Contributor's Essays

How to Read Satsvarupa dasa Goswami’s Free Writing:
Some Thoughts for Satsvarupa Maharaja’s Disciples
by Dattatreya dasa

Sometimes we hear disciples of Satsvarupa Maharaja express confusion about his free writing. The following thoughts are intended to help disciples approach Satsvarupa Maharaja’s free writing in a spirit appropriate for a disciple.

In reading Satsvarupa Maharaja’s free writing, I would suggest that the disciple perform a kind of spiritual algebra.

In arithmetic, one asks, “2 plus 3 equals what?” But in algebra, one asks, “2 plus what equals 5?” In both cases, the idea is to have something come into view that is currently beyond one’s vision. As practitioners of Krishna consciousness, what we want to have come into view is the truth of who we are.

To answer the question, “2 plus what equals 5?,” we must subtract 2 from both the lefthand side and the righthand side of the equation. In spiritual algebra, I perform a similar operation.

On the lefthand side of the spiritual equation are my current beliefs about what Krishna consciousness is. Also on the lefthand side of the equation is a big question mark as to the meaning of Satsvarupa Maharaja’s free writing. On the righthand side of the equation are Prabhupada’s books and everything that’s in them (what we might call Spiritual Reality. It bears noting that for those who are not self-realized, much of what we here call Spiritual Reality is hidden from view.). Thus, our spiritual equation looks like this: 
My current understanding of Krishna consciousness + the meaning of Satsvarupa Maharaja’s free writing (which is now hidden from my view) = Spiritual Reality (much of which is hidden from my view)
As a spiritual algebraist, I now solve for the meaning of Satsvarupa Maharaja’s free writing. From the lefthand side of the equation, I suspend all of my current beliefs as to what Krishna consciousness is and how to practice it. And from the righthand side of the equation, I suspend all of my current ideas as to what Prabhupada’s books are saying. This second operation really isn’t difficult to do. One might think of what Sanatana Goswami said upon meeting Lord Chaitanya: “People are considering me a learned scholar, and I am also thinking of myself as such, but I do not even know who I am. Who am I? Why do the threefold miseries always give me trouble? If I do not know this, how can I be benefited?” (from CC Madhya 20.100–102) Although I may know something about Prabhupada’s books, if I don’t know who I am, practically speaking, with regard to transcendental realization, I’m still on square one. So if I’m still on square one spiritually, it’s not that difficult for me to say to myself, “All right, let me start from scratch. I’m going to assume I don’t know anything. Now, here is Satsvarupa Maharaja’s free writing, and there are Prabhupada’s books. Let me read Satsvarupa Maharaja’s free writing and see what comes into view in Prabhupada’s books.”  

Through such “spiritual algebra,” I position myself in my relationship with Satsvarupa Maharaja and his personal writings in a manner appropriate for a disciple. For me to read Satsvarupa Maharaja’s free writing in this way is, in effect, to consider myself a fool at the lotus feet of my spiritual master. This is factually the appropriate mood for a disciple who wishes to approach the spiritual master. By approaching Satsvarupa Maharaja’s free writing in a mood that is appropriate to a disciple, a variety of perspectives on the spiritual reality revealed in Prabhupada’s books come into view that were otherwise hidden from vision, and one progresses on the path of self-knowledge. To read Satsvarupa Maharaja’s personal writings in this way is to place oneself in an optimum position to receive the mercy of the Lord.