Srila Prabhupada on Goswami Tulasidas

Srila Prabhupada on Goswami Tulasidas
by Brajsunder Das on Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 1:11am

Srila Prabhupada On Goswami Tulasi das

About Goswami Tulasi das

Tulasi dasaji was a Vaisnava belonging to the Ramananda sampradaya, a branch

of the Sri sampradaya. All the four Vaisnava sampradayas are worthy of our

respect. His name, Tulasi dasa, is a Vaisnava name and he wore the vertical

(urddhva-pundra) Vaisnava tilaka. He also wore tulasi mala around his neck and

was initiated into the Sri Rama mantra, which is a mantra for obtaining

perfection. His guru was siddha Narahari (Nrsimha deva) dasa. His worshipful

Deities were Sri Sita-Ramacandra who are incarnations of Sri Radha-Krsna. In

his numerous books he often glorified Vrajendra-nandana Krsna. He explained

the prominent glories of Sri Nama especially for the age of Kali. He translated

the Sanskrit slokas of the Vedas, Upanisads, Puranas, Srimad-Bhagavatam, and

especially the Ramayana, into Hindi poetical verse.

Teachings Of GoswamiTulasidas

Goswami Tulasidasji has written of the importance of saranagati and accepted

bhagavad-prema as the highest goal and object for the jivas.

He accepted the nine forms of bhakti described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam.

He accepted the jivas to be the separated parts-and-parcels of the Lord, as has

been explained in the Gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.

He also accepted the doctrine of acintya bheda-abheda or, in other words, the

simultaneous oneness and difference which exists between the omnipotent Lord

and His potency (sakti-saktiman).

He completely disregarded sayujya mukti and the other forms of liberation.

Throughout his writings he refuted the theory of mayavada.Therefore, he has

not expressed mayavada conclusions in any of his writings

Authorative Scriptures

Sriman Madhvacarya, In his commentary on a statement from the Skanda

Purana he has written as follows (quoted in Gaudiya Kanthahra):

rg yajuh samatharvacca bharatam pancaratrakam

mula-ramayanan caiva sastram ityabhidiyate

yac canukulam etasya tac ca sastram prakirttitam

ato ‘nya grantha vistaro naiva sastram kuvartma tat

"The four Vedas — Rg, Yajur, Sama and Atharva — the Mahabharata, the

original Ramayana and the Pancaratra are all authoritative and bona fide

scriptures. Any scriptures which follow in support of them are all accepted as

authoritative. All other scriptures apart from these are not accepted as

authoritative."

Srila A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada supports the very same conclusion

as seen in the following quotes:

"According to Srila Rupa Goswami, any book which gives enlightenment in the

matter of advancing in devotional service is considered to be revealed scripture.

Srila Madhvacarya has also defined revealed scriptures as referring to books

such as the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Puranas, Upanisads, Vedanta – – and any

other literature written in pursuance of such revealed scriptures."

(NOD Chapter 12)

"Therefore we have to gather knowledge from the right source. Indeed, in

reality we can get knowledge only from the Vedic sources. The four Vedas, with

their supplementary Puranas, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and their

corollaries, which are known as smrtis, are all authorized sources of knowledge.

If we are at all to gather knowledge, we must gather it from these sources

without hesitation."

(CC Adi 5.14 — Purport)

"The Rg Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, Atharva Veda, Mahabharata, Pancaratra

and the original Valmiki Ramayana are all Vedic literature. Any literature

following the conclusive statements of this Vedic literature is also to be

considered Vedic literature. That literature which does not conform to Vedic

literature is simply misleading."

(CC Madhya 6.147 — Purport)

Conclusion

The conclusion is that all scriptures which give favourable support to these

literatures are also accepted as bona fide and authoritative. Otherwise, all the

books of Sri Ramanuja, Sri Rupa Goswami, Srila Jiva Goswami and Srila

Kaviraja Goswami could not be accepted as authoritative. There are no learned

scholars or acaryas of other sampradayas who wrote commentaries on any of

the books of Srila Rupa Goswami, Jiva Goswami or Krsnadasa Kaviraja

Goswami. Yet these books certainly cannot be said to be inauthentic. It is

irrelevant to say that Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami did not accept evidence

from the Ramayana of Tulasi dasa, because at that time it had not yet been

published, for Tulasi dasa was a contemporary of Sri Rupa Goswami.

Although we are substantiating the authority of the Tulasi Ramayana, the

question may be asked why we don’t regard it on the same level as the Gaudiya

Vaisnava literature. The reason for this is that although, according to Vaisnava

siddhanta, it is accepted as bhakti scripture in a routine sense, it does not

present a complete description of raganuga (or rupanuga) rasamayi bhakti. In a

similar fashion, the Visnu Purana and other sastras do not propound Krsna

bhakti-rasa, although they are certainly bhakti scriptures. Therefore we accept

Srimad-Bhagavatam and the books of Sri Rupa, Sanatana and other Goswamis

as being the most authoritative and efficacious for us.

If the fact that Tulasi das wrote in Hindi is a disqualification, then must we

conclude that the Caitanya-caritamrta of Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami, and the

Gita and Bhagavatam translations and purports of Srila A.C Bhaktivedanta

Swami Maharaja, due to being written in Bengali and English respectively, are

also inauthentic?

The book Prema-sagara is a Hindi translation of Srimad-Bhagavatam done by

the well-known mayavadi Sri Santanu Dvivedi. The Tulasi Ramayana, however,

is a book translated by a highly reputed perfected soul of deep spiritual

realisation.

Mayavada Conclusions

There are numerous statements in Srimad-Bhagavatam and other Vaisnava

scriptures which may seem to support mayavada conclusions. In these sastras

the Absolute Truth is sometimes referred to as advaya-jnana, and kaivalya is

sometimes spoken of as the ultimate destination. Following is a quote,a verse

and translation from Srila A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja’s Srimad

Bhagavatam translation (4.22.27) which superficially seems to support the

mayavada theory:

dagdhasayo mukta-samasta-tad-guno

naivatmano bahir antar vicaste

paratmanor yad-vyavadhanam purastat

svapne yatha purusas tad-vinase

"When a person becomes devoid of all material desires and liberated from all

material qualities, he transcends distinctions between actions executed

externally and internally. At that time the difference between the soul and the

Supersoul, which was existing before self-realisation, is annihilated. When a

dream is over, there is no longer a distinction between the dream and the

dreamer."

Although this verse and others may be misinterpreted to support the mayavada

theory, Srila Prabhupada has clearly explained its true Vaisnava conception in

his commentary. For a correct understanding, individual verses must be

understood in relationship to the overall presentation.

Sridhara Swami, the original Bhagavatam commentator, was sometimes

accused of having mayavada leanings; yet Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted him

as being most authoritative. He said that anyone who disregarded the

commentary of Sridhara Swami should be rejected as a prostitute, or one who

does not follow his Swami. Similarly, there may be some statements of Tulasi

dasa which could be misinterpreted as supporting mayavada conclusions, but

these then must be reconciled in relationship to his overall presentation of

siddhanta.

Srila Prabhupada on Goswami Tulasidas

Conversation 1:

"So he became a great devotee of Rama, Tulasi das. His book, Rama- caritamanasa.

‘Thinking always of Rama’, that is his book. It is very famous book,

and that is the only important literature in the Hindi language, Rama- caritamanasa."

(Room conversation with Brahmananda, April 12, 1969)

Conversation 2:

"Devotee: Tulasi dasa said that he wanted to see Rama.

Prabhupada: Yes. That is devotee’s inclination. That we must have."

(Room Conversation SB 6.1.14 Nov 10, 1970 Bombay, India)

Conversation 3:

"And Tulasi dasa, he has also said… Tulasi dasa is big poet in Hindi language.

He has written the Rama-carita-manasa. His opinion… Not only his opinion,

that is the Vedic opinion, that… He says, dhol gamar stri sudra, pasu sudra nari,

ei ei sab sasana ke adhikari (?). So this statement will not be very palatable to

the Western girls."

(Lecture SB 5.6.4 Nov 26, 1976 Vrindavana, India)

Conversation 4:

"The Tulasi dasa’s Ramayana means Rama-carita. It is not Ramayana. Ramacarita-

manasa. He was devotee of Lord Ramacandra. So as he was thinking of

Lord Ramacandra, he has written. So he was a learned scholar, brahmana, he

must have read Bhagavad-gita, Bhagavatam. So all his translation is there on

the basis of the sastra, especially Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita. You’ll find

many parallel passages. But Gita is the summary of all Vedic literature, and it is

spoken by the Personality of Godhead."

(Evening Darshana July 8, 1976 Washington DC)

Besides the above quotes Thirteen times Srila Prabhupada has quoted Tulasi

dasa’s writings as positive authority in his books or lectures in order to

substantiate a preaching point he was making. For brevity We have simply

noted the references here and devotees may consult them at their own leisure. If

Srila Prabhupada truly considered Tulasi dasa and his writing to be

unauthorised, it appears odd that he would quote him so often in his preaching.

The following are the references:

Ref 1: Radhastami, Srimati Radharani’s Appearance Day

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