By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Our sampradaya (sect), the Gaudīya-sampradaya belongs to the Brahma-sampradaya, which begins from Lord Brahmā. Similarly, there are other sampradayas like Rudra-sampradaya, Kumara-sampradaya, and Laksmī-sampradaya. Thus there are four sampradayas: Brahma, Rudra, Kumara and Laksmī sampradayas. If we do not take shelter of any one of these sampradayas in disciplic succession, then our attempt to advance in spiritual life will be a failure. Sampradaya–vihīna ye mantras te nisphala matah. You cannot manufacture your own prayers unless you follow the footprints of mahajanas (great souls). Lord Brahmā, Lord Shiva and the Kumaras are mahajanas, whereas Laksmīdevī is the spiritual potency of Lord Vishnu. She is Narayana’s potency, and she is always engaged in massaging the lotus feet of Narayana. Sri-sampradaya. She is also known as Śrī, which means opulence, fortune and beauty. So she is the reservoir of all these things. So she has got her own sect and it is called Sri–sampradaya. The Ramanuja-sampradaya is called Śrī-sampradaya. They worship Laksmi-Narayana. Everyone worships the Lord and His spiritual potency. Just like we worship Radha-Krishna, similarly, the Ramanuja-sampradaya worships Laksmī-Narayana or Sita-Rama. So we should follow the sampradaya.
Prahlāda Maharaja, who is also a mahajana, says, “I will enjoy and relish the narration of Your pastimes (tava lila-kathah).” But it is not that sort of narration, which is written by some mundane melodramatic drama writer or novel writer. No, not that. That is useless. If some ordinary person has written something about Krishna’s lila (pastime), then you should not even touch that. It must be in the sampradaya and must be narrated by an authorized person. Therefore Prahlada Maharaja especially mentioned līla-kathās tava nrsimha virinca-gītāh [SB 7.9.18]: “that which is narrated by mahajanas like Brahmā.”
Just as we offer prayers from Brahma-samhita, a book containing prayers composed by Brahmā. We cannot offer prayer from any other nonsense person. No, that is not possible. If you recite the prayers composed by a mahajana, it has got spiritual power.
In your country, Mr. Max Mueller is very famous as the translator of Vedas. Many scholars have read the translation of Max Mueller but nobody could understand what the purpose of the Vedas is because the translator is not in the line of disciplic succession (sampradaya). Therefore he is useless. Similarly, a French professor has rejected even Aurobindo and Dr. Radhakrishnan in comparison to my writings. What do Dr. Radhakrishnan and Aurobindo know about Krishna consciousness? They do not know anything because they are not in the line. They simply tried to exhibit their erudite scholarship. So that is useless. Nāyam ātmā pravacanena labhyo na medhayā na bahunā śrutena. This is the injunction given in the Vedas. Ayam ātmā: self-realization, God realization… na medhayā. If you have got very good fertile brain for manufacturing concocted ideas, that doesn’t mean you will be able to understand Krishna. That is not possible. Nāyam ātmā pravacanena labhyo na medhayā na bahunā śrutena. Only one who is favored by Krishna and His confidential devotee can understand Krishna.
Therefore Prahlada Maharaja is giving a warning that “I shall recite the narration of Your pastimes which is composed by Brahmā.” That is the secret of success. You cannot compose in a whimsical way. No. That is not possible.
Krishna’s feet are compared to lotuses. So where there is a lotus, there is a swan. That is the difference between the crows and the swan. Crows gather in a filthy place, where all rotten things are kept. But the crows will not go where there is a lotus. Even in the bird society there are classes: crow society, swan society, pigeon society, sparrow society. Everyone has got his society. But one society is different from another society. Similarly, where there is krsna-katha (narration of Krishna), the crow-like men will not come. But where there is cinema, where there is prostitute dance, where there is drinking, the crow-like men will gather.
na tad vacaś citra-padam harer yaśo pragrnīta karhicit, tad vāyasam tīrtham: Shakespeare’s literature or some other, big, big mundane writers’ literatures are very nicely written; they are grammatically very correct, and metaphorically presented. Na tad vacaś citra-padam. Citra-padam means very artistically written. They are very artistic literatures. But there is no glorification of the Lord in them. They are simply literary presentation. Such kind of literature is described as vayasa-tirtham: “preferred by the class of men who are like crows.” But the Vedic literatures, which are sung by Lord Brahmā or Lord Shiva or a devotee, even if they are presented in broken language, they are accepted by the saintly persons. They will sing it and they will accept it (tad grnanti śrnvanti sādhavah). That is the secret of success.
If your literature is exactly following the mahajanas (great saintly personalities), then it will be liked by highly advanced saintly person. And if it is a presentation of mundane literary career without any glorification of the Lord, then it will be rejected. Therefore that gentleman has rejected even Aurobindo and Dr. Radhakrishnan. Dr. Radhakrishnan is well known as a big philosopher, and Aurobindo is also known as great speculator, but he has rejected them. Yes, they should be rejected because it is vayasa-tirtha. What is the use of word jugglery? It has no fact, all imaginary.
Reading a book is very good, but it must be written by authorities. Then it is good. Now, otherwise, if you read twenty-four hours the newspaper or ordinary book, that kind of reading is simply a waste of time. But if we read authorized literature, then simply by reading such books, we shall very easily be freed from material entanglement.
[An excerpt from a lecture on the Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.18, delivered in Mayapur on February 25, 1976]