On Whose Authority?
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© 2004 - Hansadutta das

Who is the Author?

Conversation with Hansadutta das
Batam Island, Indonesia, 26 March 1998, following meeting with Yi Kuan Tao devotees

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If we say, "Prabhupada said," and someone says, "Well, how do we know?" [We can reply,] "Well, he got it from his spiritual master, up to Krishna, and the text is there." That's the meaning of disciplic succession. So if the disciplic… Just like we have this lawsuit, and we say, "You have the copyright? Let's see the provenance, the corporate trail. Let's see. Let us see how you got it. The original author gave the copyright here, so how did you get from here to there?" That's our whole law case.

Govinda das: …the way the teachers go. The way their teacher is teaching.

Hansadutta das: No, no, no. We always—

Bhima das: No, you don't understand.

Govinda: I understand. But they insist that since these teachings come from their teacher, it's all right.

Hansadutta das: No.

Govinda das: You say no, but they say all right.

Hansadutta das: Okay, but our answer is this. This is the answer, because otherwise you waste time. The answer is, if you do not know the teachings of the Buddha, His original teachings, that means you do not know the teachings, and therefore it is pointless for me to discuss with you, since you have no authority. Authority means author, origin. Author, origin. You get it?

Govinda das: The writer.

Hansadutta das: Yes, but the word author comes… the root is origin. Origin, author, you see? Authority. It means where is the origin? If you have authority, that means you got it from someone. Now, from whom do you get your authority? That means origin. The point of origin. So if they say, "We don't know what the Buddha first taught, because so many changes," that means you have no… then your teaching has no origin, no authority. It's simply something somebody made up or added to, adulterated. It is pointless to discuss. This point is important. It is all-important. Therefore the whole discussion is over. Prabhupada oftentimes would say… somebody would say he was a Christian, so he would say, "So who is your…"—

[Driver turns into industrial area, and Govinda points out.]

Govinda das: This is the new industrial estate. It is the main industrial estate in Batam in co-operation with the Singapore government. There are some Singapore companies. And this is an electronic centre. These are the factories that produce electronic goods.

Hansadutta das: Yeah.

Govinda das: So origin is very important.

Hansadutta das: It's very important.

Govinda das: Usually they say… because the Buddha did not leave behind any written work, so—

Hansadutta das: Then how do we know—

Govinda das: They say from their master, from their spiritual master.

Hansadutta das: Which one?

Govinda das: They also can provide the generations.

Hansadutta das: But I want to know from the origin. Just like we say, "Krishna said." If we say, "Prabhupada said," and someone says, "Well, how do we know?" [We can reply,] "Well, he got it from his spiritual master, up to Krishna, and the text is there." That's the meaning of disciplic succession. So if the disciplic… Just like we have this lawsuit, and we say, "You have the copyright? Let's see the provenance, the corporate trail. Let's see. Let us see how you got it. The original author gave the copyright here, so how did you get from here to there?" That's our whole law case. You follow? Our whole lawsuit with these guys is they say, "We have the copyright," and we say, "How did you get it? Prabhupada, the origin, the author, gave the copyright to BBT, so how did you get it from here to there?" They can't show, and therefore they lose the case.

Govinda das: Unfortunately, many people want to accept that type of scriptures.

Hansadutta das: But… but my point is this. Govinda, when you preach, the way to preach is on principle. So the principle is, "If you can't show what is the authority, the origin of your words, then what is the use of talking to you?" Right? When you want to make business, first you see the secretary, then you see somebody else, and as soon as you get to the origin, the top guy, the person who has authority… you have to find out who has the actual authority, and then there you make some contract.

Govinda das: They believe in some acharyas.

Hansadutta das: No, that's no good.

Govinda das: They are like that.

Hansadutta das: But my point is—

Govinda das: Buddhists are all like that.

Hansadutta das: So when you preach, therefore the end of the preaching is as soon as you say, "What did the Buddha teach?" "Don't know." "Okay, so you don't have a teaching to discuss." Because this has no origin, it has no authority.

Govinda das: They have scriptures written by some acharya, and they claim that—

Hansadutta das: "But you claim to be a Buddhist!" Wait a minute. "You claim you are a Buddhist. That means I want to know what did the Buddha teach. You say, 'I don't know,' and that means then I'm talking to the wrong person!"

Govinda das: But they know the Buddha's disciples' teachings.

Hansadutta das: No, you must know Buddha's teachings, because if you don't know His teachings, then how do you know that the disciples are teaching what Buddha taught?

Govinda das: Buddha didn't write anything, but His disciples wrote something.

Bhima das: At least 300 years later.

Govinda das: Yeah, I mean after many generations.

Hansadutta das: Okay. All right, suppose we accept that. The first disciple to write down Buddha's words was so-and-so. Then we have to refer to him. If that is the basis of your whole teaching, that's fine. But if in-between everything gets added and subtracted, then we can't accept it. That's the point. Disciplic succession means you can't adulterate. It must be the same from the beginning to the end. That's the point. And in relationship to the Bible, that's what Prabhupada said. He said, "We don't accept the Bible as a book of authority, because no one knows who wrote down the words. Nobody knows who added or subtracted, and this is where disciplic succession is so powerful, because the record is there. You see? The acharyas.

Govinda das: Bhima Prabhu, your thinking is very sharp. He [the Yi Kuan Tao headman] said tien kong miao yi, and immediately you are thinking of the miao yi as the soul. Very fast your thinking, very sharp. You can connect. You know, many of them don't know what is the meaning.

Hansadutta das: No, they don't know.

Govinda das: Everyday they talk about tien kong miao yi, but they don't know what is miao yi. Now you give them the answer. You can be their teacher.

Bhima das: We are their teachers. It's just that they don't know how to accept the authority.

Govinda das: He [Buddha] spoke many things. He spoke about many things, but he didn't write anything.

Hansadutta das: And some things were written only after 300 years?

Bhima das: Yes, about that. There was a great division between the two parties.

Hansadutta das: Aha. So immediately there was conflict?

Bhima das: Yes.

Hansadutta das: Controversy. One is a GBC [referring to the managerial authority of the Hare Krishna Society], and the other one was a Buddhist.

Bhima das: Just like the Christians. One believed that… the Chinese believed that it was through mercy that you can attain Buddhahood or the enlightenment. The other one said by works.

Hansadutta das: By works?

Bhima das: Yeah. One is by faith, and one is by works.

Hansadutta das: So one wanted to be the guru, and the other one the GBC, or what? What was that? Was that the basic contention? It must have been. I think the Christians had a similar problem. Right?

Govinda das: Contaminated by material desire.

Hansadutta das: Yes.

Govinda das: Everywhere the same.

Hansadutta das: Hard to find gold in a mountain.

Govinda das: Oh, hard to find, yes.

Hansadutta das: You have to go through a whole mountain before you find some gold. Or many mountains, for that matter.

Govinda das: And another point. He always emphasises two things. The real nature, our real nature and formless, no colour, no form, nothing. Wu se wu xiang and feng xing. Feng xing means real nature. He always tells we must find out our real nature.

Hansadutta das: Real nature… real means sat. Sat means eternal. So eternal means spiritual. Our real nature is spiritual. And what is unreal? Maya. Maya means temporary. So we have a temporary nature, and we have a real nature. Real nature is spiritual, and spiritual means sat-chid-ananda. And what was the other point?

Govinda das: The other point he said was formless.

Hansadutta das: Formless means—

Govinda das: Nothing, formless.

Hansadutta das: No, it means no material form. But there is such a thing as spiritual form, of which the material form is an imitation, like this photograph is an imitation of the real form. So matter is an imitation of real form. Matter is an imitation of spiritual form.

Govinda das: This is the—

Hansadutta das: They can't understand. They can't understand.

Govinda das: They can't understand.

Hansadutta das: No. If you can get them chant Hare Krishna and give them some prasadam, that's all. And sooner or later there will be some purification.

Govinda das: I told him, "If you talk about real nature, and again you emphasise this formless, it is contradiction. When you talk about real nature, people will ask you, 'Whose nature? Whose real nature?'"

Hansadutta das: Right.

Govinda das: "You must solve the 'whose nature?' problem. If you don't know who, how can you say real nature. Real nature cannot exist independently."

Hansadutta das: It must belong to someone.

Govinda das: Yes. And I said, "And since you say formless, nothing, then where does the real nature come from?" I asked him.

Hansadutta das: Also Bhagavad-gita explains there are two natures. One is temporary and one is eternal.

Govinda das: Spiritual nature.

Hansadutta das: Yes. We are of the spiritual nature. Two natures: para-prakriti and apara-prakriti. Para and apara.

Das dd: Mangosteens!

Hansadutta das: Mangosteens. Hansadutta likes mangosteens. His real nature is mangosteens. Oh look! Cikus and mangosteens.

Bhima das: We'll get it.

Hansadutta das: It always helps, Gerand, uh… Govinda—

Govinda das: Yes?

Hansadutta das: When you preach to someone some point, it helps to quote the appropriate verse on which we base our argument. In this case, Bhagavad-gita… [inaudible] …and you can quote the verse, para and apara-prakriti, and then you can give logic, reason and arguments and analogies to support the authoritative verse. Do you follow? That Prabhupada taught us. That's the process. Just like a lawyer, when he makes an argument, he first quotes the appropriate… what do you call it?

Das dd: Statute.

Hansadutta das: Statute, right. And then he gives his logic, reason, argument and analogy to support his… [inaudible]. There is a state called brahma nirvana. The Buddhists are after nirvana, but there is more. There is brahma nirvana. That was Shankara's teaching. That's how Shankara dealt with the Buddhists.

Govinda das: Brahman?

Hansadutta das: Yes, brahma nirvana. Nirvana just means no happiness, no distress, but brahma nirvana means a positive spiritual state. And there is no happiness, no distress, and above, Paramatma and then Bhagavan, like that.

So always there is some verse which gives the siddhanta, or the conclusion, and then we give our argument—logic, reason and argument and analogy.


Hansadutta das
Rittvik Representative of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Trustee, BHAKTIVEDANTA BOOK TRUST
WORLD SANKIRTAN PARTY


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