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Shri Krishna Bhajanamrta
NARAHARI SARKARA THAKUR
Translated by Bhanu Swami
Sanskrit/Bengali Editing by: Shri Subhag Swami
“Narahari was the fortieth (branch of the Chaitanya tree).”
PURPORT BY Shrila Prabhupada
“Narahari das Sarkara was a very famous devotee. Locan das Thakur, the elaborated author of Chaitanya-mangala, was his disciple. In Chaitanya-mangala it is stated that Shri Gadadhara das and Narahari Sarkara were extremely dear to Shri Chaitanya Mahparabhu. .”
Adi-Lila Chapter 10
The Shri Krishna Bhajanamrta is the original work of Shri Narahari Sarkara Thakur, the famous devotee who offered Lord Chaitanya the personal service of fanning with camara. The Shri Krishna Bhajanamrtam is possibly the only know book which deals with practical aspects of dealings between disciples and guru including when the guru falls down. Therefore Shri Krishna Bhajanamrta is very timely for better understanding the authorized manner in which to deal with sensitive issues regarding initiating gurus and siksa gurus. H.H. Bhakti Caru Swami informed me of the existence of this book and without his encouragement we would not have endeavored to locate it.
The Bhaktivedanta Swami Charity Trust, which Shrila Prabhupada founded for preserving the Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya culture and heritage, in addition to promoting its unity and mutual cooperation, has been researching lost shrines and holy places for nearly a decade. The newest project is to locate lost or out of print literatures in original language and to publish reference copies for use of sadhus and scholars around the world. The Shri Krishna Bhajanamrta is the first book located in this new project.
The Shri Krishna Bhajanamrta was only printed once as far as is known in the Bengali year 1309, which brings it to the late 19th century. Only 95 copies were printed and has therefore been out of print and unavailable for quite some time; but with research the last known copy was located at Shri Khanda, the birthplace of Shri Narahari Thakur, in torn and blackened condition; even the threads in the binding had turned to dust. By Lord Chaitanya’s mercy the book was loaned to the B.S.C.T. for republishing and translation.
The Shri Krishna Bhajanamrtam is 64 pages long, but only the first 16 pages deal with guru-tattva. The remaining part of the book deals with Sambandha-tattva in regard to Lord Krishna’s expansions, energies, demigods, etc. Since ISKCON, at present specifically needs sastric direction in regard to some aspects of guru-tattva the verses 27-67, which deal specifically with the subject matter of guru-tattva and Vaishnava relationships are being presented.
Although the first 19 verses simply form the introduction to the book, they are also included, since they help the reader to get a clearer understanding of the background to it and Shri Narahari Thakur’s purpose in writing Shri Krishna Bhajanamrtam. Verses 19-26 give the explanation of topics which the book covers, other than guru-tattva, so they are not included.
I offer my respectful obeisances to that incarnation of Godhead who has distributed more unlimited causeless mercy than any other Avatar. He is the total Lord of my life—Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
I offer my respectful obeisances to Shri Sukadeva Goswami who is like the ripened fruit of the trees of devotional service. He is eternally relishing in the transcendental mellows in devotional service.
Verse 3 & 4
During this Kali Yuga, when the time of Lord Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Lord Shri Nitayananda Prabhu’s transcendental pastimes become unmanifest. Their lordships become the object of transcendental research and discussion. At that time all level of devotees including uttama adhikary, madhhyama adhikary, and kanistha adhikary shall always be in anxiety and it will be at all times. They shall almost feel uncertainty in their hearts regarding the correct understanding of the eternal truths of devotional service.
Verse 5 & 6
I offer my respectful obeisances in full surrender to the thousands and thousands of previous Vaishnavas and particularly to those paramahamsas, perfect souls, who meditate constantly in pure loving devotion on the lotus feet of Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and by His mercy are studying all of the Vedic literature in regard to devotional service. Following in the footsteps of these great spiritual authorities I shall explain the clear transparent conclusions of the scriptures in their concise, condensed form, with some detailed explanations.
I, Narahari Das, consider myself to be a fool. Therefore, how will I be able to explain this most difficult subject matter on the absolute conclusions of the sastra? Will the learned Vaishnavas bless my deliberations that they may not be false or deviate from the authorized conclusions of the sastra in any respect.
In any case, whether someone has all good qualities or whether one has no good qualities, whether one is a fool or whether one is a great pandit; who is there in this material world who is able to completely understand pure devotional service to Krishna.
In my sleep while dreaming I said the above words. While dreaming I was meditating upon the words of previous authorities and great Vaishnava acaryas and their conclusions on the authorized sastra in regard to pure devotional service. While thus engaged in my dream suddenly my heart became filled with spiritual bliss as if I had entered and taken shelter of an ocean of transcendental nectar.
Verse 10 & 11
Just at that time Lord Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared holding the hand of Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya. Lord Chaitanya said, “sadhu, sadhu.” As lord Chaitanya said these words he was laughing and he came and stood before me saying, “What our have said is certainly true. Now awaken and arise.” Saying these words again and again Lord Chaitanya disappeared from my vision.
Thereafter, meditating on the lotus feet of Lord Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who is known as Gaurahari, I got up from my bed and I was feeling great separation being deprived of his transcendental association, I considered my unqualified self blessed by Lord Chaitanya’s causeless mercy upon me.
Feeling myself blessed by the mercy of lord Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and remembering His merciful words, while being absorbed in the remembrance if His transcendental glories I was immersed in an ocean of transcendental bliss. At that time I could not understand my actual condition.
On the strength of the mercy of Lord Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu I have decided to write something. Using my intelligence I have considered the truth of devotional service and although considering myself a fool I have written in my own hand, sometimes in verse and sometimes in prose, this supremely auspicious “Bhajanamrta.”
In this Kali Yuga the great paramahamsa perfect devotees who have descended to this universe in order to purify it have blessed me with their remnants which I have accepted. As I am strictly following in the footsteps of these liberated souls this work is completely purified with their blessings.
At the outset of this work my humble prayer is that all pure, non-envious devotees of Lord Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead may listen to these authorized words as I have heard them from the great Vaishnava authorities of the disciplic succession.
It is well known from the authorized Vedic literatures that in this Kali Yuga, through the power of the holy name of Lord Shri Krishna, all Vaishnavas are equal and qualitatively noon-different from Lord Krishna. However, it is seen that amongst the Vaishnavas that sometimes in some places some Vaishnavas appear greater or lesser. In such cases how is it to be understood?
Amongst all of the assembled Vaishnavas there is the initiating guru and the instructing guru. In regard to them what type of behavior is authorized.?
not included (see introduction)
Now listen to the authorized conclusions of the previous authorities.
It is certainly true that all Vaishnavas are on the same transcendental platform. However, although amongst Vaishnavas there may be a difference in spiritual strength, how will the less intelligent materially attached sense-gratifiers, who become afraid justly seeing the horrifying appearance of beggar mendicants, ascertain the actual strength of a saintly person? Since they cannot distinguish between a lesser spiritual force and a greater spiritual force, they do not know how to deal appropriately with different saintly persons. Therefore they treat every one the same. Since they don’t know how to distinguish the specific character of greater spiritual personalities from lesser spiritual personalities rather than risk their destruction for neglecting a potentially spiritual personality they treat everyone on the same level.
However all those practicing Vaishnavas progressing on the path of devotional service, who have heard and understood the conclusion of the revealed sastras and are therefore endowed with special intelligence are able to recognize who is more spiritually powerful and who is less spiritually powerful. Those who are expert in the science of devotional service can understand in whose body what quantity of Krishna’s spiritual potency is present. Being able to understand who has less spiritual potency and who has more spiritual potency, they offer special treatment considering the scriptural injunctions in this regard.
If one can distinguish between the greater or lesser spiritual strength of a person but does not accordingly offer respect, then that person shall be held guilty for that offense.
For the reason mentioned before, if two Vaishnavas come at the same time, one of greater strength, one of lesser spiritual strength, first one has to offer respect to the Vaishnava of greater strength then offer to the Vaishnava of lesser strength.
Should the respect due to a Vaishnava of greater strength or to a Vaishnava of lesser strength be offered at the same level if they come at a different time? Equal respect should not be offered to both even if they are not present at the same time.
If a volcano type of fire is burning, the wise man will not first put out.......first one has to be able to extinguish the volcano fire then a candle of deep light can easily be extinguished. Similarly if one is able to appropriately receive and respect Vaishnavas possessed of great spiritual force to their satisfaction, then on shall easily be able to satisfy those Vaishnavas of lesser potency.
If a person of small spiritual advancement sees a great devotee endowed with considerable spiritual potency being worshipped and given respect, should the less advanced person become angry upon seeing this? For this offence against the more advanced person’s spiritual position the foolish offender will ruin whatever spiritual potency he possesses. Subsequently, in the future, such angry persons simply plan how they can punish those who have participated in such worship.
Those who are well-versed in all of these matters, having heard properly from authorities, those Vaishnavas who are enthusiastically engaged in worshipping the Supreme Personality of Godhead and all those transcendentalists who are practicing the spiritual path, know the truths in regard to these matters. However, in spite of knowing these truths, if they do not appropriately offer worship, then they will be spiritually ruined. However, if they consider the respective spiritual strength or lack of strength and accordingly offers respect then they will certainly advance in Krishna Consciousness.
For those who take shelter of the great Sumeru mountain what can others do to harm them? Others should offer them worship as devotees with respect and service.
One should never engage in criticizing a Vaishnava or neglecting a Vaishnava even in joking. For Vaishnavas are so glorious that there is nothing to regret even if one sacrifices ones life for their benefit.
No one should find fault with a Vaishnava for his activities or behavior. What person is free from the influence of Kali Yuga or has perfect pure behavior and action?
Because the Vaishnava devotees of the Lord are always meditating on Lord Shri Krishna the contamination of sinful activities cannot come upon them. Because a Vaishnava’s body has the fire of Krishna Consciousness within it, even if they are fallen, this fire of Krishna Consciousness will burn up to ashes any material contamination.
However, those who are not able to understand the respective levels of spiritual potency may take shelter of this example. As in the Ganges there are many waves, and some of these waves are larger then other waves but all of the waves are considered to be sacred, one wave being not considered more holy than another wave, similarly, all types of Vaishnavas, those who are spiritually strong and those who are not so strong, can be offered equal worship. Considering this perspective in such circumstances that can be accepted as perfect worship. Here completes the conclusion in this regard.
All Vaishnavas are considered as guru or spiritual master.
Amongst all of the Vaishnavas the initiating guru (diksa-guru) and instructing guru (siksa-guru) are special.
It is proper to offer these two special respect.
Amongst all of the other spiritual masters these two (diksa-guru and siksa-guru) spiritual masters’ orders are to be followed.
If one’s initiating spiritual master and instructing spiritual master are of small spiritual potency, or in other words, if they do not poses a special power to give spiritual instruction on worship for devotional service, then one may listen from the mouth of other great advanced Vaishnavas and understand the special instructions. However, thereafter, the disciple must go t his spiritual master for his confirmation or instructions.
One should not disobey the order of the spiritual master.
Just as a faithful son may go out for earning money and subsequently brings to his father the wealth gained, later the son may ask for some allowance from the father and whatever he receives form the father he is entitled to spend of his own enjoyment. Similarly, a disciple may hear fome instructions from another advanced Vaishnava but after gaining that good instruction he must bring it and present it to his won spiritual master. After presenting them, he should hear the same teachings ganga from his spiritual master with appropriate instructions.
If the son earns money but does not give it to the father and instead, directly enjoys the wealth, he is considered to be a fallen son and a sinful person. Similarly a disciple who listens to the words of other Vaishnavas, even if their instructions are proper and true, but does not reconfirm these teachings with his own spiritual master and instead directly personally accepts these instructions, is considered a bad disciple and a sinner.
For this reason, in all circumstances all Vaishnava are offered respect like of offers respect to one’s spiritual master. However, with body, mind and words one serves one’s own spiritual master.
Even if the performance of ones’s devotional activities one has disobeyed the spiritual master, still one should not give him up, but should remain faithfully with him, because all authorities say that the shelter of one’s own spiritual master is best and perfect (even if another spiritual master is more powerful).
Kindly understand this example:
Just as one respects one’s father as a guru, his (the father’s) older and younger brothers are also similarly respected, but nonetheless, the father is worthy of the most respect. Not withstanding the above, if the father’s guru, even if he is family related, comes,one should double the respect, as he is the spiritual father of the father, or the guru of the guru. He is offered twice the puja or respect.
This behavior if recognized as appropriate by all authorities.
Just as if, during daily life, the brothers (older or younger) of the father criticize him, still one takes shelter of one’s father, similarly, one remains under the shelter of one’s own spiritual master, even if he is criticized by his older or younger god brothers. Just as one depends upon one’s father for one’s livelihood, one must depend upon the strength of the spiritual master for advancing in devotional service.
If a father or spiritual master or husband are not possessed of outstanding qualities even then they are always worshipable.
Taking shelter of the above-mentioned persons one may even disagree with those senior to oneself.
In this world, what kind of person is there who can remain alive at the expense of his father’s or guru’s defamation or disgrace?
Everyone considers that if their spiritual master is very powerful then he himself is powerful but that if his spiritual master is less powerful, then he is, therefore weaker, and according to the attitude of the spiritual master the disciple gains the same attributes. Those disciples who are intelligent can understand the desires of the spiritual master directly through their intelligence. Other disciples, two are less intelligent understand by directly hearing instructions from the spiritual master. These activities are being practiced since time immemorial.
Learned Vaishnava authorities say that these instructions are the perfection of religiosity.
If the spiritual master commits a wrongful act breaking Vaishnava relative principles then in that case one should in a solitary place, confront him for his rectification using logic and appropriate conclusions from sadhu, sastra and guru references, but one is not to give him up.
One should not be hesitant or fearful because one is confronting or challenging a spiritual master.
“For it has been prescribed that one must appropriately discipline even a spiritual master who is:
*bewildered about what he should or shouldn’t do;
*who is inexperienced or ignorant:
*who has deviated from the Krishna conscious path;
*or if he is bewildered by false pride.”
This statement of the revealed scriptures is applicable at all times and under all circumstances.
The natural behavior of the Vaishnava devotees is to take complete refuge of Lord Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, accepting Him as their principal and real shelter. The very life of the Vaishnava devotees of the Lord is singing the glories or Lord Shri Krishna, describing and expanding the fame of Lord Shri Krishna, and discussing the nectar of His transcendental pastimes.
The authorized course of action is to continue, as before, with one’s prescribed devotional service. One may take guidance through or instructions from the Vaishnavas, as all Vaishnavas are considered guru or “spiritual master,” or one may use one’s own intelligence, duly considering the relevant instructions from sadhu, sastra and guru. In all cases one should continue in one’s devotional service.
However, if the spiritual master:
*acts envious towards ‘isvarebrantah’, that which is connected with the Supreme;
*is bewildered regarding the Supreme Personality of Godhead;
*is averse to expanding the fame of Lord Krishna;
*personally refuses to accept hearing or chanting about the glorious pastimes of Lord Shri Krishna;
*has become totally bewildered, listening to the false praise of ignorant persons and day by day is more materially contaminated and fallen
then the spiritual master must be renounced.
Under those circumstances one should not doubt, “How can I give up my spiritual master?” With a strong desire for achieving spontaneous devotional service and attaining the lotus feet of Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, a devotee accepts the shelter of a spiritual master, if that spiritual master takes on “asuric” qualities or a demoniac mentality then it is one’s duty to reject such a demon “asura” guru and in his place accept a Krishna conscious spiritual master and worship him.
By taking shelter of the strength of the Krishna conscious spiritual master’s devotional service the ill effects or contamination of the demoniac previous spiritual master is counteracted and destroyed. These activities are recommended by all Vaishnava authorities as the authorized conclusions of the sastra.
During the pastimes of Lord Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu there have been many practical examples of the above.
This concludes the deliberation and final conclusions of sadhu , sastra on guru on the spiritual master and related matters.