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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Bhaktivinoda Thakura > Bhaktivinoda Vani Vaibhava > Bhaktivinoda Vani Vaibhava Part 2 and 3 > Vol 2 Abhidheya > Sadhu-sanga

44 -Sadhu-sanga


1. How does a devotee worship Krsna?


This material world is useless, and only foolish people take pleasure in it. A renounced  person worships Radha and Krsna in Vraja in the association of saintly persons and  constantly takes shelter of the Lord's holy names. (Conclusion to the commentary on Sri  Caitanya-caritamrta)


2. When does a living entity develop the desire to associate with saints?


As a result of heaps of pious activities and due to the Lord's mercy a living entity's  desire for material existence becomes weak. Then he automatically develops the desire  for sadhu-sanga. By discussing the topics of Krsna in the association of devotees one  develops faith, and when he gradually cultivates Krsna consciousness with more  determination, he becomes greedy to attain Krsna. On such a platform, he learns the art  of performing bhajana by taking shelter at the lotus feet of a bona fide, pure spiritual  master.

{Sajjana Tosanl 11/5) 


3. Why is sadhu-sahga necessary?


One should develop the characteristics of the sadhus and learn scriptural conclusions  from them. (Sajjana Tosani 11/6)


4. What does it mean to take shelter at the lotus feet of a spiritual master?


Associating with an intimate devotee of the Lord is taking shelter at the lotus feet of a  spiritual master. (Sajjana Tosani 2/1)


 5. What is the result of traveling to holy places? What does one gain from sadhu-sahga?


jatha sadhu tatha tirtha sthira kori' nija citta sadhu-sanga koro nirantara

yathaya vaisnava-gana sei sthana vrndavana sei sthane ananda asesa


A holy place is wherever devotees reside. Therefore, pacify your mind and associate  constantly with devotees. Where Vaisnavas reside, that place is Vrndavana, and one will  experience unlimited happiness in that place. (Kalydna-kalpataru, Song 4)


6. Are sadhus ever selfish?


The demigods may become selfish, but devotees never become selfish. Therefore,  persons who desire their own benefit should eagerly hanker to live wherever they find a  desire for pure love, wherever topics about Krsna are being discussed, where there is  hari-sahklrtana, wherever there is a desire to hear Krsna's glories, and wherever Krsna  and the Vaisnavas are being glorified. (Commentary on Bhajanamrtam)


7. How can the living entity's dormant constitutional nature be revived?


What can revive the living entity's dormant constitutional nature? Fruitive activities,  mental speculation, and renunciation cannot do it. Only the association of self-realized  souls can revive the living entity's dormant nature. Two things are required in this  connection: a person must have acquired a little faith through the accumulation of past  pious activities, and on the strength of such sukrti, he will receive the opportunity to  associate with qualified sadhus. That is the second requirement. (Sajjana Tosani 9/9)


8. What is the root of a living entity's original nature?


Nature is born from association. One's nature is determined according to one's  association. The faith that a living entity develops by living out the karma of his  previous life's association is changed by the association he has in his present life.  Therefore, association is the root cause of a living entity's nature. (Sajjana Tosani 15/2)


9. What is the only cause of advancement for worldly Vaisnavas?


Mature yogis, expert in devotional service, are called uttama-adhikarls. Immature yogis  who desire devotional service but who sometimes engage in fruitive activities while  following religious principles are called madhyama-adhikdris. Neophyte devotees who  are attached to karma are counted among the worldly Vaisnavas, or kanistha-adhikdrls.  In the hearts of such kanistha devotees, the reflection of devotional service awakens. If a  little bit of pure devotional service arises in their hearts, they give up their attachment  for karma and become madhyama-adhikdris. It is only by association with sadhus that  one can move from one qualification (adhikdra) to the next. (Commentary on  Bhajanamrtam) 


10. Whose association is desirable? By whose association can one make advancement on  the path of spiritual life?


One who has awakened pure devotional service in his heart is an unalloyed devotee of  Krsna. His association is most desirable. The association of madhyama-adhikaris is also  suitable. A practitioner of devotional service should always take shelter of devotees who  are superior to him. In this way, he can make advancement on the path of spiritual life.  (Commentary on Bhajanamrtam)


11. How should one associate with pure devotees even in ordinary dealings?


One should behave with ordinary people as one behaves with a stranger while buying  something from him in the market. Dealings with the Lord's pure devotees, however,  should be based on love. (Sajjana Tosani 11/11)


12. Does one waste time simply by sitting near a Vaisnava?


Sri Ramanujacarya's foremost instruction is this: If you cannot purify yourself by any  endeavor whatsoever, then sit with the Vaisnavas and you will achieve all  auspiciousness. {Sajjana Tosani 11/11)


13. Is there any direct proof that sddhu-sanga brings auspiciousness?


By observing a devotee's pure characteristics, in a short time a person's mind is  changed, his attachment for sense enjoyment decreases, and the seedling of bhakti  sprouts in the heart. One even gradually develops a taste for the Vaisnavas' food and  behavior. We have seen how by associating with Vaisnavas, people have given up many  anarthas—the taste for women, the thirst for wealth, the desire for sense enjoyment and  liberation, the inclination for karma and jhdna, and the taste for meat, fish, wine,  tobacco, and pan. By observing a Vaisnava's quality of not

uselessly wasting time, many people have easily given up anarthas such as laziness,  oversleeping, useless talk, the urge to speak, etc. We have also seen that by associating  with Vaisnavas for some time, people's cheating propensity and desire for fame have  been destroyed. We have seen with our own eyes that by associating with Vaisnavas with  a little affection, all other association, such as one's attachment to his prejudices, have  been vanquished. Those who are attached to winning fights, those who are expert at  attaining dominion over others, those who are eager to accumulate wealth—all such  persons have attained devotional service, being purified by the association of  Vaisnavas. Even those who think, "I will defeat the world by argument and attain  supremacy," have been pacified. Without the association of Vaisnavas there is no way to  rectify attachment to one's prejudices and appetites.

(Sajjana Tosani 11/11)


14. What does a sadhu do?


A Sadhus award divine eyes to our heart. (Bhdgavatdrka-maricimdla 15.17)


15. What is the nature of a sadhu?


A sddhu never finds fault with others. Rather, he respects whatever little qualities he  sees in them.


16. Are there too many sddhus? Is it proper to recognize a sadhu by his external dress?


In this age of Kali, the understanding of who is a sddhu is becoming lost. The sad part  is that we should always remember that we are gradually being cheated by associating  with those we consider sddhus simply because of their dress. There are not too many  sddhus. Rather, there are less sddhus nowadays, and it has become rare to find a real  sddhu even after searching for a long time and traveling to many countries. (Sajjana  Tosani 15/2) 


17. Is it proper to distinguish the difference between a pure Vaisnava and a cheater?


In order to distinguish pure devotional service and pure devotees from other systems  and persons, Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja GosvamI gave a method by which we could  recognize the branches of devotees. By following that method, even today we can  distinguish between pure Vaisnavas and cheaters. No compromise should be made in  this regard. There is no possibility of the living entities achieving auspiciousness  without sadhu-sahga. Therefore, we should certainly distinguish between pure  Vaisnavas and cheaters.

¦{Sajjana Tosani 10/5)


18. Is sadhu-sahga a limb of devotional service in the conditional state?


In the conditional state, association with devotees helps one to develop taste for Hari. It  is not a limb of devotional service.

{Tattva Sutra 33)


19. What piety awards devotional service?


Associating with devotees is the only piety that awards devotional service. (Jaiva  Dharma, Chapter 17)


20. What is the result of pretentious sadhu-sanga?


Many people think that by serving a sadhu's lotus feet by offering him obeisances,  drinking the water that has washed his feet, honoring his remnants, or giving him a  donation, they can receive the benefit of sadhu-sahga. Although we show a sadhu  respect by such activities, and although we can gain something from those activities,  they do not constitute actual sadhu-sahga. If we can carefully search out the pure  characteristics and nature of Vaisnavas and emulate them without duplicity, we will  ourselves attain pure devotional service. A materialist approaches a sadhu, offers  obeisances, and prays as follows: "O merciful one! Please be kind to me. I am poor and  fallen, so how will my attachment for material existence be destroyed?" These words are  simply cheating. Materialists certainly consider accumulating wealth and material  objects the goal of life. Their hearts are therefore always proud because of their  possessions. They artificially make a show of humility and devotion, fearing that if the  sadhu curses them their desire to obtain name, fame, and sense gratification will be  destroyed. If a sadhu blesses them by saying, "O dear one, may your material desires,  wealth, and followers be destroyed!" the materialists will quickly say, 'O Sadhu Maharaja!  Please do not give me such a benediction. Such a benediction is simply a curse and  yields only inauspiciousness." Such behavior toward a sadhu is simply cheating.


In the course of life a materialist may meet many sddhus, but due to his artificial  behavior, he does not gain from their association. Therefore, if we can always carefully  imitate the pure characteristics of the saintly persons with spontaneous faith, we can  certainly make spiritual advancement by their association. We should always remember  this while approaching sddhus and try our best to realize their pure nature and  character so that we can build our own character upon their example. This is what the  Srlmad-Bhagavatam teaches.

{Sajjana Tosani 15/2)


21. Is it possible to give up bad association without sadhu-sanga?


Giving up bad association is not enough. It is our duty to carefully associate with  devotees. {Sajjana Tosani 15/2) 


22. Is it proper to give up the bad association of unauthorized gurus and to accept the  association of bona fide gurus?


One should take leave of one's unqualified family guru by giving him his desired wealth  and respect, and should then search out a bona fide spiritual master. (Harinama-cintamani)


23. With what kind of Vaisnava should one associate?


One should associate with a Vaisnava who is superior to oneself. (Sri Manah-Siksa, Verse  10)


24. Are there always sddhus in this world? Why is sddhu sahga so rarely achieved?


There are always sddhus in the world, but because nondevotees cannot recognize them,  sddhu-sahga has become rare.

(Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 7)


25. Should one indulge in gossip with a sddhul What is sadhu-sanga?


If we approach a sddhu and converse with him like a witch-haunted man—saying things  like, "It is very hot in this country. I feel healthier in that country. That man is nice. This  year we will make a profit from harvesting paddy and wheat"—then we are not gaining  anything by our sddhu-sahga. Being absorbed in his own ecstasy, a sddhu may reply to  one or two questions from an inquisitive person, but this will not award that person  devotion to Krsna or the benefit of sddhu-sahga. We should approach a sddhu with love  and devotion and discuss with him topics of the Supreme Lord. Then we can attain  devotional service. (Sajjana Tosanl 10/4)