“Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, ‘Madhavendra Puri was so fortunate that Krishna personally appeared before him on the plea of delivering milk. Three times the Lord gave orders to Madhavendra Puri in dreams.’” (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya, 4.172)
Friend1: You know, I read a lot about people coming in dreams.
Friend2: What do you mean?
Friend1: So and so wasn’t sure what to do, then suddenly they had a vision in a dream. Like the Madhavendra Puri story.
Friend2: Oh, I didn’t know you were referencing Vedic history.
Friend1: Because typically you would attribute a vision in a dream to illusion. The mind comes up with that stuff.
Friend1: I’m assuming it’s not the case with instances where Shri Krishna arrives in the dream and gives instructions, such as where to find His deity and what to do afterwards.
Friend2: How else can you explain it? The acharya Madhavendra hadn’t seen that statue before. He didn’t know where it was. How could his mind have all of a sudden figured out where it was?
Friend1: That’s a good point. It’s just strange, if you think about it. It’s like a distant voice from the past talking to you. Though of course with the Supreme Lord Krishna we’re not really talking about the past or a great distance in time.
Friend2: Exactly, but you do bring up something interesting. There are distant voices calling; you just have to know where to hear them.
Friend1: Are you talking about psychic powers?
Friend2: Actually, they can be heard simply through reading. We can think of Vedic literature as recorded history. That’s what the Puranas are. They are so old that people from thousands of years ago would hear and tell the stories. There is evidence that Shri Rama, the incarnation of Krishna and hero of the Ramayana, would recite the Puranas to His wife Sita and His younger brother Lakshmana while they were living in the forest. The Puranas would be recited in His kingdom also.
Friend1: Hmm. Isn’t that contradictory?
Friend2: How so?
Friend1: The Puranas include the story of Rama. Indeed, I’m sure in at least one of the Puranas you would find a reference to people reciting the Puranas. Isn’t that circular logic or recursion? I’m not sure the proper term.
Friend2: There is something similar mentioned in the Ramacharitamanasa. In one section you find the description of the marriage ceremony of Mahadeva and Parvati. The famous devata known as Ganesha is their son. Yet in this ceremony the first god worshiped was Ganesha, as per custom.
Friend1: Oh. So how do you worship someone who is not even born yet?
Friend2: Exactly. The answer is that the creation goes through cycles, but that Vedic culture is eternal. There is no contradiction, then. Ganesha is always worshiped first in these rituals. Just because he appears later on as the couple’s son doesn’t mean that Ganesha isn’t there beforehand.
Friend1: I see.
Friend2: Anyway, we still have access to the Puranas today. They carry wise instructions, people talking to us, in fact. Their words of wisdom are calling us to action, urging us to make the most of this valuable human form of body. These aren’t tape recordings. They aren’t viral videos. Yet the voices are clear nonetheless, provided one is fortunate enough to know how to hear them.
Friend1: What do you mean? Can’t you just read the books?
Friend2: You have to know the underlying culture. You have to know that the teachings have relevance to all time periods, including the modern day. You have to know how to take the words at face value, not mentally speculating or concocting different meanings. You tap into these distant voices through the help of the spiritual master. They carry the same message, so in one sense they are the same as those distant voices. They give guidance both philosophically and practically.
Friend1: Does the guru come in a dream?
Friend2: You know, some people have told me that they saw their spiritual master in a dream before they even met them. That is indeed possible, then. I feel like I am rambling incoherently now. Anyway, know that the work in devotional service is never lost. You can learn from Parvati’s wedding that occurred thousands of years ago. The teachings of the past acharyas are there to access in either recorded words or the via medium of the guru of the present day, who keeps the chain going. That is the meaning to parampara. You get a link to the past, connecting all the way up to the origin Himself, Shri Krishna.
Of viral video not a need,
Can connect to past indeed.
From recorded history contained,
And highest wisdom gained.
Like sitting with blessed acharya dear,
Their wise instructions coming clear.
Spiritual master teaching connecting way,
Bringing Divine light even to the modern day.