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Shri Vyasa Puja 1999 ~ B. P. Puri Gosvami
The Art of Sadhana by B P Puri Goswami
by Shrila Bhakti Promode Puri Goswami Maharaja
a lecture given by His Divine Grace on November 12th, 1994
at Vrinda Kunja Gardens, Vrindavana
sunile chaitanya-katha bhakti labhya haya
"Anyone who hears the pastimes of
Shri Chaitanya attains devotion to Krishna."
I am now in my 97th year. I may make many mistakes or omissions, so I beg the devotees to forgive me of any errors I make and correct them in their own minds.
Vrindavan is the land of Lord Krishna and Shrimati Radharani is the presiding deity of this land. She is therefore known as Vrndavanesvari. Without her mercy we will never be able to attain the mercy of her beloved Krishnacandra. Over and above anything else, we should pray for Radharani`s mercy. Radha is our spiritual master; she is present in our gurudeva.
We have come here from the abode of Gaura, Gauda-dhama. The land of Mahaprabhu and that of Vrindavan are of the same substance. The distinction is that Vrindavan dhama has the spirit of munificence predominated by sweetness, whereas in Gauda-dhama, the mood is one of sweetness predominated by munificence. Mahaprabhu is the combination of Radha and Krishna. Whatever pastimes Radha-Krishnacandra performed in Vrindavan, their combined form as Mahaprabhu distributed in His most benevolent pastimes in Gauda-dhama, wherein he bestowed on all and sundry the Holy Names and love of God. Therefore Rupa Goswami offers his obeisances to Mahaprabhu in the following way:
namne gaura-tvise namah
"I offer my respectful obeisances unto Lord Shri Krishna who comes with a golden effulgence and carries the name of Krishna Chaitanya. In this form, he is more magnanimous than any other avatar, even Krishna Himself, because he bestows freely what no one else has ever given-pure love of Krishna." (CC 2.19.53)
Krishna took on the mood of Shrimati Radharani and then, as Gaurachandra, performed the pastimes of distributing divine love. This is what is meant by His maha-vadanya lila. The love for Krishna that is found in Vrindavan was never given previously, not in any epoch of human history. It was Krishna Himself who became Shri Krishna Chaitanya after being transformed by Radha's feelings for Him. It was in this mood that he could distribute divine love, or prema. As followers of Mahaprabhu, we remain in His dhama and pray to Him for the ability to glorify Shrimati Radharani.
Mahaprabhu`s beloved follower Narottama das Thakura sang:
shri gauda-mandala-bhumi jeba jane cintamani
tara haya vraja-bhume vasa
"Anyone who knows the land of Gauda to be made of divine touchstone truly resides in the land of Vraja." (Narottama dasa)
Mahaprabhu`s teaching was to show how to act in order to attain the Queen of Vrindavan's mercy.
apani acari dharma jivere sikhaya
apani na kaile dharma sikhano na jaya
"By Himself practicing religious principles, Mahaprabhu taught them to the living beings. If one does not practice, he cannot teach it to others."
The only thing that gives a person the qualification to serve Radha and Govinda is the holy name of the Supreme Lord. Without the mercy of the Holy Name, there is no way we can get the mercy of the Divine Couple. Anyone who wishes to chant the Holy Name should take note of the ten offenses to the Name that are described in the Padma Purana. One who is free of these offenses and chants the Holy Names very quickly attains prema.
Mahaprabhu called the Shrimad Bhagavatam the supreme source of knowledge about God. The devotional activity of hearing (sravana) has its topmost manifestation in listening to the Shrimad Bhagavatam. I would now like to say a few things on the basis of the Shrimad Bhagavatam, kindly listen to me.
The Lord there says the following:
srpasrstva purani vividhany ajayatma-saktya
vrksan sarisrpa-pasun khaga-dandasukan
tais tair atusta-hrdayah purusam vidhaya
brahmaloka-dhisanam mudam apa devah
"With the help of His maya potency, the Supreme Lord created this visible world with its trees, serpents, animals, birds and other creatures, but His heart remained unsatisfied. Then He created man, who alone possesses the intelligence to see Brahman, and was delighted." (SB 11.9.28)
What is meant by the words brahmaloka-dhisanam, "alone possesses the intelligence to see Brahman"? That is explained in the subsequent verse which our divine spiritual master loved to quote in his discourses:
labdhva sudurlabham idam bahu-sambhavante
manusyam arthadam anityam apiha dhirah
turnam yateta na pated anumrtyu yavan
nihsreyasaya visayah khalu sarvatah syat
"After many, many births, one finally is born in a most rare and valuable human body, which provides an opportunity to attain the supreme goal but is nevertheless temporary. Therefore, the wise individual should immediately take up the effort to find that which provides the supreme good in all times and circumstances, and not give up that effort to the very moment of his death." (SB 11.9.29)
The idea is that prior to our attaining human birth, we have all taken at least 80 births in other bodies. The different kinds of bodies are described in the scriptures where it is said that there are over 84 lakhs of species of life.
jalaja nava-laksani sthavara laksa-vimsati
krmayo rudra-sankhyakah paksinam dasa-laksanam
trimsal-laksani pasavah catur-laksani manusah
"There are 900,000 species living in the water. There are also 2,000,000 non-moving living entities (sthavara) such as trees and plants. There are also 1,100,000 species of insects and reptiles, and another 1,000,000 species of birds. There are 3,000,000 varieties of animals, and 400,000 types of human beings."
Of the four lakhs of human species mentioned in this verse, a great number are considered uncivilized. These people would neither accept basic morality nor the existence of God. They would not accept even the necessity for bodily covering. Gradually, some of them learned to accept morality, but they are called "atheistic moralists." After accepting morality, some of these species of human being learned to accept the existence of God. From that moment, their lives began to take on true beauty. Some of these people then turn to work, others to speculation, and others to yoga, but devotion to the Supreme Lord is truly rare. This is something that we must think about.
There is no certainty or guarantee that we will be able to have a human birth in our next life. The scriptures tell us that we take our next birth according to the acts we perform in this one. The famous scientist Charles Darwin came up with the theory of evolution, or the theory of gradual advancement of consciousness. But that too has now been disproved and everyone understands that according to their work, human beings can also fall down to a lower status. We might take birth as insects or worms; we may even be born as worms in stool if we do not follow the directions given by the Lord. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Scripture has therefore told us that the human birth is particularly valuable because it bestows the supreme spiritual value. This capacity is not present in any other type of birth. We cannot attain the supreme goal of life, divine love for Krishna, in any other species. This is only possible in the human form of life. Even so, the opportunity presented by human life is momentary, lasting only as long as the drop of water which clings to a lotus leaf. For this reason, those who are truly intelligent, who are truly perceptive, will take the supreme value of this human form of life into consideration. And, like the verse says:
turnam yateta na pated anumrtyu yavan
nihsreyasaya visayah khalu sarvatah syat
"Therefore, the wise individual should immediately take up the effort to find that which provides the supreme good in all times and circumstances, and not give up that effort to the very moment of his death." (SB 11.9.29)
The material sense objects are form, taste, sound, smell and feeling. They are the objects of the five senses. These five sense objects are enjoyed in every species of life, but we should remember that the attainment of the supreme good, the nihsreyasa, is something that is exclusively possible in the human form of life. There is no alternative. So engage immediately in the service of Govinda's lotus feet-turnam yateta. Don't lose even a moment and devote all your efforts to attaining the supreme goal of life. For this reason we should be careful not to foolishly waste this opportunity. Those who are intelligent thus come to this conclusion: "I will not waste another moment but will immediately make efforts to attain the supreme value in life."
Indians who are interested in furthering their scientific knowledge travel abroad to study from famous scientists who live in foreign countries. But we must try to understand what is the science of the supreme goal of life. This is something that all people in all countries need to understand. The Lord gave us all these senses, hands and feet, but there is one thing that if taken from the body, leaves only a cadaver. The senses would then become lifeless; they become powerless. That thing is the soul.
Unfortunately we do not see any of the great scientists trying to understand what the soul is. They are so well-educated and they study and examine everything, it is true. But we must look into what is the true nature of the soul. On the other hand, the intimate associates of Shriman Mahaprabhu, the personal companions of the Supreme Lord, those great authorities known as mahajanas, have told us what the function of the soul actually is. If the soul is present, the body, mind, and intelligence are all able to function; on the other hand, the absence of the soul means that nothing is left, not bodily strength, not intelligence, not ego. Don't you think that we should give special attention into researching this substance? This is certainly what we think.
We need to repeatedly study that which the mahajanas have told us about the function of the soul. This is our highest religious duty. At the very beginning of the Shrimad Bhagavatam, the following verse is found:
dharmah projjhita-kaitavo 'tra paramo nirmatsaranam satam
vedyam vastavam atra vastu sivadam tapa-trayonmulanam
shrimad-bhagavate maha-muni-krte kim va parair isvarah
sadyo hrdy avarudhyate `tra krtibhih susrusubhis tat-ksanat
"Completely rejecting all religious activities which are materially motivated, this Bhagavata Purana propounds the highest truth, which is understandable by those saintly persons who are fully free from enviousness. It describes the one true, all-auspicious substance, which uproots the threefold miseries. This beautiful Bhagavatam, compiled by the great sage Vyasadeva, is sufficient in itself for God-realization. What need is there for any other scripture? As soon as one attentively and submissively hears the message of Bhagavatam, the Supreme Lord is immediately imprisoned within his heart." (SB 1.1.2)
The supreme religious duty (dharma) is completely free of all deception. The word projjhita means prakrsta-rupe ujjhita-condemned in the most complete fashion possible. The word kaitava means "deception" or "cheating." The supreme religious activity is thus described in the Shrimad Bhagavatam, in such a way that all self-deception, cheating of one's self or others, no longer remain. Shrila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami says that self-deception is equivalent to the deepest darkness of ignorance. This darkness of ignorance is manifest in the desire for anything other than Krishna Himself or devotion to Him. Therefore we follow Krishnadasa Kaviraja and divide activities into two groups: those which are performed for the pleasure of our own senses and those which are performed for the pleasure of Krishna's senses.
samanam etat pasubhir naranam
dharmo hi tesam adhiko viseso
dharmena hinah pasubhih samanah
"Eating, sleeping, fearing, and mating are equally engaged in by both animals and humans. That which is special to humans is religious duty. Those humans who are without religion are equal to the animals."
Human beings should thus never feel any particular pride in their ability to engage in these four kinds of activities. Engagement in any of them does not set us apart from the animals. It is religion that sets us apart; a human being without religion is even lower than the animals.
The Shrimad Bhagavatam speaks about the highest religion. It also describes the supreme true substance, the Supreme Lord. He is the supreme auspicious one. The three miseries which burn and destroy us are uprooted. This is particularly described in the Shrimad Bhagavatam. This Shrimad Bhagavatam was first explained in four verses by the great sage Narayana. These four verses were expanded into the 18,000 verses of the book we know today.
dharmah projjhita-kaitavo'tra paramo
Here Vyasadeva is saying that in the Bhagavata there is no place for the self-deception which takes the form of mundane religiosity, material gain, sense gratification or so-called liberation. Beyond these four customary goals of life is the fifth goal of divine love, the causeless service to the Lord which is achieved by the religious practice known as bhagavata-dharma. Only a saintly person who is free from all envy or distress at seeing others' success or achievement is eligible to engage in such religious practice.
Our spiritual master, Shrila Prabhupada used to say, "When lust, anger, greed, bewilderment, and intoxication become very powerful, they are followed by enviousness, the inability to tolerate the advancement and success of others, and this results in violence."
vedyam vastavam atra vastu sivadam
In the very first verse of the Bhagavatam, it was said, satyam param dhimahi-"I meditate on the Supreme Absolute Truth." The Bhagavatam thus starts with an explanation of the Gayatri mantra. It is now being explained that the supreme truth, the param satyam is the only true substance, the vastavam vastu. Many people interpret the word vastava in another way. The word means "that which is actually true," or "that other than which there is no truth." Therefore, the supreme truth is the vastavam vastu. The supreme truth is sambandha, abhidheya and prayojana. What need then do we have of any scripture other than the Bhagavatam? It is therefore absolutely necessary to take complete shelter of the Bhagavatam.
kim va parair isvarah
sadyo hrdy avarudhyate 'tra krtibhih
"It is absolutely true that if anyone listens wholeheartedly to the Bhagavatam then he will learn what the true substance is. Maharaja Pariksit listened to the Bhagavatam for seven days and attained the divine destination. Thus it is said, krtibhih susrusubhis tat-ksanat-in a very short period of time, the supreme truth, the absolute substance will be realized."
This verse is called the mangalacarana or auspicious invocation. In the Bhagavata's first verse, the namaskara or obeisances were paid to the Supreme Truth when it was said, "I meditate upon the Supreme Truth (satyam param dhimahi)." The Supreme Truth is the one, non-dual substance. He is self-manifesting and pure consciousness. This Supreme Truth is the only real substance. This true substance is Krishna. He is the supreme lord of lords, the controller of all controllers, the god of all gods. One attains the highest auspiciousness by worshiping Him. For this reason, the word sivadam, "bestowing auspiciousness," is used to describe the Bhagavatam. Through the worship of this supremely true and auspicious substance, the three miseries, that is, those arising from the body, from other creatures and from powers beyond our control, are uprooted. These miseries are in fact destroyed through a mere hint of such worship. Through complete worship, we attain the divine love of God, the supreme goal of life, prema. Then the Supreme Lord is immediately caught up or imprisoned in our hearts.
The example is given of Bilvamangala Thakura. Though Bilvamangala was blind, Krishna Himself came and took him by the hand to show him the path to follow. Sometimes Krishna would let go of his hand and go elsewhere. Then Bilvamangala would say, "You can let go of my hand and run off somewhere. But let me see if you can escape from my heart." Bilvamangala had captured Krishna and held Him prisoner in his heart, so much so that there was no way that Krishna could ever escape.
What is the means by which we can capture the Supreme Lord in this way? We have to tie Him up with the rope of love. There is a formula which is used to describe devotion. It is said to possess six characteristics:
klesaghni subhada moksa-
shri-krishnakarsini ca sa
"(1) Bhakti destroys sin and its associated miseries; (2) it bestows all auspiciousness; (3) it makes the devotee realize the insignificance of liberation and thus (4) it is most rare. (5) In essence, it is the most profound beatitude and, lastly, (6) it has the power to attract Krishna Himself." (BRS 1.1.17)
Radharani's joy-giving potency or hladini-sakti is Bhakti Devi. This goddess of devotion, Bhakti Devi, has the power to attract Krishna. Krishna attracts all things, but devotion attracts even Krishna. That is why Rupa Goswami says, shri-krishnakarsini ca sa.
Thus through the power of his devotion, Bilvamangala was able to attract Krishna and keep Him bound within his heart. And this is why he believed that though Krishna might be able to let go of his hand and run away, He would not be able to leave his heart and abandon him at any time. This indicates just how sweet the relation between Krishna and His devotees is.
In the first verse of the Bhagavatam, the auspicious invocation was made by the payment of obeisances and by indicating the subject to be discussed in the book, or the vastu-nirdesa. That subject is Krishna:
krsir bhu-vacakah sabdo
nas ca nirvrti-vacakah
tayor aikyam param brahma
krishna ity abhidhiyate
"The verb root krs refers to the action of attracting, while the suffix na means "supreme joy." The Supreme Brahman has been given the name Krishna because He embodies the combination of these two meanings."
The verbal root krs means to draw, pull or attract. Just like a magnet draws a piece of iron toward itself, so Krishna attracts all things to Himself. The suffix na means supreme joy. Krishna gives this supreme joy to everyone. The union of these two: the attracting power and supreme joy characterizes the Supreme Truth, Krishna. But in order to attain Krishna, He Himself gave His own joy-giving potency, the hladini sakti.
In the words of Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami,
hladini karaya krsnera rasa asvadana
hladini dvara krishna karan bhaktera posana
"Krishna's hladini sakti allows Him to relish the flavors of love (rasa). Through the same hladini sakti, the Lord takes care of His devotees." (CC 1.4.60)
Krishna is the Supreme Brahman. Raso vai sah. Rasam hy evayam labdhvanandi bhavati. Esa hy evanandayati. (Taitt. Up. 2.7.1) Rasa is full of joy. Krishna is full of bliss. One who tastes this rasa can become truly joyful or blissful. Nothing else can give the living entity the same kind of joy. And just as Krishna relishes the taste of joy and bestows that same joy on others, so too does a devotee relish the pleasure of serving the Lord as well as giving that same joy to others.
Now someone may ask the question, "Krishna is pure bliss and He is the all-attractive force. But we don't seem to be very attracted to Him. Even after chanting the Holy Names we don't seem to have any attraction for Him."
One day one of Shridhar Maharaja's disciples said, "I have been chanting two lakhs of Holy Names every day and now I want to start chanting three lakhs." One day, someone saw him get a little angry and said to him, "You chant two lakhs every day and still you get angry like that?"
A very powerful magnet cannot attract a piece of iron that is covered with rust. The rust which covers our souls is the desire for sense gratification, the desires for liberation and mystic power. In Krishnadasa Kaviraja's words it is expressed as "the desire to please our own senses" (atmendriya-priti-vancha). Because of this rust-like covering, we are not attracted to the Lord; we are not able to perceive His all-attractive nature. For this reason we are unable to run towards His lotus feet.
Once Mahaprabhu was walking toward the ocean in Puri, He caught sight of the blue water of the sea, He thought that it was blue water of the Yamuna. Upon seeing the dunes, He thought that He was seeing Govardhana. Overcome by the mood of Radharani, He said,
kahan krishna prana-natha murali-vadana
kahan karon kahan pan vrajendra-nandana
kahare kahiba keba jane mora duhkha
vrajendra-nandana binu phate mora buka
"Where is the Lord of My life, Krishna, the flute player? What can I do to find Him? Where is the son of Maharaja Nanda? To whom can I speak of My distress? Who would understand Me? Without the son of Nanda Maharaja, My heart splits in two."
Repeating these words again and again, His chest drenched with His tears, he ran toward the waters. Why do we not feel happiness? Why do we feel no joy? Mahaprabhu gave the method for cleaning the rust from our hearts-the Holy Name. But we must chant without offenses, for Krishna and His name are non-different.
nama vigraha svarupa tine eka rupa
tine bheda nai tine cidananda rupa
The Lord's name, form and self are one identity. There is no distinction between these aspects of the Lord, they are all made of spiritual ecstasy.
Mahaprabhu told us to practice chanting the Nama-brahma unceasingly. The glories of the Holy Name are described from the very first to the last verses of the Siksastaka. These eight verses were composed by the Supreme Lord Mahaprabhu Himself. Other than this there are no other writings by Mahaprabhu. In the first verse it is said, ceto-darpana-marjanam-the Holy Name cleans the mirror of the mind.
The mind is the cause of our bondage. When the mind is troubled by the three modes of material nature, it is the cause of our bondage. And when the mind is absorbed in the thought of the Supreme Person, then it is the cause of our liberation from bondage. The mind is the cause of both bondage and freedom. So it is a matter of great concern that we continue to chant the Holy Name but do not derive strength from our chanting.
When we chant we make a rattling noise with our beads, making a sound like thak thak. But the Bengali word thak also means "to cheat." So my senior godbrother, Bhakti-pradipa Tirtha Maharaja used to joke with devotees who were making a show of chanting: "You are cheating others, are you not cheating yourself? You are cheating others, are you not cheating yourself?" He used to tease them in this way. We are cheating ourselves by not chanting properly and yet at the same time we are trying to deceive everyone else. So just by rattling our beads we are not truly chanting the Holy Names. Even though we may speak nice philosophical language, or even feel various emotions, we are simply making all kinds of offenses.
The living entity has a certain amount of independence and yet he misuses it. For this reason, even though we chant we continue to remain interested in sense gratification. Some people give up sense gratification and take up the path of renunciation. In this way we continue to simply go on getting mixed up, making a right mess of things. For this reason it is very important that we pay special attention to avoiding the offenses to the Holy Name. If we don't pay special attention to this matter, then falldown is inevitable.
The three kinds of auspicious invocation or mangalacarana are obeisances (namaskara), indication of the subject matter (vastu-nirdesa) and the giving of blessings (asirvada). So I have already discussed the first two of these kinds of invocation from the first two verses of the Bhagavatam. The third verse contains the blessing:
nigama-kalpa-taror galitam phalam
pibata bhagavatam rasam alayam
muhur aho rasika bhuvi bhavukah
"O devotees! You who know the transcendental joys of love for the Lord! You who have attained the wisdom that comes from meditating on your particular relation with the Lord! Even though you are already fully liberated, drink repeatedly the Bhagavata, the ripened fruit of the desire tree of the Vedas, which can be drunk because no part of it is to be rejected like the skin or seed of a mango. Its juice is pure transcendental bliss. It has come down to us through the disciplic succession from Sukadeva, who spoke it first in its present form and was then repeated by his disciples and grand-disciples. The great liberated souls do not reject the pleasures of this fruit like they do the joys of heavenly sense pleasures, but constantly relish its flavors." (SB 1.1.3)
So this verse is a blessing. Vyasadeva is addressing those devotees who are clever in the matter of tasting the divine flavors of spiritual life and telling them to relish the ambrosia of the Bhagavatam. The word nigama refers to the Vedic literature. This is broken up as follows: nitaram gamayate prakasayate dharmam brahmatah-"The nigama is the perfect revelation of religion through Brahma."
Brahma revealed the four Vedas. He then studied them thoroughly three times before coming to the conclusion that bhakti was their primary teaching. This is stated in the Bhagavatam: He came to the conclusion that the essence of the scriptures is devotion, through which love for the Supreme Lord is developed.
bhagavan brahma kartsnyena
trir udviksya manisaya
tad adhyavasyat kutastho
ratir atman yato bhavet
"Lord Brahma carefully studied the Vedic literature three times and came to the conclusion that attachment to the Supreme Self is its ultimate goal." (SB 2.2.34)
Now here it is being said, that the Veda or nigama is like a desire tree. A desire tree or kalpa-vrksa is a tree from which one can pick any fruit one desires. So what is the most perfect fruit of the nigama-kalpa-vrksa? That is the Shrimad Bhagavatam. The Shrimad Bhagavatam is the ripe and juicy fruit of the Veda.
When we go to pick a very ripe fruit from a tree, it may fall and be smashed to a pulp. Even so, we still have to get rid of the skin and seed. But the fruit of the Vedic desire tree is an amazing thing, it contains nothing but juice. No one has to pick it, it comes down on its own. And even though it is so ripe and juicy, when it falls, it remains whole. And furthermore, after falling, it is made sweeter by the touch of Suka's mouth. It is well known that whatever fruits are eaten by a parrot or suka are very sweet to begin with, but the addition of the nectar from the suka's mouth makes them even sweeter.
pibata bhagavatam rasam alayam
muhur aho rasika bhuvi bhavukah
"O you devotees who are clever in the matter of relishing the most ecstatic emotional experiences of the Lord! Drink the juice of the Bhagavata fruit again and again until you fall unconscious."
The word alayam in the original text means "even beyond liberation." Just as it is said of the Holy Name, that it is worshipable by the liberated souls: mukta-kulair upasyamanam. Laya or "unconsciousness" is one of the conditions of ecstatic love or prema. When this condition arrives, then the devotee loses all external consciousness. This ecstatic condition is what is being meant here. Thus Vyasadeva says, "O you devotees who are clever in the matter of relishing the most ecstatic emotional experiences of the Lord! Continuously drink the juice of the ripened fruit of the Vedic desire tree that has fallen down on its own without losing a drop of its juice and without being blemished."
muhur aho rasika bhuvi bhavukah
It will not do to be too clever in the matter of relishing the most ecstatic emotional experiences of the Lord. This rasa is transcendental, divine. It is not the mundane, material rasa. It is necessary to transcend the mundane conception of rasa and enter into the divine world where there is variegated experience, where all is formed out of the substance of pure goodness, where every object is full of amazing properties. In that realm, the rasa which is relished by the devotees is truly transcendental. One must not think that he can maintain a taste for the material rasa and at the same time experience the spiritual rasa of the transcendental realm. This is an impossibility.
hrdi sattvojjvale badham
svadate sa raso matah
"Rasa is that which is beyond the platform of thought, causes great astonishment and wonder, and is relished in the heart which is effulgent with pure goodness." (BRS 2.5.132)
This is transcendental rasa. There is no room for sense gratification in this experience. One has to go beyond mundane sensuality to experience the divine rasa. It can only be relished in a heart which is effulgent with pure goodness. How is this state of pure goodness achieved.
ksinoty abhadrani ca sam tanoti
sattvasya suddhim paramatma-bhaktim
jnanam ca vijnana-viraga-yuktam
"The Supreme Lord's lotus feet are the greatest source of auspiciousness. By never forgetting them, all inauspiciousness is destroyed and peace finally settles on the mind. One's being is genuinely purified, devotion to the Lord is awakened, and one attains knowledge combined with realization and renunciation." (SB 12.12.55)
Non-forgetfulness of Krishna's lotus feet, or in other words constant remembrance of Krishna and constant hearing and chanting of His name and glories brings about the greatest auspiciousness. These acts of devotion result in the destruction of all inauspicious desires like those for sense gratification, liberation and yogic powers. The Holy Name is the supreme essence of all things. By chanting it consistently, all our ills, all inauspiciousness, will be eliminated. Once the inauspiciousness is eliminated, all auspiciousness is spread throughout the consciousness, purifying the mind, intelligence and ego. In its pure state, all these extraneous desires are no longer present. Rather, devotion to the Supreme Soul, the Supreme Lord, the eternal function of the individual soul, is released.
Jnanam ca vijnana-viraga-yuktam-vijnana means knowledge combined with realization. So devotion produces consciousness combined with knowledge, realization and renunciation.
In his Chaitanya-bhagavata, Vrindavan das Thakura describes himself as the most insignificant servant of Nityananda Prabhu. On this subject, he states:
cari veda dadhi bhagavata navanita
mathilena suka khailena pariksita
"The four Vedas are like yogurt; Suka churned the Veda to produce the Bhagavatam, which is like butter. And Pariksit ate the butter." (2.12.16)
Vrindavan das compared the Vedas to yogurt. Sukadeva Goswami churned the Vedas and as a result of churning it, he produced the Shrimad Bhagavatam, the essence of the Vedic scriptures. The idea is that the Vedas are the ultimate source of all knowledge. The Vedas are the Supreme Lord Narayana Himself. Narayana Himself is incarnate in the Vedic literature. The Veda is called apauruseya, which means that it is not a human composition. And the ripened fruit of the desire tree is the Shrimad Bhagavatam. There is absolutely no material impurity in it. That is why it is called the spotless authority.
Sukadeva churned the yogurt of the Vedas and extracted the butter of the Bhagavatam and gave it to Pariksit to drink. And Ugrasrava Suta heard the Bhagavatam from Suka's lips as he spoke it to Pariksit and then later distributed the same nectar to Saunaka and sixty thousand other sages and devotees at Naimisaranya. By the process of disciplic succession, the same nectar of the Bhagavatam has come down to us today. Even though we have received this ambrosia, we are still in the process of being deprived of it. If we really want to taste the divine ambrosia of the Bhagavatam, we need the mercy of the Vaishnavas and the spiritual master.
Once, the four Kumaras, Sanaka, Sanatana, Sanandana, and Sanatkumara, were in Badrinarayana. Sanatkumara was reciting the Bhagavatam while Narada Goswami listened. At the time, Bhakti Devi had the form of a beautiful sixteen-year-old girl in Vrindavan. She was the mother of Knowledge and Detachment, but both her sons had become aged. Bhakti Devi herself tried to revive them but to no avail. Finally she took them to see Narada who was engaged in hearing the Bhagavatam from Sanatkumara. As Knowledge and Detachment heard the recital of the Bhagavatam, they came back to consciousness and very quickly regained their youth.
Upon seeing this, the gods and goddesses came down from Heaven to ask Sanatkumara to make a trade. They would give him the nectar of immortality which was the secret of Svarga, if he would give them the nectar of the Bhagavatam in exchange. The Four Kumaras thought for a moment and refused, thinking that the demigods with their limited understanding had no capacity to enter into the mysteries of the Bhagavatam.
In the Skanda-purana it is also said,
madhuram madhuram etan mangalam mangalanam
sakala-nigama-valli sat-phalam cit-svarupam
sakrd api parigitam sraddhaya helaya va
bhrguvara nara-matram tarayet krishna-nama
O best of the Bhrgus! Of sweet things, it is the sweetest; of auspicious things, it is the most auspicious. Spiritual in essence, it is the true fruit of the Vedic vine. If even chanted once, with faith or even carelessly, the name of Krishna delivers even the lowest of mankind from the ocean of material life.
Here again, the Vedic scriptures are compared to a desire tree, but this time it is said that the Krishna's holy name is the ultimate spiritual fruit of that tree. It is described as being the sweetest, most delicious thing of all. It contains all the sweetness that we can possibly take, and yet remains ever sweet to the taste. Unfortunately we are not always able to taste its sweetness. But the sweetness is still there. The Holy Name is the most auspicious thing in all the creation. Whether one chants with faith or without faith does not matter, as long as one does not blaspheme the Name. Otherwise, if one chants, one will attain the divine destination.
If a human being chants the name of Krishna even once, if he does so without offenses, then he is liberated. So the Bhagavatam has been called the ripened fruit of the Vedas, and the Holy Name is here called the eternal spiritual essence of the Veda.
In the last verse of the Bhagavatam also, it is written:
tam namami harim param
"I bow down to the Supreme Lord Hari, the chanting of whose name results in the destruction of all sin and by paying homage to whom all miseries are quieted." (12.13.23)
Krishna is said to be the goal of all the Vedas:
sarvasya caham hrdi sannivisto
mattah smrtir jnanam apohanam ca
vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyo
vedanta-krd veda-vid eva caham
I am seated in everyone's heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas I am to be known; indeed I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas. (Bhagavad-gita 15.15)
Questions from the Audience
Question: You said that we must chant the Holy Name while keeping free of the offenses. How can someone who commits offenses in the mind be purified?
Shrila Puri Maharaja: We must take complete shelter of the spiritual master's lotus feet. Through other yoga systems we may be able to control the mind for a few moments, but this isn't of much help. By breathing exercises, you may be able to conquer the senses to some extent, but the mind is like a wild horse that is impossible to control. The only thing that will help you to control the mind is devotion to the spiritual master-guru-bhakti. The example is given of a rich merchant who has a boatload of goods he wishes to import. But he cannot ignore the boat's captain who has the compass and knows where the boat has to be docked. Without submitting to the captain's direction, the entire ship will be put into danger. In the same way, we must realize that submitting to the authority of the spiritual master is our only hope.
Question: Why did Knowledge and Detachment regain their youth when they came to Vrindavan? Mother Devotion became a young maid when she arrived there.
Shrila Puri Maharaja: As long as they did not take shelter of Mother Devotion, Knowledge and Detachment remained old. As soon as they accepted her leadership and listened to the Bhagavatam, they became young again.
The Path of Blessedness by Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta
By Paramahamsa Parivrajakacarya
Shri Shrimad Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur
IF WE BECOME ARROGANT AFTER HAVING ADOPTED THE PATH OF DEVOTION, if we worship only God and disregard the worship of His devotees, we could be put to manifold difficulties for our offence at the feet of the servants of God. We might well be overtaken by the greatest of all misfortunes and be afflicted with apathy for the principle of devotion itself.
Human life is meant solely for the attainment of the supreme good. Why do I forget it? Why do I forget that I am the meanest and least of all entities? The ambition to lord it over others, to be great, to be an elevationist or salvationist, is brought about when we allow ourselves to fall victims to the temptations of God's deluding energy. Such ambition is petty and useless. If there is any use in curbing one's hankering after becoming great in the eyes of the world, if there is any use in gaining one's real health, it is imperative to accept the Vaishnava line of thought.
Those who are fit to possess abundant power of devotion are strong. I should not apply myself to find out the shortcomings of the Vaishnavas, or to condemn the service of Lord Vishnu, or to seek to establish my own point of view, neglecting the method by which I may be enabled to serve the Lord and His devotees. No language can describe the havoc that is wrought in human life by such arrogance. I make this submission with all humility: May you kindly refrain from merely imitating the conduct of the Vaishnavas. May you always follow their line of thought. There is no relationship for us other than with the devotees of Vishnu. Relationship with other persons can only aggravate the desire for sense gratification.
Many a year has now passed over me, one by one. I have realized at last that there is no other help for me than the mercy of the holy feet of the Vaishnavas. Every one of my acts is fit to be attacked. I pray to those who look down upon me, that they would no longer maintain that attitude if they considered it allowable for me to follow the conduct and teachings of the Vaishnavas. Rather, they would kindly impart to me the needful strength and fitness to communicate their power to those who are stupid and devoid of all strength.
One who serves Lord Hari counts himself the least of all entities. One is lifted to the highest order of Vaishnavism when he feels himself to be the least of all. He can then proclaim the message of the highest devotion to Lord Hari.
"The best of all persons deems himself to be less than all others"-Such is the great dictum.
It is necessary for the best to scrutinize their own ineligibility. Why should a person be anxious to pry into the defects of others when he does not seek to scrutinize his own conduct? Is this the disposition of the Vaishnavas? On the other hand, even those who are low in the scale of service may attain the highest level. Let us remember the texts:
"Even those who live by sin, such as women, sudras, Hunas, Sabaras and birds of the air, can know the Lord who covers all the worlds by His wonderful strides and prevail over His deluding energy. How much more true, then, is this of those who listen to and remember with care the instructions of the spiritual scriptures." (SB 2.7.46)
"The acts and expressions of the Vaishnavas cannot be understood even by the wise." (CC 2.23.39)
The devotees are attached to the Lord, who pervades the worlds with His wonderful strides. Let us not be misled by appearances. Many a person has mistaken the pebble for the pearl, the snake for the rope, or evil for good, falling a victim to delusion by relying on apparent sight. It is only when a person allows himself to fall into the clutches of self-delusion and supposes himself to be an inhabitant of the phenomenal world that his senses show their eagerness for supplying the wants incidental to the soul. We should consider well how we are to be delivered from being thus exploited by the deluding energy. It will never bring us relief if we adopt the lordly mentality for supplying our present inadequacies and for avoiding what certain hasty observers have been pleased to dub as "the slave mentality" of the devotees of God. Such mode of thought accelerates our march towards the inferno by plunging us into the course of sensuous indulgences.
If we disregard or ignore the devotees of God for elevating ourselves, we would thereby be cast into the prison of three dimensions and spring towards inflation instead of construction. "I will be good; I will be cured of my mundane desires; I will have real well being." This is the proper kind of judgment. But it is not at all laudable to entertain the contrary thoughts, "I will be great, I will gratify my malice by stopping the course of the whole world. It is by no means proper to set up one's superiority against the worshipfulness of God's devotees. The path of hearing to the transcendental world has been rendered devious by the misinterpretation of the text aham brahmasmi. I have listened to the true interpretation of the text at the lotus feet of my divine master. It is to this effect: "It is our eternal duty to chant constantly the name of Hari by being infinitely more truly humble than the smallest blade of grass, more truly forbearing than even the proverbially patient tree, and to honor others without seeking honor.
What persuasive courtesy, what humility do these words express! How great is the benefit, how great the good that we may have by listening to such words! We have it from the Talaba Upanishad that those who aspire to be master of the devotees, who are the masters of God Himself, are indeed most culpably arrogant. Shrimad Bhagavatam significantly declares, "Let those who profess to know God brag to their knowledge, but let me have nothing to do with such fellows." This is all I have got to say in this matter.
Not one of the paths of this material world is a path to the service of the Divinity. The idea that one should be master of God's devotees leads to inferno. It is harmful to follow any worldly path. To follow the devotees of God is the only path that leads to one's real benefit. Whatever method is followed by the devotees is worthy of being cherished with the utmost love and reverence.
Holding a blade of straw between my teeth, I pray time and again for only this boon, that I may be a particle of dust on the lotus feet of the most revered Shri Rupa Goswami Prabhu. Let there be birth after birth for us, that we may walk in the path of Shri Rupa's followers by being particles of dust on the lotus feet of the devotees of God. The root of it all is humility, or the due realization on one's own ineligibility. Only if the conviction of our unfitness for the service of God is revealed to us, either spontaneously or by the instruction of other persons, are we in a position to appreciate the beauty of the lotus feet of God's devotees. In all the talks of the average people of this world, the idea that is uppermost is how to promote the gratification of one's senses. If we happen to be obsessed with the idea that it is the path of religion, we would be prevented for good from becoming truly religious.
Holding a blade of straw between my teeth, I pray time and again for this only boon, that I may be a particle of dust on the lotus feet of the most revered Shri Rupa Gosvami Prabhu.
Shrila Prabhupada's last instructions by B P Puri Goswami
by Shrila Bhakti Promode Puri Goswami Maharaja
Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur ended his sojourn amongst the mortals of this world on Friday, January 1, 1936, at 4:26 in the morning. A week prior to his disappearance, on December 23, Prabhupada gave a number of significant instructions to the disciples who came to see him. These were compiled and published in issues 23 and 24 of the 15th volume of the weekly Gaudiya magazine. These issues were dedicated to the disappearance of Shrila Prabhupada. I have tried here to put these instructions in verse form below.
(1) sakale parama utsaha sahakare
rupa raghunatha vani pracara sabara
All of you preach the message of Rupa and Raghunatha to everyone with great enthusiasm.
(2) rupanuga-pada-dhuli haite sabara
(jena) carama akanksa citte jage anibara
May the ultimate desire to become a speck of dust at the lotus feet of Shri Rupa Goswami remain ever awake in our hearts.
(3) advaya-jnana-tattva vraje vrajendra-nandana
(mula)-visaya-vigraha sei sarva-sevya-dhana
Vrajendranandana Krishna is the principle of non-dual consciousness. He is the root object of devotion and the treasured object of service for all.
(4) tanra aprakrta indriya tarpana uddese
asrayanugatye sabe thaka mile mise
In order to satisfy the transcendental senses of the one, non-dual supreme truth, remain united in following Radha, the original reservoir of love for Him.
(5) sabara uddesya eka shri-hari-bhajana
taha sadhibare sabe karaha jatana
Everyone make the effort to perfect your worship of Shri Hari; make this the only purpose of your lives.
(6) du' dinera jani ei anitya-samsara
ihate mamata tyaji hao maya-para
Remember that this world is temporary and lasts only a day or two. Give up your family attachment and transcend this world of illusion.
(7) kona-rupe jivana nirvaha kari cala
nitya-tattva krishna-bhakti karaha sambala
Maintain your worldly obligations in whatever way you can, but make the eternal principle, devotion to Krishna, the true provision for your voyage through life.
(8) vipad ganjana sata sata se lanchana
asuk tathapi hari-bhajana chero na
Let hundreds of dangers, insults or persecutions come, but despite them, do not give up your worship of Krishna.
(9) sarva-vighna-vinasana prabhu gaura-hari
avasya shri-pade sthana dibena daya kari
Lord Gaura Hari destroys all obstacles on the path. He will surely be merciful and give you a place at His lotus feet.
(10) shri-krishna-vimukha heri adhikamsa jana
suddha-krishna-seva-katha na kare grahana
(11) hayo na utsaha-hina tahate kakhana
chero na jivatu tava nijera bhajana
When you see that most people are indifferent to Shri Krishna and show no interest in the selfless service to Krishna and in talking about Him, don't be discouraged. Most of all, never give up your bhajan-your life and soul.
(12) nija sarvasva krishna-katha sravana-kirtana
chariya daridrya kena karibe varana
Why would you accept the poverty of a life devoid of hearing and chanting about Krishna, your sole property?
(13) krishna-pada-padma maga jivera kalyana
acire purabe vancha sarva-saktiman
Beg for Krishna's lotus feet, the ultimate benediction for all living beings. The Lord is all-powerful and will quickly fulfill your desire.
(14) asamartha nahe krishna dhare sarva-bala
(krishna-)sevakera vancha kabhu na haya viphala
Krishna is not incapable. He is omnipotent and the desires of His servants never go in vain.
(15) trnapeksa hina dina apane manibe
taru-sama sahya-guna bhusita haibe
(16) amani manada haye sada nama labe
shri-nama-bhajane sarva-pradhana janibe
Please always chant the name of the Lord, being humbler than a blade of grass and more tolerant than the tree. Give all respect to others and demand none for yourself. Make the worship of the Holy Name the most important aspect of your devotional life.
(17) shri-chaitanya-pravartita sankirtana-yajna
ihate laiya diksa bhajibena vijna
A wise person will worship the Lord after taking initiation in the sacrifice of the Holy Name established by Shri Krishna Chaitanya and His associates.
(18) sapta-sikha nama yajnanale atmahuti
visese kalite ei sastrera jukati
Offer yourself up into the seven flames of this sacrificial fire. The scriptures say that this especially is the religious principle in the Age of Kali.
(19) karma-vira dharma-vira haye kaja nai
jnana-yoga-tapa-adi pathe kasta pai
We do not seek to become heroes performing great works or religious deeds; we will become distressed if we take up the paths of knowledge, works or austerities.
(20) shri-rupera pada-dhuli janaha svarupa
sei se sarvasva tahe na hao virupa
Know that your true identity is to be a speck of dust at the lotus feet of Shri Rupa Prabhu; don't go against this identity, which is your treasure.
(21) rupanuga-varya hana shri-bhaktivinoda
se bhaktivinoda-dharaya bahe suddha moda
Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakur is the best of all the followers of Shri Rupa Goswami. The pure joy of devotional service comes in the stream which started with him.
(22) bhakti-rasamrta-purna sei puta dhara
kakhano habe na ruddha sata-vighna dvara
That stream is holy and full of the nectarean flavors of devotion. It will never be stemmed by even a hundred obstacles.
(23) se dharaya haiya snata buddhiman jana
bhaktivinoda-mano'bhista karaha purana
Intelligent persons who have bathed in the waters of this stream should endeavor to fulfill the heartfelt wishes of Bhaktivinoda Thakur.
(24) bahu yogya krti-vyakti achaha tomara
hao sabe aguwan esa kari tvara
Amongst you are many capable and worthy individuals. So all of you come forward and quickly take up this task.
(25) dante trna dhari ei jaci punah punah
shri-rupa-pada-dhuli jena hai janma janma
Taking grass between my teeth, I pray repeatedly that I may become a speck of dust at Shri Rupa Goswami's lotus feet, birth after birth.
(26) iha vina anyakanksa nahuka hrdaye
ei vancha sarva-hrde hauk udaye
Other than this, I pray that no other desire will ever manifest in my or anyone's heart.
(27) e samsare thaka-kale ache nana badha
tahe muhyaman kabhu nahibe sarvatha
While living in the world, we encounter many difficulties, but there is no need for us to ever be bewildered by them.
(28) badha matra dura karai nahe prayojana
atahpara kiba labhya cinte vijna-jana
We need make no effort to remove any of these obstacles. What is necessary for us, while we are still here, is to learn what follows-what will be the nature of our eternal life.
(29) nitya-atma ami mora nitya sei jivana
ekhani hauk tara tattva-nirdharana
Let us realize the nature of our eternal spiritual identity and our eternal life in the spiritual world at this very moment.
(30) akarsana-vikarsanera vastu ache jata
cahi va na cahi emana kahiba va kata
There are so many things that attract and repel us. There is no end to the things that we desire and distain.
(31) ei duhun mimamsa sighra kari matiman
nitya-tattva krishna-bhakti karaha sandhana
We have to resolve exactly what we do or do not want and decide to search out devotional service to Krishna, the eternal truth.
(32) o duwera yuddhe jadi jayi hate cao
(tabe) aprakrta namakrsta hale raksa pao
If you wish to conquer over attractions and repulsions then you should remember that by becoming attracted to the transcendental Holy Name, you will be delivered from them.
(33) krishna-seva rasa-katha tabe ta bujhibe
tuccha saba rasa prati ghrna upajibe
Then you will understand the nature of service to Krishna and the taste of His divine topics. Then you will feel nothing but disgust for the other insignificant pleasures of this world.
(34) krishnanusilana jata vardhita haibe
(jara) visaya-pipasa tata kamite thakibe
As you increase cultivating your consciousness of Krishna, your thirst for material sense objects will decrease.
(35) bara-i kathina tattva krishna-katha haya
apata camaka-prada jatilartha-maya
The philosophy of Krishna consciousness is very perplexing. At first it seems startling and full of complex details.
(36) nami hate tanra nama adhika karuna
asraya laile tattva karena jnapana
The Holy Name is more compassionate than the Lord of the Name Himself. If one takes shelter of the Name, then it unravels all these philosophical complexities.
(37) nitya-prayojana modera krishna-prema-dhana
taha anubhave kama badhe sarva-ksana
The treasure of love for Krishna is the eternal goal of our lives. Material desires interfere at every moment with our realizing it.
(38) namasraye sei badha haya apanita
krishna-prema-rajye vasa haya abhipsita
By taking shelter of the Holy Name, all these obstacles are removed and we can obtain the fulfillment of our true desire, to dwell in the realm of pure love of Krishna.
(39) e jagate keha nahe anuraga-patra
athava viraga-patra nahe anumatra
In this world no one is the special object of my affection, nor do I have the slightest hostility toward anyone.
(40) sakala vyavastha etha ksana-sthayi haya
etha-kara labhalabha vicararha naya
Whatever arrangements we make here in this world are momentary. There is no need to waste time thinking about gain or loss here.
(41) sabakara labhya sei eka prayojana
shri-krishna-padaravinde prema mahadhana
The only thing anyone should strive for is the one supreme goal of life. That is the great treasure of love for Krishna's lotus feet.
(42) tad-uddesya sabe mili hao yatnavan
eka-dhyana eka-jnana hao eka-tana
So, join together all of you and strive for this goal. Work together in harmony with the same thoughts, the same consciousness.
(43) ekoddesya aikatane avasthita hao
mulasraya-vigraha-sevaya adhikara lao
Working together with the same purpose, you will become qualified for the service of Radharani, the original reservoir of love for Krishna.
(44) rupanuga-cinta-srota hok pravahita
ta hate svatantrya kabhu nahe samihita
May the stream of ideas promoted by Rupa Goswami and his followers flow. We must never try to be independent of his doctrine.
(45) sapta-jihva nama-sankirtana-yajna prati
kakhano viraga jena na haya arati
May that we never become indifferent or disinterested in the sacrifice of the Holy Name with its fire of seven flames.
(46) ekantanuraga tahe thake vardhamana
tabe ta sarvartha-siddhi purna manaskama
In the performance of sankirtana, if your single-minded devotion goes on increasing, then all your desires will be fulfilled and all your goals achieved.
(47) shri-rupa-anuga janera pada-padma dhara
ekanta bhavete tandera anugatya kara
Take hold of the feet of the followers of Shri Rupa Goswami and follow them with exclusive commitment.
(48) (shri)-rupa-raghunatha-katha parama-utsahe
nirbhaye pracara kara sarva-siddhi jahe
Preach the message of Shri Rupa and Raghunatha fearlessly and with great enthusiasm. Through this preaching, you will attain all perfection.
Prajalpa by Bhaktivinode Thakura
by Shrila Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura
from his commentary on Upadesamrta, verse 2
The Sanskrit words jalpana or prajalpa can be translated in a very general way as "the use of speech." In the world today, indifference to God is so widespread that nearly all the use of speech is irreligious in nature. Such usage is not particularly beneficial to a person who aspires for pure devotional service. In this negative sense, prajalpa is best translated as "prattle."
On the other hand, there are many usages of speech that can be spiritually beneficial for such an aspirant. Shri Rupa Goswami has given an example of such use of the power of speech in his Karpanya-panjika (16), where he also uses the same verb, jalpa:
tathapy asmin kadacid vam
adhisau nama jalpini
"O Lord and Lady of my life! You deliver even those who chant merely the reflection of Your names. I too have sometimes prattled your Holy Names, so be pleased with me."
The singing of hymns, reciting the praises of the Lord, and discussing the scriptures can thus all be considered kinds of jalpa. If they are done in a favorable spirit and without any selfish purpose, they are part of the cultivation of Krishna consciousness. The conclusion is then that all use of the power of speech that does not promote consciousness of Krishna is detrimental to the achievement of pure devotion. A conscientious aspirant will thus take care to avoid such negative use of the power of speech.
We can find no fault in the acts of the great authorities, the mahajanas. Whatever they have "prattled" is worth studying. There are some overenthusiastic devotees who suggest that the rejection of prajalpa counselled by Rupa Goswami means rejecting all speech. But we endeavor to be true followers of Rupa Goswami and will therefore stick to the path that he has taught us. For it is said in the Skanda Purana:
sa mrgyah sreyasam hetuh
yena santah pratasthire
"We must seek out the path that is the cause of all benefit and is free from suffering, the path which saints in the past have followed without great strain."
The path of the great authorities is the one that was trod by Shri Vyasa, Shri Suka, Shri Prahlada, and Shri Mahaprabhu and His followers. We are certainly not obliged to reject this path to follow the teachings of the upstart fanatics of our day. All the authoritative practitioners of devotional service to Krishna have honored the appropriate use of speech, as we shall show later in an appropriate place.
Speech that is unrelated to spiritual realization is detrimental to the development of devotion. Included in this kind of speech are useless story-telling (vrtha galpa), argument, faultfinding, backbiting, discussion of other people, telling lies, blasphemy of the saintly, and talk about sex (gramya-katha).
Useless story-telling is extremely harmful. Pious devotees do not like to waste their time, but use it wisely in discussing subjects related to Krishna with other devotees, or in meditating on the Holy Names in seclusion. The Gita says:
aham sarvasya prabhavo
mattah sarvam pravartate
iti matva bhajante mam
kathayantas ca mam nityam
tusyanti ca ramanti ca
"I am the source of all things; everything proceeds from Me. The wise who accept this truth worship Me with great feeling. Their minds fixed on Me, their lives devoted to Me, they discuss with each other about Me, explaining their realizations. In this way they find great satisfaction and pleasure." (Gita 10.8-9)
satatam kirtayanto mam
yatantas ca drdha-vratah
namasyantas ca mam bhaktya
"Great souls are constantly chanting My glories, endeavoring to remain steadfast in their vows, bowing down to Me with devotion, and worshiping Me in permanent union." (9.14)
This is the attitude that aspiring devotees should emulate. If they waste their time chatting day and night with non-devotees, then the Lord's instruction to always chant His name will not be followed. Newspapers are full of useless story-telling and so reading them is very harmful for someone who really wants to progress on the devotional path. We should only read the papers if they give news of a pure devotee.
After they have finished eating their supper, most ordinary people light up a cigarette and start to exchange useless information with their friends and neighbors. It is very difficult for such persons to become followers of Rupa Goswami. The same thing can be said about reading novels, although a novel like the story of Puranjana in the Bhagavatam can be a help to our spiritual understanding. In such a case, reading is not damaging but worthwhile.
Argument (vitarka) is another type of speech that has damaging effects on our devotional life. Logicians of the Nyaya and Vaisesika schools engage in all kinds of hairsplitting that fall into this category of useless argumentation. The only result of such culture is a deterioration in intellectual power and mental disturbance. The Katha Upanishad (1.2.9) says, naisa tarkena matir apaneya-"The spiritual mentality is not achieveable through argumentation." The spiritual mentality is inherent in the jiva. This mentality naturally seeks out the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, but those who spend their time in disputing time, space, error and the rules of debate become hard-hearted and lose this natural proclivity to devotion.
There are ten basic teachings in the Vedas, what we have called the dasa-mula. Using our intelligence in order to ascertain the well-foundedness of these truths is not argumentation that puts our devotional life in danger. If we try to understand what is bad or good according to the Vedic version, then this is no longer an incorrect use of speech. Therefore Mahaprabhu instructed everyone to study the Bhagavata. If we try to establish the proper metaphysical basis of bhakti, that should not be considered prajalpa. The negative aspects of argumentation come when one simply argues for the sake of winning the argument or to win over the audience. One may win an argument without advancing anyone's (including one's own) understanding of spiritual truth.
So, we should avoid the company of people who are excessively argumentative. No less a personage than Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya accepted this principle:
tarkika-srgala-sange bheu bheu kare
sei mukhe ebe sada kahi krishna hari
"Previously I used to howl with the other jackal logicians. Now I use the same mouth to always chant the names of Krishna."
(Chaitanya Charitamrta 2.12.183)
Those who are seeking to understand the supreme goal of life should keep in mind the following statement by the great sannyasi devotee of Benares, Prakasananda Sarasvati:
paramartha vicara gela kari matra vada
kanha mui pabo kanha krsnera prasada
"I have made no real effort to understand the supreme purpose of spiritual life, but have only engaged in argument. What have I ever done to seek Krishna's satisfaction?"
(Chaitanya Charitamrta 2.25.42)
Such arguments are ultimately nothing more than a forum for envy, if not pride. They are places where either enmity or sensual attachment, foolishness or ambition, are sought. Quarrelsome people love to get involved in arguments on any subject. Devotees should be careful to avoid wasting their time in disputation when discussing the Bhagavata, whether it is metaphysics or the Lord's form and activities.
To discuss the character of other people (para-carca) for no reason is very detrimental to one's devotional life. Many people engage in such discussions in order to enhance their own prestige, while others do so purely out of spite. Those who are absorbed in such matters can never find room in their minds for thoughts of Krishna. Such criticism should by all means be avoided by aspirants on the devotional path.
On the other hand, there are many subjects of discussion that are favorable to devotional life. In such cases, even criticism of others (para-carca) is not unbeneficial. If one wishes to completely avoid discussion of others, he has to go and live in solitude in the forest. Practitioners of devotion may either be householders or renunciates. Since a renunciate makes no effort whatsoever to make a living, he should absolutely avoid all discussion of other people. On the other hand, a householder engages in earning his livelihood, collecting money, saving it, and maintaining his family. Since he is involved in such worldly activities, he cannot avoid judging the behavior of other people. Therefore, the only thing that such a person can do is to somehow dedicate his family life to Krishna. If all his family activities are related to Krishna, then his criticism of other people will also be free of any sinful implication and will help him to achieve a closer relationship with Krishna.
However, such a householder devotee should not engage in criticism of others in order to do them harm. He will only do as much as is necessary to insure that his household is maintained for the sake of Krishna. In the same way, a devotee may occasionally have to instruct his disciples or dependents; in order to do so, he sometimes has to call into question either their behavior or that of others, otherwise his instructions remain unclear. We have examples of such criticism in the writings of great authorities. These should not be considered faults, but virtues.
Take for example, the following statements by Sukadeva:
nidraya hriyate naktam
vyavayena ca va vayah
diva carthehaya rajan
"O King! The nights of materialistic householders are wasted in sleeping or in sex indulgence and their days either in chasing after wealth or in maintaining their family members." (SB 2.1.4)
atma-sainyesv asatsv api
tesam pramatto nidhanam
pasyann api na pasyati
"In their attached illusion that the impermanent family members, children and wife will always protect them, they do not see the inevitability of their death even though it is going on right in front of their eyes." (SB 2.1.3)
When Sukadeva made this criticism of ordinary materialistic life, he was not engaging in prajalpa, but giving important instructions to his disciples. We must thus recognize that he was engaged in an activity that was beneficial to everyone. Similarly, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave the following teachings about the improper exercise of the life of renunciation to his disciples:
prabhu kahe vairagi kare prakrti sambhasana
dekhite na paron ami tahara vadana
ksudra-jiva saba markata-vairagya kariya
indriya carana bule prakrti sambhasiya
prabhu kahe mora vasa nahe mora mana
prakrti-sambhasi vairagi na kare darsana
The Lord said, "I cannot look on the face of a renunciate who converses with women. All these insignificant people have renounced in the way that monkeys do. They go here and there allowing free reign to their senses and flirting with women. My mind is not under My control. It refuses to look on anyone in the renounced order who converses with women." (Chaitanya Charitamrta 3.2.117, 120, 124)
When it is time to give instructions and establish the proper nature of things as they are, if one does not speak in a straightforward manner, then neither the world nor we are benefited. The great authorities and spiritual masters have thus given their example and taught the world in this way. If they had acted otherwise, how would we have been able to understand the difference between right and wrong? If one speaks against the immoral behavior that is rampant in certain segments of society, that is not an improper use of the power of speech; it is not prajalpa or detrimental to bhakti.
This is occasionally true even if one singles out a particular person for criticism. We can cite Maitreya, who criticized King Vena in the following way:
papiyan utpatham gatah
na cakre bhrasta-mangalah
"The most sinful King, who understood everything completely in reverse, embarked on the path of irreligion. Thus though the great sages appealed to him, he ignored their requests and so lost all good fortune." (SB 4.14.29)
It was necessary for the seer Maitreya to criticize Vena's behavior in this way, but he did so in order to give proper instruction to his audience. This is not a case of prajalpa. It is not an easy thing to discuss historical events in the association of devotees, because from time to time it is necessary to point out the faults in the actions of evil persons. Nevertheless, in the right context, such discussions are auspicious and favorable to devotional service. If envy, rancor, pride, or the desire for personal prestige are a factor in such critiques, then they become an offense to the goddess of devotion.
Debate (vadanuvada), complaints and controversy are purely the product of a desire to gain victory over one's opponents. It is an extremely base preoccupation. Faultfinding is the result of one's own lack of good qualities and should be given up at all costs. The telling of lies is another kind of useless dissemination of information.
Gossip about people's sexual lives (gramya-katha) should be entirely given up by those in the renounced order of life. Householders may have to engage in some such discussions without unfavorable effects on their spiritual life. But such subjects of discussion, if they are not related in some way to one's religious duties, should be rejected.
Sukadeva Goswami said,
mrsa giras ta hy asatir asat-katha
na kathyate yad bhagavan adhoksajah
tad eva satyam ta uhaiva mangalam
tad eva punyam bhagavad-gunodayam
tad eva ramyam ruciram navam navam
tad eva sasvan manaso mahotsavam
tad eva sokarnava-sosanam nrnam
"Words that do not describe the Supreme Lord, Adhoksaja, are a false and faithless misuse of the power of speech. On the other hand, wherever the Lord's qualities are brought out into the open, that verily is the truth- auspicious and holy.
"Where the reputation of the glorious Lord is sung, that verily is delightful, pleasureful and ever fresh; that verily is eternal, and a magnificent festival of joy for the mind; that verily is the sun that dries up the ocean of lamentation." (SB 12.12.49-50)
Blasphemy of saintly devotees (sadhu-ninda) is the worst kind of prajalpa. If anyone has any desire to attain pure devotion, he should promise, "Never in my life will I blaspheme those who have taken up a saintly life."
All devotees are sadhus. One who indulges in criticism of such sadhus will lose all merit. Though a great ascetic, Daksa blasphemed the most holy god Shiva with most inauspicious results. Therefore it is written in the Bhagavatam:
ayuh shriyam yaso dharmam
lokan asisa eva ca
hanti sreyamsi sarvani
"My dear King, the result of transgressions against great souls is the destruction of life, fortune, reputation, duty, and blessings to the world-in short, all benedictions." (SB 10.4.46)
The essence of this article, then, is that Vaishnavas should take care to avoid prajalpa, or any kind of speech that is unfavorable to the practice of devotion. In the first verse of the Upadesamrta, Rupa Goswami advises that we overcome the pressure of the tongue to speak, that we control our words (vaco-vegam). This reference is to the occasional impulses to say things in certain situations. On the other hand, in the second verse, when he advises us to avoid prajalpa, he is talking about a more general, all-encompassing control. It is best, therefore, to control the speech so that we do not say more than is necessary to make a living without sin. We should only speak in order to benefit ourselves and others. If we simply discuss the affairs of others, we waste our time needlessly. Therefore, the Lord said to Uddhava:
na prasamsen na garhayet
visvam ekatmakam pasyan
prakrtya purusena ca
"One should neither praise nor condemn the acts of others, all of which are the result of their situation within nature. Rather, he should remain aware of the single, unified character of the universe, which is a product of the combination of matter and spirit."
The Meaning of Vyasa Puja B P Puri
by Shrila Bhakti Promode Puri Goswami Maharaja
a lecture given by His Divine Grace on the occasion of his 100th birthday in Shri Mayapura, October 5th 1997
Today, the devotees of the Gopinatha Gaudiya Math have made a special effort to celebrate my birthday with great pomp. I am truly truly unworthy of such attention. But my spiritual master, Shrila Prabhupada is sitting on the altar here, and beside him, all my worshipable deities and predecessor acaryas are present. I am just one of their insignificant servants. Bhaktivinoda Thakur taught us the following song which he himself had written:
sarvasva tomara carana sampiya
parechi tomara ghare
tumi ta thakura tomara kukura
baliya janaha more
bandhiya nikate amare palibe
rahiba tomara dvare
pratipa janere asite na diba
rakhiba garera pare
tava nija-jana prasada seviya
ucchista rakhibe jaha
amara bhojana parama anande
prati dine habe taha
basiya suiya tomara carana
cintiba satata ami
nacite nacite nikate jaiba
jakhana dakibe tumi
nijere posana kabhu na bhaviba
rahiba bhavera bhare
bhakativinoda tomare palaka
baliya varana kare
"I have surrendered everything to your lotus feet and have fallen at your door. I ask you to recognize that I am your dog and you are my master.
"You will tie me up nearby and take care of me. I will remain near your doorway and chase away thieves and other dangerous people, keeping them on the other side of the moat.
"Every day, I will joyfully eat only the leftovers of the devotees who have eaten your prasada.
"Whether sitting or lying down, I will only think of your lotus feet. Whenever you call, I will go dancing toward you.
"I will never think of my own needs or maintenance, but will remain blissfully in the joy of my feelings for you. Bhaktivinoda officially accepts you as his protector." (Saranagati, 19)
I am the dog of my spiritual master's dog. You have all offered worship to my spiritual master Shrila Prabhupada. And his pet dog is sitting at his feet. As you worshiped my gurudeva, one or two of the flowers have fallen onto the dog's body-that isn't worshiping the dog, it is the worship of my worshipable deity. That is how I take it. So many devotees have come from distant lands to engage in this worship today, this gives me great joy. If they understand the actual meaning of this puja, then that will make me even more happy.
In the Bhagavatam, the Lord said to Uddhava,
kalena nasta pralaye
mayadau brahmane prokta
yasyam dharmo mad-atmakah
"The divine message of the Vedas was lost in the course of time during the universal dissolution. Then at the very beginning of creation, I instructed these essential teachings about Myself and the Bhagavata religion to Brahma." (SB 11.14.3)
Brahma is the spiritual master of the universe. He is the first person in our disciplic succession. For this reason, Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakur said that we belong to the Brahma-sampradaya. All the Vaishnava schools will be joined together within the Brahma-sampradaya. So, the original spiritual master of our disciplic succession is Brahma; he is the guru of us all. Narada took instruction from Brahma and Narada instructed Vyasa.
In the Bhagavatam, in the account of Ajamila, the twelve mahajanas or spiritual authorities were named by Dharmaraja. They are:
svayambhur naradah sambhuh
kumarah kapilo manuh
prahlado janako bhismo
balir vaiyasakir vayam
"Brahma, Narada, Siva, the four Kumaras, Kapila, Manu, Prahlada, Janaka, Bhisma, Bali, Sukadeva and Yama himself." (SB 6.3.20)
The religion meant for all living entities that was taught by the Supreme Lord to Brahma was also taught by all these twelve great authorities. For this reason, it has been given the name Bhagavata-dharma, the religion taught by the Supreme Lord and His devotees.
When Ajamila was on the point of dying, three of the messengers of the God of Death, Yamaraja, came to take him away. However, as Ajamila had accumulated some pious merit in his previous lives, he called out the name of his youngest son, Narayana, at that moment. As he did so, say the mahajanas, Ajamila began to remember the Lord of Vaikuntha, the original Narayana after whom he had named his son. At that very instant, four Vishnudutas or messengers of Lord Vishnu, came and stopped the Yamadutas from taking Ajamila off to be judged by Yamaraja.
The Yamadutas said, "Why have you come here? Who are you? We are the servants of the God of Death and we have come for this man. What are you doing here? This Ajamila has spent his entire life in sinful activity and has never atoned for his sins in any way. Such persons are normally taken to Yamaraja`s abode in Samyamani-puri where they are punished. We have come to take him so he can receive what he deserves. We are here on Yamaraja's orders."
The Vishnudutas answered, "You do not know the first thing about justice (dharma). By uttering the name of Narayana, all the sins one has committed over millions of lifetimes are destroyed, what to speak of those committed in this single lifetime. You claim to be the followers of the God of Justice, Yamaraja, but in fact you are lying." They chased the Yamadutas away.
The Yamadutas then went to their master and complained about the Vishnudutas. They said, "How many Gods of Justice are there? And what is dharma?" Yamaraja, however, is a mahabhagavata and so of course he understood everything that was happening. He answered, "Listen-dharma, that is religion or justice, is created by the Supreme Lord Himself.
dharmam tu saksad bhagavat-pranitam
na vai vidur rsayo napi devah
na siddha-mukhya asura manusyah
kuto nu vidyadhara-caranadayah
"Real religious principles are enacted by the Supreme Person Himself. Neither the seers, nor the gods, nor the perfected beings, nor the demons or humans know what they are in truth, what to speak of the Vidyadharas and the Caranas." (SB 6.3.19)
The Yamadutas then asked, "If none of them know the truth of religion, then who does?"
Yamaraja answered, "There are twelve of us who are known as mahajanas.[These were named above.]
dharmam bhagavatam bhatah
guham visuddham durbodham
yam jnatvamrtam asnute
"O my messengers! We twelve know the religious principles set forth by the Supreme Lord. This knowledge is secret, pure and difficult to understand, but those who do, taste the nectar of immortality." (SB 6.3.21)
Though the Bhagavata-dharma is difficult to understand (durbodha), that does not mean that it cannot be understood at all. Those who practice these religious principles taste the nectar of immortality, but this is not the mundane ambrosia of the demigods in Svarga. It is the nectar of devotional rapture.
The concept of dharma that is being spoken of here is also mentioned in the very beginning of the Shrimad Bhagavatam.
sa vai pumsam paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhoksaje
Suta Goswami told Saunaka and the other rishis, "The highest religious principle is that by which causeless and uninterrupted devotion to the Supreme Lord is developed. Such devotion brings true contentment to the soul."
The word ahaituki means "unmotivated by any selfish desire," or "spontaneous." Apratihata means "impossible to disrupt or bring to an end."
In the invocatory verses to the Shrimad Bhagavatam, it is also said,
dharmah projjhita-kaitavo `tra paramo
"This Bhagavata Purana completely rejects all religious activities which are materially motivated. It is thus only comprehensible to those saintly persons who are completely free from enviousness."
There can be no self-deception nor deception of others anywhere in the Bhagavatam. So many activities are going on in the name of religion-karma, jnana and what have you. None of these can be considered genuine religious activity; they are all, in fact, kinds of deception or cheating. The supreme religion for all living entities is pure devotion to the Supreme Lord. Pure devotion means that neither karma, jnana, nor yoga should be mixed in with it. Pure devotion is the supreme religion.
Who then can attain this supreme religious activity? Here it is said, "The essence of this religion can only be understood by those saintly persons who are completely free from enviousness-nirmatsaranam satam." Only such people can know the truths of this religion and only they can practice it properly. Enviousness is a terrible thing. Envy means para-shri-katarata or the inability to tolerate the success of another person, whether in terms of beauty, wealth or any other qualification. One who is unable to tolerate the happiness of another and who finds joy in seeing others suffer cannot be considered a sadhu. Therefore it is said that the saintly are nirmatsara. Such people are eligible to practice this highest
Mahaprabhu instructed everyone to become free from enviousness. He is the Supreme Lord Himself. When Sanatana Goswami inquired from him about the goal of life and the means to attain it, Mahaprabhu said, "You know everything, but even so you wish to hear from Me. So listen." And then He explained to Him about the constitutional position of the living entity:
jivera svarupa haya nitya krishna-dasa
krishna-tatastha sakti bhedabheda-prakasa
"By nature, in his essence, the living entity is the eternal servant of Krishna. He is of Krishna's marginal potency, simultaneously one and different from the Lord." (CC 2.20.108)
So the constitutional position of the living entity is to be Krishna's eternal servant, the marginal energy, and both one and different from the Lord. Similarly, in the story of Ajamila, it is said,
etavan eva loke'smin
pumsam dharmah parah smrtah
"The supreme religious activity for people in this world is devotional service to the Lord, which is performed through such acts as repeating His divine names." (SB 6.3.22)
Here, then, the supreme religious activity is identified with the chanting of the Holy Names. Of course, the Bhagavatam has glorified the chanting of the Holy Names in many, many other verses. Karabhajana Rishi said in the Age of Kali, there is really no religious principle other than chanting the Holy Names. We really have no duty other than pure devotional service. As Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Lord Himself took on the attitude of a devotee in order to teach us this religious principle. The chanting of the Holy Names in sankirtana is the only religious duty of all living creatures. The Lord said, furthermore, that He had invested this Holy Name with all of His potencies: sarva-sakti name dila kariya vibhaga (CC Antya 20.19)
The Lord is omnipotent, and he has placed all His potencies in His holy name. Furthermore, there are no restriction as to when or where one can chant the Holy Name. Mahaprabhu called this the supreme religious activity for all beings. We must all take up the practice of Bhagavata-dharma. This is the only duty which we absolutely must observe. Pure devotional service performed principally through chanting the Holy Names is the supreme religious activity for all living beings.
In the Svetasvatara Upanishad (5.9), the Lord said the following about the jiva, or the soul:
satadha kalpitasya ca
bhago jivah vijneyah
sa canantyaya kalpate
"When the upper point of a hair is divided into one hundred parts and again each of these parts is further divided into one hundred parts, each such part is equal to the dimension of the spirit soul, whose potential is infinite."
The jiva is thus so infinitesmally small that it is beyond human conception. It certainly cannot be seen with the naked eye or through an examination of the beating heart. This is the atman or the soul. Krishna says:
aham sarvasya prabhavo
mattah sarvam pravartate
iti matva bhajante mam
"I am the source of all things. Everything proceeds from Me. The wise who accept this worship Me with great feeling." (Gita 10.7)
"I am the birthplace of all creatures, moving and non-moving. I ordain the duties and work of them all. Scholars who realize this become devoted to Me and accept the religious duties that I have ordained, knowing that the Supreme Lord Himself is the speaker of the scriptures in which these duties are given."
The Supreme Lord has spoken the Vaishnava religion, therefore we must take it up. This religion alone is our supreme duty. These religious principles were explained by Narada Muni to Vyasadeva and Vyasadeva taught them to Suka, who in turn told them to Pariksit Maharaja. Ugrasrava Suta was in the audience while Suka spoke to Pariksit and he in turn recounted their conversation to Saunaka and the 60,000 sages in Naimisaranya. They all made great efforts to preserve and spread this teaching, so it is now our duty to try to understand it.
We move our hands and feet, we speak-these are the signs of life. Within the living being, there is a tiny spark of consciousness that we call the soul. The Lord Himself says, "Of subtle things, I am the living being" (suksmanam apy aham jivah, SB 11.16.11). The jiva is so tiny that he cannot be found. This is true for all living beings. And in order to give us the ability to serve Him, Mukunda has given us jivas senses.
The creator finished making all the creatures-the animals, birds, insects, trees, crawling things-that are present on this earth, but still found no satisfaction. But after creating humankind, he felt joy. Why did he feel joy at the creation of humanity? Because the human body has the attribute of brahmavaloka-dhisanam-the instinct to seek out the Supreme Lord. This attribute exists only in the human species and in no other. We humans can take up religious activity and by extension can engage all other creatures in the Lord's service. We can do that by chanting the Holy Names of the Lord aloud-uccaih sata-gunam bhavet-the powers of the Holy Name are increased a hundredfold when chanted aloud.
All those creatures that know nothing but eating, sleeping, mating and defending can nevertheless be blessed by hearing the chanting of the Holy Names. If no one blesses them in this way, then who knows how many lifetimes they will have to live in such ignorance? Therefore Mahaprabhu taught,
bharate-bhumite manusya-janma haila jara
janma sarthaka kari' kara para-upakara
"Whoever has taken a human birth in this land of Bharata should perfect his life and act for the welfare of all beings." (CC 1.9.41)
Mahaprabhu also said,
apani acari dharma jivere sikhaya
apani na kaile dharma sikhano na jaya
"One can only teach religious principles to the living beings if he puts them into practice himself. If one does not practice, he cannot teach it to others."
So first of all, we must put these religious principles into practice. After so doing, we must act for the welfare of all beings. Yogis go into the deep forests to practice performing postures, breathing exercises, meditation, mind control, by which they seek their own personal benefit. They have no concern for what happens or does not happen to others. Mahaprabhu, on the other hand, came to show that through the chanting of the Holy Names, all living beings are benefitted. "You are human beings," He says, "you have intelligence. So take up this religion and chant the Holy Names loudly so that all living beings will derive benefit from it.
People in the western world have made great progress in science and technology. If such scientific knowledge could bring lasting benefit to the world, then it would be a wonderful thing. Many people in the West have now become devotees of Mahaprabhu. Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakur once wondered, "When will the day come when people from Europe and America would embrace Gaudiya Vaishnavas from Bengal and say, `You are our most intimate friends. Come, join us, we will all chant the Holy Names together in sankirtana.'" May Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakur's blessings be upon us today. May his prediction be fulfilled.
Whether in the West or in the East, the living soul is not different. All souls are the same. Their supreme master is Krishna-aham sarvasya prabhavah. All creatures have their origin in Krishna. So if we simply perform the sacrifice of chanting the Holy Names, the sankirtana-yajna, by offering ourselves as the oblation, then the entire world will be benefited.
We are not trying to make ourselves out to be some kind of great guru. My Shrila Prabhupada is the spiritual master of the universe. Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakur is my guru. That is why I say that I am nothing more than their dog. Please remember this. I am nothing more than the dog of dogs. Shrila Prabhupada, Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakur, the entire disciplic succession-these are my masters. I am simply their dog, nothing more. I only pray to all of you that I may become their dog and bark repeatedly, "Chant the Holy Names, just chant the Holy Names." Please fulfill my prayer.
Never think that the Holy Name is some ordinary sound. The Supreme Lord has placed all His powers in the Holy Name. So we pray that we may engage in welfare work for all humanity, that all souls may make the effort to go to the transcendental abode of the Lord. The nature of the borderline energy, the tatastha-sakti, is that it can go in either direction. However, the living beings who belong to this energy are constantly attacked by temptation. They see the "marketplace of pleasures" and are distracted from their purpose, ultimately falling into a hellish existence. This is the illusory nature of this world, and everyone is immersed and entangled in this illusion. Try to understand this yourselves and try to make others understand. It is our duty to make this effort. Let everyone know this truth. This is the meaning of Vyasa-puja.
There are a number of groups of five, or pancakas, of which the Vyasa-pancaka and the Guru-pancaka are two.
There is the Krishna-pancaka: Krishna, Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha; the Gaura-pancaka consists of Shri Krishna Chaitanya, Nityananda, Advaita, Gadadhara and Shrivasa and the rest of the devotees; the Vyasa-pancaka: Vyasadeva, Jaimini (of the Samaveda), Paila (Rgveda), Vaisampayana (Yajurveda), and Sumantu Muni (Atharva-veda); the Vaiyasaki-pancaka: Sukadeva, Madhvacarya, Ramanujacarya, Nimbaditya, and Vishnusvami; the Sanakadi-pancaka: Sanaka, Sanatana, Sanandana, Sanatkumara and Visvaksena; and the Guru-pancaka: the diksa-guru, the parama-guru (the guru's guru), the paratpara-guru (his guru), the paramesthi guru (his guru) and Brahma, the jagad-guru, the founder of the disciplic succession. This is the Guru-parampara-pancaka.
On this day, worship of the Vyasa-pancaka and the Guru-pancaka is ordained. I am no longer able to perform ritual worship or to speak properly. So I simply offer my respectful obeisances to all. I pay my obeisances and ask everyone to give me their blessings. I pray that all my spiritual masters give me their blessings that they accept me as their pet dog and allow me to sing their glories, that I may fulfill the purpose of my life as their dog, that I may give oblations in the fire of the sacrifice of the Holy Name.
Today all of you chanted the Holy Name, you glorified Shrila Vyasadeva and Prabhupada and all the gurus of the disciplic succession. You filled my heart with joy. I am not posing as a great teacher or guru. I am just the servant of the servant. I ask you to think of me in this way. If you must respect me, then do it because I am their dog. Let the flowers meant for their glorification fall on me. That is what I ask of you.
So this is my request: Everyone, please learn this Bhagavata-dharma. You have all come here to learn Mahaprabhu's religion. Why did Mahaprabhu repeatedly say to chant the Holy Names? From the chanting of the Holy Name, you will attain love for Krishna.
What is the meaning of prema? Prema means an intense feeling of love for the Lord. If we don't engage in the Lord's service, how will we be able to develop such feelings? We must think of what we can do so that all living beings within this world will be saved.
bharata-bhumite haila manusya janma jara
janma sarthaka kari kara para-upakara
"Anyone who has taken a human birth in this land of Bharatavarsa should perfect his life and engage in welfare activities on behalf of others." (CC 1.9.41)
The best welfare activity we could possibly engage in is to preach the Holy Name and love for Krishna. This is Mahaprabhu's heart's desire. May our only purpose in life be to practice and preach this religion throughout the world, right up until the time of our death.
In the Gita-mahatmya, it is said,
ekam sastram devaki-putra-gitam
eko devo devaki-putra eva
eko mantras tasya namani yani
karmapy ekam tasya devasya seva
"There is only one scripture-that which was sung by the Son of Devaki-that is the Gita. There is only God-He who is known as the Son of Devaki. There is only one hymn to be sung-the names of the Son of Devaki. There is only one duty-the service of this one supreme God."
The Gita or the Bhagavata, which contains the essence of the Gita, was also written by Vyasadeva. Our only worshipable deity is Krishna. He is the ultimate object of worship for the entire universe, for all the infinite universes. This is not negotiable. Krishna Himself says it, so we cannot argue with Him.
Think about it. Vyasadeva was invested with the Lord's potencies. He is a saktyavesa avatara. The Lord manifested as Vyasadeva and wrote down the Gita and there he said:
sarvasya caham hrdi sannivisto
mattah smrtir jnanam apohanam ca
vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyo
vedanta-krd veda-vid eva caham
"I am seated in everyone's heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas I am to be known; indeed I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas." (Bhagavad-gita 15.15)
The Lord appeared as Vyasadeva and compiled the Vedic literature. The Lord said, "I am the knower of the Veda. I know the secrets of the Vedic literature." In the Bhagavatam also, the Lord says: kim vidhatte kim acaste kim anudya vikalpayet - Only I know what has been established in the Vedic literature and what has subsequently been superseded." (SB 11.21.42) Only the Supreme Lord knows the secret heart of the Vedas and their corollary literatures, and only He can reveal them. Thus in the Gita He said to Arjuna, "You are My most intimate friend and devotee. Therefore I will give you the most confidential instruction in spiritual life."
The confidential instruction (guhya) is knowledge of Brahman, the more confidential instruction (guhyatara) is of Paramatman, and the most confidential knowledge (guhyatama) is that of Bhagavan and devotion to him.
man-mana bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yaji mam namaskuru
mam evaisyasi satyam te
pratijane priyo'si me
"Always think of Me, become My devotee. Worship Me and offer your obeisances to Me."
Keep your mind always fixed on Krishna. May that be the only thing that we think about: how can we keep the instructions that Krishna has given us in the Gita and Bhagavatam.
"Be My devotee." Why doesn't He say to become a devotee of some other god? If you do so, you may go far, but you will never reach Goloka Vrindavan. Krishna is the Lord of Goloka. If we worship some other god, we will not be able to reach Krishna, the Moon of Vrindavan, Golokanatha. We must therefore take these things into consideration.
"Worship Me and pay your obeisances to Me. And in turn, I promise you that you will come to Me."
Then the Lord says,
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah
"Give up all religious paths such as the varnasrama-dharma and simply take shelter of Me. I shall protect you from all sin. Do not fear." (Gita 18.66)
The Lord had previously stated He comes to this world to establish dharma (dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge) and now He is telling us to abandon all religiosity. What is the meaning of this? For the sake of human society, the Lord has established the system known as varnasrama-dharma-caturvarnyam maya srstam guna-karma-vibhagasah. According to the material qualities, people are designated as brahmins, ksatriyas, vaisyas or sudras. But the problem is, who will decide who is what? So this system is falling apart. Since He has created it, He has the authority to tell His devotees to abandon it. Visvanatha Cakravarti specifies that sarva-dharman in this verse means varnasrama-dharma. Mahaprabhu also said the same thing:
nica-jati nahe krishna-bhajane ayogya
sat-kula-vipra nahe bhajanera yogya
jei bhaje sei bara, abhakta hina, chara
krishna-bhajane nahi jati-kuladi-vicara
"A person born in a low family is not automatically disqualified for Krishna's worship, nor is a high-caste brahmin automatically qualified. One 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 caste or family status."
Still, this doesn't mean that we can eat food given by just anyone. If maha-prasada is given, we don't need to make any judgement. Prabhupada ate maha-prasada even though it had been touched by a dog, right in front of us. This is the kind of faith and respect He showed for maha-prasada. Other foods we may refuse from people whose behavior is not up to the standard, but we may accept maha-prasada from any person; this is important to remember.
Krishna says to surrender "to Me alone." If we want to attain Goloka Vrindavan, we must surrender to Him alone. Therefore, Mahaprabhu said to make an oblation of our selves in the fire of the sacrifice of the Holy Name. And we must preach while practicing this religious principle. Sanatana Goswami said to Haridasa Thakur: "You do both, practicing and preaching"-acara pracara name kara dui karya. Haridasa Thakur used to chant three lakhs of Names every day. That is not possible for all of us. Shrila Prabhupada took a vow to chant 100 billion Names or three lakhs a day for a period of nearly ten years. We may start by chanting only a granthi or four rounds a day, but gradually we should build up to a lakh a day.
Both men and women have the duty of chanting the Holy Names. This is the genuine religion of mankind-devotional service with chanting of the Holy Names as its principle aspect. We do not say that this is some sectarian idea. Vyasadeva is the writer of all the Vedic literature and he himself gives this instruction. His instructions are to be followed by everyone without exception. Because this is the essential instruction of all the scriptures, therefore everyone should follow it.
So I have spoken, barked like a dog here for a few moments, saying whatever comes to mind.
Not only must we chant the Holy Names, but we must think of giving happiness to Krishna. I have grown old and my memory is fading, so please forgive me. All I want to stress is that we should chant constantly and that we should chant without allowing ourselves to become distracted-aviksepena satatyam. So discuss amongst yourselves about how the Name and the form of the Lord are one.
You have all come to Mahaprabhu's holy abode. So remember also:
adyapiha sei lila kare gora raya
kono kono bhagyavane dekhibare paya
andhibhuta caksu jara visaya dhulite
ki rupe se para-tattva paibe dekhite
"Mahaprabhu still performs His pastimes here in His abode. A few most fortunate souls are able to see them. But how can one whose eyes are blinded by the dust of sense attraction ever hope to see this supreme truth?"
Mahaprabhu is still chanting and dancing here in Nabadwip dhama. Krishna's flute is playing here. Krishna's flute has not yet fallen silent. Yet we cannot hear these divine sounds. Just as we must learn English in order to speak with you, you should try to learn the language of Vraja and Bengal, the language of Mahaprabhu. Then you will be able to understand the true meaning of Mahaprabhu's message.
The Mystery of Guru-Tattva by Shrila Shridhara Deva Goswami
by Shrila Bhakti Rakshaka Shridhar Deva Goswami Maharaja
Devotee: How does transcendental sound actually enter the disciple's heart when the spiritual master speaks hari-katha or utters the sound of the Holy Name?
Shrila Shridhar Maharaja: Divine realization is not an acquired thing; it comes down by selection from above. It comes down in the continuance of the disciplic line. The Lord supplies it through His agent. It comes down to us because He supplies it. If the Lord wishes to spread His holy name-if it is His pleasure to spread His grace below-then out of that necessity it comes down from Him through His agent. The qualification of the agent is his faith. He must especially have faith in his own Gurudeva, the next upper center. He must experience all his activities through the next upper center and prove his faithfulness to him. Only then and in that way will the supply come down.
Strangely, the agent may sometimes not know what things are passing through him by this arrangement.
aham vedmi suko vetti
vyaso vetti na vetti va
bhaktya bhagavatam grahyam
na buddhya na ca tikaya
Lord Shiva says, "I know the meaning of the Bhagavatam and Sukadeva also knows it. As for Vyasadeva, he may or may not know it. The Bhagavatam can only be known through bhakti, not by mundane intelligence or by reading many commentaries."
Vyaso vetti na vetti va-Vyasa may or may not know the meaning of the Bhagavatam, but the Bhagavatam is passing through Vyasa. This is a tatastha-vicara, an impartial judgement. From the absolute standpoint, it has been said that even Vyasa may not know the things that come through him to grace others. Though this may sometimes be the case, we should still not admit so easily that Vyasa does not know.
I once said this to my Guru Maharaja. We were in Darjeeling and I had composed a Sanskrit sloka about Bhaktivinoda Thakur. I had shown him the poem and it had greatly pleased him. At that time Srauti Maharaja was his secretary; Prabhupada would dictate and Srauti Maharaja would write letters on his behalf. That day a letter had come from Bon Maharaja in England that showed knowledge of some confidential information. Prabhupada asked who had supplied Bon Maharaja with this information. Srauti Maharaja answered, "Prabhupada, you yourself wrote this news to him." Prabhupada replied, "No, no, no. I did not write this thing to Bon Maharaja." Srauti Maharaja humbly replied, "But Prabhupada, you dictated the letter and I wrote it. I remember. You were giving this news to him." Again Prabhupada said, "No, I don't remember." When I heard this, I just remarked, "Vyaso vetti na vetti va" and Prabhupada laughed.
Paramananda Brahmacari, one of Prabhupada's most intimate disciples, was also there, serving as his personal assistant. He said, "Shridharah sakalam vetti-but Shridhara Maharaja knows everything." And then I replied, "Shri-nrsimha-paramananda-prasadatah-By the mercy of Paramananda."
In this way things may come down through the acharya to grace others. Mahaprabhu says to Sanatana Goswami, "I feel the grace of Krishna flowing through Me to you. I do not know all these things, they are not Mine." This is why it is said, vyaso vetti na vetti va. The Vyasa who has written Bhagavatam may or may not know its meaning. It is coming from others through him. This is sometimes possible, but not always. Krishna is so independent. All glories to His independence. And we are His servants. What responsibility is with us, His instruments? He may act in whatever way He wills. Everything is going on according to His will; and if He wills otherwise, things will happen in another way. Everything is part of His lila. The Absolute is lilamaya. Lila is the continuous and irresistable flow of ananda, supreme bliss.
Once the Vyasa Puja, that is the birth ceremony of our Guru Maharaja, was celebrated in the Cuttack Math. Many important local citizens had been invited, including the father of Netaji Subhash Candra Bose, Janaki Bose, who was a leading attorney in Cuttack at that time. All these people had all taken their seats on a carpet on the floor, whereas Prabhupada had been given a throne to take his seat. In his address, Prabhupada said, "I am being given so much honor, garments, then worship, sandalwood, and flowers. Many nice things are being read about me here in my presence. And I am accepting this worship before so many members of the town's elite. Even a beast in the zoo would be ashamed to accept such honors, such respect, in front of so many gentlemen. Should I too not be ashamed? Why then am I accepting them? In fact, I accept them only on behalf of my guru, to show that he deserves this honor. This honor is for my guru and I accept it only to send it on to him. I am nothing without my guru. I am being worshipped because I have received his words, his advice. I am being honored because I have followed his directions, otherwise I would not. Therefore, though it is humiliating and causes me much heartache, I still accept these honors to show his exalted position."
On another such occasion, Prabhupada delivered a speech to his disciples and friends in which he began by saying, "Oh my friends who are delivering me from great danger." He was addressing his disciples, "You have come to deliver me from great danger. You have come to save me. You are so many extensions of my guru. The position of those who come to hear about Krishna is not lower than that of the speaker. Your presence is a sign that you have received grace, sukrti, and that you possess love for Krishna. You have all come to help me in my way of realizing Krishna. You are all my friends and helpers. You have come to rescue me from a dangerous position."
This is how Prabhupada began his address. How very beautifully, skillfully and harmoniously he presented the philosophy, the ontological aspect-what is what. What is the position of guru? The guru is a servant of the disciple. Externally, the disciples are seen to be servants, but internally we consider the guru to be the servant of all his disciples. He tries to make them fit for the service of Krishna. Just as when we go to the temple to clean and arrange things so that it will be acceptable to Krishna, so the guru is also serving so many persons so that they may become fit to serve Krishna.
Not only that, but the guru goes even further. He says, "I am in danger. You have all come to give me some engagement. You are forcing me to engage in His service by talking about Him. You are helping me engage in the culture of the soul. You are coming to save me.
"The knowledge of Krishna has no limits; it is infinite. The search for Krishna can never be finished, so you cannot rest. You cannot say that you have come so far and now only a few more miles are left before you will finally get Krishna once and for all. No, it is not like that! Our search for Krishna is like swimming in an unlimited ocean, and you have come to encourage me in my movement toward Krishna. You are so many friends who have come to rescue me in this ocean of Krishna love and Krishna knowledge. We are joined together in our search for Him."
When I was in Madras, Prabhupada's Vyasa Puja took place at the Chaitanya Math in Mayapur. Professor Sannyal had written an article in English for the occasion in which he wrote, "I do not know Krishna, but because you tell me that I am to worship Krishna, I do it." I could not understand the meaning of this statement, the internal meaning. I could not help but wonder why he had said this? Three or four years later, an incident occurred at Radha Kund that helped me to understand. Paramananda Brahmachari came to Prabhupada and reported that the Diwan of Bharatpur state, with the whole of his family, was circumambulating Radha Kund by prostrating himself on the ground and measuring and then again lying on the ground and measuring. Paramananda Prabhu told Prabhupada with much ardour, "They have so much esteem for Radharani." Prabhupada then came out from his inner quarters and said, "Yes, but their concern for Radharani and our concern for Radharani are quite different. They come to Radharani because She is Krishna's favorite; but our position is the opposite: we worship Krishna because He is Radharani's favorite. Our interest in Radharani is that Krishna is Her favorite."
At that time I could understand what Professor Sannyal had written. Then later I read that some jivas are born out of Baladeva's anga-jyoti, the brahmajyoti, the non-distinguishable divine halo. That is the foundation where some of us get our birth. Some have connection with Baladeva's anga-jyoti, but others have got their birth from the halo of Radharani and her group. These souls have a direct connection with Radharani. She is their mistress and so they necessarily follow whatever She does. For this reason Prabhupada told us that we are really Shaktas-worshipers of God's potency. Not Shaktas like the worshipers of Durga, but suddha-sakta. The real, original potency, Krishna's dedicating moiety, is in Vraja. Both direct and indirect connections with Krishna come through Her. This is Radha's position. We heard all these things from Prabhupada.
This is also the significance of the sannyasa-mantra. In ordinary mantras, a direct connection with Krishna is established, but in the sannyasa-mantra, our spiritual connection is shown to be with the gopis. That is Radha-dasya. That is above Krishna-dasya. The purport, the gist of the sannyasa-mantra is gopi-dasya.
Once a senior Maharaja repeated to me something that Prabhupada had said. It was a circumstantial remark that this Maharaja wanted to utilize in a universal way. But I objected in the following way. I said, "Prabhupada made this statement, therefore it is correct. But you are not placing it in context; it is not the whole thing. He also said other things, so we have to harmonize everything he said. We cannot ignore the other aspects of his teaching. We have to come to an adjustment that is a systematic understanding of his words."
This Maharaja had laid stress on only one particular point, one partial aspect of Prabhupada's teaching. He wanted to take that particular point and nothing beyond it. We must seek a systematic understanding of the goal. Systematic knowledge is knowledge proper.
There are many different types of disciples under the guidance of every guru, but not all are necessarily of equal character. Their natures may be quite different. One person will be able to understand some points, another will grasp something more, and yet another will understand even more. In this way there may be a gradation among the disciples. The main thing is faithfulness, to die for the cause. Die to live.
Simplicity means to be free from prejudice. That is what it means to be simple: to be empty, to be dispossessed, to be in the null position, to be clear. To be free of all possessions-that is simplicity.
There are two things that must be understood: what is form and what is substance. Ignorance of these is the main obstacle to our progress. Sva-dharme nidhanam sreyah, para-dharmo bhayavahah. Progress means to deal with the difficulties presented by form and substance. It is sometimes necessary to make progress by sticking to one's formal position. If advancement is not sure, if there is any doubt of progress, then it is judicious to take the formal position. But, in fact that is no progress by holding back. Progress means leaving the former position and going on to something else. Only one who is hopeful of a brighter future should leave his formal position and go and advance. Those who are of a doubtful or suspicious mentality would be better off sticking to their already consolidated foundation and taking a stand there.
During the time of my Guru Maharaja, there were many who did not take sannyasa. Later on, however, they found they could go more speedily towards the goal by taking sannyasa. To take sannyasa means to take a risk. To take a risk means to make further progress. One who takes risks is prepared for further progress. So, should he remain in the same position he held in the time of Guru Maharaja? Should he stick to that position? Or is it more desirable for him to try for perfect progress? If he decides to choose in favor of making advancement, he will have so many new insights as well as having to reject so many of the old.
According to his own progress, the devotee cannot but see that some things are to be kept back and others to be to invited to the forefront. This is what it means to go nearer, to make progress. We should have some sort of approximate knowledge of what is good, what is bad, what is Krishna, what is non-Krishna, and that will be realized more and more: "Oh, I could not detect this, but now I feel that this is also a valuable point in the light of the Krishna conception. In this way, realization and advancement come. But one should not leave his former position without being sure of his progress: sva-dharme nidhanam sreyah para-dharmo bhayavahah. I must not take risks for something that is not my own. But when I do find that it is indeed my own, even though it may be a little far, I must take the leap. I will think, "My inner hankering has been searching for that thing alone. Now it is within my reach, so I must jump and take it."
It all depends on our sincerity and our proper understanding. Na hi kalyana-krt kascid durgatim tata gacchati. Sometimes we may fall down, but we will be able to understand that such things are not desirable. We will think, "These desires are hunting me; for the time being they have even captured me, but after a while they will vanish." When they do, we will think, "Oh, what suddenly came and overpowered me? My real self-interest has been hampered. I must not allow myself to be affected by them again. I must be very alert."
In this way, sometimes the lower propensities may get the upper hand and so we go down, and sometimes we may go up. We are always in the midst of battle; we are soldiers, always fighting for progress. Gaura Haribol, Gaura Haribol!
My Divine Master by B P Puri Goswami
by Shrila Bhakti Promode Puri Goswami Maharaja
A poem written on the occasion of Prabhupada Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur's thirty-second disappearance day (1968)
eke eke dvatrimsad varsa gata-praya
pravesa karecha nitya yugala-lilaya
Prabhupada! One by one, nearly thirty-two years have gone by since you entered the eternal pastimes of the Divine Couple.
vraja-yuva-dvandva jabe nisi-avesese
gadha samaslista hana mahapremavese
At that moment, it was the end of night when Radha and Krishna were locked in the profound embrace of ecstatic love.
rasaraja-mahabhava donhara milana
shri gaura-nitya-lila jahe karaye sucana
The time of your departure reveals that you entered into the pastimes of Gauranga, the united form, of the King of Sacred Rapture and the Manifestation of Supreme Love.
sekale se-lila-rase haiya magana
audarya-pradhana madhurya kara asvadana
You thus became immersed in relishing the pastime of Krishna that combines sweetness with the predominating spirit of munificence.
madhurya-pradhana audarya shri-krishna-lilaya
kata chala kari krishna radhare kandaya
The characteristic of Krishna's pastimes is munificence with a predominating spirit of sweetness. In those pastimes, Krishna finds so many different ways to make Radharani cry.
lukaye radhara prema kare asvadana
rni mani apanare karaye cintana
Then Krishna hides to watch and relish Radha's love. Thinking Himself a debtor, Krishna began to think:
pranaya mahima radhara aha kiba hana
radhasvadya man-madhurya taha va kemana
"How can I ever understand the glories of Radha's feelings for Me? And how can I come to know my own sweetness in the way that She does?
ki sukha payena radhara taha asvadiya
e-tine visaye lubdha haila syama-hiya
"And how much happiness does Radha Herself enjoy by loving Me?" These three desires awoke in Syamasundara's heart.
visayera bhave vancha nahibe purana
tai asrayera bhava krishna karila grahana
"As long as I have taken the attitude that I am the object of Her love, I will never be able to experience Her feeling." So thinking, Krishna took the nature of the reservoir of loving feeling, Radha.
janama labhiya navadvipa-mayapure
In this mood, Krishna took birth as the son of Saci in Nabadwip Mayapur in His form as the Golden Avatar.
kandila radhara bhave kanha krishna bali
uchalila prema-banya bhasila sakali
He spent His life crying like Radha, wondering where Krishna had gone, and a flood of love of God flowed from Him, immersing everyone in the world.
cabbisa vatsara sesa chari grhavasa
calila shri-nilacale kariya sannyasa
After twenty-four years, He renounced householder life and went to Puri where He took sannyasa.
chaya-vatsara tirtha sthane gatagati kaila
athara vatsara dhari shri-ksetre rahila
For six years he wandered throughout India, visiting many holy places of pilgrimage. Then the last eighteen years of His life He spent in Jagannatha Puri.
tathi madhye chaya varsa bhakta-saha mili
rathayatra adi lila dekhila sakali
Of those eighteen years, the first six were spent in meeting His devotees and participating in the Rathayatra and other devotional festivals.
sesa je dvadasa vatsara gambhira madhyete
svarupa-ramaraya sane rahe divyonmade
In the last twelve years of His life, living in the Gambhira, he went deeper and deeper into divine madness in the company of Svarupa Damodara and Ramananda Raya.
vipralambha-rasavese radha-bhave gaura
nilacale sindhu-tate kandila pracura
Gaura remained in the mood of Radharani, overcome by the mood of separation, crying profusely on the shores of the ocean at Puri.
"kanha krishna prananatha murali-vadana
kanha jan kanha pan vrajendranandana
kahare kahiba vyatha keba jane duhkha
vrajendra-nandana binu phate mora buka"
He would call out: "Where is the Lord of My life, Krishna, the flute player? What can I do to find Him? Where is the son of Maharaja Nanda? To whom can I talk of My distress? Who would understand Me? Without the son of Nanda Maharaja, My heart splits in two." (CC 2.2.15-16)
sambhogapeksa vipralambhe adhika madhuri
taha asvadite tumi janamila puri
Knowing that there is more sweetness in the mood of separation than in union, O Prabhupada, you took birth to relish this mood in Puri.
bara-sata-asi banga-abde sindhu-tate
shri-jagannatha-mandirera ati sannikate
The year was 1287 of the Bengali era and the place was by the seashore, near the temple of Lord Jagannatha.
maghi krishna-pancami gurubara aparahne
It was the afternoon of a Thursday in the month of Magha, the fifth day of the darkening fortnight. The atmosphere was charged with the chanting of Holy Names that filled the house where you were born.
hayecha udaya prabho bhaktera grhe
bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu jetha sahajei bahe
When you appeared in the house of a devotee, a river of ecstatic devotional rapture flowed profusely.
shri-maha-prasade tava mukhyanna-prasana
(ajanma) prasadanna vina kichu na kaile grahana
Your first solid food was the maha-prasada of Lord Jagannatha, and indeed, from your very birth, you never ate anything but Krishna prasada.
tava avirbhava-grha-dvare jagannatha
ratha rakhi rahilena tina divarata
During the Rathayatra festival, Jagannatha's chariot stopped before your house for a full three days and nights.
shri-bhaktivinoda tabe kaila ayojana
dina-traya haila tatha mahasankirtana
Your father Bhaktivinoda Thakur organized a great sankirtana festival for that three-day period.
tathi-madhye ekadina matr-kroda-sayi
san-masa-vayaska sisu uthi rathopari
On one of those days, though you were just a child of six months and still being carried in your mother's arms, you somehow clambered up the chariot.
prabhura prasadi mala karile grahana
There you embraced Lord Jagannatha's lotus feet and took one of His prasadi garlands.
janma hate dasa-masa rahi puri-dhame
banga-dese asi raha mata-pita sane
When you were ten months old, your mother and father took you with them back to Bengal.
sisu-kala hate tava krishna gadha-mati
dekhi matr-pitr-mana ullasita ati
When they saw your deep attachment for worshiping Krishna even as a child, they were overjoyed.
vidya anuraga tava kiba adbhuta
siksaka-svajana-gane kaila camakita
Your extraordinary pleasure in learning amazed both your teachers and family.
shriramapure sthiti-kale shri-bhaktivinoda
dekhi tava krishna-nama bhajane pramoda
While you were living in Shri Ramapura, Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakur was delighted to see how much you enjoyed chanting the Holy Names.
puri hate anaiya tulasira mala
japibare mahamantra upadesa dila
So he brought you a rosary made of tulasi wood back from Puri and instructed you in chanting the Maha-mantra.
shri-nrsimha-mantra-raja-o dilena tomare
bhakti-vighna-vinasite jinho sakti dhare
He also gave you the great mantra for worshiping Nrsimhadeva; it contains the potency to destroy all obstacles on the path of devotion.
shri-chaitanya-siksamrta paralena toma
dekhilena bodha-sakti tava anupama
When he recognized your unparallelled power of comprehension, your father gave you lessons in Vaishnava theology from his book, Chaitanya-siksamrta.
grha-bhitti jei kale haila khanana
(tat-kale) kurma-deva-murti eka halena prakasita
taha dekhi hale prabhu kata harasita
When foundations were being dug for the Bhakti Bhavan in Calcutta's Ram Bagan neighborhood, a deity of Kurma Deva was found. O Master, you were ecstatic to see the Deity appear in this way.
pujibare sei murti hala tava mana
taha jani bhaktivinoda anandita hana
You desired to worship this deity and this greatly pleased your father, Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakur.
puja-mantra puja-vidhi upadesa dila
yatha-vidhi sei murti pujite lagila
He thus gave you the mantra for worshiping the Kurma deity as well as instructions about what to do. You began to worship the deity according to the rules.
tilakadi sadacara sisukala hate
paliyacha tumi prabho bhakti-puta cite
O Prabhu, from your early childhood you accepted the practices of the Vaishnavas, such as wearing tilak, with a mind purified by devotion.
nitya-siddha tumi prabho sadhane jatana
loka-siksa tare sudhu kaila prakatana
You are an eternally perfect being, so the external efforts you made at practicing devotional service were simply for setting an example for the rest of us.
(thakura) shri-bhaktivinoda-krta bhakti-grantha jata
parecha sakali tanra haiya anugata
You read all of Thakur Shri Bhaktivinoda's books on devotion, as well as following in his footsteps in other ways.
mahajana-viracita aro grantha sata
adhyayana adhyapana kariyacha kata
You also carefully studied and taught the many hundreds of other books written by great authorities on spiritual life.
prupha-ridin adi karya sikhi sisu hate
thakurera sahayata kaila bhala mate
Even when you were a little boy, the Thakur taught you how to proofread and to assist him in other ways in the publication work.
grantha patrikadi jata pracare tanhara
seva-buddhye sahayata karecha apara
In this way you helped him publish many books and journals, doing all these things in a spirit of service.
kata asirvada tinho karechena toma
guru-sevadarsa prabho tomate upama
The Thakur thus blessed you immeasurably and you set the standard by which everyone can compare their own service to the spiritual master.
jyotirvidyaya tava advitiyadhikara
vidvad-varenya sabe haila camatkara
Your knowledge of astrology was incomparable. Everyone was amazed at your mastery of various fields of learning.
atyalpa vayasa dekhi apurva pratibha
sabe bale e-balaka asamanya keba
Even while you were very young, people were astonished to see your numerous talents and would say, "There is no one like this boy anywhere."
mahabhagavata guru sakale tomare
shri-siddhanta-sarasvati upadhi vitare
Your masters recognized that you would become a Mahabhagavata spiritual master and thus gave you the title Shri Siddhanta Sarasvati.
unavimsa-sata astadasa khrsta abde
tridanda-sannyasa jabe laila sastra mate
takhana se shri-bhaktisiddhanta sarasvati
namete haila sarva jagatete khyati
In 1918, when you took tridanda-sannyasa according to scriptural injunctions, you changed this name to Shri Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati, by which you became famous throughout the world.
parivrajakacarya-rupe bharata bhramila
shri-chaitanya-candrera vani visve bilaila
Then you became a parivrajakacarya and travelled throughout India, preaching the message of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to the world.
tomara shri-mukha-vani suni bhagyavan
druta asi lailena shri-carane sthana
So many fortunate persons who heard you quickly came and took shelter at your lotus feet.
shri-bhaktivinoda thakurera pratisthita
shri-visva-vaishnava-sabha kaile ujjivita
You enlivened the World Vaishnava Association (Visva Vaishnava Raja Sabha) that Bhaktivinoda Thakur had established.
ai sabhaya haita patha prati rabibare
Every Sunday in that assembly, the Thakur lectured, extracting the devotional ambrosia from that great ocean of Rupa Goswami's Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu.
shri-bhaktivinoda thakura karitena vyakhya
satya satya uchalita amrta-sindhu tatha
When Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakur explained this book, an ocean of nectar truly overflowed.
prabho tumi sei grantha bahi anite sabhaya
basiya sunite sastra ekanta hiyaya
Prabhu, you would carry the book into the assembly and then sit down and listen attentively.
krishna-bhakta-sange sada krishna-katha range
rahiya bhesecha sada premera tarange
Thus you enjoyed listening to Krishna katha in the company of devotees, floating in the waves of ecstatic love.
skula-pathya-grantha saba pari alpa-ksane
bhakti-grantha pathemana diyacha nirjane
You went through all your schoolbooks very quickly and then spent the greater part of your time secretly studying devotional literature.
jyotisa-sastrete chila prabalanuraga
bhakti-badha haya bali taha kaila tyaga
You also were extremely interested in studying astrology, but finally you gave it up as an obstacle to pure devotion.
shri-bhaktivinoda thakura-mahasaya sane
bhramiyacha bahu-tirtha krishna-anvesane
With Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakur you travelled to many holy places, engaged in the search for Krishna.
shri-bhaktivinoda thakura-ajna anusare
atimartya caritra eka avadhuta bare
Then, being instructed by Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakur, you received the blessings of an avadhuta of extraordinary character.
bhagavati diksa labha guru-rupe bari
(tad-asraye) nirvinna haiya bhaja girivara-dhari
You accepted him as your guru and received Bhagavati initiation, whereupon you became even more detached from material life and began to worship the Lord of Govardhana.
ekante bandhiya kuti bhaja avirame
In Mayapur, at the site of Candrasekhara's house, you built a thatched cottage where you lived all alone, worshiping the Lord without repose.
tina laksa nama laha bahu artti kari
You followed the example set by Haridasa Thakur, feelingly chanting three lakhs of Holy Names every day.
caturmasya-vrata-kale kathora vairagya
paliya bhajecha krsne kari nama-yajna
You took up the intense asceticism of the Caturmasya vow, worshiping Krishna in the sacrifice of the Holy Name.
sata-koti mahamantra karecha kirtana
bhumete gograse havisya karecha grahana
You chanted a billion Holy Names in that period, eating only unspiced gruel from the ground without using your hands.
anya-vakyalapa nahi krishna-nama binu
aharnisa caksu-jale bhasiyache tanu
You never used your tongue to say anything other than the Holy Names. Day and night, tears washed over your entire body.
adarsa bhajana-cesta dekhiya tomara
hayeche vismita sabe jangama sthavara
All living beings, both moving and unmoving, were astonished at your exemplary method of worshiping the Supreme Lord.
(shri)-rupanuga gaura-sakti shri-bhaktivinoda
(shri)-gaura-mano'bhista-sevaya sada janra moda
Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakur is the potency of Shri Gauranga following Rupa Goswami. His only pleasure in life was in the service of establishing Mahaprabhu's mission in this world.
gaura-dese gaura-janma-sthana nirupila
nirmatsara gaura-jana anande matila
He designated the birthplace of Mahaprabhu in His abode of Nabadwip. This gave great pleasure to the non-envious devotees of Lord Gauranga.
(shri)-jagannatha-dasa tatha shri-gaura-kisora
nitya-siddha gaura-jana nitya-parikara
Jagannatha dasa Babaji and Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji were eternal associates of Lord Chaitanya. They are eternally perfect.
sabe mili eka-vakye kahe tara-svare
gaurangera janma-sthane ei mayapure
These great saints and others joined together to loudly proclaim that Gauranga's birthplace was indeed here in Mayapur.
ei sei supracina nadiya-nagari
saparsade jatha lila kaila gaura-hari
This is the site of the ancient city of Nabadwip and it is here that Gaurahari and His eternal companions performed their pastimes.
sarasvati bhagirathi sangama sthanete
gaura-grha haya ballala-dighika nikate
Mahaprabhu's home stands at the confluence of the Sarasvati and the Bhagirathi Rivers, near the tank dug by King Ballal Sen.
ekhano rayeche cihna ballala-dighira
dhvamsa-sthupa virajita ballala-batira
The signs of Ballal's tank and the ruins of His palace can still be found there.
kajira samadhi ai ta rahe avidure
(kata) pracina kahini kahe mauna-mudra dhare
Not very far from this spot is the tomb of Chand Kazi. How many stories from the past this land could tell us if only it could speak!
sei ta chinmaya-dhama chinmaya-saundarya
sei ta gauranga-lilara chinmaya-madhurya
This land is completely spiritual and its beauty is completely spiritual, just as Gauranga's pastimes possess a completely spiritual sweetness.
apamare prema-dana apurva audarya
saba ache nahi mora bhajana-caturya
Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's munificence in giving love of God cannot be compared to anything else. All this potential for spiritual perfection exists, but I am not clever enough to make the most of it.
tai bhagya-hina ami bujhite narinu
premera thakura gaura haya na bhajinu
Therefore, I am the most unfortunate soul and have not been able to understand. Alas! I have not worshiped the God of Divine Love, Shri Gauranga.
adyapi ta gaurahari dubahu tuliya
nacichena hari bali premete matiya
Even today, Gaurahari raises His arms in the air and dances there, intoxicated with the ecstasy of love and shouting, "Haribol!"
nije kandi kandaiche sarvanari-nare
vitariche vraja-prema giya ghare ghare
He himself cried tears of love and he made every man and woman cry with him. He went from door to door, distributing the gifts of Vraja prema.
tava krpa vina prabho kon jiva chara
se mahavadanya-lila dekhibe gorara
What insignificant jiva can see the most munificent pastimes of Gaurahari without your mercy, O Master!
visaya-dhulaya andha jahara nayana
kirupe dekhibe sei tava prana-dhana
How can one whose vision has been blinded by the dust of sense desire expect to see your treasure of divine love?
gaura-krpa-sakti tumi gaura-nija-jana
gaura-dhama gaura-nama tomara jivana
You are the manifestation of Gauranga's compassionate potency, you are His personal associate. The name and abode of Shri Gauranga are your life and soul.
tumi janre krpa kari deha divya-netra
gaura-lila nirakhite tinho yogya patra
Whoever you mercifully give divine sight becomes qualified to see the pastimes of Lord Gauranga.
nirvyalika haye tava carane sarana
narinu labhite tai adhanya jivana
I have not been able to take shelter of your lotus feet without any ulterior motivation. My life is thus most unfortunate.
ayogya adhame krpa kara dayamaya
amayaya abhagare tani laha paya
O most compassionate one! Please be merciful to this unqualified and fallen soul. Without guile, drag this luckless servant to your feet.
tabe ta haibe dhanya ei abhajana
samarpibe o carana kaya-prana-mana
Then I will be blessed, and though I am unworthy, I will surrender myself body, mind and soul to your lotus feet.
sebibe parana bhari o-pada-kamala
daiksya-janma tabe tare haibe saphala
I will then serve those feet with all my life's energy. In this way, my life as your initiated disciple will bear fruit.
shri-guru-prasada vina shri-krishna-prasada
kichu nahi haya aro ghataye pramada
Without the mercy of the spiritual master, Krishna's mercy is an impossibility. One simply commits errors on the spiritual path.
prasanna haile guru sarva-siddhi haya
gaura-krishna-krpa tanre haya suniscaya
If the guru is satisfied with his disciple, then all perfections are possible. Without any doubt, Gaura and Krishna's mercy will be showered on him.
suddha-bhakti-siksa-data sad-guru jagate
bara-i durlabha vastu milaye bhagyete
The genuine spiritual master in this world gives instruction on pure devotional service. Such a rare thing can only come to someone if he is exceedingly fortunate.
hena ratna paiyao jei ajna-nara
(jara)-visaye bhuliya tanre kare anadara
And yet some ignorant people possess this rare jewel and still forget about it or ignore it, concentrating on material sense gratification instead.
bhagya-hina keba ara ache tara sama
sudha chari visa mage se bhranta adhama
Who is more wretched than such a person? This fool is so confused that he rejects the ambrosia of the gods and begs for poison.
hena guru-pada-padme haye-o ashrita
gaura-prema-rasasvade haila vancita
Though I have taken shelter of such a genuine spiritual master's lotus feet, I have been deprived of the taste of sacred rapture as given by Mahaprabhu.
gurv-atma-daivata haiya bhagavata-dharma
suniya sikhaye jei sarva-sastra-marma
One who makes his spiritual master the worshipable deity of his soul and listens to the instruction on Bhagavata Dharma from him learns the true purport of all the scriptures.
aikantiki bhakti-saha gaura-krishna bhaje
shri-guru-krpaya sei prema-rase maje
He worships Gaura and Krishna with exclusive devotion and, by the spiritual master's mercy, becomes immersed in the delights of ecstatic love.
guru-krta upakara smariya satata
shri-guru-carane priti haya to vardhita
As he constantly remembers the good the spiritual master has done for him, his love for him also increases.
priti jata gadha haya barhaye mamata
guru-seva lagi prane jage vyakulata
As this love strengthens, his attachment also becomes stronger and he becomes anxious to serve the spiritual master.
(takhana) ksanekera adarsana sahite na pare
guru-pada-padma smari sada ankhi jhare
Then, he can no longer tolerate even a moment in the guru's absence. Whenever he remembers the guru's lotus feet, his eyes fill with tears.
shri-guru-mahima kare satata smarana
guru-mukha-vakya citte karaye milana
He always remembers the resplendence of the guru and absorbs his words into his spirit.
guru-mano'bhista seva vina nahi jane
guru prita hale mane sarthaka jivane
He knows nothing but the service of the spiritual master's desires. He considers his life to be perfected if he can only please his spiritual master.
gurudeva jaha nahi basitena bhala
taha tinho kabhu nahi smare ksana-kala
The devoted disciple never thinks for a moment of anything the gurudeva does not like.
viraha-tithira puja sei jana kare
shri-guru-vihane jara hrdaya vidare
When the disciples gather to worship the spiritual master on the day of his disappearance, this disciple feels his heart tear into pieces in his separation.
dhyana jnana sarvasva jahara guru-pada
guru-priti mane jei parama-sampada
nija labha-puja-khyati svapne-o na caya
shri-guru-mahima vrddhi satata cintaya
dvesa-himsa-matsarya nahi mane janra
shri-guru-sevake mane manya apanara
He for whom the spiritual master's lotus feet are the object of meditation, all he knows and all he possesses, who takes the spiritual master's pleasure to be his supreme achievement, who does not endeavor for his own profit, adoration or prestige, even in dreams, and who only thinks of how to spread the fame of his spiritual master, who has not the slightest amount of hatred, jealousy or envy in his heart, and who reveres all other servants of his spiritual master, thinks:
shri-guru-dasanudasa muni bhrtyadhama
amara prabhura bhakta sakale uttama
"I am the servant of my guru's servants, the most insignificant of his lackeys, and all of my spiritual master's devotees are eminently qualified;
ami tanhadera dasa-anudasa hana
seviba shri-guru-pada parana bhariya
"I will simply follow them in their footsteps and serve my spiritual master's lotus feet with all my life energy."
guru-vakya eka asraya-vigrahanugatye
sabe mile mise seva kara eka citte
Prabhupada! Your last instructions were as follows: "Thus following in the footsteps of the reservoir of devotion for the Lord, and concentrating on the instructions of the spiritual master, all of you should work together to serve him.
(shri)-rupa-prabhu-pada-dhuli modera svarupa
raganuga cinta-srotah pravahita hauk
"Our eternal identity is to be specks of dust at the lotus feet of Shri Rupa Goswami. May the stream of raganuga bhakti flow forever.
sapta-jihva krishna-sankirtana-yajna prati
anuraga haile habe sarva artha-siddhi
"If we have enthusiasm for the seven-flamed fire of the sacrifice of Krishna sankirtana, then all purposes of life will be achieved.
rupanuga-jana-anugatya kari sada
rupa-raghunatha vani pracara sarvatha
"Follow in the footsteps of those who are disciples of Rupa Goswami and preach the message of Rupa and Raghunatha in any way that you can.
bhaktivinoda-dhara kabhu ruddha nahi habe
bhaktivinoda-mano'bhista sada pracaribe
"The disciplic succession coming down from Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakur will never be put to a stop. Always preach that which was close to his heart.
anuraga va viraga-patra keha nahi bhave
(jagatika) akarsana-vikarsanatita hate habe
"No one in this world is worthy of your love or hate. You must transcend material attractions and repulsions.
tahe laksya sthira rakhi japibe jivana
"The true goal of life is service to the lotus feet of Krishna. Keep that aim clearly in your mind as you go through life.
ekoddesye aikatane avasthita haye
mulasraya-vigraha seva jatana kariye
"Keeping this single purpose in mind and working together, make the effort to serve the original reservoir of love for Krishna, Shrimati Radharani.
vipada ganjana sata sata lanchanaya
kabhu nahi teyagibe shri-hari-sevaya
"Let hundreds of dangers, insults or persecutions come, but despite them, do not ever give up your worship of Krishna.
trnapeksa hina sahisnu taru-sama
amani manada haye labe krishna-nama
"Always chant the Holy Name while more humble than the grass, as tolerant as the tree, respectful of all others and not desirous of any respect for yourself."
dayamaya prabhupada tava sesa vakya
karitechi anadara kari matanaikya
O most compassionate Shrila Prabhupada! These were your last words. I have not given myself sufficiently to following them and I even hold different opinions.
tumi krpa kari modera hrdaye basiya
tavajna palana karao sakti sancariya
Please be merciful to me and take up residence in our hearts. Give us strength so that we may follow your instructions.
tava yaso-gatha gahi sakale miliya
tava mano'bhista sevi eka-citta hana
May we all come together to sing your glories. May we be of one mind in serving your mission.
shri-chaitanya-vani visve kariya pracara
tava sukha sadhi ei hauka vicara
May we only seek to bring you pleasure by preaching Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's message throughout the world.
tava krti sisya madhye ami to adhama
sikhaye saranagati karahe uttama
So many disciples of your disciples have become accomplished; I am the most insignificant of your disciples. Please teach me how to surrender so that I may also transcend the darkness of this material world.
lekhani-dharane sakti deha he amare
krishna-karsna guna jena pari barnibare
Give me the strength to take up the pen, so that I may glorify Krishna and His devotees in writing.
jihvaya sphurao vani kanthe uccasvara
guru-gaura-krishna-guna gahi nirantara
May the message of the Lord always appear on my tongue; may I loudly sing the qualities of the guru, Gauranga and Krishna.
pranavan bhakta-mukhe shri-krishna-kirtana
sunite agraha prabho kaila prakatana
Krishna's names and glories can be sung by a devotee who is filled with life. O Master! You showed eagerness to hear such kirtana.
kintu je saranagati bhaktera prana
kotha paba sei prana ki gahiba gana
But where will I learn to take shelter and thus find this life so that I may effectively sing your glories?
tabe jadi prabho more pranavan kara
prana-hina saba-dehe sakati-sancara
tabe ta gahite pari krishna-guna-gatha
sukhi hate para suni pranavanta katha
If then, O Master, you fill me with divine life; if you fill this lifeless body with power and then I will be able to sing Krishna's glories. May I be able to make you joyful by reciting for you with life-filled discussions of Krishna.
tasmai shri-gurave namah
My eyes were blinded by the darkness of ignorance. I offer my obeisances to the spiritual master who has opened my eyes with the collyrium of knowledge.
namas te gaura-vani-shri-
My obeisances to you, O personified message of Gauranga Mahaprabhu, O deliverer of the most fallen. You eliminate the darkness of improper understanding of spiritual truth that goes against the teachings of Rupa Goswami and his followers.
Shrila Prabhupada used to say that Shrivasa Angana is the site of Mahaprabhu's Sankirtana-rasa dance. It is the equivalent of the Rasa-sthali in Mahaprabhu's lila. Mahaprabhu would lock the doors and spend the entire night with His associates, engaged in ecstatic kirtana. If we enter Shrivasa Angana, that divine site of the sankirtana-rasa, where the flames of the sankirtana-yajna have been lit, we must offer oblations into the seven flames of that sacrificial fire.
There Is Only One Guru by Shrila Prabhupada
by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja
Gentlemen, the offering of such a homage as has been arranged this evening to the Acharyadeva is not a sectarian concern, for when we speak of the fundamental principle of Gurudeva or Acharyadeva, we speak of something that is of universal application. There does not arise any question of discriminating my guru from yours or anyone else's. There is only one guru, who appears in an infinity of forms to teach you, me and all others.
In the Mundaka Upanishad (1.2.12) it is said:
tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet
samit-panih srotriyam brahma-nistham
"In order to learn the transcendental science, one must approach the bona fide spiritual master in disciplic succession, who is fixed in the Absolute Truth.''
Thus it has been enjoined herewith that in order to receive that transcendental knowledge, one must approach the guru. Therefore, if the Absolute Truth is one, about which we think there is no difference of opinion, the guru cannot be two. The Acharyadeva to whom we have assembled tonight to offer our humble homage is not the guru of a sectarian institution or one out of many differing exponents of the truth. On the contrary, he is the jagad-guru, or the guru of all of us, the only difference is that some obey him wholeheartedly, while others do not obey him directly. In the Bhagavatam (11.17.27) it is said:
acaryam mam vijaniyan
"One should understand the spiritual master to be as good as I am," said the Blessed Lord. "Nobody should be jealous of the spiritual master or think of him as an ordinary man, because the spiritual master is the sum total of all demigods." (SB 11.17.27)
That is, the acharya has been identified with God Himself. He has nothing to do with the affairs of this mundane world. He appears before us to reveal the light of the Vedas and to bestow upon us the blessing of full-fledged freedom, after which we should hanker at every step of our life's journey.
The transcendental knowledge of the Vedas was first uttered by God to Brahma, the creator of this particular universe. From Brahma the knowledge descended to Narada, from Narada to Vyasadeva, from Vyasadeva to Madhva, and in this process of disciplic succession the transcendental knowledge was transmitted by one disciple to another till it reached Lord Gauranga, Shri Krishna Chaitanya, who posed as the disciple and successor of Shri Isvara Puri. The present Acharyadeva is the tenth disciplic representative from Shri Rupa Goswami, the original representative of Lord Chaitanya who preached this transcendental tradition in its fullness. The knowledge that we receive from our Gurudeva is not different from that imparted by God Himself and the succession of the Acharyas in the preceptorial line of Brahma. We adore this auspicious day as Shri Vyasa-puja-tithi because the acharya is the living representative of Vyasadeva, the divine compiler of the Vedas, Puranas, Bhagavad-gita, Mahabharata and Shrimad Bhagavatam.
We cannot know anything of the transcendental region by our limited, perverted method of observation and experiment. But all of us can lend our eager ears for the aural reception of the transcendental sound transmitted from that region to this, through the unadulterated medium of Shri Gurudeva or Shri Vyasadeva. Therefore, gentlemen, we should surrender ourselves today at the feet of the representative of Shri Vyasadeva for the elimination of all our differences bred by our unsubmissive attitude. It is accordingly said in the Bhagavad-gita (4.34):
tad viddhi pranipatena
upadeksyanti te jnanam
"Just approach the wise and bona fide spiritual master. Surrender unto him first and try to understand him by inquiries and service. Such a wise spiritual master will enlighten you with transcendental knowledge, for he has already known the Absolute Truth." (Gita 4.34)
To receive transcendental knowledge, we must completely surrender ourselves to the real Acharya in a spirit of ardent inquiry and service. Actual performance of service to the Absolute under the guidance of the Acharya is the only vehicle by which we can assimilate transcendental knowledge. Today's meeting for offering our humble services and homage to the feet of the Acharyadeva will enable us to be favored with the capacity of assimilating the transcendental knowledge so kindly transmitted by him to all persons without distinction.
Gentlemen, although it is imperfectly that we have been enabled, by his grace, to understand the sublime messages of our Acharyadeva, we must admit that we have realized definitely that the divine message from his holy lips is the congenial thing for suffering humanity. All of us should hear him patiently. If we listen to the transcendental sound without unnecessary opposition, he will surely have mercy upon us. The Acharya's message is to take us back to our original home, back to God. Let me repeat, therefore, that we should hear him patiently, follow him in the measure of our conviction and bow down at his lotus feet for releasing us from our present causeless unwillingness for serving the Absolute and all souls.
Sitting at the feet of the Acharyadeva, let us try to understand from this transcendental source of knowledge what we are, what is this universe, what is God, and what is our relationship with Him. The message of Lord Chaitanya is the message for the living entities and the message of the living world. Lord Chaitanya did not bother himself for the upliftment of this dead world, which is suitably named Martyaloka, the world where everything is destined to die. He appeared before us four hundred and fifty years ago to tell us something of the transcendental universe, where everything is permanent and everything is for the service of the Absolute. But recently Lord Chaitanya has been misrepresented by some unscrupulous persons, and the highest philosophy of the Lord has been misinterpreted to be the cult of the lowest type of society. We are glad to announce tonight that our Acharyadeva, with his usual kindness, saved us from this horrible type of degradation, and therefore we bow down at his lotus feet with all humility.
We are happy that we have been relieved of this horrible type of malady by the mercy of His Divine Grace. He is our eye-opener, our eternal father, our eternal preceptor and our eternal guide. Let us therefore bow down at his lotus feet on this auspicious day.
Gentlemen, although we are like ignorant children in the knowledge of Transcendence, still, my Gurudeva has kindled a small fire within us to dissipate the invincible darkness of empirical knowledge. We are now so much on the safe side that no amount of philosophical argument by the empiric schools of thought can deviate us an inch from the position of our eternal dependence on the lotus feet of His Divine Grace.
Gentlemen, had he not appeared before us to deliver us from the thralldom of this gross, worldly delusion, surely we should have remained for lives and ages in the darkness of helpless captivity. Had he not appeared before us, we would not have been able to understand the eternal truth of the sublime teaching of Lord Chaitanya.
Personally, I have no hope for any direct service of the coming crores (millions) of births in the sojourn of my life, but I am confident that some day or other I shall be delivered from this mire of delusion in which I am at present so deeply sunk. Therefore let me with all my earnestness pray at the lotus feet of my divine master to allow me to suffer the lot for which I am destined due to my past misdoings, but to let me have this power of recollection: that I am nothing but a tiny servant of the Almighty Absolute Godhead, realized through the unflinching mercy of my divine master. Let me therefore bow down at his lotus feet with all the humility at my command.
The Mercy of Shri Radha by B P Puri Goswami
by Shrila Bhakti Promode Puri Goswami Maharaja
Lecture delivered by His Divine Grace on Jan. 4, 1997, at Dauji Mandir, Vrindavan
kanai balai tora duti bhai
patita janara bandhu
adhama patita ami he durgama
hao more krpa sindhu
"O Krishna, O Balarama, you two brothers are the friends of the most fallen. I am most lowly and fallen. I am in the most miserable situation, so please be an ocean of mercy towards me."
I fall prostrated in most sincere obeisances to all the devotees and residents of Vrindavan. I do this mentally because I can no longer prostrate myself physically before them. Please forgive me, I did not come here to give a speech. I have simply come here to ask you for your mercy. I am now in the very last part of my life. I only wish that I can spend the last few days of my life at the Queen of Vrindavan Shrimati Radharani's lotus feet.
Without the blessings of the devotees, it is impossible to receive Radharani's blessings, for it is said, "all perfections come through the mercy of the Vaishnavas"- vaisnavera krpa jahe sarva-siddhi. And furthermore, without Shrimati Radharani's blessings, I will not receive the mercy of Vrajendranandana. I will not receive the mercy of Krishna and Balarama.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura sang:
kabe shri-chaitanya more karibena daya
kabe ami paiba vaisnavera pada-chaya
gala-vastra krtanjali vaishnava-nikate
dante trna dhari danraiba niskapate
kandiya kandiya janaiba duhkha grama
samsara anala hate magiba visrama
suniya amara katha vaishnava thakura
ama lagi krsne avedibena pracura
vaisnavera avedane krishna dayamaya
mo-hena pamara prati habena sadaya
vinodera nivedana vaisnavera carane
krpa kari sange laha ei akincane
"When will Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu be merciful to me? When will I find shelter in the shade of a Vaishnava's lotus feet?
"I will approach the saint with a cloth around my neck in humility, my hands folded and with straw between my teeth. In this way I will stand before him and bare my soul to him.
"Crying, I will tell him of my suffering and beg him to release me from the fire of materialistic life.
"When he hears my story, the most merciful Vaishnava will intercede on my behalf to the Supreme Lord Krishna.
"When Krishna hears the Vaishnava's prayers on my behalf, He will be compassionate towards me, even though I am most unworthy and insignificant.
"Bhaktivinoda humbly submits to the Vaishnavas lotus feet: please be merciful and take this pitiful soul with you." (Kalyana-kalpataru)
This song shows that without the mercy of the Vaishnavas, nothing is possible. Therefore, it is important to ask for their blessings before doing anything else.
There is a saying:
apane icchaya jiva koti vancha kare
krishna iccha haya jadi tabe phala dhare
"An ordinary person may have millions of desires, but only if Krishna wishes do they bear fruit."
And Krishna's wishes follow behind those of His devotees. The Lord considers Himself subordinate to His devotees.
sadhavo hrdayam mahyam
sadhunam hrdayam tv aham
mad-anyat te na jananti
naham tebhyo manag api
He said to Durvasa, "All the saintly persons are My heart and I am also the heart of the saintly devotees. They know nothing other than Me and I consider no one but them to be My own." (SB 9.4.68)
Therefore I tell you that I am begging for the mercy of all the Vaishnavas. I am not a great lecturer. In my day to day life I may have committed so many offenses and I ask the Vaishnavas to kindly forgive me for these so that I may spend my last days here in Vrindavan, and that I may obtain the blessings of Radha and Govinda, the blessings of Govinda, Gopinatha and Madanamohana. I pray to you all that you bestow this kindness on me.
jaya radhe jaya krishna jaya vrndavana
shri govinda gopinatha madana-mohana
kesi ghata vamsi-bata dvadasa kanana
jahan saba lila kaila shri-nanda-nandana
shri nanda-yasoda jaya jaya gopa-gana
shridamadi jaya jaya dhenu-vatsa-gana
jaya vrsabhanu jaya kirtida sundari
jaya paurnamasi jaya abhira-nagari
jaya jaya gopisvara vrndavana majha
jaya jaya krishna-sakha batu dvija-raja
jaya rama-ghata jaya rohini-nandana
jaya jaya vrndavana-vasi jata jana
May you all be ever victorious. All of you please give me your blessings that I may stay here in the Dhama and pass my last days in sincerely chanting the Holy Names.
As Shrila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami said,
jagai madhai haite mui se papistha
purisera kita haite mui se laghistha
"I am more sinful than Jagai and Madhai. I am lower than a worm in stool." (CC 1.5.205)
I may make statements of humility in following the mahajanas, the great authorities, but if I don't experience genuine humility in my heart, it is simply an exercise in deception. Here at the end of my life, I have no desire to make any pretense of humility. I am no longer capable of giving a lecture, but all of you have spent a great amount of money to bring me here and have made opulent arrangements for me here. I pray for your well-being. And I pray that by accepting all this, not the least bit of egoism will affect me.
ami ta vaishnava ei buddhi haile
amani na haba ami
pratisthasa asi hrdaya dusibe
"If I think that I have become a Vaishnava then I will never be prideless. The desire for prestige will descend on my heart and contaminate it and I will go to hell."
O dear Vaishnavas, please protect me. I am sitting here above all of you. Please don't take offense at this. I have not taken this seat and made you sit below me because I desire to lord it over you.
From the words of the mahajanas, we have heard,
shri gauda-mandala-bhumi jeba jane cintamani
tara haya vraja-bhume vasa
"Anyone who knows the land of Gauda to be made of the divine touchstone truly resides in the land of Vraja." (Narottama dasa)
We cannot take up residence in Vraja by abandoning Gauda-mandala. So it is not enough to come here to Vrindavan and simply spend one's time in eating the local milk sweets or ice cream. It is not the purpose of life in Vrindavan to try to enjoy sense-objects or anything other than service to Krishna. Residence in Vrindavan means to take the dust of the Vaishnavas' feet, to follow in the footsteps of the great Vaishnavas and to chant the Holy Names.
guru vaishnava bhagavan tinera smarana
tinera smarane haya vighna-vinasana
anayase haya nija vanchita purana
"I meditate on the guru, the Vaishnavas and the Lord. By remembering them, all obstacles are destroyed and one quickly attains the fulfillment of all desires."
If one can always keep the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, the guru and the Vaishnavas firmly placed on his head, then all obstacles will be removed. The path of worshiping the Supreme Lord is filled with millions of obstacles. There is no way to overcome these obstacles other than through the mercy of the guru and the Vaishnavas.
Mahaprabhu came to teach the chanting of the Holy Names. We have no way of achieving perfection other than through the Holy Names. So let us not become inattentive in our Nama-bhajan. I make this humble request to all of you. At the same time I ask you to bless me that I may also be able to chant the Holy Name. That I may take my last breath chanting the names of the Lord free from all offense.
In his mercy, our divine spiritual master revealed his identity as the servant of the beloved of Shrimati Radharani, Shri Varsabhanavi-dayita dasa. Shrila Prabhupada is Radharani's personal associate for all eternity. Without his mercy and the mercy of those Vaishnavas who are the members of his spiritual
family, we cannot make our residence in Vrindavan meaningful. We should all pray constantly that we may be able to follow in their footsteps always and that we never forget their lotus feet.
vidhi-marge vraja-bhava paite nahi sakti
"We cannot achieve the mood of Vrindavan simply through following the rules and regulations of the vidhi-marga." (CC 1.3.15). This is why we absolutely must take up the raganuga path. Rupa Goswami has said the following about taking up the raga path.
iste svarasiki ragah
tanmayi ya bhaved bhaktih
"The intense and spontaneous absorption in the object of one's adoration (ista) is called raga. Devotion which is characterized by such raga is called ragatmika
bhakti." (BRS 1.2.272)
The love and affection that the residents of Vraja feel for Krishna is natural and spontaneous. The love that Krishna feels for them is similarly natural and spontaneous. We take up the chanting of the Holy Names in the hope that we may develop the transcendental greed that allows us to purchase a consciousness imbued with the divine taste of devotion to Krishna-krishna-bhakti-rasa-bhavita matih. We wish to develop this divine greed.
We chant the Holy Names under the direction of the Vaishnavas. If we do so, then we can win the mercy of the Holy Name and make our stay in Vrindavan a success. The kind of devotion which follows the example of the Vrajavasis' ragatmika bhakti is called raganuga bhakti. We should all strive for this kind of devotion.
I have completely lost all physical strength. All I desire now is that you should bestow your causeless mercy upon me so that I can chant the Holy Name free from all offenses.
The Hidden Meaning of the Bhagavatam by B P Puri Goswami
by Shrila Bhakti Promode Puri Goswami Maharaja
A darshan held on September 31, 1998 in Puri Dhama
prabhu kahe kahilam ei maha mantra
iha japa giya sabe kariya nirbandha
iha haite sarva siddhi haibe sabara
sarva ksana bala ithe vidhi nahi ara
"I have thus taught you the Maha-mantra:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare
"My instruction to you all is that you chant this mantra constantly according to a fixed vow (i.e., counting the number of times that you chant). All of you will realize all perfections through this chanting of the Holy Names, so do it constantly. There is no other rule but this." (Cbh 2.23.77-78)
Don't just hold japa beads in your hand. Make an effort to enter into the experience of chanting (anubhuti). Since we have no feeling, that is why we have to make a greater effort. Why are we engaged in Hari-bhajan? Spiritual experience is what we seek in chanting, otherwise why do it? This is the world of maya. It shows us the possibility of pleasure, gives the sense of ego, distracts the mind and then carries it off.
Krishna says in the Gita:
daivi hy esa gunamayi
mama maya duratyaya
mam eva ye prapadyante
mayam etam taranti te
"The external energy consisting of the three qualities is divinely empowered and thus impossible to overcome. Whoever surrenders to Me, however, can cross over this maya." (Bhagavad-gita 7.14)
It is extremely difficult to overcome the transcendentally powerful material nature made up of the three qualities. Maya is constantly leading us one way or the other.
yesam sa esa bhagavan dayayed anantah
sarvatmanashrita-pado yadi nirvyalikam
te dustaram atitaranti ca deva-mayam
naisam mamaham iti dhih sva-srgala-bhaksye
"If the unlimited Supreme Lord takes mercy on one who has completely surrendered to His lotus feet without any illusion or deception, then he can overcome the insurmountable ocean of illusion. But those who identify with and are attached to this body, which is meant to be eaten at the end by dogs and jackals, cannot do so." (SB 2.7.42)
So the Lord is pleased with anyone who surrenders to Him with complete honesty, in body, mind and words. I have come from God and I must return to Him-"Back to God, back to home." In the meantime, however, I have fallen under the thrall of maya and here I am, sitting in the marketplace of pleasures. To get from this situation, to overcome the power of maya and return to Krishna, is not an easy matter.
bhaktis tu bhagavad-bhakta-
sat-sangah prapyate pumbhih
"Devotion is born out of the association with devotees of the Lord. Contact with such saintly persons is given to those who have accumulated pious merit in previous lifetimes."
(Brhan-naradiya Purana, HBV 10.279)
For example, there was a person who chanted Hare Krishna to make a living. After he got all dressed up and began chanting, his face became pale from fatigue and his audience asked him to sit down and rest and drink a cup of tea. "Sit down, sit down. Please have a cup of tea and a biscuit." This is not the way that the Lord is pleased. If one wants to please the Lord one has to associate with pure devotees. Simply dressing up as a devotee or making a pretense of being one is of no help in getting the Lord's mercy.
sadhu sanga sadhu sanga sarva sastra kaya
lava-matra sadhu sange sarva siddhi haya
"All the scriptures glorify the association of devotees, again and again. Just a moment's association with the devotees results in all perfection." (CC 2.22.54)
We must associate with pure devotees. However, sometimes we simply give a lot of money in donation but forget to follow their instructions; we invite them into our homes and treat them with great hospitality, but there is no exchange of the essential elements.
So the scripture talks about sixty-four different "limbs" of devotion-bhaktyangas. Of these sixty-four, five have been given precedence:
sadhu-sanga nama-kirtana bhagavata-sravana
mathura-vasa shri-murtira sraddhaya sevana
sakala-sadhana-srestha ei panca anga
krishna-prema janmaya ei pancera alpa sanga
eka anga sadhe keha sadhe bahu anga
nistha haile upajaya premera taranga
"One should associate with devotees, chant the holy name of the Lord, hear Shrimad-Bhagavatam, reside at Mathura and worship the Deity with faith and veneration. These five limbs of devotional service are the best of all. Even a slight performance of these five awakens love for Krishna. Whether a person executes only one or many of these processes of devotional service, the waves of love of Godhead will well up if he performs them with fixed determination or nistha." (CC 2.22.214-5, 219)
It is insufficient to simply perform such activities once a day. Nor is it sufficient to have read a great many books. In the Chaitanya Bhagavata, it is written:
sastrera na jane marma adhyapana kare
gardabhera praya jena bojha bahi mare
"They don't know the true meaning of the scriptures and yet they give instruction. Like mules, they simply carry the heavy load until they die."
The scriptures they know are compared to a great weight. They are reading so many scriptures but don't understand their true purpose. They learn so many verses by heart and study so hard, but still they cannot fathom the depths of transcendental knowledge.
So therefore it is said: "They don't know the true meaning of the scriptures and yet they give instruction. Like mules, they simply carry the heavy load until they die." They neither understand themselves, nor can they help anyone else to understand. That is why it is said of Mahaprabhu,
apani acari dharma jivere sikhaya
apani na kaile dharma sikhano na jaya
"He took up the religious practices before teaching to the jivas. If someone does not practice the religious principles oneself, he cannot hope to teach them."
If I repeatedly say, "Chant Hare Krishna. Chant Hare Krishna", but don't chant myself, what good will come of it?
In the fourth chapter of the Vedanta-sutras (VS 4.1.1), we see the text avrttir asakrd upadesat. What is the instruction (upadesa)? At every moment one must engage in the repeated practice (avrtti) of hearing and chanting, or the uninterrupted meditation on the Supreme. And the Lord has invested His holy name with all His potencies. It is not an ordinary name.
namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-saktis
tatrarpita niyamitah smarane na kalah
etadrsi tava krpa bhagavan mamapi
durdaivam idrsam ihajani nanuragah
"O Lord! You created so many names and invested them all with your entire potency. You made no rules about when these names were to be remembered. How great this mercy you bestowed on us-yet how great my misery that I have developed no love for chanting them."
In this verse, the word misery (durdaiva) means offenses to the Holy Name. We must study the Siksastaka carefully. In the first verse of Siksastaka, ceto-darpana-marjanam bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam, Mahaprabhu talks about the seven great benefits derived from chanting the Holy Name.
Shrila Prabhupada used to say that Shrivasa Angana is the site of Mahaprabhu's Sankirtana-rasa dance. It is the equivalent of the Rasa-sthali in Mahaprabhu's lila. Mahaprabhu would lock the doors and spend the entire night with His associates, engaged in ecstatic kirtana. If we enter Shrivasa Angana, that divine site of the sankirtana-rasa, where the flames of the sankirtana-yajna have been lit, we must offer oblations into the seven flames of that sacrificial fire. The flames of an ordinary fire burn things to ashes, but if we offer ourselves into the flames of the sankirtana fire, we will obtain these seven great benefits.
anandambudhi-vardhanam pratipadam purnamrtasvadanam
sarvatma-snapanam param vijayate shri-krishna-sankirtanam
"The performance of harinama-sankirtana is glorious in seven ways because it cleans the mirror of the heart; it extinguishes the conflagration of material life; it distributes the cooling moon rays of auspiciousnes; it is the life of transcendental knowledge, which is like its consort; it increases the ocean of divine bliss; at every step, it gives a taste of the full ambrosia for which we have always been anxious, and it bathes the entire self in divine ecstasy."
In the Manduka Upanishad (1.1.8) it is said that there are seven flames in the sacrificial fire. Similarly, in the sacrifice of the Holy Name, there are seven great benefits (sapta-sreyah). Mahaprabhu used to perform the sacrifice of the Holy Name, as it is said in the Bhagavatam.
yajanti hi su-medhasah
"In the Age of Kali, the golden Lord, upon whose lips the name of Krishna always remains, appears in the company of His expansions, portions, weapons and associates. Those who are very intelligent will worship Him through the sacrifice of congregational glorification (sankirtana-yajna)." (SB 11.5.32)
sei to sumedha ara kali-hata jana
sankirtana-yajne tare kare aradhana
"He is the truly intelligent person, while the rest are all condemned by the influence of the Age of Kali. Therefore, all should worship Him by the sacrifice of the Holy Name."
In the age of Kali, nothing is gained through the performance of other sacrifices, making all the various ritualistic preparations and making oblations into the fire with the incantations of svaha, svaha. One must make the oblation of the self, commit his soul to the fire of the sacrifice of the Holy Name, we will be able to win service to the Lord. Doing this repeatedly will bring the results. This doesn't mean that we abandon all ritual acts (karma); but we must be clear on the meditation and inner purpose of these acts.
The word sankirtana means samyak kirtana, "chanting perfectly performed." How am I chanting? With my tongue I am pronouncing the words, Krishna Krishna. But my mind is elsewhere, or my external senses are engaged in other business. Sarve mano-nigraha-laksanantah (SB 11.23.45) "All religious activities have control of the mind as their purpose." Without controlling the mind, all our activities, our sadhana, our bhajana, our chanting of a fixed number of Holy Names, are all fruitless.
It is very difficult to control the mind. In the Bhagavad-gita, Arjuna lamented to Krishna:
cancalam hi manah krishna
pramathi balavad drdham
tasyaham nigraham manye
vayor iva suduskaram
"O Krishna! The mind is very fickle. It is wild, powerful and stubborn. It seems to me that to control it is as difficult as catching the wind." (Gita 6.34)
Krishna agreed with him, but told him how he could ultimately control the mind:
mano durnigraham calam
abhyasena tu kaunteya
vairagyena ca grhyate
"Yes, O powerful-armed Arjuna! The mind certainly is restless and difficult to overpower. But by practice, O son of Kunti, and by detachment, it can be done."
By abhyasa or practice means repeated and concerted effort (muhur anusilanam). By repeatedly performing these practices, we are able to enter into their inner meaning; we are able to comprehend this essential meaning. Just as in the Vedanta Sutra, repetition (avrtti) is being called for. Kirtaniyah sada harih.
Furthermore, at the end of the Chaitanya Charitamrta, Mahaprabhu tells Raya Ramananda:
harse prabhu kahena suna svarupa rama-raya
nama-sankirtana kalau parama upaya
"My dear Svarupa Damodara and Ramananda Raya, know from Me that chanting of the Holy Names is the most feasible means of salvation in this age of Kali." (CC 3.20.8)
At the very end of the Vedanta Sutra (4.4.22) also, in the chapter known as "The Result," it is said that one obtains liberation from repeated birth and death through sabda (anavrttih sabdad anavrttih sabdat). Krishna explains the meaning of anavrtti in the Gita:
mam upetya tu kaunteya
punar janma na vidyate
"From Brahma to this earthly planet, all beings everywhere must take birth again after dying. Only those who have come to Me, Kaunteya, have no rebirth." (Bhagavad-gita 8.16)
How can we go to be with Krishna? So that there is no more repetition of birth? Mam upetya tu kaunteya punar janma na vidyate. All other process that were described in the Gita such as jnana, karma and yoga are rejected in the Lord's final order.
In the chapter on Purusottama-yoga, Krishna also says:
vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyo
vedanta-krd veda-vid eva caham
"By all the Vedas I am to be known; indeed I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas." (Bhagavad-gita 15.15)
"I am the goal of all the Vedas." Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami says the same thing: vedera pratijna kevala kahaye krishnake (CC 2.20.146): "Whether one analyses the Veda according to its overt or secondary meanings, by positive or negative analysis, it will still be established that Krishna is its only purpose." So Krishna is the Vedas' sambandha; the abhidheya is bhakti; the ultimate goal is to develop ecstatic love for Him, or prema. Now we must try to understand how this prema is obtained. The Lord Himself gives the answer at the very end of the Bhagavad-gita,
srnu me paramam vacah
isto'si me drdham iti
tato vaksyami te hitam
"O Arjuna, now hear from Me once again my most confidential and supreme message. You have most certainly been chosen by Me and so I speak for your benefit." (Bhagavad-gita 18.64)
The confidential teaching (guhya) was knowledge of Brahman. Knowledge of Paramatman was the more confidential teaching (guhyatara). So what is the sarva-guhyatama, "the most confidential teaching"? It is Krishna-prema. If you want to know how to obtain this love, then listen. I will tell you with absolute certainty.
man-mana bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yaji mam namaskuru
mam evaisyasi satyam te
pratijane priyo'si me
"Always think of Me, become my devotee. Worship Me and offer your obeisances to Me. I promise you that you will come to Me, for you are certainly dear to Me." (Bhagavad-gita 18.65)
Then He says,
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah
"Give up all religious paths such as the varnasrama-dharma and simply take shelter of Me alone. I shall protect you from all sin. Have no worries on that account." (Bhagavad-gita 18.66)
Why did he say this? Visvanatha Cakravarti has explained the meaning of dharma in this verse as meaning varnasrama-dharma. In varnasrama-dharma, all kinds of desires and the worship of gods and goddesses is found. According to one's desires, one engages in the worship of the specific god or goddess who is supposed to fulfill it. Sarva-dharman parityajya.
Then He says, "Of Me alone." Why does He say that? To prevent the worship of any other demigod.
kamais tais tair hrta-jnanah
"Persons whose good intelligence has been spoiled by illicit desires worship other gods." (Gita 7.20)
te'pi mam eva kaunteya
"O Kaunteya, certainly persons who have alternately developed faith in the demigods and devoutly worship them are worshiping only Me, but improperly." (Gita 9.23)
Why "improperly"? What is the rule (vidhi)?
aham hi sarva-yajnanam
bhokta ca prabhur eva ca
na tu mam abhijananti
tattvenatas cyavanti te
"I alone am the enjoyer of all sacrifices and I alone am their master. Those who do not know this in truth fall down." (Gita 9.24)
Krishna thinks, "If they worship these other demigods, then I am nothing to them. They may be worshiping, but it is not done in a fashion that will attain Me (mat-prapaka-vidhim vina). That is the meaning of yajanty avidhi-purvakam, "They worship Me, but improperly."
We must keep this in mind when we read the Gita. Devakinandana's Gita is the essence of all the scriptures. And it is said of the Shrimad-Bhagavatam,
"This Bhagavata Purana is the meaning of the Brahma Sutras, it explains the purport of the Mahabharata and it is the commentary on the Gayatri Mantra. It is filled with the complete explanation of all the Vedic knowledge."
And at the very end of the Bhagavatam it also says that the Bhagavatam is the essence of all the Vedanta:
nanyatra syad ratih kvacit
"The Bhagavatam is the essence of all the Upanishads or Vedanta. Anyone who has tasted its nectar will never be interested in any other scripture."
Those who have tasted the nectar of the Bhagavatam will never find joy in anything else. It is the essence of all nectar, sarva-rasa-sara, and it is the Gayatri-bhasya or the explanation of the Gayatri Mantra. How is that so? This was an original contribution by Shripada Shridhar Maharaja and is not found anywhere else.
Look at the Brahma-gayatri. Om bhur bhuvah svah. Tat savitur. Savitur means "illuminator" (prakasaka). The three worlds are bhur, bhuvah and svah. Brahma is beyond these three worlds, indeed transcends the entire material universe-brahmandatita. The word savitur means "illuminator" or "revealer."
Om bhur bhuvah svah tat-savitur varenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi dhiyo yo nah pracodayat. The important words here are devasya bhargah. The word deva is derived from the root div, which means "to play." Div dhatu kridayam. So the Lord, who is constantly engaged in playful pastimes, is the supreme deva. Now the word bhargah refers to all of the Lord's energies. Or His most complete energy, Radha. Devasya bhargah thus refers to Krishna's svarupa-sakti, Radharani. Om bhur bhuvah svah tat-savitur varenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi dhiyo yo nah pracodayat. So, I meditate on Radharani's lotus feet. The capacity to do so will come. Thus the purport of the Brahma-gayatri is service to Shrimati Radharani.
In the Chandogya Upanishad (8.13.1) it is said, syamac chabalam prapadye, sabalac chyamam prapadye. "For receiving the mercy of Krishna, I surrender unto His energy [Radha], and for receiving the mercy of Krishna's energy, I surrender unto Him." The word sabala means "complete potencies"-sarva-sakti. That means Radharani. Just like Krishna has placed all His energies in His holy name. Sarva-sakti name dila kariya vibhaga.
Varenyam bharga-The essence of all energies. I take shelter of that energy of the Lord. If She is merciful, if Radharani is merciful, then Krishna will be merciful. Krishna is most dear to Radha and Radha is most dear to Krishna. So through Her mercy it is easy to attain Him. Because nothing is dearer to Krishna than Radha's prema. That is His supreme energy, and there is no difference between Him and His energies-sakti-saktimator abhedah. At the beginning of the Chaitanya Charitamrta it is therefore said that Radharani is the transformation of Krishna's love, or pranaya. By transformation or vikrti, we don't mean like that of milk which is transformed into buttermilk. Prema-vilasa. She is a manifestation of His loving activities.
radha krishna-pranaya-vikrtir hladini saktir asmad
ekatmanav api bhuvi pura deha-bhedam gatau tau
chaitanyakhyam prakatam adhuna
tad dvayam caikyam aptam
radha-bhava-dyuti-suvalitam naumi krishna-svarupam
"Shrimati Radharani is a transformation of Krishna's love and the manifestation of His pleasure potency. The two of them form a single soul, but previously They appeared on this earth in two separate forms. Today, They are once again manifest in a single
identity named Krishna Chaitanya. I pay obeisances to Him who is Krishna Himself endowed with Radha's emotions and bodily hue."
(CC 1.1.5, Svarupa Damodara's Karca)
So ekatmanau. When you see something, then you are not distinct from your ability to see. So you are the saktiman and your ability to see is your sakti. That is not something different from you. I came here on foot. The power to walk is not something separate from me. So, the essence of all Krishna's abilities or energies is called sarva-sakti and He is in no way different from them. But for the sake of Krishna's diversions, His energies take on a form, and become incarnate as Radha. Along with Krishna She is engaged in these pastimes of love.
Radha and Krishna were in separate forms yet They became one; united as one soul, They are Chaitanya. In Ramananda's conversation with Mahaprabhu, Ramananda looked at the Lord and said:
pahile dekhilun tomaya sannyasi-svarupa
ebe dekhi tomara syama-gopa-rupa
tomara sammukhe dekhi kancana-pancalika
tara anga-kantye tomara sarva anga dhaka
"First I saw you as a sannyasi, but now I see in you the form of a black cowherd boy. Standing before you is a golden doll whose effulgence covers your entire body." (CC 2.8.268-9)
"The golden doll is Radha. So, you are Krishna." Mahaprabhu revealed His own form as antah krishnah bahir gaurah-Krishna within and golden complexion of Gaura without.
Why is He known as Triyuga, or "the Lord who appears in only three of the four yugas"? ...channah kalau yad abhavas tri-yugo 'tha sa tvam -"Since you are hidden in the age of Kali, however, you are known as Triyuga, or the Lord who appears in only three of the four yugas."(SB 7.9.38) In the age of Kali, the Lord is hidden or channa. He doesn't present himself as the Supreme Lord, but as a devotee.
Then again, on occasion, He did reveal himself as the Supreme Lord, just as during the Rathayatra, with Prataparudra. At first Mahaprabhu had strictly avoided seeing the king because He was a sannyasi and refused to come into contact with materialistic persons. Then afterwards, Prataparudra came dressed as a brahmin while Mahaprabhu was resting from the Rathayatra kirtana and recited the verses from the rasa-lila. Mahaprabhu embraced him and then showed him His real identity as Radha-Krishna. Thus Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is the combined form of Radha and Krishna.
Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami is Radharani's most dear pleasure companion, Her priya-narma-sakhi. In the Mantrartha-dipika it is stated. I have discussed this topic in my introduction to the Chaitanya Charitamrta. Kaviraja Goswami wrote that our kama-gayatri mantra consists of 24 1/2 syllables (CC 2.21.125). Visvanatha Cakravarti couldn't understand why he had written 24 1/2 syllables rather than 25. He was so frustrated by his inability to comprehend this that he finally took a vow to starve to death at the banks of Radha Kund. As he dozed off in the middle of the night, Radharani appeared to him and said, "O Visvanatha! O Harivallabha!"-that was another name of Visvanatha-"Get up. Krishnadasa has indeed written correctly. He is My dear girlfriend, who brings Me much amusement. He knows the most intimate truths about Myself. Do not doubt anything he has written. In the book named Varnagama-bhasvat, it is written that whenever the syllable ya is followed by the syllable vi, it is considered to be only half a syllable." Since devaya is followed by vidmahe, the ya here is a half-syllable.
So Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami is Radharani's narma-sahacari. This is not insignificant. Cakravarti Thakura realized that everything that Krishnadasa wrote was absolutely authoritative. So, in writing the end of Chaitanya Charitamrta, he reveals the supreme process for this age.
harse prabhu kahena suna svarupa-rama-raya
nama-sankirtana kalau parama upaya
"My dear Svarupa Damodara and Ramananda Raya, know from Me that chanting of the Holy Names is the most feasible means in this age of Kali." (CC 3.20.8)
"The most feasible means in this age of Kali"-means to what? Not to wealth and opulence, but prema-love for Krishna. The only means to attain love for Krishna is the chanting of the Holy Name. But the Lord goes on:
je rupe laile nama prema upajaya
tara laksana sloka suna svarupa rama-raya
"O Svarupa and Ramananda, listen to a verse which indicates the way you must chant the Holy Name so that love for Krishna awakens." (CC 3.20.20)
trnad api sunicena
taror iva sahisnuna
kirtaniyah sada harih
"You must chant the holy name of the Lord while thinking yourself to be lower than the grass. You should be as tolerant as the tree, take no respect for yourself and give all respect to others." (CC 3.20.21)
Sometimes it is written taror iva and sometimes taror api, "more tolerant than the tree." Prabhupada liked to say, "even more tolerant than a tree." So what kind of humility do we have when if someone has the slightest fault then I immediately criticize him.
The tree is tolerant in two different ways:
vrksa jena katileha kichu na bolaya
sukana maileha kare pani na magaya
jei je magaye tare deya apana-dhana
gharma-vrsti sahe anera karaye raksana
"A tree does not protest when it is cut down and, even when dying from drought, it does not ask anyone for water. The tree gives whatever it possesses-its fruits and flowers-to whomever desires them. It tolerates scorching heat and torrents of rain and yet gives shelter to others." (CC 3.20.23-4)
How little we have of this quality of tolerance! If there is even the slightest fault on someone's part I am ready to beat and rebuke him. trnad api sunicena... While we are trying to chant the Holy Names, ego or ahankara, comes and interferes with our chanting. False ego is a terrible thing.
gunaih karmani sarvasah
kartaham iti manyate
"All actions are performed as a result of the interaction of the modes of material nature. The fool who is bewildered by ego thinks that he himself is the doer." (Bhagavad-gita 3.27)
The Supreme Lord is doing everything, but in my egoism I think that I am doing things. He gave me birth, but I think that I did it independently. This is ahankara. For this reason we have to chant the Holy Name and according to Mahaprabhu's instruction I must chant in a mood of humility and tolerance. As I keep up my chanting continuously, gradually I will be freed of all offenses-and of offenses to the Name, those to the Vaishnava are considered the most terrible. We should take all precautions not to commit Vaishnavaparadha. If I try to order my spiritual master about, that is called gurv-avajna, or disrespecting the guru. A very serious offense.
While talking, I completely forget myself. Hari-katha is like nectar, it is so blissful. There is no loss of life force while speaking Hari-katha! Shrila Prabhupada would get so absorbed in speaking Hari-katha that if anyone interrupted him he would become very angry. His ears would go completely red, and he would become filled with transcendental anger. Those people who have no idea of the essence of this subject matter think it is just a waste of time.
If you don't listen to Hari-katha, you will not be able to worship Lord Hari. You have to hear and talk about Krishna. And of all things to listen to, Shrimad-Bhagavatam is the topmost. Such a great piece of literature. So many wonderful instructions. Vyasadeva was thinking, "I have written so many books, why don't I feel any satisfaction?" Narada came by and saw how sad he was looking and said, "What is the matter? You have done so much, but I can see you are still unhappy. The face is the index of the mind." Vyasa said, "You are quite right, but you must know the reason for my distress. Please be merciful and tell me." Then Narada sat him down and said, "You spoke about the four goals of life-dharma, artha, kama and moksa-in the Mahabharata and elsewhere. It is true that you have also written about bhakti, but you have done so with the coverings of jnana and karma. If you were to describe pure devotional service, you would find peace of mind." Then Narada spoke the four essential verses of the Bhagavata, the Catuhsloki . Vyasa was no ordinary person-he was the empowered incarnation, saktyavesa avatar. We must remember the glories of the Bhagavatam always and try to enter into it's mysteries.
Divine Grace by B K Santa Maharaja
by Shripada Bhakti Kumud Santa Maharaja
A humble offering to my siksa-guru, Tridandi Swami Bhakti Promode Puri Goswami Maharaja on his 102nd appearance day
This is a humble offering to my siksa-guru and senior godbrother, Tridandi Swami Bhakti Promode Puri Goswami Maharaja, on his 102nd appearance day. I am making this effort to glorify the most venerable Puri Goswami Maharaja at the request of his dear disciple, Bhakti Bibudha Bodhayan Maharaja. By so doing, I am making my own life blessed.
The venerable Puri Maharaja and Bon Maharaja were the only reasons that I left my family to take shelter of my spiritual master. When I came to live at the Chaitanya Math in Mayapur and was studying Sanskrit with Gauridasa Pundit, Puri Maharaja was the editor of the daily Bengali newspaper, the Dainika Nadiya Prakasa. The late Shri Bhakti Kusuma Sramana Maharaja was his assistant.
Unless those who have taken up the saintly life set a proper example for others, it is difficult to make spiritual advancement. Puri Maharaja's example was truly ideal and for me, it set the standard for all saintly behavior. He possessed all good qualities, such as humility, well-manneredness, and tolerance. To benefit the world, he has remained here for 102 years now. I am 86 years old and so have been witness to his entire saintly life.
kanaka kamini pratistha baghini
chariyache jare sei ta vaishnava
"The person whom the tigress of desires for money, sex and fame has abandoned is a true Vaishnava."
The venerable Puri Maharaja never showed the slightest interest in any of these things. I used to think myself fortunate to be able to prostrate myself before him. Today I am writing a few words to be publicly read in his honor. I will consider my effort worthwhile if people hear these words attentively.
Puri Maharaja was born in a brahmin family and showed a great capacity for studies, excelling in Bengali, English and Sanskrit. However, it is not possible to know exactly what is gained by taking shelter of the spiritual master until one does so. My own spiritual master, Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupada once said, "If we want to become rich, we must serve the rich. If we want to become learned, we must associate with and serve the learned. In the same way, we can attain service for Krishna by serving a guru who is rich with love for Krishna."
It is important to understand exactly what principle is represented by the spiritual master. The spiritual master is the asraya-vigraha or God in the form of a devotee, while Krishna Himself is the visaya-vigraha, God as the object of devotion. It is only through taking shelter of the former that we can win the service of the latter. The scriptures clearly tell us that we cannot go directly to God as the object of love without first going through one who possesses such love. Just as we can only see the sun with the help of the sun's own light, we can only see the Supreme Lord with the help of the manifest form of the Lord's mercy, the spiritual master. Otherwise it is impossible to attain a vision of the Supreme Lord.
In the Bhakti-sandarbha, Shrila Jiva Goswami writes that the saintly spiritual master is the manifestation of the Supreme Lord's mercy. The Supreme Lord's mercy takes the form of the saintly devotee to manifest in this world, and not in any other way.
Now the question is, what can we learn from the spiritual master? In order to attain the Supreme Truth as He exists in the transcendental world, we must first have knowledge in the three categories of sambandha, abhidheya and prayojana. These are knowledge of Krishna, devotional service in practice and divine love, respectively. Through devotional service in practice, an aspirant will eventually be able to relish the object of devotion. For this reason, Krishnadasa Kaviraja has written:
sadhana bhakti haite haya prema utpanna
nistha haite upajaya premera taranga
"Love for Krishna is developed out of devotional service in practice. The waves of love arise when one is totally committed to the process."
The real meaning of the word "bhajan" is the desire for Krishna's pleasure. We may now ask the question, who can attain Krishna? The answer is, one who is totally committed to the spiritual master, who in his heart has made the spiritual master the object of worship, who thinks of himself as nothing more than a servant of the spiritual master. Thus it is said,
guru chari govinda bhaje
se papi narake maje
"One who circumvents the guru to worship Govinda is a sinner who descends to hell."
For this reason the scriptures enjoin us to worship the spiritual master before worshiping our chosen deity. Tulasi Das writes:
guru aur govinda do khare hain kisko lage paya
jo guruko lage usko balihari jaya
"If the guru and Govinda are standing side by side, whose feet would you touch first? I praise the person who touches the feet of the spiritual master."
There are a number of verses in Chaitanya Charitamrta that stress the supremacy of Krishna:
ekale isvara krishna ara saba bhrtya
yare yaiche nacaya se taiche kare nrtya
"Lord Krishna alone is God, and all others are His servants. As He makes them dance, so do they dance." (CC 1.5.143)
eka krishna sarva-sevya jagat-isvara
ara jata saba tanra sevakanucara
"Lord Krishna is the One who is to be served by all; He is the only Lord of the universe. Everyone else is but the servant of His servants." (CC 1.6.83)
krishna eka sarvasraya krishna sarva-dhama
krsnera sarire sarva-visvera visrama
"Krishna is the only shelter and abode of all things. The entire universe reposes in His body." (CC 1.2.94)
However, it is not that Krishna only appears in the house of Nanda Maharaja. The appearance of Krishna in the heart of a devotional practitioner is also a kind of incarnation. The Lord appears in the purified mind or heart of the devotee. The Lord's appearance and disappearance are like the rising and setting of the sun. As one progresses in his bhajan, the internal visions of Krishna that come by the grace of the spiritual master can also be called an incarnation of the Lord.
amake ta je je bhakta bhaje jei bhave
tare se se bhave bhaji e mora svabhave
"In whatever way a devotee worships Me, I reciprocate with him. That is my natural behavior."
ekanty eko visisyate
"Out of thousands of brahmins, the one who performs sacrifices is considered special. Of thousands of such brahmins expert in sacrificial offerings, one who has become expert in the Vedas is considered the best. Amongst thousands of such brahmins expert in the Vedic knowledge, the one who is a devotee of Vishnu stands out. But of many thousands of such Vaishnavas, the one who is an exclusive, pure devotee, is the best." (HBV 10.117)
ata eva vaisnavera janma-mrtyu nai
sange aisena sange jayena tathai
"Therefore a Vaishnava knows neither death nor rebirth. He comes and goes to and from the spiritual world in the company of the Lord."
(Chaitanya Bhagavata 3.8.173)
The glories of the devotee are even greater than those of the Lord Himself. What is the reason for this? If one properly studies all the Vedic literature, starting with the Vedas and Upanishads, the Gita, the Bhagavata and other Puranas, then he will be able to understand.
For instance, the following statement is found in the scriptures:
jatih sastram japas tapah
"One may possess high birth and learning and he may meditate on his mantra and perform austerities; nevertheless, if he is devoid of devotion to the Lord, these things are as useless as beautiful decorations on a dead body." (Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya 3.19)
svapako `pi budhaih slagyo
na vedajno `pi nastikah
"A pure devotee, even though an outcaste, is adored by the intelligent because all the sins which resulted in his low birth have been burnt by the blazing fire of his devotion. The same is not true for an atheist though he be a brahmin who has studied the Veda." (Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya 3.12)
How can one have any special affection for a body that is devoid of life? What can be gained by dressing such a dead body in finery?
brahmacaryam hrdo mama
sannyasah sirasi sthitah
"The householder ashram arises from My [the Supreme Lord's] thighs, the student station comes from My heart; the vanaprastha comes from My chest and the renounced order from My head."
nitya hi jantor nahi tatra codana
vyavasthitis tesu vivaha-yajna-
suragrahair asu nivrttir ista
"In the world, people engage in sex life, meat-eating and taking intoxicants without any instruction from the scriptures. But the institutions of marriage, animal and wine (sautramini) sacrifices have been ordained with the purpose of gradually reducing these tendencies." (SB 11.5.11)
The reduction of the tendencies to sense gratification is the purpose of the Vedic religion, for we cannot relish the Supreme Lord unless we go from sense gratification to renunciation. In the Gita, Krishna says,
bhumir apo `nalo vayuh
kham mano buddhir eva ca
ahankara itiyam me
bhinna prakrtir astadha
"Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and ego make up My separated material energies."
Is this energy the property of the living beings? To answer this, Krishna goes on to say,
apareyam itas tv anyam
prakrtim viddhi me param
yayedam dharyate jagat
"Besides these, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is a superior energy of mine, consisting of the living entities by whom the universe is sustained." (Gita 7.4)
What then is this superior energy, and who are the jivas? We are the jivatma. Just as when one turns on the light, darkness cannot remain, so we are jivas, infinitesimal parts of the Supreme Lord.
krishna-nitya-dasa jiva taha bhuli gela
ei dose maya tara galaya bandhila
"The jiva is the eternal servant of Krishna, but he has forgotten this. For this fault, Maya has placed a rope around his neck." (CC 2.22.24)
Some take up the practice of devotional service, and by the grace of the Supreme Lord, they get the association and blessings of a pure spiritual master and are able to attain the joyful state of union with the Lord in one of the five relationships. These relationships are those of peacefulness, servitorship, friendship, seniority and conjugal love.
Where is our material bondage?
anudeham viyanty ete
svapno nidranugo yatha
"Our relationships with children, wives, relatives and friends are like those we have with people we meet while travelling. They disappear with the death of the body just as dreams dissipate with awakening."
Even so we lament:
aho me pitarau vrddhau
atrptas tan anudhyayan
mrto'ndham visate tamah
"`Oh my parents are old! My wife needs to be maintained! My children and grandchildren are still so young!' Forever unsatisfied, the attached householder thinks constantly of those who are close to him at the time of death and enters into the darkness of ignorance." (SB 11.17.57)
In other words, the foolish and distracted conditioned soul thinks that his dependents cannot get along without him and so he is constantly worrying about them. Thus at the time of death, he has to take another birth in a lower form of life.
If those who read this essay try to understand these things, I will consider myself blessed. There is another verse that further clarifies these things:
vanam tu sattviko vaso
gramo rajasa ucyate
man-niketas tu nirmalam
"The forest is considered to be a dwelling place in the mode of goodness. The town is a dwelling place in the mode of passion, while the gambling house is in the mode of ignorance. But my abode is free from the material qualities." (SB 11.25.25)
sikhi yajnopaviti syat
sa pavitras ca kasayi
gayatrim ca japet sada
"The Tridandi sannyasi keeps his tuft of hair and his sacred thread; he carries a kamandalu (a brass water pot) and a saffron cloth. He remains pure at all times, constantly chanting the Gayatri Mantra." (Skanda Purana)
We must follow the scriptures, otherwise we will not attain the ultimate good in our lives. What is genuine religion for the human being? It is that by which we attain a natural and single-minded devotion for the Supreme Lord.
sa vai pumsam paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhoksaje
"The supreme religious activity of the human being is that which results in devotion to the Supreme Lord who is beyond the ken of our material senses. This devotion must be without motivation and uninterrupted - only then will it bring full contentment to the soul." (SB 1.2.6)
We may well wonder why the word adhoksaja is used to describe the Lord in this verse. This word is derived as follows: adhah means overcoming, revealing as inferior or transcending. Aksaja refers to the consciousness which is tied to the external senses of the conditioned souls. Thus the Lord is one who is beyond the consciousness that is produced by contact with the external material nature. We cannot attain God through this kind of material sensory perception. We have to transcend this perception and go higher to the spiritual platform of devotion in order to know Him.
And what are the characteristics of such devotion? The above verse states that it must be ahaituki - free from any hetu or "cause." It means "unconditional surrender." Again, devotion must be apratihata, that is, under no circumstances can it be blocked. In this situation, the divine principle of the soul manifests. In other words, one gets a direct vision of the supersoul, or the Supreme Lord.
The Upanishads also state:
atma va are drastavyah srotavyo
"The atman is to be seen, to be listened to, to be reflected on and to be contemplated" (Brhad-aranyaka Upanishad, 4.5.6).
Now the question is, how is this bhakti to be attained? The Bhagavatam clearly states:
bhaktis tu bhagavad-bhakta-
sat-sangah prapyate pumbhih
Devotion is born out of the association with devotees of the Lord. Contact with such saintly persons is given to those who have accumulated pious merit in previous lifetimes (Brhan-naradiya Purana, HBV 10.279).
It is thus through contact with the spiritual master that one gets devotion. Guru-krpa hi kevalam.
Now I would like to elaborate a little further on the relationship with the guru. Those who have taken shelter of the revered Puri Maharaja should make an effort to understand the Absolute Truth by not remaining complacent disciples."
The compassionate energy of the Supreme Lord is fully present in the spiritual master. From Goloka, He places His feet on His pure devotee's head and fills him with this energy. It is just like the connection of a light bulb to the electric powerhouse. If the connection is cut off, then the light bulb no longer shines. Thus one will see the light of the Lord's mercy shine if one comes into contact with the pure devotee spiritual master. Through the blessings of the spiritual master, we can come to understand the most compassionate Supreme Lord.
The revered Puri Maharaja is no ordinary personality. The reason that he is still with us is so that the Supreme Lord can continue to manifest his mercy in this world through him. Those who see him as a mere mortal like everyone else will be deprived of his blessings. Though he is my godbrother, he is my siksa guru and is worshipable to me. I have been fortunate enough to receive his causeless mercy. He is a celibate from birth; he is a brahmin and furthermore, he is learned. If those who have taken shelter of him can avoid the temptations of profit, adoration and prestige, then they are set to win the greatest good fortune. The supreme spiritual good cannot be attained by any external means.
I don't wish to lengthen this article any further, for I must leave place in this volume for all those who wish to glorify Puri Maharaja. I simply pray to him that as he mercifully enters his 102nd year on this earth, that he consider me worthy of his blessings. I am much younger than he, yet I am now in my 86th year. I have no desire to remain in this world any longer. I therefore ask him for permission to leave this world. On this auspicious occasion, I take the dust of his feet on my head. His blessings are the only thing that gives me strength.
My Most Revered siksa-Guru by B B Tirtha Maharaja
by Shrila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaja
On the holy occasion of the 102nd year-ending advent anniversary of most revered siksa-guru, His Divine Grace Parama-pujyapada Shrimad Bhakti Promode Puri Goswami Maharaja at Shri Gopinatha Gaudiya Math, Chakratirtha, Puri (Orissa) India, on Wednesday, 18 Padmanabh (513), 26 Asvin (1406), 13 October 1999.
I pay my innumerable, most humble, prostrated obeisances to the Lotus Feet of my most revered siksa-guru, His Divine Grace Parama-pujyapada Shrimad Bhakti Promode Puri Goswami Maharaja, on the holy occasion of His 102nd advent anniversary to be solemnized at Purusottama Dham, and pray for His causeless mercy to forgive me for all my offenses committed knowingly or unknowingly, and to always continue to shower His most affectionate blessings upon me for my eternal benefit.
My mind was shattered when, on my return to India from the Euro-Russian tour this year, I found myself deprived of hearing a single word of blessing from Him to give solace to my heart. Yet, as per His holy directions, I am moving from one place to another in the world with the hope that His affectionate blessings will always be with me and I shall be protected everywhere. It is heart-rending for us to see his pastimes being indisposed. We are most unfortunate as we are deprived of hearing his nectarean sayings.
It is out of unbounded compassion for His dependants that He, accepting all privations, is giving them the opportunity to engage their mind, senses and all efforts in His service, to rescue them from worldly bondage.
jata dekha vaisnavera vyavahara duhkha
niscaya janiha taha parananda-sukha
"Whatever privations are seen in the behavior of Vaishnavas, know for certain that they are expressions of their esoteric internal supreme bliss."
(Chaitanya Bhagavata 2.9.240)
tapanti vividhas tapah
"It appears that Vaishnavas are receiving various tribulations, but actually they do not feel them, as their minds are fully engrossed in Me."
(Shrimad Bhagavatam, Kapila-Devahuti-samvada, 3.25.23)
Again, one should be reminded that submission to bonafide Gurudeva is essential for Guru-puja. The external ritualistic performances of offerings such as puspanjali (floral tributes) has significance if we do it sincerely from the core of the heart. Actual Guru-puja is the fulfillment of His desires and acceptance of His commandments. We should remember that taking shelter at the lotus feet of most revered Gurudeva is not meant for getting mundane benefits.
As the Supreme Lord is transcendental, His worshippers-the Vaishnavas, are also transcendental. Conditioned souls cannot realize the transcendental, infinite qualities of Vaishnavas by their own efforts. To the degree that I have understood His qualities by my finite efforts, I am still unable to narrate even His external qualities, what to speak of His transcendental qualities. He is a great erudite scholar. I have never seen Him proud of this. He is always humbler than the blade of grass. His worship of Deities, His performance of the installation of Deities, consecration of temples, etc., are all superlative. Whatever form of devotional practice He performs, He does it with great devoutness and sincerity. We obtain solutions to all devotional problems when we approach Him. I cannot forget His profound affection for me.
At the end, I again offer my innumerable, prostrated, humble obeisances to the Lotus Feet of my most revered siksa-guru, His Divine Grace Parama- pujyapada Shrimad Bhakti Promode Puri Goswami Maharaja on this holy occasion, and pray for His causeless mercy.
Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha
The Root of Devotional Life by B B Bodhayan Maharaja
by Tridandi Bhikshu Bhakti Bibudha Bodhayan Maharaja
There is a Vaishnava saying: guru-krpa bhajanera mula-"the mercy of the spiritual master is the root of devotional life." In order to understand this saying fully, we must first comprehend what is meant by the word guru. An understanding of the meaning of "mercy" (krpa) and "a life of devotion" (bhajan) will follow.
If we wish to learn a trade properly, no matter what it is, we need a teacher. In school, every single subject matter needs a different teacher. If we want to excel in sports, we need a coach. Before engaging in any task, we need to be trained by a qualified teacher.
Still, we should not take the word guru too lightly. The teacher who supervises our spiritual advancement has a much wider responsibility than that of an ordinary teacher. A spiritual teacher has to deliver foolish and ignorant people from the bondage of maya and make them worthy of the service of the Lord. The spiritual master has accepted the task of engaging every single living being in the service of the Lord by whatever means possible.
Our grand spiritual master Shrila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur clearly promised that he would save everyone who had taken shelter of him, "even if I have to take birth in this world again and again to make them qualified for the service of the Lord."
There is a story in this connection: One of Prabhupada's disciples, Ramagati Prabhu, was unable to completely follow his spiritual master's instructions after being initiated. When he died, his body was taken to the cremation grounds according to the custom by a close relative who lived near him. Just before igniting the funeral pyre, this relative suddenly cried out, "Shrila Prabhupada! Shrila Prabhupada! Vrindavan! Vrindavan!" He immediately instructed someone to go to Ramagati's house and find the japa-mala that had been given him at initation by Shrila Prabhupada.
After talking about what takes place in the abode of Yama, this relative started chanting the Holy Name on the rosary and asked everyone else who was present there to chant with him. Ordinarily, a teacher can either pass or fail his student, but a spiritual master thinks differently. He finds different ways to make sure that his student or disciple is delivered. Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakur sang, "One must believe that Krishna will always protect me (avasya raksibe krishna visvasa palana)." Every disciple should have firm faith in this.
A spiritual master's task is of a completely different order from that of an ordinary teacher. We have heard from my own spiritual master, Shrila Bhakti Promode Puri Maharaja, and my many siksa-gurus, Shrila Bhakti Rakshak Shridhar Deva Goswami Maharaja, Shrila Bhakti Vilasa Tirtha Maharaja, Shrila Bhakti Prajnana Keshava Maharaja, and Shrila Abhayacarana Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja, indeed from all the other disciples of Shrila Prabhupada who have played the role of acharya, that none of them ever dreamed of taking that position, but that they were "dragged" into it by the mercy of Shrila Prabhupada himself. The example of Iskcon's founder-acharya, Shrila Abhayacarana Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja, is especially worthy of mention. He went to the western world and somehow found the ways and means to give so many fallen conditioned souls the qualifications to render service to the line of his master, Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami. We are truly radiant with pride at his success. Upon seeing Shrila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja's powerful preaching effort, our revered siksa guru Shrila Shridhar Deva Goswami proclaimed him a saktyavesa avatar, an empowered incarnation.
Shrila Prabhupada often said, "I am not making disciples, I am making gurus. All of my disciples are friends and associates who have come to help me in my difficulties." Such an attitude is completely different from that of mundane teachers. As a result, there are no terms that can adequately describe the works and deeds of a transcendental spiritual master. It is something that can only be understood through the insight derived from bhajan. This is a goal that can never be reached without taking shelter-saranagati. We must first surrender to the spiritual master. Just as we can only know the Supreme Lord by the Lord's mercy, we can only realize the mercy of the spiritual master by taking shelter of him.
Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakur wrote:
sad-anga saranagati haibe janhara
tanhara prarthana sune shri-nanda-kumara
"The son of Nanda, Krishna, listens to the prayers of anyone who takes shelter of Him according to the sixfold path of saranagati."
Krishna always accepts the prayers of the transcendental spiritual master because his life is the perfect example of surrender to the Supreme Lord.
Krishnadasa Kaviraja says, "One who knows Krishna theology is qualified to be a guru" (jei krishna-tattva vetta se guru haya). In other words, one who understands the science of Krishna consciousness is qualified to be a spiritual master. The example is given of the Namacharya, Haridasa Thakur, of whom Krishnadasa wrote:
acara pracara namera karaha dui karya
tumi sarva-guru tumi jagatera arya
"You engage in both practice and preaching and therefore you are the spiritual master of all, a truly religious person in this world." (CC 3.4.103)
The idea here is that there is no contradiction between the acharya's words and his behavior. His life is the living manifestation of his teachings.
krishna jadi krpa karena kono bhagyavane
guru-antaryami-rupe sikhaya apane
"If Krishna is merciful to a particular fortunate soul, then he himself teaches him, either externally as the spiritual master, or from within as the Supersoul." (CC 2.22.47)
The purport here is that one comes to engage in activities that result in pure devotional service, like service to the devotees or the Lord, when one has the appropriate type of piety, known as bhakty-unmukhi sukrti. If someone has this kind of pious merit, then even if he does not get the personal association of an advanced devotee, he can still get instruction about the devotional path from the Lord within.
In fact, we should think that the Supreme Lord rains down his mercy on the world by manifesting Himself in the form of the spiritual master.
guru krsnera rupa hana sastrera pramane
guru rupe krishna krpa karena bhakta-gane
"According to the scriptures, the spiritual master is a form of Krishna. In the form of the guru, Krishna bestows His mercy on the devotees." (CC 1.1.45)
Therefore, if we wish to understand the deeper significance of the word guru, we must take shelter of the spiritual master with great determination.
In the Chaitanya Charitamrta, the story is told of how Isvara Puri sent his servants Govinda and Kasisvara to serve Chaitanya Mahaprabhu after his physical departure. Mahaprabhu felt some doubt about accepting service from his godbrothers. He engaged Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya in a discussion of this matter:
prabhu kahe bhattacarya karaha vicara
gurura sevaka haya manya apanara
tanhare apana seva karaite na juwaya
guru ajna diyachena ki kari upaya
bhatta kahe guru ajna haya balavan
guru ajna na langhiye sastra-pramana
The Lord asked, "Sir, please judge this matter. These two are the servants of my spiritual master and the objects of my respect. It is therefore improper from me to engage them in my service. But then again, it is my spiritual master's direct order for me to do so. What should I do?" Sarvabhauma answered, "The order of the spiritual master takes precedence, because all scriptures stress that one should never disobey the spiritual master's direct order." (CC 1.10.142-4)
It is thus imperative that we give all respects to the servants of our spiritual master. At the same time, we must serve our spiritual master for his order is primary and must be absolutely obeyed. If we disobey the spiritual master, we are also going against the scriptures.
But our task is not complete once we have taken initiation from the spiritual master. Even after initiation, it is especially important to understand the spiritual master's heartfelt desire and to try to serve him accordingly. The reason for this is that without the pleasure of the spiritual master, it is impossible to become freed from the psychic impurities that interfere with the perfection of our bhajan. Furthermore, the Lord himself does not become pleased with a practitioner who does not please the spiritual master.
Shrila Jiva Goswamipada writes in his Bhakti-sandarbha,
tat-prasadah sva-sva-nana-pratikara-dustyajanartha-hanau bhagavat-parama-prasada-siddhau ca mulam.
"The mercy of the spiritual master is the root of ridding oneself of all the most difficult of one's character flaws as well as the perfection of receiving the Lord's supreme mercy." (Bhakti-sandarbha, 237)
Through his own efforts in performing the different acts of devotional service, an aspirant may be able to rid himself of most of his character flaws, but to truly please the Lord he must receive the mercy of the spiritual master. Therefore, the pleasure of the spiritual master is the true source of Krishna's pleasure. The purport is that when an aspirant for spiritual perfection takes up the process, he comes with the baggage of many lifetimes of accumulated sins and offenses, all of which are impediments on the spiritual path. Through all his best efforts, the practitioner will not be able to overcome all these obstacles. To do this, the devotee must seek the satisfaction of the spiritual master. This is the root of destruction of anarthas and the attainment of devotional service. The only way to achieve the satisfaction of the spiritual master is to find out what he wants and to do everything to serve him accordance with his wishes. This service results in the removal of all these impediments.
Evidence for this is found in the Bhagavatam, where Narada Muni gives the following teachings to Maharaja Yudhisthira:
asankalpaj jayet kamam
"One conquers over lust by stopping looking at things as though they were objects of personal sense pleasure; one can conquer over anger by giving up desire. One can conquer over greed by seeing the disadvantages arising from the possession of wealth and over fear through establishing the truth."
"One can overcome lamentation and illusion by metaphysical knowledge (i.e., recognizing the distinction between matter and spirit); pride by serving a great devotee; obstacles on the path of yoga by keeping silent; and envy by giving up one's desire for sense gratification." (SB 7.15.23)
krpaya bhutajam duhkham
daivam jahyat samadhina