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Monday, May 25, 2015

Sat-guru, humor in pāṭha and atonement for breaking Ekādaśī

Bhakta – “By definition a casual śiṣya is a śiṣya who is not serious. But if he is not serious then can he be called a śiṣya at all? We often say “bona-fide Guru” but if he is not bona-fide then is he even a Guru at all? If we say “Supreme Personality of Godhead”, does it suggest that there is also a Lower Personality of Godhead? What I wish to ask is: are these adjectives used as help in our understanding or do they come from Sanskrit texts too? Somehow I think that Sanskrit verses speak only of Guru, śiṣya and Godhead…”

Advaitadās – “It is true that generally there are no adjectives to words like Guru, śiṣya and bhagavān in Sanskrit, though Kṛṣṇa is called bhagavān swayam in S.B. 1.3.28. We have to understand from the context of the story if Guru is sat (genuine) or not. Śukrācārya opposed Bali Mahārāja’s Viṣṇu-worship, yet he is called Guru. Thursday in India is guru-vāra, named after him. Rāmacandra Puri offended his Guru and is yet considered śiṣya. The Pāṇḍavas killed their own Guru in Kurukṣetra, but surely they were in a Guru-śiṣya relationship. Of course, these are not standard circumstances.”

Bhakta – “I remember that once you spoke about having pāṭha (spiritual devotional lectures), and you said that the pāṭhaka (lecturer) must be very serious in his speech and not make jokes about transcendental matters, as the assembled devotees are Vaiṣṇavas who come to seek the truth and are not a public who come to seek fun. “

Advaitadās – “I cannot remember that I said anything against humor during pāṭha. I heard great pāṭhaks crack a joke during pāṭha, but it should not become like a slapstick-show, with non-stop jokes either. Because then the audience will come only to have a good laugh and that is not good. One joke in a pāṭh is good, no more. We are not going to a funeral though, either.”

Bhakta - You said: “Evidence for the re-appearance of the Guru in his selfsame form is ‘janme janme prabhu se’, ‘Śrī Gurudeva is my master birth after birth’, in Narottam Ṭhākur’s famous Guru-song. Logic is found also in Bhagavad-Gītā 8.6.” Please help me to connect these two in this context. How are these two statements connected?”

Advaitadās – “The connection between Narottama’s statement and the Bhagavad-Gītā verse 8.6 is that if one constantly remembers Guru (sadā tad-bhāva bhāvita, Gītā) one will attain him in the next life (tam tam evaiti, or janme janme prabhu se), as you have contemplated his personal features.”


When one has broken Ekādaśī one cannot atone for it by fasting the next day or the day after. The pāpa puruṣa is only present in grains on the astrologically determined day of Ekādaśī. Lord Nārāyaṇa gave the pāpa puruṣa, man of sin, his residence in food grains on Ekādaśī alone -

śrī-bhagavān uvāca—
uttiṣṭha pāpapuruṣa tyaja śokaṁ mudaṁ kuru
ekādaśyāṁ tithau yatra tava sthānaṁ vadāmi te

The Lord spoke: "Rise O pāpa puruṣa! Give up your sorrow and rejoice! I am telling you that the lunar day of Ekādaśī will be your abode." (Padma Purāṇa, Kriyā kaṇḍa, 22.45).

         So fasting on another day is useless and will also not bring the pious or devotional result bestowed on Ekādaśī. There is also no provision in śāstra for such alternative days of fasting. In fact there is no atonement system at all in bhakti mārga, as harināma provides cira niṣkrtah, the complete atonement. Atonement is an item of karma mārga, wherein one has to take ice cold baths in the middle of the winter to expiate sins. Drinking tea on Ekādaśī does not break the vrata. Sādhu Bābā drank tea on Ekādaśī. It is a leaf, not a bean or grain.


  1. Jay Sitanath! Hoping your bhajan is always fruitful, Advaita Das do you know any reliable calendar for following Ekadasi vrata in the west? I honestly don't know if IGM's calendars are reliable regarding this as they seem to differ from each other by one day or so. Although i appreciate their effort and still follow Iskcon's calendar, i would like to know more if there are any other sources to go to on the internet, or if this calendar is reliable enough to follow without worries. Thanks in advance for any comment on this.

  2. Times differ because of location. Personally I use Narayan Maharaj calendar and ISKCON. They are almost always the same. Unless you know jyotiṣa yourself, what choice do you have?