Srila Giri Maharaja – “I welcome brutal honesty”

My dandavats to you Sriman Uddharan dasa.

To be brutally honest, Lilavati Devi and I think the article by Jagadananda Prabhu is a difficult read even with your corrections.

As Lilavati said “it is not succinct enough and doesn’t flow.”

A little “bombastic” I would add.

Then, following the line of being “brutally honest”, I don’t see how you could have written this to me just three days before (4/14/20), which pertained to the same article:

A few typos corrected otherwise okay.

Please explain how there could be such a vast disparity in your opinion.

Also, I had written to you:

Attached below please find “COVID-19_ The Krishna Karuna Virus” as edited by you with my additional remarks.

Please look them over. If you disagree with any of them, please let me know why so that I may reconsider.

In your reply you did not say if you agreed or disagreed with my corrections. In particular, I wonder if my attempts at correcting Jd’s grammar were on target or not, since that was one of my worst subjects in school. It seemed to me Jd made extensive use of independent clauses that were in the form of sentences but were disconnected from the subject, which was contained in a previous sentence. Was I on the right track?

To be brutally honest, Lilavati Devi and I think the article by your disciple is a difficult read

My take was a little different. It was this: his writing was what I would expect to see in someone’s facebook comments or, perhaps, even a post, that was written with a strong feeling about a subject but with little discipline exercised in presenting the arguments needed to support it. The point seemed clear to me: Krishna consciousness is the cure for all ills. The way he chose to get there seemed haphazard.

Being a poor grammarian myself I can hardly dismiss one’s preaching attempt due to the use of poor grammar, which can be corrected. The perceived haphazard approach is also excusable (we cannot give in to the temptation of appreciating form over substance). Both weaknesses (poor grammar and haphazard presentation) are excusable, provided the preacher can do no better. I think Jagadananda dasa can do much better, I have seen him do so.

“I am a severe critic.”, Srila Sridhara Maharaja once remarked about himself. His guru said this:

“I am a proofreader of religion also. I have appeared in the karkata lagna (astrologically), so whenever I see anything undevotional I will act like a karkata (a crab). If I see any so-called devotion which is not actually in the true unalloyed spirit, I shall pierce it.” — Srila Saraswati Thakura, Lecture, 1926.

And Srila Govinda Maharaja told us:

“But Guru Maharaja has seen…, that this boy, boldly can tell truth, he is not fearful.” — Srila Govinda Maharaja, “Soquel Talk (8/20/94)”, @23:00.

“The world is a complicated place. It needs someone to expose its political fakers, fixers and takers and cut through the mindless chatter and misdirection to help you make sense of it all.” is an intro to the podcast of Dan Proft. I agree with the statement, even if Dan Proft is not the one I would look to to fulfill the task set out in it. Brutal honesty is what is needed if we are ever to see the duṣkṛtinaḥ — miscreants, mūḍhāḥ — foolish, nara-adhamāḥ — lowest among mankind, māyayāpahṛta-jñānā — those whose knowledge is stolen by illusion and āsuram — demonic for what they are.

I welcome brutal honesty, for without it there is no path leading out of this world; there is no way “to expose its political fakers, fixers and takers and cut through the mindless chatter and misdirection to help you[us] make sense of it all.”

Truth may not always be appealing, especially as it concerns ourselves when it brushes against our ego, but shall we want its converse instead? Is there a difference between honesty and brutal honesty? The former’s circuitous route is unwanted if it, by comparison to the latter, obscures the very thing it is meant to illustrate.

Let us not be afraid. Let us recall how Srila Guru Maharaja appreciated “that this boy, boldly can tell truth, he is not fearful.”

The dangers of the present pandemic have been tremendously exaggerated by the “duṣkṛtinaḥ — miscreants, mūḍhāḥ — foolish, nara-adhamāḥ — lowest among mankind, māyayāpahṛta-jñānā — those whose knowledge is stolen by illusion and āsuram — demonic” who prey upon the fears of the common man (those of little or no faith in the Supreme) as a means to exploit him. It is nothing new. It is a kind of witchcraft practiced by the aforementioned who create illusions hoping to protect themselves from that which they fear most, the greater illusion of independence from, and the supremacy of, the Supreme Lord who, by comparison, makes them appear insignificant and puny and who, alone, decides all matters of life and death. There is a wonderful example of this in the story of Dhruva Maharaja (SB 10.4) which I have thought about many times since the first news broke of the killer pandemic. In particular, these accounts seemed very relevant:

Text 21: Dhruva Mahārāja, the best of human beings, observed that in that great battlefield not one of the opposing soldiers was left standing with proper weapons. He then desired to see the city of Alakāpurī, but he thought to himself, “No one knows the plans of the mystic Yakṣas.”

Text 22: In the meantime, while Dhruva Mahārāja, doubtful of his mystic enemies, was talking with his charioteer, they heard a tremendous sound, as if the whole ocean were there, and they found that from the sky a great dust storm was coming over them from all directions.

Text 23: Within a moment the whole sky was overcast with dense clouds, and severe thundering was heard. There was glittering electric lightning and severe rainfall.

Text 24: My dear faultless Vidura, in that rainfall there was blood, mucus, pus, stool, urine and marrow falling heavily before Dhruva Mahārāja, and there were trunks of bodies falling from the sky.

Text 25: Next, a great mountain was visible in the sky, and from all directions hailstones fell, along with lances, clubs, swords, iron bludgeons and great pieces of stone.

Text 26: Dhruva Mahārāja also saw many big serpents with angry eyes, vomiting forth fire and coming to devour him, along with groups of mad elephants, lions and tigers.

Text 27: Then, as if it were the time of the dissolution of the whole world, the fierce sea with foaming waves and great roaring sounds came forward before him.

Text 28: The demon Yakṣas are by nature very heinous, and by their demoniac power of illusion they can create many strange phenomena to frighten one who is less intelligent.

Text 29: When the great sages heard that Dhruva Mahārāja was overpowered by the illusory mystic tricks of the demons, they immediately assembled to offer him auspicious encouragement.

Text 30: All the sages said: Dear Dhruva, O son of King Uttānapāda, may the Supreme Personality of Godhead known as Śārṅgadhanvā, who relieves the distresses of His devotees, kill all your threatening enemies. The holy name of the Lord is as powerful as the Lord Himself. Therefore, simply by chanting and hearing the holy name of the Lord, many men can be fully protected from fierce death without difficulty. Thus a devotee is saved.

This verse very nicely describes the current situation: “Text 28: The demon Yakṣas are by nature very heinous, and by their demoniac power of illusion they can create many strange phenomena to frighten one who is less intelligent.” And this verse describes very well the solution: Text 30: . . . “The holy name of the Lord is as powerful as the Lord Himself. Therefore, simply by chanting and hearing the holy name of the Lord, many men can be fully protected from fierce death without difficulty. Thus a devotee is saved.”

The less intelligent, and all others of this world, are bereft of the simple truths just described. We must devote all our energy and resources to help them understand this fact. I think that was the point Jagadananda was trying to make. He is correct, even though his attempt was somewhat awkward.

I must admit my frailties in presenting Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, but still I am hopeful of its good reception by the thinkers and leaders of society on the strength of the following statement of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.5.11):

tad-vāg-visargo janatāgha-viplavo
yasmin prati-ślokam abaddhavaty api
nāmāny anantasya yaśo ’ṅkitāni yac
chṛṇvanti gāyanti gṛṇanti sādhavaḥ

“On the other hand, that literature which is full of descriptions of the transcendental glories of the name, fame, form and pastimes of the unlimited Supreme Lord is a transcendental creation meant for bringing about a revolution in the impious life of a misdirected civilization. Such transcendental literature, even though irregularly composed, is heard, sung and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest.”

Oṁ tat sat

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

SB, Preface

I pray this finds you in good health and spirits.

Affectionately yours,

Giri Maharaja