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egotistic wrangling spirit

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Attaining Perfection

NBS 74



vädo nävalambyaù


vädaù—debate; na—not; avalambyaù—to be resorted to.


One should not indulge in argumentative debate.


Närada discourages the egotistic wrangling spirit. One who is proud of his debating skills and eager to defeat others will lose his humility, which, as Närada says in Sütra 27, is essential for pleasing Krsna. The existence of God is not something to be proven or disproven merely by a battle of logical wits. The spiritual reality cannot be understood by material logic or the speculations of the material mind. As the Vedänta-sütra (2.1.11) declares, tarkäpratisthänät: "Logical reasoning is inconclusive."

However, when a Krsna conscious preacher defends the Lord or the Vaishnavas against blasphemy, that should not be taken as vain controversy. The devotee doesn’t argue on his own account, but on Krsna’s. Also, a devotee’s preaching is not based on mental speculation, which is always imperfect, but on the perfect process of receiving knowledge from the çästra and the äcäryas. As it is said, "Mistakes, illusion, cheating, and defective perception do not occur in the sayings of the authoritative sages" (Cc. Ädi 2.86) Also, the Vaishnava äcäryas have all argued against Mäyäväda interpretations. This kind of argumentation is not to be avoided but is rather one of the duties of the madhyama-bhakta, or preacher. Krsnadäsa Kaviräja states, "A sincere student should not neglect the discussion of such conclusions [concerning the philosophy of Krsna consciousness], considering them controversial, for such discussion strengthens the mind. Thus one’s mind becomes attached to Kåñëa" (Cc. Ädi 2.117).

But sometimes a preacher will avoid a fight if he sees that the challenger simply wants to argue for the sake of argument. Rüpa Gosvämé once declined to debate a rascal who came to defeat him, but then Rüpa’s nephew, Jéva Gosvämé, took up the challenge. So a devotee may or may not choose to meet the challenges of the atheists and voidists, depending on the circumstances, but in any case he knows that debate and challenge do not lead to a true understanding of God.

Certainly the devotee himself has no challenging spirit when he approaches the scriptures or the äcäryas. He accepts them axiomatically, beyond argument. The best method for solving one’s personal doubts is to inquire submissively from advanced Vaishnavas, who will always be able to answer in terms of sästra and reason.

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