In recent controversies amongst some Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, those who present isolated and unusual examples of preaching as the rule, rather than as the exception to the proper Gauḍīya conception, have simply increased the level of confusion. In particular the subject of the necessity of proper adhikāra (qualifications) for hearing higher confidential topics regarding the Lord’s līlā has been greatly minimized by trying to establish the exception as the rule.
The ‘rasikas’ have written, “The highest good can be obtained by anyone who faithfully hears kṛṣṇa-kathā from a bona-fide rasikācārya.” They then cite Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura in an attempt to justify the hearing of confidential līlās by the unqualified: “A person averse to hearing these līlās will never attain perfection. I refuse to hear his name.” What they fail to state, however, is that Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura, does not say that one who is unqualified to hear such pastimes must hear, or should hear such pastimes. Being averse to hearing the Lord’s līlās and being properly qualified to hear the Lord’s pastimes are two completely different things. One rejects hearing the līlā of Kṛṣṇa due to the preference of being engaged in māyā, illusion, while the latter is concerned with proper qualifications before hearing the Lord’s confidential pastimes so as not to make any offense.
In this regard, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has stated:
paramātma-tattva-jñānai prema-rūpa prayojana, tāhā kṛṣṇa-caritre dui prakāre askita haiyācche / sākṣāt rasāsvāda anvayarūpe dainandina nitya-līlāya pāibe / tāhāi aṣṭa-kālīya līlā / asura-māraṇādi-līlāya vyatireka-rūpe kṛṣṇa-tattva jānā yāya / pūtanā-vadha ihāte ārambha haiyā kaṁsa-vadha paryanta asura-vadha-līlā / sei sab līlā vyatireka-rūpa vraje u nirguṇa goloka-līlāya abhimāna mātra-svarūpe āchhe / vastutaḥ tāhārā tathāya nāi evaṁ thākiteu pāre nā / vyatireka līlā pāṭhe rasika śuddha-bhāva haiyā anvayalīlā-rasa āsvādana karite karite goloka darśana pāiben / esthale saṅkṣepataḥ ei paryanta balilām / viśeṣa yatna-pūrvaka sādhaka u prema-rurukṣū puruṣa ihā anuśīlana kariyā bujhiyā laiben /
“The highest knowledge is prema. This is revealed in two ways in the activities of Kṛṣṇa. Directly it is obtained through the daily eight-fold pastimes (aṣṭa-kālīya līlā). Indirectly it is obtained through the pastimes of killing the demons, from the killing of Pūtanā to the killing of Kaṁsa. These pastimes exist symbolically in Vraja and only as impressions in Goloka. Actually they are not found there, and cannot exist there. Reading the indirect pastimes, the devotee can purify himself; being purified, he can taste the direct pastimes and perceive Goloka. If the aspirant for prema very carefully cultivates in this way, he will understand all these matters.” (Śrī Caitanya Śīkṣāmṛta, Chapter 7, Part 7)
It is a fact that one should hear hari-kathā from a bona-fide spiritual master, but the nature of that hari-kathā depends on one’s qualification. The necessity to hear does not imply that everyone, (specifically the unqualified) must hear rasa-kathā. We find no examples of Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda, Śrīla B. P. Purī Mahārāja, Śrīla B. R. Śrīdhara Mahārāja, Śrīla B. P. Keśava Mahārāja, Śrīla B. D. Mādhava Mahārāja, Śrīla B. S. Gosvāmī Mahārāja and other stalwart disciples of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura speaking on confidential topics to open assemblies of unqualified persons.
A handful of examples have been presented by the rasika camp mentioning some non-confidential pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, that have been discussed in private conversations by our ācāryas. However, there are no examples found that support the thesis advocating the hearing of rasa-kathā by any and all audiences, irregardless of one’s qualification or disqualification. The examples sited by the rasika camp are actually isolated examples and do not represent the standard rule.
For a correct understanding of the standard rule for hearing rasa-kathā one should examine the preaching of Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura and that of his prominent disciples. A few note-worthy examples are sited herein:
“Pūjala rāga-patha gaurava bhaṅge —Always keep the path of rāga above one’s head, at a respectful distance. Don’t be bold enough to approach directly. My Guru Mahārāja’s whole life in a nutshell is expressed in this, his own expression. Pūjala rāga-patha, the very nature of our sampradāya is this.” (Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja, Aug. 14, 1981)
“Pūjala rāga-patha gaurava bhaṅge. This is Bhaktisiddhānta-vāṇī, the real existence of Bhaktisiddhānta is there.” (Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja, video-recording 1982)
As members of the Caitanya Sārasvata paramparā, we are all followers of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta. As such, we cannot neglect his teachings and we must view the teachings of the previous ācāryas in light of his teachings and example. This differentiates us from the sahajiyās, who only use quotes of Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura and the Gosvāmīs to advocate their unauthorized path.
“We must understand the commentary of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura through the medium of Śrīla Prabhupāda and we must give prominence to Śrīla Prabhupāda’s commentary.’ (Ācārya Kesarī Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī, His Life and Teachings, chapter 4).
“Śrīla Gurudeva especially manifested guru-niṣṭhā during a discussion of tattva-siddhānta with Parama Pūjānīya Yatirāja Śrīla Śrīdhara Gosvāmī Mahārāja. On that occasion, he said, “I don’t recognize the path of the previous Gosvāmīs. I simply accept Jagadguru Śrīla Prabhupāda’s line of thought as unerring truth, and I will try to know and understand the previous Gosvāmīs through Śrīla Prabhupāda’s vision. I will first accept the excellence of his explanations and commentaries. Ācāryera jei mata sei mata sāra. ‘The order of the guru is the active principle in spiritual life.’ (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi 12.10). And anya āra jatat mata jauka charākhāra. This is my conception.” (Ācārya Kesarī Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī, His Life and Teachings, chapter 4, p. 336).
In his lecture, Śuddha o Viddha Bhakti, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura has commented:
atyanta guhyadapi guhya rāi-kānura rasa-gaṇera padāvalī yadi āmādera mata lampaṭa-vyakti hāṭe-bājāre ghāṭe-vāṭe-māṭhe yā’ra-tā’ra kāce gaṇa vā varṇana kare, tabe ki uhā-dvārā jagaj-jañjāla upasthita haya nā? bāhya-jagatera pratīti prabala thākite āmarā ye yājana karitece baliyā abhimāna kari, tāhā nirathaka / āmāra ki leśa-mātra-o bhagavānera janya anurāga haiyācche? ekbāra niṣkapaṭe antarātmāke jijñāsā karile bujhā yāya / ihā dvārā balā haitecche nā ye, bhajanera kriyā chāḍiya dite haibe/ balā haitecche ye, adhikāranu-yāyī krama-pathānusāre agrasara haite haibe /
“The songs of Rāi-Kānu’s dealings with Each Other (rasa) are the greatest secret of all secrets. If those who are lascivious as ourselves go to sing or describe them in markets and bazaars, ghāṭas, roads and fields to each and everybody, won’t it bring nothing to the world but unwanted rubbish? Whatever worship we boast of while our perception of the external world is still strong, is useless. ‘Have I acquired a drop of at least anurāga for Bhagavān, genuine desire to give pleasure to His senses?’ This question we should ask our inner self at least once and without deceit, then everything will become clear. By that it is not intended to say that we are to give up bhajana-kriyā for good. It is intended to say that one should follow the gradual path of progress according to one’s adhikāra (qualification)” (Śrīla Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, Śuddha o Viddha Bhakti, April 20, 1926).
“All these days we have not spoken about līlā. Why? Because this is our most confidential asset. This is our only sādhya (perfection). But, one should not make the mistake of thinking that anartha-nivṛtti (overcoming impediments such as lust and greed) is the prayojana (goal of life). One thinking like this will never enter into artha-pravṛtti (acquiring one’s actual need). For this reason, I will begin speaking about aṣṭa-kālīya-līlā. I know that you are not ready to hear it. But we should know such a transcendental ideal exists within the realm of devotion. This is why anartha-nivṛtti is essential. After the realm of anartha-nivṛtti is artha-pravṛtti, pure conjugal service to Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. This is transcendental reality. If we do not know of this transcendental realm, then all of our efforts may end in nirviśeṣa-vāda (impersonalism). Do not let your day pass in trying for anartha-nivṛtti. Artha-pravṛtti is also necessary. Anartha-nivṛtti is necessary until artha-pravṛtti has started. When artha-pravṛtti is present then anartha-nivṛtti becomes unimportant —artha-pravṛtti becomes prominent.”
“Those who have chanted hari-nāma for fifteen or twenty years should know such things. The beginners need not hear these topics or they will misunderstand. These topics are for certain audiences, not for all. Also, it is said, āpanā bhajana-kathā, nā kahibe jathā-jathā, ‘One should not reveal one’s bhajana to others.’ If we disregard this instruction of our previous ācāryas then there may be a permanent fall from the realm of devotional service.” (Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, from an article in The Gauḍīya, 1934)
It is clear from this statement of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura that one should hear high topics; indeed, one must hear such topics. But one must be qualified first, as stated clearly by Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, by “fifteen or twenty years of (purely) chanting the Holy Name” —and most of his disciples were required to chant 64 rounds every day. Furthermore, Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura explains, “The beginners need not hear these topics or they will misunderstand.” How can this be interpreted in any other way?
Devotees should know such a transcendental ideal exists within the realm of devotion and as emphasized by Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, anartha-nivṛtti is essential to enter that plane.
The followers of the rasika camp claim that the only qualification necessary is lobha (greed). This is true, but it must be actual lobha, which is not a cheap thing. One must be cautious to not mistake mere enthusiasm to hear the confidential līlās as actual lobha. Imitation of lobha does not mean that one actually has lobha. Śrīla B. P. Purī Gosvāmī comments:
“The awakening of greed (lobha) which qualifies one for rāgānugā-bhakti is not to be taken cheaply, as if easy to attain.” (Art of Sādhana. Chapter 14.)
Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura also makes a similar statement:
“On the path of rāga, however, it is necessary to avoid imitation or deception. If that occurs, it produces disturbance and obstacles, though the person may think that his corrupted rāga is real rāga. Finally, material association turns that rāga into material attraction and causes falldown of the jīva.” (Daśa-mūla Tattva)
One who actually has real greed for hearing hari-kathā will reject all mundane activities and engage solely in bhajana. It has been observed, however, that a vast majority of the modern day practitioners of rāgānugā-sādhana are not inclined to give up their many mundane attachments and enjoying mentality. Rather than dedicating themselves to a surrendered life of sevā (service), we find that their hearing of hari-kathā is done in a mood of enjoyment, for their own pleasure, and is irregularly performed. When there is the occasional arranged program they come, otherwise material life goes on.
Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura further explains real lobha as follows:
“On attaining greed for the mood of the vrajavāsis, no other attraction remains. When that greed arises, the practitioner immediately becomes completely disinterested in sinful action, piety, social duty, neglect of duty, forbidden actions, speculation, and dry renunciation.” (Daśa-mūla Tattva)
“In the vaidhi-bhakti process, following this gradual method, attainment of bhāva takes a long time. However, if greed for the mood of the vrajavāsis develops, the material desires are quickly destroyed, since no other desires have a place. Along with greed for Kṛṣṇa simultaneously arises bhāva.” (Daśa-mūla Tattva)
Śrīla B. P. Purī Gosvāmī quotes Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura in this regard:
“Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda explains that only after one’s mind and intelligence are purified by the chanting of the Holy Names can one hear about Kṛṣṇa’s form, qualities, associates, and finally, pastimes. One who has not yet reached the stage of ruci, or taste for devotional service, may prematurely go to a pretender guru to take initiation and instruction in rāgānugā-bhakti, without first making an effort to chant the Holy Name offenselessly. Such a person may make a pretense of relishing Kṛṣṇa’s līlā while still affected by materialistic contamination, but such an attempt will not succeed in bringing him love for the Divine Couple and service for Them in the spiritual abode.” (Art of Sādhana, Chapter 14.)
We have seen on numerous occasions where, in the attempt to cultivate rāgānugā-bhakti, the proper measure of discretion has been neglected. Sadly, in the rasika assemblies the unqualified persons are being encouraged to unhesitatingly ask questions about highly confidential subject matters. Unfortunately, in some of these assemblies the love pastimes of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa are sometimes being discussed, even up to the point of nudity in the līlā. This is indeed a gross violation of the confidentiality of the Supreme Lord’s pastimes.
The confidentiality of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa līlā is never to be breached. If it is, as is sometimes improperly done, then a great offense is committed. Qualified devotees never discuss the Lord’s confidential līlās in a public forum. That is the Gauḍīya sampradāya standard.
Although in many of his works, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has written in great detail on the necessity of engaging in rāgānugā-sādhana, he has also stipulated what are the qualifications to do that as follows:
erūpa sabhāy āmi tāhā vyakti karile anadhikārīr pakṣe viśeṣa amaṅgala haite pāre / ucchiṣṭhita satya-samūha ucchapadasta nā haile labhya haya nā / yemata samasta vijñāna-śāstre kramaśaḥ ucchajñāner udaya haya, tadrūpa bhakti-śāstrer u ucchādhikāra-krame guḍha-tattve prāpti haiyā thāke /
“If I explain this topic in the assembly, it could be harmful for the unqualified devotees. Higher truths cannot be attained unless one is situated on a higher platform. Just as higher knowledge gradually arises in all scientific literature, likewise, confidential truths are attained in devotional literatures by proper qualification.” (Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Prema Pradīpa, Tenth Ray)
sajātīyāśaya-snigdha sad-goṣṭhī vyatīta rasālāpa kariben nā / vaiṣṇava jagat-samṛddhi sambandha bhakta-saṅga vyatīta janya saṅga kariben nā /
“One should not discuss topics of rasa with anyone except highly qualified persons on the same level of spiritual advancement.” (Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Śrī Caitanya Śīkṣāmṛta —Chapter 3. Part 2)
itara viṣaye vairāgya prāpta jāta-prema lokerāi rasādhikārī / yāhārā ekhana paryanta śuddha-rati u jaḍa-vairāgya lābha kare nāi, tāhārā rasādhikāra janya —viphala ceṣṭā karite gele rasake sādhana baliyā kadācāre pravṛtta haibe / jāta-prema puruṣer ye bhāva sahajei haiyācche, tāhāi rasa / rasa-vicāra kevala ei rase ki ki bhāva ki prakāre saṁyojita ācche, tāhāra vivṛtti mātra / rasa sādhanāṅga naya, ataeva yadi keha balen, āisa tomāke rasa-sādhana śīkṣā dei, se kevala tāhāra dūrttata vā mūrkhatya mātra /
“Those who have attained the level of prema and are completely detached from worldly pleasure are qualified for rasa. Those who have not attained pure rati and sense control make futile attempts to become qualified for rasa by practicing rasa. That taste which arises naturally in a person on the level of prema is called rasa. The discussion of rasa is only a description of how the various elements combine in the different rasas; it is not a part of sādhana. Therefore, if anyone says that he will teach you the sādhana of rasa, he is an impostor or a fool.” (Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Śrī Caitanya Śīkṣāmṛta, Chapter 7, Part 1)
ei raser anadhikārī ke? anadhikārīke hari-nāma dāna karā yerūpa aparādha ei rasa-viṣaya tāhāra nikaṭa vyākhyā karāu tadrūpa aparādha /
“Who is not qualified to thus taste the nectar of the transcendental rasa? As it is an offense to give the Holy Name to an unqualified person, so it must also be an offense to explain the rasas to an unqualified person.” (Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 28)
ei dainandinī aprākṛta rādhā-kṛṣṇa-nitya-līlā pāṭha karibār sakaler adhikāra nāi / ihā paramādbhūta rahasya —viśeṣa gopane rākhā kartavya / yini ihāra adhikārī nana, tāhāke ei līlā śravaṇa karāna ihabe nā / jaḍa-bandha-jīva ye paryanta cinta-tattve rāga-mārge lobha prāpta nā hana, se paryanta tāhāra nikaṭa ihate ei līlā-varṇana gupta rākhā kartavya / nāma-rūpa-guṇa līlār aprākṛta-tattva arthāt śuddha-cinmaya-svarūpa ye paryanta hṛdaye udita nā haya, se paryanta ei līlā śravaṇer adhikāra haya nā / anadhikāri-gaṇa ei līlā pāṭha kariyā kevala māyika-bhāve jaḍiya strī-puruṣa-saṅgamādi dhyāna karataḥ apagati lābha kariben / pāṭhaka mahāśaya-gaṇa sāvadhāna ihayā nārader nyāya aprākṛta śṛṇgā-rasaṁskāra-lābha kariyā ei līlāya praveśa kariben /
“Not everyone is qualified to read the daily pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. It is esoteric knowledge of great wonder which must be kept secret. One should not let those who are not qualified hear these topics. As long as the soul has not attained greed for the spiritual world on the path of rāga, the description of these pastimes must be kept hidden from him. As long as the person has no realization of the pure spiritual nature of the transcendental Name, form, qualities and pastimes of Kṛṣṇa, he has no qualification for hearing these pastimes. Hearing these pastimes, the unqualified person will simply meditate on material relationships of male and female, under the influence of māyā, and by this he will become degraded. The reader, with great care should attain initiation into the śṛṇgāra-rasa like Nārada, and then he can enter the pastimes.” (Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Śrī Caitanya Śīkṣāmṛta, Chapter 6, Part 6)
ei madhura rasa-vicāre āmi adhika pramāṇa saṁgraha kari nāi/ kenanā yāhārā ihāte praveśa karibār adhikāra pāiben, tāhārā ei raser sakala kathā śrī ujjvala-nīlamaṇi granthe evaṁ jaiva-dharme dekhiyā laiben /
“These topics are more elaborately described in Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi and Jaiva Dharma. By consulting those books the qualified person can realize their nature. For fear of offense by unqualified persons nothing more will be said here.” (Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Śrī Caitanya Śīkṣāmṛta, Chapter 7, Part 7)
ye sakala vyakti sthūla-dehagata ye sukhake bahumānana karataḥ cinmaya dehagata ei sakala ānanda-vaicitrya avagata hana nāi, tāhārā e saba kathār prati dṛṣṭipāta, manana u alocana kariben nā / kenanā, tāhā karile ei sakala varṇanāke māṁsa-cāramagata kriyā mane kariyā haya aślīla baliyā nindā kariben, naya ādara kariyā sahajiyā-bhāve adhaḥ patana lābha kariben /
“People who have strong attraction for gross material pleasure and cannot understand these topics should not read, think of, or discuss these topics of rasa, because they will think that these are all material activities and criticize them. If they do appreciate them at all, they will become degraded as sahajiyās.’ (Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Śrī Caitanya Śīkṣāmṛta, Chapter 7, Part 7)
madhura-bhakti-raske mukhya bhakti-rasa balen / jaḍa-rasa-āśrita buddhi īśvara-parayāṇa haile nivṛtti-dharma lābha kare, āvāra ye paryanta cidraser adhikārī nā haya, se paryanta tāhāder pravṛtti sambhave nā / sei sakala loker ei rase upayogītā nāi / madhura-rasa svabhāvataḥ duruha / adhikārī sahaje pāoyā yāya nā baliyā e rasa gūḍha rahasya-rūpe gupta rākhā ucita / etannibandhana ei sthāle madhura-rasa svabhāvataḥ vistṛtaṅga haile u saṅkṣepe varṇana karibe/
“A person who is not renounced in this way is not qualified to understand the spiritual rasas. Therefore the people in general are not qualified to understand the madhura-rasa. Madhura-rasa is very difficult to understand. It is not easy to find a person qualified to understand it. This rasa is very confidential. Therefore it is appropriate to keep it hidden from general view.” (Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 30)
kīrtana korinu śeṣa kāla vicāriyā
‘Considering for the benefit of those who have no qualification for hearing about such things, I have thus ended my kīrtana here.’ (Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Kalyāṇa Kalpataru 4.5-8)
In the biography of Śrīla Gaura-kiśora Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, the following is written:
“Whoever’s heart is free from the modes of material nature, such that no type of material lust can come, is the only person who is always engaged in determined devotional service unto the Vaiṣṇavas. This type of person, free from all impediments in devotional service, in their hearts the sprout of love of Godhead can actually take place, by hearing about the pastimes of the Lord. But those who have some materialistic desires within their hearts, if they hear pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, then as a result of that, within their hearts, the seed of material lust will manifest. Acting as if they are hearing the pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, their material lust simply only grows and grows.” (Śrī Śrī Gaura-kiśora Līlāmṛta-laharī)
“When there is rain, weeds grow very quickly. Carefully planted seeds can also grow, but some are destroyed prematurely by a heavy downpour. By hearing a discourse about Kṛṣṇa and His pastimes, the seeds of love for Kṛṣṇa bud forth in the heart of those persons who are pure, devoid of material desires and sincerely dedicated to the service of the spiritual master and the Vaiṣṇavas. Those in whom the seed of lust is found, however, will immediately become lustful upon hearing of the sportive pastimes of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. By pretentiously hearing the pastimes of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, their lust becomes inflamed. The consciousness of the conditioned living being is covered by lust, and thus they take the transcendental pastimes of Rādhā-Govinda to be the libidinous exploits of a mundane hero and heroine. Those who assume that, because they have faith in the pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, they are able to experience the transcendental nature of those pastimes, are unaware of their own carnal desires, being overwhelmed by the illusory energy. You cannot understand from their utterances whether the pastimes are transcendental or whether they have proper regard for the pastimes.” (Śrī Śrī Gaura-kiśora Līlāmṛta-laharī)
Also Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja explains in Follow the Angels:
“Our Guru Mahārāja wrote several poems, one of which is Prākṛta-rasa Śata-dūṣiṇī, ‘A Hundred Defects in the Sahajiyā Conception.’ The defects are innumerable, but our Guru Mahārāja put forward a hundred points of the defects in their process of ‘advancement.’ Mainly they are very easy purchasers. They are not prepared to pay the real price.”
A few important excerpts from Prākṛta-rasa Śata-dūṣiṇī are presented here:
anartha thākāra kāle rasa-gāna kare nā
anartha thākāra kāle siddhi-labdha bale nā
“While still contaminated with anarthas, one should never sing songs glorifying transcendental mellows. As long as these impediments remain, one should never state that siddhi has been attained.”
anartha thākāra kale līlā-gāna kare nā
anartha-nivṛtti-kāle nāma jaḍa bale nā
“While still contaminated with anarthas, one should never sing songs about the Lord’s confidential pastimes. After these impediments are purified (anartha-nivṛtti), one never speaks of the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa as if it were a mundane sound vibration.”
adhikāra avicāra rūpānugā kare nā
anartha-anvita dāse rasa-śīkṣā deya nā
“The followers of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī are never neglectful in assessing anyone’s spiritual qualifications. The followers of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī never instruct a servant who is engrossed in material impediments about the science of intimate devotional mellows.”
asakta komala-śraddhe rasa-kathā bale nā
anadhikārīre rase adhikāra deya nā
“A devotee should never speak on the topics of devotional mellows to one who has weak, pliable faith. A devotee should never attempt to bestow the qualification for rasa upon one who is unqualified to receive it.”
vaidha-bhakta-jane kabhu rāgānugā jāne nā
komala-śraddhake kabhu rasika to’ jāne nā
“Devotees who are still on the platform of following regulated scriptural injunctions (vaidha-bhaktas) cannot yet understand anything about the exalted stage of the rāgānugās, practitioners of spontaneous devotional service. Those who possess weak faith cannot yet understand the realm of the rasikas, relishers of pure transcendental mellows.”
svalpa-śraddha-jane kabhu jāta-rati māne nā
svalpa-śraddha-jane rasa upadeśa kare nā
“Those who possess little faith are never recognized as being highly developed in loving devotional attachment. Those who possess little faith are never to be instructed in topics concerning transcendental mellows.”
anartha-viśiṣṭa śīṣye rasa-tattva bale nā
“The disciple who is still contaminated with these impediments (anarthas) is never taught the science of intimate devotional mellows (rasa-tattva).”
jata-rati prauḍa-śraddha-saṅga tyāga kare nā
komala-śraddhere kabhu rasa diyā seve nā
“When spiritual attachment (rati) is manifest, one never leaves the company of those endowed with advanced faith. If immature devotees with pliable faith are presented with a devotional mellow, they will never be able to properly serve it.”
nāma kṛpā nā karile līlā śunā jāya nā
“Without first receiving the mercy of the Holy Name, one should never listen to recitations of Kṛṣṇa’s confidential pastimes.”
vyavahita līlā-gāne kāma dūra haya nā
aparādha-vyavadhāne siddha-deha pāya nā
“One who is covered by offenses may sing the pastimes of the Lord, but this will never do away with the lust burning in his heart. By the blockage of offenses, one’s eternal spiritual body (siddha-deha) will never be attained.”
In the following letters, appearing in the book Prabhupāder Patravalī, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura clearly defines the path to attain rāga-mārga:
āpnāra pātre śāstra-sāra-saṅgraha darśana kariyā baḍi ānanda lābha karilam. ei sakala kathā cinte bāla kariyā ālocanā karilai jānite pāriben ye, ālaya haite jāta traṅcaḍe pākā-buddhi prakṛta prastābe phala-pradāne asamartha haya / āmarā kṣudra jīva, vidhi-pather pathik; tabe rāger virodhī nahi / rāger kathā baḍa, tabe āmāder mukhe uhā śobhā pāya na / choṭa mukhe baḍa kathā śunile bhajanānurāgi-gaṇa hāsya kariyā uḍāiyā diben /
kṛṣṇa ki vastu, tāhā yāhāra upalabdhi haya nāi, tāhāra anurāga-pathe unnatadhikāra prāptir ceṣṭā-ālasya jñāpak; ihāi mahājana-gaṇa pade pade boliyācen /
śrī bhagavān-nāma u bhagavān eki vastu / yāhāder nijer bandavicāre nāma-nāmīte bheda buddhi ācche, tāhāder anartha-nivṛttir janya bhajana-kuśala janer sevā karā nitasta āvaśyka; ihā dekhāibār janya śrī gaurasundarer pārṣad-bhakta-gaṇa tāhā varṇana karen / totāpāṭhīr nyāya āmarā yadi uhā āuḍāyite yāi, tāhā haile loke āmādigke ‘prākṛta-sahajiyā’ baliya nirdeśa pūrvaka āmāder ātmastaritā kāmāiyā dibe / prākṛta sahajiyā-gaṇa ei rūpa durgatipakṣe ḍūriyā giyācche baliya sei sakala ‘paṅke gauriva sīdati’ dalke rāgānugā-bhaktir mahimā pradarśana karite haile svayaṁ bhajanacatura haiyā apararer maṅgala vidhāna karite haya / sutarāṁ likhita kathāguli āpani bhālo kariyā bujhibār yatna kariben / ‘bhajana’ bahirer vā loka dekhāibār vastu nahe / ucchaihsvare hari-nāma kariben, tāhā haile ālasyarūpa bhoga āmādigke grāsa karite paribe nā /
“I was extremely glad to see in your letter the very gist of all the sayings of śāstra! After deliberating over the matter nicely in your heart you will find out that precocious thinking born of laziness can bear no real fruit. We are tiny jīvas, traversing the path of vidhi, yet we are not inimical to rāga. Rāga-kathā is high, but in our small mouth it doesn’t look nice. Hearing such high words from our little mouth, devotees whose life and soul is bhajana will laughingly push us away.
Having no idea of Who is Kṛṣṇa, one’s trying to raise oneself up onto the path of rāga exposes his laziness; Mahājanas proclaim this at every step.
Śrī Bhagavān and the Name of Bhagavān are one entity. One who has conditioned perception of difference between nāma and nāmī is utterly required to serve devotees accomplished in bhajana for rectification of one’s anarthas; to demonstrate this, the eternal associates of Śrī Gaurasundara have described the kind of bhajana such devotees engage in. If we go to repeat it like parrots, people will designate us as ‘prākṛta-sahajiyās’ and thus bear down our self-assurance. But if we want to show all these prākṛta-sahajiyās mired in their misconceptions the real glory of rāgānugā-bhakti, we have to learn the art of bhajana ourselves and only then try for others’ eternal benefit.
So try to carefully understand what is written. Bhajana is nothing external nor any means for showing off. Loudly call out nāma, then the spirit of enjoyment in the form of laziness won’t be able to swallow us.”
āpnāra 24śe tārikher patra pāiyā samācāra jñāta hailām / āpni vṛndāvane giyā vaiṣṇava-gaṇer nikaṭa ye aṣṭa-kālīya-līlā-smaraṇādir viṣaya jñāniyāchen, uhā ādaraṇīya, sandeha nāi / kintu yebhāve e sakala viṣaya anarthamayī avastāya dhāraṇā karā haya, viṣayaṭi serūpa nahe / śrī hari-nāma gṛhaṇa karite karite se-sakala viṣaya vyaktiviśeṣa jñānite pāren, uhāi svarūper paricaya / anartha-nivṛtti haile svarūpa uddhudh haya / svarūper udbodhane nityapratīti āpnāte āsiyā upasthita haya / uhā keha kāhākeu kapaṭatā kariyā śīkṣā deya nā vā nirṇaya kariyā deya nā / tabe niṣkapaṭacite pracur hari-nāma karite karite ye upalabhdir viṣaya haya, tāhā sādhu-gurur pāda-padma nivedana kariyā sei viṣayer dhāraṇā śuddha u samartana kariyā lite haya / uhāi ekā-daśa prakāra svarūper paricaya / nānā sthāner avivecaka guru-gaṇa ye-sakala kathā ayogaya sādhaker upara kṛtrimabhāver cāpāiyā dena, uhāke siddhir paricaya balā jāya nā / jini svarūpa-siddhi lābha karen, tini e sakala paricaye svataḥ siddhi paricita hana evaṁ śrī-gurudeva sei sakala viṣaye bhajanaonntir sāhāya kariyā thāken mātra / āmāra ei viṣaye adhika vaktāvya nāi / sādhaker siddhir unnatikrame ei sakala kathā svābhāvikī bhāve akapaṭa sevonmukha hṛdaye prakāśita haya /
“I have noted your letter dated the 24th. The aṣṭa-kālīya-līlā about which you have heard from the Vaiṣṇavas in Vṛndāvana should be highly regarded no doubt. But the way in which these pastimes are conceived of in the contaminated state is totally corrupt. Some fortunate individuals are capable of knowing these things after chanting for a long time, for that is the identity of the true self. But it can only be known after one is freed of mental contaminations. With the awakening of this spiritual identity, one automatically has constant cognition of his spiritual form. Those who say that they can teach or reveal this identity are practicing a kind of deception; it cannot be done. On the other hand, if a devotee receives some inspiration after sincerely chanting for a long time, he should go to the sad-guru or advanced devotees and ask for it to be confirmed and purified by them. The spiritual identity has eleven aspects (ekā-daśa-bhāva). There are many cases of unscrupulous gurus who artificially force-feed these designations on unqualified practitioners, but we cannot call this the mark of spiritual perfection. Those who have achieved the perfection of being fixed in their spiritual identity (svarūpa-siddhi) have attained such a realization through internal revelation and the spiritual master’s only involvement in these matters is to help the further advancement of a disciple. As a practitioner progresses toward spiritual perfection, all these things are revealed naturally within the heart that sincerely seeks service.”
jāhāte śrī-nāmer kṛpā haya, sarvatobhāve śrī-nāmer nikaṭa bāhāi prāthanā kariben / aṣṭa-kāla-līlā smaraṇa prabhṛti anartha-bukta avasthār kṛtya nahe / kīrtana-mukhai śravaṇa haya evaṁ smaraṇer suyoga upasthita haya / sei kālai aṣṭa-kāla-līlā-sevār anubhūti sambhava / kṛtrim-vicāre aṣṭa-kāla smaraṇa karite nāi /
“We should constantly pray to the Holy Name for His mercy. One who is still in a contaminated state should not engage in smaraṇa of the daily cycle of the Lord’s pastimes (aṣṭa-kālīya-līlā). When we engage in chanting the Holy Names, we are simultaneously engaged in hearing and the opportunity for remembering is included in that. One should not engage in aṣṭa-kālīya-līlā-smaraṇa on false premises.”
śrī nāma grahaṇa karite karite anartha apasārita haila śrī nāmai rūpa, gua, u līlā āpnā haite sphūrti haibe / ceṣṭā kariyā kṛtrim bhāve rūpa, guṇa, u līlā smaraṇa karite haibe nā /
“There is no point in making a separate effort to artificially remember the Lord’s form, qualities and pastimes. The Lord and His Name are one and the same. This will be understood clearly when the coverings in our hearts are removed. By chanting without offenses you will personally realize that all perfections come from the Holy Name.”
It is also interesting to note that in an old copy of Jaiva-dharma published by the Gauḍīya Vedānta Samiti, in 1953 Śrīla Kesava Mahārāja writes in the introduction:
Śrīla prabhupāder vicāra-dhārā anusāre, bhajane kiñcit unnat-adhikāra lābh nā karā parjanta ‘rasa-vicāre’ kāhāra-o praveśa karā ucit nahe / Śrīla prabhupāda ‘bhāi sahajiyā’, ‘prākṛta-rasa-śata-dūśanī’ o anyānya bāhu prabandhādir madhye ihā suspastabhāve vyakta kariyāchen/ athaca etadin jāvat anadhikārī byaktir nikaṭe-o rasa-vicāra-sambalita ei ‘jaiva-dharma’-grantha-khāni samarpana karite haiyāche/ ihā Śrīla prabhupāder vicāra-dhārār anukūl nahe/ daivāt tāhār aikāntika preranā-krame tāhāra-i mano’bhīṣṭa pūrana-kalpe, Śrīla ṭhākura bhaktivinoder kṛpā-katākṣa-lābhāśāy, tāhār nija-janer preranāy ihā tin-bhāge vibhakta haiyāche/ ‘rasa-vicāra-mūlak’ tṛtīya khaṇḍa āmrā anadhikārī sādhāraner nikaṭa arpan karite icchā kari nā/ tajjanya, atyanta durmmūlyer batsare sāmānya pac-tī mudrā grahaṇa kariyā-i 1-m,o 2-ya khaṇḍa ekatre pradatta haibe/
“According to Śrīla Prabhupāda’s line of thought, even if one engages in bhajana but is not highly qualified, it is improper to enter into discussions on rasa. Śrīla Prabhupāda has expressed this very clearly in such works as Bhāi Sahajiyā, Prākṛta-rasa Śata-dūṣiṇī and many other essays. Nevertheless, even today there are many unqualified persons who are given to studying the portions of Jaiva Dharma containing the analysis of rasa. According to Śrīla Prabhupāda’s understanding, this is detrimental. Being the worthy recipient of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s merciful glance, and being destined with an increasingly intense desire to fulfill his innermost wishes, he has divided the book into three sections for his followers. According to his desire we will not be selling the third volume, viz. rasa-vicara to the unqualified public. The first two volumes will be available for a symbolic price.”
In his introduction to Professor N. K. Sanyal’s book, Sree Krishna Chaitanya, Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura writes as follows:
“One who presumes to instruct others without himself realizing the nature of the course of loving devotion, or who, although himself cognizant of the nature of the path of devotion, instructs the disciple regarding the same without due consideration of the aptitude of the latter, is the pseudo-guru. It is necessary by all means to renounce the guidance of such a guru.”
“Those who, falling into the clutches of the pseudo-guru by neglect of the proper exercise of their judgment, deceive themselves by consenting to adopt the higher grade of worship to which they are not entitled, fall under the category of the third class of offenders described above. But those who, even after becoming aware of their unfitness, persist in practicing the higher method of worship, hoping thereby to gain honour and wealth for themselves, commit the offense of religious hypocrisy. Until this defect is discarded, there can be no appearance of the principle of spontaneous liking for Kṛṣṇa. These hypocrites only deceive the world by the display of the external insignia of sectarianism and pseudo-renunciation. Those persons who choose to show their regard for these arrogant persons in consideration of the external marks exhibited by them, failing to attain the favour of Kṛṣṇa, only prove to be thorns in the sides of the people of this world.”
Those who are proclaimed as rasika-gurus as well as their followers, often quote the famous vikrīḍitaṁ verse of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (vikrīḍitaṁ vraja-vadhūbhir idaṁ ca viṣṇoḥ 10.33.42) to support their engagement in hearing the rāsa-līlā pastimes of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. The assumption of these rasika camps is that even if they are contaminated with lusty desires within their hearts, they will nonetheless be able to relish the Lord’s rāsa-līlā if they simply hear from a rasikācārya.
Although these rasikas have presented their arguments in an apparently scholarly manner, they nonetheless grossly neglect the mood of our ācāryas and especially that of Śrīla Bhakisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura.
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura has written further as follows:
“It is not empiric wisdom that is the object of quest of the devotee. Those who read the scriptures for gathering empiric wisdom will be pursuing the wild goose chase. There are not a few dupes (duplicates or imitators) of their empiric scriptural erudition. These dupes have their admiring under-dupes (followers). But the mutual admiration society of dupes does not escape, by the mere weight of their number, the misfortunes due to the deliberate pursuit of the wrong course in accordance with the suggestions of our lower selves.” (The Harmonist, December 1931, vol. XXIX No. 6)
Deliberating upon the vikrīḍitaṁ verse, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Prabhupāda writes in his Anubhāṣya commentary to Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 5.45:
ye vyakti śrīmad bhāgavata-varṇita kṛṣṇera aprākṛta rasādi-madhura-līlā nijera aprākṛta-hṛdaya-dvārā viśvāsa kariyā varṇana karena vā śravaṇa karena, tāhāra prākṛta manasija kāma sampūrṇa-rūpe kṣīna haiyā yāya / aprākṛta kṛṣṇa-līlāra vaktā vā śrotā aprākṛta-rājye-i nijera astitva anubhāva karāya prakṛtira guṇa-traya tāhāke parabhūta karite samartha haya nā / tini jaḍe parama nirguṇa-bhāva-viśiṣṭa haiyā acañcala-mati evaṁ kṛṣṇa-sevāya nijādhikāra bujhite samartha / prākṛta-sahajiyā-gaṇera nyāya ei prasaṅge keha yena e-rūpa mane nā karena ye, “prākṛta-kāma-lubdha jīva sambandha-jñāna lābha karibāra parivartte prākṛta-buddhi-viśiṣṭa haiyā nija-bhogamāyā rājye vāsa karata sādhana-bhakti parityāga-pūrvaka kṛṣṇera rāsādi aprākṛta vihāra vā līlāke nija-sadṛśa prākṛta-bhogera ādarsa jāniyā, tāhāra śravaṇa o kīrtanādi karile-i tāhāra jaḍa kāma vinaṣṭa haibe’ / ihā niṣedha karibāra janya-i mahāprabhu “viśvāsa’-śabda-dvārā prākṛta-sahajiyā-gaṇera prākṛta-buddhi nirasana kariyāchena /
“A person who hears or describes the rāsa-līlā and other such pastimes as found in the Bhāgavatam, living them in his transcendental heart, then finds the material desires for sensual pleasure wane to nothingness. Because Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes are transcendental, one who hears or speaks about them enters into that transcendental domain where the material qualities can no longer influence him. Even while in contact with matter, he is unaffected; his mind remains calm and steady. He is able to understand his own qualifications to serve Kṛṣṇa. No one should think, as do the prākṛta-sahajiyās, that an ordinary living entity will overcome lust by hearing and chanting these pastimes if he is filled with contaminations like lust and greed, if he avoids accumulating the appropriate knowledge of the relationships between matter, the individual soul and the Supreme Lord, if he remains fixed in a subjective world centered on his own sensual pleasures, if his intelligence continues to be permeated with material conceptions, if he neglects all the purifying activities of devotional service in practice, and especially if he takes the spiritual love affairs of the Supreme Lord to have the same kinds of sensual motivations that he himself experiences. For this reason, Mahāprabhu emphasized the word ‘faith’ (viśvāsa) in order to forestall such sahajiyā arguments.” (Anubhāṣya, Cc. Antya 3.45).
The members of the rasika camp have taken exception to our statement that one must “first come to the stage of anartha-nivṛtti” before hearing rasa-kathā. However, our statement is supported by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Prabhupāda’s definition of śraddhānvitaḥ. In the word for word translation to Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya 3.45, Sarasvatī Ṭhākura has said that śraddhānvitaḥ means ‘aspiring for service with an unflinching purified heart’, ‘śraddhāya aprākṛta-suhṛṭ viśvāsena yuktaḥ sevonmukhaḥ san.’
It should also be mentioned that Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura has stressed that the word dhīra refers to one who has mastered the six urges of the senses, ‘ṣaḍ-vegajayī acañcalaḥ rāgānugāḥ gosvāmī.’ Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja also confirms this as follows:
“In his writings, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī has laid stress on the word dhīra, meaning self-controlled. To hear these elevated subjects, one must enter into the culture of sense-control, otherwise he will be destroyed.” (The Hidden Treasure of the Sweet Absolute, verse 10.10 commentary)
Śrīla B. P. Purī Gosvāmī Mahārāja further explains his Guru Mahārāja’s teachings on this point:
“In Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura’s commentary to the above verse (vikrīḍitaṁ vraja-vadhūbhir idaṁ ca viṣṇoḥ) from the rāsa-līlā, it is written:
ata eva śraddhānvita iti śāstrāviśvāsinaṁ nāmāparādhinaṁ premāpi nāṅgikarotīti bhāvaḥ… ayaṁ śrī-rāsaḥ śrīr api nāpa yam/
śāstra-buddhi-vivekādyair api durgamam īkṣyate
gopīnāṁ rasa-vartmedaṁ tāsām anugatīr vinā
“The word śraddhānvitaḥ indicates that ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa does not come to those who do not believe the scriptures or who persist in committing offenses against the Holy Name. Thus even Lakṣmī cannot enter into this rasa-dance. Without exclusively following in the footsteps of the gopīs, even those who believe in the scriptures and the very intelligent cannot enter onto this most difficult path of sacred rapture chalked out by the gopīs.”
“For this reason, our most revered Śrīla Prabhupāda never approved of open discussion by the unqualified of the divine rasa, which is beyond the attainment of even Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva, and always gave priority to the chanting of the Holy Name.”
“The unique characteristic of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s preaching was that even though he often spoke about the highest realms of devotional perfection, he always took care that none of his disciples got ahead of themselves and skipped necessary intermediate steps in the stage of practice to engage in anadhikāra-carcā (discussion of matters for which one is not qualified). If one attempts the cultivation of rāga-mārga prior to gaining the proper qualifications for such a practice and at the same time pays less attention to the chanting of the Holy Names, he is like a person who tries to pick the fruit without climbing the tree. He will only get the damaged fruit that has fallen to the ground. Prabhupāda characterised those who engaged in such anadhikāra-carcā as prākṛta-sahajiyās and rebuked them for their entering into realms for which they were not qualified.” (Of Love and Separation, Chapter 3)
Elaborating on the word varṇayet (performing saṅkīrtana following the path of the rūpānugās, viz. the Holy Name, then qualities, then pastimes etc.), Śrīla Purī Mahārāja explains in several articles as follows:
“In Bhakti-sandarbha, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī outlines the process to spiritual realization:
prathamaṁ nāmnaḥ śravaṇam antaḥkaraṇa-śuddhyārtham apekṣyam / śuddhe cāntaḥ-karaṇe rūpa-śravaṇena tad-udaya-yogyatā bhavati / samyag-udite ca rūpe guṇānāṁ sphuraṇaṁ sampadyate / sampanne ca guṇānāṁ sphuraṇe parikara-vaiśiṣṭyena tad-vaiśiṣṭyam sampadyate / tatas teṣu nāma-rūpa-guṇa-parikareṣu samyak sphuriteṣu līlānāṁ sphuraṇaṁ suṣṭhu bhavati /
“First it is expected that one should hear the Lord’s Names in order to purify the heart. Once the mind and intelligence have been purified in this way, one can hear about Kṛṣṇa’s form, through which one’s qualification to visualize it is obtained. When the form of the Lord has been clearly visualized, one can experience His qualities. Once these have been clearly understood, one develops one’s own individual spiritual characteristics through the particular characteristics of the Lord’s associates. Thus, once the Name, form, qualities and associates of the Lord have been realized, a clear realization of Kṛṣṇa’s activities will follow.” (Krama-sandarbha commentary to Bhag. 7.5.18)
“Some unscrupulous characters take this verse (vikrīḍitaṁ vraja-vadhūbhir idaṁ ca viṣṇoḥ) and others like it to mean that they can neglect the chanting of the Holy Names and spend their time in hearing and discussing the erotic pastimes of the Lord such as His rāsa-līlā. These misguided souls think that by hearing about Kṛṣṇa’s rāsa-līlā, in a state of material contamination, they can become purified and thus qualified for rāgānugā practice. However, if one does not seek the mercy of the Holy Name first, but artificially tries to appropriate the right to engage in such practices, he is like a pumpkin that ripens too quickly and bursts —he inevitably falls down.” (Article from Caitanya-vāṇī 18.11, Feb. 1978)
“Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes with the gopīs are incomprehensible to someone who depends on scriptural injunctions and logical arguments to engage in devotional service; one has to follow the transcendental path of the gopīs themselves. These are the indications found in the Bhāgavata in the verse beginning with vikrīḍitaṁ vraja-vadhūbhir idaṁ ca viṣṇoḥ, 10.33.42.”
“The most merciful and worshipable Śrīla Prabhupāda was so kind that he advised conditioned souls like ourselves, whose hearts are filled with all kinds of unwanted desires, to avoid prematurely getting involved in discussing such topics and to simply throw ourselves at the mercy of the Holy Name. The idea is that one should harbor the powerful desire to attain that goal (on the theory that one attains the perfection one seeks —yadṛśi bhāvana yasya siddhir bhavati tadṛśi) and chant the Holy Name according to the spiritual master’s instruction.”
“If we cannot follow Śrīla Prabhupāda’s instruction to chant 100,000 Names every single day without offenses, even a fourth of that amount has a positive effect and quiets the mind. And yet there are those who do not even chant that amount and still think that they can engage in discussions of the Lord’s divine pastimes in the hope of being able to relish them. This is pure arrogance!” (Of Love in Separation — Meditations on My Divine Master)
“Our most worshipable spiritual master Śrīla Prabhupāda often quoted Jīva Gosvāmī from the Bhakti Sandarbha: ‘First it is expected that one should hear the Lord’s Names in order to purify the inner self.’ (prathamaṁ nāmnaḥ śravaṇam antaḥkaraṇa-śuddhyārtham apekṣyam).”
“Prabhupāda explains that only after one’s mind and intelligence are purified by the chanting of the Holy Names can one hear about Kṛṣṇa’s form, qualities, associates, and finally, pastimes. One who has not yet reached the stage of ruci, or taste for devotional service, may prematurely go to a pretender guru to take initiation and instruction in rāgānugā-bhakti, without first making an effort to chant the Holy Name offenselessly. Such a person may make a pretense of relishing Kṛṣṇa’s līlā while still affected by materialistic contamination, but such an attempt will not succeed in bringing him love for the Divine Couple and service for Them in the spiritual abode.”
“The sādhya-sādhana-tattva is fully expained in the teachings of Rāmānanda Rāya, but it is clear from the words of Śrīla Prabhupāda mentioned above that the practices that lead to the supreme goal of service to the divine couple, are only possible through the purificatory process of chanting of the Holy Names of the Lord. The Lord Himself has confirmed this statement when He said ‘ihā haite sarva-siddhi haibe sabāra:’ From the chanting of the Holy Names all perfections will come to everyone. “All perfections” refers to perfections of spiritual life. Even though the love of the inhabitants of Vraja described by Rāmānanda Rāya is the most secret treasure of the Vedic storehouse of knowledge, the impossible feat of winning this great prize can be accomplished by the mercy of the Holy Name; it can achieve miracles. Mahāprabhu stated to Tapana Miśra, Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī’s grandfather: “The object and the means to attain it are found through the chanting of the Holy Names,” and “As you repeatedly practice the chanting of the Holy Names the seedling of love will sprout and you will then know both the goal of life and the means to attain it.”
“Great authorities teach that one should remember the pastimes of the Lord according to the eight times of the day in relation to the eight verses of the Śīkṣāṣṭaka. In his Bhakti Sandarbha Jīva Gosvāmī states that in Kali-yuga any type of devotional service must be done in conjunction with the chanting of the Holy Names (yadyāpi anya bhaktiḥ kalau kartavya tadā kīrtanākhy-bhakti-samyojanenaiva). One should not give up kīrtana to engage in smaraṇa.” (Art of Sādhana, Chapter 14.)
Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja reveals his stance on rasa-kathā in the following statements:
“Once Prabhupāda arranged to preach in Vṛndāvana for the full month of Kārttika. He asked Bhāratī Mahārāja at that time to explain the Seventh Canto of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, the story of Prahlāda. He did not ask for narrations about Kṛṣṇa, Rādhā, Yaśodā or anything of Vṛndāvana. ‘Preach śuddha-bhakti of Prahlāda first. People are ripe in sahajiyā, imitation of devotion. Just try to make them understand, to enter the plane of bhakti. That is great; what to speak of kṛṣṇa-līlā —that is far, far above.’ There in Vṛndāvana the people wondered, ‘What is this? They are explaining Bhāgavatam, but leaving aside the Tenth Canto. They are explaining the Seventh Canto, the Prahlāda-līlā, the lower portion of bhakti. That is wonderful and strange.’”
“I found later on that Śrīla Prabhupāda himself spoke for several days on the boundary line between Rādhā-kuṇḍa and Śyāma-kuṇḍa. He read and explained the Upadeśāmrta of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. He did not speak about Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī or about Kṛṣṇa, but about Upadeśāmṛta —the basic teachings. His attention was always focused on the basics, because the fruit will come naturally. ‘Pour water onto the root and the fruit will come up by itself.’”
“Sitting between Rādhā-kuṇḍa and Śyāma-kuṇḍa he explained not Bhāgavatam, but Upadeśāmṛta. Upadeśāmṛta contains the substance of Mahāprabhu’s teaching in the language of Rūpa Gosvāmī. Śrīla Prabhupāda explained these topics and not anything of Govinda-līlāmṛta or Viśvanātha Cakravartī’s Śrī Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta. The higher topics of mādhurya līlā, Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s amorous pastimes, were left aside.
“Our master did not allow us to read the books where the highest līlās are described: Govinda-līlāmṛta, Stava-kusumāñjalī, Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi. He did not allow us to study and to discuss them. Rather, he would be very much disturbed if he heard that someone was interfering with the higher līlās in those books. He did not like it. There are three chapters of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta that we were generally not allowed to discuss fully, including the conversations with Rāmānanda Rāya. Where the līlā portion of Rādhā-Govinda is mentioned, we were not to delve. Of course when parāyaṇa (consecutive chanting of the whole book) was taking place, we were to go on reading those sections, but without giving any particular attention to the līlā of the highest order of rāga. That was barred: “Don’t try to come into details there. That will come automatically when it is time. Do not make it a public discussion. Do not place it in the public eye.” (Follow the Angels, Chapter two)
Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja speaks further:
Śrīdhara Mahārāja: “Yes, Govinda-līlāmṛta is there, with aṣṭa-kālīya-līlās, the eight-fold līlā of Rādhā-Govinda. This is for the higher students.”
Devotee: “But in Jaiva Dharma Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura mentions some of the aṣṭa-kālīya-līlās.”
Śrīdhara Mahārāja: “Yes, but he has given everything in Jaiva Dharma with much caution. Here Jīva Gosvāmī explains, you must listen from a real source. So he will get there the real thing. It is not like lust, just the opposite of lust. So with that attitude you are to approach, dhīra. Master of his own senses. He only is qualified to try to accept or listen, to enter into this flavor, not those that are not master of their own senses. And if he does:
naitat samācarej jātu manasāpi hy-anīśvaraḥ
vinaśyaty-ācaran mauḍhyād yathārudro ‘bdhi-jaṁ viṣam
‘One who is not a great controller should never imitate the behavior of ruling personalities, even mentally. If out of foolishness an ordinary person does imitate such behavior, 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.’ (Bhāg. 10.33.30)
“Due to ignorance, anyone may venture to enter into this domain due to ignorance, even in mind, even mentally, vināśyati —he will be doomed. If he is not Śiva, if he takes the poison, he is sure to die. And Śiva took the poison and then ornamental thing came in his throat, nīla-kaṇṭa. By the folded palm, Śiva drank the poison, but it was an ornament to his throat. But if one who is not Śiva, if he takes poison, he is sure to die. So one who is not dhīra and who has got no qualification to enter into this domain, he is sure to die. The warning is given in Bhāgavatam by Śukadeva Gosvāmī. It is nectar but still properly you must come to it. There is a possibility of mistaking it for your awkward enjoyment. Then you will be doomed forever.” (Room Conversation, Nov. 12, 1981)
“‘Duṣṭa phala karibe ārjjana’— Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura warns that we will get only a bad result if we venture to cross that line. It is aparādha. From the lower position, the steps are shown: śraddhā, sādhu-saṅga, śravaṇa, kīrtana, then anartha-nivṛtti, when the undesirable things vanish. Then comes ruci, then āsakti, then bhāva-bhakti, the sprout of real devotion. Then prema-bhakti, and sneha, mana, praṇaya, rāga, anurāga, bhāva, mahābhāva —by such steps we are to approach the highest plane.”
“Our Guru Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Prabhupāda, asked that we keep Rādhārāṇī in great reverence, ‘On your head, over your head— don’t be bold enough to approach directly: Pūjala rāga-patha gaurava bhaṅge. Try to keep Her and Her group at a respectful distance, above your head. Don’t rush towards that position. It is not that cheap.’”
“The whole tenor of Guru Mahārāja’s life was such: ‘That is high, very high, and from below we are to honor that.’ We must establish this conception, the proper regard for that higher līlā, throughout the entire world: ‘That is too high.’”
“Prabhupāda has ordered such strict behavior, and we also follow that. At so many other places they show the rāsa-līlā with dolls, but I never do that. Following what is true to my understanding of my Gurudeva’s will and his words, I do not make any show of jhulana-līlā or rāsa-līlā or anything of that nature. I find in my heart that this is not pleasing to my Guru Mahārāja. But in so many maṭhas (temples) I see at present, I hear also, that they are doing that, but I strictly abstain from showing jhulana-līlā and rāsa-līlā. That is too high for us.”
“I must be true to the words of my Gurudeva if I want my realization and not just some sort of popularity. Some may discuss the higher līlās to attract people, to make money, or even to develop a favorable field for preaching, but I do not do this. I do not want popularity or any recognition as a higher ācārya. I am a student.”
“Still I am a student. I consider myself to be a student, a faithful student. What I heard from my Gurudeva, I try my best to stick to that, to keep my position there as I heard from him. I do not want to mutilate that in any way to suit my purpose. I try not to do that. Of course for big propaganda some may adopt different ways, as they see fit. They are now free. But I am not one to do so, to go on in such a way. I try to follow my Guru Mahārāja, Śrīla Prabhupāda.” (Follow the Angels. Chapter 2)
“Pūjala rāga-patha gaurava bhaṅge. The whole tenor of our Guru Mahārāja, of the nature of his service is herein. Not only for him, but he has extended the banner to all. Come under the banner of such nature of thought about the divinity, an initiation will be safely secured. This verse is the inner life of my Guru Mahārāja.” (Sept. 1, 1981)
This verse, pūjala rāga-patha gaurava bhaṅge, was repeatedly glorified and emphasized by Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja as the embodiment of his Guru Mahārāja’s mood —that of extreme respect for this higher path.
When confronted with the obvious differences between the standards of our bona-fide ācāryas and those of the ‘rasika-gurus’ the under dupes simply side-step the issue entirely by saying, “Oh, you just don’t understand the inner mood of the ācāryas.”
Although rasika-gurus claim that they alone know the inner mood of our ācāryas, the present sevaite-ācārya of the Śrī Caitanya Sārasvata Maṭha strongly disagrees:
“In my forty two years with Śrīla Guru Mahārāja (Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja) I never once heard him give permission for that (hearing and describing the intimate pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa) to us. It was the desire of Guru Mahārāja to tell something about the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa, of Rādhārāṇī, and others, so we heard from him, but always he told us in a very cautious way. Never did he tell us to read Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi or similar books, but some things he told us, and I know many ślokas from Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi, Vidagdha-mādhava, Lalita-mādhava and others. That is, Guru Mahārāja had me study kāvya (Sanskrit composition), and it is necessary to read these verses to understand the many varieties of Sanskrit metre, language, beauty, alaṅkāra, etc. But I can say it is a special case, it is not for all. These books are no doubt the supreme books of our sampradāya, but they are not for all and everyone’s reading. If anyone will read these books then they will become prākṛta-sahajiyā, and what will be for them?” (Śrīpāda Bhakti Sundara Govinda Mahārāja, London, Oct. 26, 1993)
Śrīla Purī Mahārāja commented on the development of the sahajiyā party in western countries as follows:
“In your foreign countries a party of sahajiyās has appeared. And it is not a matter of inventing something —what they speak is there in 10th Canto, in the works of the Gosvāmīs, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura. But the very fact of their speaking such higher topics to unprepared audiences, ignoring the glories of the Holy Name, who is the only real path to this higher līlā, is nāmāparādha. Mahāprabhu never did like this. He was relishing these topics with a few of his antaraṅga-bhaktas, and He was inspiring the masses to perform nāma-saṅkīrtana, and Himself performed saṅkīrtana with great numbers of devotees. Pracāra should be nāma-pracāra!” (Room conversation 7th Feb. 1996. Śrīdhāma Māyāpura. Śrī Gopīnātha Gauḍīya Maṭha)
“If I spoke here on Bhramara-gītā, Gopī-gītā and other such high topics, I would fill this room (laughs). This room would be full. But these topics are very high —not for everyone. Śrīla Prabhupāda never spoke like this in public —these confidential topics. Mahāprabhu only spoke these things with four and a half devotees. Not every devotee.” (Śrīla Purī Mahārāja, Room conversation, Śrīdhāma Māyāpura, Śrī Gopīnātha Gauḍīya Maṭha, 1994)
“Lust can be conquered through chanting and this chanting should be done sincerely. Unless we attain the eligibility, we cannot go into these very esoteric pastimes of Kṛṣṇa. Even Caitanya Mahāprabhu through His own example was relishing this rasa literature of Caṇḍīdāsa, Govinda Dāsa, Vidyāpati, the rāsa-līlās with a very select few. He never went into public to discuss this. Because these pastimes of the Lord, these relationships with the Lord, with His devotees, are very esoteric and have to be understood in that manner.”
“So we are followers of Caitanya Mahāprabhu, and as such, we have to acquire through chanting, the eligibility to come to that platform where we can openly discuss or even discuss with one another, these intimate pastimes with the correct conception. It has to be done with an eager mind, wanting, even hankering, to understand how we can get rid of our lust, anger —rather than discussing this as an entertainment, which is so often done. So chanting means without offences. The ten offences are there, they have been enumerated, so chanting means only when we get rid of our offences. Then gradually this eligibilty may come when the six enemies begin to subside.”
“When one comes to that level of consciousness, when the mind is undisturbed by the material influence, at that time, he can actually begin to start to serve purely. And then all the pastimes can also be meditated upon properly.”
“However, one should not consider chanting to be something very simple —something which is given to the beginners to keep them quiet, or to think that it is not the principle limb of pure devotion. In fact, this is the very basis of pure devotion, because without having proper attachment to the Holy Name or proper understanding of the Holy Name, there is no question of going any further! The only thing that can give you prema is pure chanting. There is no other process that can bring you to the level of prema.”
“You may feel sometimes a certain attraction, but if this is not steady, you cannot interpret it as lobha, which is so rare. You cannot just find it anywhere.” (Śrīla Purī Mahārāja, Lecture, Vṛndāvana 11th Nov. 1994)
In a recent barrage of essays, the rasika camp has cited some examples in an attempt to support the idea that Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda spoke of higher topics to the unqualified. The examples presented in those essays were of an exceptional nature, not standard. Actually Śrīla Prabhupāda never spoke in public about rasa-kathā —only to a very few individuals did he ever raise such topics and those too were not of a confidential nature. Our Śrīla Prabhupāda’s main preaching was always from Bhagavad-gītā, basic fundamental Gauḍīya philosophy. Here are a few statements by our Śrīla Prabhupāda on this topic:
“Thoroughly study Bhagavad-gītā, and after studying Bhagavad-gītā, if you are fortunate enough to understand what is Kṛṣṇa, then, Kṛṣṇa says, surrender. That is the beginning of understanding Kṛṣṇa. Don’t try to understand the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa with the gopīs.” (Class on Cc. Ādi 1.6, March 30, 1975)
“But as far as possible, very cautiously and very rarely we shall present. Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s life we see that in public He never discussed about Kṛṣṇa’s līlā with the gopīs. That was very confidential discussion amongst His own circle, Rāya Rāmānanda, Svarūpa Dāmodara, like that. And He inquired… Even a learned scholar, He discussed about the philosophy, that Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya. But when there was a great devotee like Rāmānanda Rāya, He relished gopīs,’ I mean to say, intimate behavior with Kṛṣṇa. So we should remember this, that public may misunderstand this. Therefore we have to present these things very cautiously, not very openly. They may misunderstand.” (Discussion with BTG staff, Dec. 24th, 1969)
“We cannot understand the affairs of the spiritual world on the basis of our experience in the material world. The Lord’s pastimes with the gopīs are therefore misunderstood by mundane scholars and word-wranglers. The parakīyā-rasa of the spiritual world should not be discussed, except by one who is very advanced in pure devotional service. The parakīyā-rasa in the spiritual world and that in the material world are not comparable.” (Cc. Madhya 13.24, purp.)
“Although Kṛṣṇa is the purest of the pure, mundane people, thinking of Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes that appear immoral, themselves become polluted. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu therefore never publicly discussed Kṛṣṇa’s dealings with the gopīs. He used to discuss these dealings only with three confidential friends. He never discussed rāsa-līlā publicly, as professional reciters do, although they do not understand Kṛṣṇa or the nature of the audience. However, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu encouraged the public chanting of the Holy Name on a huge scale for as many hours as possible.” (Cc. Madhya 4.134, purp.)
The ‘rasika-gurus’ claim that A. C. Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda wanted to give this rasa-kathā to everyone. This is clearly not a fact, especially when we take into consideration the lack of adhikāra of his audience. All the close disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda who were present during his ācārya-līlā will confirm that he never spoke on confidential subject matters to mixed audiences, as implied by the rasika camp. Rather, he warned against this. Śrīla Prabhupāda was a strict follower of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura and as such he never strayed from his instruction.
We also find the same advice, as given by Śrīla Prabhupāda, being given by his godbrother, Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja in his Śrī Dāmodarāṣṭakam–tīkā as follows:
“namo’nanta līlāya’ vākye, sādhāraṇataḥ yāhāra līlār anta nāi, sei anantāmaya-līlā bhagavān śrī kṛṣṇa kei namaskāra bujhāya / kintu Śrīla sanātana gosvāmī satyavrata munir antarnihita uddeśyer prati dṛṣṭi kariyā evaṁ nija bhāvānusāre ukta vākyer ekati nigūḍh-artha nirṇaya kariyāchen / yathā -‘sri rāsa-līlākei namaskāra’ / ‘ananta’-śabde-yāhāra anta nāi vā śeṣa nai; arthāt nitya, aśeṣa vā asaṅkhya ityādi / ‘līlāya’-śabdati ‘līlā’-śabder caturthīra ekavacana (namaḥ-śabda-yoge) / evaṁ ‘līlā’-śabder vyutpatti ei ye, ‘lī’+’la’ = ‘līla’ / ‘la’ – śabder artha – aliṅgana karā —(lī-dhātu kvip-bhāve ‘lī’) evaṁ ‘la’-śabder artha grahaṇa karā (lā-dhātu u = la) / sūtarāṁ ‘līla’-śabder dvārāi gopī-gaṇer aliṅgana gṛhaṇa karā haya yāhāte sei rāsa-krīḍādi līlākei namaskāra bujhāitechen / ei janyai ‘ananta-līlāya’ balite, tīkāra —”gokula viṣayikā sarvāpi līlodiṣṭā asye ca nama iti ‘bhāvaḥ’” / likhīyā śrī sanātana gosvāmī nijeu ‘madhureṇa samāpayet’ —vākyer sārthakatā kariyāchen /
ārau ekatī viṣaya esthāle viṣayabhāve lakṣya karā prayojana / dāmodarāṣṭaker antim śloke Śrīla gosvāmīpāda jānāitechen yei śrī kṛṣṇer rāsa-krīḍādi līlā sarvāpekṣā śreṣṭha haile u tāhā ‘parama-gopātvena anarbhivāñcayana…kiñcideva saṁkete nodiśan praṇamati’ —ihāra tātparya ei ye, rāsa-līlār parama-gopanīyatva-hetu (satyavrata muni) kiṅkaranmātra saṅketa athavā ektū-mātra injita kariyāchen / ihā dvārā spṛṣṭai pratīyamāna haya ye, yathāne-sekhāne yakhana-takhana rāsa-līlār śravaṇa-kīrtana karā nitānta avidhi / śudhu tāhāi nahe, anadhikārī vyakti yadi kāma dūra karibār chalanā kariyā rāsa-līlā mane-mane u cintā, ācarana athavā anukāraṇa karen, tabe tini rāsa-līlār gaurava-hāni karār aparādhe niścayi adhaḥ patita haiben / evaṁ akālapaka prākṛta-sahajiyā-vāder nyāya kāmuk u gṛhāsakta haiyā paḍiben /
rāsa-līlār śravaṇa-kīrtaner kāraṇa u adhikārī nirṇaya-prasaṅge śrīmad bhāgavater sei rāsa-līlāri śeṣe yāhā varṇita haiyāche tāhā viśeṣabhāve ālocya / yathā —naitat samācarej jātu manasāpi hy-anīśvaraḥ vināśyaty-ācaran mauḍhyad yathārudro ’bdhi-jam viṣam / ihāra tātparya ei ye, ‘īśvara’ arthāt prakṛta-yogya, kṣamatā-sampanna adhikāra nā haile maner dvārāu kakhan u rāsa-līlā, cintā, ācaraṇa vā anuśīlana karibe nā / sākṣāt śiva samūdrākhita viṣa-pāner ekmātra adhikārī / kintu anadhikārī arudra vyakti arthāt apātra ‘mahāpātra’ sājiyā yadi rāsa-līlār śravaṇa-kīrtanarūpa viṣa-pāna karena tāhā haile mṛtyu arthāt āsanna-mṛtyurūpa saṁsāra-baddha-daśā avaśyantārī /
rāsa-līlā sarva-līlā-cūḍāmaṇi evaṁ tāhāra phala u sarva-cūḍāmaṇi / sūtarāṁ tāhāra adhikārī keu sarva-cūḍāmaṇi haite haibe / ye-kona hṛd-roga-grantha, kāmuk, apātra vyaktir pakṣe rāsa-līlā kona prakārai ālocanīya nahe / ajñatā dūra karibāra janya viśva-vidyālayer sarvoccha śīkṣā lābha karā ekāntu āvaśyaka haileu prāthamika vidyāthīke athavā alpajña vyaktike sarvaccha śreṇīte bhatti haite deuyā haya nā / sūtarāṁ indriyāsakta svalpajña vyaktike rāsa-līlār sarvottama śīkṣā deuyā yukti-saṅgata nahe /
‘The statement namo ‘nanta-līlāya is usually understood to mean “obeisances unto ananta-līlā-bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa,” or He whose pastimes are limitless. But Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī looks toward the esoteric intention of Satyavrata Muni and also according to his own mood of realization has revealed a very confidential purport. Thus, “Obeisances unto śrī rāsa-līlā.” The word ananta indicates that which has no end; namely perpetual, inexhaustible, countless, and so forth. In the expression līlāya, the word līlā is of the fourth case ending in the singular number (in conjunction with the word nāmaḥ). The derivation of līlā is – lī + lā = līlā. The meaning of the word lī is to embrace, and the meaning of lā is to accept. Therefore, the word līlā is indicative of that sportive pastime in which Lord Kṛṣṇa accepts the embraces of the gopīs; thus it is understood to mean in this context that obeisances are being offered unto the rāsa-līlā and other associated pastimes. For this reason it is stated ananta-līlāya. And as Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī has written in his tīkā, ‘It is suggested to include all the pastimes associated with the realm of Gokula Vṛndāvana. I offer my obeisances unto all those līlās; such a mood is most certainly expressed in this way.’ By writing this, he has himself fulfilled the quotation of madhurena samāpayet, all undertakings should be completed sweetly.
“Yet another topic is necessarily indicated at this point. Śrīla (Sanātana) Gosvāmīpāda has revealed that the final śloka of Dāmodarāṣṭakam shows Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes headed by the rāsa-līlā to be the topmost of all. He states ‘Since these are the topmost of confidential topics, they are not mentioned directly. Therefore such confidential pastimes are referred to by a mere hint only, as they are offered obeisances in the words namo ‘nanta-līlāya.’ The meaning of this is that because the rāsa-līlā is the most highly confidential pastime of the Lord, therefore Satyavrata Muni has mentioned it only with the briefest clue or tiniest glimpse. By so doing, he has made it known that it is always inappropriate to casually hear and chant about the rāsa-līlā here and there, whenever and wherever. Not only that, but if an unqualified person deceives himself with an attempt to banish lust, but then contemplates, performs or imitates the rāsa-līlā, then such a person certainly becomes degraded due to the offense of minimizing the glories of the factually transcendental rāsa-līlā. Eventually he will fall down to become a lusty debauchee and attached householder, just like the prākṛta-sahajiyās who prematurely dabble in the highest truth.”
In regard to ascertaining who is qualified to hear and chant about the Lord’s rāsa-līlā, it is especially noteworthy to examine the statements of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam presented at the conclusion of the rāsa-līlā description (10.33.30):
naitat samācarej jātu manasāpi hy-anīśvaraḥ
vinaśyaty-ācaran mauḍhyād yathārudro ‘bdhi-jaṁ viṣam
“One who is not a great controller should never imitate the behavior of ruling personalities, even mentally. If out of foolishness an ordinary person does imitate such behavior, 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.”
“The purport of this is that one who is not an īśvara truly qualified by being endowed with divine potency should never even mentally contemplate, perform or imitate the Lord’s rāsa-līlā. Only Lord Śiva himself is able to drink an entire ocean of poison. If an unqualified person who is arudra (not Śiva) falsely considers himself to be greatly qualified and tries to drink poison in the form of hearing and chanting about the rāsa-līlā, then he would certainly die —that is, he would become tightly bound within the death-like condition of saṁsāra or gross material existence.”
“Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s rāsa-līlā pastimes are the crest-jewel of all His pastimes, and the benefits of cultivating such pastimes are the crest jewel of all benefits. Therefore those who are qualified to relish these topics will be the crest jewels among all devotees. The Lord’s rāsa-līlā should never be studied in any way by those who are seized by the disease of the heart, who are lusty for personal gratification, or otherwise unfit. In matters of ordinary education, if one wants to dispel one’s ignorance, it is necessary to gradually master the highest knowledge of the university; but a beginning student or someone of little knowledge is never admitted prematurely into the highest class. Similarly, it is never appropriate to give instructions about the most elevated topic, the rāsa-līlā, to persons of little knowledge who are simply attached to the external bodily senses.” (Śrīla B. P. Keśava Mahārāja, Śrī Dāmodarāṣṭakam-tīkā, Verse 8)
“One day a devotee was studying the commentaries on rāsa-līlā, bhramara-gītā and so on, and Śrīla Gurudeva said, ‘The qualification to hear topics such as rāsa-līlā will come when śrī nāma-kīrtana has freed the heart from anarthas, and śuddha-sattva has appeared there. Otherwise the transcendental pastimes of Śrī Rādhā-Govinda will appear to be the activities of a worldly hero and heroine, and will only give rise to false ideas. The conception of rasa is only possible in the siddha-deha, the perfect state. It is impossible to perceive śṛṇgāra-rasa in a material body. Only a person who is free from the lower types of enjoyment and is in the stage of bhāva is qualified to discuss sambhoga-rasa.’” (Ācārya Kesarī Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī — His life and Teachings, Part 4, p. 343)
In this essay we have established, with reference to our ācāryas, that the serious student in Kṛṣṇa consciousness does not attempt to approach the higher topics of līlā without the proper adhikāra, qualifications. The proper adhikāra has been mentioned as three: anartha-nivṛtti, ruci, and lobha. First, one should become purified of any misconceptions, lust, or materials desires within the heart, anartha-nivṛtti. Furthermore one should have ruci, or a real taste for Kṛṣṇa consciousness, having abandoned the taste for lower subject matters. And last but not least one should aquire lobha, the intense spiritual greed to hear about kṛṣṇa-līlā. The wise student does not attempt to omit any step in the progressive development of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. One who does so is at risk of being lost forever.