What is the Most Severe Nama-aparadha?
by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura Prabhupada
How can one attain perfection within a single lifetime?
Answer: If one gives up one’s free will and fully surrenders to Sri Gurudeva, and then performs bhajana without duplicity under his guidance, one will attain perfection within a single lifetime.
Answer: One will have to hear with faith the katha of Bhagavan coming from the lotus lips of Sri Gurudeva. There is no way to know Sri Bhagavan other than by whole-heartedly surrendering unto the lotus feet of Sri Gurudeva. Only a person who does so can know Sri Bhagavan.
Answer: To consider Srila Gurudeva to be an ordinary human being is the most deadly offence, the most severe nama-aparadha. By maintaining a conception of him as a mere mortal, one cannot attain auspiciousness even in billions of births. A person with such a mundane conception of the guru will encounter various types of obstacles in bhakti and will be in danger of drowning in the ocean of material desires. Besides the lotus feet of Sri Guru, nothing can save us from the clutches of harmful association. The jiva is unable to surrender himself at the lotus feet of Sri Gurudeva only because he considers Sri Gurudeva to be an ordinary human being.
Answer: The acarya carries the message of Sri Bhagavan. He comes to us to deliver the message of Vaikuntha. One must accept that message of Vaikuntha emanating from the lotus lips of Sri Guru through ears imbued with a service mood. If there is full surrender, then by the mercy of the acarya one can attain everything. No one besides the residents of Vaikuntha can accurately deliver the message of Vaikuntha. To learn about Calcutta, you must hear from one who has seen Calcutta. Only then can you receive true information about Calcutta.
Answer: Performing uninterrupted bhajana of Hari is indeed real sannyasa. The sannyasa, or renunciation, of the devotees of Sri Bhagavan is their rejection of sense enjoyment (bhukti) and liberation (mukti). The devotees renounce the desire for sense enjoyment and liberation, and take shelter of the lotus feet of Bhakti-devi.
Answer: The function of the sadhu is to remain in touch with the Absolute Truth twenty-four hours a day. By association with such a living source, or living sadhu, and by hearing hari-katha from him, one will inevitably develop faith in Bhagavan and one’s service attitude will also awaken. Indeed, one has to associate with a sadhu to become a sadhu. If we associate with a sadhu by surrendering to him, then, without a doubt, anything that is a hindrance will be eradicated. Indeed, the function of the sadhu is to remove the fear and anxiety of those who take shelter of him or associate with him, and to bring them happiness.
The association of a sadhu is likened to the action of a battery.* The function of the sadhu is to make the people of the world, who are averse to Bhagavan, inclined towards Him. This alone is real compassion upon the living entity (jive-daya). One’s eternal auspiciousness is inevitable if one takes sadhu-sanga thoroughly. The sole indication that a person has accepted thorough sadhu-sanga is that he will hear the katha of the sadhu with submission and surrender to him, and pass his life accordingly, immersed in devotional service. The activity of the sadhu is to deliver conditioned souls like us from the clutches of maya.
Answer: If we can see the whole universe as engaged in the service of Sri Bhagavan, then we will never experience any distress.
We must hear katha about how to serve Bhagavan from one who can show us Bhagavan and who is engaged in service to Him twenty-four hours a day. This is the only way to attain our eternal, spiritual well-being. With their eyes of devotion, the sadhus who are bhaktas, or devotees of Bhagavan, always see Syamasundara Krsna within their hearts. Through the association and mercy of such sadhus, we also can see Bhagavan in our hearts.
We will constantly busy ourselves in service to Bhagavan without wasting even a single moment. We have to serve, remaining exclusively in the association of sadhus. By constantly remaining in such sadhu-sanga, our aptitude for service will continuously be enhanced.
Bhagavan fulfils every desire of His surrendered bhaktas without fail, and He never rejects them – krsna sei satya kare, yei mage bhrtya [Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, 15.166]. Only Sri Bhagavan has the ability to protect us by giving us shelter. Other than He, no one else has such power. With such resolute faith, we can become free from fear and anxiety, and become happy and successful. Krsna is the embodiment of auspiciousness; and therefore if we have complete faith in His nature to bestow auspiciousness, we will certainly attain such auspiciousness. Words cannot express the kind of great auspiciousness that is obtained by surrendering fully at the lotus feet of Bhagavan.
Answer: Of course. The deity of Krsna is Krsna Himself: “pratima naha tumi, saksat vrajendra-nandana – You are not a statue; You are directly the son of Nanda Maharaja” [Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, 5.96]. The deity is the worshipable incarnation of Bhagavan. The lord (ista-deva) of the sadhu’s heart manifests externally as the deity.
Answer: Whoever Sri Krsna, the embodiment of compassion, chooses to send to you as your guru, that person alone will manifest before you externally as the mahanta-guru, the guru in the form of the foremost living sadhu. By the mercy of Bhagavan we will obtain a guru, and by the mercy of the guru we can attain Bhagavan.
A person will get a guru according to his particular destiny. People of different types vary in their disposition, and therefore Bhagavan, who is omniscient, sends them each a particular type of guru. There are those who want niskapata-krpa, the real mercy of Bhagavan, and who depend entirely on Bhagavan for their eternal welfare. Being pleased with such simple-hearted, sincere persons, Bhagavan Himself manifests before them as the guru, to bestow mercy upon them. But for those who want kapata-krpa, the deceptive mercy of Bhagavan, Bhagavan’s maya, or external potency, will send them a ‘guru’ according to the particular disposition of their heart.
There is no impediment for one who is sincere. He will very quickly meet a bona fide guru.
Srila Prabhupadera Upadesamrta is a compilation of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada’s instructions in question-and-answer form.