Prakrta-rasa Aranya Chedini - Cutting the Jungle of Misconception - Swami B.G. Narasingha MaharajaIntroduction
Prakrta-rasa Aranya Chedini - Cutting the Jungle of Misconception - Swami B.G. Narasingha MaharajaChapter 2 - Atomic Ray of Viṣṇu

Prākṛta-rasa Āraṇya Chedinī – Cutting the Jungle of Misconception

Chapter 1 – Who is a Vaiṣṇava?

‘Who is a Vaisnava?’ by Swami Narasingha answers a question from two devotees, “Who is a Vaiṣṇava?” and Narasingha responds by quoting various ślokas from Gauḍīya Kaṇṭhahāra explaining the various levels of Vaiṣṇavas.

Devotee: What is the śāstric definition of a Vaiṣṇava?

Narasiṅgha Mahārāja:

grhīta-viṣṇu-dīkṣāko viṣṇu-pūjāparo naraḥ
vaiṣṇavo ‘bhihito ‘bhijñairitaro ‘smādavaiṣṇavaḥ

“One who is initiated into the Vaiṣṇava mantra and who is devoted to worshipping Lord Viṣṇu/Kṛṣṇa is a Vaiṣṇava. One who is devoid of these practices is not a Vaiṣṇava. (Hari-bhakti-vilāsa, 11, quoted from Padma Purāṇa)

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu explains three kinds of Vaiṣṇavas.

An ordinary Vaiṣṇava:

prabhu-kahe, ‘yāṅra mukhe śuni eka-bāra
kṛṣṇa-nāma, sei pūjya, śreṣṭha sabākāra’

“Who chants the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa just once may be considered a Vaiṣṇava. Such a person is worshipable and is the topmost human being.” (Cc. Madhya 15.106)

A superior Vaiṣṇava:

‘kṛṣṇa-nāma’ nirantara yāñhāra vadane
se vaiṣṇava-śreṣṭha, bhaja tāṅhāra caraṇe

“A person who is always chanting the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa is a superior Vaiṣṇava and your duty is to serve his lotus feet.” (Cc. Madhya 16.72)

The topmost Vaiṣṇava:

yāṅhāra darśane mukhe āise kṛṣṇa-nāma
tāṅhāre jāniha tumi ‘vaiṣṇava-pradhāna’

“The topmost Vaiṣṇava is he whose very presence makes others chant the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa. Such a Vaiṣṇava is superior to all others!” (Cc. Madhya 16.74)

The heart of a Vaiṣṇava is by nature softened due to the touch of the lotus feet of Lord Kṛṣṇa. By nature a Vaiṣṇava is paraduḥkha-duḥkhī, that is, he feels pain when he sees the suffering of others.

mahad-vicalanaṁ nṛṇām gṛhiṇāṁ dina-cetasām
niḥśreyasāya bhagavān kalpate nānyathā kvacit

“O Nārada, great persons like you visit the homes of family men, not to profit from them, but simply to bestow eternal auspiciousness upon them, even though they are often reluctant to hear anything for their spiritual benefit, being too materialistic. Otherwise you have no need to travel from one place to the next.” (Bhāg.10.8.4)

There are twelve such great Vaiṣṇavas from the Vedic Age known as Mahājanas:

svayambhūr nāradaḥ śambhuḥ kumāraḥ kapilo manuḥ
prahlādo janako bhīṣmo balir vaiyāsakir vayam

Brahmā, Nārada, Śiva, the four Kumāras, Kapiladeva, Svayambhuva Manu, Prahlāda, Janaka Mahārāja, Bhīṣma, Bali Mahārāja, Śukadeva Gosvāmī and I (Yamarāja) know the real transcendental principles of religion. (Bhāg. 6.3.20)

Prahlāda is the best of the devotees:

kvāhaṁ rājaḥ-prabhava īśa tamo ‘dhike’smin
jātaḥ suretara-kule kva tavānukampā
na brahmaṇo na tu bhavasya na vai ramāyā
yan me ‘rpitaḥ śirasi padma-karaḥ prasādaḥ

“O my Lord, because I was born in a family full of the hellish material qualities of passion and ignorance, what is my position? And what is to be said of Your causeless mercy, which You never offered even to Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva, or the Goddess of Fortune, Lakṣmī? You never put Your lotus hand upon their heads, but You have put it on mine.” (Bhāg. 7.9.26)

Better than Prahlāda are the Pāṇḍavas:

na tu prahlādasya gṛhe paraṁ brahma vasati
na ca tad darśanārthaṁ munayas tad gṛhān abhiyanti
na ca tasya brahma mātuleyādi rūpeṇa varttate
na ca svayam eva prasannam
ato yuyam eva tato ‘pyasmatto ‘pi bhūri-bhāgā iti bhāvaḥ

“The Supreme Personality of Godhead did not personally remain in Prahlāda’s home, although He stayed in the home of the Pāṇḍavas. Great sages did not travel to Prahlāda’s home to see the Supreme Lord, but for this purpose they did visit the home of the Pāṇḍavas. The Supreme Lord did not become the intimate relative of Prahlāda Mahārāja, He was the maternal cousin of the Pāṇḍavas. He also did not personally express great pleasure at the daily activities of Prahlāda as He did with the Pāṇḍavas. For all these reasons, Nārada Muni has said that the Pāṇḍavas were more fortunate than either himself or Prahlāda.” (Laghu-Bhāgavatāmṛta, Uttara-khaṇḍa 19)

The Yādavas are superior to the Pāṇḍavas:

sadāti san-nikṛṣṭatvāt mamatādhikyato hareḥ
pāṇḍavebhyo’pi yādavaḥ kecit śreṣṭhatamā matāḥ

“Because of their constant intimate association with Lord Kṛṣṇa and close ties with Him, some members of the Yadu dynasty are more exalted than the Pāṇḍavas.” (Laghu-Bhāgavatāmṛta, Uttara-khaṇḍa 18)

Uddhava is superior to the Yādavas:

na tathā me priyatama ātma-yonir na śaṅkaraḥ
na ca saṅkarṣaṇo na śrīr naivātmā ca yathā bhavan

“O Uddhava, Brahmā, Śiva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Lakṣmī-devī and even My own self are not as dear to Me as you are.” (Bhāg. 11.14.15)

noddhava ‘ṇv api man-nyūno yad guṇair nārditaḥ prabhuḥ
ato mad-vayunaṁ lokaṁ grāhayann iha tiṣṭhatu

“Uddhava is not inferior to Me in any way. He is never affected by the modes of material nature. As such he may remain in this world to disseminate specific knowledge about the Personality of Godhead.” (Bhāg. 3.4.31)

The gopīs are superior to Uddhava:

āsām aho caraṇa-reṇu-juṣām ahaṁ syāṁ
vṛndāvane kim api gulam-latauṣadhinām
yā dustyajaṁ sva-janam ārya-pathaṁ ca hitvā
bhejur mukunda-padaviṁ śrutibhir vimṛgyām

“O when will that day be mine, when I can take the dust of the lotus feet of those great souls known as the gopīs on my head. When will the day come when I shall take birth as a creeper in Vṛndāvana, so that I can take the dust of the lotus feet of the gopīs on my head? Those great souls gave up society, friendship, love, their very relatives —even the Vedic principles— to surrender to Kṛṣṇa, who is known as Mukunda. Such devotion as exhibited by these exalted inhabitants of Vṛndāvana is only hinted at in the Vedas.” (Bhāg. 10.47.61)

The gopīs are superior to the Lakṣmīs in Vaikuṇṭha:

na tathā me priyatamo brahmā rudraś ca pārthiva
na ca lakṣmīr na cātmā ca yathā gopījano mama

“Not even Brahmā, Śiva, Lakṣmī or even My own self is as dear to Me as are the gopīs of Vṛndāvana.” (Ādi-Purāṇa)

Rādhārāṇī is the best of all devotees:

yathā rādhā priyā viṣṇos-tasyāḥ kuṇḍaṁ priyaṁ tathā
sarva gopīṣu saivaikā viṣṇor-atyanta-vallabhā

“Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is dear to Kṛṣṇa, and Her kuṇḍa, known as Rādhā-kuṇḍa is similarly dear to Him. It is the favorite place of Kṛṣṇa. Of all the gopīs, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is the most dear to Kṛṣṇa.” (Laghu-bhāgavatāmṛta, 45)

karmibhyaḥ parito hareḥ priyatayā vyaktiṁ yayur jñāninas-
tebhyo jñāna-vimukta-bhakti-paramāḥ premaika-niṣṭhās-tataḥ
tebhyas-tāḥ paśu-pāla-paṅkaja-dṛśas tābhyāpi sā rādhikā
preṣṭhā tad-vadiyaṁ tadīya-sarasī tāṁ nāśrayet kaḥ kṛtī

“In the scriptures it is said that of all types of fruitive workers, one who is advanced in knowledge of the higher values of life is favored by the Supreme Lord Hari. Out of many such people who are advanced in knowledge, jñānis may take to devotional service. He is superior to others. However, one who has actually attained prema, pure love of Kṛṣṇa, is superior to him. The gopīs are exalted above all the advanced devotees because they are totally dependent on Kṛṣṇa, the transcendental cowherd boy. Among the gopīs, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is the most dear to Kṛṣṇa. Her kuṇḍa, or lake, is as profoundly dear to Kṛṣṇa as is this most beloved of the gopīs. Who then, will not reside at Rādhā-kuṇḍa, and, in a spiritual body surcharged with ecstatic devotional feelings, (aprakṛta-bhāva) render loving service to the divine couple, Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Govinda, who perform Their aṣṭa-kālīya-līlā. Indeed, those who execute devotional service on the banks of Rādhā-kuṇḍa are the most fortunate souls in the universe.” (Upadeśāmṛta 10, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī)

The above ontology on the topic of Vaiṣṇava was first compiled in the book Gauḍīya Kaṇṭhahāra, under the chapter Vaiṣṇava-tattva.

By Published On: September 16, 2022
Prakrta-rasa Aranya Chedini - Cutting the Jungle of Misconception - Swami B.G. Narasingha MaharajaIntroduction
Prakrta-rasa Aranya Chedini - Cutting the Jungle of Misconception - Swami B.G. Narasingha MaharajaChapter 2 - Atomic Ray of Viṣṇu
Śrīla Bhakti Gaurava Narasiṅgha Mahārāja (Jagat Guru Swami) appeared on Annadā Ekādaśī at Corpus Christi, USA in 1946. After studies in haṭha-yoga, he took initiation from his guru, Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda in 1970 and preached in the African continent for 3 years before accepting sannyāsa in 1976. After Prabhupāda’s disappearance, Śrīla Narasiṅgha Mahārāja took śīkṣā (spiritual instruction) from Śrīla B.R. Śrīdhara Deva Gosvāmī and Śrīla B.P Purī Gosvāmī. Although he spent most of his spiritual life preaching in India, Narasiṅgha Mahārāja also travelled to Europe, Mexico and the United States to spread the message of his spiritual masters. He penned over 200 essays and 13 books delineating Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava siddhānta. He left this world in his āśrama in South India in 2020.