Simplicity and Faith
by Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja
A mother has a six or seven year old son. She wanted to admit him into primary school so that he could get some education, but the school was a little far away, half a mile from their house. Still she told the boy that he should go every day to the school in the morning.
So, the boy started going. On the path to the school, he had to pass through a jungle where there were some ferocious animals, tigers, and snakes. Being a small child, he was afraid. He came to his mother and said, “Oh mother, when I was going through that jungle on the way to school, I was very afraid. So many ferocious animals are there. I can’t go any more.”
His mother said, “Why are you afraid? Don’t you know that your friend Gopal is there? Just call your friend; He will help you. You need not be afraid.”
“Oh, my friend is there?”
“Yes. When you feel afraid, you should call out, ‘Oh my friend Gopal, I am in a fearful situation! Where are You? Please come!’ You should say like that.”
The child followed her instruction. When he was passing through the jungle and he felt afraid, he called out, “Friend Gopal! My brother Gopal! Where are You? I am in a fearful situation. Please come! Help me!”
Gopal appeared before him. “Yes, I am here. Why are you afraid?”
“I have to go through the jungle to go to school and it is full of ferocious animals.”
“All right, don’t fear. Come with Me!” Every day, Gopal was helping him.
In Indian school they perform ganesa-puja and sarasvati-puja to give the students knowledge. For these festivals, the teacher will collect some fees from the students. One day at school the teacher announced that they were going to have such a festival, and that the students should all pay some fee. But the boy and his mother were very poor. There was nobody in that family, only the mother and the son, and they had no money.
The teacher told him, “You are poor. You don’t have enough money. But you should at least bring fifty paisa—half of a rupee.”
The child returned home and told his mother that the teacher said that he had to pay fifty paisa for the festival. But they had nothing, not even a single paisa. The mother said, “Tell the teacher that we have no money. We are very poor. But we will bring milk.”
The child said, “Who will give us milk?”
“Oh, your friend Gopal will give us milk. He tends cows. He can supply as much milk as your teacher wants. Yes. You tell Gopal!”
So that day in the forest he called out to his friend, “O Gopal, where are You?”
“I am here.” Gopal appeared. “What do you need?”
“My teacher has said that I have to pay fifty paisa, but we have no money. My mother said to ask You to give us some milk, because they need milk for the festival. So you must supply as much milk as they need.”
“Oh yes, I must supply, I am always here to help you.”
“Later, on the puja day when he was passing through the jungle, he called his friend, “Gopal, today is the day. Please come!”
Gopal came with a small earthen pot filled with milk. “All right, take this milk. Give it to your teacher. This pot will give as much milk as they want. It will never be empty.” The boy took it and gave it to the teacher.
Seeing the small pot, the teacher said, “Oh this is just a small amount of milk. We need a large amount, ten buckets of milk. You have only brought a small pot.”
“No, no, no. It will never be empty. You bring ten buckets and pour this pot out. All ten buckets will be filled.”
The teacher did so, and amazingly, ten buckets were filled. Then the teacher asked, “Where did you get such a pot?”
“My friend Gopal gave it to me.”
“Your friend Gopal? Who is He?”
“Oh, He stays in the jungle. Every time I need, I call Him. My mother told me that whenever I am in a fearful situation I should call out, ‘Gopal! Gopal! O brother! O my friend Gopal!’ Then He appears. He helps me, protects me, and leads me to school. He gave this pot of milk. He says that He is a friend to one and all.” Krishna says in Bhagavad-Gita (5.29), suhrdam sarva bhutanam—“I am the only well wishing friend of all living entities.”
“He says He is not only my friend, He is a friend to one and all. If one calls, He is there ready to help in time of danger, in time of need, in time of calamities.”
Such a simple child gets help from Krishna. But you are worrying, he is worrying, she is worrying, “What shall I do? What shall I do? I need so much money. How can I do it? I cannot collect. I have to do this thing. I have to do that thing. I have so many problems, so many hindrances, so many obstacles. Why don’t you ask Gopal? Gopal is ready to help you, but you are not asking Him. If you are asking, then why is Gopal not coming? You say, “Yes, yes I am asking, ‘O Krishna! O Krishna! Please help me, please help me!’ But Krishna is not coming and helping me.”
Gopal immediately appeared before that small child. Why can’t you get Gopal’s help? Why doesn’t Gopal come to you? What is the difficulty? What is the reason? It’s because you have no faith in Gopal, no faith in Krishna. It’s a question of faith. That small child had strong faith. As soon as his mother told him, he put strong unflinching faith in her words, and he got Krishna. But you do not have faith.
Now in America, many, many people have lost faith. In his Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.4.15) Srila Rupa Goswami says, adau sraddha, the first thing is unflinching faith. Similarly Krsna says in Gita (4.39)
sraddhavan labhate jnanam tat-parah samyatendriyah
jnanam labdhva param santim acirenadhigacchati
“A faithful man who is dedicated to transcendental knowledge and who subdues his senses is eligible to achieve such knowledge, and having achieved it he quickly attains the supreme spiritual peace.”
What do we mean by sraddha? Rupa Goswami says that the first thing is sraddha. Following that comes other things. Sraddha means strong, unflinching faith. Bhajante mam drdha-vratah—those who have faith, they do bhajana with determination. [Bg. 7.28]. Strong faith in what?
Sadhu-sastra-guru-vakya; faith in what sadhu says, what guru says, what sastra says—what Krishna says [Narottama Das Thakur’s Prema-bhakti-candrika 1.10] You should put strong unflinching faith in what Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. It is said:
visvasa mile krsna tarke bahu dura
If one has faith, then he can easily obtain Krishna and arguments or doubts stay far away.
If you have strong faith, you will get Krishna. You have faith, but it is not strong. It is soft faith. At any time it can break and you feel yourself disappointed, depressed. Why such feelings? Why disappointed? Why depressed? Because you do not have strong faith in Krishna. You have no faith in sadhu-sastra-guru vakya You have lost faith, therefore you feel disappointed and depressed.
Faith is the most important thing. It has been stressed in Bhagavad-gita, in Srimad Bhagavatam, and all of our acaryas have said it. Rupa Goswami says in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.4.15-16) that everything begins with sraddha:
adau sraddha tatah sadhu-sango 'tha bhajana-kriya
tato 'nartha-nivrttih syat tato nistha rucis tatah
athasaktis tato bhavas tatah premabhyudancati
sadhakanam ayam premna pradurbhave bhavet kramah
“First comes sraddha, faith; next sadhu-sanga, association with saintly persons; after that bhajana-kriya, spiritual practices; then anartha-nivrtti, cessation of all offenses or obstacles; next nistha, firmness; which is followed by ruci, taste; after that asakti, attachment; then bhava; and then appears prema. These are the different stages leading to prema’s appearance within the heart of a spiritual practitioner.”
It’s a gradual process. Mahaprabhu said the same thing:
ucca sankirtane kari sraddhara pracara
“Loudly chant the holy names and preach with faith.”
When my guru-maharaja came to the West, what did he have with him? Only strong faith in Krishna, strong faith in the words of his guru, strong faith in the holy name. He had nothing else. It is a question of strong faith in Gopal. But people are lacking faith. You should develp strong faith. Caitanya-caritamrta (madhya 22.62) states:
‘sraddha’-sabde----visvasa kahe sudrdha niscaya
krsne bhakti kaile sarva-karma krta haya .
“Sraddha” is defined as confident, firm faith that by rendering transcendental loving service to Krishna one automatically performs all subsidiary activities. Such faith is favorable to the discharge of devotional service.”
If you develop krsna-bhakti, all of your duties and obligations are finished. You are thinking, “This is my duty, my responsibility, to look after the maintenance of my family, my wife, and my children. But it is said, krsne bhakti kaile sarva-karma krta haya --- “All of your work is finished.” Everyone says this, but they are only speaking from the lips. In their heart, 99.9% people have no faith. Therefore Guaranga Mahaprabhu has said, ucca sankirtane kari sraddhara pracara — “Chant loudly: hare krsna hare krsna, krsna krsna hare hare, hare rama hare rama, rama rama hare hare. Inculcate sraddha, faith unto those people who have not developed sraddha.”
My guru-maharaja did that. When he first arrived here he came with only a pair of kartalas. He simply went to a park and chanted Hare Krishna. The hippies were rolling on the ground, half-naked, taking strong drugs like LSD and marijuana, and becoming mad. My guru-maharaja just played karatalas and chanted, and thereby he inculcated sraddha in them. Cora-vesya-satha—the thieves, the prostitutes, and the cheaters — sadhu is able to inculcate sraddha even into them. That is Mahaprabhu’s instruction; agre sraddha diya --- “First inculcate sraddha unto them.” Then when they are sraddhavan, when they ahve developed sraddha, strong faith in the holy name, strong faith in Krishna, and sadhu-sastra-guru-vakya, then they are eligible to be initiated.
There is the offense to the holy name known as sraddha-hina-jane namopadesa---“giving someone nama-upadesa, instructions on chanting, if they are lacking in sraddha.” So agre-sraddha—first one must have sraddha.
How can one develop sraddha? That is another question—for this reason we perform loud sankirtan. Doing so you can develop sraddha. Don’t feel depressed or disappointed; Mahaprabhu is there, Krishna is there, Srila Prabhupada is there. Chant loudly and fill the atmosphere with transcendental sound vibration! You should have full faith in the holy name, in Gopal, in Krishna and Mahaprabhu. Don’t feel depressed at any time, under any circumstances. There is no quetion of pessimism in Mahaprabhu’s movement. There is all optimism. I have seen during my tour that now this pessimism is widespread amongst the devotees in America. Seing that, I feel very sorry. I am crying in my heart. What has happened? My guru-maharja came here first. He sowed the seed here. Now what has happened? They have lost faith — such a sorry state of affairs.
How is it that a small boy immediately developed faith and got Krishna? He cried out, “O Gopal! Where are You? My mother has said to call you!” And immediately Gopal appeared..
The Determination of Dhruva
Dhruva Maharaja was also only a child, a five-year old boy. When he inquired from his mother Suniti, she told him, “Narayan is there. If you get the mercy of Lord Narayan then all of your desires will be fulfilled.”
Dhruva siad, “Yes! Lord Narayan. Where is He?”
Suniti said, “I have heard that saints and sages go to the forest to get Him.”
Dhruva said, “Oh, I must go! I must go and get Him!” He was only a five-year-old boy ,but he had such determination.
Later, Narada Muni told him, “The forest is a very dangerous place. There are many fearful, ferocious animals here --- tigers, lions, and snakes. You are a small boy, what can you do here?”
Dhruva said, “No! No! My mother said that Narayan is there. I must go and find Him. Dhruva wouldn’t hear any dissuasion. He was so strong and determined! Therefore his name is Dhruva. “Dhruva” means “determined”. His determination never shakes. Rupa Goswami therefore says in Upadesamrta (text 3):
utsahan niccayads dhairyattat-tat-karma-pravartanat
sa∫ga-tyagat sato vrtthe˙ sadbhir bhakti˙ prasidhyati
“One can execute the process of bhakti-yoga successfully with full-hearted enthusiasm, perseverance, and determination, by following the prescribed duties in the association of devotees and engaging completely in activities of goodness.”
Rupa Goswami, mahajana-acarya, says one must have utsaha, enthusiasm, and niscaya, determination. “Yes, I am determined to achieve this thing. I must achieve it.” Dhruva had that kind of determination. But also dhairya, you must have patience. Don’t lose patience. This strong determination and strong faith is most important. Nothing is impossible. Krishna is always there to help you. He is there in your heart. He will test how strong your faith is in Him. Your faith is shaking; it is not strong. How determined are you? Krishna creates everything. His will is supreme. By His mere desire creation, maintenance, and destruction take place. We are completely dependent on His will. Bhaktivinoda says in Sarangati (3.4.7) tomara icchaya achi nirbhara koriya --- “I am completely dependent on Your will, O Krishna.” So Krishna says, “Okay, I will test your faith, to see if you are really completely dependent on My will.” But you are lacking faith and Krishna knows, “Oh, he has no faith. He only speaks from the lips. In his heart he has no faith.”
Everything takes place according to the will of Krishna. If He doesn’t will, a blade of grass will not shake. So it is a question of faith. But why do we lack faith? Dhruva immediately put strong faith. He was not afraid of any situation. “Where is that Narayan? Where is Narayan!” The example is also there in the story about the young boy and Gopal. But we can’t put faith. What is the reason? Why are these small children able to have faith, but adults cannot? It is because you are crooked and they are simple. A child is very simple, but as soon as he grows up and associates with adults, those who are very crooked, he develops crookedness. Otherwise, in the beginning a child is very simple. Simplicity is vaisnavism. All our acaryas have said this. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami stresses on this; saralata hi vaisnavata—simplicity is vaisnavism. Real vaisnavas are a simple as a child. There is no question of crookedness, duplicity or pretentiousness in them. But our heart is full of these things. We are not al all simple-hearted persons. We are very crooked. Duplicity, crookedness, and pretentiousness are in you. But Krishna is in your heart. He knows what is in you; you cannot cheat Him. Therefore we say that sadhu-guru-mahajan are patita pavana, not kapati-pavana---they are the saviors of the fallen, not saviors of the crooked.
Some persons say, “Shall I just have blind faith? Shall I not think anything? Shall I not apply my intelligence, my deliberation? Should I just put blind faith in whatever sadhu and sastra say?”
They say, “We have our own intelligence. We must think very seriously before we can accept.”
How can you deliberate on what Krishna says, what sastra says , what the mahajanas say? They have no defects. You are a conditioned soul with four defects; bhrama (tendency to commit mistakes), pramada (the tendency to be illusioned), vipralipsa (the tendency to cheat), and karanapatava (imperfect senses). Your senses are defective. The thoughts in your mind are defective. What you perceive through your senses is defective.
You say, “Oh! we have been cheated so many times. Now we won’t put faith in anyone. No sadhus are there. We don’t see any sadhu.”
Can you see a sadhu? Do you have the vision to see a sadhu? You are a conditioned soul. You have defective vision. How can you see a sadhu? You have developed this motto, “Seeing is believing.” You say, “ If I see, then I will believe. Can you show me? Can you show me the Lord? Then I will believe.”
But you are not prepared to admit that you are blind. You have no vision to see the Lord. Even if I show you the Lord, how can you see without vision? You are not prepared to admit your shortcoming. You are such a crooked, pretentious, duplicitous person. You are always trying to hide your defects. You are not prepared to admit them. This is proof that you are not at all simple. You are a crooked person. Be simple! If you just once say with an open heart, “Krishna I am Yours!” then immediately Krishna will accept you. He is there in your heart, but you can’t cry out to Him. Your heart if filled with such filth, such duplicity and crookedness. You are ever simple. And Krishna knows it.
This is the reason why you cannot develop strong faith. Now you want to see sadhu. You say, “We don’t see any sadhus. There are no sadhus.
If there is no sadhu, then how are things going on? This is Kali-yuga, the most sinful and degraded age. Still there is ekapad-dharma, one-legged religion, therefore things are continuing. Otherwise everything would have been finished, destroyed. In Satya-yuga dharma had four legs. In Treta-yuga three legs were there. In Dvarpara-yuga two legs were there, and in Kali-yuga there is one leg. Because this one leg of dharma is present, things are going on and we are all here.
The holy name came---this is the yuga-dharma for Kali-yuga. But we have no faith, no belief in it. We are such crooked persons. We have no simplicity. We only speak with the lips while something else is in the heart. This simplicity is vaisnavism It is the only thing required. Make your heart simple. Drive out, throw out all this filth, crookedness, duplicity, and pretentiousness, and immediately you will get Krishna.
Krishna emphasizes this sraddha in many places in the Gita: Chapter four, text 39 states: sraddhaval labhate jnanam---“A faithful person quickly obtains transcendental knowledge.” In chapter nine, text three, Krishna states: asraddadhanah purusa aprapya mam nivartante mrtyu-samsara-vartmani ---.Those who have no sraddha, no faith, cannot approach Me. Again and again they will fall down here to this mrtyu-samsara, world of death.
Those who have vision, they see and they say, arya-vijna-vakya nahi dosa catustaya—the words of the mahajanas, sadhus, are free from the four defects. Why don’t you put unflinching faith in their words? You say, “I must think about it first. I must deliberate on what they say. If I am convinced then I will apply it.”--- This is all duplicity, crookedness, lack of faith! You are not prepared to admit that you have four defects. Your senses are defective, how can you see? You think, “I am the seer. I will see.” But you are not the seer. You have defective vision. How can you see a sadhu who is free from defects and exists on the transcendental platform? He is in the fourth dimension. You are limited to three dimensions: length, breadth and height. Can your material mind conceive the fourth dimension? Then how can you say, “If I see, only then I will accept?” Nonsense! Such nonsense! You can only act on faith. Nothing else.
In the story I told, the mother instructed and the child put faith in her words. The mother is authority and the child is simple. Sadhu, mahajana, and sastra are authority. But you have no faith in them. How can you get Krishna? Faith is the most important thing. Even if you put blind faith, still you will be delivered because sadhu mahajanas are free from defects. What they say is real truth---mahajana yei kahe, sei satya mani (Cc. Madhya 25.56). Suppose you put blind faith in sadhu’s words and you go to hell; then sadhu-mahajan will go to hell to deliver you. But by your manipulations, politics, and duplicity, even if you elevate yourself to the position of Brahmaloka, Satyaloka, still you will fall from there and you cannot be delivered by sadhu-mahajana.
One who is very simple, immediately puts strong unflinching faith, immediately surrenders, and immediately is accepted by Krishna. That is what is needed. Simplicity is vaisnavism, but we are lacking that thing.
You should take example from mahajanas like Rupa and Sanatana Goswami. How simple they are! Once a very puffed-up, proud pandit came to see them. He was traveling everywhere, challenging and trying to defeat others. That pandit came to Sanatana Gosvami and Rupa Goswami and said, “You debate with me. If I am victorious then you will sign a certificate of defeat and if you defeat me then I will sign a certificate that you have defeated me.” Rupa and Sanatana immediately said, “No, we will give you a certificate. Please go, dandavats. Yes, we are defeated. You are victorious” This is simplicity.
Jada Bharat was also simple in this way. A group of dacoits were searching for a nice human being to sacrifice so that Kali would be pleased and they could get a benediction from her. They found Jada Bharat sitting in a cornfield. He was very strong, stout, and good-looking. They thought he would be very nice for sacrifice. Jada Bharat was like a madman --- dumb and callous like an animal. Just like the butcher taking an animal to the slaughterhouse, the dacoits took him to be sacrificed. Jada Bharat went with no protest, just like a simple child. He was such an elevated paramahamsa! The dacoits bathed him and put new clothes on him. The put vermilion on is forehead. Then they asked him, “Please bow down here.” Like a simple child he did what they said. Then they raised a sword to cut off his head.
Kali is a vaisnava, a maidservant of Krishna. Seeing their activity, she said, “What are these rascals dacoits doing?” Kali suddenly came out from deity with a sword in her hand and chopped off the heads of those dacoits and Jada Bharat was saved.
Nevertheless you are thinking, “Shall I put faith blindly? Shall I not think about it? Shall I not deliberate on it?” You are saying like that because you have no faith. Because duplicity and crookedness is there in your heart. You are not simple.
One who is very simple is really surrendered. He is a real sadhu, and he is protected. This simplicity is lacking in you. You think, “I will see.” But you are not the seer. Krishna is the seer; sadhu is the seer. You are to be seen. But you are thinking just the opposite, “I will be the seer and the sadhu will be seen.” What is this nonsense? They are the seer---Krishna is the seer, sadhu is the seer. You have to be seen. When they cast their merciful glance on you, then your good fortune arises. You become fortunate, subhagya. But you are thinking, “I am the seer.” Just the opposite. That’s the whole problem, nothing else.
Devotee: How can someone develop simplicity?
Gour Govinda Swami: Associate with a simple sadhu. As I described by guru-maharja, how he came and inculcated faith. And why are you lacking faith now? Because you are not associating with sadhus! You say, “We cannot see sadhu. There are no sadhus present now.” That’s the whole trouble with you.
Devotee: But if we are duplicitous in the heart, then we will be blind and won’t be able to see who is a sadhu. So how can we associate with sadhus if we don’t know who is a sadhu?
Gour Govinda Swami: Therefore I say, even if sadhu comes, because you are blind you have no faith in him. You want to be the seer, so you cannot get any benefit. You cannot associate. If a sadhu comes and chants here, speaks krsna-katha, it will never enter your ear. You cannot get any benefit. You don’t do sadhu-sanga at all. Although you come and sit here, you are just posing, you are just pretending. You are such a pretender! Because you have no faith, the sadhu’s katha will never enter your ear. Thus, you cannot get any benefit. Just pretending. Sitting for ten or fifteen minutes, then getting up and going out. Why is this? Because you have no faith. You are not simple. You want to be the seer. But you are not the seer. That’s the whole trouble.
Devotee: So I should just give it up?
Gour Govinda Swami: Yes! Give up everything! Just throw it out! Throw it out! Make your heart clean and open. Jesus Christ said, “Empty thyself. I will fill thee.” But you are not emptying. Your heart is full to the brim with crookedness, duplicity and enviousness --- all nasty things. How can he fill you? There is no space. Empty yourself. Throw it out! Then you will get.
[From an evening program in Lansing, Michigan on 28 October 1991]