(On the morning of Wednesday, August 8th 1934, Śrīyukta Rājendranath Pāl Chaudhuri Mahāśaya, the famous zamindar of Louhajang, came to Śrī Gauḍīya Maṭha accompanied by one of his employees. Offering his humble daṇḍavats at the lotus feet of Śrī Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Prabhupāda, he expressed his desire to hear some words on śrī-guru-tattva and the secret of dīkṣā etc. Śrīla Prabhupāda obligingly gave a valuable discourse for two hours. Some brief excerpts from that talk are presented below. It has only been possible for us to publish this priceless gem by the help of Upadeśaka Paṇḍita Śrīpāda Praṇavānanda Pratnavidyālaṅkara Mahodaya. Thus, we convey our sincere gratitude at his feet – Niśikāṇṭa Sanyāl)
Rājen Bābu – Is it necessary for me to take dīkṣā again if I have already taken dīkṣā from a kula-guru (hereditary family guru)? He does not eat fish or meat; he studies the Bhāgavatam, is the son of a Gosvāmī and is a householder.
asat-saṅga-tyāga ei vaiṣṇava-ācāra
strī-saṅgī eka asādhu, kṛṣṇābhakta āra
“To discard the company of those who diminish one’s resolve in kṛṣṇa-bhakti (asat-saṅga) is truly the natural conduct of a Vaiṣṇava. And the most detrimental association of all is those who enjoy the company of women and the non-devotees.” (Cc. Madhya-līlā 22.087)
These two types of non-devotees can never become spiritual masters. They are not devotees of Kṛṣṇa.
kibā viprā kibā nyāsī śūdra kene naya
yei kṛṣṇa-tattva-vettā sei guru haya
“Whether one is a brāhmaṇa, a sannyāsī, a śūdra or whatever, if he is fully conversant with the science of Kṛṣṇa, he is eligible to become a guru.” (Cc. Madhya-līlā 8.128)
From this we understand that Śrī Gurudeva must be a kṛṣṇa-tattva-vetta (one who knows the science of Kṛṣṇa). It is incorrect to assume that only those who are born in a high caste family, who has attained knowledge of the Absolute (brahma-jñāna), or who are famous are entitled to be guru. Śrī Gurudeva may externally be a brāhmaṇa, a sannyāsī or a gṛhastha – that is irrelevant. If the spiritual master is not a kṛṣṇa-tattva-vetta, he should be abandoned.
Śrī Guru is sadācāri – one who correctly practices devotional principles. The question may be asked, “What is ācāra?” In reply it has been said, asat-saṅga-tyāga ei vaiṣṇava-ācāra. Who is asat? Those who are addicted to illicit connections with women (strī-saṅgī) and those who are averse to Kṛṣṇa (kṛṣṇābhakta) –these are the two types of non-devotees. Their association must be abandoned. The general understanding of the term asat is that which is unreal. Sat is that which is unchangable, which is not transformable, which is not transmutable. The opposite state of sat is asat. There are two terms known a gṛhastha and gṛha-vrata. One who pays less attention to Kṛṣṇa and is more attached to his wife, considering her to be the most cherished thing in his life, is known as yoṣit-saṅgī (one who is addicted to women). Such householders that are attached to matter, which is inferior to Kṛṣṇa, are known as gṛha-vratas. Therefore a gṛha-vrata can never be a guru. Those who perform hari-bhajana – whether they are gṛhasthas or sannyāsīs –should be considered as most excellent. Otherwise even a sannyāsī that does not perform hari-bhajana should be understood to be a non-devotee.
Who is a devotee of Kṛṣṇa?
vadanti tat tattva-vidas tattvaṁ yaj jñānam advayam
brahmeti paramātmeti bhagavān iti śabdyate
“The seers that know the Absolute Truth call this non-dual substance Brahman, Paramātmā or Bhagavān.” (Bhāg. 1.2.11)
One who sees Brahman and Paramātmā as separate from Kṛṣṇa, who is the advaya-jñāna-tattva (the non-dual Absolute), cannot become a devotee of Kṛṣṇa due to their ignorance of vastu-tattva (the science of Absolute Reality). Brahman is that conscience relating to a subject that is known to be devoid of material distinctions. The Vedānta-sūtras’ aphorism athāto brahma jijñāsa explains about inquiring into Brahman.
When one is deprived of the eternally blissful darśana of saccidānanda Bhagavān, and solely takes shelter of samvit-vṛtti (the cognitive faculty), which although is a substance imbued with the divine līlā of the Supreme, one experiences Brahman.
And when one is deprived of the blissful darśana of saccidānanda Bhagavān, and only pursues sat-cit vṛtti (the faculty of eternity and cognition), which although is a substance imbued with the divine lila of the Supreme, one attains darśana only of Paramātmā.
Therefore, the spiritual effulgence of Bhagavān’s saccidānanda form is the impersonal Brahman that is without cit and vilāsa. And when He is present in the mood of aiśvarya – that is Paramātmā. In his Bhāgavata Sandarbha, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī states as follows:
tatha caivam visistaye prapte purnavirbhavatvenakhanda-tattva-rupo’sau bhagavan/ brahma tu sphutam aprakatita-vaisistya karatvena tasyevasamyag-avirbhava ity agatam
When the Supreme completely reveals Himself He is known as Bhagavān, and in comparison to this the Brahman feature, where the transcendental form of the Lord is not manifested, is only a partial manifestation of the Supreme. (Anuccheda 4.1)
yena hetu-kartrā ātmāṁśa-bhūta-jīva-praveśana-dvārā saṅjīvitāni santi dehādīni tad-upalakṣaṇāni pradhānādi-sarvāṇy eva tattvāni, yenaiva preritatayaiva caranti sva-sva-kārye pravartante, tat paramātma-rūpaṁ viddhi
“He enters the body of the jīvas as the Paramātmā and enlivens the body, senses, life-airs, and mental activities, and thus all the subtle and gross organs of the body begin their functions.” (Anuccheda 4.4)
jīvasyātmatvaṁ tad-apekṣayā tasya paramatvam ity ataḥ paramātma-śabdena tat-sahayogī sa eva vyajyate iti
The Paramātmā feature of the Lord is then the constant companion of the conditioned souls, but He is always their superior, and therefore He is called ‘Paramātmā’, or ‘the Supreme Soul’. (Anuccheda 4.6)
Bhagavān is akhaṇḍa-tattva-rūpa (the form of all tattvas), as He possesses all potencies due to His complete manifestations. Yet Brahman, who does not manifest similar attributes, is but a part of Bhagavān, or an incomplete manifestation.
He is known as Paramātmā because He directs all the activities within the universe and makes the jīvas, who are His parts and parcels, enter into the world and activates them and gives them the propensity to fulfil their minute independent desires. The jīva’s svarūpa is the ātmā; one who by nature is superior to the jīva and the doer is known by the word ‘Paramātmā’ and He is the jīva’s eternal companion.” (Cc. Adi 2.10 Anubhāṣya)
Independence due to maya, or ignorance, results in voluntary subjection to duality. As a result of such secondary interests, a sense of discrimination arises in relation to the non-dual Absolute form of Vrajendra-nandana Kṛṣṇa and His name, form, qualities and pastimes. Because of the fetters of material intelligence in relation to the form of Viṣṇu, and due to a continual lack of understanding of Bhagavān’s advaya-jñāna, independent ideas such as jnana-yoga etc. are imagined to be different ways to attain Brahman and Paramātmā. The jīva then retires from accepting topics concerning devotion to Bhagavān and having invoked various philosophical ideas, he is shackled to the jungle of this material world.
When one is completely free from the desire for jñāna, karma etc. and only performs activities that please Kṛṣṇa, that is the sign of uttama-bhakti (pure devotion). Those who wish to differ even a fraction from this point or desire to pollute it with some ‘alloy’ should be included amongst those who are abhaktas (non-devotees). They are unfit to be gurus.
na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇuṁ
durāśayā ye bahir-artha-māninaḥ
“Because of their foolish activities and their belief that external sense objects are of great value, they are unaware that the ultimate goal of human life is to achieve Viṣṇu.” (Bhāg. 7.5.31)
matir na kṛṣṇe parataḥ svato vā
mitho ’bhipadyeta gṛha-vratānām
“The inclination toward Kṛṣṇa in the gṛha-vrata is never aroused, either by the instructions of others, by their own efforts, or by a combination of both.” (Bhāg. 7.5.30)
The difference between a gṛhastha and a gṛha-vrata has been explained in these verses from Bhāgavatam. A gṛha-vrata is one who cannot understand Kṛṣṇa. Realisation of Kṛṣṇa cannot be achieved simply through the instructions of others, through one’s own endeavours or by mutual discussions. This is because the activities of the senses never follow the complete, pure and eternally liberated direction of the Absolute. Attempts to follow the non-Absolute are the endeavours of the gṛha-vratī. The gṛha-vratī tries to enter that which is finite with a great deal of trouble. Anything within our sensuous jurisdiction cannot be Bhagavān. The good fortune to attain darśana of Kṛṣṇa only arises when His maya potency is lifted. It is the dharma of the gṛha-vratī to always participate in discussions that neglect Kṛṣṇa. Although externally they may seem the same, the difference between the gṛhastha who is a devotee of Bhagavān and the gṛha-vratī who is averse to Bhagavān is like the difference between heaven and hell. The exterior and interior of a house are not one.
The gṛhastha devote considers every object in his home as objects that are meant for serving Kṛṣṇa and offers them to the transcendental senses of Kṛṣṇa. But the non-devotee gṛha-medhī remains busy serving his own senses and ignores service to Kṛṣṇa.
The baddha-jīva has two tendencies – the āvaraṇa of māyā (which covers the soul’s natural spiritual knowledge) and vikṣepātmikā (that which overwhelms the soul with ideas that have nothing to do with the Absolute Truth). Such foreign things are considered as an impediment and obstruct the jīva’s natural instinct to serve. It bewilders the jīva’s understanding of that which is to be understood and mutilates it.
Two or three years ago we delivered a lecture in Madras. There we spoke on guru-tattva and we explained that, “The guru is not an impediment.” If we pretend to be guru, and somewhere down the line we decide to eat those things that are meant for Śrī Bhagavān’s enjoyment, then we will be completely ruined and our disciples will be totally finished. The sastra says –
yo vyakti nyāya rahitam anyāyena śṛṇoti yaḥ
tāv ubhau narakaṁ ghoraṁ vrajataḥ kālam akṣayam
“The guru who speaks contrary to the conclusions of the revealed scriptures and the disciple who hears such distorted conclusions, will both fall into the darkest regions of hell.” (Hari-bhakti-vilāsa 1.101)
The example of opaque glass and transparent glass may be discussed. An object cannot be seen through opaque glass. Some obstacles appear between my eyes and the object that is to be seen. I can see something through a transparent object. Similarly we cannot take darśana of the Absolute Truth (para-tattva) through the medium of an opaque guru, or guru-bruva. Rather than offering everything that is given to him by his disciples to the lotus feet of Bhagavān, the guru-bruva consumes everything himself. Thus, having surrendered to such an opaque guru, the disciple is deprived of attaining real spirituality.
With the exception of a Vaiṣṇava, one who is a non-Vaiṣṇava or an anti-Vaiṣṇava cannot become a guru. The śāstra states –
avaiṣṇavopadiṣṭena mantreṇa nirayaṁ vrajet
punaś ca vidhinā samyag grāhayed vaiṣṇavād guroḥ
“A mantra received from a non-Vaiṣṇava transports one to hell. Thus one should again ask a Vaiṣṇava guru to give the mantra in the proper manner.” (Nārada Pañcarātra)
Rājen Bābu: Can’t a kaniṣṭha Vaiṣṇava become a guru?
Prabhupāda: Kanistha, madhyama and uttama are the gradations amongst Vaiṣṇavas. In the kaniṣṭha stage of Vaiṣṇavism, only non-Vaiṣṇavism is absent – this I shall explain in detail a little later. How can we deliberate upon adhikāra and define who is a Vaiṣṇava without taking shelter of a sad-guru? Only Gurudeva can explain adhikāra. How can one who has never entered the domain of a devotee, who cannot himself understand anything, explain such things to others? If a non-Vaiṣṇava sits on the seat of the guru, it amounts to sheer contempt of guru-tattva.
guror apy avaliptasya kāryākāryam ajānataḥ
utpatha-pratipannasya parityāgo vidhīyate
“If the guru becomes attached to sense gratification, loses his sense of duty, and follows a degraded path, a path other than devotional service to the Lord, he should be rejected.” (Mahābhārata, Udyoga Parva 179.25)
What is the point of approaching someone who instead of being guru (heavy) is laghu (light)? If you beat empty chaff with all your strength, will you be able to extract any grains? If my guide goes in the wrong direction, then I must retire from the journey. It is only proper to reject the shelter of such a guide. Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī Prabhu had said:
“A guru based upon mundane conventions should be rejected. One must accept a qualified spiritual master.” (Bhakti-sandharba, Annucheda 210)
Knowledge of a particular subject can only be obtained from one who has experience in that subject. If someone were given the position of a judge, how would he judge if he has not even elementary knowledge of justice? One who has no knowledge of mathematics cannot teach that subject. If one wants to know how to swim, he must go to a swimmer; if one wishes to learn how to be a smithy, one must go to a smith.
There is a shop near a house where things are purchased regularly. However, at present the shop is in a deplorable state and its products have become substandard. Yet the shop next to it sells wholesome fresh goods. Then what will the customer do? Will he continue to purchase inferior goods simply to honour tradition or will he choose the fresh items? If an inexperienced family doctor is incapable of treating a patient properly, is it not proper to consult a more knowledgeable doctor? In such a situation, if a good doctor is found in Switzerland, then he is brought in. Just as when one expects to find wealth from a pauper or wisdom from a fool, similarly there is the rule, andhenaiva nīyamāna yathā’ndha – when a blind man leads another blind man, both will attain a dark destination and nothing more. Therefore one must approach a transparent guru. Such things demand cognitional activities and if an opaque guru comes in-between and creates an obstacle in achieving them, it becomes a matter of great misery. Thus, one must remember the Vaiṣṇava principle of asat-saṅga tyāga.
One will never attain the mercy of Kṛṣṇa if he tries to gratify and serve his wife, friend, servant etc. instead of Kṛṣṇa. Just as we serve our faithful sons in order to receive service from them later, similarly if I serve Kṛṣṇa with the same mentality in the hope of gaining something, then I don’t offer myself as a servitor. Rather, we make that divine object our servant.
A true Vaiṣṇava does not make disciples. Where is the scope for him to lord over the world when he sees everything fully in the spirit of served and server (sevyā-sevakā)? How is it possible for him to accept service offered by someone else? One who does not serve Bhagavān, but accepts another’s service on the pretext of serving others, is an atheist. Gurudeva is the messenger of the Para-tattva and a servant of the Absolute. One who steals the property of the Absolute is laghu (low), not guru (great).
Taking from a disciple is indicative of laghutva. Accepting objects from a disciple is nothing more than accepting his stool and urine. It is the duty of the transparent guru to take all the service offered by the disciple to the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa.
The opaque guru makes disciples out of his greed for wealth and instead of offering the items dedicated to serve Kṛṣṇa, he enjoys them himself, and thus he continuously deceives the disciple.
A materialistic smārta who is opposed to devotion to Kṛṣṇa should never be considered as a guru. Only one who is most dear to Kṛṣṇa – kṛṣṇa-preṣṭhā (beloved of Kṛṣṇa), can be Gurudeva. Externally it may seem to be the same as being under the influence of a mundane guru (laukika) or hereditary guru (kaulika), but in actuality one is never deceived when he seeks refuge at the lotus feet of the guru who is kṛṣṇa-preṣṭhā.
In the realm of madhura-rati, it is Śrīmatī Varṣabhānavī, Kṛṣṇa’s ānanda-dāyinī-śakti (pleasure-giving potency) who is considered to be the guru-tattva. She has two manifestations – one is Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu and the other is Śrī Gadādhara or Śrī Gaurasundara who has taken the heart and halo of Śrī Rādhā. Those who take refuge under Śrī Baladeva-gopī Anaṅga Mañjarī accept Śrī Baladeva Nityānanda Prabhu as their guru, and they also accept Śrī Varṣabhānavī Devī as guru. The reason is that except for allegiance to Śrī Varṣabhānavī, Śrī Anaṅga Mañjarī has no separate fulfilment. Many have performed bhajana under the shelter of Śrī Jāhnavā, the śakti of Śrī Nityānanda.
In rāga-mārga, allegiance to Śrī Gadādhara and the proper understanding of the four types of pure devotional rati found in the associates of Śrī Nityānanda, Śrī Gaurī Dāsa Paṇḍita etc. should be clearly understood. The service rendered by Govinda Dāsa and Kāśīśvara etc. exists in accordance to the difference in the manifestation of pūrṇa-bhāva.
Worshippers in madhura-rasa can be freed from the temporary ego of being a husband in this world by taking shelter of Śrī Varṣabhānavī, considering Kṛṣṇa to be their only consort. Through the process of bhajana, those worshippers in vātsalya-rasa will be relieved from the temporary ego of father-son relationships by taking shelter of Śrī Nanda-Yaśodā and thinking of Kṛṣṇa as their most affectionate son; through bhajana, those who take shelter of Śrīdāmā and Sudāmā and worship in the mood of sakhya-rasa are delivered from the attraction of transient friends by accepting Kṛṣṇa as their one and only dearest friend. Those in dāsya-rasa who take shelter of Raktaka, Patraka, Citraka, Vakula etc. will be saved from temporary master-servant relationships by considering Kṛṣṇa as their only master. Santa-rasa is the mood of neutrality and this includes the cow-herding stick, buffalo horn, flute etc. Compared to śānta-rasa, dāsya-rasa etc. has more affection.
With the exception of Śrī Rādhā-Govinda, everything else is asat. One must accept the efficacy of the associates of Gaurāṅga by rejecting asat-sanga. When one adopts an ‘opaque face’ to judge guru-tattva and sees that someone only has one eye, someone has a beautiful form, someone is poorly educated, someone is powerful etc. such considerations solely based upon sense perception give rise to confusion in deliberating guru-tattva. Some accept Blavatsky as their guru; some accept Epicurus, while others accept Hegel, Kant etc. as their guru. “Whoever can satisfy my senses is my guru” – rather than following such a path of self-destruction, one should diligently take shelter of the feet of the associates of Śrī Gaura. The eternal auspiciousness of the jīva is found in those who speak of nothing except for the worship of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. If a guru claims to be Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, Nanda-Yaśodā or Śrīdāmā-Sudāmā, he must be considered to as extremely laghu asat-saṅga (the most degraded type of bad association) and should be rejected immediately. Śrīla Dāsa Gosvāmī states in his Manaḥ-śikṣā:
na dharmaṁ nādharmaṁ śruti-gaṇa-niruktaṁ kila kuru
vraje rādhā-kṛṣṇa-pracura-paricaryām iha tanu
śacī-sūnuṁ nandīśvara-pati-sutatve guru-varaṁ
mukuṇḍa-preṣṭhatve smara param ajasraṁ nanu manaḥ
“O Mind, don’t concern yourself with the pious and impious deeds described in the Vedas. Rather, intently serve Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa in Vraja. Always remember that the son of Śacī is the son of Mahārāja Nanda and that my guru is most dear to Lord Mukuṇḍa.” (Manah-śikṣā 2)
There is a belief that one should not perform bhajana of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa while living in this world – give up such a notion and come to Vraja! Vraja means to go; iha asmin jagati tanuṁ vistarāya – the form of that world is forever expanding. Vraja-maṇḍala does not simply consist of soil, water and mud.
The Bodhāyana-bhāṣya was found at a place called Vrijavraron in Kashmir at Śārada-pīṭha. Based upon this, Rāmānuja composed the Śrī-Bhāṣya. Śaṅkara’s commentary attempted to eliminate this scripture from Kashmir. However, whoever is inimical towards the Absolute Reality is incapable of harming Him. May there always be abundant service offered to Śrī Rādhā-Govinda! May there always be the study and teaching of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam!
The works of Caṇḍī Dāsa, the poems of Vidyāpati, Śrī Jagannātha-vallabha Nāṭaka, Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta and Śrī Gīta-govinda – these five books, along with the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, have delineated service to Śrī Rādhā-Govinda. It is mentioned in Jagannatha-vallabha Nāṭaka that Śrīman Mahāprabhu accepted these books with great love. However, only those who have finished the study of the Upaniṣads, Gītā etc. and have achieved the adhikāra to study the Tenth Canto of Śrīmad Bhāgavata, and whose adhikāra arises for līlā-rasa are eligible to even touch this nāṭaka.
Dhīra-samīra is where the gopīs of the general category are attracted by the flute song of Kṛṣṇa and gather for love-sports at night. Yet the rāsa-sthālī on the banks of Śrī Rādhā-kuṇḍa, where the noon pastimes are enacted, is the topmost. Mathurā, the birthplace of Kṛṣṇa, is higher than Vaikuṇṭha, Vṛndāvana is higher than Mathurā, Govardhana is higher than Vṛndāvana, and at Govardhana, Rādhā-kuṇḍa is the highest. Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas never visit Candrā-sarovara at Sakhī-sthālī which is near to Govinda-kuṇḍa. Amongst the eight yutheśvarīs, Candrā, Śaibyā and others have circulated anti-propaganda about Rādhā-kuṇḍa. The acme of Vṛndāvana is Rādhā-kuṇḍa, below that is Govardhana. Śrīman Mahāprabhu forbade His followers to climb upon Govardhana Hill to take darśana of Gopāla. Candrā, the rival gopī of Śrī Rādhikā, wanted that Kṛṣṇa should be confined in her groves. But Kṛṣṇa played a trick. He said, “I have all attachment for you. I won’t go to Rādhā-kuṇḍa.” Thus by deluding the group of Candrā, He managed to leave Candrā-sarovara. At present, another sampradāya has taken this place and has adopted a position contrary to that of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas. By reading Śrī Govinda-līlāmṛta one can learn about Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s madhyāhnika-vihāra (noon pastimes) at Śrī Rādhā-kuṇḍa. We find in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam:
anayārādhito nūnaṁ bhagavān harir īśvaraḥ
yan no vihāya govindaḥ prīto yām anayad rahaḥ
“Certainly this particular gopī has perfectly worshiped Govinda, the all-powerful Controller, since He was so pleased with Her that He abandoned the rest of us and brought Her to a secluded place.” (Bhāg. 10.30.28)
This verse indicates the superiority of the place of noon pastimes in comparison to the place of nightly pastimes. When the rasa began at the rāsa-sthālī, the general gopīs began dancing; attracted by the sound of Kṛṣṇa’s flute they gathered and met at the rāsa-sthālī. They cannot imagine the service attempts rendered by those gopīs that have taken shelter under Śrī Rādhikā. Without the shelter of Śrī Rādhikā any attempt to independently attain union with Kṛṣṇa (saṁbhoga) goes against the mode of worship (bhajana-praṇālī) followed by the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas.
By understanding that Śrīman Mahāprabhu is the combined form of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, His most surrendered followers acquire the eligibility to realise the esoteric mode of worship (bhajana-rahasya) of Rādhā-Govinda. Any attempt to worship Kṛṣṇa independently, abandoning the shelter of Śrī Gaurasundara, who is absorbed in the bhāva of Śrī Varṣabhānavī, is not approved by Śrī Varṣabhānavī Herself. Therefore, this does not bring any genuine happiness to Kṛṣṇa.
Caṇḍī Dāsa, Vidyāpati (the poet of Mithilā), Jagannātha-vallabha, Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta (which was sung on the banks of the Kṛṣṇa-veṇī River) and Śrī Gīta-govinda – these five works express nothing but Kṛṣṇa.
(At this point in his talk, Śrīla Prabhupāda, in a wonderful state of bhāvāveśa, or divine emotions, referred to various lyrical verses from those books such as Vidyāpati’s tātala saikate, meghair-medur ambaraṁ and lalita lavaṅga latā from Gīta-govinda and diśatu śarma etc. from Jagannātha–vallabha).
tātala saikate, bāri-bindu-sama
tohe visari mana, tāhe samarpala
ab majhu habo kon kāje
“Burning on the sands of a hot beach, I have offered my mind unto the association of sons, friends and wife, yet they are simply like a drop of water. Now what can I do to be relieved of this great misery?” (Vidyāpati)
meghair meduram ambaraṁ vana-bhuvaḥ śyāmās tamāla-drumair
naktaṁ bhīrur ayaṁ tvam eva tad imaṁ rādhe gṛhaṁ prāpaya
itthaṁ nanda-nideśataś calitayoḥ praty-adhva-kuñja-drumaṁ
rādhā-mādhavayor jayanti yamunā-kūle rahaḥ-kelayaḥ
“The heavens are overcast with thick clouds. The forest seems dark with the hue of the Tamala trees. This young boy Kṛṣṇa is afraid of the darkness of night. Thus, O Rādhā, You should take Him home with You!” Thus Their love arose as They passed through the forest. All glories to the pastimes of Rādhā and Mādhava who sport on the banks of the river Yamunā.” (Gīta-govinda 1.1)
lalita lavaṅga latā pariśīlana komala malaya samīre
madhu karanikara karambita kokila kūjita kuñja kuṭīre
viharati haririha sarasavasante
nṛtyati yuvati janena samaṁ sakhi virahi janasya durante
“The breeze that touches the tender clove creepers gently drifts from the Malaya hills. The arbors resound with the sound of the cuckoo and the humming of honeybees. During this beautiful spring, when love cannot endure separation, Hari is playing and dancing with young damsels. O my friend Rādhikā – go and meet Him.‘”(Gita-Govinda 1.28)
murāri-naṭanaṁ sadā diśatu śarma loka-traye
“Accompanied by the musical sounds of the vīṇā, drum and flute, and the tinkling of the gopīs‘ karatālas and ankle-bells, which reveals His charming smile and the movements of the vine of His charming three-fold bending transcendental form – May the wonderful dancing of Murāri eternally bring bliss to the three worlds.” (Jagannātha-vallabha Nāṭaka 1.1)
It was the duty of Śrīla Dāmodara Svarūpa to sing all these songs at all times in keeping with the divine bhāva of Śrīman Mahāprabhu.
1) Pūrva-rāga – ālambana and uddīpana.
2) Bhāva-parīkṣā – The type of attachment (anurāga) that shows the deep love that Śrī Kṛṣṇa feels for Śrī Rādhā and the deep love that Śrī Rādhā feels for Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
3) Bhāvāveśa – The attraction that Śrī Kṛṣṇa feels for Śrī Rādhā and the attraction that Śrī Rādhā feels for Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
4) Abhisāra – Union.
5) Saṅgama – Śrī Rādhā-kuṇḍa is found in the village of Āriṭ; at this place Kṛṣṇa killed the demon Ariṣṭāsura. At that time, an elderly gopī by the name of Madanikā gifted Śrī Rādhā into the hands of Śrī Kṛṣṇa as a reward for killing Ariṣṭa. Then the rasa was performed at this place. A dance filled with divine mellows is known as rasa.
These five sections are there in Jagannātha-vallabha Nāṭaka. These need to be discussed. However, eligibility also needs to be considered. One should take shelter on the banks of this kuṇḍa.
(Mahā-mahopadeśaka Ācāryatrika Prabhu [Śrī Kuñja-vihārā Vidyābhūṣaṇa] further elaborated upon the statements of Śrīla Prabhupāda and continued to analyse the subject matter for Rājen Bābu’s understanding)
Ācāryatrika Prabhu: While remaining in this world, attached to the material rasa found in relationships with wife and children etc. and being tormented by various types of anarthas, any endeavour to explore transcendental vraja-rasa and any attempt to equate them will simply result in producing vairasya (animosity towards genuine rasa). Thus, it is essential that after surrendering at the lotus of sad-guru, we perform śravaṇa and kīrtana according to our eligibility as instructed by Śrī Guru.
Prabhupāda: Viṣṇu and viṣṇu-māyā – it is essential to deliberate upon these two tattvas. That which gives illusory pleasure and is measurable by the mind is not Absolute – it is non-Absolute. The only function of the unalloyed soul is to serve the Absolute.
Rājen Bābu: Isn’t it possible for a person with meagre knowledge to become a guru?
Prabhupāda: No. There is no place for laghutva within gurutva. One should know that there is not a trace of spirituality when the disciple detects faults such as poverty, meagre knowledge and deviations from the proper code of conduct within the guru, and considers the guru to be a recipient of his mercy, while the guru also considers himself most fortunate on receiving a certificate from the disciple.
The sole aim of both is to serve their own senses. An evaluation of the guru and disciple is not based upon such sense-gratification. Worldly ‘gurus’ who teach us how to play the sitar or teach us how to swim, as well as hereditary family gurus who promote our gross and subtle sense gratification are not in the same category as spiritual gurus. It is not the duty of the mahānta-guru to eagerly involve himself in maintaining a mundane wife and children. Various types of laghutva enter into those who do not cultivate Kṛṣṇa consciousness (kṛṣṇānusīlana) twenty-four hours a day. Gurudeva does not wait to attain a certificate from his disciple. He has no time to lend his ear to useless talk. He is indifferent to others.
Rājen Bābu: If the guru has borrowed money and is heavily in debt, is it proper to help him become free from debt by giving him money?
Prabhupāda: He should be considered as fallen if he accepts money from his disciple in order to save his material wealth. The only property of a spiritual guru is spirituality; the only duty of a true disciple is spiritual service. In regards to the financial obligations of this world, the guru is never a debtor. Worldly things are absent in him and cannot touch him. One should not compare the attempts of the sad-guru to collect ingredients for serving Kṛṣṇa with the guru-bruva’s greed for accumulating material wealth. One cannot be a guru is he is devoured by the desire for material wealth. Maintaining a mundane mentality and the mentality of being a guru, results in a mentality that leads us to hell.
gurusu nara-matir yasya vā nārakī saḥ
“If one considers the spiritual master as a mundane person, one becomes a resident of hell.” (Padma Purāṇa)
Ācāryatrika Prabhu: A mundane mentality arises when one considers the mahānta-guru as belonging to the brāhmaṇa caste. Śrī Bhagavān tells Uddhava:
ācāryaṁ māṁ vijānīyān nāvamanyeta karhicit
na martya-buddhyāsūyeta sarva-devamayo guruḥ
“Know the ācārya to be My Self. Never envy the ācārya; never blaspheme him or consider him to be an ordinary man. Because the ācārya channels the infinite, He is greater than the sum total of all the finite. Thus, he is more important than all the gods.” (Bhāg.11.17.27)
Prabhupāda: A national guru, a guru of a particular caste, a guru who teaches the sitar – they all treat Kṛṣṇa as an object of their enjoyment. None of them are spiritual gurus.
Ācāryatrika Prabhu: The status of a gosvāmī is simply not restricted to a particular ancestral line. A father performs devout worship – he is said to be a bhakta and he is respected. Yet his son performs no bhajana, so he cannot expect to receive the same respect as his father does. Deliberations on the pure devotional conclusions (śuddha-bhakti-siddhānta) of Mahāprabhu are completely different from the considerations of fallen jivas that are attached to this world.
Rājen Bābu: What is the difference between a gṛhasta and a gṛha-vrata?
Prabhupāda: The difference lies in kṛṣṇa-bhajana. Bhajana should not be taken as a trivial plaything. Illegible writing is writing and proper writing is also writing. Yet one conveys no meaning and the other has significance. The notion of considering both as equal has been prevented by the words of Vyāsa:
arcye viṣṇau śilā-dhīr guruṣu nara-matir vaiṣṇave jāti-buddhir
viṣṇor vā vaiṣṇavānāṁ kali-mala-mathane pāda-tīrthe ‘mbu-buddhiḥ
śrī-viṣṇor nāmni mantre sakala-kaluṣa-he śabda-sāmānya-buddhir
viṣṇau sarveśvareśe tad-itara-sama-dhīr yasya vā nārakī saḥ
“One who thinks the Deity to be made of wood or stone, who thinks of the spiritual master as an ordinary man, who thinks the Vaiṣṇava to belong to a certain caste or thinks of caraṇāmṛta or Ganges water as ordinary water should be understood to be a resident of hell.” (Padma Purāṇa)
It is the smārtas idea to attach greater value to the apparent side. That is their primary duty. We need not take the road to hell by wasting our time in idle and trifling activities in the name of doing bhajana.
Rājen Bābu: But those who are gṛhasthas also reside with their wife and children.
Prabhupāda: A true gṛhastha remains fixed in thoughts of performing hari-bhajana. The Vaiṣṇava view should not be confused with the non-Vaiṣṇava view. A five-year-old child may vocalise a drama of Shakespeare, but only an adult can truly appreciate it.
Ācāryatrika Prabhu: It is necessary to observe which direction a mundane social guru takes and which direction a spiritual guru takes.
Rājen Bābu: What is the harm if one takes instruction from a spiritual guru and takes mantra from a social guru?
Prabhupāda: If you go in that direction then you cannot advance towards Vraja – you will not progress; you will remain in one place by dropping your anchor and will never be able to lift it. What will be the benefit for you to go somewhere else? You will be quite satisfied with what you already have.
Rājen Bābu: If one does not accept spiritual initiation, is it possible to be aware of any type of spiritual truth (tattva)?
Prabhupāda: There will be no śravaṇa, and the opposite result of such beneficial things will be attained instead. The duty of light is to remove darkness. If one remains in the midst of darkness, how will it be possible to attain light by allowing darkness to prevail?
Ācāryatrika Prabhu: A mundane guru considers the mantra only as śabda (sound) and not as śabdi (He who is known by sound)
Prabhupāda: The mantra is non-different from the śabdi. There is no difference between the aprākṛta-śabda (transcendental sound) and śabdi.
Rājen Bābu: Isn’t the kaniṣṭha-adhikārī qualified to give initiation into the mantra?
Śrīla Sarasvati Prabhupāda: Where is the kaniṣṭha-adhikārī coming from? Who gave him the adhikāra? A kaniṣṭha-adhikārī can never become a guru.
Rājen Bābu: Can a madhyama-adhikārī give dīkṣā?
Prabhupāda: He can only perform the initial duties of dīkṣā. It is the uttama-adhikārī mahā-bhāgavata Vaiṣṇava who is actually the dīkṣā-guru. There are two types of Vaiṣṇavas – the rāgātmikā and the rāgānuga. Those who are from the eternal realm offer service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa directly. These rāgātmikās serve Śrī Varṣabhānavī and Her direct expansions. Those who perform direct service to the rāgātmikās and take shelter in them through the performance of smaraṇa are rāgānugas. These are spiritual gurus.
A social guru does not understand Vaiṣṇava dharma or spirituality. The attainment of selfish interests or the mundane interests of others is anātma-dharma – it is not ātma-dharma or spirituality. Teaching the sitar is not the duty of the Absolute. Selfishness and spirituality are two separate things. The attempt to serve oneself is the antithesis of spirituality. Self interest means discriminating between sin and piety. Mahāprabhu married for the second time, and accepted Śrī Viṣṇupriyā Devī. However, pondering how He would establish spiritual discrimination amongst His own followers, He renounced the world in order to teach the common people through His ideal example. This pastime of His intense search for Kṛṣṇa is the ideal example to be followed by us.
Sākṣāt and smṛti – there is a difference between these two things. In the state of svarūpa-siddhi, remembrance of Kṛṣṇa (smṛti) gives rise to the state of visualisation (sākṣātkāra); the plane of vastu-siddhi gives rise to direct darśana of and service to Kṛṣṇa.
Rājen Bābu: What is the difference between svarūpa-siddhi and vastu-siddhi?
Prabhupāda: We must destroy the mind – it must be eliminated. The mind is the king amongst all the senses. The senses supply the mind with knowledge of the external world. Through such knowledge supplied by the senses, the mind sometimes engages in gross enjoyment and sometime in subtle enjoyment. The human soul has made the mind its agent to deal with the world of enjoyment. When this mind becomes engrossed in its own principles, then various anarthas arise. If one wants to attain real pleasure by removing displeasure, then the mind is to be destroyed. There is danger when the mind acts independently – chastising the mind is the first statement found in all the śāstras. However, there is no way of chastising the mind except by serving the lotus feet of Hṛṣīkeśa.
By following the path of yoga and performing yama etc. an opposite result will ensue. Śrīman Mahāprabhu explains how the mind ascends to the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa –
anyera hṛdaya mana, mora mana vṛndāvana,
mane vane eka kari jāni
tāhāṅ tomāra pada-dvaya, karāha yadi udaya,
tabe tomāra pūrṇa kṛpā māni
“For most people, the mind and heart are one, but because My mind is never separated from Vṛndāvana, I consider My mind and Vṛndāvana to be one. My mind is already Vṛndāvana, and since You like Vṛndāvana, will You please place Your lotus feet there? I would deem that Your full mercy.” (Cc. Madhya-ḷīlā 13.137)
The shelter of Caitanyadeva’s mind is Vṛndāvana, the place of Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes; it remains perpetually engaged in the mood of serving Kṛṣṇa in five bhāvas ((1) vibhāva – that which is the cause of tasting rati (2) anubhāva – bodily transformations which illustrate the emotions of the mind (3) sāttvika-bhāva – ecstatic symptoms which arise from śuddha-sattva – or in other words, when the mind is overwhelmed with emotion in relationship to Kṛṣṇa (4) vyabhicārī-bhāva – disturbing emotions originating from and serving to enlarge the sthāyī-bhāva (5) sthāyī-bhāva – that bhava or permanent condition of the heart which dominates the favourable and unfavourable emotions.)
When the mind ceases to serve Kṛṣṇa, it remains settled in the material world on the plane of śānta-dharma etc. The nirupādhika (detached) mind is Vṛndāvana, and the sopādhika (attached) mind is the material world. Mahāprabhu was given the name Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya because He distributes Kṛṣṇa consciousness and makes people aware of Kṛṣṇa. Anyone who has taken full shelter of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya should know that they have no other duty except for constantly cultivating Kṛṣṇa consciousness and performing smaraṇa of kṛṣṇa-līlā. Of course, this does not refer to artificial līlā-smaraṇa.
Forgetting the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa results in complete inauspiciousness, whereas kṛṣṇa-sevā creates all good fortune and destroys all types of obstacles.
kṣiṇoty abhadrāṇi ca śaṁ tanoti
“For one who remembers the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, all inauspiciousness soon disappears, and one’s good fortune expands.” (Bhāg. 12:12:55)
When one attains the platform of svarūpa-siddhi and one constantly fixes the mind on the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, then when this subtle body (liṅga-deha) is completely destroyed along with gross or subtle impressions of material enjoyment and the gross body also expires, then direct visualisation of one’s desired object is attained.
Rājen Bābu: What is vastu-siddhi?
Prabhupāda: To attain Kṛṣṇa directly. After svarūpa-siddhi is vastu-siddhi. If the mind can be eliminated while one is alive, then at the time of leaving this body, you can attain eternal service in the transcendental Vṛndāvana and will never take birth again. However, by the will of the Lord, divine personalities such as Kāśāra Muni, Bhūta-yogī, Mahad, Bhakti-sāra, Saṭhāri etc. descend from Vaikuṇṭha in order to liberate the jivas.
During Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s earthly pastimes in Vṛndāvana, His eternal associates also descended with Him. That is a different thing. They have no material birth. There are two kinds of associates – the sadhana-siddha and the nitya-siddha. The nitya-siddhas descend by the desire of Kṛṣṇa in order to liberate the world.
Rājen Bābu: Isn’t it possible to take dīkṣā at the lotus feet of a sad-guru and perform śravaṇa and kīrtana while remaining at home?
vastv advitīyaṁ tan-niṣṭhaṁ
“The Absolute Truth is the ultimate reality, one without a second. This goal is exclusive devotional service unto that Supreme Truth.” (Bhāg. 12.13.12)
In the non-liberated world, śravaṇa, kīrtana and smaraṇa are hampered – but this is not so in the liberated world. There, after attaining svarūpa-siddhi, śravaṇa etc. goes on without any kind of obstruction.
Therefore, while staying in this world of entanglement, apart from hearing from Śrī Guru – who is a resident of the liberated world – and remaining close to his lotus feet and happily rendering service to him, any other place is infested with materialistic association where one has no hope for nourishment. Who will make us hear? How will we develop the proper qualification for kīrtana? All these things must be taken into consideration.
Rājen Bābu: Can one meditate upon service to Śrī Gurudeva from afar?
Prabhupāda: Meditation is not like that. Meditation etc. is not possible if even for a moment the thought arises to live far away from the lotus feet of our guru. Such a tendency is common nowadays. While following the customs of Vaiṣṇavism such as asat-saṅga-tyāga, there arises a cheating propensity amongst weak-hearted people to superficially perform service to Śrī Guru (which lacks genuine and sincere effort) and to externally seek the association of saintly people. In fact, without the practice of hearing and chanting in association of sādhus, no one can ever advance in bhajana with such a superficial tendency.
ataḥ śrī–kṛṣṇa–nāmādi na bhaved grāhyam indriyaiḥ
sevonmukhe hi jihvādau svayam eva sphuraty adaḥ
“The mundane senses cannot conceive of Kṛṣṇa’s holy name, form, qualities and pastimes. When one renders service by using his tongue to chant the Lord’s holy name then the Lord reveals Himself.” (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.234)
These words of Śrī Rūpapāda deserve special consideration.
Rājen Bābu: Can we not listen to another Vaiṣṇava?
Prabhupāda: He should be respected if he is actually a disciple of a real guru. One may listen to those who have heard from a genuine spiritual preceptor. But wherever it is found that there is a conflict in opinion between him and my guru, then to see him as a ‘Vaiṣṇava’ is a sure path leading to hell.
mannāthaḥ śrī jagannāthaḥ mad-guruḥ śrī jagad-guruḥ
“My Lord is Śrī Jagannatha and my guru is the universal teacher.”
It is not proper to associate with a person who has deviated even minutely from the śuddha-bhakti-siddhānta preached by my Guru-Pāda-Padma. The basis of hearing from him is that he himself has heard from Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu.
Rājen Bābu: Is the study of spiritual books or periodicals also considered to be śravaṇa and kīrtana?
Prabhupāda: In attempting to understand a book with my own realisations, I will actually understand something different due to my perception being covered with anarthas. Śrī Damodara Svarūpa has said:
yāha bhāgavata paḍa vaiṣṇavera sthāne
ekānta āśraya kara caitanya-caraṇe
caitanyera bhakta-gaṇera nitya kara saṅga
tabeta jānibā siddhānta-samudra-taraṅga
“Go and study the Bhāgavata from a Vaiṣṇava. Totally surrender at the feet of a Vaiṣṇava. Always associate with the devotees of Śrī Caitanya. Only then will you understand the waves of the ocean of devotional conclusions.” (Cc. Antya-līlā 5.131-132)
Rājen Bābu: And if I study while under the shelter of the lotus feet of a guru?
Prabhupāda: If one cannot hear topics directly at the lotus feet of the guru, then one can study various books etc.
yāṅhāra darśane mukhe āise kṛṣṇa-nāma
tāṅhāre jāniha tumi vaiṣṇava-pradhāna’
“One whose very presence induces others to chant the name of Kṛṣṇa should be understood to be a first-class Vaiṣṇava.” (Cc. Madhya-līlā 16.74)
One must only perform śravaṇa and kīrtana while situated at the lotus feet of that person upon meeting whom, the name of Kṛṣṇa instantly manifests on ones lips; and while one is in the presence of such a person, all other thoughts are removed and bad association can never influence us.
Prabhupāda: Śravaṇa is eternal. śravaṇa continues even after the attaining svarūpa-siddhi. Once, Ṭhākura Hari Dāsa was performing solitary chanting of the holy name of Hari in a hut deep within the jungles of Benapol. At that time, in order to diminish the glories of Hari Dāsa, an immoral woman was sent to that place by the conniving landowner Rāmacandra Khan, and she entered the Ṭhākura’s hut expressing her evil intentions. Then the Ṭhākura told her, “I have taken hari-nāma dīkṣā. I will talk to you after that dīkṣā is over.”
In other words, the actual purpose of Hari Dāsa was that this dīkṣā will never end and I will not listen to what you have to say. On hearing hari-nāma chanted from the holy mouth of the Ṭhākura, the consciousness of that immoral woman changed.
sei vaiṣṇavī haila parama-mahāntī
baḍa baḍa vaiṣṇava tāṅra darśanete yānti
“In this way the prostitute became an advanced devotee. Great Vaiṣṇavas would come for her darśana.” (Cc. Antya-līlā 3.132)
When the Ṭhākura left Benapol and went to Phuliyā, he instructed the prostitute to remain in that hut and to perform hari-bhajana with intense renunciation.
One’s consciousness becomes purified through the process of śravaṇa. Then we become like this:
kebā sunāila śyāma-nāma
kānera bhītāra diyā, marame paśila go,
ākula karila mora prāṇa
“Who forced me to hear the name of Śyāma? It has entered into my ear and touched the very essence of my being, overwhelming my life airs!” (Caṇḍī Dāsa)
Ṭhākura Bhaktivinoda has sung:
ye dina gṛhe bhajana dekhi, gṛhete goloka bhaya
“That day that I see the worship of the Lord in my home, the abode of Goloka seems to manifest there.” (Śaraṇāgati 3.6)
Rājen Bābu: Can we fall down even after having taken dīkṣā?
Prabhupāda: Yes, if we become indolent.
Rājen Bābu: After dīkṣā, will I notice that the tendency to enjoy material pleasures has decreased?
Prabhupāda: Of course.
divyaṁ jñānaṁ yato dadyāt kuryāt pāpasya saṅkṣayam
tasmād dīkṣeti sā proktā deśikais tattva-kovidaiḥ
“Great scholars who are expert in spiritual science call the process by which divine knowledge is given and sins are eliminated as dīkṣā.” (Hari-bhakti-vilāsa 2.7)
This dīkṣā never ends. There is also no end to the attacks of bad association. It is not simply a question of receiving the mantra in the ear:
viśrambheṇa guroḥ sevā
“One must serve the spiritual master with intimacy and affection and follow the path of the sadhus.” (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.74)
One must follow the guru by the process of seriously inquiring about the nature of bhajana (bhajana-riti-praśnaḥ), forsaking all types of sense-enjoyment in order to cultivate love for Kṛṣṇa (śrī kṛṣṇa-prītaye bhogādi-tyāgaḥ) etc. If one shows a lack of sincerity in properly understanding this due to the pride of receiving dīkṣā, then what possibility is there of removing anarthas? One must be in touch with the real thing.
dīkṣā-kāle bhakta kare ātma-samarpaṇa
sei-kāle kṛṣṇa tāre kare ātma-sama
“At the time of dīkṣā when a devotee fully surrenders then Kṛṣṇa accepts him as good as Himself.” (Cc. Antya-līlā 4.192)
sei deha kare tāra cid-ānanda-maya
aprākṛta-dehe tāṅra caraṇa bhajaya
“When the devotee’s body is fully transformed into a spiritual substance, then with that spiritual body he worships the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa.” (Cc. Antya-līlā 4.193)
After surrendering oneself at the lotus feet of Śrī Guru, through the process of śravaṇa etc, pure devotion arises within one’s pure consciousness. If after accepting this material, one continues to serve the spiritual master, then gradually the thirst for gratifying one’s own senses reduces and the thirst for serving Kṛṣṇa’s senses intensifies.
anātma-dharma – Those activities that are against the nature of the self.
ātma-dharma – Activities that are the nature of the true self.
gṛha-vrata – A materialistic householder.
guru-bruva – A guru in name only.
gurutva – Literally means heavy, or in this case, strong or superior.
laghutva –Literally ‘lightweight’ or in this case, superficial.
mahānta-guru – The topmost spiritual master.
pūrṇa-bhāva – Completely immersed in loving mellows for the Lord.
rāga-mārga – The path of spontaneous devotion.
rāgānuga – Those devotees that take shelter of the path of spontaneous devotion.
rāgātmikā – The eternal residents of Goloka whose devotion is saturated with deep attachment for the Lord.
rati – The stage of transcendental attachment.
sākṣātkāra – Direct experience of the Lord.
śānta–dharma – The path of neutrality.
smṛti – Remembrance of the Lord and His pastimes.
svarūpa-siddhi – The stage when bhāva manifests; one becomes free from the influence of matter and one’s spiritual identity is revealed.
vastu-siddhi – The stage where the devotee actually enters the pastimes of the Lord.
yama – The various observances found in the process of yoga