How do we understand different devotees interpreting the moisture on the Pancha Tattva Deities differently?

by Chaitanya Charan dasFebruary 26, 2015

Question: You explained that it was a result of condensation, but Jananivas Prabhu has stated that it is a miracle.

Answer Summary in text followed by a detailed audio answer:

I called His Grace Jananivas Prabhu to discuss this. I have great respect for him; he has been a shiksha-guru for me, answering many of my questions with his profound erudition and devotion. In our discussion, he essentially said that he has no problem with different devotees taking different positions on this issue.

In fact, he confirmed to me that his own brother His Grace Pankajanghri Prabhu has taken the position that the moisture was due to condensation. When I was asked to comment on this issue, I had read the available statements of Vaishnavas at that time and the only statement from someone in authority was the below mail of Pankajanghri Prabhu that was circulated on social media:

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[2/21, 6:22 PM] ‪+91 75082 70259: Dear Vilasini Mataji,

Hare Krishna. Greetings from the Holy Dham. Please accept my respects and good wishes. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Due to so many people being together in the temple room during the kirtan mela, a lot of heat is generated and this causes condensation on the Deities. We have to wipe them with towels in the evening to dry it off.

That does not mean that the Deities can’t cry, or perspire with ecstacy, but condensation is a simple explanation.

Your servant,

Pankajanghri dasa.

[2/21, 6:50 PM] ‪+91 75082 70259: Once i had asked one Brajvasi in Nandgaon whether he has seen Krishna Balram. He had a very honest and practical answer for this. He said “jinko dikhte hain woh kehte nahin aur jo kehte hain unko dikhte hi nahin”

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This position was what I elaborated systematically in my answer, using a logical three-point analysis for evaluating those miracle claims where there is no explicit scriptural verdict.

How do we understand such contradictory positions among senior Vaishnavas?

  1. We need to understand that there is no contradiction between the two positions on siddhanta – no one is questioning whether Krishna can perform miracles. The contradiction is only in the meaning of what happened in this particular circumstance.
  2. There are many precedents within our tradition, as I have mentioned in my earlier answer, of careful, even critical, evaluation of miracle-claims. Of course, there are precedents of miracles being accepted too. So, we could say that these two positions – reservation about miracle claims and acceptance of those claims – are two enduring strands within our tradition. The current multiple positions on miracle-claims demonstrate that the tradition is alive and vibrant.
  3. Disagreement doesn’t have to degenerate into disrespect. Krishna in the Gita (18.3) addresses respectfully as manishinah (great thinkers) those who recommend renunciation of work – a position that he clearly disapproves later (18.5-6). I have explained this point of respectful difference here: Don’t let disagreement degenerate into disrespect.                                                                              Devotees who feel inspired by the miracle-claim can accept it as a miracle. And devotees who feel reservations about the miracle-claim also have a right to continue as devotees in a way that works for their head and heart. In fact, Jananivasa Prabhu told me on phone that on hot afternoons when they (the pujaris) would go to wake the Deities at 4 pm, there would be a lot of condensation on Their faces, similar to what was seen now – so the condensation explanation is defensible too.
    Is the house that Srila Prabhupada built, which is meant to be big enough for the whole world to live, too small to accommodate devotees with different positions on one miracle-claim? Certainly not. So, let’s resist the temptation to label devotees as sentimental / sahajiyaic or skeptical / atheistic. Instead, let’s humbly accept the understanding that inspires us in our devotional service (anukulyasya sankalpa) and respectfully let other devotees accept the understanding that they find anukula for their bhakti.
  4. The main point of my answer was not to question the miracle claim itself, but to question the hype surrounding it and the potential distraction that it may cause from dedicated devotional service, which is the basis for the most consequential miracle – the transformation of the heart. H G Jananivas Prabhu is a living example of such dedication and I seek his blessings so that I can get a drop of his dedication.

To conclude, the kirtan of the Lord is supremely potent, eminently capable of inducing miracles without and within. So rather than agonizing any more on an issue where different positions are possible, let us dedicate ourselves to the thing we all agree on: glorifying the Lord of our heart.

Answer Podcast:

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About The Author
Chaitanya Charan das
4 Comments
  • ketan
    February 27, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    Hare Krsna! Nice bridge building. That’s the whole point if you feel its not miracle it’s fine. Don’t make sentimental statement. I like Pankajanghry Prabhu’s humble statement. It does not mean Deities can not cry. We need devotees with mature understanding in leadership position who increase the faith of devotees in general. Personally I felt exactly the same way Jananivas Prabhu said. But I am perfectly fine if some devotees feel it was condensation. As Jananivas Prabhu said perfectly its both condensation and real tears. Krsna is expert at satisfying everyone’s desire. Ye yatha mam prapdyante. Thank you very much for beautiful bridge building. Under no circumstances we should be divided because if divided we will all fall. Its perfectly fine whatever way devotees feel they are all accepted by Lord so who are we to say anything negative about any devotee. Hope this incident will unite us all in the service of Lord Gauranga and not divide us in anyway. One devotee was expressing his sincere desire “Wish I could be part Mayapur Kirtan Mela once in my life.’ I said “Yes.And Gauranga Mahaprabhu should not cry because that will create unnecessary controversy.” I hope all of us learn a beautiful lesson from it. Especially devotees in leadership position who has greater responsibility to increase faith of devotees in general should at least get the basic facts right before making outrageous statements. Thank you very much. All Glories to Guru Gauranga! All Glories to Srila Prabhupada!

  • ketan
    February 27, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    Beautiful explanation. It sums it up all.
    No doubt, Krishna does elsewhere use strong words such as mudha (asinine) to refer to those who rigidly and rabidly hold on to erroneous and disastrous views, but that is not so much for their positions as for their dispositions – their incorrigible close-minded obstinacy in holding on to their misconceptions. And his castigation is motivated by consummate compassion – Krishna stays constantly in the hearts of even such people, waiting and working for their reformation.

    We have neither the position nor the compassion of Krishna. And we can’t know for sure the disposition of our disagreers. So given our limitations, it’s best that we not imitate his castigatory tone, but follow his conciliatory example.

  • Rajat Srivastava
    March 17, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    Well explained prji!! Nicely bridged the never-existing gap.
    I specially adored the Brajwasi’s statement.
    Thanks for posting.

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