On this most celebrated day of the disappearance of our beloved Srila Prabhupada I again earnestly offer my obeisances to the esteemed assembly of devotees and humbly entreat all of you to once more kindly and carefully hear a few selected straightforward and truthful words from the heart of a most lowly and insignificant Aindra Dasa.
Today is not only a day to ceremonially offer a few more patrams and puspams and to gorgeously arrange for more fasting and feasting. It is not only a day to nostalgically reminisce and extol the endearing personal character and external accomplishments of our society’s founder-acarya, but also (and perhaps even more importantly) it is a day to look within, to re-evaluate, and to refocus - to precisely identify, realign ourselves with, and sincerely rededicate ourselves to the factual primary thrust of his ongoing mission.
I don’t distrust the much-prayed-for sincerity and spiritual integrity of the major lot of our ISKCON society’s leadership. Much progress has undoubtedly been made on many fronts of the Krishna consciousness movement. Still, I sense a need to seriously address a sanguine point of concern which may help our society’s constituents avert the perils of fall down, degradation, frustration, or deceleration attributable to the consequence of niyamagraha. To this end, I, as a direct disciple of Srila Prabhupada, am obliged to again and again remind everyone of the vital need to, in Srila Prabhupada’s own words, “boil the milk.” “Now I want that we shall concentrate on making our devotees Krishna conscious and ourselves becoming Krishna conscious, and not be so much concerned with expanding ourselves widely but without any spiritual content. Just like boiling the milk, it becomes thicker and sweeter. Now do like that, boil the milk.”
Let us please gravely consider what it really means to be Krishna conscious.
Srila Prabhupada has elucidated in a 1975 Bombay lecture:
“There are different stages of knowledge: pratyaksa, paroksa, aparoksa, adhoksaja, aprakrta. So we have to approach the aprakrta, transcendental, above the material nature. Adhoksaja is almost nearer than the lower grade of knowledge, pratyaksa, paroksaparoksa. They are in the kanistha-adhikara.So prakrta stage is pratyaksa knowledge, direct perception, and knowledge received from parampara. Pratyaksa, paroksa, then aparoksa, self-realization, then adhoksaja, aprakrta. So Krishna consciousness is aprakrta knowledge. It is the topmost platform of knowing Krishna, aprakrta knowledge. So, so long we are up to the adhoksaja knowledge, that is regulative principles. We have to follow the regulative principles strictly. And aprakrta knowledge is for the paramahamsa . . . raga-bhakta. In these stages, pratyaksa, paroksa, they are called vidhi-bhakti. But without vidhi-bhakti, you cannot reach to the platform of raga-bhakti, although that is our aim. Raganuga, raga-bhakti is executed following the come to the stage of raga-bhakti. That is called para bhakti. That para bhakti is required. Gradually developing up to the stage of raga-bhakti or para-bhakti. Then life is successful.”
arcayam eva haraye
pujam yah sraddhayehate
na tad-bhaktesu canyesu
sa bhaktah prakrtah smrtah
Here, Srila Prabhupada thirty-three years ago declares, “This Krishna consciousness movement;” he’s not talking about any other Krishna consciousness movement. No. This one. Gradually developing. How gradual? Gradual to the point of virtual non-development? Progress in Krishna consciousness is as gradual as we want to make it. It should not, however, be artfully dreamt up that our short human life is successful even without our developing up to the stage of raga-bhakti.
My humble analysis is as follows:
Brahma-bhutah prasannatma - The soul only becomes fully joyful upon the spiritual perfection of experiencing oneness with the madhurya moods of Vraja (purnamrtasvadanam). Na socati - lamenting for nothing but the miserable condition of those devoid of such unalloyed devotional enrichment, na kanksati - desiring nothing other than to be reinstated in an eternal intimate loving relationship with Vrajendra-nandana Krishna, samah sarvesu bhutesu - knowing confidentially all living entities to be eligible for the mood of Vraja and thereby being equally disposed to help everyone progressively realize their highest potential vraja-svarupa, mad-bhaktim labhate param - such an elevated soul becomes fully imbued with para bhakti, raga-maya devotion to the lotus feet of guru and Krishna.
yasya deve para bhaktirThe inner meaning of this verse should be ascertained thusly. There are basically two stages of devotion as described in Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Dasa-mula-tattva - apara bhakti or upaya-bhakti, the stage of sadhana-bhakti, components of which are both vaidhi sadhana-bhakti and raganuga-sadhana-bhakti, the means by which one in material bondage may attain perfection, and para bhakti, the liberated stage of sadhya-bhakti, commencing from the platform of bhava-siddhi.
yatha deve tatha gurau
tasyaite kathita hy arthah
Without having come to the perfectional stage of para bhakti, raga-mayi-bhava-bhakti, in one’s service to guru and Krishna, none can legitimately claim to have personally gained revelation of the deepest imports of the scriptures. How then would it be possible for one to esoterically guide the progressive student to his or her highest sadhya? It is not enough to on any level externally assume the position of institutional leadership or mentorship. That alone hardly establishes one as an able representative of Divine Grace nor does it under any circumstance grant one the right to humanly intrude upon, misconstrue, or censor the words of the acarya.
In a letter to Tamala Krishna Gosvami, Srila Prabhupada asserts:
“Regarding your second question: what determines whether a devotee goes to a Vaikuntha planet or to Goloka Vrindaban? - Those devotees who are following vidhi-marga are meant for going to Vaikuntha planets and those who are following raga-marga are meant for going to Krishna-loka. It is generally that the followers of Lord Caitanya are going to Goloka Vrindaban.”
This statement of Srila Prabhupada cogently confirms that generally the followers of Lord Caitanya pursue the path of raga-bhakti. The word “generally” in this connection means “as a general rule,” indicating that the alluded to attainment of Vaikuntha by followers of Lord Caitanya who exclusively attach themselves to the vaidhi bhakti formula without transitioning to the raga-marga should be seen as a relatively atypical exception to the rule - not the rule. It is not at all supported by any scriptural evidence that the relatively atypical exception to the rule should be mulishly foisted upon the here-to-fore institutional ambiance as canonical tenet, to become a broadly established general rule, thereby impeding the disciples’ assent to the realm of Goloka. Thus, it is “generally” expected that devotees of the Krishna consciousness movement, in the progress of their devotional careers, should transition from the rudimentary vaidhika devotional engagement to the path of raga. As such, it is hardly sufficing to sophistically dumb down or stultify the devotional community by exclusively and insistently pandering to the society’s lowest common denominator in the course of our in-house preaching.
Thakura Bhaktivinoda’s Dasa-mula-tattva further explicates the issue:
“In both forms of sadhana-bhakti (vaidhi and raga) guru is required. In vaidhi-bhakti-sadhana, according to the aspirant’s level of spiritual taste (ruci), the guru will give necessary instructions on how to vanquish anarthas by following scriptural injunctions. Then again, the guru will guide the raganuga-bhakti-sadhaka on the path of rasa, spiritual relish, according to the disciple’s intrinsic spiritual tendency.
The guru must analyze the disciple’s natural tendency and establish his innate lobha (greed) for one of the four rasas - dasya, sakhya, vatsalya or madhurya. Having determined his innate lobha, the guru schools him with pertinent instructions. Otherwise, left to himself, the disciple will stumble along as an unauthorized intruder into the path of rasa and his lobha and bhava will never reach steadiness. It is not that everyone must be sadhakas of madhurya rasa. The guru who is unable to determine his disciple's innate lobha, should, without duplicity, express his inability and send his disciple to an eligible bona-fide guru conversant in this science of rasa. For the sadhaka disciple, it is a spiritual catastrophe if he is without the shelter of a bona-fide highly qualified guru.
If good fortune visits a living entity and he meets a pure devotee who is a recipient of Sri Caitanya’s boundless mercy then that fortunate soul will certainly develop attraction and greed for the spiritual sentiments that adorn the eternal residents of Vraja. As long as a living entity does not meet a pure devotee of this stature, he will remain on the level of vaidhi bhakti, regulative devotional service. But, as soon as the practitioner, under superior guidance, takes shelter of Sri Caitanya’s lotus feet, he becomes elevated to the path of raga-bhakti, spontaneous devotional service.”
It is imperative, therefore, that the progressive implementation of high grade devotional illumination be fostered by the beneficent influence of truly elevated rasika-vaisnavas for the forward march of a movement intended to distribute the fruits of love of Godhead (vraja-prema). It is not that Srila Prabhupada’s sankirtana mission precludes the prospects of pursuing the path of raga, nor is it that legitimate institutional leadership is the monopolized prerogative of the religio-corporate power elites and ecclesiastically rubberstamped guru figureheads. We cannot rubberstamp paramahamsas. Indeed, as only the maha-bhagavata truly has the fitness to bestow suddha-nama upon anyone, without receiving which a disciplic candidate could hardly hope to make much tangible spiritual progress in this age of Kali, it is the paramahamsa-maha-bhagavata alone who viably stands as a comprehensive representative of all our Srila Prabhupada and the acarya-parampara have to offer. We must always remember - It is not that authority constitutes truth. Truth constitutes authority. That is guru-parampara. They who prefer to bend, water down, compromise, or obscure the truth to suit various inveigling materially conceived managerial agenda on the plea of propagating the Krishna consciousness movement are not truthful Brahmins, what then of being paramahamsa Vaishnavas. It is disgraceful to remain a fallible neophyte. It is not enough that children pretend to be adults ad nauseum on the plea of perpetuating the sampradaya. Sand-box make-believe-world half-baked mud-pie “Krishna consciousness” will not do. Vaidhi bhakti, though useful to a limit, is like licking the outside of a jar of honey. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada says so. Our ISKCON founder-acarya, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, echoes the same instruction. Therefore, I am compelled to press this most essential point. We have to make progress. Jiva jago! Jiva jago! We have to open the honey jar and actually taste the honey. That is raga-marga-bhajana-kirtana, that is real sadhu-sanga, and that is true para-upakara. Mere lateral expansion of the institution’s workforce, notwithstanding the society’s unspeakable membership turnover, does not in and of itself constitute progress of the Krishna consciousness movement. Movement means to scientifically and consciously move ourselves and those who depend on us for spiritual inspiration toward the very legitimate goal of vraja-prema. To that end, those who are sufficiently endowed with good brain substance (sumedhasa) recognize that there is simply no other recourse, no other recourse, no other recourse in this present time and circumstance than to, from the very seedling beginning of devotional life to the absolute perfectional end (which has no end), take shelter of the process most recommended by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, namely maha-mantra-sankirtana, the loud congregational chanting of the Holy Name.
The thirty-two-syllable maha-mantra - Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare - is affirmed by the sastras to be the approved taraka-brahma kirtana-mantra for this Age of Kali. The taraka-brahma kirtana-mantras prescribed for the previous yugas (Satya, Treta, and Dvapara) are aisvarya- or mixed aisvarya/madhurya-maya mantras bestowing the attainment of the Lord’s majestic realms as their fruit. The Hare Krishna maha-mantra, however, is a kevala-madhurya raga-maya radha-krishna-yugala mantra, which integrates both taraka and paraka potencies, granting to the lobha-maya-sraddhavan jana liberation from material existence and, beyond that, the sweetest fruit of vraja-prema and the attainment of the eternal realm of Vraja. It is not at all fortuitous that the taraka-brahma kirtana-mantra corresponding to the present age, in which the most munificent Lord Gauranga advented to broadcast the sweetest of all the madhurya mellows of Vraja (radha-dasyam), be absolutely in consonance with the very thrust of His mission. Much stress is therefore given to Hare Krishna maha-mantra sankirtana. In this age everyone can best access the course of concentrated vraja-bhakti-bhajana through the medium of Hare Krishna maha-mantra-sankirtana, which easily and very powerfully promotes vibrant, all-round nama, rupa, guna, and lila absorption in Krishna consciousness. Nevertheless, unless we progressively perform maha-mantra-sankirtana with proper depth of internal meditation, recognizing the superlative sense of sambandha-abhideya-prayojana-vicara as our participation in the sankirtana of the Holy Name will not engender the most desirable outcome. As a husband is the life and soul of his wife (vadhu), so hari-nama-sankirtana performed with greed (lobha) to taste the nectar (vraja-bhakti-rasa) for which we are always anxious is, in fact, vidya-vadhu-jivanam, the very life and soul of all transcendental knowledge found in the scriptures. What is the validity of a wife (adhyatma-vidya) without her husband (nama-sankirtana)? Sneha-samyukta-vraja-prema-nama-sankirtana. We read about it. We (armchair) philosophize about it (to the extent we’re able). We distribute millions and billions of books about it. But to what extent are we actually living it? Let us take account; how much of it do we actually do?
In truth, no external action - preaching, book publication, book distribution, nama-sankirtana, nama-japa, sadhu-sanga, vrndavana-vasa, arcana, prasada-seva, pot-washing, or whatever - can be considered an aspect of either ajata-ruci- or jata-ruci-raganuga-sadhana if it is not prompted by a greed to attain the perfection of one’s abhista-vraja-bhava (deeply desired mood of a vraja-gopa or gopi). If one does not recognize within oneself a specific attraction to any one of Krishna’s nitya-parikara vraja-bhava exemplars - if one does not have a desired bhava - then there is no question of one’s external engagements in devotional service being prompted by an innate lobha, owing to lobha’s non-appearance. Hence, one’s devotional activities can never be accepted as nija-abhista-bhava-maya, -sambandhi, -anukula, -aviruddha, or even -viruddha, for that matter, simply because there is no nija-abhista-bhava reference point involved to merit the consideration of such judgments. If one has neither the prerequisite lobha nor the inclination toward relevant internal devotional absorption, the very substance that establishes one’s eligibility to pursue the path of raga, and if one feels no urgency, on the basis of such lobha, to propagate raga-marga-bhakti in the world as per the will of the Lord, then one may preachidy-preach till one is blue in the face or distribute innumerable volumes and volumes of transcendental literatures till the cows come home and still one’s actions will never be deemed any sort of raga-marga-sadhana nor will they engender raga-marga-bhava as their direct outcome. One could hardly expect to gain the outcome of raganuga-sadhana on the strength of one’s external devotional engagements if the inward and outward features of one’s devotional performances do not assume raga-marga characteristics. If a sadhaka’s action is prompted merely by sastra-vidhi and guru’s order, then such action, however enthusiastic, is to be relegated to a status no loftier than vaidha-marga-sadhana, aropa-siddha-bhakti, or perhaps niskama- or even sakama-karma-yoga, depending on the quality of the motivation involved. Reverential vaidhika devotion (maryada bhakti) done with earnest enthusiasm (utsaha) at the stages of ruci, asakti, or even bhava, for that matter, also cannot rightly be deemed the cultivation of raga-bhakti by dint of the performer’s lack of greed for achieving the madhurya sentiments of a Vrajavasi. For the deserving lobha-maya-sadhaka, however, who unpretentiously endeavors to conscionably cultivate the moods of Vraja, differentiating between favorable and unfavorable practices while inwardly musing upon the eternal vraja-lila archetype features of all culturally transfigured varieties of external devotional engagement, practically anything done as well as any apparatus employed to internally or externally advance Lord Gauranga’s mission to flood the world with vraja-bhakti-rasa can be accepted as an influential part and parcel of the raga-marga dimension, commensurate with the individual’s measure of unalloyed devotional progress.
So, on this most holy occasion of Srila Prabhupada’s tirobhava mahotsava, I fervently beseech all, from the upper echelons of our society down to the grass roots contingency - If we have yet to come up to the level of para bhakti, the aprakrta stage of Krishna consciousness, in the course of our devotional evolvement, then, whatever our present devotional standing, let us, for the benefit of all concerned, kindly set aside all superfluous engagements and really do the needful to expedite our progress to the platform of raga-maya devotional perfection, seeing that as our foremost responsibility at the feet of our beloved Srila Prabhupada. Harer nama! Harer nama! Harer namaiva kevalam! Param vijayate sri-krishna-sankirtana! Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!
vanca-kalpa-tarubhyas caOm Tat Sat - Thanks a lot!
krpa-sindhubhya eva ca
vaisnavebhyo namo namah