Sri Rupa Gosvami's Upadesamrta with Illuminations of Srila B.R. Sridhara MaharajaUpadeśāmṛta – Verse 3
Sri Rupa Gosvami's Upadesamrta with Illuminations of Srila B.R. Sridhara MaharajaUpadeśāmṛta – Verse 5

Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī’s Upadeśāmṛta

Verse 4

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ददाति प्रतिगृह्णाति गुह्यमाख्याति पृच्छति ।
भुङ्क्ते भोजयते चैव षड्विधं प्रीतिलक्षणम् ॥ ४ ॥

dadāti pratigṛhṇāti
guhyam ākhyāti pṛcchati
bhuṅkte bhojayate caiva
ṣaḍ-vidhaṁ prīti-lakṣaṇam

Word for Word
dadāti – giving; pratigṛhṇāti – receiving; guhyam – confidentially; ākhyāti – speaking; pṛcchati – inquiring; bhuṅkte – eating; bhojayate – feeding; ca – and; eva – indeed; ṣaḍ – six; vidhaṁ – types; prīti – love; lakṣaṇam – symptoms.

Offering gifts and accepting gifts, revealing one’s mind in confidence and inquiring confidentially, accepting prasāda and offering prasāda – these are the six symptoms of love shared by devotees.


These are the six kinds of association with a sādhu. Higher association is only possible with a serving attitude, otherwise there is no saṅga. Lower association means exploitation and enjoyment, but higher association can only be achieved through service. By proper association the quality of your service will increase. Sādhu-saṅga and sādhu-sevā is of most importance. The Gauḍīya Maṭha stresses the importance of sādhu-sevā – serving the sādhu. Whatever you do by the command of the higher devotee will, through him, surely connect you with a higher conception of the Absolute. Whatever you do, do with that connection from above and carry out his order.

Offering Gifts and Accepting Gifts

Dadāti pratigṛhṇāti – we shall come to present new things to the sādhus and try to live by the old remnants left by them. Giving something for the service of a sādhu and taking his prasādam – whatever he gives, we accept that. We can increase our attraction and love for a person in such a way by giving him raw items and by accepting his prasādam. To give items to be utilised by him, and whatever is necessary for ourselves. I won’t try to take anything new, but only that which has been rejected by the Vaiṣṇava or guru, whether it is a garland, clothes, different decorations, or whatever. We shall try to live by the remnants of the Vaiṣṇavas. We shall present new things to the sādhus, and we shall try to live by their remnants – tena tyaktena bhuñjīthā. Give and take. Give and take eternally – internally and externally, whatever my position. In taking we get a higher thing from him. Raw materials we supply, and we get remnants from him. In this way I can improve my position.

If we accept the energy of worldly men then generally our minds will become polluted and impure. And if the mind is impure, then the remembrance of Kṛṣṇa will not be very clear.

viṣayīra anna khāile malina haya mana
malina mana haile nahe kṛṣṇera smaraṇa

If one eats the food of a materialist, one’s mind becomes polluted. When the mind becomes polluted one cannot remember Kṛṣṇa. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 6.278)

When I accept the elaborate energy of a materialist, then the poison of his mind comes with his energy – with his money and all these things. The energy comes carrying the mentality of the owner. To accept that means to digest that. But one who is able to digest it can utilise it. Viṣasya viṣam-auṣadham – poison is medicine to poison. Poison can also be utilised as medicine. The divine agent can utilise poison as nectar, otherwise it will kill the person who is taking the energy of the materialist.

Only mādhukarī-bhikṣā, collecting from a particular person, will take away his sin or virtue. Anything that comes with his energy is transmitted. We are feeding on him, exploiting him and that exploitation must have a reaction. Mādhukara – just as bees collect every particle of honey from here and there. They do not care so much, they do not look to get any return for that – a small particle perhaps, it does not matter. If we collect our food in that way then there is no possibility of some reaction coming. Mādhukarī-bhikṣā has been recommended for the tyāgīs. But we Gauḍīya Maṭha people collect their energy as much as we can utilise. Our aim is a little different – we want to help them and we do not collect it for our personal purpose. It is for the general service of the Lord and His devotees. In an organic way we help them. We will use the energy from impure sources and, by hook or by crook, utilise that in the fire sacrifice that is lit in a grand way for the satisfaction of Kṛṣṇa and His activity. What is that activity? The chanting of His Name on a big scale. Saṅkīrtana yajña – a great sacrificial organic attempt has been accepted and we are to collect things for that. And because I am also rendering some service, as remuneration I may take something. For the purpose of service I am to maintain my health and I shall take only what is necessary. This is yukta-vairāgya. We are not taking anything for our personal utilisation so we do not feel any contamination. One will suffer if he collects another’s energy for his own selfish purpose. But if he can utilise the energy of someone for the service of Kṛṣṇa in the congregational chanting of His Name to purify the whole world, then there is no apprehension of being contaminated by that energy.

What we receive we think we have got from our guru. I am eating the remnants of my Gurudeva. I am doing some service and as a servant I am entitled to take some remains. Tena tyaktena bhuñjīthā mā gṛdhaḥ kasya svid dhanam – we have no greed for others property, but it is all being utilised for their benefit in the saṅkīrtana yajña. And as a servant I have got some duty to discharge, therefore I am to keep my body fit and for that purpose I am taking the avaśeṣa (remnants).

ucchiṣṭa-bhojino dāsās tava māyāṁ jayema hi

By decorating ourselves with the garlands, scents, clothes and ornaments that You have already enjoyed, and by eating the remnants of Your food, we, Your servants, will certainly conquer Your illusory potency. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.6.46)

Uddhava says that there are ways of getting out of this māyika entanglement. “Only by honouring Your remains can we conquer māyā. I am grateful to You and none else in this world. I am Your servant and I must live on the remains after You have taken. Thereby, by this single attempt, we can conquer the whole world. There is no glamour for anything else in this world for us.” That is the nature of the attempt of this organised preaching of the Gauḍīya Maṭha. You can even accept a kingdom, but not for yourself but for God. And from whomever they take, he is benefited. With this angle of vision we will be individually responsible for our transaction with the outside parties.

When something is dedicated for the service of Kṛṣṇa it is a conscious unit. Will a man allow his wife to serve another gentleman? Will she allow? Everything is meant for Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and not for any other consciousness. Only for Him. Everything here is exclusively meant for Kṛṣṇa and no other god. We are not materialists. Everything is conscious and fresh. And no other spirit is allowed except to fully dedicate oneself to the Lord. It is such. Every flower born here is only to satisfy Kṛṣṇa. Rādhārāṇī will curse us if we try to utilise it for the service of others. They are all meant for this. They will curse us. Here in the temple also – trespassers may pluck flowers, for medicinal purposes they will take some things, but it pains my heart. They are all meant for the service of Kṛṣṇa. For medical purposes some people may take a root or something. I ask them, “Go to Mahāprabhu, take His permission, then take it.” If it is necessary and it cannot be avoided then I tell them, “Go, you get His permission first.”

Once I heard at the Yogapīṭha, the appearance place of Mahāprabhu, there was one kadamba tree. At that time Prabhupāda was coming out to go to Calcutta and one devotee said, “A new flower has come on the kadamba tree, it has not been given to Prabhupāda.”

He took a flower and ran towards the car of Prabhupāda. Prabhupāda asked, “What is this?”

“A new flower from the Yogapīṭha temple tree.”

“A new flower?”

“We have come to show you, Prabhupāda, and we shall give to Mahāprabhu.”

“Then go and show it to Mahāprabhu. Take His permission and then bring to me. I am going away now. If I was staying, you could put it in my hand and I could show Him. But I am going away, now go and show Him and then bring it to me. You have got to take His permission.” That is prasāda. Anugraha – dedicated. To show to Him is to dedicate. Then we can take the prasāda. He is our shelter. This is the key to our life – tena tyaktena. After offering to Him, then you use it.

yajña-śiṣṭāśinaḥ santo mucyante sarva-kilbiṣaiḥ
bhuñjate te tv aghaṁ pāpā ye pacanty ātma-kāraṇāt

Saintly persons are liberated from all types of sins by accepting the remnants of foodstuffs offered in sacrifice. However, those who cook for themselves eat only sin. (Bhagavad-gītā 3.13)

Whenever you dedicate anything to your own self, you create sin. You create disharmony in the environment. But if you offer to the Centre, Yajña – to Viṣṇu, and then you use, harmony is maintained. Everything is created to serve Kṛṣṇa – everything. You must dedicate anything and everything to Him and then you can take the prasāda remaining. Īśāvasyam idaṁ sarvam – everywhere, everything is in the possession of the Supreme Entity, everything belongs to Him. There should be no disturbance to the law and order. The law and order of the Whole should be kept intact. You live here as a loyal subject. You all live as loyal subjects, not illegal – physically or even mentally. Thought, word and deed – you must be a loyal subject in this kingdom of the Lord. That is what is required from us. Then there is peace and harmony and no reaction. Otherwise there will be reaction and you will have to suffer for that.

Revealing One’s Mind and Inquiring Confidentially

Guhyam ākhyāti – I should reveal my innermost feelings to the sādhu, “From my innermost heart I feel these many particular things within myself. Are these feelings good or bad? And if bad, what is the remedy?” We shall place our inner heart before him so that he may examine us and proceed accordingly. Whatever the innermost feeling is, that should be divulged to a sādhu. I must reveal everything of the whole heart to him and also hear what is conceived within his heart. The private things within my heart must be disclosed, and what are the private things within his heart I must get. I shall inquire about what is the inner wealth within his heart. Pṛcchati – inquiry. We will ask his advice and put questions what will be necessary for me at this stage. “What is the secret of your holy life? Please tell me and I shall try to follow that example in order to get out of my present circumstances. In your case how did you gain relief?” We shall try to collect the secrets of success of life from a sādhu.

tad viddhi pranipātena paripraśnena sevayā
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ

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

Paripraśna. Honest, sincere inquiry is always allowed, but not with the tendency of tarka, argument. Not with argument, but all our efforts should be concentrated to understand in a positive line without leaving a state of doubt or suspicion. With all attention you shall try to understand because it is coming from a higher source where I am not known.

Paripraśna will be the outcome of surrender. “I am hopeless, I can’t ascertain, it is a dire necessity for me but I can’t help myself.” It will be with this hankering and with no remedy. I shall most humbly try and start to inquire modestly. I shall try to know, “What is this? What is that? What is the meaning?” The mood should not be that, “I shall finish knowing about this matter.” That sort of attitude will not allow us to enter into the real domain. Nor should we inquire simply out of curiosity or for philosophical mastership or anything of that kind. It is only necessary for the satisfaction of the Lord. Reality is by Itself and for Itself. It must be for Himself. For His interest this praśna is necessary. Inquiry should be made only to satisfy Kṛṣṇa and the devotees of Kṛṣṇa – for His cause, not for my cause if it is independent of His satisfaction.

Another most important thing and that it is also necessary for service. Service is the only important thing. “What is necessary? What will be necessary to render proper service?” – that sort of paripraśna is required. A dire necessity for service, for discharging my duty. I want to serve the cause, not to lord it over. If the spirit within is to lord it over, everything will be spoiled. It is not a plane of us being masters. It is not something that we can use according to our whim. We are putting ourselves into the fire –what I am, that will vanish and from within my higher, divine self will come out. What I am presently is a nasty thing, but what is within me, that is divine and noble. With this hope we shall go.

Giving and Accepting Prasādam

Bhuṅkte – to feed the sādhu and supply what is necessary to keep up his life, and bhojayate – receiving prasādam from him. What is prasādam? Prasādam is the grace of Kṛṣṇa, the will of Kṛṣṇa. Whatever comes from the Infinite should be considered as grace. And whatever we do should be with the spirit of service. Not with the result of trade – na sa bhṛtyaḥ sa vai vaṇik. We shall do anything and everything with the aim of serving the Infinite. With clean hands we shall do His work. With clean hands – not contaminated by any consequence. Service and prasāda are corresponding. Whatever comes from the infinite environment, that is prasāda, grace.

Once Professor Sanyal, who wrote the English book ‘Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya,’ was challenged by his younger brother, who was perhaps a graduate. He told him, “What do you do there in your maṭha? What we do, you also do in the maṭha.”

“No, no, we don’t do what you do.”

“You do not eat?”

“No, we don’t eat.”

“I have seen you with my own eyes – you are eating.”

“No, we don’t eat like you – devouring solid things, putting into the stomach. We don’t do that. We serve mahā-prasādam. It is beyond your understanding what we do. We don’t eat like you. There is no spirit of consumption. We don’t consume anything. We honour the remnants of the Lord. That is what we do.” Such will be the difference of all the activities of the true Vaiṣṇava and the worldly man. For self-preservation, we create havoc in the environment. Exploitation. The first principle of exploitation begins with self-preservation. That means eating. If we can solve that problem, we can solve almost everything.

prasāda sevā, karite haya
sakala prapañca jaya

By honouring the Lord’s prasādam I conquer all worldly illusions. (Śaraṇāgati 3.5)

Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura says that the key to the solution to this mundane life is in prasāda. It is in our attitude in dealing with the environment – in the most primitive necessity that we cannot avoid maintaining and keeping this body and soul together. The first necessity in life is this. And if I can solve that problem, I have solved the whole thing. Prasāda sevā karite haya sakala prapañca jaya – the most important problem is to learn how we should take prasādam, to maintain our own self. Our life depends mainly on prapañca jaya (conquering over worldly illusion). We cannot but consume, we cannot but create devastation in the environment eating whatever – either creeper or grass or seed or anything. Microscopic worms are being killed, so how to get rid of this karmika reaction?

yajñārthāt karmano yatra loko’yam karma bandhanaḥ

All activities are meant for the sake of sacrifice to Viṣṇu. Other than that, all other activities bind one to this material world. (Bhagavad-gītā 3.9)

We must successfully connect our activities with the Supreme satisfaction, for which everything is meant. All existence is meant to fulfil His pleasure, and if one does so, then his life will be fulfilled. If I offer something, really I am to collect something for His satisfaction, and cook and offer it to Him. That should be the real purpose. And then, because I am to serve Him, I must take something out of that. The main thing will be to collect things, to cook and to offer them to Him according to the scriptures where He has expressed His will. That is the process. And then to take. When He takes then the reaction, the poison, has already gone to Him and like Mahādeva, He can digest anything. Not only that, but whatever has gone to His connection gets promotion. There is no hiṁsā (violence). Hiṁsā is not hiṁsā because, that which is apparently violently treated gets higher promotion through my actions. I get some reward also for that. And then what shall I take? I won’t take from this world, but I shall take from my Master, as His free Grace to me.

The word prasāda means anugraha, kindness, grace. Whatever service I do, I expect nothing in return. And what I get is His Grace – a free transaction. I shall take prasāda, then I shall be out of all entanglement, although I am in the midst of it. In every action I disturb the environment, but it is meant for Him. No reaction, but the opposite reaction occurs, and it will save others also. Through me, such waves will emanate outside. Those waves will help others also to be purified. Everyone must be a purifying agent through the godliness in his heart. God is on the throne of the heart and thereby He will emanate a ray – such a fine ray that will purify the environment.

Self Surrender to the Prime Cause

Ṣaḍ vidhaṁ prīti-lakṣaṇam – these are the six ways through which we generally get the association of a sādhu. If we follow these guidelines we shall come closer to a person. If we deal in these ways with a bad man we shall become bad, and with a good man we shall become good. There are two types of water – filtered and filthy. Filthy water can be purified. The higher sādhus can take evil thoughts from others without becoming contaminated. In their hearts resides Govinda. Govinda is infinite and He can consume any quantity of filthy things, therefore their hearts cannot be contaminated.

If we get the association of a real sādhu even for a moment, then that may turn the direction of our life. A sādhu is like a very valuable gem. What he gives is far more valuable than anything in this world. One may have gems, diamonds, money or a kingdom but they are not valuable to all. This is all mortal. They may be valuable to a particular class of human thought. There are so many things in creation that are nothing to the sādhu. But ānandam, sweetness has got a general value. It is necessary even for the tree, the creeper, and even the stone. In whatever position the seeker may be in, he will be highly satisfied.

Yasmin prāpti sarvaṁ idaṁ prāptam bhavati – if we get a little of that we think that, “No other thing but this can satisfy me. This is the thing for which I am striving for after so many lives together. Now I have found the object of my search.” We can get higher things only through the connection of service. If we want the association of things of a higher type then we must offer ourselves to their service. This broad thought we must keep always in mind. I cannot utilise it as if it is my servant. But I shall offer to be a servant of Him if I really want His association. Only through service I can be connected with Him. I shall work for His interest. His interest will be more valuable than that of mine.

jīvera svarūpa haya kṛṣṇera nitya dāsa
kṛṣṇera taṭastha-śakti bhedābheda prakāśa

The constitutional position of the living entity is as an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa. Because the living entity is of the marginal potency of Kṛṣṇa, his manifestation is simultaneously one with and different from Him. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 20.108)

It is our fortune that we, in our constitutional position, have the position of a slave to Kṛṣṇa. Slavery. Those who are freed would be astounded to hear the word ‘slavery.’ The Gauḍīya Maṭha is preaching slavery! The Ramakrishna Mission and others preached against Gauḍīya Maṭha – “They are preaching slavery! This Gauḍīya Maṭha promotes slave mentality – that I am Kṛṣṇa dāsa, a servant of the servant of the servant of the Lord. That means they are preaching slave mentality. And we are preaching so-ham – we are the big Brahman! We are the biggest. We are the greatest. Instead of that the Gauḍīya Maṭha says you are a slave to Kṛṣṇa. The Gauḍīya Maṭha is creating a bad impression in society, discouraging people.”

Prabhupāda told, “Gauḍīya Maṭha stands for the dignity of the human race! The whole human race wants immortality. Gauḍīya Maṭha stands for the most dignified position. Slavery, surrender – surrender to what? To the Absolute Good, to the Absolute Centre. To become the slave of Kṛṣṇa is not a joke. That impossible thinking that, “I am Brahman!” – that is the greatest disease. “I am the biggest and I want to be the monarch of all I survey” means, “I am the most heinous exploiting agent.” We are so eager to get imperial service. We are so eager to get a higher service in the administration, but to get service in the highest management of the Supreme Lord – that is the most dignified thing. The Gauḍīya Maṭha stands for the dignity of the human race! What is the human race? They are like mist, like the trees, creepers, and worms – the prey of death. The king will also have to die helplessly, the big general, the politician – all will have to go and face death for eternity. But the Gauḍīya Maṭha stands for the eternal dignified position – friendly service to the Supreme Entity. The Gauḍīya Maṭha says complete self-abnegation, self-surrender to the prime cause. To give is divine and the aspiration that, “I can get”, that is devilish. “I want to lord it over everything” – that is a devilish spirit. But Kṛṣṇa is such that slavery to Him is the highest attainment for us in His relationship. That is not easily achieved.

Sri Rupa Gosvami's Upadesamrta with Illuminations of Srila B.R. Sridhara MaharajaUpadeśāmṛta – Verse 3
Sri Rupa Gosvami's Upadesamrta with Illuminations of Srila B.R. Sridhara MaharajaUpadeśāmṛta – Verse 5
Avatar of Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Deva Gosvāmī
Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Mahārāja appeared in this world in the village of Hapaniya, West Bengal, in 1895 within a high class Bhaṭṭācārya brāhmaṇa family. After studying philosophy at Krishnanath College in Berhampore, he met his guru, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, and accepted initiation from him in 1926 and sannyāsa in 1930. In 1942 Śrīla B.R. Śrīdhara Mahārāja founded the Śrī Caitanya Sārasvata Maṭha and remained there until his departure from this world in 1988. He was recognised by his godbrothers for his dispassionate nature and common sense, as well as for his superlative Sanskrit compositions and profound philosophical insights.