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Sunday, October 06, 2013

Śrī Haridās Śāstrī

Śrī Haridās Śāstrijī passed away at the high age of 95. He was according to Sādhu Bābā the greatest scholar of Braja. I had his blessed darśan several times between 1982 and 1988, when I purchased some of his Hindi translations of the Goswāmīs’ granthas. Via his śiṣya Śrī Satya-Nārāyan Paṇḍitjī and several friends of mine, who studied under him, I learned many important siddhāntas, particularly on jīva tattva.

The following are his teachings which impressed me most -

1. During pūjā all mantras should be pronounced in the mind, also idam puṣpam etc., since śāstra forbids speaking during arcanā - saliva may come out.

2. The whole siddha mahātmā-culture is wrong – saints are called siddha out of hearsay or respect, but there's a definition to that too in Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu - avijñātākhila kleśa - he's free from the 5 kleśasrāga (attachment) dveṣa (repulsion) abhiniveśa (material absorption) asmitā (bodily consciousness) and avidyā (ignorance). He has such qualities naturally. All their activities are for Kṛṣṇa's pleasure - its not just miracles that make the siddha - santata kṛṣṇaṁ saukhyam sādhya parāyaṇa.

3. There is no need for pañca tattva mantra before hare kṛṣṇa mantra – Mahāprabhu said nāmnāmakāri bahudhā nija sarva śaktis - the holy name has all energies. Just avoid the 10 nāmāparādhas.

4. One should not sit in a yogic āsana when one is in distress. Patanjali says: sthiraṁ sukham āsanaṁ

5. Brahmā does not have four heads because the universe is so large. India is also large but the Prime Minister doesn’t have 5 heads for that. Western logic does not apply to Vedic thought – it is not functional like that.

6. Q: “This-and-this Guru says this-and-that, so he is totally bogus isn’t he?’

A: Don’t put me in the situation that I have to criticize this or that person. I will just tell you the truth and you will automatically understand which Guru is right or wrong in which point. In this way Vaiṣṇava aparādha is avoided.

7. Q: Why the Goswāmīs have samādhis when their bodies are anyway transcendental?

A: The samādhis are meant to get bhakti from. If you serve them and respect them they will grant bhakti.

8. gājar (carrots) produce uṣṇa vṛtti (hot effect) – it heats the body like garlic, in aphrodisiac manner.

9. One cannot live without society altogether - although society is just a network of individuals who ultimately only care for themselves.

10. Question: Mahāprabhu gave prem to whomever he embraced but Kṛṣṇa’s enemies like Duryodhan never got prem.

Answer: ‘Those whom Mahāprabhu embraced were His own eternal associates. They already had prema. He acted like in a drama, choosing his own actors. The demons were also chosen by Kṛṣṇa, to act as actors, showing how one should not act.

11. While Prahlāda said in the 7th canto modeta sādhur api vṛścika sarpa hatya ("Even the saints rejoice at the killing of a snake or a scorpion"), at the same time in the 12th canto Janamejaya was condemned for killing all snakes to punish them for just one snake biting his father Parīkṣit. The point being that one should only kill harmful creatures in self defense. The snake that killed Parīkṣit was only Śṛṅgī’s instrument. A great general who has killed many enemies in combat is worshipped when he comes home but if he kills just one person for his own private benefit he is hanged. Garuda eats snakes and snakes also provide a bed for Nārāyan. It is Garuda’s natural food – jīvo jīvasya jīvanam (1st canto)

12. Sanātan Goswāmīpād walked every day from Vṛndāvan to Govardhan, did parikramā there and then returned on foot to Vṛndāvan. At the same time he served Madanmohan in the temple and wrote all these books by hand. Not a leisure life.

13. Descriptions of Kṛṣṇa/Viṣṇu coming down from far away to give His darśan to His bhaktas, like Dhruva and Nārada, are given to encourage the bhaktas, like ‘Oh He comes from so far away just to show Himself to me’, but actually the Lord never goes anywhere. (His form does not exist in terms of time and space – tad ātmānam sṛjāmyahaṁ)

14. If one argues that for a westerner it is impossible to get Kṛṣṇa because of the unfavorable environment then look at Prahlād – he was the son of a demon, lived in the house of a demon and went to a demon’s school and he was the most excellent bhakta still.

15. śabda Brahma is that which indicates the Lord. The word has the power to show the meaning and lead you to the object. So all other languages are called prakrit used by common people who are not educated in Sanskrit. These are all the shadows of the Sanskrit language only, because that is the original language.

16. Question - is it aparādha to pronounce the holy names improperly?

Answer - The mother responds to the child’s call although the child cannot pronounce her name properly either.

17. Laukika śraddhā means putting faith in society. Society is created to fulfill common needs for eating, drinking, sleep etc. - if you put faith in society, Kṛṣṇa says, you will never attain Me but you will have to stay here.

18. tasmāt bhāgavatān dharmān śikṣet gurvātma daivata - it is imperative to learn Vaiṣṇavism after dīkṣā. 11.3.49.

19. It is necessary to mention one’s Guru while preaching because one must show authorization from authentic superiors, that you are not talking out of the blue. All ācāryas have mentioned their Gurus in the beginning of their books. It is also ungrateful not to mention Guru.

20. dharma means that by which we are protected, dharana.

21. The mother is the first Guru because she gives you her first consciousness.

22. The five Pāṇḍavas marrrying one girl is not vyabhicāra (debauchery) – it was praiseworthy because they blindly obeyed the order of their mother to share whatever they had won. Everyone accepted this marriage with 5 men.

23. ānukūlya – when people use this word, it’s only for activities where you are supporting, actual ānukūlya is something different and it’s very difficult to see that. Indeed, there is a lot of difference between sahayoga (assistance) and ānukūlya. In sahayoga you support the other person in whichever way you can. But you maintain your difference with the other person. Out of compassion you want to share the burden of the person, but you have your own identity, life and goals. In ānukūlya you are engaged in sevā. There is a tendency to please and this happens only by being connected. You don’t maintain any independent ego based on the body. You do only that pleases the master. In order to please him the independent identity should be completely washed out. In this there is no cheating - that is having something for the master and something for your self. In sahayoga there is. Since you are interested only in supporting the master in a limited way you have a lot for yourself too. ānukūlya happens according to the injunction and follows the taste of the master. You always try to please the master through your activity. bhajan itself cannot be done 24h/day, kirtan and japa all have a beginning and an end, but anukūlatā or favorableness can be done 24 h/day.


  1. How did you remember all of these after almost 30 years? Did you write them down? Anyway, what is the date of his passing?

    Anyway, sad to hear of Sri Haridas Shastri Maharaj's passing. I had the good fortune of sharing some of Maharaj activities when I stayed in their ashram in 2010. Although, I did not hear much words of wisdom from him, as that time, he was mostly in his room as he was not all that well and that I heard , that he was busy writing a book, my memories of him was one of graceful intimacy and so let me explain.

    As I have said earlier, Maharaj was practically in his room the whole time I was there; for 10 days. However, he would go out almost every day late in the afternoon or at near dusk to visit his new goshala. He had a goshala at his compound which is near the Parikram marga but he also had a relatively newly constructed one which is much bigger than the one in Vrindavan. The new one has a garden in which crops are grown to feed his gos, cows. I even remember that the goshala had high concrete wall surrounding the compound and that there was a security with a rifle guarding the compound. Sorry, but I can’t remember now where it’s located; it’s about a 15 minutes drive in the direction of the highway.

    Anyway, I think I might have gone with Maharaj’s to his new goshala , 5 times. Late in the afternoon he would leave his room and I would be waiting for him so I can offer my obeisances while he walk along the hallway to board his car with his driver. Then I would get in at the back seat and if Brigunath Misra was coming along he would be the last one to get in. A resident sadhu there, is Sri Hare Krishna Das Babaji and he would wave at us as he close the gate as we drive off.

    At the goshalla, he will feed his beloved cows with ladoos or any sweets. I would stand by watching Maharaj and I would feel the great fortune having to share the moments with Maharaj and his cows. Maharaj will always walk along the aisles of the goshala to survey his cows with one or two of his workers in tow and I would go along with them and they would converse , about his cows, I suppose. The cow workers would always offer a seat to Maharja upon which he will take rest and just seat there silently, while his workers finish feeding the cows or sometimes hosing down the floor. I would also be offered a seat with Maharaj’s prompting. One time a cow was sick, with leg injury and we had to take a vet with us. The vet gave the cow who was down on the floor an injection. I never had exchanged any words with Maharaj because he always spoke in Hindi(?) but on my last day I had a darshan with him in the new goshala. He's seating on the chair and I'm sitting on the floor. I asked a few questions which I , at the moment forgot what those questions were. (A video of it is on YouTube, when I find it I will put a link here). He answered me in Hindi and Brigunath translated them for me. The formal darshan only took about 7 minutes.

    Those are the sweet memories I have of Maharaj. I know he his now in his beloved place with his beloved companions.

  2. Malati, the date is october 6, 2013. aswin sukla dwiteeya in the Vedic calendar. The teachings I summarized are mostly from extensive mp3 coverage I have stored at home, of which I noted down these as particularly striking. During my personal encounters with Shastriji he was mostly mauna, though sometimes he nodded yes or no to simple enquiries I made at the time.

  3. Thank you Hari Parshad for the link to my video interview with Maharaj.

    To be honest, up to this time, I do not understand Maharaj's answers to my questions. I asked Brigunath when I was back in Australia to translate them for me but he did not get around to doing it.

    Can someone or maybe Advaita das please give me the gist of his answers.

    Thank you in advance.

  4. Dear Advaita and Malati

    your write-ups on my Gurudeva are wonderful, and I am sure his disciples appreciate them a lot. We have dedicated also the latest Lahari ( to his disappearance.

    Malati, I will check the video and will get back to you soon.

  5. Sadly, my friend Lalit Kṛṣṇa Dās from Parma, Italy, left his body last Saturday, due to Hepatithis-c. He was fortunate enough to leave his body in his kutir at Kusum Sarovar. One time he asked me to translate Caitanya Caritāmṛta into English. Lalit was 58 years old.

  6. Radhe Radhe

    Sad to hear that, although I have never known him, still...What can I say, except: Jai Sri Vaishnavas!

  7. Radha-Krishna

    Braja Bushan das

    As before, I will read that e-newsletter. And regarding the video-interview, if you can please give me the gist of Maharaj's answer, I will much appreciate it. I really want to know his answers, even if one of his answers was to chastise me. (Im kidding but serious at the same time).

    Thank you

  8. Done, translated. Thanks a lot, Braja Bushan das.