Inside: Editorial - Srila BR Sridhar Maharaj * Saranagati - Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur * Vaisnava Ninda - Criticizing a Vaisnava - Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur * When does the Pure Name Manifests? - Srila Prabhupad * The Highest Conception of Conduct - Srila BR Sridhar Maharaj * Srimad Bhagavatam 2.3.24 (with Commentaries by Srila Visvanath Cakravarti Thakur) * Ekadasi (2) – Srila Bhakti Sadhak Muni Maharaj
(Translated from the original Bengali first published in Sajjana-tosani, Volume 5, Issues 2, 3, and 5, in May, June, and August of 1893.)
Amongst all the offenses that a soul can commit, there is no offense more severe than criticism of a Vaisnava. Therefore, discussing criticism of a Vaisnava according to the scriptures is necessary. In the Skanda Purana, it is written:nindan kurvanti ye muďha vaisnavanan mahatmanam
patanti pitrbhih sardhan maharaurava sanjnite
hanti nindanti vai dvesti vaisnavan nabhinandati
krudhyate yati no harsam darsane patanani sat
“A foolish person who criticises a great Vaisnava falls into the hell known as Maharaurava along with their forefathers. There are six deplorable acts that are causes of falling down. One who (1) kills a Vaisnava, (2) criticises a Vaisnava, (3) envies a Vaisnava, or, upon seeing a Vaisnava, (4) does not offer respect, (5) becomes angry, or (6) feels displeased, will fall down.“
It is written in the Srimad Bhagavatam (10.74.40):nindam bhagavatah srnvams tat-parasya janasya va
tato napaiti yah so 'pi yaty adhah sukrtac cyutah
“One who does not leave a place where the Lord or the Vaisnavas are being criticised looses all of their sukrti (spiritual fortune) and falls down.”
When we are to be this careful about criticism of a Vaisnava, then it is extremely necessary to first define a Vaisnava and clarify by which acts offences to a Vaisnava are made.
are a special type of fault: they are attached to the soul itself.
Therefore, those who desire to serve the Lord are especially
apprehensive about offences.”
Dividing all souls into four groups is necessary. These are the four groups of souls: (1) ordinary souls, (2) pious souls, (3) brahmanas and Vaisnava-prayas (those who are ‘nearly Vaisnavas’), and (4) Vaisnavas. Every soul is an abode of Sri Krsna—with this conception we should respect all souls. Amongst them, giving some special respect to pious souls is necessary. Honouring brahmanas and Vaisnava-prayas is our duty, and serving the feet of Vaisnavas is most essential. If one does not respect souls, does not specially respect pious souls, or does not honour brahmanas and Vaisnava-prayas, one commits sin (papa), but if one disrespects or dishonours a Vaisnava, one commits offence (aparadh). Sins are removed by ordinary atonement, but offences do not easily go away. Sins are attached to the gross and subtle bodies; offences are a special type of fault: they are attached to the soul itself. Therefore, those who desire to serve the Lord are especially apprehensive about offences.
Through the three verses of Srimad Bhagavatam written below, a Vaisnava has been defined according three divisions: a Vaisnava, a superior Vaisnava (Vaisnava-tara), and a superlative Vaisnava (Vaisnava-tama).
A beginner Vaisnava (kanistha-Vaisnava):arcayam eva haraye pujan yah sraddhayehate na tad-bhaktesu canyesu sa bhaktah prakrtah smrtah
“A devotee who faithfully engages in the worship of the deity in the temple but does not behave properly toward other devotees or people in general is called an unrefined devotee.”
One who worships the Deity of the Lord with faith acquired from cultural tradition but does not worship the devotees of the Lord is a beginner Vaisnava, that is, they are just entering the practice of devotion. The difference between faith developed through tradition and faith based on scripture is that faith developed through tradition only arises from cultural education. From faith based on scripture (sastriya sraddha), faith in Vaisnavas, develops through deep conviction in the statements of the scriptures and the scriptures’ authority. Only when faith based on scripture develops does a soul become an intermediate stage Vaisnava (madhyama-adhikari). Until it develops, a practitioner’s engagement in material activities (karmadhikar) does not end. Sriman Mahaprabhu spoke about such practitioners in this way:suddha vaisnava nahe, kintu vaisnavera praya
“They are not pure Vaisnavas; they are Vaisnava-prayas (nearly Vaisnavas).”
When beginner Vaisnavas, that is, Vaisnava-prayas, associate with genuine sadhus, they can become pure Vaisnavas.
An intermediate Vaisnava (madhyama-Vaisnava):isvare tad-adhinesu balisesu dvisatsu ca prema-maitri-krpopeksa yah karoti sa madhyamah
“An intermediate or second-class devotee, called madhyama-adhikari, offers his love to the Supreme Lord, is a sincere friend to all the devotees of the Lord, shows mercy to ignorant people who are innocent, and disregards those who are envious of the Lord.”
One who loves the Lord, forms friendship with Vaisnavas,acts kindly to the unknowing—Vaisnava-prayas, souls who areunaware of the nature of devotion, and ignores those who are inimical to the Lord and the Vaisnavas (remains indifferent to, tolerates, or avoids such persons according to the situation, and, with this mentality, also acts kindly towards the inimical or unknowing as appropriate) is an intermediate Vaisnava.” Only intermediate Vaisnavas are qualified to serve Vaisnavas, as beginner Vaisnavas do not do this (and are thus known as Vaisnava-prayas; they are not called Vaisnavas).
An advanced Vaisnava (uttama Vaisnava):sarva-bhutesu yah pasyed bhagavad-bhavam atmanah
bhutani bhagavaty atmany esa bhagavatottamah
“The most advanced devotee sees Supreme Lord, one’s object of worship, within everything, and sees everything in the Supreme Lord.”
One who sees the presence of their beloved Lord in all beings, and within their heart perceives all beings as manifestations of the Lord, sees the whole world as a Vaisnava sheltered by the Lord—this is an advanced Vaisnava. Such Vaisnavas see no distinction between Vaisnavas and non-Vaisnavas.
Through these verses it has become clear that until they develop the other characteristics of an intermediate Vaisnava, even those amongst the beginner class who have developed faith based on scripture and become qualified to serve Vaisnavas are beginner Vaisnavas, that is, ‘Vaisnavas’. An intermediate Vaisnava is a superior Vaisnava (Vaisnava-tara). An advanced Vaisnava is a superlative Vaisnava (Vaisnava-tama). In this regard, the way in which Sriman Mahaprabhu demonstrated these three classes of Vaisnavas is noteworthy.ataeva yara mukhe eka krsna-nama
sei ta’ vaisnava, kariha tanhara sammana
krsna-nama nirantara yanhara vadane
sei vaisnava-srestha, bhaja tanhara carane
yanhara darsane mukhe aise krsna-nama
tanhare janiha tumi 'vaisnava-pradhana'
krama kari' kahe prabhu 'vaisnava'-laksana
'vaisnava', 'vaisnavatara', ara 'vaisnavatama'
“'One in whose mouth the Name of Krsna has once appeared is a Vaisnava; honour them. One in whose mouth the Name of Krsna always appears is a superior Vaisnava; serve their feet. Know one by whose presence the Name of Krsna appears in the mouths of other souls to be a superlative Vaisnava.’ In a gradation, the Lord described the qualifications of Vaisnavas: a Vaisnava, a superior Vaisnava, and a superlative Vaisnava.”
According to the advice of Sriman Mahaprabhu, simply by pronouncing the Name of Krsna one becomes a Vaisnava. Those amongst the beginner class who have been shown to be Vaisnava-prayas, that is, a semblance of Vaisnava (Vaisnavabhas), pronounce only a semblance of the Name (Namabhas); they do not pronounce the Name; Sriman Mahaprabhu does not consider them actual Vaisnavas. One who can once pronounce the pure Name is a pure Vaisnava. One who constantly pronounces the pure Name is a superior Vaisnava. One, whose simple presence causes the Holy Name to manifest in the mouths of others, is a superlative Vaisnava. It is also noteworthy in this regard that becoming a pure Vaisnava does not depend on initiation or other rites. Initiation means accepting a mantra suitable for worshiping the Deity of the Lord to become a Vaisnava-praya. For the Name, such initiation is not necessary, as per the statements of the Lord:prabhu kahe, “yanra mukhe suni ekabara
krsna-nama, sei pujya, srestha sabakara
eka krsna-name kare sarva-papa ksaya
nava-vidha bhakti purna nama haite haya
diksa-purascharya-vidhi apeksa na kare
jihva-sparse a-canďala sabare uddhare
anusanga-phale kare sansarera ksaya
citta akarsiya karaya krsne premodaya
ataeva yanra mukhe eka krsna-nama
sei ta' vaisnava, kariha tanhara sammana”
“The Lord said, ‘One from whose mouth I once hear the Name of Krsna is worshipable. They are the best of all. Once pronouncing the Name of Krsna destroys all sins. Through the Name, the nine processes of devotion are perfected. The Name does not depend on initiation or preparatory rites. Just by touching the tongue, the Name delivers everyone, even untouchables. Incidentally, the Name destroys one’s entanglement in the world. The Name attracts the heart and awakens divine love for Krsna; therefore, one in whose mouth the Name of Krsna has once appeared is a Vaisnava. I offer them the greatest honour.’“
There is no scope here to discuss the difference between the Name and a semblance of the Name (Namabhas). At another time, I will discuss this matter in depth. In this regard, I can say this much: if the Name is pronounced with faith based on scripture, that is, pure surrender, then the Name appears. The ‘Name’ that is connected with desirousness of other ends or covered by knowledge (jnana), action (karma), yoga, renunciation (tyaga), and so on, is a semblance of the Name. Even though results up to liberation arise from a semblance of the Name, the pure Name—not a semblance of the Name—is pronounced by the mouth of the Vaisnava. The Name pronounced with knowledge of the Name’s nature, understanding of the Name being nondifferent from the Named (the Lord), and perception of the soul’s spiritual senses as the source of the Name, is alone the Name. Those on whose tongue one such Name appears are Vaisnavas. As the Name appears, all active and inactive sin is destroyed. As soon as the Name arises, divine love arises.
yathaitam aisvarim´ mayam´ dustaram akrtatmabhih
taranty anjah sthula-dhiyo maharsa idam ucyatam
King Nimi said: O great sage! You should explain how even a foolish materialist can easily cross over the illusory energy of the Supreme Lord, which is always insurmountable for those who are not accomplished.
Srila Visvanath Cakravarti Thakur: The King already knows that one can cross maya by bhakti for it was already said:bhayam´ dvitiyabhinivesatah syad
isad apetasya viparyayo 'smrtih
tan-mayayato budha abhajet tam´
For the jiva averse to the Lord, there will be samsara because of his absorption in the material coverings on the soul, arising from the Lord’s maya. Samsara takes the form of identity with body and lack of identity with soul. Therefore, the intelligent person, taking guru as his Lord and very self, should fully worship the Lord with pure bhakti. (Srimad Bhagavatam 11.2.37)
However, seeing karmis who thought they were learned present in the assembly, the King asks this question. Akrtatmabhih means by persons with imperfect or slow intelligence, since Amara-kosa says krta means complete. You should explain how foolish persons like karmis can easily cross maya, which is difficult to cross by holding a dog’s tail. The King asks this question while glancing towards the karmis present.
karmany arabhamananam´ duhkha-hatyai sukhaya ca
pasyet paka-viparyasam´ mithuni-carinam´ nrnam
Prabuddha said: One should see that the activities of those who endeavor for destruction of sorrow and creation of happiness by sex life achieve the opposite results.
Srila Visvanath Cakravarti Thakur: Karmis do not cross maya at all. One should see this with discrimination. This is explained in three verses. Paka-viparyasam´ means “opposite results.”
grhapatyapta-pasubhih ka pritih sadhitais calaih
What happiness can be attained by wealth, a perpetual source of distress, which is difficult to acquire, and which is death for the soul and what happiness can be attained by objects obtained through wealth, since they are all temporary?
Srila Visvanath Cakravarti Thakur: What happiness is attained by wealth? None. What happiness is attained by house and other things attained by wealth? No happiness is attained because the things are temporary.
sa-tulyatisaya-dhvam´sam´ yatha mandala-vartinam
One should know that the objects of this world and the next produced by karma are temporary, just like the existence of kings who have competition with equals, envy of superiors and lamentation because of defeat.
Srila Visvanath Cakravarti Thakur: Thus this world and the next cannot give happiness. Sruti says tad yatheha karma-cito lokah ksiyate, evam evamutra punya-cito lokah ksiyate: just as this life is destroyed by exhaustion of karmas, so next life is destroyed by exhaustion of pious acts. (Chandogya Upanisad 8.1.6) However, even at the time of enjoyment one can see that happiness is mixed with sorrow. It is just like kings having rivalry with equals, envy of superiors and lamenation at their own defeat.
sabde pare ca nisnatam´ brahmany upasamasrayam
Therefore one who is inquisitive about the highest truth should surrender to a guru who is skilful in the scriptures and fixed in realization, while not being under the control of anger and greed.
Srila Visvanath Cakravarti Thakur: Now bhakti, the means of crossing samsara, which was previously explained, is described. Please listen. One should surrender to a guru who is skilful (nisnatam´) in understanding the meaning of the Vedas (sabde) and other scriptures. If he does not have this quality, the faith of the disciple will become weak, since he will not be able to destroy the doubts of the disappointed disciple. He should be capable as well in realizing the Lord (pare). Otherwise, his mercy will not bear results. The position of being fixed in realization of the Lord is described: he is not under control of anger and greed (upasamasrayam).
Inside: Editorial - Srila BR Sridhar Maharaj * Saranagati - Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur * Patramrta - The Destruction of Anarthas - Srila Prabhupad * With Sincerity to Safety - Srila BR Sridhar Maharaj * Don't Discuss - Do Nama-bhajan! - Srila BV Puri Maharaj * Sri Caitanya Bhagavata, Adi-khanda 2, (106-149) – Srila Vrndavan Das Thakur * Srimad Bhagavatam 11.3.17-21 (with Commentaries by Srila Visvanath Cakravarti Thakur) * Ekadasi – Srila Bhakti Sadhak Muni Maharaj
Do nama-kirtana and through it you will obtain perfection. And after you obtain this perfection you will understand whether you belong to Goloka or to Vaikuntha, or whether you belong to dasya, sakhya, vatsalya or srngara-bhakti. Only then will you know. This is not something which you can achieve by training. These are not topics on which you can give five year training courses. It is not a training course. This raga-bhakti is not a training course. It depends only upon the blessings of Guru, Vaisnavas and the Lord. Our progress depends upon the blessings of sadhus, mahatmas, Guru and Bhagavan. Without their blessings we cannot march forward. There is no march. If you make a khichiri – rice, dhal, vegetables all mixed together – you cannot be happy, you cannot taste it. You will not obtain ruci. You have to go step by step. After ruci will come asakti and after that bhava. But we have not come to bhava at all. We talk of rasa, but we have not obtained the bhava stage. Rasa is different. Many are saying that bhakti is bhava.
We don’t appreciate rasam. Because rasa means to have vikaram (change, transformation). The nirvisesa-vadi are saying that the bhakti-rasa is nirvikara (without exchange and transformation). But this is not the pure conception. Their conception is that there is only nirvikaram (no exchange or transformation) nirvisesam (impersonal), nirakaram (formless) and nothing more. But they cannot understand this. That Mahaprabhu is dancing and His body is shivering, His colour is changing, His throat is choking, His hair is standing on end.
All these symptoms they are considered as nirvikaram. They say that a jnani does not require this. How can they understand? The first thing is that you have to follow the process of Rupa Gosvami.adau sraddha tatah sadhu-sango 'tha bhajana-kriya
tato 'nartha-nivṛttih syat tato nistha rucis tatah
athasaktis tato bhavas tatah premabhyudancati
sadhakanam ayam premnah pradurbhave bhavet kramah
we have attraction and for others we feel disgust.
We all have this, but we should go beyond that.
Then our doubts will be cleared.”
You have to wait for that. If you give up the rail lines, how far can you go even if you run? The train is running on these rail lines. The path has already been laid and you have to adjust yourself accordingly. This train, when it remains on the right track, can drag any load and it will take us to the right destination.
There are certain lazy fellows who have no time to practice bhajan or sadhana, but they are happy to take part in these lazy discussions.bhidyate hrdaya-granthis chidyante sarva-samsayah
ksiyante casya karmani drsta evatmanisvare
The devotee is always engaged in service, he has no time. Once Vallabhacarya came to Mahaprabhu and told Him, “I have written a commentary on the Divine Name. My commentary is a very lucid one, it is better than Sridhara’s.” Then Mahaprabhu gently avoided him, “I have no time, sir, I must finish my number of Names, so I have no time to hear your commentary.” Gently He avoided him. He said, “I know that Krsna is Nanda-nandana. There may be hundreds or thousands of commentaries on Him, but all I know is that Krsna is Nanda-nandana. So why should you come and tell me your commentaries. Only lazy fellows like to discuss.”
All the devotees were afraid to hear from Vallabhacarya because Mahaprabhu had avoided him. Now if Mahaprabhu comes to a conclusion and has given a judgement, who are these rascals to come and say, “No, no! He is a scholar, he has done this and that.”
These lazy fellows always like to discuss about the raga-bhakti. They never do sadhana. The time they use to argue, is that sadhana? It is not sadhana at all. To develop sadhana-bhakti you have to only hear, not to discuss. Discussion means that there is something you have to accept and something you have to reject. What portion do we have to accept? What portion do we have to reject? What can be understood? Bhidyate hridaya-granthis, chidyante sarva-samsayah. When the ahankara is not there, then you are free from these sort of discussions. Ragam and dvesam, like and dislike. For some things we have attraction and for others we feel disgust. We all have this, but we should go beyond that. Then our doubts will be cleared. We should come in touch with Bhagavan, Krsna. We have to come in contact with Krsna. If anybody comes to you and says, “Oh, you are not doing bhajan” and you argue with him, you will lose your time. Then the time for food will come and you have not done any sadhana. Food is desired, then you have to go to the latrine because you must pass urine. You cannot stop all of these activities. But you will stop krsna-bhajana. You will never do krsna-bhajana. You will never leave your food or control your urine. This is how we are lazy people. We enjoy happiness in argument; the mana is enjoying it and it is called manaso bhyasam, the happiness of the mind. And we think that we have properly utilized our time. But the bhakta will never do that.
If you are really craving the mercy of the Lord, you will never lose even one second. Pariksit Maharaja said to Sukadeva Gosvami, “Do not stop for even one second, I do not want to rest even for one second. If I lose one second I will never make it up, I will never recover that lost second in my life. In seven days it will be one second less, one minute lost.” For a man who is very intelligent, when anything threatens to destroy his bhakti, he will be very honest, sincere and clever not to embrace it or to discuss it. He will not lose his time in useless discussions.
His mind has no taste for it, on the contrary he will sleep. If one does not sleep in these arguments it is because he wants to defeat others, he wants to establish himself. Mahaprabhu says, “Don’t argue! Arguments have no place!”
People who like to argue will always be separated one from the other. The way you do bhajan should not be discussed with others. What is that bhajan? To repeat Nama. Every day you should complete one lakha Nama. You must make time for this. Then you may discuss whatever, because you will be happy that you have repeated Nama one hundred thousand times. Now if you are not chanting one lakha, when somebody comes to you and talks, you cannot count Nama. The time you lose, two or three hours are wasted. How can you make up three hours? How can you complete your Nama? You have to complete the Nama 365 days a year. Every day. You don’t know when the blessings of the Lord will come to you.
We must repeat Nama, but we are chanting it recklessly. My mind is roaming and my tongue is repeating. The beads are going down, but my tongue is not moving so quickly. “Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna”, and then are finished. This is how they cheat themselves. They are deceivers, they are cheating themselves and they are cheating others. They want to derive happiness by discussing. What do you discuss? You have to discuss only on the method of hearing, on how to use time properly. In 24 hours we eat, rest etc. Can we spare eight hours of our day for Nama? Regularly and with the mind attached to it, you should repeat Nama, this is sadhana. We are not at all doing sadhana and we discuss high topics. We do not go to school, our names are not even in the register and we want to discuss about things unknown to us. This is the situation. We are lazy, we are not doing bhajan at all. But bhajana is necessary. You say that you are chanting sixteen rounds, this is nonsense. You cannot be happy with only sixteen rounds. If a man has an actual appetite for bhakti, he cannot be satisfied with only sixteen rounds.tunde tandavini ratim vitanute tundavali-labdhaye
karna-kroda-kadambini ghatayate karnarbudebhyah sprham
cetah-prangana-sangini vijayate sarvendriyanam krtim
no jane janita kiyadbhir amrtaih krsneti varna-dvayi
“I do not understand how much nectar there is in these two syllables Krs-na. When I repeat Nama I think, why has Brahma given me only one tongue? One is not sufficient for me to repeat Nama. How can I repeat Nama day and night with only one tongue? I want more tongues. Tundavali-labdhaye / karna-kroda-kadambini ghatayate karnarbudebhyah sprham. When I hear that Nama I think two ears are not sufficient. I need a hundred crores of ears to hear Nama. When He dances on my tongue, He dances in my heart and all my organs are dancing.” Do you experience that? And you talk all this nonsense. These rogues who are arguing or establishing such things, have they experienced that? No.
“How can I approach this process sir? What is the procedure?” You have to eat to live. What food do you want? Nama is the food. Are you having Nama? Do you repeat Nama? They say, “Yes, I’m repeating it”, but this is an excuse. By repeating that kind of Nama, you will never get anything. This is not the process. You have to go beyond Svargaloka, Maharloka, Janaloka, Satyaloka, Brahmaloka and Vaikuntha. Where are you? Where are we? It is a misfortune, we should not discuss those topics. We should know that these people are kamadinam kati na katidha palita durnidesas. They are under the influence of kama. They cannot control desires. As soon as their indriyam, the senses, will come in contact with their objects, they will fall down. Because they are lazy fellows, they will come in touch with it. They do not have the power that can enable them to abstain. So Nama should be repeated.
See how Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami used to do that. In Vrndavana he was the only person who was vairagi.vairagya-yug-bhakti-rasam prayatnair
apayayan mam anabhipsum andham
krpambudhir yah para-duhkha-duhkhi
sanatanas tam prabhum asrayami
He said, “I’m a blind man, I never wanted to chant, but my gurus Sanatana Gosvami and Rupa Gosvami forcibly tied my hands and legs. It is like when you give medicine to a beast. This body is a beast, I’m a beast. Forcibly they have poured this nectar into my mouth. I am unwilling, I am unfit, yet they are so merciful.” We are not in the position to hear these subjects. Where we are? We are in hell, we are at the bottom of hell, but still we discuss these things.
Inside: Editorial - Srila Prabhupad * Saranagati - Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur * Amrta Vani - Some people say that everyone is equal. Are they correct? - Srila Prabhupad * With Sincerity to Safety - Srila BR Sridhar Maharaj * Sri Caitanya Bhagavata, Adi-khanda 2, (80-105) – Srila Vrndavan Das Thakur * Srimad Bhagavatam 11.14.15-17 (with Commentaries by Srila Visvanath Cakravarti Thakur) * Process of Surrender – Srila Bhakti Sadhak Muni Maharaj
adhisthanam tatha karta
karanam ca prthah-vidham
vividhas ca prthak cesta
daivam caivatra pancamam
Any event is a combination of many things. But those that are sincere, that are eager to help their own self really, they cannot be misguided for long. That should be our solace, our consolation. “If I do not like to be a party to deceive myself, then none can deceive me in this world.” That fairness of mind one should have, because the vigilant eye of the Absolute is always there. We must have such confidence and such faith that the vigilant eye of the Supreme is everywhere. I may not see that, but He is my best friend and only I want to come to Him and He knows it. So, to Whom I am going, He is looking at everything although I may not. The Absolute is the absolute possibility. The finite is to go to meet the Infinite! It is the most audacious, the most impossible thing, and we are going to make it possible by our inner urge. Our inner urge, that is everything.
Question: So the calculating mentality may not be our best friend?
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: It may not be of great help. Of course we cannot avoid calculation when we are in a certain stage. But still we should know that the calculative mentality may not be of much help ultimately. Prayer is more powerful to seek the help of the highest to whom I am trying to go. If I seek His help, then He will send some agent to me. If I should get such an agent on my side along the way, then I will be more secure in my progress. Prayer, prayer and Saranagati. Prayer reaches to Him only when we surrender.
But calculation may be of the nature of self-analysis: “Here I have nothing, I have no power, so how can I be lifted? My knowledge and my judgment are futile and have got no power. My free will, my judgment, my everything is so meager. So how can it come in contact and make some progress regarding the infinite? This is impossible!” In this way self-analysis will take us to surrender.
Surrender and prayer will be of primary importance to any spiritual student. Saranagati means surrender. As much as we make surrender towards Him our prayer will be genuine. When I shall see myself as clearly helpless then only will my prayer be substantial and then the help will come accordingly.
On the whole there is only one most important factor - sadhu-sanga. So many things are all interdependent but first importance is to be given to sadhu-sanga. But sadhu-sanga is also affected by the results of so many previous events. So many things are all interdependent but still some points have been given more stress. More importance has been given to firstly sadhu-sanga, then Sastra, then Saranagati, then prayer. Though many things are there, a complex and interdependent interhelp, but still if we are to select some principle thing for our help the first thing will be sadhu-sanga, association with those more advanced than myself, and next importance will be given to the Sastra, the advices of the great sadhus. With these two we shall take practical steps in Saranagati. Saranagati is real when it is sincere. And sincerity means, “I am helpless. By self-analysis I am helpless.” As much as I consider myself to be helpless my prayer to the Lord will be accordingly intense, and the help from that side will come to that degree. Sanga means serving attitude, not physical contact but serving. Higher things can be contacted only through the relationship of serving tendency, not otherwise.
Question: Therefore is prayer a more benedicting activity?
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Prayer also should be pure. “O Lord give me my bread,” is also a prayer. And another type of prayer is: “Please save me, I do not know what is my real interest. Please enlighten me.” There are so many different types of prayer and how we pray is determined by our association and our spiritual advice.
Question: Is praying for the revelation of the Absolute more important than glorification of the Absolute?
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Yes. “Please You reveal within me what truth is, who am I, where am I, what is my goal of life and how to reach there. Why am I suffering? I do not know how to get out of this miserable life, so please help me. I do not know, but only I can guess that You are goodness, ecstasy and happiness. I want You. I am very tired of my present situation, I cannot tolerate it any longer. Please take me up.”
Question: Should that type of prayer be given more importance and stressed more than the glorification of the Absolute?
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: The prayer to the highest degree that we find is: “I want Your connection. You may utilize me. You may think me to be Yours and keeping me in Your connection utilize me according to Your sweet will. I have no particular claim nor aspiration that I must attain this or that, but only I want to be Your faithful servant and so You please utilize me in any way You like. Only that inseparable connection with You I want. I am Your slave: I want to be Your slave. Your connection I want: Your sincere connection, and You know best what connection that is. I do not know what is what, but You know what is best. Only consider me as Your own and utilize me.” That should be the nature of our prayer.
Actual service to Krishna is rendered simply by serving the spiritual master and the Vaisnavas. The sahajiyas (imitators) cannot understand this. They think that one who worships Krishna is great, and therefore they proudly consider themselves Vaisnavas, accept service from others, and renounce their guru-seva and vaisnava-seva. Those who have heard the teachings of Sri Caitanyadeva and the Gosvamis, however, know well that it is possible to serve Krishna only by serving the Guru and the Vaisnavas, who are all Krishna’s dear devotees. What is the point in making a show of serving Krishna while neglecting to serve His devotees?
Those who renounce their subordination and service to the spiritual master pretend to serve Krishna and chant the Holy Name, but they commit offenses at every step. As long as one continues to commit offenses he cannot serve Krishna or chant His Holy Names purely. Only the surrendered devotees engaged in guru-seva and vaisnava-seva attain pure devotion by their mercy. Sri Caitanyadeva and the Gosvamis bestow mercy on those who serve Guru and the Vaisnavas with love and devotion.
I used to think of myself as a learned scholar in mathematics and philosophy, but by my good fortune I met my spiritual master. When he shocked me by pointing out that my great qualities—my truthfulness, my pure moral life, and my vast learning—were insignificant, I realized how great he must be to consider such qualities insignificant. By his push I could understand that there was no person as fallen and wretched as myself. I understood my actual position.
Here was a great soul who placed no value on qualities such as learning and moral character—qualities I esteemed highly. I understood what an invaluable object this great personality must possess! I concluded that he was either extremely merciful or extremely proud. Thereafter I took shelter of the Supreme Lord with humility. By the Lord’s mercy I realized that without the service and mercy of such an akincana, I could not achieve spiritual success. When I developed that good intelligence, I received the shelter and unlimited mercy of my spiritual master and my life became successful. Here I am speaking about that most auspicious personality whom I have realized by the mercy of the Supreme Lord, my own spiritual master.
The shock I received from my spiritual master made me realize that unless people are similarly shocked they will not come to their senses. Therefore I declare that I am the most foolish person in the entire world. Do not become foolish like me! Do not try to measure the spiritual master or Krishna. Discuss krsna-katha and you will certainly become a great personality.
Don't Deceive Yourself
We have to advance in our spiritual life. Krishna consciousness means to be connected 24-hours a day, to not be for even one second disconnected. We have no eyes to see, we have very limited vision. Therefore, whenever we approach a pure devotee, we pull him down to the mundane level. We see him with our eyes as ordinary, like anyone else.
How much can we see? How much have we realized Krishna and Supersoul or soul consciousness? Soul consciousness, Supersoul consciousness, means that we are conscious of everything. Now we do not have this consciousness. Our consciousness is just engaged with our problems, with our tiny mundane cultivation of our whatever. And we are arguing.
Imagine what kind of sacrifice such devotees as our Gurudev and his godbrothers and Prabhupad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati are doing. What we read in the Amrta Vani (Nectar of Instruction for Immortality) about the spiritual master is a standard for how the spiritual master himself has to speak.
that we are close to Him,
that we are Krishna conscious
– we will be deceived by maya.”
He has to speak like this so that others may understand the position of spiritual master. When Svami Maharaj came, he had to teach his devotees how to worship, how to respect Vaisnava and Guru. He himself had to do this because all of these newcomers were thinking, “He is the same as me.” Ignorant people will think like this, “He is just like me.” We should be very careful, because as long as we think in this way, all we understand about him is that which we are projecting on him – our level, our vision, is making him like this.
What realization do we have? How can we realize something if we approach him from our level? We have to be very careful. If we want to get the real benefit, we have to follow the teaching of our Guru Maharaj, of our Param Gurudev.
Devotee: How to uproot this attitude towards pure devotees?
Srila Muni Maharaj: When we hear these things, we should do more then just hear it, and then go out and do speak all kinds of nonsense, concerning only the external world – the weather, our bodily conditions, all discussed in detail. We must think, “What is the interest of Krishna in these things? Is He pleased if I talk to Him like this?”
There are many topics being discussed, but there is no topic concerning what we have read – for example, about Mahaprabhu’s pastimes. In this way there is not a continuous flow, you know? After hearing hari-katha we leave the temple room, and the flow is interrupted. Why is it like this? Because actually we don’t have any taste for hari-katha. We have the taste for it only if we are speaking about it, because we like to hear our speaking, and we like the attention others give us, “Oh, he is speaking so nicely!” We get taste for these things: pratistha. We like to be in the position of speaker. But this is not pleasing to Krishna. This is for our pratistha. Very subtle impurity.
When I am speaking I have to also take a lot of sacrifice. When I speak that Krishna consciousness is a 24-hours process, then I have to practice it, I have to live it as much as possible. Spiritual consciousness is something different from mundane consciousness – it is beyond mundane. So if we come from these high spiritual talks and immediately jump into the material topics, talking all kinds of nonsense, then we are committing offense actually.
We have no faith in what Prabhupad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, sastra and Mahaprabhu said. We have no faith. We are egocentric and so much involved in our “I and my” thinking that we are not able to let the universal consciousness work in us. We are not able to meditate about Krishna, because it is always contaminated with this “I and my”. Basically we are only doing things that are for us, for our comfort.
Deceptively we put up a big billboard and write Hare Krishna on it, but our real interest is only in ourselves. When this habit changes, we become a real devotee – there is no “I and my”, there is only “my Lord, let me do something for Your satisfaction. What can I do? I am not able to manage “I and my.” I offer my everything to You.” And then when He comes a little closer to test us, we get scared and start crying.
We should understand that we are very far away from Krishna. As long as we think we know something, that we are close to Him, that we are Krishna conscious – we will be deceived by Maya. Our interest is only “I and my” interest. And we sell it very expertly, with many tricks. We try to fulfill our interest and sell it as Krishna’s interest. We cheat ourselves very expertly. We find various ways for how to cheat ourselves and think it is Krishna consciousness. But what is Krishna consciousness will be decided by Krishna, and those who are more advanced then we are.
So, real surrender, real Krishna consciousness means big sacrifice. We have to cross this border, otherwise we will only live in the imitation of Krishna consciousness.
To make it easy, to make compromises, doesn’t mean this is the real thing. Our Guru Maharaj did not make any compromise. Many times he reacted like a thunderbolt. Half-truth is more dangerous than falsehood. So either you tell the truth or don’t, but never half, otherwise you will be cheated. Srila Gurudeva ki jay!
Inside: The Basic Idea - Srila BR Sridhar Maharaj * Editorial - Srila Prabhupad * Saranagati - Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur * Amrta Vani - How is it possible to actually serve Krsna? - Srila Prabhupad * Learn To Die - Srila BR Sridhar Maharaj * Jivera 'svarupa' haya — guru 'nitya-dasa' - Srila BK Santa Maharaj * Mahaprabhu and sabda-Nama - Om Visnupad BV Puri Maharaj * Sri Caitanya Bhagavata, Adi-khanda 2, (71-79) – Srila Vrindavan Das Thakur * Srimad Bhagavatam 11.14.13-11.14.14 (with Commentaries by Srila Visvanath Cakravarti Thakur) * Don't Deceive Yourself (2nd part) – Srila Bhakti Sadhak Muni Maharaj
During the British regime, I went to Rangoon, Burma, for preaching. Then Sripad Yajak Maharaj and I were companions. One day I read:jivera 'svarupa' haya — krsnera 'nitya-dasa'
krsnera 'tatastha-Sakti' 'bhedabheda-prakaSa'
“The costitutional position of a jiva (individual soul) is that he is an eternal servant (nitya-dasa) of Krishna. He is Krishna's marginal potency (tatastha-Sakti) and manifestation of the Lord simultaneously different from and identical with Him (bhedabheda-prakaSa).”
I render to my Guru. If I have any identity,
it is that I am a servant of My Guru.”
I told Yajak Maharaj, “Maharaj, I do not accept this.” He said, “What are you saying? This was written by Srila Krishna Das Kaviraj Gosvami. Who are you to not accept it?”
I then wrote an essay explaining my realization called Bhrtya paricaya (The Signs of a Servant) and send it to the daily Nadiya Prakasa. At that time Sri Pranavananda Brahmacari (latter Srila Bhakti Promode Puri Maharaj) and Krishna Kanti Brahamacari (latter Srila Bhakti Kusum Sraman Maharaj) were the editor and publisher respectively of this daily newspaper.
In my article, I wrote, “It is true that the individual soul's eternal identity is to be the servant of Lord Krishna. Nevertheless, it is impossible for me to accept this. Why? Because I have no aquaintance with Krishna. I have never seen Him. I do not know Him, I do not understand Him and I have not attained Him.” At the conclusion of my article, I wrote, “My qualifications can be known from the service I render to my Guru. If I have any identity, it is that I am a servant of My Guru.”
Prabhupad (Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati) read the essay and said with tears in his eyes, “What a great thing has been written down by such a little boy!” He said to Krishna Kanti Prabhu, “Please, write to this boy that his Gurudev blesses him after reading his article.”
This is the truth. Where have we seen Krishna? We have seen a stone statue. It is Sri Gurudev who takes away my material understanding; he removes the cataract from my eyes. I shall be able to see the Lord by his grace. To whom, therefore, shall I give most importance? How can I give the same degree of importance to anyone else? I shall only offer respect to other sadhus with a view of getting the mercy of my Guru, for in this life I am not ready to admit any other person, whoever he may be, if it means losing the mercy of my spiritual master (guru-kripa).