सङ्गत्यागात्सतोवृत्तेः षड्भिर्भक्तिः प्रसिध्यति ॥३॥
ṣaḍbhir bhaktiḥ prasidhyati
Word for Word
utsāhāt – eagerness; niścayāt – confidence; dhairyāt – forbearance; tat-tat – favourable; karma – activities; pravartanāt – following; saṅga – (bad) company; tyāgāt – abandoning; sataḥ – pure devotees; vṛtteḥ – following; ṣaḍbhiḥ – these six; bhaktiḥ – devotion; prasidhyati – enhance.
Eagerness, confidence, forbearance, following the spiritual practices ordained by the scriptures, giving up the company of materialists and following in the footsteps of the pure sādhus – these six practices enhance devotion.
Eagerness should always be to serve the wishes of the highest plane of kṛṣṇa-bhakti. That is very, very, very rarely to be found in this mundane world. We shall be eager to catch the telegraphic language of the highest plane. We must try to catch that and be subservient to that. That should be the nature of our quest and the utilisation of our energy.
How to develop that? With the contact of the sādhu and with the help of the scriptures we can try to increase that inner feeling, that inner demand. That inner demand can only be satisfied by Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The source of eagerness is only from a real sādhu. We will find some interest to hear about the Lord from him. The proper beginning is there. The bhakti school is independent of varṇāśrama or jñāna etc. One may not be a wise man, one may not be a very energetic man, one may not be master of opulence and other powers. Only the minimum is demanded from him – that he has very earnest hunger. He must have the smallest taste for the Lord. He must find some sweetness, some taste in His words, in His affairs when it is coming from a proper source through a genuine sādhu, a proper agent. That taste will take him farther and gradually into the highest domain.
Laulyam api mūlyam ekalaṁ – the only passage-money is our sincere inclination. The hearts natural flow – that is the passage-money, nothing else. Our sincere earnestness to get that is the only price we have to pay in advance. No other price but earnest desire. It is not to be purchased by any money or anything else which is acquired by so many formal practices in millions of births. Substance is necessary and not form. Form may be adopted only as much as it may connect me with that higher thing. Sarva dharmān parityaja – “Give up all phases of duty that you perceive as perfect. At once try to jump into the ocean of nectar. I am the ocean of nectar. Try to jump.” That is the direct teaching. Our addiction to this or that, to vānaprastha-dharma, sannyāsa-dharma, or gṛhastha-dharma has got very negligent value. But earnest desire – that is to be acquired by any means. That is bhakti proper.
tatra laulyam api mūlyam ekalaṁ
janma-koṭi-sukṛtair na labhyate
The only price to pay is intense eagerness that is not obtained even after millions of births. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 8.70)
Not by your good deeds that you have acquired in your previous innumerable paths – that is not taken in account, only the recognition of the sincere earnestness within you. The very gist of your ego they want. That is their demand and that plane is built up with that material. The most sincere part of the heart – that is the material by which that domain has been created. It is eternal but it is with that substance. Back to home, back to the home of your eternal inner self. Externally, by so many of our demands for the senses, we are being carried forcibly in this direction and that direction, dragging us here and there. We have to find out our innermost existence. That is to be a member of Vṛndāvana.
Confidence means rakṣiṣyati-viśvāso (expecting the Lord’s protection). That is a particular stage of śaraṇāgati. I will have so much confidence that He will protect me from any danger. One may run to protect oneself knowing there is danger, but still he is thinking, “My guardian will save me. Whom do I care for? I don’t care for anyone. He is my master and He is there on my head, He will protect me.” There is no necessity of any apprehension from any quarter at all. Śaraṇāgati reaches to such a zenith, to such a height that not only will He save me if I go on in a right way, I shall risk everything for the Lord, and if necessary, He may come to my relief. Such audacious aggression is there. This may be found in all stages. That particular mentality is there in the ordinary soldier – he has got confidence in his general. They may take the risk of entering the camp of the enemy thinking, “The general will come and devastate them.” It may be found in many places, in many stages of life. But here, that confidence is found not in this world, but in the highest quarter. That sort of confidence, that “For whom do we care?” So much indulgence they enjoy, so much confidence they enjoy, so much faith they have in their protector that they do not care about anyone or anything. They will even go to catch a snake or a tiger.
Jīva Gosvāmī Prabhu has discussed that goptṛtve-varaṇa (praying for the Lord’s shelter) is the main thing in the whole of śaraṇāgati. That is the whole gist, the substance – to pray to Him for His shelter. “You are my protector.” That is the main thing in the whole of śaraṇāgati and all others are subsidiary. To maintain the faith that He will save us – He cannot but do this.
The question will remain whether I have surrendered totally or not. My ego – has it allowed me to surrender to His holy feet fully or is it self-deception? The question is there. There is no doubt that if anyone surrenders to Him totally, He will protect him – that is unquestionable. But the question remains here whether I have successfully surrendered myself to Him or not. Self-analysis. That is the truth. It is His intrinsic nature that at all times His eternal habit is that He will protect whoever comes under the shelter of His protection. That is one of His intrinsic characteristics. It cannot be otherwise. However, the question is only whether I could surrender to Him or not. To offer one’s own self. To cast one’s own self to His custody, and at the same time to go on with the idea that He will surely protect me. The example is given by Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura – the cow boys are welcoming so many risks in their life backed by the confidence that, “My friend is there and He will surely protect me.”
rakṣā karabi tuhuṅ niścaya jāni
pāna karabuṅ hāma yāmuna-pāni
kāliya-dokha karabi vināśā
śodhabi nadī-jala, bāḍāobi āśā
I am confident that You will protect me, therefore I will drink the waters of the Yamunā. The venom of Kāliya will be vanquished. You will purify the waters of the Yamunā, and such heroic acts will increase our faith. (Śaraṇāgati 3.23.5-6)
In a part of the Yamunā a serpent was living and his poison contaminated the whole area. But the cowherd friends of Kṛṣṇa did not care for that. At the bottom of their heart, they were so confident of Kṛṣṇa’s continuous assistance at their back, they were going and rushing towards that poisonous thing and swallowing poison. “Oh, Kṛṣṇa is at our back, whom do I fear? We don’t fear anyone.” They are going into the Kāliya-ghāṭa, that poisonous place on the Yamunā and they are drinking that water and fainting, but without any fear. “My friend is there. We do not care for any poison or anything. He will save us. He will protect us.” They went ahead to invite danger with that confidence. “We don’t care for any danger because our support, our friend is there who has got some supernatural power.” Then Kṛṣṇa had to go and again revive them from the poisonous effect. Generally they are always in a position that they do not want that, “You protect me!” Very rarely – as in the case of Govardhana where the whole locality prayed for protection from Indra, the king of heaven, when his annual worship was closed. Indra was very much enraged and he wanted to punish the general section of that goṣṭha by heavy rain, hail, storm and thunder. Then all the goṣṭha came and took refuge of Kṛṣṇa, “You protect us from this great destruction.” And Kṛṣṇa managed. Otherwise they are always fostering this idea that, “He is there, our protector. We do not care for anything else. We are not afraid of any danger. He is there. He cannot but protect us.” That is the idea they maintain.
In sakhya-rasa that rakṣiṣyati-viśvāso is very, very clear, and at the same time there is some challenging at the time of play. “You could not do this. I gained over you. You failed.” Such homely play – God and His servant appear to be in equal positions on the surface. Sometimes the Lord even holds a lower position. Family life, sweet family life – and the devotees of the higher type see devotion only when the Absolute is defeated. That peculiar thing is devotion. That is yogamāyā. Devotion means leaving everything and saying, “We want devotion only. If we get devotion, the Absolute will come to our door.” Devotion is such. Devotion is all in all. Where is it found that the servant has defeated the master? That is devotion. There you can trace what is devotion. Ahaṁ bhakta-parādhīno hy asvatantra iva dvija – “My absolutism is forgotten at that time. I forget that. I go as one of them sometimes. I approach them to serve.” That peculiar thing is devotion. It is so high. How will this worldly energy and knowledge cope with it? Devotion means mystique, miracle.
Goptṛtve-varaṇa is to invite Him as our protector and rakṣiṣyati-viśvāso is to believe that He will surely protect me. The first part is to invite Him, to pray to Him, ”Please protect me. I am under Your protection, accept me.” And then to maintain the idea that, “He will surely protect me, in all possible danger He will come.” Two parts. Śaraṇāgati is one and the same, but if analysed then these parts are found there.
We should not think that our path is to be very smooth. So many troubles may come from outside. In India, when you go out in the streets with the kīrtana party, so many may come and say, “You monkeys! Lāl-baṅdar – you red-faced monkeys! These things must come to you from so many directions, in so many forms of hindrances and opposition. They will come and try to affect you, to dissuade you from this path. But, taror api sahiṣṇunā – the example of a tree is given and that is analysed. If somebody does not pour any water, the tree does not say, “Oh, give some water to me!” If anyone is coming and disturbing, snatching the leaves, cutting the branches – even cutting the whole thing, the tree is silent. No opposition. We will rather try to see that insults, poverty, punishment, and unfavourable dealings are all coming to purify me. These things are necessary and with the least punishment I am going to be released. I have become connected with the highest object of life, but what price I am going to pay for that? What price? I am confident that I am going to attain the highest fulfilment of life, but what price is sufficient for that? It is inconceivable. Whatever little demand comes to be exacted from you, with a smiling face you have to accept that in consideration of your highest goal. If you are really confident and you have faith in your brightest future, then what little price nature wants through these miscreants must be accepted.
Submissively and modestly – that is the law of Mahāprabhu. Tṛṇād api sunīcena taror api sahiṣṇuna amāninā mānadena – these things must be repeatedly preached. Tṛṇād api sunīcena means I must not be so rigid that I may not accommodate others. Taror api sahiṣṇuna – if still someone is aggressive towards to me, I shall try to tolerate. And amāni – I must never insist on any fame from the environment, still I will always be ready to give honour to all. With this attitude we should march on our way. This maxim should be given a very broad circulation. To become a Vaiṣṇava we must be deceit-free and have discipline of this type and this comes from none other than Mahāprabhu Himself.
Once we were told that our Gaura-kiśora Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja was doing mādhukarī-bhikṣā and going to his quarters. The people did not spare him also. The boys were pelting him with some small stones and he remarked, “Kṛṣṇa, you are cruelly dealing with me! I shall complain to Mother Yaśodā about You.” That was his outlook. Harmonised! When anything came he would say, “Oh Kṛṣṇa, by philosophical calculation, without You nothing can happen. You are with these children and You are disturbing me and I shall teach You a lesson. I know how to deal with You.” In that way, they take everything like that. That is our beacon light to adjust with things that are apparently unfavourable. A sweet adjustment is there. Don’t give any opposition – still opposition will come to disturb you and you must forbear that. You will accept them in such a way. We should not create resistance for the environment. If there is some attack, some undesirable things come towards me, I am to forbear that to my utmost patience. I am to silently tolerate. I won’t harm.
Our attitude should be this – whatever comes, this is earned by my previous karma. My previous karma has earned such an environment and it is a necessity to teach me. And whenever my teaching will be finished, the environment will change. Whatever the circumstance, the environment may be undesirable but if we are sincere we must take it with a good motive because the Lord has sent it. Without His sanction nothing can happen. Not even a straw can move. I am put in such an unfavourable environment – He is seeing this thing and as soon as this necessity ends, it will be removed and I shall be placed in another environment. There is no error in His decision. In the divine decision there cannot be any error. We have to face all circumstances with such an attitude.
tat te’nukampāṁ su-samīkṣamāṇo
bhuñjāna evātma-kṛtaṁ vipākam
hṛd-vāg-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te
jīveta yo mukti-pade sa dāya-bhāk
One who lives his life while joyfully seeing everything as Your mercy even as he experiences the adverse conditions arising from his past deeds, and constantly pays respects to You with his mind, body and words, is certain to attain your lotus feet, the object of all devotion. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.14.8)
It is our environment, our own past deeds. I must not quarrel with what my own deeds have produced, but I must finish this effect. It is necessary for me. And as soon as the necessity will be finished, it will be withdrawn and I will be put in another separate environment. We have to wait for the decision, the divine dispensation. That will be the highest policy. The most sacred, desirable and helpful policy is everywhere. It will increase our faith in the Supreme. The supreme command of all environments may come now or in the future. This policy of a devotee will be most suitable and helpful. Tat te’nukampāṁ su-samīkṣamāṇo – the undesirable things have not come suddenly to punish me, but it is necessarily self-acquired and it will get its fulfilment and then vanish, and I shall get another chance. But if I avoid this, it may be taken for now, but again it will come to clear my debt. With this attitude we shall face all circumstances, and that will be the best attitude of any progressive devotee.
Following Spiritual Practices Ordained by Scripture
There are innumerable practices of devotion. In Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Rūpa Gosvāmī has given sixty-four. Then again in Bhāgavatam we find nine:
śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam
arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ sakhyam ātma-nivedanam
Hearing about the Lord, chanting the Lord’s glories, remembering Him, serving His lotus feet, worshipping His transcendental form, offering prayers to Him, becoming His servant, considering Him as one’s best friend, and surrendering everything to Him. These nine processes are accepted as pure devotional service. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 7.5.23)
Mahāprabhu has again given five practices of devotion:
sādhu-saṅga nāma-kīrtana bhāgavata-śravaṇa
mathurā-vāsa śrī-mūrtira śraddhāya sevāna
The quintessential practices of devotion are association with the pure devotee, chanting the Holy Name, hearing the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, residing in Mathurā-dhāma, and faithfully worshiping the Deity. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 22.128)
Of these five, Mahāprabhu has given nāma-saṅkīrtana (chanting the Holy Name) 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. 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.
But the serving attitude, sevonmukhata – that must be present in all types of bhakti. Otherwise it is all imitation and for millions of lives we may imitate without any success.
asādhu-saṅgete bhāi nāma nāhi haya
nāmākṣara bāhirāya baṭe nāma kabhu naya
O brother! You cannot chant the Holy Name in the association of non-devotees. The sounds of the Holy Name may come out of your mouth, but this will not really be the Name. (Prema-vivarta 7.1-3)
Yadi karibe kṛṣṇa-nāma sādhu-saṅga kara – only with the help of the devotees, we may invite that ‘electric connection’ – that may connect us with the higher place and if He is pleased to come down and connect with this body, then this body can show bhakti. Otherwise it is all imitation! Imitation won’t take us to that plane. Sādhu-saṅga – the dynamo is necessary to move the fan, to light the light bulb. Without sādhu-saṅga we cannot connect with the higher level.
ataḥ śrī kṛṣṇa-nāmādi na bhaved grāhyam indriyaiḥ
sevonmukhe hi jihvādau svayam eva sphuraty adah
The Holy Name, form, qualities, and pastimes of Śrī Kṛṣṇa are divine and transcendental. They cannot be experienced by material senses. The Lord manifests Himself spontaneously on the tongue of a devotee who is eager to serve Him. (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.234)
The universal necessity is to learn and acquire a serving attitude, and if that is applied to our bhajana, that will be of great help to us. Jihvā means the tongue, and nāmādi means the nāma, rūpa, guṇa and līlā. On the tongue the Lord’s Name will appear: within the eye, His form; within the mind, His qualities; and in the heart, His pastimes. All these will come down to you, and everything about you will connect with that vaikuṇṭha-tattva.
It is not just a question of increasing the quantity, but the quality must be present. To be real bhakti, sevonmukha and sevā presuppose surrender, and all this presupposes sādhu-saṅga. It all originates from the association of a sādhu. From the positive direction it can come to us, so we must be thankful to that positive source. The Lord is there, but His grace is coming through His agents. His agents should be welcomed and dealt with properly. Whatever we can collect with our energy we should devote towards sādhu and śāstra. Sādhu and śāstra are our two friends everywhere.
Renouncing Material Association
If there is only one practice of a student of the Vaiṣṇava school, then that is asat-saṅga tyāga – to renounce bad association. That does not mean that the sādhu is also eliminated if he is found.
asat saṅga tyāga – ei vaiṣṇava ācāra
‘strī-saṅgi’ – eka asādhu kṛṣṇābhakta’ āra
It is the policy of a Vaiṣṇava to reject mundane association such as those who are overly attached to women and people averse to kṛṣṇa-bhakti. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.87)
There are two types of ācāra (practice). One is strī-saṅgi or yoṣīta-saṅgi – those that are attached to sensual pleasure. Another is kṛṣṇābhakta, one who has no attraction for Kṛṣṇa but is engaged in some other errand. We should be careful and follow the caution against these two – sense enjoyers and those that have no relation to Kṛṣṇa. This is our only practice. They may be scholars or yogīs, they may be so many things, but if they are not devotees of Kṛṣṇa, they should be eliminated.
It is said, a man is known by his company. The test that is the criterion is whether he is hankering for the association of the good or for the material environment. Whichever way his taste progresses should be looked upon. What does he like? Does he have more and more affinity towards the sādhus and the śāstra? Is the environment progressively increasing his taste for that particular thing? That will prove whether we are making progress or deteriorating. It can be known by the measurement of our external environment. Am I standing still? Am I going back? Internal satisfaction will also stand guarantee. I shall be my own witness from within, whether I am gaining or losing. My own understanding will stand guarantee.
bhaktiḥ pareśānubhavo viraktir
anyatra caiṣa trika eka-kālaḥ
prapadyamānasya yathāśnataḥ syus
tuṣṭiḥ puṣṭiḥ kṣud-apāyo ‘nu-ghāsam
Devotion, direct experience of the Supreme Lord, and detachment from other things – these three occur simultaneously for one who has taken shelter of the Lord in the same way that pleasure, nourishment and relief from hunger come simultaneously and increasingly, with each bite, for a person engaged in eating. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.2.42)
In Bhāgavatam it is mentioned how we should measure our progress. A mundane example has been given – when we are hungry we take food and when we take food three things occur simultaneously, what are they? Tuṣṭiḥ puṣṭiḥ kṣud-apāyo – when we are hungry we feel uneasiness, and with every morsel we take the uneasiness is removed. When we are hungry we feel weakness. With every morsel of food gradually the weakness is removed and kṣud-apāyo when we are hungry we feel the pain and that also disappears step by step with every morsel. Similarly, when are we are progressing in our spiritual life towards the Divine, we shall experience three things and we are to measure them carefully. What are they? Bhakti, pareśānubhava and virakti. Bhakti means a serving tendency and our attraction increases with acceleration. Pareśānubhava means some sort of accurate conception of the subjective world, superseding my subject on the other side – at first our conception may be hazy, but gradually it will become clearer. Virakti – we will withdraw from the environment and feel disgust with the stale experience of this world. The negative side loses its charm as the positive side gives us a peep into the world of the super-subjective. Bhaktiḥ pareśānubhavo viraktir – these three things must be there when we are making our journey.
Following in the Footsteps of Sādhus
The footsteps of the mahājanas (sādhus) are our only hope – mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ. We have to depend on that only for our relief. Their footsteps are like so many lighthouses to guide us across the infinite ocean. A hope in the infinite – Vaikuṇṭha means infinite, but śraddhā contains within it good faith and good hope. Śraddhā means surcharged with some good hope in the infinite. Vaikuṇṭha is infinite, and śraddhā is our only means to draw the attention of the infinite to us. The only way is śraddhā, for by śraddhā we can attract the infinite. There is nothing else. And when it gets a definite form through bhāva, it becomes prema, divine love. Columbus floated his ships in the ocean and gradually he went to the Americas. He found land. Similarly, after crossing this universe we may find the spiritual cosmos, Vaikuṇṭha, and śraddhā is the light in the darkness. Only śraddhā can guide us there. We are travellers in the infinite ocean. In the Bhāgavatam are the footsteps of those great personages that have traveled on the way – the broad line chalked out by the footsteps of those that are going to the divine world. Only that should be our surest guide.
All else may be eliminated because calculation is fallible and all justification comes from the Absolute Infinite. Any form of justification can come from anywhere, at anytime. We are floating in a boat in the infinite ocean. Anything may come to help or to hinder. Only our optimistic good faith can be our guide.
nṛ-deham ādyam sulabhaṁ sudurlabhaṁ
plavaṁ sukalpaṁ guru-karṇa-dhāram
pumān bhavābdhim na taret sa ātma-hā
The human body can award all benefit in life, and is automatically obtained by the laws of nature, although it is a very rare achievement. This human body can be compared to a perfectly constructed boat having the guru as the captain and the instructions of the Lord as favourable winds impelling it on its course. Considering all these advantages, a human being who does not utilise his human life to cross the ocean of material existence should be considered the killer of his own soul. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.20.17)
Guru-karṇa-dhāram – the guru is the guide. In the infinite ocean I have boarded my small boat and the destination is uncertain and inconceivable to me. But it is conceivable to my Gurudeva and I am going on with that sincere faith within me.
svayaṁ samuttīrya sudustaraṁ dyuman
bhavārṇavaṁ bhīmam adabhra-sauhṛdāḥ
bhavat-padāmbhoruha-nāvam atra te
nidhāya yātāḥ sad-anugraho bhavān
O effulgent One! Your mercy towards Your devotees is unlimited! By your grace they take shelter of the boat of Your lotus feet and cross over the ocean of material existence, which is difficult to cross. These devotees in their turn are so kind towards the conditioned souls that they keep this boat of Your lotus feet in this material world for their redemption. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.2.31)
It is a horrible ocean with so many waves and so many sharks, timiṅgila, whales and other things – full of danger. Bhavat-padāmbhoruha-nāvam atra te – the footsteps of the devotees are our only hope. We are to depend on that. It is only to our relief that so many lighthouses, their footprints, are in the infinite ocean to guide us to that place.
The instructions of the mahājanas are always true, but their conduct may not always be useful to the beginner. Their instructions are always useful, but not always their practices. A mahājana may do something that may not be useful for my stage. He has got such spiritual power that a little defect may not harm him in any way in his practice. An intelligent person will accept those practices that are backed by his words.
īśvarānāṁ vacaḥ satyaṁ tathaivācaritaṁ kvacit
teṣāṁ yat sva-vaco yuktaṁ buddhimāṁs tat samācaret
The statements of great persons are always true, and the acts they perform are exemplary when consistent with those statements. Therefore one who is intelligent should carry out their instructions. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.33.31)
Īśvarānāṁ vacaḥ satyaṁ – the leaders of the higher order, what they say, that is true – vacaḥ satyaṁ. But sometimes their conduct is not always the same – tathaivācaritaṁ kvacit. Always try to follow their advice, but don’t try to imitate their conduct – caritaṁ kvacit. An intelligent man will accept that conduct which is one and the same with their advice – buddhimāṁs tat samācaret. When he has realised a higher state he may not be very ardent to follow the conduct of the lower stage. But when he comes to advise me, he will tell me what is necessary for my position. But he himself may not accept the same thing as his own conduct. He is above that. He has finished that class and he is reading in a higher class and when a student of that class comes he gives the lessons of his level, īśvarānāṁ vacaḥ satyaṁ. Because he knows that he is giving advice to a particular section he will always give advice in a proper line – tathaivācaritaṁ kvacit. But their own practice is not always the same as their advice. They themselves may go to a higher position. There is no necessity of that sort of practice. And an intelligent man will accept that conduct which is always corroborated by his advice.
We should not imitate but rather we should follow. Not anukaraṇa (imitation) but anuśaraṇa. Anuśaraṇa means to follow in the footsteps. We must understand the difference. Anuśaraṇa means sincerity and anukaraṇa is only for pratiṣṭhā – without inner purity, only to imitate things outwardly, to get the glory of being a sādhu. Anuśaraṇa means sincere progress from the heart. Anukaraṇa is artificial.
Once the renowned dramatist, Girish Chandra Ghosh made one drama about Caitanyadeva and wanted Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura to open the drama because Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura had a good name in the devotion to Caitanyadeva. But Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura hatefully dismissed him, “I am not going to give connection with this false thing.” Bhaktivinoda Thakura dismissed this awkward imitation, “I don’t want to come in touch with that.” Instead of trying to follow in Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s footsteps, he was making a show of his connection. It was imitation, so Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura avoided. One prostitute, Vinodinī, was selected to play the part of Caitanyadeva. Then Ramakrishna was chosen instead of Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and he went to see the drama. That Vinodinī began to cry, shedding tears while taking the Name of Kṛṣṇa and Ramakrishna was very much impressed with that, so much so that the next morning he went to see that Vinodinī. He told that prostitute, “You are very fortunate, you are taking the Name of Kṛṣṇa and shedding tears. You have created such an impression in me, I feel very fortunate, so I have come to see you again.” And she was very ashamed, “No, no, no!” And Ramakrishna told her, “One that can rouse devotion in the hearts of so many by shedding tears and all these things when playing Caitanyadeva – she is not an ordinary person.” In this way Ramakrishna eulogised her. But we are not a party to that. We don’t recognise that. The Gauḍīya Maṭha, the devotees of Prabhupāda, they cannot accept such appreciation and such a false representation. It is all imitation, a sham, not real. It won’t help our real progress.
In a drama a man may take the role of Nārada Gosvāmī and chant, “Haribol! Haribol!” and tears may appear from his eyes, but it is simply artificial! It may be articulated cent percent to show these symptoms in the body and in the mind. One can learn the art without any touch of divinity. It is possible. Some people are naturally of that temperament; very easily they can shed tears, their temperament is such. And there are others who can learn the art of doing so. There are two classes of people who, without a slight touch of divinity, can show the public so many high sentiments. Without the least touch of śuddha-sattva they can freely exhibit all these things to deceive people. Devotion does not mean only to shed tears and to shiver and to wear tilaka and tulasī and dance and chant – these are all external feats. We must not be misguided seeing these imitating aspects, these feats of devotion. We must try to save the ordinary people from the false exhibition of the higher Vaiṣṇava’s character.