A lecture series on the Vedanta Sutra by Sriman Prakashatma Prabhu as an offering to Srila Gurudeva’s Centennial. An opportunity to understand Vedanta in a simplified manner. Concise [15-20 mins] classes posted every week on YouTube Channel - Prakashatma Das.
Ambarīṣa dāsa: Hare Kṛṣṇa Prakashatma Prabhu. My dandavat pranam to you. I am personally very excited to know that you are beginning a series of classes on Vedanta Sutra. Can you please share your inspiration behind this?
Prakashatma dāsa: Hare Kṛṣṇa. Danḍavat praṇām.
Srila Gurudeva is honored by the title Bhaktivedanta, as well as Srila Prabhupada and all the sannyasis of the Gaudiya Vedanta samiti.
The word bhakti indicates "love and devotion" and the word Vedanta means "End of the Vedas [Knowledge]". Devotion and knowledge, love and wisdom, both are needed in spiritual life. Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja has translated and written many books on rasa-tattva. But he has also written many books on tattva-siddhanta, philosophical truths, like Jaiva-Dharma (which he had read one hundred times). His last work, before departing from this world, was Vedanta Sutra. In 2008, Śrīla Gurudeva personally told me in France that I should assist him in this task of presenting Vedanta Sutra to the public. He also told me that his own Gurudeva, Srila Bhakti Prajnana Keshava Maharaja would be very pleased by this service. Therefore, I am presenting the first chapter of Vedanta Sutra in simple language. And I can do one and sometimes two presentations per week.
Ambarīṣa dāsa: That is indeed exciting. So I believe the video recording of your classes will be made available online for the devotees to access them?
Ambarīṣa dāsa: Can you share a bit more on the significance of Vedanta Sutra so that the devotees are inspired to learn it? In what way will it be beneficial for them?
Prakashatma dāsa: Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī wrote in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta that we should not be lazy as far as siddhanta is concerned, as siddhanta strengthens the mind. My experience with the devotees shows me that many new devotees, as well as older ones, struggle for existence and do not understand why. It is a fact. If we don't understand the nature of this world, our own nature and God's nature, we will never be fixed in mind and attain nistha, ruci, asakti, bhava. So we have to start with proper siddhanta: Vedanta Sutra, Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, Jaiva-Dharma and the Sat Sandarbhas of Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī.
Ambarīṣa dāsa: Yes, Śrīla Gurudeva also very much emphasized on being deeply rooted in the siddhanta.
Isn’t Vedanta Sutra a little complicated for an average devotee?
Prakashatma dāsa: There is only a notion that it is complicated. However, it is a wrong understanding. Vedanta Sutra is actually the spiritual philosophy of life. Philosophy means to love wisdom. It concerns with what is the ultimate goal of the ultimate good. It basically deals with the aim of our life. What will bring us the highest good. But nowadays people want to follow spirituality with no philosophy which is basically bodily comfort or sometimes just pleasure for the mind.
Vedanta Sutra is very concise. Sutra means aphorism. And aphorism is meant so that we can remember more easily. So it is very interesting.
Ambarīṣa dāsa: Sure enough it sounds interesting.
In a lead up to Śrīla Gurudeva’s centennial, devotees have been inspired to make very unique offerings. We already have Mukunda Prabhu from Alachua who began with jiva tattva last Kartika from the Paramatma Sandharbha through his initiative – Gaudiya Siddhanta Applied where he intends to cover other sandharbhas and some of the Goswami works which otherwise is less accessible to the devotees. And then there is Jnana Sakti Prabhu from Canada who has put in years of effort and he will soon be launching a certification course to systematically study Jaiva-dharma. And another group of senior devotees from are doing a similar course on Jaiva-dharma in Hindi. So there seems to a surge of such activities as we are approaching Śrīla Gurudeva’s centennial. It’s a great opportunity for the devotees worldwide to get sadhu sanga through these amazing initiatives.
One last question, will you be entertaining questions based on your classes? I am sure many interested devotees would want to know more…
Prakashatma dāsa: Yes, I am open to answering them on my Facebook: Prakashatma Das.
Ambarīṣa dāsa: Sounds perfect. We will be posting your introductory class on the Vedanta Sutra along with this interview so that the devotees get an idea. I personally heard it and it was very illuminating.
We wish you all the very best on behalf of Team Centennial.
Prakashatma dāsa: Thank you. Haribol.
A Brief Introduction of Prakashatma Prabhu given by him -
I was initiated by Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Prabhupada in Paris temple in September 1974. I have Masters in philosophy, and I have taught philosophy and comparative religion in different colleges in Montréal Canada, including MC Gill University.
Since 2004, I have a Masters in Theology and in 2006 I obtained a PhD in comparative religion at the Sorbonne University in Paris. I am currently taking care of a Christian Congregation near Paris and teaching Western philosophy.
I met Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja in 2002 in France and I have been with him till the end. Srila Gurudeva told me several times to preach his mission.