Politically Correct Handbaskets
BY: VISHOKA DASA
Nov 25, USA (SUN) There’s a streetcar named desire, and there’s a chariot drawn by mules
called “second guessing” and so there are various handbaskets and
conveyances, which take one merrily down to Patalaloka, all the while
thinking one is politically correct.
Srila Prabhupada told us of the story of the cobbler and the Brahmin and Narada Muni. Narada often went to see Lord Narayana and one day the Brahmin requested him to inquire from Lord Narayana when he, the Brahmin, would go back to godhead. A cobbler made the same request to Narada. So he went to Lord Narayana and asked Him when the two devotees would go back home. Lord Narayana said the Cobbler would promptly go back home, but the Brahmin had more lives to do. Narada was surprised and asked why. Lord Narayana instructed Narada to tell both cobbler and Brahmin that He, Lord Narayana, was threading an elephant through an eye of a needle, and see how they react. Narada did as told, and the Brahmin balked at the story, saying "bah, impossible." But the cobbler fell into ecstasy upon hearing the story, saying "my Lord can do anything."
The moral of the story teaches us a "central point" that Lord Krsna is always testing devotees by presenting contradictory situations, which seem materially impossible, and then He observes how they respond to those situations. He puts little glitches into the cosmic landscape, just to test our faith.
Cc Adi 16.81P - "The central point of all Vaisnava philosophy is to
accept the inconceivable potency of Lord Visnu. What sometimes appears
contradictory from a material viewpoint is understandable in connection
with the Supreme Personality of Godhead because He can perform
contradictory activities by dint of His inconceivable potencies. Modern
scientists are puzzled."
Lord Krsna also sends His pure devotee to our world, and is very
attentive to see how we treat His pure devotee. This is a big test.
Similarly, His pure devotee, Srila Prabhupada, is often testing
disciples. It is said that when the guru calls a rope a snake, then the
disciple will beat the rope as if it were a snake. Then the guru calls it
a rope, and the disciple sees it as a rope. If the guru again calls the
rope a snake, then the disciple again acts if it were a snake. The guru
sometimes gives illogical puzzles, to encourage the disciple to
relinquish his false ego of material logic.
Once in Los Angeles, 2 disciples approached Srila Prabhupada in his room,
with a challenging mood. They brought up some seemingly material
contradictions in the Krsna book, saying these things were impossible.
Srila Prabhupada told them [if memory serves] that they could leave,
because they were without a guru as of that moment. This was a severe
case of flunking the contradiction test. This is where pride and material
logic can get a careless devotee in very deep trouble.
I have heard that Sri Madvacharya once said that Lord Krsna purposely
puts little contradictions into the sastra, just to facilitate doubting
souls who are looking for holes in the philosophy, to give a little
fodder to bolster their atheist mentalities. The Bhagvad Gita states that
Lord Krsna knows what desires are in the hearts of the jiva, and
facilitates that desire. If someone wants to doubt Krsna, then Krsna will
help him do that, will direct him within the heart to focus on
contradictory glitches in sastra, so that he can fulfill his doubt, so he
can justify material desires.
Bg 7.21 purport - "As the supreme father of all living entities, He does
not interfere with their independence, but gives all facilities so that
they can fulfill their material desires."
The submissive devotee knows that Lord Krishna can do anything
inconceivable and thus he passes the test, while the puffed up Brahmin
maintains false ego and pride, which supplies his material logic and thus
fails the test.
The cobbler was in spiritual logic and the Brahmin was in material logic.
Spiritual logic is essential for surrender to Krsna and Guru, being vital
for submission to the will of Krsna and Guru. Jayananda prabhu is a
perfect example of a devotee with spiritual logic, who was not bewildered
when confronted with riddles in spiritual life. He passed Krsna's tests
with flying colors, with an attitude like, "I will never understand Krsna
or His pure devotee, and I'll never understand this material world, and
if someone asks about some apparent contradiction in sastra, I just say I
don't know, and go on with my service, knowing everything is the
inconceivable energy of Krsna." This is the humble attitude of the
Cc Adi 17.304P - "Such a contradiction can be reconciled only in the
Supreme Personality of Godhead because He has energy that is
inconceivable (acintya), which can make possible that which is impossible
to do (aghata-ghatana-patiyasi). Such contradictions are very difficult
to understand unless a devotee strictly follows the Vaisnava philosophy
under the direction of the Gosvamis."
In the Krishna book, Mother Devaki recites prayers to Lord Krishna,
saying that He contains the whole universe in His abdomen, and still
appears in her womb, which seems to be a mind-boggling paradox-
“My dear Lord, at the end of the annihilation of the cosmic
manifestation, You put the whole universe within Your abdomen; still by
Your unalloyed mercy You have appeared in my womb. I am surprised that
You imitate the activities of ordinary human beings just to please Your
In this regard, Srila Bhaktivinode writes beautifully about the
inconceivable nature of mutually contradictory qualities of Lord Krsna,
in Sri Jaiva-dharma-
"In the material world mutually contradictory qualities do not exist
together in the same place, for they would negate each other. It is the
inconceivable nature of Lord Krsna's potency that in the spiritual world
all mutually contradictory qualities exist happily together and the
result is very beautiful and pleasing. In Lord Krsna the qualities of
having a form and being formless, being all-pervading and having a form
present in one place only, being active and inactive, being unborn and
being the son of Nanda, being the all worshipable Supreme Lord and being
a gopa boy, being all-knowing and having the limited knowledge possessed
by a human being, having qualities and having no qualities, being beyond
conception and being sweet like nectar, being limited and unlimited,
being far away and being very near, being completely aloof and also being
afraid of the gopi's jealous anger are simutaneously present. These and
numberless mutually contradictory qualities happily stay together in Lord
Krsna's transcendental form, in Sri Krsna's transcendental abode, and in
Sri Krsna's transcendental pastimes. That these mutually contradictory
qualities help Lord Krsna's pastimes, making them more beautiful and
pleasing is beyond human conception. Therefore it is said that the Lord's
potencies are inconceivable." JD
On the other hand, the man in material consciousness will say, "Yes, we
can understand everything in this world with our science, and we will
control everything, and we will disbelieve anything that does not mesh
with our theories and our laws of physics." Although the old theories are
always be replaced by new ones, still such arrogance persists.
Even a devotee, like the Brahmin in the story, can fall under the spell
of thinking his material logic is so important, and will balk at the
glitches which bend his mind, and thus cultivate doubts of Krsna's
achintya energy, even have doubts about Krsna's pure devotee. There is
great pride in material logic, and that is why Krsna puts us to the test
sometimes, to curb our pride, to make us surrender to spiritual logic,
and relinquish material logic and false ego. Material ego tells us,
“Elephants are huge animals, eyes of needles are very small, so big huge
animals through a little hole? Gimme a break!” But Krishna can turn
matter into spirit, spirit into matter. He can make little holes suddenly
huge, and huge animals suddenly small. To become fully surrendered we
must take that "leap of faith" and surrender our puny glow-worm material
logic unto the brilliant sun of Krsna and His pure devotee.
Cc Intro- "That which is beyond our power of conception is called
acintya, inconceivable. It is useless to argue or speculate about what is
inconceivable. If it is truly inconceivable, it is not subject to
speculation or experimentation."
So this is all a word to the wise. Srila Prabhupada warned us to get out
of this mess, not come back for another go-round, cause Kali-yuga is
sliding down and down into the muck of a horrendous nightmare, as we see
in every newspaper and newscast how the suffering of mankind is
increasing. So we don’t want to prolong our stay by the mistake of
thinking our logic is more than Krishna or His pure devotee. Sometimes in
the name of being “politically correct” or conforming to “modern times,”
new students, out of immaturity, may slip into material logic and
second-guess Srila Prabhupada, and misunderstand his books. The
definition of "second-guessing" means, "to criticize or correct after an
outcome is known.” Sometimes new students will bring up apparent
contradictions and expose their doubts on the Internet. Senior devotees
should give guidance to these new students, so as to not exacerbate their
chance of an extended stay in Kali-yuga.
There is a new acronym surfacing in the Vaisnava community, called
"JAPA." This stands for "just accept Prabhupada's authority." The counter
acronym may be called "JARA," which means, "just accept rascal
authority." The rascal authority is the materially logical mind and
pride. JARA will get you old age and life after life of suffering, and
JAPA will get you an express ticket back to Vaikuntha.
The story of the cobbler and Brahmin is a simple story, yet profound, the
understanding of which will be the difference of going to Vaikuntha or
going down to Kumbipaka. To take birth in Kali-yuga again, bubba, is
going to hell. So let us be highly motivated by the suffering of this
horrible age, to not come back again, and take the words of Srila
Prabhupada without question, knowing it to be the difference of boarding
the swan carriers to Vaikuntha, or taking a handbasket ride down the road