Prākṛta-rasa Āraṇya Chedinī – Cutting the Jungle of Misconception
Prākṛta-rasa Āraṇya-Chedinī (Cutting the Jungle of Misconception) is a compilation of twenty-one articles that were written over a period of three years. Each of the articles disputes a particular misconception prevalent in the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava world.
The first chapter of the book begins by establishing the position of a Vaiṣṇava according to the opinion of śāstra and the Supreme Lord Śrī Caitanyadeva. Subsequent chapters of the book establish the Gauḍīya siddhānta (conclusive philosophical truths) according to guru (ācāryas), sādhu, and śāstra (the spiritual master, saintly persons, and revealed scripture).
Prākṛta-rasa Araṇya-Chedinī establishes the proper understanding of various controversial issues concerning; the origin of the jīva, the fall of the jīva into material bondage, the pure consciousness of the jīva, the position of the guru, the Golden Age, the position of the Founder Ācārya, the leader of the Gauḍīya sampradāya, the different types of disciples, the highest vision of guru-tattva, the omniscience of the guru, the highest aspiration of the liberated jīva, the process by which the jīva achieves the highest perfection, the titles of Prabhupāda and Deva, the position of Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu, the chanting of the Holy Name, the proper qualification (adhikāra) for discussing higher līlās, the stage of purification (anartha-nivṛtti), hearing from rasika-gurus, who is actually a bona-fide ācārya, the divine sentiments of love of God, the highest standards of worship, and the instructions of liberated souls.
By no means has Prākṛta-rasa Araṇya-Chedinī been written for the general public who have no background in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Prākṛta-rasa Āraṇya-Chedinī is for the devotees of Śrī Caitanyadeva who seek clarification or conclusive answers to some of the controversial issues in our contemporary Vaiṣṇava society.
siddhānta baliyā cite nā kara alaśa
iha ha-ite kṛṣṇe lāge sudṛdha manasa
“A sincere student should not neglect the discussion of such conclusions, considering them controversial, for such discussions strengthen the mind. Thus one’s mind becomes attached to Śrī Kṛṣṇa.” (Cc. Ādi. 2.117)
The conclusive truths put forth in Prākṛta-rasa Araṇya-Chedinī are according to ācāryas in the disciplic succession of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. The statements and quotes found in this book are not the opinions of the conditioned souls of this world for such would have no value in the assembly of pure Vaiṣṇavas.
The inspiration for the title of this book came from Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, who at the beginning of the 20th century compiled a book entitled Prākṛta-rasa Śata Dūṣiṇī (one hundred misconceptions of the sahajiyā mellows). Many of the verses composed in Prākṛta-rasa Śata-Dusinī by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura are quoted in Prākṛta-rasa Araṇya-Chedinī —the focus of which aims at exposing the defects of those who imitate the practices of the highest order of Vaiṣṇavas.
Prior to the appearance of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura the sahajiyā movements and pseudo gurus had all but ruined the good name of the Vaiṣṇavas. Due to the improper behavior of rascals and imitators the word Vaiṣṇava that was once held in great regard by societies’ elite had completely fallen under foot and the Vaiṣṇavas were thought to be bands of beggars and woman-hunters.
To save the dignity of the highest order of Vaiṣṇavas (paramahaṁsas) Sarasvatī Ṭhākura preached strongly against the pseudo practices of all those who misrepresented the pure teachings of Śrī Caitanyadeva. The strength and intensity of his preaching shook the very ground upon which his opponents stood. No one could continue to contend with him and soon the sahajiyās and pseudo gurus withered away in fear.
Sarasvatī Ṭhākura preached exclusively the pure mellows of mādhurya-rasa, but to do so he had to cut the jungle of misconception. He reopened the storehouse of divine love and showed the way for all sincere souls to follow. It has been said by Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s most intimate disciples that, “He spared gallons of blood to establish what is not the mādhurya-rasa. Sarasvatī Ṭhākura used perhaps 90% of his energy to point out what is not the mādhurya-rasa.”
Pūjala rāga-patha gaurava bhaṅge— the whole tenor of the life of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura is captured in this verse: “The rāga-patha is on our head. We are servants of the path of spontaneous love. We are in vidhi-mārga under the rule of śāstra, and we must always keep the rāga-patha upon our head.
Now close to a century after the preaching campaign of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura came to a close, the sahajiyās and pseudo gurus are again stirring about, and various misconceptions have somehow crept into the minds of many aspiring devotees. By the blessings of Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura this Prākṛta-rasa Araṇya-Chedinī will help guide sincere souls through the jungle of misconception to reach the path of pure devotion and thus attain the eternal loving service of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Govinda.
Svāmī B.G. Narasiṅgha
June 14th 2003