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18.HEARING FROM A RASIKACARYA
Devotee: Is it true that to make advancement in krishna consciousness one should hear from a rasikacarya (a spiritual master advanced in relishing mellows of pure devotion) on the level of Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura?Narasingha Maharaja: One who has lived in either Vmdavana or Navadvipa for some time knows that the sahajiya section is quite fond of this sort of explanation. But such emphasis is not entirely fact.
acaryera mata yei, sei mata sdra
tanra ajna. langhi cale, sei td asara
"The order of the spiritual master is the active principle in spiritual life. Anyone who disobeys the order of the spiritual master immediately becomes useless." (Cc. Adi 12.10)Devotees who know the science of krishna consciousness have accepted the above verse as conclusive. This verse states the active principle in spiritual life, the key to spiritual advancement. If one pleases the spiritual master, then one very quickly advances in krishna consciousness, but if one displeases the spiritual master by neglecting his order, then one becomes asara or useless.Srlla Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura in his commentary on Bhagavad-gita 2.41, states that it is the duty of a disciple to strictly follow the orders of his spiritual master.Sri Visvanatha writes as follows:
"The instructions that my gurudeva has given me about iravanam, kirtanam, smaranam, pada-sevanam, etc. of Sri Bhagavan are my very sadhana, my very sadhya and my very life. I am unable to relinquish them in either the sadhana stage or in sadhya. My single desire and only engagement is to follow them. Besides this, I have no other desire or engagement, even in my dreams. There is no loss for me, whether by following these instructions I attain happiness or misery, or whether my material life is destroyed or not." (Bhagavad-gita, published by Gaudlya Vedanta Samiti)This is the open secret of success for advancement in spiritual life. One must have firm faith in the orders of the spiritual master and follow his orders wholeheartedly. The Vedas also confirm:yasya deve para bhaktir yathd deve tatha gurau tasyaite hathita, hy-arthah prakas'ante rnahatrnanah "To one who has staunch faith in the words of the spiritual master and the words of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the secret of success in Vedic knowledge is revealed." (Svetas'vatara Upanisad 6.23)
It appears that many devotees are now confused about the process of advancement in krishna consciousness and think that simply by hearing rdsaAila from a 'rasika-guru' that all their troubles will vanish. Pemaps this is an attractive proposal for those who are merely sentiment mongers, but the serious candidate in krishna consciousness should know that sooner or later such discussion of rdsaAila in an unqualified assembly certainly leads to sahajiyaism.To support their claims of righteousness in hearing rdsaAila, the rasika-gurus of the sentiment-mongers like to quote the following Bhdgavatam verse in support of their speculation:
vikriditam vraja-vadhubhir idam ca visnoh
sraddhdnvito'nusrnuydd atha varnayed yah
bhaktim param bhagavati pratilabhya kamam
hrd-rogam dsv-apahinoty acirena dhlrah
"A transcendentally sober person who, with faith and love continuously hears from a realized soul about the activities of Lord krishna in His rasa-dance with the gopis, or one who describes such activities, can attain full transcendental devotional service at the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Thus lusty material desires, which are the heart disease of all materialistic persons, arc for him quickly and completely vanquished." (Bhdg. 10.33.42)While commenting on this verse in his Anubhdsya commentary of Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya 5.45, Srlla Bhaktisiddhanta SarasvatI Thakura has mentioned that dhirah means to come to the stage of controlling the six senses (^sad-vega-jayi).Bhaktisiddhanta SarasvatI Thakura also says that anusrnuyat means hearing continuously from the lips of Sri guru without interruption and not being obstructed by the intervention of material conceptions. It is the opinion of our most revered Guardians that not being obstructed by intervention of material conceptions means that one has come to the stage of anartha-nivrtti.Similarly, according to our slksd'guru, Srila B. R. Sridhara Maharaja, Jiva Gosvaml's conception of dhirah is the same as that of SarasvatI Thakura."In his writings, Srila Jiva GosvamI has laid stress on the word dhirah, meaning 'self-controlled'. To hear these elevated subjects, one must enter into the culture of sense-control, otherwise he will be destroyed." (The Hidden Treasure of the Sweet Absolute, commentary to verse 10.10)
In this same line of thought Srila B. P. Purl GosvamI Maharaja explains the teachings of SarasvatI Thakura as follows:"In Srila Visvanatha CakravartI Thakura's commentary to the above verse from the rasa-hid, (vikriditam vraja-vadhubhir idam ca visnoK) it is written:
ata eva sraddhanvita hi sastraviivasinam
namaparadhimam premapi nangikarotiti bhavah...
ayam sri-rasah srir api napa yam
Sastra-buddhi'vivekadyair api durgamam iksyate
gopinam rasa-vartmedam tdsdm anugatir vind
The word sraddhdnvitah indicates that ecstatic love for krishna does not come to those who do not believe the scriptures or who persist in committing offenses against the Holy Name. And even LaksmI cannot enter into this rasa dance. Without exclusively following in the footsteps of the gopis, even those who believe in the scriptures and the very intelligent cannot enter onto this most difficult path of sacred rapture chalked out by the gopis. For this reason, our most revered Srila Prabhupada never approved of open discussion by the unqualified of the divine rasa, which is beyond the attainment of even Brahma, Visnu and Siva, and always gave priority to the chanting of the Holy Name.The unique characteristic of Srila Prabhupada's preaching was that even though he often spoke about the highest realms of devotional perfection, he always took care that none of his disciples got ahead of themselves and skipped necessary intermediate steps in the stage of practice to engage in anadhikdra'Carcd (discussion of matters for which one is not qualified)... If one attempts the cultivation of rdga-mdrga prior to gaining the proper qualifications for such a practice and at the same time pays less attention to the chanting of the Holy Names, he is like a person who tries to pick the fruit without climbing the tree. He will only get the damaged fruit that has fallen to the ground. Prabhupada characterized those who engaged in such anadhikdra'Carcd. as prakrui-sahajiyds and rebuked them for their entering into realms for which they were not qualified..." (Of Love and Separation, Chapter 3)When Lord krishna kills a demon, that demon immediately attains liberation and whenever krishna performs His pastimes of love, the perverted form of love, namely lust in the heart of the living entity, is also vanquished. Yet hearing the rasa-lild of krishna and His intimate love affairs with the gopis is not recommended as a method of practic e (sddhana) for the neophyte devotees.
krishna killed many demons before He manifested His pastimes of love with the gopis. According to Srila BhaktLvinoda Thakura, the demons killed by krishna represent various demoniac tendencies in the hearts of the living entities. Trnavarta represented the personification of argument; Vatsasura re presented the form of boyhood offenses; Bakasura represented! the personification of cheating religion; Aghasura represented the form of cruelty; Dhenukasura represented the ass of blunt judgment; Kaliya represented the personification of malice and Pralambasura represented the personification of impersonalLsm. All these demons were killed by krishna. Therefore, one should first rid one's heart of those demoniac tendencies before attempting to hear the love affairs (rasa-Ma) of Radha and krishna. This is only logical.Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Svami Prabhupada has mentioned in his Bhdgavatam commentary (2.2.12) that unless one is freed from material sex desire, one should not read or hear topics past the second canto of Bhdgavatam. Srila Prabhupada writes as follows:"So purification means getting free gradually from sex desire, and this is attained by meditation on the person of the Lord as described he rein, beginning from the feet. One should not try to go upwards artificially without seeing for himself how much he has been released from the sex desire. The smiling face of the Lord is the Tenth Canto of Srimad Bhdgavatam, and there are many upstarts who at once try to begin with the Tenth Canto and especially with the five chapters that delineate the rasa-lild of the Lord. This is certainly improper. By such improper study or hearing of Bhdgavatam, the material opportunists have played havoc by indulgence in sex life in the name of Bhdgavatam.
This vilification of Bhdgavatam is rendered by the acts of the so-called devotees; one should be free from all kinds of sex desire before he tries to make a show of recital of Bhdgavatam. Sri Visvanatha CakravartI Thakura clearly defines the meaning of purification here as cessation from sex indulgence. He says, yathd yathd dhis ca sudhyati visaya-lampatyam tyajati, tathd tathd dharayed iti citta-SitddhUtaratamyenaiva dhydna-taratamyam uktam.""And as one gets free from the intoxication of sex indulgence by purification of intelligence, one should step forward for the next meditation, or in other words, the progress of meditation on the different limbs of the transcendental body of the Lord should be enhanced in proportion to the progress of purification of the heart. The conclusion is that those who are still entrapped by sex indulgence should never progress to meditation above the feet of the Lord; therefore recital of Srimad Bhdgavatam by them should be restricted to the First and Second Cantos of the great literature. One must complete the purification process by assimilating the contents of the first nine cantos. Then one should be admitted into the realm of the Tenth Canto of Srimad Bhdgavatam."It was also related to us by Srlla B. P. Purl GosvamI Maharaja, that his Guru Maharaja, Srlla Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, was very strict about reading or hearing even the baby pastimes of krishna, what to speak of reading or hearing the amorous pastimes of the Lord with the gopis. Srlla Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura never recommended such as a method of practice. Therefore, we find that the disciples of Srlla Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura never indulged in such matters in the course of their preaching activities. Higher topics were always reserved for the most qualified devotees of the Lord. The pastimes of Radha-krishna were never taken to the public or to the ears of the neophyte devotees.There is actually no difference between purely chanting Hare krishna and the pastimes of Radha-krishna save and except that chanting the Holy Name is the safer position. Therefore it is advised that one should hear the Holy Name of krishna. Srlla B. P. Purl GosvamI Maharaja was also fond of saying, "Take full shelter of the Holy Name of krishna and there will be less commotion and more promotion."
Just consider. If while still subject to sex desire one tries to hear the pastimes of Radha and krishna, but fails to control the mind and at that point allows some unwholesome thought to enter, then a great offense will be committed. We have heard from Srlla B. R. Srldhara Deva GosvamI Maharaja that when such an offense is committed against the llld of the Supreme Lord, the guardians of that plane will take note and the offender may be barred from entering there forever. Certainly this should be taken very seriously. To save us from such an unfortunate end, the recommended process to achieve purification is krishnakirtana, chanting the Holy Name and not smaranam, the process of remembrance of lilds.The Srimad Bhdgavatam, Srlla Jlva GosvamI, krishnadasa Kaviraja GosvamI, Srlla Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, our Guru Maharaja and many other stalwarts have all given stress to kirtana as the most effective process for this age.
kaler dosa-nidhe rajan asti hy-eko mahan gunah
kirtanad eva krishnasya mukta-sangah param vrajet
"The age of Kali, the repository of all evils, has but one glorious characteristic; in this age, those who simply chant the Holy Name of krishna are liberated and reach the Supreme Lord." (Bhdg. 12.3.51)
nama-sankirtanam yasya, sarva'papa-pranas'anam
pranamo duhkha'Samanas, mm namami harim param
"krishna's Holy Name can relieve us from all undesirable sinfulness, all filthy characteristics, and all miseries. Let us all bow down to Him." (Bhdg. 12.13.23)
bhajanera madhye irestha nava-vidha bhakti
krishna-prema. 'krishna' dite dhare maha-sakti
tar a madhye sarva'srestha nama-sankirtana
niraparadhe nama laile pay a prema'dhana
"Of all forms of divine service, nine forms are superior, which with great potency bestow upon devotees love of krishna, and their personal relationship with Him; and of the nine, the best is ndma'Sankirtana, the congregational chanting of the Holy Name. By offencelessly taking the Holy Name, the treasure of love for the Lord is attained." (Cc. Antya 4.70-71)Not only is the process of kirtana recommended by Sdstra (scripture), all other forms of devotional practice are subservient to kirtana.
yadyapy anya bhaktih kalau karttavya
"In the Kali-yuga, of the nine basic forms of devotional practices, the forms other than klrtana certainly should be practiced, but they must be conducted subserviently to kirtana" hakti'Sandarbha, sankhya 273)It may be argued that unless the Holy Name is chanted purely it will not have any effect, whereas the pastimes of the Lord are immediately relishable and purifying. But this is a faulty argument. Even before the Holy Name is chanted purely it has a purifying effect. Namabhasa is the stage of chanting before Suddha-ndma (pure chanting) is reached. Continuous chanting during the stage of namabhasa gradually gives us promotion to suddha-ndma.The pastimes of the Supreme Lord are supra-mundane and cannot be understood or relished by the mundane mind and senses which are covered with lust. Thinking of Radha and krishna when one is still a conditioned soul, what to speak of when one is suffering from sex desire, is more or less a dreamy thing. That is to say that such so-called neophyte meditation has no actual touch with the plane of reality in which Radha and krishna are situated. In other words, coming in contact with the lild of Radha and krishna is not a thing of this world. One must cross many lower planes before coming to the transcendental platform.
upajiya bade lata 'brahmande' bhedi' yaya
'viraja' brahma-loka' bhedi' para-vyoma' paya
tabe yaya tad upari ' goloka-vrndavana'
krishna-carana'-kalpa-vrkse kare arohana
"The creeper of devotion is born, and grows to pierce the wall of the universe. It crosses the Viraja River and the Brahman plane, and reaches to the Vaikuntha plane. Then it grows further up to Goloka Vrndavana, finally reaching to embrace the wish-yielding tree of krishna's lotus feet." (Cc. Madhya 19.153,4)This is the death-blow to the sentiment mongers. They want rasa-lild, which is situated in the highest plane of divinity, but they want that experience through intellectual adjustment, not by paying the actual price. In the language of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura such persons are known as pukura-curiwale, pond thieves.We find that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would sometimes become absorbed in thoughts of the lild of krishna. When the Lord came in contact with that plane of consciousness He manifested ecstatic symptoms such as trembling, faltering of the voice, and becoming unconscious. He would sometimes sweat blood, and His limbs would sometimes contract within His body. The Lord manifested these symptoms as a result of coming in connection with the transcendental plane.
Srila B. R. Sridhara Deva Gosvaml Maharaja used to say;"Only we are to conjecture the ideal. But if we think that we have got that, it is finished. We have got something else. It is such a thing, adhoksaja. Any force of our mind or intelligence can never catch it. Avon mdnasa gocara. It exists transcending our mental speculation and also the consideration of our judiciousness. But still it exists."Purification of the mind and senses is required if we want to progress to the transcendental plane and that purification is most substantially achieved by taking shelter of the Holy Name of krishna. That was the opinion of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
druirukimbudhi'Vardhanam prati'padam purnamrtasvadanam
sarvatma-snapanam param vijayate M-hrsna-sankirtanam
"Let there be all victory for the chanting of the Holy Name of Lord krishna, which can cleanse the mirror of the heart and stop the miseries of the blazing fire of material existence. That chanting is the waxing moon that spreads the white lotus of good fortune for all living beings. It is the life and soul of all education. The chanting of the Holy Name of krishna expands the blissful ocean of . transcendental life. It gives a cooling effect to everyone and enables one to taste full nectar at every step."One gentleman has written in a recent publication that anyone who says that we should not listen to the narration of krishna-llld with the gopis is certainly an atheist. But if we were to follow that line of thinking then even the mahdjanas (great devotees) would have to be considered atheistic. The fact is that those with high regard for divinity always deal with divinity with the greatest caution, such that offense should not be committed. The neophytes should therefore not concern themselves with the narration of the lllds of krishna as much as they should concern themselves with the Holy Name of krishna. One should first surrender to the Holy Name. And if one is a disciple of a bona-fide spiritual master he should first concern himself/herself with the instructions of that spiritual master. That is the way of advancement in krishna consciousness.