Follow the Angels – The Path of Dedication
Part 2 – Follow the Angels
What is the substance of my inner search, my innermost search? At last I have come to that. Gaurāṅga has given the fulfilment of my innermost demand. He is mine. Without Him, no one should have any conception of life. The greatest thing is here, and if I cannot have it, what is my life worth? I would be better to die – I should have died long ago. If I cannot come in contact with such a valuable thing in this life, I would rather die. Janmiyā se kene nāhi maila – I should have died at birth, if I cannot come to my eternal prospect, my inner fulfilment.
pāiyā mānuṣa janma, ye nā śune gaura-guṇa,
hena janma tāra vyartha haila
pāiyā amṛtadhunī, piye viṣa-garta-pāni
janmiyā se kene nāhi maila
Anyone who attains a human body but does not take to the cult of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is baffled in his opportunity. Amṛtadhunī is a flowing river of the sweet nectar of devotional service. If after getting a human body one drinks the water in a poison pit of material happiness instead of the water of such a river, it would be better for him to have not lived, but to have died long ago. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi–līlā 13.123)
kṛṣṇa-līlāmṛta-sāra, tāra śata śata dhāra
daśa-dike vahe yāhā haite
se caitanya-līlā haya, sarovara akṣaya
mano-haṁsa carāha tāhāte
The pastimes of Kṛṣṇa are the quintessence of all divine nectar, and caitanya-līlā is an inexhaustible lake of that nectar which, flowing in hundreds of streams, floods the hearts of the devotees in all directions. Therefore, O nectar-seeking friend, please let your mind swim in that lake like a regal swan. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 25.271)
These two scriptural references reveal the extraordinarily wonderful characteristic of our goal in Kṛṣṇa. Our goal in Kṛṣṇa is of such extraordinary nature. The devotees give descriptions in different ways, but without that goal one should not live.
The wholesale dealer selects the choicest commodities for promotion when approaching new customers. The proprietor is astonished by the choice. He says, “You have presented well these most valuable things of Mine. I was not even conscious that such things were Mine! You have taken so many refined things from My storehouse. Were they in My store? Your choice makes Me more valuable, infinitely more valuable. You have found such beautiful things of Mine. I cannot but feel proud. By your touch, by your connection, these beautiful things have been discovered in Me.”
Kṛṣṇa’s obligation towards Rādhārāṇī, the wholesale dealer, is such. Partial dealers come from different groups, but Rādhārāṇī is the wholesale dealer of all the commodities available in Kṛṣṇa’s store. Na pāraye ‘haṁ niravadya-saṁyujāṁ. Even Kṛṣṇa Himself cannot measure the greatness of Rādhārāṇī.
In Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes, the potencies are sandhinī, saṁvit, and hlādinī. Hlādinī holds the highest position, because of complete self-surrender. Next is saṁvit, and then third is the position of sandhinī. Thinking, feeling, and willing – willing is sandhinī, thinking is saṁvit, and feeling is hlādinī. Ordinarily we may think that feeling is the last of all, but no, it is the first.
Feeling is first. Feeling, real feeling, has been given such a high position. Feeling controls us all. We are all searching, and feeling commands us. We think feeling is the result. No, feeling commands everything. First feeling, then thinking, then willing. Generally the karmīs, the fruitive workers, give the upper hand to willing, to willpower, and the jñānīs concentrate on thinking. ”We command the will, so we hold the high position.” But feeling is the basis of everything – controlling everything. That is so – we have to understand the position of feeling.
Do Not Approach Directly
Our Guru Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Prabhupāda, asked that we keep Rādhārāṇī in great reverence, “On your head, over your head – don’t be bold enough to approach directly: Pūjala rāga-patha gaurava-bhaṅge. Try to keep Her and Her group at a respectful distance, above your head. Don’t rush towards that position. It is not that cheap.” How valuable They are for those situated in rāga-mārga, who worship Kṛṣṇa in this way, the way of love!
In His deep trance, Mahāprabhu experienced vraja-līlā and expressed His ecstatic feelings. The sahajiyās try to imitate these things by their mundane mind – they attempt to experience that līlā through their imagination. But that is not possible. If there is any imitation, only offences will be created. Those offences will be recorded in the circle of the examiners of the upper quarter, and they will give a stamp of disqualification – the imitators are criminal and unfit. Imitation will be held against us and hamper our future progress. We must be very careful not to commit offences, aparādha. It is better to be a newcomer with a fresh introduction than to have a criminal record. We must be very, very careful in our quest for the highest objective of our eternal life. Our Guru Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, has especially given this caution, and he attracted us to the line of exclusive devotion.
Mahāprabhu has distributed what He experienced in His deep trance. But we must be ready to pay for it, and our Guru Mahārāja came for that purpose. Pūjala rāga-patha – don’t go hurriedly. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. That experience is for the highest minded. It is the highest. One must go step by step. If we omit any step, we will be nowhere.
We should be mindful of every step, and automatically that will take us in the right direction. Don’t ever try to run very hurriedly. Try to remain a little down and back. That will forcibly take you to the goal, naturally. The higher Vaiṣṇavas will take you there. You can’t go there on your own, yam evaiṣa vṛṇute tena labhyas. That is true all the way – yam evaiṣa vṛṇute tena labhyas. Your acceptance will come from the higher quarter. You should go, but don’t try to trespass. Otherwise you are gone, finished.
Prema-sevā, loving service, is not an ordinary thing, a mechanical thing. Don’t try to finish it, to limit it – it is of an unlimited nature. Don’t rush to enter there, to trespass. Don’t commit offences. This is the highest prospect of your life after many lifetimes. The centre of the Infinite is everywhere – the circumference is nowhere. Don’t create a circumference around the centre of your highest prospect.
My Ideal is Always to Serve Him
Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī, who holds the highest position as the mādhurya-rasa prayojana-ācārya says:
sākhyāya te mama namo’stu namo’stu nityaṁ
dāsyāya te mama raso’stu raso’stu satyam
What does it mean? Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Is that plane an intellectual field about which we can reflect or remark in any way we like, in our own fashion? Dāsa Gosvāmī, who is situated in the highest position of the prayojana-tattva, the preceptor of prayojana in mādhurya-rasa, rādhā-dāsyam, says,“I’ll try to show my reverence to the sakhya, but I crave in real earnestness for dāsya-rasa. Rādhārāṇī Herself wants me to serve always. Because Kṛṣṇa wishes to enjoy me, He enjoys. But my mark, my ideal is always to serve Him.” In mādhurya-rasa, even Rādhārāṇī’s own tendency is always to serve Kṛṣṇa. Her inclination is towards dāsya-rasa, service. Is sakhya-rasa, intimate friendship with Kṛṣṇa, a very small thing? No, it is too high for me. Pūjala rāga-patha gaurava-bhaṅge. “From a distance I want to show my respect to sakhya-rasa, but I crave dāsya-rasa.” That should be the inclination of a real devotee. If we disregard these things, we are playing like children.
Do Not Discuss Higher Līlās
We are not to enter into the discussion of the higher and subtle aspects of the līlā of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. That is not to be discussed in public. That is the distinction between the Gauḍīya Maṭha and the sahajiyā section. The sahajiyās are trying to imitate all these things, but we have no faith in imitation. The higher līlā will come personally, and it will awaken in an irresistible way. When the program of the sādhana stage is finished, it will come automatically, spontaneously. It is not that we will know the form first and then we will reach there. That is not the policy accepted by Guru Mahārāja, Prabhupāda.
Pūjala rāga-patha gaurava-bhaṅge – that is always upon our head. The prospect of our life’s future, life after life, cannot be finished so easily. We shall rather foster the hope, the pure hope that we may be taken one day into that service camp with this idea – pūjala rāga-patha gaurava-bhaṅge. It is very sweet. The rāga-patha, the path of spontaneous devotion, is above our heads. We are servants of the rāga-patha. We are in viddhi-mārga, the path of regulated practice, under śāstrika rule. We must live and move under śāstrika rule, and always keep the rāga-patha above our head. Pūjala rāga-patha gaurava-bhaṅge.
The whole tenor of Guru Mahārāja’s life was such – “That is high, very high, and from below we are to honor that.” We must establish this conception, the proper regard for that higher līlā, throughout the entire world – “That is too high!”
Preach the Basics
There are many attractive things below that highest līlā. The charm and reasonableness of the higher plane are enough to convince a person to come to this side. These līlās should be left high above our heads. We are to handle all this līlā, especially mādhurya-līlā, very cautiously.
Once Prabhupāda arranged to preach in Vṛndāvana for the full month of Kārttika. He asked Śrīpāda Bhāratī Mahārāja at that time to explain the Seventh Canto of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, the story of Prahlāda. He did not ask for narrations about Kṛṣṇa, Rādhā, Yaśodā or anything of Vṛndāvana. “Preach śuddha-bhakti of Prahlāda first. People are ripe in sahajiyā, imitation of devotion. Just try to make them understand, to enter the plane of bhakti. That is great – what to speak of kṛṣṇa-līlā. That is far, far above.” There in Vṛndāvana the people wondered, “What is this? They are explaining Bhāgavatam, but leaving aside the Tenth Canto. They are explaining the Seventh Canto, the prahlāda-līlā, the lower portion of bhakti. That is wonderful and strange.”
I found later on that Śrīla Prabhupāda himself spoke for several days on the boundary line between Rādhā-kuṇḍa and Śyāma-kuṇḍa. He read and explained the Upadeśāmṛta of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. He did not speak about Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī or about Kṛṣṇa, but about Upadeśāmṛta – the basic teachings. His attention was always focused on the basics, because the fruit will come naturally. “Pour water onto the root and the fruit will come up by itself.”
Sitting between Rādhā-kuṇḍa and Śyāma-kuṇḍa he explained not Bhāgavatam, but Upadeśāmṛta. Upadeśāmṛta contains the substance of Mahāprabhu’s teaching in the language of Rūpa Gosvāmī. Śrīla Prabhupāda explained these topics and not anything of Govinda-līlāmṛta or Viśvanātha Cakravartī’s Śrī Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta. The higher topics of mādhurya-līlā, Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s amorous pastimes, were left aside.
Intimate Connection is Rejected
Once a certain gentleman wanted to discuss these intimate līlās with Prabhupāda. Previously he did a great deal of service to the mission, but he laid much stress on those higher topics, and ultimately he left the association of Prabhupāda and lived a secluded life. He was a man, but superficially assuming the identity of a gopī he wanted to enjoy an intimate connection with Kṛṣṇa. He wanted this intensely, but Prabhupāda remarked disapprovingly, “Oh, he has turned into a lady, a gopī, and after coming in contact with Kṛṣṇa she produced a child!”
Not To Live at Rādhā-kuṇḍa
Pūjala rāga-patha gaurava-bhaṅge. Prabhupāda instructed that we must not go to live in Rādhā-kuṇḍa, the most sacred place of pilgrimage. One day near Lalitā-kuṇḍa, where there was a single-story building at Svānanda Sukhaṇda Kuñja, he said, “A second story is necessary, but I will not be able to live there.” I asked, “If you will not live on the first floor, who will live there? What is the necessity of further construction?”
“No. You don’t know. Better persons will live there – Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Gaura-kiśora Bābājī Mahārāja. They will live there, and we shall stay on the ground floor and we shall serve them.” Again he said, “I shall live in Govardhana. Rādhā-kuṇḍa is the highest place, the place of our Guru Mahārāja, our Gurudevas. They will live here in closer connection with līlā, but we are not fit to live there. We shall live in Govardhana, just a little far away. Because we shall have to come and serve our Gurudevas, we must be near, but we must not live in closer connection with them. We are not fit.”
Not to Interfere With the Higher Līlās
Our master did not allow us to read the books where the higher līlās are described: Govinda-līlāmṛta, Stava-kusumāñjali, Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi. He did not allow us to study and to discuss them. Rather, he would be very much disturbed if he heard that someone was interfering with the higher līlās in those books. He did not like it.
There are three chapters of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta that we were generally not allowed to discuss fully, including the conversations with Rāmānanda Rāya. Where the līlā portion of Rādhā-Govinda is mentioned, we were not to delve. Of course when pārāyaṇa (consecutive chanting of the whole book) was taking place, we were to go on reading those sections, but without giving any particular attention to the līlā of the highest order of rāga. That was barred: “Don’t try to come into details there. That will come automatically when it is time. Do not make it a public discussion. Do not place it in the public eye.”
Duṣṭa phala karibe arjjana – Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura warns that we will get only a bad result if we venture to cross that line. It is aparādha. From the lower position, the steps are shown: śraddhā, sādhu-saṅga, śravaṇa, kīrtana, then anartha-nivṛtti, when the undesirable things vanish. Then comes ruci, then āsakti, then bhāva-bhakti, the sprout of real devotion. Then prema-bhakti, and sneha, māna, praṇāya, rāga, anurāga, bhāva, mahā-bhāva – by such steps we are to approach the highest plane.
Not to Listen to Rāsa-līlā Kathā
The following incident in Vṛndāvana indicates how strongly he felt in this way. Prabhupāda had a friend there from his childhood, an attorney, who came to see him, so Prabhupāda went to return the visit to this friend from his boyhood. Śrīpāda Paramahaṁsa Mahārāja was with Prabhupāda and they went together. They were told, “He is upstairs.” They went there and saw that a Gosvāmī was explaining the rāsa-līlā section of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. Prabhupāda just bowed down his head and immediately came away.
His friend also came down, leaving that rāsa-līlā discussion, and said, “The rāsa-līlā explanation is going on, but you did not take your seat at all. You just bowed your head and came down. What is the matter?” Śrīla Prabhupāda replied, “Our guru’s order is that it will be offensive to attend the rāsa-līlā discussion, so I had to come down. This is my guru’s order – to attend rāsa-līlā explanation is aparādha.”
We have no right to attempt to hear. We are not qualified. We shall commit offence thinking that Kṛṣṇa is a man like us, and these gopīs are so many women, and they are performing this debauchery. This idea will appear in the mind. It will replicate in our heart and we will have to go down. Therefore, we must not attend those discussions.
Rāsa-līlā should not be used to capture people by their lust. It is tempting to distribute that līlā – we like it so much – but it is misguided. For canvassing we should not use the highest and most valuable gem. We must not show it in the market to capture attraction. An ordinary gem may be taken to exhibit in public. Anyone and everyone are not qualified to discuss rāsa-līlā.
Follow the Will of Our Gurudeva
Prabhupāda has ordered such strict behavior, and we also follow that. At so many other places they show the rāsa-līlā with dolls, but I never do that. Following what is true to my understanding of my Gurudeva’s will and his words, I do not make any show of jhulana-līlā or rāsa-līlā or anything of that nature. I find in my heart that this is not pleasing to my Guru Mahārāja. But in so many maṭhas I see at present, I hear also, that they are doing that, but I strictly abstain from showing jhulana-līlā and rāsa-līlā. That is too high for us.
I must be true to the words of my Gurudeva if I want my realisation and not just some sort of popularity. Some may discuss the higher līlās to attract people, to make money, or even to develop a favorable field for preaching, but I do not do this. I do not want popularity or any recognition as a higher ācārya. I am a student.
Still I am a student. I consider myself to be a student, a faithful student. What I heard from my Gurudeva, I try my best to stick to that, to keep my position there as I heard from him. I do not want to mutilate that in any way to suit my purpose. I try not to do that. Of course for big propaganda some may adopt different ways, as they see fit. They are now free. But I am not one to do so, to go on in such a way. I try to follow my Guru Mahārāja, Śrīla Prabhupāda.
Guru Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, preached exclusively this mādhurya-rasa, but with great precaution. He used perhaps 90% of his energy to point out the negative side, the imitation – “This is not mādhurya-rasa”– and clear away these sahajiyā misconceptions. He had to spare, in his words, ‘gallons of blood’ to establish what is not that mādhurya-rasa.
Smaraṇa Subservient to Kīrtana
Some ācāryas are of the opinion that smaraṇa, internal remembrance, is more important than kīrtana (chanting), because smaraṇa is exclusively connected with consciousness, or is more concerned with the subtle part of our existence. They feel that smaraṇa is the most effective form of sādhana, or means to the end. But our Guru Mahārāja and Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, and also Kavirāja Gosvāmī Prabhu, laid stress on kīrtana – especially for beginners. Guru Mahārāja says in his song Vaiṣṇava Ke:
kīrtana prabhāve, smaraṇa haibe
se kāle bhajana nirjana sambhāva
Internal remembrance can occur by the power of kīrtana, and only then is solitary service possible. (Vaiṣṇava Ke 19)
Nirjana-bhajana or smaraṇa, exclusive solitary devotion unconscious of the environment is not at all possible for beginners. Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī says:
yadyapy-anyā bhaktiḥ kalau kartavyā
In this Kali-yuga, of the nine basic forms of devotional practice, the forms other than kīrtana certainly should be practiced, but they must be conducted subserviently to kīrtana. (Bhakti-sandarbha 273)
This is the principle of Mahāprabhu’s preaching. Kīrtana has its own special characteristic, particularly in Kali-yuga.
kaler doṣa-nidhe rājan asti hy-eko mahān guṇaḥ
kīrtanād eva kṛṣṇasya mukta-saṅgaḥ paraṁ vrajet
O King, the age of Kali, the repository of all evils, has but one glorious characteristic. In this age, those who simply chant the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa are liberated and reach the Supreme Lord. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 12.3.51)
Also, Śrīla Madhvācārya has written in his commentary on Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad:
dvāparīyair janair viṣṇuḥ pañcarātraiś ca kevalam
kalau tu nāma-mātreṇa pūjyate bhagavān hariḥ
In Dvāpara-yuga, Lord Viṣṇu is exclusively worshiped by the people according to the principles of Deity worship delineated in the Pañcarātra scripture, but in Kali-yuga, the Supreme Lord Hari is worshiped only by the chanting of His Holy Name.
In the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, when the incarnation of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is mentioned, the method by which the people will worship Him is also given:
kṛṣṇa-varṇaṁ tviṣākṛṣṇaṁ sāṅgopāṅgāstra-pārṣadam
yajñaiḥ saṅkīrtana-prāyair yajanti hi sumedhasaḥ
In Kali-yuga, the Lord appears with a golden complexion and continuously chants the Name of Kṛṣṇa. He appears with His expansions, portions, weapons and associates. Those who are most intelligent will worship him through the sacrifice of the congregational chanting of the Holy Name. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.5.32)
Here, yajñaḥ means sacrifice, dedication, which is saṅkīrtana-prāya, or saṅkīrtana-pradhāna, which means ‘predominated by saṅkīrtana, the congregational chanting of the Holy Name.’ Those endowed with sufficient piety perform this kīrtana. So, in this age of iron, kīrtana has its own special privilege, granted by the Supreme Lord – Mahāprabhu’s specialty is preaching, kīrtana. He inaugurated and conducted hari-kīrtana.
Our Guru Mahārāja, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, and others have accepted kīrtana. To write about the Lord is also within the jurisdiction of kīrtana. To preach is to assert – to take the message to others. To engage in answering the questions of the environment automatically demands concentration, which is very rare in this age. When doing kīrtana, one automatically cannot but give all concentration and attention. One cannot speak independently; intuitively, one must be completely attentive. For this reason, kīrtana is recommended as the highest form of bhajana, especially in the age of Kali.
bhajanera madhye śreṣṭha nava-vidhā bhakti
‘kṛṣṇa-prema,’ ‘kṛṣṇa’ dite dhare mahā-śakti
tāra madhye sarva-śreṣṭha nāma-saṅkīrtana
niraparādhe nāma laile pāya prema-dhana
Of all forms of divine service, nine forms are superior, for with great potency they bestow upon the devotees love for Kṛṣṇa, and their personal relationship with Him. Of the nine, the best is nāma-saṅkīrtana. By offenselessly taking the Holy Name, the treasure of love for the Lord is attained.” (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 4.70.71)
Mahāprabhu accepted five principal limbs as the most important of the nine that are mentioned in the Bhāgavatam:
sādhu-saṅga, nāma-kīrtana, bhāgavata-śravaṇa
mathurā-vāsa, śrī-mūrtira śraddhāya sevāna
Association with devotees, chanting the Holy Name, hearing Bhāgavatam, residing in Mathurā-dhāma, and worshiping the Deity with faith. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.128)
Of these five, Mahāprabhu has given nāma-saṅkīrtana the highest position. Nāma–saṅkīrtana is considered best of all – designated as such by the ācāryas. Our Guru Mahārāja especially promoted kīrtana, as indicated by śāstra, the scriptures. But if other ācāryas have shown preference for smaraṇa in any instance, it is in the sense that kīrtana may be performed within the material environment, whereas smaraṇa is independent of any material consideration. From this point of view, smaraṇa may be deemed ‘higher,’ but that is not accepted in a general way. It is a special opinion.
In Caitanya-śikṣāmṛta, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura clarified that there are two types of devotees in the stage just prior to attaining the highest plane of paramahaṁsa or uttama-adhikārī. The devotees who cross the middle stage (madhyama-adhikārī) and reach towards the highest position are called devotees in the stage of premarurukṣu. They are classified in two divisions: goṣṭhyānandī and viviktānandī (or bhajanānandī). The first type of devotees are always engaged in preaching, and the latter take to smaraṇa or nirjana-bhajana, a solitary life of worship, without mixing with the environment.
One is not superior to the other. The viviktānandīs generally like secluded life and practice smaraṇa. Those who are of the goṣṭhyānandī type perform kīrtana, preaching, and attain the highest position without the need to practice exclusive smaraṇa. Those who have attained the highest plane are known as premārūḍha.
Imaginary Perfection is Self-deception
Guru Mahārāja clearly said that when we are in a lower position, smaraṇa is injurious. Rather, we should take to kīrtana. sahajiyās (members of the imitationist school) are fonder of smaraṇa than kīrtana. They are ‘followers’ of smaraṇa. They lead a secluded life, and mentally they attempt to identify themselves with a particular sakhī of their own age. They pretend to perform her duties, to occupy her place of service in a particular place of Vṛndāvana, in a particular līlā, under the guidance of a particular sakhī, and so on. They are required to meditate on all these things by their so-called guru. That is the process amongst the sahajiyā school, but we do not accept that. We consider it all false and imaginary. They are not fit for the plane. They do not have real sambandha-jñāna, knowledge of reality. They only practice the repetition of a particular mental speculation, but anartha-nivṛtti or any other process based on it cannot be effected thereby. Their imagined achievement is sheer concoction. They are not aware of the facts – the ontological gradation from Virajā to Brahmaloka (Brahman), Vaikuṇṭha and Goloka. They are pukūra-curiwāle – pond thieves, imagining their residence at Rādhā-kuṇḍa. To think one can steal a pond is self-deception. We consider that kind of ‘smaraṇa’ to be self-deception.
The Death Blow to the Sahajiyās
The sahajiyās propagate that without directly receiving siddha-praṇālī (revelation of one’s internal identity as a gopī) spiritual perfection is incomplete. Let them do so. Our Guru Mahārāja wrote several poems, one of which is Prākṛta-rasa-śata-dūṣaṇī – ‘A Hundred Defects in the Sahajiyā Conception.’ The defects are innumerable, but our Guru Mahārāja put forward a hundred of the defects in their process of ‘advancement.’ Mainly they take spiritual advancement very cheaply – they are not prepared to pay the real price. But the death blow to them is this:
upajiyā bāḍe latā ‘brahmāṇḍa’ bhedi’ yāya
‘virajā,’ brahmaloka, ‘ bhedi’ ‘paravyoma’ pāya
tabe yāya tad upari ‘goloka-vṛndāvana’
‘kṛṣṇa-caraṇa’-kalpa-vṛkṣe kare ārohaṇa
As one waters the devotional creeper, the seed sprouts, and it gradually grows until it finally penetrates the walls of this material sphere and goes beyond the Virajā River, which divides the spiritual world and the material world. From there it attains Brahmaloka, and then reaches the spiritual sky, and then reaches the foremost spiritual planet of Goloka Vṛndāvana. Rooted in the heart and watered by hearing and chanting the creeper grows until it attains the shelter of the desire tree of the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa in the topmost region of the spiritual sky. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 19.153-4)
One must first cross the different gross and subtle layers of the brahmāṇḍa (mundane universe); then Virajā, the extremity of the jurisdiction of Māyā, or misconception; then the Brahman conception, the halo of the real or transcendental world – then, Vaikuṇṭha, which is Paravyoma, a sphere of consciousness.
The jīva comes from taṭastha-loka, the marginal position or the abscissa, and must go through higher planes where even the soil is more valuable than the infinitesimal spirit soul. Vaikuṇṭhera pṛthivy-ādi sakala cinmaya. What is Vaikuṇṭha? There the soil, earth, water, everything is of purer consciousness than the person who is going to enter there.
Entering the Land of Gurus
It is a land of gurus. There, they are all guru, they are all of superior value by nature – yet, we have to pass over them. As an example, consider that it may be necessary for our service to momentarily place a foot on the throne of the Lord (perhaps to place His crown on His head, etc.). But afterwards we come back down, offer our obeisances, and then come out from the Deity room.
In the same manner we must enter and remain in a soil that is made of a stuff more valuable than our own selves. When serving the emperor, a slave may come near his bed, where even his near and dear cannot go, or hesitate to go. The slave can approach, but only for service. So it is only for the divine service, for the necessity of the Highest, that we can pass through that soil. It is not an easy thing – it is inconceivable. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
Vaikuṇṭhera pṛthivy-ādi sakala cinmaya. We must understand the conception properly. The jīva has emerged from the taṭastha-śakti or marginal potency. He is a part of the marginal potency, and he must enter the higher plane. This gross world is of gross potency, apara-śakti – the jīva, although marginal, is of a potency superior to this gross world, or para-śakti. Above both is the internal potency, or antaraṅga-śakti. We have to enter the plane of antaraṅga-śakti. This marginal potency must enter the plane of antaraṅga-śakti – Paravyoma, and the highest quarter, Vṛndāvana, Goloka. It is not a trivial matter.
Cheap Imitators and Pseudo Devotees
Śrīla Gaura-kiśora Bābājī Mahārāja practiced smaraṇa in a hut near the Ganges. Another Bābājī constructed a kuṭīra nearby, a small hut, and went on imitating Gaura-kiśora Bābājī, performing madhukārī (subsisting on alms), sitting and meditating, and wearing similar cloth. Bābājī remarked, “If a lady enters into a maternity ward, she cannot produce a child only by imitating the sounds and symptoms of labor. Many things are necessary before that!” Only by imitating the paramahaṁsa–bābājī, bhajana cannot be practiced. One must have a connection with śuddha-sattva, the real plane, and then all the higher symptoms may appear. Otherwise, only speculative antics will manifest.
nā uṭhiyā vṛkṣopari, ṭānāṭāni phala dhari’
duṣṭa-phala karile arjana
If one wants fruits without taking the trouble to climb the tree, what sort of fruits can one expect? (Kalyāṇa-kalpataru, Upadeśa 18)
The fruits will be ruined, or rotten. Without proper progression, it is all imagination, a madman’s feat. One must gradually reach the plane of truth, śuddha-sattva. There are so many planes to cross: Bhū, Bhuvar, Svaḥ, Mahar, Jana, Tapa, Satyaloka, Virajā, Brahmaloka. Mahāprabhu says that the creeper of bhakti grows and rises up to Goloka, and our devotion must cross all these planes. But the pseudo-devotees do not care to know what is Paravyoma, what is Brahmaloka, what is Virajā, what is the brahmāṇḍa. Without caring to know about these things, they approach any guru, receive some mantra, and go on meditating. But if one meditates upon rādhā-govinda-līlā in such an ignorant state, instead of entering rādhā-govinda-līlā one will become entangled with the ladies and gentlemen of this world. One will become entangled in the domain of lust and will have to go to hell instead of going up to Goloka.
Love and Lust
Carma-māṁsa-maya kāma, prema-cidānanda-dhāma. The carnal appetite is lust, whereas love is the abode of divine ecstasy. Imitation is not success – on the contrary, it degrades. Imitation degrades and imagination is only a mental exercise. The mind is separate from the soul. Śraddhā, divine faith, is connected with the soul, ātma – but the mind is matter. Mind is material, a part of the material potency. This is also clarified in Gītā:
bhūmir āpo ‘nalo vāyuḥ khaṁ mano buddhir eva ca
ahaṅkāra itīyaṁ me bhinnā prakṛtir aṣṭadhā
Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false-ego – these are the eight different elements of My material nature. (Gītā 7.4)
The mind is a product of the material potency, and the jīva is a product of para-śakti, the superior potency. Svarūpa-śakti, the Lord’s personal internal potency, is higher than the jīva. The function of the mind is speculation (mano-dharma), that is its nature. It has nothing to do with truth. Mental speculation is drawn from the material world, the world of misconception. The mind is full of misconception (avāṅ-manaso gocaraḥ). It cannot reach the stage of feeling or perceiving the truth proper. It is only related to mundane things in the plane of exploitation.
The mind cannot be pure, just as a fossil cannot produce life. Similarly, the mind cannot produce śraddhā, divine faith. Śraddhā is original and fundamental. When the Supreme Lord appears in the heart, the mind vanishes. Reality is just the opposite of speculation. Darkness cannot produce light – light comes and darkness vanishes. Truth appears when pure consciousness emerges and mental speculation vanishes. The mind is concerned with misconception. It is an element of the apara-śakti, the inferior potency. That potency is both subtle and gross. Earth, water, fire, air and ether are gross manifestations – mind, intelligence and ego are subtle. But they’re all material. The soul is transcendental. Svarūpa-śakti, or the Lord’s personal potency, bhajana, or divine service, and Goloka-Vaikuṇṭha are all supra-mundane and transcendental. They are beyond the soul, not on the denser realm where the mind is located. Properly speaking, purity or impurity cannot be attributed to the mind. If we do, everything will be misunderstood. The mind emerges from the false ego and it is imbued with the tendency to exploit.
Mahāprabhu says, mora mana-vṛndāvana – “My attention is elsewhere, in Vṛndāvana.” Vṛndāvana is not an element of this mundane plane. The residents of Goloka also possess senses, but the affairs of the mundane world are never represented in that plane. The mundane mentality is a product of exploitation, sense exploitation. We need relief from this mind. We are surrounded by poisonous thought. In the narration of the tridaṇḍi-sannyāsī in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, all the disciplines agree that the mind should be checked.
dānaṁ sva-dharmo niyamo yamaś ca
śrutaṁ ca karmāṇi ca sad-vratāni
paro hi yogo manasaḥ samādhiḥ
Charity, constant and conditional prescribed duties, mental and sensual control, hearing the scriptures, holy vows and duties – all these are observed to gain subjugation of the mind. Mental control is known as the supreme yoga. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam11.23.45)
Exploitation, Renunciation and Dedication
We must serve. In this world there are exploitation and renunciation – beyond them is dedication. Dedication is the proper and normal situation. There are gradations according to our inner tendency for serving, our particular calling. We may be allowed to enter that plane where all around is reverential soil. We must go there. Through effort it is impossible, but it is possible by grace, kṛpā. That impossible grace is called kṛpā, His grace, His free will. He is the Supreme Autocrat.
Affection (rāga, anurāga) does not differentiate between great and small – it is very generous. Only through affection and love is it possible to expect to attain that plane one day. But it is not so easy. Once, when a young devotee began to manifest various apparently devotional sentiments, others came to me saying: “He is showing many signs of higher bhāva (sentiments), are they real?” I said, “Never!”
I Have No Love For Kṛṣṇa
Mahāprabhu says, na prema-gandho ’sti darāpi me harau – “I am hankering for a drop of real prema – and I have not attained it yet. I am weeping, shedding so many tears, crying ‘Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa.’ It is all hypocrisy, because the positive proof is here: I am alive without Him. I have not disappeared – I did not dissolve. I am living, I am eating, and I am sleeping. This is positive proof that I have no genuine love for Kṛṣṇa.” Mahāprabhu Himself says that.
Bhāva is such a valuable attainment, and we think ourselves masters of it overnight! Fools, deceivers, self-deceivers! In the positive, assertive way it can never be attained. Only in the negative, submissive way can we have some conception. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura says:
vicakṣaṇa kari’, dekhite cāhile haya
(Gītāvalī, Śikṣāṣṭakam 8.2)
“Suddenly a flash came, but when I tried to look, it disappeared. It was withdrawn.” In this way, in a submissive way, we can have some idea. Whimsically He may come, and suddenly I may feel, “Oh, here is some experience of the higher knowledge and love, but if I try to capture it, there is nothing, vanished.”
Sacrifice Our Mundane Experience
Do you want to live? Then come to die. We shall have to invite wholesale dissolution of everything in our experience. Hegel’s words help us – ‘die to live.’ What is generally considered a concrete, valuable thing must be cast into the fire, in exchange for some hope that is unknown and unknowable. That is sacrifice. In Vedic ritual, we pour clarified butter into the fire as a sacrifice to please the Lord. Ghee, a valuable foodstuff, is burnt in the fire to create a healthier atmosphere. Of course, to say such a thing is improper and ridiculous according to material understanding, yet the benefit from the unknown quarter is there.
Be disgusted with your known world of knowledge, of pleasure – everything. Die to live. Now it appears to be all risk, no gain. Then, when the destination is reached to a certain extent, it will be all gain, no risk. Actually, what we risk is all concoction, misunderstanding. We only need to throw our misconception into the fire to gain a proper conception of reality. When the unreal is put into the fire, we gain the real. This is what ‘die to live’ means.
Here, in this world, we are habituated to think, “I am monarch of all I survey!” We want to become a ruler. Whether we are sovereign or not, our tendency is to want to be a monarch. All of us want to be a monarch. There is also another reactionary group that says, “I do not want anything. I want nothing but dreamless sleep. Cessation is the most valuable thing in our experience, complete cessation of this life.”
Both these aspects of enjoyment, exploitation and renunciation, must be eliminated, and we should find a third plane in which to live. That third plane is the noble life, the life of dedication – a life of duty to and for the whole, not any part: “I live for the whole, and that whole is a part of Lord Kṛṣṇa.” This is the meaning of becoming a lover of the beautiful. In that way we have to understand, and march onward.
Dedication with a spirit of service should be always kept in mind. Sacrifice is necessary. The entire higher plane is that of dedication – not exploitation or renunciation. Exploitation, self-aggrandisement, that is exploitation, pratiṣṭhā. It must be avoided, because it is dangerous in the plane of dedication. If I have the tendency to exploit, to pose as a big personality, that will be very detrimental. The faithfulness of a servant must always be maintained and protected very scrupulously. None can deceive me – none can check my progress, except myself.
I must scrutinise and analyze my own inner temple and brush aside any undesirable things. Guṇḍicā–mārjana – cleanse the temple just as Mahāprabhu showed us. Guṇḍicā–mārjana. There are many types of undesirable things that should be brushed aside. We should make progress, and come closer to our Lord for service. He will take me closer for the quality of my service. Service must be the pivot of everything, whether studying, collecting resources, or recruiting devotees. The serving spirit should be kept intact always.
Śaraṇāgati means self-dedication. The manner of activity of the dedicated self will become bhakti. Whatever one may do, one will do on behalf of Kṛṣṇa. One must cite Kṛṣṇa’s interest as the sole motivation, not some separate interest – bhayaṁ dvitīyābhiniveśataḥ syād. Consciousness of separate interest has separated us from Kṛṣṇa. And the common interest, the realisation that all interests are harmonised in Him, that is bhakti. When the common interest is gone, everything is gone.
Śravaṇa, kīrtana, they are only mere forms, not life. In order to have a life of devotion, there must be śaraṇāgati. Śaraṇāgati means exclusive connection with Kṛṣṇa, exclusive identification with the interest of Kṛṣṇa. Because Kṛṣṇa is not seen in this plane, the guru and the Vaiṣṇava are to be served. In this way one will be benefited through extreme self-abnegation and surrender, according to one’s disposition.
That surrender will have peculiar characteristics. Śānta, dāsya, sakhya, there are different rasas, or devotional dispositions. There are also subdivisions in the different rasas. In this way, each soul will be located in the plane of dedication. Without śaraṇāgati, all devotional practice is mere formality. One will lose the very life thereof, and it will be something other than bhakti. According to the nature and intensity of our sacrifice, in proportion to our dedication, we’ll be allowed to enter the internal nectarine movement. When we disregard this principle, we become imitationists, sahajiyā. We must be very careful, because the mundane is a perverted reflection.
On the other hand, the māyāvadī impersonalists may not have any aspiration for worldly enjoyment, and when they take the Name of Hare, Kṛṣṇa, and Rāma, they may manifest some sentiment, shivering, and tears. They may manifest these apparent devotional symptoms, but that is also a type of perverted reflection. It is not real devotion because māyāvadīs are committed to the creed that Nārāyaṇa, Viṣṇu, Vaikuṇṭha, and everything other than the Brahman effulgence are within the jurisdiction of the mundane idea.
In Hari-nāma Cintāmaṇi we find that māyāvadīs may show some devotional symptoms in body and mind, but their impersonal creed bars their entrance into Vaikuṇṭha proper. They erroneously believe that Vaikuṇṭha is part of the material universe, lower than Brahmaloka. That is their creed. So sahajiyā imitation may not be there, but their devotion is not pure. It may be in the jurisdiction of sattva–guṇa, material purity, at most. They do not have real substantial faith beyond the conception of Brahma – the higher, deeper vision of Vaikuṇṭha, Goloka, and Vṛndāvana. They can’t understand the real nature of self-dedication.
By dedication we enter a perfectly different world. Dedication is better than renunciation. Renunciation of the negative is good, but it is destructive. It will lead to the zero conception of everything. However, by accepting, searching and attaining our inner selves as units of the world of dedication we find a new world before us, a new land. The māyāvadīs can’t believe this. They cannot believe that if we are transformed, then our innermost selves become members of the plane of dedication.
Tangible Depth in Divinity
When backed by the sādhu, the guru of very high stature, we can do anything. By the grace of his support, whatever kīrtana is practiced will be effective. Meditating silently may be praised as more efficient in a particular context, but if we venture superficially to chant the Holy Name in that way, there will be great opposition, and we may become atheists. It can happen if we do not have sufficient support to fight against the odds. We must not venture to attack the enemy when our position is weak. But when backed by the great generals and sufficient munitions, we must march on. That will help us to engage in real kīrtana.
The real factor is sādhu-saṅga, which has a connection with the higher power. Otherwise, nothing has any value. The stand must be taken on the real plane of sādhu and śāstra. We must cultivate the real thing, protect the reality of the bhajana. For the weaker devotee, the sādhaka or aspirant, the greatest necessity is sādhu-saṅga, even as the scriptures are necessary for knowledge. Sādhu-śāstra-kṛpā. If we have the mercy of the saints and the sanction of the scriptures, then our kīrtana will be best.
Our attention should always be towards the negative, submissive side. If we can practice in submission, our promotion cannot be checked. Without qualification, if we are very eager to go upward, there will be a tendency to fall down. Dāsyāya te mama raso ‘stu raso ‘stu satyam – “May I have the aspiration for servitude.” For bhajana or internal service, such a temperament should always be followed. Tad dāsa-dāsa-dāsānāṁ dāsatvaṁ dehi me prabho – “May I always be the servant of the servant of the servant.”
Promotion is inevitable if we always try to adhere to the lower duty. Eagerness for promotion is the enemy – that is for pratiṣṭhā (renown), and that will undermine everything. Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhaktisiddhānta Ṭhākura said that imitation arises from the attraction for pratiṣṭhā, the desire to hold the superior position and acquire a name for oneself. That is the great enemy. Don’t fall prey to pratiṣṭhā, the eagerness to hold the higher position. Rather, dainyam, humility, is the healthy sign of a devotee.
Vṛndāvana Dāsa Ṭhākura says that one who feeds thousands while obtaining his own nourishment is greater than he who only feeds himself. Kīrtana means to cultivate oneself while helping many others at the same time. But when we have no capital of our own, if we go to preach we will meet much opposition, asat-saṅga, and the aṅkura, the bud, will be nipped. If we are kaniṣṭha-adhikārī, neophytes, we should not preach to others without vigorous backing. Kīrtana means to preach, to approach others. We should not venture to do that as kaniṣṭha-adhikārī, because we may be converted to atheism. Only after passing through the proper stages – śravaṇa-daśā, varaṇa-daśā, sādhana-daśā and prāpaṇa-daśā (the phases of hearing, acceptance, practice, and attainment) – can one preach independently (āpana-daśā). Otherwise, we can only preach with the help of someone in prāpaṇa-daśā.
We should have an immovable connection with reality, an absolute conception of reality. Such a stable position is necessary. Become invulnerable – develop certainty, sambandha-jñāna. Then we shall be able to understand and harmonise the differences that we find in the writings of the ācāryas. We will know then what instruction to apply in each situation, and under what circumstances one or another particular process has been advised. This is practical knowledge.
Anything in connection with God, including all types of bhajana, is good. We are not against anything of that nature. However, we must consider what will be most effective according to our capacity. At the same time, we must not commit any offence of omission. How can we be so audacious as to say that smaraṇa is superior and that other types of bhajana are of a lower order? We may distinguish very cautiously, but not merely to satisfy our curiosity. We must not venture to make light of such matters. These are all serious points. To consider one Vaiṣṇava over another is not a game – the distinctions are very subtle. They are devotees, and we must not venture to place one above the other according to our crude necessity. It is not an academic exercise – we should not amass some theoretical knowledge to impress our students. It should not be accepted in that line. We shall always be conscious of the practical side: “They are so great, and where am I? Who am I passing judgment over?” There should be some limit to our adventurous audacity. Only if the real necessity arises shall we venture to establish the superiority of Lakṣmī over Śukadeva or Ambarīṣa.
Approach Nityānanda Prabhu
We pray to Nityānanda Prabhu. We want to come to an adjusted position: “If I have committed any offence, aparādha, when dealing with so many subtle things about the great personages, please, Nityānanda Prabhu, absolve me of that offence and restore me to my normal humble position.” Vṛndāvana Dāsa Ṭhākura says:
sarva-vaiṣṇavera pā’ye kari nāmaskāra
ithe aparādha kichu nahuka āmāra
I bow at the feet of all the Vaiṣṇavas – may there be no offence in my attempt to serve them. (Caitanya-bhāgavata 1.87)
When we deal with so many great things, such as trying to speak about great personalities of the highest order, we should beg Nityānanda Prabhu to pardon us for our audacity. He is patita-pāvana, savior of the fallen souls. He is adoṣa-darśī – generally He does not take any offence.
Humility means not to encroach on the rights of others. However, it should not be self-destructive – it must be natural. Humility is accepting no position, because a servant has no independent position. Because he is always at the command of the master, he is always situated within infinite possibility. The servant is humble to his master, not to the guṇḍās. His humility must be directed chiefly towards the master. Be humble towards the Lord’s own, the Vaiṣṇava. Be humble there. When it was necessary for Hanumān to burn the golden city of Laṅkā, his humility was not disturbed. He was as humble as anyone can be in carrying out the order of Lord Rāmacandra. He was fully given, wholly surrendered to his Master.
Humility, in other words, is surrender. Humility means to present no opposition to the command of the master from Vaikuṇṭha, the upper section. Humility does not drag one into subordination to the serpent, tiger or jackal. Our real relationship is with the Vaiṣṇava. That is the plane where devotees take their stand. We are concerned with the Vaiṣṇava. And humility means that we do not resist our master’s instruction. Without opposition, we carry out whatever order comes to us. We possess humility, sunīcatā – we are not prejudiced.
Generally we think of humility as pertaining to the outside world, but this is not correct. To the right-thinking person, the members of the external world are deluded – they are mad. Humility lies not in the standard of madness, or in catering to mad people. A madman has no standard of his own. Therefore, humility means to have a standard apart from the outside world.
Prabhupāda has defined humility as ‘that which is absent where there is a spirit of enjoyment.’ The enjoying spirit, the spirit of exploitation, means aggression. There cannot be humility in aggression. Humility is cent-percent service. There is no humility in exploitation, or in renunciation either. These two are opposed to the normal nature of the world. They are totally misconceived – they are our enemies. They challenge the normal reality of the spirit.
The spirit of exploitation and the spirit of renunciation – both are a revolt against the proper working of the truth. They are totally misconceived. Real humility must be in relation to the fullest aspect of the truth, not to the misconceived world. The standard is not that of the madman.
In real devotional service whose objective is to please the centre, a competitive spirit between two persons will not negate humility. The devotees feel inspiration and direction from the centre, and cooperate accordingly. They are connected with the Absolute centre, so Yogamāyā may arrange competition. They are not responsible, because their necessity is only to please the centre. The Absolute is that way, but not out of necessity.
aher iva gatiḥ premṇaḥ svabhāva-kuṭilā bhavet
ato hetor ahetoś ca yūnor māna udañcati
(Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi, Śṛṇgāra-bheda-kathana 102)
It seems to be crooked, but it is not – it is the very nature of Absolute dealings. It is necessary only for the variety and diversity of our service to Kṛṣṇa. It is designed from the upper-quarter. The devotees are not responsible for that. There may be competition, but we should not infringe on the property of others.
Our duty will always be to dedicate ourselves more and more intensely, and we shall do that according to how we may be commanded by the higher agency. We must always keep ourselves ready for that intervention. Cent percent we shall obey the instruction from the upper quarter, without any hesitation. That is our duty. Whatever will be asked of us, we shall do.
On the battlefield, if the general asks a particular battalion to fight in the first battle, they may not say, “Why shouldn’t the second battalion be commanded to go? Why should we go first? We shall die, and they will rejoice in the victory after the last battle. Why should we go first?” The military will shoot them then and there! It is the generals’ prerogative – it is not left to the soldiers to determine which battalion will engage first. Only the highest authorities command. Complaining against that high command invites immediate death.
Where Angels Fear to Tread
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Like fools, we rush into the subtlest realm of sentiments of the highest order, so we must beg to be excused by the high personalities. Apa-siddhānta or philosophical adulteration strikes very harshly. It was Svarūpa Dāmodara’s service to examine any poems or writings for purity before they were taken to Mahāprabhu. If writings with apasiddhānta were offered to Mahāprabhu, He would be very severely disturbed. Apa-siddhānta cruelly attacks the ideal of the higher-thinking persons.
They may be offended. We shall try to enter into that garden without disturbing any plant or person roaming in that sphere. We shall enter not with curiosity, but with all humility and respects for them. Otherwise our talks will be pure intellectualism, and not hari-kathā.
Do Your Duty in Your Plane
First go to Nityānanda Prabhu, and by His grace you will go to Mahāprabhu. Strictly stick to gaura-līlā, Mahāprabhu, and you will automatically find within your heart that rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi is flowing. Don’t attempt directly to have it. It will come automatically, spontaneously.
yathā yathā gaura-padāravinde
vindeta bhaktiṁ kṛta-puṇya-rāśiḥ
tathā tathotsarpati hṛdy-akasmād
As devotion unto the feet of Śrī Gaurasundara is attained by a pious person, inevitably the ocean of nectar which is the service of the lotus feet of Śrī Rādhā is accordingly born within his heart.” (Caitanya-candrāmṛta 88)
Percolated by the mercy of Śrī Gaurāṅga, try to approach Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. Then there will be no possibility of any contamination entering our heart and disturbing us in that plane. Śrī Gaurāṅga will impede that contamination. If we have the shelter of Śrī Gaurāṅga we can be sure that we will very safely, smoothly, and intimately attain the service of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. Otherwise it is very dangerous, and sometimes suicidal. If we do not approach through Śrī Gaurāṅga, the attempt will be reactionary.
It is very dangerous to approach Śrī Vṛndāvana and Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī directly. We must approach as commanded by Śrī Gaurāṅga. In other words, if we can appreciate the life of Śrī Gaurāṅga, the ideal of Śrī Gaurāṅga, then kāma (mundane desire) will be exhaustively eliminated. We will be purified so that we can be accepted in that domain of the highest līlā. We shall not approach intellectually, for that will fill us with misconceptions. We will have to expend much energy to do away with that layer of misunderstanding. Therefore, our Śrīla Prabhupāda did not allow these things. We must do our duty in our plane, according to what we deserve, and the result will come naturally. That is his instruction for all time, not only temporarily, but for all time. Don’t approach directly, for then we will get Māyā instead of Yogamāyā.
Kṛṣṇa knows it perfectly well. Rādhārāṇī knows perfectly well when we are to be taken into the confidential area. That cannot be acquired other than by Their sweet will, the flow of Her sweet will, or His sweet will. Try to have the real thing, not any imitation or reflection. Reflection and shadow, these two kinds of misconception may appear. Of the two, reflection is more dangerous. We are cautioned often, “Don’t try! It will come automatically. Go on with the program given by the śāstra and the guru and it will happen. If you have such a possibility of fortune then it will come to you. It is not a material experience that can be given to one and all. It is not to be tackled in such a way.”
Yathā yathā gaura-padāravinde – engage your full attention in gaura-līlā and your realisation will come automatically. Indirectly it will come to you from the higher domain. When the higher realm is pleased, it will come down for some time to give you the experience, and you will simply be astonished. Then, even when it departs or is withdrawn, you will have nothing to lament. Realisation is a living thing. We cannot make it our object. It is such a higher reality, such a higher thing!
It is difficult to participate in the intimacy between an ordinary man and his closest friends, and so it is with the līlā of the Supreme Lord. How can we dare enter into those pastimes, and publicly it is more so! It is not possible. Externally we can try to give some description of the outer possibilities, but not the actual thing. We won’t venture to enter there.
Not an Academic Endeavor
When Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu talked about the higher līlās, He was in a trance. He gave a description of His wonderful, direct experience of kṛṣṇa-līlā. Several times we find that sort of deep līlā, the higher kṛṣṇa-līlā related by Mahāprabhu Himself: the govardhana-līlā, the jala-keli-līlā (when He jumped unconscious into the ocean and for hours was carried by the waves of the sea to Cakra-tīrtha from Svarga-dvāra); the jala-keli of Kṛṣṇa; the līlā at Caṭaka-parvata. The nature of those descriptions was not an academic endeavor, learned from a book. Such experience cannot be written in black and white; it cannot be read and narrated as a bookish thing. It is real.
Defect of the Intellect
In Hari-nāma Cintāmaṇi, it is stated that the temptation may come, but we must not think that everything can be encompassed by our limited intellect – acintyaḥ khalu ye bhāvā na tāṁs tarkeṇa yojayet. That which is inconceivable, we may not place under the jurisdiction of reason. When the inconceivable is extended to us, we will be astounded with a mere glance. Na tāṁs tarkeṇa yojayet – don’t attempt to drag the inconceivable into the zone of reason. The higher quarter is autocratic in its nature. It may come in one shape to one, and it may go in another shape to another. It is so expansive and free in its nature. It is infinite. The Infinite is the origin of those pastimes. We should always be prepared to accept whatever experience of the Infinite may be granted to us, but we should not attempt to make the Infinite an object of our experience. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread! With this spirit, and not out of curiosity, we must approach the process. By the same token, by God’s grace, we should not disbelieve everything unless and until we have the full experience and know every last detail.
The Finite Cannot Know the Infinite
The finite cannot expect that the whole Infinity (Kṛṣṇa) will enter within a tiny cell of awareness. But by our earnestness, Kṛṣṇa comes down to touch the finite by His partial representation, when He is satisfied with our serving attitude. We should be always conscious of the fact that we are infinitesimal and cannot hope that the whole Infinite will come within our fist. That is nonsense.
Only follow the recommended path of śraddhā, faith – that is our serving attitude, surrender. Then whenever and whatever little experience He’ll kindly make us taste, we shall taste. We should understand that as the proper characteristic of a finite inquirer – otherwise we will be over-endeavoring. If we cannot understand the plain truth that we are finite, then it is impossible to understand the Infinite. We want to know the Infinite, but we cannot make Him the prisoner of our finite box. Only by our humble temperament can we attract Him. As much as He kindly wills us to taste Him, that should be enough for us.
One drop will inundate the whole of the world – this is His nature. Can we be so audacious as to draw the Infinite and force Him to enter into our fist? That is suicidal. We must always be conscious of our own position. With a sober consideration we shall try to understand the ways and means that are extended to us by the gracious, great personalities. Very patiently and very modestly, and only when He wants to make it known to us, can we know anything. And only as much as He wants, we will know – that much, and not more. That is our position. To know the whole thing is ludicrous – it is suicidal. That is the most foolish, reactionary conception.
Reject Your Knowledge
jñāne prayāsam udapāsya namanta eva
jīvanti san-mukharitāṁ bhavadīya-vārtām
sthāne sthitāḥ śruti-gatāṁ tanu-vāṅ manobhir
ye prāyaśo ’jita jito ’py asi tais tri-lokyām
Those who have rejected abstract thinking always remain in the association of devotees in order to hear Your glories. They begin devotional service with their body, mind, and words. Although you are unconquerable and rarely attained, You are conquered by them. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.14.3)
Jñāne prayāsam udapāsya – relentlessly we must discard (ud-apa-asya) all proposals that our intellect may offer us. Whatever the intellect can judge and accept or reject must necessarily be of a lower nature. We are to summarily reject that, and understand that we must bow down our heads (namanta eva).
Knowledge is our enemy, because knowledge in this world is all misleading. Its very basis is misleading. However ample it may be, it is a negligible part of the Infinite. We have collected, gathered and pushed into our brain all misleading falsification. Our brains are full of deceptive māyā, misunderstanding. That is our enemy. We have to clear these things out and put in fresh things that are received from the other world by pure sources. Theoretical knowledge is one thing, the practical another.
Relentlessly we must cast aside the old knowledge, udapāsam. Namanta eva, we must learn submission, and in that way He will be propitiated and come to make something about Himself known to us. Whatever small thing we will come to know, that will inundate our entire being. One drop of the Infinite is sufficient to cover the whole universe – such is His character. The Infinite is not a small thing that we can tackle easily. With one drop of the Infinite the whole finite can be inundated, flooded.
The Infinite has full control over knowledge, science, happiness, everything. If we are to approach such a great, great, great thing, what should be the proper attitude? We must be conscious of our position. We are not masters, but servants of the servant of the servant of the servant. This is the proper way to approach.
In the same manner, we are to approach the scriptures with a submissive heart and attitude. “Please reveal within our heart what is contained herein.” Śāstra should be approached with a submissive attitude, not in a challenging mood. By dint of our power we cannot conquer what is described there. We cannot conquer all thoughts. That is not the proper attitude. Scriptural truth is a higher thing – it is cetana, independent. It has free will, this śāstra in the form of so many letters. The Lord’s associates also exercise His free will in the matter of our approach to the śāstra. They can reveal the meaning to us or they can withhold it.
Approach the Guru
It is good if disciples develop a consciousness of being personally unfit. Although we are unqualified, we should have some understanding within, that Gurudeva is taking us towards the higher quarter. We will see things as we look about the environment. We may be fools, but others are not. We can see how they accept Kṛṣṇa.
The experts in the scriptures have also given their opinion. According to our capacity we should consult sādhu and śāstra. With the help of these two (sādhu and śāstra) and the approval of our innermost heart we can approach the guru. With their help we can accept guru.
But there are those who are deceiving themselves, “O, my guru can cure so many diseases,” and “Oh, my guru can make me prosper in the material life.” That is self-deception. In the world there are many different types of gurus: there are those who give material prosperity and some tyāgī-gurus give us eternal sleep, saying that this is the real place of taking rest and achieving peace. There are so many classes of gurus.
Generally our sukṛti guides us from underground. Śraddhā is the real merit that can take us to a proper guru, and śraddhā comes from our past acquired sukṛti, or auspicious activities. That sukṛti comes unconsciously from the agents of Kṛṣṇa. In this way, the real progress of a jīva is traced, ultimately.
Become an Angel
sākhyāya te mama namo’stu namo’stu nityaṁ
dāsyāya te mama raso’stu raso’stu satyam
The essence of this verse is to let our respect flow towards the friendly devotional disposition, sakhya. We respect that friendly disposition, but pray to obtain the disposition of a servant, dāsya. We should always move expressly towards the goal of having the temperament of a servant, while giving respect to the friendly disposition. We should not venture to tread on that plane. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Don’t be a fool – become an angel. Try to follow the angels. We should always respect the higher plane and try to remain connected with the lower service.
When Mahārāja Pratāparudra began his service, which is that of a sweeper, Mahāprabhu came to embrace him. We should not forget that – it is the very backbone of devotion, to tend always towards the lower services. Then automatically from the other side the choice comes for us, from the higher plane. We should not try to impose on Him, but show our modest tendency to go to the lower level. And it is the duty of the higher to take us to the proper place.
Dāsyāya te mama raso’stu – our sincere attraction should be towards lower service, toward cultivating the temperament of a servant. We must have the knowledge that we are not fit for anything higher. We will respect that. This should be our attitude – we are not fit for that high plane. Many Vaiṣṇavas of higher character are there. We must engage in service at a lower level, then automatically from the higher level it will come to us. Yogamāyā is not sitting idle there. Whomever will be fit for any particular plane, Yogamāyā is there to adjust everything for them. Automatically, she will take us from a particular plane and put us in some higher plane. The residents of the higher plane are not inanimate objects – they are all conscious.
Die to Live
Sevonmukhe hi jihvādau – all attempts must be made with the understanding that we are meant for Him, for His pleasure. That is the main principle of our advancement – sevonmukhe hi jihvādau. Then it will be possible for us to reach that plane. We are meant for Him, to die for Him. Die to live. The whole process is die to live, always. Dissolve this ego. To leave this ego means to embrace death – subtle death is to leave a particular ego. One layer of ego may require many births to reach its death. The entire ego should be dissolved. We are meant for Him, for His pleasure. Die to live. We want our wonderful dream satisfied. We should engage ourselves in the lowest form of service – tad dāsa-dāsa-dāsānaṁ dāsatvaṁ dehi prabho. Our faith should be so firm and of such quality that the least prospect of His service, of divine service, will satisfy us. We may not get the chance there in the higher class, but with our lowest connection with divinity we may go on satisfied with our lives. Mahāprabhu says, “Just consider me a speck of dust at Your feet, Kṛṣṇa.”
ayi nanda tanuja kiṅkaraṁ patitaṁ māṁ viṣame bhavāmbudhau
kṛpayā tava pāda-paṅkaja-sthita-dhūlī-sadṛsaṁ vicintaya
O son of Nanda, although I am Your eternal servitor, I have fallen into the ocean of material existence due to my own deeds (karma). Please graciously consider me to be a particle of dust at Your lotus feet. (Śikṣāṣṭakam 5)
That should be our aspiration: “Consider me to be one of the specks of dust at Your feet.” That is too much! Our faith should come to such a grade in quality that we will be satisfied to become a speck of dust at His feet. Then by His sweet will, anything may happen. But our humble aim should be to have even the least connection with the real divinity instead of a concocted relation with Kṛṣṇa.
Not an Ornamental Thing
Pūjala rāga-patha gaurava-bhaṅge – this is enough. Tad dāsa-dāsa-dāsānāṁ dāsatvaṁ dehi prabho. This is not a figurative thing – it is not mere poetry. Mahāprabhu says:
nāhaṁ vipro na ca nara-patir nāpi vaiśyo na śūdro
nāhaṁ varṇī na ca gṛha-patir no vana-stho yatir vā
gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ
I am not a priest, a king, a merchant, or a laborer (brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, śūdra); nor am I a student, a householder, a retired householder, or a mendicant (brahmacārī, gṛhastha, vānaprastha, sannyāsī). I identify myself only as the servant of the servant of the servant of the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Lord of the gopīs, who is the personification of the fully expanded (eternally self-revealing) nectarine ocean that brims with the totality of divine ecstasy. (Cc.Madhya 13.80)
This is not merely an ornamental thing – it is reality. To feel our own actual inferiority is to become eligible for the higher service. This is reality. So much selflessness, so much self-abnegation is necessary for a servant of the lowest order to enter into that domain. So much self-abnegation is necessary to come into that plane. There is an undercurrent, and if we really want contact with that plane, we shall have to reach the finest of the fine within ourselves, without demands. In this meek way we are to transform ourselves, and then we can contact that plane.
If there is the least tinge of exploiting tendency, any speck of the ambitious life, we will not be taken there. That is another thing, pratiṣṭhā. Pratiṣṭhā is self-assertion – to be stable, to be immortal, to be invincible. It is not self-giving, but rather self-asserting: “I must stay, I must live.” No, we must die for the interest of Kṛṣṇa if necessary.
mārobi rākhobi – yo icchā tohārā
nitya-dāsa prati tuwā adhikārā
Slay me or protect me as You wish, for You are the Master of Your eternal servant. (Śaraṇāgati 3.3)
A suicidal soldier! For the cause of the country, we must die if necessary. We must efface ourselves, or we may be effaced. If it is necessary, our very existence may be annihilated for the satisfaction of Kṛṣṇa. To find that plane, such temperament, such selflessness in high degree is necessary, so much subtlety is required.
Systematic Knowledge is Knowledge Proper
Once a senior sannyāsī repeated to me something that Prabhupāda had said. It was a circumstantial remark that this sannyāsī wanted to utilise in a universal way. But I objected, “Prabhupāda made this statement, therefore it is correct. But you are not placing it in context; it is not the whole thing. He also said other things, so we have to harmonise everything he said. We cannot ignore the other aspects of his teaching. We have to come to an adjustment that is a systematic understanding of his words.”
That sannyāsī had laid stress on only one particular point, one partial aspect of Prabhupāda’s teaching. He wanted to take that particular point and nothing beyond it. We must seek a systematic understanding of the goal. Systematic knowledge is knowledge proper.
There are many different types of disciples under the guidance of every guru, but not all are necessarily of equal character. Their natures may be quite different. One person will be able to understand some points, another will grasp something else, and yet another will understand even more. In this way there may be a gradation among the disciples. The main thing is faithfulness. Simplicity means to be free from prejudice. That is what it means to be simple – to be empty, to be dispossessed, to be in the null position, to be clear. To be free of all possessions, that is simplicity.
Relative and Absolute Considerations
There are two things that must be understood – what is form and what is substance. Ignorance of these is the main obstacle to our progress. Sva-dharme nidhanaṁ śreyaḥ, para-dharmo bhayāvahaḥ. Progress means to deal with the difficulties presented by form and substance. It is sometimes necessary to make progress by adhering to one’s formal position. If advancement is not sure, if there is any doubt of progress, then it is judicious to take the formal position. But in fact there is no progress by holding back. Progress means leaving the former position and going on to something else. Only one who is hopeful of a brighter future should leave his formal position and advance. Those who are of a doubtful or suspicious mentality would be better off holding fast to their already consolidated foundation and taking a stand there.
It is a difficult thing to adjust properly the relative and absolute positions, the absolute and relative considerations. Generally we accept the relative position, keeping in the background the consciousness of the absolute consideration. Absolute consideration is always superior, but that is risky. The relative position generally helps us not to go down. Sva-dharme nidhanaṁ śreyaḥ, para-dharmo bhayāvahaḥ – this is the relative position.
Wait and see. Don’t go forward – don’t go backward. Maintain your position. Keep your own position. But when you get the chance to make any progress you should not lose it. However, you must be sure. Otherwise, leaving the former position you are going to take a risk. Progress is necessary – it is indispensable that you must make progress. So you must take a risk, but you must take it in such a way that you don’t lose your former position.
śreyān sva-dharmo viguṇaḥ para-dharmāt svanuṣṭhitāt
sva-dharme nidhanaṁ śreyaḥ para-dharmo bhayāvahaḥ
It is better to perform one’s own prescribed duties imperfectly rather than perform another’s duties perfectly. It is even better to die while performing one’s own duties, for executing the duties of others is fraught with danger. (Bhagavad-gītā 3.35)
To maintain the former position for defensive necessity, that is helpful. But still we must have our tendency to make progress.
sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi māäśucaḥ
That is our goal. The absolute consideration is our goal. The relative position, that is for our safety. Progress is necessary, but very carefully we must go ahead, so that we may not lose our former position.
Try To Go Ahead
We must obey authority. Instructions from the authorities are important, and are always given in every community. However, we seek the truth. Those who do not care for that which is presented by the authorities, they will come out to seek the real, the complete truth, not the stereotyped thing. Everyone is more or less under a particular social binding. And it is told repeatedly in the Bhagavad-gītā – sva-dharme nidhanaṁ śreyaḥ para-dharmo bhayāvahaḥ. Strongly here it is spoken, “Don’t leave your own religion, the conception of your particular duty. Don’t leave your present position. Rather you should die, and after death, some change may come. Don’t leave your position. Maintain your present position, it is recommended strongly so that we may not fall down.” Then, sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja is also there. If we get the chance to advance towards Him, with a risk, we must try to go ahead, to attain perfection. But we must be sure that we are advancing, that we are in the realm of progress, not going down. That sort of faith is crucial. With a clear conscience we must try to forge ahead – it is not that in the name of advancement we are going back.
Generally we are justified here in our present situation, para-dharmo bhayāvahaḥ. We have taken our stand at present and accepted this duty, the consciousness of this duty. However, it is also stated, sarva dharmān parityajya –“Abandon all other duties, and just come to Me.” The real cause of advancement will come. One cannot but take the risk of going away.
Risk Means Progress
During the time of my Guru Mahārāja, there were many who did not take sannyāsa, the renounced order. Later on, however, they found they could go more swiftly towards the goal by taking sannyāsa. To take sannyāsa means to take a risk. To take a risk means to make further progress. One who takes risks is prepared for further progress. So, should we remain in the same position we held in the time of Guru Mahārāja? Should we remain in that position? Or is it more desirable for us to try for perfect progress? If we choose to make advancement, we will have so many new insights and reject so many of the old. According to our own progress, devotees cannot but see that some things are to be kept back and others to be invited to the forefront. This is what it means to go nearer, to make progress. We should have some sort of approximate knowledge of what is good, what is bad, what is Kṛṣṇa, what is non-Kṛṣṇa, and that will be realised more and more. “Oh, I could not detect this, but now I feel that this is also a valuable point in the light of the Kṛṣṇa conception.”
In this way, realisation and advancement come. But one should not leave his former position without being sure of his progress – sva-dharme nidhanaṁ śreyaḥ para-dharmo bhayāvahaḥ. We must not take risks for something that is not our own. But when we do find that it is indeed our own, even though it may be a little far, we must take the leap. We will think, “My inner hankering has been searching for that thing alone. Now it is within my reach, so I must take it.”
It all depends on our sincerity and proper understanding. Na hi kalyāṇa-kṛt kaścid durgatiṁ tāta gacchati. Sometimes we may fall down, but we will be able to understand that lower things are not desirable. We will think, “These desires are hunting me – for the time being they have even captured me, but after a while they will vanish.” When they do, we will think, “Oh, what suddenly came and overpowered me? My real self-interest has been hampered. I must not allow myself to be affected by them again. I must be very alert.”
In this way, sometimes the lower propensities may get the upper hand and so we go backwards, and sometimes we may go forward. We are always in the midst of battle. We are soldiers, always fighting for progress.
Progress is a Living Thing
Progress means elimination of old things and acceptance of the new. Progress means a living, new experience – bhaktiḥ pareśānubhavo viraktir anyatra ca. When we are hungry we are weak. By every morsel eaten we feel satisfaction – the desire for eating diminishes. Weakness is removed and the discomfort of hunger is also removed through eating, morsel by morsel. With every step we shall have to feel whether we are making any progress.
bhaktiḥ pareśānubhavo viraktir
anyatra caiṣa trika eka-kālaḥ
prapadyamānasya yathāśnataḥ syus
tuṣṭiḥ puṣṭiḥ kṣud-apāyo ’nu-ghāsam
Devotion, direct experience of the Supreme, and detachment from other things – these three occur simultaneously for one who has taken shelter of the Lord, just as pleasure, nourishment and relief from hunger come simultaneously and increasingly, with each bite, for a person engaged in eating. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.2.42)
We must have a conception of what is reality and what is progress. We shall have to understand what is imagination or hallucination and what is Reality. Our intensity and attraction for the goal will increase step by step, it won’t diminish. It will have to increase if we are following the proper line. We must have some conception of that new goal, and our energy towards the goal will increase.
Progress can be measured by detecting this kind of transformation within. Pareśānubhavo – somehow, a conception of the Supreme must grow clearer and clearer in us. What is He? Who is He? Viraktir anyatra – indifference to everything that is not related to Kṛṣṇa must grow in us as well. We avoid what does not concern Kṛṣṇa, and when it appears anyway, it produces some apathy or even irritation in us. The negative measure will be how much I am apathetic to everything that is not related to Kṛṣṇa.
Tuṣṭiḥ puṣṭiḥ kṣud-apāyo ‘nu-ghāsam – the inner hunger should be fulfiled as well. “Yes, I am feeling fulfilment.” We should have the conviction that we are walking in the right direction. We should have inner sanction of our clear conscience. “Yes, yes, I am doing right.” We will feel inner satisfaction.
If we make progress towards the east, the west will be left behind and we shall see new things in our view. If these things are good, our encouragement will increase more and more. We shall make progress – tuṣṭiḥ puṣṭiḥ kṣud-apāyo ‘nu-ghāsam. Anu-ghāsam, puṣṭiḥ – with every morsel we shall feel stronger. Tuṣṭiḥ – satisfaction will come. Kṣud-apāyaḥ – our hunger will gradually cease. These three things must be there – then we are in a real, progressive life.
The Only Reliable Agents
We must always be alert to search within, whether we are enticed by any of the agents of māyā, misconception. The agents of māyā won’t leave us for a moment. “Oh, you have so many commitments here. Why are you going? You must first clear these commitments, then we shall allow you to go.” In different ways these agents will come and try to take us back. “You have so many commitments here, an incurred debt, and now you are trying to fly away? Absconder! We won’t allow you to abscond.” In various ways they will come.
One should not believe them. Only believe the scripture, śāstra. Only fear the śāstra and the sādhu. They will plead for us, no one else. The agents of māyā are everywhere in our midst. The śāstra and the sādhu are the only reliable agents. Go to the agent of your ambassador’s quarter. Take shelter. When visitors from a foreign land find any danger in their life, they go to their own ambassador’s quarter. They will take shelter in that quarter. If their bodies are in danger, they will take shelter with their own. Similarly, in the world of māyā and misconception we should try to take shelter of those with the proper devotional conception. The agents of māyā will hesitate to enter there.
It cannot be denied that a kind of energy is necessary to maintain one’s present position. But when we are determined to push forward, progress becomes all-important. A seeker after the truth will search after newer and newer planes, and that means living and accommodating new experiences. We are to become more and more accommodating, earnest and eager. Sva-dharme nidhanaṁ śreyaḥ para-dharmo bhayāvahaḥ
The advice is given – “Try to maintain your position even at the cost of your life.” Then, at the next moment – “Go ahead. March on.” We are first advised to maintain our present position so that we may not fall back. But that does not mean we are not to make progress. Sva-dharme nidhanaṁ śreyaḥ. To maintain our position does not mean that we are not to go forward. Sarva dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja – give up all considerations and take the risk of marching onwards.
That first advice was given only to reinforce this final order. First, maintain the current position, and then press onward! These are the relative and absolute considerations. A living spiritual conception must be of that nature. The dire necessity is that we address the question of how to maintain and improve our present position.
Die to live – that is the theory to be followed. If we prepare to die a hard death, we shall find that we will gain thereby. In this way we are to measure the quality of our effort – the more dedication, the greater qualitative elevation. No risk, no gain –more risk, more gain. Such is the rule with exploitation and its opposite, dedication. Exploitation is lawless and ruthless, and dedication is risky. But dedication must be to the good, to the Absolute good. Otherwise everything is lost.
Higher knowledge is only allowed when one has this attitude – tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevāya. If you have a desire for the higher domain, you must present yourself in this way, with this approach – praṇipāt, surrender; paripraśna, honest inquiry; and sevā, service. You are for Him –He is not for you. He is for Himself. Reality is by Itself, and not for you. Reality cannot be dependent on any other thing for His existence, or to fulfil His purpose. He is independent in the beginning and in the end. He has created the past and the present by Himself, and in the future He is meant to maintain His existence for His own purpose. He is not subservient to any other purpose. Otherwise He is not Reality. Reality is for Itself, Reality is by Itself. If we want to live a proper life, we’ll have to die as we are at present with our false ego. That is the basis of Vaiṣṇavism proper.
The Real Spirit
bhukti-mukti-spṛhā yāvat piśācīhṛdi vartate
tāvad bhakti-sukhāmbodheḥ katham abhyudayo bhavet
How is it possible for the ocean of devotional happiness to appear in the heart as long as the witches of desire for sense enjoyment and liberation remain present there? (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.22)
Exploitation and renunciation – bhukti-mukti. These two are great enemies of devotion: the tendency to exploit and the tendency to renounce. When one has eaten too much, as a reaction one wants to abstain from eating. Liberation, mokṣa, is only a reaction to exploitation. It may appear that we are in a quest for duty, money, sense-pleasure, and liberation (dharma, artha, kāma, mokṣa), but this is an external and partial examination of our experience. With a deeper assessment we will find that we are eagerly searching only for rasam, sundaram, the fullest satisfaction, the perfect beauty. Dharma, artha, and kāma cannot satisfy our inner hankering. Even mokṣa, liberation from the present hankering is not the goal.
Mere liberation from the negative is artificial. Life must have its fulfilment – everything has its fulfilment and necessary position. Life is not meant for nothing, and zero cannot be the sum total of our existence. The conclusion is infinite, not zero. Mere liberation – to remain in a long, deep slumber – is destructive and inconclusive. It cannot be the object of creation or the object of our existence.
The other side must be researched, the cid-vilāsa (the transcendental dynamic plane). And where can we get that? Here in this world is exploitation, and there it is just the opposite, dedication. Both exploitation and renunciation must be eliminated, and we should live in the third plane.
That third plane is the life of dedication. A life of duty, not to any part, but to the whole, “I live for the whole, and that whole is a part of Lord Kṛṣṇa.” This is what it means to be a lover of the beautiful. In that way we have to understand, and march onward. And that is full in itself, perfect. Neither of these two – the negative and the renunciation of the negative – can bring real positive gain. The positive is not a mere withdrawal from the negative experience. The positive has its own characteristics. We must come in contact with the positive, sat-cit-ānanda – satyam, śivam, sundaram. We must commit ourselves in all phases, whatever is possible for us.
It does not matter much whether one is a householder or one is a sannyāsī. What is to be seen is how much one has intensely engaged oneself in the service of the Lord. In this vision, a householder may be above a sannyāsī. During the time of Mahāprabhu there were many gṛhastha devotees, but that was only their external form. Their real spirit was all for Gaurāṅga.
Service is necessary. In whatever position one may be, it does not matter much. Gṛhasthas have one position, but when necessity comes they can sacrifice the whole for Kṛṣṇa. Wholesale dedication, reverence for the whole – it does not matter in what position one is living there. The internal hankering, the fire, the dedication within – those are necessary. They may not be found in a sannyāsī but may be found in a gṛhastha, vānaprastha, brahmacārī, or anyone. We want the substance and not the form – the fire within, the fire burning because of separation from Kṛṣṇa.
Higher Backing is Necessary
When we wander in this world, we acquire so many debts, earn a reaction. Whatever action we undertake, we incur some opposite reaction. They are stored in a very subtle form in our mind, and whenever we find ourselves in this or that situation, they’ll be set in motion. Whenever we like to do anything, mostly we do it. Attraction for so many different things will dictate our actions wherever we go. We have taken this loan, now only if we clear the loan, then we can go. So many things in the environment will come and stand in the way. Our previous tendency is always trying to draw us back – the acquired tendency. Hundreds and thousands of debts come to block our way. It is not very easy to make progress. We lack sufficient strength, so above all we must have some divine favor.
daivī hy eṣā guṇa-mayī mama māyā duratyayā
mām eva ye prapadyante māyām etāṁ taranti te
This divine potency of Mine which consists of the three modes of material nature is extremely difficult to defeat. Yet those that take shelter of Me can cross beyond it. (Bhagavad-gītā 7.14)
It is stated in Bhagavad-gītā, mama māyā duratyayā, –“My external potency is hard to overcome.” Māyā, the illusory potency, misconception, that is also backed by the Lord. At our sweet will we cannot dismiss her – it is not possible. If we go to fight with her alone, we will be defeated. We will find ourselves outnumbered. But if we have some certificate, some recommendation from the Lord, then Māyā will release us and show us the way out.
Mama māyā duratyayā mām eva ye prapadyante – “This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.“ If we surrender sincerely unto the Lord, then Māyā will not be courageous enough to give opposition to us. When a jīva soul is liberated, Māyā comes with a very submissive attitude, “Why do you leave me, my lord? Please stay with me. I shall try to please you in all respects. Why do you leave me?”
The mukta-jīva, the liberated soul, comes to the status of Śiva, Mahādeva, and Māyā offers him all respect. But when we are still under her clutches she plays with us – she won’t allow us to get away. So many debts we have incurred here, there. We are roaming eternally, wandering within Māyā’s domain and entering death. Wherever we are, we are eating and seeking comfort, and incurring further debt. That loan must be repaid. It is not a very easy thing. Only when backed by Divinity, by a power higher than Māyā, does she become gentle and not come forward with much disturbance. Mām eva ye prapadyante māyām etāṁ taranti te, “Those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond this māyā.” The sādhaka’s progress depends on the degree of surrender and the degree of acceptance coming from the higher plane. It is not a very easy thing.
We must be fully purged of the enjoying spirit to become members of the Infinite world. No hint of exploitation should be traced in us. We should not run after any type of enjoyment, including the enjoyment of associating with God. We must be fully purged of the enjoying spirit. If a trace of enjoyment remains in us, we shall have to remain in one of the planes of this brahmāṇḍa, this universe. And if any tinge of renunciation or retiring spirit is in us, we will not be allowed to enter into the world of Infinity, Vaikuṇṭha.
Kuṇṭha means limitation, and Vaikuṇṭha means the unlimited world. We want to be members of the Infinite world. ‘Finite’ only refers to the attempt of our separate interest to measure the Infinite. When our ego wants to measure a portion of the Infinite, considering it our personal possession, then whatever we see with our separate interest is māyā, misconception and misunderstanding. All such things must be dissolved. And the attitude of renunciation, “If I can’t enjoy, I shall stop work – I shall go on strike,” that type of reactionary mentality must also be abandoned.
Then we shall be face to face with the positive side only. What is the positive side? It is the wave from the centre, līlā, the play of the Absolute. That wave is fulfiling the desire of the Supreme Lord, and we will be face to face with that. If the tendency for separate interest or reactionary renunciation remains in us, we cannot come in contact with that eternal flow to satisfy the Absolute. When we are free from these two kinds of whims, we can connect with the eternal flow where all points, everywhere, are active to satisfy the centre. Such a plane is not dry – it is happy, constructive, and nourishing. We shall be able to feel it. Only a fleeting contact with it will make us understand that we do not want a particle of anything else. This is our homeward journey, and any other want or demand will keep us in a foreign country filled with birth, old age, infirmity, and death.
Life Nectar of the Surrendered Souls
If you are sincere, you will get a recommendation from above. Na hi kalyāṇa-kṛt kaścid durgatiṁ tāta gacchati – “One who is engaged in auspicious activities does not meet with destruction either in this world or in the spiritual world. One who does good is never overcome by evil.” If one is attempting to advance sincerely, the Lord is omniscient and He sees everything. He can’t but give some backing. And then one’s way is cleared in accordance with one’s sincere surrender. That is śaraṇāgati, surrender.
We hear so many stories of the surrendered devotees, and we are encouraged to surrender ourselves. In Prapanna-jīvanāmṛta – Life Nectar of the Surrendered Souls, there are many quotations from very dignified sādhus, saints. If we read them we can get encouragement from so many devotees in so many different stages. They are speaking like this, their sentiment is like this: by all means, surrender. If we can surrender, encouraged by their example, then according to this surrender, release comes from above. Śaraṇāgati, that is the thing.
Judge a Man by His Ideal
One who has a good ideal is in possession of the most valuable wealth. On the other hand, if one hankers only for kanaka-kāmiṇī-pratiṣṭhā – money, sense gratification and popularity – they are in animal consciousness. These are properties of animal consciousness. A radical change must be effected in us if we really want a life worth living. This is the singular meaning of our ideal. We should be judged by our ideal. The greatness of the ideal we are trying to realise should be marked. If our ideal is great, we are great, because if we are sincere, tomorrow, or very soon thereafter, we will attain our cherished objective.
Our ideal is the all-important factor. We may not attain our ideal very easily. It is not inferior merchandise to be disposed of cheaply in the marketplace of guru and disciple – it is most valuable. And whatever the cost, it does not matter.
We should feel within us, “I want no less than the highest thing, that advaya-jñāna, that Autocrat. That all-good Autocrat, the Supreme Commander of everything. I want Him and nothing less. And I shall live and move – I shall feel within that whatever I shall do. At every second – I am meant for that. I am meant for my ideal. I have no more time to waste, to hesitate for anything else. If every moment, I move in every way, with the ideal in my heart, I shall always make some progress towards the goal. If I can just stay in touch with my ideal, that will guide and inspire me. In any and every action, whatever I shall do or undo, my ideal will be overhead. And that will gradually take me out of all these entanglements and enticements. One day, I shall be face to face with my desired ideal.”
Bhakti Causes Bhakti
Bhakti is its own cause and nothing else. Nirguṇa (the spiritual mode) comes from nirguṇa, and saguṇa (the mundane mode) cannot produce nirguṇa. Nirguṇa is guṇātīta, beyond material conditioning. Guṇa means quality. Disease cannot produce health – removal of the disease is health proper. We must think that nirguṇa is health, and saguṇa is a diseased condition. Sattva, rajas, and tamas – these three modes of material nature are three kinds of disease.
Suppose one is in delirium, the initial treatment must come from the sober section. Those that are in misconception cannot help provide the proper conception. It must come from those with the proper conception.
First we must have sukṛti, or ajñāta-sukṛti, accumulated unintentional merit. When sukṛti is sufficient, it produces śraddhā, faith. And when śraddhā emerges, then conscious cooperation begins. Before that, when the patient is helpless, there is some passive treatment. Afterwards, when consciousness has been awakened, the patient can begin to cooperate with the doctor, and the treatment can go on.
When one is fully engrossed in misconception, some intervention from the plane of nirguṇa might come to utilise our energy in service, for our sukṛti.
kṛṣṇa bhakti janma mūla haya, sādhu-saṅga
kṛṣṇa-prema janme, teṅho punaḥ mukhya aṅga
The root cause of kṛṣṇa-bhakti is sādhu-saṅga. Even when love for Kṛṣṇa awakens, sādhu-saṅga is the most important principle. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.83)
From the unknown accumulation of sukṛti, there is some connection with the nirguṇa. That arouses śraddhā within us, and śraddhā emerges to the surface. Then, we can cooperate with the doctor and the conscious movement towards God begins.
The stages after śraddhā may be divided into five. Śravaṇa then varaṇa then sādhana, then āpana, then prāpaṇa – five stages. The first stage is śravaṇa, the stage of hearing. This means hearing from the agents of the Divine, and also includes reading. The śravaṇa from the sādhu is more powerful. After śravaṇa-daśā begins the practical stage. One takes initiation, and attains recognition from the agent of that domain. And then one leads a regulated life. After śravaṇa comes varaṇa, acceptance. One first has to listen and then to accept the creed practically, to come within the regulated life. Varaṇa means acceptance. Āpana-daśā is the stage of realisation, and prāpaṇa-daśā is the stage of full self-surrender and distribution to others.
Renunciation Means Yukta-vairāgya
Whatever service someone performs on our behalf is not śuddha-bhakti, pure devotional service, if we do not do it ourselves. If we give some money to help a śuddha-bhakta perform the holy duties, if we supply resources, or ask our students to conduct the worship, but we do not serve directly, it is not śuddha-bhakti.
By his own hand, Ambarīṣa Mahārāja cleansed the temple and engaged in other devotional activities, giving the responsibility of the government to the ministers. He did not send any representative to serve in the temple of the Lord. That he did by his own hand, and he delegated to others the government of the country. Similarly, one should practice devotional service directly, not through some representative. That is not recognised as śuddha-bhakti. It is laxity, negligence.
Renunciation must always be yukta-vairāgya, full dedication of all available energy and resources. According to our present condition, whatever will help us invest our highest energy for the cause, that we should take from this world.
No Spiritual Help From the Mundane
Concentration induced by drugs is artificial. All contributions from the mundane cannot but be artificial and of a lower nature. We must not become excited by intoxication, but accept only as much medicine as needed to maintain our normal health. If we believe that with the help of some medicine we shall create more energy, thinking that this is the easy way, it is not only useless, but harmful as well. This is part of the materialist’s conception, the idea that matter has preceded God. The fossil is alleged to evolve to the human species, and the conception of God grows among humans. According to the materialists, the fossil is the cause of our God-conception, the fossil is the father of God.
In the same way, to think that mundane intoxication can give birth to the happy ecstasy of the conception of the Absolute beauty and sweetness, this is atheism. No material thing can help us to make progress in the spiritual world. They might help to keep the body fit, but material things cannot make any contribution for the improvement of our spiritual position. We should make ‘the best of the bad bargain.’ We are already committed to material causes and from that only the negative aspects will be attained. Without food we cannot live, that much we shall have to accept, but we should not think that this will help us spiritually. This will keep our normal health, and from that plane we shall serve.
We shall search for Śrī Kṛṣṇa, take the Holy Name and do some service, all from the normal plane. This is yukta-vairāgya, proper detachment –not more, not less. We should take neither more nor less. Either one will be detrimental to our cause. All sorts of temporary excitement and risk should be avoided.
On the normal plane, we have earned our previous karma, and from there we should begin. We should not be attached to those things that are detrimental to our normal life. Although presently they seem to be helping, they are not making a real contribution. We should understand that this applies not only to intoxication, but even to money.
dhana-śiṣyādibhir dvārair yā bhaktir upadyate
viduratvād uttamatā hānyā tasyāś ca nāṅgatā
Bhakti performed through agents like wealth and students is defective due to being too removed. It is therefore not a part of sādhana-bhakti. (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 2.259)
We may think that devotion may be earned by spending money, by using one’s son or wife for the cause of devotion. “I am helping my wife to practice devotional activities, so I shall get the benefit,” or “I am utilising my son for devotional purpose, so by virtue of this I shall acquire devotion,” or “My śiṣya, my disciple, is becoming a good devotee, so as a guru, I must get something through him.” These things are not real devotion. Dhana and śiṣya, are only bodily thought. By giving money to the devotees, by helping the devotees, we may get some benefit, but it is not śuddha-bhakti. It may be sukṛti, but not pure devotion. This is because money or these other things do not belong to us. Due to misidentification, we falsely think that we are masters of this or that. Our whole selves should be devoted.
Enter Only for Service
We are to learn the theory and science of gratitude. “I am grateful to you and to everyone in the environment,” the very domain is of that character. Everyone thinks himself to be a thief, “I am a trespasser. Only by the grace of the environment can we have a position here. They are all well-wishers except for myself.” This should be the temperament. We should sometimes be forgetful of ourselves in the intensity of our service.
We cannot enter that domain as subjects. Even if we approach Him as investigators, we can know Him only as much as He permits. There, all are our masters. We cannot be masters there – we can only be servants. If we want to enter into the highest position, we shall accept the position of the slave of the slave. Only then can we get the chance of entering into that domain. It is not unreasonable.
We are to think, vaikuṇṭhera pṛthivy-ādi sakala cinmaya – “The environment of that land in which I aspire to live is made of better stuff than I am.” We are to enter into a super-subjective domain. The attitude of all the newly recruited persons there should be: “I am not of subjective character. I am of marginal potency, taṭastha, but I am receiving permission to enter the super-subjective area where everything holds a higher position than I.” Everyone there is of that consciousness. “The air, the earth, the trees, everything holds a higher position than I, but still I have been given permission by the Supreme authority to wander here. I have been given some service, and I am eager to render that service to this land.” With this attitude in the background, one should live there, and in the foreground one will become accustomed to discharging his particular duty. “I have come and I am treading on a soil whose intrinsic value is really superior.”
A child reveres his mother, but he may be taken on her lap. Such is the example of our situation when we enter Vaikuṇṭha and Goloka. “The whole atmosphere is higher than I and is to be revered, but still they have embraced me and taken me in their lap – svarūpa-śakti – and I have been asked to do some duty there. The whole environment is to be revered, and I am allowed to live there only as a matter of grace, not as a matter of right.”
We are taṭastha, and as a matter of right we may be cast in Brahmaloka, the marginal potency, so we must become conscious of this fact. Before enlisting our name in the Kṛṣṇa consciousness school we must have this primary knowledge. “We have the opportunity to enter a revered land, the land of God’s throne. Only for a particular service am I entering the temple that holds a superior position. Wholly for service I am entering, and by their gracious nature they are drawing me there. I am being taken on my mother’s lap. I take the dust of her feet upon my head, but she is taking me upon her lap.”
Slave of the Slave
We are not independent. Constitutionally we are slaves of the slave, and there we thrive. We are to appreciate that slavery is our fortune. But this is a hard nut to crack, to accept this. How can slavery be for our gain, for our fortune? Kṛṣṇa is so great that His slavery is of a high, noble order. He is so good, so great. Without that sort of disposition it is impossible for us to approach Him, to have any intimate connection. He lives in such a high sphere that it is impossible to meet Him. Only by the acceptance of His intimate slavery can we hope to enter that domain. It is so high for us, so very high. We should really try to understand how slavery is the highest attainment. Just calculate how much higher is the position that Kṛṣṇa holds. Divine slavery is spontaneous and happy. The very atmosphere is so happy, that if by any means we can enter into that atmosphere, we cannot but be happy, according to our best understanding, our best feeling and conception. It is all-satisfying – slavery is the highest attainment. How high that must be! We are to conceive in that way, what sort of inconceivably higher type of life is possible there – the beauty, the charm, the love. At the same time, the inverse is true.
However much dedication is directed at Kṛṣṇa, a proportional dedication comes from Kṛṣṇa. A finite person gives his whole energy. If the Infinite gives some small portion, that is more than enough. To have the chance of giving and taking in that sphere is desirable, it is a great fortune.
There are other incarnations of Kṛṣṇa that are more or less busy with some official activity, either here in this world of māyā or in Vaikuṇṭha. But Kṛṣṇa has no duty. He is always free, always enjoying freedom. He has no definite aim, at His sweet will He moves here and there. He is so free, and with the attitude of a radical. Free temperament, His sweet will playing freely. And He can give anything and everything at His pleasure.
Svarūpa-dāmodara and Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita had a discussion in Purī. Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita was espousing the cause of Vaikuṇṭha. He was speaking in favor of Lakṣmī-devī, describing Her grandeur, beauty and splendor. “What is there when we cast a glance towards Vṛndāvana? There are only flowers and a creeper and some peacocks tails here and there.”
Svarūpa Dāmodara could not contain himself; he could not tolerate this. “Śrīvāsa, you don’t remember? You also have some connection with Vṛndāvana. Don’t you know that where there is much grandeur one becomes tired of that majesty? But Vṛndāvana is so plain, so humble, so simple. That is the place for the highest realised souls. They are all kalpataru (wish-fulfiling). The kāma-dhenu (desire-fulfiling cow) will supply whatever is necessary. But naturally the residents are rather disgusted with the vanity of the life of grandeur and splendor.”
That is aprākṛta-kevala, the highest stage of existence. It is the display of the Absolute good or beauty. It is His play in the form of this human nature – that reaches the supreme position, the supreme charm there. It includes everything, its amplitude is endless and all embracing.
It is a sin to be culpable, but that is also included in that highest plane, in the highest pastimes. Nothing is neglected. This shows the greatest beauty – the highest having a touch of that which is negligible, that which is hated. We are accustomed to hate, to approach with hate, contempt and apathy. That is also harmonised in such a beautiful way. There is no room for rejecting anything, there it is the fullest play of the Absolute. The play there is fully dressed, dressed to the extreme. Thieving and quarreling, all these apparently mundane and hateful things are beautifully adjusted there. The most ample and deepest essence of harmony has evolved to accommodate and adjust all these things. So, it is very sweet and very wonderful. The deepest beauty has been drawn out to make all these beautiful things more beautiful. The best quality things are taken out to allow these blamable things to also play their part, to enhance the beauty. Everything is beautiful. It is beautiful that the Master is stealing. He is quarreling; He is doing so many objectionable things. He is all-enjoyable. All that could take us away from His consciousness, they are utilised there. We have no room to run away. Where should we run? Coming in contact with that, you shall run away from there?
Everything will remind me about my Master. The beauty has flowed to the farthest extremity so as to embrace everything, and we have no place to run away. We are captured, completely captured. In whatever way our attention may be diverted, that possibility is already captured there. Where should we run? There is no room. There is complete dedication, attraction. We are captured wholesale. There is no way out! Mahāprabhu, Gaurāṅga-sundara, Śrī Gurudeva – all are there.
When I left the mission of my Guru Mahārāja after his disappearance, I came here quite helpless. I had to find my shelter and so I began to search the books that I had. What I received from my Guru Mahārāja, I began to research the references in the scriptures. I tried to dive deep, to collect the very basis of real devotional life. I found that it is śaraṇāgati, surrender – and wherever I found the verses recommending and relating to that, I tried my best to collect them and compile the nectar in the life of one who has fully surrendered himself to the feet of the Divine Lord. That is Śrī Śrī Prapanna-jīvanāmṛtam.
Paramānanda Brahmacārī was perhaps the seniormost of all our godbrothers. At the age of 13 he came to our Guru Mahārāja. He was one of his earliest disciples – seniormost. Paramānanda said that he read one chapter of Prapanna-jīvanāmṛta every day. In Prapanna-jīvanāmṛta we have collected many valuable passages from many saints and arranged them according to specific categories. There are so many sayings of so many great devotees and they are all very beautifully arranged and placed there.
In my study I found that śaraṇāgati alone is sufficient to produce all sorts of development in bhakti. Nothing else is necessary, so try your best to pursue śaraṇāgati, and automatically everything will come to you from the other side. Your business will only be to adhere to śaraṇāgati to the most intense degree possible.
Śaraṇāgati is enough, but without it devotion cannot stand. The greatness and the substance of śaraṇāgati has been sung, praised and appreciated in such a way. The surrendering disposition is the very basis. “I am for You. You may utilise me, or You may neglect me, still I am Yours. You may accept or reject me, but You are my Master. You are independent and may deal with me in any way You like. You can put me in eternal hell, or You can take me on Your lap. You have every right over me.” With such a heart we must approach our Lord. That is noble, that is divine. We can find the highest degree of divinity in our self-effacement, our self-surrender. That is the real expression of the negative towards the positive.
The negative cannot exist without the positive, and so too the positive cannot exist without the negative. In the words of our Guru Mahārāja, Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa are the Predominated and Predominating Moieties. Two Moieties – two halves of the one whole. One Predominated and one Predominating, but both have equal importance in their existence. One cannot stand without the other, and the fullest expression of this principle is Rādhā-Govinda.
Our mantra, our guru-paramparā, the rūpānuga-sampradāya, all point towards this principle. In support of this we find dāsya-rasa, sakhya-rasa vātsalya-rasa, and others. But the principal direction is towards mādhurya-rasa. They are leading us to the full rasa. All others are partial, subordinate and subservient – supplemental to the main rasa, mādhurya-rasa. But that supplemental service is also necessary. Mādhurya-rasa does not stand alone. It must have its paraphernalia – the friends, the parents, all must be there with this rasa. Those who have an inner liking for such rasa are so fortunate! Vāsudeva Ghoṣa has said,
yadi gaura na ha’ta, tabe ki haita
kemane dharitām de
rādhāra mahimā, prema-rasa-sīmā
jagate jānāta ke
If Mahāprabhu had not appeared then how could we sustain our lives? How could we live? What type of ecstatic rasa has He imbibed that we have been able to have a little taste? Without this our lives would be impossible. Who else could take us to the acme of realisation of the position of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī? She is the greatest victim to the consuming capacity of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. She stands as the greatest sacrifice before Kṛṣṇa’s infinite consuming power. Rasarāja-Mahā-bhāva – the rasa is there, and She is the drawer of that rasa from the storehouse. She has such negative capacity that She can draw out the rasa to the highest degree both in quality and quantity.
A.C. Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja said, “My guru is Rādhārāṇī. She will be very gracious to You, Kṛṣṇa, if You help me in discharging the order of my Gurudeva, if You help me in my propaganda work.”
kṛṣṇa tava puṇya habe bhāi
e-puṇya karibe yabe, rādhārāṇī khūśi habe
dhruva ati bali tomā tāi
If You seek anything, if You are in want of anything, Kṛṣṇa, then that is the good will of Rādhārāṇī. And She will be pleased with You if You help me, because I am attempting to carry out the order of one whom is none other than Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī personified. So You must help me. (Bhagavān Kṛṣṇera Pāda-padme Prārthanā)
Kṛṣṇa had no alternative but to come down to him and help in his propaganda work. He had to come. Svāmī Mahārāja was such a great friend of mine! He went away, but he is still with me through you. He is so kind to me! He is forcibly engaging me. Where else shall we get such a good friend, such a kind friend?
Sevā Must Originate From Above
If we thrust something on the higher authority then that is karma-kāṇḍa. The origin of our motivation must not be within. That must come from Hari, guru, or Vaiṣṇava. And we must carry it out. We should not be the creators of the wave of command. We must carry out the news that comes through the wave from above, from Hari, guru, or Vaiṣṇava. We are only to carry out orders and not to make any.
When one receives the license from that higher plane, one can issue orders. God gives the license: “Yes, whatever you think, I will be at your back. I have constant connection with you and I supply the wave to your centre, instructions of a permanent character. From that capital you will be able to transmit this wave to others.”
The command must come from the centre, the higher position, and be implemented by those below. The nature of harmony requires this system of control. The centre is one, advaya-jñāna. He is the Absolute Autocrat. Advaya-jñāna means the dictation from a particular quarter and carrying out the orders according to the degree of capacity of the different centres. Then the result is connected with the Absolute.
I must not venture to command anything to anybody, but if I have received that sort of order from the upper region, then and then only may I transmit that command. I may be a transmitter but not the absolute creator of any desire of any will. My spoken word may be a sub-centre, but not the absolute centre. There are many sub-centres, reliable sub-centres.
In Gurudeva, Rādhārāṇī and Baladeva were permanently present, and now also there may be other recognised centres of command. I can communicate with them and carry out their orders. In that way we can keep our connection with the higher authority, the Absolute. We are very eager to keep our connection with the Absolute harmony, eager to have direction from above and act accordingly. By necessity of harmony this sort of conduct is required. A Vaiṣṇava must have this submissive nature.
Whatever power we have, however small, place it at the disposal of the highest beauty, love divine, and it will be distributed. We will also be inundated with the highest quality and degree of joy and fulfilment. Such a life of devotion has been recommended as the key to our progress. Prahlāda Mahārāja, who is a śuddha-bhakta, a pure devotee of the primary stage, śānta-rasa, has warned us of the contamination of the trading disposition.
We should not attempt to conduct business transactions with God and His agents under pretense of devotion. It is a great danger in our approach to pure devotion – na sa bhṛtyaḥ sa vai vaṇik. We must scrutinise ourselves and abandon this trading temperament. At its root is pratiṣṭhā – the quest for self-establishment, name and fame. Genuine devotion is devoid of such a tendency.
And we will have to go down sometimes. To go up, carry out the orders of the higher authority. Always maintain that sort of tendency. Setting aside our own sentiment, always look with earnestness towards whatever order we may get from above. That should be our guide, the guide of anyone in the centre. And that will maintain harmony and unity in the organisation. It is always necessary to maintain the health of the system. When a very elevated Vaiṣṇava speaks like that he is setting the example for us. That should be our attitude, and he is also of that attitude – always hankering, increasing our hunger to get direction from above at every moment. And it is infinite. Every centre cultivates that hankering.
There is also ācārya-abhimāna – some sum is already deposited with some condition, that it be spent for a particular purpose. Then as if it were his own money, he distributes it – that is ācārya-abhimāna. There are so many instructions within a box, some previously deposited direction. The ācārya-abhimāna is going ahead with those directions. The inspiration always comes to his heart: do this, do this, do this. Like a soldier he advances further and further, and by doing that he is internally carrying out his orders.
He is moving rationally, but internally he is connected with the higher plane – assertion on one side and submission on the other. Begging from the higher power and distributing to the lower section, that should be the duty of every person in the mission. Yāre dekha, tāre kaha ‘kṛṣṇa’-upadeśa – “If you adhere to this business I will supply the capital to you.” Be sincere in your dealings. The current is always there – it is a dynamic thing. The wares, the dynamo must be healthy, wholesome. There is no want of current. The mediator must be all right. The current is infinite.
Dedication Beyond Calculation
The calculation of good and bad in the misconceived area is necessarily all false, completely false.
dvaite bhadrābhadra-jñāna–saba mano-dharma
‘ei bhāla, ei manda’–ei saba ‘bhrama
In this world, conceptions of good and bad are all mental concoctions. Therefore, considering that ‘This is good’ and ‘This is bad’ is all illusory. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 4,176)
On the other hand, whatever is good and bad in the plane of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, both are ultimately good. We must try to learn what is the intrinsic value of good and bad. Sumati means a good disposition, but good in its fullest conception must come from devotion to Kṛṣṇa, from Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Exploitation and renunciation, both are bad, and only service, dedication to the central principle of Divinity can really be called good. Service is of two kinds: calculating and surrendered. Surrendered service is the highest type of service, and that is found only in Vṛndāvana. Divine slavery to the extreme. This type of service means to accept slavery as our highest position.
He is so good, that if we can be connected to Him in slavery we will receive infinite good. Whatever degree of slavery we are able to accept, then we may attain such height of goodness. It is quite reasonable. Otherwise we cannot have any entrance into that holiest land. We can gain admission only when we offer our service to the extreme point of slavery. And that slavery must be unconditional.
Slavery in that domain is far, far better than mastery in this land of exploitation, where the reaction can only be very, very bad. And the middle plane, the land of renunciation, is neither good nor bad; it is nothing – zero – a freezing point. It is very hard to conceive of this beneficial divine slavery, but nothing short of that will give us entrance to the holy domain.