Sri Rupa Gosvami's Upadesamrta with Illuminations of Srila B.R. Sridhara MaharajaUpadeśāmṛta – Verse 4
Sri Rupa Gosvami's Upadesamrta with Illuminations of Srila B.R. Sridhara MaharajaUpadeśāmṛta – Verse 6

Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī’s Upadeśāmṛta (Nectar of Instruction)

Verse 5

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कृष्णेति यस्य गिरि तं मनसाद्रियेत दीक्षास्ति चेत्प्रणतिभिश्च भजन्तमीशम् ।
शुश्रूषया भजनविज्ञमनन्यमन्यनिन्दादिशून्यहृदमीप्सितसङ्गलब्ध्या ॥ ५ ॥

kṛṣṇeti yasya giri taṁ manasādriyeta
dīkṣāsti cet praṇatibhiś ca bhajantam īśam
śuśrūṣayā bhajana-vijñam ananyam anya-
nindādi-śūnya-hṛdam īpsita-saṅga-labdhyā

Word for Word
kṛṣṇa – Śrī Kṛṣṇa; iti – thus; yasya – whose; giri – speech; taṁ – that person; manasa – mind; adriyeta – respect; dīkṣā – initiation; asti – is; cet – if; praṇatibhiḥ – bow down; ca – and; bhajantam – serve; īśam – the Supreme Lord; śuśrūṣayā – with service; bhajana – in bhajana; vijñam – advanced; ananyam – exclusively; anya – others; nindā – blasphemy; ādi – etc; śūnya – devoid; hṛdam – heart; īpsita – desire; saṅga – association; labdhyā – to attain.

One should mentally offer respects to that person who chants the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa. One should bow down unto that devotee who has accepted initiation and is engaged in worship of the Lord, and one should desire the association of those pure devotees who are advanced in bhajana and whose hearts are totally devoid of blasphemy to others and faithfully render service unto them.


Once, the people of Kulīngrāma approached Mahāprabhu and put the question, “Whom should we understand to be a Vaiṣṇava?” Then He told, “Whoever you find taking a single Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa on his lips, you may take him as Kṛṣṇa’s.” Then later they put the same question to Mahāprabhu and He told, “When you find that person who is incessantly taking the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa, you will know him as a real devotee and you will try to serve him.” The third time He told them, “If you find a devotee of Kṛṣṇa, by whose sight you feel to take the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa, then he is the highest type of devotee of Kṛṣṇa.” These three classes He divided, but the Holy Name must be free of offence, not nāmābhāsa or nāmāparādha. If you find a single pure Holy Name on the lips of any gentleman you may take him as a devotee of Kṛṣṇa – that is a kaniṣtha-adhikārī. The next is the intermediate devotee, the madhyama-adhikārī. Whenever you find one who is always trying to take the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa, then you will try to serve him and you will be benefited. And if you are fortunate to find any Vaiṣṇava that whenever you come to see him you feel the tendency within you to take the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa, then you will try your best to do anything that he says. That is the uttama-adhikārī. These three classes of devotion, we also find in the Bhāgavata:

arcāyām eva haraye pūjām yaḥ śraddhāyehate
na tad-bhakteṣu cānyeṣu sa bhaktaḥ prākṛtaḥ smṛtaḥ

A devotee who faithfully worships the Deity, but does not properly respect the Vaiṣṇavas or the people in general is called a materialistic devotee, and is considered to be in the lowest position of devotional service. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.2.47)

īśvare tad-adhīneṣu bāliśeṣu dviṣatsu ca
prema-maitri-kṛpopekṣa yaḥ karoti sa madhyamaḥ

The devotee in the intermediate stage of devotional service is called a madhyama-adhikārī. He loves the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is a sincere friend to all the devotees of the Lord, shows mercy to the innocent and disregards the envious. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.2.46)

sarva bhūteṣu yaḥ paśyed bhagavad bhāvam ātmanaḥ
bhūtāni bhagavaty ātmany eṣa bhāgavatottamaḥ

The first class devotee sees Kṛṣṇa in everything, and every­thing within Kṛṣṇa. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.2.45)

Mahāprabhu has also given this general idea to Rūpa Gosvāmī, and Rūpa Gosvāmī has given us this Sanskrit śloka in his Upadeśāmṛta. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura gives a commentary to this that is very important:

saṅga-doṣa-śūnya, dīkṣitādīkṣita
yadi tava nāma gāya
mānase ādara, kariba tāṅhāre
jāni’ nija-jana tāya

Within my mind I will honour and consider as most dear to me one who avoids the fault of bad association and sings Your Holy Name, be he formally initiated or not. (Śaraṇāgati 7.5.1)

If one takes the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa and he is not in bad association, then we shall adore him in our mind, but not physically. If he has not got any bad connection then we can show some appreciation, we can show some sympathy. If he is connected with any bad company that we know has some malpractices, then we won’t care for his taking the Holy Name. If he directly takes bad company, then his taking the Holy Name is of the opposite nature. Just like this ‘Nitāi-Gaura Rādhe-Śyāma’ party. Of course, these Names are all well and good, but this party of that Rāma Dāsa Bābājī says that Nitāi is Rādhā, Gaura is Śyāma. With this object they use the Holy Name. So much misconception is associated with that party. If we hear the Names of Nitāi-Gaura from them we won’t care for it. We shall try to avoid. The chanting of the Holy Name cannot produce anything until and unless that sort of association is gone. They cannot be adored. One may not have proper admission in the line through a proper agent, but soon one may come to that stage. But if you find the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa in somebody who is without proper dīkṣā, you can appreciate. This is the particular note of Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura.

Offering Physical Respect to the Vaiṣṇava

Kṛṣṇeti yasya girigiri means if one is pronouncing so many words and you find he’s chanting the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa, then you may adore him. You will only bow down to him when he is dīkṣitā – when the agent of the Lord accepts him, when he has got the Holy Name in his ear and his heart. The Holy Name has been distributed to him. Dīkṣā means connection with sad-guru. Kṛṣṇa has accepted him as His devotee through his real agent. That is acceptance from the devotional party of Kṛṣṇa. Then we will bow down because the seed has come within his heart. Kṛṣṇa has come to capture his heart. In the temple of his heart Kṛṣṇa has descended. Then we shall show our physical honour to him – not only mental but physical also. Dīkṣāsti cet praṇatibhiś – if he is connected with the higher Vaiṣṇava then we shall bow down our head to him, not otherwise.

Śuśrūṣayā bhajana-vijñam ananyam – if by our great fortune we can find any person who is deeply engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, who has directed the current of his whole life towards exclusive devotion then we will always try to have his company. If we find any devotee who serves His Lord with a continuous serving mood, whose connection with the Divinity is incessant, we shall serve him. We will try to do anything and everything for him if we find that he has completely devoted himself and immersed himself in the taste of the sweetness of the Holy Name of the Lord and His līlā etc. Such a person’s sincere chanting of the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa is not imitation, not nāmāparadha or nāmābhāsa. Only the real Name is on his lips.

The Ten Kinds of Offences to The Holy Name

The Holy Name is not lip-deep only – a mere physical sound. It has a greater and higher aspect; it is fully spiritual. That must have the reference of Vaikuṇṭha. Kuṇṭha means ‘limitation’, and vai-kuṇṭha means ‘above limitation’. The sound must have its original conception above the realm of limitation – the plane that is above all limitation. That immeasurable force is invited in the form of sound to do away with all the anomalies in this mundane world. We are in the plane of marginal existence; therefore a higher connection is necessary. Then that wave will start from some higher realm and will come to us.

In sound also there is classification. A sound from the proper plane will be effective but not any imitation sound. Imitation means nāmāparādha and nāmābhāsa. There are ten types of nāmāparādha. Aparādha means to disfigure – not to deal properly but to mishandle something. By such mishandling we cannot get our desired result. Proper handling is necessary with everything. In the laboratory a scientist is making an experiment, but an experiment is only successful when everything is properly handled. Otherwise there may be an explosion and the scientist may die.

The first type of nāmāparādha is satāṁ-nindā. We must not abuse the Vaiṣṇavas – those that are the agents of the Lord who come to deliver the fallen souls. If you abuse them then the Holy Name becomes dissatisfied. Only Kṛṣṇa’s devotees are real saints because they are after eternal life. Saint means Vaiṣṇava. Those persons who worship demigods for temporary gain are not considered saints. They may be neglected, for they are not devotees. We avoid them. A saint is one who has no ambition in his life but to have the connection of loving service with the Supreme Lord. Only those who are agents of eternal truth, absolute good, are to be considered saintly. We should not abuse such saintly persons.

The second offence is that we should not unnecessarily abuse other demigods, nor should they be considered equal to or greater than Viṣṇu or Kṛṣṇa. They are under Him, and they are all inferior to Him. They are never equal or superior to Kṛṣṇa. When a comparison is necessary to establish the supremacy of Lord Viṣṇu then we may show indifferently, but not in the spirit of abusing other demigods.

The third offence is that we must have a proper conception of Gurudeva. If we are sincerely searching after the Lord, then the Lord is also approaching us and the meeting point is guru, His representative. Gurudeva must always be seen as the representative of God, not as an ordinary human being. Though we find that he is sleeping, eating or he is suffering from some disease, it is just like the Ganges water – physically it may be filthy, but still it can purify everything. The purifying capacity of the Ganges is not lost by physical dirtiness. Therefore the guru and the Vaiṣṇava should not be seen through the material eye – there is another vision through which they should be estimated.

The fourth offence is śāstra-nindā – offending those revealed scriptures that are taking us towards the Holy Name of the Lord. The scriptures are advising us and if we abuse them, then the Holy Name is dissatisfied.

The fifth offence is that we should not consult a dictionary to find the meaning of the Holy Name. Every word, every meaning, if it is taken to its highest sense, goes to the Centre. The dictionary, grammar, and any other books of mundane knowledge cannot limit or qualify the Holy Name.

The sixth offence is to consider the glories of the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa to be a concoction.

The seventh offence is nāmno-balād yasya hi pāpa-buddhiḥ. One may think that, “If I chant even one Name then all my sins will be purified, so let me go on sinning and taking the Holy Name.” With this spirit if we try to utilise the Holy Name – to remove dirt from us. That is offence. That is an abuse of the Holy Name because we should worship Him and serve Him. We must not use Him in our service in order to remove our contaminations.

The eighth offence is if we think that the Holy Name is one of so many purificatory pious works. We can serve the country, we can read the holy scriptures, we can wander through the holy places – but to take the Holy Name as one of these pious activities is to disregard the Holy Name. The Holy Name is above all.

The ninth offence is aśraddhadhāne vimukhe’py aśṛṇvati. This refers to one who does not deserve, who does not have sufficient faith. If for some treacherous purpose we bestow the Holy Name to him, we commit an offence against the Holy Name.

The tenth offence is if we have any particular attraction for any mundane thing – that attraction must be uprooted. I have to be unprejudiced and become free of any kind of mundane attachment. While taking the Holy Name, a transformation begins with the mental system and we must try to be unbiased. The Holy Name will take us from this worldly consciousness to Kṛṣṇa consciousness with the feeling that, “I am not pressed to go to some unreasonable position. I am going home. It is very sweet. Now I am wandering in a foreign land that is non-sympathetic, but I am really going to my home, under the holy feet of the Lord. All my well-wishers are there.” With this spirit we shall take the Name.

Four Kinds of Nāmābhāsa

There are also four types of nāmābhāsa, or shadowy expressions of the Holy Name that can give mukti. They may take us to the abscissa from the negative side, but they cannot give any positive attainment. There is neither any exploiting tendency there, nor any serving tendency – that is a marginal position. The four kinds of nāmābhāsa are saṅketa, parihāsa, stobha and helā.

saṅketyaṁ pārihāsyaṁ vā stobhaṁ helanam eva vā
vaikuṇṭha-nāma-grahaṇam aśeṣāgha-haraṁ viduḥ

One who chants the Holy name of the Lord is at once freed from all the reactions of unlimited sins, even if he chants indirectly (saṅketa), jokingly (parihāsa), for musical entertainment (stobha), or even neglectfully (helana). All the learned scholars of the scriptures accept this. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 6.2.14)

Saṅketa refers to when we outwardly say something, but in our mind a different thing comes in connection to that. Just as in the story of Ajāmila in the Bhāgavatam. Ajāmila was afraid of the dreadful appearance of the Yamadutas. In his coma he could remember that his young son Nārāyaṇa was playing nearby. With that faint memory he wanted to call out for his son, Nārāyaṇa. But in the meantime a change came in his mind and he thought, “What can this little boy Nārāyaṇa do against those fearful agents of Yamarāja?” Then Lord Nārāyaṇa’s name came. First it began as the name of his child, but then it changed into the name of the Lord. At once four agents came down from Vaikuṇṭḥa. There was a serious talk between the Viṣṇudutas and the Yamadutas. The Yamadutas were sent back defeated and Ajāmila attained liberation. All his previous attraction towards his family at once vanished and he woke up from the bed and directly traveled towards Haridvāra. There he began to chant the Holy Name of Nārāyaṇa and after sometime he attained Vaikuṇṭha. This is saṅketa.

Parihāsa means to chant the Holy Name in a joking mood or to ridicule a person. One is chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa and another gentleman may remark, “Suddenly you have become such a great devotee! You are chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa!” He is simply cutting a joke with his friend. If one is ridiculing the Hare Kṛṣṇa devotees in the street, and says “Hare Kṛṣṇa,” that may be nāmābhāsa if it is connected with his previous pious credits.

Another form of nāmābhāsa is stobha – to use the Holy Name with some other intention. Sometimes these words, Nārāyaṇa, or Kṛṣṇa may be used for some technical meaning, or for a code word. Jīva Gosvāmī has taken advantage of this in his book of Sanskrit grammar, the Hari-nāmāmṛta-vyākaraṇa. When one is playing the mṛdaṅga, using the names “Gaura-Nitāi, Gaura-Nitāi” to represent different drumbeats, it may be nāmābhāsa.

Helā means without any attention, only through a slack habit. Suppose when rising from the bed, we yawn and say, “Hare Kṛṣṇa” – it is not devoted or attentive. It is automatic, without attention – some reflex action. That is helā.

We are asked to avoid both nāmāparādha and nāmābhāsa. We must avoid these two with the earnestness of attaining the service of the Lord, as well as His servitors. Hankering for that positive thing must be in our heart. With this idea as far as possible, we should go on taking the Holy Name and that will be śuddha-nāma. Everything else should be eliminated and the real Name, which is one and the same with the Lord, should be taken. But the real Name must be received from a real sādhu.

Sādhu-saṅga is Rarely to be Found

There is no exertion by the uttama-​adhikārī Vaiṣṇava to dismiss this world of matter; he has no connection with it. The madhyama-adhikārī may have some consciousness of this mundane nature, but in the view of a paramahaṁsa, there is nothing but kṛṣṇa-bhajana. If by your fortune you meet such a rare sādhu, then you will try to do anything and everything for him. But he is sudurlabha – rarely to be found.

To reach a clear stage of understanding one’s own deeper necessity is not to be found anywhere and everywhere. Very few souls are found that are really conscious of their innermost necessity that, “I want Kṛṣṇa. I want Vṛndāvana.” Such sincere souls are not to be found very widely.

manuṣyāṇāṁ sahasreṣu kaścid yatati siddhaye
yatatām api siddhānāṁ kaścin māṁ vetti tattvataḥ

Amongst thousands of men, one may try to achieve perfection. Amongst those rare persons that endeavour for perfection, one may actually know Me. (Bhagavad-gītā 7.3)

The benefit of the association of such holy persons is very, very rarely to be found here. On the strength of that our Guru Mahārāja invited all to come and join his mission to attain that most rare gem – sat-saṅga-sevā, the direct association and service of the sādhu. That cannot be had here and there. Without that, there is no possibility of advancement on the positive side. Give up everything and take this chance. The whole heart must be brave enough to take this opportunity. We must not waste our time. Our energy is wasted for maintaining children, wife, relatives and so many things, but we must come to give ourselves wholesale to Kṛṣṇa under the guidance of a devotee. For name and fame and for a peaceful life don’t lose the chance. Why should we miss such a great opportunity to approach Kṛṣṇa? If like a child learning to walk, we experience one or two falls, we should not be afraid of that. Whatever progress we make, that is a very valuable thing. Die to live. Learn to die if you live a real life. I cannot maintain my position in the future, for thus I shall lose the present. I shall lose all apprehension of my uncertain future. At present, I am engaging it in wasting time for maintaining this and that – the society, the wife, the children, and so many things. Why should I lose my energy? Therefore Guru Mahārāja opened so many centres. Sādhu-saṅga is rarely to be found and he made arrangements for that indispensable necessity. That was revolutionary. When people cannot earn freedom of a country in a constitutional method, they take to the revolutionary path – they are prepared to incur loss, they are prepared for risk. Still they go towards the goal of freedom. Whatever we do, the whole thing must be utilised in the service of Kṛṣṇa, under the guidance of a bona-fide sādhu. Whatever we do, the whole thing must be converted and then we will comprehend the value of everything, being under his guidance.

sādhu-saṅga sādhu-saṅga sarva-śāstre kaya
lava mātra sādhu-saṅge sarva siddhi haya

It is the opinion of all the scriptures that by even a moment’s association with a sādhu, one can attain all perfection. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.54)

In so many places the importance of sādhu-saṅga, is stressed. We are wandering, uncared for in eternal time and to get the slightest connection of a pure sādhu is most valuable, even if it may be a little. That association will aggrandise itself; it will gradually develop and take me forcibly. Through the sādhu I shall come in association of the scriptures, then surely I will go towards the positive land. The most important thing in life is to get association of the Vaiṣṇava – to come in contact with a real agent. Through him we are to negotiate our spiritual life.

kiṁ pramatasya bahubhiḥ parokṣair hāyanair iha
varaṁ muhūrtam vidhitaṁ ghaṭate śreyase yataḥ

Many years pass by imperceptibly for those who are intoxicated with the temporary pleasures of this transient world. It would be better if they experienced even one moment of clear consciousness where they realised that they are wasting precious time and thus become earnest in attaining their supreme benefit. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 2.1.12)

Śukadeva Gosvāmī says, “One moment is sufficient for your highest attainment if it is utilised properly.” Varaṁ muhūrtam vidhitaṁ – if one moment can be used sufficiently, then there is no necessity of a long, long life. Only one moment is sufficient to solve all the problems of your life, if it is properly used along with sādhu-saṅga. The real capital is sādhu-saṅga and your cooperation is required also.

At all costs try to follow, to associate, to utilise that. One moment is sufficient. Kiṁ pramatasya bahubhiḥ parokṣair hāyanair iha – what is the necessity of ages and ages if we are unconscious of our own interest? If used properly, one moment is sufficient to solve the whole problem of our life for which we are eternally wandering. We must be wakeful to our interest; we must not be negligent. Mahāprabhu came to tell us what is our real interest within, “You do not want to know your own heart. You do not know that you are a foreigner to your own heart and its demand. This is the wealth within your heart. Try to find out that.” That is the direction of Mahāprabhu. “It is within you and you are to eliminate all foreign things from your heart, then you will find a temple of Kṛṣṇa within. If you search your own heart, you will find Kṛṣṇa there with the help of a proper guide. That is not a foreign thing to you. It is there. Every heart is a temple of the Lord. It is your home.”

Therefore Mahāprabhu says, “Go on with saṅkīrtana.” But it must be kṛṣṇasaṅkīrtana and saṅkīrtana of no other. For that, sādhu-saṅga is necessary. It cannot be an empirical attempt but the attempt that descends from the higher place to help us here. We must have that connection – that is all-important.

Sri Rupa Gosvami's Upadesamrta with Illuminations of Srila B.R. Sridhara MaharajaUpadeśāmṛta – Verse 4
Sri Rupa Gosvami's Upadesamrta with Illuminations of Srila B.R. Sridhara MaharajaUpadeśāmṛta – Verse 6
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.