"Scriptural Test For Avatar"

Caitanya Caritamrta Madhya 20.353-354
New York, December 26, 1966

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His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada<br>Founder-Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness


sarvajna munira vakya-sastra-'paramana'
ama-saba jivera haya sastra-dvara 'jnana'

We should always think that we are in the modes of ignorance. We are just trying to make progress from ignorance to goodness and then transcend. This is the process of spiritual realization. Nobody should think that we are perfect. We cannot be. God is... Only God is perfect, and we are all imperfect. Even our so-called liberated stage, we are still imperfect. Therefore one has to take shelter of authority because, constitutionally, we are imperfect. Lord Caitanya says, ama-saba jivera haya sastra-dvara 'jnana'. So therefore, for real knowledge, we have to consult the scriptures, sastra. Sadhu-sastra-guru. Sadhu means pious, religious, honest person. Sadhu, whose character is spotless, he's called sadhu. Sastra means scripture, and guru, guru means spiritual master. They are on the equal level. Why? Because the medium is scripture. Guru is considered to be liberated because he follows the scripture. Sadhu is considered to be honest and saintly because he follows scripture. Sadhu-sastra-guru-vakya. Nobody can become a sadhu if he does not accept the principles of scripture. Nobody can be accepted as guru, or spiritual master, if he does not follow the principles of scripture. This is the test.

tad-vijnanartham sa gurum eva abhigacchet
samit-panih srotriyam brahma-nistham
 [MU 1.2.12]

Srotriyam, srotriyam means one who has accepted the Vedic literature, the sastra, scripture, as the guidance, he can be... Not a extravagant upstart, he makes some group and religious principle of his own and become a guru. No, no, he'll not be...

So Lord Caitanya advises... Sanatana Gosvami's inquiry is how to know that he, here is a avatara. So Caitanya Mahaprabhu says the medium is sastra, and direction is the guru. Sastra also we cannot understand any book, what to speak of the scripture. Sometimes we find contradiction in the scripture. That is not contradiction; that is my poor fund of knowledge. I cannot understand; therefore assistance of guru, a spiritual master, is required. So far incarnation is concerned, here Lord Caitanya says that we have to see through the sastra whether a person is incarnation or not. We should not blindly accept anybody as incarnation because there are, nowadays, numberless incarnations.

avatara nahi kahe-'ami avatara'
muni saba jani' kare laksana-vicara

This is another significance of incarnation. Incarnation never says that "I am incarnation of God." I have read one book about a big avatara in India. He was canvassing his students, "Do you now accept me as incarnation? Do you now accept me as incarnation?" And the... Perhaps you know. (laughs) And the disciple was denying, "No." Then, at a time the disciple said, "Yes, I accept you." So this is not avatara. Here Caitanya Mahaprabhu says avatara does not canvass that "I am..." Guru does not canvass. Sadhu does not canvass. He automatically, by his qualities, he becomes accepted. Yes.

So here Caitanya Mahaprabhu says, avatara nahi kahe-'ami avatara'. Actually who is avatara, incarnation, he'll never say that "I am avatara." Muni saba jani' kare laksana-vicara. Muni, those who are thinkers, they are actually in the line, they see the symptoms and, with symptoms, they specify, "Yes, here is a avatara." The symptoms... How the symptoms are analyzed of avatara? The symptom is, first symptom is that there is reference in the sastra, scripture, that in such and such time, such and such personality will come. He will be incarnation of God. Even his father's name, his birthplace, everything is written in the scripture. So we have to identify, laksana. Then he'll act like this. He'll come like this, and he'll act like this. So these things we analyze, whether he is actually avatara. Now, even there are characteristics, somebody does not accept also. Just like Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, He never said that "I am avatara." But from His symptoms, from His characteristics, later on great sages, great philosophers, they decided that He's avatara. Just like here. Sanatana Gosvami's stressed Him, testing, and he's trying to confirm it by Lord Caitanya. Because Lord Caitanya described here that in this Kali-yuga the avatara, His symptoms are like this: krsna-varnam tvisakrsnam sangopangastra parsadam [SB 11.5.32]. He is in the category of Krsna; by His complexion, He's non-black. Akrsna. Krsna-varnam tvisakrsnam. And He's always followed by confidential associates. And people who are intelligent, they worship Him by the process of sankirtana. Sankirtanair yajnaih kalau yajanti hi su-medhasah. Su-medhasah means those persons who are, who have got good brain substance. Not foolish persons. Su-medhasah, a man of great brain substance, they can understand, "Oh, here is..." That is stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, in Mahabharata, in Upanisad, in Puranas, about Lord Caitanya's appearance. There are many symptomatic explanation. But still there are many fools, they do not accept.

So accept or no accept, His work, His activities, His characterize, characteristics will be known because God will be known. Just like Lord Buddha. Lord Buddha is accepted as incarnation in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. And during the time of Emperor Asoka, he was patronized, Lord Buddha was patronized, not Buddha, or Buddhism was patronized by Asoka. So practically the whole of Far East, including India, all over, the Buddhism was broadcast and everyone become Buddhist. Whole of India, practically, became Buddhist during his time. But later on, after Sankaracarya's drive against Buddhism, Buddha-ism... Sankaracarya wanted to establish the difference of Buddhism and Hinduism is that Buddhism, Lord Buddha did not accept Vedic authority. He did not accept Vedic authority. But according to Hindu culture, if somebody does not accept the Vedic authority, then he's not a authority. Vedanta philosophy, there are different parties in India. The Maya... Generally, two parties: the Mayavada philosophers and the Vaisnava philosophers, or the impersonalists and the personalists. Otherwise, there is no difference. Ultimately, the Mayavadi philosophers they say that God, the Supreme Absolute Truth, is impersonal, and the Vaisnava philosophers, they say in the ultimate end, the Absolute Truth is Person and He is, He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is Krsna. Krsnas tu bhagavan svayam [SB 1.3.28]. This is little difference, and they stick to their position and they fight. Fight means by philosophical arguments. That is going on since a very long time. But both of them belong to the sanatana Hindu dharma because both of them will talk on the Vedanta philosophy. They'll simply, they can give different interpretation, but they cannot say that "We don't accept Vedanta." Oh, that will..., then it is at once rejected. So one must give an interpretation on the Vedanta philosophy; then he'll be accepted as acarya. Three things: Vedanta philosophy, Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. One must be able to explain these three books. Then he'll be accepted acarya. These are the principles.

So very recently... The impersonalists, they also accept avatara. They accept Krsna. Sankaracarya accepted Krsna. Krsnas tu bhagavan svayam. Sa bhagavan svayam krsna. Specifically... People may misunderstand that Krsna may be some other Krsna because, as the present followers of Sankaracarya, they are interpreting in that way. But Sankaracarya, just to specify Krsna, devaki vasudeva jatah. This means Krsna who appeared Himself as the son of Devaki and Vasudeva, that Krsna. That Krsna. Just like Sankaracarya has a nice prayer of Krsna, the present followers of Sankaracarya, they say... They cannot say that this is not composed by Sankaracarya. It is very famous.

bhaja govindam bhaja govindam
bhaja govindam mudha mate
prapte sannihite kale marane
na hi na hi raksati dukrn-karane

So there is a very famous prayer made by Sankara... Sankaracarya has made many prayers about Krsna, especially about His Vrndavana lila, he has made. He has worshiped Krsna in many ways. And last, this is his last composition of poetry. Bhaja govindam bhaja govindam bhaja govindam mudha mate: "You fools, you mudha mate..." Mudha mate means "you fools." He was addressing the whole world, "you fools." Bhaja govindam: "Just become devotee of Krsna. Just become Krsna consciousness." Prapte sannihite kale marane na hi na hi raksati dukrn-karane: "You are philosophizing. You are talking on grammar and this way and that way." Because these people, they want to establish impersonalism from Bhagavad-gita by strength of grammar. Such a nonsense they are. They want to understand God by..., through grammar. God is so cheap that He can be understood through grammar. Therefore especially he specified, prapte sannihite kale marane: "When death will catch you, your grammar, dukrn, prata, this will not save you. You fools. You please become Krsna conscious, Krsna conscious." That was the instruction of Sankaracarya. And he has especially mentioned Bhagavad-gita and Ganges water. He especially mentions. "A little quantity of Ganges water and a little study of Bhagavad-gita will save you from many dangerous positions."

So, because the symptom is bhagavan, so even Sankaracarya has accepted. But there are many people, they do not accept... Sri Yamunacarya, Sri Yamunacarya, a great devotee, he's supposed to be the spiritual master of Ramanujacarya. He was a great king, and later on he became a great devotee. He has written his Alavandaraya. Alavandaru... Amongst the Ramanuja-sampradaya, there are twelve great, I mean to say, acaryas, and he's one of them. So he has written a very nice verse:

tvam sila-rupa-caritaih parama-prakrstaih
sattvena sattvikataya prabalais ca sastraih
prakhyata-daiva-paramartha-vidam mattais ca
naivasura-prakrtayah prabhavanti boddhum

Now he says, "My dear Lord, those who are asura prakrtayah..." Asura prakrtayah means the atheistic demons. Atheists are called demons. In the Vedic literature, those who are atheists, they are called demons, raksasas. Just like Ravana, he was a great scholar in Vedic philosophy. He was son of a brahmana, and he was very learned. And he materially advanced his kingdom so nice that his capital was called golden. He was so rich. Everything, he was, in every way, in education, in opulence, in power, everything was so great. Only fault was that he was atheist. Therefore he's called raksasa, asura. All the asuras that are mentioned in the sastra, their only fault is that they are atheists. Otherwise, from education point of view, from opulence, they are very much advanced.

So asura prakrtayah, in the Bhagavad-gita, also: asuram bhavam asritah.

na mam prapadyante mudhah
duskrtino naradhamah
asuri bhavam asritah
 [Bg. 7.15]

As soon as one becomes atheist, oh, it is very difficult to convince him. You see. Therefore our preaching should avoid the atheist class. Of course, if we stop that, then we cannot find who is theist in the... Time is so nice that 99.9% all atheists. So we have to take the risk of talking with atheist also. But generally it is advised that preachers should not talk this atheist class because they'll not..., they simply argue. Their only point is simply argue and waste your time. That's all. They'll never accept, however you may try to convince him with reason and argument, they'll never... Here is a sloka by Yamunacarya. It is, say, about one thousand years before, this was the same condition for the atheist. He says,

tvam sila-rupa-caritaih parama-prakrstaih
sattvena sattvikataya prabalais ca sastraih
prakhyata-daiva-paramartha-vidam mattais ca
naivasura-prakrtayah prabhavanti boddhum

There are different kinds of authorities. First authority is sastra, authorized sastra, scripture. There the description of avatara, the characteristics and his work, they are mentioned there. And prabalais ca sastrair. Prabala means the very powerful. Just like Vedanta philosophy, it is very powerful. Bhagavad-gita, it is very powerful. Srimad-Bhagavatam, it is very powerful. So even we give evidences from these powerful sastras, not only that, prakhyata-daiva-paramartha-vidam mattais ca, with the opinion of great stalwarts like prakhyata, very famous. Who is that? Just like Vyasadeva. Who can be more famous than Vyasadeva? He's the compiler of all Vedic literatures in the world, Vyasadeva. And Narada, he's greatest rsi, sage. Asita, Devala -- there are many. Vasistha. There are many stalwarts. And especially these twelve person, just like Brahma, Lord Siva, Manu, Kapila, Maharaja Prahlada, Bhisma. There are authorities. So even their evidences in the authorized scriptures, even they are accepted by great stalwarts and sages and munis, still, the asura prakrti, those who are atheistic persons, they'll never accept. They'll never accept. They'll simply go on arguing. The process is that if... Vedic process is if something is mentioned in the Vedas, and it is accepted by the previous acaryas, then it is accepted. I have nothing to bother. That's all. This is the proce..., the simple process. Suppose I am a fool number one. That doesn't matter. I may be fool, but if I follow the previous authorized acaryas, then I am all right. Just like a child, he may be a child, innocent child, but if he catches the hand of his father, then he's all right. He can walk. He can cross the street. This is the Vedic process. Vedic process, research, oh, there is no research in Vedic process. What research, nonsense, you'll do? What sense you have got? You shall research about God? The frog philosophy? There is no research. Research, that is not accepted in Vedic philosophy. You have to accept the authority. That's all

So here Yamunacarya says, "My dear Lord, tvam sila-rupa-caritaih parama-prakrstaih..." Oh, just like Krsna, His character, His activities. Now His character was certified by Bhisma. Bhisma. Bhisma was at that time Arjuna's grandfather. So practically he was, in age, Krsna's grandfather. Krsna's grandfather, Bhisma. He was fighting in the battlefield, a great warrior, ksatriya, a great... He's called pitamaha, Grandfather Bhisma. He's known as Grandfather Bhisma. Now his character is spotless. His character... Although he was living as a householder, he was more, more than any sage or any saint. Bhisma. The history of Bhisma is that he was son of Ganges. So Ganges was his mother, and his father, Maharaja Santanu, after the death of his mother, he wanted to marry again. At that time, Bhisma was elderly. He was about twenty years old. So father, instead of getting the son married, he was himself very much anxious to get him married. So he selected a very beautiful girl, but she..., he belonged to a, that girl belonged to a low-caste family. Ksatriyas could find, marry from anywhere. That is the injunction. They are not within the boundary of caste system. So the girl was a fisherman's daughter. So Maharaja Santanu wanted to marry that girl, and the father was very cunning. He said, "No, no. I cannot offer my daughter to you. You are old man. You have got your son. So I cannot offer." He was bargaining. "No? Why? I shall give your daughter a palace. We shall enjoy so many years." "No. I can offer you my daughter provided if my daughter's son becomes the king after your death. Then I can offer." "Oh, that I cannot agree, because my eldest son is living. That I cannot agree." "Then I..."

So Bhisma understood that "My father wants to marry that girl, but the only impediment is that the father of the girl is making a condition that her son should be king, and my father is declining because I am present. I should be king." Oh, he at once approached the father of the girl: "What is your condition, sir?" "This is my condition." "All right, I shall not accept kingdom of my father. Your daughter's son will be king. I agree to this." "Oh, no. You may agree, but your son will again claim, because you are the proprietor, you are the prince." "Oh, you think so? Then I shall not marry. I shall not marry. Is that all right?" So then, he was so... He promised that "I shall never marry in my life. That's all right? Then marry your daughter to my father." He was so pious and so strict. This Bhisma was brahmacari from the very beginning. And Maharaja Yudhisthira performed Rajasuya-yajna. Rajasuya-yajna means one who performs that sacrifice in that assembly, all the princes of the world are invited, and they select him as the emperor of the world. That is called Rajasuya-yajna. So in that yajna, there were all princes present, and Krsna was proposed to become the president of that assembly, although He was young man. So Krsna had many... Not many, especially two, Sisupala and Dantavakra, they were very much against Krsna. So they objected: "Oh, Krsna cannot be... There are many others." He wanted that he become president. The protest meeting. At that time, Bhisma recommended that "Nobody is present here spotless character as Krsna." He recommended like that. "Krsna, when He was sixteen years old, He was surrounded by girls, but He had never sex desire. I am brahmacari from my birth. I think I could not be such restrained personality as Krsna." He recommended like that. That is mentioned in Mahabharata. So this is character.

So tam sila rupa caritaih. Rupa. It is mentioned that Krsna, is mention... His... Just like Lord Caitanya's rupa is mentioned, tvisa akrsna: by complexion He's not black. Similarly, everything is mentioned. So Yamunacarya, that "Your character, Your beauty and Your wonderful work, and accepted... You are accepted by great authorities. You are mentioned in sastras. In spite of all this, those who are atheists, they'll never accept." So the characteristics of avatara are there in the sastra. So we should follow that and, in that way, we shall select... That question is being asked by Sanatana Gosvami. We discussed this point yesterday and today also, because it is important point, and further we shall discuss tomorrow.

Thank you very much. (end)
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 20.353-354 -- New York, December 26, 1966

© 2001 The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International. Used with permission.

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