Hare Krishna Guru Maharaja
Please accept my humble obeisances
All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
All glories to you, Guru Maharaja!
Dear Guru Maharaja I would like to thank you so very much for all your kind instructions. You keep us aspiring disciples at the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada, namely his instructions. One such instruction that you often elucidate on is the instruction that Srila Prabhupada gives several times in the second canto. That the non liberated soul should focus on the external lila of the Lord, the pastimes of the Lord interacting with this world, such as creation. Srila Prabhupada concisely states.
Mahārāja Parīkṣit did not ask his spiritual master, Śukadeva Gosvāmī, to narrate Lord Kṛṣṇa's pastimes in Vṛndāvana; he wanted to hear first about the creation of the Lord. Śukadeva Gosvāmī did not say that the King should hear about the direct transcendental pastimes of the Lord. The time was very short, and naturally Śukadeva Gosvāmī could have gone directly to the Tenth Canto to make a shortcut of the whole thing, as generally done by the professional reciters. But neither the King nor the great speaker of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam jumped up like the organizers of Bhāgavatam; both of them proceeded systematically, so that both future readers and hearers might take lessons from the example of the procedure of reciting Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Those who are under the control of the external energy of the Lord, or in other words those who are in the material world, must first of all know how the external energy of the Lord is working under the direction of the Supreme Personality, and afterwards one may try to enter into the activities of His internal energy. The mundaners are mostly worshipers of Durgā-devī, the external energy of Kṛṣṇa, but they do not know that Durgā-devī is but the shadow energy of the Lord. Behind her astonishing display of material workings is the direction of the Lord, as confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā (9.10). The Brahma-saṁhitā affirms that Durgā-śakti is working by the direction of Govinda, and without His sanction the powerful Durgā-śakti cannot move even a blade of grass. Therefore the neophyte devotee, instead of jumping at once to the platform of transcendental pastimes presented by the internal energy of the Lord, may know how great the Supreme Lord is by inquiring about the process of His creative energy. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta also, descriptions of the creative energy and the Lord's hand in it are explained, and the author of Caitanya-caritāmṛta has warned the neophyte devotees to be seriously on guard against the pitfall of neglecting knowledge about Kṛṣṇa in regard to how great He is. Only when one knows Lord Kṛṣṇa's greatness can one firmly put one's unflinching faith in Him; otherwise, like the common man, even the great leaders of men will mistake Lord Kṛṣṇa for one of the many demigods, or a historical personality, or a myth only. The transcendental pastimes of the Lord in Vṛndāvana, or even at Dvārakā, are relishable for persons who have already qualified themselves in advanced spiritual techniques, and the common man may be able to attain to such a plane by the gradual process of service and inquiries, as we shall see in the behavior of Mahārāja Parīkṣit. (SB 2.4.6 purp.)
But who is the common man? Are the long time devotees in ISKCON common men? Srila Prabhupada cites the instruction of Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura. Who comments that Maharaja Pariksit, the pure devotee grandson of Arjuna, placed himself as the common man and thus he is noted as an ideal disciple.
The Lord's pastimes in the internal potency are displayed in His activities in Vṛndāvana, but His external potential works are directed in His features of Kāraṇārṇavaśāyī Viṣṇu, Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu and Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī offers his good counsel to the interested Vaiṣṇavas when he says that they should not be interested in hearing only about the Lord's activities (like rāsa-līlā), but must be keenly interested in His pastimes in His features of the puruṣāvatāras in connection with sṛṣṭi-tattva, creational functions, following the examples of Mahārāja Parīkṣit, the ideal disciple, and Śukadeva Gosvāmī, the ideal spiritual master. (SB 2.4.10 purp.)
However we have heard that the internal pastimes of the Lord spiritual potent. Should not the sincere devotee delve into these pastimes and become immersed in Krishna Consciousness?
Some of them think that to hear about the pastimes of the Lord means to hear about His activities with the gopīs or about His pastimes like lifting the Govardhana Hill, and they have nothing to do with the Lord's plenary expansions as the puruṣāvatāras and Their pastimes of the creation, maintenance or annihilation of the material worlds. But a pure devotee knows that there is no difference between the pastimes of the Lord, either in rāsa-līlā or in creation, maintenance or destruction of the material world. Rather, the descriptions of such activities of the Lord as the puruṣāvatāras are specifically meant for persons who are in the clutches of the external energy. Topics like the rāsa-līlā are meant for the liberated souls and not for the conditioned souls. The conditioned souls, therefore, must hear with appreciation and devotion the Lord's pastimes in relationship with the external energy, and such acts are as good as the hearing of rāsa-līlā in the liberated stage. A conditioned soul should not imitate the activities of liberated souls. Lord Śrī Caitanya never indulged in hearing the rāsa-līla with ordinary men. (SB 2.7.53 purp.)
Not even the other members of the Panca Tattva were participants of the discussions of rasa lila with Rasaraja Gauranga Mahaprabhu.
Another reason is also stated in the Nectar Of Devotion.
No one should claim his eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa unless he is liberated. In the conditioned state of life, the devotees have to execute the prescribed duties as recommended in the codes of devotional service. When one is mature in devotional service and is a realized soul, he can know his own eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa. One should not artificially try to establish some relationship. In the premature stage it is sometimes found that a lusty, conditioned person will artificially try to establish some relationship with Kṛṣṇa in conjugal love. The result of this is that one becomes prākṛta-sahajiyā, or one who takes everything very cheaply. Although such persons may be very anxious to establish a relationship with Kṛṣṇa in conjugal love, their conditioned life in the material world is still most abominable. A person who has actually established his relationship with Kṛṣṇa can no longer act on the material plane, and his personal character cannot be criticized. (NOD 40)
Further Srila Prabhupada writes in letter.
We are not concerned with the stories of Srimad Bhagwatam. The book which you have sent is quite nice in abridging the stories of Bhagwatam, but there is no profit simply by knowing these stories. We must know the philosophy of Srimad Bhagwatam, and if one can understand the first verse of the Srimad Bhagwatam jenmadyasa be becomes a great learned man in Vedic knowledge. All the great Acharyas have tried to elucidate Bhagwatam very elaborately; they never tried to abridge it; so we are trying to explain Srimad Bhagwatam elaborately, and students interested in Bhagwatam may purchase our books and try to understand it without any attempt to try and know the stories. (letter to Hayagriva 6/25/67)
“So why did Srila Prabhupada deny us of the fun of pastimes?” You comment in your lecture on Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance day in 2007. “well one of the reasons, from my understanding, is that this material world is a pastime.” You continue that with the explanation that this external pastime must be understood before we delve into the internal pastimes. The example is given of Vyasadeva who when meditating upon Krishna first saw Krishna with mayapasrayam, maya under His control.
So should we, the ISKCON devotees, be distributing books such as KRSNA, and so on? Yes, because such readers are protected by the purports of Srila Prabhupada, as we, aspiring disciples, are protected by your instructions. Thank you so very much.
Your humble servant,
Nityananda Chandra Das