Srila Giri Maharaja – A statement… “which could hardly be more false”

Date: 1/13/18

Dear Mr. Deace,

Please accept my warm greetings and well-wishes.

During CRTV episode 206, you spoke something untrue at 19-20 min. into the show. At that time you said this:

“The idea of a personal God, the idea of you having a personal relationship with him and you being made in his image, the imago Dei does not exist on planet earth outside of the Judeo Christian worldview and that is why you can find ways to syncretize every belief system except the Judeo Christian one because it is, shall we say, set apart from the rest of the world views on planet earth.”

I expect this statement of yours, which could hardly be more false, was an unintentional mistake. As such, I hope you will correct it very soon after reading the evidence of your mistake which I supply below.

Devotees of Krishna, especially those known as Gaudiya Vaishnavas, refer to Krishna explicitly as “the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” You need only consider the implications of this terminology to understand Krishna’s devotees give great stress to the personality of God, Whose name is Krishna and is supreme above any other Deity.

The Vedic scriptures, upon which we rely for knowledge about God, provide, in two verses, explicit proof for my contention. The verses are these:

vadanti tat tattva-vidas
tattvaṁ yaj jñānam advayam
brahmeti paramātmeti
bhagavān iti śabdyate

Synonyms:
vadanti — they say; tat — that; tattva-vidaḥ — the learned souls; tattvam — the Absolute Truth; yat — which; jñānam — knowledge; advayam — nondual; brahma iti — known as Brahman; paramātmā iti — known as Paramātmā; bhagavān iti — known as Bhagavān; śabdyate — it so sounded.

Translation:
Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth call this nondual substance Brahman, Paramātmā or Bhagavān.

Purport:
The Absolute Truth is both subject and object, and there is no qualitative difference there. Therefore, Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān are qualitatively one and the same. The same substance is realized as impersonal Brahman by the students of the Upaniṣads, as localized Paramātmā by the Hiraṇyagarbhas or the yogīs, and as Bhagavān by the devotees. . . .

— A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, Srimad-Bhagavatam, 1.2.11

The supreme entity known by the term bhagavan is specifically defined in the following verse as kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam, i.e. bhagavan is Krishna, the original Personality of Godhead:

ete cāṁśa-kalāḥ puṁsaḥ
kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam
indrāri-vyākulaṁ lokaṁ
mṛḍayanti yuge yuge

Synonyms:
ete — all these; ca — and; aṁśa — plenary portions; kalāḥ — portions of the plenary portions; puṁsaḥ — of the Supreme; kṛṣṇaḥ — Lord Kṛṣṇa; tu — but; bhagavān — the Personality of Godhead; svayam — in person; indra-ari— the enemies of Indra; vyākulam — disturbed; lokam — all the planets; mṛḍayanti — gives protection; yuge yuge— in different ages.

Translation:
All of the above-mentioned incarnations are either plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord, but Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the original Personality of Godhead. All of them appear on planets whenever there is a disturbance created by the atheists. The Lord incarnates to protect the theists.

Purport:
In this particular stanza Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead, is distinguished from other incarnations. He is counted amongst the avatāras (incarnations) because out of His causeless mercy the Lord descends from His transcendental abode. Avatāra means “one who descends.” All the incarnations of the Lord, including the Lord Himself, descend to the different planets of the material world as also in different species of life to fulfill particular missions. Sometimes He comes Himself, and sometimes His different plenary portions or parts of the plenary portions, or His differentiated portions directly or indirectly empowered by Him, descend to this material world to execute certain specific functions. . . .

— A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, Srimad-Bhagavatam, 1.3.28

As to man’s relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, indeed the relationship of every living entity (a jiva, aka spirit soul) with God, the Gaudiya Vaishnava conception is found in the verse immediately below which tells us: jīvera ‘svarūpa’ hayakṛṣṇeranitya-dāsa’, the constitutional position of every soul is that of an eternal servant of Krishna.

jīvera ‘svarūpa’ haya — kṛṣṇera ‘nitya-dāsa’
kṛṣṇera ‘taṭasthā-śakti’ ‘bhedābheda-prakāśa’
sūryāṁśa-kiraṇa, yaiche agni-jvālā-caya
svābhāvika kṛṣṇera tina-prakāra ‘śakti’ haya

Synonyms:
jīvera — of the living entity; svarūpa — the constitutional position; haya — is; kṛṣṇera — of Lord Kṛṣṇa; nitya-dāsa — eternal servant; kṛṣṇera — of Lord Kṛṣṇa; taṭasthā — marginal; śakti — potency; bheda-abheda — one and different; prakāśa — manifestation; sūrya-aṁśa — part and parcel of the sun; kiraṇa — a ray of sunshine; yaiche — as; agni-jvālā-caya — molecular particle of fire; svābhāvika — naturally; kṛṣṇera — of Lord Kṛṣṇa; tina-prakāra — three varieties; śakti — energies; haya — there are.

Translation:
“It is the living entity’s constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa because he is the marginal energy of Kṛṣṇa and a manifestation simultaneously one with and different from the Lord, . . .

— A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, Chaitanya-charitamrta, Madhya Lila, 20.108-109

You seem to know something about the Christian conception of God and man’s relationship with Him. This is what I find of interest in your talks. Although you are a theist, which I appreciate, you do not know all there is to know about theism, nor would I expect you to. However, you repeatedly make false assertions about theistic conceptions that fall outside your narrow view and understanding. Such statements detract from your otherwise credible authority. We all commit errors and make mistakes. Generally you seem inclined to humbly admit this and seek correction from others. I hope you will kindly accept my attempt at such correction with the result that you will soon admit your error and correct it during one of your next shows.

While Krishna bhakti (devotion to Krishna) is often amalgamated with Hinduism, the former is a distinct category while the latter is indistinct. I don’t have the time at present to educate you about the term Hindu. It is easy enough to look that up in Wikipedia yourself. Suffice it to say Hindu tells us as much, and as little, about specific religious beliefs as the term American. Both Americans and Indians believe in a wide range of differing spiritual concepts. So too it is with those described as Hindus.

While you may know something about the Personality of God, a personal relationship with Him and so forth, your knowledge is meager at best. If you would really like to know the truth about the Supreme Personality of Godhead and your relationship with Him, you will have to commit to a diligent search for that Absolute Truth. If you ever do commit to such a search, I’m sure you will find yourself, as I am, to be a student of Krishna consciousness.

If you disagree with any of my points laid out above, I welcome the opportunity to dispel any doubts you may have.

I pray this finds you well in health and spirits.

With regard,

Swami B.K. Giri