Saturday, October 25, 2014

The qualities of a speaker of Bhagavatam

These are the qualities one should look for in an instructor guru. (From Padma Purāṇa, Bhāgavata-māhātmya, 6.20)

विरक्तो वैष्णवो विप्रो वेदशास्त्रविशुद्धिकृत्
दृष्टान्तकुशलो धीरो वक्ता कार्योऽतिनिःस्पृहः
virakto vaiṣṇavo vipro veda-śāstra-viśuddhi-kṛt
dṛṣṭānta-kuśalo dhīro vaktā kāryo'tiniḥspṛhaḥ


virakta. This means the speaker of Hari-kathā should not sufficiently be beholden to the audience in such a way that he speaks just to please them. If one wants unbiased truth, one should listen to someone who is detached.

Vaiṣṇava - One should listen to the Bhāgavatam from a devotee since the goal of the Bhāgavatam is to attain perfection in devotion. If one's goal is different, then one may hear from anyone. 

vipra - This word means he has undergone the samskāras, not necessarily that he is a born brahmin, though one who is born a brahmin may have a privileged upbringing. He must have undergone spiritual purification. The spiritual aspirant is usually categorized according to kaniṣṭha, madhyama and uttama. So this word is about the spiritual acumen and sādhanā of the speaker. One should here from someone who speaks to the appropriate adhikāra.

veda-śāstra-viśuddhi-kṛt. This word has several meanings, but basically the intent is that the speaker should be conversant enough with the scriptures to be able to explain its esoteric meanings. It also means that sometimes the speaker will give unconventional explanations that are progressive according to time and place. The power of scripture is such that it contains wisdom statements that are universally applicable. Their meaning is sometimes hidden due to archaic language or social conditions, but the speaker endowed with wisdom sees their applicability despite changed circumstances.

dṛṣṭānta-kuśala. Pedagogical expertise, especially through the use of proper examples, etc.

dhīra. Patience. The listener does not always understand right away, so the speaker should be patient and be able to repeat the same thing in different ways to make the point clear.

atiniḥspṛhaḥ. Ati means very much. He must not expect anything in return. This connects to the first one. The difference is that virakta refers to the specific audience, this is a more global perspective. A person who seeks something in return, money, adulation, prestige, followers, whatever, will not communicate the needed truths to the audience. The message will not be pure or have the pure result, nor will it have a profound level of insight. He will be directed by an agenda, not the Truth.

How to find such a speaker of Hari katha?

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