Sri Rupa Gosvami's Upadesamrta with Illuminations of Srila B.R. Sridhara MaharajaUpadeśāmṛta – Verse 7
Sri Rupa Gosvami's Upadesamrta with Illuminations of Srila B.R. Sridhara MaharajaUpadeśāmṛta – Verse 9

Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī’s Upadeśāmṛta (Nectar of Instruction)

Verse 8

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स्मृत्योः क्रमेण रसनामनसी नियोज्य ।
तिष्ठन् व्रजे तदनुरागिजनानुगामी
कालं नयेदखिलमित्युपदेशसारम ॥८॥

smṛtyoḥ krameṇa rasanā-manasī niyojya
tiṣṭhan vraje tad-anurāgi-janānugāmī
kālaṁ nayed akhilam ity upadeśa-sāram

Word for Word
tan – for Kṛṣṇa’s; nāma – Holy Name; rūpa – form; carita – pastimes; ādi – etc; sukīrtana – chanting; anu-smṛtyoḥ – remembering; krameṇa – gradually; rasanā – the tongue; manasī – mind; niyojya – engaging; tiṣṭhan – residing; vraje – in Vraja; tad – anurāgi-jana – those eternal residents of Vraja who have attachment for Kṛṣṇa; anugāmī – under the guidance; kālam – time; nayet – utilise; akhilam – all; iti – this; upadeśa – instructions; sāram – essence.

While residing in Vraja under the guidance of a resident of Vraja-dhāma, one should gradually spend all his time engaging the mind and tongue in chanting the Holy Name and remembering the Lord’s divine form, qualities and pastimes. This is the essence of all instructions.


There are five stages of the sādhaka. First is the hearing stage – śravaṇa-daśā. The second stage is varaṇa-daśā – acceptance by the guru and the disciple. Then sādhana-daśā –the attempt for realisation will begin. This stage is full of struggle; up to sādhana-daśā it is a little painful. Then āpana-daśā – the stage of realisation. That is very sweet and one feels peaceful in bhāva-bhakti. Whatever pain is seen there is only apparent. Finally there is prāpana-daśā – attainment, the stage of full self-surrender and distribution to others. One is finally detached from relativity and enters into that divine connection. By analysis these are the five stages of the sādhaka.

Sometimes we may be misguided to think that we must not study books and analyse things, “Why is this knowledge necessary? Jñāna is anti-devotional. What is the necessity of knowing what is what? I shall go on chanting the Name and wherever there is any lecture explaining Bhāgavatam or Caitanyacaritāmṛta, I will avoid that. That is all knowledge – jñāne prayāsam udapāsya namanta eva!” We may go on taking the Name, and whenever there is some explanation about devotion we try to avoid it. But this is not good because if we hear from the proper source we will get some sort of knowledge that gives us impetus for going on in our sādhana. When any illumination or revelation is coming through a real agent who is higher than us, we should be very earnest to hear those things. That will consolidate our position and help us to go ahead in our sādhana. That should not be eliminated as mere knowledge. That is siddhānta. Who is Kṛṣṇa, how He is Svayaṁ-Bhagavān, who is Nārāyaṇa, what are the twenty-four layers of misconception, what is Vaikuṇṭha and Goloka, who is Baladeva, what are the different rasas – if all these things are being explained and I say, “Oh no, it is all jñāna, I must dismiss it and take the Name” then this is foolishness. This should be considered as indolence. This knowledge will advance our faith most profoundly and these sort of discussions should be automatically invited.

Twenty-Four Hours Service

One western gentleman once told that there are many conceptions of religion in different parts of the world, but we do not find any conception of religion where twenty-four hours a day can be devoted in the service of the Supreme Lord. Not only Sunday, not only twice in the day, not only thrice in the day, but every hour and second devoted in the service of the Supreme Entity and nothing left behind. That is never to be found anywhere but Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism. This sort of service is only possible in kīrtaniya sadā hariḥ and in the aṣṭa-kālīya-līlā of Śrī Kṛṣṇa-candra Himself in the mādhurya-rasa.

Mādhurya-rasa is the total rasa, and the most intense of all rasas. It is all accommodating. Twenty-four hours engagement in the service of Kṛṣṇa is only possible in mādhurya-rasa. There is the possibility of tiredness in all other rasas, even vātsalya-rasa. Sometimes the father or mother may think, “I am too much tired, I make arrangements a little after.” But in mādhurya-rasa, there is no such reaction. Of course, these things are of a very higher order.

Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura has shown, as Kavirāja Gosvāmī has in his Govinda-līlāmṛta, the eight praharas – twenty-four hours service. One prahara means a fourth part of a day or night. Twenty-four hours are divided into eight praharas, and that is known as aṣṭa-kālīya. Viśvanātha Cakravartī has written about this in his Śrī Kṛṣṇa-​bhāvanāmṛta. There he has given the aṣṭa-kālīya-līlā in rādhā-dāsyam – how the she-friends and servitors of Rādhārāṇī have their twenty-four hours duty in the camp of Rādhikā in Her service. Rādhārāṇī is already wholly given to Kṛṣṇa, there is no question and Their twenty-four hours program is explained elaborately by Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura. However, Śrī Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta is for the higher students only.

Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura also gives these things in Jaiva Dharma but with much caution. We have gone through Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s writings, but we did not miss his warnings. We must be practical in our attempts for such things are not imaginary. Some westerners think that eastern philosophy is something like imagination so they pass through it very quickly without giving attention to so many steps. This means they are self-deceivers. One who desires real sincere improvement will not omit any steps. Śraddhā, sādhu-​saṅga, bhajana-​kriyā, anartha-​nivṛtti, niṣṭhā, ruci, asakti then bhāva. They must be true to their own self whether they have followed these steps. Rāga-mārga proper begins at bhāva-bhakti. Up to the awakening of real bhāva one must follow vaidhi-bhakti and anartha-nivṛtti in order to be sure that attraction for any charm of this material world has gone altogether. But those who are self-deceivers want it very cheaply. They want to buy very cheap food.

Dhīra means a master of his own senses. Only such a devotee is qualified to try to enter into this flavour, not those that are not masters of their own senses.

naitat samācarej jātu manasāpi hy anīśvaraḥ
vinaśyaty ācaran mauḍhyād yathā’rudro‘bdhi-jam viṣam

One who is not a great controller should never imitate the behaviour of ruling personalities, even mentally. If out of foolishness an ordinary person does imitate such behaviour, he will simply destroy himself, just as a person who is not Rudra would destroy himself if he tried to drink an ocean of poison. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.33.30)

Due to ignorance, if anyone ventures to enter into this domain even mentally then, vināśyati – he will be doomed. If he is not Śiva, if he takes poison, he is sure to die. Śiva drank poison but it became an ornament on his throat. But one who is not Śiva, if he takes poison, he will die. One who is not dhīra and who has no control over their senses, if they venture to enter into this domain, they are sure to die. This warning is given in Bhāgavatam by Śukadeva Gosvāmī. It is nectar, but still you must come and take it properly. There is a possibility of mistaking it for your awkward enjoyment and then you will be doomed forever.

The higher literatures for the highly realised souls should not be propagated in a very broad way. They are only meant for a very select few who can come up to that mark and have entrance to discuss, think and work according to that high direction. But the general requirement is śraddhā for Mahāprabhu and śraddhā for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness. Mādhurya-rasa especially and parakīya – these two planes may be misunderstood by the general people. It is beyond their conception that we can relate with God as a wife or mistress. We may be able to accommodate a wife, but a mistress of God – is that possible? The conception of Godhead and the conception of His mistress at the same time are impossible to conceive for the ordinary intellect.

Who Will Take Such a Risk?

Our Guru Mahārāja once told that there was one scholar in Dacca University who used to teach Sanskrit literature to the post-graduate students and there was one girl who was his student in that class. That gentleman was a good scholar and he used to teach from the books written by Rūpa Gosvāmī – Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi etc. Prabhupāda objected to this, “What is he teaching? This is not for school students. Only the highest religious preachers have entrance in that domain and he is taking it like this!” Later, it so happened that that gentleman had to marry that girl. When that happened then our Guru Mahārāja told that this occurred because that fellow did not understand the dignified position of Rūpa Gosvāmī. Such high topics should not be brought very much to the ordinary people. It should only be kept for select people who are at the stage of Uddhava:

āsām aho caraṇa-reṇu-juṣām ahaṁ syāṁ
vṛndāvane kim api gulma-latauṣadhīnām
yā dustyajaṁ sva-janam ārya-pathaṁ ca hitvā
bhejur mukunda-padavīṁ śrutibhir vimṛgyām

My desire is to become a blade of grass or a creeper that grows in the forest of Vraja. In that way, it will be possible for me to receive the dust of the feet of those great personalities who have worshiped the lotus feet of the great liberator, Mukunda. The dust of the feet of these great personalities is sought after even by the Vedas. Leaving aside the affection of their own kith and kin, which is ordinarily impossible to give up, the gopīs of Vraja have sacrificed everything for the satisfaction of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.47.61)

Sva-janam ārya-pathaṁ ca – we must be willing to sacrifice the relationships of those whom we consider to be our own kith and kin, our own intimate friends. Ārya-patha – those who are recommended by the stalwarts or the leaders of the gregarious society should also be given up. So much risk! Who will come forward to take such a risk? A bad name and even the least help we can expect from our nearest and dearest. All eliminated! Taking the fullest risk to cast towards one who is an Autocrat– but beautiful. Such a degree of sacrifice was considered to be the highest even by Uddhava, the greatest of the devotees whom Kṛṣṇa Himself describes in His own words:

na tathā me priyatama ātmayonir na śaṅkaraḥ
na ca saṅkarṣaṇo na śrīr naivātmā ca yathā bhavān

Neither Brahmā, nor Śiva, nor Saṅkarṣaṇa of Vai­kuṇṭha, nor the goddess of fortune, Lakṣmī Devī, nor even My own self is as dear to Me as you. You are My favourite, Uddhava. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.14.15)

Uddhava speaks so highly about the gopīs. Such things are not to be dragged into the ordinary intellect of the common audience. That is śrutibhir vimṛgyām – even the Vedas are only showing the direction but they cannot fully express. It is the highest point of revelation. They can only point from a distance and show that kṛṣṇa-līlā is the highest līlā on this side. “We can’t express that” – this is the attitude of the revealed scriptures of the highest order. You should not venture to drag the whole thing into this mundane world. We must keep that on our heads.

Pūjala rāga-patha gaurava-bhaṅge – the very tenor of the preaching of our Guru Mahārāja was this. He used to worship the patha, the way of rāga – the highest love. He did not try to bring it down here. Hold this on your head – the rāga-patha, the way of love to attain Him! Tread all possible stages of learning with a respectable attitude about the Supreme. Always keep the highest form of love affairs above your head. Otherwise, if you think you have got that, you are finished! You are doomed! It is not so cheap! Don’t try to make it very cheap. It is very difficult.

Smaraṇa and Kīrtana

Some ācāryas are of the opinion that smaraṇa is more important than kīrtana, because smaraṇa is exclusively connected with consciousness, or is more concerned with the subtle part of our existence. They feel that smaraṇa is the most effective form of sādhana. But our Guru Mahārāja, Jīva Gosvāmī, and also Kavirāja Gosvāmī Prabhu laid stress on kīrtana – especially for beginners. Our Guru Mahārāja clearly said that smaraṇa, in a lower position, is injurious. We should take to saṅkīrtana.

kīrtana-prabhave, smaraṇa haibe
se kāle bhajana-nirjana sambhāva

Smaraṇa can only occur by the power of kīrtana, and only at that time is solitary bhajana possible. (Vaiṣṇava ke? Verse 19)

When one is exclusively devoted and unconscious of the environment, then one may go on with his smaraṇa within. But this is not at all possible for the beginners. Jīva Gosvāmī Prabhu says, yadyāpi anya bhaktiḥ kalau kartavya tadā kīrtanākhy-bhakti-samyojanenaiva – all other forms of sādhana must be subservient to kīrtana. This is the preaching of Mahāprabhu because in Kali-yuga, kīrtana has its own characteristic. But if any ācārya has stressed smaraṇa anywhere that only means that kīrtana is relative to the material environment and smaraṇa is independent of material consideration. From that point they may have recommended that smaraṇa is highest. But that is not accepted in a general way.

The sahajiyās are fond of smaraṇa rather than kīrtana. They are followers of the secluded life and in their mind they go on with smaraṇa. They collect information about their age, their identification as a particular sakhī, and her place of attendance in a particular līlā under the guidance of particular sakhī, in a particular place in Vṛndāvana – all these things. They are required to go on meditating on these things with their so-called devotion. That is the process of the sahajiyās. But we do not attend to that – it is all imagination. They are not fit for that plane. They have not got any real sambandha-jñāna or actual knowledge of their relationship with Kṛṣṇa. They only go on with their habituated repetition of a particular mental speculation. The stage of anartha-nivṛtti and the progress based on that is not be accepted by them.

That thing which they achieve is a mere concoction. They are not aware of the actual facts. It is all self-deception, but they think it to be smaraṇa. Gaura-kiśora Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja has given an example. Bābājī Mahārāja used to live in a very small hut on the banks of the Ganges. Another gentleman, imitating him, erected a similar cottage nearby and he went on imitating Bābājī Mahārāja – doing madhukārī, sitting and meditating, wearing his cloth in such a way, eating, not eating, taking bath and some days not taking bath. Then one day Bābājī Mahārāja remarked, “Only by entering a labour room, a girl does not produce a child. Many things are necessary beforehand.”

Simply by imitating a paramahaṁsa, bhajana cannot be affected. The sahajiyās are labouring hard externally to produce some child, but our Guru Mahārāja told that it is not an easy thing.

muktānām api siddhānāṁ nārāyaṇa parāyaṇaḥ
su-durlabhaḥ praśāntātmā koṭiṣv api mahā-mune

O great sage, among many millions that are liberated and perfect in the knowledge of liberation, one may actually be a devotee of Nārāyaṇa. Such devotees, who are most peaceful, are extremely rare. (Śrīmad ​Bhāgavatam 6.14.5)

nā uṭhiyā vṛkṣopari, ṭānāṭāni phala dhari’
duṣṭa-phala karile arjana

If you want to collect the fruits by shaking the tree, but not by climbing the branches, then you will only get the fruits that are bad. (Kalyāṇa-kalpataru 1.18)

Imitation is Not Success

Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura says that if one wants some fruits without taking the labour of climbing the tree, then what sort of fruits will he get? You have to climb the tree and then you can get the fruit. Otherwise it is only your imagination. Śuddha-sattva – the plane of pure goodness means that one must have connection with the real plane and there are so many planes:

upajiyā bāḍe latā brahmāṇḍa bhedi jāya
virajā brahmaloka bhedi para-vyoma pāya
tabe jāya tad upari goloka-vṛndāvana
kṛṣṇa-caraṇa-kalpa-vṛkṣe kare ārohaṇa

The creeper of devotion sprouts and begins to grow until it penetrates the coverings of the universe, crosses the Virajā River, passes through the Brahmaloka until it reaches the spiritual sky. From there, it continues to grow until it reaches Goloka-Vṛndāvana where it wraps around the desire tree of Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 19.154)

Mahāprabhu says that when the creeper of bhakti rises up to Goloka she has to cross these planes – first Bhūr, Bhuvaḥ, Svaḥ, Mahā, Jana, Tapa, Satyaloka and Brahmaloka. But the sahajiyās do not care to know what is Virajā, what is Brahmaloka and what is the Brahmāṇḍa. They will only go to a guru, get some mantra and go on meditating. But at such a stage, if they meditate on the līlā of Rādhā-Govinda, then instead of Rādhā-Govinda līlā they will get entangled with the ladies and gents of this world. They will be entangled in the domain of lust and will have to go to hell instead of going up to Goloka. Imitation is not success. Imitation degrades. The mind is another thing. The mind is not śraddhā, for śraddhā is connected with the soul and the mind is connected with matter. The mind is material. The mind cannot produce śraddhā. Śraddhā is an original, fundamental thing. When śraddhā awakens, the mind vanishes. Darkness cannot produce light – when light comes, darkness vanishes. Similarly, when truth comes, all mental speculation vanishes. There is subtle and gross – bhūmir āpo’nalo vāyuḥ khaṁ mano buddhir eva ca. Earth, water, fire and air are gross and mind, intellect and false ego are subtle. The mind is a product of the material potency, aparā-śakti, and the jīva is a product of the parā-śakti, the principal potency. Mano-dharma, mental speculation, has got nothing to do with truth. Mano-dharma is drawn from the material world, the world of misconception. Avāṅ-mānasa gocara – the mind cannot reach to the stage of perceiving the truth proper. It is only related to mundane things. The mind comes from the false ego, it is made up of the exploiting tendency. We have to get relief from that. We are surrounded by such poisonous thoughts.

dānaṁ sva-dharmo niyamo yamaś ca
śrutaṁ ca karmāṇi ca sad-vratāni
sarve mano-nigraha-lakṣaṇāntāḥ
paro hi yogo manasaḥ samādhiḥ

Giving in charity, prescribed duties, observance of rules and regulations, hearing the scriptures, pious activities and sacred vows – all these are undertaken to subdue the mind. Indeed, concentration of the mind is considered to be greatest type of yoga. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.23.45)

All types of sādhana demands that the mind should be destroyed – mano-nigraha-lakṣanāntāḥ. There may be different forms and types of sādhana, but they all agree on this point – the mind must be finished.

Sri Rupa Gosvami's Upadesamrta with Illuminations of Srila B.R. Sridhara MaharajaUpadeśāmṛta – Verse 7
Sri Rupa Gosvami's Upadesamrta with Illuminations of Srila B.R. Sridhara MaharajaUpadeśāmṛta – Verse 9
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.