I have written many articles on transcendental sound vibration, its difference from material sound and how it manifests in this world. Oddly enough I was recently focusing on a statement of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura concerning the continuation of the manifest presence of the transcendental sound vibration within this world. I would like to present to you some of the realizations I have had regarding this.

He reasons ill who tells that Vaishnavas die
When thou art living still in sound.
The Vaishnavas die to live and living
Try to spread the holy life around!

This is part of poem written by Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura while contemplating on Srila Hari Das Thakura’s Samadhi. There are a number of devotees who like to quote this verse as evidence that the tape recordings of the pure devotee are the continuation and manifest presence of the transcendental sound vibration of the pure devotee. Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura wrote this poem in 1871. Therefore this verse was written six years before the Gramophone was invented by Thomas Alva Edison. Furthermore it was written about someone who most certainly was manifest and left this world in an era when no such recording device existed. If we consider this carefully an intelligent person would inquire what the intention of the author was when he said in the poem that Srila Hari Das Thakura is living still in sound. What sound? From where will the sound of the personality Srila Hari Das Thakura come from since there are no tape recordings of him speaking? How will we hear this sound?

If there were no mechanical devices to record and replay the sound of his voice then the sound Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura is referring to must be the transcendental sound vibration emanating from his lotus lips. However if he is not manifest in this present space time continuum, and there are no recordings then from where will the transcendental sound from his lotus lips come from? The answer is quite simple, from the present manifest Acharya's or SAD GURUS. Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura is obviously talking about the Living Sound Vibration coming from the present manifest SAD GURUS. The sound that emanates from Sri Krishna’s flute and enters the ear holes of Lord Brahma and then enters into his heart descends through the Parampara to the present manifest SAD GURU. Hence there is only one transcendental sound vibration and the carriers of that sound vibration may appear to be different by appearance and personality but in fact they are one and the same messenger with the same message with the same transcendental sound vibration emanating from their lotus lips.

Srila Prabhupada addresses this issue in a lecture he delivers from the Srimad Bhagavatam sixth canto, first chapter, twenty fourth verse in Chicago on July 8th 1975:
“Then how I shall make progress?" Now, namanta eva san-mukharitäm bhavadiya-vartam. "Just hear the message of God." "From whom?" San-mukharitam: "through the mouth of the devotees." Not professional, not gramophone—through the mouth of, through the lips of real devotee.”

You will notice that Srila Prabhupada points out that this transcendental sound cannot be received from a professional reciter or from a gramophone recording. Both are material and both cannot hold the living transcendental sound vibration.

Srila Prabhupada further supports this in a room conversation that he has on August 9th 1971: 
“Guest: If you could just explain to me the difference between the... I mean, how this fits in, the monistic or the idea of the unitary view that Krsna is everything, all and in all. And then at the same time that the world, there is this world of illusion which is somehow distinct from Krsna. Could you just explain this point to me?

Prabhupada: This is very easy to understand. Just like you are recording my speeches in the tape recorder. When you play back it will speak just like I am speaking, but I am not there. Is it not fact?

Guest: Yes.

Prabhupäda: It will appear now I am speaking from beyond this world.”

Srila Prabhupadas choice of words is telling and very specific. The meaning is clear: It appears I am speaking from beyond this world. It appears when we hear the tape recording that he is there but as Srila Prabhupada says I am not there.

In another lecture in Bombay on March 30 1971 Srila Prabhupada further clarifies the same point he is making in the room conversation to this man:

“But Krsna says that itiyam me bhinnä prakrtir astadha, "These eight kinds of material elements, they are separated energy from Me." Separated energy, you can understand very easily. Just like I am speaking and it is being recorded in the tape recorder. When the tape recorder is replayed again, you'll find that I am speaking again. But that speaking and my present speaking is different. Therefore that speaking is separated energy. Now I am speaking directly. That is not separated, but when it is transferred to another matter that is separated energy.”

It is different He is not speaking directly. It is separated energy, separated from him, not him, it only appears to be him but he is not there.

Then again Srila Prabhupada states the importance of transcendental sound coming from the Living Bhagavat, a terminology that Ritvik devotees often describe as an oxymoron and incorrect statement of siddhanta. However, we will see here that Srila Prabhupada himself uses the terminology.

The two bhagavatas. You study Srimad-Bhagavatam from living bhagavata. So if one does not take or does not surrender unto the living bhagavata, he cannot understand Srimad-Bhagavatam. 720420SB.TOK lectures

Bhagavatam has to be studied from the very beginning and take the lessons from live bhagavata.750908SB.VRN lecture

So the conclusion is clear. The transcendental sound vibration is not carried in a mundane machine or book it is only carried in the transcendental voice of the LIVING BHAGAVAT THE SAD GURU. Any devotee who is hearing the transcendental voice of the living Bhagavat in the present space time continuum is hearing the transcendental voice of Srila Haridasa Thakura. Because, it is in that Living transcendental voice, that Srila Haridasa Thakura is Living still in sound. So there can be no Ritvik initiation. Initiation means to hear the transcendental sound vibration from the lips of the SAD GURU. 

This is the exact meaning of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura’s poem.

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