Bhakti Philosophy for the mind and Krishna’s Pastimes for the Heart?

How does Bhakti/Devotional Service deal with the intellectual / logical / analytical side of us as well as the emotional/feeling side of us? Does catering to one mean neglecting the other?

Brajanath Das, 02 November 2016

Hare Krishna Dear Devotees,

Please accept my humble obeisances!

All glories to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu!

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Please help me to understand the following phrase – 

“Pastimes of the Lord are for the heart and philosophy is for the mind.”

your servant,

Brajanath Das

Bhakta Sunil, 09 November 2016

Hare Krishna Prabhu


The pastimes of the Lord help to easily realize the impurities in hearts by direct perception in story formats and reading philosophy engages the mind

Inversely , the reading of philosophy purifies the heart too and pastimes of the Lord engage the mind too

For example if we read this pastime of Lord Nrsimhadeva , not only we get moral by mind but also purifies our Hearts irrespective of how many times we read this, this transcendental literature is ever fresh contrary to mundane literature in news media and magazines :


There was once a great demon who was overwhelmed with rage: his brother Hiranyaksa had just been killed by the incarnation of Vishnu known as Lord Varaha. Thus he became very determined to become the emperor of the entire universe. In order to increase his power, he performed very powerful austerities. This penance was so severe that it disturbed the demigods. In fact, the demigods requested Lord Brahma to stop him. The chief of the demigods, Lord Brahma, therefore descended to pacify him by granting him a wish.

“Please grant that I not be killed by any created living being,” commanded Hiranyakasipu, “that I not die inside or outside any residence, during the daytime or night, nor on the ground or in the sky; that I not be killed by any being created by you, nor by any weapon, nor by any human being or animal indeed that I not meet death from any entity, either living or non-living; that I have no competitor; that I have sole lordship over all living entities and presiding deities, and that I acquire all mystic powers.”

After Brahma had granted him all these requests, Hiranyakasipu very swiftly conquered all the planets in the universe, took up residence in the lavish palace of King Indra, and forced the demigods to bow down to his feet. He even stole the sacrificial oblations meant for the demigods. Intoxicated physically by wine and mentally by power, Hiranyakasipu ruled the universe very severely.

During this time his queen, Kayadhu, returned to the palace of her husband and bore him a son, Prahlada. He was a reservoir of all transcendental qualities because he was a pure devotee of Lord Visnu. Determined to understand the Absolute Truth, he had full control over his senses and mind. He was kind to all living creatures and the best friend of everyone. Toward respectable persons he behaved just like a menial servant, to the poor he was like a father, and to his equals he was always like a sympathetic brother. Always very humble, he considered his teachers and spiritual masters to be as good as the Lord Himself. Indeed, he was completely free of any pride that might have arisen from his good education, riches, beauty, and aristocratic birth.

Hiranyakasipu wanted to raise his son to be a powerful demon, but Prahlada only wanted to learn about devotional service to Lord Visnu. After Prahlada attended school for some time, Hiranyakasipu took him on his lap and affectionately inquired, “My dear son, please tell me about your favorite subject in school.”

Fearlessly, Prahlada said, “Hearing (sravanam) and chanting (kirtanam) about the holy name, form, qualities, paraphernalia, and pastimes of the Supreme Lord; remembering (smaranam) them; serving the lotus feet of the Lord (pada-sevanam); offering the Lord respectful worship with sixteen types of paraphernalia (arcanam); offering prayers to the Lord (vandanam); becoming His servant (dasyam); considering the Lord one’s best friend (sakhyam); and surrendering to Him (atma-nivedanam, in other words, serving Him with body, mind and words); these nine processes are known as pure devotional service, and I consider anyone who has dedicated his life to service of Lord Visnu through these nine methods to be the most learned person, for he has acquired complete knowledge.”

Blinded by anger, Hiranyakasipu threw Prahlada from his lap onto the ground. “Servants! Take him away and kill him at once!” he screamed. However, Prahlada just sat silently and meditated on the Personality of Godhead, and the demons’ weapons had no effect on him. Seeing this Hiranyakasipu became fearful and contrived various ways to kill his son. His servants threw Prahlada beneath an elephant’s feet; they cast him into the midst of huge, fearful snakes; they cursed him with destructive spells; they hurled him from a hilltop; they gave him poison; they starved him; they exposed him to severe cold, winds, fire and water; they threw heavy stones to crush him. Hiranyakasipu even sent his sister Holika to burn him, but instead she herself was burned. But throughout these trials Prahlada was simply absorbed in thoughts of Lord Visnu, and thus he remained unharmed. Hiranyakasipu became very anxious about what to do next.

“You say there is a being superior to me,” said Hiranyakasipu, “but where is He? If He is present everywhere, then why is He not present in this pillar you see before you? Do you think He is in this pillar?” “Yes,” Prahlada answered, “He is there.”

Hiranyakasipu’s rage flared more and more. “Because you are speaking so much nonsense, I shall now sever your head from your body. Now let me see your most worshipable God come to protect you. I want to see it.” Cursing him again and again, Hiranyakasipu took up his sword, got up from his royal throne, and with great anger struck his fist against the column.

Then from within the very pillar that he had singled out came a wonderful half-man, half-lion form never before seen. The Lord’s form was extremely fearsome because of His angry eyes, which resembled molten gold; His shining mane, which expanded the dimensions of His fearful face; His deadly teeth; and His razor-sharp tongue. Lord Nrsimha then proceeded to battle with the wasp-like Hiranyakasipu.

Finally at twilight, Lord Nrsimha captured Hiranyakasipu and placed him in His lap on the doorway of the assembly hall. As He began ripping the demon to pieces with His many, many hands, Lord Nrsimha’s mouth and mane became sprinkled with drops of blood, and His fierce eyes, full of anger, were impossible to look at. Licking the edge of His mouth with His tongue, the Supreme Lord decorated Himself with a garland of intestines taken from Hiranyakasipu’s abdomen. Lord Nrsimha uprooted Hiranyakasipu’s heart and finally threw him aside and destroyed an army of Hiranyakasipu’s faithful followers.

By His transcendental cleverness, Lord Nrsimhadeva was able to kill Hiranyakasipu without contradicting any of Lord Brahma’s benedictions. The execution took place neither inside nor outside, but in the doorway; neither on land nor in sky, but on the Lord’s lap; neither during the day nor during the night, but at twilight; neither by man, beast, or demigod nor by any created being, but by the Personality of Godhead; and not by any weapon, but by the Lord’s own lotus hand, relieving the whole universe of Hiranyakasipu’s demonic activities.

Having been protected by the Lord, Prahlada Maharaja offered many prayers in a voice that faltered with love:

“My dear Lord Nrsimhadeva, please, therefore, allow Your angry feature to diminish, now that my evil father Hiranyakasipu has been killed . . . [The saintly persons] will always remember Your auspicious and fearsome incarnation, for it frees them from fear. In this way, my Lord, You appear in various incarnations as a human being, an animal, a great saint, a demigod, a fish or a tortoise, thus maintaining the entire creation in different planetary systems and killing the demoniac principles.”

Adapted from Srimad Bhagavatam, 7th Canto

Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.

Hope this helps with your query

your insignificant servant,

Bhakta Sunil

Mahabhagavat Das, 11 November 2016

Dear Brajanath Prabhu,

Please accept my humble obeisances.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

“Pastimes of the Lord are for the heart and philosophy is for the mind.”

Such questions would greatly benefit from inclusion of context. Please do this going forward. A statement out of context is a perfect recipe for misunderstanding and confusion. Who said it, who was it said to, and in what specific context was that statement made? Without context, our answers may be insufficient or cause more misunderstandings.

Bhakti Yoga is a perfect synthesis of “heart” and “mind”. Thinking, feeling, willing, words, deeds, body, and mind, fully engaged in concert in harmoniously pleasing Krishna.

Generally, Bhakti means loving devotional service, there is no intellectual analysis needed or done in such pure devotional service, pure devotees simply love Krishna and act accordingly very naturally, doing whatever is needed for Krishna’s pleasure. They know “in their heart” what pleases Krishna. In this regard, hearing or chanting the pastimes of the Lord are devotional service.

Often, arguments and logic are undesirable in relishing Krishna’s sweetness.

Srila Rupa Goswami says, and Srila Prabhupada summarizes in the Introduction to his Nectar of Devotion

“Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī prays to his spiritual master, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī, for the protection of Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu—”The Ocean of the Pure Nectar of Devotional Service”—from the argumentative logicians who unnecessarily meddle in the science of service to the Lord. He compares their arguments and logic to volcanic eruptions in the midst of the ocean. In the midst of the ocean, volcanic eruptions can do very little harm, and similarly, those who are against devotional service to the Lord and who put forward many philosophical theses about the ultimate transcendental realization cannot disturb this great ocean of devotional service.”

But for someone who is conditioned by material energy, the mind and intelligence generally stands in the way of what is simply a matter of natural course of being true to our spiritual self. Such conditioned souls require philosophy and intellectual analysis to convince them to not do material nonsense but to render some devotional service, which, when done sincerely, gradually reawakens love of Krishna within the heart.

A pure devotee often engages in philosophizing on the pastimes, as our Acharyas, Srila Prabhupada and his disciples and grand-disciples do, but this is for our benefit, the benefit of the conditioned souls.

I hope this helps.

your servant,

Mahabhagavat Das

Dra Varni, 12 November 2016

Hare Krsna!!   This is a supreme question. While I am not a devotee I have had this experience. There are many answers, but “pastimes” and “theory” are not two separate things in this case. By this I mean one could not be without the other. And the outcome is not synthesis.  Elevation, in my experience, came from reading “pastimes” and “hearing” pastimes. Primarily, reading of Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, not all 17

Dra Varni

Dra Varni, 02 December 2016

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!, Dhruva Maharaja!

Hare Krsna!

“Bhakti Yoga is a perfect synthesis of  “heart” and “mind”. Thinking, feeling, willing, words, deeds, body, and mind, fully engaged in concert in harmoniously pleasing Krishna.”

I have taken time to respond to the above statement because its components are complicated and fragile . Above is the context of the message I received . I have a problem with the word “synthesis”. Below is my rendering to screen of why. I am sure too be only person with such thinking.

It is important to remember that the heart and mind are a continuum, not two distinct and separate energies. Given the age of Cali there is a compartmentalized effort to split everything. Objects for synthesis must be in direct opposition. Other look-a-likes are called “binary-oppositions” they just have the appearance of opposition. Used as a metaphor “Synthesis”would be fine depending on genre. And Bhakti Yoga would be the perfect synthesis of “heart”and “mind” if they were in opposition. 


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What is the difference between Advaita, Dvaita, and Vishishtadvaita philosophies?

Geetha, 12th March 2013
Hare Krishna,
Please accept my humble obeisances,
All glories to Srila Prabhupada,

I want to know in detail, what is the difference between Dvaita, Advaita and Vishistadvaita philosophies. Please help me.

Thank you,
Your servant,

Harish, 16th March 2013

Hare Krishna !

Thank you for the question.

Please find below a answer replied by Srila Gurudeva Sriman Sankarshan Das Adhikari on the same topic in year 2004 :

“My Dear Abhay,
Please accept my blessings. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Dvaita philosophy states that God and the living entity are eternally Two. Advaita philosophy states that God and the living entity are in actuality eternally One. The actual fact is that both philosophies are correct. The philosophy which synthesizes them both is known as Acintya Bhedabheda Tattva. This means that the Absolute Truth is simultaneously, inconceivably one and different. How is this so? The Lord is eternal, full of knowledge, and bliss and the living entity is also eternal, full of knowledge, and bliss. Therefore the Lord and the living entity are qualitatively the same, just like a drop of ocean water has the same chemical composition as the entire ocean. However there is a gulf of difference between the quantity of water contained in the drop and the entire ocean, just as quantitatively the Lord and the living entity are Two. The Lord is very big, He is the source of everything, while we are very tiny. We his emanations. He is the Complete Whole are we are the part. Since the part is always meant to serve the whole, we are meant to serve Him. Is this clear?


Hare Krsna !

Thank you for the question.

I have no idea about Vishistadvita Philosophy.
Also find an excerpt from Srila Prabhupada’s secretary on the same :

At the press conference in Hyderabad one reporter asked right away whether Srila Prabhupada was an advaita (monistic) or dvaita (dualist) philosopher. Srila Prabhupada scoffed at the question. “What is the point of discussing such things—whether one is dvaita or advaita. Krsna says, annad bhavanti bhutani: ‘All living beings subsist on food grains’ Annad means grains. The people have no grains. Grains are produced from rain, and the rain from yajna (sacrifice).’ So perform yajna. Become Krsna conscious. Dvaita or advaita you may be, but you still need grains.”

Srila Prabhupada was recalling the press conference. One newspaper reported that he had said that Bhagavad-gita contains all answers to all problems—social, political and otherwise—and should not be misinterpreted. He smiled when he heard that and said, “They have captured the main points of my talk.” As for dvaita/advaita, he said, “Krsna never says we are all one. If a servant says, ‘Yes, I am the same as the master,’ that is his impudence. But the master never says it. Krsna says to Arjuna, ‘Many births you and I have had, but you are not the same as Me. You forget; I do not. Therefore you should surrender to Me.’ Where is the question of advaita if Krsna says ‘Surrender to Me’? Our philosophy is both advaita and dvaita. We are one with Krsna in our qualities, but He is much greater than us.”

Thank you.
your servant

Geetha, 17th March 2013

Hare Krishna,
Please accept my humble obeisances,
All Glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Thank you Harish Prabhu for your reply.

Thank you,
Your servant,

Jayendran Chandrasekaran, 18th March 2013

Hare Krishna Mataji,
Please accept my humble obiesances,
Dandavat pranams,

Each of these philosophies is an ocean and I would try to  list down the differences as per my limited  understanding  and time available.

The philosophy of oneness where there is  only one truth. There are no two ‘truths’. The sannyasis of the tradition carry a ‘Ekadanda’ to signify only one truth. There is only Brahman and when the one Brahman is superimposed on Maya, creation springs forth. Hence Krishna is also a product of Maya according to  advaita. The jivas see duality within this world  because of  Avidya(ignorance). Unlike in Vaishnavism, the definition of  maya is different from that of avidya. Avidya clouds the living entity making them view suffering and pleasure differently.

They have a famous Rajju-Sarpa Nyaya(Snake-Rope  analogy)  to explain creation saying that creation is like a person mistaking a rope  to be a snake. So the snake was not there. It  is an illusion. Similarly this world and jivatams is not  real.  There is only the rope(Brahman) and the confusion is  because of  the Avidya and Maya present. Maya is neither true nor  false.

While Maya is said to be the cause for  creation of this world, avidya is attributed to suffering. Hence being free from suffering is not the ultimate Moksha in Advaita, since one can still remain within the adjuncts of Maya(like thinking oneself as different from Brahman(Krishna).
There are three levels of reality that the Mayavadis posit. One is Pratibhasika, next is Vyavaharika, other is Paramarthika.  The stage where all worldly people are present is said to be pratibhasika where they view pain and pleasure differently and the stage where one sees himself and the god as different is  said to be Vyavaharika Satya( The mayavadis comfortably  interpret all the statements supportive of Bhakti in the Gita using this philosophy and saying that it is a lower level of  reality) and the last satya where one sees only one truth, nothing second , is called Paramarathika where there is only  one truth(Ekameva  advitiyam Brahmam). It hugely draws strength from five Mahavakyas in the Upanishads. One of the popular being ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ and the other one popular being ‘ Tat Tvam asi’.
There are different types of  Advaita, one proposed by Sankara and the other popular one is by Yadava  Prakasa(Guru of Ramanujacharya). The differences arise in the matter of whether Maya is true or  not.


According to Sripada Ramanujacharya , Sriman Narayana is the Brahman and his attributes are the Jada(matter) and Chit(Living entities). It is like a soul with a body. Like we have a soul and a body. Sriman Narayana is the soul of everything in this world and everything else is his  body. So  when we see the world around us , it is to be understood to be as a body to that soul. And everything is his body. Hence there is only  one truth(hence the term advaita  in Vishishtadvaita), but since there are attributes  to  this one truth, it has got VIsheshana. Hence, :”Vishishtoyoho advaita Vishishtadvaita”- An advaita with variety.

An analogy for this would be like a King with his subjects. When we think of a King, it does not mean a King  alone, since it is  inclusive of  all the subjects he has in his kingdom. So when the Sastras say Brahman it includes his attributes which are the JIvatmas and the Insentient (Jada). So to say anything of this is  unreal is equivalent to  denigrating the Brahman itself, since everything is  his attribute. But, again  there is only  truth. That is Sriman Narayana(according to Sripada  Ramanujacharaya). There are hence three truths(realities), but actually only one truth in another perspective ,Sriman Narayana, Jivatmas(living entities) and Jada(Matter).

Sarangathi is stressed as  the best means for Moksha and is  distinctly stressed as being different from Bhakti. Bhakti  is seen more as an effort from the individual(Karma mishra Bhakti equivalent in Gaudiya sampradaya) , while Saranagati(Shuddha Bhakti equivalent)  is seen more as an utter dependence on God  for Moksha.


The necessity of Dvaita springs forth because Sripada Madhvacharya felt that even Vishistadhvaita does not give full freedom to  Sri Hari as much as he deserves, since according to Sripada Ramanujacharya, Brahman is in one sense,Krishna plus the living entities and Matter. Hence, the dependence of Krishna on the living entities, to exist as Krishna, was seen as a shortcoming. by Sri Madhwa. Also, Sri Ramanuja posits that upon Moksha,the living entities gain an equal status as Krishna, which Sri Madhwa was not very happy about.  Also, Sri Madhwa felt that Sri Ramanuja grouped both the living entities and matter in one group under the banner of being a body to Brahman, without stressing its difference  too much.

Hence, Sri Madhwa gave the  highest authority to Sri Hari, in comparison to whom the Living entity  is like a dust. There are  also varieties amongst the living  entities, both in the conditioned state and in the liberated state, even in the amounts of bliss they experience. There is also difference between different types of matter  that exist(for eg; 24 elements) . Hence Sri Madhwa posits five difference doctrine(Pancha Bheda).

Sri Madhwa  gives the concept  of Parantantra and Svatantra satya. Sri Hari  is the  independent reality while the jivatmas and matter is dependent reality. He offers a taratamya(gradation) amongst different living entities (even amongst demigods) and matter .To explain this, Sri Madhwa  gives  this example.

” When we talk of a coconut, though we actually mean the kernel of the coconut, we also use it to refer it to a coconut that has its shell. By addressing the shell of the coconut as the coconut itself would be foolish but yet, because of the presence of the kernel inside we also include the shell when we think of a coconut.Similarly, the kernel of all existence is Krishna himself. Yet when we address this creation, sometimes we consider them as good as God himself, only because all of these contain within them God as the Paramatma, the kernel. A disconnection of that object(shell) from God(kernel) would rid itself of all meaning and hence is ignorance.”

So he concludes that Sri Hari is independent reality, the kernel of the coconut, yet there are different realities that are apart from the kernel, like the shell,namely, the jivatmas and the jada that are dependent on the kernel. The shell is different from  the Kernel and is eternally so. He vehemently condemned  Mayavada  during his  preaching. Hence according to Sri Madhwa, Sri Hari is the supreme reality, the jivatmas can reach him through the process of Bhakti.

There are various verses iin the Bhagavad Gita, I feel are against the philosophy of Advaita and where Prabhupada has mentioned. I am pasting it here. Please go through these verses carefully along with the purports to understand how to defeat advaita.(The most important that all Acaryas have mentioned is 2.12 in BG)

Important Verses with Prabhupad purports against Mayavada

30 key slokas:



Another reference I often look upon is By His Holiness Suhotra is the link

Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu took the best of all these and put them in the right perspective and got  the juice called ‘Achintya Bheda Abheda tattva’ . Devotees who are more senior to me can post here about Gaudiya Sampradaya so  that I may learn.  And, There might be many devotees who can correct me from whatever I have  posted here. Please do so , so that I may improve my understanding.

Your servant,

Mahabhagavat Das SDA, 19th March 2013

Hare Krishna Geetha,

Please accept my humble obeisances.
All glories to Srila Gurudeva.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Good question, and I relished reading the answer by Jayendran.

Primarily, the common features of all these Sampradayas is that “I am not this body, I am spirit soul”. Sometimes discussions on these lofty subject matters as discussion of the various philosophies is carried out without being on the basic platform of spiritual knowledge, to be free from the bodily platform of understanding.

Reading Srila Prabhupada’s books very carefully gives us a strong understanding of our own Sampradaya and the others also.

Mahabhagavat Das

Geetha, 20th March 2013

Hare Krishna,
Please accept my humble obeisances,
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Thank you very much Jayendra Prabhu for giving detail explanation about three Philosophies. Now I got a little knowledge about these philosophies. Thank you once again,

Thanking you,
Your servant,

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