lila premna priyadhikyam madhuryam venu-rupayoh
ity asadharanam proktam govindasya chatustayam
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 23.84)
“Krishna has four superexcellent qualities: His wonderful Pastimes, His wonderful associates like the gopis who are very dear to Him, His sweet beauty, and the sweet vibration of His flute.”
Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur
Nineteenth Century Founder
of the Krishna Consciousness Movement
We love to read a book which we have never read before. We are anxious to gather whatever information is contained in it, and with such acquirement our curiosity stops. This mode of study prevails amongst a great number of readers who are great men in their own estimation as well as in the estimation of those who are of their own stamp. In fact, most readers are mere repositories of facts and statements made by other people. But this is not study. The student is to read the facts with a view to create, and not with the object of fruitless retention. Students, like satellites, should reflect whatever light they receive from authors, and not imprison the facts and thoughts just as the magistrates imprison the convicts in the jail!
Thought is progressive. The author’s thought must have progress in the reader in the shape of correction or development. He is the best critic who can show the further development of an old thought; but a mere denouncer is the enemy of progress, and consequently of nature. Progress certainly is the law of nature, and there must be corrections and developments with the progress of time. But progress means going further or rising higher. The shallow critic and the fruitless reader are the two great enemies of progress. We must shun them.
The true critic, on the other hand, advises us to preserve what we have already obtained and to adjust our race from that point where we have arrived in the heat of our progress. He will never advise us to go back to the point whence we started, as he fully knows that in that case there will be a fruitless loss of our valuable time and labour. He will direct the adjustment of the angle of our race at the point where we are.
This is also the characteristic of the useful student. He will read an old author and will find out his exact position in the progress of thought. He will never propose to burn a book on the ground that it contains thoughts which are useless. No thought is useless. Thoughts are means by which we attain our objects. The reader who denounces a bad thought does not know that a bad road is even capable of improvement and conversion into a good one. One thought is a road leading to another. Thus, the reader will find that one thought, which is the object today, will be the means of a further object tomorrow. Thoughts will necessarily continue to be an endless series of means and objects in the progress of humanity. The great reformers will always assert that they have come out not to destroy the old law, but to fulfil it. Valmiki, Vyas, Plato, Jesus, Mohammed, Confucius, and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu assert the fact either expressly or by their conduct.
Our critic, however, may nobly tell us that a reformer like Vyas, unless purely explained, may lead thousands of men into great trouble in time to come. But dear critic! Study the history of ages and countries! Where have you found the philosopher and reformer fully understood by the people? The popular religion is fear of God, and not the pure spiritual love which Plato, Vyas, Jesus, and Chaitanya taught to their respective peoples! Whether you give the absolute religion in figures or simple expressions or teach them by means of books or oral speeches, the ignorant and the thoughtless must degrade it.
It is indeed very easy to tell, and swift to hear, that Absolute Truth has such an affinity with the human soul that it comes through as if intuitively, and that no exertion is necessary to teach the precepts of true religion, but this is a deceptive idea. It may be true of ethics and of the alphabet of religion but not of the highest form of faith, which requires an exalted soul to understand. All higher truths, though intuitive, require previous education in the simpler ones. That religion is the purest which gives us the purest idea of God. How then is it possible that the ignorant will ever obtain the absolute religion as long as they are ignorant?
So we are not to scandalise the Saviour of Jerusalem or the Saviour of Nadia for these subsequent evils. Luthers, instead of critics, are what we want for the correction of those evils by the true interpretation of the original precepts.
God gives us truth as He gave it to Vyas when we earnestly seek for it. Truth is eternal and inexhaustable. The soul receives a revelation when it is anxious for it. The souls of the great thinkers of the bygone ages, who now live spiritually, often approach our enquiring spirit and assist it in its development. Thus, Vyas was assisted by Narad and Brahma. Our sastras, or in other words, books of thought, do not contain all that we could get from the infinite Father. No book is without its errors. God’s revelation is Absolute Truth, but it is scarcely received and preserved in its natural purity. We have been advised in the Srimad Bhagavatam (11.14.3) to believe that truth when revealed is absolute, but it gets the tincture of the nature of the receiver in course of time and is converted into error by continual exchange of hands from age to age. New revelations, therefore, are continually necessary in order to keep truth in its original purity. We are thus warned to be careful in our studies of old authors, however wise they are reputed to be. Here, we have full liberty to reject the wrong idea which is not sanctioned by the peace of conscience.
Vyas was not satisfied with what he collected in the Vedas, arranged in the Puranas, and composed in the Mahabharata. The peace of his conscience did not sanction his labours. It told him from inside, “No, Vyas! You can’t rest contented with the erroneous picture of truth which was necessarily presented to you by the sages of bygone days! You must yourself knock at the door of the inexhaustible store of truth from which the former sages drew their wealth. Go! Go up to the fountainhead of truth, where no pilgrim meets with disappointment of any kind.” Vyas did it and obtained what he wanted. We have all been advised to do so.
Liberty then, is the principle which we must consider as the most valuable gift of God. We must not allow ourselves to be led by those who lived and thought before us. We must think for ourselves and try to get further truths, which are still undiscovered. In the Srimad Bhagavatam (11.21.23), we have been advised to take the spirit of the sastras, and not the words. The Bhagavat is therefore a religion of liberty, unmixed truth, and absolute love.
The other characteristic is progress. Liberty certainly is the father of all progress. Holy liberty is the cause of progress upwards and upwards in eternity and endless activity of love. Liberty misused causes degradation, and the Vaisnava must always carefully use this high and beautiful gift of God.
The spirit of this text goes far to honour all great reformers and teachers who lived and will live in other countries. The Vaisnava is ready to honour all men without distinction of caste because they are filled with the energy of God. See how universal is the religion of the Bhagavat. It is not intended for a certain class of Hindus alone, but it is a gift to man at large, in whatever country he is born and in whatever society he is bred. In short, Vaisnavism is the absolute love binding all men together into the infinite unconditioned and absolute God. May peace reign forever in the whole universe in the continual development of its purity by the exertion of the future heroes, who will be blessed according to the promise of the Bhagavat with powers from the almighty Father, the creator, preserver, and the annihilator of all things in heaven and earth.
—From an English lecture delivered in 1869,
at Dinajpur, West Bengal. ⬆︎
Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad
International Society for Krishna Consciousness
We are very fortunate to hear His Divine Grace Om Visnupad Paramahamsa Parivrajakacharya Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Maharaj. By age and by experience, in both ways, he is senior to me. I was fortunate to have his association since a long time, since perhaps 1930. At that time, he had not accepted sannyas but had just left home. He went to preach in Allahabad, and on that auspicious occasion we were connected.
Sridhar Maharaj lived in my house for many years, so naturally we had very intimate talks. He has such high realisations of Krishna that one would faint to hear them. He was always my good advisor, and I took his advice very seriously because from the very beginning I knew that he was a pure devotee of Krishna. So, I wanted to associate with him. Krishna and Prabhupad, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, liked him to prepare me. Our relationship is very intimate.
After the breakdown of our spiritual master’s institution, I wanted to organise another institution making Sridhar Maharaj the head. Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur told me that Sridhar Maharaj is one of the finest preachers of Krishna consciousness in the world, so I wanted to take him everywhere. This was my earnest desire. But since he could not go around the world and preach, at least the people of the world should come to hear from him.
For spiritual advancement of life we must go to someone who is actually practising spiritual life. So, if one is actually serious to take instructions from a Siksa-guru, or instructing spiritual master, I can refer him to one who is the most competent of all my godbrothers. This is B.R. Sridhar Maharaj. I consider Sridhar Maharaj to be even my Siksa-guru, so what to speak of the benefit that others can have from his association. ⬆︎
Everyone is searching for rasa, pleasure. The status of rasa is the highest. As persons, we have our subjective existence, but rasa, pleasure, has His supersubjective existence. He is a person. He is Akhila-rasamrta-murtih: the reservoir of all pleasure. He is Krishna. Rasa is Krishna. There cannot be rasa in any other place but Krishna. He is the fountainhead of all different types of rasa. So, by the nature of our constitution we have to search after Krishna.
In the Brahma-sutra, it is said, “Enquire after the supreme cause of this world. Search!” From where has everything come? How is everything maintaining its existence? By whom? And ultimately, where does everything enter after death? That is brahma, spirit, the most fundamental plane from where everything springs up, remains, and ultimately enters.
Where is brahma? The Brahma-sutra advises us to enquire after the prime cause, the biggest, the all-accommodating. But Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu replaced that, Srimad Bhagavatam replaced that, with Krishnanusandhana: the search for Sri Krishna.
Brahma-jijnasa, the search for spirit, is a dry thing. That is only the exercise of your thinking faculty, a jugglery of reason. Leave that behind. Begin the search for Sri Krishna and quench the thirst of your heart. Rasa-jijnasa: raso vai Sah. The things acquired by your reason won’t satisfy you. Jnan, knowledge, cannot really quench your thirst, so instead of brahma-jijnasa accept Krishnanusandhana and begin the search for Sri Krishna.
Where is Krishna? Our real want will be satisfied only by getting the service of Krishna—not by anything else. We want to satisfy the innermost demands of our hearts. We don’t care to know where we are or what is controlling everything, but we really want to quench our thirst for rasa, for madhurya, for sweetness. We must search neither for knowledge nor for the controller of this world; we must search after rasa, anandam, after beauty and charm.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Srimad Bhagavatam have taught us what to beg for, what to pray for, what to want. They have taught us, “If you beg, beg for Krishna, not for anything else.” So, the fate of the Vaisnavas, the students of the Bhagavat and the followers of Mahaprabhu, is sealed in the search for Sri Krishna. We want nothing else but Krishna.
The Vedas say, “Srnvantu visve amrtasya putra: O you sons of nectar, sons of the nectarean ocean sea: please listen to me. You were born in nectar, you were born to taste nectar, and you must not allow yourselves to be satisfied by anything but nectar. So, however misguided you may be for the time being, awake! Arise! Search for that nectar, that satisfaction.” The Vedas tell us, “Om!” Om means a big “Yes!” “What you are searching for, that is! Don’t be disappointed.” The Vedas say that the object of our inner search exists. The common search of all your hearts is existing, and your thirst will be quenched. By your constitution you are meant for that and you deserve that, so don’t be afraid; don’t be cowed down. It is already given in your being. And you can never be satisfied with anything else. So prepare yourself, after your long search, to receive that long missing nectar in its full form and quality. Awake! Arise! Search for your fortune and you cannot but have that. It is your birthright. It is the wealth of your own soul. It cannot but be within you. You have no other business, no other engagement but Krishnanusandhana, the search for Sri Krishna: Reality the Beautiful. ⬆︎
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Bengali poet Hemachandra wrote, “There are so many countries rising in prominence: this land, that land. Japan is a very small country, but it is rising like the sun. Only India is under eternal slumber.” When he mentioned the other part of the world, he said, “America is rising forcefully, as if he is coming to swallow the whole world. Sometimes he is shouting as if with a war cry, and the whole world is shivering. His enthusiasm is so intense and great that he wants to snatch the world from the solar system and give it a new shape, a new molding.” America has been mentioned in this way by Hemachandra. In the same way, Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj came to give the world a new shape through Krishna consciousness. He once said, “We must go there and build it in a new way—with Krishna consciousness.”
What is Krishna consciousness? Krishna consciousness means real love and beauty. Real love and beauty must predominate; not selfishness, or exploitation. Generally, whenever we see beauty, we think that beauty is to be exploited, but actually, beauty is the exploiter, beauty is the master, and beauty is the controlling principle.
And what is love? Love means sacrifice for others. We should not think that sacrifice is to be exploited by us. Who is to be the recipient of sacrifice? Is it our party? No. We are in the group of those who sacrifice themselves: the predominated negative party, Mahabhava’s party. The underlying principle of love is sacrifice, but sacrifice for whom? And who is the beneficiary? Love is the beneficiary. Everyone should contribute to the Centre, but no one should draw energy from there. “Die to live.” With this spirit, we should combine and work for real love and beauty.
Banner of love
And beauty will be victorious in the world. Love will be victorious in the world. We will sacrifice everything to see that the banner of divine love will flutter all over the world, for a particle of that divine love will be able to keep peace and distribute peace in all directions. Just as fighting soldiers dedicate everything and give their lives so their countrymen will benefit in the future, we should sacrifice our lives and work to bring real peace for everyone.
In Vrndavan, the land of Krishna, the standard of sacrifice is unlimited. Devotees there are willing to risk everything for Krishna. If that principle of sacrifice is enthroned, then peace will automatically follow.
Krishna consciousness should be enthroned above all other conceptions. All other conceptions are meant to be subservient to Krishna consciousness. The ideal of Vrndavan, Krishna’s abode, is above all other ideals. In theistic comparison, the conception of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s lila is above all other conceptions. There, theism reaches its zenith. That is our highest goal, and step by step, that should be explained, thought out, accepted, and preached.
Without this, what sort of benefit are you expecting from your present engagement? Only death is awaiting you. You are so proud of this scientific civilisation and are boasting so much, but death is awaiting you whether it is atomic death or natural death. You can’t cross death. One English poet has written:
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave
Awaits alike the inevitable hour:
The paths of glory lead but to the grave
—Thomas Gray’s Elegy in a Country Churchyard
You do not care to solve the greatest danger. You say that you are big thinkers, that you are great men, and that you should command the respect of society, but the general inevitable problem for every atom here is death. What is your contribution for solving the greatest danger which is waiting to devour everyone—scientist, insect, or virus? What is your solution to death? Have you taken any steps to solve that universal danger? What you are doing at present is exploitation, and you are encouraging a lower life as a reaction. You are exploiting nature, and everyone who is deriving the benefits will have to pay to the farthing with interest.
“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” This is your statement, but what have you done to solve that? You are endangering the fate of the world by your fascinating proposals of apparent comfort. What is this? You are avoiding the greatest inevitable danger, so your life is a useless malengagement. In one sense, you are traitors to society. Come with courage to face and solve the real problem, the common problem, and the most dangerous problem; otherwise, you should leave the field and go away. Leave it to us. We shall prove that the world is an abode of perfect happiness: visvam purna sukhayate.
Dive deep into reality
But to understand this, you will have to dive deep, not into the plane of body and mind, but into the plane of soul. You will have to dive deep into the reality that is within us. It is not a foreign thing to be acquired by loan, but the soul is within everyone, even the insects and the trees. So, we have to rise to the plane of soul. Eliminate both your physical and mental encasements and find out your own self. There you will find the key, the clue to the proper world where life is worth living.
The solution is there; a hint is given by many mahajans, by great saints in every religious sect to some extent, but our claim is that India has given the highest conception of the spiritual world in the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. So, we challenge all of you: we are not imaginationists; we are most practical thinkers. We don’t avoid any great problem by saying, “Oh, it can’t be solved.” We do not belong to the party that wants to easily take prestige and fame. We don’t want to classify ourselves with those hoaxing people. Come and see whether the plane of reality can be found. You are not required to spend any less energy in your campaign. So take our program; try it and see.
Where are you? Who are you? What is the real nature of the world? In the Koran, in the Bible, and in the Vedas, and in every other scripture, a hope and hint has been given about the life of reality. Is this all a hoax? What charm have the materialists given? That charm is only for the self-deceivers, and that is dragging them into the country of loan and debt, the land where: “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” So, a divine civilisation should be drawn out into this plane. We have to try the path that has been suggested by the great saints and scriptures. It is not unreasonable. It is not madness. Come, reason can also be applied there.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave a solution to all our problems with an allegorical example. He said, “We see that you are poor, but there is a happy solution. Your wealth is underground in your own room: just try to unearth it. Don’t approach it from the southern side, the give-and-take method of karma, for then whatever you do will bring some reaction that will capture and disturb you, and you will have no time to reach the proper solution. If you approach that hidden wealth from the western side, through the yoga system, by manipulating the subtle forces of nature to attain supernatural mystic power, that will enchant you and take your attention away from the desired goal. Your own activity in the wrong direction will create obstacles to your achievement.
The samadhi phantom
“If you approach the treasure from the north, the side of that grand brahmasmi, the impersonal conception, with the help of misinterpreted Vedantic logic, then you will enter into eternal samadhi, that great phantom will swallow you up, your existence will be nowhere, and who will come to enjoy the peace of getting the wealth? Only if you approach from the eastern side, with the help of devotion, will you get the wealth easily. That is the direction of the sunrise, the light giving direction. And that light is not prepared by our own hand; that light is from the source of all light—the revealed truth. It is extended from the quarter which is unknown to us. That light is revealed knowledge, bhakti, the path of devotion.
Adopt that path in your search for the real wealth within you, and easily you will find your own self, which is most wonderful (ascharyavat pasyati kaschid enam). Discovering that your own self is so wonderful, you will be ashamed, thinking, “How could I have been carried away by the charm of this mundane world? I am the soul. How was it possible for maya to have such enchanting power over me that my own self, which is so wonderful and so valuable, was drawn into illusion? The peace which is within me has been greatly admired by the spiritual stalwarts, but I have come in connection with mortal and nasty, rotten things. How? It is most wonderful, but I was deceived.”
Then from atma to Paramatma, from soul to Supersoul, then from Vasudev to Narayan, and then from Narayan to Krishna, the progressive understanding in God realisation is not unscientific; it is really scientific. This is vijnan, scientific knowledge:
jnanam te ’ham sa-vijnanam idam vaksyamy asesatah
yaj jnatva neha bhuyo ’nyaj jnatavyam avasisyate
In the Bhagavad-gita (7.2), Krishna says, “Arjuna, now I shall explain to you scientific knowledge not only about the soul, but also about its potency. The mind, the senses, and the modes of nature are all non-atma, or material. There is a direct and indirect and indirect approach towards reality which I shall now explain to you. Please listen attentively to Me: jnanam te ’ham savijnanam. What is this? There is Myself and My potency, and the jiva, the living entity, is the marginal potency which is filling up all these material worlds.” If the jiva-sakti, the spiritual potency, were withdrawn, then everything would be stone, and who would care for exploitation? All this fighting tendency, this tendency for exploitation, would stop if the marginal potency, the jiva, were withdrawn from matter. Everything would be dead. The soul has entered into this material consciousness and has made it a moving thing. You should understand this properly, in a scientific way.” We are not lacking in our ability to give you a scientific explanation.
Plane of self-deception
A higher conception of the finer world is here. It is real, and where you are trying your utmost to make a stand, the place that you consider real, is unreal.
ya nisa sarva-bhutanam tasyam jagarti samyami
yasyam jagrati bhutani sa nisa pasyato muneh
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 2.69)
“You are asleep to your real self-interest and the real truth, while you are awake in the plane of self-deception.” We must establish ourselves in the plane of reality and try our best to extend it to others. And to preach means this: “I sincerely have faith in Krishna consciousness and relish it to the utmost. I find that my future prospect is also here. Because I feel that it is very tasteful, useful, and wholesome, I have come to distribute it to you, my friends. We should guide our lives according to the principles of Krishna consciousness as taught by the spiritual master. Take it, and you will be successful in fulfilling the goal of your life.”
Rasa, happiness, ecstasy
In this way, we have to approach everyone with God consciousness, Krishna consciousness. We must show how God consciousness ultimately merges in Krishna consciousness. We have to prove dexterously, step by step, that Krishna is the reservoir of all pleasure (Akhila-rasamrta-murtih). What is Krishna consciousness? Rupa Goswami has given a scientific definition. Rasa, pleasure, cannot be avoided. We are all after rasa. Everyone, every unit, even the smallest unit of the world is always hankering after rasa, happiness, ecstasy, and all possible phases of rasa are personified in Krishna. Try to understand how it is. What is rasa? What is its nature? How can a comparison in rasa be drawn? In this way, step by step, you will have to come to the Krishna conception of Godhead. It is not a tale from the ancient Indian scriptures. Krishna is not the object of a tale, but fact. You have to come out and face that living fact, that reality. We shall try our best to show you how it can be a fact. Krishna is a fact. He is a reality, and reality is for itself.
You have to pay for the goal. You must “die to live”, and in this way you will feel that it is not a hoax. When you progress on the path, you will feel it (bhaktih paresanubhavo viraktir anyatra chaisa). With every step forward, you will feel these three things: satisfaction, nourishment, and the eradication of your hunger. Your hankering in general will be diminished.
Generally, we feel, “I want this, I want that, I want everything; still I have not satisfied my hunger.” But you will feel that your hunger is being appeased as you progress in Krishna consciousness, and what you previously thought would give you relief will take leave from you automatically. Their trade won’t continue; they will all withdraw, your natural inclination for spiritual advancement will automatically increase, and you will find acceleration in your progress. You will practically feel these three things, so come and take what we say. In this way, you have to approach one and all, leaving the result to the Lord.
Fruits of energy
We are only agents, and we are working because He has ordered us. So, we must remember what is bhakti, what is devotion proper. Whatever I do, the wage I earn must not come to me; I am only an agent. The benefit should go to the proprietor, to my Master, Krishna. We should move with this idea, and that will be bhakti proper. Otherwise, we will be engaged in karma-kanda: fruit-hunting. I want to enjoy the result of karma for myself, but the result should go to my Master. I am His servant, and I am working under His order. I am His slave; I am not the proprietor. I am not the proper person to be the recipient of the fruits of energy. The master of energy is the Supreme Lord, and all the products of energy should go to Him. It must not be tampered with on the way. This should be the attitude of every worker. Then, it will be bhakti proper. We are not the recipients; He is the recipient. We must always be conscious that the only beneficiary is He. Only then are we devotees. We are not the beneficiaries but selfless workers. It is said in the Bhagavad-gita (2.47):
karmany evadhikaras te ma phalesu kadachana
ma karma-phala-hetur bhur ma te sango ’stv akarmani
“You have a right to perform your duty, but you have no right to enjoy the fruits of your work.” This is a great warning. Krishna says, “Do not think that because you are not the beneficiary of the fruits of your action, you have no reason to take so much trouble to work—never.” That is the most heinous curse, to think that because I am not the beneficiary, I am not going to work. Even selfless activity is also of a lower order. Rather, we must perform godly activity for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord. That is bhakti, or devotion. And there is also a gradation in bhakti: there is a big division between vidhi-bhakti and raga-bhakti, calculative devotion and spontaneous devotion.
Autocrat, despot, and liar
God is not a constitutional king, but He is an autocrat. To work for an autocrat is the highest conception of sacrifice. What degree of selflessness and courage is required to work for an autocrat, a despot, a liar who is up to anything? Not only that, His normal position is such. It is not a temporary temperament, but His eternal inner nature. Krishna is an autocrat because law emanates from Him. An autocrat is above law. When there are many, there is a need for law; when there is only one, there is no need for law. Krishna is a despot but He is absolute good. If there is any check in His despotism, the world will be the loser. Goodness must have its full flow. Is that bad? Can there be any objection to this? Goodness must have its freedom to flow anywhere and everywhere. If we say that God is absolute good, then what do we lose by giving Him autocracy? Should autocracy be with the ignorant and the fools? No. The absolute good must have full autocracy. Not that law will go to bind His hands. Then we will be losers. And Krishna is a liar, to entice us, because we cannot understand the whole truth. So, to entice us to gradually come to the truth, He has become a liar.
The first thing to understand is that He is all goodness, so everything emanating from Him cannot but be good. Any defect is on our side. We are encroachers. He is not an encroacher. But He shows this as His play, lila. Everything belongs to Him, so there is no lying. When He says, “Let there be light”, there was light: “Let there be water”, there was water. If He has such potential power, can there be any lying there?
We have to sacrifice ourselves for Krishna because He is the absolute good, beauty, and love. Faith and selflessness are required to such a high degree. If we accept Krishna consciousness as our highest ideal, then so much sacrifice is necessary, but sacrifice means life: “die to live.” There is no loss by sacrifice. We can only gain by giving ourselves.
So, kirtan, or preaching has been accepted as the means to the end. There are so many ways by which we can approach the souls of this world with kirtan: by direct approach, through books, and by performing sankirtan, chanting the Holy Name congregationally. By helping others, we help ourselves; we help our own fortune and our own faith. Not only will others benefit by our performance of kirtan, but we will also benefit eternally.
Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita (2.47), “Never be attached to not doing your duty (ma te sango ’stv akarmani). Because you are required to work for Me, will you stop work? Don’t subject yourself to that painful reaction, for then you will be doomed. Don’t be attached to stop work and strike. No. That is a dangerous vacuum. Don’t jump there in that eternal vacuum, but work for Me, and you will thrive.” Krishna says, “Abandon all varieties of duty and just surrender unto Me (sarva-dharman parityajya Mam ekam saranam vraja). My position is such: I am your guardian, your friend, your everything. Your goal of life is to be found in Me. Believe it, Arjuna. At least I must not deceive you. You are my friend—You can take it for certain.”
man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru
mam evaisyasi satyam te pratijane priyo ’si me
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 18.65)
“Think of Me always and become My devotee. Worship Me and bow down before Me. In this way, you will certainly come to Me. My dear friend, I promise you on oath; I am speaking the truth. I am everything. Try to come to Me. I am the goal, the fulfilment of life not only for you, but for everyone. From the absolute consideration My position is such. At least you are My friend. I won’t deceive you. You can believe Me. I promise that I am so.”
How shamelessly Krishna is expressing Himself here. He has come to plead for Himself so much, for our benefit. And a record is kept in the Bhagavad-gita for our guidance. And Lord Krishna came as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to preach about Himself. He came as His own canvasser with His eternal associates. He even brought Srimati Radharani, devotion personified, along with Him, saying, “I will show how charming Your position in My service is, how beautiful and dignified the devotion of My other half can be. So, come along with Me.” And Baladev has come as Nityananda to canvass, and Vrndavan has come to canvass itself in Nabadwip. So, we are most indebted to the canvasser, especially when Krishna Himself has come to canvass and to show how beautiful, how magnanimous, and how sacrificing divine love is.
The purpose of pilgrimage is to hear from the saintly persons residing in a holy place. The following is a conversation with Srila Sridhar Maharaj and three European students searching India for truth.
Sridhar Maharaj: Why have you come to India?
Student: For pilgrimage. We came to visit the holy places like Nabadwip, Vrndavan, and Jagannath Puri. That was the main reason we came to India.
Sridhar Maharaj: How have you come to know all these things? By books?
Student: Yes, by the books of Srila Prabhupad.
Sridhar Maharaj: What book?
Sridhar Maharaj: Oh. The Bhagavad-gita As It Is by Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj.
Bhagavad-gita: “Cure thyself”
Sridhar Maharaj: Many years ago, a German scholar expressed his opinion that Bhagavad-gita is the highest spiritual literature. His point was that Bhagavad-gita clearly advises us not to try to correct our environment, but to correct ourselves, to adjust with the environment. That is the key to the advice of Bhagavad-gita: “Cure thyself.” We have no power to bring about changes in the environment. That is arranged by the divine will. Our environment, the sum total of all the forces acting outside us, is irremovable. We have no ability to interfere with our environment; that will only be a useless loss of energy. Rather, we must try to correct ourselves so that we can adjust with the circumstances outside us: this is the key to our success in life (tat Te ’nukampam susamiksamano). We have our duty to perform, but we must not aspire after the results of our activities; the results depend on Krishna (karmany evadhikaras te ma phalesu kadachana). We make our contribution; at the same time, thousands of millions of others are contributing, creating the environment. So, we must do our duty, but we will have to accept the ultimate result as best because it is arranged by the Absolute. There are so many results to our individual activities, but we must see how the Absolute will harmonise everything and adjust ourselves accordingly.
Our responsibility lies only in discharging our duty. We must never aspire after any definite environment; the environment will go on in its own way. We have no power to change it. Rather, we must try our best to change our own self so that we may come in harmony with the environment.
Our responsibility is never in enjoying the results of our actions. Because we work for a particular result and don’t obtain it, should we be discouraged? No. We should go on doing our own duty. Whatever we contribute should be offered to the Infinite, and the Infinite will mold the results in His own way. Krishna says, “Never aspire after any particular result for your action. At the same time, don’t be idle. Don’t be worthless. Go on discharging your duty without depending on any outside consequence.”
Student: Will we have to remember Krishna while we are doing this?
Sridhar Maharaj: Yes. Then we will be able to come in connection with Krishna, and gradually we will come to realise that our environment is friendly to us. When the reactions of our previous actions disappear, we will find that every wave is carrying good news to us. When our egoistic attitude vanishes, we will find ourself in the midst of sweet waves all around. We should try to do away with whatever wrong we have done hitherto. We must do our duty and never expect any definite result, but cast it towards the Infinite.
And then one day will come when our egoistic feeling will dissolve and from within, our real self, a member of the infinite world, will spring up and awaken, and we will find ourselves in the sweet waves of that environment. There, everything is sweet. The breeze is sweet, the water is sweet, the trees are sweet, whatever we come in contact with is sweet, sweet, sweet.
Our internal ego is our enemy, and to dissolve that ego, we must do our duty as we think fit, but never expect any response according to our will. If we adopt this karma-yoga, then in no time we will find that the wrong ego, which was always expecting something crooked for its selfish purpose, has vanished, the broad, wide ego within has come out, and we are in harmony with the whole universe. The harmonious world will appear before us, and the cover of selfish desires will disappear.
The cause of our disease is not outside us, but within us. A paramahamsa Vaisnava, a saint of the highest platform, sees that everything is all right. He finds nothing to complain about. When one can see that everything is good and sweet to the furthest extreme, he comes to live in the plane of Divinity. Our false ego creates only disturbance, and that ego should be dissolved. We should not think that the environment is our enemy. We must try hard to detect God’s grace in whatever comes to us, even if it comes as an apparent enemy. Everything is the grace of the Lord, but we can’t see it; rather, we see the opposite. The dirt is in our eyes.
Actually, everything is divine. It is all the grace of the Lord. The disease is in our eyes. We are diseased, and if the disease is cured, we shall find that we are in the midst of a gracious world. Only the coverings of desire deceive us from having a real estimation of the world. A bona fide student of the devotional school will accept such an attitude towards the environment and towards the Lord. We have to think that God’s will is everywhere. Even a blade of grass cannot move without the sanction of the Supreme Authority. Every detail is detected and controlled by Him. We have to look upon the environment with optimism. The pessimism is within us. Our ego is responsible for all sorts of evil.
This is Vaisnavism. If we can do this, then in no time, our disease will be cured, and we’ll be in the midst of infinite blissfulness. Our tendency at present is to cure what we see on the outside. We think, “I want everything to follow my control, my sweet will. When everything obeys me, then I will be happy.” But we must take just the opposite attitude. As Mahaprabhu has said:
trnad api sunichena taror api sahisnuna
amanina manadena kirtaniyah sada harih
We should create no resistance against our environment. Still, if some undesirable things come towards us, we should tolerate that with our utmost patience. And even if someone attacks us, we won’t become violent; we must practise forbearance to the extreme. We shall honour everyone; we will seek no honour.
In this way, with the least amount of energy and time, we can attain the highest goal: the plane where Krishna Himself is living. That is the most fundamental plane of existence. At that time, all the encasements covering the soul will vanish and die, and the inner soul will awaken and find that he is playing in a sweet wave, dancing and merry-making in Vrndavan with Krishna and His devotees. And what is Vrndavan? It is neither a fable nor a concocted story. The broadest and widest plane of the whole universe is beauty, sweetness, and blissfulness, and that is present in Vrndavan in all its fullness. We have to dive deep into that plane of reality.
Our ego has floated us on the surface of trouble in maya, illusion. Concoction and the search for selfish satisfaction have taken us here, and these must be dissolved once and for all. And then from within, our golden selves will come out, and we will find that we are in the plane of a happy dancing mood, with Krishna in Vrndavan.
In Hegelian language, this is called “self-determination”. Self-determination means we must die to live. We must leave our material life and all our material habits; we have to die as we are if we want to have a real life. We must give up our false ego. Our material habits from different births are collected in the ego in subtle forms, not only from the experience of human birth, but even from animal births, tree births, and so many other births. Krishna consciousness means the wholesale dissolution of the false ego. That concocted, selfish figure within us is our enemy. The real self is hopelessly buried beneath the false ego. So great is the depth of our forgetfulness that we do not even know who we are. So, as the German philosopher Hegel said, we have to “die to live”.
Reality is for itself and by itself. The world is not created for our selfish end; it has a universal end, and we are part and parcel of that. We must come to an understanding with the whole. The complete whole is Krishna and He is dancing, playing, and singing in His own way. We must enter into that harmonious dance.
Being infinitesimal, should we think that the Infinite must be controlled by us? That by our whim everything will go on? This is the most crooked, heinous object ever conceived, and we are suffering from such a disease. This is the real problem in society. Our enquiry should be aimed at solving this.
Student: Does this mean we have to give up material life completely?
Sridhar Maharaj: Not at once. Everyone must progress gradually, according to his own particular case. If one who has much affinity towards worldly life suddenly leaves that, he may not keep up his vows; he may go down again. So, according to personal capacity we must make gradual progress. That is to be taken into consideration, but still, we should always be eager to give up everything and devote ourselves exclusively to the highest duty. Those who have enough courage will jump into the unknown, thinking, “Krishna will protect me. I am jumping in the name of God. He is everywhere; He will take me on His lap.” With this idea, one who has real eagerness for the truth may leap forward.
Student: I have a problem. For ten years, I’ve tried to take up this process. For ten years, I have kept from eating meat, fish, and eggs. I avoid material things—I have no attraction for them. I have left all this behind. But there is one thing I want to give up and also I don’t want to give up. This is ganja (marijuana).
Sridhar Maharaj: That is a small thing. There are three real difficulties: the first is women, the second is money, and the third, good name and fame. These three are our enemies. Marijuana intoxication is a small thing. Anyone can give it up easily. But these three things are the fundamental aspiration of every animal, tree, bird, man, or god. These three are everywhere. But intoxication and other fleeting habits are very negligible things and can be conquered very easily.
As we have gradually come into the habit of intoxication, we have to come out—gradually, and not suddenly. Just after World War Two, we read in the newspaper that Goering, Hitler’s air general, was habituated to taking much intoxication. But when he was put into jail, no intoxication was supplied to him. He became sick, but treatment went on and he was cured. His disease was cured by the medicine. We also have seen so many opium-eaters who came here, joined the Temple, and gradually left their habit.
Many so-called sadhus smoke marijuana. It helps concentration, but that is the material mind. It disturbs faith. It is an enemy to faith. No material intoxication, but only faith can take us to our desired goal. The misguided souls think that marijuana, hashish, and so many other things can help us in our meditation. It may do something, but that is mundane and that will frustrate us in our time of need. These things cannot help us rise up very high.
Sex, dope, and gold
Srimad Bhagavatam (1.17.38) advises that these five things should be rejected: dyutam, gambling or diplomacy; panam, intoxication, including tea, coffee, betel, and everything else; striyah, unlawful, illegal woman-love; suna, butchering; and the transaction of gold. Trade in gold makes one very apathetic towards progress in the line of faith. These five are very tempting.
What to speak of the mania that intoxication will help us in our meditation upon the transcendental, Devarsi Narad says, “Yamadibhir yoga-pathaih kama-lobha-hato muhuh: even what we acquire by meditation is temporary and has no permanent effect.” Only real faith in the line of pure devotion can help us.
Saints: living scriptures
Student: So, how can we develop our faith in Krishna consciousness?
Sridhar Maharaj: How have you come to conceive of Krishna consciousness?
Student: By reading Bhagavad-gita.
Sridhar Maharaj: Bhagavad-gita. From the scriptures. And the scriptures are written by whom? Some saint. So, the association of saints and the advice of scriptures are both necessary. The saint is the living scripture, and the scripture advises us in a passive way. A saint can actively approach us, and passively we may receive benefit from the scriptures. The association of the scriptures and the saints can help us achieve the ultimate realisation: sadhu-sastra-krpaya yadi Krsnonmukha haya. The saints are more powerful. Those who are living the life of the scriptural advice are scripture personified. In their association, and by their grace, we can imbibe such higher, subtle knowledge and faith.
All our experiences are futile in the attempt to attain the ultimate destination; only faith can lead us there. The spiritual world is far, far beyond the jurisdiction of our limited visual, aural, and mental experience. The experience of the eye, ear, and mind is very meagre and limited, but faith can rise up and pierce through this area and enter the transcendental realm.
Faith should be developed with the help of scriptures and saints. They will help us understand that the spiritual world is real and this world is unreal. At that time, this material world will be night to us, and that will be day. Presently, the eternal world is darkness to us, and we are awake in this mortal world. What is night to one is day to another. A saint is awake in some matter, and a dacoit (thief) is working in another plane. They are living in two separate worlds. A scientist is living in one world; a rowdy is living in another. One’s day is night to another. The ordinary persons cannot see what Einstein and Newton have seen, and what the ordinary man sees is ignored by a great man. So, we have to awaken our interest in that plane and ignore the interests of this plane.
World War III: let it be
Student: Many people are worried about nuclear war. They think it may come very soon.
Sridhar Maharaj: That is a point on a line, a line on a plane, a plane in a solid. So many times wars are coming and going; so many times the sun, the earth, and the solar systems disappear and again spring up. We are in the midst of such thought in eternity. This nuclear war is a tiny point—what of that? Individuals are dying at every moment. The earth will die; the whole human section will disappear. Let it be.
We must try to live in eternity, not any particular span of time or space. We must prepare ourselves for our eternal benefit, not for any temporary remedy. The sun, the moon, and all the planets appear and vanish: they die, and then again, they are created. Within such an eternity we have to live. Religion covers that aspect of our existence. We are told to view things from this standpoint: not only this body, but the human race, the animals, the trees, the entire earth, and even the sun, will all vanish and again spring up. Creation, dissolution, creation, dissolution—it will continue forever in the domain of misconception. At the same time, there is another world which is eternal; we are requested to enter there, to make our home in that plane which neither enters into the jaws of death nor suffers any change.
In the Bhagavad-gita (8.16), it is stated:
abrahma-bhuvanal lokah punar avartino ’rjuna
mam upetya tu kaunteya punar janma na vidyate
“Even Lord Brahma, the creator himself, has to die. Up to Brahmaloka, the highest planet in the material world, the whole material energy undergoes such changes.”
But if we can cross the area of misunderstanding and enter the area of proper understanding, then there is no creation or dissolution. That is eternal, and we are children of that soil. Our bodies and minds are children of this soil which comes and goes, which is created and then dies. We have to get out of this world of death.
Zone of nectar
We are in such an area. What is to be done? Try to get out. Try your best to get out of this mortal area. The saints inform us, “Come home dear friend; let us go home. Why are you suffering so much trouble unnecessarily in a foreign land? The spiritual world is real. This material world is unreal; springing and vanishing, coming and going—it is a farce! From the world of farce we must come to reality. Here in this material world there will be not only one war, but wars after wars, wars after wars.
There is a zone of nectar, and we are actually children of that nectar that does not die (srnvantu visve amrtasya putra). Somehow, we are misguided here, but really we are children of that soil which is eternal, where there is no birth or death. With a wide and broad heart, we have to approach there. This is declared by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and the Bhagavad-gita, the Upanisads, and the Srimad Bhagavatam all confirm the same thing. That is our very sweet, sweet home, and we must try our best to go back to God, back to home, and take others with us. ⬆︎
The following chapter is an excerpt from a conversation between Srila Sridhar Maharaj and neurophysiologist Dr. Daniel Murphey, Ph.D.
Darwin has given the theory of evolution—Fossilism. Vedanta has given subjective evolution. In Darwin’s theory of objective evolution, matter evolves consciousness. The object exists first, and by its development, life is coming, consciousness is coming—from stone. That is objective evolution. But an object is a relative term; without the subject, an object cannot stand. The subject is the primary substance. Whatever is to be felt is only an idea in the subjective ocean. So, the subject, consciousness, is first. The object, the gross, proceeds from the subtle.
When a particular potency is handled by Krishna in His form as Mahavisnu, then the material energy begins to move and produce something (Mayadhyaksena prakrtih suyate sa-characharam). The first product is a general ego. Then, gradually so many plural individual egos emanate from the general ego. The experience of this world develops from ego. When ego contacts the mode of ignorance, form is produced. When it contacts the mode of goodness, the sun and light are produced. When false ego comes in connection with these three modes of nature, a division takes place, and the objects of the senses, the material senses, and the power of sense perception are generated. So, from the subtle, the gross is coming.
The ghost of Darwin
That is Vedantic evolution. But the Darwin theory says that from the gross, the subtle is coming. At present, people are fond of the Darwin theory that stone produces consciousness. Darwin’s objective evolution has swallowed us. Although externally, we reject it, we hate it, still, the ghost of Darwin’s theory has devoured everyone. Therefore, it is difficult to make them understand that consciousness is more valuable than stone. It’s easy for consciousness to produce stone; it is difficult for stone to produce consciousness. Consciousness is more valuable; stone is less valuable. So, a more valuable thing can produce a less valuable thing, but it is difficult to explain how a less valuable thing can produce something more valuable.
The material scientists think that the subtle proceeds from the gross. This is upside-down. It is just the opposite. Not “fossil-fatherism” but “God-fatherism”. Their theory is “fossil-fatherism”: the fossil is the father of everyone. The scientists believe that everything moves upward. This is incorrect. It is coming down. This is described in the Bhagavad-gita (15.1):
urdhva-mulam adhah-sakham asvattham prahur avyayam
chhandamsi yasya parnani yas tam veda sa veda-vit
“The tree of this material world has its roots upward, while its branches extend downward. The leaves of this tree are the Vedic hymns. One who understands this tree, and its origin, is a true knower of the Vedas.” So, according to Vedic knowledge, everything moves from up to down, not from down to up.
Matter does not produce the soul; rather, the soul contains in its one negligible portion the conception of matter. Like an eczema, it is a disease. The world exists like an eczema in a wholesome body. This is the Vedantic understanding. It would certainly be a wonderful miracle if stone could produce the soul, but it is easier and more reasonable for us to think that the soul has produced the conception of stone. In the soul, there are many conceptions, and one conception is that of stone. It is all in the plane of consciousness. But that stone can produce soul, or consciousness, is difficult, ridiculous, inconceivable, and unreasonable. Rather, it is the opposite, something like the Berkeley theory that the world is in the mind and not that the mind is in the world. It is only our deviation from the truth that brings us into this mundane world. How and where that deviation begins is to be thought out. But deviation from the truth has brought us to this false area.
So, consciousness is producing everything. Consciousness is eternal; this world is not eternal. This is a temporary production, and the temporary stone cannot produce eternal consciousness. Pure consciousness is an eternal subject (nitya sanatan). It is not a product; it is productive. Ether can produce fire and earth, but the earth cannot produce ether. The subtle is more efficient than the gross. The gross is of secondary importance. The soul, atma, is of principle importance. The origin of everything must be conscious; the starting point must begin with the interested party. The soul is endowed with interest, but a stone has no interest, plan, or project—nothing of the kind. But there is a plan and a purpose pervading everything, and that is the important thing. According to that consideration, the characteristic of the Absolute, the original substance, should be calculated. An object of limited attributes and capacity cannot be the ultimate cause. Only a thing of unlimited quality and capacity should be taken as the cause of the whole. That is a more reasonable idea. Science should realise this. So, there are some who think that science is gradually trying to meet philosophy.
Material science is only increasing the circumference of the mortal world. But increasing the tendency of exploitation cannot help us. Science is only borrowing, extorting power from nature. According to Newton: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” We must be conscious of this fact. All our acquisition here is nothing: like a boomerang, it will come back to zero again. So, scientific progress is no progress. It is “progress” in the wrong direction. Actually, the first principle of any living body is to save himself. That is the first principle, and that should be our starting point.
In the Upanisads it is said:
asato ma sad gamaya
tamaso ma jyotir gamaya
mrtyor mamrtam gamaya
“I am mortal; make me eternal. I am ignorant, filled with nescience; take me to science, knowledge. And I am threatened with misery; guide me towards bliss.” We should begin our research work in these three phases: how to save one’s own self and save the world; how to remove darkness and attain light; and how to remove misery and taste nectar, the sweet life of eternity, knowledge, and bliss (sach-chid-anandam, satyam sivam sundaram).
Science devours itself
This should be the line of our search; all other enquiries are false. This so-called scientific research is a wild goose chase. It is suicidal. The atomic researchers will soon prove that this kind of science devours itself; it sucks its own blood. It will live, feeding on its own flesh and the flesh of its friends. Material scientific knowledge is no knowledge. We must acquaint ourselves with a vital understanding of pure, real knowledge. We must absorb ourselves and others in that knowledge, remove darkness and bring light, remove misery and establish eternal peace.
Science means not to extend the jurisdiction of exploitation, knowing full well there will be a reaction. By extending the space of exploitation, we will also surely be exploited. If one knowingly commits an offence, then he is charged with more punishment. So, so-called scientific advancement is suicidal. And it is clearly proven: presently the leading countries of the world are threatening each other with atomic weapons, the highest product of the scientists.
Neutron bomb: death ray
What is the difference between the atomic bomb and the neutron bomb? The neutron bomb is something like a death-ray that will kill the people but will not destroy the buildings. The neutron bomb—man will be killed, the houses, the buildings, and everything else will be left behind. The bed will be there, the furniture, everything else will be there, but only the life will be gone, and the bodies will become rotten. That is the effect of the neutron bomb.
And those who emerge victorious will come to enjoy all these things. They will have to remove the dead bodies and fill the place up with their own men. This is action and reaction in the plane of exploitation.
So, this is a suicidal civilisation. The whole civilisation is rotten to the bottom. They are exploiting nature for the apparent good of human society, but it is incurring a loan from nature that must be paid to the farthing with interest. Because they do not believe this, they will have no relief. They will be forced to clear the debt; nature won’t forgive them. Nature is there like a computer, calculating. So, this civilisation is anti-civilisation. The whole thing is rotten, a camouflage, a treachery to the soul-world. But our policy is different—plain living and high thinking.
Our policy should be to make the best use of a bad bargain. Somehow or other, we have already come here, so now we have to utilise our time and energy in such a way that with the least exploitation we can get out of this world.
Editor’s note: Shortly after this meeting, Dr. Murphey became an initiated disciple of Srila Sridhar Maharaj. ⬆︎
Since time immemorial, man has enquired about the origin of the soul. In this brief chapter, Srila Sridhar Maharaj answers this most vital of all questions: “Who am I? Where have I come from?”
How does the soul first appear in this world? From what stage of spiritual existence does he fall into the material world? This is a broad question, which requires some background information.
There are two classes of souls, jivas, who come into this world. One class comes from the spiritual Vaikuntha planets by the necessity of nitya-lila, the eternal Pastimes of Krishna. Another comes by constitutional necessity.
The Brahma-jyoti, the non-differentiated marginal plane, is the source of infinite jiva-souls, atomic spiritual particles of non-differentiated character. The rays of the Lord’s transcendental body are known as the Brahma-jyoti, and a pencil of a ray of the Brahma-jyoti is the jiva. The jiva-soul is an atom in that effulgence, and the Brahma-jyoti is a product of an infinite number of jiva atoms.
Generally, souls emanate from the Brahma-jyoti which is living and growing. Within the Brahma-jyoti, their equilibrium is somehow disturbed and movement begins. From non-differentiation, differentiation begins. From a plain sheet of uniform consciousness, individual conscious units grow. And because the jiva is conscious, it is endowed with free will. So, from the marginal position they choose either the side of exploitation or the side of dedication.
Krishna bhuli’ sei jiva anadi bahirmukha. Anadi means that which has no beginning. When we enter the land of exploitation, we come within the factor of time, space, and thought. And when we come to exploit, action and reaction begins in the negative land of loan. Although we strive to become masters, really we become losers.
Goloka and Vaikuntha servitors are also seen to be within the jurisdiction of the brahmanda, the material universe, but that is only a play, lila. They come from that higher plane only to take part in the Lord’s Pastimes and then return. The fallen souls come from the marginal position within the Brahma-jyoti, and not from Vaikuntha.
The first position of a soul in the material world will be like that of Brahma, the creator. Then his karma may take him to the body of a beast like a tiger, where he is surrounded with a tigerish mentality, or to the body of a tree or creeper, where different impressions may surround him. In this way, one is involved in action and reaction. The case is complex; to analyse the details of the history of a particular atom is unnecessary. We are concerned with the general thing: how the transformation of the material conception springs from pure consciousness.
Electrons of consciousness
Matter is not independent of spirit. In the Brahma-jyoti, we are equipoised in the marginal potency as an infinite number of pinpoints of spiritual rays, electrons of consciousness. Consciousness means endowed with free will, for without free will no consciousness can be conceived. An atomic pinpoint of consciousness has very meagre free will, and by misuse of their free will, some jivas have taken their chance in the material world. They refused to submit to the supreme authority; they wanted to dominate. So, with this germinal idea of domination, the jiva enters into the world of exploitation. In the Bhagavad-gita (7.27), it is stated:
ichchha-dvesa samutthena dvandva-mohena bharata
sarva-bhutani sammoham sarge yanti parantapa
“Two principles in a crude form awaken in the jiva: hatred and desire. Then, gradually the soul comes down to mingle with the mundane world.” At first, sympathy and apathy develop in a crude form, just as when a sprout springs up with two leaves. And gradually these two things help us to dive deep into this mundane world.
Upon retiring from the world of exploitation, the soul may return to his former position in the Brahma-jyoti as spirit. But, if the soul has gathered the tendency of dedication through his previous devotional activities, he does not stop there; he pierces through the Brahma-jyoti and goes towards Vaikuntha.
Why has the soul come to the world of exploitation and not the world of dedication? That should be attributed to his innate nature, which is endowed with free will. It is a free choice. This is substantiated in the Bhagavad-gita (5.14):
na kartrtvam na karmani lokasya srjati prabhuh
na karma-phala-samyogam svabhavas tu pravartate
“The soul is responsible for his entrance into the land of exploitation.” The responsibility is with the soul; otherwise, the Lord would be responsible for his distressed condition. But Krishna says that the soul’s innate free will is responsible for his entanglement in the material world. The soul is conscious, and consciousness means endowed with freedom. Because the soul is atomic, his free will is imperfect and vulnerable. The result of that free choice is that some are coming into the material world and some are going to the spiritual world. So, the responsibility is with the individual soul.
The right to wrong
Once, an Indian political leader, Syamasundar Chakravarti, asked our spiritual master, Prabhupad, “Why has the Lord granted such freedom to the jiva?” Prabhupad told him, “You are fighting for freedom. Don’t you know the value of freedom? Devoid of freedom, the soul is only matter.” Freedom offers us the alternative to do right or wrong. Once, Gandhi told the British authorities, “We want freedom.” They replied, “You are not fit to have self-government. When you are fit, we shall give it to you.” But finally, he told them, “We want the freedom to do wrong.” So, freedom does not guarantee only acting in the right way; freedom has its value independent of right and wrong.
Free will is only absolute with the Absolute Truth. Because we are finite, our free will is infinitesimal. The possibility of committing a mistake is there. Our first choice was to dominate, and so, gradually we have entered the world of domination. As a result of this first action, everything else has developed. So, in different ranks, the species have been divided, from the demigods down to the trees and stones. And watery bodies, gaseous bodies, anything that we find here has evolved in that way. The activating principle in any form of embryological development is the soul, and from the soul, everything has evolved. ⬆︎
Knowledge above mortality is knowledge proper. Mundane knowledge has no value, for it does not endure. We must enquire elsewhere for permanent knowledge. Real knowledge is stable. It has a firm foundation, and Vedic education deals with how to acquire that knowledge. The meaning of the word veda is “know”. No rhyme or reason is shown why you should know, and no explanation is given: simply, “know”.
Because doubt is absent in the spiritual plane, no cheating is possible. It is a simple, direct transaction: “know”. In that transcendental plane, everyone is a confidential friend, and they are stainless in their conduct. No cheating tendency is possible there, so there is no suspicion. Here, we are in the plane of misunderstanding and doubt, so we want to examine everything. We are living in a vulnerable and vitiated plane, where people cheat one another. We cannot rely on others, for they may deceive us. But where cheating is unknown, transactions are very simple and straightforward. So, no reason is given for suggestions that come down from that plane. Now, the question arises how to attain that sort of true, comprehensive, and non-deceptive knowledge? In the Bhagavad-gita (4.34), Krishna says:
tad viddhi pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya
upadeksyanti te jnanam jnaninas tattva-darsinah
“To learn knowledge above mortality, you must approach a self-realised soul, accept him as your spiritual master, and take initiation from him. Enquire submissively and render service unto him. Self-realised souls can impart knowledge unto you, for they have seen the truth.”
We have to approach the domain of knowledge with self-surrender, honest enquiry, and a serving attitude. We have to approach that plane with the mentality of slavery. Higher knowledge will not serve a person of lower status. If we want perfect knowledge at all, we will have to serve the Supreme Lord. He will use us for His own purpose, not that we will use Him. We may be subjects in this mundane world, but we will have to become objects to be handled by the superknowledge of that plane. If we want to connect with that higher knowledge, we must approach with this attitude.
Pranipat means that I have finished my experience here; I have no charm or aspiration for anything in this world. Then there is pariprasna, or honest, submissive, and humble enquiry with sincere eagerness, and not with a challenging mood; otherwise, perfect knowledge won’t care to descend to us. Krishna is already full in Himself, so we have to enter His domain only to fulfil His purpose. He can’t be subservient to us, for we are tiny persons with meagre experience and a conception of mean fulfilment. We cannot handle Him; we can approach Him only if we like to be handled by Him. So, such a favourable environment should be created where real knowledge is to be cultivated. That knowledge is supreme and cannot be subservient to the mundane conception, the world of mortality. It is sach-chid-ananda. Sat means unassailable existence, chit means consciousness, and ananda means beauty and pleasure.
“I must try to relieve myself of my present material miseries and enquire after a proper land where I can live happily.” Having come to this conclusion, we will have to search for a person who is a bona fide agent of the higher world and consult with him about how we can be relieved from this present undesirable environment. In the Srimad Bhagavatam (11.3.21), it is said:
tasmad gurum prapadyeta jijnasuh sreya uttamam
sabde pare cha nisnatam brahmany upasamasrayam
“What is the conception of real good, and who is considered to be a bona fide agent of the truth? One who has knowledge of the scripture that has descended from the upper domain, who has theoretical as well as practical knowledge of higher truth, must be approached by a bona fide enquirer, for such a qualified spiritual master can impart proper knowledge to the sincere student.” In the Mundaka-upanisad (1.2.12), it is also stated:
tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigachchhet
samit-panih srotriyam brahma-nistham
“In order to learn transcendental knowledge, one must approach a genuine spiritual master coming in disciplic succession who is fixed in the Absolute Truth.”
In this verse, the word tata means “after this”. When one’s calculation is finished, he thinks, “Life is not worth living here in this world of birth, death, old age, and disease. I must have a better world in which to live, where I can live as a gentleman. At every moment, death is devouring everything. Birth, death, old age, and disease—all these troubles prevent me from fulfilling my ambitions here. I want something categorically different.” At that time, taking the responsibility on his own shoulders, without giving any trouble to the Guru, and at the risk of poverty, ill-feeding, and so many other hardships, he will approach the Guru. It is a free transaction. Not that he will give something to Gurudev, but he will collect what is necessary for sacrifice, for education, and at his own risk he will approach the spiritual master.
Knowledge through sound
And what will be the position of the Guru? He will be well-versed in the scriptures, the sruti-sastra, or that knowledge which can only be acquired through the medium of sound, by earnest hearing, (srotriyam brahma-nistham).
Brahma-nistham means, “One who is established in brahma, spirit, and who is acquainted with the causal position of the universe.” That is described in the Upanisads:
yato va imani bhutani jayante
yena jatani jivanti
yat prayanty abhisamvisanti
tad vijijnasasva tad eva brahma
“The Supreme Brahma is the origin and shelter of all living beings. When there is a creation, He brings them forth from their original state, and at the time of annihilation, He devours them. After creation, everything rests in His omnipotence, and after annihilation, everything again returns to rest in Him.” These are the confirmations of the Vedic hymns.
yasmin vijnate sarvam idam vijnatam bhavati
yasmin prapte sarvam idam praptam bhavati
“By knowing Him, everything is known; by getting Him, everything is gained.” We have come to enquire about Brahma, the biggest, the all-accommodating principle by knowing which we can know anything and everything. And it is possible; it is not impossible. The Upanisads say, “If you want to know anything, then know the whole. And what is the nature of the whole? Everything is coming from Him, everything is being maintained by Him, and again everything enters into Him. That is Brahma; so try to know that. If you can know that, everything will be known to you.”
This is also explained in the Srimad Bhagavatam (4.31.14):
yatha taror mula-nisechanena
pranopaharach cha yathendriyanam
tathaiva sarvarhanam achyutejya
“Just as if you pour water onto the root of a tree, the whole tree is fed, and just as when you supply food to the stomach, the whole body is fed, so if you can gain knowledge of the prime cause, Brahma, then you can know anything and everything.” Faith in this is called sraddha.
The Vedanta-sutra, the very gist of the Vedas, says, “Athato Brahma-jijnasa: now that you have finished with the fruitive activities recommended in the karma-kanda section of the Vedas by Jaimini, we ask you to enquire about Brahma.”
That is described in the Srimad Bhagavatam (1.1.1), “Janmady asya yato ’nvayad itaratas charthesv abhijnah svarat: friends, let us enquire into the prime cause, whose nature is such that whatever we can see, and whatever we can conceive of, springs from Him. He is the ultimate cause of everything, both directly and indirectly.” Only He knows the purpose for which all things are created and maintained. Only He knows where all things will go. Only He is aware of that fact—no one else.
Arthesv abhijnah svarat means that He knows the meaning of every incident in existence and that He is above giving any explanation to others. He is not responsible to any law or to anyone else. He is absolute and independent.
And how do we know that? He has extended knowledge of Himself through the Vedas. Brahma means Veda. So, by the line of inspiration, or revelation, Vedic knowledge was transmitted to the first living being, the creator of the world, Lord Brahma (tene brahma hrda ya adi-kavaye). The scholars of the world fail to understand the strategy and nature of that sort of knowledge. They cannot follow the vital and fundamental points of Vedic knowledge, such as the transformation of one thing into another (muhyanti yat surayah). Water may be transformed into gas, gas may be transformed into ether, earth may be transformed into heat: by such a process, we can understand the existence of this world (tejo-vari-mrdam yatha vinimayo yatra tri-sargo ’mrsa), for by the transformation of the Lord’s energy, this world comes into being. This transformation involves the three modes of nature: tamas, rajas, and sattva. Tama means hard, static matter. Raja means energy, and sattva means spirit, light, knowledge. So, by transformation this world has been created.
In His abode, which is illumined by the ray of His own knowledge, there is no possibility of deception or misunderstanding (dhamna Svena sada nirasta-kuhakam satyam param dhimahi).
Here, we are being deceived through misunderstanding. We have entered a plane of existence where the whole world is full of misconception, falsity, and miscalculation. We are presently living in the world of maya. Maya means ma–ya: “what is not.” I am seeing something which is really something else.
Reality: by itself and for itself
Isavasyam: everything is meant for God. That is the Hegelian theory: reality is by itself and for itself. Hegel is the founder of Ideal Realism, so he says, “Reality is by itself and for itself.” “By itself” means that He is His own cause; no one has created Him. Otherwise, whoever had created Him would have primary importance. “For itself” means that God exists only to fulfil His own purpose. This is the universal truth: everything is for Him, and nothing is for anyone else. So, when we think that the things around us are meant for us, or for our nation, or for the human beings, this is all a false calculation, and knowledge based on such a miscalculation has its reaction.
“To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” I am eating something; it is entitled to eat me. In the Manu-samhita, the word mamsah is used to indicate meat. Mam means “me”, sah means “he”. Mamsah means “me-he”. What is the meaning? I am eating him, and he will eat me afterwards as a reaction. He is entitled to devour me, as I am at present devouring him. This is the underlying meaning—every action, whatever it is, has its reaction. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita (3.9):
yajnarthat karmano ’nyatra loko ’yam karma-bandhanah
tad-artham karma kaunteya mukta-sangah samachara
“Unless work is done as a sacrifice for Visnu, one’s own work will be the cause of bondage; therefore, work on My behalf and free yourself from the chain of action and reaction.” Bhagavad-gita says that any work, no matter what it is, causes a reaction. For example, you may nurse a patient. Apparently, it is a good thing, but you are giving the patient medicine that comes from killing so many insects, trees, creepers, and animals. You may think that your nursing is a very pure duty, but you are causing a disturbance in the environment, and you will have to pay for that. In this way, whatever we do here cannot be perfectly good. The German philosopher Kant has said, “Without good will, no action can be perfectly good.” But we are of the opinion that even good will is impossible here in this mundane plane. According to Kant, good will is a pure thing, whereas no action here can be perfect, but we say that even good will is impossible in the relative calculation of the world because we are plodding in the mud of misunderstanding.
Pure knowledge comes only from above, and we have to learn to accept that. When that sort of understanding comes within us, it is known as sraddha, or faith. Faith is also a great thing. We should have faith that if we do our duty towards the Absolute, then all our duties to the environment in all directions are automatically done (Krsne bhakti kaile sarva-karma krta haya). By satisfying Krishna, the whole universe becomes satisfied, for one who is dear to Krishna is dear to the whole universe (tasmin tuste jagat tustam prinite prinito jagat). Just as by watering the root of the tree, all the leaves and branches are automatically nourished, by fulfilling one’s duty towards Lord Krishna, all one’s duties are automatically fulfilled.
Krishna’s transcendental abode
Everything is meant for Krishna. We are also meant for Him (Isavasyam idam sarvam). This is true knowledge, and this is the true situation of the world. Exploitation is an incomplete and reactionary idea for which we incur a debt that we shall later have to pay. We may go to Satyaloka, the highest planet in the material universe, but by exploiting nature, we incur a debt, become heavy, and go down. And when we go down, others come to exploit and extort us until our debts are paid. Then the heaviness goes, and we become light and go upward to the higher planetary systems again. And when we go up, we exploit those who are in a lower position. In this way, there is continual exploitation and clearance of debt. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita (8.16):
abrahma-bhuvanal lokah punar avartino ’rjuna
mam upetya tu kaunteya punar janma na vidyate
“All planetary systems within this world of matter are places of repeated birth and death, but one who attains My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again.” Upon going there, one never returns to this material world (yad gatva na nivartante tad dhama paramam Mama). Krishna’s abode is nirguna, or transcendental to any material quality.
We must firmly establish the conception of Isavasyam: everything, including ourselves, is meant for the Supreme Lord. We are all His servants, and we are meant to utilise everything in His service. Any work we perform will bind us in this environment of matter, unless we perform yajna, sacrifice (yajnarthat karmano ’nyatra loko ’yam karma-bandhanah). And the Vedas enjoin, yajno vai Visnuh: “Sacrifice is meant exclusively for Visnu, or Krishna.” This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita (9.24), where Krishna says, “I am the only enjoyer of every sacrifice (Aham hi sarva-yajnanam bhokta cha prabhur eva cha).” Sacrifice is not meant for the country, or for the society, or for anything else. Sacrifice is meant only for the Supreme Lord. No one less than He is worthy of sacrifice. So, only by connecting our activities with the Infinite can we be freed from the present environment of action and reaction.
When knowledge comes in connection with the Absolute, it loses its filthy characteristic. Then, we can have full knowledge, which will lead us to prema-bhakti, love of God. Everything is meant for Krishna. He is the only enjoyer of everything. He is the Absolute Autocrat, and He is the Absolute Good. We are all His servants, and everything is meant for His satisfaction. We must come to this understanding. The guru-kula system of Vedic education should be conceived in this line.
Guru—heavier than the Himalayas
Guru means “heavy”. Guru means “one who dispels the darkness”, and “who is heavy, who cannot be moved by any proposal”. He is so well-established in the truth that no offer of alternative knowledge, or any other proposal, can move him from his position. He is firm there. He can help the laghu, the people who are very light; those whom anyone can handle like dolls of play. But the Guru can never be moved from his position. He will sit tight there, heavier than the Himalayas, and face all fleeting conceptions of knowledge, breaking them right and left, and establishing the universal characteristic of absolute knowledge. He will impart knowledge of the Absolute Truth, Brahma, the supreme whole, dispelling all misconceptions and establishing knowledge of the Absolute upon the throne of the heart. This is the conception of guru-kula, the Vedic system of education of ancient India.
The Vedic system of education deals with knowledge proper—not half-knowledge—but knowledge of the whole, which can deliver us from all troubles and guide us to the most desirable position. Nowadays, we can sell knowledge, but this knowledge cannot be sold. Intellectual knowledge can be taken into the market, but this knowledge cannot be taken into the market, for this is absolute knowledge. Vedic knowledge gives us our fulfilment of life, attaining which we will no longer feel the necessity to run here and there for any greater knowledge.
Previously, that knowledge was taught within the guru-kula, the ancient Vedic school. Vedic knowledge means knowledge which comes from outside the area of misunderstanding, miscalculation, and false historiography. The books recorded here are filled with temporary truths and misconceptions. Such things may be useful now, but after some time, it won’t work; mundane law will have no position, and everything will be dissolved. The earth will be dissolved. Matter will be dissolved, and we won’t be able to trace any quality of matter when everything is reduced to ether. No trace of air or heat or anything else will remain in any way. With the dissolution of this mundane world, nothing will remain but transcendental knowledge.
The land of dedication
In the Bhagavad-gita (15.6), Krishna says, “One who reaches My abode never returns to this material world (yad gatva na nivartante tad dhama paramam Mama). The dissolution will go on in the plane of the material world, but if you can secure a visa for that land, if you can enter into that soil, you will never be mishandled. When the sun, moon, and stars are all dissolved, your eternal self, your devotional ego, will be quite safe in My plane.” The material world is the land of exploitation; the spiritual world is the opposite—the land of dedication. In the middle, there is the Brahma-jyoti, the line of demarcation between exploitation and dedication.
Here in this material world, every unit is of an exploiting nature; there it is just the opposite. Everything there is wholly dedicated to the service of Krishna, and there is no want of anything. Rather, whatever is necessary to make service to Krishna possible comes automatically. Here, everything is based on kama, desire, so real service is not possible in this plane.
There is no possibility of exploitation existing in the land of dedication, for every unit there is a dedicating one. In the lower portion of the land of dedication, there is some calculation, some awe and reverence. But in the higher sphere, it is all automatic spontaneous love: a labour of love, with increased intensity and earnestness. And we are only charmed by the beauty and love that is found in Goloka Vrndavan, the supreme abode of Krishna. In a nutshell, this is what we understand by the grace of our spiritual masters. We are very much attracted by this conception which has been given to us by our Gurudev as he has received it from the Vedic scriptures, especially the Srimad Bhagavatam. This has been explained by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself, by His teachings and practices, and this conception has been expounded by His followers, the six goswamis of Vrndavan. ⬆︎
There are six ancient philosophical systems of India. The first is the Vaisesika philosophy of Kanada Rsi, the atomic theory. According to him, everything is made of atoms. So many different atoms combine and produce this world. Kana means atomic particle. So many atomic particles have combined and produced this world by chance, with no necessity of any reason, rhyme, consciousness, nothing of the kind. And the outcome of these combinations has produced what we find here. That is the opinion of Kanada: it is an atomic world.
Bhakti Vinod Thakur, the nineteenth century founder of the Krishna consciousness movement, sings in one song, “Kesava! Tuya jagata vichitra: “O my Lord Krishna, I see that everything is available in Your world, which has an infinite, variegated nature. Separated from You, however, we are always feeling miseries. A continuous flow of suffering has swallowed us from birth to death, and we cannot tolerate the pain of such misery. And so many relief agents—Kapila, Patanjali, Gautam, Kanada, Jaimini, Buddha—are running towards us, offering their solutions.”
Analysis, yoga, and logic
Kapila has come with the sankhya philosophical system of analysis, saying, “Analyse matter, and you will be free from all this pain.” Patanjali has come with yoga, “Hey, jivatma! Come to meet Paramatma! Then all the problems of this world will go away from you. Come in connection with Paramatma, the Supersoul.” This is his recommendation.
Gautam comes with logic, Nyaya-sastra: “There is one Maker, one Creator, but He is indifferent. He has created this world, finished, and left it. And you must try to live with the help of your reason. Develop your reasoning faculty and be reasonable in all your conduct. Then only can you help yourself in this world. There is no other remedy. Be a good logician, and then you will be able to control the environment with the power of reason, and you will be happy.” And Kanada: “By chance atoms have been combined, and with the dissolution of atoms, nothing will remain. Why do you bother? Don’t care. What is fate? It is nothing; ignore it. And when the body is dissolved, nothing will remain. Why lament?”
Atomic theory and karma
Then, with the philosophy of karma-mimamsa, Jaimini says, “There may be One who has connected us with this world and our karma, but karma is all-in-all. He is an indifferent observer. He has got no hold on us any longer. According to our karma, we shall thrive or we shall go down. So, these activities are recommended to you. If you go on with your karma, you will be happy. Of course, it cannot be denied; karma-phala, the result of karma, diminishes and is ended. But stick to karma, good karma; don’t go to bad karma. The result of good karma will be finished, but that does not matter; again go on doing good karma, and the good result will await you in heaven, and you will have a happy life. If anything is friendly to you, it is your karma. There is God, but He is indifferent. He is bound to serve you, either good or bad, according to your karma. He has no independence.”
“Dissolve your mind”—Buddha
Then another class of philosophy is that of Buddha: “Only the combination of different things has created your mental system. With the dissolution of the mental system, nothing remains. So, somehow, we must dissolve the mental system. Practise ahimsa, nonviolence, satya, truthfulness, and so on.”
It is seen that all these philosophers are talking either of renunciation or of exploitation (bhukti, mukti). And by setting different types of enchanting traps, they arrange to capture the jiva-soul. Bhakti Vinod Thakur says, “But I have come to realise that these fellows are all cheaters. And they all have this common stand; they have no touch of Your devotion, Your service. There, they are one. They cannot deliver any real good. They are common to oppose Your devotional service and supremacy. And ultimately they leave us in chaos.
“But from the ultimate standpoint, I see that they are agents engaged by You to segregate the seriously diseased persons to another ward for the good of the less seriously diseased patients. It is Your arrangement to segregate the hopeless persons to another side for the benefit of the good side. That is Your design, and they are playing in Your hand like so many dolls. They are Your agents, and they are also serving You in some way, because nothing is outside You.” Bhakti Vinod Thakur concludes saying, “I bid good-bye to them all. I feel in my heart that I shall show respect to all these so-called good agents from a distance; however, my only real capital is the dust of the holy feet of Your devotees. I rely on that dust as the source of all my prospects. I seek to put all my energy into taking the dust of their holy lotus feet upon my head. This is everything for me.” ⬆︎
In the following conversation, Srila Sridhar Maharaj compares theistic beliefs with some Christian students from America.
Christian: Can you explain the Vaisnava viewpoint of Christianity?
Sridhar Maharaj: Christianity is incomplete Vaisnavism—not full-fledged, but the basis of devotional theism. We find the principle of “die to live” there to a certain extent, at least physically. The Christians say that the ideal shown by Jesus is self-sacrifice. In our consideration, however, that is not full-fledged theism, but only the basis. It is an unclear, vague conception of Godhead: “We are for Him.” But how much? And in what shape, in what attitude? All these things are unexplained and unclear in Christianity. Everything is hazy, as if seen from far off. It does not take any proper shape.The cover is not fully removed, allowing us to come face to face with the object of our service. The conception of service to God is there, and a strong impetus to attain that, so the foundation is good, but the structure over the foundation is unclear, vague, and imperfect.
Christian: Christians like the ideas of surrender, service, and giving everything to God.
Sridhar Maharaj: Yes, that is common. But surrender to whom?
Christian: Christians say that Jesus is the only way.
Sridhar Maharaj: Yes, and his way is “die to live”, but what for? What is our positive attainment? What is our positive engagement in the Lord’s service? We must not only submit in gratefulness to the highest authority, but we must have a direct connection with Him and cent per cent engagement in His service. Simply going on in our own way, praying, “O God, give us our bread”. Going to the church once a week is not sufficient. Twenty-four hour engagement is possible in full-fledged theism. God can engage us twenty-four hours a day. We must attain that position—full engagement with Him. Everything else is subordinate to that position.
Adam and Eve: forced to labour
Christian: There are some Christian traditions that are very similar to Krishna consciousness.
Sridhar Maharaj: They are very akin in their foundation. We agree that we must sacrifice everything for God. But who is He? And who am I? And what is our relationship? Christianity gives us only a hazy conception.
In the Christian conception, when Adam and Eve were surrendered, they had no problems in life. But then they tasted the fruit of the tree of knowledge, calculation of self-interest, and they fell and were forced to live a life of labour. Only a general idea of our relationship with God is given there, but when we have to define in detail the characteristics of God and in which relationships to approach Him, Christianity gives us only a hazy idea.
Once some Christian priests told our Guru Maharaj that madhura-rasa (conjugal relationship with God) is also found within Christianity. In the middle ages, there was a fashion amongst the Christians to consider Christ as a bridegroom, and some parable is also given where Lord Jesus Christ is considered as a bridegroom. So, they said that madhura-rasa, the consort relationship, is also found within Christianity. Prabhupad told them, “That is with His Son, with His devotee; not with God.” Son means Guru, the deliverer.
Father, son, and ghost
Their conception of God is the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Ghost. The Ghost is perhaps considered to have the highest position. If it is so, then Christianity ends in Brahmavad nirvises. Do you follow?
Christian: Yes. I think you explained before that Brahma means the impersonal aspect of God’s existence.
Sridhar Maharaj: God the Father means God the creator. God the Son is Guru. And God as Ghost perhaps holds the supreme position in Christianity: over the Father conception, and over the Son conception. If that is the case, then their understanding goes to impersonal Brahma.
I was told that once in a drama in Germany, they had to show the figure of God, so in some high position in a balcony they put a figure of grave nature with a gray beard, commanding from there. God the Father was shown like that. That is their idea: the Fatherhood of Godhead, a gray-bearded, old man as God. But from the consideration of rasa and ananda, ecstasy, God should be the centre of all different relationships, including sonhood and consorthood.
To conceive of God as our father is an incomplete understanding, for parents are also servitors. He must be in the centre—not in any extremity of the whole. He is not simply watching over the whole; the conception of Krishna is that of God in the centre. Of all approaches to God, the approach for a loving relationship is supreme. The intensity of that relationship is to be considered, and God must be at the centre of all loving relationships. Anandam Brahmano vidvan. Ananda is the most precious thing ever discovered. And the full representation of the highest ananda should be considered as the highest absolute which can attract everyone—not by power, not by force, but by charm. The centre of all attraction is Krishna. His attraction is by beauty, by charm, and by love and not by coercion and force. That is the Krishna conception of Godhead.
Christian: Christians are afraid to go beyond Jesus because Jesus has warned us about cheaters.
Sridhar Maharaj: I am not speaking about the Christians. I am speaking about Jesus, who has given the ideals of Christianity. I am speaking about the principles of Jesus. He has given some understanding by installments, but not full knowledge. We agree about the strong foundation of theism. Jesus was crucified because he said, “Everything belongs to my Father. Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and render unto God that which is His.” So, the foundation is very good; it is laudable, but that is only the first installment of the theistic conception.
Who is my Lord? What is His nature? Who am I? What is my inner self, and what is my connection with Him? How can I live continuously in His memory and service? The conception that we are meant for Him, designed and destined for Him, is laudable, but it must be clarified. We must attain the highest position. All these things are absent in Christianity. Only sacrifice for the Lord is given, and that is all right. It is the basic necessity of the soul. But after that, what is to be achieved? They are silent.
Christian: They are afraid to go beyond Jesus.
Sridhar Maharaj: Yes, but there is so much grace, so much love in divinity that God can sit on our lap and embrace us. A much more intimate connection is unfolded in Vaisnavism. But if we are afraid to cross the fundamental advice of Jesus, then we become sahajiyas (imitationists). We must risk everything for our Lord and make our position firm in His service. We must die to live. And what is living? We have to analyse what real life is. And if without dying, we want to drag God into our fleshy play, then we become sahajiyas, imitationists.
We must cross the threshold given by Jesus. He has declared, “Die to live”. The Lord’s company is so valuable to us that we must risk everything for Him. This material achievement is nothing; it is all poison. We must have no attraction for it. We must be ready to leave everything, all our material prospects and aspirations, including our body, for Him. God is great. But what is His greatness? What is my position? How can I engage myself in His service twenty-four hours a day? Here, Jesus is silent.
We receive no specific program from the Christians at this stage, so Vaisnavism comes to our heart’s relief, to satisfy our inner necessity, whatever it may be. Our inner thirst will be quenched there. You may be conscious or unconscious of the many demands within you, but they will reach full satisfaction in its most beautiful form there alone. It is not only that from far off we shall show God some reverential salute, but we can have Him in a very intimate way. The ideal of an intimate loving connection with God has been given by Vaisnavism, especially by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, by Srimad Bhagavatam, and in Vrndavan, the land of Krishna.
The feeling of possessing anything here in the material world cannot be real—it is a perverted reflection—but that feeling must be present in the original world; otherwise, what is its origin? From where do the different feelings of necessity within us come? They must be present in the causal world, for everything is emanating from Krishna. So, the hankering of every atom of our body, mind, and soul will receive its greatest fulfilment there. This understanding is given by Vaisnavism, by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, by Srimad Bhagavatam, and by Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita.
Bhagavad-gita: its history and teachings
Christian: I’ve heard of the Bhagavad-gita. What is the history of its origin?
Sridhar Maharaj: In the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna tells Arjuna, “What I am saying to you now is not a new thing. I have already told this to Surya, the sun-god, and he delivered it to Manu, the father of man. In this way, this knowledge descended in disciplic succession, and by the influence of time it was finished. Again, I am repeating that ancient knowledge to you.”
This refers to karma-yoga: “Don’t care about the result, good or bad; go on with your duty. Then you can have general peace of mind.”
Christian: What is the message of the Bhagavad-gita?
Sridhar Maharaj: There are different stages of education imparted in Bhagavad-gita: bhakti-yoga, karma-yoga, jnana-yoga, astanga-yoga, so many different layers of theism, but pure devotional theism begins where Krishna says, “Sarva-dharman parityajya: give up your affinity to all other activities, whether religious or non-religious, and wholly surrender to Me. Don’t try to push your demands on Me, but ask Me what will be most beneficial for you. And what shall I do on your behalf? Fully surrender to Me, and I will give Myself to you.
“All these other methods and their prospects are more or less effective and valuable, but don’t aspire after anything but Me. That will be your highest prospect; to want Me, to have Me, to live in Me, to do what I say, to enter into My own personal family in My private life. That will be your highest attainment. Don’t aspire for anything else from Me. The comparative study of all religious aspirations will show that the highest inner necessity may be satisfied by entrance into My personal private dealings.”
Christian: Christians think that if we are to be sincere, we should follow the Bible. We take very literally the word of Christ.
Sridhar Maharaj: Yes, according to one’s capacity he may be enlisted in a particular class. Some will go to Christianity, and after finishing that, if their hankering is still unsatisfied, they will seek somewhere else, thinking, “What is God? I want to know more perfectly.”
In this regard, I can give one example: there was a Professor Nixon in England. He went to fight against Germany in the First World War, on the French side. As he was flying over the German lines, his airplane was hit and began to fall. He saw that the plane would fall on the German lines. When I met him here in India, he told me, “At that time, I prayed, ‘If there is any God, let Him save me, and I promise that if I do not die in this plane crash, I will go to search after Him. I will devote my whole life in search of Him.’”
The plane crashed, and when Professor Nixon regained consciousness, he found that he was behind the French lines, in a hospital in France. At that time, he thought to himself, “There is God! He has heard my last prayer.” When his wounds were healed, he went straight to England to see some churchmen. He told them, “I want to search after God and engage myself twenty-four hours a day in the cause of His service. I want to see Him face to face.”
Bishops: “Go to India”
He saw many clergymen and even some bishops, and they ultimately advised him, “If you want to see God face to face, then go to India. We cannot recommend such a process to you. But we have heard that in India there are yogis who internally connect with the Lord in the heart. You may try your fortune there.” So, he came here to India, where he met the Vice-Chancellor of Lucknow University. In talking with him, Professor Nixon met the Vice-Chancellor’s wife, who was a Gaudiya–Vaisnava, a devotee of Mahaprabhu. He was so much charmed by her advice that he accepted her as his Guru. Finally he took sannyas, the renounced order of life, and his name became Swami Krishna Prema. He established a temple here in India, and preached about Bhagavat-dharma and Mahaprabhu.
He made a comparative study of all religions, beginning from Christianity, and gradually came to Vaisnavism, attracted by Mahaprabhu’s gift. One German scholar also said, “In all the religious conceptions of the world, the conception of twenty-four hour engagement with God (asta-kaliya-lila) has never been given. I have studied all religious theologies, but none could even conceive of twenty-four hour service to the Supreme Lord. It is only given in Srimad Bhagavatam.”
Rupa Goswami has given the scientific representation of Krishna: Akhila-rasamrta-murtih. He is the reservoir of all possible pleasures. All possible tendencies for satisfaction that we may feel, and even those that we may not feel, are present in Krishna and have their ideal, purest satisfaction with Him alone. He is all-accommodating and all-comprehensive. Whatever satisfaction our inner heart demands can be fulfilled only by Him.
Christian: Some Christians are so much afraid to go beyond the Bible that they will not make a study of other theistic beliefs.
Sridhar Maharaj: According to one’s capacity, he will purchase in the market (sve sve ’dhikare ya nistha sa gunah parikirtitah). In the market, there may be valuable things, but the buyer must have some capacity to purchase them. The rsis, the tradesmen of knowledge, have also gone so far as to say, “This is the highest. Go no further.” Similarly, Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita (3.35), “Svadharme nidhanam sreyah para-dharmo bhayavahah: don’t go ahead—you’ll be doomed. Take your stand here; go no further.”
Why is such a great warning given to us? Generally our teachers advise us, “Pay full attention here. Only then will you understand everything completely, and your march to the end-point will be sincere and satisfactory. Otherwise, sahajiyaism, imitationism, will enter your heart. Do you think that in one leap you can capture the summit of a hill? Impossible. You must march, but your march must be sincere. You must make real progress, not imitative progress.” This warning is given at every stage of life. “This is the highest for you. Give your whole attention to this. Don’t be absent-minded and haphazard in your study. Engage yourself fully in this lesson, and the next higher stage will come to you automatically.”
As a matter of policy, we are told that our present stage of instruction is the highest. When a professor comes to teach a child, he will accept the mentality of the child. He will say, “Only go so far and no further. This is the final stage; give your whole attention to understanding this point, and when that is finished, then go further.” In this way, by gradual installments, knowledge is revealed.
Christian: So, there are different stages for different persons?
Sridhar Maharaj: Bhakti Vinod Thakur has given his decision in his Tattva-sutra that although when Bhagavad-gita was spoken to Arjuna, he engaged himself in fighting, had it been Uddhava in place of Arjuna, after hearing the conclusion of Bhagavad-gita where Krishna says, “Give up everything and surrender to Me”, Uddhava would have accepted this and gone away from the warfield. Upon hearing the same advice, Arjuna acted in one way, but Uddhava would have acted in another. After hearing the first installment of Krishna’s instructions, Arjuna tells Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita (3.1-2):
jyayasi chet karmanas te mata buddhir janardana
tat kim karmani ghore mam niyojayasi kesava
vyamisreneva vakyena buddhim mohayasiva me
tad ekam vada nischitya yena sreyo ’ham apnuyam
“You say that jnan, knowledge, is better than karma, work. Why then do you want to engage me in this dreadful karma of fighting?” Then Krishna said, “You have your capacity in karma: finish your career, and then you can aspire to come to the level of jnan, enquiry into knowledge. It is not a cheap thing to transcend all activity and attain naiskarmya, freedom from karma. First finish the course of your karma; then you will become free from karma, and gradually you will develop transcendental knowledge and devotion. So, I say, ‘Engage yourself in this present fight.’ Fighting is not recommended for everyone but for you and men of your section.”
Christian: In your opinion, what stage of God realisation should people be advised to follow?
Sridhar Maharaj: Krishna consciousness should be preached in a general way, and people will come according to their inner response. Some may even come to attack us. The communists will say, “No religious preaching is allowed here. It is all theoretical; you neglect the concrete world and take the abstract to be everything. By hearing this, the people will suffer, so we won’t allow it.” That is one stage. Beginning from there, there are so many stages. If you preach to a crowd, those who find a response within their inner hearts will come to you according to the degree of their realisation. Their inner demand will bring them in contact with an agent of truth.
Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj went to the West and preached, and so many converted to Krishna consciousness. How was it possible? They were not Gaudiya–Vaisnavas, but they felt some inner affinity. While wandering in this world, everyone is gathering some new experience, some new taste. According to the degree of his awakenment, one will respond to a preacher in his own layer. He will find, “Oh! After so long, I see that there is the possibility of an outlet for the urge I found in my heart. There is a plane that can satisfy that aspiration of mine. I must connect with him and enquire of that land of my dreams.” In this way, they will come to seek the association of devotees. “Birds of a feather flock together.” According to their inner taste, they will come together and go on with their duties in that plane, at that pace, until from there they can go further, to a higher position. Sometimes in the same life one may change his creed and go higher, and sometimes one may wait until his next birth.
Christian: If the quality of preaching is too high, people may be discouraged.
Sridhar Maharaj: It may be too high for one and too near for another. It is not too high for all, for if it was, then how would conversion be possible? So many people are becoming Mohammedans, Christians, and Hindus. All Christians were not born Christians. How were people first attracted to become Christians? There arose in their hearts the hankering for Christianity.
When Achyutananda Swami, the first disciple of Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj, went to my birthplace here in Bengal, a headmaster asked him, “We are so near and we cannot appreciate the teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. How is it that from such a far off country, you have come to sacrifice your life for the service of Sri Chaitanyadev?”
Achyutananda Swami answered, “Brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva: we have to acquire this capacity during the course of our wanderings in different positions throughout the creation.”
We are wandering from this land to that land, from this species to that species, and in the course of that, we gather some sukrti, pious credits. Ajnata-sukrti means that unknowingly and unconsciously our energy is spent in the service of the Lord, and the reaction comes in the form of some pious credits. And when sukrti is more developed, it becomes jnata-sukrti, or pious activities knowingly performed. Then, sraddha, faith, our inner attraction for the universal truth comes to the surface. In this way, it may develop from any stage. Even a beast may feel the tendency to serve Krishna. In Vrndavan, so many living beings—trees, beasts, and even the water—have acquired their position by consciously desiring it. Although they have accepted an apparently material pose, they eternally hold that position in the service of Krishna.
Way of The Pilgrim
Christian: There is one book called The Way of The Pilgrim about a Christian who chants the name of Jesus on beads.
Sridhar Maharaj: Yes, the Catholics also use beads. Some Christians may chant the name of Christ.
Christian: This man was chanting the name of Jesus, his heart was growing soft, and he was feeling ecstasy, great love for Jesus.
Sridhar Maharaj: Then he may attain the position of Jesus, at most. It may be that in his attempt for perfection, his growth is finished there, in the eternal paraphernalia of Jesus. He may remain there. If he has found his fullest satisfaction, he is fated to be there.
By the will of God, and by the powerful will of an exalted devotee, even from the impersonal Brahma effulgence one may be roused from his slumber and moved to action in devotional service. Generally, they pass long ages there in the non-differentiated plane, satisfied with their spiritual attainment; however, in the consideration of infinite time, nothing is very great or spacious. They may remain holding that position for a long time, so many dissolutions and creations may come and go, but the possibility remains that their slumber may be broken at any time. Since time immemorial, this created world has been in existence, and so many souls are ascending to the Brahma effulgence and again descending. So, even in the midst of the infinite Brahma effulgence, some souls are coming out. It is a question of infinity, so the position of Jesus may be considered as eternal, and the time may come when Jesus himself may be converted into Vaisnavism. It is not impossible.
Jesus: dynamic or static?
Christian: Do you think that Jesus had awareness of Krishna as the Personality of Godhead?
Sridhar Maharaj: When his inner attainment is most closely detected, then we are bound to say that in the course of his eternal life, there is some possibility of his achieving Krishna.
Christian: I don’t understand.
Sridhar Maharaj: Is Jesus stagnant or progressive? Where he has reached, is that finished forever, or is he dynamic?
Christian: Christians will say that he has full knowledge.
Sridhar Maharaj: So, is he stagnant there, finally fixed? Is that Jesus’ position? Do the bishops say that his position is final? Does he have a progressive life? Or is Jesus alone barred from making further progress? Is he a member of the dynamic world? Or the stagnant world?
So, this is the nature of the infinite. Being finite, we are going to deal with the infinite? That is our ludicrous tendency. It is ludicrous for us to deal with the infinite.
Why is Krishna considered to be the Absolute Truth? This you should enquire about in a scientific way, step by step. As I have recommended, you should go on reading about that in the Sri Krishna-samhita, and the Brhad-bhagavatamrta. You should try to follow very minutely the dynamic development of theism as it is presented there.
Christian: As I understand it, reincarnation means that a soul may regress into a lower species by performing sinful acts. But how does it benefit a soul to be punished by taking birth in the animal species if later he has no recollection of this?
Sridhar Maharaj: Sometimes it is necessary for doctors to make a patient unconscious. Sometimes a dacoit is imprisoned and put under chains. When his movements will be detrimental to society, he is confined in a cell and chained. So, sometimes it is necessary to take away one’s independence, his voluntary action. By suffering the reactions to his previous karma, one may be relieved; then again he may be given voluntary action. When by his voluntary will a soul has done so many misdeeds and acquired so many reactions, it is necessary that his free will be stopped temporarily. He will be allowed to suffer the reactions of his previous sins, and then again some freedom will be given to him so that he may take the proper course which is useful for him. As long as a drunkard is a drunkard, when he is expected to do some mischief to the environment, he should be confined. And when the madness of drinking is gone, then he will be released and allowed to move freely.
“Do unto others” includes animals
Christian: Christians generally don’t accept that animals have souls.
Sridhar Maharaj: Jesus did not care to bring his followers within that conception. He saw that they were accustomed to eating animals and fish, so he did not want to embarrass them with all these questions. He thought they should begin theistic life, and when again they are able to consider these points, at that time they may be given this installment.
Life is also present within the non-human species, and it is no less qualified than the human position, but in the course of the evolutionary movement of the soul, it is thrown into such a condition as the result of karma. Wherever life is present, the soul is there within. It is a common thing, but Jesus thought it would be impossible for them to adjust their understanding of the environment to such a degree. He thought to let them begin with the culture of theism, and then gradually such instruction could be given.
He told them, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” That is also good. But not only is the soul present there; God is also there, and everywhere. The lower species are also feeling pain and pleasure. In animals it is quite clear that when they are killed, they feel pain. So, there is life. The vibration of pain is there, consciousness is there, and the soul is a unit of pure consciousness. But the persons to whom Jesus preached were not so qualified as to extend their knowledge that far. They are not prepared for such a great amount of sacrifice in their practices. So, for those who are not prepared to sacrifice themselves to such an extent, Christianity has been given by Jesus.
Still, everything has been ordained from the same common centre. Christianity has its necessity; Islam also has its necessity. There is room for such creeds in the universe. They are not unnecessary, but they hold a relative position.
Then what is the position of the Absolute Truth? When we have to enquire deeply about this, then we come to India. There it has been dealt with very extensively, with all possible conceptions of religion. So many variegated theological conceptions are found in India that a fraction of that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. But ultimately, Srimad Bhagavatam was given as the highest conception. How? That we have to understand and follow very minutely. You should study the Brhad-bhagavatamrta and its more modern form, Sri Krishna-samhita by Bhakti Vinod Thakur.
Christian: I have read that.
Sridhar Maharaj: But you must read it more closely, and more scrutinisingly. You must read that again and again until you find satisfaction and answers to all your enquiries. There, the gradation of our relationship with God is shown, explaining how from a particular stage of theism, one is forced to progress to a higher level of attainment. ⬆︎
The gradation of transcendental realisation has been explained by Srila Sanatan Goswami in his book Brhad-bhagavatamrta. There we find that in the course of the realisation of suddha-bhakti, pure devotional service, the great sage Narad Muni is visiting different places. First, he encounters karma-misra-bhakti, or devotional service mixed with fruitive activities.
Once, there was a brahman in Allahabad. He was a wealthy man, and on the occasion of the Kumbha-mela, when millions of sages and devotees gather for a religious festival, he arranged for services to the different types of saintly persons who were present there. He conducted a sacrifice and finally finished the function with the chanting of the Holy Name of the Lord. The brahman was mainly engaged in karma-kanda, or fruitive work, but he was also rendering service to the saintly persons. Ultimately, he ended everything with Nam-sankirtan, the chanting of the Holy Names of the Lord.
Narad Muni approached the brahman, saying, “You are very fortunate that you are doing these things. This is the proper utilisation of your money and caste. By engaging in such holy activities, you are certainly most fortunate.” The brahman told him, “What am I doing? This is nothing. You should go to see the fortune of King Indradyumna. He is distributing the prasad remnants of Lord Jagannath in a grand style. How grandiose is the worship of Narayan there! Go there and you will appreciate his devotional service.”
So, Narad Muni went to see Indradyumna Maharaj, and there he also found the king extensively engaging all his resources in the worship of Lord Jagannath. Narad approached him, saying, “You are so fortunate in this world.” The king told him, “What can I do Narad? This is nothing. If you want to see how devotional service should be practised, you should go to Lord Indra, the king of heaven.”
Narad Muni went to Indradev and praised him by saying, “O Indra, you are very fortunate. Vamandev, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, appeared as your younger brother. And here in Indraloka, there are always religious festivals worshipping Krishna.” Indra said, “Oh, what do you say? What love have I for Krishna? Everything belongs to Him, but in my foolishness, I tried to prevent Him from taking the parijata tree from heaven. Not only that, but I am always being attacked by the demons, and my wife is also sometimes disturbed. What fortune do you find in me?”
From Indra, Narad went to Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe. There, he found the personified Vedas singing praise to Lord Brahma. Narad, who was also his son and disciple, approached Lord Brahma saying, “How greatly fortunate you are! You are entrusted by Lord Narayan Himself with the management of the whole universe, and sometimes you visit Him for guidance in the administration of the universe. We also find that some portions of the Vedas are engaged in singing your glories. You are so fortunate!”
Lord Brahma felt a little disturbed. He said, “What are you saying, Narad? You are praising me and increasing my false pride, but did I not tell you that I am nothing but a small creature in the hand of Narayan? I am engaged in external activity. I have no time to give in the interest of my devotional life. My Lord has rather deceived me by engaging me in such a busy matter as managing the universe. I am most unfortunate. Rather, you should go to Mahadev, Lord Siva. He does not care for anything in this world. He is aloof and indifferent and has his aim toward Lord Narayan. He is devoted to Lord Ramachandra, and he is very fond of the Holy Name of Lord Rama. His wife, Parvati Devi, is also helping him in his devotional life, and she is very happy.”
Narad Muni went to Sivaloka and began to chant in praise of Lord Siva, “You are the master of the world. The Vedas sing your glories. You hold the highest position.” In this way, Narad began to glorify him, but Lord Siva became very excited and a little angry at this: “What are you saying, Narad? I have so much indifference towards this world that I am mainly interested in knowledge and penance. This holds the better portion of my interest. Whatever little inclination I have for devotional service to Narayan is very negligible. Sometimes I have such an apathetic spirit towards Narayan that I even fight with Him in favour of one of my disciples! I am disgusted with my position. Penance, power, mystic yoga perfection, and indifference to the world—that is my business.”
This is jnana-misra-bhakti, or devotional service mixed with empiric speculative knowledge. Lord Brahma is the ideal of karma-misra-bhakti, or devotional service mixed with fruitive activity, and Lord Siva is the ideal of jnana-misra-bhakti. He still maintains some affinity for an independent position, and not for cent per cent acceptance of service to the Supreme Lord, Narayan.
Lord Siva said, “If you really want to experience suddha-bhakti, go to Prahlad Maharaj. There you will find pure devotional service.”
In this way, we have been directed to trace the development of suddha-bhakti, pure devotional service, beginning with Prahlad Maharaj because Prahlad does not want anything in exchange for his devotional service.
In Srimad Bhagavatam (7.10.4), he says:
nanyatha te ’khila-guro ghateta karunatmanah
yas ta asisa asaste na sa bhrtyah sa vai vanik
“Whoever is doing something for the satisfaction of Narayan and wants something in return is not a servant, but a merchant. He wants to give something to the Lord and then take some price in exchange for that.” So, Prahlad Maharaj is a pure devotee, and only through a pure devotee of Narayan can one attain pure devotion.
Neutral love of God
All these peculiar achievements in the devotional world begin with Prahlad Maharaj. The nature of his devotional service is that of santa-rasa, neutrality, where there is no actual service, but only perfect adherence to Narayan under all circumstances. Whatever may be the unfavourable condition in the environment, he stands true to the faith that Narayan is all-in-all, and that He is our Master. So, Prahlad Maharaj, and the four Kumaras, the sons of Lord Brahma, are in the position of santa-rasa bhakti, or neutral love of God.
Prahlad Maharaj is Narad Muni’s disciple. Still, for our benefit, Narad Muni was approaching him to measure the standard of his devotion in a comparative study of the devotional world. Approaching Prahlad Maharaj, Narad said, “I have come to see you, Prahlad, because Lord Siva also appreciates your position. You are really a devotee of Lord Krishna. You are so fortunate! I have come to see how you are.”
Prahlad Maharaj told him, “Gurudev, you are all-in-all. Have you come to test me? Whatever fortune I may have, I have received by your grace. I was born in a family of demons, so the demonic qualities have not exclusively left me. Don’t you know that in Naimisaranya, I went to fight with Lord Visnu? I repent for that, but what can I do? He has given me such a position. I cannot have the privilege of direct service to Him, but only mentally I think of Him. I think that He is everything, but I do not have the great fortune of rendering service to Him. Hanuman is really a devotee. How fortunate he is! What grace he has received! He gave everything to Lord Ramachandra. I envy his situation, but what can I do? God’s dispensation is absolute. We must accept that. Hanuman’s position is really enviable. How attached to his Master he is, and what a great magnitude of service he has done for Lord Rama.”
Hanuman: servant of Rama
From there, Narad Muni went to visit Hanuman. He approached Hanuman’s residence, playing on his vina the mantram: Rama Rama Rama Rama Rama. When Hanuman suddenly heard the name of his Master, Lord Rama, he jumped towards that direction and even in the sky embraced Narad Muni. Hanuman said, “Oh, who is helping me to hear the sound of Lord Rama’s Holy Name? After such a long time, the sound of Rama-nam is enlivening me. I was dying without hearing the Name of Rama.” Ecstatic tears were running down the eyes of both of them. Then, Narad Muni went to Hanuman’s quarters and began to praise his fortune, saying, “How fortunate you are! O Hanuman, You serve Lord Ramachandra so intimately; you do not know anything but your Master, Lord Rama.You rendered such great service to Him that your service has become the ideal for the whole of human society.”
Hanuman told Narad, “Yes, by His grace I was able to do something, but it is all His grace. I am nothing, I am worthless. But I hear that now Lord Ramachandra has come as Lord Krishna. Although I don’t like any incarnation other than Lord Rama, I have heard from a distance how Krishna, who is Ramachandra Himself, is showing His favour to the Pandavas. The Pandavas are very fortunate because the Lord is dealing with them like an intimate friend. So, I have great appreciation for the fortune of the Pandavas.” In this way, Hanuman began to praise the Pandavas for their fortune.
Krishna’s friends, the Pandavas
Leaving Hanuman, Narad Muni then went to the Pandavas. There, he found Yudhisthir Maharaj seated on a throne and began to sing the glories of the Pandavas. He told Yudhisthir Maharaj, “How friendly you are in your relationship with Krishna! How fortunate you are!” Yudhisthir Maharaj said, “What are you saying Devarsi? Of course Krishna favours us—we can’t deny that—but what is our position? We have no position at all. On the other hand, I feel now and then, that by seeing our example, the people in general won’t want to serve Krishna because they will calculate that being such intimate friends of Lord Krishna, the Pandavas had to pass through difficult troubles and dangers their whole lives. They will think that to be a devotee of Krishna means that one must suffer troubles throughout his whole life. So, I am afraid that by thinking of us, people will not venture to approach Krishna.”
Devarsi Narad said, “No, no, I don’t see it from that angle of vision. What is danger or affliction to the Pandavas? What is the meaning of that? That is the message that Krishna is coming. When the Pandavas are in danger that is nothing but the message that Krishna is coming to save you. So, your mother also prayed:
vipadah santu tah sasvat tatra tatra jagad-guro
bhavato darsanam yat syad apunar bhava-darsanam
“‘Let dangers come: may they visit me always. I don’t care for that because that brings Krishna much closer to us. We rather like the dangers that bring Krishna into our intimate connection.’ That famous statement of your mother, Kunti Devi, stands there.”
The Pandavas, headed by Maharaj Yudhisthir said, “Yes, Krishna visits us now and then, in the time of our dire need, but how fortunate are the Yadus! Lord Krishna is always with them. They are so proud of their Master, Lord Krishna, that they do not care for any other power in the world. They are so fortunate that Lord Krishna is always closely connected with them.” So, Narad Muni went to the Yadus and began chanting in praise of them. They said, “What do you say, Devarsi Narad? Krishna is with us, of course, and in any time of great danger He comes to help us, but how much do we care for Him? We are living independently, careless about His existence. But among us, Uddhava is really His favourite. Whatever Krishna does, He always consults with Uddhava, and in all His confidential matters, Uddhava is present there, and in every case, He is always very thick with Uddhava. Even we envy the fortune of Uddhava.”
Uddhava: more dear than Krishna
Then, Narad went to Uddhava and told him, “Uddhava, you are the most favourite devotee of Krishna. Krishna says:
na tatha me priyatama atma-yonir na sankarah
na cha sankarsano na srir naivatma cha yatha bhavan
“‘O Uddhava! What to speak of other devotees like Brahma, Siva, Sankarsan, or Laksmi; you are more dear to Me than My own life.’ You are such an intimate associate that Krishna values you more than His own life.” Uddhava said, “Yes, of course, out of His causeless benevolence, He might have said something like that, but I don’t think that I am His real devotee, especially after visiting Vrndavan. All my pride has been melted by seeing those devotees. The spirit of service and the intensity of love towards Krishna that I found in the devotees in Vrndavan is unparalleled. O Devarsi, I am nowhere. Do you know that statement of mine? It is recorded in the Srimad Bhagavatam (10.47.61):
asam aho charana-renu-jusam aham syam
vrndavane kim api gulma-latausadhinam
ya dustyajam sva-janam arya-pathan cha hitva
bhejur mukunda-padavim srutibhir vimrgyam
“‘The gopis of Vrndavan gave up their husbands, children, and families, who are difficult to renounce, and sacrificed even their religious principles to take shelter of the lotus feet of Krishna, which are sought after even by the Vedas themselves. Oh! Grant me the fortune to take birth as a blade of grass in Vrndavan, so that I may take the dust of the lotus feet of those great souls upon my head.’
“There I have disclosed my heart fully. The quality of love for Krishna that I found in the damsels of Vrndavan is so exalted that I could not but aspire to be born in Vrndavan as a piece of grass, so that the foot-dust of those divine damsels might touch my head. So, what are you saying Devarsi? If you would like to see real devotion, real divine love, you should go to Vrndavan. Don’t put us in an awkward position, saying that we possess devotion to Krishna; this is rather a mockery, a foundationless utterance. I found real devotees of the Lord in Vrndavan.”
In this way, Sanatan Goswami tries his best to take us through the path, by showing us the gradual development of devotion to Krishna. Prahlad Maharaj has been accepted as the basis of suddha-bhakti, the beginning of pure devotional service, because he is situated in santa-rasa, or devotional service in neutrality. Above that there is dasya-rasa, love of God in servitude, as shown by Hanuman, and above that there is sakhya-rasa, or the mood of friendship. That is exemplified by the Pandavas. Uddhava is somewhat sakhya, connecting with vatsalya, parental love, and madhura, conjugal love. In this way, we can trace the progressive development of devotion.
Our close adherence to Krishna develops in this way to Vrndavan. The acme of devotional service is found there. In the conversation between Ramananda Ray and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, we find it mentioned that Radharani’s devotional service is categorically higher than that of the gopis (tebhyas tah pasu-pala-pankaja-drsas tabhyo ’pi Sa Radhika). The kind of serving spirit we find there is unaccountable and inconceivable.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came with that quality of adherence to the truth: unconditional surrender. He came seeking that fortune of serving the truth. If we can seek such a higher type of existence, we may consider ourselves most fortunate.
Self-surrender is the very basis of our highest fortune. We cannot but surrender ourselves to whatever beautiful and valuable thing we have come across. Our appreciation for any higher thing is shown by the degree of our surrender to that. So, we can measure the quality of the truth we are connected with only by the intensity of our surrender. ⬆︎
Surrender is not a lip transaction. Surrender means not only to surrender one’s possessions, but to realise that the possessions themselves are false. I am not a master of anything. I am not even master of myself. Surrender means to give everything to the Guru and rid ourselves of the unholy connection of so many possessions, so that they may not disturb us by always suggesting, “You are my master”, and in this way mislead us.
We should think, “Everything belongs to the Lord and His delegation, the Guru. I am not the master of anything.” That sort of knowledge we should imbibe, and that will be helpful to our real spiritual progress. This is reality. We have to realise that fact. We want the truth, and we want to free ourselves from false notions. So, proper diksa, spiritual initiation, imparts the divine knowledge that nothing belongs to us; not only that, but everything belongs to God, including ourselves. That is the conception of diksa: “I belong to Him; everything belongs to Him. I am His servant, and these are the objects of His service.”
This is reality, and we are suffering under non-reality in an imaginary world. We are living in a fool’s paradise. We should do away with the fool’s paradise and try to enter into real paradise. When we have a peep into the characteristic of the absolute environment of reality and even a little regard for the truth, we can no longer relish the paraphernalia of this world as we did previously. Because we have had a real taste of the higher truth, we will have no charm for this material world. We will no longer feel encouragement to meet with the duties that are relating to this world of enjoyment. We will be indifferent.
We know that the connection with the present enjoying mood brings a painful reaction. We can realise that, but we cannot leave it behind. We cannot cut off the connection completely in the stage of sadhana, spiritual practice. Still, we have no other alternative. Our affinity for the positive truth should be increased more and more, and gradually our affinity for our paraphernalia and obligations will all disappear. Although repeatedly we may not be successful, still we will be unable to give up the idea. We will attempt again and again to make progress towards the truth, and when we are unsuccessful, our heart will ache to think that we are repeatedly being defeated by the enemies who are all around us.
But the fire of Krishna consciousness is there, and that fire is not to be quenched. It is a spark of eternal truth. So, the fire will continue, and the day will come when the enemies that are surrounding us will have to retire once and for all. One day, we will find that Krishna has gradually captured our whole heart, and the others have retired forever; they are no longer present to trouble us in our mental circle. We will find that those unwanted things were like mushrooms; they came out from our mental soil, and now they have all gone and died. They have all gone away, and Krishna alone is in the heart. At that time, the heart is only full of Krishna, full of the Krishna conception.
Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur once instructed a disciple at the time of initiation into the Hare Krishna mantra that Krishna should be allowed to land in our hearts, just as an army is landed by the navy. An army is carried by a ship, and when they have landed, the fight begins, and they capture the country, just as Julius Caesar said, “Veni vidi vici: I came, I saw, I conquered.” So, we have to allow Krishna to land in our hearts. Then the fight will begin.
What is the proposal of Krishna consciousness, and what is the proposal of so many other conceptions? They are all giving us their assurances from time immemorial, saying, “I shall give you this, I shall give you that”, but the Krishna conception will enter and say, “My claim is this: the whole thing is Mine, and you are all trespassers.” The fight will begin. The unwanted things are sure to withdraw, and Krishna consciousness will capture the whole heart. This is the process. Krishna consciousness has only to land within our hearts. Somehow or other, from a pure devotee, a bit of real Krishna consciousness should enter through our ears into our hearts, and Krishna will supply whatever is required. One who has imbibed even a slight regard for Krishna consciousness is assured of success in spiritual life, today or tomorrow.
Krishna is a thief
We may have erected high walls on all sides to protect ourselves so that Krishna consciousness may not enter, but Krishna is a thief, and a thief requires no invitation. No preparation is necessary for His welcome. He will enter for His own interest, and that is our consolation. Our solace is that Krishna is a thief. Maya has erected her high walls on all sides, but nothing is sufficient to stop Krishna consciousness. Krishna is a thief, and stealthily He will enter one day.
A devotee may become hopeless, thinking, “The enemy is within my own house; my own kinsmen are my enemies. I am hopeless.” We may become disappointed, but Krishna consciousness will not leave us in any way. Krishna will persevere, and in due course of time, He will conquer. And other things, no matter how closely related they may be in private and well-protected rooms in our hearts, will have to go. They must take leave from every corner of our hearts. Krishna will conquer. Krishna will capture the whole thing. The unwanted lusty desires of our heart are foreign things. They are only mushrooms. Like mushrooms, they come out; they have no permanent stability or root. They are not rooted to the soil. We may think that what we have stored in our hearts is very near and dear and that is already mixed with us as a part of our existence, but when Krishna consciousness enters, that will all float like mushrooms.
After all, they are mushrooms; they have no footing, no connection with the soil. They are only floating. All material interests are only floating on the surface. They are not deeply rooted within and without the whole of our existence. Only Krishna consciousness is present everywhere, within all parts of our existence. So, the mushrooms will have to vanish one day. This is confirmed in Srimad Bhagavatam (2.8.5):
pravistah karna-randhrena svanam bhava-saroruham
dhunoti samalam krishnah salilasya yatha sarat
When Krishna enters the heart through the ear, He captures the lotus of the heart and then gradually makes all the dirt in the heart disappear. Just as when the autumn season comes, all the water everywhere becomes pure, so also, when Krishna enters our hearts, all the impurities within will gradually vanish, and only Krishna will remain forever. ⬆︎
Before chanting the Holy Name of Krishna, we must first chant the Pancha Tattva mantra:
sri-krishna-chaitanya prabhu nityananda
sri-advaita gadadhara srivasadi gaura-bhakta-vrnda
The Pancha Tattva, or five features of the Absolute Truth, came to give the Hare Krishna mahamantra to the fallen devotees of this age, so they are the general representation of Guru for us. They help us to enter into the domain of Krishna and also the plane of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
After chanting the Pancha Tattva mantra, we should count on the beads of the japa-mala and chant the mahamantra:
hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare
While counting beads and chanting the Holy Name, the beads should be placed inside a cloth bag, and the index finger, which is generally considered inauspicious, should not touch the beads but should remain outside the bag. Generally, we use the thumb and middle finger to count. One should chant sixteen rounds, as recommended by Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj, but if there is any emergency, he must chant at least four rounds; the mala should not be kept fasting.
In the process of counting, we begin from the bigger beads and go towards the smaller, and again return in the same line. The giant bead in the centre is called Mount Sumeru. We must not cross over that.
This Hari-nam mahamantra is found in the Upanisads, as well as in the Agni-purana and the Brahmanda-purana. In the Kali-santarana-upanisad, it is recommended as the highest mantra, and scholars have mentioned this mantra as a means of address only; no appeal should be attached to that. This Hare Krishna mahamantra is the Yuga-dharma-nam, or the process of God realisation especially meant for the present age, Kali-yuga. We find the mahamantra mentioned everywhere in the Puranas. This mantra can be chanted silently, mentally, and aloud. It has been given to us by Mahaprabhu as the general recommendation for the fallen souls. He has given it for all, whether they are qualified or unqualified. The only condition for receiving it is sraddha, faith.
It is mentioned in the Padma-purana that there are ten kinds of offences we must try to avoid in the chanting of the Hare Krishna mahamantra. There are also four kinds of Namabhas, or apathetic chanting, which will not give us entrance into the domain of mercy. Mere liberation will be effected by that kind of invocation.
These two improper kinds of chanting stem from our tendencies for exploitation and renunciation. We must chant the Name with the spirit of service and avoid the ten offences.
The first offence is to abuse the devotees who are the agents of spreading the greatness and nobility of the Supreme Lord, Krishna. If we abuse and dishonour His agents, then the Name is dissatisfied. Only the devotees of Krishna are real saints because they are after eternal life. Those persons who worship demigods for temporary gain are not considered saints. They may be neglected, for they are not devotees. Saint means Vaisnava, or devotee. All others, such as the worshippers of demigods, are not considered saints. We avoid them. A saint is one who has no ambition in his life but to have a connection of loving service with the Supreme Lord. Only those who are agents of eternal truth, absolute good, are to be considered saintly. We should not abuse such saintly persons.
The second offence concerns how we should treat the demigods, including Siva, Sakti, the sun-god, and others. They are not to be considered equal to or greater than Visnu, or Krishna. They are under Him, and they are all inferior to Him. They are given engagements by the Supreme Lord, Krishna, and they have to discharge their duties according to His order. They are never equal or superior to Krishna.
Guru: good as God
The third offence is to consider the Guru a human being. Although so many human symptoms may be found in him, still, according to our sincerity to meet Godhead, the Lord descends and represents Himself in the Guru to satisfy our hunger for the truth. We must see him as the agent of the Lord. It has been advised to us in a general way not to think of the Guru as a mortal being because if our attempt to attain the Absolute is sincere, then He will also come to us to deliver us. God is omniscient, so through a particular agent who acts as His representative, He comes here to accept us and take us up to the higher plane. We are ordered by the advice of the scriptures to see the Guru as the representative of the Absolute because none can give us Krishna but He Himself.
God’s presence should be perceived in our Gurudev. We should see that God has come to give Himself to us. Generally, we find mortal signs in the body of the spiritual master, but we must transcend that. The Ganges water may be filthy in external appearance, but still the dirty Ganges water can purify us by its touch. To our material senses, the Deity seems to be wood, stone, or earth, but that is our polluted vision. Krishna is there, and sometimes He is seen to walk and to talk with devotees of a higher order. We must not think that He is made of material stuff. When we go and stand before the Deity, we should not think that we can see Him, but that He is seeing us. He is in the subjective plane; I am His object.
He is mercifully seeing us to purify us. In this way, our vision must be adjusted. Krishna was killed by a hunter; the atheists will interpret that it was an ordinary incident, but it is not so. Sita was stolen by Ravana. This is all external, all illusory. The real truth is above, in the transcendental realm. So, we are requested by the expert transcendentalists and by the sastra to see that our Gurudev is above these mortal signs. Krishna says:
acharyam mam vijaniyan navanmanyeta karhichit
na martya-buddhyasuyeta sarva-deva-mayo guruh
“I Myself am the Acharya. Do not think that the Guru is an ordinary man. I Myself reside within the heart of Gurudev with all My parts and parcels for the benefit of the disciple.”
Blaspheming the scriptures
The fourth offence is sastra-ninda: blaspheming the sastra, the scriptures. Of course this means those scriptures which are concerned with praising the greatness and nobility of Krishna, not others. We must not abuse those scriptures that instruct us about God and His devotees and teach us the eternal good.
Holy Name: God in sound
The fifth offence is to interpret the Holy Name of Krishna with the help of the dictionary and grammar, to find diverse meanings in the words of the Name. The sound is transcendental. The dictionary, grammar, and any other books of mundane knowledge cannot limit or qualify the Holy Name. Above the material sound of the Name is the transcendental sound within (Sabda-brahma). The Name itself is the Supreme Person incarnate by His own free will. He is inseparable from His Name and fully present in His sound form.
The Vaikuntha-sabda, transcendental sound, is different from the mundane sound that can be produced by the tongue and lips. In homeopathic medicine, all the globules are apparently the same, but the potency within is all-important. It is something like that. The ordinary sound of the Name, and the sound vibrated by a pure devotee come from different planes. The difference is in the potency within. The Holy Name descends from the spiritual world and comes to express itself by dancing on the tongue. The transcendental sound of the Holy Name is inseparably connected with the person whom it represents.
The sixth offence is to consider the glories of the Holy Name of Krishna to be a concoction.
To sin and chant is suicidal
The seventh offence is to sin on the strength of the Holy Name. The scriptures declare that one Name is sufficient to clear all the sins one can commit, so if we go on indulging, committing many sins with the idea that we will chant one Name to cleanse the sin, it will be an offence to the Name and not the Name proper. We cannot try to utilise Him for our service; He is above all this maya. The real Name will not appear there. We must not think, “I can do anything and everything, and the Name will purify me.” It is written in the scriptures that if you go on with this spirit, it will be suicidal.
Hare Krishna: the supreme purification
The eighth offence is to think that chanting the Holy Name is another pious activity like penance, pilgrimage, giving in charity, service to the country, and so on. If we think lightly of the Holy Name in this way, then we commit an offence because the Holy Name is absolute and these other processes have only a partial, relative position. Other processes are partial—they award some success in this mundane world—but the Name can give the Lord Himself. So, no other process of purification can hold the same position as chanting the Holy Name of Krishna. It is supreme, and none can come close to it.
Forbidden for the faithless
The ninth offence is to give the Name to those who do not deserve it, who have no faith in chanting the Name. If you press them to chant the Holy Name, a bad reaction will come to you. Also, without getting any inspiration, we should not make disciples and give Hari-nam initiation. We will commit offence against the Name if we make a business or trade with Name-giving. If we give the Name to anyone and everyone, out of greed for becoming a guru, then it will be an offence. Without sanction from above, if one runs to become a guru to get name and fame with some mundane purpose, then it is a great offence.
Back to Godhead
The tenth offence is to be too much addicted to a particular thing, or to have too much affinity towards the body and bodily wealth. When a boat is anchored, rowing will simply move the boat around the anchor. The anchor must be taken up, and then the boat can move forward. So, we must not anchor ourselves down with a particular thing. We must be open. The Name will create some transformation within the mental system, and we must be open and unprejudiced enough to go where the Name will send us. If we carefully try to avoid that transformation and stick to our present life, that is an offence against the Name: to invite Him, and then ignore Him.
We must not accept the Name as a foreign thing; He is our friend. We should be quite at home with Him. We are going to attain a very soothing and friendly connection by the realisation of the Holy Name of Krishna, which is all-good, all-beautiful, and all-charming. By chanting the Holy Name, we will attain our most desirable end of life and go back to God, back to home, and not to any foreign country.
We must take the Name in a friendly, affectionate way. The Name is the only object of our love. He is our friend, and not any anti-party. So, the Name will take us home—not to any foreign land. That is our sweet home, and He is our sweet guardian. With this spirit, we shall go on chanting the Holy Name of Krishna.
These are the ten offences to be avoided in chanting the Hare Krishna mahamantra:
hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare
Namabhas: the twilight Name
In chanting the Holy Name, there are also four kinds of Namabhas. Namabhas means a faint connection with the Holy Name. Namabhas is neither offence nor service mood, but between the two. Its basis is renunciation, but we must also cast away this indifference and become earnest for serving the Name, who is our friend and Master. Namabhas may be classified into four categories. The first is sanketya: chanting indirectly, to indicate something else, as in the case of Ajamil.
Ajamil was a brahman’s son. Somehow, he connected with a low-class woman and entered into a degraded life as a dacoit, drinking and doing many other nasty things. After many years, the time came for his death. As he lay in a coma, suddenly he saw three messengers with a horrible appearance come and put a rope around his neck and begin to drag him away. He was horrified.
Just before this, he had seen his son Narayan playing nearby, so he sought the help of the child and called, “Narayan!” But in the course of calling his name, Ajamil thought within himself, “What can this boy Narayan do? How will he deal with these three furious figures? He is nothing.” So, by the connection of the Holy Name of Narayan, Lord Narayan came to his mind.
When in his apprehension his call for Lord Narayan was sincere, four agents from Vaikuntha descended. They were sober and mild and addressed the Yamadutas, the messengers of death saying: “Who are you? Why have you come?”
“We have come because it is the last day of Ajamil. He was a great sinner, and we have been sent by our king, Yamaraj, the Lord of death, to drag him away for punishment.”
“Don’t you know what is dharma, duty?”
“Oh yes, we know.”
“Then why are you here?”
“He committed immense sin.”
“Didn’t you hear him take the Name of Narayan?”
“Yes we have heard. What of that? His whole life he has committed so many sinful acts, and only one Name of Narayan will do away with that? It is not possible.”
“Oh, you have not been properly directed by your master. Now that Ajamil has taken the Name of Narayan, his jurisdiction has at once changed. He is no longer under the jurisdiction of your master. Has he not given such instructions to you?”
“No, no, we do not know all these things.”
“Then, go back, and ask him.”
Ajamil was released. Frightened by the posture and grandeur of the messengers of Visnu, the Yamadutas fled. Ajamil thought, “What is the instruction to be learned here?”
This is Namabhas. It is a faint connection with the Holy Name. It was neither out of faith, nor by the order of his guru, that he chanted the Name of Narayan. It was not that he purposely went to take the Name, but by accident it flashed in his mind. Still, as a result of his previous pious activity, Namabhas gave him salvation.
Ajamil at once awoke; he remembered all his past sinful activities and began to repent. He began his journey towards Hardwar without speaking a single word to family or friend. There, he chanted the Name of Narayan for a long time. At the proper time, those four Visnudutas descended with a divine chariot and took him to the conscious spiritual domain of Vaikuntha.
To joke and chant
Parihasya is another kind of Namabhas. Parihasya means jokingly. Sometimes in sport, we may say, “Oh, you are chanting the Name of Krishna?” If one is cutting jokes, ridiculing the Hare Krishna devotees in the street, and says “Hare Krishna”, that may be Namabhas if it is connected with his previous pious credits. Mukti,or liberation, may be effected by that kind of chanting but not the opportunity for divine service.
Krishna as code name
Another form of Namabhas is stobha: to use the Name with some other intention. Sometimes these words, Narayan, or Krishna may be used for some technical meaning, or for a code word. Jiva Goswami has taken advantage of this in his book of Sanskrit grammar, the Hari-namamrta-vyakarana. When one is playing the mrdanga drum, using the names Gaura-Nitai, Gaura-Nitai to represent different drumbeats, it may be Namabhas.
Hela is another kind of Namabhas: neglectfully chanting the Name. When we are rising from bed in the morning sometimes, we may negligently say, “Hare Krishna”. In this way, we may cast off our indolence. Even there it may be Namabhas. It may liberate us from our present position but may not give us entrance into Vaikuntha. That is possible only through devotional service.
One Mohammedan, who was being killed by the tusk of a boar, shouted “Haram!” meaning, “This is abominable!” But because of his previous sukrti, or pious credits, it became Namabhas, and he achieved liberation by chanting the Name of Lord Rama.
Namabhas may come, and mukti, liberation, may be effected, but we cannot get the opportunity of service there. Only if our mind is surcharged with a serving attitude will it elevate us to the subtle and higher plane, otherwise not. If the tendencies for renunciation and exploitation are mixed with our chanting, it won’t yield the desired result.
The chanting must be done with a service attitude (sevonmukhe hi jihvadau). What is our aim? We want the service of the Lord: “Die to live.” We want a life of purity which is full of self-giving; we want a generous life. We want to live the life of those who want not to extract, but to give. We want a civilised life in the domain of higher civilisation, where everyone is a giving unit, an emanating unit, and not an absorbing unit. There, everyone is especially God-centred and harmonious. They are all of the nature of divinity. And divinity means dedication towards the centre of all harmony, the absolute good. So with that spirit, we are to chant the Holy Name, and every action should be done with devotion for Krishna. We should try to take the positive line of serving Visnu and Vaisnava, Krishna and His devotees, and with this sort of attitude we should chant the Holy Name of Krishna. ⬆︎
Student: I have one question about chanting the Hare Krishna mantra on beads (japa-mala). My spiritual master has given me many preaching duties, so sometimes when I am trying to concentrate on my japa-mala, instead of hearing the Holy Name, I think of all these different duties I have to do.
Sridhar Maharaj: Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur emphasised that kirtan means not only loudly singing the Holy Name, but preaching. Jiva Goswami has given a definition of sankirtan, “Bahubhir militva yat kirtanam tad eva sankirtanam: when many people come together and glorify the Supreme Lord, Krishna, it is known as sankirtan.” Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came and introduced sankirtan. In this Age of Kali, if the Holy Name is chanted congregationally, the combined efforts will be fruitful (sangha-saktih kalau yuge). There is the difference between the preaching mission of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur and the so-called bhajan of the sahajiyas, or imitationists.
Once, one of our godbrothers was the subject of our Guru Maharaj’s stern remark. He was a man of good character, but his tendency was generally towards Nam-bhajan. He did not like to do any other service but was only inclined to chant the Name of Krishna on his beads. I was in charge of the Delhi temple at the time and was intimate with him, so I wrote to Prabhupad: “If you permit, I would like to engage my godbrother in some preaching work here in the Delhi temple.” The letter that Prabhupad wrote is still here. He wrote me in his letter, “If you can bring him there and make him help you in the work of preaching, then you will be doing the service of a real friend to him. I don’t recognise that sitting in the jungle of Balihati only chanting, counting beads, is Krishnanusilanam, the proper cultivation of Krishna consciousness.”
Preaching means a fight
So, kirtan means preaching, sravanam, kirtanam. Kirtan does not simply mean loudly chanting, but preaching. And preaching means there must be a fight with the opposition party. Kirtan means a fight. Kirtan creates the divine vibration which will fight with all the ordinary vibrations that are floating in this world in subtle and gross waves. So, Prabhupad told us that our tulasi beads should not fast. His minimum advice was that we must do some service in the form of chanting Hare Krishna while counting on beads, at least once daily. His exact words were, “Malika upavasa na: the beads should not fast.” And his general instruction was to preach as much as possible.
Once, I had a talk with one of the big spiritual leaders of the Udupi temple in Madras. He told me, “Sometimes I preach about Madhva Acharya and the bhakti cult, but I have no time for sadhana; regulated spiritual practices such as japa, gayatri-mantra, scriptural study, and so on. I supported him. Our Guru Maharaj said that Hari-katha, preaching about Krishna, is no less important than sadhana. Rather, it is a more living thing. Preaching is more vital. When we are preaching, automatically we must have the maximum concentration. On the other hand, while chanting on our japa beads, we may be absent-minded. When we are speaking about Krishna to another person, we must be all-attentive. Otherwise, we cannot speak accurately. All our attention will automatically be concentrated when we talk about Krishna. And in writing about Krishna, accuracy is even more necessary than in speaking about Krishna. So, writing is also kirtan. The cultivation of Krishna consciousness may even be more intense when we are engaged in writing about Krishna.
Gaudiya Math: war against maya
So, the preaching mission of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, the Gaudiya Math, has declared totalitarian war against maya, illusion, and even all other existing conceptions of religion. And our authority is Srimad Bhagavatam and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Divine love is the supreme most goal of every soul. Beauty and love is the summum bonum, our highest attainment; that is the ultimate controlling principle, and not power. And beauty and love are found at their highest position in Krishna in Vrndavan. The ultimate conception of the Absolute Truth is that of reality the beautiful and divine love. At the same time, the difference between lust and love should be clearly realised. That should not be misconceived. The acme of dedication is demonstrated in the love of the inhabitants of Vraja.
So, preaching (sankirtan), and not counting beads (japa), is the real service of Krishna. But because we have taken a vow, and it is ordered by Mahaprabhu and our Gurudev, we must chant the Holy Name while counting beads; it is our duty. Our Guru Maharaj told us, “The japa beads must not fast.” So, if we engage ourselves in preaching work, there should be no doubt that we are really obeying the order of Mahaprabhu. Although He has advised us to chant one hundred thousand Names, or sixty-four rounds daily, that is a provincial saying. What is really all-important is the spirit of service. We are not told that the gopis always count the Name on tulasi beads, yet they possess the highest position in the service of Krishna in Vrndavan.
Vrndavan express train
So, Krishna-nam will help us greatly to go towards Vrndavan. Its importance is there. Like an express train, the Holy Name of Krishna carries us to the goal without stopping at any other station. If we are chanting the Name without any formal petition, without asking, “Give me this, give me that”, it acts like a special train that will go to Vrndavan non-stop. There, the impurities of karma and jnan are absent. The devotees of Vrndavan simply think, “I want Krishna. I do not know what is good or bad. I simply want Krishna.”
Student: How many rounds did your Guru Maharaj ask his initiated disciples to chant each day? Did he prescribe any set number?
Sridhar Maharaj: His general recommendation was to chant twenty-five thousand Names, sixteen rounds, daily, or at least four rounds minimum. When someone had no work, he could chant one hundred thousand Names, or sixty-four rounds.
Student: Would Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur give Hari-nam initiation to someone who could only chant four rounds daily?
Quality not quantity
Sridhar Maharaj: There was no such consideration. Formally, one had to do some counting, but there was no rigid limitation. What he wanted from us was intense engagement in the service of the Lord under the guidance of a Vaisnava because the all-important point is service. Our attainment of the goal is not insured simply by increasing the number of times we repeat the Name; only by increasing the quality will we reach success.
There are so many sayings in the scriptures to encourage our realisation of the Holy Name in different ways, but Srila Rupa Goswami has given us a central thought. He quotes the Padma-purana, “Atah Sri-Krishna-Namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih: our senses, physical or mental, are ineligible to come in touch with the transcendental.” The Name is non-material (aprakrta), without mundane limitation (Vaikuntha). It belongs to another plane. So, nothing about Krishna—His Name, Form, Qualities, or Pastimes—can be touched by our physical or mental senses. But when we have a serving attitude, He comes down to us of His own accord. Only then can our tongue really pronounce the Name of Krishna. Otherwise, only the physical sound of the letters of the Name can be produced. Our tongue, our hands, physical sound, all these mundane things cannot come in touch with Krishna. Some intervening medium is necessary to connect this body with the supramundane. And that connection is our earnest desire to serve Krishna, to satisfy Him. A bulb won’t light if there is no electricity. Only when the electrical current is there will the bulb be illumined. So, the Name may appear on the tongue and in the ear, in the mind, or in writing, but we must have the connection from Vaikuntha to this mundane world. And that connection is devotional service, a functional serving attitude. That alone can connect the physical realm with Vaikuntha and Vrndavan.
Firing blank mantras
Krishna will appear of His own accord. He will descend upon your tongue, and then your tongue will be able to chant the Name of Krishna. A gun that has no bullet but only a blank may make some sound, but no bullet is actually fired. Similarly, chanting the Name of Krishna without an attitude of service produces sound, but that is only tongue deep. It is like firing a gun with blanks instead of bullets. Our chanting of the Holy Name of Krishna must be surcharged with a serving temperament, the tendency to satisfy Krishna.
Otherwise, the sound we produce is bogus. It is only an imitation or a permutation. The Holy Name cannot be experienced by our senses. It is supramental and transcendental. An ordinary sound of this mundane world cannot be the Name of Krishna. Our ear cannot even hear the Name if that mediator, the serving attitude, is not there. The earnestness to satisfy Krishna’s will must mediate between Krishna and the ear, through the mind. Then only will Krishna’s Name enter our ear and reveal to us His Form, Qualities, and Pastimes. The Holy Name is not physical, it is aprakrta, transcendental, supramundane. Only through our service attitude will it come down to this mundane world.
Our Guru Maharaj laid the highest stress on developing a serving attitude. Otherwise, it is all bogus, all imitation. And people will say, “Oh, there is no Krishna there. These men are hypocrites. They are only dancing and making noise; they are not surcharged with a serving spirit.” Only through service can we directly come in contact with Krishna. The real point is to practise how to attain the spirit of service, Vaisnava-seva. The Vaisnava is doing service, and we must imbibe from him the methods of attaining this serving attitude.
Under the order of a devotee we must practise to give ourselves. Self-abnegation and self-dedication are necessary. And that positive thing we will receive from a devotee. If children are given pen and paper in the beginning, it will not be fruitful, so a stone is given, and on the earth they practise writing. So, in the beginning, we must try to practise how we can develop a serving attitude, dedicating habit. It is our innate wealth, and that is our solace.
If we try to develop a serving attitude, the pure devotee will help us. It is said that if one is miserly, he should at least give some trash in charity to anyone. One says to a miser, “At least give some ash to others and let your hand practise giving.” So, the serving spirit is a high thing. We must practise to give ourselves in the service of Krishna.
We must not be afraid that we are not attaining the highest form of service in Nam-bhajan, the worship of the Holy Name. We should not think, “Why have I been asked to sweep the Temple? Any ordinary man can do this.” We must not be afraid of that. It is necessary for us to acquire a service attitude. Self-giving, selflessness, and self-forgetfulness are required. It is said that Socrates is an example of self-forgetfulness and Jesus Christ is an example of self-sacrifice. And for what purpose? For the cause of the Supreme. And for that we must have a positive connection with a devotee.
Under his order we will connect with the plane of service. Our energy may go to the transcendental plane only by his grace or mediation. So, our Guru Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, laid ninety percent stress on developing a service attitude for preaching, and that should be our aim, whatever our position may be. ⬆︎
Not only the sound of the Holy Name of Krishna is necessary, but also the proper meaning, the substance, the spirit of the sound. Only the physical aspect of the Holy Name is represented in Nam-aparadh, offensive chanting, not the real Name. The real Name is all spiritual. Namaksara bahiraya bate tabu Nama kabhu naya: the sound of the letters of the Name alone is never the real Name. This is explained in the Prema-vivarta of Jagadananda Pandit, a book which is full of the philosophical conclusions of Krishna consciousness. It was published and edited by Bhakti Vinod Thakur. There you will find this passage, Namaksara bahiraya bate tabu Nama kabhu naya: merely the sound of the Holy Name of Krishna should never be thought of as the actual Name.
Even in Namabhas, the twilight dawning of the Holy Name which occurs before pure offenceless chanting, the sound of the Name is there, but the inner substance of the Name is not there. Namabhas can give us mukti, or emancipation from the negative side, the material world. But there we cannot trace participation in the positive side, the spiritual world. The Name is absent there. The Holy Name of Krishna is a positive thing, and if we really want a touch of the Holy Name, we must gain admission into the positive world. When we are in the negative side, how can we get the touch of the Name? Namabhas may give us liberation, but not participation in the devotional realm. So, the real Name is not to be found in Namabhas either.
Jewels of the Vedas
Only a particular group of liberated souls worship the Holy Name, not everyone. Srila Rupa Goswami has written in his Namastakam (1):
ayi mukta-kulair upasyamanam
paritas tvam hari-nama samsrayami
“O Holy Name! The tips of the toes of Your lotus feet are eternally worshipped by the glowing effulgence radiating from the gemmed chapters of the Upanisads, the crest jewels of the Vedas. You are eternally adored and chanted by great liberated souls like Narad and Sukadev Goswami. O Hari-nam! Clearing myself of all offences, I take complete shelter of You.”
Rupa Goswami says that so many liberated souls worship the Holy Name of Krishna, offering their respects from all sides. He explains that the greatness of the Holy Name may not be found in the ordinary scriptures, but if you study all of them as a whole, you will find the very spirit of the Holy Name. Ordinary people may not find this in their study, but there are those who can collect the real substance, the real purpose from those vast writings, and detect the greatness of the Holy Name as the whole purpose of all the main Vedic scriptures.
Jungle of sounds
The principle codes in the sruti, the Vedas, are giving hints about the Holy Name of Krishna. Sruti means sabda: that which can be grasped by the ear, the sound form of the revealed truth which has descended from above. The Vedas naturally tell us that we can approach the Supreme Reality only through sound. Otherwise, they would be suicidal. If they do not say that by sound only we will attain the truth, then what is the necessity of the Vedas which are only embodied sounds? So, if we can trace their real characteristic, we shall find that the principle Vedas say that by the cultivation of sound we can attain the Lord. So, we can come to understand this only through sound (sabda-pramanam). Sound alone can deliver reality. The Vedas must say so, otherwise they will only be an ineffective jungle of sounds.
Sruti means that which can be received through the ear, and that sound is absolute. The srutis have come to declare to us that through sound alone we can attain the highest end. The main codes (sutras) of the sruti inform us: nikhila-sruti-mauli-ratna-mala. Mauli means the principle scriptures. They are like so many gems or jewels forming a necklace. By their lustre, the lotus feet of the Holy Name are being revealed. Just as while performing arati, we offer a lamp to show the Deity form of the Lord more clearly to the ordinary people, the principle srutis are helping us to have this perception: by sound only we can have the Supreme Lord.
Rupa Goswami says that if we are more attentive to their meaning, we will find that the principle srutis are only trying to show us the lotus feet of the Holy Name, just as during arati the ghee lamp helps us to see the figure of the Lord. We may have a general view of the Deity, but with the help of the lamp, we can have a particular conception of the different parts of the body of the Lord. Similarly, we find that the principle srutis with their light are trying to show us the lower portion of the Holy Name of Krishna. They are leading us and helping us to have a conception of the remotest part of the Holy Name, a vague conception that the Name is everything. Rupa Goswami says that those who are really liberated are all surrounding the Holy Name and offering praise and adoration. And he prays, “In this spirit, I take refuge in the Holy Name of Krishna.”
The real meaning of the Vedas is difficult to understand. Some people will say, “Chanting Hare Krishna is not recommended in the Vedas. Rather, sometimes ‘Krishna’ is mentioned as the name of a demon. Why should we chant the Name of Krishna?” In the Vedas (Chhandogya-upanisad: 8.13.1), we find this verse:
syamach chhavalam prapadye
savalach chhyamam prapadye
“By the help of black (syam), we shall be introduced to the service of white (savala); by the help of white (savala), we shall be introduced to the service of black (syam).” What is the meaning of this verse? Our Acharyas have explained that the Absolute can be understood by the help of the energy and the energetic. Syam means Krishna, who is blackish, and savala, white, means Radharani. So, by the help of Radha, we can have the service of Krishna, and by the help of Krishna, we can have the service of Radharani.
God through sound
So, Rupa Goswami says that only a superficial study of the Vedas will frustrate us. But if we search with a positive mind, by the grace of the sadhus, the acharyas, and the mahajans, we will find that the principle srutis are leading us towards the conception that the whole object of all the Vedic sounds is that central sound: the Holy Name of Krishna. There are so many sections of the Vedas that have come to distribute the tidings of the absolute realm, but there must be a centre. So, the principle sounds are all emitting light like a torch, to show us that they have a central sound which represents the supreme whole, and that is Krishna. So many liberated souls are all around offering their respects to the Name of Krishna, that central sound from which all Vedic mantras have come to give us some idea of the sound aspect of the absolute centre. This is Rupa Goswami’s argument.
The branches of the Vedas are all sounds, and so many sounds must come from a central position. They cannot but direct one who has a proper eye towards that fountainhead of sound, saying, “Go! Run towards that direction! In our source you will find everything. We are all partially representing so many things, but we have a centre; we have a fountainhead. Go in that direction and you will find the sound that can sufficiently satisfy you, and you may also be introduced to other aspects of that sound.”
The Holy Name of Krishna is most important; it is no less than Krishna Himself. It fully represents the whole. Rupa Goswami says, “O Holy Name, I take refuge under Your lotus feet. You are the grand, central sound who has given cohesion to all the sounds in the revealed scriptures.”
And Sanatan Goswami, who is the spiritual master of Rupa Goswami, says:
jayati jayati namananda-rupam murarer
katham api sakrd attam muktidam praninam yat
paramam amrtam ekam jivanam bhusanam me
“Let ecstasy in the service of the Divine Name be victorious. If somehow we can come in contact with that sound, Nama-rupam Murareh, then all our other activities will be paralysed; we will have no necessity of performing any other activity. Our many variegated duties will have no importance to us at all if we can achieve the service of the Divine Name of Krishna.”
Dharma means the business engagement of the karmis or fruitive workers. Dhyan means retiring from this physical world and performing meditation from within, trying to exploit the internal world. Both of these are stopped, paralysed by the ecstasy of service to the Divine Name.
The Ramanuja sect worships Laksmi-Narayan in the mood of opulence and veneration in Vaikuntha. By the ecstasy of the Holy Name, that will also be stopped. One who gets the real grace of the Divine Name of Krishna will retire from all phases of these different kinds of worship, namely varnasram-dharma, or social duty; dhyan, the internal meditation of the jnanis (mental speculators) and yogis; and puja, the opulent worship of Vaikuntha, after liberation, which attracts the followers of the Ramanuja sampradaya. The Holy Name will take us to the perception of Goloka, Krishna’s own abode, where we will have to completely retire from all these other phases of our divine life. We will have to retire from any work, even if it may be done for Krishna. We will have to give up internal meditation and calculation, and even puja, worship in awe and reverence.
The Holy Name will stop all these tendencies, and we will find so much sweetness in chanting the Name that we won’t be able to give attention to anything else. When we really come in contact with the sound aspect of the Absolute, then all our other enthusiastic endeavours and functions will be paralysed. We will be unable to attempt them. We will take to the Name only. Then, when the Name allows us to perform other services again, we will be able to do them. The Name has such power, such a high degree of potency, that it will stop all other branches of service and charm you.
“I want millions of ears!”
In the writings of Rupa Goswami, we find this verse:
tunde tandavini ratim vitanute tundavali-labdhaye
karna-kroda-kadambini ghatayate karnarbudebhyah sprham
chetah-prangana-sangini vijayate sarvendriyanam krtim
no jane janita kiyadbhir amrtaih krsneti varna-dvayi
When the Holy Name of Krishna descends and captures the tongue and lips, it controls them so strongly that it engages them in chanting the Holy Name as if the lips and tongue have gone mad. In this way, the power of the Name descends in them, and one feels that only one tongue and one mouth are not enough; thousands of mouths are necessary to taste the Name. Then, the Holy Name of Krishna enters the ear with such a great force and current that the ears are captured, and one thinks that only two ears are insufficient; he wants millions of ears to attend to the sweet current entering the ears. Two ears are nothing to him; he wants millions of ears. The nectar of the Holy Name is coming like a flood through his ears, pushing its way within the heart.
It is so sweet that as it goes to capture the heart, the centre of all senses, everything is paralysed. Wherever that sweet aggressor touches, the whole thing is captured with such intensity that everything else is ignored. Rupa Goswami writes, “I don’t know, I can’t say, I fail to express how much nectar there is in the Holy Name of Krishna. These two syllables contain so much sweetness and such a high quality of sweetness. And this sweetness is so aggressive that it captures everything.” This verse is found in the Vidagdha-madhava written by Srila Rupa Goswami.
In his book, Saranagati, Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur has explained the Namastakam, eight prayers in glorification of the Holy Name, written by Rupa Goswami. The whole thing is described there very beautifully.
He writes, “My heart is just like a desert, hot with the rays of the sun. This is my internal mental condition. The desire for mortal things cannot satisfy me because by nature they are death-producing. And not one or two, but thousands of such death-producing desires have taken shelter in my mind. So, my subconscious region is always burning. This is my condition.
“But somehow, by the grace of the sadhu and Guru, the Holy Name of Krishna with its infinite prospect has entered through the holes of my ears and reached the plane of my heart. And there, with some peculiar hope, with infinite, auspicious possibilities, it touched my heart with a new kind of nectar.
Ecstasy of the Name
“New hope is aroused by that sound. Then by force, it comes from the heart towards the tongue. Not that by the endeavour of my tongue I am producing that sound—no. What came from the heart of a saint through my ear, entered my heart, and that forcibly appeared upon my tongue and began to dance. That is the Holy Name proper. It descends from above. It cannot be produced by the material form of this tongue. Its source is above.
“And through an agent of the Absolute, it comes through the ear to the heart. From the heart it gathers some sympathy, then the Holy Name of Krishna forcibly appears upon the tongue and begins to dance. With great force, it comes to the end of the tongue, and that sweet sound begins its dancing.”
The real effects of the Divine Name have been described here. If it is a living and real Name, the voice will be choked up, there will be shivering in the body, and the legs will be unable to stand. Sometimes tears will flow in a current on the body, and one’s hairs will stand on end. Sometimes changes of colour will be found in the body, and we will be unable to find any trace of the mind or consciousness. We may fall in a swoon; the whole body and mind will appear as if it is being attacked, shivering, and influenced in different ways. Apparently, it may seem that so many troubles are created in the body and the mind, but the real heart is overflowing with a particular kind of strange, sweet juice.
Ocean of nectar
Sometimes one thinks, “I am in an ocean of nectar. My whole existence is within an ocean of nectarean liquid. I am beside myself. I can’t understand where I am. Where am I? What is this? What is all about me? It has almost made me mad. Am I a madman? Where is my past experience, my seriousness, my gravity, where are they? What am I?
“I have been converted wholesale by a foreign thing. I am a doll in the hands of a great force, which is also so affectionate to me. I can’t ascertain how it is possible that by my faith I have entered this great, unknown environment, unexperienced before.
“And at last I find that I am captivated. My entire being, within and without, has been captured by a particular sweet force. I can’t help being prey to such a sweet power. I can’t give any proper description of this. I came to take shelter under Him and accept Him as my guardian; now at His hand I am being dealt with in such a merciless and despotic way. Still, I feel that everything is very pleasing, beyond my experience. What is this?
“I can’t resist anymore. I am fully captured. Let my fate go anywhere. I can’t come out. I am a captive in the hand of a sweet friend; my whole independence is gone. There is no way left to me but to surrender. I am unable to describe my real position. I find that He’s an autocrat. Whatever He likes to do, He will do. Since it is not possible for me to give any resistance, I must surrender. Let me also cooperate with whatever He is pleased to do. Otherwise, what can I do? I am helpless.
“Sometimes I find that the sweetness of the Name is condensed like a blossoming flower, and very wonderful streams of sweet current are flowing from it. The Holy Name contains so many sweet variegated forms of current within Him, and He is wonderfully expressing Himself in different ways. Sometimes He emanates a peculiar type of colour and figure and disappears.
“So many charming aspects are shown as if to my eyes within, and He forcibly takes me to surrender at the foot of that altar. He shows Himself in His full-fledged form, in Vrndavan, in His Vraja-lila, with Radharani, and He takes me there. I find that I am in the midst of His peculiar, very sweet and loving paraphernalia. And He says, ‘You see! I have so many wonderful things. This is your home. I am not merely imagination, but concrete reality. You will find here that the environment is very favourable and sweet. You are to live here.’
“I see there that He is dealing in different ways with His associates, in different rasas. And I find that I have another body that has emerged from my previous one, and that has a permanent place here in His service. Such a new life I find here. And then I find ultimately that all consideration of my past life and experience has vanished. And it is true: my real life is here. This is proper, and that was a sham. That life has vanished.
“Then I find that chanting the Holy Name gives me new encouragement, a new prospect, and new hope. Whatever we want, whatever is our internal demand, it is supplied by the Name. If we take the Name, all our internal hankerings will be fulfilled. It is eternal, it is the purest of the pure, and it is full of ecstasy. Now I find I have been completely converted.
“Now, my innermost hankering is this: let whatever is against this sweet Name vanish eternally from the world. If anything is in opposition to this sweet life, let it vanish, and if necessary, I will give my life to make it disappear from the world forever. Then others will be able to enjoy it at their free will. No hindrance should come to that fulfilment of life. It has no other second. So, everyone may come here, and if necessary, I will sacrifice myself to finish any opposition, so that all can smoothly, peacefully, and without any danger, enjoy this absolute, sweet, and blissful life.” This is the statement of Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur, in the final song of his book, Saranagati (Surrender). ⬆︎
Ramananda Ray was a married man, but he was recognised by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as a master of his senses to the extreme degree. Once, a brahman priest named Pradyumna Misra came to Mahaprabhu and told Him, “I would like to hear about Krishna from Your lips.” Mahaprabhu said, “I do not know anything about Krishna, but Ramananda Ray knows. Go to him and hear about Krishna. Take My Name, and perhaps he will talk with you.”
Pradyumna Misra was hesitant, but he went and observed Ramananda Ray for some time and then returned and reported to Mahaprabhu. Mahaprabhu asked him, “Have you heard about Krishna from Ramananda?”
“I saw him engaged in something objectionable. I watched for some time and then returned here.”
“What did you see?”
Pradyumna Misra answered, “I saw Ramananda Ray training some young dancing girls!”
Girls who are generally devoted to the service of the Jagannath Deity from a young age are known as Deva-dasis. They do not marry, and sometimes their character is not very good. Pradyumna Misra saw Ramananda Ray training Deva-dasis in a very objectionable way. He was showing them how to go before the Jagannath Deity and dance and sing. He showed them how their posture should be, how they should gesture, and how their looks should be enticing. And for such training he would sometimes even touch their private parts. So, Pradyumna Misra told Mahaprabhu, “Seeing Ramananda doing all these things, I had no regard for him, so for some time I saw him busily engaged in that matter, and then I went away.”
Master of the senses
Mahaprabhu told him, “Don’t underestimate Ramananda Ray. He is the master of his senses. There is not a tinge of craft in him. Even I feel trouble from sense disturbance within Me, but Ramananda has no such trouble. We have no direct experience that a stage can be attained where it is possible to be above mundane sense pleasure, but we have only heard through the scriptures that there is a stage when a man may transcend all these gross attachments.
“This is mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavatam (10.33.39):
vikriditam vraja-vadhubhir idan cha visnoh
sraddhanvito ’nusrnuyad atha varnayed yah
bhaktim param bhagavati pratilabhya kamam
hrd-rogam asv apahinoty achirena dhirah
“One who hears with firm faith the supramundane amorous affairs of Lord Krishna and the gopis, as described by a pure devotee of the Lord, soon becomes freed from mundane lust and achieves divine love of Krishna.
“One may be engaged bodily in such activities, while his heart is elsewhere. And there is only one who is of that type, Ramananda Ray. There are not big numbers of Ramanandas; there is only one Ramananda, who has acquired such a stage because he is well-versed in the kind of sentiment and realisation which is necessary for the service of Krishna and the gopis. His heart is completely dedicated to the cause of Krishna; he has no selfish interest. He is always in Krishna consciousness, and whatever he does is for Krishna’s satisfaction, so don’t think ill of him. Go there again.”
Mad for Krishna
Then, Pradyumna Misra again went to see Ramananda Ray, and Ramananda began their conversation by saying, “Oh, on that day I could not oblige you. But again you have come to hear about Krishna. How fortunate I am!” In the morning, Ramananda Ray began to speak, and when the afternoon came, still he was madly talking about Krishna. He completely forgot about eating, bathing, or anything else. He was mad, incessantly speaking of Krishna. Then, when it was late, his servants came twice, thrice, to ask him to take bath and eat his dinner, and finally, he had to leave the talk and go. Then, Pradyumna Misra returned to Mahaprabhu and said, “Yes, I have heard from Ramananda Ray, and my heart is full from hearing about Krishna from him.”
Mahaprabhu Himself had heard from Ramananda Ray, and He said, “Ramananda knows what is Krishna. What I taught to Rupa and Sanatan, I heard from Ramananda.” It is mentioned that Mahaprabhu took diksa, initiation, from Isvara Puri; for preaching purposes He took sannyas, the renounced order, from Kesava Bharati; and for entrance into the transcendental Pastimes of Krishna in Vrndavan, He took raga-marg initiation from Ramananda Ray. Of course, Isvara Puri, Kesava Bharati, and Ramananda Ray never thought of themselves as the Guru of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. But it was seen that Mahaprabhu treated Ramananda with some respect. It is mentioned in the Chaitanya-charitamrta (Madhya-lila, 8.204) that if one wants to enter into the spontaneous devotion of Krishna’s Pastimes in Vraja, it is required that he take shelter of a confidential maidservant in conjugal mellow, madhura-rasa (sakhi vina ei lilaya anyera nahi gati).They are masters of that situation. The whole storehouse of this madhura-lila is in the hands of those maidservants. Only they can give it to others. In madhura-rasa, the Guru is seen in the form and spirit of a sakhi, a maidservant of Radharani (guru-rupa-sakhi). Ramananda Ray was Visakha Sakhi, the right-hand personal attendant of Srimati Radharani.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gives us a hint of the necessity of approaching a confidential associate of Srimati Radharani when He says to Ramananda:
kiba vipra, kiba nyasi, sudra kene naya
yei krishna-tattva vetta, sei ‘guru’ haya
“Why do you shrink away from instructing Me? I am learning so much from you. You are well-versed in the affairs of Krishna, so you are Guru; therefore, I am hearing from you. Whoever is the master of that storehouse of Krishna-lila and whoever can distribute it, he is Guru. Of this, there is no doubt.”
The famous talks between Ramananda Ray and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu took place on the banks of the Godavari River. The name Godavari is significant, for it indicates that place where the highest fulfilment of our spiritual senses was given. The fullest engagement of all our senses was announced there on the banks of the Godavari: “Your senses are not to be rejected. If you can give up the spirit of exploitation and renunciation, then your senses will have their fulfilment with Krishna. Those tendencies bar your approach to Krishna. To properly approach Krishna, you will have to utilise your senses to the fullest extent.” That was dealt with on the banks of the Godavari.
The ultimate goal of life
There, in His famous conversations with Ramananda Ray, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu began the approach to pure devotional service in a general and comprehensive way. This is recorded in the Madhya-lila of Chaitanya-charitamrta (8.51–313). He asked Ramananda Ray, “Prabhu kahe, ‘Pada sloka sadhyera nirnaya’: what is the ultimate goal of life? I not only want to hear your statements, but also evidence from the scriptures.”
The answer came from Ramananda Ray, “Raya kahe, ‘Sva-dharmacharane Visnu-bhakti haya’: discharge your own duty, without expecting anything in return.” Sva-dharma means varnasram-dharma, Vedic social stratification. “You are posted in your present position by your previous karma. According to your present position, you have to discharge your duties on one condition: you must do them without remuneration. If you go on with your duties in varnasram-dharma, without any mundane aim, you can achieve Visnu-bhakti, devotion to God. This is confirmed in the Visnu-purana (3.8.9):
varnasramachara-vata purusena parah puman
visnur aradhyate pantha nanyat tat-tosa-karanam
“The only way to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Visnu, is to worship Him by properly executing one’s prescribed duties in the social system of varna and asram.” Here, Ramananda Ray says that Visnu-bhakti, adherence to the Lord who is permeating everything, is the object and ultimate destination of our life. This is the Vasudev conception: everything is in Him, and He is everywhere. Ramananda explained that from our local interests, we must come to embrace the general interest, and that must reach the level of Visnu consciousness—Visnu-bhakti. Our submission to Visnu, the internal spirit who is everywhere, is the object of life. We must connect with Him and live accordingly, not a phenomenal life, but a spiritual life pertaining to a deeper, more subtle plane.
Devotion mixed with desires
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, “This is superficial; go deeper.” Of course, it may be thought that actual theistic life begins from here, giving up the special, local purpose, and acting for a universal purpose as already ordered and programmed in the Vedas and Upanisads. But Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, “This is superficial; go deeper.”
Then, Ramananda Ray said, “Krsne karmarpana—sarva-sadhya-sara: to offer the results of one’s activities to Krishna is the essence of all perfection.” In varnasram-dharma, it is the fashion that people are generally engaged in external activities and do not care to give up the fruits of their action. Even if they do, they have no direct consciousness of Visnu or Krishna. They worship the goddess Durga, perform the sraddha funeral ceremony, and execute so many other religious practices. Indirectly, it is ultimately connected with Visnu. They may or may not know how, but the link is there. That is the general conception of varnasram, but here, Ramananda says that it will be better to have direct consciousness that Krishna is the authority. All the results of whatever we do within the varnasram social system must be given to Krishna. If we perform all our physical, social, national, and spiritual activities in Krishna consciousness, then we can approach the fulfilment of our goal in life.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, “This is superficial; go deeper.” Then Ramananda Ray revealed new light, quoting the Bhagavad-gita (18.66), “Sarva-dharman parityajya Mam ekam saranam vraja: give up all your duties, and just surrender to Me.” We must be particular with the object of life, not the external activities of varnasram. Less importance should be given to the form of our activity; whether I am a king, a brahman intellectual, or a worker does not matter. We may think, “I have this sort of duty; I have that sort of duty”, but that does not matter very much. We must have no attachment for that. The king may leave his kingdom and take to a brahmanical life of renunciation and austerity. A sudra may give up his labour, become a beggar, and chant the Name of Krishna. A brahman may give up his performance of sacrifice and become a mendicant. So, we are to be particular about the aim of life, not the form of our duty. We must exclusively devote ourselves to the cause of the Lord, ignoring our present paraphernalia and duty.
Knowledge and devotion
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, “This is also superficial; go ahead—deeper.” Then, Ramananda Ray explained jnana-misra-bhakti, devotional service mixed with knowledge, by quoting from the Bhagavad-gita (18.54), where Krishna says:
brahma-bhutah prasannatma na sochati na kanksati
samah sarvesu bhutesu mad-bhaktim labhate param
One who has come to the stage of identifying himself with spirit above matter has nothing to do with this mundane world. Any loss or gain in this mundane world is of no use to him. He is spirit; his prospect is in the world of soul, and he has nothing to do with this material world, whether it is laudable or blamable. He is already settled in the consciousness that he is soul proper and has nothing to do with matter, so within himself he feels satisfaction. He is atmarama: self-content; he neither mourns, nor aspires for anything. If something is lost, does he mourn? No. He thinks, “This is nothing; it is only matter.” And when something is gained, he is not overly cheerful because it is only matter; it is unnecessary and unimportant. Now true devotional service can begin. His soul can begin living in the spiritual plane, with a pure serving attitude, unmixed with any mundane aspiration. When one attains the spiritual platform, he gets the opportunity to practise a higher type of service.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, “This is also superficial. Such a person is only on the verge of devotional service; he has no substantial touch of devotion. He has not entered the domain of bhakti; he is just waiting in the marginal position, at the door. He may attain bhakti, but he has not yet achieved it. His negative forces are finished, but still, he is just at the door; he has not yet entered. He may enter; he may not enter. From there, if he gets anything, it will be pure, but he is still at the door.
Beyond spirit, “Go deeper’’
Ramananda Ray then said, “Jnane prayasam udapasya namanta eva: it is a very difficult thing to cross the charm of knowledge.” We think, “I want to understand everything first, and then I shall act.” Calculation and an underlying suspicion is there. Before we act, we want to know everything fully; only then will we risk our capital. The ego, the “I”, is very strong, and he wants to have an account of his loss and gain. He thinks, “I am the master. The key is in my hand. I want to test everything. I want to know it all. I know what is good for me.” So, we think ourselves masters, not servants, and from the position of a master we make our enquiry.
But this calculating mentality must be given up if we at all want to enter into the domain of the Lord, where everything is superior to us. No one there will care to come to us with an explanation, thinking that we are their master. They will not reassure us by saying, “Yes, there will be no loss; your gain will be big.” We may think, “I am an independent separate entity, so in my account there must be no loss. I must stand here with my head erect”, but that won’t do. We are to go there as slaves, not masters. That sort of mentality is necessary. We must bow down our heads, not that with our heads erect we will march over everything. But everything there is superior in quality to us.
So, we have to enter into that transcendental land where even the earth, water, air, and whatever we will find is made of higher materials than we ourselves are made of. They are all Guru, and we are disciples. They are all masters, and we are servants. We have to enter the land where everything is our master. We will have to submit; that will be our real qualification. What we will be ordered to do, we will have to do. We are not to exercise our brain so much there. The brain has no room there; they are all brainier than we. Our brain is unnecessary there; only our hands are necessary. Menial labour is necessary there. Brain there is enough. We are to enter that land if we like. It is a land of slavery for us. So, we are to hatefully dismiss our brains, and taking only our hearts, we must approach and enter that land.
We should think, “I am as insignificant as a mosquito”, just as Lord Brahma did when he went to Dvaraka to visit Lord Krishna. And it is not only for the time being; not that one will accept a humble attitude, finish his work, and then come back. No. We will have to accept such an insignificant position eternally. Of course, we may expect to be educated about Krishna consciousness: how it is good, how it is great, how it is useful to us. We will be allowed pariprasna, honest enquiry. In the transcendental realm, everyone is our friend. They will come to help us, to make us understand that devotional service is beautiful, and that Krishna consciousness is the best form of life. Our aspiration and purity of purpose is to be valued, not our external position. The recruiters from that side will consider our purity of purpose, not so much our present position and capacity.
And although apparently it seems that we are going to be slaves, the result is just the opposite. If you can accept such an attitude of surrender and slavery, then He who can never be conquered will be conquered. Friends will come and help you. The sadhus will come and make you understand that we should become slaves, that Krishna likes His slaves very much. He is the Master of slaves, and sometimes He wants to become the slave of His slaves (Gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah). This is the key to success, and we can achieve the highest gain through this attitude.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu told Ramananda Ray, “Yes, this is true. The unconquerable is conquered by surrender. We can capture Him. I accept this as the beginning plane of divine love: by giving we can get as much as we risk. As much as we risk to give ourselves, so much we can demand from that unconquerable infinite.” Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, “I accept this as the beginning of suddha-bhakti, pure devotional service. But go farther.”
The science of rasa
Ramananda Ray explained that from there pure devotional service develops in a crude form, in a general way. And when it is more mature, it must take the shape of santa, neutrality; dasya, servitorship; sakhya, friendship; vatsalya, paternal affection; and madhura-rasa, conjugal love. In santa-rasa, there is adherence, nistha; one thinks, “I cannot withdraw myself from this consciousness of continuous submission to the truth.”
Neutrality develops into dasya-rasa, the desire to do some service. When a devotee is not satisfied by only sitting, showing loyalty to the Supreme Authority, he wants to be utilised by Him. He awaits the Lord’s order, praying that the Lord may give him some engagement. When a devotee has such deep penetration that he wants to be utilised in any way by the Lord, that is known as dasya-rasa, or devotion in the mood of service. Then there is sakhya-rasa, devotional service in friendship.
God the Friend
When, in dasya-rasa, confidence is added to service, then it becomes a little superior. Generally, old servants who are faithful become confidential servants. So, when the confidential stage is added to service, it becomes sakhya-rasa, or devotional service as a friend of the Lord. First, there is nistha, adherence, submission; then the devotee wants to be utilised for His satisfaction; then there is confidential utilisation; and then it comes to friendly service, sakhya-rasa. In Vaikuntha, where Lord Narayan is served in calculative devotion, only santa-rasa, dasya-rasa, and half of sakhya-rasa are seen. Full confidence is not possible there. Awe, reverence, splendor, grandeur, pomp, apprehension—all these vanish when we develop a more confidential relationship with the Supreme Lord. At that time, the object of our worship or love changes in another way.
Then from Vaikuntha, we feel attraction for Ayodhya, the divine abode of Lord Ramachandra, where there is neutrality, servitorship, and friendship with Vibhisan and Sugriva. There, we can also trace vatsalya-rasa, parental love of Godhead.
God the Son
In vatsalya-rasa, confidence has developed to the peculiar stage in which the servitors think themselves promoted to the post of protecting the object of their veneration. Filial affection is also service. Although it seems that the parents are masters of the situation, controlling the Lord as their son, sometimes chastising and punishing Him, this is a superficial view. If we can enter into the depth of their service, we shall find an incomparable love of a most peculiar type. On the surface, they are engaged in punishing and rebuking the Lord; underground, they are full of interest for the welfare of the object of their service. Vatsalya, or parental love of Godhead, is a peculiar type of divine love. We see a very light type of vatsalya in Ayodhya, so it is almost ignored.
Mathura: the Krishna conception
Rupa Goswami leaped from Vaikuntha to Mathura in one stride. In his Upadesamrta (9), he writes, “Vaikunthaj janito vara madhu-puri tatrapi rasotsavad: Mathura is superior to Vaikuntha because Lord Sri Krishna appeared there.” It is there that everything is shown in a clear and substantial way. In Mathura, we find the Krishna conception of Godhead. In one stride, he has come from Vaikuntha to the Krishna conception, but Sanatan Goswami has filled up the gap. In his book, Brhad-bhagavatamrta, he says that on the way to Mathura there is Ayodhya, the spiritual kingdom of Lord Rama, and there we find sakhya and vatsalya-rasa.
But Rupa Goswami goes to Mathura at once. He says, “Come to Mathura; here you will find sakhya and vatsalya-rasa clearly visible. He has shown how sakhya-rasa service is present there. The devotees there are playing with Krishna, sometimes climbing on His shoulders, and perhaps sometimes even giving Him a slap. But although they may mix with Him in this way, their heart is full of a peculiar type of service attitude. That is the criterion; they may give up their lives a thousand times to take a thorn out of His sole. They can sacrifice themselves a thousand times for the slightest satisfaction of their friend. They consider Him a thousand times more valuable than their own life. In vatsalya-rasa also, the criterion is similar. For the slightest interest of the object of their veneration, they can give their lives millions of times. Such affection is found there.
And then, from vatsalya, it progresses to conjugal love (madhura-rasa), the all-comprehensive rasa which includes adherence (santa-nistha), service (dasya), friendly confidence (sakhya), and parental love (vatsalya-rasa). But the wholesale dedication of every atom of our existence for Krishna’s satisfaction is found in madhura-rasa, which includes all other rasas.
And madhura-rasa is more enhanced when it is couched in the form of parakiya, or paramour relationship. In parakiya-rasa, the gopis risk everything for the service of Krishna. Parakiya-rasa takes two forms: in one, there is no obligation of anything; the union may happen or may not happen. So, because their meeting is very rare, it becomes even sweeter. There is another kind of parakiya-rasa: we are told that ordinary food is not palatable to Krishna, but when He takes food by stealing, that is more tasteful to Him. If we can follow this art, that may also be applied in the case of parakiya-rasa. “I am deceiving the party, getting what I want. I am stealing the property of someone else.” That sort of posing becomes more tasteful to the subjective party.
And the dedicated party risks everything: their good name, society, future, and even the dictation of the religious scriptures. They take a wholesale risk, just as one time, when we were in Madras, the King of Jaipur gave some money for the construction of a Temple. The money was sent to our head office in Calcutta. Out of five thousand rupees, the first installment was one thousand rupees, and the construction work was begun by sending a worker from our main centre. Then, Madhav Maharaj and I were sent to Madras, where we heard that the king would soon come. In order to show him that some work had been done, we raised the construction to some extent, so the king could be told, “Your money has been spent, and now the next installment is necessary.” In order to do this, we incurred a debt. We took a loan for bricks and other things and raised the construction to a higher level.
When we wrote this to our Guru Maharaj, we had some apprehension that he would chastise us, “Why have you taken this loan?” Instead of that, he gave us his appreciation. “You have risked your future in the service of Krishna. You have taken a loan, and that means you have to pay off that loan, so you have engaged your future energy in the service of Krishna. You will have to collect money and pay off the loan, so there is service with risk for the future.” The gopis consciously risked their future: “We have disobeyed our superior persons and the directions of the Vedas; what we do is neither approved by society, nor by the religious books. Our future is dark.” Still, they could not but serve Krishna.
So, Vaikunthaj janito vara madhu-puri tatrapi rasotsavad. Janito means vatsalya-rasa and madhura-rasa in Vrndavan: Radha-kundam ihapi Gokula-pateh. In the madhura-rasa also, three groups are shown: Vrndavan in general, selected groups in Govardhan, and the highest group in Radha Kunda. All these things have been shown in the conversation between Ramananda Ray and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Radha: queen of the gopis
After this, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, “Go further.” Then, Ramananda Ray began to explain the kind of service rendered by Radharani in madhura-rasa. Her devotional service is categorically higher than that of all the other gopis. Radham adhaya hrdaye tatyaja Vraja-sundarih (Gita-govinda: 3.1 by Jayadev Goswami). The whole group of gopis can be cancelled for only one—Srimati Radharani. What peculiar type of service may come from Her? And Krishna, the Original Personality of Godhead (Svayam-rupa), is only by the side of Radharani. By the side of other gopis, that is prabhava-prakasa, a plenary expansion, not Svayam-rupa, the original form. Such is the quality of Srimati Radharani. We should show our highest reverence to this highest ideal of devotional service.
Radha-Krishna: union in separation
Then, the last question came from Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu: “Can you think of anything more than this?” Then, Ramananda Ray said, “You asked me to quote scripture to support whatever I say, but here I won’t be able to quote scripture from anywhere. Still, I have a new feeling within me, and if You would like to know that, I can explain it to You.” In this way, one song was composed by Ramananda Ray. He introduced this song by saying, “Whether or not it will be pleasing to You, I do not know, but it seems to me that there is a stage which is even better than the meeting of Radha and Govinda.” There is a stage where both of Them, the positive and negative are combined, no individual consciousness is clear, and one is searching another in self-forgetfulness. This searching of one party by the other is very strong and intense. This seems to be a more highly elevated love: union in separation. Radha and Govinda are so intense in Their search of one another that even They have no consciousness of whether They have each other. Radharani sometimes experiences that even while Krishna is present before Her, She fears losing Him; that feeling becomes as intense as if She has lost Him. They are together, but the apprehension that one may lose the other makes their meeting intolerably painful, just as a mother is always alert about the safety of her son (anistasankini bandhu-hrdayani bhavanti hi). A mother thinks, “Oh, my son is out—is he in an accident?” This fear of separation is the symptom of deep love.
Ramananda Ray’s composition gave a hint about the divine appearance of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in which both Radha and Govinda are combined, and it is as if They are unconscious of Their separate existence. One is searching the other. Krishna Himself is overflowing with the feelings of Radharani, and They are so deeply embraced that one is lost in the other. Then, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu put His palm over the mouth of Ramananda Ray and told him, “No further.” ‘Rasa-raja’, ‘Mahabhava’—dui eka rupa. Lord Sri Krishna is the fountainhead of all pleasure, and Srimati Radharani is the embodiment of ecstatic love of Godhead. These two forms are united as one in Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Rasaraj: Ecstasy Himself
Mahaprabhu replied, “Oh, because you are a cent per cent devotee, wherever you cast your glance you see only Krishna, nothing else. The object of your interest is represented everywhere.” Ramananda Ray said, “My Lord, don’t deceive me in this way. You have come here so graciously to purify this mean person, and if You act diplomatically now, it will not look well for You. I won’t hear what You say; come out with Your real position. Who are You?” Mahaprabhu said, “By dint of your loving devotion, you can know everything in this world; nothing can be concealed from your loving eye.” Premanjana-chchhurita-bhakti-vilochanena.
Then, Mahaprabhu revealed Himself: “When you see Me to be externally of a golden colour, it is not so. It is by the touch of the colour of Radharani. And who can Radharani touch and closely embrace? She will never touch anyone except Krishna. So, now you know who I am: Rasaraj—Ecstasy Himself—and Mahabhava—the one who can taste that highest rasa. See how They mingle together!”
Ramananda Ray fainted and fell flat on the floor. He could not keep his senses. Then, by the touch of His hand, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu again brought him to his senses. Ramananda returned to his previous stage of consciousness and saw a sannyasi sitting before him. After a short pause, Mahaprabhu said, “Remain here, I am going.”
Afterwards, Ramananda Ray and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had some other talks, and Mahaprabhu said, “Ramananda, as long as I live, I want your company.” Ramananda replied, “Yes, I must take shelter of Your divine feet and live there for the rest of my life.” Ramananda later made arrangements with the King of Orissa to retire from his post as Governor of Madras and came to Jagannath Puri. For almost two years, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu wandered about the holy places of Southern and Western India and at last returned to Puri. There they again met.
After this, Mahaprabhu went to Vrndavan through Bengal. Six years passed, and Advaita Prabhu almost gave leave to Mahaprabhu, saying, “Our Pastimes of introducing the chanting of Hare Krishna are finished.” Then, Mahaprabhu continuously showed Radharani’s mood of tasting Krishna-prema, ecstatic love of Krishna, for twelve years. Svarup Damodar and Ramananda Ray, who are Lalita and Visakha, the two principle gopi assistants of Radharani, were Mahaprabhu’s most important company during that time. There, so many things about the deep feelings of divine love have been shown. It has never been found in the history of the world or even expressed in any scripture how such intense love within can produce such corresponding symptoms on the surface. That was shown by Radharani and later shown by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
It was shown by Mahaprabhu in His practices also, how Krishna-prema, love of Krishna, can play a man like a doll. Sometimes His legs and hands would enter inconceivably into His body, and sometimes His joints would disconnect and His transcendental body would appear elongated. Sometimes His whole body would become white, and He would lay unconscious, breathing so slowly that His breath could not be traced. In this way, He exhibited many amazing symptoms of ecstasy.
Svarup Damodar, the personal secretary of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, has explained the meaning of His appearance in his memoirs, which were recorded in the Chaitanya-charitamrta of Kaviraj Goswami. He writes:
radha krishna-pranaya-vikrtir hladini saktir asmad
ekatmanav api bhuvi pura deha-bhedam gatau tau
chaitanyakhyam prakatam adhuna tad-dvayam chaikyam aptam
radha-bhava-dyuti-suvalitam naumi krishna-svarupam
Sometimes Radha and Krishna are combined; sometimes They are separate. They are separate in Dvapar-yuga, and in Kali-yuga they are combined as Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Both are eternal expressions of the same Absolute Truth. Summer, autumn, winter, and spring continue in a cyclic order; it cannot be said that summer is the beginning and winter comes later. So, the Pastimes of Sri Radha and Krishna are eternally being enacted. In ancient times, sometimes Radha and Krishna divided Themselves and showed Their Pastimes; again both of Them, the potency and the owner of the potency, are combined and closely embraced as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The predominating and the predominated moiety are mixed, and an extraordinary ecstatic feeling is there. Krishna is overpowered by His potency, and He Himself is searching after His own Self: Krishnasya atmanusandhana. Krishna Himself is engaged in the search for Sri Krishna, Reality the Beautiful. The influence of Radharani over Krishna has transformed Him into a devotee, and He is searching Himself. Sweetness is tasting Itself and becoming mad. And it is living sweetness—not dead or static, but dynamic ecstasy, sweetness endowed with life. And He is tasting Himself, the personification of happiness, ecstasy, and beauty, and dancing in madness. And His performance of kirtan means distributing that ecstasy to others. The ultimate sweetness, or ananda, is such that no other thing exists that can taste itself and express its own happiness with such intensity. I have described Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the Prema-dhama-deva-stotram:
prema-dhama-devam eva naumi gaura-sundaram
“The highest conception of the Absolute Truth must also be the highest form of ananda, ecstasy. Mahaprabhu’s dancing indicates that He is full of ecstasy, and His kirtan is distribution of that rasa. So, if we scientifically search out who Mahaprabhu is, we cannot but find that He is the Ultimate Reality. He is mad in tasting His own internal nectar, and His dancing is the outcome of His transcendental ecstasy. And He is chanting, distributing that to others. So, studying quite closely the character of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, we cannot but think that He is the Supreme Absolute Truth in its fullest and most dynamic expression.” ⬆︎
by His Divine Grace
Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj
Om is the very gist of gayatri, and from that Om comes merciful rays, like the rays of the sun. Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, where sankirtan is always going on, is inside the flute of Krishna, and from there comes this sound Om. Om, the meaning of gayatri, is coming from the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, and from there the explanation of gayatri has been given by Srila B. R. Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj:
gayatri muralista-kirtana-dhanam radha-padam dhimahi
The position of the Guru is like water; the servitors of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math are like lotuses; and the position of the worshipful Supreme Personality of Godhead is the divine form of Radha-Krishna, Om.
Everything is within Om. Om is coming from the flute of Krishna, and the meaning of Om, of gayatri, is gayatri muralista-kirtana-dhanam Radha-padam dhimahi. Krishna’s flute does not make any other sound except the glorification of Srimati Radharani, and that is the real meaning and gist of the gayatri-mantram.
The sun’s merciful rays give nourishment to the lotus, but if there is no water—if one cannot take shelter of Sri Guru and His grace—then the lotus will become burnt by the rays of the sun. ⬆︎