There are so many brahmanas and karma-kandis (mundane religionists) who will offensively consider that the Vaisnavas are inferior because they have not received the sacred thread; those brahmanas, etc. must be saved. Also, a person who has taken the Name may think that the brahmanas are superior and the chanter of the Name holds a lesser position.
His abhimana or ego must also be helped to go higher: “Yes, I am said to be more than a brahmana, so I shall have to become very careful about my movements, my eating and other practices.” This will help him to know that he must not go below the standard of an ordinary purificatory section. At the same time, society will also be warned to deal properly with these persons who are taking the Name of Hari, by conceiving that they are exclusively given to the chanting to the Name of Hari and are therefore superior to a brahmana. This system was introduced by our Guru Maharaja, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupada. He conferred the sacred thread extensively.
That is to give the position of a brahmana, outwardly. In calculation from the inner side, a Vaisnava is above a brahmana. But from the outer side also he created this particular society in which a Vaisnava who is exclusively given to Krsna Consciousness must be recognized as not less, but more than a brahmana. He reformed the society to establish the position of the Vaisnava, thus also encouraging him: “You must not go down; you are taking the Name of Hari, exclusively give to Krsna Consciousness, and you must maintain your position in the external way so that even the brahmanas or the Vedic school will feel some reverence for the position you hold. You must by cautions in your dealings and practices so that people will think, ‘Don’t underestimate the devotees exclusively dedicated to Krsna Consciousness.’” In this way, he reformed society.
Although Mahaprabhu had not introduced this, our Guru Maharaja, adjusted the society to bring Mahaprabhu’s teachings to the world in a broad way.
Previously, Rupa, Sanatana and their followers did not care to acceot the sacred thread of the brahmana. Also, in the sannyasa system of varnasrama, Sankara and others give up the sacred thread to the fire when they take sannyasa, showing that they have no necessity of a sacred thread; they’re above that, above brahmana. Yet their creed is ‘we are one with Brahman.’ Here is the infinite difference. The higher a Vaisnava is, the more he will say “I am the salve of Krsna.” The Mayavadis identify themselves with the highest Entity, but they have fallen prey to the complete misconception of the revealed scriptures of Veda.
The preaching mission of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, the Gauriya Matha, has declared totalitarian war against maya, illusion, and even all other existing conceptions of religion. And our authority is Srimad Bhagavatam, and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Divine love is the supreme most goal of every soul. Beauty and love is the summum bonum, the highest attainment; that is the ultimate controlling principle, and not power. Beauty and love are found at their highest position with Krsna in Vrndavana. The ultimate conception of the Absolute Truth is that of reality the beautiful and divine love. The difference between lust and live should be clearly realized. The acme of dedication is demonstrated in the love of the inhabitants of Vraja.
Preaching (sankirtana), and not counting beads (japa), is the real service of Krsna. But because we have taken a vow, and it is ordered by Mahaprabhu and our gurudeva, we must chant the holy name while counting beads; it is our duty. Our Guru Maharaja told us, “The japa beads must not fast.” So, if we engage ourselves in preaching work, as opposed to sitting and chanting, there should be no doubt that we are really obeying the order of Mahaprabhu. Although he has advised us to chant one hundred thousand names, or sixty-four rounds daily, that is a provincial saying, What is really all-important is the spirit of service. We are not told that the gopis always count the Name on Tulasi beads, yet they possess the highest position in the service of Krsna in Vrndavana.
Like Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu, our Guru Maharaja wanted to attack maya and like a great general, he declared totalitarian war on illusion and even all other existing conceptions of religion. “Why is there the misunderstanding and misconception?” He thought, “Everything belongs of Krsna: isavasyam idam sarvam. It is plain and simple and sweet. How can we think, ‘This is for me, that is for Him?’ Why should we let this misconception stand here at all? Attack it-crush the whole thing!”
He told us, “Kirtana means to preach against misconception. As soldiers, you must go door to door and preach Krsna consciousness- Krsna’s interest- the Krsna conception. IF they understand that everything is for Krsna, they will be saved. This truth is plain and simple. Why should they not understand this? Try to capture them, to release them from the world of misconception and misunderstanding where they are now suffering form reaction.”
In this way, we are not afraid of
anything. A Vaisnava who lived solitary life once asked our Guru Maharaja, “Why do you stay at
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura once instructed a disciple at the time of initiation into the Hare Krsna mantra that Krsna should be allowed to land in our hearts, just as an army is landed by the navy. An army is carried by a ship, and when they have landed, the fight begins, and they capture the country. Just as Julius Caesar said, “Veni vidi vici, I came, I saw, I conquered.” So we have to allow Krsna to land in our hearts, then the fight will begin.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura emphasized that kirtana means not only loudly singing the holy name, but preaching. Jiva Goswami has given a definition of sankirtana, bahubhir militva yat kirtanam tad eva sankirtanam: “When many join together in kirtan that is sankirtana.” Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu came and introduced sankirtana. In this age of Kali combined effort will bear fruit. (sango sakti kalau yuge). This is the difference between the preaching mission of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Thakura, and the so-called private bhajana of the sahjiyas, or imitationists.
Once, one of our godbrothers was the subject of our Guru Maharaja’s stern remark. He was a man of good character, but
his tendency was generally towards nama bhajana. He
did not like to do any other service, but was only inclined to chant the name
of Krsna on his beads. I was in charge of the
Our Guru Maharaja laid the highest stress on developing a serving attitude. Otherwise it is all bogus-imitation. And people will say, “Oh, there is no Krsna there. These men are hypocrites. They are only dancing and making noise, they are not surcharged with a serving spirit.” Only through service can we directly come in contact with Krsna. The real point is to practice how to attain the spirit of service, vaisnava seva. The Vaisnava is doing service and we must imbibe from him the methods of attaining this serving attitude.
Sevonmukhe, serving attitude was foremost. Our Guru Maharaja did not allow us to read much, even the lower types of scriptures dealing with general sadhana or practices, not to speak of higher books. Rather, we were expected to actually follow those practices by hearing form the proper source and practicing accordingly whatever was instructed form there. Serve-learn to give yourself properly. There are different methods of service: sravana, hearing; kirtana, chanting; smarana, remembering; vandana, praying, etc. Srila Rupa Goswami has mentioned that there are sixty-four kinds of devotional practices one thousand types of devotional practices. But practices are not very important; the very life of the practice is all- important, for this is self-dedication. This we should be very particular to learn. Dedication is work under a Vaisnava.
One day, during the latter days of his presenve in the world, Prabhupada said to a sannyasi who had led a full twenty years of life in the mission, “You did not see me- you could not see who I am. Like a zamindar you have kept some householder servitors under you , and form then you periodically give a donation to me. You have become like a broker, bur you should be wholesale mine- me agent. But you are not doing that. You are dependent on those householders whole maintaining some connection with me. This is not necessary. You are not a member of this world. You are mine alone. Whatever I say, you should do. You should not sell yourself to anything or any proposal of this world. You are to be my servant wholesale.” This necessary attitude is rarely to be found. We should surrender to whatever flows from the higher plane and thereby substantiate its reality.
There was once a babaji who was though by many to be a great devotee. Whenever he took the name, he shed incessant tears. Liquid also oozed from his nose, and he was seen to be in some abnormal meditating position. On either side of him his attendants would be constantly cleansing his tears and face with napkins, as he madly chanted the name. Atheists considered him a religious fanatic, while common people who had some simple faith in God, though he was in the higher stages of devotion. But our Guru Maharaja, rejected him and his antics as devoid of proper conception.
tad abhyasa-pare ‘pi ca
sattvabhasam vinapi syuh,
(Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu. Daksina, 3.89)
“Whenever shedding tears, hairs standing on end, etc. are seen in persons whose hearts are soft externally and hard internally, and who are habitatuated to crying, rapture, etc. even though they do not possess a semblance of divine emotion-such an imitative sentiment should be known as totally unsubstantial and lifeless.”
Such persons are representing the Sahajiya school. Our Guru Maharaja wrote several poems, one of which is prakrta-rasa Satadusani, ‘one hundred defects in the Sahajiya conception.’ The defects are innumerable, but our Guru Maharaja put forward a hundred points of the defects in their process of ‘advancement’. Mainly they are very easy purvhasers. They are not prepared to pay the real price. But the death blow to them is this:
upajiya bade lata ‘brahmanda’ hbedi’ yaya
‘viraja’, ‘brahmaloka’, ‘bhedi’, ‘paravyoma’ paya
tabe yaya tad upari ‘goloka-vrndavana’
‘krsna-carana’-kalpavrksa kara arhana
(C.c. Madhya 19.153,4)
One must first cross the different gross and subtle layers of the brahmanda (mundane universe); then Viraja, the extremity if the jurisdiction of maya or misconception; then the Brahman conception, the halo of the real, transcendental world; then, Vaikuntha, which is paravyoma, a planet of consciousness.
There are some who are of the opinion that smarana (rememberance) is exclusively connected with consciousness, or more concerned with the subtle part of our existence; so that should be the most effective form of sadhana, or means to the end. But our Guru Maharaja, and Srila Jiva Goswami, and also Kaviraja Goswami Prabhu, laid stress on kirtana- especially for the beginners. Guru Maharaja says in his song Vaisnava ke? (Who is a Viasnava?):
kirtana prabhave, smarana haibe,
se kale bhajana nirjana sambhava
“Internal remembrance can occur by the power of kirtana, and only then is solitary service possible.” Nirjana-bhajana or smarana, exclusive solitary devotion, unconscious of the environment is not at all possible for beginners.
Promotion is inevitable of we always try to adhere to the liver duty, Eagerness for promotion is the enemy. That is for pratistha (renown), and that will undermine everything. Srila Prabhupada said that imitation arises form the attraction for pratistha or desire to hold the superior position and acquire a name for oneself. That is the great enemy. Don’t fall prey to that pratistha, eagerness to hold the higher position. Rather, dainyam- humility is the healthy sign of a devotee.
When our Guru Maharaja addressed his disciples as vipada uddharana bandhu-gana, “My dear friends who have come to deliver me form danger”, we should, of course, recognize such a statement from both the relative and absolute standpoints. Students are necessary part of a professor-when a professor has students, he feels the practical utility of his life has been successful. This, from the relative point of view, disciples can help the acarya. But form the absolute standpoint, Krsna’s will is everything, and the nitya-siddha, or eternally perfect great souls who inwardly know the Lord’s intentions cannot be disturbed by any danger in any respect, but outwardly such an appearance may be manifest in their dealings.
“The Vaisnava is all in all, and I am nothing.” Such a feeling grows infinitely in the Vaisnava. “I am nothing, but he is everything- he is a Vaisnava; Guru and Vaisnava really hold krsna-bhakti. They are the stockists. But I am empty handed; I have nothing.” This is the nature of the association of the finite with the infinite. As much as we shall have a real approach toward the infinite, we cannot but consider ourselves to be the meanest of the mean. The standard of Vaisnava qualification (vaisnavata) is measured in this way. And this is not lip-deep, but the sincere dealing of the innermost heart. When Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami says, purisera kita haite muni sei laghistha- “I am lower than a worm in stool” this is not mere imitation, it is heartfelt. Acarya abhimana, the assertion of the guru over his disciple, is a different posture. That is assertion, but only for the service of the Vaisnava; the sincerity is maintained therein. The guru’s assertion is not selfish assertion. His assertion is only for the sake of saving the public and upholding the prestige of the Vaisnava. So that is proper adjustment with reality, in twofold senses: to establish the real position of a Vaisnava, and at the same time to save the ordinary persons form the danger and the reaction of false attempt or false thought. So that kind of assertion is not egoistic. Rather, we should know that as sacrifice in the dynamic sense.
In Visva- vaisnava-raja- sabha, our Guru Maharaja tactfully manages in this way: he asked one of his disciples to speak something in praise and appreciation of another disciple. And he especially asked this of disciples who were a little antagonistic to one another. He asked them, “Speak something in praise of your ‘friend.’” Why? To try to mark the bright side, the svarupa, and to try to ignore the apparent side. He instructed, “You try to speak something in praise of your friend, your apparent opponent.” The guru’s order was given, and so the disciple had to speak something in praise. Necessity is the mother of invention; he had to dive deep into the bright side of the other person and try to bring that side out. Thereby, the Vaisnava atmosphere of giving and taking was aroused and the apparent, mayika side was gradually ignored, disregarded and dissipated. Something similar happens in kirtan as well. Why is kirtan so powerful? Because when we are requested to speak something, we cannot but utilize our best attention to speak. We have to assert our best ability in the attempt to gather the proper information to speak something about the Supreme Lord. So, also, in the case of the Vaisnava, as in the case of the Lord, we must approach the svarupa, the inner side, the inner aspect, the bright side- and ignore the apparent side; and thereby we will thrive. There, the real mutual relationship will be aroused. Once a year in the holy dhama of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, it was the practice of our Guru Maharaja to preside in a meeting under the banner of Visva-Vaisnava-raja-sabha (Universal Assembly of Vaisnava Kings), and there his method was such: “Try to praise the Vaisnava.”
When we are conscious of the real substance of Krsna consciousness, the actual wealth we are receiving form out spiritual master, then our spiritual life cannot be sahajiyaism, imitationism. We must be aware enough to detect our guru’s advice when we find it in another. One who is awake will see, “Here is my guru’s advice, I find it here in this man. Somehow or other, it has come here. How, I don’t know, but I see my guru’s characteristics, his dealings, and behavior in this person.” When we are able to recognize a thing for its intrinsic value, then, wherever we find it, we cannot neglect it.
There is an
example of this in an instance regarding Aurobindo Ghosh, of
“Yes I know.”
“Do you know this man, Aurobindo Ghosh?”
“Yes, I know him. I consider him to be one of the greatest men in the world.”
“As the editor of this newspaper do you know who wrote this article?”
“Yes, I know.”
“Has Mr. Ghosh written this article?”
“I won’t say.”
Mr. Norton asked him, “Do you know the punishment?”
“Yes, Six months imprisonment.”
“You are ready for that?”
“Yes, I am ready for that.” Holding up the newspaper article, Mr. Norton said, “here is Mr. Ghosh! I rest my case.”
He saw Aurobindo in his writing. So we must see, “Here is my gurudeva!” Our spiritual master would a;so sometimes say of his disciples who had departed, “Bhaktivinoda Thakura came to me, but I could not recognize him.” Those whose divine vision is awakened are always seeing signs of divinity everywhere.
At the same time, if my own relatives do not give recognition to my guru or to the service of Mahaprabhu, I must eliminate them. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada has explained the siksa guru parampara in this way. Wherever we find the extraordinary flow of krsna prema- we must bow down. That line may appear in a zigzag way, but still, it is the line of my gurudeva. We want substance, not form.
Once an Indian political leader, Syamasundara Cakravarti, asked Prabhupada, “Why has the Lord granted freedom to the jiva?” Prabhupada told him, “You are fighting for freedom. Don’t you know the value of freedom? Devoid of freedom, the soul is only matter.” Freedom offers us the alternative to do right or wrong. Once, Gandhi told the British authorities, “We want freedom.” They replied, “You are not fit to have self- government. When you are fit, we shall give it to you.” But finally, he told them, “We want the freedom to do wrong.” So, freedom does not guarantee only acting in the right way; freedom has its value independent of right and wrong.
Free will is only absolute with the Absolute Truth. Because we are finite, our free will is infinitesimal. The possibility of committing a mistake is there. Our first choice was to dominate, and so, gradually we have entered the world of domination. As a result of this first action, everything else has developed. So, in different ranks, the species have been divided, from the demigods down to the trees and stones. And watery bodies, anything that we find here has evolved in that way. The activating principle in any form of embryological development is the soul. From the soul everything evolves.
asked Prabhupada, “Why is there a difference between Sanatana and Rupa in their
conception of the final part of krsna-lila?
Sanatana closed his summary of Krsna’s pastimes in his krsna-lila stava in
According to Sanatana Goswami, after a long separation between Krsna and
His family and friends, like a wheel the pastime rotates from
In his Krsna-lila stava, his summary of krsna-lila, Sanatana Goswami did not take Krsna into Dvaraka from Mathura Mandala. But Rupa Goswami, in his play Lalita-madhava, showed the parallels between krsna-lila in Vrndavana and krsna-lila in Dvaraka. And so,in his Lalita-madhava, Rupa Goswami draws a parallel between Lalita as Jambavati in Dvaraka, Radharani as Satyabhama, and Candravali as Rukmini. They have their respective positions in both planes of lila. In this way, he shows their transformation between Vrndavana and Dvaraka.
I asked Prabhupada why this difference between Rupa and Sanatana. He simply said, “It is adhoksaja, beyond our understanding. So krsna-lila is “un-understandable” (acintya). Everything is not bound to come within our fist. The Supreme Lord has “ALL RIGHTS RESERVED”. This must be understood if we at all want to be in connection with that plane of reality.
Once, Radharani, left the rasa-lila
when She saw that all the gopis were
being dealt with almost equally by Krsna. Equal treatment towards one and all
did not satisfy Her. She began to sing and dance in
the most extraordinary way to to get
disciple of Prabhupada’s once asked him why did
When this news came to me, I tried to find what Bhaktivinode Thakur had written in his own words about this verse of Srimad-Bhagavatam in his collection, Bhagavatarka-Marici-Mala Bhaktivinode Thakur harmonizes the difficulties of the verse. He explains that Krsna was thinking, “I want to see Her mood of separation.” Only to appreciate the depth of the separation She felt from Him did Krsna disappear. Then of course Krsna returned after some time.
But our Guru Maharaja could not even tolerate the idea. “Where is devotion to be found here?” But Bhaktivinode Thakur interpreted this pastime to mean that Krsna was driven to see what kind of happiness in separation Radharani would experience. He took this as example of how the Absolute becomes subservient to His devotee. And so we find that the negative, Srimati Radharani, is so powerful that the positive, Krsna, becomes powerless near Her. It is as if the positive loses its separate existence. This is the victory of devotion.
Devotion is represented as the negative, attracting and drawing the positive.
There is the juice in a fruit and the one who extracts the juice from the fruit. The highest
Devotion is found where the extraction is in its most intensified condition. The victory of the devotees is when the Absolute admits defeat to His servitors. This reveals the real presence of devotion, dedication, and surrender.
Once Vidyasagar wrote in a book ‘ isvara-nirakara-caitanya-svarupa’ (God is
Without form-a mass of consciousness ’). Even though a young boy, Prabhupada challenged him, “What have you written here? You say isvara, Lord, and then you say
nirakara, form-less! The Creator, the Master-formless! He has form, akara, but it is cidakara, composed of consciousness. But you say He is only a mass of consciousness, without form. And He is the creator? Where have you found this?” In this way he challenged Vidyasagar. But he was very young , and Vidyasagar may not have cared for
the challenge. Nonetheless, he did his duty. That was his temperament. He would always challenge. He had to challenge whatever was against the line of Mahaprabhu, otherwise he could not have the satisfaction of having done his duty.
Once Rabindranath Tagore wrote articles in some book under a pen-name, and Prabhupada wrote back protesting against those writings, also under a pen-name. No compromise-protest.
When Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur began the service of the dhama and Mahaprabhu, he had to do many things to attract the public to accept his discovery of the dhama as authentic. At that time, the place was uninhabited. Gradually a building was constructed, and the worship of the deity of Mahaprabhu began.
The temple came later. Generally the brahmana cooks he required would not stay there very long because it was an isolated place and there were violent elements nearby. To ensure that the service continued, he had to undergo many undesirable things. Sometimes he had to prepare ganjika (marijuana) by his own hand, for the cook! Otherwise, the cook would have left. At times, when ‘respectable’ persons came he had to make arrangements for tobacco. There were many other trails.
Our Guru Maharaja, Prabhupada, also did
similar things, to the extreme. When John Anderson, the Governor of Bengal, was
invited to Mayapur, it was arranged with a
Prabhupada’s thinking was revolutionary. He once told his disciples, “Only bogus, hollow people and men of shallow thinking like Vrndavana.” I was very perplexed to hear this. I had been told all along that Vrndavana is the highest place of spiritual perfection. I had heard that one who has not mastered his senses cannot enter Vrndavana. Only liberated souls can enter and have the opportunity of discussing krsna-lila. Vrndavana is for liberated souls. Thos who are not liberated from the demands of their senses may live in Navadwipa. But the liberated souls may live in Vrndavana. Now Prabhupada was saying that shallow thinkers appreciate Vrndavana; but a man of real bhajana, real divine aspiration, will aspire to live in Kuruksetra.
Hearing this, I felt as if I had fallen from the top of a tree. “What is this?” I thought. I am a very acute listener, so I was very keen to catch the meaning of his words. The next thought he gave us was that Bhaktivinoda Thakura, after visiting many different places of pilgrimage, remarked, “I would like to spend the last days of my life in Kuruksetra. I shall construct a cottage near Rama-hrad and pass the rest of my life there. Kuruksetra is the real place of bhajana.”
But still we must ask why? And this
is the crucial point. Service is more
valuable according to the intensity of it necessity. Shrewd businessmen make a
fortune during a war. In the same way, when
Radharani’s necessity reaches it’s zenith, service to
her becomes immensely valuable.
According to it’s necessity, service is
valued. And in Kuruksetra,
Radharani has the greatest necessity, because although
Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that in
that situation, a drop of service will draw the greatest amount of prema, divine love. In the pastimes of Radha-Govinda, there are
two aspects: sambhoga,
divine union, and vipralambha,
divine separation. When Radha and
During the Vraja Mandala Parikrama
one devotee noticed the local people making dandavats around Radha
Kunda. He said, “Prabhupada, see how
they have devotion to Radharani.” Our Guru Maharaja
responded, “There is a big difference between them and us. They worship Radharani because She is dear to
So our Guru Maharaja was not vomiting
what he head from others, but giving something fresh. We should never think that we have understood