A lecture by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada on Srila Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s appearance day, September 3, 1971, London.
Today is a very auspicious day: Thakura Bhaktivinoda’s birthday. Here is the picture of Thakura Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda. He was one of the acharyas of this disciplic succession from Krishna. We have got a succession table from Krishna—a genealogical table. There are two kinds of genealogical tables, one by the semen—the father, his son, his son, like that. That is a material genealogical table. And there is a spiritual genealogical table—disciplic succession. Just like Krishna, the original father, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, spoke the Vedic knowledge to Brahma, Lord Brahma spoke to Narada, Narada spoke to Vyasa, and Vyasa spoke to Madhvacharya. So, in this disciplic succession, Lord Chaitanya—from Lord Chaitanya to the Six Gosvamis, and similarly, coming down, down, to Bhaktivinoda Thakura, then Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja, then my spiritual master, and then we are the next generation, my disciples.
So there is a disciplic succession, and the acharyas are authorities. Our process of knowledge is very simple. We take it from authorities. We don’t speculate. Speculation will not help us to come to the real knowledge. Just like when we are in difficulty, in some legal implication, we go to some authority, a lawyer. When we are diseased, we go to a physician, the authority. There is no use in speculation. Suppose I am in difficulty in some legal implication. If I simply speculate, “I shall be free in this way and that way,” that will not help. We have to go to a lawyer who knows things, and he will give us instruction, that “You do like this; then you’ll be free.” Similarly, when we are diseased, if we speculate at home, “My disease will be cured in this way and that way,” that is useless. You go to an authorized physician, and he will give you a nice prescription, and you’ll be cured. That is the process of knowledge. But in the modern age people think, “I am free, I am independent, and I can make my own solution.” That is rascaldom. That’s not good. Arjuna was talking with Krishna as a friend, but when he saw that there was no solution talking like this, he surrendered to Krishna. He said, sisyas te ’ham, aham: “Myself, I surrender unto You as Your disciple.” (Gita 2.7) Sisyas te ’ham sadhi mam tvam prapannam. Prapannam means “surrendered.” So that is the Vedic injunction, that if you want to know transcendental knowledge or science . . . Transcendental means beyond the scope of your direct perception.
Spiritual knowledge is beyond the scope of your sense speculation. When a soul, only a spiritual spark, leaves this body, you cannot see it. Therefore, the atheistic class of men speculates, “There may be a soul; there may not be soul.” Or, “The bodily function was going like this; now it stopped. The blood corpuscles have ceased. It is no more red; it is white. Therefore life . . .” These are speculation. This is not actual knowledge. Actual knowledge you get from the authority, Krishna. He says, tatha dehantara-praptir dhiras tatra na muhyati. Just like the soul is passing through different stages. Dehino ’smin yatha dehe. (Gita 2.13) Deha means this body. Asmin dehe: in this body there is dehi. Dehi means the owner of this body. That is the soul. That is passing through childhood, boyhood, babyhood, youth, old age. Everyone can perceive that you were a child—you were a baby, you were a boy, and now you are young man or old man. So you are there. And as you are passing through different types of bodies, similarly, when you give up this body you will accept another body. What is the difficulty? Tatha dehantara-praptir dhiras tatra na muhyati. (Gita 2.13) There is no question of becoming astonished, how transmigration of the self, the soul, takes place. The vivid example is there. Simply you require a little intelligence. That intelligence is developed through the instruction of the acharya. Therefore the Vedic injunction is not to acquire knowledge by speculation. That is useless.
athapi te deva padambuja-dvaya-
prasada-lesanugrhita eva hi
janati tattvam bhagavan-mahimno
na canya eko ’pi ciram vicinvan
Ciram vicinvan. Ciram means for thousands of years you can speculate, but you cannot understand what is God. That is not possible. But if you receive knowledge from the devotee, he can deliver you. Therefore the Vedic injunction is tad-vijnana. Vijnana means science. If you want to know the transcendental science, then you must approach a guru. If you are at all interested to understand the spiritual science, tad-vijnartham sa gurum eva abhigacchet, you must approach a guru. (MU 1.2.12) Guru means this disciplic succession, as I have explained.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura was an ideal guru. He was not a sannyasi; he was a grihastha, a householder, living with family, wife, children. Still, he was guru. So anyone can become guru—not that only a sannyasi can become guru. A householder also can become guru, provided he knows the science. When Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was talking with Ramananda Raya . . . Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was a sannyasi, born in a very high brahman family, a very learned scholar. He was talking with Raya Ramananda, a grihastha, governor of Madras. And He was questioning, and Ramananda Raya was answering. That means Ramananda Raya was taking the part of guru, and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was taking the part of a disciple. So, Ramananda Raya was hesitating. He thought, “I am a grihastha, and not even a brahman. And besides, I am dealing in material affairs, politics. I am a governor. And Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is a sannyasi, born of a high-class brahman family. So it does not look well that I teach Him.” He was hesitating. And Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, “Oh, why you are hesitating?”
kiba vipra, kiba nyasi, sudra kene naya
yei krsna-tattva-vetta, sei ‘guru’ haya
(Cc Madhya 8.128)
He said, “Don’t hesitate. Either one may be a brahman or one may be a sudra (kiba vipra, kiba sudra). Vipra means brahman, and sudra is the fourth-grade human being. So, kiba vipra, kiba sudra: he may be a first-grade human being or the lowest-grade human being, or he may become a sannyasi or a grihastha. It does not matter. Anyone who knows the science of Krishna, he can become a guru.” This is the verdict. Because spiritual science does not belong to the bodily platform. It is on the spiritual platform. It is very nice. Just like when you go to a lawyer or an engineer or a physician, you do not inquire whether he’s a brahman or a sudra. Simply you have to know whether he’s a lawyer; that’s all—whether he’s a physician. If he knows the medical science, he may be a brahman, he may be a sudra, he may be a sannyasi, he may be a householder—it doesn’t matter. Your business is with a physician, with a lawyer. Similarly, our business is to understand Krishna. So anyone who knows Krishna perfectly, we have to go there. Tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet. The Vedic injunction is not that you have to approach a sannyasi or a grihastha or an Indian or American. No. Gurum. And guru means who knows the science of Krishna.
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