Thursday, November 12, 2009

Defending my Ph.D. thesis

Yesterday, 11th of November, 2009, I defended my thesis in front of a board of eight doctors of the Sanskrit Faculty, among which were the principal, Dr. R.C.Panda, and the Head of the Department of Dharmagama, Dr. K. Jha, along with several research scholars and undergraduate students. For one hour, I presented some of the main points of my work and replied to the questions and challenges they put. It was a bit ambitious to present it in spoken Sanskrit, as I’ve been out of shape, but they appreciated it very much, since no student dares to do so. The whole thing was filmed, but the audio quality is poor and the noise from the construction downstairs is annoying…

1. I started by reading out my mangalacarana and explaining its meaning. Dr. A. Singh objected that the meaning was clear and there was no need to explain anything, and then Dr. Jha intervened saying that I was making relevant points about my parampara and philosophy and therefore should carry on.

2. When I stated that God is to be known by the Vedas, they questioned the basis for taking this kind of evidence. I replied that for those who are ‘astikas’, the authority of the Vedas is beyond doubt, but not for the ‘nastikas’, and therefore the approach to deal with this topic must be different in each case. They preferred not to stick to the ‘nastika’ argument and let me go ahead.

3. I made the point that God being real, the world must be real too. Dr. Jha asked how the world can be real if it is manifested by maya, to which I replied that maya is also real. I was describing ‘jivesu taratamyam’ (the gradation among the living entities) and they played with my words by calling Dr. Jivesh, who was working in the next room, and then asked me what would be his gradation…

4. At last, the director of the Faculty, Dr. Panda, arrived. Dr. A. Singh took the opportunity to express how glad they are to have such a student. That made me blush...

5. Dr. Rohatam inquired about the nature of the incarnations of the Lord, and Dr. Jha asked about the relation between suddha-sattva and the material modes.

6. They got on my case after I stated that Srimad Bhagavatam is the supreme pramana. I referred to the Tattva-sandarbha and made a few points, but they couldn’t swallow it…When I asked back what was the difficulty in accepting the supremacy of the Bhagavatam, Dr. Panda kindly remarked that they were there to assess the integrity of my research work, not Lord Caitanya’s doctrine, and finished the case. I invited those who objected for a debate later on ;-) In the end, Dr. Caturvedi asked what is the meaning of Vrndavana, why Radharani is called Lord Krishna’s heart, and who is Tulasi :-)


  1. Jay my dear Demian Ph.d., p.a.m.h.o.
    All Glories to S. Prabhupada jee!
    I´m so happy to know about that news.
    yours Rama dhanu das

  2. Best compliments for successfully defending your thesis in front of so many Indian scholars and, much more, in Sanskrit and at Varanasi!

    The video/audio are not so good (sorry!), thus it could be very useful for all if you could transcribe them into English, with your exposition, the scholars' queestions and your answers and conclusion.

    That will be time-consuming, I understand, but very much helpful and useful for all those who do not know Sanksrit and were not there in that place, in that day.

    It could become also a wonderful essay of the exposition of the Gaudiya Vaishnava Philosophy.

    Thank you :o)

    Acyuta.SdG dasa
    Lecturer - Fac. of Arts
    School of Languages & Linguistics
    Jadavpur University - Kolkata

  3. Congratulations!

    Have you read 11th canto of SB? Krishna describes this world as dream at many places.

  4. Dear anonymous:

    Have you read the commentaries on the 11th Canto? Have you read Prameya-ratnavali and Vedanta-syamantaka? Have you read 'Dasa-mula-tattva'? Or rather, have you read Srila Prabhupada's books and heard his lectures? In all these, you will find the prameya 'jagat satyam'. Prabhupada often made this point while refuting Sankara's 'jagan mithya' statement. In Govinda-bhasya 3.2.4-5, Srila Vidyabhusana explains that dreams are also real. To deny the reality of the world is one of the fundaments of mayavada, and no vaisnava ever supported such nonsense.

  5. Demian? de Porto Alegre?

  6. Sou eu, um velho amigo. Entre em contato.

  7. Old friends could kindly mention their names, as my memory is usually better than my telepathic powers…

  8. Muito interessante. O senhor fez algum livro sobre essa defesa de tese? Eu adoraria comprá-lo. Reverências.

  9. No plans to publish it, but many articles here are excerpts.