The Tradition of Debate (Pt 1) (Classic)
An offering at the lotus feet of
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krsna Consciousness
on the occasion of His Centennial celebration 1896-1996.
by Yashoda Nandana dasa
nama om visnu padaya krsna presthaya bhutale
srimate bhaktivedanta swamin iti namine
namaste sarasvate deve gauravani pracarine
nirvisesa sunyavadi pascatya desa tarine
” I offer my respectful obeisances unto His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who is very dear to Lord Krsna, having taken shelter at His lotus feet.”
“Our respectful obeisances are unto you, 0 spiritual master, servant of Sarasvati Goswami. You are kindly preaching the message of Lord Caitanya-deva and delivering the Western countries, which are filled with impersonalism and voidism.”
The unbreakable disciplic succession
The Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya-Sampradaya has a rich tradition of authoritative transcendental knowledge describing the position of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the living entities and the divine process of Bhakti or devotional service. This has been elaborately described by the great acaryas or transcendental authorized preceptors in the unbreakable line of disciplic succession.
“Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu instructed His disciples to write books on the science of Krishna consciousness, a task which those who follow Him have continued to carry out down to the present day. The elaborations and expositions on the philosophy taught by Lord Caitanya are in fact the most voluminous, exacting and consistent, due to the unbreakable system of disciplic succession, of any religious culture in the world.” (I) Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Lord Caitanya’s Mission, xxxvii
The authorized Vedic system recommends that every human being should practice the process of devotional service. The practice of devotional service necessitates taking shelter of a bona fide fully realized Acarya. Such powerful acaryas or pure devotees can fully dissipate any misconceptions and material illusions of the conditioned souls. The association of such powerful perfected souls is so potent that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu recommended that the highest perfection of spiritual process is to remain in whatever position one may be and to hear about Lord Krishna from a fully self-realized soul. So namanta eva san mukharitam-bhavadiya-vartam. Just try to hear the message of God from realized soul.” (2) Srila Prabhupada lecture, October 25, 1975, Bombay, India
sthane sthitah sruti-gatam tanu-van-manobhir
ye prayaso ‘jitajito ‘py asi tais tri-lokyam
“My dear Lord one should give up monistic speculation and the cultivation of knowledge altogether. He should begin his spiritual life in devotional service by receiving information of the Lord’s activities from a realized devotee of the Lord. If one prosecutes his spiritual cultivation by following these two principles, and keeping himself rightly in the honest path of living, then although Your Lordship is never conquerable, You become conquered by such a process…the best course according to Lord Caitanya is to let them remain in whatever condition they are in but to engage them in hearing of the activities of the Supreme Lord as those activities are explained in Bhagavad-Gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. The transcendental messages of the scriptures should be received from the lips of realized souls.”(3) Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Chapter 28.
“The purport is, don’t become overintelligent. Just hear from the self-realized soul. If you sincerely hear from the realized soul, then one day although nobody can conquer Him, you will be able to conquer Krsna.”(4) Srila Prabhupada letter to Vasudeva dasa, January 23, 1977
“We should hear from the person who is not defective, perfect. Therefore, our process of hearing or getting knowledge is from the perfect person.”(5) Srila Prabhupada lecture on Bhagavad-Gita, March 9, 1975, London, England
Some famous debates
In the history of Vaisnavism, particularly in the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya-tradition there are standard methods of establishing the bona fide conclusions of the disciplic succession. The tradition of disputation or debate is a well established practice to firmly ascertain the veracity of one’s contentions and points. Such debates were very common in the past to settle controversial and philosophical issues. The great acarya, Yamunacarya at the early age of twelve, attained everlasting fame when he went and debated Vidvajajana Kolahala, the court pandita of the South Indian King of the Pandya kingdom.
The great Acarya Ramanujacarya established the Visista-Advaita philosophy by strong preaching and vigorous debates with the Mayavadis. He even debated with his own teacher, Yadava Prakasa to establish the position of the Lord Vishnu and the Vaishnava practices. It is important to remember that after the departure of Sripada Sankaracarya, the mayavadis were still the prevailing philosophical party until Sripada Yamunacarya [917-1042CE] came and refuted many of their fundamental contentions with His Agamya-Pramanya, where He systematically defeated the prevailing srnarta Brahmanas ideas and Mayavada philosophies.
Sripada Ramanuja Acarya [1017-1137 CE] wrote His Sri Bhasya to combat the influence of the Mayavadi philosophy which was widespread thoughout South India. Srila Jiva Goswami Prabhupada, the foremost theologian of the Gaudiya-Sampradaya, has described the unique contribution of Sripada Ramanuja in His Tattva-Sandarbha.
ity anena prathita-mahiman saksat sri prabhrtitah pravrtta-sampradayanam sri vaisnavabhidhanam Sriramanuja-bhagavat-pada-viracita-sri bhasyadi-drsta-mata-pramanyena mu/a-grantha-svarasyena ca anyatha ca. advaita-vyakhyanam tu prasiddhatvan nati-vitayate.
“These South Indian Vaishnavas vigorously preach the Lord’s glories, and because their disciplic succession begins with Sri Lakshmi, they are known as the Sri Sampradaya. Among them the great Acarya Sri Ramanuja, who was intently devoted to the service of the Lord’s lotus feet, wrote the Sri-Bhasya and many other books establishing the Vaishnava philosophy… Because of His powerful preaching the commentaries of the advaitins impersonalists were not able to prevail in the South,” (6) Tattva-Sandarbha, Anuccheda 27, by Kusakratha dasa (Peter Viggiani).
The Sri-Madhva-Vijaya, the biography of Sripada Madhvacarya [1239-1319], relates how Sripada Madhvacarya debated some prominent mayavadis during his preaching tours. He disputed with any and all panditas and scholars who came to challenge him.
“As a youth he disputed with his own teacher Achyuta Preksha and established the supremacy of Vaishnavism, while debating the Advaita literature known as asta-siddhi, where he pointed out thirty two defects in the text. Soon after his sannyasa, he took on the Buddhist panditas Buddhisagara and Vadi-Simha and solidly defeated them in eighteen ways.”(7) narayana Panditacaryam Sri Madhva-Vijaya 5.12
During one of his preaching tours of South India, he met the head of the Srngeri Matha. Srila Prabhupada describes the incident as follows.
“He finally discussed scriptures with Vidyasankara, the exalted leader of the Srngeri Matha. Vidyasankara was actually diminished in the presence of Madhvacarya. When Madhvacarya returned from Badarikasrama, he went to Ganjama, which is on the bank of the Godavari. He met there with two learned scholars named Sobhana Bhatta and Swami Sastri. Later these scholars became known in the disciplic succession of Madhvacarya as Padmanabha Tirtha and Narahari Tirtha.”(8) Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 9.245
On one of his preaching tours in Visnu-mangala, he was challenged by Trivikrama Pandita, a famous advaitin who was said to have mastered all the Advaita literatures and commentaries from the time of Sankara up to that time. He was known to have memorized more than 125,000 verses of advaita literature by heart. Sripada Madhvacarya engaged him in a furious debate for more than 15 days and he systematically defeated and refuted all of the erroneous contentions and jugglery of words that Trivikrama Pandita could muster. The defeated Pandita finally accepted the superiority of Sripada Madhvacarya’s arguments and surrendered to the celebrated Acarya and became one of his foremost disciples. Trivikrama Pandita then requested Sri Madhva to write an additional commentary on the Vedanta-Sutra. Sri Madhva then wrote the Anu-Vyakhyana, a masterpiece commentary on the Vedanta-Sutra.
Another famous Vaisnava Acarya, Sri Aksobhya Muni a direct pontifical descendent of Madhvacarya, engaged in one of the most famous debates in Vaisnava history with the then presiding Acarya of the Srngeri Matha, Vidyaranya Swami. This famous debate centered around the famous text of the Chandogya-Upanisad “Tat Tvam asi.” The famous Visista-advaitin Acarya, Sri Vedanta Desika, was said to have arbitrated the debate and rendered his verdict in favor of Sri Aksobhya Muni and composed the famous verse ‘asina tattvam asina’ confirming the victory of Aksobhya Muni. This debate firmly established the philosophical position of the Madhva-Vaishnava doctrine against the impersonalists followers of Sankara.
In our Gaudiya-Sampradaya, Sri Krsna Caitanya Himself debated with the famous logician and impersonalist scholar Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya. On the authority of the Sri Caitanya-Caritamrta, we learn that the debate lasted for at least 7 days and more. Sriman Mahaprabhu clearly defeated the Bhattacarya and established the Supremacy of the Vaishnava siddhanta or conclusion. The celebrated Advaitin then surrendered to Mahaprabhu and became his disciple.
Sriman Mahaprabhu disputed with some Buddhist scholar during one his tours in South India and he converted the Buddhist teacher and his disciples. During His visit to Varanasi, Sri Caitanya encountered Prakasananda Sarasvati and his 60,000 disciples. He engaged in Sastric disputation with him. There were various arguments and Mahaprabhu defeated the impersonalist scholar.
Following the departure of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, [1486-1534 a.c] the two foremost disciples of Sriman Mahaprabhu, Srila Rupa Goswami and Srila Sanatana Goswami, became the foremost authorities of the Gaudiya Sampradaya. The two celebrated brothers had once been challenged by a proud scholar to debate. Srila Prabhupada relates the incident as follows:
“A materialist, who was very proud of his reputation as a Sanskrit scholar approached Sri Rupa Goswami and Sanatana, not wanting to waste their time, gave him a written statement, that he had defeated them in a debate on the revealed scriptures. Taking this paper, the scholar approached Jiva Goswami for a similar certificate of defeat, but Jiva Goswami did not agree to give him one. On the contrary, he argued with him regarding the revealed scriptures and defeated him. Certainly it was right for Jiva Goswami to stop such a dishonest scholar from advertising that he had defeated Srila Rupa Goswami and Srila Sanatana Goswami, but due to their illiteracy the sahajiya class refer to this incident to accuse Jiva Goswami of deviating from the principle of humility. They do not know, however, that humility and meekness are appropriate when one’s own honor is insulted. But when Lord Vishnu or the acaryas are blasphemed, one should not be humble and meek but must act. One should follow the example given by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu… trnad api sunicena. One should tolerate insults against oneself, but when there is blasphemy committed against superiors such as other Vaishnavas, one should neither be humble nor meek; one must take proper steps to counteract such blasphemy. This is the duty of servant of guru and Vaishnavas. Anyone who understands the principle of eternal servitude to the guru and Vaishnavas will appreciate the action of Jiva Gosvami in connection with the so-called scholar’s victory over his gurus, Srila Rupa and Srila Sanatana Goswamis.”(9) Sri Caitanya- Caritamrta Adi-lila 10.85
As will be seen later in this presentation, there is a very important point here regarding the sentimental notion that we should not argue and that argumentation is against the principle of Vaishnavism.
Sripada Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura also defeated the Svakiya-Vadis during his stay in Radha-Kunda. He re-established the original teachings of Sri Rupa Goswami. In the middle 1700’s, Sripada Baladeva Vidyabhusana was challenged by the Ramanandi scholars over the bona fide origin of the Gaudiya-Sampradaya and the position of Lord Krsna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the position of Lord Narayana. He was also challenged regarding the fact that the Gaudiya-Sampradaya did not have a Vedanta-sutra commentary. Sripada Baladeva Vidyabhusana debated the Ramanandis. He triumphed and defeated the challengers. Regarding this incident in Jayapura, Srila Prabhupada describes the unique contribution of Sripada Baladeva Vidyabhusana as follows:
“So the Gaudiya-Sampradaya did not make any commentary on the Brahma-Sutra because they took it, Caitanya Mahaprabhu took it, as a natural commentary. This is the Gaudiya Vaishnava-siddhanta. But sometimes back, in Jaipur, there was a challenge that the Gaudiya-Sampradaya has no commentary on the Vedanta-sutra. Because He [Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura] was a grand scholar, grand old man scholar, at that time living in Vrindavana. So he was very old at that time living in Vrindavana; so he authorized Baladeva Vidyabhusana, that ‘You do it.’ There was no need, but people are demanding, ‘Where is your commentary on the Vedanta-sutra?’ So Baladeva Vidyabhusana with the order of Govindaji at Jaipura, He wrote the commentary on Brahma-Sutra. That name is Govinda-Bhasya.”(10) Srila Prabhupada lecture, September 30, 1975
During the last two centuries Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura both advanced the cause of Gaudiya Vaishnavism and reestablished the pure and original teachings of Sriman Mahaprabhu. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was the first Acarya in our Sampradaya to preach through the medium of the English language. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura had to dispute and fight with many caste Brahmanas, Jati Gosais and Sahajiyas in order to establish the pure and original teachings of Sriman Mahapabhu. Srila Prabhupada has described and summarized the tremendous contribution of His Guru Maharaja in this connection:
“In the middle ages, after the disappearance of Lord Caitanya’s great associate Lord Nityananda, a class of priestly persons claimed to be the descendents of Nityananda, calling themselves the Goswami caste. They further claimed that the practice and spreading of devotional service belonged only to their particular class, which was known as Nityananda-Vamsa. In this way they exercised their artificial power for some time, until Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, the powerful acarya of the Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya completely smashed their idea. There was a great hard struggle for some time, but it has turned out successfully, and it is now correctly and practically established that devotional service is not restricted to a particular class of men. Besides that, anyone who is engaged in devotional service is already at the status of being a high-class Brahmana. So Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s struggle for this movement has come out successful.”(11) Nectar of Devotion, Chaper 5, Page 46, Purity of Devotional Service
“So My Guru Maharaja’s contribution is that He defeated these caste Goswamis. He defeated this Brahmanism. He created that the same way as Caitanya Mahaprabhu did,…That is the contribution say, within one hundred years. For this reason He had to face so many vehement protests from this Brahmana class, Goswamins.”(12) Srila Prabhupada lecture, February 7, 1969.
Srila Prabhupada Himself disputed and argued on so many issues. He never shied away from controversy. Even a cursory look at the numerous volumes of conversations which contain Srila Prabhupada’s numerous statements on so many issues, clearly indicate that Srila Prabhupada vigorously debated on every contentious issue brought before him. His original books clearly bear this. Every Acarya establishes the principle of dharma and uses the sacred sastras and the age old method of debate and disputation to establish the bona fide authorized principles of the revealed scriptures and how it is meant to apply and put into practice according to time, place and circumstance.
FITNESS FOR DEBATE
The technical term in Sanskrit for the word debate is vada. This has been established by Sripada Madhva Acarya in His book Katha-Laksana, where the different kinds of debates and the rules and authorized methods are described. There are certain necessary qualifications that must be present before any individuals or group of individuals can actually participate in a debate. The necessary rules for a referee or arbitrator are also given and the necessary steps to be taken after the conclusion of a debate are also analyzed. It is important to note in this connection that Srila Prabhupada indicates in His teachings that Vedic debate has consequences. As earlier noted, the defeated party must surrender and give up everything. The prime example of this was the surrender of the famous scholar Sri Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya.
SARVABHAUMA BHATTACARYA SURRENDERS
“Similarly, Caitanya Mahaprabhu had a great discussion with Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, the greatest logician at that time, who was also a mayavadi impersonalist, and he was also converted. So Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s movement is not mere sentimentalism.”(13) Science of Self-Realization, ‘Practicing Yoga in the Modern Age,’ Chapter 5.
DEFEATED PARTY MUST SURRRENDER
“And if there is talk between one philosopher and another philosopher…just like Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya and Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Sarvabhauma was a great scholar, and Caitanya Mahaprabhu? Who can speak about scholarship. So Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya was defeated by Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He was elderly person. There may be talks of philosophy, but if one party is defeated, the defeated person, he must be disciple of the winning victorious party. But at the present moment we’ll go on talking for years together, and nobody is defeated; nobody is going to be disciple. Then what is the use of talking like that. So this kind of things will not do. We have to follow the Vedic principle.”(14) Srila Prabhupada lecture, May 22, 1974, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.
PRAKASANANDA SARASVATI BECOMES A VAISNAVA
“As an illustration, let us consider Caitanya Mahaprabhu. While He was preaching, He went to Benares, the seat of mayavadi sannyasis. The follower of Sankaracarya are mostly seen in Benares. When Caitanya Mahaprabhu was there, he was chanting and dancing. Some of the people very much appreciated this, and so he quickly became famous. One prominent sannyasi, Prakasananda Sarasvati, leader of many thousands of Mayavadi sannyasis, was informed: ‘Oh, from Bengal one young sannyasi has come. He is so nicely chanting and dancing.’ Prakasananda Sarasvati was a great Vedantist, and he did not like the idea. He said, ‘Oh, he is a pseudo sannyasi. He is chanting and dancing and this is not the business of a sannyasi. A sannyasi should always engage himself in the study of philosophy and the Vedanta.’ Then one of the devotees who did not like the remarks of Prakasananda Sarasvati came back and informed Lord Caitanya that He was being criticized. So the devotees arranged a meeting of all the sannyasis, and there was a philosophical discussion on the Vedanta between Prakasananda Sarasvati and Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. These accounts and philosophical discussions are given in our teachings of Lord Caitanya. It is remarkable that Prakasananda himself with all His disciples became Vaishnavas.”(15) Science of Self-Realization, Chapter 5, pages 161-152, “Practicing Yoga in the Age of Quarrel”
It is important to note in this connection that there is a class of sentimental Vaishnavas who advocate that no one should argue or dispute contentious issues. They say ‘ just leave everything to Krsna’. While there is a degree of truth to the above statement, it is often used to avoid dealing with pertinent issues. They sometimes say that everything has already been discussed before, or that these kind of contentious discussions should be handled only by an elitist few. Or that such matters better be left to some research committee. Some other sentimentalists prefer to argue that because the very nature of arguments and disputation may entail some criticism, then that should be avoided altogether. They contend that we should not argue and dispute. Such argumentation is not good. However, Krsna Dasa Kaviraja presents a different version.
siddhanta baliya citte na kara alasa
iha haite krsna lage sudrdha manasa.
Siddhanta, what is Krsna, if you study from the sastras, then siddhanta krsna baliya citte, don’t be lazy in understanding Krsna because if you try to understand Krsna, sadhu sastra guru vakya cittete kariya aikya, through the Sadhu, Sastra and Guru, then you understand Krsna, what He is.”(16) Srila Prabhupada lecture, March 1, 1976, Mayapura, India.
“Your siddhanta is correct to the sastra and in this way go on reading books and have the correct perception and Krsna will help you. siddhanta baliya citte na kara alasa iha haite krsna lage sudrdha manasa. A sincere student should not neglect the discussions of such conclusions, considering them controversial, for such conclusions strenghten the mind. Thus one’s mind becomes attached to Sri Krsna. You should always be alert in undestanding the sastric conclusions that will help you, otherwise we can be misled by bogus philosophies. I am very pleased that you are studying the books. That will make you happy and successful.”(17) Srila Prabhupada letter to Ayodhyapati dasa, September 22, 1974
DANGER OF SAHAJIYA IMITATION
Misconceptions such as, ‘we should not discuss something if it is controversial,’ or that it is inappropriate to discuss or read the books of the previous acaryas are symptoms of sahajiya and mayavadi philosophy.
“One should be particularly careful to understand the truth about Krsna. If because of laziness one does not come to know Krsna conclusively, one will be misguided about the cult of devotion, like those who declare themselves advanced devotees and imitate the transcendental symptoms sometimes observed in liberated souls… One should submissively receive the transcendental messages from spiritually advanced sources and chant the very messages for one’s own benefit as well as the benefit of one’s audience…imitation devotees, who wish to advertise themselves as elevated Vaisnavas and who therefore imitate the previous acaryas but do not follow them in principle are condemned in the words of Srimad-Bhagavatam as stone hearted.”(18) Sri Caitanya- Caritamrta Adi-lila 1.46
A FEW WORDS OF CAUTION ABOUT FALSE DEVOTEES
Similarly, other false devotees think that studying books of the previous acaryas is unadvisable, like studying dry empiric philosophies. But Srila Jiva Goswami, following the previous acaryas has inculcated the conclusions of the scriptures in the six theses called Sat-sandarbhas. False devotees who have very little knowldege of such conclusions fail to achieve pure devotion for want of zeal in accepting the favorable directions for devotional service given by self-realized devotees. Such false devotees are like impersonalists, who also consider devotional service no better than ordinary fruitive actions.”(19)…
Srila Prabhupada also warns about the idea that Gaudiya-Vaishnavas do not engage in arguments. Such misguided sentiments are not approved by Srila Prabhupada.
Devotee: “And then he said, ‘Gaudiya Vaishnavas, they do not engage in argumentation and debate.’ ”
Uttamasloka said, “Yes, Lord Caitanya argued with Prakasananda.”
Srila Prabhupada: “O, Yes very good.”
Satsvarupa: “But Swami B… said. No He did not convert him by argument. He converted him by the effulgence.”
Srila Prabhupada: (to B…) “But there was argument, rascal.”(20) Srila Prabhupada room conversation, June 30, 1975, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
DEBATE LIKE RASCAL!
Srila Prabhupada has also warned about using dubious and rascal-like techniques while debating. Frequent interruptions, restrictions on who can and who cannot speak, shifting subjects, filibusters, kangoroo court like proceedings etc, are not part of the Vedic system of disputations.
Srila Prabhupada: “What will they debate? If they debate like rascal, that is another thing. If they debate like sane man, then there is…” (21) Srila Prabhupada lecture, May 24, 1974, Rome, Italy.
BUT WHY SHOULD ANYONE JUDGE ANYONE ELSE?
Another sentimental notion is sometimes proposed by individuals who either cannot deal with the controversies and who are swept by emotional upsurges. But why should one devotee try to judge another devotee? What will be the benefit of this activity? Let us see what Srila Prabhupada says in this connection:
Srila Prabhupada: “No, first principle is that you have to follow the rules.”
Young man: “What rules?”
Srila Prabhupada: “That is everywhere.”
Young man: “Which rules are for me?”
Srila Prabhupada: “That is…”
Young man: “That is the point.”
Srila Prabhupada: “That is next. First of all, as you say, in Christian, there is rules, there are Muhammedan’s rules, there are Hindu rules. Rules are there. Now you have to select which rules you shall follow. That will depend on your dress. But rules you have to follow. That is everywhere. If you think that: ‘There are so many rules, I won’t follow,’ Then you are lost.”
Indian man: “Follow some rules.”
Young man: “There are some rules, I mean…”
Srila Prabhupada: “Everywhere.”
Young man: “Yes.”
Srila Prabhupada: “So you have to follow rules. Now it is up to you, which rule you shall follow.”
Young man: “Yes.”
Srila Prabhupada: “That is your choice. That requires brain.”
Young man: “My choice is not to judge anybody, good or bad, or mad or insane.”
Srila Prabhupada: “Then you are lost.”(22)
Srila Prabhupada room conversation, May 8, 1977, Hrishikesha, India
BUT WHY SHOULD THERE BE SO MUCH PROTEST?
Fine, even if we agree that it is necessary to discuss, but why do you find it necessary to engage in criticism? First we have to differentiate between fact finding and faultfinding? To present facts and factual events which have taken place and ask intelligent and relevant question to ascertain the proper devotional conclusion, and the order of the spiritual master is not faultfinding. Secondly, if there are offensive misconceptions and offensive statements made against the Sampradaya-Acarya, Srila Prabhupada and the previous Acaryas, and any of His bona fide disciples and followers, then the Sastras and the Acaryas prescribe a course of action.
“According to social conventions, it is said that one can speak the truth only when it is palatable to others. But that is not truthfulness. The truth should be spoken in such a straight and forward way, so that others will understand actually what the facts are. If a man is a thief and if people are warned that he is a thief that is truth. Although sometimes the truth is unpalatable, one should not refrain from speaking it. Truthfulness demands that the facts be presented as they are for the benefit of others. That is the definition of truth.”(23) Bhagavad-Gita As It Is 10.4.
“One should not at any time tolerate blasphemy and insults against Lord Visnu or His devotees. A devotee is generally very humble and meek, and he is reluctant to pick a quarrel with anyone. Nor does he envy anyone. However, a pure devotee immediately becomes fiery with anger when he sees that Lord Vishnu or His devotees is insulted. This is the duty of a devotee. Although a devotee maintains an attitude of meekness and gentleness, it is a great fault on his part if he remains silent when the Lord or His devotee is blasphemed.”(24) Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.14.32
“One should be very meek and humble in his personal transactions, and if insulted a Vaisnava should be tolerant and not angry. But if there is blasphemy against one’s guru or another Vaishnava, one should be as angry as fire. This was exhibited by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu.”(25)..Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 7.50
DEFINITION OF TRUTHFULNESS
“Satyam, truthfulness, means facts should be presented as they are for the benefit of others. Facts should not be misrepresented. According to social conventions, it is said that one can speak the truth only when it is palatable to others. But that is not truthfulness. The truth should be spoken in a straight and forward way, so that others will understand actually what the facts are. If a man is a thief and if people are warned that he is a thief, that is truth. Although sometimes the truth is unpalatable, one should not refrain from speaking it. Truthfulness demands that the facts be presented as they are for the benefit of others. That is the definition of truth.”(29) Bhgavad-Gita As it Is 10.4
“Satyam. This word means that one should not distort the truth for some personal interest.”(30) Bhagavad-Gita As It Is 16.4
A BRAHMANA IS NOT ALLOWED TO SPEAK LIES
“The Brahmanas…. they must be qualified with twelve high qualifications. We have many times discussed. Out of that qualification, truthfulness is the first item for a brahmana, a ksatriya may speak lies that is allowed, because he has to be diplomat, politician. But a Brahmana, Oh, he is not allowed to speak lies. That is the system.”(31) Srila Prabhupada lecture, March 27, 1969, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.
It should be noted that untruthfulness is not a desirable quality for those seeking to advance in spiritual life. Untruthfulness is characterized by Lord Krsna as a demoniac quality. “na satyam tesu vidyate. Neither cleanliness, nor proper behavior nor truth is found in them.”(32) Bhgavad-Gita As it Is 16.7
HOW TO ACQUIRE TRUTHFULLNESS
AND THE MODE OF GOODNESS?
Srila Prabhupada explains that in order to develop the pure qualities in the mode of goodness such as truthfulness, austerity, etc., “one must develop a certain devotional attitude. … One should hear Bhagavatam with rapt attention from the real person and then only he can at once realize the presence of Lord Krishna in every page of the Bhagavatam. The secret of knowing Bhagavat is mentioned here. No body can give rapt attention who is not pure in mind. No body can be pure in mind who is not pure in action. No body can be pure in action who is not pure in eating, sleeping, fearing and mating. But somehow or other if somebody hears with rapt attention Srimad-Bhagavatam from the right person and at the very beginning of it, one can assuredly see Lord Krishna in person in the pages of Bhagavatam.”(33) Srimad-Bhgavatam 1.3.44
THE STORY OF SATYAKAMA JABALA
“Just like in the Jabala Upanisad. This, by symptoms, he was accepted Brahmana, a small boy like this, Satyakam Jabala. Satyakam. He went to Gautama Muni: ‘My dear Sir, will you initiate me? ‘Just like this boy can ask us. Oh, he was very kind: ‘Oh, yes very nice boy. What is your father’s name?’ ‘Oh, I do not know.’ ‘Oh, just ask you mother. Go.’ Mother says? Oh, mother says ‘I do not know whose son you are.’ He came back.’ What your mother says?’ ‘ Oh, mother says she does not know who is my father.’ ‘Oh, you are a Brahmana. Oh, you are a Brahmana. Come on. I shall initiate you.’ He was so truthful. That is the real symptom of Brahmana. Satya, sama. He does not disclose that ‘I do not know.’ Everyone will try to hide if he does not know his father’s name. But here is a boy. Oh, he said, ‘Oh, you are a Brahmana. Come on. I shall initiate you.’ This laksana, symptom. Such a truthful boy. ‘Never mind what he is born, how he is born.’ This system is not new. Therefore we shall have to accept by the symptom. If one is inclined to go to Krsna, he is chanting, he is doing, following the principles, then, according to Narada’s version, yasya hi yal laksanam syat, here is the laksana, symptom, varna abhivyanjakam, to understand to what class he belongs. Now he is truthful. He belongs to the Brahmana class.”(34)
Srila Prabhupada lecture, May 21, 1969, New Vrindavana, West Virginia, USA.
“The first qualification of a Brahmana is to become truthful. He will never speak lies. That is the first qualification.”(35)
Srila Prabhupada lecture, May 21, 1976, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
A BRAHMANA NEVER SPEAKS LIES
“First discipline is truthfulness. A Brahmana will never speak lies. That is the first qualification. So who is going to take training in that way. Nobody is interested. This is Kali-Yuga. We are trying to train people. No illicit sex, no meat-eating, no gambling, no intoxication. Still there are some failures. And if we teach in our institution, ‘Please do not speak lies’ people will laugh. What is this nonsense. Nowadays is it possible to remain in this society without speaking lies? This is the position.”(36) Srila Prabhupda lecture, September 12, 1976, Vrindavana, India.
AND WHAT IS THE RESULT IF A BRAHMANA SPEAKS A LIE?
“The Brahmin is the religious preceptor for all other castes and the sannyasins are the spiritual masters for all the castes and orders of society. As such they are very responsible personages in the society… If a Brahmin is not truthful all his claim for the position of Brahmin at once becomes null and void.”(37) Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.17.41
Before anyone from the managerial commission proposes any debates or disputations, it could be most prudent and advisable to carefully reflect and check to see if any of their former behaviors and philosophies [including verbal and written statements and position papers] might fall in the category of untruth. The consequences could be potentially very damaging as Srila Prabhupada has described in the above purport of the First Canto, Seventeenth chapter, for any of its members or representatives.
WHAT IS THE RESULT OF TOO MUCH LYING PROPAGANDA?
idanim dharmapadaste satyam nivartayed yatah
tam jighrikshati adharma ayam anritena edhitah kalih
“You are just standing on one leg or by one part of your existing truthfulness and you are somehow or other pulling on with this, but this quarrel personified, being flourished by false representation, is trying to withdraw that also.”
The principles of religiosity do not stand on some dogmas or man made formulas but they stand on four primary regulative observances namely austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness… The resultant action of human civilization in the age of Kali is dissatisfaction of the mind and everyone is anxious to get peace of the mind. This peace of mind was complete in the age of Satya on account of the existence of the above mentioned attributes of human being. Gradually they have diminished in the Treta-Yuga to three fourth, in the Dvapara to half and in this age of Kali it is diminished to one fourth, which is also gradually diminishing on account of prevailing untruthfulness… and by too much lying propaganda truthfulness is lost.”(38)..Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.17.25