The Theistic Conference October 1930

November 1930

The Theistic conference was in session at the new Buildings of the Gaudiya Math at No.16. Kaliprasad Chakravarty Street, Baghbazar, Calcutta, from October 24 to November 1. The date originally fixed for the conference had to be changed several times on account of unforeseen circumstances due to the present abnormal state of the country. This uncertainty stood in the way of many intending visitors from joining the conference in time. It will therefore, be necessary to have a supplementary session as soon as there is the needed improvement in the out-look of affairs of the country.

The address of the conveners referred to the above circumstance in suitable terms. It was, nevertheless, felt necessary to proceed with the conference for the purpose of trying to indicate in outline for guidance of supplementary sessions the positive nature of the business that is necessary to be handled by it and to test the suitability of the procedure that had been devised for the purpose.

The presidential address contains a brief reference to the procedure that had been finally adopted after the most careful consideration. In view of the immense scope of the business to be transacted and the necessarily limited amount of time that it was at all possible to allot for the purpose it had been decided to disallow all extempore speeches. In lieu of such speaking an attempt was make to elicit the considered opinions of persons of all denominations in the form of written statements by the circulation of a number of questions on the likely topics of discussion. These have been published in the previous issue of this journal. The answers received were next analysed for finding out the valuable suggestions for being dealt with in the conference. The Presidential address made it clear that it cannot be the intention of any bonafide preacher of the Absolute Truth to look for enlightenment from any quarter save the unbroken chain of the spiritual teachers. Those who are on the track of the Absolute are self-surrendered souls who have no ambition of propounding any original suggestions of their own. Neither do they expect to obtain any accession to their knowledge of the Absolute from the speculative discussions of those who have not been enlightened by complete submission to the Absolute. The scriptures themselves, however, provide various methods for the benefit of those who are given to abstract speculation or desirous of improving the prospects of worldly living. In pursuance of this method of the scriptures acted upon by the former Acharyas it was decided to collect and analyse the independent individual opinions of speculative thinkers with a view to use them negatively in the exposition of the Absolute at the conference.

The preliminary address deals with the reason why the vision of the Absolute is not open to empirical speculation. It was stated that most of the answers received showed that the questions that had been circulated were not properly understood and that this was not unexpected. There was however, quite a large number of persons who had given their serious attention to the matter and had sent their real opinions which would be dealt with in their proper place in course of the discussions.

The difficulty of expressing the Absolute with the vocabulary at our disposal was also touched. The audience was assured that that difficulty is capable of being automatically solved in the measure in which any discourse could be really directed towards the Absolute. The vocabulary thereby acquires the proper significance and becomes a help and not a hindrance.

After this brief preliminary the business before the conference was formally commenced in the order laid down in the programme. This was done day by day from 7 to 9 P.M. for the nine successive evenings. All relevant points that had been raised in written answers to the questionnaire previously circulated from different quarters were referred to and dealt with as the treatment of the whole subject progressed in a systematic manner. This method of exposition of the subject left no question wholly untouched although the time that was available to the speaker was no more than a couple of hours for nine evenings.

The English translation of the preliminary address appears on a separate page. It is our intention to publish the English translation of the whole series of the discourses in due course in the pages of this journal.