A bearded man sit­ting across from me at the round table asks, “What is the descend­ing process?” I tell him, “It’s the way of receiv­ing Vedic knowl­edge. At the begin­ning of the cre­ation, the Supreme Lord revealed the Absolute Truth to the first cre­ated liv­ing being, Lord Brahma. Brahma passed it to his dis­ci­ple and son Narada, and Narada enlight­ened Srila Vyasadeva, who com­piled all the Vedic scrip­tures. Vyasadeva taught it to his son Sukadeva Gos­vami. And Suta Gos­vami received it from Srila Sukadeva. The truth of the Vedas con­tin­ues to be passed down even in the present day by the process of dis­ci­plic suc­ces­sion. This process has been com­pared to dif­fer­ent men sit­ting on branches of a mango tree and hand­ing down the ten­der, ripened fruit until it can be safely handed over to a per­son stand­ing on the ground. If the fruit were to be thrown from the top of the tree to the ground, it would be bruised and ruined. Care is taken in hand­ing down to the per­son sit­u­ated in the tree so that one receives it from a liv­ing bona fide spir­i­tual mas­ter who is in the chain of dis­ci­plic suc­ces­sion. There are three sources of author­ity in this descend­ing process: guru, sas­tra and sadhu, and they are all nec­es­sary. The sas­tras like Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam teach all that one needs to know in the sci­ence ofbhakti. But the sas­tras are grave in mean­ing, and they require a real­ized guru to guide one in under­stand­ing their conclusions.

Gen­uine sad­hus are saintly per­sons who are learned in the scrip­tures and who lead exem­plary lives. A guru must teach the same things as the I teach. The guru, sas­tra and sadhu all teach the same con­clu­sion (sid­dhanta) and one must har­mo­nize his edu­ca­tion by fol­low­ing all three.”

The bearded man then asked, “And what is the ascend­ing process?” And I told him. “The ascend­ing process is just the oppo­site of the descend­ing process. The descend­ing process is prac­ticed by sub­mis­sive aural recep­tion of the Vedic mes­sage from the author­i­ties of guru, sas­tra and sadhu. One may inquire from the author­i­ties to clear up some­thing one doesn’t under­stand, but that inquiry shouldn’t be done in a chal­leng­ing spirit. The ascend­ing process is the attempt to arrive at the truth by one’s own power of men­tal spec­u­la­tion. It is always faulty. All con­di­tioned liv­ing beings suf­fer from four defects or imper­fec­tions. We all have a ten­dency to make mis­takes, we have a propen­sity to cheat, we are in illu­sion and our senses are lim­ited. As such, our attempt to know the ulti­mate truth will always be baf­fled. We have to learn by the deduc­tive or descend­ing process, hear­ing from the per­fect author­i­ties com­ing from the Supreme Per­son­al­ity of God­head and His trans­par­ent representatives.”

Baladeva came to the round­table and served the four of us pieces of pizza. While we ate (three slices for each man), Narayana read to us from the Third Canto, Chap­ter 18, “The Bat­tle Between Lord Boar and Hiranyaksa.” The giant demon had plunged into the ocean and chal­lenged Lord Varuna to fight. Varuna told him, ‘We are too old to fight,’ and rec­om­mended that he seek out Lord Vishnu, who would defeat him and make him eat­able for the dogs. Hiranyaksa took up that chal­lenge and sought out Lord Varaha just as He was uplift­ing the earth out of the ocean. “The demon chal­lenged the Lord, ‘When You fall dead with Your skull smashed by my mace, the demigods and sages who offer You obla­tions and sac­ri­fice in devo­tional ser­vice will cease to exist, like trees with­out roots.’ The Lord went on lift­ing the earth, while the demon ordered Him to stop and fight with him. The Lord tol­er­ated the demon’s painful words, but in order to reply to him He expressed His ter­ri­ble anger: The Per­son­al­ity of God­head said: ‘Indeed We are crea­tures of the jun­gle and We seek out hunt­ing dogs like you. One who is freed from the entan­gle­ment of death has no fear from the loose talk in which you are indulging, for you are bound up by the laws of death.’ The demon became agi­tated for the chal­lenge of the Per­son­al­ity of God­head and trem­bled in anger like a chal­lenged cobra.

The demon quickly sprang upon the Lord and dealt Him a blow with his pow­er­ful mace. The Lord, how­ever, dodged the vio­lent mace-blow aimed at His chest, just as an accom­plished yogi would elude death. Then with His mace the Lord struck the demon on the right of his brow, but the demon pro­tected him­self by a maneu­ver of his own mace. Both sus­tained blows of each other’s pointed maces and grew more and more enraged at the smell of blood on his per­son. Lord Brahma then arrived along with his fol­low­ers. Brahma pleaded with the Lord that there was no need to play with the demon, but he should be killed at once. Lord Brahma said, ‘The aus­pi­cious period known as abhi­jit, which is most oppor­tune for vic­tory, com­menced at mid­day and has all but passed; there­fore, in the inter­est of Your friends, please dis­pose of this for­mi­da­ble foe quickly.’” At this point in the read­ing we had fin­ished our pizza and also fin­ished our dessert of yogurt and cook­ies, and Narayana stopped read­ing. He closed the book and went back to his room. We will have to wait until tomor­row to hear the out­come of the battle.

The last part of Gite Sto­ries will be a free write. You write what­ever comes to your mind. I am sit­ting at the round table alone.Bhajana-rahasya is fin­ished. Heart of Dark­ness is fin­ished. Mark Twain’s auto­bi­og­ra­phy is fin­ished until they come out with Vol­ume II. I’m at the start of the story Intro­duc­ing Bhakta Bob. Bhakti-tirtha Swami com­mented that peo­ple will read my books after I have died. Hari­dasa says they are read­ing them now. Syama-gopa-rupa had a table of my books set up at the Gita-nagari Ratha-yatra. A man came up and saw my name on the books. “I’ve never heard of him,” he said. But then he picked upWrite and Die and noticed it said “a novel.” “Hmm.” That inter­ested him. He bought the book and sev­eral oth­ers. I was not at the fes­ti­val. It’s too long a drive. I stay at one place. Baladeva is run­ning the lawn­mower. I can hear the engine run­ning. But he’s sup­posed to be here in six min­utes to bring me warm milk and read Caitanya-caritamrta to me. I hope he will read a sec­tion that I can write a poem about tomor­row. Guru dasa sent me sug­ges­tions for gite sto­ries, but they were too fan­tas­tic. Baladeva gave me sug­ges­tions too but they were too straight Krishna-conscious.


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  • Hare Bol! Couldnt resist reading the rest of the past time of the Supreme Lord in the boar form! Srimad Bhagavatam ki jai!
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