|Chapter 5: Attaining Perfection|
Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Nārada Bhakti Sūtra 75
bāhulyāvakāśatvād aniyatatvāc ca
bāhulya — for excessiveness; avakāśatvāt — because of involving opportunities; aniyatatvāt — because of not being decisive; ca — and.
Such argumentation leads to excessive entanglements and is never decisive.
In the Mahābhārata, Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja describes the defect of argumentation as follows: tarko 'pratiṣṭhaḥ śrutayo vibihinnā nāsāv ṛṣir yasya mataḿ na bhinnam. "Dry arguments are inconclusive. A great personality whose opinion does not differ from others is not considered a great sage. Simply by studying the Vedas, which are variegated, one cannot come to the right path by which religious principles are understood" (Mahābhārata, Vana-parva 313.117).
If you base your philosophical conclusions on logical arguments, a superior logician will eventually defeat you. This is the method of Western philosophers, and India also has its munis. A muni is not considered distinguished unless he defeats the arguments of previous thinkers. But then another muni comes and finds flaws in the arguments of the current champion and claims to replace him with "the latest philosophy." Those who study argumentation come to the conclusion that there is no final truth. This is skepticism, the fruit of mental speculation.
A bhakta should not take part in the tedious, inconclusive contests of logicians. The Vedic truths have been thoroughly researched since time beyond memory and are established conclusively. The ācāryas who guide the destiny of Vedic culture, such as Madhva, Rāmānuja, and Lord Caitanya, did not invent the Vedic siddhānta (conclusion), though they all presented it according to time, place, and recipients.
King Yudhiṣṭhira continues: dharmasya tattvaḿ nihitaḿ guhāyāḿ mahā-jano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ."The solid truth of religious principles is hidden in the heart of an unadulterated self-realized person. Consequently, as the śāstras confirm, one should accept whatever progressive path the mahā-janas advocate."
The bhakti method of receiving truth is by paramparā, or disciplic succession. It is confirmed by a checks-and-balances system of hearing from guru, śāstra, and sādhu. On the other hand, one who rejects the paramparā system and persists in hearing argumentation will never understand the Absolute Truth. As Lord Kṛṣṇa states, bhaktyā mām abhijānāti: "One can understand Me only by devotional service" (Bg. 18.55).
When Lord Caitanya first came to Jagannātha Purī, a dispute arose between His followers and Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya, who was at that time a mundane logician. The Bhaṭṭācārya and his students refused to accept that Lord Caitanya was the Supreme Personality of Godhead, although Gopīnātha Ācārya presented much evidence from Vedic scriptures. Finally the disciples of the Bhaṭṭācārya said, "We derive knowledge of the Absolute Truth by logical hypothesis." Gopīnātha Ācārya replied, "One cannot attain real knowledge of the Supreme Personality of Godhead by such logical hypothesis and argument" (Cc. Madhya 6.81). Gopīnātha Ācārya further stated that only that person who has received the mercy of the Lord by rendering Him devotional service can understand Him. Logical hypothesis is not the way, but rather śabda-brahma, hearing from authorized sources. Lord Brahmā made the same point in his prayers to Lord Kṛṣṇa in Chapter Fourteen of the Tenth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam:
athāpi te deva padāmbuja-dvaya-
prasāda-leṣānugṛhīta eva hi
jānāti tattvaḿ bhagavan-mahimno
na cānya eko 'pi ciraḿ vicinvan
"My Lord, one who is favored by even a slight trace of the mercy of Your lotus feet can understand the greatness of Your personality. But those who speculate in order to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead are unable to know You, even though they continue to study the Vedas for many years" (Bhāg. 10.14.29).
Vain controversy may also include gossip and rumor (prajalpa). Nārada previously stated that a bhakta shouldn't hear from people who speak of women, wealth, and atheists (Sūtra 63). Even members of a religious movement have to be careful in their talks, or they too may become another association of harsh and idle talkers like the nondevotees. One has to distinguish between responsible dialogue on important issues and talk that leads nowhere. If we enter into controversial topics, we should do so with restraint, sincerely seeking the Vaiṣṇava siddhānta according to guru, śāstra, and sādhu. The śāstras are not to be researched merely as so much ammunition for our own opinions. When we enter debate with an egoistic zest to defeat the opposition, we miss the point and end up fighting with the Vaiṣṇavas. In the prayer known as the Haḿsa-gūhya, offered by Dakṣa to Lord Viṣṇu, Dakṣa concluded that the method of logical dispute is actually a product of illusion:
I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is full of unlimited qualities and whose different potencies bring about agreement and disagreement between disputants. Thus the illusory energy again and again covers the self-realization of both disputants. [Bhāg. 6.4.31]
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His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, Founder Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
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