This is regarding the translation of Mahabharata in January/February issue of BTG.
Could you please tell me the difference between the Kauravas, who wanted to kill the Pandavas, and the Pandavas, who killed a mother and five sons who came to beg food?
Hridayananda Dasa Goswami Replies: Thank you for pointing out the statement, in our translation, to the effect that the Pandavas intentionally left a drunken woman and her five sons to die in a blazing house of lac in order to convince the world that the Pandavas and Kunti had actually perished. I would also like to thank my Godbrother Sriman Amala Bhakta Dasa for pointing out this same issue.
Actually, the verse in question does not state that the Pandavas knowingly caused or permitted the death of the woman and her sons, and this will be corrected in the final version of our translation, which will come out in book form. The actual translation will be: [Yudhisthira said to his four brothers:] Igniting the armory and burning up Purocana (along with the house of lac), and having thus arranged things here, we six shall flee with our lives, undetected.
The confusion stems from the words sat praninah, "six who have life," since the word praninah in Sanskrit may be either the subject or object of the sentence. In the incorrect translation, the words sat praninah were taken as the object of the wordnidhaya, "having arranged," with the sense that the Pandavas left behind six praninah, or living beings. However, the Mahabharata nowhere states that the Pandavas were ever aware that six drunken persons had fallen asleep in their house. Nor do we find that the Pandavas made any arrangement to secure or retain six persons to die in the blazing house of lac.
The Pandavas and their mother were world leaders, and the Kurus had certainly arranged a grand residence for them. Thus the house of lac must have been a large dwelling with many rooms for servants, guards, etc. Since the text mentions that on the night of the escape the Pandavas were anxiously preoccupied with carrying out their plan, obviously they did not search the building for drunken guests who had fallen asleep in one of the many rooms. Nor does the text mention anything of the sort. The death of the mother and her sons must therefore have been unintentional.
Gitas for the Qualified
In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna says that the subject matter of the Gita is highly confidential (Gita 9.2) and it should never be explained to those who are not austere, or devoted, or engaged in devotional service (Gita 18.67).
My question is, Is it all right to distribute hundreds of thousands of Gitas on the streets all over the world, against Krsna's instructions, mostly to people who don't even have basic morality, what to speak of austerity and devotion?
When asked, one devotee answered that a spiritual master is more merciful than the Lord. I was not satisfied by this answer. In my opinion, no one can claim to be as virtuous as Lord Krsna. The question of being "more" virtuous doesn't even arise. Krsna has infinite virtues in infinite quantities.
Please give me some convincing answers.
OUR REPLY: In Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi-lila 7.23), the author, Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, writes, "In distributing love of Godhead, Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates did not consider who was a fit candidate and who was not, nor where such distribution should or should not take place. They made no conditions. Wherever they got the opportunity they distributed love of Godhead."
Here we see the mood of Lord Caitanya and His associates. Lord Caitanya is Krsna Himself appearing as a devotee. Srila Prabhupada explains that even though Krsna, in the Gita, asked everyone to surrender to Him, people would not do so. Therefore Krsna came as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to teach people how to surrender to Krsna. Lord Caitanya is called maha-vadanya avatara the most merciful incarnation of Krsna. Krsna in His form as Lord Caitanya is less demanding than Krsna the speaker of the Gita.
To deliver the impious people of this age, Lord Caitanya freely gave His mercy. And He asked that His followers do the same. If He had been selective in giving His mercy, practically no one in this age would have been qualified to receive it.
Still, we do have some guidelines in following Lord Caitanya's example. The Srimad-Bhagavatam explains that a teacher of Krsna consciousness must distinguish between the innocent and the demonic. He is told to teach the innocent and avoid the demons. Although most people today are not austere or devoted, they tend to be innocent, but misled by demonic leaders. Had it not been for the boundless mercy of Lord Caitanya, carried by His pure devotee Srila Prabhupada, millions of innocent people would never have had the opportunity to take up Krsna consciousness.
Here's another verse about Lord Caitanya (Cc. Adi 9.29): "Not considering who asked for it and who did not, nor who was fit and who unfit to receive it, Caitanya Mahaprabhu distributed the fruit of devotional service." Srila Prabhupada comments: "This is the sum and substance of Lord Caitanya's sankirtana movement. There is no distinction made between those who are fit and those who are not fit to hear or take part in the sankirtana movement. It should therefore be preached without discrimination. The only purpose of the preachers of the sankirtana movement must be to go on preaching without restriction. That is the way in which Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu introduced this sankirtana movement all over the world."
Krsna consciousness, the essence of which is presented in the Gita, is meant to be spread all over the world. That implies that it will be presented to unqualified people. But Lord Caitanya's mercy is so great and the desire of His devotees so strong that, given the opportunity, even the most fallen souls of this age can become inspired to take up Krsna consciousness.
As for the devotee's being more merciful that Krsna, we can understand that Krsna, being a person, can display various moods. So even though Krsna is the reservoir of mercy, that mercy is not as apparent in the Gita as in the activities of Lord Caitanya. In the service of Lord Caitanya, the devotee sometimes tries to deliver fallen souls that Krsna has apparently rejected. The devotee, however, never takes credit for anything. He feels that he is simply delivering the mercy of Krsna. After all, what does he have to give? He is simply an insignificant servant of the Lord. That is the devotee's mood.
This is a deep subject. But we should at least understand that the devotee never feels in any way superior to Krsna.
Packing Up the TV
You are doing a wonderful service by producing such a nice magazine as BTG. It is helping many conditioned souls, such as myself, to reawaken their lost Krsna consciousness. One man in prison I've been corresponding with for nearly two years has become so enlivened by his new BTG subscription that he said he plans to pack up his TV so he can concentrate on reading his BTGs. He has thanked me over and over again for sending him such an enlightening magazine. I've never seen him so excited about Krsna consciousness in all these months.
I am especially impressed by the thirteen-year-old devotee Ravi Gupta, who writes the column called India's Heritage. His articles are so intelligently written and also devotional. All glories to the staff and writers of Back to Godhead!
Woodside, New York
In this day and age when the expert psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychotherapists highly recommend the value of talking out our problems and getting them off our chests, chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra most appropriately, adequately, and accurately makes sense. Chanting out reasonably loud in the privacy of my home helps relax my pent-up emotions the minute I start. It relieves all the built-up tension, and I enjoy blissful peace without spending hundreds of dollars consulting therapists.
Lord Caitanya anticipated this five hundred years ago. In Kali-yuga, when people are so stressed out, when everything else fails, chanting the maha-mantra helps us relax and unwind.
The Lord's name is no different from the Lord. I trust in Him, and it has worked for me. Twenty-seven years ago I moved from India to the United States; chanting has helped me survive the ups and downs in my life. I have raised three children two lawyers, 26 and 24 years old, and the youngest, 22 years, still in college. Chanting the maha-mantra has a built-in therapeutic value.
Thanks for letting me share my humble thoughts.
BTG a Beacon
[A subscriber who gave a gift subscription to his brother received this letter.]
I thank you very much for the gift of the Back to Godhead. Nothing could have pleased me more than this wonderful gift. The moment I received your card intimating me of the gift, I was thrilled. For several days about two or three weeks before I received the intimation from you, the words "Back to Godhead" had come into my mind and given me ecstatic joy. Not so much because of the get-up or the contents as the significance of its title.
I can't now fully explain my condition at that time. But the title was like a beacon in the mundane darkness that surrounds me. It held the truth before me. It showed me the path to the desired goal. It enlightened me. I repeated in my mind "Back to Godhead" many times. And so enchanted I was in its new light that I thought I would write it in beautiful letters and keep it on my office table under a glass. It would remind me of the way to Godhead and would keep me in the right consciousness.
When I was in this state of mind, you were making me the gift of the Back to Godhead on the other side of the globe. God is kind that he has on several occasions indicated to me that there is much more to this universe than meets the eye. God is kind to me that I have you for my brother. Many of His kindnesses have come to me through you.
U. K. Pandey
New Delhi, India
BTG Gives Encouragement
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff of Back to Godhead for providing devotees such as myself with such a wonderful and inspiring magazine.
The magazine gives us renewed encouragement in our lives.
It was particularly nice to read in the March/April 1995 issue the article "Training Ground for Spiritual Leaders," by Nila Madhava Dasa, followed by comments by several of the young devotees.
Thanks again for such a fine and meaningful magazine and your service on behalf of Lord Krsna.
We'd like to hear from you. Please send correspondence to: The Editors, Back to Godhead, P. O. Box 430, Alachua, Florida 32615, USA. Fax: (904) 462-7893. E-mail: email@example.com.