Why Sriman Mahaprabhu rejected the conclusion of Sri Gita.
I was very surprised when I first read the Ramananda-samvad in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta. When Sriman Mahaprabhu asked Ramananda Ray, “What is the goal of life?”, Ramananda Ray started to answer by first mentioning karma-misra-bhakti. Mahaprabhu summarily rejected this answer: “Eho bahya, age kaha ara.” Bahya [‘external’] means, “Here, there is no real potency of devotion.” Then Ramananda Ray said:
sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami ma suchah
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 18.66)
Mahaprabhu summarily dismissed this verse also, saying, “Eho bahya, age kaha ara.” At that time, I was surprised. The verse sarva-dharman parityajya means that someone will leave everything—religion and non-religion—and take shelter exclusively at the lotus feet of Krishna, but Mahaprabhu replies, “Eho bahya [“That is external”].” How is it possible? We generally consider sarva-dharman parityajya to be the highest verse in the Gita, but Mahaprabhu says, “Eho bahya, age kaha ara.” Everyone must be surprised to hear this.
I asked Srila Guru Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, “What is this? Why did Mahaprabhu say, ‘Eho bahya’?” Srila Guru Maharaj answered, “There the mood of surrender is present, but what someone should do after taking shelter at the lotus feet of Krishna is not mentioned in this verse. Everyone should leave everything—all mundane activities and all other spiritual activities—and take shelter of Krishna. This is correct. But after that, what should they do? That not mentioned here. So, Mahaprabhu rejected the verse.”
Mahaprabhu only gave His consent later when Ramananda Ray quoted this verse from Srimad Bhagavatam (10.14.3):
jnane prayasam udapasya namanta eva
jivanti san-mukharitam bhavadiya-vartam
Jnane prayasam udapasya means, “Leave everything, even your perfect knowledge.” Udapasya means throw your knowledge away; forget everything you know and start a new life, a life of devotion. How do you do that? With sadhu-sanga: the association of the devotees. Namanta eva jivanti: surrender fully to Krishna and maintain your life with the association of the devotees. What are their activities? Sravanam kirtanam Visnoh smaranam pada-sevanam [hearing, chanting, remembering the Lord, serving His feet, and so on].
San-mukharitam means ‘from the sadhu’: hear from the sadhus and practise devotional activities under the guidance of the sadhus.
In another verse in Srimad Bhagavat (10.33.39) after the description of the Rasa-lila, it is explained:
sraddhanvita anusrnuyad atha varnayed yah
Anusrnuyad means anusravan, humbly listen closely to the sadhus, and after hearing from them, practise under their guidance. So, jivanti san-mukharitam bhavadiya-vartam means to live and engage in devotional activities under the guidance of the sadhus. When Mahaprabhu heard this verse from Ramananda Ray, He said, “Eho haya, age kaha ara: yes, I can give recognition to this line of devotion.”
When you hear from a Vaisnava, accept their guidance, and practise Krishna consciousness under their guardianship, then you will get a good result in devotional life. But is it necessary to live with the Vaisnavas in an ashram? No. Sthane sthitah sruti-gatam tanu-van-manobhir: you can practise from wherever you are, but you must practise bodily, mentally, and verbally. You must glorify Krishna, and you must serve Krishna with all your mental and physical activity under the guidance of the sadhu. Then you not will go off track. If you run within your own track, you not will be disqualified, but if you go out of your track, you must be disqualified. You may be a good runner, but if you run out of your track, you will be disqualified.
Ye prayaso ’jita jito ‘py asi tais tri-lokyam: Krishna is ajita—no one can defeat Him—but through devotion, a devotee can defeat Him. Krishna said in Srimad Bhagavat (9.4.68):
sadhavo hrdayam mahyam sadhunam hrdayam tv aham
mad-anyat te na jananti naham tebhyo manag api
[“The sadhus are My heart, and I am their hearts. They do not know anything without Me, and I do not know anything without them.”]
Here, there is no law, and no rules or regulations. The Lord is saying, “The sadhus are My own; they serve Me directly.” This is the only law. I have heard this verse in the Manu-samhita (2.1):
vidvadbhih sevitah sadbhir nityam advesa-ragibhih
hrdayenabhyanujnato yo dharmas tam nibodhata
What is the religion, the law, for the soul? Vidvadbhih sevitah sadbhir: the way the sadhus practise, the way they serve, that is the law. Nityam advesa-ragibhih: one who has no enviousness, who has no anger, and who has only the intention to serve Krishna is a real sadhu. Hrdayenabhyanujnato: the rules and regulations are revealed from time to time in these sadhus’ hearts. That is the real ruling of Vedas.
One name for Veda is sruti. Sruti means hearing from a higher person. The Veda came down through hearing from Krishna to Brahma, Brahma to Narad Goswami, and Narad Goswami to Vedavyas. So, it is called sruti, what has been heard from the higher level. Previously, the Veda was not written down. Vedavyas compiled it, and in a harmonising way, he divided it into four parts and gave it to us in written form.
We are souls born in Kali-yuga, and our memory is very short. So, he gave us the Vedas in written form although before that the Vedas were not kept in writing, but we should understand that what is revealed in the heart of the sadhu for the service of Krishna is the real memorandum, the real rule and regulation to be followed.
vidvadbhih sevitah sadbhir nityam advesa-ragibhih
hrdayenabhyanujnato yo dharmas tam nibodhata
Here it is stated that the heart of the sadhu is very clean; there is no dirtiness or anything bad in their heart.
There is an example of this which can lead to some dangerous thinking but is still a very nice adjustment. Once, Parasar Rsi, the father of Vedavyas, wanted to cross a river. At that time, he saw a girl, and lust came into his mind. Not only was he a very old rsi, but he was very firm in Krishna consciousness. So, he was surprised to feel this and thought, “Seeing this girl, lust is coming into my mind. What is this?” Immediately, he steadied himself and began to meditate. Then, he saw, “Oh, through this lust, Vedavyas will appear.” Then, he happily proposed to that girl, “I need a son from you.” The girl did not know anything, but she knew Parasar Rsi was a very powerful rsi, and she feared that if she denied his request, then the rsi would become angry. So, she made excuses, “Oh, this is not a suitable time. This is not this. This is not that.” But the rsi said, “This is a suitable time. It has been revealed in my heart. And what difficulty there is for you, I will now make that fresh.” Then, he made some fog and other arrangements. In this way, Vedavyas was born in this world. Parasar Rsi was vidvan as is mentioned in this verse, vidvadbhih sevitah sadbhir. He was a real scholar, a transcendental scholar. So, when lust appeared in his heart, he realised: “This is impossible, but it is coming into my heart. So, it must be my duty.”
Here is an example of the opposite. Krishna once said to Yudhisthir, “Announce that Asvatthama is dead.” Yudhisthir said, “How can I tell a lie like this?” Krishna replied, “What you are thinking is a lie, and what I am saying is the truth, but for your satisfaction I will make an arrangement.” Then, Krishna told Bhimasen, “Go and kill the elephant named Asvatthama.” Before Krishna gave Yudhisthir this order, his chariot floated above the earth, but after he hesitated to carry out Krishna’s order, his chariot rested on the ground.
The rule is that the rules and regulations first come out from a clean heart for the service of Krishna. A clean heart is called Vasudev in Srimad Bhagavat.
sattvam visuddham vasudeva-sabditam
yad iyate tatra puman apavrtah
sattve cha tasmin bhagavan vasudevo
hy adhoksajo me namasa vidhiyate
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 4.3.23)
Here, Lord Siva said, “To whom shall I pay my dandavat?” Goddess Parvati said, “O my Lord, you should pay dandavat to my father. What fault is there in paying one dandavat to him? He is your father-in-law!” Lord Siva smiled and said, “How can I give my head again to someone else? I have already surrendered my head; I have already given my obeisance to Krishna. I cannot not take my head from the lotus feet of Krishna and put it at another’s feet. I have given my dandavat to Krishna, and that is final.” Here, Lord’s Siva’s ignoring Daksa is an example of real dharma being revealed in the heart of the Vaisnava, not only in formal customs or instructions.
You will see also in another part of Srimad Bhagavat (4.31.14):
yatha taror mula-nisechanena
pranopaharach cha yathendriyanam
tathaiva sarvarhanam achyutejya
When you put water on the root of a tree, the whole tree gets nourishment, but if you put water on the leaves and branches of a tree, it is not healthy for the tree. A tree may get a little nourishment through that, but it will not get proper nourishment. Only when you put water on the root will the whole tree get full nourishment. Similarly, if you pay your dandavat to Krishna and give honour to Krishna, then Krishna takes that and the whole world gets everything. This is the rule.
So, what is revealed in the heart of the sadhu is the real rule and regulation. The people of the Vedic culture really should follow that.
jnane prayasam udapasya namanta eva jivanti
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 10.14.3)
This expression also shows raga-marg. Only affection and devotion are there, and nothing else, no dirtiness. There everything is clean. Going in a clean way through the proper channel is raga-marg. Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu has shown us that line by the order of Sriman Mahaprabhu.
kriyatam yadi kuto ’pi labhyate
tatra laulyam api mulyam ekalam
janma-koti-sukrtair na labhyate
Laulyam, hankering, is the main thing. When honest hankering comes into your heart, that is raga-marg. Through that, you get everything. There is no possibility to go any other way there. Raga-marg is very suitable for the Western world actually. We are seeing this. We are seeing that the Hare Krishna mahamantra is being chanted all over the world, and it is on the basis of hankering. Otherwise, people would have no qualification. People are not living according to all the Vedic rules, but they can proceed in the line of devotion in raga-marg. This is the mercy of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu, and it has come out again in this age through our Guru Maharaj and Srila Swami Maharaj. We are seeing that this has happened already.
Spoken on 23 January 1993.