Srila Narayana Maharaja has given many Hindi lectures on Raya Ramananda Samvad, the divine conversation between Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Sri Ramananda Raya that contains all truths of Krsna consciousness, from A to Z. Some of Srila Maharaja’s disciples compiled those lectures and sent him the manuscript, and for the past month he has been editing and proofreading it. He used that manuscript as the basis for his recent Murwillumbah lecture series.
Similar lectures were given in English: such as in Puri, August 2005, Holland and U.S. in 2002, and Hawaii in 2000.
The following is a transcription of the first class in Murwillumbah:]
I want to remind you about the meaning of bhakti, so that you can judge by your heart whether or not you are following its principles in a heartfelt way. The definition of bhakti has been given in Srimad-bhagavatam and other scriptures. Moreover, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s eternal associate, Srila Rupa Gosvami, has given a definition that contains all the previous ones:
jnana karmadi anavritam
["The cultivation of activities that are meant exclusively for the pleasure of Sri Krsna, or in other words the uninterrupted flow of service to Sri Krsna, performed through all endeavors of the body, mind and speech, and through the _expression of various spiritual sentiments (bhavas), which is not covered by jnana (knowledge aimed at impersonal liberation) and karma (reward-seeking activity), and which is devoid of all desires other than the aspiration to bring happiness to Sri Krsna, is called uttama-bhakti, pure devotional service."I have explained this so many times, and still I am reminding you. Now you can thus judge yourself, whether or not you are following the path of bhakti. Dhruva Maharaja performed bhakti. He meditated on Lord Narayana, the prabhava-prakasa (four-armed) manifestation of Krsna and he even saw the Lord face to face, but his bhakti was not pure. He had some worldly desires – some attachment to his mother. Prahlada Maharaja’s bhakti is pure, Bhisma-pitamaha is also engaged in pure bhakti, and the four Kumaras in their first stage were likewise engaged. However, their activities were not uttama-bhakti on the platform of spontaneous love. Prahlada Maharaja is an uttama-bhagavata – for vaidhi-bhakti – and we must follow him in order to be established in that. To attain raganuga-bhakti however, although we highly regard Prahlada Maharaja, Bhisma-pitamaha, the Four Kumaras, and even Sukadeva Gosvami in his first carrier, we should go forward and follow pure devotees in the line of raganuga-bhakti. Then we will achieve the highest and most pure type of uttama-bhakti; otherwise it is not possible.
(Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.1.11)] [*See Endnote 1]
Anukulyena krsnanusilanam. What is the meaning of anugatya?
[Devotee:] Anugatya means to be completely under the guidance of the spiritual master.
[Srila Narayana Maharaja:] Does any disciple have the right to correct his guru’s explanations, words, writings or anything about him? No. If you don't understand something, you can ask him in this way: "If I am qualified to understand, kindly explain this." If any disciple thinks, “I am superior and I know better than my Gurudeva,” he is actually not a disciple, but rather a demon. Before accepting a Guru one can consider whether or not he is qualified, but after accepting initiation, one should obey. One has no right to change any of his Guru's words. If he changes them, where is anugatya, the taking of guidance?
Srila Vyasadeva was a saktyavesa-avatara (an empowered incarnation) of Lord Narayana. His Guru was Sri Narada Rsi, and he totally followed him. He told his Gurudeva, “I am sad, but I don't know why. Oh Gurudeva, you know why.” Narada Rsi had not written many scriptures, whereas Vyasadeva had divided the four Vedas and he had written Brahma-sutra, Mahabharata, etc. He had written so much more than Narada, and yet he accepted everything his Gurudeva said as true. Narada had only written Narada-pancaratra; still, Vyasadeva did not change his words at all. He knew he had no authority to change them.
We should try to follow Gurudeva in this light. If any doubt comes, you can go directly to him. Begging very politely, you can reveal your mind to him, and he will remove your doubts. Always be careful; otherwise you will commit nama-aparadha or gurur-avajna. [the third offense in chanting the holy name is to consider the spiritual master an ordinary man and to disobey his instructions. This is gurur-avajna.]
We are sometimes misguided, but our Vedic literatures clearly explain all spiritual principles in this verse:
anyabhilasita sunyamThis should also be applied to guru. The third line says krsnanusilanam, or continually following under the guidance of Lord Sri Krsna and His manifestations. Gurudeva is also Krsna's manifestation. We should try to understand all meanings of this definition of bhakti and follow its path.
jnana karmadi anavritam
I have come only to remind you all; don’t be weak. Try to follow all the principles of bhakti – begin from beginning:
adau sraddha tatah sadhu-
sango 'tha bhajana-kriya
tato 'nartha-nivrttih syat
tato nistha rucis tatah
athasaktis tato bhavas
sadhakanam ayam premnah
pradurbhave bhavet kramah
["In the beginning one must have a preliminary desire for self-realization. This will bring one to the stage of trying to associate with persons who are spiritually elevated. In the next stage one becomes initiated by an elevated spiritual master, and under his instruction the neophyte devotee begins the process of devotional service. By execution of devotional service under the guidance of the spiritual master, one becomes free from all material attachment, attains steadiness in self-realization, and acquires a taste for hearing about the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna. This taste leads one further forward to attachment for Krsna consciousness, which is matured in bhava, or the preliminary stage of transcendental love of God. Real love for God is called prema, the highest perfectional stage of life."In Malaysia I wondered, “What subject should I discuss in Australia? I decided to explain the same subject I lectured on in Jagannatha Puri – Raya Ramananda Samvad. There is nothing beyond Raya Ramananda Samvad. It takes us from the very beginning of human pursuit to what you cannot even think about. All this is contained in Raya Ramananda Samvad. It takes you from varnasrama-dharma up to Sri Radha's mood and the manjari's mood. Everything is discussed there. The goal is given there, and also how to engage in the process to attain that goal. I thought that, in brief, we should discuss this for the next four nights.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to South India, and He served so many purposes by going. Outwardly, His purpose was to know the whereabouts of His brother, Visvarupa prabhu. He wanted to know what had become of His brother, and during His travel He discovered that He had left this world.
Mahaprabhu traveled throughout South India, and during that time he made all the people Vaisnavas by His preaching. He told them, “Be Guru and preach what I have told you. Tell everyone to chant, Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. And tell them to preach also. They should not eat meat, eggs, wine and so on, and they should become Guru." Someone questioned Him, “If I do that, the false ego that, 'I am great. I am Guru' will come. Will it not?” Mahaprabhu replied, “It will not come. Just be sincere.”
He went to various temples, including Setubhandha (where Lord Ramacandra constructed a bridge between India and Lanka), Kanya-kumari (Cape Comorin, where the deity of Durga-devi resides), Lord Siva’s temple and many others. He was dancing everywhere He went, and all danced with him. And He was singing also. Why was He singing and dancing?
He went to Kanchipuram, to a Siva temple in which there were 1,008 Siva-vigrahas. It is a very large temple, even higher than the Puri temple, and there is a big Siva-linga in it that weighs more than a thousand tons. No one knows how it got there. Mahaprabhu began to dance and sing there. Why? Wherever He went, He did not see the forms of other deities. He saw only the vision of Sri Krsna everywhere.
sthavara-jangama dekhe, na dekhe tara murti
sarvatra haya nija ista-deva-sphurti
[“The maha-bhagavata, the advanced devotee, certainly sees everything mobile and immobile, but he does not exactly see their forms. Rather, everywhere he immediately sees manifest the form of the Supreme Lord.”He saw Mahadeva (Lord Siva) always serving Krsna and one in heart with Him (Hari-hara eka-atma). He saw Gopisvara Mahadeva in his highest feature – and He thus began to meditate on Sri Krsna. When an uttama-adhikara sees grass, he sees the creator of the grass and at once thinks of Krsna. Everything reminds him of Krsna. If one is a still more advanced uttama-adhikara, then everything reminds him of Srimati Radhika. He will see Sri Krsna and remember, “He is controlled by Srimati Radhika. Her love and affection is so high."
(Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya-lila 8.274)]
Everywhere Mahaprabhu went He preached the holy name. All were inspired by Him and all became Vaisnavas. In this way he traveled to the bank of Godavari, to the place where he met Sri Raya Ramananda. This place is presently called Raja Mandir Kaboor. Mahaprabhu was sitting by the bank. He had taken bath and was meditating. Being Krsna and having taken the intrinsic beauty of Srimati Radhika, He was extremely beautiful. What was he mediating on? He was meditating on the reasons for His descent. Why was He wearing saffron cloth? Saffron is the color of Srimati Radhika’s anuraga, Her deep attachment to Sri Krsna.
In the meantime, Raya Ramananda came on a palanquin with thousands of pandits (Vedic scholars) reciting verses from the Vedas: sri sukta, Purusa-sukta and all other suktas (sacred Vedic hymns). He also took bath, and from a distance he saw Mahaprabhu and thought, “Who is that sannyasi?” He stopped all the brahmanas and said, “You should wait here.” His palanquin stopped there, and he came to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu with only one servant. He came in a simple way, without shoes or royal dress. Mahaprabhu opened his eyes and saw Raya Ramananda. Their two eyes and two eyes became four. They met and became one.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked, “Are you Ramananda?” Ramananda replied, “I am a sudra.” Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu at once embraced him. Raya Ramananda wanted to fall at the feet of Mahaprabhu. All the brahmanas were watching from a distance and thinking, “What are they doing? This is a brahmana sannyasi.”
According to Smarta regulations, unless one is born as a brahmana, one cannot take sannyasa. Otherwise, he should first take birth in India in very high class of brahmana family. On the other hand, our Gosvamis have opened the door for all to attain the qualifications for sannyasa.
The brahmanas with Raya Ramananda were thinking, “He must be a brahmana, and he is a sannyasi; so why is he touching this Raya Ramananda who is a sudra?”
Raya Ramananda himself told Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu that he was a sudra, and all his associates thought of him as such. They considered, “Why is this brahmana sannyasi, who has an effulgence emanating from His body, touching this sudra, Ramananda. Moreover, Ramananda Raya is a very grave person. He is the King’s representative and very learned. Why is he now dancing, weeping and trembling?” They could not understand this at all.
Actually, Raya Ramananda was not a sudra. A sudra is one who laments for mortal things. If a sannyasi laments for his mother, father, position or any mortal thing, he is not really a sannyasi, but a sudra. On the other hand, even though Vidura’s and Narada Muni’s mothers were sudranis, they were not at all sudras. If you think they were sudras, you will be committing nama-aparadha and Vaisnava aparadha.
Raya Ramananda was the guru of a sannyasi – more than sannyasi – and Mahaprabhu respected him as greater than that.
Sriman Mahaprabhu told him, “I just came from Jagannatha Puri, where Sarvabauma Bhattacarya was very kind to me. He told me, ‘If you are going to South India, you must meet Raya Ramananda. His heart is filled with the highest limit of prema-bhakti.’ At first Sarvabauma Bhattacarya could not understand the glory of Raya Ramananda, but by the association of Mahaprabhu he recognized his greatness. Mahaprabhu told Raya Ramananda, “So, I have come to you, and I want to hear something from you.”
Raya Ramananda replied, “You are in the form of a sannyasi, but you are not really a sannyasi. You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya was very kind to me, and perhaps that is why he has sent You to me. I hope You will stay here for some more days and try to reform me.”
Mahaprabhu said, “I will wait for you in the evening. You must come.” Mahaprabhu then went to take maha-prasadam at the house of a brahmana who had invited Him, and in the evening they met again.
[*Endnote – Sri Bindu-vikasini-vrtti - Illumination of the meaning of Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu-bindu - "We are beginning hereafter by enumerating the symptoms of uttama-bhakti. The symptoms of uttama-bhakti, as described in this first verse, are of two kinds: (A) svarupa-laksana (intrinsic characteristic) and (B) tatastha-laksana (extrinsic characteristics). The svarupa-laksana is described in the second line of the verse: anukulyena krsnanusilanam bhaktir uttama uttama-bhakti involves the cultivation of activities favourable to Sri Krsna. This is said to be the svarupa-laksana of uttama-bhakti because it acquaints us with the inherent nature or svarupa of bhakti. The tatastha-laksana are described in the first line of the verse: 'anyabhilasita-sunyam jnana-karmady-anavrtam – uttama-bhakti is devoid of all desires other than to please Sri Krsna, and it is not covered by jnana and karma.' These are called the tatastha-laksana because they define those characteristics that are not part of the nature of bhakti.
(A) Svarupa-laksana – Intrinsic Characteristic
Anusilanam – Constant cultivation
Here the svarupa-laksana of uttama-bhakti will be described beginning with krsnanusilana. Just as all the various meanings of the verbal roots (dhatus), or in other words the constituent parts of words, can be understood by the ideas they express when applied as verbs (kriya), all the meanings of the verbal root sil, to do or practise, may be known by the word anusilana, to constantly practise or cultivate.
There are two meanings of any verbal root or dhatu: cesta-rupa (in every verbal root some activety is implied) and bhava-rupa (inherent in every action, or accompanying every action, there is some particular sentiment). The meaning of cesta-rupa is also of two kinds: (1) sadhana-rupa – endeavors in the stage of bhava-sadhana, leading to the manifestation of prema (comprising both vaidhi- and raganuga-sadhana) and (2) karya-rupa – endeavors that manifest as effects upon attainment of the stage of bhava, or in other words the anubhavas of bhava-bhakti. Included within this category are the eight sattvika-bhavas, such as crying and standing of the hairs on end, and the anubhavas such as singing and dancing. All these effects (anubhavas) are expressions arising from the mind that is constituted of visuddha-sattva. Sadhana-rupa is further divided into two parts: pravrtti-mulaka, that which is based on performance of positive action, and nivrtti-mulaka, that which is based on avoidance of negative action. The aspect of the verbal root that deals with the performance of positive action refers to favourable endeavours undertaken with the body (kayika), mind (manasika) and speech (vacika). The aspect of the verbal root that involves the avoidance of negative action is different in meaning from that which arises from engagement in positive activity. In other words nivrtty-atmaka-cesta-rupa involves the avoidance of all activities, also performed with body, mind and speech, that give rise to offences in service (sevaparadha), offences to the holy name (namaparadha) and offences to the holy places (dhamaparadha).
The meaning of bhava-rupa is also of two kinds: priti, love, and visada, despondency. Priti refers to the manifestation of the sthayibhava, and visada refers to the sancari-bhavas (also known as vyabhicari-bhavas). Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has explained this same thing in his commentary to Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.3.1). There he says that bhava-rupa may be divided into two aspects: (1) sthayibhava-rupa – the permanent sentiment in one of the five primary relationships of santa, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya or madhurya, and (2) sancari-bhava rupa - the internal transitory emotions, which arise like waves from the ocean of the sthayibhava, enhance it and then submerge once again into the sthayibhava. There are thirty-three sancari-bhavas, such as visada (despondency), dainya (depression) and nirveda (self-disparagement).
Sthayibhava-rupa is again divided into two forms, which are (1) premankura-rupa – the sprout of prema, that is, rati or bhava, and (2) prema-rupa – prema, which is developed through the stages of sneha, mana, pranaya, raga, anuraga, bhava and mahabhava. All these states (bhava and so on) are completely beyond mundane worldly sentiments. They are transcendental and fully situated in unalloyed goodness, visuddha-sattva. These will be described later."]
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