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Section Concerning the Devotees of Hari
We have already discussed the conceptions of worldly people in the previous chapter. In this present chapter we will discuss the devotees of Lord Hari. In ancient times the Hari-janas and the Prakriti-janas had a debate over Ajamila. Due to their nature, Prakriti-janas tend to consider the Hari-janas to be similar to themselves. In this incident, the Prakriti-janas finally understood from their master that the Hari-janas are not subjected to the fruits of karma. We are herein quoting some essential points from this narration of Shrimad Bhagavatam (6.3.25-28) by which we can realize the difference between the Prakriti-janas and Hari-janas.
prayena veda tad idam na mahajano 'yam
devya vimohita-matir bata mayayalam
trayyam jadi-krita-matir madhu-pushpitayam
vaitanike mahati karmani yujyamanah
“Because they are bewildered by the illusory energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Yajnavalkya and Jaimini and other compilers of the religious scriptures cannot know the secret, confidential religious system of the twelve mahajanas [or Hari-janas]. They cannot understand the transcendental value of performing devotional service or chanting the Hare Krishna mantra. Because their minds are attracted to the ritualistic ceremonies mentioned in the Vedas-especially the Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Rig Veda-their intelligence has become dull. Thus they are busy collecting the ingredients for ritualistic ceremonies that yield only temporary benefits, such as elevation to Svargaloka for material happiness. They are not attracted to the sankirtana movement; instead, they are interested in dharma, artha, kama and moksha.
evam vimrishya sudhiyo bhagavaty anante
sarvatmana vidadhate khalu bhava-yogam
te me na dandam arhanty atha yady amisham
syat patakam tad api hanty urugaya-vadah
“Considering all these points, therefore, intelligent men decide to solve all problems by adopting the devotional service of chanting the holy name of the Lord, who is situated in everyone's heart and who is a mine of all auspicious qualities. Such persons are not within my jurisdiction for punishment. Generally they never commit sinful activities, but even if by mistake or because of bewilderment or illusion they sometimes commit sinful acts, they are protected from sinful reactions because they always chant the Hare Krishna mantra.
ye sadhavah samadrisho bhagavat-prapannah
tan nopasidata harer gadayabhiguptan
naisham vayam na ca vayah prabhavama dande
“My dear servants, please do not approach such devotees, for they have fully surrendered to the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They are equal to everyone, and their narrations are sung by the demigods and the inhabitants of Siddhaloka. Please do not even go near them. They are always protected by the club of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and therefore Lord Brahma and I and even the time factor are not competent to chastise them.
tan anayadhvam asato vimukhan mukunda-
nishkincanaih paramahamsa-kulair asangair
jushtad grihe niraya-vartmani baddha-trishnan
“Paramahamsas are exalted persons who have no taste for material enjoyment and who drink the honey of the Lord's lotus feet. My dear servants, bring to me for punishment only persons who are averse to the taste of that honey, who do not associate with paramahamsas and who are attached to family life and worldly enjoyment, which form the path to hell.”
In Shri Nrsimha Purana it is stated:
aham amara-ganarcitena dhatra
yama iti loka-hitahite niyuktah
hari-guru-vimukhan prashasmi martyan
hari-carana-pranatan namas karomi
“Yamaraja said: `I have been appointed by Lord Brahma, who is worshiped by the demigods, to judge people's pious and impious activities. I severely punish the worldly fruitive actors who are averse to the spiritual master and Lord Hari, and I offer my obeisances to the Vaishnavas who have surrendered themselves at the lotus feet of Lord Hari.'”
Shrimad Prabhu Jiva Gosvami has quoted the following verse from the Skanda Purana, as found in the Amrita-sara:
na brahma na shivagnindra naham nanye divaukasah
shaktas tu nigraham kartum vaishnavanam mahatmanam
“Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva, Agni, Indra, myself (Yamaraja), and other demigods are unable to chastise the broad-minded Vaishnavas.”
Needless to say, every created living being is subjected to the punishment of the demigods and Yamaraja; only the Vaishnavas are exceptions. (A Vaishnava is respected by he who judges pious and impious actions.)
The Padma Purana has stated:
na karma-bandhanam janma vaishnavanam ca vidyate
vishnur anucaratvam hi moksham ahur manishinah
“Vaishnavas are not bound by fruitive activities or forced to take birth, because learned persons have firmly declared that service to Lord Vishnu is itself liberation.”
It is stated in the Brahma-vaivarta Purana, Krishna-janma-khanda, Chapter 59 as follows:
vahni-surya-brahmanebhyas tejiyan vaishnava sada
na vicaro na bhogash ca vaishnavanam sva-karmanam
likhitam samni kauthumyam kuru prashnam brihaspatim
“The Vaishnavas are always more powerful than Agni, Surya, and the brahmanas. Vaishnavas do not have to suffer the reactions of fruitive activities or concern themselves with analyzing these activities. This is stated in the Kauthumi branch of the Sama Veda. You may ask Brihaspati for confirmation of this.”
The Vaishnava devotees of the Supreme Lord are not like ordinary human beings, who are forced to enjoy the results of their karma-this fact is stated in many places in the scriptures. The Vaishnavas are a particular type of incarnation of the Supreme Lord, and therefore they are not enjoyers of the fruits of karma. By the will of the Lord, they appear for the benefit of the people of the world just like an incarnation of the Supreme Lord.
It is stated in the Adi Purana as follows:
aham eva dvija-shreshtha nityam pracchanna-vigrahah
bhagavad-bhakta-rupena lokan rakshami sarvada
“O best of the brahmanas, in My disguised form as a devotee, I always protect the people of this world.
jagatam guravo bhakta bhaktanam guravo vayam
sarvatra guravo bhakta vayam ca guravo yatha
“Shri Krishna said to Arjuna: The Vaishnavas are the spiritual masters of the entire world, and I am the spiritual master of the Vaishnavas. As I am the spiritual master of everyone, the devotees are also the spiritual masters of everyone.”
In the entire world there is no object as worshipable as the Vaishnavas. The ultimate conclusion of the scriptures is that the Vaishnavas are better than the best, or the topmost ideals in the world.
The Skanda Purana, Utkala-khanda, says:
maha-prasade govinde nama-brahmani vaishnave
svalpa-punyavatam rajan vishvaso naiva jayate
“Persons who are not very highly elevated in pious activities cannot believe in the remnants of food (prasada) of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, nor in Govinda, the holy name of the Lord, nor in the Vaishnavas.” By the strength of their atheistic temperament, such persons are unable to properly see the Vaishnavas.
Unless they are fortunate, the karmis, jnanis, and gross materialists are naturally cheated from achieving the fruit, even when they do see such objects. They are so burdened with their respective rules and regulations that they are unable to lift their heads to look at these four transcendental objects. Being bound by their own narrow-mindedness, such pitiable souls cannot make any progress on the path of devotional service. Although they know that devotees and devotional service are most rare in this world, they make no endeavor to attain them; rather they glorify their own fallen condition, commit offences at the feet of the devotees, and ultimately clear their path for further degradation.
In the Padma Purana it is stated:
arcye vishnau shila-dhir gurushu nara-matir vaishnave jati-buddhir
vishnor va vaishnavanam kali-mala-mathane pada-tirthe 'mbu-buddhih
shri-vishnor namni mantre sakala-kalusha-he shabda-samanya-buddhir
vishnau sarveshvareshe tad-itara-sama-dhir yasya va naraki sah
“One who thinks the Deity in the temple to be made of wood or stone, who thinks of the spiritual master in the disciplic succession as an ordinary man, who thinks the Vaishnava in the Acyuta-gotra to belong to a certain caste or creed, who thinks of caranamrita or Ganges water as ordinary water, or who considers the Hare Krishna maha-mantra to be a material vibration is taken to be a resident of hell.” The difference between devotees and nondevotees is scientifically and philosophically exhibited in these six considerations.
The nondevotees like karmis, jnanis, and whimsical persons think of themselves as dutiful followers of the smriti-shastras, yet they cannot concur with the transcendental devotees. The practioners of devotional service purify their intelligence, attain the position of Vaishnavas, and give up the desire for and absorption in material enjoyment on the strength of worshiping the transcendental Lord. Controlled by pride and desiring to go to hell, the materialistic non-Vaishnava householders do go to hell because they have the nature of nondevotees, who are punishable by Yamaraja. Therefore there are always differences between the devotees and nondevotees.
The unfortunate hellish people, bewildered by the material modes, forget their spiritual identity and their spiritual duties. Material greed captures them and sets them on the platform of mundane reputation, and they then claim that there is no devotion for Hari in this world, there are no devotees in the world, there have been only twelve devotees of Hari in the four yugas, and other similarly useless statements that dominate the thoughts of such people. Thus the material kingdom becomes their own asset and course of wanderings. When the ascetics and materialists, following in the footsteps of Hiranyakashipu, who is attached to women, gold, and household, proceed to cheat the world by exhibiting their pride while relishing hog stool-like fame, then such materialism will certainly be vanquished by reciting the statements of Prahlada Maharaja. For the benefit of the materialists we herein quote the easy path exhibited and glorified by Prahlada Maharaja. By this path the Prakriti-janas qualify themselves to become Hari-janas. In the Shrimad Bhagavatam (7.5.30-32) it is stated:
matir na krishne paratah svato va
mitho 'bhipadyeta griha-vratanam
adanta-gobhir vishatam tamisram
punah punash carvita-carvananam
“Because of their uncontrolled senses, persons too addicted to materialistic life make progress toward hellish conditions and repeatedly chew that which has already been chewed. Their inclinations toward Krishna are never aroused, either by the instructions of others, by their own efforts, or by a combination of both.
na te viduh svartha-gatim hi vishnum
durashaya ye bahir-artha-maninah
andha yathandhair upaniyamanas
te 'pisha-tantryam uru-damni baddhah
“Persons who are strongly entrapped by the consciousness of enjoying material life, and who have therefore accepted as their leader or guru a similar blind man attached to external sense objects, cannot understand that the goal of life is to return home, back to Godhead, and engage in the service of Lord Vishnu. As blind men guided by another blind man miss the right path and fall into a ditch, materially attached men led by another materially attached man are bound by the ropes of fruitive labor, which are made of very strong cords, and they continue again and again in materialistic life, suffering the threefold miseries.
naisham matis tavad urukramanghrim
sprishaty anarthapagamo yad-arthah
nishkincananam na vrinita yavat
“Unless they smear upon their bodies the dust of the lotus feet of a Vaishnava completely freed from material contamination, persons very much inclined toward materialistic life cannot be attached to the lotus feet of the Lord, who is glorified for His uncommon activities. Only by becoming Krishna conscious and taking shelter at the lotus feet of the Lord in this way can one be freed from material contamination.”
The subtle realization of the Vaishnavas is that worldly brahmanas who call themselves gurus and engage in fruitive activities and sense enjoyment advertise nondevotional activities as spiritual in such a way that they will never attain freedom from the material world either by becoming disciples or gurus, by maintaining smarta, or ritualistic, mentality, or by the help of their smarta friends. If, however, they accept the dust from the lotus feet of an advanced paramahamsa Vaishnava as the supreme goal, then they become freed from the ropes of karma, in the form of worldly brahmanism, and they then take shelter of devotional service to Lord Vishnu by giving up advancement in the materialistic way of life, which is the path to hell. Such unalloyed Vaishnavas achieve the transcendental lotus feet of Lord Hari.
The Shrimad Bhagavatam (5.12.12) says:
rahuganaitat tapasa na yati
na cejyaya nirvapanad grihad va
na cchandasa naiva jalagni-suryair
When King Rahugana was going to visit Kapila Muni in search of the truth and the great soul Bharata was carrying his palenquin, the king submitted to the great devotee Bharata, who then explained how the living entity could attain the highest benefit in the following words:
“My dear King Rahugana, unless one has the opportunity to smear his entire body with the dust of the lotus feet of great devotees, one cannot realize the Absolute Truth. One cannot realize the Absolute Truth simply by observing celibacy [brahmacarya], strictly following the rules and regulations of householder life, leaving home as a vanaprastha, accepting sannyasa, or undergoing severe penances in winter by keeping oneself submerged in water or surrounding oneself in summer by fire and the scorching heat of the sun. There are many other processes to understand the Absolute Truth, but the Absolute Truth is only revealed to one who has attained the mercy of a great devotee.”
This instruction expresses the same message as the instructions of Prahlada Maharaja to Hiranyakashipu. The instructions that smarta gurus give to the attached householders, those who desire material advancement, the less-intelligent, the folllowers of the smritis, those who meditate on Kali with closed eyes, the students, wrestlers, market salesmen, and sense gratifiers, who are all qualified for such instructions, are not at all pleasing to the transcendental, liberated, advanced Vaishnavas. Those who have already attained the highest goal of the smarta regulations in their previous life take birth as Vaishnavas in the homes of Hari-janas. To broadcast the glories of mundane ritualists before such persons is simply a matter of arrogance.
In this material creation there are two types of living entities-one is conditioned by the three modes of material nature and the other is transcendental. The conditioned souls who are averse to Lord Hari consider themselves weak, imperfect, controlled by their enemies lust, greed and so on, forced to accept the results of pious and impious activities, prone to be influenced by the three modes of material nature, eligible for becoming ghosts, materially designated, situated in Devi-dhama, proud of being materialistic, servants of the demigods, conditioned by matter, and unqualified for serving Lord Hari. They thus praise the nondevotees' philosophy based on the smritis, which is suitable for fools. The transcendental Hari-janas, however, realize that their Lord is most merciful, omnipotent, and most affectionate to His devotees. Although they consider themselves materialists, they actually realize themselves as eternal servants of Hari, beyond the fruits of karma, beyond the three modes of material nature, eligible for attaining Goloka, devoid of material designations, beyond Devi-dhama, not of this world, eternal, beyond the control of the demigods, liberated, beyond material prestige such as received by brahmanas, endowed with pure brahminical qualities, appreciative of the fact that mundane honor is less valuable than straw, free from false pride, completely tolerant, and ready to offer respects even to insignificant persons. In this way they obtain ecstasy while chanting the names of Krishna.
Lord Vishnu and the Vaishnavas are beyond the material creation. For them, the illusory identification as brahmanas of this world is secondary and irrelevant. When a living entity identifies himself as Krishna's servant, maya cannot act him. The Lord Himself says in Bhagavad-gita (7.14):
daivi hy esha guna-mayi mama maya duratyaya
mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti te
“This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.”
The servants of the rules and regulations may themselves attain high qualifications, yet they cannot cross beyond maya by their own strength. Only the Vaishnavas on the strength of their devotional service are able to serve the Lord, who is beyond maya. As stated in the Shrimad Bhagavatam (2.7.42):
yesham sa esha bhagavan dayayed anantah
sarvatmanashrita-pado yadi nirvyalikam
te dustaram atitaranti ca deva-mayam
naisham mamaham iti dhih shva-shrigala-bhakshye
“But anyone who is specifically favored by the Supreme Lord, the Personality of Godhead, due to unalloyed surrender unto the service of the Lord, can overcome the insurmountable ocean of illusion and can understand the Lord. But those who are attached to this body, which is meant to be eaten at the end by dogs and jackals, cannot do so.” Those duplicitous persons who consider “I” and “mine” in relationship with the material body, which is ultimately eaten by dogs and jackals, become Vaishnavas out of fashion while internally maintaining a desire for material happiness. Such persons cannot attain the good fortune of devotional service to the Lord, because they have a fruitive mentality and are still under the influence of maya.
The pleasure-seeking worldly smartas are generally unable to understand the exalted position of a self-satisfied Vaishnava.
Shrimad Bhagavatam (1.7.10) states:
atmaramash ca munayo nirgrantha apy urukrame
kurvanty ahaitukim bhaktim ittham-bhuta-guno harih
“All different varieties of atmaramas [those who take pleasure in atma, or spirit self], especially those established on the path of self-realization, though freed from all kinds of material bondage, desire to render unalloyed devotional service unto the Personality of Godhead. This means that the Lord possesses transcendental qualities and therefore can attract everyone, including liberated souls.” Therefore devotional service alone is the wealth of the liberated souls.
The Shrimad Bhagavatam (4.24.29) also says:
sva-dharma-nishthah shata-janmabhih puman
virincatam eti tatah param hi mam
avyakritam bhagavato 'tha vaishnavam
padam yathaham vibudhah kalatyaye
“[Lord Shiva said:] A person who executes his occupational duty properly for one hundred births becomes qualified to occupy the post of Brahma, and if he becomes more qualified, he can approach Lord Shiva. A person who is directly surrendered to Lord Krishna, or Vishnu, in unalloyed devotional service is immediately promoted to the spiritual planets. Lord Shiva and other demigods attain these planets after the destruction of this material world.”
The Shrimad Bhagavatam (3.28.44) states:
tasmad imam svam prakritim daivim sad-asad-atmikam
durvibhavyam parabhavya svarupenavatishthate
“Thus the yogi [or Hari-jana] can be in the self-realized position after conquering the insurmountable spell of maya, who presents herself as both the cause and effect of this material manifestation and is therefore very difficult to understand.”
Materialistic persons who are proud of their varna and who are puppets in the hands of maya try to act independently while glorifying the wheel of karma, but the devotees know that attempts to become the master of maya are in reality service to maya, which is the cause of bondage, so they give up hellish fruitive mentality and understand the eternal service of the Supreme Lord as their constitutional duty.
By following the principles of varnashrama, one accumulates pious activities in material life. And by engaging in activities outside of the varnashrama system in this world one amasses sins. Sinful and pious activities are inevitable for those who proudly consider themselves Prakriti-janas in this kingdom of desire. This is not the case with the Hari-janas.
In the Mundaka Upanishad (3.3) it is stated:
yada pashyah pashyate rukma-varnam
kartaram isham purusham brahma-yonim
tada vidvan punya-pape vidhuya
niranjanah paramam samyam upaiti
“When a person with transcendental vision, that is, a devotee of the Supreme Lord who has the eyes of devotion, is able to see the Supreme Person-His creator and master, the Lord of the brahmanas whose bodily complexion is golden-then that person is endowed with transcendental knowledge and liberation, uplifted from the material ego. He gives up piety and sin, becoming completely pure and equipoised.”
If one follows a few of the sentiments of Acarya Shrila Prabodhananda Sarasvati, the king of tridandis following in the footsteps of Shri Mahaprabhu, then he can realize who is a Hari-jana and who is a non-Vaishnava engaged in devotional service mixed with karma.
kaivalyam narakayate tridasha-pur akasha-pushpayate
vishvam purna-sukhayate vidhi-mahendradish ca kitayate
yat karunya-kataksha-vaibhavavatam tam gauram eva stumah
“For a devotee who has received Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's merciful glance, kaivalya, merging into the existence of Brahman, appears hellish, the heavenly planets appear like phantasmagoria, the senses appear like serpents with broken teeth, the entire world becomes a replica of Vaikuntha, and the position of demigods like Lord Brahma and Lord Indra is considered equal to that of tiny insects. We pray to that Lord, Shri Gaurasundara.”
upasatam va guru-varya-kotir
adhiyatam va shruti-shastra-kotih
bhavet param sadya rahasya-labhah
“Whatever result one achieves by worshiping millions of the best of the wayward karmi and jnani spiritual masters or by studying millions of Vedic literatures, we don't care. But by associating with devotees who have received the merciful sidelong glance of Shri Chaitanyadeva one can immediately understand the great secret of pure love for Lord Krishna. It is useless for those who are attached to the principles of varnashrama to accept millions of gurus or study millions of Vedic literatures unless they become unalloyed devotees.”
kriyasaktan dhig dhig vikata-tapaso dhik ca yaminah
dhig astu brahmaham vadana-pariphullan jada-matin
kim etan shocamo vishaya-rasa-mattan nara-pashun
na keshancil-lesho 'py ahaha milito gaura-madhunah
“Condemned are those who are fond of the Vedic fruitive rituals! Condemned are those self-controlled persons who are fond of severe austerities! Condemned are those persons with material conceptions who nevertheless take pleasure in declaring `I am Brahman!' How much more shall I lament for these karmis, jnanis, and tapasvis, who are absorbed in sense gratification and are just like two-legged animals. Alas! They were not fortunate enough to have tasted even a drop of the nectar of Lord Gaura's kirtana.”
kalah kalir balina indriya-vairi-vargah
shri-bhakti-marga iha kantaka-koti-ruddhah
ha ha kva yami vikalah kim aham karomi
chaitanya-candra yadi nadya kripam karoshi
“Now it is the age of Kali. My enemies headed by the senses are very strong. The beautiful path of bhakti to the Supreme Lord is spiked with countless thorns like karma, jnana, and unregulated sense enjoyment. O Lord Chaitanyacandra, if You do not bestow Your mercy on me today, then, being confused, where will I go and what will I do?”
gauram vinadya mama ko bhaviteha bandhuh
“I have committed millions of sinful activities while wandering the path of karma. I am tightly bound by the shackles of uncontrolable material desires. My intelligence is afflicted by the misguidance of the karmis, jnanis, and unregulated sense enjoyers. Other than Lord Gaura, who will be my friend in this world?”
ha hanta hanta paramoshara-citta-bhumau
vyarthi-bhavanti mama sadhana-kotayo 'pi
sarvatmana tad aham adbhuta-bhakti-bijam
shri-gauracandra-caranam sharanam karomi
“Alas! The seeds of millions of karma and jnana rituals have failed to fructify in the barren field of my heart. Therefore I will now take full shelter of the lotus feet of Lord Gaurachandra, who is the seed of wonderful devotional service.”
mrigyapi sa shiva-shukoddhava-naradadyair
ashcarya-bhakti-padavi na daviyasi nah
durbodha-vaibhava-pate mayi pamare 'pi
chaitanya-candra yadi te karuna-katakshah
“O Lord Chaitanyacandra, O You who enlightens the ignorant, if You grace me with Your merciful glance, then even though I am a wretch I will not be far away from the wonderful path of pure devotion, which is rarely attained by Shiva, Shukadeva, Uddhava, Narada, and other great souls. Due to their poor fund of knowledge, the karmis understand their inability and become averse to devotional service, but this is not the case with the devotees. Serving Krishna is nothing like fruitive work.”
nishtham prapta vyavahriti-tati-laukiki vaidiki ya
ya va lajja prahasana-samudgana-natyotsaveshu
ye vabhuvann ahaha sahaja-prana-dehartha-dharma
gaurash caurah sakalam aharat ko 'pi me tivra-viryah
“My faith in Vedic and ordinary duties, my embarrassment to sing, dance, and laugh, and my natural tendency to be absorbed in material activities for the sustenance of my life air and body have all been forcibly stolen away by the golden-complexioned thief, Gaurahari. When one becomes a Vaishnava, all insignificant endeavors are automatically reduced.”
patanti yadi siddhayah kara-tale svayam durlabhah
svayam ca yadi sevaki-bhavitum agatah syuh surah
kim anyad idam eva va yadi catur-bhujam syad vapus
tathapi mama no manak calati gaura-candran manah
“What to speak if the rarely attained eight mystic perfections-anima and so on-fell into my hands without endeavor and the widely-served ideals of enjoyment, the demigods, willingly came to me as my order-carriers offering heavenly pleasures, even if I were awarded the four-armed form of Narayana in place of my present material body my mind would still not move an inch from the service of Gaurahari, the Supreme Lord dressed as a devotee.”
The glory and prominence of devotional service is not at all subordinate to karma, jnana, or uncontrolled sense gratification. The devotees firmly believe that they will never fall prey to insignificant greed. But those persons who, due to their duplicitous nature, do not understand the real characteristics of devotional service and who, due to their fruitive mentality, consider devotional service as another category of karma-kanda, quickly commit offenses at the feet of devotees and fall down into the kingdom of sin. As a result of their offenses, they are greatly disturbed by various impediments beginning with caste consciousness, such as considering themselves brahmanas, attachment to occupations like giving and receiving charity, and, ultimately, their own envious mentality. These fruitive workers, who are envious of the devotees, are swallowed by false ego in the form of considering Govardhana-shila, the life and soul of the paramahamsas, as stone, considering Vaishnavas as belonging to a particular caste, and lack of faith in the water that has washed the feet of the Hari-janas. The devotees, however, are not greedy, foolish, or weak like them.
dante nidhaya trinakam padayor-nipatya
kritva ca kaku-shatam etad aham bravimi
he sadhavah sakalam eva vihaya durad
“Taking a straw in my teeth I fall at your feet hundreds of times and humbly appeal to you, saying: O saintly persons! Please give up your path of advancement and its goal, forget about following the principles of varnashrama, disregard religiousity and irreligiousity, remain equal to pious and impious activities, and do not consider bondage or liberation. Simply cultivate attachment for the lotus feet of Shri Krishna Chaitanya.”
Unless one possesses unalloyed devotion, he cannot have the good fortune to receive initiation or teachings on devotional service from a spiritual master. If a person is careless, then after obtaining mantras and the process for worshiping the Lord through aural reception, they become the source of material attachment. Those who give up duplicity and properly hear the topics of Hari from a bona fide spiritual master and those whose ears are able to properly receive such topics, only they are able to repeat the same words. The very same mercy and teachings that Tridandi Prabhu Shri Prabodhananda received from Shriman Mahaprabhu were preserved by him in verses for the benefit of future devotees. Those who have a taste for the mood of Prabodhananda are worthy of being called Vaishnavas, otherwise one simply wanders about searching for insignificant eatables like banana stalks, dal balls, and drumsticks.
stri-putradi-katham jahur vivashayinah shastra-pravadam budha
yogindra vijahur -marun-niyama-ja-klesham tapas tapasah
jnanabhyasa-vidhim jahush ca yatayash chaitanya-candre param
avishkurvati bhakti-yoga-padavim naivanya asid rasah
“Now that Lord Chaitanyacandra has revealed the path of pure devotional service, the materialists have given up talking about their wives, children, and material affairs, the scholars have given up debating the scriptures, the yogis have given up the trouble to control their breath, the ascetics have given up their austerities, and the impersonalists have given up studying Vedanta. Being attracted by the sweet beauty of devotional service to Krishna, all the shopkeepers have stopped selling their insignificant wares.” Such is the uncommon influence of devotional service. Until one realizes the beauty of devotional service, he continues to traverse the path of karma, jnana, and sense gratification.”
The poet Sarvajna says:
tvad-bhaktah saritam patim culuka-vat khadyota-vat bhaskaram
merum pashyati loshtra-vat kim aparam bhumeh patim bhritya-vat
cintaratna-cayam shila-shakala-vat kalpa-drumam kashtha-vat
samsaram trina-rashi-vat kim aparam deham nijam bhara-vat
“O my Lord, Your devotee considers the ocean as a palmful of water, the brilliant sun as a firefly, Mount Meru as a stone, a king as a servant, a touchstone as an ordinary stone, a desire tree as ordinary wood, the whole material world as straw, and, above all, his own body as a burden.”
The foolish, materialistic karmis, who are attached to their bodies, consider, “I am this body, and this body is mine,” and thus differentiate between their relatives and others. They see the wonder of material objects and hanker after them. Vaishnavas, however, do not have such low mentality. They are the best of all persons and therefore cannot be compared with selfish, greedy karmis.
The Vaishnava saint Shri Madhava Sarasvatipada has stated:
mimamsa-rajasa malimasa-drisham tavan na dhir ishvare
garvodarka-kutarka-karkasha-dhiyam duro 'pi varta hareh
jananto 'pi na janate shruti-sukham shri-rangi-sangad rite
su-svadum pariveshayanty api rasam gurvi na darvi sprishet
“Those followers of Jaimini, Gautama, and Kanada, whose eyes of knowledge have been contaminated by Purva-mimamsa and the related karma-kanda, who are proud of being materialistic, whose intelligence is crude, and who have no faith in the Supreme Lord always remain far separated from discussions on the topics of Lord Hari. Due to being bereft of association with the devotees of the Lord, who enjoys pastimes with the goddesses of fortune, such persons cannot relish the nectarean essence of the scriptures even though they understand the purport of the scriptures, just as a spoon is unable to relish the same palatable foodstuffs that it serves.” Materialistic philosophers who carry the burden of sense enjoyment like asses are devoid of the service attitude towards Shri Purushottama and are thus unqualified for relishing the devotional service of Lord Hari. The karmis, jnanis, and unregulated sense enjoyers are unable to understand the glories of devotional service. The Vaishnavas, however, are not frustrated like the karmis.
A Vaishnava saint named Pandita Dhananjaya has stated:
stavakas tava catur-mukhadayo
bhavaka hi bhagavan bhavadayah
sevakah shata-makhadayah sura
vasudeva yadi ke tada vayam
“O Lord Vasudeva, since four-headed Brahma, other progenitors of the demigods, and other living entities pray to You, since great yogis like Mahadeva meditate on You, and since Indra, the king of heaven, and the other demigods are Your servants, then who are we? Does this mean that we have no qualification for devotional service?”
Along with this verse, another verse from the Shrimad Bhagavatam comes to mind. The Shrimad Bhagavatam (1.8.26) states:
janmaishvarya-shruta-shribhir edhamana-madah puman
naivarhaty abhidhatum vai tvam akincana-gocaram
“The glories of high birth as a brahmana or demigod, the glories of opulence equal to that of Kuvera, the glories of sages who strictly follow the Vedas, and the glories of beauty equal to that of Cupid simply increase the madness of materialists. Therefore, O Hari, You are the Lord of the poor, and as such materially prosperous persons have no taste, opportunity, or qualification for chanting Your holy names.”
Vaishnavism is the only wealth of the poor. False prestige and dominance, which are the assets of nondevotees, are not aspired for by Vaishnavas. The wealth of the Vaishnavas is Lord Hari. Being maddened with excessive material attachment and being either puffed-up from cheap brahminical prestige and learning or from the cheap wealth of the kshatriyas and vaishyas, people disrespect the swanlike Vaishnavas and as a result of sinful activities become nondevotees. Since the Hari-janas, who are poor, fallen, indifferent to material enjoyment, and dedicated to serving Lord Hari, do not desire to accumulate material assets, understanding that desires for high brahminical birth, opulence, knowledge of the Vedas, and beauty equal to Cupid are all useless, they therefore engage in chanting the glories of Lord Hari, free from the desires for engaging both in brahmanical ritualistic ceremonies and study of the Vedas, both of which aim at sense gratification. In brief, the prestige of brahmanas expert in Vedic study, the opulence of kshatriyas having vast wealth, followers, and kingdom, and the prosperity of the vaishyas' wealth and beauty obtained through farming and trade, are not qualifications for becoming a Vaishnava; they are simply means of bondage to material enjoyment, which is due to disinterest in devotional service and which increases one's godlessness. Because the Vaishnavas are not busy for such insignificant things, they are more humble than the straw, more tolerant than a tall tree, not interested in personal prestige, and always ready to respect others. In this way they attain devotional service to Lord Hari. Moreover, after completing their term, the demigods, who are situated on the highest platform in the kingdom of fruitive activities, attain the position of Vaishnavas due to the influence of their devotion for the Lord. But their exalted position is glorified only for the benefit of the conditioned souls. When material qualifications are exhausted, then one's identification with pure Vaishnavism is awakened. If a powerful person is capable of killing innumerable living entities, yet instead of misusing his power he remains peaceful, that does not mean that he lacks power. Similarly, even though Lord Brahma and his descendants headed by the brahmanas may consider that becoming a Vaishnava is the highest goal of life, the position of a living entity who has actually acquired the taste for serving Krishna is even higher. Such persons are confidential associates of the Lord.
In the Chaitanya-caritamrita (Antya 4.66-68) Shriman Mahaprabhu has instructed Shri Sanatana as follows:
nica-jati nahe krishna-bhajane ayogya
sat-kula-vipra nahe bhajanera yogya
“A person born in a low family is not unfit for discharging devotional service to Lord Krishna, nor is one fit for devotional service simply because he is born in an aristocratic family of brahmanas.
yei bhaje sei bada, abhakta-hina, chara
krishna-bhajane nahi jati-kuladi-vicara
“Anyone who takes to devotional service is exalted, whereas a nondevotee is always condemned and abominable. Therefore in the discharge of devotional service to the Lord, there is no consideration of the status of one's family.
dinere adhika daya kare bhagavan
kulina, pandita, dhanira bada abhimana
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, is always favorable to the humble and meek, but aristocrats, learned scholars and the wealthy are always proud of their positions.”
The prestige of high birth promotes material enjoyment. Persons of lower castes, however, are restricted in their ability to enjoy in various ways. Though they are not eligible for material auspiciousness, they have every right and opportunity to attain eternal auspiciousness by serving the Supreme Lord. Even if one who is mad after material enjoyment attains the highest position and facility, it is all temporary and unfavorable for real auspiciousness.
One who serves the Absolute Truth is the best of all, and one who is uninterested in the service of the Absolute Truth simply wastes his time trying to become the master of all temporary activities. He is certainly distinct from and inferior to the real servant of the Absolute Truth.
Worldly education, high birth, and prestige of high position cannot hinder the genuine devotees of the Lord, especially those who accept only what is required rather than being maddened by the spirit of enjoying this world created by shadows. Such self-satisfied, humble devotees, who know the art of engaging everything in the service of the Lord, can actually attain the mercy of the Supreme Lord. And those who try to become more powerful by the help of various opulences like high position, high birth, and material erudition thereby simply exhibit indifference towards receiving the mercy of the Lord. Therefore there is no possibility of their achieving real auspiciousness. Sinful propensities, which increase unwanted nescience, are reflected in the hearts of people and stand in opposition to the service of the Lord, which is spiritually illuminating.
The great devotee Shri Madhavendra Puri says:
sandhya-vandana bhadram astu bhavato bhoh snana tubhyam namo
bho devah pitarash ca tarpana-vidhau naham kshamah kshamyatam
yatra kvapi nishadya yadava-kulottamasya kamsa-dvishah
smaram smaram agham harami tad alam manye kim anyena me
“O my prayers three times a day, all glory to you. O bathing, I offer my obeisances unto you. O demigods! O forefathers! Please excuse me for my inability to offer you my respects. Now wherever I sit, I can remember the great descendant of the Yadu dynasty [Krishna], the enemy of Kamsa, and thereby I can free myself from all sinful bondage. I think this is sufficient for me.”
One devotee emotionally expressed himself to the Lord as follows:
snanam mlanam abhut kriya na ca kriya sandhya ca vandhyabhavad
vedah khedam avapa shastra-patali samtitantah sphuta
dharmo marma-hato hy adharma-nicayah prayah kshayam praptavan
cittam cumbati yadavendra-caranambhoje mamahar-nisham
“My daily bath has been contaminated, my activities have been ruined, my sandhya prayers have become fruitless like a barren wife, my study of the Vedas has been disturbed, my scriptures have been retired to a box, my religious principles have become afflicted, and my irreligiousity has been diminished, all because the bee of my heart is constantly kissing the lotus feet of Yadavendra, the king of the Yadu dynasty.”
These sentiments of devotees who are free from material existence can never be understood by people who are sinful, low-class, and either regulated or unregulated followers of rituals. If a sinful, fallen living entity guided by the smritis actually realizes these sentiments of the devotees, then no one can describe his good fortune. Many persons foolishly criticize the short-sighted or blind persons' right and neccessity for wearing glasses without realizing the utility of the glasses; similarly the smartas consider the Vaishnavas ordinary living entities like themselves. Actually there is a gulf of difference between the smartas and the devotees. We have already quoted the statements of a few scriptures and the confidential mood of some devotees in this regard. The intelligent Prakriti-janas will realize the position and respectability of the Hari-janas from these statements.
It is stated in the Shrimad Bhagavatam (11.2.51) as follows:
na yasya janma-karmabhyam na varnashrama-jatibhih
sajjate 'sminn aham-bhavo dehe vai sa hareh priyah
“If one does not become proud of one's material body made of skin and flesh in spite of taking an aristocratic birth, such as that of a brahmana, executing pious activities, like giving and accepting charity, and having a prestigious position within varnashrama society, then one is to be considered the dearmost servitor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
Although Vaishnavas may appear in a family of brahmanas, act as acaryas, and be respected by the entire world, they never become proud of their high social order as brahmanas, their high social position as sannyasis, or their seminal or initiated high caste. Only the smartas, who are attached to fruitive activities, develop strong aversion to Lord Hari due to their excessive attachment to material life.
In order to understand the adverse mentality of materialistic karmis one should study the following verse of the Shrimad Bhagavatam (10.84.13):
yasyatma-buddhih kunape tri-dhatuke
sva-dhih kalatradishu bhauma ijya-dhih
yat-tirtha-buddhih salile na karhicij
janeshv abhijneshu sa eva go-kharah
“The Supreme Lord said: Anyone who, because of giving up the transcendental realization of a Vaishnava and developing excessive attachment to the material world, accepts this bodily bag of three elements [bile, mucus, and air] as his self, considers the by-products of the body to be his kinsmen, considers material objects as worshipable, considers ordinary bodies of waters as holy places of pilgrimage, and lacks proper understanding of Vishnu and the Vaishnavas, is no better than an ass or a cow.” The devotees of the Lord do not praise their intelligence.
One should attentively consider verse 38 from the Fifth Chapter of the Brahma-samhita, which says:
santah sadaiva hridayeshu vilokayanti
yam shyamasundaram acintya-guna-svarupam
govindam adi-purusham tam aham bhajami
“I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who is Shyamasundara, Krishna Himself with inconceivable innumerable attributes, [whom the materialistic sahajiyas-due to their fruitive mentality, enjoying spirit, and mundane imagination-think that they have seen, and] whom the pure devotees [Hari-janas] see in their heart of hearts with the eye of devotion tinged with the salve of love.” The smartas and devotees have different methods and objects of vision, which foolish ordinary people cannot understand.
According to the realization of Thakura Bilvamangala-deva, if such devotion awakens in one's heart, then the mood of a real Hari-jana will automatically manifest in that devotee's heart. As stated in the Krishna-karnamrita (107):
bhaktis tvayi sthira-tara bhagavan yadi syad
daivena nah phalati divya-kishora-murtih
muktih svayam mukulitanjali sevate 'sman
“O my Lord, if one engages in Your pure devotional service [free from karma, jnana, and sense gratification] with determination, You become visible in Your original transcendental youthful form as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As far as liberation is concerned, she stands before the devotee with folded hands waiting to render service. Religion, economic development and sense gratification [which are difficult to achieve for nondevotees with material desires] are all automatically attained without separate endeavor.”
The smartas, or nondevotees who are simply attached to rules and regulations, are content with the fruits of the four aims of life-religion, economic development, sense gratification, and liberation. Yet these four principles naturally and submissively remain under the feet of the Hari-janas. The Hari-janas are liberated persons, so they have no enthusiasm for conditioned life.
When do the karmis give up their occupational duties and understand the glories of devotional service to the Lord? The Shrimad Bhagavatam (11.14.14) gives the following illustration:
na parameshthyam na mahendra-dhishnyam
na sarvabhaumam na rasadhipatyam
na yoga-siddhir apunar-bhavam va
mayy arpitatmecchati mad vinanyat
“The Supreme Lord said: The devotee who has offered his soul to Me does not want anything if it is separate from Me-not the position of the supreme demigod of the universe, Brahma, nor that of Lord Indra, nor kingship over the entire earth or over the lower planetary systems, nor the mystic perfections of yoga, nor even freedom from the cycle of rebirth.” These are constitutional symptoms of devotees.
Shri Hari is the only goal and objective of the Hari-janas. Others naturally become bewildered by the good birth and education of the brahmanas or by the wealth, opulences, and success in trade of the kshatriyas and vaishyas. The feelings and behavior of nondevotees are completely different to the feelings and behavior of devotees. The former are influenced by contamination and lamentation, whereas the later are full of ecstasy in the service of Hari.
The saint Kulashekhara Alvar (a perfect devotee), who was the king of Kerala, has stated:
nastha dharme na vasu-nicaye naiva kamopabhoge
yad bhavyam tad bhavatu bhagavan purva-karmanurupam
etat prarthyam mama bahu matam janma-janmantare 'pi
tvat-padambhoruha-yuga-gata nishcala bhaktir astu
“My Lord, I have no attraction for performing religious rituals or holding any earthly kingdom. I do not care for sense enjoyments; let them appear and disappear in accordance with my previous deeds. My only desire is to be fixed in devotional service to Your lotus feet, even though I may continue to take birth here life after life.”
According to the nondevotees, the three aims of religion, economic development, and sense gratification are to be enjoyed and the fourth aim, liberation, is the ultimate goal of life, but the Vaishnava Kulashekhara Alavar thinks, “Let them come on their own accord,” as he considers the eternality of devotional service in the following words:
maj-janmanah phalam idam madhu-kaitabhare
mat-prarthaniya-mad-anugraha esha eva
bhrityasya bhritya iti mam smara loka-natha
“O enemy of Madhu and Kaitabha, O Lord of the universe, the perfection of my life and my heartfelt prayer is that You consider me the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of Your servant.”
In summary, we can say that Kulashekhara, the king of Kerala and ornament of the kshatriya dynasty, did not pray to become a brahmana. He was always eager to attain the eternally glorious position of a devotee of the Lord. This great personality was a spiritual master in the Shri Ramanuja-sampradaya and an incarnation of a devotee.
Mahatma Yamuna Muni [Yamunacarya] has written:
na dharma-nishtho 'smi na catma-vedi
na bhaktimams tvac-caranaravinde
akincano 'nanya-gatih sharanya
tvat-pada-mulam sharanam prapadye
bhavaneshv astv api kita-janma me
itaravasatheshu ma sma bhud
api me janma catur-mukhatmana
“O Hari, You are the object of my surrender. I have no faith in varnashrama-dharma, and I have no knowledge of the soul. Furthermore, I have no devotion to Your lotus feet. I am utterly destitute, a rogue with no idea of the goal of life. Therefore I take shelter of Your lotus feet. O my Lord, I think it is better to be born as an insect in the house of a Vaishnava, than to be born as Lord Brahma in the house of a nondevotee.”
Although this mahatma was recognised as a seminal brahmana, the extent to which he accepted subordination to his spiritual master, Bakulabharana Shathakopa, who was considered a seminal shudra, incarnation of devotee, and perfect Vaishnava associate of the Lord, is understood from Stotra-ratna (7), wherein he declares:
mata pita yuvatayas tanaya vibhutih
sarvam yad eva niyamena mad-anvayanam
adyasya nah kula-pater bakulabhiramam
shrimat-tad-anghri-yugalam pranamami murdhna
“I reverently bow my head to the blessed feet, attractive as bakula flowers, of Shatakopa, the first acarya of our devotional family. For our disciplic succession His lotus feet are everything-our father, mother, son, wife, and wealth.”
Even after discussing the devotion that was shown to Shathakopa by the sage Shri Alabandaru, who was born in a very prestigious brahmana family, persons with insignificant smarta conceptions nevertheless claim to be Vaishnavas in order to fill their bellies while avoiding Vaishnava association and arrogantly disrespecting Shri Shri Vishnupada Raghunatha dasa Gosvami Prabhu; yet if they are able to understand that the soothing lotus feet of Shri Dasa Raghunatha Prabhu are the only refuge for their mothers, fathers, wives, sons, opulences, and respect, then they will achieve devotion to Krishna by the mercy of Shri Yamunacarya. Otherwise they will simply prove their aversion to Hari and rejection of their guru.
Acarya Shri Ramanuja has stated:
vaishnavanam ca janmani nidralasyani yani ca
drishtva tany aprakashyani janebhya na vadet kvacit
tesham doshan vihayashu gunamsh caiva prakirtayet
“(For the auspiciousness of the world and the benefit of neophytes:) Even if one knows about a Vaishnava's birth, sleeping habits, and laziness, one should not (in order to proudly criticize) disclose these things in public. Rather than finding faults, one should glorify the Vaishnava's qualities.”
The definitions for both Vaishnavas and smartas are given in the Mundaka Upanishad (1.1.4-5 and 3.1.1-3) as follows:
dve vidye veditavya iti, ha sma yad brahma-vido vadanti, para caivapara ca. tatrapara rig-vedo yajur-vedah sama-vedo 'tharva-vedah shiksha kalpo vyakaranam niruktam chando jyotisham iti. atha para yaya tad-aksharam adhigamyate.
“Shaunaka said: There are two kinds of educational systems. The knowers of supreme truth who understand the taste of the Absolute say that one of these kinds of education deals with transcendental knowledge [para vidya] and the other with worldly knowledge [apara vidya]. The Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, Atharva Veda, and their corollaries known as the ritual kalpa scriptures comprised of the sutras and so on, the shiksha scriptures explaining the places and methods of pronunciations of letters, the vyakarana grammar scripture teaching the proper use of words, the nirukta scripture teaching the derivation of the meaning of words, the chanda scriptures concerning meters, and the astronomical jyotisha scriptures concerning the correct ascertainment of time-these all belong to the inferior system of material knowledge [apara vidya]. These are honored by the nondevotees. If one studies these literatures with the spirit of enjoyment, he will simply be bound up as a ritualistic student of the scriptures. That potency of scriptural knowledge by which one can understand the akshara-Brahman or the Absolute Truth-is the higher education, para-vidya. When a person retires from the worldly conceptions of the smartas, he becomes eligible for para vidya, spiritual education. He then accepts Vishnu as his only self-interest, and thus becomes a Vaishnava.”
dva suparna sayuja sakhaya
samanam vriksham parishasvajate
tayor anyah pippalam svadv atty
anashnann anyo 'bhicakashiti
samane vrikshe purusho nimagno
'nishaya shocati muhyamanah
jushtam yada pashyaty anyam isham
asya mahimanam eti vita-shokah
yada pashyah pashyate rukma-varnam
kartaram isham purusham brahma-yonim
tada vidvan punya-pape vidhuya
niranjanah paramam samyam upaiti
“There are two spiritual birds sitting together in a banyan tree. They are bound together by friendship. One of them is being supported by the other, his supporter. The two spiritual birds are the devotee jiva and the Supreme Lord, both sitting on the same banyan tree of the material body. Of the two, the jiva bird is eating the banyan fruits born from the body as the fruits of its karma, thinking them sweet tasting. The other bird, the Supreme Lord, does not partake of the fruits Himself but facilitates the eating of the other bird, who is enjoying the fruits.
“One bird (the living entity) considers his material body in terms of `I' and `mine.' Having no devotion for the Lord, he is afflicted with lamentation as the result of his karma. In this way, such a karma-kanda smarta, being averse to the service of the Lord, spends his whole life suffering material miseries. But as soon as the living entity gives up his smarta mentality and his desire for fruitive results, he immediately understands that the other bird, the transcendental Lord Vishnu, is distinct from all material enjoyable objects; thus realizing the eternal nature of the Lord's service, he becomes free from lamentation and comes to know the glories of the Lord's pastimes.” The platform of Vaishnavism is attained when one realizes that he is an eternal servant of Krishna, and the platform of desirelessness is reached when one gives up the desire for enjoying the fruits of karma. Only when the jiva becomes a Vaishnava does he become pure and liberated.
“When, upon achieving devotion to Vishnu, the completely purified jiva realizes his position as servant of the Lord and is able to see the golden-bodied creator of the universe, Hiranyagarbha, then he gains the fruit of higher education. He completely gives up sin and piety, which were born from the worldly mentality of his lower education, and becomes altogether pure and transcendentally equal with the Lord.”
When a living entity is conditioned, he develops the mentality of a smarta, and when he is liberated, he develops the mentality of a servant of Hari. This is the only purport of the Vedas.
In the Vishnu Purana it is stated:
vishnos tu trini rupani purushakhyany atho viduh
ekam tu mahatah srashtri dvitiyam tv anda-samsthitam
tritiyam sarva-bhuta-stham yani jnatva vimucyate
“Lord Narayana has three avataras called purushas. Narayana is the source of the catur-vyuha and the Lord of all Vaikunthalokas, wherein there is no trace of maya. Maya, who is indirectly sheltered by Narayana, is prominent on the other side of the Viraja. Shri Narayana's purusha incarnations manifest for the purpose of empowering Maya's creation of Devi-dhama. The first purusha-avatara is Maha-Vishnu, who lies on the Causal Ocean and is the cause of the mahat-tattva and false ego. The second purusha-avatara is Hiranyagarbha Vishnu, who lies on the Garbhodaka Ocean and from whose navel grows a lotus stem upon which the guna-avatara Brahma is born and engaged in creating the universe, which is annihilated by the guna-avatara, Rudra. The third purusha-avatara is localised Lord Vishnu, who lies on the Kshirodaka Ocean and who is worshipable by all living beings. If a conditioned smarta can serve these three purusha-avataras, he will be liberated from the clutches of the three modes of nature and become a Vaishnava.” Vishnu is the eternal master of Maya. Though the purusha-avataras have a relationship with Maya, They are not controlled by Maya like the conditioned souls. Other than the Supreme Lord Vishnu, all living entities are eligible for being controlled by Maya, even though they are constitutionally servants of Vishnu. By surrendering to Lord Vishnu, the Vaishnavas are no longer eligible to be controlled by Maya. Only nondevotees like the smartas are eligible to be controlled by Maya and forced to accept the results of karma.
In the Skanda Purana, Reva-khanda, Durvasa speaks to Narada as follows:
nunam bhagavata loke loka-raksha-visharadah
vrajanti vishnunadishta hridi-sthena maha-mune
bhagavan eva sarvatra bhutanam kripaya harih
rakshanaya caran lokan bhakta-rupena narada
“O great sage Narada, pure devotees who are expert in protecting the interest of people wander in this world under the instructions of Lord Vishnu, who is situated in everyone's heart. In order to protect the living entities, Lord Hari accepts the form of a devotee and appears in this world out of His causeless mercy.”
We can see from the pastimes of Lord Shri Ramacandra that even though He was omnipotent, He acted like a devotee by respecting worldly morality. He did not allow anyone to engage in any kind of illicit activities that people were inclined to; rather He accepted all rules and regulations like an ordinary mortal being. In this way He benefited all the passionate and ignorant living entities.
In the Garuda Purana it is said:
kalau bhagavatam nama durlabham naiva labhyate
brahma-rudra-padotkrishtam guruna kathitam mama
yasya bhagavatam cihnam drishyate tu harir mune
giyate ca kalau deva jneyas te nasti samshayah
“Due to their fruitive mentality, the majority of foolish people in Kali-yuga do not come forward to take up the principles of bhagavata-dharma. Therefore pure devotees are very rare. The position of a pure devotee is superior to that of the great demigods like Brahma and Mahadeva. This is what my spiritual master has told me. If one follows the principles of varnashrama for one hundred lifetimes, as a result of his pious activities he can attain the position of Lord Brahma, but the position of a Vaishnava is more exalted. O sage, know without doubt that anyone in the age of Kali who possesses the symptoms of a pure devotee and constantly engages in chanting the holy names is a godly personality.”
In the Skanda Purana it is stated:
shri-krishna-stava-ratnoghair yesham jihva tv alankrita
namasya muni-siddhanam vandaniya divaukasam
“Those great Vaishnavas whose tongues are decorated with jewel-like prayers to Krishna are respected by the perfected beings, the ascetics, the brahmanas, and the sages and worshipable for the demigods.”
According to the materialistic conceptions of the smartas, these statements are poetic exagerations. Such a conception, however, is the result of their sinful activities. Due to their offenses at the feet of the Vaishnavas, they are unable to understand the Vaishnavas' prestigious position, and instead of glorifying the Vaishnavas, they glorify the status of other fruitive workers. Because the karmis offer obeisances to the perfect sages and worship the highly placed residents of heaven, they are under the influence of material desires and not interested in the worship of Lord Hari or in the topmost position of Hari's devotees.
It is stated in the Adi Purana:
vaishnavan bhaja kaunteya ma bhajasvanya-devatah
“O son of Kunti, worship only the Vaishnavas; do not worship any demigods.” There is no one more worshipable in the heavenly planets, the earthly planets, or in the entire creation than the Vaishnavas. Only karmis with material desires give up the worship of Vaishnavas and, being attached to household life in this miserable material existence, become disinterested in the service of the Vaishnavas. They consider the characteristics of nondevotees to be superior. This is the result, or punishment, of their karma.
Who are the Hari-janas, or Vaishnavas, and what makes them different from the nondevotees? I am quoting various evidence from the scriptures and sentiments of devotees in this Hari-jana-khanda to answer these questions.
Before acquiring material designations, the living entity is supremely pure. Even though he is not engaged in serving the Supreme Lord, he remains situated in the neutral position of shanta-rasa due to his marginal nature. Though the living entity born from the marginal potency does not at that time exhibit a taste for serving the Lord due to a lack of knowledge of self-realization, his direct propensity of serving the Supreme Lord nevertheless remains within him in a dormant state. Though the indirect propensity of material enjoyment, which is contrary to the service of the Lord, is not found in him at that time, indifference to the service of Hari and the seed of material enjoyment, which follows that state of indifference, are nevertheless present within him. The living entity, who belongs to the marginal potency, cannot remain indifferent forever by subduing both devotional and nondevotional propensities. He therefore contemplates unconstitutional activities from his marginal position. As a sleeping person dreams that he is active in the physical world without actually being involved in activities, when the dormant indifferent living entity of the marginal potency exhibits even a little apathy to the service of the Supreme Lord and situates himself in a neutral, unchanging condition for even a little time, he is infected by impersonalism. That is why the conditioned soul desires to merge in the impersonal Brahman, thus exhibiting his mind's fickle nature. But due to neglecting the eternal service of the Lord and thereby developing the quality of aversion to the Lord, he cannot remain fixed in that position. In this way aversion to the Lord breaks his concentration of mind and establishes him as the master of this world of enjoyment.
Maya, the external energy of the Supreme Lord, then induces the marginal living entity to enjoy this world through her covering and throwing potencies and thus shows the living entity the reality of being averse to the Lord's service. At that time the living entity considers himself the king of enjoyers, and being situated in the mode passion he takes the position of Brahma and creates progeny. The living entities who are born from Brahma, the grandfather of everyone, expand themselves in families of Aryans and brahmanas. In this world of duality, however, living entities who are covered and thrown under the control of the external energy naturally become envious. This enviousness further creates pride, illusion, greed, anger, and lust and induces the living entities to dance frantically in aversion to the Lord. At that time they forget both that they were born from Grandfather Brahma and the Lord's instructions in the Vedas.
And on the platform of progress, if a living entity cultivates transcendental sound vibration and revives the process of remembering the lotus feet of Shri Krishna, he then achieves scientific spiritual knowledge. By this process, all anarthas are destroyed and he becomes situated in a supremely auspicious position.
The mood that arises when one is manipulating his senses is called vilasa, or enjoyment. The meaning of vairagya, or renunciation, is to become averse to the accumulation of sensual knowledge. The conditioned souls who are overwhelmed by the illusory energy of Hari become temporary enjoyers of this world under the control of Maya's covering and throwing potencies. But if such persons fortunately meet devotees who are constantly remembering Krishna, then they can give up insignificant material enjoyment and receive the opportunity to attain transcendental knowledge.
Although due to forgetfulness of Krishna the perverted movement of the senses is considered temporary and adverse, when they are properly employed in eternal subjects their disease of transcience is destroyed and they give up the desire to embrace such transcient objects. Then that person appreciates the following verse from the Hari-bhakti-vilasa, which is the mercy of Shri Sanatana and compiled by Shrila Gopala Bhatta, the disciple of Tridandipada Shrila Prabodhananda Sarasvati, who was a servant of Shri Gauranga and born in an Andhra brahmana family.
grihita-vishnu-dikshako vishnu-puja-paro narah
vaishnavo 'bhihito 'bhijnair itaro 'smad avaishnavah
“One who is initiated into Shri Vishnu's mantras and who is devoted to worshiping Lord Vishnu is called a Vaishnava by those who are learned. One who is devoid of these practices is not a Vaishnava.”
Although the eternal living entity is constitutionally favorably inclined towards the Supreme Lord, due to his indifference towards the eternal service of the Lord he is eligible for being controlled by maya. When one tries to measure material objects with his sensual knowledge, he simply increases his enjoying propensity day after day. That he is eligible for achieving transcendental knowledge-this ancient memory he also often forgets. As a result of being covered and thrown and considering himself the enjoyer of this world, such a person has no power to discriminate between good and bad, rather he considers temporary and unreal subjects as permanent and favorable for his enjoyment.
In order to eradicate the misfortune of the living entities, who are created by His marginal potency, the most merciful Lord in His forms as the Supersoul and the exalted spiritual master reveals the true identity of the soul. Due to this good fortune, with a small endeavor to achieve transcendental knowledge the conditioned soul gives up his propensity for enjoyment and renunciation and develops some taste for serving the Lord. If he develops a taste for receiving the mercy of a great liberated personality, who is pure, eternally engaged in service, self-realized, and the only shelter for the living entities, then his lost Krishna consciousness is revived. Thereafter he desires freedom from Maya's covering and throwing potencies and searches after his own auspiciousness. As a result of this, he attains transcendental knowledge. The desire for achieving transcendental knowledge induces him to cultivate favorable service to Lord Vishnu. This cultivation begins with endeavoring for self-realization, reviving his lost propensity of service, and, ultimately, being reestablished as the servant of the Lord. Then he is no longer considered a nondevotee, averse to the Lord.
Unfortunate people who are offensive and devoid of service to the spiritual master and Vaishnavas fall from the highest position and again become enjoyers. They then feel proud of advertising themselves as prakrita-sahajiyas and become bound by the ropes of material conceptions. At that time they become totally aloof from following the great devotees and the system of Pancarata. In this way people who thus cheat themselves become misguided. Thakura Shrila Narottama has warned the devotee communities about these pseudo-devotees.
People who follow the principles of the prakrta-sahajiyas establish themselves as Vaishnavas, and though they fall down according to the opinion of Shrimad Bhagavatam (10.2.32), aruhya kricchrena param padam, they nevertheless declare that their nonsense activities are the transcendental pastimes of a Vaishnava. Although Shriman Mahaprabhu has said that being proud of one's varna or ashrama is the business of the Prakriti-janas, because the conditioned souls disregard this instruction of the Lord they become nondevotees, bound by the fruits of their karma. The following verse, composed by Mahaprabhu and quoted in Padyavali (63), is not recited by such self-deluded persons.
naham vipro na ca nara-patir napi vaishyo na shudro
naham varni na ca griha-patir no vanastho yatir va
gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah
“I am a pure spirit soul. I am not a brahmana, I am not a kshatriya, I am not a vaishya or a shudra. Nor am I a brahmacari, a householder, a vanaprastha or a sannyasi. I identify Myself only as the servant of the servant of the servant of the lotus feet of Lord Shri Krishna, the maintainer of the gopis. He is like an ocean of nectar, and He is the cause of universal transcendental bliss. He is always existing with brilliance.”
When the four types of liberated persons become weak in their conviction that they are the eternal servants of Krishna, then they again face danger in their path to self-realization. Therefore as soon as a living entity gives up the self-identification of being a Hari-jana, he immediately falls into the category of Prakriti-jana and becomes falsely proud of himeslf. Then he can no longer remain a Hari-jana. The Hari-janas who have lost their devotion to Hari due to forgetfulness of their constitutional position are like sonara pathera batis-“stone bowls made of gold3,” for they are actually Prakriti-janas or prakrita-sahajiyas. Their entrance into the natural, transcendental abode of Vaikuntha is checked. The Hari-janas who have forgotten their constitutional position cannot understand the difference between the transcendentally pure Hari-janas and the Prakriti-janas. Due to a lack of real knowledge of the scriptures, they identify persons born in low-class families as Hari-janas and themselves as Prakriti-janas born in high-class families. In this way they waste their time.
We will now describe the divisions of Hari-janas. Indian historians have collected from various scriptures twelve categories of Hari-janas such as satvata, bhakta, bhagavata, Vaishnava, pancaratrika, Vaikhanasa, and karma-hina. But at present all of these categories are practically lost, leaving a rough division of two categories. Those who are devotees of Hari can still discern the two paths of arcana and bhava. Of the four principal Vaishnava acaryas, Shri Madhvacarya and Shri Nimbaditya are on the path of bhagavata-marga, or bhava-marga, and Shri Ramanujacarya and Shri Vishnusvami are Vaishnava acaryas on the path of pancaratrika-arcana-marga. Though the respected Shri Madhvacarya and Shri Nimbaditya were bhagavatacaryas, they nevertheless also accepted the path of arcana, meant for the kanishtha-adhikaris, and Shri Ramanujacarya also accepted the chanting of the holy names as a part of his arcana rituals. Shri Vishnusvami was the first commentator on the Vedanta-sutras. These four personalities have been accepted as the four sampradaya acaryas. At this juncture we are quoting Shridhara Svami's commentary on the beginning of the Third Canto of the Shrimad Bhagavatam.
dvedha hi bhagavata-sampradaya-pravrittih. ekatah sankshepatah shri-narayanad brahma-naradadi-dvarena. anyatas tu vistaratah sheshat sanat-kumara-sankhyayanadi-dvarena.
“There are two ways in which the Vaishnava sampradayas originated. The first of these has come from Narayana by way of Brahma, Narada, and so on. The other comes from Lord Shesha through Sanat-kumara and then Sankhyayana Muni.”
Needless to say, the personalities in the above-mentioned sampradayas are all Vaishnavas. As confirmed in the Padma Purana, Uttara-khanda, in the following words:
yad vishnupasana nityam vishnur yasyeshvaro mune
pujyo yasaiko vishnuh syad ishto loke sa vaishnavah
“O sage, one who always worships Lord Vishnu and whose eternal Lord, only object of worship, and goal of life is Vishnu is known in this world as a Vaishnava.”
Actually, the categories of Hari-janas are established according to two principal tastes. We should refer to the analysis of the two categories, pancaratrika and bhagavata, given by Shripada Jiva Gosvami Prabhu in his Shri Bhakti-sandarbha. It is stated in the Shrimad Bhagavatam (12.3.52) as follows:
krite yad dhyayato vishnum tretayam yajato makhaih
dvapare paricaryayam kalau tad dhari-kirtanat
“Whatever result was obtained in Satya-yuga by meditating on Vishnu, in Treta-yuga by performing sacrifices, and in Dvapara-yuga by serving the Lord's lotus feet can be obtained in Kali-yuga simply by chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.”
We are herein citing evidence from the Shri Narayana-samhita quoted by Shrimad Acarya Anandatirtha Purnaprajna Madhva Muni in his commentary on the Mundaka Upanishad while teaching the bhagavata-marga to the fallen souls of Kali-yuga:
dvapariyair janair vishnuh pancaratrais tu kevalaih
kalau tu nama-matrena pujyate bhagavan harih
“The people of Dvapara-yuga worshiped Hari through the system of pancaratrika, but in the present age of Kali, rather than following the process of Dvapara-yuga, one can worship Lord Hari only by chanting His holy names.”
Although Shrimad Anandatirtha did not mention the process of pancaratrika in his Brahma-sutra commentary, he has not disregarded the glories of the Pancaratras in his other commentary, the Anuvyakhyana, which he wrote for refuting oppositing opinions. It is only some less intelligent people who consider Shri Madhva Muni as averse to the pancaratrika system.
The pancaratrikas are inclined to the path of arcana, and the bhagavatas are inclined to kirtana. In his Bhakti-sandarbha and Krama-sandarbha commentary on Shrimad Bhagavatam (7.5.23) Shri Jiva Prabhu has stated:
arcana-marge shraddha cet, ashrita-mantra-gurus tam visheshatah pricchet. yadyapi shri bhagavata-mate pancaratradi-vat arcana-margasyavashyakatvam nasti, tad vinapi sharanapatty-adinam ekatarenapi purushartha-siddher abhihitatvat, tathapi shri-naradadi-vartmanusaradbhih. kritayam dikshayam arcanam avashyam kriyetaiva. para-dvara tat-sampadanam vyavahara-nishthatvasyalastvasya va pratipadakam. tato 'shraddha-mayatvad dhinam eva tat. mantra-dikshady-apeksha yady api svarupato nasti tathapi prayah svabhavato dehadi-sambandhena kadarya-shilanam vikshipta-cittanam jananam tat-tat-sankoci-karanaya shrimad-rishi-prabhritibhir atrarcana-marge kvacit kvacit kacit kacin maryada sthapitasti. tatra tat-tad-apeksha nasti; ramarcana-candrikayam-vinaiva diksham viprendra purashcaryam vinaiva hi/ vinaiva nyasa-vidhina japa-matrena siddhida.
“If a Vaishnava sadhaka develops faith for the path of arcana, which is meant for the followers of the pancaratrika system, then he should exhaustively inquire about that path from the pancaratrika guru who gave him mantra. It is said that even without arcana, by following any of the nine processes of devotional service, headed by surrender, one can attain perfection. So although according to the opinion of Shrimad Bhagavatam there is no need for the arcana-marga, which is the only process for the followers of the pancaratrika system, if one is initiated by a Vaishnava guru who is following the footsteps of personalities like Shri Narada, who is also a pancaratrika, then he must engage in the arcana of Lord Vishnu with the mantras that he received from his spiritual master. To employ others in arcana on one's behalf simply confirms one's lack of conviction or laziness in one's duties. Therefore engaging others in arcana on one's behalf is a sign of faithlessness and is thus unacceptable. Although the bhagavata Vaishnavas do not actually need pancaratrika-mantra-diksha, pancaratrika sages like Shri Narada have in some places given some importance to arcana in order to help regulate the loose character and restless minds of the people. There is no need for the support of arcana and so on, as stated in the Ramarcana-candrika: O best of the brahmanas, even without diksha, purashcarya, and nyasa-vidhi, simply by chanting the mantras of the Supreme Lord one achieves all perfection.”
And in the Bhakti-sandarbha, Shri Jiva Prabhu says:
tatah prema-taratamyena bhakta-mahattva-taratamyam mukhyam. yair lingaih sa bhagavatah priya uttama-madhyamatadi-vivikto bhavati tani lingani. tatraiva arcana-marge tri-vidhatvam labhyate. padmottara-khandoktam mahatvam tu arcana-marga-paranam madhya eva jneyam.
“Next, we consider that a Vaishnava is known as an uttama, madhyama, or kanishtha primarily according to his advancement in love of God. The symptoms for differentiating the kanishtha, madhyama, and uttama devotees, which reveal whether one is dear, more dear, or most dear to the Lord, are all criterion for establishing the position of devotees. In the pancaratrika-arcana-marga there are three categories of devotees. The glories of the Vaishnavas mentioned in the Padma Purana, Uttara-khanda, refer only to the followers of the pancaratrika-arcana-marga.
tapadi panca-samskari navejya-karma-karakah
artha-pancaka-vid vipro maha-bhagavatah smritah
“The characteristics of the uttama or maha-bhagavata according to the arcana-marga are as follows: `A brahmana who has undergone the five kinds of samskaras, or purificatory processes, like tapa, who has executed the rituals of worship, and who has understood the Artha-pancaka4 is called a maha-bhagavata.'
tapah pundram tatha nama mantro yagash ca pancamah
ami hi panca-samskarah paramaikanti-hetarvah
“The characteristics of the madhyama according to the pancaratrika-arcana-marga are as follows: `The five kinds of samskaras are tapa, pundra, nama, mantra, and japa. According to the pancaratrika teachings, one who performs these five activities is called a madhyama-bhagavata.'
tan-namaskaranam caiva vaishnavatvam ihocyate
“The characteristics of the kanishtha according to the pancaratrika-arcana-marga are as follows: `One who marks his body with the four signs of Vishnu-the conchshell, cakra, club, and lotus-and who offers obeisances to other Vaishnavas whose bodies are marked with these signs is called a kanishtha.'
“Apart from the pancaratrika system, we are now presenting the mental symptoms of a maha-bhagavata according to the bhava-marga, as stated in the Shrimad Bhagavatam (11.2.45):
sarva-bhuteshu yah pashyed bhagavad-bhavam atmanah
bhutani bhagavaty atmany esha bhagavatottamah
“`Shri Havir said: The most advanced devotee, or maha-bhagavata, sees within everything the soul of all souls, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna. Consequently he sees everything in relation to the Supreme Lord and understands that everything that exists is eternally situated within the Lord.'” The impersonalists, who consider the living entity and the Supreme Lord as one, are opposed to the principle of this Shrimad Bhagavatam verse. To consider the conditioned living entities as equal to the Supreme Lord is extremely contrary to the principles of devotional service and to the real nature of maha-bhagavatas. The mood of the damsels of Vraja found in the Shrimad Bhagavatam (10.35.9-vana-latas tarava atmani), (10.21.15-nadyas tada tad upadharya), and (10.90.15-kuravi vilapasi) indicate the mood of a maha-bhagavata.
“Now the specific mental symptoms of a madhyama-bhagavata are being described in the Shrimad Bhagavatam (11.2.46) as follows:
isvare tad-adhineshu balisheshu dvishatsu ca
prema-maitri-kripopeksha yah karoti sa madhyamah
“`An intermediate or second-class devotee, called madhyama-adhikari, offers his love to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is a sincere friend to all the devotees of the Lord, shows mercy to ignorant people who are innocent and disregards those who are envious of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.'
“Next, the Shrimad Bhagavatam (11.2.47) describes the symptoms of a kanishtha in terms of his body symptoms of executing bhagavad-dharma and also somewhat in terms of his mentality in the following words:
arcayam eva haraye pujam yah shraddhayehate
na tad-bhakteshu canyeshu sa bhaktah prakritah smritah
“`A devotee who faithfully engages in the worship of the Deity in the temple but does not behave properly toward other devotees or people in general is called a prakrita-bhakta, a materialistic devotee, and is considered to be in the lowest position.'” The yasyatma-buddhih verse is applicable to such persons.
Prabhupada Shrila Jiva Gosvami and other Vishnupada acaryas who are completely dependent on the lotus feet of Shri Shri Gaura are all worshipers on the path of bhava in accordance with the philosophy of Shrimad Bhagavatam. Among the followers of Shri Gaura, the bhava path is adhered to rather than the pancaratrika-arcana path, which is followed only to some extent in the Deity worship of the kanishtha devotees. Shri Lakshmi Puri and Shri Shrimad Vishnupada Madhavendra Puri, who were disciplic descendants of Shrimad Acarya Anandatirtha Purnaprajna Madhvapada, were adherents of the pure bhagavata system on the path of bhava-marga. From Shri Madhavendra Puri, bhagavata-dharma on the path of bhava has become completely manifested among the followers of Shri Chaitanya. Although the bhagavata-marga propounded by Shri Madhvacarya has also been accepted by the acaryas in his disciplic succession like Shri Vyasa Raya, Shri Raghavendra Yati, and Shri Vijayadhvaja as well as the acaryas of the mathas of Udupi like Krishnapura, Puttugi, Sode, Pejavara, Aghanadu, Kannura, Palanadu and also the temple authorities of Kudambara, Cikka, and Manakatti, these persons were nevertheless followers of the principles of varnashrama in the pancaratrika-arcana-marga.
Shri Jivapada has quoted the following verse in reference to the ninefold procedure for worshiping the Deity according to the pancaratrika system:
arcanam mantra-pathanam yogo yago hi vandanam
nama-sankirtanam seva tac-cinhair ankanam tatha
tadiyaradhanam cejya navadha bhidyate shubhe
“O most auspicious lady, the nine aspects of Deity worship are offering puja, chanting mantras, meditation, fire sacrifices, praying, chanting the holy names, serving, marking the body with auspicious signs, and worshiping the Vaishnavas.”
Explaining the “five objects” of worship (artha-pancaka), Shri Jiva Gosvami Prabhupada has said: upasyah shri bhagavan, tat paramam padam, tad-dravyam, tan-mantro, jivatma ceti panca-tattva-jnatritvam artha-panca-kavitvam-“The worshipable Supreme Lord, His supreme abode of Vaikuntha, His assets or tadiya the pure devotees, His mantras, and the living entities-to know these five subjects is knowledge of artha-pancaka.”
Kuresha, a disciple of Shri Ramanuja, had a son named Parashara Bhatöa. A disciple of Parashara was Vedanti, whose disciple was Nambur Varadaraja. The disciple of Nambur Varadaraja was Pillai Lokacarya, who wrote a book named Artha-pancaka. The five subjects described by him are different from those described by Shri Jivapada. He has described the subject of jiva-svarupa (the essential characteristics of the living entity) as having five divisions-nitya (eternal), mukta (liberated), baddha (conditioned), kevala (merged in Brahman), and mumukshu (desiring liberation); the subject of ishvara-svarupa (the essential characteristics of the Supreme Lord) as having five divisions-para (His original form as Krishna), vyuha (His quadruple expansions), vibhava (His pastime forms), antaryami (the Supersoul), and arcanavatara (the Deity incarnation); the subject of purushartha-svarupa (the essential characteristics of the goal of life) as having five divisions-dharma (religiousity), artha (economic development), kama (sense gratification), atmanubhava (self-realization), and bhavagad-anubhava (God-realization); the subject of upaya-svarupa (the characteristics of the means of attainment) as having five divisions-karma (fruitive activities), jnana (cultivation of knowledge), bhakti (devotional service), prapatti (taking shelter), and acaryabhimana (assuming the role of a spiritual master); and the subject of virodhi-svarupa (the characteristics of impediments) as having five divisions-svarupa-virodhi (obstacles in self-realization), paratattva-virodhi (obstacles in God-realization), purushartha-virodhi (obstacles in attaining the goal of life), upaya-virodhi (obstacles in the means of attainment), and prapya-virodhi (obstacles in attaining the desired results). In this way, he has described twenty-five different items.
The pancaratrika Vaishnava principles of medieval South India have to some extent entered within the current practices of the Gaudiya Vaishnavas. Descendants of the Gaudiya Vaishnava acaryas became more or less attached to the path of arcana, like the followers of the Pancaratras, and spread subordination to Shriman Mahaprabhu sometimes in its pure form but more often in a perverted form. Like the householder acaryas of the Ramanuja-sampradaya who are addressed as Svamis, Gaudiya householder acaryas have similarly accepted the title of Gosvami. While preaching the pure path of bhava explained in the Shrimad Bhagavatam, Shriman Mahaprabhu distinguished it from mundane formalities, but in due course of time His teachings have become distorted into a branch of the pancaratrika system. This, however, is not the purpose of Shriman Mahaprabhu's pure preaching.
Although the followers of Ramanuja and Madhva have remained distinct from the Shankara-sampradaya, whose followers are known as pancopasakas, or worshipers of five gods, the Gaudiya-sampradaya of North India was unable to remain aloof from the pancopasakas' influence and took to the service of such people, who are averse to Vaishnavas. Actually the arrangement for arcana in the path of bhava is not completely in agreement with that found in the pancaratrika system. The kanishöha-adhikaris in the bhava-marga explained in the Shrimad Bhagavatam are practically equal to the maha-bhagavatas of the pancaratrika-arcana-marga, although there is some difference. When these kanishöha-adhikaris advance further, they attain the position of madhyama-adhikaris. And when the madhyama-adhikaris advance further, they attain the position of maha-bhagavatas, or paramahamsas.
Shri Jiva Gosvamipada has quoted the following eight verses from the Shrimad Bhagavatam (11.2.48-55) to explain the position of the maha-bhagavatas:
grihitvapindriyair arthan yo na dveshöi na hrishyati
vishnor mayam idam pashyan sa vai bhagavatottamah
“Unlike the kanishöha-adhikari with a materialistic mentality, who engages his senses in enjoying their objects, the person who sees this variegated world as a creation of the illusory energy of Lord Vishnu is neither attracted nor repulsed while engaging his senses with their objects. He is indeed the greatest among devotees.” This definition is in terms of both mental and physical disposition.
smritya harer bhagavata-pradhanah
“One who simply by remembering the lotus feet of Lord Hari is no longer attached to the five objects of body, senses, life air, mind, and intelligence and who is thus no longer entangled in the miseries of birth, death, hunger, fear, and thirst is to be considered a maha-bhagavata, a foremost devotee of the Lord.
na kama-karma-bijanam yasya cetasi sambhavah
vasudevaika-nilayah sa vai bhagavatottamah
“The seed of lusty desires cannot fructify in the heart of one who is fixed in the service of the Supreme Lord and completely peaceful because he has taken shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord. Such a person is considered a pradhana Vaishnava, or topmost devotee of the Lord.
na yasya janma-karmabhyam na varnashrama-jatibhih
sajjate 'sminn aham-bhavo dehe vai sa hareh priyah
“If one does not become proud of one's material body made of skin and flesh in spite of taking an aristocratic birth such as that of a brahmana, executing pious activities like giving and accepting charity, and having a prestigious position within varnashrama society, then one is to be considered the dearmost servitor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
na yasya svah para iti vitteshv atmani va bhida
sarva-bhuta-samah shantah sa vai bhagavatottamah
“One who sees no distinction of `own' and `others' in terms of his body and wealth, who treats all living beings equally, and who is always peaceful is considered to be a maha-bhagavata.
tri-bhuvana-vibhava-hetave 'py akunöha-
smritir ajitatma-suradibhir vimrigyat
na calati bhagavat-padaravindal
lava-nimishardham api yah sa vaishnavagryah
“One whose mind cannot be distracted from the lotus feet of Krishna for even a single moment even if he achieves the benediction of ruling and enjoying the opulence of the entire universe, which the demigods whose hearts are dedicated to Lord Ajita aspire for, is to be considered vaishnava-pradhana, the best of the Vaishnavas.
hridi katham upasidatam punah sa
prabhavati candra ivodite 'rka-tapah
“A person who is afflicted by the burning heat of the sun experiences no pain from the cooling moonshine. So how can the fire of material suffering again burn one's heart when it has been cooled by the rays emanating from the jewel-like nails of the most powerful lotus feet of the Supreme Lord? Such a person is a maha-bhagavata.
vishrijati hridayam na yasya sakshad
dharir avashabhihito 'py aghaugha-nashah
sa bhavati bhagavata-pradhana uktah
“If one even unintentionally utters the names of Lord Hari, all his sinful reactions are destroyed. That Supreme Lord Hari never leaves the heart of one who has captured His lotus feet with love. Such a person is to be known as maha-bhagavata, the most exalted devotee of the Lord.”
The classification of Vaishnavas established in the Brahma-vaivarta Purana, Krishna-janma-khanda, Chapter 84, cannot be accepted as the same as the pancaratrika system of classification.
The Brahma-vaivarta Purana presents the characteristics of topmost devotees as follows:
trina-shayya-rato bhakto man-nama-guna-kirtishu
mano niveshayet tyaktva samsara-sukha-karanam
dhyayate mat-padabjam ca pujayed bhakti-bhavatah
sarva-siddham na vancanti te 'nimadikam ipsitam
brahmatvam amaratvam va suratvam sukha-karanam
dasyam vina na hicchanti salokyadi-catushöayam
naiva nirvana-muktim ca sudha-panam abhipsitam
vancati nishcalam bhaktim madiyam atulam api
stri-pum-vibhedo nasty evam sarva-jiveshv abhinnata
kshut-pipasadikam nidram lobha-mohadikam ripum
tyaktva diva-nisham mam ca dhyayate ca dig-ambarah
“My devotees give up the sources of material pleasure, sleep on straw mats, engage their minds in glorifying My names and qualities, and devotedly worship My lotus feet within their hearts. They do not desire to achieve any mystic perfections like anima. They do not desire happiness derived from becoming a demigod, an immortal, or Lord Brahma. If they cannot be situated in My service, they do not even want perfections like living on the same planet with Me. They do not desire to drink nectar, nor do they desire the liberation of nirvana. My devotees pray only for uncomparable and undeviating devotional service at My lotus feet. They do not discriminate between men and women, and they treat all living entities equally. Becoming free from the enemies headed by hunger, thirst, sleep, greed, and illusion, they go without clothing and meditate day and night on Me. These are the symptoms of uttama Vaishnavas.”
Characteristics of the intermediate Vaishnava:
nasaktah karmasu grihi purva-praktanatah shucih
karoti satatam caiva purva-karma-nikrintanam
na karoty aparam yatnat sankalpa-rahitash ca sah
sarvam krishnasya yat kincin naham karta ca karmanah
karmana manasa vaca satatam cintayed iti
“The madhyama-adhikari is already purified as the result of the pious deeds of his previous life, and although he lives at home he remains unattached. Everything he does simply helps diminish the reactions of his past activities. He is devoid of material desires and is careful to avoid accumulating further karmic reactions. The conviction that `Everything belongs to Krishna; I am not the doer,' is apparent in his thoughts, speech, and actions.”
Characteristics of the neophyte Vaishnava:
nyuna-bhaktash ca tan-nyunah sa ca prakritikah shrutau
yamam va yama-dutam va svapne sa ca na pashyati
purushanam sahasram ca purva-bhaktah samuddharet
pumsam shatam madhyamam ca tac caturtham ca prakritah
“The kanishöha-adhikari is inferior to the madhyama-adhikari. He has material misconceptions even about hearing topics of Hari, yet he also does not see Yamaraja or his servants even in his dreams. The uttama-adhikari is capable of delivering one thousand generations of his ancestors, the madhyama-adhikari is capable of delivering one hundred generations, and the kanishöha-adhikari is capable of delivering only four generations.”
Although a shadow of indirect devotional service is found among some pancaratrika Vaishnavas, they will also come to the stage of uttama-adhikari by their gradual advancement. In the opinion of Shrimad Bhagavatam, only devotional service that is pure, unalloyed, and devoid of material desires is acceptable. It is a fact that the followers of the Pancaratras also use the word aikantika, or unalloyed, to describe their devotional service, but because they have accepted the support of karma and jnana in their process of worship, such a process cannot be compared with the pure devotional service preached by Shri Chaitanyacandra.
In his commentary on Shri Jiva Gosvami's Tattva-sandarbha, Shrimad Baladeva Vidyabhushana Prabhu, who is known as the Gaudiya Vaishnava Vedantacarya, has pointed out four differences with the South Indian Vaishnava followers of Madhvacarya in these words:
bhaktanam vipranam eva mokshah, devah bhakteshu mukhyah, virincasyaiva sayujyam, lakshmya jiva-koöitvam ity evam mata-visheshah dakshinadi-desheti tena gaude 'pi madhavendradayas tad upashishyah katicid babhuvur ity arthah.
Shri Vidyabhushana Prabhu has found the following four teachings in the philosophy of Madhvacarya to be unacceptable to the Gaudiya Vaishnavas: Only a brahmana devotee is eligible for liberation, the demigods are the foremost devotees, Lord Brahma attains sayujya-mukti (merging in Brahman), and Lakshmidevi is included among the jivas. Nevertheless Shri Madhavendra Puri and a number of others in Bengal became followers of Madhvacarya's prema-bhakti line.
Shri Jiva Gosvamipada has mentioned the names of Shri Vijayadhvaja and Vyasa Tirtha, who were among the South Indian disciples of Shri Madhvacarya in the Tattvavada school. He said that the Gaudiya Vaishnavas from Shripada Jayatirtha to Shri Madhavendra Puripada were all in the line of prema-bhakti. Vidyadhiraja, the disciple of Shripada Jayatirtha, Rajendra Tirtha, the disciple of Vidyadhiraja, and his disciple, Vijayadhvaja, all appeared in the middle of the fifteenth century. Purushottama, the disciple of Vijayadhvaja, had a disciple named Subrahmanya, whose disciple was Vyasa Tirtha. Vyasa Tirtha lived from 1548 to 1598 A.D., so he was a contemporary of Shri Jiva Gosvami.
This Tattvavada, or pancaratrika system, is not acceptable in the opinion of Shriman Mahaprabhu. Rather, He taught the path of bhagavata-marga. When Shri Gaurasundara, the Lord of Goloka worshipable throughout the fourteen worlds, visited the principal maöha in the village of Udupi in the district of Mangalore in the year 1511, Shri Raghuvarya Tirtha was the maöha commander. There is a description of Lord Chaitanya's visit in Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya-lila, Chapter 9) as follows:
tattvavadi acarya-saba shastrete pravina
tanre prashna kaila prabhu hana yena dina
“The chief acarya of the Tattvavada community was very learned in the revealed scriptures. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu humbly questioned him.
sadhya-sadhana ami na jani bhala-mate
sadhya-sadhana-shreshöha janaha amate
“Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, `I do not know very well the aim of life and how to achieve it. Please tell Me of the best ideal for humanity and how to attain it.'
acarya kahe,-`varnashrama-dharma, krishne samarpana'
ei haya krishna-bhaktera shreshöha `sadhana'
“The acarya replied, `When the activities of the four castes and the four ashramas are dedicated to Krishna, they constitute the best means whereby one can attain the highest goal of life.
`panca-vidha mukti' pana vaikunöhe gamana
`sadhya-shreshöha' haya,-ei shastra-nirupana
“`When one dedicates the duties of varnashrama-dharma to Krishna, he is eligible for five kinds of liberation. Thus he is transferred to the spiritual world in Vaikunöha. This is the highest goal of life and the verdict of all revealed scriptures.'
prabhu kahe,-shastre kahe shravana-kirtana
“Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, `According to the verdict of the shastras, the process of hearing and chanting is the best means to attain loving service to Krishna.
shravana-kirtana ha-ite krishne haya `prema'
sei pancama purushartha-purusharthera sima
“`When one comes to the platform of loving service to Lord Krishna by executing these nine processes beginning with hearing and chanting, he has attained the fifth platform of success and the limit of life's goals.
karma-ninda, karma-tyaga, sarva-shastre kahe
karma haite prema-bhakti krishne kabhu nahe
“`In every revealed scripture there is condemnation of fruitive activities. It is advised everywhere to give up engagement in fruitive activities, for by executing them no one can attain the highest goal of life, love of Godhead.
panca-vidha mukti tyaga kare bhakta-gana
phalgu kari' `mukti' dekhe narakera sama
“`Pure devotees reject the five kinds of liberation; indeed, for them liberation is very insignificant because they see it as hellish.
mukti, karma-dui vastu tyaje bhakta-gana
sei dui sthapa' tumi `sadhya', `sadhana'
“`Both liberation and fruitive activity are rejected by devotees. You are trying to establish these things as life's goal and the process for attaining it.'
prabhu kahe,-karmi, jnani,-dui bhakti-hina
tomara sampradaye dekhi sei dui cihna
“Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, `Both the fruitive worker and the speculative philosopher are considered nondevotees. We see both elements present in your sampradaya.'”
It is further stated in the Antya-lila, Chapter Five:
ara eka `svabhava' gaurera shuna, bhakta-gana
aishvarya-svabhava gudha kare prakaöana
“There is yet another characteristic of Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. O devotees, listen carefully to how He manifests His opulence and characteristics, although they are exceptionally deep.
sannyasi pandita-ganera karite garva nasha
nica-shudra-dvara karena dharmera prakasha
“To vanquish the false pride of so-called renunciants and learned scholars, He spreads real religious principles, even through a shudra, or lowborn fourth-class man.
`bhakti', `prema', `tattva' kahe raye kari' `vakta'
apani pradyumna-mishra-saha haya `shrota'
“Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu preached about devotional service, ecstatic love and the Absolute Truth by making Ramananda Raya, a grihastha born in a low family, the speaker. Then Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself, the exalted brahmana-sannyasi, and Pradyumna Mishra, the purified brahmana, both became the hearers of Ramananda Raya.
“Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu exhibited the glories of the holy name of the Lord through Haridasa Thakura, who was born in a Mohammedan family. Similarly, He exhibited the essence of devotional service through Sanatana Gosvami, who had almost been converted into a Mohammedan.
shri-rupa-dvara vrajera prema-rasa-lila
ke bujhite pare gambhira caitanyera khela?
“The Lord also fully exhibited the ecstatic love and transcendental pastimes of Vrindavana through Shrila Rupa Gosvami. Considering all this, who can understand the deep plans of Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu?”
It is not only the sampradaya acaryas who mistakenly compare the principles of karma-kanda like following varnashrama with devotional service like hearing and chanting, there are also nondevotee sampradayas opposed to the principles of devotional service who consider their misconceptions and various devices that bind them to material existence as Vaishnava practices. Though such persons claim to be Vaishnavas according to their own definition, Vaishnavas who are liberated from material designations know that they are attached to material designations. In his Bhakti-sandarbha, Shri Jiva Gosvami Prabhupada has quoted various sources to describe a few categories of such Vaishnavas as follows:
dharmartham jivitam yesham santanartham ca maithunam
pacanam vipra-mukhyartham jneyas te vaishnava narah
na calati nija-varna-dharmato yah
na harati na ca hanti kincid uccaih
sthita-manasam tam avehi vishnu-bhaktam
jivitam yasya dharmarthe dharmo hary-artha eva ca
aho-ratrani punyartham tam manye vaishnavam janam
shive ca parameshane vishnau ca paramatmani
sama-buddhya pravartante te vai bhagavatottamah
“In the Skanda Purana it is said: `According to the fruitive workers, Vaishnavas are those whose lives are dedicated to following religious principles, whose sex life is meant for begetting children, and whose cooking is for satisfying the best of the brahmanas.'
“In the Vishnu Purana it is said: `A Vaishnava is one who considers his actions are in accordance with the order of Lord Vishnu. He who does not deviate from the principles of his varna and ashrama, who treats his friends and enemies equally, and who neither destroys nor steals anything-such a sober person is a devotee of Vishnu.'
“Becoming a Vaishnava by offering the fruits of one's karma to the Lord is explained in the Padma Purana as follows: `One whose life is dedicated to following religious principles, whose religious principles are dedicated for the pleasure of the Supreme Lord, and whose days and nights are passed in accumulating pious activities is known as a Vaishnava.'
“The symptoms of a uttama-adhikari according to the Shaivites are given in the Brihan-naradiya Purana as follows: `Those who accept Lord Shiva, the chief of the demigods, as equal to Lord Vishnu, the Supersoul, are considered maha-bhagavatas.'”
Other similar statements are found in scriptures that are meant for pseudo-devotees and devotees who do not know how to practically apply the principles of devotional service. Actually, apart from unalloyed devotional service, all other activities of this material world fall under the categories of either impure devotional service or fruitive work with desires for the results. All such activities are subject to change, temporary, and contemptible. The imagined qualities of Vaishnavas and devotional service that the karmis, jnanis, and sense enjoyers claim to be supreme according to their respective tastes are unscientific, imprudent, and mere products of ignorance that are situated far away from pure devotional service.
In this connection, one naturally thinks about the statements made by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the purifier of the entire world, Shri Mahaprabhu, regarding the identity of Shri Vishnupada Prabhuvara Shrimad Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, who was the treasure of Mahaprabhu's heart and a mountain of transcendental opulences. These statements are found in Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita, Antya-lila, Chapter Six, as follows:
tomara bapa-jyeöha-vishaya-vishöha-gartera kida
sukha kari' mane vishaya-vishera maha-pida
yadyadi brahmanya kare, brahmanera sahaya
`shuddha-vaishnava' nahe, haye `vaishnavera praya'
tathapi vishayera svabhava-kare maha-andha
sei karma karaya, yate haya bhava-bandha
“My dear Raghunatha dasa, your father and his elder brother are just like worms in stool in the ditch of material enjoyment, for the great disease of the poison of material enjoyment is what they consider happiness. Although your father and uncle are charitable to brahmanas and greatly help them, they are nevertheless not pure Vaishnavas. However, they are almost like Vaishnavas. Those who are attached to materialistic life and are blind to spiritual life must act in such a way that they are bound to repeated birth and death by the actions and reactions of their activities.”
In the process of ascertaining who is a Vaishnava, many people misidentify one who is almost a Vaishnava as a real Vaishnava. Materialists and karmis are not included among the pure Vaishnavas. Seeing their mundane endeavors, great personalities who are conversant in devotional scriptures call them vaishnava-praya, almost Vaishnavas. They never make the mistake of regarding them as real Vaishnavas. Since we will discuss the behavior and dealings of Vaishnavas in a separate chapter, we will not elaborate on this point at present.
By discussing the different grades of Vaishnavas, we have now been able to understand the different degrees of Vaishnavism. When one gives up the materialist mentality of being covered by the conceptions of whimsical sense enjoyment, karma, and jnana and favorably cultivates attraction to Krishna, this is called pure devotional service. One whose heart is naturally fixed in this principle is a pure devotee. The glories of such pure devotees have already been quoted from the Shrimad Bhagavatam. The conclusion that is given by Shri Mahaprabhu's dearmost servant, Shri Shri Vishnupada Shrimad Rupa Gosvami Prabhupada, whose heart is nondifferent from that of Shri Mahaprabhu, in his essay, Shri Upadeshamrita, must be followed by all pure Vaishnavas.
krishneti yasya giri tam manasadriyeta
dikshasti cet pranatibhish ca bhajantam isham
shushrushaya bhajana-vijnam ananyam anya-
“One should mentally honor the devotee who chants the holy name of Lord Krishna, one should offer humble obeisances to the devotee who has undergone spiritual initiation [diksha] and is engaged in worshiping the Deity, and one should associate with and faithfully serve that pure devotee who is advanced in undeviated devotional service and whose heart is completely devoid of the propensity to criticize others.”
Citing the authority of the Pancaratra-agamas in his Bhakti-sandarbha, Shri Jiva Gosvami Prabhu has stated:
divyam jnanam yato dadyat kuryat papasya sankshayam
tasmad diksheti sa prokta deshikais tattva-kovidaih
“Diksha is the process by which transcendental knowledge is awakened and all reactions caused by sinful activity are vanquished. Learned persons who are expert in the study of the revealed scriptures declare this process to be called diksha.”
A spiritual master who gives mantra, assists one in spiritual realization rather than increasing one's material knowledge, and is able to destroy all illicit endeavors for sinful activities is a real initiating spiritual master, and those who take shelter of him are his initiated disciples. The instructions given to Mayadevi by Namacarya Shrila Thakura Haridasa Prabhu, the king of devotees, regarding spiritual initiation are described in Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita (Antya 3.240-241) as follows:
sankhya-nama-sankirtana-ei 'maha-yajna' manye
tahate dikshita ami ha-i prati-dine
yavat kirtana samapta nahe, na kari anya kama
kirtana samapta haile, haya dikshara vishrama
“I have been initiated into a vow to perform a great sacrifice by chanting the holy name a certain number of times every day. As long as the vow to chant is unfulfilled, I do not desire anything else. When I finish my chanting, then I have an opportunity to do anything.”
Unless one becomes qualified as a sacrificial brahmana in the sacrifice of chanting the holy names, the name of Krishna does not manifest. Although Thakura Haridasa Prabhu was not a seminal or Vedic brahmana, he attained the position of a qualified initiated brahmana:
koöi-nama-grahana-yajna kari eka-mase
ei diksha kariyachi, haila asi' sheshe
“I have vowed to chant ten million names in a month. I have taken this vow, but now it is nearing its end.”
A madhyama-adhikari should mentally show respect to the kanishöha-adhikari who is properly initiated and engaged in chanting the holy names of Krishna. One who has surpassed the stage of kanishöha-adhikara through the process of chanting the holy names and who engages in worshiping the Supreme Lord with transcendental realization, such a madhyama-adhikari should be offered respectful obeisances and his guidance should be followed. And one who is constantly engaged in worshiping Krishna with transcendental realization, who has completely given up aversion to Hari, and who does not condemn even those who are envious of Hari-such a maha-bhagavata should be respectfully served with the conviction that his association is most desirable.
A Vaishnava whose life has become successful by taking initiation has no false ego. Shri Jiva Gosvami Prabhu quotes the following verses from the Padma Purana in this connection:
ahankritir ma-karah syan na-karas tan nishedhakah
tasmat tu namasa kshetri- svatantryam pratishidhyate
bhagavat-paratantro 'sau tadayatatma-jivanah
tasmat sva-samarthya-vidhim tyajet sarvam asheshatah
ishvarasya tu samarthyat nalabhyam tasya vidyate
tasmin nyasta-bharah shete tat-karmaiva samacaret
“The holy names of the Lord are directly the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When the word namah is added to the names of the Lord it indicates subordination to the Lord, and the combination is called a mantra. The syllable ma refers to the material ego, and the syllable na indicates its negation. Therefore the word namah is used to indicate one's rejection of the false ego under the subordination of the Lord. The living entity who possesses the “field” of the material body and is thus “the proprietor of the field” is called the jiva. When the living entity uses the word namah, his independence in the form of absorption in matter is counteracted.
“A Vaishnava devotee of the Lord is completely subordinate to the Lord, meaning that his life is fully dedicated to the Lord. Therefore a Vaishnava must completely give up his independent endeavors and concocted formalities.
“By the unlimited potency of the Lord, there is nothing unachievable for His devotees. Devotees should be fully dependent on the Lord and properly engaged in His service.”
The shastras that enjoin one should take initiation from a qualified transcendentalist who has perfected his life by chanting mantras. There is no possibility of receiving transcendental knowledge from an unqualified person who is bound by the false ego of high birth and greed for money. Therefore those who desire their own welfare should give up the materialistic, proud, so-called guru and take proper initiation from a Vaishnava guru. If one has a prominent false ego and a material conception of life, then he will naturally become envious of the transcendental Vaishnavas. One should give up the so-called guru who is envious of the Vaishnavas, knowing him to be a nondevotee. If one fails to do so, one will incure sin and deviate from the path of devotion. Shri Jiva Gosvami Prabhu has instructed the devotees of the Lord how to nourish their practice of devotional service in the following way:
vaishnava-vidveshi cet parityajya eva, “guror apy avaliptasye”ti smaranat. tasya vaishnava-bhava-rahityenavaishnavataya “avaishnavopadishöena” iti vacana-vishayatvac ca. yathokta-lakshanasya shri-guror avidyamanatayam tu tasyaiva maha-bhagavatasyaikasya nitya-sevanam paramam shreyah.
“If a so-called guru is envious of the Vaishnavas, then one should reject him, remembering the guror apy avaliptasya verse5. This so-called guru does not have the qualities of a Vaishnava, therefore such a nondevotee should not be accepted as a guru. Those devotees who desire eternal welfare should say farewell to such so-called gurus, knowing them to be the subjects of the avaishnavopadishöena verse6. In the absence of a genuine Vaishnava guru who fits the description given above, one should constantly serve a maha-bhagavata for one's ultimate welfare.”
Those who blaspheme Vaishnavas can never become devoted to Lord Hari. Due to their sinful activities, those who are not devotees of Krishna cannot become Vishnu-janas. The Vaishnavas should always associate with their own compatriots and should pass their time hearing and chanting topics of the Lord and His devotees. Otherwise, as a result of bad association, they will forget their constitutional position as Hari-janas and become greatly proud of being rich, learned, brahminical, and so on.
In His instructions to Shri Sanatana, Shriman Mahaprabhu has personally mentioned two main reasons why a Vaishnava may lose his standing as a Vaishnava. If a practitioner indulges in either of them, he can no longer remain a Hari-jana. When one ceases to perform fruitive activities, mundane pride leaves him aside. Just as a brahmana who does not behave properly and lacks the appropriate brahminical qualities becomes a shudra or outcaste, so a Hari-jana whose devotional service to Lord Krishna becomes interrupted and who comes under the influence of women due to material absorption falls from the position of a Vaishnava and then considers that following the varnashrama principles is of utmost importance.
In the Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila, Chapter Twenty-two, it is stated:
`stri-sangi'-eka asadhu, `krishnabhakta' ara
eta saba chadi' ara varnashrama-dharma
akincana hana laya krishnaika-sharana
vidhi-dharma chadi' bhaje krishnera carana
nishiddha papacare tara kabhu nahe mana
ajnane va haya yadi `papa' upasthita
krishna tanre shuddha kare, na karaya prayashcitta
jnana-vairagyadi-bhaktira kabhu nahe `anga'
ahimsa-yama-niyamadi bule krishna-bhakta-sanga
“A Vaishnava should always avoid the association of ordinary people. Common people are very much materially attached, especially to women. Vaishnavas should also avoid the company of those who are not devotees of Lord Krishna.
“Without hesitation, one should take the exclusive shelter of Lord Krishna with full confidence, giving up bad association and even neglecting the regulative principles of the four varnas and four ashramas. That is to say, one should abandon all material attachment.
“Although the pure devotee does not follow all the regulative principles of varnashrama, he worships the lotus feet of Krishna. Therefore he naturally has no tendency to commit sin.
“If, however, a devotee accidentally becomes involved in a sinful activity, Krishna purifies him. He does not have to undergo the regulative form of atonement.
“The path of speculative knowledge and renunciation is not very essential for devotional service. Indeed, good qualities such as nonviolence and mind and sense control automatically accompany a devotee of Lord Krishna.”
The first obstacle for being able to identify oneself as a Vaishnava is stri-sanga, association with women. Association with women is of two types, the first of which is regulated association based on varnashrama principles. In the Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita, Adi-lila, Chapter One, it is said:
krishna-bhaktira badhaka-yata shubhashubha karma
seha eka jivera ajnana-tamo-dharma
“All kinds of activities, both auspicious and inauspicious, that are detrimental to the discharge of transcendental loving service to Lord Shri Krishna are actions of the darkness of ignorance.”
Shrila Thakura Narottama has also said:
punya se sukhera dhama, tahara na laio nama
papa punya dui parihara
“Don't even talk about pious activities, which are the source of all happiness. Give up both pious and sinful activities.”
Giving up the association of Hari-janas and becoming overly attached to the wife under one's protection is the symptom of bad association. But remaining in the grihastha ashrama in order to increase Krishna's family cannot be called stri-sanga. The second kind of stri-sanga is unregulated association with women, which is irreligious and which creates disturbances in the varnashrama society, because those who indulge in such association are engaged in sinful activities, abominable activities, or inactivity, and as a result they go to hell. The sinful people of the material world are completely unqualified to be called Vaishnavas. And pious people who strictly follow the rules and regulations of varnashrama but are indifferent to the service of Hari are also completely unqualified to be called Hari-janas.
If the lowest classes of Prakriti-janas are addressed as Hari-janas, then those who address them as such are ineligible to have the fortune of being called Hari-janas.
If varnashrama and other fruitive activities enjoined in the shastras become prominent in one's life, then one cannot become akincana, or fully dependent on the Lord; rather these activities provoke offenses against the chanting of the holy names in the form of conceptions of “I” and “mine.” If a person who is fully surrendered to Krishna becomes proud of following varnashrama principles, then it must be considered that he has become most unfortunate. Due to the influence of association with women, the whole material world is daily advancing in aversion to Hari. No one is able to understand the position of the Vaishnavas.
Moreover, even if one gets freedom from material existence by giving up the regulated and unregulated association of women, he is still not completely delivered. He may still be bound by the nondevotional behavior of dharma, artha, and kama, which are simply three other forms of stri-sanga. Moksha, though not a form of stri-sanga, is nevertheless a relative accomplishment, being simply the absence of material conceptions. Therefore the constant favorable cultivation of Krishna consciousness has been established as the principle item amongst the Vaishnava codes of behavior for removing the illusions of the nondevotees. Those who desire liberation are also nondevotees. Such persons reject varnashrama principles, engage in self-worship, and falsely claim to be paramahamsas; therefore they cannot be Vaishnavas. If one realizes the transcendental position of the Hari-janas and serves them, then he can also become a Hari-jana. If one wants to ascertain the process for achieving devotional service through material knowledge, his endeavor will simply be another form of karma. If one wants to ascertain the process for achieving devotional service through impersonal speculation, his endeavor will be dominated by the process of jnana. And if one simply wants to immediately enjoy sense gratification without considering its good and bad effects, his endeavor will simply be another form of sense gratification. There is no possibility for these three types of persons to achieve devotional service, which is the eternal spiritual propensity of the Hari-janas. The term “nondevotees” refers to these three types of persons; Jarasandha, Kamsa, Shishupala, and others are also among the nondevotee aspirants of liberation averse to Krishna.
The enlightenment of the path of jnana is considered most powerful by the karmis who are attached to religiousity, economic development, and sense gratification. But since it is an obstacle to the cooling moonshine of devotional service, it is not regarded highly by the unalloyed devotees who have already achieved knowledge and supreme auspiciousness. When the nondevotees who are averse to devotional service see the prohibited sinful activities of the pseudo-devotees, they become eager to treat them with their own medicine. But real devotees, or Hari-janas, are not affected by such diseases. If a nonduplicitous aspiring Hari-jana is in any way infected by the influence of either of these three categories, then Lord Krishna Himself protects him.
The Shrimad Bhagavatam (11.20.27-30) states as follows:
jata-shraddho mat-kathasu nirvinnah sarva-karmasu
veda duhkhatmakan kaman parityage 'py anishvarah
tato bhajeta mam pritah shraddhalur dridha-nishcayah
jushamanash ca tan kaman duhkhodarkamsh ca garhayan
proktena bhakti-yogena bhajato masakrin muneh
kama hridayya nashyanti sarve mayi hridi sthite
bhidyate hridaya-granthish chidyante sarva-samshayah
kshiyante casya karmani mayi drishöe 'khilatmani
[The Supreme Lord said:] “One who develops faith in My names, qualities, and pastimes, who has given up attachment for worldly and Vedic activities and their fruits, who has understood material sense gratification as the source of misery yet is unable to give it up-such a faithful devotee has firm conviction that all his neccessities will be attained simply by the execution of devotional service, so he goes on enjoying the sense gratification that he knows will lead to misery, while condemning this sense enjoyment and worshiping Me with pure love. In this way an introspective person constantly engages in My devotional service as I have described it, and I take residence in his heart and personally vanquish the contamination of lust. If one installs Me in his heart, faults can no longer remain there; the knots in his heart are untied, his doubts are removed, and his desires for fruitive activities are eradicated.”
The conditioned souls who are attached to and maddened by material sense enjoyment proudly consider themselves the doers and thus become bound in the manifold network of karma. When such people come to understand that the results of their karma are insignificant, then only do they begin to give up their attempt to lord it over material nature and develop faith in the topics of the Supreme Lord. When one develops faith in the topics of Lord Hari, he can give up self-identification as the doer and his desire to lord it over. He then understands that all forms of material sense gratification are simply impediments on the path towards his goal of life. Yet even after understanding this, he is unable to give up his long-standing inclination for sense gratification due to bad habits and weak faith.
If one who is situated in such an unfortunate state desires to increase his faith in the topics of Hari and serve Him with strong attachment, then the firm conviction that `If I consider myself the doer, I will simply meet with miseries in this world' will to a great extend protect one from material attachment.
When one takes shelter at the lotus feet of a spiritual master and engages in the exclusive service of the Lord, following in the footsteps of the mahajanas, then the transcendental Absolute Truth will capture his heart and all desires other than to serve Krishna will be vanquished. At that time the contamination produced from lust that has accumulated from many lifetimes, will be evacuated. He then no longer has any doubt; in other words, he understands that the path of devotional service is sublime. At that time he also understands the uselessness of considering himself the doer. When his self-identification as the doer with the aim of sense gratification becomes diminished, at that time he displays symptoms of full surrender such as all his activities are dedicated to satisfying the Supreme Lord, all his endeavors are directed towards pleasing Krishna, and he considers “Krishna is my only protector.”
Cherished by the paramahamsas, the Shrimad Bhagavatam (10.2.33) states:
tatha na te madhava tavakah kvacid
bhrashyanti margat tvayi baddha-sauhridah
tvayabhigupta vicaranti nirbhaya
“Lord Brahma said: O Madhava, Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord of the goddess of fortune, Hari-janas completely in love with You do not fall like the seekers of other goals-the karmis and the relatively superior jnanis-fall from their respective unsteady paths. O my Lord, the Hari-janas are always protected by You and thus fearlessly traverse over the head of the commander-in-chief of those who create obstacles.”
The devotees of the Lord do not remain in a dangerous situation; rather, they continue to serve Hari with transcendental realization. But if they happen to lack transcendental realization, the Lord gives them knowledge so that they can understand themselves as Hari-janas. Needless to say, unregulated sense enjoyers, karmis, and jnanis are all desirous of physical and non-physical enjoyment, so there is no possibility of their achieving auspiciousness. But if they give up their respective material desires, they can become devoted Hari-janas.
In the Shrimad Bhagavatam (5.18.12) it is stated:
yasyasti bhaktir bhagavaty akincana
sarvair gunais tatra samasate surah
harav abhaktasya kuto mahad-guna
manorathenasati dhavato bahih
There is no need for a devotee to separately endeavor for acquiring artificial saintly qualities, like those with concepts other than devotional service who are haunted by the ghosts of karma and jnana. If one is on the platform of devotional service, then all saintly qualities automatically manifest in him. Shri Prahlada Maharaja said, “Those who have unmotivated devotion for the Personality of Godhead always possess all good qualities. They are perfectly established in these good qualities. Such exalted qualities, however, can never remain in anyone who is not a Hari-jana. Because the unregulated sense enjoyers, karmis, and jnanis desire something other than the Supreme Lord and thus their minds are attracted to changeable products of illusion and external objects of sense gratification, their absorption in various changing, ephemeral objects is only momentary. Thus the great qualities of saintly persons cannot find a place in their hearts permanently or for any duration of time.” Today we may see some good qualities in something and consider it excellent, but over the course of time that excellence does not remain constant, being differently seen in the eyes of different viewers from different points of view at different times. Hari-janas, however, are eternal and their activities are eternal. All the perceived and perceiving beings of Vaikunöha, moreover, are adorned with the transcendental qualities of being eternal, faultless, unlimited, and absolutely desirable.
Pure unalloyed Vaishnavas are actually very rare. Those who can say, “Such ideal Vaishnava character is most desirable,” are also seldom found in this world. Therefore the only means of achieving the highest goal of life is to simply hear and chant the topics of Hari and the Hari-janas. If for even a moment anyone, whether qualified or unqualified, down to the lowest sinner, factually recognizes that the saintly Hari-janas are the topmost entities in the fourteen worlds and beyond and that they are therefore most respectable, then their respective spiritual practices will certainly increase our festive joy. The number of such qualified devotees is such a small fraction of the world's population! Therefore it is most important that the supreme ideal position of the Hari-janas should be somewhat realized in the heart of every living entity.
The wicked tendency of dedicated Prakriti-janas is to completely reject the worship of Hari. It is stated in the Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya-lila, Chapter 19) as follows:
tara madhye `sthavara', jangama'-dui bheda
tara madhye manushya-jati ati alpatara
tara madhye mleccha, pulinda, bauddha, shabara
veda-nishöha-madhye ardheka veda `mukhe' mane
veda-nishiddha papa kare, dharma nahi gane
dharmacari-madhye bahuta `karma-nishöha'
koöi-karma-nishöha-madhye eka jnani' shreshöha
koöi-jnani-madhye haya eka-jana `mukta'
koöi-mukta-madhye `durlabha' eka krishna-bhakta
krishna-bhakta-nishkama, ataeva `shanta'
“The unlimited living entities can be divided into two divisions-those that can move and those that cannot move. Among living entities that can move, there are birds, aquatics and animals.
“Although the living entities known as human beings are very small in quantity, that division may be still further subdivided, for there are many uncultured human beings like mlecchas, pulindas, bauddhas and shabaras.
“Among human beings, those who are followers of the Vedic principles are considered civilized. Among these, almost half simply give lip service while committing all kinds of sinful activities against these principles. Such people do not care for the regulative principles.
“Among the followers of Vedic knowledge, most are following the process of fruitive activity and distinguishing between good and bad work. Out of many such sincere fruitive actors, there may be one who is actually wise.
“Out of many millions of such wise men, one may actually become liberated [mukta], and out of many millions of such liberated persons, a pure devotee of Lord Krishna is very difficult to find.
“Because a devotee of Lord Krishna is desireless, he is peaceful. Fruitive workers desire material enjoyment, jnanis desire liberation, and yogis desire material opulence; therefore they are all lusty and cannot be peaceful.”
We find it written that there are only twelve Hari-janas in the four yugas-Satya, Treta, Dvapara, and Kali. Does this mean that the Hari-janas have given up Vaishnavism to serve the materialistic Prakriti-janas? Is this the conclusion of the shastras? Every living entity is constitutionally a servant of Krishna, or a Hari-jana. The living entity is bound by the ropes of maya in proportion to his forgetfulness of his identity as the servant of Krishna. He then identifies himself as a smarta. Mundane foolishness is greatly diminished for one who realizes that an unalloyed Hari-jana is worshipable throughout the three worlds and is nondifferent from Hari, as His servant.
By His sweet will, the Supreme Lord often sends His associates into this material world in order to treat the conditioned souls. This is also one of the Lord's tests. In order to spread His glories, to show how exclusively devoted to His service certain Hari-janas are, and to bring other Hari-janas back to His abode, the supreme enjoyer of transcendental pastimes sends His own associate or associates into this material world as His “devotee-incarnations.” The actual facts are distorted if such personalities are counted among those who have become perfect by regulated practice. Those Hari-janas who appear within this world as bhakta-avataras before, during, or after the appearance of the Lord are not in the category of sadhana-siddha devotees. And those Hari-janas who are followers of the twelve perfect devotees are counted among the sadhana-siddha devotees.
While studying the history of the Shri-sampradaya, we came to know that twelve perfect associates of the Lord appear at different times in this world from Vaikunöha in order to benefit the living entities. Also from authoritative Gaudiya texts such as Shri Gaura-ganoddesha-dipika we can learn of the identities the Lord and His associates of Goloka and Vaikunöha assume in gaura-lila. When a living entity achieves perfection by worshiping Hari and realizes his perfect and uncontaminated status as a servant of Krishna, he then discovers his own eternal identity and the Lord becomes constantly manifest to him. Persons who are averse to the Hari-janas, however, can never understand this fact.
The activities and symptoms of Vaishnavas are completely beyond the understanding of persons with material intelligence. During the four yugas, innumerable Hari-janas have honestly worshiped the Supreme Lord, showing a perfect example in their lives. By the hostile counteractive measures of the smartas, they were neither broken-hearted, discouraged, nor induced to give up their position as Hari-janas. Those who are unfortunate and less intelligent become bound by the results of pious and impious activities and create enmity with the Hari-janas.
The Vaishnava-manjusha quotes the following from the Prapannamrita, Chapter Seventy-four:
te divya-suraya iti prathita dashorvyam
goda yatindra-mishrabhyam dvadashaitan vidur budhah
vishrijya godam madhura- kavina saha sattama
kecid dvadasha-sankhyatan vadanti vibudhottamah
The history of these associates of the Lord in the Shri-sampradaya are described in Sanskrit language in the two books Divya-suri-carita and Prapannamrita; in the Manipravala language, which is a mixture of Sanskrit and Tamil, in the books Guru-paramaparai-prabhava, Prabandha-sara, and Upadesha-ratna-malai; and in the Dravidian Tamil language in the book Pada-nadai-vilakkam.
(1) Kashara Muni, or Sara Yogi (Payaga-i Alvar), (2) Bhuta Yogi (Pudatta Alvar), who was an incarnation of the Lord's conch, (3) Bhranta Yogi, or Mahad (Pe Alvar), (4) Bhaktisara (Tirumadisaippiran Alvar), (5) Shaöhari, also known as Shaöhakopa, Parankusha, and Bakulabharana (Namma Alvar), (6) Kulashekhara (Kulashekhara Alvar), who was an incarnation of the Kaustubha gem, (7) Vishnucitta (Peri-i Alvar), who was an incarnation of Garuda, (8) Bhaktanhgrirenu (Tondaradippadi Alvar), (9) Munivaha, also known as Yogivaha and Prananatha (Tiruppani Alvar), who was an incarnation of Shrivatsa, (10) Catukavi, or Parakal (Tirumanga-i Alvar), who was an incarnation of the Lord's bow, (11) Goda (Andal), who was an incarnation of Nila Lakshmi, (12) Ramanuja (Yambarumanar, Uda-iyavar, Ilai Alvar), who was an incarnation of Lakshmana, and (13) Madhura Kavi (Madhura Kavigal Alvar).
It is not that only South Indian devotees have come from Vaikunöha; if we look at the pastimes of the pure devotees of Bengal, we will realize that they are also eternal Hari-janas. We will now quote a few examples from the Gaura-ganoddesha, Ramanuja-carita, and Madhva-carita.
Those who have attained perfection in their bhajana have realized their own constitutional position. But nowadays in the Gaudiya Vaishnava-sampradaya some immature pancaratrika-mantra traders are presenting imaginary material names and forms as the goal of life and the path of perfection (siddha-pranali); in this way they gratify the minds of their disciples as well as disclose their own foolishness and ignorance of the Vaishnava literatures. We are not talking about these persons. The realizations of those who came to know their constitutional position by the strength of their authentic worship of Hari (hari-bhajana) were often written down by their disciples in various parts of India at various times.
We do not wish speak further on this subject. Yet it is also true that universally honored persons like Shri Madhvacarya, the incarnation of Vayu, Bhima, or Hanuman; Shri Ramanuja, the incarnation of Sankarshana; and Gaudiya Vaishnavas like Prabhuvara Shri Rupa Gosvami, Prabhuvara Shri Sanatana Gosvami, Prabhuvara Shri Raghunatha Gosvami, Prabhu Shri Narottama Thakura, Shri Shyamananda Prabhu, Prabhu Shri Narahari Sarakara Thakura, Ishvari Shri Shrimati Jahnava Devi, and others, as well as Shripada Vishvanatha Cakravarti Prabhu, Shripada Baladeva Vidyabhushana Prabhu, various shripada-siddha-babaji Prabhus, Prabhuvara Shri Shrimad Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and Shripada Paramahamsa Shri Shri Vishnupada Shri Shri Gaurakishora dasa Prabhuvara never performed devotional service with the mentality of mortal living beings fallen in the pit of smarta attitudes. These personalities had all realized their individual spiritual identities and, being fixed in pure devotional service, they revealed the transcendental nature of their bhajana.
Mortal beings who do not understand the bhagavata or pancaratrika paths, who are imperfect, expert in the false egoism of material birth and so on, and desirous of taking the post of acarya for the sake of money can never become Hari-janas. They are all nondevotees. Their acting as family gurus is just like the mundane activities of weavers, potters, blacksmiths, cobblers, shopkeepers, reciters, singers, and drummers. But this is completely different from the transcendental faith of the Vaishnavas. Since we are shoe carriers for the Hari-janas, we also agree with this description.
The Hari-janas are divided into five types according to their taking shelter of each of the five primary rasas-shanta, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, and madhurya. There is a further division into two categories: If one takes shelter of regulative devotional service, which is predominated by appreciation of the Lord's opulences on the strength of the injunctions of scriptures and the spiritual master, that is called vaidha-marga; and if one follows according to his own taste a particular resident of Vraja and accepts devotional service as his constitutional engagement, it is called raga-marga. This is explained in the Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila, Chapter Twenty-four, as follows:
`vidhi-bhakta', `raga-bhakta',-dui-vidha nama
dui-vidha bhakta haya cari cari prakara
parishada, sadhana-siddha, sadhaka-gana ara
jata-ajata-rati-bhede sadhaka dui bheda
vidhi-raga-marge cari cari-ashöa bheda
vidhi-bhaktye nitya-siddha parishada-`dasa'
`sakha' `guru' `kanta-gana',-cari-vidha prakasha
sadhana-siddha-dasa, sakha, guru, kanta-gana
jata-rati sadhaka-bhakta-cari-vidha jana
ajata-rati sadhaka-bhakta,-e cari prakara
vidhi-marge bhakte shodasha bheda pracara
raga-marge aiche bhakte shodasha vibheda
dui marge atmaramera batrisha vibheda
“There are two types of atmaramas-one is engaged in regulative devotional service and the other is engaged in spontaneous devotional service.
“The atmaramas engaged in regulative and spontaneous devotional service are further categorized into four groups. There are the eternal associates, the associates who have become perfect by devotional service, and those who are engaged in devotional service and are called sadhaka.
“Those who are practicing devotional service are either mature or immature. Therefore the sadhakas are of two types. Since the devotees execute either regulative devotional service or spontaneous devotional service and there are four groups within these two divisions, altogether there are eight varieties.
“By executing regulative devotional service, one is elevated to the platform of an eternally perfect associate-such as a servant, friend, superior or beloved woman. These are of four varieties.
“Among those who have perfected themselves by devotional service, there are servants, friends, superiors and beloved damsels. Similarly, there are four types of mature devotees.
“Within the category of regulative devotional service, there are also immature devotees. These are also of four varieties. Thus in regulative devotional service there are altogether sixteen varieties.
“On the path of spontaneous devotional service, there are also sixteen categories of devotees. Thus there are thirty-two types of atmaramas enjoying the Supreme Lord on these two paths.”
The supremely pure devotional service given to the Gaudiya Vaishnavas by Shriman Mahaprabhu is incomparable. This devotional service is not offered to any person within the fourteen worlds. The devotees have no object of service even in the waters of the Viraja, which is situated beyond the material universe and which cleanses one of the three modes of nature. This Viraja is the highest destination for those on the path of karma. Brahmaloka is situated on the other side of the Viraja. In the nondifferentiated Brahmaloka there is no recipient for one's devotional service. This is the highest destination attained through impersonal knowledge. Passing beyond Brahmaloka, one comes to the abode of Shri Vaikunöha, where Lord Narayana resides. The regulated worshipers on the path of pancaratrika serve their worshipable Lord Narayana here under the shelter of two and half rasas-shanta, dasya, and sakhya with awe and reverence. Above Vaikunöha is Goloka Vrindavana, where Shri Krishnacandra, who is the perfect object for all five rasas, is eternally worshiped by His devotees, who are the repositories of love. Devotional service is meant for Him alone. Since the Hari-janas' worshipable Lord is not present within the fourteen worlds as any material object, within the waters of the Viraja as the neutral balance of the material modes, or within Brahmaloka in formless Brahman, they have nothing do with these places. The worshipable Lord of the pancaratrika Vaishnavas resides in Vaikunöha, and the worshipable Lord of the bhagavata Vaishnavas resides in Goloka. One should worship one of these Lords.
In the Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 19.151-154) Shriman Mahaprabhu speaks as follows:
brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva
guru-krishna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija
mali hana kare sei bija aropana
shravana-kirtana-jale karaye secana
upajiya bade lata `brahmanda' bhedi' yaya
`viraja' `brahma-loka' bhedi' `para-vyoma' paya
tabe yaya tad-upari `goloka-vrindavana'
`krishna-carana'-kalpa-vrikshe kare arohana
“The living entity is wandering up and down, from one planet to another, and he is very fortunate if by the mercy of the spiritual master and Krishna Himself he can get the seed of devotional service to Krishna.
“When a person receives the seed of devotional service, he should take care of it by becoming a gardener and sowing the seed in his heart. If he waters the seed gradually by the process of shravana and kirtana [hearing and chanting], the seed will begin to sprout.
“As one waters the bhakti-lata-bija, the seed sprouts, and the creeper gradually increases to the point where it penetrates the walls of this universe and goes beyond the Viraja River between the spiritual world and the material world. It attains Brahmaloka, the Brahman effulgence, and, penetrating through that stratum, it reaches the spiritual sky and the spiritual planet Goloka Vrindavana.
“Being situated in one's heart and being watered by shravana-kirtana, the bhakti creeper grows more and more. In this way it attains the shelter of the desire tree of the lotus feet of Krishna, who is eternally situated in the planet known as Goloka Vrindavana in the topmost region of the spiritual sky.”
Nothing material, no matter how glorious, can be compared with these superexcellent devotees of the Lord. As one cannot compare a mustard seed with Mount Meru, a drop of water with the ocean, or a dwarf with the high sky, it is similarly improper to compare the prestige of the Hari-janas with any ordinary mundane prestige. We will now cite some examples from the scriptures and some narrations of the mahajanas regarding the pathetic results achieved by materially conditioned entities who endeavor to directly or indirectly criticize, envy, or disrepect such Hari-janas with either their speech, bodies, or minds.
The Skanda Purana states:
yo hi bhagavatam lokam upahasam nripottama
karoti tasya nashyanti artha-dharma-yashah-sutah
nindam kurvanti ye mudha vaishnavanam mahatmanam
patanti pitribhih sardham maha-raurava-samjnite
hanti nindati vai dveshöi vaishnavan nabhinandati
krudhyate yati no harsham darshane patanani shaö
“O best of kings, if one derides an exalted devotee, he loses the results of his pious activities, his opulence, his reputation, and his sons. Those fools who blaspheme great Vaishnavas fall down to the hell known as Maharaurava, accompanied by their forefathers. Whoever kills or blasphemes a Vaishnava, whoever is envious of or angry with a Vaishnava, and whoever does not offer proper greetings or feel joy upon seeing a Vaishnava certainly becomes fallen.”
In the Amrita-saroddhara it is stated:
janma-prabhriti yat kincit sukritam samuparjitam
nasham ayati tat sarvam pidayed yadi vaishnavan
“If one gives pain to the Vaishnavas, then the results of his pious activities like high birth and high caste are all destroyed.”
In the Dvaraka-mahatmya it is said:
kara-patraish ca phalyante su-tivrair yama-shasanaih
nindam kurvanti ye papa vaishnavanam mahatmanam
pujito bhagavan vishnur janmantara-shatair api
prasidati na vishvatma vaishnave capamanite
“Those most sinful people who criticize great Vaishnavas are subjected by Yamaraja to the severe punishment of being sliced in pieces by very sharp saws. Lord Hari, the Supersoul of the entire universe, is never pleased with the miscreant who insults a Vaishnava, even if he has worshiped Vishnu for hundreds of births.”
Also in the Skanda Purana it is said:
purvam kritva tu sammanam avajnam kurute tu yah
vaishnavanam mahi-pala sanvayo yati sankshayam
“O ruler of the world, one who first respects a Vaishnava and then later insults him is vanquished along with his family.”
In the Brahma-vaivarta Purana, Krishna-janma-khanda, it is stated:
ye nindanti hrishikesham tad-bhaktam punya-rupinam
shata-janmarjitam punyam tesham nashyati nishcitam
te pacyante maha-ghore kumbhipake bhayanake
bhakshitah kiöa-sanghena yavac candra-divakarau
tasya darshana-matrena punyam nashyati nishcitam
gangam snatva ravim drishöa tada vidvan vishuddhyati
“Those who criticize Lord Hrishikesha or the Vaishnavas, who are under His all-auspicious shelter, lose all the pious credits they have accrued in a hundred births. Such sinners rot in the Kumbhipaka hell and are eaten by hordes of worms for as long as the sun and moon exist. If one sees a person who blasphemes Lord Vishnu and His devotees, then the results of all his pious activities are lost. When learned persons see such non-Vaishnavas, they purify themselves by taking bath in the Ganges and looking at the sun.”
Shri Ramanujacarya has stated:
shrimad bhagavatarcanam bhagavatah puja-vidher uttamam
shri-vishnor avamananad guru-taram shri-vaishnavollanghanam
tirthad acyuta-padajad guru-taram tirtham tadiyanghri-jam
pujanad vishnu-bhaktanam purushartho 'sti netarah
teshu tad-dveshatah kincit nasti nashanam atmanah
shri-vaishnavair maha-bhagaih sallapam karayet sada
tadiya-dushaka-janan na pashyet purushadhaman
shri-vaishnavanam cihnani dhritvapi vishayaturaih
taih sardham vancaka-janaih saha-vasam na karayet
“The worship of Vaishnavas is greater than the worship of the Supreme Lord. Insulting a Vaishnava is more offensive than insulting Lord Vishnu. The water that has washed the feet of a devotee is more pure than the water that has washed the feet of Krishna. There is no higher achievement than to worship a Vaishnava. There is nothing more offensive than being envious of a Vaishnava, which results in one's utter ruination. One should always converse with maha-bhagavata Vaishnavas, and one should never see the lowest of mankind who criticizesVaishnavas. One should never reside with a duplicitous person who is attached to sense gratification and decorated with the signs of a Vaishnava.”
It is described in the Shri Chaitanya-bhagavata (Madhya 5.145 and 10.102):
yata papa haya praja janere himsile
tara shata-guna haya vaishnave nindile
“The sin commited by being envious of other living entities is multiplied a hundredfold if one criticizes a Vaishnava.
ye papishöha vaishnavera jati-buddhi kare
janma janma adhama-yonite dubi' mare
“The sinful person who considers a Vaishnava as belonging to a particular caste repeatedly takes birth in abominable species life after life.”
In the Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita, Adi-lila, Chapter Seventeen, and Antya-lila, Chapter Three, it is stated:
bhavani-pujara saba samagri lana
ratre shrivasera dvare sthana lepana
“He placed all the paraphernalia for worshiping the goddess Durga outside Shrivasa Thakura's door.
madya-bhanda-pashe dhari' nija-ghare gela
“Then he placed a pot of wine beside all this.
tabe saba shishöa-loka kare hahakara
aiche karma hetha kaila kon duracara
hadike aniya saba dura karaila
“Then all the assembled gentlemen exclaimed, `What is this? What is this? Who has performed such mischievous activities? Who is that sinful man?' They called for a sweeper [hadi], who threw all the items of worship far away.
tina dina rahi' sei gopala-capala
sarvange ha-ila kushöha, vahe rakta-dhara
sarvanga bedila kiöe, kaöe nirantara
“After three days, leprosy attacked Gopala Capala, and blood oozed from sores all over his body. He was incessantly covered with germs and insects bit him all over his body.
are papi, bhakta-dveshi, tore na uddharimu
koöi-janma ei mate kidaya khaoyaimu
“O sinful person, envious of pure devotees, I shall not deliver you! Rather, I shall have you bitten by these germs for many millions of years.
koöi janma habe tora raurave patana
“ghaöa-paöiya murkha tuni bhakti kanha jana?
haridasa-öhakure tuni kaili apamana!
sarva-nasha habe tora, na habe kalyana”
“You will have to fall down into hellish life for ten million births. You are a foolish logician, what do you know about the devotional service of the Lord? You have insulted Haridasa Thakura. Thus there will be a dangerous position for you. You should not expect anything auspicious.
krishna-svabhava,-bhakta-ninda sahite na pare
“The characteristic of Krishna is that He cannot tolerate blasphemy of His devotees.”
Shri Jiva Gosvami has written in his Bhakti-sandarbha:
vaishnava-ninda shravane 'pi dosha uktah-
nindam bhagavatah shrinvams tat-parasya janasya va
tato napaiti yah so 'pi yaty adhah sukritac cyutah
tato 'pagamash casamarthasya eva. samarthena tu nindaka-jihva chettavya. tatrapy asmarthena sva-prana-parityago 'pi kartavyah. yathoktam devya-
karnau pidhaya nirayad yad akalpa ishe
dharmavitary ashrinibhir nribhir asyamane
chindyat prasahya rushatim asatam prabhush cej
jihvam asun api tato vishrijet sa dharmah
“Not only those who criticize Vaishnavas are faulty, but those who hear criticism of Vaishnavas are also offenders. This is described in scriptures such as the Shrimad-Bhagavatam (10.74.40): `Anyone who fails to immediately leave the place where he hears criticism of the Supreme Lord or His faithful devotee will certainly fall down, bereft of his pious credit.'
“The injunction to leave the place is meant only for those who are unable to take any other steps. If one is able, he should cut out the tongue of he who is blaspheming the Vaishnava. And if one is unable to do this, he should give up his life.
“In the Shrimad Bhagavatam (4.4.17) Sati, the daughter of Daksha, spoke like this: `If one hears an irresponsible person blaspheme the master and controller of religion or the Vaishnavas, one should block his ears and go away if unable to punish him. But if one is able, then one should cut out the tongue of that miscreant, who is speaking such filthy language, and if unable to do this one should give up his own life-this is the religious principle.'”