अत्याहारः प्रयासश्च प्रजल्पो नियमाग्रहः ।
जनसङ्गश्च लौल्यं च षड्भिर्भक्तिर्विनश्यति ॥ २ ॥
atyāhāraḥ prayāsaś ca
jana-saṅgas ca laulyaṁ ca
ṣaḍbhir bhaktir vinaśyati
Word for Word
atyāhāraḥ – eating too much or collecting more than necessary; prayāsaḥ – extraneous endeavours; ca – and; prajalpaḥ – speaking about mundane subject matters; niyamāgrahaḥ – neglecting the injunctions of the scriptures or blindly following scriptural injunctions; jana-saṅgaḥ – associating with mundane people; ca – and; laulyam – mental restlessness; ca – and; ṣaḍbhiḥ – these six; bhaktiḥ – devotional service; vinaśyati – destroy.
Eating too much or collecting more than necessary, performing extraneous endeavours that are against devotional service, speaking about mundane subject matters, neglecting the injunctions of the scriptures or blindly following scriptural injunctions, associating with mundane people and mental restlessness – these six things destroy devotional service.
Atyāhāra means whatever we collect, and also to feed oneself more than necessary. Whatever I collect, I want a portion of that thing. We are all busily engaged in collecting things for our sense satisfaction. Whatever we shall require, we can interchange that into sense pleasure. Generally we fix things in such a way that we can collect the maximum money and with that money we earn some sense pleasure.
Our relationship with this mundane world should not be for sense pleasure, but we should work as much as required to keep this body fit. Money should be utilised not for sense pleasure but to satisfy our duty and the aim of our duty should not be to go downwards again but it will be for the apavarga – crossing these three necessities of life to seek for a higher purpose. Money should help us to discharge our duty and duty should be arranged in such a way that we shall inquire about our self and the environment – “Who am I? Where am I? What is my aim in life? What is real satisfaction?”
jīvasya tattva-jijñāsā nārtho yaś ceha karmabhiḥ
A human being is meant to inquire about the Absolute Truth. Nothing else should be the goal of ones activities. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 1.2.10)
That is the only requirement for us and that should be our only aim. That should be the object of our life. By amassing money, the real principle is lost. If we are not genuine, then we will be carried away by money towards the exploiting world. Money may be collected, but that must be distributed for the service of the sampradāya, for the service of the Vaiṣṇavas. Amassing money is a sign of deviation.
Generally the devotees should engage themselves in the subjects of the Lord, but in the Gauḍīya Maṭha we find they are handling money, motorcars etc, but for what purpose?
mātala hari-jana viṣaya-raṅge
pūjala rāga-patha gaurava-bhaṅge
It is to show what is the rāga-patha. Generally it is thought that one must give up everything and only through internal love worship the Lord – not by external sources. Majesty and reverence are not necessary. But here we are extensively handling the wealth of the outer world. What is the meaning? The meaning is to show that the rāga-patha is above all. The position of those that are followers of the rāga-patha is very high. They have left everything and are taking the path of worshiping Him in their heart. All this grandeur, all reverence, everything should go to serve them. Pūjala rāga-patha – everything has its fulfilment if it can be connected to worshiping the feet of those that are living in that plane. Majesty, awe, reverence, wealth – everything is only meant to serve those niṣkiñcanas who have made the Lord of love and beauty the all in all in their lives. The whole world must learn this for its own welfare, and to teach this to the world, the Gauḍīya Maṭha is handling all these things.
While in Bombay one Bengali gentleman who was an officer in the mint asked me, “You have come to collect money but you are a very rich man.” I told him, “Yes, we say we are rich and we also say that we are beggars. Now we must come to some understanding. You say that we are very rich. Why, because we spend money like water? A man who has got so much money can spend his money like that. An ordinary man would agree that this must be superfluous money; otherwise a beggar would not spend money for such purposes. One who has got millions can throw away thousands for luxurious activities. You think we have got much money. But we say we are beggars with no money. Still we spend money in such a way. Now the question will come whether what we spend will be for a good purpose or a bad one. A doctor may not be wealthy, but he has got a motorcar because he can attend many patients thereby – this is not a luxury. Generally men will think that one who has got a car or a plane must be a moneyman of high order, then only he can keep such things. But for business purposes he may keep such things. A doctor may have many patients he can visit by motorcar. We also use things in that way. You may think that it is superfluous to decorate the Deity, but we think that this is the fulfilment of life. All good things must be used to serve Nārāyaṇa. That is our creed. Beggars we are, but still we spend money like water – for decoration, for festivals, for distribution of prasādam. We beg money and we spend lavishly, but not for ourselves. We feel the necessity of our particular nature. The real question is how we spend the money, not how much money we have got. We are poor beggars; still we spend money like a rich man. A rich man would be afraid to spend money like that.” Wealth only has its fulfilment in the service of those that are above this monetary world. The greatest goal possible is to worship the Lord and connect Him with this world.
It is mentioned in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu that it is prohibited to endeavour to build temples and all these things on a grand scale.
saṅga-tyāgo vidūreṇa bhagavad-vimukhair janaiḥ
śiṣyādy ananuvandhitvaṁ mahārambhādy’anudyamaḥ
One should keep a distance from those who are averse to the Lord, avoid accepting too many disciples and not be overly enthusiastic about initiating great projects. (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.78)
When our Guru Mahārāja was delivering lectures on the sixty-four kinds of devotion I marked that this is prohibited in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu but he was doing the same thing. On a big scale he was making propaganda. He was spending money in great quantities to construct temples and other things. That which has been prohibited by Rūpa Gosvāmī, our Guru Mahārāja had undertaken all those things. What would he say when this point comes up? He told, “Cut your coat according to your cloth.” This is a point of personal capacity. One man can manage an empire and he may find time for much leisure. And another man cannot even manage his own family of two or five members – the whole time he is engrossed there and becomes mad to manage that family. It is all a question of personal capacity.
Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has written that there are two types of people. One reads and collects many things in the form of advice and understanding but cannot find the gist, the very substance of the thing. The other is the sāragrāhi who collects the very gist of everything and eliminates the burden. The sāragrāhi is the highest class of devotee. Externally he may be managing the government and society, but internally perhaps he is a gopī of Vṛndāvana. There he is another. He is doing his duty. In that way externally he is a king or he is a general. He is fighting. Such a double function one may have sometimes.
In Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s Bengali translation of this verse from Upadeśāmṛta he says, viṣaya-prayāsa, which means a false errand, an enthusiastic attempt for something undesirable. To prefer a life of devouring each other and disturbing each other – that is undesirable. That is māyā.
dvau bhūta-sargau loke’smin daiva āsura eva ca
viṣṇu-bhaktaḥ smṛto daiva āsuras tad-viparyayaḥ
There are two kinds of created beings in this world, godly and demoniac. Those dedicated to the devotional service of Lord Viṣṇu are godly, and those opposed to such service are demoniac. (Viṣṇu Purāṇa)
This is in Viṣṇu Purāṇa. And in Gītā:
dvau bhūta-sargau loke’smin daiva āsura eva ca
daivo vistaraśaḥ prokta āsuraṁ pārtha me śṛṇu
O Pārtha, there are two types of people born into this world – the divine and the diabolical. I have described the divine in detail. Now listen to Me as I describe the diabolical. (Bhagavad-gītā 16.6)
Asura means struggling for closer bondage, and deva means struggling towards the right direction. There are two sections struggling here – one towards the positive, the other towards the negative. To make oneself big at the cost of others is a concocted illusory line. Everyone is struggling to become big but that is an illusion – that ‘big’ is not really big. Real bigness is on the other side. To become big is easy. “I am a big man, I have something to be proud of.” But to accept that we are nothing in the face of the Absolute, to accept this creed in its true colour, is very difficult.
The Vaiṣṇava is also struggling, but to be reinstated into a harmonious life. That should be known here – all should struggle to be reinstated into the real harmony of the Whole. Sincerely we should pray to the Lord, and we will find His help in no time. Then, in our innermost hearts, we shall find our connection with the fundamental plane of loving service to the Sweet Absolute. Then we shall find that the Lord of love is Kṛṣṇa, the beautiful Reality.
When a beginner is trying to conquer his senses, at that time he cannot avoid struggle. Progress means struggle of different types. Generally the time of trouble begins at the stage of the madhyama-adhikārī. At the lower stage of the kaniṣṭha-adhikārī, one does not measure how much devotion he is getting or not. With a peaceful mind he is engaged in arcana etc. But at the madhyama-adhikārī stage, a real struggle begins in ones life. How to adjust – not only as advised by the scriptures, but also our social position, our relationship with the world, with the society, with education etc. Generally the tendency to preach for propaganda comes at this stage. The madhyama-adhikārī wants to extend himself and remove the difficulties in his environment and tries to convert the environment for that purpose. The madhyama-adhikārī is a life of struggle and when he reaches the stage of uttama-adhikārī then he becomes peaceful in life. He sees everywhere that things are going well according to the will of Kṛṣṇa. Very easily he can see the will of Kṛṣṇa everywhere, so he has not much to struggle for. But when living in this ignorant plane of misconception, he acquires harmony by seeing both things – māyā, and Īśvara. He wants to install God consciousness, and he tries his hardest to remove the misconceptions. That is a period of struggle. Sādhana-daśā – this stage is full of struggle. Then when he comes to the stage of āpana-daśā, he feels peaceful in bhāva-bhakti and then prema-bhakti.
But there is again another struggle when he is already in līlā. That is in another plane. In Vṛndāvana there is also competition, there is also struggle. Yaśodā will think how to control this naughty child, “I failed. I can’t manage Him.” In this way there is some sort of a struggle, but that is produced by yogamāyā. Prema-bhakti is also dynamic in character, not static. Where there is something dynamic, there is some struggle. The competition is there. There is a play in the sakhya-rasa, two parties – one party wants to conquer another party. One says Kṛṣṇa, another says Balarāma. That is also a struggle. But that is purely of another type; that is transcendental play. And in mādhurya-rasa also there are several parties – Rādhārāṇī’s party, Candrāvalī’s party, so many parties there are. And the servitors of every party are to manage for their own interest, the interest of their mistress.
That type of dynamic character means some sort of struggle, a sweet struggle. And here it is bitter. Here we have to struggle to remove the nescience and to invite pure knowledge. This struggle is a little bitter – not only that, it is tasteless and painful sometimes. But when we enter that higher arena, the struggle becomes more sweet. Līlā means a sort of struggle.
To abuse the reign of our self-control and allow ourselves to enter into discussions of anything and everything – that is prajalpa. Prajalpa generally becomes parā-doṣānusandhana – finding fault with others. That is generally the subject matter of idle talks. When the guardian analyses this fault within his affectionate disciple to point out and correct him with a sympathetic and graceful eye, he himself will not become contaminated if he is pure enough. When a doctor is treating an infected patient, the infection may naturally come to him. But if the doctor is well guarded it will not infect him as he is conscious of the poisonous nature of the disease and is very careful when he tries to remove it from the body of the patient. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu instructed Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī:
grāmya-kathā nā śunibe grāmya-vārtā nā kahibe
bhāla nā khaibe āra bhāla nā paribe
amānī mānada hañā kṛṣṇa-nāma sadā la’be
vraje rādhā-kṛṣṇa-sevā mānase karibe
Do not hear mundane talks and do not engage in them either. Do not eat very luxurious foods, nor should you dress finely. Do not expect prestige, but offer all respect unto others. Always chant the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa, and within your mind render service to Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 6.236-7)
We must not attend to worldly talk, neither should we engage in that – bhāla nā khaibe āra bhāla nā paribe. Don’t seek after the satisfaction of our tongue and belly, and don’t try to wear any good dress to be admired by the people. Amānī mānada hañā kṛṣṇa-nāma sadā la’be – give honour to all, but don’t seek honour from anyone. In this way we will take the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa continuously.
We are requested to talk about the Supreme Lord, and by that process, all undesirability within us may vanish. Speak always, and only about Kṛṣṇa. Speaking means reproducing. When we speak something we cannot but be fully attentive. We cannot speak nonsense. When we speak, we must be fully attentive. It is difficult to have concentration within, so preaching or speaking forcibly makes us concentrate on a particular call. It cannot be nonsense to the public. I must be alert in what I am speaking. In that way, it has been selected as the highest form of means to the highest end, in this Kali-yuga especially. But speaking must be done in a proper way:
na yad vacaś citra-padaṁ harer yaśo
jagat-pavitraṁ pragṛṇīta karhicit
tad vāyasaṁ tīrtham uśanti mānasā
na yatra haṁsā niramanty uśikṣayāḥ
Those poetic words that do not glorify Hari, who alone can purify the entire universe, are considered by saints to be like a pilgrimage place for crows where perfected souls find no satisfaction. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 1.5.10)
The style, the language, etc. is very beautiful, but if you dive deep you will find no mention of the glories of the Lord. It is lifeless. The outward dress may be very fine and attractive. The decoration may be very nice, but if there is something wrong with the inner substance, then what is the necessity of that? Rather, that will work as poison to us. But on the other hand the outer grandeur may not be so charming, but the very subject, the substance within, if it is nectar-like, then it is a very desirable thing. We must try to accept that. Ignore the ornamental, but accept the substance within – that should be the aim of our life.
tad vāg visargo janatāgha viplavo
yasminn prati-ślokam abadavaty api
nāmāny anantasya yaśo ‘ṅkitāni yac
chṛṇvanti gāyanti gṛṇanti sādhavaḥ
Those works where every verse is written to stir the hearts of impious people are accepted, sung and heard by sādhus, even if they have some defect, because they glorify the Holy Names of the unlimited Supreme Lord. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 1.5.11)
The subject matter of our speech should be the Absolute. It may not be ornamented, it may not be grammatically correct, it may have some defect – it does not matter. Grammatical mistakes and other such ornamental mistakes are overlooked by the Lord. He reads the heart – the language of the heart is all in all. The theme must be about the Absolute, and we should always try to pronounce those words. It has been advised in Bhāgavatam, in those ten selected stanzas that were given by Nārada to Veda Vyāsa. That is the basis of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam as we find it now.
Speech should always concern the higher. It is dedicated upwards. Vāk means words, but words engaged in the service of the highest are known as urdhva-vāk. Here is taṭasthā, below is matter, and on the upper-side is the svarūpa-śakti, the internal higher potency of the Lord. Urdhva-vāk means connection with the internal potency of the Lord.
Accepting or Rejecting the Law
Niyamāgraha means to give abnormal attention to any particular ruling. Rulings are always meant for some particular stage, and after passing that stage that ruling is no longer applicable and another ruling we shall have to mark. Just as on Ekādaśī – we may be very firm to such a ruling that we must fast wholesale, without taking even a drop of water. But the general rule is that I must keep my body fit for the service of the Lord, so I may take some water. I must not be overly strict to a particular rule, so that the general law will be hampered.
Niyamāgraha has a twofold meaning. Niyama-āgraha means too much affinity to abide by the law. Another meaning is niyama-agraha when one does not accept any law at all and is not willing to abide by any law. Both these aspects are bad. We should follow the middle path, the easy path, not the extreme.
yuktāhāra-vihārasya yukta-ceṣṭasya karmasu
yukta-svapnāvabodhasya yogo bhavati duḥkha-hā
Yoga destroys the suffering of one who is moderate in his eating and relaxation, performs all his activities in a regulated manner and is well balanced in his sleeping and waking. (Bhagavad-gītā 6.16-17)
Niṣedha – prohibition. For example, one should not steal, but the ananya-bhāk devotee may steal a flower, take it away and offer to his Deity, but he is stealing. Then how should he be dealt with? Stealing is a crime. The society has set the laws that we will accuse him that, “Why you have stolen?” And he may say that, “I have not stolen. It all belongs to Kṛṣṇa and for the service of Kṛṣṇa I am taking it.” If that is his sincere vision then he is not to be punished. If one is stealing for the purpose of Kṛṣṇa, then that is not stealing, because his vision is so deep he sees that everything belongs to Kṛṣṇa. It may be forbidden by the laws of society, and even by the śruti-śāstra, but if he is really a sincere exclusive devotee of the Lord, none should interfere with his apparent misdeeds.
The Lord is seeing from the absolute standpoint and the relative standpoint cannot come and clash with that. His movements are nirguṇa (transcendental). But on this saguṇa (mundane) plane there is a gradual development from tamo-guṇa (ignorance) to rajo-guṇa (passion), then sattva-guṇa (goodness). If they encroach upon the rights of the nirguṇa, on those who are Kṛṣṇa’s direct servants, then their relative vision is wrong. He is on the absolute plane. Whatever he is doing, if he considers Kṛṣṇa to be the unchallenged master of everything, then he is right and they are wrong. That thing belongs to him, this belongs to them, this woman belongs to that gentleman – this is simply a contract amongst you. But from the absolute sense, it has got no position. Everything belongs to Kṛṣṇa, and one who works backed by Kṛṣṇa consciousness is right.
Jana-saṅga means to be very approachable to the ordinary public, for politics, sociality, feeding the poor etc. So many conceptions and ideals are there all around, and to chase them or to be captivated by them is jana-saṅga.
Sādhu-saṅga means that which promotes me towards a higher cause, and that which takes me away from that cause is jana-saṅga or asat-saṅga – just the opposite, a perverted reflection. It must not be maladjusted. Each person should be properly adjusted. We must have eagerness to mix with the sādhus of a higher type. Instead of that, if we allow ourselves to mix with the ordinary public, in the name of preaching or collection or any other thing, that will be detrimental to our cause.
We are finite beings that are lost here. We have a long journey ahead with much trouble, but the disappointment and dejection is minimised if we have good association on that long journey. By talking with them about the Lord, we can go on. We forget the weariness of the journey.
kṛṣṇa-bhakti-janma-mūla haya sādhu-saṅga
kṛṣṇa-prema janme teṅho punar mukhya aṅga
The root cause of devotion to Kṛṣṇa is association with advanced devotees. Even when ones dormant love for Kṛṣṇa awakens, the association with devotees is still most essential. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.83)
The very origin of devotion to Kṛṣṇa comes from the association of the sādhu – kṛṣṇa-prema janme, teṅho punar mukhya aṅga. And when we acquire a drop of divine love within our heart then also our hope, solace, consolation, health, everything comes from the association of the devotees. The devotees are all in all, from the beginning up to the end. Our favourable companion can help us in our journey towards the Infinite. They are something solid, something concrete – similar in nature to me. Only with the interchange of our thought, good, bad, hope, despair – everything they can appreciate and in a group we can go on.
Otherwise if we are alone we will think, “Oh, what am I doing? I am wild goose chasing.” A reaction may come and we may leave our bhajana and go away. Our Guru Mahārāja gave much stress on the association of the devotees.
duṣṭa mana tumi kisera vaiṣṇava
pratiṣṭhāra tare, nirjanera ghare,
tava hari-nāma kevala kaitava
O mind, what kind of Vaiṣṇava are you? To gain false prestige you sit in a solitary place but your chanting of the Holy Name is only cheating. (Vaiṣṇava ke? Verse 1)
Do you want to take the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa in a solitary place? This is a hoax of Māyā – she will come and take you by your ear. You won’t be able to fight for a long time if you are alone. Always try to be with others. With so many other devotees you will get strength from one another and a long march will be a very pleasant thing for you. A sincere devotee will always hanker after good association which will be able to help him, giving encouragement at every stage. “No, it is very near. Let us go – a little more and then we shall get some clue.” In this way there will be mutual help.
I was once told that Napoleon reached somewhere with his soldiers in a harsh land and they were standing there for a long time. They were very tired and they wanted to take a seat. They could not go on standing any longer. Then Napoleon put them in a circle and asked them to take their seat. Everyone was giving a seat to another by sitting on another’s lap. In this way, in a circle, everyone got a seat. That was the ‘Napoleonic Chair.’ Sādhu-saṅga is like that. When my mind is a little depressed, the sādhu will come to encourage me. In this way the journey forwards is very comfortable.
Laulya means weakness of the heart, or weakness of our promise, towards the object of our life. Whatever I find I engage myself in that. Everything is attracting my attention.
We are busy with small petty things that are drawing our attention, and we avoid the real problems of life. We are busy with irrelevant things:
mandasya manda-prajñasya vayo mandāyuṣaś ca vai
nidrayā hriyate naktaṁ divā ca vyartha-karmabhiḥ
Lazy people with little intelligence and a short lifespan pass their nights sleeping and their day performing useless activities. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 1.16.9)
We find hundreds of things and if anything and everything comes to capture my attention – that is laulya. We must save ourselves from that nature.
There is no end to engaging our senses. All the senses are busily engaged. There are a thousand engagements and mostly those engagements are those that do not know the real necessity of the self. One who does not know his home, travels in a foreign land satisfying his curiosity by working endlessly. That is to be found in the world. Apaśyatām ātma-tattvaṁ – this is important. One who has a normal understanding accepts this, not the majority of abnormal thinkers. It is śrota-panthā, the revealed truth. That must come from the perfect realm, from God Himself. Here is established the indispensable necessity of śrota-panthā, the method of revelation. It must come from the perfect realm, from sarvajña, the quarter of omniscience. In those that are unconscious of their own real interest we find thousands of engagements. They are very busy, but very busy about nothing.
śrotavyādīni rājendra nṛṇāṁ santi sahasraśaḥ
apaṣyatām ātma-tattvaṁ gṛheṣu gṛha-medhinām
O emperor, those materialistic householders who are bound to their mundane possessions are blind to the knowledge of the self. They are busily engaged in hearing hundreds of thousands of topics within human society. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 2.1.2)
nidrayā hriyate naktaṁ vyavāyena ca vā vayaḥ
divā cārthehayā rājan kuṭumba-bharaṇena vā
Such people spend their nights engaged in sleep or in sex, while their days are spent collecting money or maintaining their families. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 2.1.3)
What do we see if we look around? Two things – nidrayā, sleep, or vyavāyena, playing with women. Night passes in these two ways. In the daytime, they are in search of money or serving their near relatives. We tend to associate with those that we can exploit, those that supply our sense pleasure. We are surrounded by them.
dehāpatya-kalatrādiṣv ātma-sainyeṣu asatsv api
teṣāṁ pramatto nidhanaṁ paśyann api na paśyati
The material body, wife, children and everything in relation to them are like fallible soldiers and those that are overly attached to them, despite their experience, do not see their own imminent destruction. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 2.1.4)
We are fully engrossed in the interests of family life for our own sense pleasure. We are so engaged in that sort of false duty that we do not have the leisure to see that our own death is drawing nearer to us. Seeing, but also not seeing. It is a plain thing. I see that everyone is going into the jaws of death, but still I cannot see. I don’t care to see. This is the peculiar position we hold now. The final danger is approaching and I am sleeping through that. I don’t care to take notice of that. What can be stranger than this?
Only our particular attention is necessary for the solution. Only a moment is enough. So many trees and mountains and hills are living for years and years, age after age – no benefit. It is not a question of longevity or a question of time. What is necessary is that I turn my attention towards my own self – What am I? Our attention should be drawn to our own real interest.