MixedWritings

The Demoness Putana | The Pseudo-Guru

Putana represents the pseudo-guru. The pseudo-guru may appear in one or both of two forms:

  • A deceitful, so-called guru who preaches sense gratification or liberation or both. In some cases this may be a person who is engaged in some Krsna conscious activity but has not realized the course of pure devotional service and tries to give instructions to his disciples beyond his own understanding, or without regard for their situations.
  • The inwardly manifest “spiritual” guide, in the form of the mundane empiric reasoning faculty (the material mind), is also like Putana.

In order to show mercy to His devotees Krsna sucks the life out of Putana’s breast to protect His own innocent ecstasy, which has arisen within the young devotees’ hearts.

According to the Brahma-vaivarta Purana, in her last life Putana was Ratnamala, the younger sister of Bali Maharaja, although the Garga Samhita says she was his daughter.


The Story of Putana

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura on Putana

In one issue of the Harmonist Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura wrote extensively on the subject of Putana, as follows:

(Point 1)

(Points extracted by the teacher of this course, not by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta) Sri Krsna manifest His eternal birth in the pure cognitive essence of the serving soul who is located above all mundane limitations. King Karhsa is the typical aggressive empiricist, ever on the lookout for the appearance of the truth for the purpose of suppressing Him before He has time to develop. This is no exaggeration of the real connotation of the

consistent empiric position. The materialist has a natural repugnance for the transcendental. He is disposed to think that faith in the incomprehensible is the parent of dogmatism and hypocrisy in the guise of religion. He is also equally under the delusion that there is no really dividing line between the material and the spiritual. He is strengthened in his delusion by the interpretation of scriptures by persons who are like-minded with himself. This includes all the lexicographic interpreters. (Lexicographical means a strict dictionary meaning)

(Point 2)

The lexicographical interpretation is upheld by Kamsa as the real scientific explanation of the scriptures, and is perfectly in keeping with his dread of and aversion for the transcendental. These lexicographical interpreters are employed by Kariisa in putting down the first suspected appearance of any genuine faith in the transcendental. King Kariisa knows very well that if the faith in the transcendental is once allowed to grow it is sure to upset all his empiric prospects.

There is historical ground for such misgivings. Accordingly if the empiric domination is to be preserved intact it would be necessary not to lose a moment to put down the transcendental heresy the instant it threatens to make its appearance in earnest. King Kariisa, acting on this traditional fear is never slow to take the scientific precaution of deputing empiric teachers of the scriptures, backed by the resources of dictionary and grammar and all empiric subtleties to put down, by the show of specious arguments based on hypothetical principles, the true interpretation of the eternal religion revealed by the scriptures.

Kariisa is strongly persuaded that faith in the transcendental can be effectively put down by empiricism if prompt and decisive measures are adopted at the very outset. He attributes the failure of atheism in the past to the neglect of the adoption of such measures before the theistic fallacy has had time to spread among the fanatical masses.

But Kamsa is found to count without his host. When Krsna is born He is found to be able to upset all sinister designs against those who are apprised by Himself of His advent. The apparently causeless faith displayed by persons irrespective of age, sex, and condition may confound all rabid empiricists who are on principle averse to the Absolute Truth Whose appearance is utterly incompatible with the domination of empiricism.

But no adverse efforts of the empiricists, whose rule seems till then to be perfectly well-established over the minds of the deluded souls of this world can dissuade any person from exclusively following the Truth when He actually manifest His birth in the pure cognitive essence of the soul.

(Point 3)

Putana is the slayer of all infants. The baby, when he or she comes out of the mother’s womb, falls at once into the hands of the pseudo teachers of religion. These teachers are successful in forestalling the attempts of the good preceptor whose help is never sought by the atheists of this world at the baptisms of their babies. This is ensured by the arrangements of all established churches of the world. They have been successful only in supplying watchful Putanas for effecting the spiritual destruction of persons from the moment of their birth with the co-operation of their worldly parents. No human contrivance

can prevent these Putanas from obtaining possession of the pulpits. This is due to the general prevalence of atheistic disposition in the people of this world.

(Point 4)

The church that has the best chance of survival in this damned world is that of atheism under the convenient guise of theism. The churches have always proved the staunchest upholders of the grossest form of worldliness from which even the worst of non-ecclesiastical criminals are found to recoil.

It is not from any deliberate opposition to the ordained clergy that these observations are made. The original purpose of the established churches of the world may not always be objectionable. But no stable religious arrangement for instructing the masses has yet been successful. The Supreme Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, in pursuance of the teachings of the scriptures enjoins all absence of conventionalism for the teachers of the eternal religion. It does not follow that the mechanical adoption of the unconventional life by any person will make him a fit teacher of religion. Regulation is necessary for controlling the inherent worldliness of conditioned souls.

(Point 5)

But no mechanical regulation has any value, even for such a purpose. The bonafide teacher of religion is neither any product of nor the favourer of any mechanical system. In his hands no system has likewise the chance of degenerating into a lifeless arrangement. The mere pursuit of fixed doctrines and fixed liturgies cannot hold a person to the true spirit of doctrine or liturgy.

The idea of an organized church in an intelligible form, indeed, marks the close of the living spiritual movement. The great ecclesiastical establishments are the dykes and the dams to retain the current that cannot be held by any such contrivances. They, indeed, indicate a desire on the part of the masses to exploit a spiritual movement for their own purpose. They also unmistakably indicate the end of the absolute and unconventional guidance of the bona fide spiritual teacher. The people of this world understand preventive systems, they have no idea at all of the unprevented positive eternal life. Neither can there be any earthly contrivance for the permanent preservation of the life eternal on this mundane plane on the popular scale.

(Point 6)

Those are, therefore, greatly mistaken who are disposed to look forward to the amelioration of the worldly state in any worldly sense from the worldly success of any really spiritual movement. It is these worldly expectants who become the patrons of the mischievous race of the pseudo-teachers of religion, the Putanas, whose congenial function is to stifle the theistic disposition at the very moment of its suspected appearance. But the real theistic disposition can never be stifled by the efforts of those Putanas. The Putanas have power only over the atheists. It is a thankless but salutary task which they perform for the benefit of their unwilling victims.

(Point 7)

But as soon as theistic disposition proper makes its appearance in the pure cognitive essence of the awakened soul, the Putanas are decisively silenced at the very earliest stage of their encounter with new-born Krsna. The would-be slayer is herself slain. This is the

reward of the negative services that the Putanas unwittingly render to the cause of theism by strangling all hypocritical demonstrations against their own hypocrisy.

(Point 8)

But Putana does not at all like to receive her reward in the only form which involves the total destruction of her wrong personality. King Kamsa also does not like to lose the services of the most trusted of his agents. The effective silencing of the whole race of pseudo-teachers of religion is the first clear indication of the appearance of the Absolute on the mundane plane. The bonafide teacher of the Absolute heralds the Advent of Krsna by his uncompromising campaign against the pseudo-teachers of religion.

Points from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’ article:

  1. Kamsa (the chief materialist, in the form of “aggressive empiricism”) likes to suppress the truth before it has time to develop. He has an innate dislike for anything spiritual.
  2. He is associated with like-minded people, including lexicographers (those who uphold dictionary definitions of subjects that are transcendental to dictionaries), and he engages these lexicographers to put down Krsna consciousness at its earliest stage.
  3. As soon as the transcendental child is born he falls into the hands of Putana — the pseudo teachers of religion.
  4. The attempted success of Putana over the genuine spiritual teachers is aided by the efforts of organized religion, which is “atheism in the garb of theism.”
  5. “Organized” religion is an attempt to force the people in general to follow certain religious principles, without effecting any spiritual advancement in them, so is doomed to failure.
  6. They would like to improve materialism through their “religion,” and so enlist the aid of the Putanas.
  7. But Putana cannot be successful once real religion has actually appeared, in fact she is destroyed at the earliest point in its development. “The would-be slayer is herself slain. This is the reward of the negative services that the Putanas unwittingly render to the cause of theism by strangling all hypocritical demonstrations against their own hypocrisy.”
  8. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta concludes by saying: “The effective silencing of the whole race of pseudo-teachers of religion is the first clear indication of the appearance of the Absolute on the mundane plane. The bonafide teacher of the Absolute heralds the Advent of Krsna by his uncompromising campaign against the pseudo-teachers of religion.”

Radhika Raman Das

Raman (Radhika Raman Das) joined ISKCON in 2003 and got initiated by HH Bhakti Caitanya Swami Maharaj in 2011. As the Editor in Chief at Vaisnava Blog, he helps readers around the world hone in their Spiritual Curiosity, express their unique realizations as aspiring Vaisnava writers and enthusiasts, as well as to spread the digital seed of Srila Prabhupada's mission to spread Krishna Consciousness all around the globe.

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