In 1940, a large collection of fables, parables, and other forms of illustrated spiritual teachings which Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur used throughout his lectures, conversations, essays, articles, letters, exhibitions, and other expressions was published in the form of a compilation entitled Upakhyane Upadesa: Illustrated Advice.
Here, a gradual effort to translate and present this in English is being made.
The Frog in the Well (Kupa Manduka Nyaya)
The Frog Bursts (Vyana Phata)
A Frog’s Half-Rupee (Vyanera Adhuli)
The Heron’s Longing (Bakanda-Pratyasa Nyaya)
The Grammarian (Vyakaranera Pandita)
The Intelligence of a Woodcutter (Kathuriya Buddhi)
The Doctor’s Knife (Daktarera Chhuri)
Feet in Two Boats (Dui Naukaya Pa)
Jumping Over a Goda to Eat Grass (Goda Dingaiya Ghas Khaoya)
See a Sadhu Through Your Ears (Kana Diye Sadhu Dekha)
Tricking a Blacksmith (Kamarake Ispata-Phaki)
Blind Following (Gana-gaddalika Nyaya)
Lalu and Kalu (Lalu o Kalu)
The Ungrateful And The Grateful (Nimak-hārām and Nimak-hālāl)
The Pauper And The All-Knowing Sage (Daridra and Sarvajña)
Brahmā, Indra, and Virochana (Brahmā evaṁ Indra o Virochana)
The pride of thinking nothing can be greater than what is one’s own.
Some distance away from the ocean, there was a well, and in it lived a frog. The frog was born in the well, and it had resided in the well since its birth. The frog had never gone outside the well. Still, the frog considered itself all-knowing.
The frog used to jump and hop around in the water of the well and think in his mind that he himself was the sovereign owner and lord of the well—and not only the owner of the well, but the owner—the ruler—of the world!
One day, a frog from the sea, as it was roaming above, came over to the well and happened to fall inside. The well frog thought, “Today some large prey has arrived”, but just as he leapt on top of the prey he saw that it was another frog just like himself although it was a slightly different. The well frog asked the sea frog, “Where have you come from?”
Sea frog: “From the sea.”
Well frog: “How much smaller is the sea than my well?”
Sea frog: “This well cannot even be compared to the sea.”
Well frog: “This big?”
The well frog makes a big leap.
Sea frog: “How much farther can you jump? The sea is much bigger than your entire well.”
The well frog jumped from one side of the well to the other and said, “There can be nothing bigger than this!”
The sea frog then said, “Please leave this well, come up a little ways outside, and see how big the sea is.”
The well frog said, “This is your fanaticism. Whether the sea is much bigger or not, it will be equal to my well. I am not so narrow-minded as you that I will say whatever is my own is bigger than everything else. My well is just as big as your sea because water is found in both places. Just to make a show of your own greatness you are fanatically declaring your sea to be the biggest.”
So-called synthesisers (samanvayavadis) first consider their own conception greater than all others, but when they are unable to they lastly say, “If prema-bhakti is so great, then we can accept it as equal to karma, jnan, yoga, and so on.” They think, however, “Absolute monism (kevala-advaita mata) is supreme; bhakti is a much lower level idea! Devotees fanatically say premananda is greater than brahmananda.”
Sri Chaitanyadev said,
krsna-name ye ananda-sindhu-asvadana
brahmananda tara age khatodaka-sama
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Adi-lila, 7.97)
“In comparison to the ecstatic ocean tasted by chanting Krishna’s Name, the pleasure found in Brahman is like the water in a shallow ditch.”
Compared to the ocean of ecstasy tasted in Krishna’s Name, brahmananda is like the water in a ditch or the hoof-print of a calf (like the small amount of water in the depression made by the small footprint of calf). As the water of the ocean cannot be compared to the water in the depression made by the hoof-print of a calf, so too premananda cannot be compared to brahmananda. Those whose mentality is like that of the frog in the well, however, think, “What can there be that is bigger than brahmananda? Saying premananda is incomparable is just the devotees’ fanaticism or exaggeration.”
If the so-called synthesisers can one day give up their frog in the well stance and attain the mercy of a true prema-bhakta, only then will they be able to understand that the hoof-print of brahmananda cannot be compared to the ocean of prema. So, although Srila Sukadev Goswami was at first immersed in brahmananda, later he became attracted to premananda. The self-satisfied sages Sanaka and so forth gave up their state of self-satisfaction and later became attracted to Krishna-premananda. Bilvamangal Thakur gave up the monistic path and bathed in the ocean of Krishna-prema. Therefore, giving up the mentality of the frog in the well and searching for the ocean of bhakti-rasamrta is the foremost duty of every living being.
Brahmananda: the happiness (ananda) experienced by realisation of Brahman.
Premananda: the happiness experienced by the devotees in satisfying Krishna.
Krishna-prema-sindhu: because the happiness of Krishna-prema (pure love for Krishna) is unending, boundless, bottomless, and ever more wonderful, it has been compared to an ocean.
Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu: The ocean of the nectar of prema (bhakti or seva-rasa). It is full of various waves and ever-new wonders. ⬆︎
The folly of considering oneself or one’s knowledge absolute.
In a watering hole lived a mother frog. One day, her son went to a pond and saw the king’s elephant. He came back to his mother and eagerly said, “Ma, today I saw a very big animal!”
His mother asked, “How big of an animal did you see?”
The boy replied, “Much bigger than you.”
The mother frog (puffing up her body): “This big?”
The boy: “Oh much bigger!”
The mother (puffing up her body further): “This big?”
The boy: “Much bigger than that.”
The mother gradually continued to puff up her body, and the boy continued to say, “Much bigger. Much bigger.” As she went to puff up her body beyond its limit, the mother’s belly burst with a bang.
Those who as insignificant living beings imaginse themselves to be Parabrahma (the Absolute Being, ‘the Supreme Great’, lit. ‘that which has no equal or greater’), or who as insignificant practitioners with anarthas think themselves equal to realised souls, become puffed up with pride like this frog and fall to ruin. Sriman Mahaprabhu has said,
jnani jivan-mukta-dasa painu kari’ mane
vastutah buddhi ‘suddha’ nahe krsna-bhakti vine
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 22.29)
“Jnanis think, ‘I have attained liberation in life’, but in reality, no one’s intelligence is pure without Krishna-bhakti.”
hena-jive isvara-saha kaha ta’ abheda
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 6.162)
“The difference between the Lord and the soul is that the Lord is the master of maya, and the soul is subject to maya but you say there is no such difference between the soul and the Lord.”
prabhu kahe, “‘visnu’ ‘visnu’ iha na kahiba!
jivadhame ‘krsna’-jnana kabhu na kariba!
sannyasi—chit-kana jiva, kirana-kana-sama
sad-aisvarya-purna krsna haya suryopama
jiva, isvara-tattva—kabhu nahe ’sama’
jvalad-agni-rasi yaichhe sphulingera ’kana’
yei mudha kahe, ‘jiva isvara haya ’sama’’
sei ta ’pasandi’ haya, dande tare yama”
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 18.111–13, 15)
“The Lord said, ‘“Visnu! Visnu!” Do not say that. Never think a fallen soul to be Krishna Himself. A sannyasi is a living being, a particle of spirit, like a particle in a ray of light from the sun Sri Krishna, who is replete with the six divine powers. The living being and the Lord are never equal just as the particle of a spark is not equal to a blazing fire. A fool who says the living being and the Lord are equal is an atheist and subject to the punishment of Yamaraj.”
By narrating this fable of the frog bursting, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupad used to teach that it is more beneficial to be able to say, “I am well” than to say, “I am great”. “I am Brahma”, “I am realised”, “I am a Vaisnava”, “I am a pandit”, “I am wise”—such pride is the cause of a living being’s fall. Those in whose hearts real devotion to the Lord has arisen never imagine themselves to be performers of great deeds, religious leaders, and so on—to be any sort of enjoyer of material nature or the world. Sincere humility is ever-present in the hearts of those who have realised themselves to be particles of dust on the eternal feet of Sri Guru and the Vaisnavas. A living being can never become the Parabrahma just as Ravana can never become Lord Sri Ramachandra. ⬆︎
The futility of worldly wealth, control, and attachment.
Beside a pond lived a frog. One day by chance the frog picked up a half-rupee coin, and upon getting it, the frog proudly thought, “Is there anyone else as rich as I am? The next time the king’s elephant comes to drink water, I am going to tie him up. I will not let him drink any water at all.”
Thinking in this way, the frog sat tightly atop the half-rupee coin beside the pond, and at this time, the king’s keeper brought the elephant down to the pond. Seeing this, the frog quickly jumped off the half-rupee coin and landed near the elephant’s feet to tie him up, but in an instant, the frog lost his life under the pressure of the elephant’s foot.
The wealth of those in this world who proudly consider themselves performers of great deeds is insignificant just like this ‘frog’s half-rupee’. A materialist’s status of being a great achiever can be crushed under the wheel of samsara at any moment. Why? It’s just a particular state produced by material nature (prakrti). Thus, the Gita (3.27) has said,
prakrteh kriyamanani gunaih karmani sarvasah
ahankara-vimudhatma kartaham iti manyate
Out of pride living beings think every action performed by the modes of material nature is performed by them and develop the ego that “I am the doer.” Such egotists imagine themselves to be the proprietors of the resources of the world and seek to spread their dominion over the earth. They cannot understand that Mother Nature can level the great palace of their pride at any moment. Neither pride in worldly independence nor pride in worldly dependence have any value. Today’s king is tomorrow’s beggar on the street, and today’s beggar is tomorrow’s egotist proud of their transitory wealth. Thus, the great soul Thakur Sri Narottam has sung:
rajara ye rajya pata yena natuyara nata
dekhite dekhite kichhu naya
hena maya kare yei parama-isvara sei
tare mana sada kara bhaya
“The reign and throne of a king, like the act of an actor, are nothing at all although we see them directly. O mind, always revere the Supreme Lord who creates such illusion.”
The phrase ‘a frog’s half-rupee’ is an expression which connotes an insignificant amount of wealth hoarded very cautiously and proudly by a poor person. ⬆︎
The hopelessness of pursuing material enjoyment.
On the bank of a river, some herons were sitting and waiting for some fish. At that time, they noticed a few bulls crossing the river. Thinking the bull’s long scrotums were saphari fish, the herons began to think, “If their scrotums would fall off, we could eat them! So, instead of waiting here uselessly on the bank of this river for fish, we should run after those bulls.”
The herons did exactly that. But as they followed behind the bulls and tried to touch the bulls’ scrotums with their beaks, they were repeatedly struck by the bulls’ kicks. Still, they did not leave the bulls’ backsides.
Like a heron longing for the scrotum of a bull, the conditioned souls who leave the Lord’s service and run after material things are simply pummelled by Maya’s kicks and lashes. Yet Maya is so enchanting that the conditioned souls do not give up their “heron’s longing for a bull’s scrotum”. Imagining that they will find peace and satisfaction through material enjoyment, they run after material things. In time, however, they experience only dissatisfaction and unrest. The wise should, therefore, never run with such longing and instead endeavour only with the aspiration of attaining the service of the Lord. ⬆︎
The futility of scholarship in understanding spiritual truth.
Once a Sanskrit grammarian was walking to his in-laws house on a path through a forest before sunset. Some bystanders saw him walking down the forest path alone and called out to him, “O Sir! It is now dusk. There is danger of tigers in this area. Please do not go down this path any further. Please go to the village nearby and stay the night there today.” Hearing this, the grammarian laughed and said, “You are foolish. You have never studied grammar, so how would you know the meaning of the word vyaghra (tiger). The word vyaghra is derived by affixing da in the active voice to the verbal root ghra (to smell) when it is preceded by vi and a (vi-a-ghra + da in the active voice). One who smells in a special manner is called vyaghra. Therefore there is no need to be afraid of tigers (vyaghras). If I happen to encounter a tiger, he will simply smell my extremely pure body in a special manner. What is objectionable about that? Helping others is the duty of a brahman.”
Just as the grammarian had finished making this statement, a tiger came out of the forest, leaped on top of him, and began to drink blood from his neck. Caught in the clutches of the tiger, the grammarian said, “Ghra-dhatuh kvachit tu khadane ’pi vartate: sometimes the verbal root ghra is also used to mean ‘eat’. Today I acquired such common knowledge.” Saying this, he gave up his life.
The condition of those who attempt to understand religion and the scriptures with only worldly scholarship is like that of this grammarian. A person who considers the material body to be “me” and “mine” is a soul conditioned by maya. Whether or not such a conditioned soul considers themself a great brahman or scholar, whether or not the people of the world consider that soul the greatest scholar in all directions, and whether or not that soul externally wears the garb of a renunciant, if they do not engage themself in the Lord’s service purely, they cannot transcend death. Those who do not have pure devotion cannot transcend this world in the form of death even if they make a show of worshipping the gods and studying many scriptures: the Vedas, the Vedanta, the Upanisads, the Mahabharata, the Gita, the Puranas, and other religious texts. They explain the scriptures, but they cannot practise in their own lives the sole purport of all the scriptures: service to the Lord. The worship of the forefathers, daily rituals, and even the show of chanting of the Lord’s Name that they perform are only attempts at acquiring food, clothing, enjoyment in this world and the next, or deliverance from the hand of worldly suffering. Until we serve the Lord for the satisfaction of His senses, there is no way for our souls to attain good fortune. Thus, Sri Chaitanyadev performed the Pastime of abandoning the study of grammar and revealing that the sole purport of every grammatical aphorism, explanation, and commentary is the Lord’s Name. Krishna’s Name is Krishna Himself. Krishna’s service is the fulfilment of scholarship, nobility, and opulence. Sri Sankar Acharya also said,
bhaja govindam bhaja govindam
bhaja govindam mudha-mate
prapte sannihite marane na hi
na hi raksati dukrn-karane
“Serve Govinda, serve Govinda,
serve Govinda, O fool!
When the time of death arrives,
rules of grammar do not save you.”
The scriptures have explained that Sri Sankar Acharya appeared in this world to bewilder the demons. Although Sankar Acharya gave all this advice, his followers have become puffed up with pride in their scholarship and turned into troublesome sophists. Instead of practising eternal devotion to Govinda, they are trying to prove through their scholarship and sophistry that ‘Govinda’ is an impermanent entity and ‘bhakti’ is an impermanent practice! Sri Chaitanyadev, however, has said that Krishna’s Name is eternal (CB: Madhya, 1.146–159):
avista ha-iya prabhu karena vyakhyana
sutra-vrtti-tikaya, sakala hari-nama
Ecstatic, Mahaprabhu explained that the Lord’s Name is the purport of all aphorisms, explanations, and commentaries.
prabhu bale, “sarva-kala satya krsna-nama
sarva-sastre ‘krsna’ vai na balaye ana
The Lord said, “Krishna’s Name is eternal. The scriptures describe Krishna’s Name and nothing else.
harta karta palayita krsna se isvara
aja-bhava-adi, saba—krsnera kinkara
“Krishna is the creator, maintainer, annihilator, and controller. Everyone—Brahma, Siva, and everyone else—is Krishna’s servant.
krsnera charana chhadi’ ye ara vakhane
vrtha janma yaya tara asatya-vachane
“The birth of anyone who leaves aside Krishna’s feet and explains the scriptures apart from Him is useless because of their false conclusions.
agama-vedanta-adi yata darasana
sarva-sastre kahe ‘krsna-pade bhakti-dhana’
“All the scriptures—the Agamas, the Vedanta, and the various other philosophies—say that true wealth is devotion to Krishna’s feet.
mugdha saba adhyapaka krsnera mayaya
chhadiya krsnera bhakti anya pathe yaya
“Teachers bewildered by Krishna’s illusion avoid devotion to Krishna and follow other paths.
karuna-sagara krsna jagat-jivana
sevaka-vatsala nanda-gopera nandana
“Krishna is an ocean of mercy, the life of the world, affectionate to His servants, and the son of the cowherd Nanda.
hena krsna-name yara nahi rati-mati
padiyao sarva-sastra, tahara durgati
“If one has no love and affection for Krishna’s Name, then one is ruined even if one reads all the scriptures.
daridra adhama yadi laya krsna-nama
sarva dosa thakileo yaya krsna-dhama
“If a poor, fallen soul chants Krishna’s Name, they go to Krishna’s abode even if they have all sorts of faults.
ei-mata sakala-sastera abhipraya
ihate sandeha yara, se-i duhkha paya
“This is the purport of all the scriptures. Anyone who doubts it suffers.
krsnera bhajana chhadi’ ye sastra vakhane
se adhama kabhu sastra-marma nahi jane
“No fallen soul who explains the scriptures without reference to Krishna’s service ever understands the purport of the scriptures.
sastrera na jane marma, adhyapana kare
gardabhera praya yena sastra vahi’ mare
“Those who do not know the purport of the scriptures yet teach them to others, like asses, simply bear the load of the scriptures to their death.
padiya-suniya loka gela chhare-khare
krsna mahamahotsave vanchila tahare”
“People encounter only death and destruction through such study of the scriptures and are deprived of the grand festival of love for Krishna.” ⬆︎
The inevitable failure of the artificial approach employed in astanga-yoga.
A woodcutter once planned to go to Sundarban to collect wood. Many ferocious animals live in Sundarban, so an elderly person informed the woodcutter, “If you go their without a weapon, your life may be taken” but the woodcutter said, “I am going to do away with this misconception people have that if you go into the forest, you must take a weapon with you. I am not going to engage in the foolishness of carrying a load of coal to a coal mine. There are so many large trees in the forest, and if I break off any of their branches to form a strong stick, the tigers and bears will flee helter-skelter. When I see any ferocious animal coming towards me, I will immediately break off a branch from a tree and scare it so severely that it won’t come back anywhere near me; just by seeing me break off a branch from a large tree, it will run away scared.
The woodcutter considered himself very intelligent. He didn’t have the common sense, however, that whether or not he broke off the branch of a tree, if a tiger came, snapped on his neck, and drank his blood, then his entire plan would be useless: he would not be able to get a stick, he would not be able to kill the tiger, and he would lose his life in the tiger’s claws.
This is exact what happened. A few days after the woodcutter entered the forest, the news came out that a small tiger broke the woodcutter’s neck and freely drank his blood. Immediately upon seeing the tiger, the woodcutter tried to break a very large branch off a tree, but just before he could fully break the branch off, the tiger struck and killed him.
A few days after this happened, a sadhu entered this forest in the midst of his natural travels. The sadhu had no external awareness: he was always engaged in Hari-kirtan and overcome with love for the Lord. A few curious gentlemen took up some weapons and without informing the sadhu followed him into the forest. Seeing that there was no sort of tendency towards violence (himsa) within the heart of the sadhu, the tigers, bears, and other ferocious animals did not harm the sadhu at all. Rather, when the sadhu would loudly perform Hari-kirtan with his vina, many of the ferocious animals would open their ears, listen, and then dance in ecstasy. By hearing the sadhu’s Hari-kirtan, the violent nature of even extremely angry and naturally ferocious animals went away. Seeing this, the weapon-bearing gentlemen following the sadhu were completely astonished and thought, “These ferocious animals behaved in one way towards the woodcutter, and he couldn’t check their attack even with his own weapon, but this sadhu is able to control these ferocious animals without any weapon. How is this possible?”
Here, the woodcutter is an illustration of astanga-yogis, the weapon-bearing gentlemen of materialists and enjoyers, and the sadhu who performed Hari-kirtan of devotees. Astanga-yogis think they will conquer the senses through yama, niyama, asan, pranayam, dhyan, dharana, and so on. Before they conquer the senses, however, before the woodcutter in the example can break a branch off a tree, if in a leap a tiger in the form of one’e enemies (lust, anger, greed, bewilderment, pride, and envy) snaps on their neck and starts to drink their blood, then they will certainly fall down as a result of their restless senses. Their conception is that they will attain the highest good after conquering the senses, but this is not the conception of the devotees. The conception of the materialists also that, “We will temporarily protect ourselves with the help of weapons” is not the conception of the devotees of the Lord. Devotees of the Lord are not followers of any artificial path. They do not indulge in the egotism and imagination that they will subdue their enemies and senses and reach success by their own efforts using artificial means. They do not engage in the mistaken attempt to first subdue their enemies and then attain the highest good for the soul. Just by engaging in devotion to the Lord, they subdue their enemies concomitantly and without difficulty. They do not have to make any separate endeavour for this. They do not try to destroy their enemies, rather, their enemies become assistants in their service by the influence of devotion to the Lord. The enemies then become the devotee’s friends as their direction is reversed. Lust then serves Sri Krishna, the supramundane Kamadev. Anger is then applied towards those who are inimical to Krishna, devotion to Krishna, and devotees of Krishna. Greed is directed towards hearing discussion of the Lord in the association of the sadhus. Bewilderment becomes the distress of not attaining the service of one’s beloved Lord. Pride is engaged in chanting the Lord’s glories. Envy, however, never finds a place amongst the sadhus who are completely non-envious. This is because the sadhus are kind to every living being, and they never become intolerant of seeing the exaltedness of others. Thus, only through love for the Lord do all anarthas easily cease and is one able to turn even enemies into friends and endeavour for the welfare of both oneself and others.
The divine Vaisnava poet Srila Narottam Thakur Mahasay has thus sung,
dehe vaise ripu-gana yateka indriya-gana
keha kara badhya nahi haya
sunile na suna kana janile na jane prana
dadhaite na pare nischaya
None of the enemies that reside in the body or any of the senses are subservient to anyone. The ears listen but they do not listen; the mind understands, but it does not understand. They are unable to grasp anything firmly.
kama krodha moha lobha mada matsarya dambha-saha
sthane sthane niyukta kariba
ananda kari’ hrdaya ripu’ kari’ parajaya
anayase govinda bhajiba
Engage lust, anger, bewilderment, greed, madness, envy, and pride in their respective places. With a happy heart, conquer these enemies and serve Govinda without difficulty.
‘kama’ krsna-karmarpane ‘krodha’ bhakta-dvesi-jane
‘lobha’ sadhu-sange hari-katha
‘moha’ ista-labha vine ‘mada’ krsna-guna-gane
niyukta kariba yatha tatha
Respectively, engage lust in offering your actions to Krishna, anger towards those who are inimical to devotees, greed in discussion of the Lord in the association of the sadhus, bewilderment in failing to attain one’s beloved Lord, and madness in chanting Krishna’s glories.
anyatha svatantra kama anarthadi yara dhama
bhakti-pathe sada deya bhanga
kiba va karite pare kama-krodha sadhakere
yadi haya sadhu-janara sanga
Otherwise, lust, which is independent and the basis of all vices, will always create disturbances on the path of devotion. What can lust and anger to do a practitioner, however, if they have the association of the sadhus?
krodhe va na kare kiba krodha-tyaga sada diba
lobha moha ei ta kathana
chhaya ripu sada hina kariba manera adhina
krsnachandra kariya smarana
What does anger not do? Always avoid anger. The same is said for greed and bewilderment. Control your mind and keep it free from the six enemies by remembering the moon Sri Krishna.
apani palabe saba suniya ‘govinda’-rava
simha-rave yena kari-gana
sakali vipatti yabe mahananda sukha pabe
yara haya ekanta bhajana
They themselves will flee upon hearing the name of Govinda like elephants from the roar of a lion. All obstacles will go away and the greatest joy will be felt by those who have exclusive devotion. ⬆︎
The enduring help the sadhus offer those who unknowingly perpetuate their own suffering.
There was a boy in a village named Amar. He was so disturbed by the severe pain caused by a boil on his back that he was ready to take his own life.
Seeing the boy in this condition, his mother, grandmothers, aunts, and other relatives tried to alleviate the boy’s pain by waving hand-fans over the boil, and sometimes would try to quickly relieve the pain by blowing over it.
A neighbour gave them some advice, “If you want to protect the boy from such pain, then using an anaesthetic to make him unconscious would work well.”
Another neighbour advised them, “Temporarily keeping the boy unconscious will not permanently cease his pain. Therefore, so that the body does not have to suffer excessively, quickly let there be an arrangement made to end his life. He is experiencing pain just by being alive, and if his life comes to an end, then he will not have to suffer through any more pain. Both the disease and the patient will get relief.”
The boy’s intelligent father did not listen to any of the advice of these so-called sympathisers and called for an expert physician. When the physician advised surgery, the boy’s mother, grandmothers, and other relatives all simultaneously began to cry. The uneducated boy began to rebuke the physician with foul language, “You have come here to kill me! Get out of my house right now or I will have you arrested by the police! Why don’t you put that knife into your own back first? Try putting that knife into the body of your own son! Better I drink poison and take my own life than die in your hands.”
Ignoring the boy’s outburst, the physician held him by force and performed the surgery on his back. Sometime later, all the boy’s pain ceased, and gradually within a few days he returned to good health.
Like a good doctor, according to the intensity of a soul’s anarthas, the Sad-guru and the sadhus cut away with their strong words and advice the knot of the soul’s wicked-mindedness. Their patients, however, do not want this at all; they consider their doctor an enemy, like an executioner, and whimsically use harsh speech towards the sadhu. They consider those who fear the immediate pain of their surgery and show sympathy for continuing to nourish their disease to be their relatives and friends. What’s more, some persons in the name of friends take them to the shelter of impersonalism and advise them to destroy their own souls.
In this example, the boy’s mother, grandmother, and other relatives, out of a desire for him to be peaceful, supported the side of preya and enjoyment. The persons who advocated temporarily making the boy unconscious or taking his life supported the side of impersonalism. In actuality, there is no eternal welfare for the soul in either of these. Only when the knot in the heart and all attachment to the temporary is cut away by the knife of the sadhu’s words does the soul realise their true nature, and it is only then that the soul can enter the Lord’s service. This indeed is the only way to attain the highest eternal peace. ⬆︎
The plight of those who insincerely practise devotion.
If you put your feet into two boats, you will fall into deep water. If someone stands with their feet in two different boats while the boats are moving together, they can fall into the water if a gap opens between the boats. If the boats move in two different directions, you will not go in either of them. Rather, you will in the end fall into great danger.
Many say, “Make a family and pray to the Lord. Work with your hands and chant the Lord’s Name with your mouth.” This conception is comparable to putting your feet in two different boats. “I will make a family, and I will pray to the Lord”—this is impossible. One can remain in a family and serve the Lord. But that must be Krishna’s family, not Maya’s family. If one stays in Maya’s family, one does not serve the Lord, and if one stays in Krishna’s family, one does not serve Maya. In Krishna’s family, all activities are for the glorification of Krishna’s Names and qualities—for the satisfaction of Krishna’s senses, not for the sake of one’s own enjoyment or renunciation. If one only externally dresses as a sannyasi, householder, or renunciant, one does not serve the Lord. When one does what pleases the Lord, that is, when one performs all of one’s actions with all one’s senses in all circumstances under the guidance of Sri Guru and the Vaisnavas for the sake of benefitting other souls, tasting the Name, and serving the Vaisnavas, then one fulfils one’s duty to Krishna’s family and serves the Lord. The endeavour of one who tries to perform some actions for Krishna’s enjoyment and some for one’s own enjoyment is no different than putting one’s feet in two boats.
Pure devotees always perform all their actions for the sake of the Lord’s service. They do not even pass urine and stool for their own enjoyment. They do so only because it is conducive to serving the Lord. The fundamental purpose of all their actions—eating, sleeping, walking, earning money, and so on—is the Lord’s service. But if someone insincerely says or thinks, “I am doing all these things to serve the Lord” in order to continue their own enjoyment, then they do not serve the Lord. Genuine Gurus and Vaisnavas spot all such insincerity. If one puts dust in others’ eyes (misleads them), indulges one’s own mind, and in this way puts one’s feet in two boats, one will eventually fall into distress, that is, one will fall in the river of Maya and lose one’s life. Therefore, endeavouring to cross over the turbulent ocean of material existence by boarding only the boat captained by Sri Guru and the sadhus is the sole engagement of the intelligent.
jagai bale yadi eka-nistha na ha-ibe
dui naye nadi-parera durdasa labhibe
(Sri Sri Prema-vivarta: 4.16)
“Jagai says, ‘If you do not become singleminded, the plight of crossing a river in two boats will befall you.’” ⬆︎
The folly of overstepping Sri Guru and the Vaisnavas.
In householders and farmers’ cowsheds in some regions of Bengal, oil cakes, straw, and other fodder are placed in a long, ditch-like earthen trough in a fixed, raised place. The place beside this trough in which cows and buffalos stand, eat hay from the trough, and lie down is somewhat upraised (from the ground) when it is constructed. It is slightly sloped away from the cows and buffalos (at the trough) so that their dung and urine cannot accumulate where they stand and lie down but rather can only run down and flow away. This place for cows and buffalos to stand and eat hay is called a goda in some regions.
As jumping over a goda to go and eat grass is extremely foolish and dangerous for cows and buffalos, so trying to attain the Lord while disregarding the service and grace of Sri Gurudev and the Vaisnavas is extremely foolish and impossible. Sri Guru and the Vaisnavas can teach us about the Lord. Who is the Lord? Who are we? What is our relationship with the Lord? What is our duty? Why is it necessary for us to serve the Lord? If Guru and the Vaisnavas do not mercifully teach us all of these things, then there is no way to know them. Those who go to serve the Lord but reject subservience (anugatya) to Guru and the Vaisnavas cannot understand the Lord properly: their ‘Lord’ and ‘religious practice’ are completely imaginary. Thus, they can never attain true service to the Lord. The Lord reveals Himself through Guru and the Vaisnavas exclusively. No one can overstep Guru and the Vaisnavas and go to the Lord. As when one goes to meet a king one takes permission from a representative or subordinate of the king and then meets the king through the assistance of that assistant to the king, so too when one goes to meet the Lord, one must accept the assistance of, and submission to, Guru and the Vaisnavas. Eternally being subservient to Guru and the Vaisnavas and serving the Lord is true bhakti. Not being subservient to them and making a show of serving the Lord is ‘abhakti’ [‘non-devotion’] or wickedness.
Even when one attains vision of the Lord, one must continue to be subservient to Guru and the Vaisnavas, and serve the Lord in their association exclusively. If one abandons submission to and the association of Guru and the Vaisnavas, then one’s devotion to the Lord does not last another day. The Lord does not grant one darsan or accept one’s service. Thus, being subservient to Guru and the Vaisnavas and serving the Lord is our sole duty.
Foolish and dangerous: it is foolish to jump over a goda to eat grass because there is typically food right in front of the goda in a trough and thus no necessity of obtaining food elsewhere. It is dangerous to jump over a goda because it is sloped and typically very slippery as a result of the practice of daily washing away accumulated manure.
Anugatya: to surrender oneself to Guru and the Vaisnavas and proceed at all times under their guidance. ⬆︎
The mistake of assuming others are the same as yourself.
When the sahibs [the English] first arrived, they were not completely familiar with the procedures for dealing with things of this land [India]. A magistrate of the ICS (Imperial Civil Service) of the time had a very long mustache and beard. During the month of Jyaistha, the sahib was given a ripe jackfruit. He asked an orderly and came to know that this was a very tasty sweet fruit and it is broken open and eaten. The sahib told the orderly to put this unknown fruit in his private chamber, and during his leisure time, without informing anyone of anything, he closed his door and started to eat the jackfruit. The sahib broke open the jackfruit, threw away the flesh, put the outer casing into his mouth, tasted some sweetness, and happily began to suck on the rinds. All the sticky gum from the rinds of the jackfruit gradually spread into his beard and made him look like who knows what. Afterwards, he couldn’t hide his having eaten the jackfruit any longer [he couldn’t remove the gum from his beard and mustache]. He called the orderly and began to fearsomely berate him as though the orderly for a lark had acted naughtily and impudently by endangering the sahib.
The innocent fellow became stricken with fear. After crying for some time, he said, “O Sahib, please first hear one thing from me. Then, if you decide I have made an offence, you may do as you wish.”
The sahib cooled down a little. The orderly started to speak again, “Sahib, the procedure for eating this fruit is different. What you are eating is the part that is supposed to be thrown away, and the egg-like things in the middle are what you are supposed to eat. I have not made any offence in this instance. Now you can kindly do whatever you wish with me.”
The sahib could now understand his own foolishness and gravely ordered, “Call a barber. But I am warning you! Do not tell anyone about this, and also warn the barber so that he does not tell anyone either. This incident should not reach the ears of anyone.”
The orderly said, “As you order” and brought a barber. The barber trimmed the sahib’s beard and mustache.
Seeing the sahib with a trimmed beard and mustache the next day on the bench, many people began to exchange glances. The sahib gave attention to the case and the witnesses testifying. Eventually, the turn to give testimony came to a Bengali bhattacharya pandit with a trimmed beard and mustache. Seeing that he was Bengali and had a trimmed beard and mustache, the sahib laughed and said, “Yes yes, I understand. You also ate some jackfruit. How was it?” Unable to understand the meaning of the magistrate sahib’s statement, the bhattacharya was stupefied and simply began to tremble with fear. The sahib ordered that the bhattacharya be brought to his private chamber at tiffin time. The bhattacharya did not give any further testimony.
After eating his tiffin, the sahib called for the bhattacharya and again asked him the same question. The bhattacharya cried in bewilderment. The sahib consoled him saying, “What fault is there in this? Why are you becoming afraid? Like you, I ate a jackfruit, and you too ate a jackfruit and then had to trim your bead and mustache. This jackfruit of your country is not very enjoyable; it is very troublesome. In my country, there is nothing that is so troublesome to eat. Don’t eat a jackfruit again without being very careful.”
Thinking that a person of this land had also eaten a jackfruit, fallen into trouble, and needed to trim their beard and mustache like the sahib, that is, thinking he’d found someone who had gone through the same experience he had, the sahib became very happy and gave the said bhattacharya a five rupee reward.
Unconcerned whether the bhattacharya would laugh or cry, the footman took him outside, met with four other persons, and as baksheesh relieved the bhattacharya of the heavy weight of these five rupees.
Srila Saraswati Thakur would say that if we are to see a sadhu, we can never look with our own glasses; we have to see the sadhu only through the sadhu’s message. We have to see the sadhu through our ears; we cannot see a sadhu with our eyes. As everything looks blue through blue tinted glasses and everything looks red through red tinted glasses, so those who seek women, wealth, and recognition see a sadhu through such glasses. There is an expression: “Kamukah pasyanti kaminimayam jagat: the lustful see that the entire world is full of women.” ⬆︎
By trying to deceive others, you only deceive yourself.
A merchant considered himself very clever and intelligent. Slyly breaking and eating a jackfruit on the head of another (making a cat’s paw of others) was his resolve.
Once, he obtained some coconuts from another merchant free of charge. To cut the coconuts, he then needed a sharp-edged chopper. At home, he had a very old and unusable chopper. He took this, went to the shop of a blacksmith, and asked the blacksmith to make him a nice chopper. The blacksmith said, “If you acquire and provide me with high quality steel, then I can make you a good chopper.”
Then the merchant lied to the blacksmith, “I trade steel, and I have very good steel. I will give you some extra steel, and with you can make me a chopper free of charge. You can take the extra steel that remains after making the chopper as your labour fee. You will not find the steel I will send you anywhere in the land of Bharat; it extremely expensive.”
After speaking this artful words, the merchant sent a sheet of low quality iron through his son to the blacksmith saying that it was high quality steel. Immediately upon seeing the iron, the blacksmith understood that it is not steel but rather very low quality iron. The blacksmith fashioned a chopper with this iron and gave it to the merchant. Seeing that it was completely unusable, the merchant angrily came to the blacksmith and berated him. The blacksmith then replied, “If you give a blacksmith trick steel, this is the type of chopper that gets made.”
Those who try to trick Sri Guru and the Vaisnavas or who want use tricks or falsify things in matters of service even after making a show of coming to engage in service to the Lord like the clever merchant attain only counterfeit things when the time comes for things to bear fruit. If you employ deceit in service to the Lord, you yourself are deceived, that is, you remain immersed in māyā and attain no good fortune.
Some persons who have desires other than the Lord’s service think that those who have offered everything for the service of the Lord have been cheated and those who have kept up an act of both enjoyment and devotion have become successful. This is an example of the approach of giving trick steal to a blacksmith. No one can cheat the Lord. The Lord’s domain cannot be conquered by any artifice. Only those who sincerely surrender to the Lord can attain good fortune.
Offer everything means offering your mind, words, intelligence, self, wealth, life, and body for the Lord’s service; full surrender. ⬆︎
The necessity of exercising our best judgement in the search for truth, and the consequences of neglecting it.
An ewe behind whom a flock of sheep follow is called a bellwether. Blind following (gaddalika-pravaha: lit. ‘the course of a bellwether’) refers to following along behind a bellwether, that is, not assessing things at all and following prevailing views in imitation of everyone else.
If an ewe at the front of a flock of sheep falls into a river or ditch, then all the other sheep in the flock, even when they have the chance to avoid it, fall therein.
The modern so-called “theory of harmony” (samanvayavad) has been accepted with exactly this type of blind following. Even when hundreds and hundreds of reasons and scriptural evidences are show in opposition to it, still no one listens. Everyone has accepted one platitude: “Yata mata tata patha! (As many views, so many paths.)” Even atheists and devotees attain the same perfection! Some time ago in one of his lectures, a famous person said, “Buddha may or may not have believed in God. That does not matter to me. He reached the same state of perfection to which others come by bhakti—love of God, yoga, or jnan. Perfection does not come from belief or faith.”
All such expressions excite people’s generic understanding or their mentality of aversion [to the Lord] so much so that even when they hear scripture or reasoning in opposition to them, they cast themselves into the course of the bellwether and approve of it. If a speaker says that the Buddha did have faith in the Supreme Lord or that he is an Avatar of the Lord and therefore his perfection is self-manifest, then their statement would not be unreasonable or contrary to scripture. But that someone who is an atheist can attain the same perfection as a theist or lover of God—such a statement is a view or path much like atheism. Those who are taking up this so-called “theory of harmony” (samnvayavad) are following it blindly like a flock of sheep. When a group or the people in general fall into one person’s delusion and in imitation of many other people support a view without any discrimination, then even such mistaken views become greatly revered in the world as truthful and greatly liberal views. Overcoming blind following is not easy for people in general. The devotees of the Lord come to the world from time to time and remove such general misconception.
Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupad would give instructions regarding blind following by citing a Pastime of Sri Chaitanyadev. When Sri Chaitanyadev was residing in Sri Vrndavan, one day many people started a rumour that Sri Krishna had appeared on the Kaliya Lake in Sri Vrndavan. Many people gathered, came to Sri Chaitanyadev, and said, “On the Kaliya Lake, jewels are shining on the head of the Kaliya serpent, and Sri Krishna is dancing on top of him. We have perceived this directly. There is no doubt about it.” In this way for three days, blind followers came before Sriman Mahaprabhu and bore witness. Having heard all this, Sriman Mahaprabhu’s simple-minded servant Balabhadra Bhattacharya felt an intense desire to go to the Kaliya Lake and see Sri Krishna. Sriman Mahaprabhu then slapped him and said, “Why are you becoming deluded by the words of these blind followers? Do not fall into delusion because of the words of these blind followers and accept untruth as truth.”
The next day in the morning when a cultured gentlemen came before the Lord, Sriman Mahaprabhu enquired and could come to know the actual incident was that at night fishermen were boarding boats, lighting torches, and catching fish in the Kaliya Lake. Seeing this from afar, foolish persons had mistaken the boat for the Kaliya serpent, the torches for its jewels, and the fishermen for Krishna. Moreover, they had accepted this misperception as truth.
In the world of dharma, many such incidents are propagated as dharma and truth because of blind following. There is no counting how many contrived avatars, great personages, and theories have been propagated that have misled the people and are still now misleading the people because of blind following. Sincere seekers of the truth need to be very careful about this. ⬆︎
A grocer had two sons named Lalu and Kalu. Wanting that his sons would somehow be able to record the final tallies of scale measurements, the grocer placed them in the hands of a tutor. The two boys were so unruly, however, that numerous successive tutors who came could not give them even this basic education. Finally, the grocer announced that he would give half the profits of his business to anyone could teach his sons numbers up to 100.
The grocer’s two naughty sons developed at a young age the habit of smoking tobacco in secret. Allured by the advertisement of the grocer, a poor, elderly brahman took up the task of being Lalu and Kalu’s tutor, and their father made a strict arrangement so that Lalu and Kalu would always remain with the tutor.
One day, Lalu and Kalu went out for a walk with the tutor, and when they saw a cow along the path, the tutor asked Lalu, “Tell me, how many legs does this cow have?” Lalu then began to count the cow’s legs, “One, two, three …” Just then, Kalu covered his elder brother’s mouth with his hand and said, “O brother! Don’t count! Don’t count! He will cleverly teach you to count to 100!” Lalu came to understand the trick of the tutor through this statement and fell silent.
Another day, Lalu and Kalu were resting in a room with the tutor. At first, they both pretended to be sleeping and began to snore so that the tutor would think they had fallen asleep. Thinking Lalu and Kalu to be asleep, the tutor himself also went to sleep. After a little while, Lalu and Kalu began peeking and watching the tutor. When they understood that he was asleep, they arose, went outside, smoked tobacco as they pleased, and then resumed their pretence of sleep. After a while when the tutor arose, he smelled tobacco strongly within the room. The tutor roused Lalu and Kalu, asked them about the cause of the strong odor, and smelled their hands. On both of their hands, he found the strong odor of tobacco. Lalu and Kalu, rubbing their eyes, said, “O Master, we don’t know anything about this.”
The tutor admonished the two boys and said, “Why do your hands smell like tobacco?”
Lalu and Kalu began to speak with crying voices, “O Master, we fell asleep before you, and just now we woke up. When could we have been smoking? Therefore, we think that when we fell asleep, some mischievous person must have gone and smoked tobacco with our hands unbeknownst to us just to get us in trouble!”
The ideal of those who are not at all willing to accept what is for their own good is clearly revealed in the behaviour of Lalu and Kalu. That even unbeknowst to us the sadhus and Sri Guru may manage to bring about our own good, that they may make us forgetful and by trick, force, or skill teach us to count to 100—in fear of this, we are not prepared to listen to the words and instructions of the sadhus or follow their conclusions and conduct. Like Lalu and Kalu, we are not at all willing to accept what is for our own good—and with such determination even as we put on the act of remaining for a long time in the association of the sadhus, we deceitfully smoke tobacco, that is, we covet the intoxicating effects of wealth, women, and prestige. Even by making hundreds of endeavours, the sadhus are unable to lead us on the path to the highest truth (vastava-satya) because we do not at all cast away our independent mentality (svatantra-buddhi) and deceitfulness. Even when Gurudev points out directly our deceitfulness and attachment (abhinivesa) to mundane affairs, we say, “We have no inclination towards these things. We are faultless. The Guru and the Vaisnavas are at fault. It is they, to prove that we are at fault, who have been smoking tobacco with out hands!” The nature of deceitful and wicked persons is that to conceal their own faults they attribute faults to others. They try to place their desires for wealth, women, and prestige on the shoulders of the Guru and the Vaisnavas! The greedy (lobhi-sampradaya) of this world think the Vaisnavas are greedy, the lustful (kamuka-sampradaya) think the Vaisnavas are lusty, and the seekers of worldly prestige (jada-pratistha-kami-sampradaya) think the Guru and the Vaisnavas are seekers of prestige.
jada-pratistha-kami: those who desire worldly honour. ⬆︎
The zamindar of Hariśpur had a revenue collector named Kāma Dās. A friend once asked Kāma Dās, “O Kāma Dās, why does your master love you?”
Kāma Dās replied, “O brother, would he love me for no reason? There is a trick to attaining love. Don’t you see how he loves me? I am wearing a fine dhoti, fancy slippers on my feet, and an embroidered punjabi on my upper body. I eat in the master’s own compound, and my bothers and sisters bodies are adorned with ornaments. A chauffeur takes my sons and daughters to school. The master sends a car when he calls for me. Even after seeing all this you are asking me how does the master love me? This is a surprise indeed!”
The friend again asked, “Okay brother, I can see that he loves you very much. But why does the master look upon you so favourably? Why haven’t other revenue collectors also achieved such favour?”
In reply, Kāma Dās said, “O brother, I was talking exactly about this. There is trick. I do not call the master anything other than ‘Royal Sire’ (Rāja Sāheb), and I show such a mood as though I think he himself is the sole proprietor of the earth and all places therein are in his jurisdiction. I look at him just like God. Indeed because of this, I have become his most beloved revenue collector. To speak the truth, it is for this reason that people call me the master’s favourite (‘Prabhu-preṣṭha’). Can everybody be like that? Well brother, the answer is no. Does everybody know this trick?”
At this time, another of the zamindar’s revenue collectors by the name of Mukti Charaṇ was passing by this place at such a fast gate that it was as though the zamindar had given him the responsibility of setting all the dust on the road into flight. Kama Das called out to him, “O Brother Mukti, what’s the news? Seeing your anxiety, I feel very sad. You do not at all wish to remain happy and at ease rather than only constantly wonder about. I am the master’s servant, you too are his servant, and we both see how happy I am and how happy I will always remain.”
Mukti Charaṇ, sighing, said, “Brother, I cannot consider your happiness to be actual happiness. Today you are flattering the master in various ways, but if you are even a little off this way or that way tomorrow, he will get angry, and then where will your happiness remain, brother? Happiness that ends in sorrow is just another form of sorrow, is it not? As long as I myself cannot become a master, I cannot find any peace. When I can sit in the seat of the master, then I will be satisfied, and not beforehand. I do not consent to forget this because of the gaudiness of such good-for-nothing happiness like you. As much as I become intoxicated by such happiness, so much so thorns cover the path to me becoming the master! Therefore, brother, I do not pay heed to that sort of happiness at all.”
A person named Haridas overheard all of this as he moved along the path and said to another traveller, “Ah! How terrible! To external vision this person has given up enjoyment like a sadhu, but their interior is completely full of poison: although they are a servant, they want to possess the seat of the master! One should never associate with such ungrateful persons. A master is to be served by us. Knowing only this, we engage in the master’s service, and not for any other reason! Flattering the master because he will ensure our happiness and ease is never actual devotion to the master (prabhu-bhakti). And the attempt to give up conventional happiness and become the master ourself—this is even more terrible! Brother, I do not desire to become the master himself to attain liberation from conventional enjoyment and the sorrow found in the midst of such enjoyment. I am an eternal servant of my master; this is my identity. Therefore, let me love simply to serve the people, kinsmen, and family members in the home of my master and in exchange for that let me not desire even one farthing. That is, my master and his dear ones are most gracious and magnanimous; if they kindly accept some minimal unqualified service from this lowly and poor soul and never deprive me of their service, then I will be fulfilled—my life will be successful!
“These two people desire happiness indeed, but they have not attained pure happiness—even the slightest love for their master—because they both favour the policy of ‘peeling with their own teeth (āmāra dāḍe chholā)’.”
As Haridās said this and remembered both the master’s magnanimity and his own humble position, a tear drop feel on his chest broadened with reverence.
Readers! The first servant mentioned above is not in fact an actual servant. This person is a businessman. Whatever they do, they want something in exchange for it. These sort of people are seekers of the enjoyment of the fruits of their actions and followers of the karma-kāṇḍa section of the Vedas. In reality, they never serve the Lord or bring about any actual benefit for the world. From outside it may be seen that they are engaged in honourable works or even the Lord’s service, and seeing their external diligence, foolish people may also consider them devotees. They are, however, adherents of the policy of “throw down the money and smear the oil (phela kaḍi, mākha tela)”.
Even if the second revenue collector is not externally an enjoyer or dandy, still he is so ungrateful and treacherous that he wants to sit on the seat of the master. He may demonstrate the height of renunciation, but in his interior is the deadly poison of the mentality, “I will become the master.” Persons who drink up to their necks this deadly poison completely loose their memory, destroy their intelligence, and lastly destroy their very selves. Such persons are part of the party of the māyāvādīs or nirviśeṣavādīs. Regardless of how much renunciation they display, at first they imagine five deities, then they endeavour to make a show of devotion and elaborate worship of them, and lastly they dispose of these five deities (Sūrya, Gaṇeśa, Śakti, Rudra, and an imagined Viṣṇu), that is, they ‘break’ the deities, throw them away, and desire to establish the idea of they themselves being Brahman. Neither can they enjoy the world, nor can they become Brahman! Neither of these two types of souls are actual pure servants of the Lord, that is, they are both non-devotees.
The devotees of the Lord, like the last mentioned Haridās, surrender at the lotus feet of their eternal worshippable master the Lord Śrī Hari and His associates and float in the stream of the happiness of the constant, faultless joy of service. It is by the satisfaction of the senses which the eternal Lord attains by accepting the service of the eternal servant that the happiness of the servant arises; this is the joy of service. The service of the conscious world is not a matter like the slave system on this earth of selfishness, suffering, scarcity, and grievances; the scarcity and incompleteness of the material world is not present in the conscious world.
nirviśeṣavādī: those who do not accept the eternal existence of the Lord’s enjoyment and Pastimes; those who imagine that they all ultimately become non-distinguished and merge into one. ⬆︎
(Daridra and Sarvajña)
A poor householder brāhmaṇ had to take care of many young children. Poverty stricken, the brāhmaṇ would constantly lament and cry. Let alone helping the brāhmaṇ, the people of his locality would mock him. “This brāhmaṇ has immense wealth. By showing that he is poor externally, this miserly brāhmaṇ is trying to procure wealth from others.” Slandering him like this in many ways, neighbours would harass the brāhmaṇ in various ways and not sympathise with him in the least. On the one hand, he was suffering greatly from poverty, and on the other, seeing the absence of any support from anyone, the brāhmaṇ was heartbroken.
One day, an all-knowing sage (who could speak about everything) named Sarvajña, as he was travelling about, arrived at the home of this poor brāhmaṇ. Sarvajña, seeing the brāhmaṇ sadly lamenting, said, “O brāhmaṇ, why are you grieving so much? Your father’s immense wealth is here. Do you not know that? Perhaps thinking you would misuse it, your father did not tell you. You should search for that treasure and soon you will see that your father’s vast hidden fortune has been buried right here in the courtyard of your home.”
Saying this, Sarvajña pointed out to the brāhmaṇ the spot where the treasure was. Hearing this news of his father’s treasure, the brāhmaṇ quickly took up a spade and began to dig on the southern side. Sarvajña then said, “O brāhmaṇ! Beware, beware! Don’t dig on the southern side. Many hornets will come out. You won’t get the treasure, and you will have to suffer from the hornets’ bites.”
Listening to Sarvajña’s words, the brāhmaṇ started to dig on exactly the opposite side. Again, Sarvajña cautiously said to the brāhmaṇ, “O brāhmaṇ, be more careful! There is a danger here that is even greater than the hornets’ bites. On this northern side lives a black python, and if it gets you, it will devour you whole, and you will not get the treasure.”
The brāhmaṇ then went to the western side and began to dig. Again, Sarvajña began to speak to the brāhmaṇ, “O brāhmaṇ, be even more careful! A ghost lives here and keeps watch over the treasure. If you pray to him for the treasure, you will not attain anything other than being killed. This ghost is a fearsome entity; he will allure you with the treasure, give you the hope of attaining it, and then lastly he will take your life.”
This time the poor brāhmaṇ, completely exhausted and overcome with distress, sorrow, and hopelessness, began to speak to Sarvajña, “Alas! You too have come here only to mock me! Weakened by hunger and thirst, constantly stricken with anxiety, and tormented by the harassment of my neighbours, I am somehow or other continuing my life. They too, however, allure me with treasure and lastly make hopeless! Must I finally loose my life in the hands of these ignorant, conniving persons?”
Sarvajña said, “O brāhmaṇ, please don’t get upset. Listen to my words and have faith in them. You by your own will are following paths leading to danger; I have simply warned you about them. I am not mocking you or hurting you. I am explaining to you how you can protect your life, attain your father’s treasure, and become wealthy. Wherever there is a great thing, there are many obstacles surrounding it as well. You would not be able to enjoy your father’s treasure because there is large hive of hornets on the southern side, and on the northern and western sides there are a black python and a ghost standing guard. Your father was intelligent. So, he buried his golden urn on the east side. You don’t have to labour any more. If you just dig a little bit over there, the urn of treasure will fall into your hands.”
Again having faith Sarvajñā’s words, the brāhmaṇ began to dig up the earth on the eastern side. After just a little digging, he found the golden urn filled with gold coins. Attaining the treasure, the brāhmaṇ’s joy was unlimited. All his sorrow disappeared, and he lived happily with joy in his heart.
Through this illustration, Śrī Chaitanyadev taught all souls that Kṛṣṇa is the soul’s only Lord and guardian, devotion to Him is the soul’s only dharma, and experiencing the joy of His service is the soul’s highest attainment. Not understanding all of this, souls suffer like the pauper. The all-merciful Lord, however, in the form of the scripture, the Guru, and the Supersoul, teaches all souls about their eternal wealth. Sorrowful because of the sorrow of others, Gurudev, the best of the devotees, travels about and comes to the doors of souls troubled by the sorrow of saṁsāra. When he sees that souls are unaware of the highest wealth, prema, and are floundering in the waves of happiness and sorrow in the ocean of saṁsāra, then he says to them, “O soul! Unaware of your father’s treasure—unaware of the highest wealth in the form of the joy of service to your supreme father, the Supreme Lord—you are thinking yourself to be so poor. When you are the son of Lakṣmī’s Lord, how can you be poor? I will tell you about your wealth. But look, along with that, I am going to warn you: don’t search for the treasure in the south, north, or west. There are fearsome dangers on all these sides. You will not get the treasure there. What’s more, you will be killed.”
The western side is the side of karma-kāṇḍa. People who are punished by Yama accept the western path and are ready to offer up the results of their actions. Here, the hornets of the desire to enjoy reside. In this world, the hope of enjoyment is never fulfilled: you are simply forced to toss and turn in the pain of the desire for enjoyment.
Thinking that such a danger is on the southern side, do not dig on the exact opposite side to the north. Do not give up the desire to enjoy and desire it’s opposite, renunciation, either; don’t reject the karma-kāṇḍa and follow the jñāna-kāṇḍa. Those who take up the jñāna-kāṇḍa imagine, “I am brahman” and destroy their very selves. In the jñāna-kāṇḍa, the soul’s existence does not remain; the black python of nirvāṇa or dissolution into brahman (brahmalaya) devours the soul.
Do not turn from the north and go to search for the treasure on the western side either. This is yoga-mārga. Yoga allures travellers along the path with various types of magnificence and power and makes them greedy. Lastly, however, it devours their souls. On the path of jñān, the soul has no existence; the path of yoga accepts the existence of the soul and allures the soul in various ways but finally dissolves the soul into the Supersoul. Therefore, it is even more fearsome.
The eastern side is the path of devotion (bhakti). If you accept the prior, ancient, eternal, and everlasting wealth of the path of devotion to Kṛṣṇa, then prema, the highest wealth, can easily be attained. When you attain the the highest wealth, prema, sorrow itself flees away. The removal of poverty, that is, the removal of the troubles of saṁsāra, is not the fruit of prema. As when we attain wealth, sorrow immediately flees, so too when we attain the fruit of prema, then immediately any concern for the scarcities and inconveniences of saṁsāra no longer remains. Then, “How can we serve Kṛṣṇa?”—only such eagerness for the joy of service is felt. Kṛṣṇa, devotion to Kṛṣṇa, and prema for Kṛṣṇa—if a soul takes shelter at the lotus feet of one who knows the sacred tradition (āmnāyavit) and nature of these three great treasures, takes up the path of pure devotion, and searches for these great treasures, they can become happy in all respects.
āmnāyavit: one who has understood the scriptures and principles received through the disciplic succession (Guru-paramparā). ⬆︎
(Brahmā evaṁ Indra o Virochana)
Once, Brahmā proclaimed, “The ātma is an entity beyond sin, piety, old age, lamentation, hunger, thirst, intention, and indecision. Those who search for the ātma according to the guidance of the scriptures and an Āchārya can perceive the ātma and become endowed with all glory. Innumerable universes with all their opulence will then run after them to serve them.”
Both the devatās and the asuras heard this statement of Brahmā over the course of generations. They eventually began to converse amongst themselves, “What is the loss if we search for this ātma that Brahmā has spoken of, this ātma by perceiving which all opulence will wait to serve us?” Thinking in this way, Indra from amongst the devatās and Virochana from amongst the asuras travelled to meet Brahmā.
Not being friends with one another, they each began to despise the other for seeking knowledge from Brahmā. Ultimately, they both came before Brahmā firewood in hand and resided at the home of their Guru Brahmā observing the vow of brahmacharya for thirty-two years.
One day thereafter, Brahmā asked them, “Why are you two living here?”
They replied, “You once said that all opulence comes under the control of those who can perceive the ātma in the lotus of the heart. Having heard this great statement of yours, we have come here to search for the immortal ātma.”
Brahmā said to them, “After giving up all material desires, the person whom the great yogīs see within their eyes is the ātma, Parabrahma, the source of freedom from lamentation, fear, and death.”
Neither Indra nor Virochana could grasp the actual meaning of Brahmā’s teaching, and they asked, “O Master, what amidst the reflection of ourselves which we see in water or in a mirror is the ātma?”
Brahmā, as per to his own intention, said, “The ātma is seen within all things. As you look at your own ātma within this cup full of water, ask me what you don’t understand about it.”
Both Indra and Virochana looked attentively at the cup full of water, but seeing that neither of them were asking anything, Brahmā said to them, “What do you see?”
They said, “Master, we see the ātma and we see its reflection, from its hair to its toenails.”
Brahmā then said to them, “Cut off your hair and nails, adorn yourselves in fine garments and ornaments, and again look at yourselves in the cup full of water.”
They did so, and Brahmā then asked them, “What do you see?”
They replied, “We see our reflections just as we have cut our hair and nails and become adorned with beautiful cloth and ornaments.”
Brahmā could understand, “Still now they are unable to realise the actual nature of the ātma.”
Thinking that in time they would be able to understand his instructions, Brahmā told them, “He is the ātma. He is immortal and fearless brahma.”
Indra and Virochana then departed for their homes, but seeing both Indra and Virochana departing, Brahmā considered, “They are both leaving without having understood the ātma, and anyone, whether they are a devatā or an asura, who receives any explanation from them about the nature of the ātma will be led off the proper path.”
Virochana the king of the asuras returned to the asuras with a peaceful heart, and he taught the asuras about the ātma, “This body is the ātma. In this world, the body is the object of worship. We have to render service to the body. It is only through service to the body that this world and the next are attained.”
Since this teaching of Virochana and still to this day in this world, thos misconception that the conclusion of the scriptures is that the body is the ātma is prevalent. Because they have been initiated into this misconception, people of the asura temperament think, “If the corpse of a deceased person is adorned with fragrances, garlands, fine cloth, and ornaments, then thereby they will become happy in the next world.”
On his way back to Svarga, Indra began to think about Brahmā’s words again and again. He considered, “There must be some deeper meaning within the teaching Brahmā has given. Certainly Brahmā has given his instructions to teach us that the reflection [the body] is not the actual eternal entity [the ātma]. Therefore, to discover that eternal entity, I should completely surrender myself and again hear his teaching.”
Thinking in this way, Indra came back to Brahmā with firewood in hand. Seeing Indra, Brahmā said, “O Indra, you left happily with Virochana. Why have you come back?”
Indra replied, “Master, here is the conclusion that has come in my heart: as the reflection of this body fell in water after I had cut its hair and nails and adorned it with fine cloth and ornaments, so its reflection will show accordingly if this body becomes blind, this body has its hands, feet, or other parts cut away, or some liquid discharge flows from its eyes and nose at the strike of a severe disease; if this body is destroyed, then its reflection too will be destroyed. Therefore, I have not attained anything by knowing this reflection or shadow [to the ātma]; this can never be the ātma.”
Brahmā said, “O Indra, what you have said is correct. I will again tell you the teaching I gave you previously about the ātma. You could not understand its meaning then. Therefore, you should live in the home of your Guru again for thirty-two years and then listen.”
When Indra had observed this vow, then Brahmā taught Indra, “He who wanders about fully adored in dreams is the ātma. He is the immortal ātma, the brahma which removes all fear.”
Receiving this instruction from Brahmā, Indra happily departed, but before he reached the devatās, he began to consider within his mind, “If someone while awake is blind but while asleep becomes capable of sight and sees, then is such a sight of a reflection [the body] real? [No.] Therefore, what do I gain by knowing that the ātma is the person [I appear as] in dreams?”
Thinking in this way, Indra returned to Brahmā with firewood in hand and conveyed his thoughts to him. Brahmā told Indra to reside with him for another thirty-two years and then listen. Brahmā then said, “The ātma who is manifest during the time of sound sleep is the immortal ātma, the brahma which removes all fear.”
Satisfied with this statement from Brahmā, Indra departed for Svarga, but as he thought over this point, a doubt arose in his mind. He again came with firewood in hand to Brahmā, and he conveyed his doubt to his Gurudev, “If he who is illuminated by his own greatness during sound sleep is the ātma, then why does the sense of ‘I’ which remains continuously within us while awake and in dreams become blocked during sound sleep? As you have said, the ātma is ever-lasting.”
Brahmā told Indra to live with him for another five years and then listen. He then instructed Indra, “The ātma is actually the bearer of the body (śarīrī). The body made of the five gross elements and the dream body, which is called the subtle body, are coverings over the ātma.”
evam evaiṣa samprasādo ’smāch chharīrāt samutthāya paraṁ jyotir upasampadya svena rūpeṇābhiniṣpadyate. sa uttamaḥ puruṣaḥ. sa tatra paryeti jakṣan krīḍan ramamāṇaḥ.
“After attaining liberation, this living being fully arises from the gross and subtle bodies and becomes established in his own supramundane spiritual form composed of spiritual light. He is the highest person, and in that spiritual domain he enjoys, plays, and becomes immersed in bliss.”
Indra fully surrendered his Guru and resided in his Guru’s house, and as he listened to the instructions of his Gurudev, he was able to realise this truth and became fulfilled.
In this story from the Upaniṣads it is proven that even after coming to a Sad-guru—even to the renowned original Guru of the world Brahmā—if other desires remain in the heart, then two disciples will understand the meaning of the Sad-guru’s instructions in two different ways.
The King of the asuras Virochana was unable to understand the real substance of Brahmā’s statements, and then using the name of his Guru, he propounded a teaching completely opposed to his Gurudev’s as the teaching of his Guru and the scriptures. Many asuras became adherents of his teaching and still now are becoming so.
Indra the King of the devatās did not become impatient, and through surrender, enquiry, and service he strove to realise the truth of the ātma. Until he had listened fully, he did not conclude, “I have understood all the statements of my Gurudev” and become desirous of ruling over the society of asuras.
A devout disciple surrendered at the lotus feet of Guru can realise the nature of the ātma. Even after making a show of coming to a Sad-guru with the firewood of surrender, enquiry, and service, if other desires remain in the heart, then one may become the proponent of a teaching opposing Gurudev.
Mango trees and neem trees can live on the same bank of the Ganges river, and they can drink the same water of the Ganges, but mango trees produce sweet fruits and neem trees produce bitter fruits. Herein, there is no fault of the Ganges’ water or miserliness in the Ganges’ distribution. Rather, the different fruits are produced according to the [different] capacity of the recipients. Similarly, even after coming to the same Sad-guru, someone can come to know Kṛṣṇa in truth, and someone else can become a proponent of a teaching opposing their Gurudev and attempt the destroy the principles of pure bhakti.
Both Śrīla Īśvara Purī and Rāmachandra Purī came to Śrīla Mādhavendra Purī Goswāmī, who was the root of the desire-tree of divine love. They were both initiated into the sannyās mantra by him, but although they both made of a show of accepting mercy from a Sad-guru, Rāmachandra Purī was deprived, that is, he became an empiric impersonalist, and Śrīla Īśvara Purī truly received mercy, that is, he became a fully surrendered soul.
sei haite īśvara-purī—prema-sāgara
rāmachandra-purī haila sarva-nindākara
mahad-anugraha-nigrahera sākṣī dui jane
ei dui dvāre śikhāilā jaga-jane
(Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta: Antya-līlā, 8.29–30)
[“Thereafter, Īśvara Purī became an ocean of prema, and Rāmachandra Purī became a criticiser of everything. The two of them are witnesses of the favour and disfavour of a great personage, and through the two of them, Śrīla Mādhavendra Purī taught the world.”] ⬆︎