Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī’s Upadeśāmṛta (Nectar of Instruction)
Upadeśāmṛta Chapter Overview
Verse Seven (syāt kṛṣṇa-nāma-caritādi-sitāpy avidyā) of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī’s Upadeśāmṛta (The Nectar of Instruction) describes the effect of the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa and how it purifies one who constantly and respectfully chants it. Śrīla B.R. Śrīdhara Mahārāja elaborates upon this.
स्यात् कृष्णनामचरितादिसिताप्यविद्यापित्तोपतप्तरसनस्य न रोचिका नु ।
किन्त्वादरादनुदिनं खलु सैव जुष्टा स्वाद्वी क्रमाद्भवति तद्गदमूलहन्त्री ॥ ७ ॥
syāt kṛṣṇa-nāma-caritādi-sitāpy avidyā-
pittopatapta-rasanasya na rocikā nu
kintv ādarād anudinaṁ khalu saiva juṣṭā
svādvī kramād bhavati tad-gada-mūla-hantrī
Word for Word
syāt – do not become; kṛṣṇa – Śrī Kṛṣṇa; nāma – Holy Name; carita – pastimes; ādi – etc; sitā – sugar candy; api – even; avidyā – ignorance; pitta – jaundice; upatapta – afflicted; rasanasya – to the tongue; na – not; rocikā – sweet; nu – alas; kintu – however; ādarād – respectfully; anudinam – constantly; khalu – certainly; sa – he; eva – it; juṣṭā – taken; svādvī – relishable; kramād – gradually; bhavati – become; tad – that; gada – disease; mūla – root; hantrī – destroyed.
Alas! Even Kṛṣṇa’s Name, form and pastimes, which are like sweet sugar candy, are distasteful to one whose tongue is afflicted by the jaundice of ignorance. However, when one constantly and respectfully chants the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa and becomes absorbed in His divine attributes then gradually they become sweet and one’s ignorance is destroyed at the root.
There must be an ear of the type which can catch nectar, the sweetness from divine sound. That which is sweet to one may be bitter to another according to the taste. In this verse Rūpa Gosvāmī says, “When our inner tongue is influenced by ignorance, the Holy Name of the Lord tastes very bitter.” If there is an attack of bile in the body, then the tongue is affected and sweet things taste bitter – avidyā-pittopatapta. When there is an attack of bile, sugar candy tastes bitter, but when the disease is cured that sugar candy will taste sweet. The Holy Name, kṛṣṇa-kathā, tastes bitter and unpleasant now, but the Holy Name is the medicine to remove that defect from our inner tongue. First sugar candy is bitter but when we take more and more, then the disease will go and the sugar candy’s taste will be sweet. If we apply this unpleasing medicine for some time, that bile will be removed and it will be found to be very, very sweet. Raso vai saḥ. It will gradually taste sweet, sweeter and sweetest. Kṛṣṇa-nāma is like that. To the ignorant it is very bitter and repulsive, but this is the medicine to remove that ignorance and then gradually and gradually His glorious sweetness will come and charm the whole existence.
With the help of the guru, the scriptures, and the previous experienced persons, I shall try to stand the test that, “Yes, because the bile is so, everything is tasting bitter. But this process will remove the bile. I shall have to wait for some time, and when the bile is gone, I shall taste sugar candy as sweet.” Mayā santuṣṭa manasaḥ sarvāḥ sukha-mayā diśaḥ – “For one who is satisfied with Me, then all the four directions will bring only good news to him.” All waves will carry only welfare to that person who is satisfied with God only and nothing else. “I want God, and His interests are my interest. He is the loving father, guardian, or friend of everyone.”
When we take the Holy Name at the beginning we think it is our duty to count so many rounds. Sometimes it is painful. But when we get taste in the Holy Name then the inner tendency excites us to take the Holy Name more and more – not as a duty, not just to finish sixteen rounds. When that inner sweetness comes to us, then we can go on with real bhajana. That is the stage of service. It becomes automatic, spontaneous. When the Holy Name tastes sweet, then only natural service begins. It attains the stage of bhajana and divulges the rūpa, then parikara vaiśiṣṭa līlā. In this way it goes up.
There are so many stages to pass through to dive deep into reality. Our progress and speed will be such that we will have to pass through all these covering to enter into the substantial world. Otherwise we will remain in the realm of imagination and thereby we won’t get any strength within. First our spiritual life begins with śraddhā where we inquire into the eternal life. Then sādhu-saṇga – association with the experts of that divine plane. The next stage is bhajana-kriyā, where we must strictly observe what has been recommended for us by the sādhus in orderto reach the next stage. Then anartha-nivṛtti – the ulterior demands of our superficial nature will disappear. Niṣṭhā is the next stage – that is the continuous remembrance of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It is just as when oil is poured in one continual flow, not drop by drop but a continual flow. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa consciousness will remain always in our mind in some form or other. After niṣṭhā, the negative side is eliminated. Niṣṭhā continues to increase into ruci. Sometimes we may find that we are in the midst of other aspirations; that is not ruci proper. If now and then some ruci appears within us, that is not real ruci. Proper ruci is to be traced after niṣṭhā. Niṣṭhā means continued association with Kṛṣṇa – twenty-four hours living in the relativity of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The advent of ruci is only possible after the continued connection of Kṛṣṇa, not before that. After niṣṭhā, when ruci will come, that will be reliable. That is proper ruci. And there will always be humility up to the last point. One will always think that, “I have no ruci.” Because the finite is coming in connection with the infinite, we can never be satisfied thinking, “I have got something!” If we think that we have ruci for Kṛṣṇa, we have got much love and affinity for Him, then we will commit many offences and we will be hurled down. We must be very careful. After ruci, the next stage is asakti, when we cannot tolerate any separation from Kṛṣṇa. Then there is the stage of bhāva when we come in real connection with Vṛndāvana. Bhāva is like the primitive stage of the flower, the bud. When that bud blossoms it becomes prema.
At the stage when ruci and bhāva appear within us, the Holy Name will be very, very sweet. The sweet taste will begin to dawn. That is the dawn of love, prema. Only that is rasa and all other things are virasa – tasteless.
One Tongue is Not Sufficient
In his Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛtam, Sanātana Gosvāmī has written:
jayati jayati nāmānanda rūpaṁ murārer
katham api sakṛd āttaṁ mukti-daṁ prāṇināṁ yat
paramam amṛtam ekaṁ jīvanaṁ bhūṣaṇaṁ me
All glories, all glories to the most blissful Holy Name of Murāri, which causes the devotee to give up all religious duties, meditation and worship. If somehow or other the Holy Name is chanted even once by a living entity, that person attains liberation. The Holy Name is the supreme nectar and it is my very life and my only treasure. (Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛtam 1.9)
Jayati jayati nāmānanda rūpaṁ murārer – may the ecstasy in the service of the Holy Name always be victorious. Viramita-nija-dharma-dhyāna-pūjādi-yatnam – if somehow we come in contact with that divine sound then all other activities become paralysed. If one can get a little taste for that sort of divine bliss, then his charm for all religious activities vanishes. They have no necessity. First dharma – our sense of duty is paralysed. Dharma means varṇāśrama-dharma – this business engagement of the karmī in this mundane world. There are so many variegated duties but they have no necessity at all if we attain the service of the Holy Name. Dhyāna, or meditation, means to retire from this physical world and to meditate within, trying to exploit the internal world. That is also paralysed when we serve the Holy Name. Pūjā – that is covering the Rāmānuja sampradāya. They are very fond of arcana. When one gets the grace of the Holy Name, he becomes indifferent to other service, even arcana. There is no necessity. If you get the real grace of the Holy Name, then you will have to retire from all the phases of different types of worshipping – dharma, dhyāna and pūjā. The Holy Name will take you to the conception of Goloka and you will have to retire completely from all these phases of your life. Any work – even if it may be for Kṛṣṇa – the Name can stop all this. You will not be able to give any attention to any other thing. You will find so much sweetness in taking the Holy Name. When you finally come in contact with the sound aspect of the Absolute, then all other enthusiastic attempts in you will be paralysed.
cakṣe dhārā dehe gharma, pulikata saba carma,
vivarṇa haila kalevara
mūrcchita haila mana, pralayera āgamana,
bhāve sarva-deha jara jara
kari eta upadrava, citte varṣe sudhā-drava,
more ḍāre premera sāgare
kichu nā bujhite dila, more ta’ vātula kaila,
mora citta-vitta saba hare
Tears flow from my eyes, my body perspires, my complexion becomes pale, my mind loses its equilibrium, I begin to feel devastated and my entire body becomes stunned by ecstatic feelings. During this disturbance, my consciousness is bathed by a shower of nectar from the Holy Name that drowns me in an ocean of divine love. It will not allow me to try to comprehend anything, rather it turns me into a lunatic by stealing away my mind and determination. (Śaraṇāgati, Śrī Nāma-māhātmya 3-4)
All other functions are paralysed. You can’t attend them. You are only chanting the Holy Name. Then again, when that Name will allow you to do other services, you can do them. The Name has such a high degree of potency that it will stop all other branches of service and charm you. You will find so much sweetness in chanting the Holy Name. When you actually come in contact with the sound aspect of the Absolute then all other enthusiastic attempts in you will be paralysed. All other functions will be paralysed. You can only take the Name. Only when the Holy Name allows you to do other services, you can do that. The Holy Name has such a high degree of potency. It will stop all other branches of services and charm you. What a song! The simple Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa – what voltage is within? Who can understand? According to the depth of ones realisation, inwardly it will react. In his Vidagdha Mādhava Rūpa Gosvāmī writes:
tuṇḍe tāṇḍavinī ratiṁ vitanute tuṇḍāvalī-labdhaye
karṇa-kroḍa-kaḍambinī ghaṭayate karṇārbudebhyaḥ spṛhām
cetaḥ-prāṅgaṇa-saṅginī vijayate sarvendriyāṇāṁ kṛtiṁ
no jāne janitā kiyadbhir amṛtaiḥ kṛṣṇeti varṇa-dvayī
I do not know how much nectar the two syllables ‘Kṛṣ-ṇa’ have produced. When the Holy Name is chanted, it appears to dance within the mouth. We then desire many, many mouths. When that Name enters the holes of the ears, we desire many millions of ears. And when the Holy Name dances in the courtyard of the heart, it conquers the activities of the mind, and therefore all the senses become inert. (Vidagdha-mādhava 1.15)
Tuṇḍe tāṇḍavinī – when it comes down and captures the tongue, it strongly controls the lips and engages them in taking the Holy Name. The tongue and the lips become mad as that power descends in them. Ratiṁ vitanute tuṇḍāvali – and there also comes a feeling that only one tongue and one mouth is not sufficient. Thousands of mouths are necessary. One mouth is not sufficient to take the Name. Karṇa Kroḍa kaḍambinī – when that current enters the ear and captures it with such great force, one thinks that only two ears are not sufficient. I want millions of ears to attend that sweet current that is entering into my ears. Two ears – that is nothing. That is very unjust of the creator. Millions of ears are necessary if you can hear the sweet Name of Kṛṣṇa, then your heart may be a little satisfied. We have an unquenchable desire for millions and millions of ears to attend to the sweet Name of Kṛṣṇa. It is like a flood pushing through the ear. So sweet, so sweet! Cetaḥ-prāṅgaṇa-saṅginī vijayate sarvendriyāṇāṁ – as it goes to capture the heart, the centre of all the senses, then everything becomes paralysed. Wherever that sweet aggressor touches, the whole thing is captured with such intensity that all other things are ignored. No jāne janitā kiyadbhir amṛtaiḥ kṛṣṇeti varṇa-dvayī – I do not know, I cannot say, I fail to express how much and what sort of quality of nectar is in the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa – only these two letters. These two letters can contain so much and of such a high quality of sweetness that it plays like this wherever it goes. Its nature is like that. That sweetness is so aggressive. Wherever it goes it captures the whole thing and nothing remains.
Drowning in an Ocean of Sweetness
This is experienced with Kṛṣṇa’s flute also – the sound of Kṛṣṇa’s flute has so much mystic power that it captures the whole dhāma. We are told that the current of the Yamunā stops to hear this sound. The current is stabilised because that sweet sound is there. It attracts the trees, the birds, the beasts – everything is astounded in coming in connection with that sweet vibration coming from the flute. Rūpa Gosvāmī says –
rundhann ambu-bhṛtaś camatkṛti-paraṁ
kurvan muhus tumburuṁ
dhyānād antarayan sanandana-mukhān
autsukyāvalibhir baliṁ caṭulayan
bhindann aṇḍa-kaṭāha-bhittim abhito
The sound of Kṛṣṇa’s flute stopped the movements of the rain clouds, struck the king of the Gandharvas with astonishment, and disturbed the meditation of the great saints led by Sanandana. Brahmā was amazed, the mind of Bali became disturbed and it made Ananta turn around as it penetrated the layers of the universe. (Vidagdha-mādhava 1.15)
When the sound of the flute came from Kṛṣṇa what was the effect? Vedhasam autsukyāvalibhir baliṁ caṭulayan – Rūpa Gosvāmī has used this expression. Brahmā was looking this side and that side, “From what side is this sort of sound coming?” The creator of this world was perplexed. “Where is this peculiar sound coming from?” He was looking this side and that side. And bhogīndram āghūrṇayan – Anantadeva, who is supposed to carry this whole world on his heads – his head is reeling. He is the support of this whole material creation and his head is reeling! “Where is this vibration coming from? It is so sweet, so capturing.”
In this way Rūpa Gosvāmī says that when the sweet sound of Kṛṣṇa’s flute comes it is of such a nature that its sweetness maddens us. It is so sweet, but we cannot adjust, we cannot capture it. We cannot utilise it for our purpose. It surpasses all our feelings of taste, of measurement, of good and bad, of pain and pleasure – they are all paralysed. It surpasses everything! It is so sweet that it makes us mad. We forget everything, I am nowhere but in an ocean of joy. How much sweetness or ecstasy or pleasure and satisfaction can we take? How much capacity do we have to taste? Our capacity is very limited. That may be covered, but this flute sound will drown me in an ocean of sweetness.
Mahāprabhu – the Inaugurator of Saṅkīrtana
Sound vibration can play wonders. Sound has got the highest capturing potency and power. Sound can make or mar; it can do anything. Sound has got such an intrinsic capacity when that sound is absolute sweetness and goodness. That is universal, and that comes from the subtlest plane of ether. Such a universal characteristic – how it can capture! We are like blades of grass and the current of that sweet sound may move us. We cannot trace our own personality, we may lose ourselves there but we do not die, the soul is eternal. We are saved, but we are diving, going up and down, moved by the current of that sweet sound. That sound is so great and so sweet it can play with us in whichever way that it likes.
Nāma-saṅkīrtana – the sound that is identical with absolute goodness and sweetness. We cannot suppose how much power that may have. Mahāprabhu says, “Don’t neglect that sound which has come, which is one and the same with Kṛṣṇa. The sweetness and the goodness – everything there has been represented to you in a very cheap way. Nothing is required – no money nor physical energy, so many things are not necessary, only genuine souls. Take this sound sincerely and you will be so enriched that none can believe that there is so much goodness. You obtain it very cheaply, but you must take it with whole-hearted sincerity.”
Mahāprabhu laid stress on saṅkīrtana because japa is within and there disturbances are allowed to attack. I may begin with some japa but my mind wanders here, there and everywhere. However, when I am engaged in kīrtana I cannot but be all-attentive. Also, others are not being benefitted from the chanting of japa. Mahāprabhu is the pioneer of saṅkīrtana, not of japa.
kṛṣṇa-varṇaṁ tviṣākṛṣṇaṁ sāṅgopāṅgāstra-pārṣadam
yajñaiḥ saṅkīrtana-prāyair yajanti hi su-medhasaḥ
In the age of Kali, those who are very intelligent will perform congregational chanting and worship the incarnation of the Lord who constantly sings the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa. Although His complexion is not dark, He is Kṛṣṇa Himself and He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons and confidential companions. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.5.32)
Mahāprabhu came as Rādhā-Govinda combined and is the inaugurator of saṅkīrtana. His advice is so valuable and so necessary for us. With that spirit we shall come and join this kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtana which is most purifying and all fulfilling. The positive attainment is that we may lose ourselves in that ocean of inconceivable sweetness. That is Mahāprabhu’s grace. Param vijayate śrī kṛṣṇa saṅkīrtanam.