Vyasasana and the qualification of the speaker (SB 1.1 5-8)

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Dear Guru Maharaja, please accept my humble obeisances.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

I am presenting here my thoughts and questions on the topic of Vyasa's seat and qualifications needed to sit on it. I tried hard to write it down the better [best] I can, so that it has some sense.

What makes a usual seat to become a vyasasana? I doubt it is how big the asana is, or from which material it is made, or how it is carved? I will say there are two aspects that make a asana an vyasasana:

  • it is the purpose and motivation of the speaker – if proper, that would be to present the conclusions which Vedavyasa presented in his writings


  • the talk itself – i.e. is the talk following or not the vaisnava siddhanta exactly.

In other words, a vyasasana can be any asana (seat) from which a person talks and presents the viewpoint of Śrī Vyāsadeva. That seat can be a simple cushion, chair, or finely carved throne.

Is that a correct statement?

HpS - Seems so to us [HpS, TB, BW, UG], but UG points out that if it has lion feet then it is also a Simhasana.

In verses SB 1.1.6-8 we find the qualifications of the speaker who sits on vyasasana:

  • completely free from all vice.
  • well versed in all the scriptures famous for religious life, and in the Purāṇas and the histories as well,
  • have gone through them (scriptures) under proper guidance and have also explained them
  • submissive

That is the verse. And SP explains in the purport:

  • there are four major vices (4 regs)
  • be well versed in all revealed scriptures or in the Vedas. The Purāas are also parts of the Vedas. And histories like the Mahābhārata or Rāmāyaa are also parts of the Vedas. The ācārya or the gosvāmī must be well acquainted with all these literatures.

Then in SB 1.1.7 purport, SP writes:

Besides Vyāsadeva, there are other sages who are the authors of six different philosophical systems, namely Gautama, Kaṇāda, Kapila, Patañjali, Jaimini and Aṣṭāvakra. Theism is explained completely in the Vedānta-sūtra, whereas in other systems of philosophical speculations, practically no mention is given to the ultimate cause of all causes. One can sit on the vyāsāsana only after being conversant in all systems of philosophy so that one can present fully the theistic views of the Bhāgavatam in defiance of all other systems.

My understanding of English language is that words “well versed”, “well acquainted” and “conversant” are synonyms. They all mean the same thing.

HpS - Yes, sure seems like it. Maybe some small differences.

Now, what is the practical meaning of “to be conversant in all those systems of philosophy” (which I believe are also called ṣaḍdarśana) ? How much a person should know? Is a few sentence definition of what those systems propound enough?

HpS - This is a question that I have also had for a long time too. I guess that anyone who has taken proper Bhakti sastri or studied to the level in Srila Prabhupada's books has the preliminary qualifications. He is a Brahmana and can sit on the ISKCON Vyasasana. Of course, he knows that he is not the Founder-Acharya. Without formally naming these philosophies, Srila Prabhupada presents their ideas in BG As It Is, TLC, etc.

While SP was present, he instructed devotees to give and hear classes on BG, SB, ISO… Devotees were sitting on vyasasana while speaking. Did those devotees then, and also, do the devotees now, know and are well versed with saddarsanas?

HpS - Exactly. I think they were 'well versed' in that they knew the conclusion. Eg. in the Krsna book Krsna presents Karma - mimamksa to Nanda Maharaja to try to convince him to do the Govardhana Puja and Srila Prabhupada talks about it. I the Prayers by the Personified Vedas we find so much. In Purush-sukta confirmed in Canto Two, so much. Again, they aren't up to the level of Ramanuja acharya, but they should know their limits and then be able to direct high class Brahmanas to more detailed sources if they want those, but "Chant Hare Krsna and be happy!" coming from a proper ISKCON Brahmana is perfect advice, Siddhanta, no?

I am asking this because, apart from being (hopefully submissive and) interested in the general topic of what is discussed here, also, to understand the wideness of SP's instructions. For example, SP says in his books such a point that whoever sits on vyasasana should be well acquainted with saddarsana. Also, most probably, not all devotees who sit on vyasasana have such a qualification. My idea is that this is a gradual process. And every person should thoughtfully decide for themselves if to sit and speak or not. Is this a right understanding?

HpS - I did not want to take Sannyasa, but Hansadutta Swami, Atreya rsi Prabhu, Bhakti Svarupa damodara Swami, Ramesvara Swami, Tripurari Swami all said I shoul do it. Then I started traveling and Kirtananda Swami, Virabahu Das, Tamal-krsna Goswami, Rabindra-svarupa Das et al, gave me the nod that I should do this. O.K.  Prabhupada similar, no?  We make our personal decision about accepting attention to our preaching, but that should include consideration of our authorities, friends.

Also, maybe for the time being, a person is not 100% fit to sit on Vyasa's seat, but he is a “mango in the process to maturity”.

Your servant Namacarya Das

HpS - Yes, and he knows that he is just a new Brahmana, Madhyama adhikari, so he explains what he knows. Gives sources for information, and then the audience is benefited. A high class India Brahmana, scholar who has read the Sad-darshana, and is nice, may ask: Esteemed New Iskcon Brahmana, I know Dhyananda Sarasvati, Pusti-marga, but I have not really had a chance to read a simple Bio-graphy, maybe thirty pages of your Acharya, Sri Krsna Caitanya. Is one available?

Where would you direct him?