Deconstructing the Lilamrta, Part 27

BY: ROCANA DASA - 2.6 2022

A critical analysis of the Srila Prabhupada-Lilamrta by Satsvarupa das Goswami.

Today we continue our review of chapter ten of Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta entitled "This Momentous Hour of Need".

First, the reader must keep in mind that at the time of this writing, Satsvarupa was playing the part of a Zonal Acarya - imitating a Sampradaya Acarya. The author mentions over and over again how Srila Prabhupada was simply 'motivated by the instructions of the Spiritual Master'. Of course, this was one of the main themes being hammered home during the Zonal Acarya period, when the imitation acaryas wanted to drum that idea into all their followers: that they are now the Spiritual Master, and everyone should follow their instructions in the same way that Srila Prabhupada followed Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur's instructions.

In Satsvarupa's case, the two main instructions given to him by his Spiritual Master was that he be sure Srila Prabhupada's books were in all the libraries, and that the BTG magazine was printed and distributed, at least at the same volumes and with the same quality of content as during Srila Prabhupada's lila period. In both of these areas he failed completely. So while he states over and over again through the Lilamrta that Srila Prabhupada was 'just following', he himself was not doing so. We never hear of Satsvarupa even attempting to maintain these instructions. Instead, he's spent years and years being busy writing garbage books, painting crazy childish art, etc. And the GBC continue to bestow upon him the title, "GBC Emeritus".

In this chapter, Satsvarupa also gives the impression that Srila Prabhupada was maintaining BTG magazine as a sort of side issue compared to writing the Srimad Bhagavatam, but to my knowledge Srila Prabhupada never said this. It's apparently just something Satsvarupa decided to imply.

The author clips out a few topical excerpts from BTG articles, for example where Srila Prabhupada is addressing Pandit Nehru (Prime Minister of India at that time), and commenting that there was religious cheating going on. Srila Prabhupada mentions in the article that while that may be true, the religious cheaters are far outnumbered by the political cheaters. He said that Nehru, although a brahman by birth, couldn't tell what is religious cheating and what isn't, and he should just stick to political cheaters.

Satsvarupa again decides to give a great deal more space to a quote from Krishna Pandit then he does to excerpts from Srila Prabhupada's writings. Keep in mind that especially when Lilamrta was written, these writings of Srila Prabhupada's were not readily available to the devotees. In other words, they weren't published. This quote from Krishna Pandit simply gives some information, no deep realization. We're informed that Srila Prabhupada himself spent a lot of time actually typing the proofs for BTG and for Srimad Bhagavatam. But from the treasure house of realizations available in Srila Prabhupada's writings, we get little from the author of Lilamrta, who himself had access to this material in order to write this book. Instead, we get long passages of his own literary narration, and quotes from other non-realized persons.

Satsvarupa then goes into explaining how Srila Prabhupada went about writing Srimad Bhagavatam. He mentions the fact that Srila Prabhupada would read the original commentaries of twelve great Acaryas. He doesn't mention all twelve of them, and more importantly he doesn't take this opportunity to mention that Srila Prabhupada is also a great Acarya. Instead, he gives readers the impression that Srila Prabhupada is simply repeating what other Acaryas greater than him have said in terms of commentary - in other words, he gives the impression that Srila Prabhupada is more a secretary than he is an original commentator on the Srimad Bhagavatam.

Every time Satsvarupa wants to glorify the Srimad Bhagavatam, which of course is a noble thing to do, he refers to someone other than Srila Prabhupada, whether it be the previous Acaryas or Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. This is demeaning, a great offense, and a disservice to Srila Prabhupada. It's not simply the fact that Srila Prabhupada could read Sanskrit and Bengali that made his purports in the Srimad Bhagavatam potent. Anyone who reads these can easily see -- or should easily see - that his own deep realizations are woven into the purports, not simply that he's repeating what the previous Acaryas have said. In fact, Satsvarupa gives the impression that Srila Prabhupada is just setting the example that we should hear from pure devotees, even though Srila Prabhupada himself is the pure devotee we should all be hearing from.

Over the course of a few paragraphs the author uses the same phrase, instructions of his spiritual master repeatedly. The obvious message is that Srila Prabhupada is simply following the instructions of his Spiritual Master, not that he himself is on the realized platform. Satsvarupa does not make clear that the fact that Srila Prabhupada's Spiritual Master instructed him was just one of the many factors involved in his preaching efforts, what to speak of the fact that Srila Prabhupada is on the same level as the previous Acaryas. This is one of the fundamental tenets of our Sampradaya Acarya position.

Satsvarupa goes so far as to say that Srila Prabhupada 'put his faith in the Srimad Bhagavatam' -- not that he had faith in the Srimad Bhagavatam from birth. In other words, the author indicates that because he was actually working on the Srimad Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada 'gained more faith' in Srimad Bhagavatam. This, of course, is not true and is another of the contaminating elements of this book.

Satsvarupa actually states that Srila Prabhupada put aside all his other missionary activities and he glorifies the Srimad Bhagavatam. He even says that it's Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati's opinion - not Srila Prabhupada's opinion - that the Srimad Bhagavatam is the best book to be worked on, or to present to the West. Again and again Satsvarupa avoids taking advantage of opportunities to glorify Srila Prabhupada, and instead minimizes him in the guise of glorifying something or someone else.

Employing one of his signature writing devices, Satsvarupa again takes a comment that Srila Prabhupada mentions in humility, and emphasizes it in a way that is demeaning, rather than explaining to the reader that such a statement exemplifies the humility of the pure devotee. In this case, again, it is a comment where Srila Prabhupada said that his presentation is 'full of faults'. Satsvarupa actually says that's because there's no editor to correct him! He then repeats Srila Prabhupada's quote about his works being "irregularly composed", having already showcased that quote in at the beginning of the chapter (where he also didn't make clear that this was a sign of humility).

Satsvarupa then quotes from a purport in Srimad Bhagavatam, but doesn't even mention which purport. Not surprisingly, the author chose a purport where Srila Prabhupada mentions that English isn't his first language, 'all our faults in this connection', etc.

Another disturbing comment Satsvarupa makes is that "He was adding his own realizations, but not in a spirit of trying to surpass the previous spiritual masters." Of course, that's exactly what Satsvarupa himself was busy doing, not only in the way he was writing this book, which is not at all in line with the previous Spiritual Masters, but in acting as an imitation Acarya himself.

While Satsvarupa does finally clarify that Srila Prabhupada 'suffered from no 'faulty and broken technicalities', I hardly see this statement as being a redemption of the previous mistakes the author made in this section of the book.