figure. An English translation of Baikunther Pathe, originally published in 1943, it introduces the reader to a softer side of Bon Maharaj. No longer is he a removed personage who served his guru's mission but eventually developed blemishes on his reputation. Here he is a soul longing for perfection, trying to compensate for previous offenses, attempting to undo indiscretions of the past.
The book serves to “fill in the blanks,” as it were, showing us Bon Maharaj as a person. So much has been written about him, and his books, disciples and educational and monastic facilities stand as a testament to his depth of knowledge and his lifetime of devotional endeavor. But here we see another aspect of his person. We see his human side -
Before glorifying salient aspects of this important book, it would perhaps be prudent to express some disconcerting aspects and initial reservations. The translator mentions that this is the first time the work appears in English, and that there is also a Hindi translation as well, but, unless I missed it, we are not informed of the language in which it originally appears. I assume it was Bengali. In addition, there are numerous typos and other careless mistakes -
These problems are minor. There was one reservation that was more fundamental, however, and this involves the very premise of the book: Aspiring to settle in Vrindavan, arguably the holiest of places in the Vaishnava tradition, Bon Maharaj decides that, at this point in his life, he would be unable to remain there, for its spirituality is beyond his ken. He knows that he has made mistakes, taken some missteps, and that he is not worthy of this holy place. Accordingly, he decides to perform austerities by traveling to the Himalayas.
Specifically, he will traverse the Char Dham (the four holy places), which, he points out, are earthly manifestations of higher spheres of existence: Yamunotri, the source of the Yamuna, is Surya-
Bon Maharaj reasons that if he could undergo the penances necessary to visit these holy regions, then there will be nothing left for him to see, he will have atoned for his wrong-
At first, this stated premise rubbed me the wrong way. His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896–1977) spoke disparagingly of journeying to Himalayas merely for purification: "Mayavadi sannyasis engage in meditation or go to the Himalayas, but we have come to Los Angeles. Why? This is our mission." (Los Angeles lecture, May 14, 1973) Or, ". . . what do you want more? . . . simply by chanting, dancing, and eating prasadam you are making progress. Therefore it is su-
And the need to visit "Brahma-
And so the question arises: Why would a Vaishnava find it necessary to undertake such a potentially distracting pilgrimage endeavor? There is a possible reason, and Prabhupada shares this with us, if indirectly, in the Caitanya-
The important point in this verse is that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu regularly visited the temple of Visvesvara (Lord Siva) at Varanasi. Vaishnavas generally do not visit a demigod's temple, but here we see that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu regularly visited the temple of Visvesvara, who was the predominating deity of Varanasi. Generally Mayavadi sannyasis and worshipers of Lord Siva live in Varanasi, but how is it that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who took the part of a Vaishnava sannyasi, also visited the Visvesvara temple? The answer is that a Vaishnava does not behave impudently toward the demigods. A Vaishnava gives proper respect to all, although he never accepts a demigod to be as good as the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
This purport helped me appreciate Bon Maharaj's journey to the Himalayas. In other words, while I initially felt certain reservations about the propriety of a Vaishnava even considering that such a journey was necessary, I came to see, through reading the book and contemplating the above purport, among others, that Bon Maharaj did not make this journey as an ordinary pilgrim. Rather, he traveled as a devotee of Krishna, with respect for the demigods even while distinguishing them from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. His example, as conveyed in this book, is educational and instructive.
Like Narada Muni in Santana Goswami's classic Brihad-
On the Way to Vaikuntha, then, is a travelogue of transcendental proportions. Bon Maharaj is both poetic and descriptive, a great writer who considers his audience well, elucidating his journey in terms of feelings felt and places visited. The reader, too, will feel a sense of awe when witnessing, through Bon Maharaj's eyes, the grandeur of the Himalayas, always filtered through Vaishnava philosophy, Puranic stories, and the author's love for the sacred terrain before him.
But more, the work serves as poignant confessional literature, wherein Bon Maharaj expresses great regret in disappointing Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura as well as his longing for true spiritual attainment. It is to be highlighted that despite the intense nature of this arduous pilgrimage, Maharaj moves through the various realms as a dedicated Vaishnava, chanting the holy name, honoring prasadam, and living an austere life punctuated by dedication to the Supreme.
Moreover, his affection for his guru is clear. This was a pleasure to read, especially given the negative things that are sometimes said about him in both the Gaudiya Math and ISKCON. The events in this book occurred some six years after Srila Sarasvati Thakura's demise, and Bon Maharaj had, by that time, been severely castigated not only by the guru himself but by many of his Godbrothers. Still, his dedication is unmitigated, perhaps even enhanced. There are many heart-
Long years have passed since his disappearance, but I can never forget him. What unprecedented affection! What instructions! What glorification of the secrets of internal worship! What authoritative reprimands! What talks! Since his disappearance, it seems like half a Yuga has passed. Even now, how will I ever find a trace of the moon of Vraj without the compassionate glance of my ever worshipful master Shri Varshabhanavi Dayita Das [Srila Sarasvati Thakur]? Why can I still not just call out 'Krishna' in divine madness? What else is there? Why do I still have so much attraction to this despicable life? But oh -
To conclude: In this book, Bon Maharaj shares his dreams with us, both literally and figuratively, and we see a sincere and repentant sadhu. He several times mentions his offenses at the feet of his Master, sometimes with specifics and sometimes more generally, as in the above quote. Whether this is mere humility or reference to his historically verifiable transgressions, it is heartening to read, and I believe he is sincere. Unless one reads the book, it is difficult to tell, and so, for this reasons and others too numerous to mention, I highly recommend this gem of devotional literature.
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About the author: Steven J. Rosen (Satyaraja Dasa) is an initiated disciple of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He is founding editor of the Journal of Vaishnava Studies and an associate editor of Back to Godhead Magazine. Author of over 30 books on Vaishnavism and related subjects, he lives in the New York area.
Srimad Bhagavatam: Talks between Narada and the king Pracinabarhi
canto IV, chapter 29, text 1b (purport of the verse 85)
Bhaktih krsne daya jivesv
Yadi syad atmano bhuyad
Apavargas tu samsriteh
« If a living entity is developed in Krishna consciousness and is merciful to others, and if his spiritual knowledge of self-
Purport by his Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada:
In this verse the words daya jivesu, meaning « mercy to other living entities, » indicate that a living entity must be merciful to other living entities if he wishes to make progress in self-
Arcaryam eva haraye
Pujam yah sraddayahate
Sa bhaktah smritah
Srila Prabhupada says in a letter to the President, His Excellency Dr. Rajendra Prasada,
President Indian Union, Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi.
(Through his private secretary Sri Visvanatha Varma)
« Believe me or not, I have got the clue of going back to Godhead just after leaving my present material body and in order to take along with me all my contemporary men and women of the world I have started my paper Back to Godhead as one of the means to the way. Please do not think of me as a wonderful or a mad man when I say that I shall go back to Godhead after leaving my present material body! It is quite possible for everyone and all of us.
In the Bhagavad-
When the art of writing is used by a rascal to glorify another rascal, that leads to the pollution of the mind of the reader.
The principal occupation of the Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu was not to visit the temples of the demigods, particularly Siva’s one, no. The Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu sometimes went in the temples of the Lord Siva in order to show us the example. The Lord Siva is accepted in our guru-
The devotees never go to Siva’s temples for material benefits, the asuras yes. Caitanya Mahaprabhu who was the Lord Krishna Himself has taken the features of a devotee in the age of kali, He shows the example, He honored the devotees as it must be done, moreover the Lord Siva. The Lord Siva is the spiritual master of the whole world, he is very, very merciful, he accepts the prayers of the devotees as those of non-
Kas tam caracara-
atmaramam katham dvesti
Jagato daivatam mahat
« Lord Siva, the spiritual master of the entire world, is free from enmity, is a peaceful personality, and is always satisfied in himself. He is the greatest among the demigods. How is it possible that Daksa could be inimical towards such an auspicious personality? » (S.B.IV.2.2)
Purport by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada:
Lord Siva is described here as caracara-
The Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to Varanasi to convert the Mayavadis into devotees. He has not gone to Varanasi specifically for visiting a temple of Lord Siva:
Prabhu kahe–suna, sripada, ihara karana
Guru more murkha dekhi’ karila sasana
« Sri Caitanya replied to Prakasananda Sarasvati, « My dear sir, kindly hear the reason. My spiritual master considered Me a fool, and therefore he chastised Me. » (Caitanya Caritamrita, Adi-
Purport by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada:
When Prakasananda Sarasvati inquired from Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu why He neither studied Vedanta nor performed meditation, Lord Caitanya presented Himself as a number one fool in order to indicate that the present age, Kali-
Hare nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam
Kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha
« In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy the only means of delivrance is the chanting of the holy names of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. » People in general in Kali-
Murkha tumi, tomara nahika vedantadhikara
« ‘You are a fool,’ he said. ‘You are not qualified to study Vedanta philosophy, and therefore You must always chant the holy name of Krishna. This is the essence of all mantras, or Vedic hymns.’ » C.c. Adi-
Purport by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada:
Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja comments in this connection, « One can become perfectly successful in the mission of his life if he acts exactly according to the words he hears from the mouth of his spiritual master. » This acceptance of the words of the spiritual master is called srauta-
Krishna is the origin of everything. Therefore when a person is fully Krishna conscious it is to be understood that his relationship with Krishna has been fully confirmed. Lacking Krishna consciousness, one is only partially related with Krishna and is therefore not in his constitutional position. Although Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna, the spiritual master of the entire universe, He nevertheless took the position of a disciple in order to teach by example how a devotee should strictly follow the orders of a spiritual master in executing the duty of always chanting the Hare Krishna maha-
Vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyo
« By all the Vedas, I am to be known. Indeed, I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas. »