[Advaita-l] What does "Hare Krishna" Mean?

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Sat Jan 3 16:06:09 CST 2004

On Fri, 2 Jan 2004, Aravind Mohanram wrote:

> >>I'm not doubting jnana as a means to moksha. I was asking the sastric
> >>basis for the statement that there is no magic spell that can give
> >>moksha.

See for example the conversation between Narada and Sanatkumar in
chandogyopanishad.  Narada complains that he has mastered all 64 vidyas
but still doesn't understand Brahman.

This is what I meant when I wrote that repetition of mantras in itself
falls short of the mark without understanding.

> >>It's not that we accept because someone says so - we accept the
> >>authority of the acharya alongwith that of sastra and sadhus. Srila
> >>Prabhupada's Gita As It Is is perfectly consistent with the devotional
> >>conclusions of scriptures and his parampara acharyas.
> He does not
> >>invent his own philosophy/and try to differ with his guru parampara.

Vaishnava shastras such as Garga Samhita say there are 4 vaishnava
sampradayas: Shri (vishishtadvaita of Ramanuja,) Brahma (dvaita of
Madhva,) Sanakadi (dvaitadvaita of Nimbarka,) and Agni (shuddhadvaita of
Vallabha) where do the Gaudiyas figure into this?  Some claim they are
derived from dvaita but there are several deviations from Madhvite
philosophy so consistency cannot be claimed there.  In fact the supposed
Gaudiya parampara dates no earlier than the 15th century AD amongst
renegade advaitins.  Chaitanya himself was initiated into Advaita
sannyasa.  In modern times Prabhupadas own ideas were criticized by other
Gaudiyas and only grudgingly accepted after he started acheiving success
in the west.

In contrast both advaita and vishishtadvaita vedanta can claim historical
paramparas stretching back to the first centuries AD at least if not
further.  So if you are interested in following parampara either of these
would be better choices.

The more pertinent question for this forum, is on what basis can one judge
claims?  Anyone can make grandiose claims.  Only a gullible person will
accept such claims as is.  Have you done the research to verify whether
what you've been told is true?  This is why Vedantins of all persuasions
spend time learning tarka and other pramanas so they can establish facts
on a firm foundation.  The very first brahmasutra says the subject of this
darshan is to be an *enquiry* (jijnasa) into Brahman.  The repetition of
the dhatu jna indicates this is to be active.

> >>As much as understanding Sankara depends on following his instructions
> >>and developing a strong faith in the acharya's words,

Such faith should be accompanied by understanding.  Advaita acharyas never
give "because I said" as a reason.  we have seen recently that even
Shankaracharyas' own direct disciple Sureshvaracharya disagreed with his
teacher on some points.  Whether those disagreements were legitimate,
whether they pose any difficulty in understanding Advaita Vedanta etc. is
something we can work out using our own intellects not something we have
to be told by someone else.

> >>Srila Prabhupada's Gita requires development of faith and a desire to
> >>follow his instructions, which includes chanting, serving Krishna
> >>constantly (Gita 8.7, tasmat sarvesu kalesu...). If one tries to
> >>understand his Gita based on pure sanskrit scholarship, of which most
> >>members on this forum maybe rightly proud of, one is expected to find
> >>contradictions - it is like bee licking on the outside of a bottle of
> >>honey. I strongly believe the same holds true for understanding any
> >>bonafide acharya's works.

If there seem to be contradictions, they must be honestly addressed.  Many
situations may seem contradictory but make sense with further reflection.
If you don't even try how will you know?  The leaders of ISKCON have a
vested interest in people not thinking as it would expose the hollowness
of their ideas.  Advaita acharyas are more confident in their ability to
resolve contradictions.

> Yes *one* of nine.
> >> Yes, but it is particularly effective as stated in devotional
> >> scriptures and by all Vaishnava acharyas. Even a person who chants or
> >> hears the Holy name develops attraction for the Lord. Try doing it
> >> for a week/month with sincerity and you will see the effects for
> >> yourself.

What makes you think I don't do this?

> >>>Right. One needs knowledge about Krishna to serve Him. No one is
> >>>disputing that. And, as I said before, the bhakti-yogi acquires jnana
> >>>through Krishna's grace. Studying a scripture is different from
> >>>"understanding" what is said. For example, when we say we understand
> >>>something, what do we exactly mean? sometimes, it so happens that
> >>>even after reading several times, we may not get the real meaning,
> >>>but suddenly the understanding comes - who provides that? one gets
> >>>that understanding by the grace of guru and Krishna. Not by any other
> >>>means. It is by Sankara and Lord's mercy can one understand his
> >>>philosophy, not just by our tiny intelligence.

Our "tiny intelligence" is Bhagavans prasad!  If it weren't He could have
just made robots or statues instead of thinking people.  Instead we have
the wonderful gift of viveka by which the fog of Maya can be destroyed.

> >>>But, that is the meaning provided by Srila Prabhupada and his
> >>>parampara and we accept it.

Yes I know that.  But you have no reason or basis to accept it.  And I
certainly don't.  Seeing as the thread started because you objected to my
rendition of its meaning, the onus is on you to convince me of a better

> >>> Good point. Even I have thought about this. And, this is my
> >>> understanding - The Hare Krishna mantra is especially meant for
> >>> developing love of Krishna (Absolute truth) and it is Chaitanya who
> >>> emphasized the most on serving Krishna in 5 kinds of relationships,
> >>> especially the topmost one of conjugal love. While Ramanuja and
> >>> Madhva emphasized on bhakti to Krishna or Vishnu in a mood of awe
> >>> and reverence, Chaitanya emphasized madhurya (or devotion in
> >>> conjugal love) and that's why understandably you see more emphasis
> >>> on Bhagavata Purana by His school compared to those of Ramanuja and
> >>> Madhva. Having said that, the South Indian Vaishnava saints, the
> >>> Azhwars did glorify Krishna in His different rasas, including
> >>> Madhurya. Vallabha's emphasis, if I'm right was on parental rasa
> >>> (similar to the one experienced by Yashoda and Nanda).

Well I'm personally most familliar with Vallabhas teachings and he does
talk extensively about madhurya.  One of his most popular works is called
Madhurashtakam.  And other acharyas including advaita ones have also
written extensively about all aspects of bhakti rasa.

> Followers of
> >>> Chaitanya chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, while the other
> >>> Vaishnavas chant other bonafide names of Vishnu/Krishna - the
> >>> essence is same, however, to achieve eternal service to the beloved Lord.

Right. So basically you are saying Chaitanya or one of his followers
invented this mantra.  Isn't that what I originally said?

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
It's a girl! See the pictures - http://www.braincells.com/shailaja/

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list