Essence is to glorify tirthas
This article is in response to a strange anonymous comment received on my Kishkindha article. I don’t know what Mr. Anonymous means by saying, “Prabhu, please read the histories, don’t just write something.” Unless he mentions something specific that he disagrees with, what is the point of his casting doubts?
Readers may rest assured that what I reported was not inaccurate. My wife and I practiced sadhana, distributed books, and preached there for more than a year and talked to many priests, scholars, adi-vasis and sadhus. Generally the only histories we read are those found in Prabhupada’s original books. I also sometimes check references that affirm the above sources in scholarly Vaisnava translations of Mahabharata, Valmiki’s Ramayana and other Puranas. Apart from these sources, genuine local traditions are based on ancient temple records and oral traditions that are generally quite exacting. I did not encounter any controversies. Everything I heard was consistent with sadhu, sastra, and guru.
My article on Kishkindha Kshetra was not meant to be a history lesson. The main point was to glorify an important sacred place and the sadhus and adi-vasi who have lived there for many centuries and whose traditions are still felt there today. There was not much historical detail in the article. Much of what historical fact I mention, however, is literally carved in stone. Not much room for debate on those points, even for mundane historians. Lessons From Kishkindha is a personal story of my own experiences at an ancient holy place in this modern day. Perhaps Mr. Anonymous objects to the real point of the article, which is that Vaisnavas live forever, and that highly pious people accept this fact and are not likely to become the blind followers of fly-by-night pseudo authorities.
The histories of Kishkindha are not found in mundane history books but are confirmed by sadhus in the Ramanuja, Madhva, Gaudiya, Rudra, and Nimbarka sampradayas, as well as sadhus in the line of the Alwars. In other words, the fact that Kishkindha is a highly sacred place is confirmed in many sastras and by many sadhus and gurus from various traditions spanning many centuries.
There are some people who claim Sriman Hanuman-ji was born somewhere in Maharashtra but I don’t know where is the evidence to contradict the local histories. Otherwise why would great scholars and sadhus like Sri Vyasatirtha Swami, Raghavendra Swami and many others give such great importance to Kishkindha? I don’t read the historical speculations of mundane scholars, whose professions demand that they try to contradict traditional accounts, which they often discount as being “mythological” or “folk lore” only.
Some Vaisnavas suggest that the Pampa Sarovar mentioned in Sri Caitanya-Caritamrita may be somewhere else, but according to Srila Krishnadas Kaviraja Gosvami, Lord Caitanya visted every major holy place in South India. He mentions that the places specifically mentioned in Caitanya Caritamrita are only a sampling of His travels. Srila Prabhupada gives preference to the version that the Pampa Sarovar mentioned in C.C. is the one near Hampi at Kishkindha. Furthermore, local sadhus and adi-vasis confirm that Lord Caitanya came here and chanted japa under a large mango tree that survived until recently. Lord Caitanya visited every major tirtha in South India, including Kishkindha. No one should doubt this fact.
The only other points of possible contention might be the exact time and method of the fall of Vijayanagar. I mention that it was around 1565 A.D. and that it was the result of a conspiracy of three other kingdoms. It could have happened ten or fifteen years later or a few years earlier. So what? I also mentioned that Vijaynagar reached it zenith under the leadership of the great Vaisnava Emperor Krishna Deva Raya, who lived during the time of Lord Caitanya, and quickly declined shortly after Lord Caitanya’s disappearance. These facts are not disputed even by mundane historians from the West, although exact dates and details may not always be accepted by every “historian.”
Unless one is tri-kala-jna, or unless one hears carefully from a bona fide tradition of self-realized acharyas, no one can understand the histories of holy tirthas.
Yours in Prabhupada pada-sevanam,