|Chapter 5: Attaining Perfection|
Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Nārada Bhakti Sūtra 74
vādaḥ — debate; na — not; avalambyaḥ — to be resorted to.
One should not indulge in argumentative debate.
Nārada discourages the egotistic wrangling spirit. One who is proud of his debating skills and eager to defeat others will lose his humility, which, as Nārada says in Sūtra 27, is essential for pleasing Kṛṣṇa. The existence of God is not something to be proven or disproven merely by a battle of logical wits. The spiritual reality cannot be understood by material logic or the speculations of the material mind. As the Vedānta-sūtra (2.1.11) declares, tarkāpratiṣṭhānāt: "Logical reasoning is inconclusive."
However, when a Kṛṣṇa conscious preacher defends the Lord or the Vaiṣṇavas against blasphemy, that should not be taken as vain controversy. The devotee doesn't argue on his own account, but on Kṛṣṇa's. Also, a devotee's preaching is not based on mental speculation, which is always imperfect, but on the perfect process of receiving knowledge from the śāstra and the ācāryas. As it is said, "Mistakes, illusion, cheating, and defective perception do not occur in the sayings of the authoritative sages" (Cc. Ādi 2.86). Also, the Vaiṣṇava ācāryas have all argued against Māyāvāda interpretations. This kind of argumentation is not to be avoided but is rather one of the duties of the madhyama-bhakta, or preacher. Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja states, "A sincere student should not neglect the discussion of such conclusions [concerning the philosophy of Kṛṣṇa consciousness], considering them controversial, for such discussion strengthens the mind. Thus one's mind becomes attached to Kṛṣṇa" (Cc. Ādi 2.117).
But sometimes a preacher will avoid a fight if he sees that the challenger simply wants to argue for the sake of argument. Rūpa Gosvāmī once declined to debate a rascal who came to defeat him, but then Rūpa's nephew, Jīva Gosvāmī, took up the challenge. So a devotee may or may not choose to meet the challenges of the atheists and voidists, depending on the circumstances, but in any case he knows that debate and challenge do not lead to a true understanding of God.
Certainly the devotee himself has no challenging spirit when he approaches the scriptures or the ācāryas. He accepts them axiomatically, beyond argument. The best method for solving one's personal doubts is to inquire submissively from advanced Vaiṣṇavas, who will always be able to answer in terms of śāstra and reason.
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His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, Founder Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
Satsvarupa dasa Goswami
Gopiparanadhana dasa Adhikari