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19. ANARTHA NIVRTTI
Devotee: Several months ago you wrote an article called, "Hearing from A Rasikdcarya" wherein you put great emphasis on the qualifications of the person who hears hari'katha of a confidential nature. The emphasis was on anartha-nivrtti, overcoming mundane impediments in the heart. Some persons have complained that you give too much importance to anartha' nivrtti when in fact if we simply sing songs and discuss about the Lord's confidential lilds that we will become purified.Does this sound agreeable?Narasingha Maharaja:Certainly not.Personally we feel that minimizing anartha-nivrtti simply amounts to begging the question and nothing more.Anartha thdkara kale lild-gana kore na, "While still contaminated with anarthas, one should never sing songs about the Lord's confidential pastimes." This verse was composed by our parama-guru Sri Siddhanta SarasvatI Thakura in Prdkrta-rasa Sata-dusini, a masterful discussion of one hundred defects of the sahajiya school.Although many devotees now propose that purification (anartha-nivrtti) can be easily dismissed in favor of rasa-vicara (hearing rasa-lild), such a standpoint is taken by Sri Siddhanta Sarasvati Thakura to be symptomatic of the sahajiya practices.Of course, such devotees are fond of quoting the last verse of the rasa-llld chapter of Bhagavatam wherein it is stated as a benediction that even one with lusty desires becomes purified by hearing with great faith the Lord's pastimes with the gopis. However, the bona-fide acaryas always stress the Holy Name (with great faith and surrender) as the central focus in devotional life. To date no one has shown us where an acarya has established a method of practice for conditioned souls based only on the principle of hearing llla-katha.Jiva Gosvami has been quoted as stating that hearing rasa-katha is one of the most powerful forms of sadhana. This is certainly true, but qualification of the hearer is still required. All the bona-fide acaryas since the time of Sri Rupa Gosvami have promulgated respect for the developmental practices of bhakti-yoga, and they have cautioned us to avoid jumping over any particular stage.In Bhakti-sandarbha, Srlla Jiva Gosvami outlines the gradual process to spiritual realization:prathamam namnah iravanam antab)karana'Suda\yanham apeksyam / suddhe cantah-karane rupa-sravanena tad-udaya-yogyata bhavati I samyag-udite ca rupe gunanam sphuranam sampadyate I sampanne ca gunanam sphurane parikara-vaisistyena tad-vaisistyam sampadyate I tatas tesu ndma-mpa-guna'parikaresu samyak sphuritesu lildnam sphuranam susthu bhavati II"First it is expected that one should hear the Lord's Names in order to purify the heart. Once the mind and intelligence have been purified in this way, one can hear about krishna's form, through which one's qualification to visualize it is obtained. When the form of the Lord has been clearly visualized, one can experience His qualities. Once these have been clearly understood, one develops one's own individual spiritual characteristics through the particular characteristics of the Lord's associates. Thus, once the Name, form, qualities and associates of the Lord have been realized, a clear realization of krishna's activities will follow."Srlla Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura confirms:
adhikara avicara rupanuga kore na
anartha-arwita da.se rasa-slksa. deya na
"The followers of Sri Rupa Gosvami are never neglectful in assessing anyone's spiritual qualifications. The followers of Sri Rupa never instruct a servant who is engrossed in material impediments about the science of rasa." (Prakfta-rasa Sata-dusini 56)rati age, sraddhd pache rupanuga bole na krama patha chddi siddhi rupanuga bole na"The followers of Sri Rupa never preach that transcendental attachment is reached before one develops pure faith. The rupanugas never teach that the perfection of devotion can be reached by abandoning the consecutive order of developmental stages on the path." (Prdkrta-rasa Sata-dusini 33)
sadhana chadile bhava udaya to haya na
raganuga janile-i sadhana to chade na
"If the preliminary practices of devotional service (sadhana) are neglected, then the awakening of ecstatic emotions (bhava) can never occur. Even one who has attained realization of spontaneous devotional service (rdgdnugd-bhakti) should never give up practicing the regulative principles of devotional service." (Prdkrta-rasa Sata-dusini 63)The most practical evidence which may indeed help us to arrive at a final conclusion as to with whom and where the higher lild of the Supreme Lord can be discussed, might be as easy as walking down Bhaktisiddhanta Road in Mayapura. The Gaudiya Matha mission with all its branches (including ISKCON) on Bhaktisiddhanta Road, together with Caitanya Sarasvata Matha and Devananda Gaudiya Matha in Koladvlpa, were originally inspired by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. For close to one hundred years the mission he established has been functioning with its various branches, and in none of those establishments do we find lavish discussions on rdsa-lild, manjari-bhdva, and all such things going on in public or in the presence of unqualified devotees. Recently, this has become somewhat of a novelty in the western countries among certain groups, but it is far from the standard practices established by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta.Action speaks louder than words. The missions of Sarasvati Thakura, Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta SvamI Prabhupada, Srila B.
R. Sridhara Deva Gosvaimi Maharaja, Srila B. P. Purl Gosvami Maharaja, Srila B. D. IVIadhava Maharaja, Srila B. S. Gosvami Maharaja, Srila B. P. KLesava Maharaja and all others in the illustrious line of the S rl Caitanya Sarasvata parampard have put into action in all of their institutions the concept of pujala rdga-patha gaurava bhange."The path of rdga-mdrga, spontaneous love of God, must always be kept above our head, observing a respectful distance."Srila Sridhara Maharaja- many times commented as follows "The real existence of Bhaktisiddhanta is there in this verse,, pujala rdga-patha gaurava- bhange." Although unknown to some devotees in the western world, Srila Sridhara Maharaja kept the pujala-rdga-patha verse as the motto of his matha, engraved on ara arch above the kirtana haJl.Beginning sometime in I'981, greatly fortunate western devotees; began to hear from the lotus lips of Srila Sridhara Maharajai many of the intricate points of pure devotion and spontaneous; love of God (ragdnuga and rupdnugd-bhajana) following in the; line of Sri Rupa-Raghurxatha. In the years that followed, Srilai Sridhara Maharaja revealled a great treasure of the inner wealthi of Gaudiya Vaisnavism t:o the western world. Such noteworthy gems of siddhdnta were dlrawn to our attention by the grace of7 Srila Sridhara Maharajai, such as the mddhurya commentary (Niguddrtha) on Brahma-giayatri - the acme of dedication as found [ in our prayojandcdrya, Ragghunatha Dasa Gosvami, and the moodl of Rddhd-ddsyam, Rddhd-]£»dda-sevd, the service of Sri Radha.Srila Sridhara Maharaija revealed these and many more charming and beautiful a»spirations of pure devotion. But withL every breath came " pujaiUi rdga-patha gaurava bhange." Do not:
rush ahead, fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Do not become a fool follow the angels.Whenever asked about the path of rdgdnugd-bhakti, Srila Sridhara Maharaja always responded in the same way: "pujala rdga-patha gaurava bhange— The path of rdga-mdrga, spontaneous love of God, must always be kept above our head, observing a respectful distance." There was never any other explanation ofrdgdnugd-bhakti coming from the lotus mouth of Srila Sridhara Maharaja than this.Once, when Srila Sridhara Maharaja was asked to speak about the pastimes of krishna he replied as follows:"I am sorry, but we are not to enter into the discussion of such higher and subtle position of the lild of Radha-krishna. That is not to be brought into public, and that is the distinction between Gaudlya Matha and the sahajiyd section. The sahajiyds are trying to imitate all these things, but we have no faith in imitation. The higher lild will come in an individual case, and it will awaken in an irresistible way. When the program of the sddhana stage is finished it will come automatically, spontaneously. We are believers in that, and not to know the form already and then we will reach there. That is not the policy accepted by Guru Maharaja, Prabhupada. pujala rdga-patha gaurava bhange. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has also said, 'Stick to the rulings of the class you are fit for, then you will see automatically.Srila Sridhara Maharaja has also quoted the following &loka:
yatha yatha gaura-padaravinde vindeta bhaktim krta-punya-rasih
tatha tathot-sarpati hraya-kasmad radha-padambhoja-sudhambu-rasih
(Sri Caitanya-candrdmrta 88)
"Strictly stick to Gaura-lild, Mahaprabhu, and you will automatically find within your heart that Rddhd-rasa-sudhd-nidhi is flowing. Don't attempt directly to have it. It will come automatically, spontaneously. Not intellectually you shall approach that, for that will give you a bad prejudice. Not only that, but it will be harmful prejudice and you will have to expend more energy to do away with that layer of misunderstanding. So our Srila Prabhupada did not allow these things. Do your duty in your plane, according to what you deserve, and that will come naturally. That is his instruction all through, not only temporarily, but all through. Don't do like that, for then you will get mdyd instead of yogamdyd."It appears that many western advocates of rdga-mdrga are not very familiar with the books of Srila Sridhara Maharaja, or with those of Srila Sarasvati Thakura. Some may say that Srila Sridhara Maharaja was only a philosopher, while they themselves are rasika-bhaktas, but such a statement is more telling of one's ambition than of one's position as a real dcarya.Pujala rdga-patha gaurava bhange is not merely a warning, so that one might not make a mistake and go forward prematurely, although it certainly is that also. Pujala rdga-patha gaurava bhange is a direction that implies the recognition of an intrinsic quality, a fundamental aspect of the nature of the soul. The soul (tatasthd'jiva) is not a parsada of krishna or of Radha. The position of the jiva is that of a humble servitor —a little distant and below.The place of residence of the liberated jiva in the Gaudlya-parampard is Govardhana, not Radha-kunda.
And the service of the jiva there is also selected according to the necessity of the master. So to practice pujala rdga'patha gaurava bhange in this life will bring about the greatest fortune for all conditioned souls and prepare us (in the sense of making us fit) for eternal service in the spiritual realm.Srila Sridhara Maharaja commented that this conception (pujala rdga-patha gaurava bhange) should be preached in every nook and cranny of the world for all time. It is not something to dismiss so easily. If we do dismiss this instruction, then it is we who are the losers.It came as a shock to us when one evening, while sitting in Srila Bhakti Pramoda Purl Maharaja's room in Mayapura, he mentioned that those sannyasis who want to hear rasa-lild but are actually not qualified will have to take the risk of becoming mundane women in their next birth. They will not, he said, get the aprdkrta-gopi'Svarupa. They will attain just the opposite, the material body of a woman.Sannyasa itself is the life of pure devotion, a life of service to Guru and krishna, twenty-four hours a day. Yet we see in these unfortunate times that a man gives up his vows of sannyasa, then enjoys the shackles of marital life for some years, criticizes pure devotees and their followers, and then reappears on the scene after a decade or two, but this time as a ragdnuga-bhakta. We are not impressed.The real question is why do those who want krishna-lild resent it when stress is placed on purity first, anartha-nivrtti? First deserve and then desire. Is it too much to ask? Purity is the price one has to pay. The actual price one has to pay for eternal life is surrender to one's guru.
prasanna haile guru sarva-siddhi haya'
gaura'krishna-krpa tdnre haya suniscaya
"If the guru is satisfied with his disciple, then all perfections are possible. Without any doubt, Gaura and krishna's mercy will be showered upon him." (Srila B. P. Purl Gosvami Maharaja, Of Love and Separation, P. 131)To establish the process of hearing from a rasikdcdrya, some devotees have given evidence from Visvanatha CakravartI Thakura. In this regard Srila Purl Maharaja has stated as follows:"Apndder videse ek~ti prakrta'sahajiyd'dol Srstha ho'yechhe." In your foreign countries there has appeared a party of prdkrta'sahajiydism. And it is not a matter of inventing something: what they speak is there in IOth Canto, in the works of the Gosvamis, and Srila Visvanatha CakravartI Thakura. But the very fact of their speaking such higher topics to unprepared audiences, ignoring the glories of the Holy Name, Who is the only real path to this higher Ma, is ndmdparddha. Mahaprabhu never did like this. He was relishing these topics with few of His antaranga-bhaktas,and He was inspiring masses to perform ndma-sanldrtana, and Himself performed sanldrtana with great numbers of people. Pracdra should be ndma-pracdra. Remember: I don't like pseudo-Vaisnavism. I don't like pseudo-Vaisnavism. I don't like pseudo-Vaisnavism."So it is safe to say that those who are actually followers of Srila Sridhara Maharaja and also of Srila Purl Maharaja will not go to such places where the intimate lilas of the Supreme Lord are being discussed among unqualified persons. We might add that the standard of our Guru Maharaja, Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta SvamI Prabhupada, was no different than that of Srila Sridhara Maharaja, Srila Purl Maharaja or of any of the stalwart followers of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta SarasvatI Thakura.
There is a fundamental defect in those who quote Visvanatha CakravartI Thakura in an attempt to justify their involvement with rasa-vicara (discussions of rdsa-lild), and that is that they are jumping over the head of SarasvatI Thakura.But this is not the first time such a mistake has been made. There is the precedent of Harivamsa and his followers. Harivamsa was a disciple of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami who took support for engaging in rasa-vicara from Prabodhananda Sarasvatipada, but failed to follow Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. Srila Sridhara Maharaja explains:
"That sort of deviation is found in many places in the succession. Just as there is one Harivamsa, he was a disciple of Gopala Bhatta. But he practically deviated. It is thought that he is supported by Gopala Bhatta's guru,Prabodhananda SarasvatI, who was a great devotee, and who has written many books: Rddhd-rasa-sudhd-nidhi and many books of high-style writing are there. He supported Harivamsa to a certain extent, who was a disciple of Gopala Bhatta. There is a line from Harivamsa. Harivamsa was not accepted in-toto by Gopala Bhatta, who was guru of Harivamsa. Another branch, as if coming down from Harivamsa, they are known as Hari-vamsini. Theoretically they have recognition of Gopala Bhatta, but practically there is some deviation. They are more addicted to the rasa-vicara (discussion of hid). But Gopala Bhatta, the direct connection (his true followers), they are very careful to deal with this rasa, high type. Just as our Guru Maharaja, he is very cautious about how to deal with the higher rasa, pujala rdga-patha gaurava bhafige. That rasa should be kept always over our heads."The standard for dealing with the higher subjective plane of reality has been given to us by SarasvatI Thakura. He has come down from the eternal lilds of Lord Gaurahga to show us how to adjust our relationship with the Absolute Truth, the super subjective plane of reality, pujala rdga-patha gaurava bhange.There are no losers among those who accept the path shown by SarasvatI Thakura. When you are qualified you will be accepted in that higher realm: back to home, back to Godhead.However, if you are not qualified but still insist on engaging in higher topics of discussion, then you are, in effect, creating a disturbance in the Lord's lila. Unfortunately in your next life you will get the corresponding body in material nature.
It is also stated in the book Sri Vraja Mandala Parikrama by Sripada Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja, as follows:"So whenever the Vaisnavas are discussing any topic, it is correct to approach that assembly in a mood of reverence. My Guru Maharaja (Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Maharaja) instructed us never to read the IOth Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam.""I remember that although he restricted us from reading these particular pastimes it was not because he was forbidding us from reading it; but it was just to make sure that we would be extremely careful in approaching these subjects with the utmost care and reverence without a tinge of mundane contamination.""Therefore these topics and this sentiment should be carefully exposed and partially hidden; but nevertheless they must be revealed according to time and circumstance, taking into consideration each individual's qualifications and eligibility."We are not saying one should never hear krishna'lild. What we are saying is that one should first be concerned with attaining the proper qualifications necessary to enter such a high plane of existence, Tt should not be considered cheaply. Why some devotees are so adamantly opposed to the emphasis of attaining the basic qualifications before entering into higher topics prematurely is shocking when all members of the Gaudiya Matha sampradaya know the real standard first deserve and then desire.