Follow the Angels - Srila B.R. Sridhara Deva GoswamiAbout the Author
Follow the Angels - Srila B.R. Sridhara Deva GoswamiPart 2 – Follow the Angels

Follow the Angels – The Path of Dedication

Part 1 – The Kṛṣṇa Conception

 

The grand tone, the divine tone, the call comes from the higher quarter, the divine quarter: “Awake, arise! Search for your fortune!” And you cannot but have that; it is your birthright, it is the wealth of your own soul. It is there, the relationship with the Highest Divinity. It cannot but be within you! You are His creature; you exist in His connection and relationship. You must have some connection within you. Don’t be afraid of your present position; don’t be disappointed. In this way, you are to preach to the world at large. “All come! You want rasam ānandam, the mellow of delight, the differentiated personification of Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana, and that is very magnanimously distributed in Navadvīpa, the birthplace of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.”

The Kṛṣṇa conscious conception is the highest conception – the Absolute good, the Absolute beauty, the Absolute auto­crat, the Infinite. Vaikuṇṭha in its fullest conception is Goloka. Vaikuṇṭha has no kuṇṭha, that is, no limitation. That is Vaikuṇṭha, the conception of the Infinite. When it is consonant with the Kṛṣṇa conscious conception, it is considered the highest goal, the Absolute, the autocrat, and the beauty. The good, the beautiful, raso vai saḥ. Akhila rasāmṛta-mūrti. All conceptions of rasa are harmonised. The Kṛṣṇa conception of the Absolute harmonises different varieties of rasa. Raso vai saḥ. Akhila rasāmṛta mūrti. That is not intelligible by our present senses.

In the Vṛndāvana proposal, the Infinite is closest to the finite: aprākṛta. Aprākṛta is where the Infinite has come nearest to the finite beings, as though one of them. When He is so close, so near, no one can easily recognise whether He is infinite or not. Mahāprabhu has suggested to us, “Try for your fortune in Vṛndāvana. There is such a wonderful process: Nanda and Yaśodā, Kṛṣṇa’s father and mother, have captured the Absolute and He is crawling in their compound (ahaṁ iha nandaṁ vande yasyālinde paraṁ brahma). Try to secure a position there, however negligible it may be. Try your fortune.” We are in search of such a fortune, where all other proposals are eliminated.

kaṁ prati kathayitum īśe samprati ko vā pratītim āyātu
go-pati-tanayā-kuñje gopa-vadhūṭī-viṭaṁ brahma

To whom can I tell it, and who will believe it, that the Supreme Absolute, Param Brahman, the paramour of the damsels of Vraja, is enjoying in the groves on the banks of the Yamunā? (Padyāvalī 98)

It is inconceivable that the Brahman, the greatest, the Absolute, has come to search for the least love of the gopī damsels of the cowherd class. He has approached in such a near and close way, and in such an ordinary, rural style. Try your fortune there. We are out to do just that, under the guidance of Śrī Caitanyadeva, Who is understood to be the combination of the positive and negative aspects of the Absolute. The positive is busy distributing Himself to others. Mahāprabhu is that infinitely and inconceivably generous aspect of the Supreme. Śrī Caitanyadeva is both Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa combined. He is Kṛṣṇa in the mood of Rādhā, searching for Himself. He is both the positive and the negative aspects of the Absolute.

The Śaṅkara school and other impersonalists claim that when the positive and negative combine, the result is a kind of equilibrium. But according to the Vaiṣṇava philosophy, the combination is dynamic. His nature becomes that of searching for Himself – searching for His own positive self, in the mood of the negative. In that search, He distributes Himself to others. The negative attracts the positive, and the positive is thus distributed to the public. This is the essence of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. The intimate associates of the Lord have revealed such a conception, and we shall be able to conceive it according to the intensity and degree of our faith.

Necessity of a Real Agent

A real agent of Kṛṣṇa is necessary to save us, and also to help others. Hegel, the German philosopher, said that the idea is first, then the movements of the mind and body follow. His philosophy is called Ideal Realism. First we conceive of doing something, and then the movements of the mind and the body begin, so the idea leads us. The idea is all-important. Whatever idea we may follow, then the mind, the body, everything will follow.

Divya-darśana, divyānbhūti – a divine arrangement must be made, and we must have the help of the sādhus, the saints, who are His bona-fide agents. There may be many sham agents also – pseudo agents, sahajiyā agents, imitationists. We must go to the real agent. And with his help, by his grace, we will gradually attain our end.

naiṣāṁ matis tāvad urukramāṅghriṁ
spṛśaty anarthāpagamāyād arthaḥ
mahīyasāṁ pāda rajo’bhiṣekaṁ
niṣkiñcanānāṁ na vṛṇīta yāvat
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 7.5.32)

Prahlāda Mahārāja said: “So long as one’s mind does not come in contact with the divine feet of the Lord, it is indispensable to get the help of His devotees, His agents, for the elimination of the undesirable elements within us.”

Our divine life does not really begin as long as we do not come to the feet of the real master. There it begins – our real progress, real life. Our real advancement towards divinity begins when we get recognition from the agent of the Lord. Some might say, “This is a monopoly, and an autocratic system. God is for everyone, why should some mediator be necessary at all? He is open to all – He knows us all. If we only desire Him sincerely, He will come directly.”

A Proper Guardian Assures Our Future

We are unsettled, running hither and thither with no principle in our life, and our position is very sad. This kind of life is very troublesome. To think, “I cannot put my faith anywhere,” means that I cannot find a friend anywhere. I am friendless, moving amongst foreigners or perhaps even enemies. But I must have a friend, or at the very least, some friendly atmosphere. I must come into such company in whom I can rest all my faith, in whom I can believe and trust. Without this, my life is miserable. By God’s infinite grace, some śraddhā (faith) should come to us: “It is not that I can only trust and believe, but it is this – I cannot but show my regard to a personality of the higher position” – gurum evābhigacchet.

When we suffer from uncertainty to the extreme, we shall hanker for connection with the guru, the spiritual master. We cannot only put an enquiry to him with faith and trust, but guru is a guardian who is our well-wisher, more so than we are to ourselves. The guardian is a friend who thinks more of us than we think of ourselves. He knows more about our welfare than we do. That is what it is like to have a guardian, a friend, a guru.

If one commits vaiṣṇava-aparādha or nāma-aparādha, offences against the Vaiṣṇava or the Holy Name, one may be detained again and again. It is not such a cheap thing. Still, there is the possibility that when properly guided, a proper soul may attain the highest position in a single life. It is not impossible. Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura says:

āśraya lañā bhaje, tāre kṛṣṇa nahi tyaje
āra saba mare akāraṇa
(Prārthanā 44.1)

If we can get a bona-fide guardian, our future in spiritual life is assured. Kṛṣṇa cannot dismiss the guardian very easily, because the guardian has a solid position in the Lord’s relationship. If we enter into the domain of our guardian’s care, our position will be assured. Our only solace is that we are going through His agent. He’s so kind and benevolent that He has sent His agent to recruit us, and that is our hope. We must be cautious to see that we do not betray His agent, for thereby we betray ourselves.

Āra saba mare akāraṇa. Others, who have not yet been able to surrender at the holy feet of their guardian or guru, are in an uncertain position, and they may be deviated by any agent. Their future is deplorable. They have no shelter, no āśraya. If through our śraddhā we can have a real ideal in life and acquire a real guardian, then certainly our future is assured practically. Our only duty will be towards our guardian, our Gurudeva, our āśraya, and all other duties will be once and for all automatically accomplished and summarily completed.

To traverse the length and breadth of this wide world, where there is nothing but various types of exploitation of various planes, is to sail as a ship without a rudder that can be swept away by sea storms, endlessly and without purpose or objective. It is through śraddhā that we can connect with our highest goal of achievement and fulfilment. First, this problem must be solved – then real life can begin.

Measuring the Infinite

Faith is the only instrument for the finite to measure the Infinite. To survey the Infinite, all other methods are futile. Faith is the most spacious substance within us. It can cover a long, long distance. In the Infinite, what faith can we have in faith? We fear blind faith. Yet, in the Infinite, the impossible becomes possible. Everything is possible, but only faith has the possibility of connecting us with the Infinite, while all other methods are useless. Faith is the only effective link. We must approach the object of our search via a similar plane. We can approach the Infinite only with the help of śraddhā. We cannot hope to have any connection with that finest plane of fundamental existence with the help of the eye, nose or ear, or even by intelligence or reason.

If we want to have any connection with the finest plane that is underlying this creation, it is possible only through faith – śraddhāmayo ‘yaṁ puruṣaḥ.

Śraddhā, faith, can go a long distance. We shall be able to feel and conceive that faith is not merely imaginary – it has its tangible position, a most efficient position within us. When we can disconnect from all phases of perceptual experience, we can live in faith alone. When all the wealth of our experience deceives us and betrays us, our faith will save us.

In the higher type of devotion there is never any desire that Kṛṣṇa or His associates will come to serve and supply us, or that He will show Himself to us. To impose our whim on Him is not actual service. Whatever He likes to do He may do. And whatever may be required of us, we shall consider ourselves fortunate if we are given the chance to supply it. Exhaustively eliminating all our desires, we are to place ourselves fully at the disposal of the Supreme Lord, Who is never to carry out any order or wish of ours.

By nature, Kṛṣṇa is eager to supply everything to His devotees – yogakṣemaṁ vahāmy-aham. But the higher devotees do not like Him to supply them with anything, or for Him to render service to them. Such is the purity of their devotion. Through their faith, they think, “He is my Lord. I don’t want to have His darśana merely to satisfy my lower faculty of perceiving that He exists.” It is a very low standard of faith to consider that only if we can see Him, then we shall be satisfied that He exists. We have no capacity to see Him. To make Him our object, keeping ourselves the subject, is a low standard of faith. But higher, intense faith fully proves that He is that wonderful cause of everything. He is present.

Earnest Desire is the Only Price

Mahāprabhu says: nāhaṁ vipro na ca nara-patir nāpi vaiśyo na śūdro…gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ. At the beginning is varṇāśrama-dharma, regulated life. This is just the beginning, then gradually there is improvement and we are to go up to the absolute service of Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is independent of any form of life – without consideration of any law or any form; only service, kṛṣṇa-santuṣta. Yat karosi yad-aśnāsi. Whatever we do, think, speak, everything should be for the service of Kṛṣṇa. That is the standard of devotion.

And mere formalism may be favorable, but not always. The spirit is all-important, even when crossing every formality. What is required of us is our absolute attraction for service, for beauty. Laws have no status there. In the beginning they have some sort of utility, but when one is a little advanced, one should not care for them, for anything. Only seek sādhu-saṅga, adherence to the saints of similar type, a little better than ourselves, our guides in rāga-bhajana, those who are in the path of divine love and attraction.

That is the only way. That is the only thing that can guide us. Laulyam, the only price is our laulya, earnest desire, nothing else. Kṛṣṇa-bhakti-rasa-bhāvitā-matiḥ. Rāmānanda Rāya says to Mahāprabhu that if one finds it anywhere, one should try to purchase it. What is that? The pure inclination towards the service of Kṛṣṇa. The innermost tendency to want Kṛṣṇa, to get Him, to have Him; the earnest desire to have Him. Anywhere you find that desire, a drop of that divine attraction, try to purchase it for any price. Acquire it! It may be obtained from anywhere or anyone, it does not matter.

kibā vipra kibā nyāsī śūdra kene naya
yei kṛṣṇa tattva vettā sei guru haya
(Cc.Madhya 8.128)

A brāhmaṇa, a sannyāsī, or a śūdra who knows Kṛṣṇa – he is guru. Wherever there is a drop of that love divine, only try to get it. And what is the price? Earnest desire for it. Laulyaṁ api mūlyam ekalaṁ. The only price is earnest desire. It is not to be purchased with any money, nor is it anything that is acquired by so many formal practices in millions of births. Substance is necessary and not the form. Form is required only as much as it may connect us with that real substance, otherwise it is not necessary. Sarva dharmān parityajya – give up all phases of duty which you perceive and perfect. At once try to jump in the ocean of nectar. That is the desired teaching. Earnest desire, that is to be acquired – that is bhakti proper.

There are some that want to know about Kṛṣṇa only from the śāstra, scripture. In the almanac it is written that this year so much rain is expected, so much rain will come. But if we press the almanac, will a drop of water ooze out of it? The śāstra is like that, something like that. The śāstra says do this, do that, but the scripture cannot give us Kṛṣṇa. First we get the direction, then we practice – we are to do it. We are helpless when searching with this method or that method.

Vaiṣṇava is Higher than Śāstra

Practically, we should come in connection with the service of a Vaiṣṇava. But where, whom to serve? I can’t come directly in connection with Him. Who can I serve? The Deity form of the Lord, the vigraha is there, the śāstra is there – but in a sense these are superficial. The real substance we find in a Vaiṣṇava, in his heart. Dharmasya tattvam nihitaṁ guhāyāṁ. The Kṛṣṇa conception, Kṛṣṇa as He is, knowledge and love, we find living in the heart of a Vaiṣṇava who directs all activities towards Him, towards His service.

Faith in the devotees, the Vaiṣṇavas, grants us the most substantial help. Such a position is not flickering, but firm. One who has faith in the Vaiṣṇavas achieves devotion of a tangible character. Otherwise, with only abstract faith in the Lord, without faith in the devotees, we are but beginners in the stage of kaniṣṭha-adhikārī. This is an unreliable platform. Our devotion reaches a reliable standard when we can develop faith in the devotees, and recognise their importance. The devotees are above even śāstra, the scriptures. The tangible stage when our real faith in them develops is the middle stage, madhyama-adhikārī.

In the Vaiṣṇava, the truth is animated more than in the vigraha (Deity), the tīrtha (holy place of pilgrimage), or the śāstra (scripture). We find a direct connection with Kṛṣṇa in the consciousness of a Vaiṣṇava. We find that which is regulating all his activities and withdrawing him from worldly attraction, guiding him towards some unknown and most desirable direction. He is moving towards that direction. The Lord is making him move in a particular direction that cannot be traced by any loss or gain of this world. What is that thing? “I am there. I am not even in Vaikuṇṭha, nor in the hearts of the yogīs. But where my devotees are singing with pleasure about me, I am there.”

mac cittā mad gata prāṇā bodhayantaḥ parasparam
kathayantaś ca māṁ nityaṁ tuṣyanti ca ramanti ca

Those who are always thinking of Me, who have dedicated their very lives to Me, enlighten each other and feel great satisfaction and joy by always speaking about Me. (Gītā 10.9)

Pure Spiritual Attraction

 

In the Rāmānuja sampradāya there is a story about three devotees who arrived at their temple for some occasion. They did not know one another. In the darkness one is talking, another hearing. Their talk is very sweet. Then the third devotee also joined there and they were talking together, although they did not know one another. They have heard the name of this devotee, that devotee. Then after talking for some time, a question was asked. “We are three here, but do you feel the presence of a fourth person?” “Yes, I feel the presence of a fourth one, and it is that Person about Whom we talk – the Lord has appeared here. In our talk, in our conversation, He has appeared.” Develop this attraction, pure spiritual attraction, until nothing can be pleasing to us but Kṛṣṇa, Rādhārāṇī and the gopīs. That is what is necessary, for Kṛṣṇa and His group to take possession of the innermost part of our hearts by the thought of His līlā, His Name, and His paraphernalia.

man manā bhāva mad bhakto mad yājī māṁ nāmaskuru
mām evaiṣyasi satyaṁ te pratijāne priyo ‘si me

Fix your mind upon Me, devote yourself to Me, worship Me and offer respects to Me. By doing so you will certainly come to Me. I promise you this because you are very dear to Me. (Gītā 18.65)

Kṛṣṇa says to Arjuna that he is the most favorite devotee. “I promise you that at the very least I won’t deceive you. I say that I am everything and I won’t deceive you. Man manā bhāva – always remember Me. Mad bhakto – be My devotee, serve Me. Man manā bhāva mad bhakto, mad yājī – if you sacrifice anything, do it for Me. Mad yājī māṁ nāmaskuru – or at least show respect for Me. You are sure to enter into Me, to come to Me. Mām evaiṣyasi – you will come to Me alone. Satyaṁ te – this is the truth. Pratijāne – I promise you. Priyo ‘si me – you are My favorite. The truth is this. Do everything for Me, attend Me, always think of Me and you are sure to come to Me. This is the plain truth.”

That thinking, the life of engagement, is attraction for Him. How do we develop that attraction for Kṛṣṇa? We get it from the devotee. Superficially we can obtain it from the scripture, but substantially only from the devotee. Within their heart, within their endeavor, pervading through all their activities, there is a particular attraction and that is a divine thing. We want that. It is the subtlest of the subtle, the nerve structure within. It can move the body. It can help the body to function. We are attracted to the inner energy in the devotee, which makes him do that which we do not find in this world – no attraction for sense pleasure, no attraction for fame, name, or money.

Something else is there – attraction for Kṛṣṇa. We must follow his guidance. “One who comes to serve Me directly, he is not really My devotee. But one who is devoted to My devotee is My real devotee.” What is the meaning? Vaiṣṇava-sevā, guru-sevā, nāma-sevā – service to the devotees, the spiritual master, and the Holy Name. “His love for Me is so intense that wherever he finds any external connection with Me, he engages himself fully there.”

Real Taste for the Truth

Until and unless we find in our hearts a real taste for the truth, we are not safe. First, on the surface, spiritual life begins with śraddhā, faith, and underneath with sukṛti, or special merit. Next is sādhu-saṅga, or company with the saints. Within that is our surrender to guru. Then bhajana begins, our serving life in various forms, such as śravaṇa, kīrtana, prasāda-sevā, or hearing, chanting, and respecting the Lord’s remnants. Then anartha-nivṛtti, our attraction for objects other than Kṛṣṇa, objects other than God, diminishes. Then niṣṭha, continued effort in devotional service, and not for anything else. Then ruci, taste, is developed.

Real taste for the truth will be awakened in our heart. We are safe then, but not before that. When spontaneous taste for the truth awakens within us, we are safe. We can make fair progress from that time. Taste will take us. When we have acquired the taste of sweetness, automatically we shall run towards that which is very sweet. Prior to that, we must remain under the guardian. Until and unless we find that the truth is sweet, that Kṛṣṇa is sweet, we are not safe in our approach towards Him. So many distractions may take us hither and thither.

Nāma-sevā

In Kali-yuga the service of the Holy Name has especially been recommended in a general way.

sādhu-saṅga kṛṣṇa-nāma ei mātra cāi
saṁsāra jinite āra kono vastu nāi

My only desire is to chant the Holy Name in the company of devotees. This is all I need to conquer the cycle of birth and death. (Prema-vivarta 6.13)

One must climb up to the real plane where he can take the Name proper, up to Vaikuṇṭha, to take vaikuṇṭha-nāma, the unlimited Name. It is true that an infinite magnitude of sin may be removed, dispersed, dismissed by one utterance of the Name. But that Name must not be only the physical sound. It must have as its characteristics those of Vaikuṇṭha – unlimited, eternal, from the plane of eternity. Sādhu-saṅga, the Name must be taken from Gurudeva, and it should be chanted in the association of the sādhu.

Nāma-saṅkīrtana is to preach the Holy Name. But what is the Name? The ten offences against the Name are to be understood and avoided. The external shallow expression of the Name should be eliminated, and the real Name that is one and the same with the Lord, that Name should be taken. That is nāma-bhajana, that is kīrtana, illuminating the greatness and magnanimity of the Holy Name. The Name Himself is so charming – the Name is the Lord Himself. In this way we practice nāma-kīrtana. Thereby we can be saved from the external contamination of the forces of karma and jñāna, fruitive work and speculative knowledge.

Nāma: More Than Mundane Sound

If we take the Name, then there must be service. Sat-saṅga. Sādhu-saṅge kṛṣṇa-nāma – service means to dedicate oneself completely to that which we serve. In that way we shall take the Name. For what purpose are we taking the Name of the Lord? Kanaka, kāmiṇī, pratiṣṭhā – not for money, not for sense gratification, not to achieve popularity. We are ready to sacrifice ourselves completely for Him, for His Name. With that attitude we shall take the Name. It is not limited. The whole life within the fist we shall give for His satisfaction. The whole of our energy, we shall risk it for the satisfaction of the Holy Name. We must approach with this attitude. It is guaranteed. The pursuit, the attempt is backed by our whole energy, our whole life, the whole prospect, everything.

With this attitude we shall have to search for a drop of Vaikuṇṭha nectar. Otherwise it is useless. Die to live. Sacrifice, sevā. Sevā means death – death of the material ego. Sevā means to give one’s own self to a particular purpose. The sevā of Kṛṣṇa means to give up this mad self, this mundane, concocted self. Try to be saved from our present position. This is not a very laudable thing, our present position; it is a mortal thing, the result of many reactions. So get rid of this shelter. Get out of it, as soon as possible. And enter into the land of confidence and goodness and fairness and sweetness. Try to enter that.

It is Not So Cheap

We must be sincere and wholesome, without hesitation. Our campaign must be complete, not partial, as if taking one step forward and three steps back. Otherwise we are the finite and we want to get the advantage over the Infinite. We are very small, but we are willing to sacrifice only a part of the small. Our aspiration is to obtain the Whole. Good friend, it is not so easy.

ataḥ śrī-kṛṣṇa-nāmādi na bhaved grāhyam indriyaiḥ
sevonmukhe hi jihvādau svayam eva sphuraty-adaḥ

No one can understand the divine nature of the name, form, quality and pastimes of Kṛṣṇa through material senses. Only when one becomes spiritually saturated by devotional service are the transcendental name, form, quality and pastimes of the Lord revealed. (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.234)

Only our superficial senses are engaged in Kṛṣṇa’s cultivation. For Him it is nothing. Our tongue can produce mundane sound, but that is not Kṛṣṇa. Sevonmukhe hi jihvādau, svayam eva sphuraty-adaḥ – that is not the Holy Name, only a mundane sound.

For the Name to be Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa has to descend there. Don’t be self-deceptive – do not think that in taking the Name we have become great sādhus. It is not like that. Kṛṣṇa has to come down in the form of the sound to us. He is spiritual, He is transcendental. Sevonmukhe – our complete surrender towards Him will attract Him, and He’ll graciously come down to grace us in the form of the Name, in our actions, in performing our duties. At every step He will come.

When we give ourselves to Him, He will accept us. He will embrace us. He’ll be within and without us. He is everywhere, but only those with clear eyes can see Him, not those who are captured by any prejudice for selfish ends or ordinary things. Don’t be captivated by prejudice. When all prejudice is cleared, directly see the highest principle underlying all. Like so much dust, the tendency for exploitation and renunciation has blinded our eyes and we can’t see Him.

Those that are lustful look for the beautiful body. Others only think about business because they love wealth the most. They are always engaged with lust or money – the world of their knowledge is revealed to them. There are such strata. They may boast: “I have such power, I have beauty, I have wealth.” However, all this is false.

The real backing of spirit is Nārāyaṇa, the all-pervading, the all-knowing principle, the all-good. These other thoughts are temporary. Our prejudices of so many types have captured us. Those that are liberated from these influences, they’ll find that this is the kingdom of Nārāyaṇa, Who is the support and the guardian of the whole of the world. We see His hand everywhere. Without His direction, nothing can move.

Serve the Name Through a Genuine Agent

If we want a guarantee that Kṛṣṇa will be satisfied with whatever process we undertake, the most important tenet of our movement is that we must act under His agent. His satisfaction depends on that. If the agent is a false man, then our whole effort is wasted. But if he is a real agent, then we must gain through him. If through our connection with him we are connected to Vaikuṇṭha, then our actions will be valued. Otherwise we may lose, and commit offences: nāma-aparādha, sevā-aparādha, arcana-aparādha, offences against the Holy Name, against devotional service, and against the proper worship of the Lord.

It is written in the scriptures. If service is not properly done, then we are sure to commit some offences against the Deity. Either we give satisfaction to Him, or we give some trouble. That is an intolerable way of conducting that holy process. We must guard against nāma-aparādha and sevā-aparādha. We must not be over-confident of our previous acquisition. We may have acquired so much, our progress may be such, but we must not be proud. We should not be satisfied with ourselves.

Mahāprabhu Himself said, “I am taking the Name, I am showing so much peace, shedding so many tears, in the Name of Kṛṣṇa. But why? It is all false. My tears are only for show, to convince others that I am such a great devotee.” In such a way we must disbelieve that we are devotees. We must be very careful – very, very careful. Kavirāja Gosvāmī and Narottama Ṭhākura have written thus.

“I am neglected, I am left behind, I am excluded. I am so low; I am so contaminated. I am rejected from the Infinite līlā. I could not utilise this great fortunate wave.” This should be the feeling of a real Vaiṣṇava who has an actual relationship with the Infinite. As much as the finite comes in contact with the Infinite, the disposition cannot but be affected. It is not imitation; it cannot but be the real thing.

“I am empty, I don’t get anything” – that should be our mood. “I feel emptiness within me. I can’t get it, my life is frustrated. My life is going to be frustrated. I don’t get a drop of the grace of the Lord, and I have left the world – everything is gone. If You don’t accept me, I am undone. Please make me a servant of the servant of the servant of the servant. Give me the remotest connection. Graciously give me some remotest connection to Yourself. I can’t tolerate it otherwise.”

This heartfelt, heart-rending prayer must come from the devotees of the Lord, then we will find our fortune. The charm for the world outside must be fully eliminated from the heart, fully emptied. And the near future will be filled with the nectar of the grace of Kṛṣṇa.

Bhukti and mukti, the desires for enjoyment and renunciation, are compared with ghosts. These two types of ghosts reside in the heart. So how do we dare to express that bhakti lives in our heart? The noble lady of devotion, will she come there, lying on the same bench with these ghosts? How can we expect that? Have we freed ourselves from all these nasty things that we dare to invite the lady of kṛṣṇa-bhakti to come here?

Necessity of True Humility

Our modesty will not be ignorantly accepted as lack of qualification; have no fear of that.

tṛṇād api sunīcena taror api sahiṣṇunā
amāninā mānadena kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ

One who is humbler than a blade of grass and more forbearing than a tree, and gives due honor to others without desiring it for himself is qualified to always chant the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa. (Śikṣāṣṭaka 3)

Infinite meaning and prospect, the general direction is given thus. Do we take the process of divine sound, to reach that goal by the divine sound? To come to that level we will have to accept such an attitude of humility. Then we will feel that there is a very fine, fine level through which we can reach there. The finest level is there. But we are to accept such an attitude here, then it will be possible, but not by force. There is no necessity of removing a mountain, or to oppose a river current – big things won’t be necessary. Only by cultivation of the spiritual sound will we be able to reach the goal. But we will have to take such an attitude, and we will feel that we have come to a particular, very subtle level. Only through sound can we go there. Our soul can be attracted, connected with that, only if we can saturate ourselves with this – tṛṇād api sunīcena, taror api sahiṣṇunā.

That means a great deal, it is not an outward statement. If we adopt this sort of mood, we shall have to cross many oceans. Many oceans we shall have to cross, to experience. From our present position of egoistic boasting, we are to go to the lowest level of a blade of grass. We are to go through country after country, plane after plane. Taror api sahiṣṇunā – to reach into that sort of attitude, we will pass on our way so many suns, moons, and earths. Such concrete things we shall have to bid adieu.

Many basic thoughts of the concrete, they have to give way; leave them behind to reach that attitude properly – amāninā mānadena. Our connection with the subtle and higher things necessitates that we ignore the concrete – amāninā mānadena. The plane of life will be changed. The plane will change to where the activity should be, where the energy should be invested; not in this plane – that which we see about us as concrete.

Mahāprabhu is saying, “Don’t assert, forget giving resistance, rather if any resistance comes, try to forbear with the best of your energy. Don’t try to intrude upon the physical prospects of others. Mānadena – don’t give any opposition to them. If we can do this, then we are automatically led to a particular plane. We will find harmony beyond our expectation and our conception. A wonderful thing! Only through the Holy Name we find that Kṛṣṇa is overflowing, all-pervading.”

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu instructed Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī to always remain meek and humble and to always chant the Holy Name.

grāmya-kathā nā śunibe, grāmya-vārtā nā kahibe
bhāla nā khaibe āra bhāla nā paribe
amānī mānada hañā kṛṣṇa-nāma sadā la’be
vraje rādhā-kṛṣṇa-sevā mānase karibe

Do not talk like common people or hear what they have to say. Do not eat rich foodstuffs, nor dress very luxuriously. Do not expect honor, but offer all respect unto others. Always chant the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa, and within your mind render service to Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa in Vraja. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 6.236-7)

We must not attend to worldly talk, neither should we engage in that. Bhāla nā khaibe āra bhāla nā paribe – don’t seek after the satisfaction of our tongue and belly, and don’t try to wear any good dress to be admired by the people. Amānī mānada hañā kṛṣṇa-nāma sadā la’be – give honor to all, but don’t seek honor from anyone. In this way we will take the Name of Kṛṣṇa always, continuously. Vraje rādhā-kṛṣṇa-sevā mānase karibe – internally in our minds we shall try to serve Rādhā and Govinda in Vṛndāvana. As we are in Vṛndāvana, we are serving Rādhā and Govinda. That will be our mental aspiration. Externally we are to go on, living our life simply in this way: no good dress, no good food, no indulgence in worldly topics – neither speaking nor hearing them, always giving honor to all, and not seeking honor from anyone. In this mood we must go on – kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ.

Potency Within the Name

The real Name must be vaikuṇṭha nāma grahaṇam. That of infinite characteristic, that is Vaikuṇṭha – it is not in this mundane or measured plane. Māyā, illusion, is measured by local or provincial interest, not Absolute interest. Nāma must not be rooted there, but it must have its connection with the Absolute plane. Then it will come and transform us and prepare us. It will make us fit for the service of that Absolute plane. Kṛṣṇa is there – it is not a thing of concoction or imagination. It is reality, and what we think to be real at present is unreal.

The sound must have the divine characteristic. Kṛṣṇa, Hari – these sounds are nirguṇa, beyond all material qualities, and divine. Vaikuṇṭha nāma grahaṇam aśeṣāgha haraṁ viduḥ. The Name must be of divine characteristic, that which can take away all that is undesirable in us. The Name must have a spiritual conception. It cannot be a mere physical imitation, that which can be produced by lip and tongue alone.

Kṛṣṇa, Hari, Viṣṇu, Nārāyaṇa – all these are vaikuṇṭha-nāma. It is necessary that they have spiritual existence, which is all in all. They must have spiritual depth, not imitation. Physical imitation is not the Name proper. It is not śabda-brahma – only the imitation sound may come out, but not real depth. So the Name means nāma-brahma, nāma-kṛṣṇa.

The Name must have some spiritual background or spiritual truth that is distributed through the physical sound. The sound is not Kṛṣṇa, but Kṛṣṇa is within the sound. The Name must be surcharged with the spirit, and that spirit is not of mundane character. That is not found in the Śaṅkara or māyāvādī (impersonalist) school. Their belief is that although the Name is not confined within the jurisdiction of the physical, still it is only mental, sattva-guṇa, the material quality of purity. That is also a product of this māyā, misconception. That is their misunderstanding. The potency is within. What type of thought or sentiment is imparted through that sound is the important thing. The māyāvādīs have the same mantra, they also chant the Name, but that sort of Name will vanish in Brahmaloka, the highest planetary system in the material universe. They won’t be able to cross the Virajā River between the material and spiritual worlds.

Māyāvāda Nāma is like Thunder

When the māyāvādī impersonalist chants the Name of Kṛṣṇa, our Vṛndāvana Dāsa Ṭhākura says that his praise, his taking the Name, and his devotional characteristics are just like thunder against the holy body of Kṛṣṇa. There is no soothing effect from his chanting. In the Gauḍīya Maṭha we are interested in Reality, not in appearances. We want only what is real in the world of realisation, the step by step development of spiritual practices, the required adjustment.

We are not enchanted with the outward form – the mere form does not capture us. We are interested in the idea and the step by step gradual development in the conception – what is Virajā, what is Brahmaloka and Paravyoma? What is Goloka Vṛndāvana? All these things:

karmibhyaḥ parito hareḥ priyatayā vyaktiṁ yayur jñāninas
tebhyo jñāna vimukta bhakti paramāḥ premaika niṣṭhās tataḥ

The jñānīs have attained the distinction of being dearer to Lord Hari than those who follow the path of karma. Even dearer to the Lord are those who have abandoned knowledge, understanding that the path of bhakti is higher. Even more superior are those who have attained love for Kṛṣṇa. (Upadeśāmṛta 10)

Understanding this gradation is required: what is Virajā proper, what is Brahmaloka, what is the brahma-jyoti or spiritual effulgence, what is Śivaloka, what is Vaikuṇṭha, and then what is Ayodhyā, what is Dvārakā, what is Mathurā, what is Vṛndāvana – the realistic view of the whole gradation. Na tathā me priyatama ātma yonir na śaṅkaraḥ –“O Uddhava! Neither Brahmā, nor Śaṅkara, nor Śaṅkarṣaṇa, nor Lakṣmī, nor even My very Self is as dear to Me as you.” Naivātmā (not even Myself), “you are My favorite, Uddhava.” How is it possible?

We have to follow the spirit. We are slaves of the truth, beggars of what is flowing down to us from above, the spiritual current, the pure current. The external form does not charm us.

Gradations of the Holy Name

There are those that think that hari-nāma, kṛṣṇa-nāma, and śiva-nāma are one and the same, like the followers of the Ramakrishna Mission or the Śaṅkara school. They teach that, but such an idea originates in the plane of misunderstanding. Śuddha-nāma, the pure Name, must have its original form in nirguṇa-bhūmika, far beyond the misconception of māyā. The influence of māyā reaches up to Virajā – then there is Brahmaloka, then Paravyoma. The real Name must have its origin in Paravyoma, and kṛṣṇa-nāma originates in Goloka, the most original plane of the whole existence. To be really kṛṣṇa-nāma, it must have its origin in the highest plane of Vṛndāvana.

Nāmākṣara – the mere physical sound, is not the Name proper. The real Name is necessary not only for us to get out of this world of māyā or misunderstanding, but for the attainment of the service of Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana. The Name that has its origin in the Vṛndāvana plane, only that can take us there. Otherwise, if the spirit in the Name, the sound, is of any other type, it may take us to that mundane place only.

This is quite scientific – it is not unreasonable. A mere word is not the Name. The meaning and the essence of the meaning, the deep conception of the meaning, that is everything; it is all in all. It is all-important to serve our purpose.

Name Proper From a Bona-fide Guru

We shall try to take upadeśa, instruction, from a real source, not from just anyone. Asādhu-saṅgete bhāi nāma nāhi haya – we cannot find real kṛṣṇa-nāma in the association of those that do not have it. The external sound, the superficial sound may come out, but not the substance. The external cover of the sound, the ordinary sound, that may not be Kṛṣṇa. Nāma-aparādha, nāmaabhāsa. It is ordinary sound, not Vaikuṇṭha sound, not spiritual sound. Where sound is surcharged with spiritual knowledge, with feeling, that is kṛṣṇa-nāma, that is Kṛṣṇa. The superficial imitation of kṛṣṇa-nāma is not Kṛṣṇa – it is mundane sound. That is the difference between mundane sound and spiritual sound. When we have spiritual life within and we speak about Kṛṣṇa, our words are surcharged with spiritual substance.

There is a story about a doctor who had a dispensary where he saw many patients and administered much medicine. One day, the doors of the dispensary were open, and the doctor was absent. One monkey entered there, and monkeys are good imitators. The monkey entered, and taking a seat on the doctor’s chair, he imitated the doctor, giving medicine here and there. But the monkey’s treatment is not that of the doctor. The external aspect is there, imitation, but the inner aspect is absent. Similarly, spiritual understanding must be there within the physical actions.

Kṛṣṇa-nāma is not only mundane sound – it is something else. It is necessary that we take the sound from a bona-fide guru who has spiritual realisation, whose words are surcharged with spiritual substance. It is required. Otherwise, it will be all in vain; it is only cultivation of mundane sound. Vaikuṇṭha nāma grahaṇam aśeṣa – it is said in the śāstra that you should take the Name identified with infinite vaikuṇṭha-nāma – that sound that has a connection with the Infinite, not the mundane limited sound, connected to the limited world. An ordinary person, a student, must come to a real professor who will be able to offer real education, not to anyone and everyone. This is the norm.

A person of high intelligence can discover something from ordinary events. From ordinary incidents, an expert can find out the higher truth, just like Newton. When the apple fell from the tree, the realisation came to him, “Oh, the earth is drawing it, attracting it.” Ordinary people see an apple falling, but no such realisation comes that the earth is drawing it, attracting it. Newton discovered gravitation. Observation of the ordinary gives new light to an expert, a person with a higher brain. In the same way, the higher spiritualist can obtain deep realisations from the apparently commonplace. But for ordinary persons it is not possible. They should go to a proper source.

It is mentioned in the Upaniṣads, in Bhāgavatam, Bhagavad-gītā, how and with what attitude the disciple should approach the ācārya, the spiritual preceptor. If the ācārya has practical and scriptural knowledge of the truth, if this qualification is there, he is not bogus, but a real ācārya.

We must approach a real doctor to cure disease, not a monkey imitating a doctor. It is common sense. If we have thirst for spiritual knowledge, then we must go to a proper spiritualist, not one that will harm us. Avaiṣṇava mukhodgīrṇaṁ – an imitation ācārya. It is common sense – progress is possible when a real transaction is made. Sometimes that is very difficult. A good professor is necessary, but if the student is not up to standard, then the professor can’t do anything. Both must be qualified, student and professor – only then can scholarship be imparted.

Advantage of Kali-yuga

In this Kali-yuga, there is a special dispensation.

kaler doṣa-nidhe rājan asti hy-eko mahān guṇaḥ
kīrtanād eva kṛṣṇasya mukta-saṅgaḥ paraṁ vrajet

O King, although the age of Kali is an ocean of faults, still it has one good quality. Simply by performing kīrtana of Kṛṣṇa one can become free from material bondage and achieve the supreme abode. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 12.3.51)

Mahāprabhu Himself comes to distribute it. It is a better situation than during other ages. It is stated in śāstra:

kaliṁ sabhājayanty āryā guṇa jñāḥ sāra bhāginaḥ
yatra saṅkīrtanenaiva sarva-svārto ‘bhilabhyate

Those who are intelligent are able to understand the true value and essential benefits of Kali-yuga. Such persons praise the age of Kali because, by the performance of saṅkīrtana, all desired results can be achieved. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.5.36 )

Yatra saṅkīrtanenaiva sarva-svārto ‘bhilabhyate. In the Golden Age, those persons that are āryā guṇa jñāḥ sāra bhāginaḥ – who can judge things according to quality by clever understanding, they will feel, “I want to dance in the Kali-yuga. There’s a special dispensation from the highest.” Yatra saṅkīrtanenaiva – “Welcome to Kali-yuga, the Iron Age.” Those sādhus who have a deeper understanding hanker after chanting in Kali-yuga. “I don’t want birth in the Golden Age, but in the Iron Age. Yatra saṅkīrtanenaiva – only by the method of chanting the Name of Hari, everything may be attained – sarva-svārto ‘bhilabhyate. The whole thing is God’s special dispensation. So Kali-yuga is special and I want to take birth in that Kali.”

Śukadeva Gosvāmī also declares in the assembly of those authentic scholars, kaler doṣa-nidhe rājan. This Iron Age is full of defects, but it has one great advantage, asti hy-eko mahān guṇaḥ – only by taking to preaching about Kṛṣṇa, one can be freed of all undesirable things and attain the highest goal, kīrtanād eva kṛṣṇasya mukta-saṅgaḥ paraṁ vrajet. What is that Kṛṣṇa saṅkīrtana, that preaching about Kṛṣṇa? It must be very special, that which can give us so much benefit. What is that thing? We must inquire very attentively. This is not a scheming thing, a deceitful thing. It is a fact, an ontological fact.

Without the help of anything else, only by the chanting of kṛṣṇa-nāma, preaching about Kṛṣṇa, we shall undo all undesirable things and attain the highest end of life. What is that? How do we attempt that? With such deep attention we have to inquire about this. Not to trample it. It is not a trifling thing. It is described that it has so much prospect – dive deeply to understand it. It must be done with that sort of feeling. We must “Die to live” with all seriousness. Die to live – with such seriousness we may attain that goal.

What is kīrtana? It is distribution to the environment. Kīrtana is accepting everything from the higher plane and distributing it to ordinary persons. That should be done in a serious mood. This is kṛṣṇa-kathā – this is Kṛṣṇa consciousness, Kṛṣṇa consciousness from the proper source. Derive it from the proper source and distribute it at large.

To preach is not an easy thing in this Kali-yuga, because the environment is very negative. Kala means quarrel – there are so many opinions. All are quarreling to establish their own superiority. They are trying hard to establish their different types of thought. In the midst of them all, we have to do things in earnest. We must do something factual. With much energy this dedication must come from our heart with all sincerity. Then we shall get that highest achievement. It is not an ordinary thing, but a reality.

Śraddhā is the Minimum Demand

Kṛṣṇa consciousness is causeless, that is that, it has no beginning, and apratihatā, it has no end. No beginning, no end. It is the central flow or vibration or wave. Any separate interest, separate consciousness, that is anartha. Artha means necessity; whatever is not a necessity, but is posturing as a necessity based on separate interest – that is anartha. What is necessary is to avoid that track of separate interest that misleads us, and to learn to have the Infinite reading, the reading of the Infinite – to identify with the universal flow, the universal wave.

When we are carried away by different waves of separate consciousness, that is anartha, that which is not necessary. The only necessity is to merge in the wave of universal interest. It is for Itself, for Himself. Ahaṁ hi sarva-yajñānāṁ bhoktā ca prabhur eva ca – “I’m the only enjoyer of all these sacrifices or movements in this world. I’m the only enjoyer and everything belongs to Me, unconditionally.” That is God’s position. He is paramount, the highest harmonising centre. And we must all submit cent-percent to Him. Any deviation from that is anartha.

Anartha means meaninglessness, that which has no meaning. Meaning, serving a purpose, is to catch that universal wave, to have connection only with the universal movement. Anything other than that is anartha, aprayojaniya – undesirable, unnecessary. It will serve no purpose. We are in connection with anartha, the undesirable things that won’t serve any real purpose.

Our real cause, the purpose of our lives, our satisfaction, and our existence will be found within the universal wave of the Absolute. That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness, the most universal, fundamental wave. We have to catch that wave. Our goal, our satisfaction, the fulfilment of our life is to be found only there, in that plane, not in this superficial plane of nationality or family interest or social service. All these are provincial interests.

But to stop one’s movement altogether, to do away with one’s own existence, to attain samādhi, cessation of all activity – that is suicidal. We have to give up enjoyment as well as renunciation – give up evil doing and also the abstention from all action. In a nation, so many workers may be failing to follow the proper rules for production, and that is bad, it is disorder. The product will be bad. However, to go on strike won’t produce good results either. No work, that is also bad. To work in the interest of the country, only that is good.

From our local, separate interest, we must go to the universal interest, to the interest of the Absolute. Avoid all local interest, however great it may seem, whether self-centered, family-centered, village-centered, province-centered, or human-centered.

Mahāprabhu advised us to purify ourselves with the help of sound divine. But the sound should be genuine, transcendental, Kṛṣṇa conscious, the real wave. There is a minimal demand from us for our purification in this age of controversy. Kali means quarrel, controversy. Everything will create some doubt; everyone wants some proof – everyone has a very suspicious mind.

Take advantage of this sound. A minimal demand is required of us, because the process is very generous. The minimal demand, the minimal admission fee is śraddhā, faith. If we do this, if we perform this saṅkīrtana, then everything will be done. That basic faith must be there. That attitude will help us. There should be heartfelt cooperation, sincere cooperation with the Kṛṣṇa consciousness agents. That can purify us very easily.

The minimal demand from us is to have the faith that this movement of Kṛṣṇa consciousness will purify us. If we participate in this movement, everything will be done. Such a generous, wide conviction, and sincere cooperation with the agents can help us in a very short time. The cooperation with the divine sound, the sound aspect of the Supreme, is easily approachable for beginners. From that, many other aspects of the Infinite will come to our understanding.

Begin with the sound aspect of the universal consciousness. The sound aspect is easily approachable – others will come gradually. Our approach must be sincere, heartfelt. We are in trouble, and we need this. That will give us real relief from all troubles. It will put an end to all the troubles that we’re experiencing now, and also those that we may have to experience in the future.

Qualifications for Chanting the Name

“Oh Govinda. What can I do? There is not a single offender like myself. My Lord, I am ashamed to take my offences before You and have them forgiven. It is shameful even to point out before You that I am so heinous, that I am such an offender. I feel ashamed to recollect my own bad deeds. I feel ashamed that I shall take them to You and pray for their forgiveness. I am ashamed. Such a class of sinner I am. What more shall I say to You, my Lord? I am such a sinner.”

This is the nature of the high devotees – they think themselves unfit for service. What is the way? What is our destination? Progress towards this side, the negative, submissive side. Our place is there, at the extreme farthest end of the negative side, the smallest of the small, the lowest of the low. Where do we cast our glance, our look? What should we do? Our goal is this, to reach that negative side, sincerely – self-abnegation to the extreme. This is the measurement, to become the lowest of the low. The goal is to realise our proper position there – lowest of the low. Is it possible at all? Is it imaginary, an imaginary quantity? For what purification may we aspire? Self-abnegation.

Analyze, analyze, and discard. Analyze and throw out all egoistic and assertive tendencies, “I am something, I am someone. I have something to be proud of.” These have to be eliminated, and eliminated completely. It is not an easy thing. To become big is easy, but it is all false, like racketeering. To say, “I am a big man,” is very easy. But to say, “I am nothing,” to accept this creed in its true colour, its true nature, that is very difficult. “I am no one, I am nothing!” It is very difficult.

vaiṣṇava haba bale chila mora svāda
tṛṇād-api śloke padi gela bāda

There is a familiar saying in Bengal: “I had a great aspiration to become a Vaiṣṇava, but when I came across the verse describing the qualifications of a Vaiṣṇava, tṛṇād api sunicena, taror api sahiṣṇunā, I was disappointed. It is not possible to be humbler than a blade of grass, and more tolerant than a tree.”

Amāninā mānadena – give honor to everyone, but don’t aspire after honor. In this attitude we should take the Name of the Lord, of Kṛṣṇa. Then our desire will be fulfiled. We have to take the Name of Kṛṣṇa with such an attitude. We must be humbler than a blade of grass and more tolerant than a tree. When the tree is cut down, it still gives shade to the logger. And it doesn’t beg anyone for water. Such forbearance! In this way we have to take the Name of Kṛṣṇa, and we shall find His help at once, in no time. The standard, the qualification for taking the Holy Name, has been recommended thus.

tṛṇād api sunīcena taror api sahiṣṇunā
amāninā mānadena kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ

One who is humbler than a blade of grass, more forbearing than a tree who gives due honour to others without desiring it for himself is qualified to allways chant the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa. (Śikṣāṣṭakam 3)

Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has explained that we are actually lower than the straw in the street, because in our present existence we are vikṛta, or deranged. But the straw is at least passive and maintaining its natural position. We have lost our proper function and become of negative value – we are lacking the positive value of straw because we are adverse to our natural position.

We are going against our own interest with our intelligence. We have intelligence, but it is misguided, opposed to the proper order of things. The straw is poised – it cannot move willfully. But we can move in a wrong way, so we are actually in a more heinous position than the straw. We use our assets willingly to misguide ourselves, but the straw maintains its fixed position without deviation.

In the worldly sense we may hold a position superior to that of a blade of grass or a tree, but what of that? All our credits are being misused for our selfishness. So we are lower than straw. We are armed, but armed for suicide. A madman should not possess a dagger. He is dangerous. He could stab himself at any moment. He is mad.

Kṛṣṇa is Everywhere

Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa. Where is Kṛṣṇa? Come to that level, come to that plane, and we will see that Kṛṣṇa is everywhere. But our eyes and our senses are attracted by the charms of different places, and we have no time to look towards Kṛṣṇa. Everywhere there is perception of Kṛṣṇa, but our sight is captured, attracted by so many floating charms, that we cannot see Kṛṣṇa.

Our prejudice for the outside world has covered our eyes, drawing all our attention towards them, and we can’t see Kṛṣṇa. We can’t see the real well-wisher, the real guardian, the real friend, the real lover. We are so busy with our transactions with external things that we have no time at all to look towards Him. We are ignoring our best friend.

This transaction with the outer environment is continued by our false ego, the false personality. That is the position of a person in bondage, a fallen soul. Our true self is not represented in the transaction that is going on in our name. The senses, the mind and intelligence, are surcharged with other interests, and they are conducting a false transaction. This is a hopeless position. Sarvopādhi-vinirmuktaṁ tat-paratvena nirmalam.

Anyatā rūpam – that which is just like a disease, undesirable foreign things, have come to cover us. That is upādhi, a foreign and undesirable element. So we must disown our foreign covers, all these false identifications with the outer dress. Disown them all – do away with them. They are unnecessary. We thought them to be our friends, but they are our enemies. We must be concerned with the person within, the soul, and that is not illusion, but truth proper. That is anyatā rūpam. Successfully eliminating these enemies, we must come to our proper positive position in the world of love and beauty.

Hankering in Surrender is Our Wealth

When we reach the highest position of disappointment, then sometimes, somehow or other, from the core of our heart we pray, “Oh Lord, I am helpless, save me! I am under the control of so many enemies in the form of friends. Such a hopeless position I hold, my Lord. From time immemorial I am serving all these masters, but they are not satisfied with my service. Now I find myself in this helpless position, my Lord. You should only come on Your own accord, and assert Yourself. Then they will fly away in fear of You. Otherwise I have no hope.” This sort of ardent prayer from the core of the heart towards the Savior, that is what is necessary for us.

With our faith and earnestness we can aspire after that mercy. If we increase the quality of our negativity, the feeling that we are so low, the positive will be automatically attracted. We must try to increase the power of our position as a negative unit – tṛṇād api sunīcena (feeling lower than the grass), dainyam (humility), ātma-nivedana (surrender).

Hankering in surrender is our wealth. We are the śakti, the potency, and potency refers to the negative unit of the Positive, the Potent. We should increase our negative side, our hankering. Then, the Positive will be automatically attracted to us.

Whatever beautiful and valuable things we come across, we cannot but surrender ourselves to them. That is the criterion. If we find anything higher in our vicinity, our appreciation means surrendering unto that. According to the degree of our surrender, we have to measure what degree of quality of truth we have found. That can be measured only according to the degree and intensity of surrender, how much we can surrender to what we have found, to the point of no return. And the true devotees know no satisfaction or fulfilment. They feel no trace of satisfaction that they have achieved anything. Never. The inner sweetness of the truth and its infinite characteristic are such. The truth attracts. It can attract to the highest degree and magnitude.

Accept Slavery to its Perfection

 

The highest qualification within us is our acceptance of the slave mentality to the Absolute. This is the only way to hanker for the association of the highest existence. We must be ready to accept slavery to its perfection, and then we will be allowed to enter into that domain. Otherwise, we have no hope. It is not very easy to embrace the slave mentality, eternal slavery.

Slavery is our future prospect. Are we ready to think like this? We have to be so broadminded and hopeful that such a higher entity exists. Our hope and faith will have to be of such a magnanimous nature to enter that land. We will sign the bond, the contract to accept eternal slavery! We want to enter that land! We have to search our fortune, and sign the bond of slavery. The company there is so high that even as slaves we want that association. We earnestly hanker for that sweet land where our meager persons can become slaves. Such intense faith is necessary, where all other experience, even knowledge, fails. Only faith can carry us there.

Consciousness of separate interest (dvitīyābhiniveśataḥ) has turned us away from Kṛṣṇa. The common interest is solely in Him. Then only our service will be bhakti. Without that, everything is lost. Śaraṇāgati, surrender, must be present in order to have living devotion, otherwise hearing and chanting are only forms, not life. Therefore śaraṇāgati means exclusive connection and identification with the interest of Kṛṣṇa. Since we do not directly see Kṛṣṇa, we serve the guru and the Vaiṣṇavas who are dear to Him.

According to the degree of our self-abnegation in self-surrender, we will be benefited, and the specific characteristics of śānta, dāsya, sakhya, vātsalya, or mādhurya-rasa will develop. We must admit our Master’s right to make or mar. We are slaves. Mahāprabhu says, jīvera-svarūpa haya–kṛṣṇera nitya-dāsa – the eternal nature of the soul is servitude to Kṛṣṇa. That is our constitutional position. Have we enough boldness to admit it? Can we admit that our Master has full rights over us? “Yes! My Master has full rights over me. I am ready to go to eternal hell to supply His slightest pleasure.”  We have heard that the gopīs were ready to supply the dust of their feet as ‘medicine’ to alleviate Kṛṣṇa’s ‘headache,’ even if it meant that they would be condemned to the lowest regions of hell for that transgression. We may find such narrations very sweet, but to accept them is horrifying. Jīvera-svarūpa haya–kṛṣṇera nitya-dāsa. No risk, no gain. Whole risk, whole gain. Such confidence is necessary. A free, clear, and bold choice – are we ready for that?

Do we want to reside in the land of immortality? Do we want janma-mṛtyu-jarā-vyādhi (birth, death, old age and infirmity), or immortality? If we want immortality, we will have to pay for the ticket. We will have to take the visa. We will have to prepare for such a categorical beginning. And the bond we have to sign is slavery to Kṛṣṇa. Jīvera-svarūpa haya – kṛṣṇera nitya-dāsa. If we want to go to that mystic land, the land of infinite hope, prosperity and prospect, we will have to go as slaves, because that plane is made of a higher stuff than we are.

The Power of the Holy Name

Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī has written that the ordinary sādhus, the yogīs, the brāhmaṇas, the Śaṅkarites, and those of other schools, have all concluded that by dint of one’s knowledge, one’s yoga, or one’s devotion, the results of all previous actions can be destroyed. All, that is, save and except prārabdha-karma, those actions that have determined one’s present body and are already attached to the body from before this birth. The bhakti school disagrees. We say that by the power of kṛṣṇa-nāma, even the impurities attached to one’s birth, race, creed, caste, or any other thing, can be done away with completely. It is not possible by yoga, jñāna, or any other thing, but by kṛṣṇa-nāma, all impurities can be obliterated, even prārabdha-karma. When all prārabdha-karma is purified, then one comes to the position of the highest birth, that of the brāhmaṇa.

Jīva Gosvāmī says that at this point one comes to the status of a brāhmaṇa boy. A brāhmaṇa boy is not considered eligible to do the work of a brāhmaṇa, until and unless he is given the sacred thread and mantra. When he is invested with upanayana-saṁskāra, only then is he eligible to worship Nārāyaṇa, perform sacrifice, and carry out other duties reserved for brāhmaṇas.

By taking the Holy Name we are purified and attain the position of a brāhmaṇa boy. But, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī points out, because we do not find any system to give the sacred thread to those not born in brāhmaṇa families, we may have to wait until our next birth to perform brahminical worship. The Gosvāmī admits that whatever caste one may be, if we take the Name of Kṛṣṇa then we discard any defects of birth, and attain the position of a brāhmaṇa lad.

Who is a Brāhmaṇa?

Continuing this line of thought, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Prabhupāda said there is no harm in giving those not born in brāhmaṇa families the sacred thread. Our Guru Mahārāja came to introduce that. He said that two things were indulged by not introducing the sacred thread initiation. First, those who receive Vaiṣṇava initiation may think that they are situated lower than the brāhmaṇas. On the contrary, they should understand that they are no longer in a lower position and they are fit to perform all the various services. Second, the so-called brāhmaṇas, who are proud of their body consciousness, may think that those who have received Vaiṣṇava dīkṣā are situated lower. Thus, they commit offences against the Vaiṣṇavas.

Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī boldly came forward to introduce this upanayana-saṁskāra system so that brāhmaṇas and other so-called higher castes should not have the opportunity to commit vaiṣṇava-aparādha, and so that those who have received the Vaiṣṇava mantra should not consider themselves lower and unfit for brahminical worship. There is no contradiction with the rules of śāstra. According to siddhānta, it is not wrong to invest Vaiṣṇavas with the sacred thread, but there was no system previously established. Our Guru Mahārāja established that.

brāhmaṇānāṁ sahasrebhyaḥ satrayājī viśiṣyate
satra-yāji-sahasrebhyaḥ sarva-vedānta-pārāgaḥ
sarva-vedānta-vit-koṭyā viṣṇu-bhakto viśiṣyate
vaiṣṇavānāṁ sahasrebhya ekāntyeko viśiṣyate

The real devotee of Viṣṇu is superior to millions of ordinary vaidāntika brāhmaṇas. A practicing brāhmaṇa is better than a born brāhmaṇa. Practice means to perform sacrifices and worship Kṛṣṇa. Those who worship Kṛṣṇa with the help of their consciousness are superior to those who worship with material things. Those who are vedānta-vit think that their goal is undifferentiated consciousness, but if one can attain differentiated consciousness, one must hold a higher position than millions of vaidāntikabrāhmaṇas. They suffer from the disease of thinking that spirituality means non-differentiated Brahman. The viṣṇu-bhaktas, who can see the personality in consciousness, are far superior. Amongst the devotees, those who regulate themselves according to the scriptures are of the order of Vaikuṇṭha, and those who surrender exclusively to the service of the Absolute Entity with innermost love and faith, are of the highest order. (Garuḍa Purāṇa)

How Sound Enters the Disciple’s Heart

Divine realisation 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 centre. He must experience all his activities through the next upper centre and prove his faithfulness to him. Only then and in that way will the supply come down.

We are requested not to see guru as limited in his ordinary personality, but as the transparent mediator of the highest function in his line. We can see this only if our vision is deep. According to the disciple’s depth of śraddhā, he will see the Lord present in his Gurudeva. The guru principle, guru-tattva, is very special, very noble, very broad and very deep.

Strangely, the agent may sometimes not know what things are passing through him by this arrangement. Lord Śiva says:

ahaṁ vedmi śuko vetti vyāso vetti na vetti vā
bhaktyā bhāgavatam grāhyaṁ na buddhyā na ca ṭīkayā

I know the meaning of the Bhāgavatam and Śukadeva also knows it. As for Vyāsadeva, he may or may not know it. The Bhāgavatam can only be known through bhakti, not by mundane intelligence or reading many commentaries. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 24.312)

Vyāso vetti na vetti vā – Vyāsa may or may not know the meaning of the Bhāgavatam, but the Bhāgavatam is passing through Vyāsa. This is taṭastha-vicāra, an impartial judgement. From the absolute standpoint, it has been said that even Vyāsa may not know the things that come through him to grace others. Although this may sometimes be the case, we should still not admit so easily that Vyāsa does not know.

I once said this to my Guru Mahārāja. We were in Darjeeling and I had composed a Sanskrit śloka about Bhakti­vinoda Ṭhākura. I had shown him the poem and it greatly pleased him. At that time one disciple was his secretary. Prabhupāda would dictate and that disciple would write letters on his behalf. That day a letter had come from Śrīpāda Vana Mahārāja in England that showed knowledge of some confidential information. Prabhupāda asked who had supplied Vana Mahārāja with this information. His secretary answered, “Prabhupāda, you yourself wrote this news to him.”

Prabhupāda replied, “No, no, no. I did not write this thing to Vana Mahārāja.”

The secretary humbly replied, “But Prabhupāda, you dictated the letter and I wrote it. I remember. You were giving this news to him.”

Again Prabhupāda said, “No, I don’t remember.”

When I heard this I just remarked, “Vyāso vetti na vetti vā,” and Prabhupāda laughed.

Paramānanda Brahmacārī, one of Prabhupāda’s most intimate disciples, was also there, serving as his personal assistant. He said, “Śrīdharaḥ sakalaṁ vetti – but Śrīdhara Mahārāja knows everything.” And then I replied, “Śrī-nṛsiṁha-paramānanda-prasādataḥ – by the mercy of Paramānanda.”

In this way things may come down through the ācārya to grace others. Mahāprabhu said to Sanātana Gosvāmī, “I feel the grace of Kṛṣṇa flowing through Me to you. I do not know all these things, they are not Mine.” This is why it is said, vyāso vetti na vetti vā. Vyāsa who has written Bhāgavatam may or may not know its meaning. It is coming from others through him. This is sometimes possible, but not always. Kṛṣṇa is so independent. All glories to His independence!

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 līlā, His play. The Absolute is līlāmaya. Līlā is the continuous and irresistible flow of ānanda, supreme bliss.

Once the Vyāsa Pūjā, the birth ceremony of our Guru Mahārāja, was celebrated in the Cuttack Maṭha. Many important local citizens were invited, including Janakinath Bose, the father of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, who was a leading attorney in Cuttack at that time. All these people had taken their seats on a carpet on the floor, whereas Prabhupāda had been given a throne for his seat. In his address, Prabhupāda said, “I am given so much honor, garments, 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 worshiped 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.”

Bhakti Under the Higher Agent Only

 

When I joined the mission, I wanted to read the books of the mission, including Bhāgavatam, but I did not find any encouragement from the authority. The real thing, the real requirement is to use our energy for the service of the Lord. By that process only may we go up, not by satisfying our intellectual necessities – jñāna-śūnya-bhakti.

An illiterate man may achieve a higher position in the realm of devotion than a literate man. By the command of the Lord’s agent we may engage in literary culture, even as Mahāprabhu instructed Rūpa and Sanātana Gosvāmīs. Of course, they had acquired their knowledge to utilise it in the service of the sampradāya, the Gauḍīya disciplic succession. He also asked Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa to hear the Bhāgavatam from one who knew its real purport. Jīva Gosvāmī was the only exception. Mahāprabhu asked him to study independently before he joined the Vṛndāvana party. He left his home and went to Benares, the centre of all sorts of learning at that time. He studied different śāstra and then joined the others in Vṛndāvana. There, under the direction of Rūpa and Sanātana, he utilised his previously acquired knowledge in the service of the sampradāya.

When we get inspiration from above to study, that study is devotion. Otherwise a whim to study, to acquire scholarship, may not be bhakti proper, śuddha-bhakti. The higher agent, the Vaiṣṇava, must utilise my energy. This energy must be spent to satisfy the higher world. Then it will be bhakti, it will be devotion. My mental imagination may bring sukṛti, but it won’t be śuddha-bhakti if I have a mind to help the sampradāya in a scholarly way. At my own risk I must go on with my study. It is accepted that when one is connected with the higher agent, then it will be considered devotion – otherwise it is not. It is an empirical attempt with some sort of good imagination. But this is not pure bhakti, pure devotion. Pure devotion is to carry out the orders descending from above, from the higher agent. The waves are coming – catch them and then act accordingly.

Our Godbrother Nisikanta Sanyal said that when we are requested by a Vaiṣṇava to write or read any book, then that constitutes devotion. But when of our own accord we read any devotional book, that won’t give us devotion. That will be karma or jñāna. To surrender unconditionally to the instruction coming down to us, that is bhakti. All else is imitation. We find this warning everywhere. This we should understand.

Even reading the scriptures is not devotion unless done on the order of the Vaiṣṇava. Independent reading is only knowledge-seeking. By following the Vaiṣṇava, our bond with the Lord is guaranteed. Sādhu-saṅge kṛṣṇa-nāma – in the company of the devotees, chanting the Name or whatever service we render is guaranteed to reach Him. And what is the guarantee of that? The reply will be, “His agent is saying so, and I am therefore engaged. I am not my master, I am his servant.” Such consciousness must be genuine, as far as possible. Success depends on this principle.

If we are appointed to preach, to do relief work here, we will execute that duty solely under the appointment of, and in the interest of, that higher plane, without any vanity. We should think, “I must put myself wholly at the disposal of the higher plane, and I shall not be eager to become an ācārya, a spiritual master. Otherwise, there is the danger of committing nāma-aparādha, offence against the Lord’s Name.”

Aśraddha-dhāne vimukhe ‘py aśṛṇvati, yaś copadeśaḥ śiva-nāmāparādhaḥ. It is an offence to give the Holy Name to the faithless. It betrays the motivation to gain a position in the higher sphere. This is a type of mundane attachment, a spiritual commerce, as is the habit of caste gosvāmīs and other spurious lines. Rather, the healthy attitude should be, “If I am appointed from above, then I shall serve as appointed, and that too, only for the interest of those who have appointed me. I am entering that rank solely for the interest of that higher land.” That is the pure and perfect approach.

Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī, the renowned commentator of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, has stated, sa cārpitaiva satī yadi kriyeta, na tu kṛtā satī paścād arpyeta: “Devotional service must be first offered to the Lord, then performed – not performed and offered afterwards.” We should already be committed when we come to serve. We should not collect capital and later try to utilise it in the service of the Lord. The commitment is to Him, to Kṛṣṇa.

We have come to know about Him for Him, not for our sake or for anyone else. We preach only because of the instruction from above. Only if we receive an instruction from that higher quarter, “Go and preach,” shall we do so. Only then will our preaching be service, and never if it is done for name and fame. We must have engagement from the higher office, and only on their behalf we shall preach – then it will be genuine preaching. Otherwise, it will be trading. Na sa bhṛtyaḥ sa vai vaṇik – Prahlāda Mahārāja has warned us against this trading mentality in the name of spiritual truth.

Devotion is a separate and distinct plane where we live only for the centre. We aspire to live and move only as agents of the centre, never disconnected from the centre. This is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Reality is for Itself, and we must strictly abide by this rule. He is for Himself, everything is for Him, we are for Him. Whatever we do must also be for Him. We must strictly adhere to this conception, and always examine whether what we are doing is for Him or for any other part, however important we may think it to be.

Connection with Divinity

Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura says that in the saṅkīrtana party, when we are chanting the Name, there must be at least one śuddha-bhakta, one pure devotee. At least one śuddha-bhakta must be leading the saṅkīrtana party. Otherwise the chanting will be nāma-aparādha, offensive. Connection with divinity is necessary, descending through the agent, the bona-fide agent. He can receive in his heart so many waves of the Lord’s wishes – the desires of the Lord strike in his heart.

We must connect with such a centre and only then will we attain bhakti. Otherwise it may be imitation bhakti, not devotion. So many fleeting desires may make it impure – our attraction for knowledge, to satisfy our inner curiosity about bhakti before accepting the process; or the desire for fame when delivering a lecture. We must surrender and receive the agent’s order. We have to admit that we do not know what is good and bad, that we must have a direct order from above.

When the guru is living far away and there is no time to ask him, but we must take some immediate decision, then we should try to think how he would direct us in such a position and act accordingly. We must understand what our Gurudeva would ask us to do in this situation. We should try to get some sort of order from him. He might have said something in a similar situation, and as far as we can understand, we should follow that.

The criterion of bhakti is that whatever we do, the starting idea must come from above, irrespective of the action. Whether we are to go to the temple or do anything else, it does not matter. Our action must have the upper connection. That is bhakti. It is independent of the three guṇas – sattva, rajas, and tamas.

The scriptures and mahājanas come to our help. At present we may think that independence will give us proper satisfaction, but really it is incorrect. That thought is our enemy. We want to get out of any circumstantial constraint, and if we become free, we’ll be happy. This is wrong. Rather, the opposite is true – we should try to live in a joint family. We must be accommodating – we must correct our nature. Our independence is our enemy.

Subjective Vision

 

Those in touch with Divinity are all-seeing, all-knowing, subjective. Ignorant people ascribe objective vision to this higher plane. It is difficult to conceive. If we stand before the Deity, we should not indulge our eye or any other sense in order to experience the Deity. When we think of Him as an object of our senses, we are deceived. We should be trained to find the Seer in the seen. Draṣṭari dṛśyatvam – try to see the subjective existence. The Deity is subjective existence. We are the object of His sight. He is all-seeing, all-feeling, all-knowing. The Bhāgavatam says that is the proper view. Then we are in a position to view the Reality – we have to come in touch with Reality. It is all super-subjective. Then we come to live in the dhāma, the holy abode.

That is the dhāma, the divine area, where one can feel that the whole environment is superior, made of subjective existence. All should be revered – none are there to serve us, there for our enjoyment. Everything is to be approached with veneration and regard. We are their servants. The Lord and His kingdom are venerable, super-subjective. Then we come into contact with Vaikuṇṭha, the higher entity.

The objective entity is all māyā, all bhoga. What we see as the object of our enjoyment is illusion and concoction, māyā. When everything is revered, worshiped, and treated with respect, then we are in Vaikuṇṭha, in Vṛndāvana. It is mentioned in Caitanya-caritāmṛta, vaikuṇṭhera pṛthivy-ādi sakala cinmaya – everything is made of spiritual stuff and superior to us. Below there is Māyā and above there is Yogamāyā, the land of the Lord. We want to get out of this entanglement, this separate interest. What is superior, we imagine that to be inferior to ourselves and want to use it for our own purpose and enjoyment. The world of enjoyment is a concocted one.

We should learn to see that everything must be treated with reverence and with serving attitude, everything. Then we can come in contact with the dhāma, the land of the Lord, where every particle is to be worshiped. Everything holds a superior position. What is really supernatural, we are treating it as though it is naturally part of the sense experience. No. Just try.

bhidyate hṛdaya-granthiś cidyante sarva-samśayāḥ
kṣīyante cāsya karmāṇi mayi dṛṣṭe ’khilātmani

The knot in the heart is pierced, and all misgivings are cut to pieces. The chain of fruitive actions is destroyed when one sees the self as master. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.20.30)

Disassociate the ego of separate existence totally from enjoyment. Abolish the tendency to enjoy, to utilise whatever we find to satisfy our senses. This angle of vision, this māyā, this ego, the centre of such experience should be totally abolished. Dissolved. And all doubts will be cleared when we find ourselves in that plane.

When we are free from the clutches of separate interest, then all suspicion and doubt will be cleared. We shall feel this through direct soul experience, the experience of the inner senses that we possess. Then there will be no need for all our attempts and efforts – they’ll stop. No special endeavor must be undertaken for our purpose because we have no separate existence. We are particles in the Infinite and that which is feeding the Infinite will feed us also.

We shall find the general interest everywhere. We are not separate, so there is no necessity of acting for our special interest. We shall see the divine arrangement for everyone, including every grain of sand. We are one in the whole and the main current is doing everything, so no karma, no action is necessary on our own behalf.

Then it will become very clear that we have our duty in that universal flow, and we are one of them. We are particles there. Automatically the universal force handles us in such a way. That is Yogamāyā, the Lord’s internal potency, not Mahāmāyā, the controller of the material universe. That plane is not acted upon by separate interest, but influenced by the general interest of the whole. We have our movement there, and that is service, not enjoyment.

Deep Engagement in Responsible Service

Responsible service can help us avoid falling prey to lust, anger, and other enemies of devotion. Foremost among our protectors is faith, śraddhā. Next comes sādhusaṅga, association with pure devotees, and bhajana-kriyā, deep engagement in the duties prescribed by the divine master.

Deep engagement is necessary, especially for the mind, not merely the body. Mental engagement can be attained only by responsibility. Some responsible service is given to the disciple. We feel the weight and it occupies our thoughts – we cannot but think about it. The mind is engaged there, surely. Thus, the mind gets no chance to dwell on lower things. This is the beauty of deep engagement in responsible service. In the practical sense, that helps us a great deal. Then association and scriptures will really be of substantial benefit to us – as service (paripraśna, sevayā).

As much as we are able to engage in deep, responsible service, the effect of our impure tendencies will be minimised. They will come and peep, and will step back when they discover that we are deeply engaged. We have no time to give attention to lust and anger – we cannot be enticed. In this way, they will have to retreat. Then if they return once, twice, thrice or more, we may not spare any attention for them. We will be very deeply engaged in sevā. Sevā, service, should not be merely physical – there is mental sevā, and only responsibility can capture the mind. In responsibility, the mind is compelled to think on the matter – otherwise, the mind may be free to wander hither and thither even while the body is apparently engaged. So engage the mind in deep service, responsible service.

What is necessary is the dissolution of the separate interest activity. Then one will emerge into the all venerable, all respectful world – no connection with the lower things. We are servants of the servant of the servant. We are the lowest – all others are higher. We shall come into contact with all higher substance, and the lower substance of concoction will vanish for all time.

It is sat-cit-ānandam. Sat, eternal existence; cit, all consciousness, all soul, all subjective; and ānandam, no anxiety. The general flow is irresistible and automatic, so there is no possibility of any suffering or pain. That is the spontaneous flow of blissfulness, and we shall come to live in that plane. Rather, Yogamāyā, a higher, superior and affectionate power, maintains us. She will capture us and utilise us in the service of the mysterious Lord Kṛṣṇa.

Under Our Affectionate Guardian’s Hand

 

Yogamāyā comes and influences us, and by the magic touch of that affectionate hand we are taken into the land of our dreams. It is a land where we self-forgetfully engage ourselves, jñāna-śūnya-bhakti – all affection. We are under the affectionate guardians’ hand. We do not know anything, but we are handled by our affectionate guardians in such a way that we live in the land of mystery, of dreams. We think that we are holding a very low position, but in the taṭastha-vicāra (impartial judgement) this sort of life is the happiest position of a jīva soul. We are playing under the affectionate hand of the guardians and have some natural innate faith and consciousness to work according to their direction.

Jñāna-śūnya-bhakti. There is no calculation, no self-interest, but we are so given to the central cause that it is as in a dream. Automatically we are working like an instrument, and we are happy. We are manipulated and handled by faith, by affection, by goodness, by love, and by mercy. There is no necessity of any individual selfish calculation. The very soil is thinking of our interest. Everyone there, at the cost of their own interest, is seeking the interest of others.

There is no dearth of ānandam, rasam, that for which we are searching. No dearth of that there. Profusely, everything is there. Affection, sympathy, mercy, and love are overflowing in the land of opulence. In any way we can, we must enter that plane – they will take care of us. The soil will take care of us! The soil is so high, so elevated, so good – drumā bhūmiś cintāmaṇi gaṇa mayī toyam amṛtam, kathā gānaṁ nātyaṁ gamanam. Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet, everything is sweet in the land of sweetness.

 

Distributing Their Inner Wealth

It is described in Bhāgavatam and Caitanya-caritāmṛta, and it is found scattered in other Purāṇas, that Mahāprabhu – Rādhā-Govinda combined – came to distribute Their own inner wealth to the public. It is possible for us to approach and gain admittance into that flow. It is not static, but is a dynamic flow.

It is necessary that we should become free from those that are subservient to us. Our tendency in the baddha-jīva conditioned position, is that all should serve us and please us, but we must become free of that attitude. Not only must we be indifferent to them, but also we must have some positive service engagement.

All that is around us is higher – every particle is of a higher, superior substance. That is what is necessary, cid-vilāsa. On the whole our progress means that we shall not come in contact with any lower substances. We are the smallest of the small, the lowest of the low. We are encouraged to accept the mentality of a servant, the servant of the servant of the servant. It is not hyperbolic – it is reality. We have to understand real life, in service. All is good around us, superior to us. Necessarily we shall always invite some improvement in ourselves through association with the higher agents. Every second we can imbibe something positive.

Cast Ourselves to the Infinite’s Whim

 

Turning away from limitation we are jumping into the infinite ocean. From the tangible finite position, we jump towards the Infinite. He will see us. The apparently stable things cannot give us shelter. We are willingly leaving the company of the tangible association and casting ourselves toward the Infinite. Jumping into the ocean – it is not an easy matter – neglecting the tangible thing on which we are standing, the matter under our control. It is somewhat tangible, but flickering. For the present, where we take our stand, it is apparently tangible. But because it is transient we need to disassociate ourselves from it and cast ourselves towards the Infinite. We are taking a very courageous step now. Throwing ourselves at the whim of the Infinite, from the tangible to the Infinite, we are going to take a very courageous step. How will the Infinite deal with us? Will He adore us, or will He ignore us totally, or will He make some negligent arrangement for us? There is no assurance.

āśliṣya vā pāda-ratāṁ pinaṣṭu mām
adarśanām marma hatāṁ karotu vā
yathā tathā vā vidadhātu lampaṭo
mat prāṇa-nāthas tu sa eva nāparaḥ
(Śikṣāṣṭakam 8) 

Āśliṣya vā pāda-ratāṁ pinaṣṭu mām. We may be lost in the wave of the infinite power – vā pāda-ratāṁ pinaṣṭu mām adarśanām marma hatāṁ karotu vā. We may not even have any chance of coming into contact with Him – yathā tathā vā vidadhātu lampaṭo. He’s whimsical in our understanding. He’s the adoring One and He is ignoring us. No explanation can be called for – mat prāṇa-nāthas tu sa eva nāparaḥ. But we have no other alternative than to surrender to His whimsical activity. This attitude we must adopt.

To cast ourselves into the Infinite whim, this is a very, very uncertain and extremely courageous act, and we are going to do it willingly. We do not know what will be our fate. Still we want that promotion to a connection with the superior power. It seems to be a risk, but still it may be a substantial gain. We have come to the right place for shelter. We are being connected with the real plane. It is not a sham – that will be our consolation.

The favor of so many lower agents, that is flickering, and there is no stability. We may be ignored by the central power, but if at any moment we can draw their notice, our position will be very safe and high. So we are taking a great risk for our greatest prospect in life, though it may not be easily obtained. It is a risky act – sarva-dharmān-parityajya. Otherwise, to remain in our own present position and progress in a slow way, that is also recommended – sva-dharme nidhanaṁ śreyaḥ, para-dharmo bhayāvahaḥ. “Do not be too ambitious. Keep your position firm and try to advance slowly.” That is the ordinary recommendation.

But for those who have courage, there is sarva-dharmān-parityajya. “Give up everything and try to come to Me. I am there and I shall save you.” From His side this kind of consolation is there. “I am not blind, I can see anything and everything. If you really come to My shelter, I am ready. I shall embrace you.” From His side the statement is such.

From the perspective of the devotees who are swimming in the ocean, and pressed by the current, undercurrent and overflow, it is very difficult! Still they cannot leave that campaign, that revolutionary effort. The constitutional path and the revolutionary way, both are there. But the constitutional way makes for very slow progress. It is not certain when we shall reach the goal, and sometimes there are setbacks.

Better to Serve in Heaven

It is better on the whole to leave the world of deception, māyā, misunderstanding, as soon as possible, even taking all possible risk. Jump with great speed in the hope of meeting the non-treacherous and loving plane. This māyā is treacherous. So many units fighting with one another, this is the position here. To get free of this and jump into the Absolute area is considered to be of very, very high and great value. The very slightest position there is far, far greater than the highest position in this world of misunderstanding.

We are laboring under so much suspicion – so engrossed in and oppressed by māyā, the misrepresented part of the world, that we cannot even think of the conception of truth and goodness. We are so far from the standard of goodness and truth – we cannot understand what should be the real symptom of higher existence. We are so fallen.

In Milton’s Paradise Lost, Satan says, “It is better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven.” That is generally the outcome of our life experience here. We want to reign in hell rather than serve in heaven. But just the opposite will be really helpful to us. Die to live. Leaving this realm, we want to pass through to the highest. Crossing beyond the association of the all-accommodating Brahman, beyond the Paramātma conception, beyond even the source of all sources and Master of all energy, Nārāyaṇa, there is Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana, satisfying the whole existence with the fulfilment of love. There it is apparent that Infinity’s approach to the finite is in its fullest sense, as if He is one of us. He is so close to us, and His love and affection are so much extended there.

Power of Affection

 

Śrī kṛṣṇa-karṣinī – the peculiar power in love is this: that the high is controlled by the low through some tendency, and that is called love. When a little boy catches the finger of his father and draws him to some quarter, the father goes there. The father is more powerful and the boy’s power is insignificant, but the father is defeated by the power of affection. Affection and love are there, where we find that the small controls the big.

Submission to the master is so intense that the master becomes subservient to the servant through affection: “At My beck and call he can give his life. So how should I deal with him?” Automatically, the master’s heart goes to the servant. That is love, prema. Such wonderful potency is in that love and affection. The Absolute is controlled by His potency.

Generally the owner of the potency guides the potency, but sometimes the potency guides the owner. That is love. It is not the physical capacity but the fine capacity of the very subtlest force. Ahaṁ bhakta-parādhīno – “I feel as if I am interdependent, not Absolute. I feel that I am controlled by them only by devotion – I am not master of My own Self.” The Absolute says like that. What a wonderful thing is bhāgavat-prema? It is present in the highest sense in the case of Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana. Aham iha nandaṁ vande yasyālinde paraṁ brahma, “I have no attraction for Mahābhārata, Veda, Upaniṣad and all these things.” Nandaḥ kim akarod brahman śreya evaṁ mahodayam – “But my only attraction is for Nanda, because I found that the Supreme Powerful Absolute is crawling in his compound as a baby boy.” In the Bhāgavatam this is a very valuable situation. What is this? The Parabrahman is in such an ordinary position. Is He Parabrahman, or is He something else?

Yaśodā, Kṛṣṇa’s Mother, is punishing Him, but when trying to bind Him, at every attempt the rope is two fingers short. The rope is only two fingers shorter than necessary to bind Him around the waist, but whenever one more foot is added, it is the same two fingers short. She is punishing Him and He is crying, but still the difference is there. Against His will she is trying to bind Him around the belly, but the rope is two fingers short. More rope is added, but it is always two fingers short, again and again. He is sucking her breast and when she is punishing Him, He cries, “Oh, don’t beat Me, My mother, I won’t do any more of these things.“ At another time, when He was yawning, Yaśodā found the whole brahmāṇḍa, the entire creation, within the boy’s mouth. Then she was afraid, but the next moment a cat meowed and the boy climbed on her lap, out of fear. “Oh, He is my child, my son. He is not all-accommodating Brahman, no! He is my child!” He is playing in this way, like hide and seek.

Infinite Touches the Finite

When the Infinite comes to the finite in its closest touch, then sometimes it shows that Infinite character and sometimes its most finite character. Playfully, He does so many big things. When Tṛnāvarta came to kill Him, He was on the lap of Yaśodā. Immediately His Mother felt that the boy was very, very heavy, so she could not keep Him on her lap. She had to put Him down, and Tṛnāvarta took the boy away in a storm. Then some minutes later they found that the great demon’s body had fallen on the earth, and the boy, grasping the throat of the demon, was on top. Then Yaśodā swiftly went and collected the boy, “Oh, fortunately the boy landed over the demon’s dead body. Otherwise, He would have been crushed.” Tṛnāvarta, that great demon, was finished by the boy, but playfully.

The most miraculous things are coming to a simple level. Most playfully and in a simple way He is doing great deeds, which take so much time, so much power, so much valor, and all is finished in only a second in a very peculiar way. Great things are done with a very small attempt. The Infinite’s approach to the finite in the closest form is controlled by a special tendency, and that is love, prema.

Bhakti is such a thing. We shall try to understand what is this devotion that can control the Absolute. Mahāprabhu has come to suggest that we follow this path only, and it is in Vṛndāvana. Try to have a position, a place in Vṛndāvana, in that level, in that plane of life. With this general conception we shall have to approach Vṛndāvana. And what is Vṛndāvana? It is not the sum total of some appearance. A mere imitation of a particular group of appearances cannot give such a result. The very life is such, so valuable – the life transaction must be there.

Die to live. Sacrifice. We must invite that sort of death that will kill death itself. If we want to live in that high plane, we shall have to give ourselves completely – this is the price of that valuable goal. What is that subtle power? How do we acquire it? What should be the price? How deep should be the transaction?

Easy Grant to Your Appeal

 

From the throne, Pratāparudra Mahārāja came to do the service of a sweeper before Jagannātha. This melted Mahāprabhu’s heart. Before then, so many proposals came to Mahāprabhu, “The king wants to see You. If You allow him, he may come and have Your darśana.” “No, no, that is undesirable. People may say that this sannyāsī has some greed for money and power, so He wants to have a connection to the king. That gives a bad reputation to a sannyāsī sādhu, so I do not want him to come see Me. That will show indirectly that I have a desire for money. I don’t like this.” But when Mahāprabhu saw that he took the position of a sweeper for Lord Jagannātha, naturally His heart melted and He embraced the devotee.

When we are going to have a touch of the Super-subjective, we must know that He is all-seeing, all-feeling, all-hearing. The very basis of spiritual life is like this. Then we shall come in contact with the higher reality – otherwise we shall go on plodding in the mud of imagination. The attitude should be to want to be utilised by Him, and try for any chance of serving Him: “I have come here to serve, and not to enjoy the scenery.” He is Infinite and He likes the finite. The finite is His friend. But when the finite wants to show a sham tendency to become big, He dislikes it. When one takes the minutest position, then He comes to embrace him.

tṛṇad api sunīcena, taror api sahiṣṇunā
amāninā mānadena, kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ
(Śikṣāṣṭakam 3)

Do not aspire after anything, and whatever comes to attack us, try to know the futility of the attempt. All is under one hand. The Supreme hand is behind everything, so resolve to tolerate all. We must exhibit tolerance, until the upper hand comes to control. We don’t have to hinder or oppose anything – tṛṇad api sunīcena. Do not disturb the environment, and if the environment comes to oppress us, then take the course of tolerance. Do not return tit for tat. Try to find the Supreme will there. We should feel, “I have done something wrong, so this is coming to control me and to exact the reaction for my offences.

tat te ‘nukampāṁ susamīkṣamāṇo
bhuñjāna evātma-kṛtaṁ vipākam
hṛd-vāg-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te
jīveta yo muktipade sa dāya-bhāk

One who waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy upon him, while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds, offering You respectful obeisances with his heart, words and body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful claim. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.14.8)

In the perfect vision, we are not to quarrel with the environment. Not even a straw can move without the Supreme will, without the order of the Supreme will. So, whatever is coming to attack me is my necessity. It is necessary for me, to correct me.”

When the mother is punishing the child, she does so only with the good intention to correct the child. Similarly, the Absolute has no vindictive nature to punish us, but His dealings are only for our correction. We shall have to see and approach in that way.

Tat te ‘nukampāṁ susamīkṣamāṇo bhuñjāna evātma-kṛtaṁ vipākam – “Whatever undesirable things we find here are the result of our previous karma, and by the good will of the Supreme, that previous karma is going to be finished. We will be relieved. We will be made fit for higher service to Him, so this has come.” That is the advice in Bhāgavatam. Don’t quarrel with the environment. Try to be adjusted with it, correct ourselves. Everything is all right.

Then amāninā – we should not hanker after any position. Mānadena – but give respect to one and all. With this attitude take the Name, and our appeal to the Supreme will very easily be granted. We will have an easy and quick grant for our application if we approach Him with this attitude. This is the key to our success, our way to be happy. Do not waste energy in every direction, but command the whole thing in one direction, drawing it in from all sides. Do not waste energy to fight with the environment for anything, but the whole effort should be directed towards the Absolute. Then in no time, success will come to crown our attempt.

Highest Criterion of Līlā

Whatever pleases Kṛṣṇa, that is good. kṛṣṇa-līlā accommodates everything, even mistakes. A mistake may set something right. Kṛṣṇa wanted Yudhiṣṭhira to tell a lie, but Yudhiṣṭhira hesitated and finally he uttered, aśvatthāmā hata iti gajaḥ (Aśvatthāmā, the elephant, is dead). Kṛṣṇa asked him to tell a lie, but Yudhiṣṭhira hesitated. Submission to Kṛṣṇa’s request, whatever satisfies Him, that is truth. The satisfaction of Kṛṣṇa is the final test, not whether it is good or bad, measured by the standards of this world. Only the satisfaction of Kṛṣṇa; the highest criterion of līlā is there.

In the pastimes of Rāmacandra we don’t find all these things. There nīti, or respect for the rules and regulations, has the upper hand. But with kṛṣṇa-līlā we find the inner importance, eliminating the external rigidity of morality.

Karṇa insulted Yudhiṣṭhira on the battlefield. Yudhiṣṭhira left the battle and Arjuna followed. Kṛṣṇa also came for a rest in the midst of the war, for some refreshment. At that time Yudhiṣṭhira rebuked Arjuna, “You have taken me and entangled me in this war. I was not in favor of war. I depended on you and you do not care to fight sincerely for me. You were there and Karṇa insulted me. I curse your Gāṇḍīva!” Arjuna had made an oath that he would behead whoever would offend his Gāṇḍīva bow, or he would die himself. Yudhiṣṭhira cursed the Gāṇḍīva, and Arjuna was about to take out his sword. Kṛṣṇa said, “What are you doing, you fool? Are you going to behead your elder brother, to fulfil your promise? What is the value of that promise? Did you not promise thousands of times that you would make Yudhiṣṭhira, your elder brother, the king, the Emperor? But what are those promises, when you are ready to carry out one bogus promise to behead your elder brother? So many promises are made on the battlefield. The war is continuing in full rage, and you are going to behead your elder brother? Do you think that this is the purport of the law? Do you think that moral law has been created for such a triviality? Eliminating the substance, you are taking only a part of the form and making much of a mole-hill. Yes, there are eight kinds of death. To praise one’s own self, that is also a kind of death. So you praise yourself, you’re so big, so big, so big. And that is a kind of death.” Then Arjuna put away his sword.

The purpose is the satisfaction of Kṛṣṇa – the Centre, the Absolute good Who is all-conscious and all-knowing, omniscient. His satisfaction, that is the highest criterion of every action, and all other laws are subsidiary to that law. There are so many laws, and so many grades, but the highest point is that all are leading to the satisfaction of Kṛṣṇa. That should be the highest criterion of everything. Kṛṣṇa-sukhataḥ. He is an autocrat, Absolute, but He is Absolute good. That is the justification. Absolute good is autocratic, and we all are like members of a military camp in relation to the general. There is no other consideration. All law is concentrated in the order of the general, for He knows better than all the soldiers.

We must have our aim fixed towards the higher realm. All must come from there. We cannot waste our energy in any engagement that is considered good or bad from our perspective. This judgement will spring up only from the relativity of this māyika world. We must be very careful that when we catch a wave, the wave is coming from the finest plane, not the gross plane. The thought that motivates us, that excites us to act, from which plane does it come? Is it from the higher, finest plane? Can we catch the news of that wave? If we can read the waves of that higher plane, it is all right.

We should always catch the wave coming from that higher plane. That helps us to begin our activity from there and our services will return there, to be recorded in that plane. That will help us qualitatively in a very extraordinary manner. For qualitative improvement we shall disown our present environment, even including the mental sphere. Try to get information from the highest possible plane and then bow down to that, and not to the external environment in consideration of any good or bad.

Guru is Servant of His Disciples

 

On one occasion, Prabhupāda Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī 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 Kṛṣṇa is not lower than that of the speaker. Your presence is a sign that you have received grace, sukṛti, and that you possess love for Kṛṣṇa. You have all come to help me in my way of realising Kṛṣṇa. You are all my friends and helpers. You have come to rescue me from a dangerous position.”

This is how Prabhupāda began his address. How very beautifully, skillfully and harmoniously he presented the philosophy, the ontological aspect, the conclusion. 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 Kṛṣṇa. The guru is serving so many persons so that they may become fit to serve Kṛṣṇa, just as when we go to the temple to clean and arrange things so that it will be acceptable to Kṛṣṇa.

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 Kṛṣṇa has no limits – it is infinite. The search for Kṛṣṇa 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 Kṛṣṇa once and for all. No, it is not like that! Our search for Kṛṣṇa is like swimming in an unlimited ocean, and you have come to encourage me in my movement toward Kṛṣṇa. You are so many friends who have come to rescue me in this ocean of Kṛṣṇa-love and Kṛṣṇa-knowledge. We are joined together in our search for Him.”

Approach Guru through Śraddhā

The position of guru should not be considered mundane, identified with his mundane appearance. We can get benefit from our relationship with guru only through śraddhā. Only through śraddhā are we able to approach him, no matter what the distance, near or far. Of course, through physical vicinity we can get the chance of hearing from him and witnessing many practical dealings that may help us on our path. Proximity can give us knowledge of Vaiṣṇava sadācāra, the proper conduct of a Vaiṣṇava. In this way we can have some sort of conception about these things, but śraddhā must be there.

Śraddhā, reverential faith, must be there in either case – physical closeness or distance is not the question. In the lower stage, physical nearness has more efficacy. By the gurus movements, his talks, and from his instructions we learn spiritual etiquette. And many spiritual ideals may also become clear in his company. So physical vicinity will be useful in the lower stage, but śraddhā must be there, otherwise we may commit offences. Physical nearness devoid of faith may be the cause of offences against Gurudeva. Sometimes the senior godbrothers may be very helpful in our dealings with Gurudeva when we are beginners. Śrī Gurudeva’s conduct may not always be very clear or helpful for us, so in that case some senior godbrother may come to help us and explain his movements and do away with any difference we may see in him.

īśvarāṇāṁ vacaḥ satyaṁ tathaivācaritaṁ kvacit
teṣāṁ yat svavaco yuktaṁ buddhimāṁs tat samācaret

The statements of great personalities are always true, but the activities they perform may not always be consistent with their statements. Those that are intelligent should only follow those instructions that are useful for their progress. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.33.31)

We should not imitate but rather we should follow. Not anukaraṇa (imitation) but anusaraṇa (to follow in the footsteps). We must understand the difference. Faith or śraddhā is the first thing that is necessary for us – then we can have our spiritual guide’s connection, whether we are near or far from him. It is vital that the connection be in the proper line, independent of gross or subtle influence. The energising plane that stimulates our enquiry about our own inner welfare, that is part and parcel of the quest.

Brahma-jijñāsā is the quest for the plane of understanding. This has been given in Vedānta, and when it comes to Śrīman Mahāprabhu in the line of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, it is developed to kṛṣṇānusandhāna, the search for Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Vedānta is the flower, and Śrīmad Bhāgavatam is the ripe fruit of spiritual knowledge. That which is somewhat mixed with activity, ritual, and knowledge in this plane, is found in the Veda. When that flowers in Vedānta it becomes purely “Where am I, what am I?” When the fruit is ripe it develops into utility – that is kṛṣṇānusandhāna.

Search for Our Heart’s Fulfilment

In Vedānta, the inquiry is about the infinite environment, where we are particles only, and in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, the nature of inquiry is more developed. Kṛṣṇānusandhāna –”Who is my Master, who is my Guide, for Whom do I exist?” This is the plane of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, which is madly seeking, “With Whom may I have the fulfilment of life? Where is that Master of my heart? I cannot continue without my Lord.” Mahāprabhu came with that – kṛṣṇānusandhāna, the ripe fruit of the Veda tree, the plane of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.

We are searching everywhere for rasa, for satisfaction. We may undertake many different works, but the common factor in all is the quest for satisfaction. Śrīman Mahāprabhu has given us the plane of Bhāgavatam, which asks, “Who can satisfy all the thirst within me? Where is my Lord, the fulfilment of my heart?” Real inquiry must be for this only – otherwise inquiry will never stop. When inquiry comes to this stage and we have proper guidance, then gradually we will be taken to Him, our Master. Who are we searching for, that rasa, that happiness, that pleasure? That is our Master, our Guardian, and not our servant. We must not think He has come to satisfy us, with us as masters. He is everything to us, everything for which we are moving this way and that, the goal of our inquiry, or whatever we are doing – He is the centre. We are searching for fulfilment, and fulfilment in the highest stage means this – Kṛṣṇa.

Our real search begins only when we come across the sat-guru, the kṛṣṇa-bhakta. Earnest inquiry begins there. Praṇipāt, paripraśna, sevayā – we must be conscious that we are to be utilised by Him for Whom we are searching. Only by sevā, service, can we be admitted into that higher world. From the very beginning stage onwards, it is śraddhā that can lead us to the great noble plane.

Acquired Taste

jāta-śraddho mat-kathāsu nirviṇṇaḥ sarva-karmasu
veda duhkhātmakān kāmān parityāge ’py anīśvaraḥ
tato bhajeta māṁ prītaḥ śraddhālur dṛḍha-niścayaḥ
juṣamāṇaś ca tān kāmān duḥkhodarkāṁś ca garhayan

Developing śraddhā in the narrations of My glories, disgusted with all material activities, knowing that all sense enjoyment leads to misery, but still unable to renounce it, My devotees should remain happy and worship Me with great faith and conviction. Even though they sometimes engage in sense enjoyment, My devotees know that all sense gratification leads to unpleasant reactions, and they sincerely repent all such activities. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.20.27-28)

We become indifferent to all other pursuits, because we can understand that all other activities bear some unpleasant reaction. Yet, although we can conceive that they all produce pain, we cannot free ourselves immediately from their clutches. The debt is already incurred, and our debtors won’t allow us to escape. We are in the midst of so many acquisitions. It is not very easy to leave them at once by our own sweet will. Previously, we consciously incurred some obligations, and we cannot abruptly cut off their connection – they won’t set us free.

By enduring the trials of all these tribulations, we will stand. We will endure and grow beyond the jurisdiction of these mundane forces. The more pressure comes from the outside, the more firmness we should feel in the necessity of the Lord’s help. At that time, we turn our backs to all the pains of this world, and we keep Him in front. We begin to move forward. Whatever happens, we cannot complain. It is in our Master’s jurisdiction whether He sees fit for us to undergo these trials or not. But we won’t leave our ideal – we cannot. Whatever may come, let it happen, never mind.

Descending Humility

Still, we should reproach ourselves: “What have I done? What have I done? It is rather justice that I should be tormented and troubled in such a way. It is not wrong. Really, just dealings have come to be exercised over me. Why should I have committed this wrong? I entered this wrong alliance, entered into the tribe of the guṇḍās, the criminals, for exploitation. The reaction that is coming to me is well deserved and good.” We blame ourselves. We do not blame the environment for troubling us, but we see a concentration camp within. We blame our own selves, our own free will and fate.

That becomes the nature of our temperament at that time. We should not look to place the fault on the shoulders of others, but take the whole burden: “Yes, the environment is doing justice to me, the traitor, the ambitious, the oppressor of the environment.” When we are in such a state of consciousness, our bhaktiyoga or devotional engagement becomes more and more intense. The intensity of our progress accelerates!

proktena bhakti-yogena bhajato māsakṛn muneḥ
kāmā hṛdayyā naśyanti sarve mayi hṛdi sthite

When great sages constantly engage in worshiping Me through devotional service, their hearts become resolutely situated in Me and all material desires within the heart are destroyed. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.20.29)

The Lord says, “With accelerated motion, his intensity towards Me grows. Then, by My appearance, all his internal and external discrepancies are gradually destroyed and evaporated. When, by such an approach, he reaches My domain, or rather, I come down – extending My existence to his heart – then, at once, everything else disappears”.

The Knot of Material Existence is Slashed

 

bhidyate hṛdaya-granthiś cidyante sarva-saṁśayāḥ
kṣīyante cāsya karmāṇi mayi dṛṣte ‘khilātmani
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.20.30)

Then, bhidyate hṛdaya-granthiś – all the ties and entanglements, corners and angles – they vanish. Crookedness vanishes! We find ourselves in the midst of a straight, plain, graphic, spacious and all-embracing environment. Our atmosphere changes. All the ties of so many attractions to various achievements are at once dissolved. They have no necessity in this land. In a word, they have no value. In this land, our past achievements are meaningless. The emphasis is on who we are and not what we are or were. Where does our identity lie? Today! We have gained entrance here because we longed for service, because we longed for that spiritual identity. Ahead of us may lay certain spiritual achievements – behind us is merely a wasteland. Leave that forever.

vidvadbhiḥ sevitaḥ sadbhir nityam adveṣa-rāgibhiḥ
hṛdayenābhyanujñāto yo dharmas taṁ nibhodhata

Dharma is followed by those who have sufficient knowledge in revealed truth and by the heart’s approval of those who are free from envy and are indifferent to loss and gain in this world. (Manu-saṁhitā 2.1)

Internal approval comes to assure us that we have arrived in our own land. Cidyante sarva-saṁśayāḥ – there is no room for any doubt. We find that all our hankerings are more than fulfiled here: “I was searching, my whole body was searching.”

In the Vaiṣṇava-padāvalī, the anthology of Vaiṣṇava songs, there is an expression by the poet Jñāna Dāsa: prati aṅga lāge kānde prati aṅga mora. In the acme of divinity, mādhurya-rasa, where Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is śakti (the divine potency of the Lord), She says, “My every limb is crying out for the respective limb of My Lord. Not only My self, but every part of My body earnestly aspires for the corresponding part of My Master’s body.”

Cidyante sarva-saṁśayāḥ – every part bears witness, “Yes, we have reached the destination we were striving for, this is our full-fledged satisfaction. This is our soil, this is our home.” Every atom of the body will say it. No trace of any doubt will be found, for there is no longer any room for that. But every atom will find its fulfilment: “This is my home, this is my land. Here, I find the comfort of home.”

Kṣīyante cāsya karmāṇi – the Lord says about His devotees, “The force of reaction won’t come to trouble you, to drag you down or attract you backwards. That too, is severed.” Mayi dṛṣṭe ‘khilātmani: “I am the fullest of the full perfection. You can depend on My friendship.”

This should be the course of our life, our cherished goal. Śrīmad Bhāgavatam tells us this. Home, sweet, sweet home. We are children of that soil. In one word, that is the goal.

Śraddhā is More than Calculation

Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, an expert astrologer, would calculate certain plans and then go to Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura for advice. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura would say something that might be contrary to or not corroborating his calculations. But Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura would always follow the instructions of Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura. He had proper respect. Śraddhā is more than calculative truth. Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura helped to establish that the viśuddha-siddhānta type of astronomical calculation might be correct in the material sense. But still he did not utilise it. Because Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura followed the calculation of P. N. Bagchi for Ekādaśī, Janmāṣṭamī, and all other things, our Guru Mahārāja accepted that. But śraddhā is truer – the words of the mahājanas, the practice of the mahājanas are more valuable than human calculation.

The physical truth, the material truth does not have much value. After all it is the very strong, yet false, attitude of the mind. So this truth should not be given greater respect than ācāran, the intuitive practices of pure devotees. The intuition of a pure devotee should be given preference over this materially truthful calculation of the ordinary persons. Faith does not have any connection with the factual ‘reality’ of this world. It is completely independent – śraddhāmayo’yam loka. There is a world that is guided only by faith. Faith is everything there and it is of infinite nature, all-accommodating. Everything may be true in the world of faith by the sweet will of the Lord.

Calculation does not have any value there. It is inconclusive and destructive in its ultimate aspect, so it should be rejected. Material knowledge, the materialists that accept it, the fallible calculation of the exploiting souls – these have no value whatsoever. But in the world of the Infinite, faith is the standard, the only standard to move hither and thither, just as the compass is the only guide in the infinite ocean.

Truth is Hidden in the Hearts of Great Souls

 

When sailors cannot see anything, the compass is their only guide. Similarly, we find this statement regarding the world of the Infinite.

svayaṁ samuttīrya sudustaraṁ dyuman
bhavārṇavaṁ bhīmam adabhra-sauhṛdāḥ
bhavat-padāmbhoruha-nāvam atra te
nidhāya yātāḥ sad-anugraho bhavān

O Self-effulgent One, You are the wish-fulfiling tree of the devotees. The great devotees surrendered unto Your lotus feet, who have crossed over this insurmountable ocean of mundanity, have left us the boat of Your lotus feet in this world because, they are greatly affectionate to all beings. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.2.31)

In the Bhāgavatam it is stated that our only guides, like a compass, are the footsteps of those great personages that have traveled on the way. That should be our only guidance. The way is marked by the holy footsteps of those that have gone to the highest quarter. That is our only guidance – mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ. Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja also said:

tarko’pratiṣṭhah śrutayo vibhinnā
nāsau ṛṣir yasya mataṁ na bhinnam
dharmasya tattvaṁ nihitam guhāyāṁ
mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ
(Mahābhārata, Vana-parva 313.117)

The real secret is concealed in the mysterious cave, the hearts of these great souls, The footprints of those that are going to the divine world chalk out the broad path. That is our surest guidance. Only they may be reliable guides.

All else may be eliminated because calculation is fallible. All reliable instruction comes from the Absolute Infinite. But any mode of instruction can come from anywhere, at anytime. With this broad view, Vaikuṇṭha means no limitation. We are in a boat, floating on the infinite ocean. Anything may come to help or hinder. Good faith, only our optimistic good faith may be our leader, our Gurudeva.

plavaṁ sukalpaṁ guru-karṇa-dhāram
māyānukūlena nabhasvateritam
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.20.17)

Guru-karṇa-dhāram – the guru is the guide. In the infinite ocean we have boarded a small boat and the destination is uncertain, inconceivable. But it is conceivable to our Gurudeva. Guru-karṇa-dhāram – we are going with that faith, with sincere faith within. Mahājana yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ. Svayam samuttīrya suduṣṭaraṁ – it is a horrible ocean with so many waves and so many dangers. Whales, timiṅgila monsters, and other things are there – it is full of danger.

Bhāvat padāmbhoruha nāvam atra te, nidhāya yātāḥ sad anugraho bhavān – their footsteps are our only hope. We are to depend on that. Our only relief is that there are so many lighthouses, their footprints, so many lighthouses in the infinite ocean to guide us to that place. We need faith, śraddhā māyām loka, hope in the Infinite, Vaikuṇṭha. Śraddhā is surcharged with good hope in the Infinite.

Vaikuṇṭha is Infinite, and if we wish to draw the attention of the Infinite to ourselves, the only way is śraddhā. By śraddhā we can attract the Infinite and nothing else. And when faith gets a definite form through bhāva, it comes to be prema, love divine. After crossing Vaikuṇṭha we may find the cosmos, the spiritual cosmos and śraddhā, the light in the darkness. Only śraddhā can guide us when we are traveling in the Infinite. I have heard that this is the way to that place. Śraddhā will keep our heart enlivened, hopeful.

śraddhā śabde – viśvāsa kahe sudṛdha niścaya
kṛṣṇe bhakti kaile sarva karma kṛta haya

The word ‘śraddhā’ implies the firm and confident belief that by engaging in devotion to Kṛṣṇa, all one’s duties will be fulfiled. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.62)

No risk, no gain – more risk, more gain. Sarva dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja. “I am everywhere, no room to be afraid at all. Only come to that plane. I am your friend – I am everywhere; I am the all in all, and you are My own.” This is our only fare for the journey.

Duty of a Vaiṣṇava

It is the duty of a Vaiṣṇava citizen to work under the guidance of a higher Vaiṣṇava. That should be the duty. The guidance must come from such a high level – such aspiration, the highest plane. This is the conception of Vaiṣṇavism proper. If we can understand, then we shall try to be guided under such a high conception. The dictation should come from above, and then we may hope that we will reach that plane one day.

We shall take up that thread if we have real eagerness for such life, if we consider that this is the highest form of life, the noblest form of life. It is what is found in Vraja. This aspiration will gradually take us there – the earnestness, the taste. That will give us real birth, and gradually take us there.

Laulyam and śraddhā. When śraddhā grows, it is considered laulyam, spiritual greed. We must want that sincerely. That is the price, our intense desire. Sincere earnest desire, that is the price. By no other price can it be purchased. Yes, we want that. We can’t live without it. We cannot live in this plane. If it is possible that there is a nobler plane of life, we must go there. We cannot tolerate this atmosphere where everyone is exploiting each other and the environment. We want to be rid of this plane.

Under the guidance of the guru who is in connection with Kṛṣṇa, we should just throw ourselves into His service and carry out His order. The order is coming from Him through guru and sādhu. We must place ourselves at the disposal of that śuddha-guru, a sādhu who is already in direct connection with Him, who is His agent. We place ourselves at his disposal and whatever he will ask, we will do it – that will be real service.

Therefore, it is said in the śāstra that the service of the Vaiṣṇava is better than the direct service of the Lord. If we approach the Lord directly, then we have to imagine or suppose what may be His instruction. Thinking that this must be His order may or may not be correct – it may likely be contaminated, adulterated by our conception. But when service is coming through the real sādhu, His agent, then if we can do that, it has a direct connection with Him, a real connection. This brings more improvement than any direct approach.

At present we are in the midst of a particular experience of a world that is unreal, that will soon evaporate. But what we are searching for through the śāstra and the sādhus is all truth – that plane where Kṛṣṇa lives – our personalities there are in direct connection.

yā niśā sarva-bhūtānāṁ tasyāṁ jāgarti saṁyamī
yasyāṁ jāgrati bhūtāni sā niśā paśyato muneḥ

That which is day for the self-controlled sage is night for all living entities, and that which is day for all living entities is night for the introspective sage. (Bhagavad-gītā 2.69)

It is stated in the Gītā that what is night to one is day to another, and what is day to one is night to another. We are now wakeful only in the calculation of the local and provincial interests of the world. The human conception thrown on the Infinite has different stages. Different types of thinkers thrust their own colour upon the environment and live accordingly, thinking that it is all sanctioned. But that is all misconception.

The Absolute has His own conception according to His perception, and we must be converted to that viewpoint. Only our soul can have experience and get membership there, not this material body. The eye and the mind cannot grasp that concept. It is only through our ear that this conception may come to our soul. The soul will be awakened and all the rulings of the mind and senses will evaporate. Then we will get our real spiritual body. It will emerge from our present conscious body and mind.

Everything must be of spiritual order, not an imitation. The sahajiyā school tries to find what they have heard about Kṛṣṇa in this mundane plane. In this plane they want to find it, but it is not possible. We have to go there through sādhana under the direction of the real sādhu.

Revolutionary Preaching

 

Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s writings were mainly very sober, inspiring slow and steady progress. We find in his books that he has not taken many bold steps. That is not recommended there. He recommended mostly the gṛhasthaāśrama. The āśrama of the tyāgī, the renounced order, is risky. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura shows this throughout all his books – his mood is like that.

But our Guru Mahārāja’s movement was revolutionary, not defensive in character. He would accept anyone who had the least attraction for Kṛṣṇa or Mahāprabhu and give them help. So in this mission of his, sādhusaṅga, saintly association, was provided in so many centres. Sādhusaṅga is the most valuable thing that can help us in our progress. He arranged for sādhusaṅga by opening many different centres, where devotees could live and cooperate among themselves and march on. Sarva dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja. And Svāmī Mahārāja’s (Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda) campaign also was risky and revolutionary.

I am of a more conservative nature. It is only the grace, the lofty ideal of Mahāprabhu that has taken me away from my conservative nature. He has taken me away from the strict rules of a smārtabrāhmaṇa family. I had to absorb many new things. Still, I think that I have joined the vanguard of the rebels.

Śāstra-cakṣusā-darśitaḥ – one must have the eye of scripture. It is mentioned in Manu-saṁhitā that the animals perceive by their nose, by the scent. The Vedic scholars, spiritual scholars, perceive through the eye of scripture. The king perceives through his ears, which means he relies on agents or informers. And ordinary people perceive things through their eyes.

Those who derive their understanding from scriptural knowledge, they are known as paṇḍita. The understanding influenced by the scripture, that is paṇḍa. And whoever possesses that understanding, he is paṇḍita. The paṇḍita should perceive through scripture, through the lens of scripture. A devotee also tries to see things and to deal with them according to the rules and regulations of scripture, not relying merely on prior sentiment or old saṁskāra. Mahāprabhu’s ideal impressed me very much. By His grace, although born in a very strict smārta brāhmaṇa family, I was able to shake off all these things, because my attraction for Mahāprabhu was very intense.

When I first came in contact with the Gauḍīya Maṭha devotees, they said that their conclusions were absolute and that all the advice coming from so many other missions and so many instructors should be rejected. “Sarva-dharmān parityajya, abandon all else – this is the Absolute Truth, you must accept!”

“Oh,” I thought, “How is this possible? They are very proud, puffed-up with pride. These people are all false.” But I already knew something, and this śloka came to my mind, chid­yante sarva-saṁśayāḥ – all misgivings are cut to pieces. “Yes,” I thought, “It is already there, in Bhāgavatam. And in the Upaniṣads also – yasmin vijñāte sarvam etaṁ vijñātaṁ bhavanti.”

That is something wonderful. If we understand that, we get everything simultaneously. If we know Kṛṣṇa, we know everything. It is in the Upaniṣads, it is in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, and these Gauḍīya Maṭha people were saying this from the same plane. If it is possible for me to come to such a universal plane of knowledge, then this is a wonderful thing. First I came with this objection and then progressed by this process. Gradually I found that it is real, it is possible. What these people said is true – chidyante sarva saṁśayāḥ.

Bhidyate hṛdaya granthiś – the entanglement within us, that will be untied. The universal necessity of our own lives, that will disclose itself. The inner tendency of our hearts is sealed, and it will be broken. It will come out with golden spirit – we are such and such. All doubts will be cleared. Kṣīyante cāsya karmāṇi – All necessity for effort to acquire things, that will also be given up. Everything is there. Nothing is to be acquired. Such a plane will be open to us and we shall find that we are residents of that plane of opulence, of the Infinite. It is revolutionary, most revolutionary!

The German scholar Max Mueller wrote about the treasury of India’s Upaniṣads. He said, “If the whole treasury is distributed to the world, then the whole world will be enriched. But nothing will be lost in the storehouse of India. The whole world will be enriched, but India will still remain as the richest.” The whole world may be offered this treasure of the Upaniṣads and not a part will be lost. God is also like that, the fulfilment is such. Searching for Him means all these things. It is the fullest aspect. We cannot imagine what degree of satisfaction there is. How much can we know, how much can we calculate? What degree of satisfaction can we calculate? It is very meager. Our Guru Mahārāja used to give the example of a boy born in a dark prison house. From outside, one gentleman invites him, “Please come, I shall show you the sun.” Then that boy who is born in the prison will take one candle to light the way, even though no candle is required to see the sun. That boy from the prison will think, “Am I a fool? Nothing can be seen without the help of a light.” But that gentleman will drag him out to see the sun. By the sun’s light we can see everything. Guru Mahārāja used to explain it in this way. Such wonder will come to every soul in bondage that establishes a connection with Brahman, Kṛṣṇa, the proper God conception. All wonderful. Ātmā parijñānāmayo – self-effulgent. Kṛṣṇa does not depend on any other thing to make Himself known.

Still there is always a section of people that cannot have any conception of that plane. This is the defect in them. The sun is self-effulgent, but the owls cannot see. So many animals cannot see the light. They must be cured. The sun does not exist for them because they have no suitable eye. To a particular section the question is whether God exists or not. That small section is there and it will always remain blind. But that does not mean that another section cannot see, or that the sun does not exist. It is not like that.

Kṛṣṇa is self-effulgent. He has the power to show Himself to all. Oṁ ajñāna-timirāndhasya jñānāñjana śalākayā cakṣur unmīlitaṁ yena – the duty of the guru is to remove the cataract of ignorance from the eyes. When the cataract is removed, then the eyes can see.

Scientific Progress is Not Progress

It is only deviation from the truth that brings us to the mundane world, cent-percent deviation from the truth. How and where that deviation begins, we do not know. But deviation from the truth has taken us into this false area. Science is only increasing the circumference of the mortal world. It is a world of exploitation and according to Newton, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. We must be conscious of this fact. All acquisition here is nothing, like a boomerang it will return to nothing.

Scientific progress is no progress. It is movement in the wrong direction. It is only borrowing. It is not earning real profit at all, but rather it is like taking a loan from nature, and payment will be exacted from us to the last cent. So there is no gain, no profit, just exploitation. Science measures the circumference of the world of exploitation. Everything is objectified. We are wresting power from nature, taking a loan, but the loan must be settled, rest assured. This is not progress. The first principle of any living entity is to remain alive – that is the first principle, that should be the starting point. In the Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad, we find:

asato mā sad gamaya tamaso mā jyotir gamaya
mṛtyor mā amṛtaṁ gamaya
(Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad 1.3.28)

This should be the primary tendency of our quest. What are these three phases? Asato mā sad gamaya – I am transient and I am impermanent. Make me eternal. Tamaso mā jyotir gamaya – I am ignorant, in nescience. Take me from ignorance to knowledge, from darkness unto light. Mṛtyor mā amṛtaṁ gamaya – I am in this mortal world, I am unhappy, unsatisfied. Take me to the plane of ānandam, enjoyment. From sorrow, misery, guide me to a fit life there.

These should be the real principles of life, and any research must begin here only, with these three phases – to save oneself, to save the world, and to remove the darkness. Our research must remove the misery and give the nectar, the sweet, sweet life. Sac-cid-ānandasatyam, śivam, sundaram. This should be the subject matter of our search, the line of our search. All others are false, a wild goose-chase.

We are suicidal – this so-called science is suicidal. Atomic researchers will prove very soon that science devours itself. It sucks its own blood. This civilisation sucks its own blood and it will feed on its own flesh or the flesh of its friends. Material science means this – it is not knowledge. Real knowledge, vital acquaintance of pure, real knowledge, must absolve us and others, remove darkness, bring light, remove misery, and bring eternal peace. That should be the direction of our attempt, of any attempt.

Strong Preaching

 

Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda requested, “Go and speak to the world the message of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and hear this message yourself also. You yourself hear and speak to the world.” That was his plane of thinking; with great earnestness he came to push the divine news into the world. “Don’t come back. Go and speak to the world and listen yourself.” With so much earnestness he came to preach, not only by speaking, but pushing on with Kṛṣṇa consciousness in any way, by giving an explanation, a lecture, even by quarreling, or going to court.

All possible means should be used and engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Even the court and the judge must be engaged in talking about Kṛṣṇa. They should be forced to do that if necessary. Approach everywhere with Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Stop all worldly activity. Everywhere the talk of Kṛṣṇa must go on in some form or other.

In his last days in Purī, I told Prabhupāda when I was alone with him, “What you have done for the propaganda of Mahāprabhu, of kṛṣṇa-kīrtana, so far, no ācārya has ever done.” He asked me, “Do you think like that?” “Yes,” I said, “I see the exhibitions, the chanting of the scriptures, lecturing, even going to the court, anywhere and everywhere you try to press on with Kṛṣṇa consciousness at every point. Complete opposition to māyā. The māyika movement, the flow of māyā must be stopped, and Kṛṣṇa consciousness will flow everywhere. With the activity of māyā stopped, this will bring Kṛṣṇa consciousness everywhere. That is life.”

No importance should be given to the māyika world. Even if there is a fire burning, we should not say, “Oh! I shall first put out the fire and then I shall come to join the kṛṣṇa-kīrtana.” No! No! No! If the whole world is burnt to ashes, there is no loss. Rather if we are saved by fire from the conception of this material world, we shall be fortunate. The whole world may be burnt to ashes, but we are not affected in any way. All our necessity is in the holy feet of Kṛṣṇa. With such revolutionary instructions Prabhupāda came out to preach. “Don’t lose any time.”

“If there is fire I must extinguish it and then I will come to join you in kṛṣṇa-kīrtana.” No, no, that is our enemy! The material conception is our enemy! We are souls. And this is our enemy, the māyic conception that drags us down to this material conception of life, disease, infirmity, and death. Misconception means death, miscalculation means death. That was Prabhupāda’s spirit. Go on with Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

Preaching Requires Organisation

Organisation is necessary only to spread truth to the people for their benefit. Mere organisation has no value in and of itself. When the organisation is distributing something healthy to the atmosphere, that organisation is to be welcomed. Otherwise, if any organisation fails to distribute truth, it goes amiss, it commits suicide, and it fails to do its proper duty. There may be so many political, social, and other organisations – there are many. We are in a mission, in an organisation, under the guidance of the higher realised soul. We can face many dangers. When we preach, we shall have to face so many difficulties. But with the help of the higher guidance, we can fight, we can subdue them, or we can invite them to the higher result. In this way we can give opposition to the opposition.

Preaching means offensive effort – we must attack māyā, misconception. At this time we shall not think that we shall give no opposition to the adversary – sahiṣṇu, that we shall be very patient. When we are engaged in preaching, we must approach and face opposition and try to overcome it. But if we can’t do it by ourselves, we shall invite them to hear from our Gurudeva and be disarmed. In this way we shall go on carrying the orders of the Vaiṣṇava. The local environment may wound us, but our spiritual stamina will increase by following the order of the higher agent. We shall be more benefited through vaiṣṇava-sevā.

Vaiṣṇave pratiṣṭhā – we should not want any popularity among the ordinary public, as they are mostly insane. We want a position in the eye of the masters of my Gurudeva: “Yes, he is an enthusiastic servant – he will prosper.” When they look upon us with some affection and encouragement, that will be our capital. Their affection for us, their goodwill, that will be our capital as we pass on our way towards the higher realm.

When we are in a solitary place and are chanting the Name, then of course tṛṇād api sunīcena – extreme humility must be strictly observed. But when engaged under an ācārya in a preaching campaign, our attitude should be a little different, more like carrying out the order of the higher spiritual general. That will draw more affection and benefit for us from the higher plane, than our solitary bhajana.

Real Progress is Soul Progress

 

We have to give up the undesirable, the body cover. That is not the soul proper. Die to live. Die means give up the ego, and an inner golden self will come out. “Die to live” means to die as we are now. As we are at present, we must die. The old conception of our selves is completely false. We must have a new birth. And then we will find that our real self is in that plane of immortality. Die first. But on the other side is birth, true life. We must first eliminate the lower portion – eliminate all misconceptions of life.

In 1934 or so, during the time of Prabhupāda, I spoke with one gentleman in Khutan. He was a follower of a large mission. They had big, big signboards there for the ‘Sevā Āśrama,’ and other things of grand size. But if an auditor went there, they would prove themselves to be bankrupt. They had no capital, only false capital. There was a big signboard, but their capital was a false thing, a hoax. It was neither real wealth nor welfare. They did not have a reality to distribute to the people. They were bogus, māyāvāda. They were giving a foul diet to the patients, an unhealthy diet – that was their business.

Where is the patient? The patient is within. The soul is the patient. And they were helping the body, independent of the interest of the soul. Without caring for the interest of the soul, they were serving the body. And with that arbitrary help, the body is going more and more against the interest of the soul. We generally do not organise help for the guṇḍās (robbers). For the students, for the social workers, we organise help, but never for the guṇḍās who are misguided. Generally all souls are misguided – they are living the life of the impudent. Giving them indiscriminate help without changing their direction, that is pushing them towards hell. That is not the proper goal, to push towards that side, towards danger. Indiscriminate help in this plane is no help at all.

First one must have sambandha-jñāna, a good direction, the correct conception of the proper destination. And then help will be of some use. Otherwise, without a proper destination, it is only whimsical. A whimsical push will not help anyone in the way of progress. It is not real progress.

In Madras, one gentleman said to me, “First help the patients and keep the soul and body together. Then you may talk with him about the truth, about Hari, about Kṛṣṇa consciousness. If he dies, to whom will you speak?” I replied, “Suppose there is a famine and I am distributing some food. So many are surrounding me, obtaining this food I am distributing. Someone runs away from that place. Should we stop the food distribution and run after him? Or shall I continue distributing the food to the many? Stopping that distribution, should we run after him? There are so many living souls, and some are dying. So I must not run after the dying to bring them back into the body, stopping my distribution of the nectar to the many. It is like that.”

That which they conceive to be truth is actually untruth. And furthermore, the process that they have accepted as the means to help others is also wrong. It is completely wrong. They have no true diagnosis, but they are very busy giving treatment and diet. Diagnosis is the most important thing. What is amiss with us, what should be our best interest, the summum bonum of life – that should be settled first. The question of help will come next. Whether help is available or not, where is the guarantee? How are we to settle what is helpful and what is not helpful?

Progress must proceed in the right direction. And what is that right direction? Maximum exploitation, skillful exploitation, irregular exploitation and regular exploitation, that is karma. And renunciation, jñāna, is the opposite thing. Exploitation and renunciation – two opposites. But a third direction must be found to conciliate all contradictions. Reality is something else.

tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevāyā
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ

Such knowledge should be achieved through submission, inquiry and service to those who are wise and have seen the Supreme Truth. (Bhagavad-gītā 4.34)

Real Dedication

The most important thing is the standard, and that must come from a real plane, not a vitiated plane, an ordinary plane, a vulnerable plane. Tad viddhi praṇipātena, paripraśnena sevayā – jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ. It must come from a plane where these two qualifications exist: jñānī and tattva-darśi, the conception and also the practical application. Both qualifications must be there to derive the standard of what is right and what is wrong.

Our attitude also should be of such type – praṇipātena, paripraśnena, sevāyā. Praṇipāt means to surrender to such knowledge. That is not an ordinary class of knowledge that we can objectify – it is super-subjective. Praṇipāt, we must surrender. We want something that is superior to us. We want Him, the Absolute Subject, not an objective thing.

Praṇipāt also means that we are finished with the experience of the world outside. We have no more interest for anything in the plane where we have traveled already. Praṇipāt, we offer ourselves exclusively at His altar, and we want to have His grace. In this mood we approach the higher knowledge.

Paripraśna, honest inquiry, is always allowed. But inquire sincerely, not with the inclination to discuss in the mood of tarka, argument. All our efforts should be concentrated on understanding in a positive direction, leaving behind the state of doubt or suspicion. With all attention we shall try to understand, because it is coming from a higher plane.

Sevayā, this is the most important thing. We will not receive that knowledge simply to utilise the experience for our benefit. That plane won’t come to serve this lower plane. We must pledge to serve that plane. With this attitude we approach that plane, that sort of knowledge. We shall serve Him, that higher knowledge, and we won’t try to make Him serve our lower plane. That selfish desire won’t allow us to enter His domain, the knowledge won’t descend. It won’t come to serve this lower plane. Rather we shall have the fullest conviction that we must offer ourselves to be utilised by Him, and not that we shall try to utilise the received knowledge in our own way to satisfy any lower purpose. If we receive that knowledge, we must serve.

Praṇipātena, paripraśnena, sevāyā – with the sevā-vṛtti (service tendency) we shall dedicate ourselves to Him, not that He will dedicate Himself to satisfy our lower animal purpose. With this attitude we shall seek the plane of real knowledge, a proper estimation of our environment. Praṇipāt, paripraśna, sevayā. This is Vedic culture. It is always imparted only in this process and never by intellectual approach. Our Prabhupāda used this analogy – the honey is in a bottle, the bottle is sealed, and the bee is trying to lick the honey through the glass. Foolish people may think the bee is licking the honey. Similarly, the intellect cannot approach ātma, spirit. It may think that it is capable, but it is not possible. The barrier is there, like a glass. Intellectual achievement is not real achievement of higher knowledge of the higher plane.

Only through faith, through sincerity, through dedication to His agents, can we approach that higher plane. If they admit us, then we can enter that land, that plane of higher living, divine living. Praṇipāt, paripraśna and sevā, the candidate must have these three qualifications before approaching the Truth. We must approach with humility, sincerity and dedication. This is mentioned in the Gītā many times, and also in the Bhāgavatam there is a particular passage:

tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam
śābde pare ca niṣṇātaṁ brahmaṇy-upaśamāśrayam

One who seeks the Absolute Truth must take shelter of a true guru. Such a spiritual preceptor has full knowledge of the Vedas and the Supreme Lord and is deatched from material affairs. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.3.21)

In the Upaniṣads also:

tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet
samit-pāṇiḥ śrotriyam brahma-niṣṭham

To understand these things properly, one must approach, with firewood in hand, a spiritual preceptor who is learned in the Vedas and firmly devoted to the Absolute Truth. (Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 1.2.12)

Gurum eva – we must approach the spiritual master. Abhigacchet means to approach without hesitation. We should go with a clear heart, an honest heart. Gurum evābhigacchet – with a full heart we must approach him.

In our Prabhupāda’s language, we should not purchase a round-trip ticket when approaching the guru. He used to say always, “You have come here with your return ticket? Do not come like that. Come for all time” – sa gurum evābhigacchet. We must say in our hearts, “I have seen; I have full experience of this mortal world. I have nothing to aspire for here. With this clear consciousness, I must go. This is all mortal, no one can live here. No means to live here, no possibility, so I only want to live, and to save myself, my life. I am running to the shelter, the real shelter, with this earnestness.”Abhigacchet, samitpāṇiḥ, the disciple should bring the necessary materials, we should not trouble the guru. With our own resources we should go – abhigacchet samit-pāṇiḥ śrotriyam brahma-niṣṭham.

Praṇipāt means to bid adieu to all the experience of the material world. That is the meaning of praṇipāt. “I am finished with this place. I have no attraction for any material aspiration. All my hopes may be granted from above – I am finished here. I have taken leave from any sort of prospect from this mundane world. I don’t want it. This is finished. I have come with an expectant attitude.”

Janma-mṛtyu-jarā-vyādhi-duḥkha doṣānudarśanam. The whole kingdom, the whole material realm may be offered, but we should reject it. We should despise bad association, mortal association, the association with mortality, disease, and all these things. With full attention we have to come to investigate whether it is possible for us to have this hope. Praṇipāt, then paripraśna. Honest inquiry is allowed – it is not that blind faith will take us anywhere. But our inquiry must be sincere.

Enter the Land of Dedication

 

The all-important factor is sevā – we must want everything for His satisfaction, not our satisfaction. Sevā means dedication, the land of dedication – we want to enter into the land of dedication and the land of exploitation takes leave of us. No one can thrive in the land of exploitation. That is a loan. Exploitation means that we are incurring a loan, and we have to repay it. We are bound – for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. We will devour ourselves – it is suicidal.

Exploiting civilisation is suicidal – it must devour itself. It is living on a loan from nature. How proudly they show their heads raised high, but their welfare is all on loan from nature. It is extorted from nature, and the debt must be satisfied to the last cent. Pride and boasting are all negative. No positive contribution comes from this civilisation of exploitation. Exploitation must stop. Exploitation means to extort things from others, and that must be repaid. It is a natural law. This civilisation is worth nothing.

We must enter into the land of dedication and everything will be preserved. Whatever contribution we shall make will be kept safe. However, we won’t draw any benefit, we only shall deposit our contribution. It is there, in the land of dedication, a new land, a land of wonder. We want to enter, to have admission there. Exploitation is hateful in itself, and dedication is the purest of the pure. We want to be residents of that other land. We won’t take anything from there, so pure it is. And there the land is gradated.

The gradation of purity is according to its intensity, quality and quantity. In this way, vicitra, nature is variegated. And on the highest gradation is spontaneous love and beauty in the kingdom of Kṛṣṇa. The dedication of the gopīs is of the highest grade. They are willing to remain eternally in hell in order to remove a little pain, a fictitious pain, Kṛṣṇa’s pretended headache. This type of dedication is the highest.

Āśliṣya vā pāda-ratāṁ pinaṣṭu mām, adarśanām marma-hatāṁ karotu vā. That kind of love, that sort of attitude – such intense dedication, the acme of dedication – can never make us separate from Kṛṣṇa. What does dedication mean? Dedication, when manifested in its highest state is union in separation. Ostentatiously we may be driven away from Him. But in the heart, our faithfulness is increasing in degree.

If we are punished, still we shall adhere to His service. The connection, the link will become invulnerable. Even by separation, by any sort of punishment, we cannot be detached. This is the highest form of unity seen in the deepest plane. No one can take this thing away from us, if we have a connection of such quality.

Āśliṣya vā pāda-ratāṁ pinaṣṭu mām, adarśanām marma-hatāṁ karotu vā. Stage by stage it is going deeper and higher. Adarśanām marma-hatāṁ karotu vā, yathā tathā vā vidadhātu lampaṭo. Even what is our right, our rightful claim, may be given to others in front of our eyes. That also cannot detract from our high ideal. When we acquire such a dedicated nature, then we are relieved to that extent. We come within the jurisdiction of Kṛṣṇa’s confidence. By dealing in this way, we cannot be separated – we enter the area of highest confidentiality of the Absolute.

When we are free from exploitation and posted in the plane of service, dedication, then hate is eliminated and we embrace everything. Only the spirit of dedication can make it possible to embrace everything. Exploitation has no possibility, and hatred comes from exploitation. Dedication makes everything and everyone our friend. We don’t want anything in return, so everything will come to us. We don’t want to extort our selfish desires from anything, not even from the environment – viśvaṁ pūrṇa-sukhāyate. The māyāvādīs and the renunciants indulge in hatred. But the devotee is just the opposite. Karmīs exploit, and the jñānīs hate. The devotee embraces everything, but with reference to the centre, to Kṛṣṇa. In the Kṛṣṇa connection, kṛṣṇa-sambandha, everything is embraced. “Oh, he is my friend. I can utilise him in the service of Kṛṣṇa.” Sometimes even the flower will remind us, “Oh, take me to Kṛṣṇa.”

When we are fully established in the plane of dedication, everything will help us and remind us, “Oh, go to Kṛṣṇa.” In an all-friendly atmosphere, all can be acquired. It is full of devotional spirit, the spirit of dedication. Hatred can have no room there. Hatred is in the temperament of the renunciant, tyāgī-mukti-kāmī, and not the bhakta.

anāsaktasya viṣayān yathārham upayuñataḥ
nirbandhaḥ kṛṣṇa-sambandhe yuktaṁ vairāgyam ucyate

When one is unattached, but simultaneously accepts everything in relation to Kṛṣṇa, one is actually situated above possessiveness. (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 2.255)

Since everything is in connection with Kṛṣṇa, how can I hate it? In the acme of dedication there is only love, Vraja Vṛndāvana bhāva. And preaching – preaching is saṅkīrtana. Preaching is real service to Kṛṣṇa, and not just counting beads. Service. Because Mahāprabhu and Gurudeva order it, I have to chant the Name, counting the beads. I must do my duty to the mālikā, the string of beads. “The mālikā should not fast.” That was the word of Prabhupāda.

Active Dedication

The devotional school wants service by dedication, crossing the plane of exploitation and renunciation or indifference – active dedication and service. In the beginning there is the help of scripture and also there is much excitement – that is all grandeur, all power. That is found in the worship of Nārāyaṇa. And later we can understand that love is the real essence of life. Without that love we should not exist. Love is such a precious wealth that we should deny our very life if we do not have that inner wealth, love for Kṛṣṇa, for the Absolute. And His love comes, His beauty comes. Affection, beauty, love, harmony – this is the highest conception ever to come to this world.

Dedication is the foundation of love, the structure of love. Without dedication, no love can stand. The greatest Autocrat and the greatest dedicating agent is Rādhārāṇī, mahā-bhāva- svarūpa. Rādhikā. Why rādhā-dāsyam, service to Rādhikā? We want to dedicate ourselves, and the highest ideal of dedication is Rādhārāṇī. She is the greatest devotee of the Autocrat Kṛṣṇa. Dedication is seen in its zenith there. Those who achieve Her association in any way, even a slight connection with Her purifies them all. That is the highest wealth.

Mahāprabhu came only to prove to the world the highest dignity of Rādhārāṇī. It is the statement of those who are closely connected with Rādhārāṇī that Mahāprabhu has distributed Her hearts’ nectar. He is our greatest benefactor – our canvasser is the most intimate companion of Kṛṣṇa. Gaurāṅga has come to establish in the market that our hearts’ wealth is of the highest nature. If He did not come to express this to the world, then how could we live? Our life would have been impossible. If the greatness of our Mistress were not displayed, accorded the highest regard, how could we bear to live?

Beauty, Charm and Sweetness

 

To attract the ordinary public in our Bombay preaching, we would state that the purpose of our movement was to harmonise karma, jñāna and bhakti. This was spoken outwardly, announced only to canvass the general public. How is it possible that we want to harmonise karma, jñāna and bhakti? I said, “Of course the outward appearance may be kept, but in spirit what we are doing is quite a different thing.”

Karma means applying effort, not for our sake, but for the Supreme Lord. Jñāna means searching, but searching for what? Not for collective exploitation of nature, nor for Paramātma, nor for Brahman, not even for the Nārāyaṇa conception of the truth. We are not searching for Absolute power, but for Absolute beauty, Absolute love.

Ultimately, by our sacrifice, our surrender, our devotion, we attain vimucyeta, vimukti, viśeṣa-mukti, the highest type of salvation or emancipation. It is a positive attainment, not just the end of the negative conception. Only to get out of the negative side is not real emancipation or liberation. To enter into the positive safest position, that is our real interest.

Designations (upādhis) have been thrust on us – sarvopādhi vinir muktaṁ tat-paratvena nirmalam. Anyathā-rūpam, that which is just like a disease – an undesirable foreign thing has come to cover me. That is upādhi. That is anyathā-rūpam. Successfully eliminating that, we must come to our positive and proper position in the world of love and beauty. It is a very important thing that power is not the ultimate controller –beauty is. The control of beauty is very sweet, normal and natural.

Power, awe, reverence, grandeur, these all become stale in light of the Bhāgavatam’s Kṛṣṇa conception of Godhead. The Nārāyaṇa conception has become stale, so to say. Beauty, love and harmony are the highest goal ever discovered. Śrī Caitanyadeva gave us that, Vṛndāvana has given us that, and this is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Our Guru Mahārāja and Svāmī Mahārāja have given to the wide world this Kṛṣṇa conception, the conception of beauty, harmony, love. It is original, the universal cause, this conception of the Absolute, not anything else.

With this fundamental conception we may find relief. We may feel that we are out of danger – we are no longer the victims of power. The power in Vaikuṇṭha, the grandeur, awe, reverence, that may not be an inner hankering of any substance. Beauty is a hopeful assurance of our highest position; it is charming.

Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura predicted that when the world’s scholars understand the worth of that which has been given by Śrī Caitanyadeva, then all religion must vanish. It cannot stand. When the conception of the Absolute is identified with beauty and love, all sorts of different conceptions cannot stand in competition. All will embrace it: “I want beauty, Ultimate beauty, Ultimate harmony, Ultimate love, loving each other. If that is possible, then I don’t want any other proposal.” We must run in that direction – the general indication will take us.

All other religious conceptions are compelled to vanish. When viewed with the divine eye, the eye of divine knowledge, all other conceptions cannot appeal to the highest class of thinkers. Pṛthivīte āche yata nagarādi grāma, sarvatra pracāra haibe mora nāma – “In every town and village on this earth the glories of My Name will be chanted.” This is not a mere declaration by Mahāprabhu. There is an intellectual as well as an intuitive foundation to this prediction.

By Published On: September 22, 2022
Follow the Angels - Srila B.R. Sridhara Deva GoswamiAbout the Author
Follow the Angels - Srila B.R. Sridhara Deva GoswamiPart 2 – Follow the Angels
Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Mahārāja appeared in this world in the village of Hapaniya, West Bengal, in 1895 within a high class Bhaṭṭācārya brāhmaṇa family. After studying philosophy at Krishnanath College in Berhampore, he met his guru, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, and accepted initiation from him in 1926 and sannyāsa in 1930. In 1942 Śrīla B.R. Śrīdhara Mahārāja founded the Śrī Caitanya Sārasvata Maṭha and remained there until his departure from this world in 1988. He was recognised by his godbrothers for his dispassionate nature and common sense, as well as for his superlative Sanskrit compositions and profound philosophical insights.