Real Sadhu Sangha and Hearing Higher Lilas

by Sriman Bhagavat Das [ACBSP]

17 April 2006

Recently the Sampradaya Sun published an article written by someone calling himself Krsna Das. Since this person is not known to me or others we were not able to contact him directly. In his article he took certain quotes from the teachings of the previous acharya’s in our line and then tried to make it appear that Srila Narayana Maharaja was in direct opposition to these acharya’s including his own diksha guru. It was obvious from his select cut and paste of certain quotes that he was not very well educated in the Gaudiya Vaishnava Siddhanta and the complete teachings of these acharya’s otherwise he could not come to so many false conclusions about their teachings.  

I would like to present other quotations from all of these acharya’s that conclusively prove that they are in fact in complete agreement with the present preaching practices of Srila Narayana Maharaja.  One should always remember that according to time, place, and circumstance, the acharya’s will make different statements for different audiences. We should try to understand the goal of life (prayojana) and the practices taught by the acharya’s that help us reach perfection (sadhya).

In the beginning of his article Krsna das quotes Srila Pramode Puri Maharaja stating that “In your foreign countries a party of sahajiyas has appeared.” This quote is from 1996 the same year Srila Narayana Maharaja first went to America. The only problem is that this quote is from February of 1996, several months before Srila Narayana Maharaja went there, however Srila Pramode Puri Maharaja is saying that they have already entered. It is more likely that he was referring to some of Srila Prabhupada’s former disciples who were already propagandizing for some babajis in the west. Recently one of those persons became a pure prakrta sahajiya by initiating a female disciple into a sexual sadhana relationship with him. Of course we were all warned things like this would happen if we strayed from the path marked out for us by Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, and our Srila Prabhupada. However it is not just the timing being off that shows this statement could not be about Srila Narayana Maharaja. The following statements by one of Srila Pramode Puri Maharaja’s former secretaries should shed further light on why it could not possibly be Srila Narayana Maharaja that Srila Pramode Puri Maharaja was talking about when he made this statement.

Some years ago Sriman Ravindra Swarupa wrote an article about Srila Bhakti Vedanta Narayana Maharaja. In response to that article His Holiness Srimad Bhakti Vidagdha Bhagawat Maharaja, who was the personal secretary of Srila Bhakti Pramode Puri Maharaja for many years, wrote an article refuting his points. A portion of Srimad Bhagavat Maharajas article is produced here: “At the cornerstone laying of the Baghbazar Gaudiya Math, Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura expressed his desire to publish the authentic commentaries of the higher topics of the Srimad Bhagavatam such as Gopi-Gita and Bhramara-Gita. He said, "Still now we are saying this is not so. Now we must speak this is like that, we should not read the commentaries of Gopi-Gita and Bhramara-Gita written by the prakrta-sahajiyas but we must also publish authentic editions of the Gopi-Gita and the Bhramara-Gita of the Srimad- Bhagavatam because we need to perform real krishnanusilanam". This was printed in the weekly Gaudiya. H.H. Narayana Maharaja is now trying to fulfill that desire of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura Prabhupada, so how can you say that Narayana Maharaja has become an instrument of this attack against the mission of Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura? Our Gurudeva Om Visnupada 108 Sri Srimad Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Maharaja considers him (Srila Narayana Maharaja) to be the best weapon to resist the misconceptions of the so-called babajis of Radha-Kunda and it is a proven fact that when he goes to Radha-Kunda he openly challenges them to come forward and have a debate with him if they do not accept the mission of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati as bonafide. Nobody dares to come near him.”

I am confident that this quote clearly lays to rest any doubt that anyone may have had about Srila Bhakti Pramode Puri Maharaja’s statement about sahajiyas being a reference to Srila Narayana Maharaja. Just to reinforce this point we are presenting the statements of another disciple of Srila Pramode Puri Maharaja. Sripad Madhavpriya brahmacari is a diksa disciple of Srila Bhakti Pramode Puri Maharaja and is presently serving in Srila Narayana Maharaja's Rupa Sanatana Gaudiya Matha: I have been associating for some time with Srila Narayana Maharaja. When I had first asked my Guru Maharaja if I may take the association of Srila Narayana Maharaja he said, "Yes. Why not? You can go to each and every Gaudiya Matha. Wherever you like, you can associate with higher Vaishnavas in our guru-parampara, in the line of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. And what to say about Sri Narayana Maharaja; he is a pure Vaisnava and sincere guru and Vaisnava sevaka.

Furthermore, the previous quote from the Gaudiya by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura also makes it very clear that contrary to popular opinion Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura wanted authentic commentaries of the higher topics like Gopi Gita, etc to be published in an authentic manner by the Gaudiya mission. In the article written by Krsna Das, whoever he is, he produces a quote by Srila Bhakti Prajnana Keshava Maharaja, Srila Narayana Maharajas diksha Guru, concerning how Srila Keshava Maharaja would not publish the section on rasa tattva in the Hindi publication of Jaiva Dharma because he did not feel the that the public was qualified to hear it. This leads devotees to believe that Srila Narayana Maharaja was in direct opposition to his diksha Guru when he published the English translation of Jaiva Dharma in its entirety. If one reads the introduction to Srila Narayana Maharaja’s English edition of Jaiva Dharma he will see that Srila Keshava Maharaja printed the Jaiva Dharma in its entirety when he published the second edition. Srila Narayana Maharaja makes the point that this is the reason he felt confident to publish the book in its entirety in the English edition. So by publishing books on the higher lilas Srila Narayana Maharaja is not disobeying his diksha Guru and is also fulfilling the desires of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura who wanted authentic commentaries of the higher topics like Gopi Gita, etc to be published in an authentic manner by the Gaudiya mission. However, these are not the only statements which Srila Saraswati Thakur has made regarding the importance of hearing higher lilas. According to time place and circumstance Srila Saraswati Thakur had something very different to say about astakaliya-lila than what was quoted in the article by Krsna Das.

In a lecture delivered by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur Prabhupada at Radha-Kunda during Vraja-mandal parikrama in 1932, which was printed in The Gaudiya in 1934, His Divine Grace gave these orders:

"All these days we have not spoken about lila. Why? Because this is our most confidential asset. This is our only sadhya (perfection). But, one should not make the mistake of thinking that anartha-nivrtti (overcoming impediments such as lust and greed) is the prayojana (goal of life). One thinking like this will never enter into artha-pravrtti (acquiring one’s actual need). For this reason, I will begin speaking about astakaliya-lila.

"I know that you are not ready to hear it. But we should know such a transcendental ideal exists within the realm of devotion. This is why anartha-nivrtti is essential. After the realm of anartha-nivrtti is artha-pravrtti, pure conjugal service to Radha and Krsna. This is transcendental reality. If we do not know of this transcendental realm, then all of our efforts may end in nirvisesa-vada (impersonalism). Do not let your day pass in trying for anartha-nivrtti. Artha-pravrtti is also necessary. Anartha-nivrtti is necessary until artha-pravrtti has started. When artha-pravrtti is present then anartha-nivrtti becomes unimportant — artha-pravrtti becomes prominent.

How many devotees in ISKCON who have been practicing anartha nivrtti for so many years without getting any taste for artha pravrtti have fallen away from the path of devotional service and taken to breaking the four regulative principles. The devotee community in Alachua is populated by many such persons. This includes two very old disciples of Srila Prabhupada who take so called business trips leaving their wives at home while they drink alcohol and enjoy the company of girls young enough to be their daughters. If one does not hear and chant about how Krsna is the enjoyer than they will want to be the enjoyers. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura then makes the following points in the same discourse:

"Those who have chanted hari nama for fifteen or twenty years should know such things (astakaliya-lila). The beginners need not hear these topics or they will misunderstand. These topics are for certain audiences, not for all.

"Do not think that astakaliya-lila smaranam is the property of the
sahajiyas. Actually it is our property. The sahajiyas claim that it is
theirs but this is a complete misconception".

Srila Narayana Maharaja has helped many sincere devotees of our Srila Prabhupada who have been chanting for 30 years or more while practicing anartha nivrtti without getting a taste for artha pravrtti. So the real point is if we expend so much hard labor following the basics, which is getting rid of the anarthas, without knowing the goal we will fall down from the path. Therefore Srila Saraswati Thakura says: "I know that you are not ready to hear it. But we should know such a transcendental ideal exists within the realm of devotion." Even if you are not ready to hear it still you should because if you just work on the anarthas than Srila Saraswati Thakura says: "If we do not know of this transcendental realm, then all of our efforts may end in nirvisesa-vada (impersonalism)." We will become impersonalists which means to think we are as good as God and so we can enjoy as well and we will fall from the path. Therefore Srila Saraswati Thakura also states in that same discourse the following: "By removing the clothes of the gopis, Krsna obtained happiness; this is Krsna’s sense gratification. If we are to ask, "Why is He a sense enjoyer?’ ‘Let us see Krsna display the behavior of controlling the senses.’ We cannot ask like this, because Krsna will not become a slave to our desires. Krsna, by his own will, can show us sense restraint — He did show it in his form as Gaurasundara. By that example, He is informing us that no one except Krsna has the right to remove the clothes of the gopis. Our duty is to cultivate devotional service.”

So when does anartha nivrtti end? Most devotees are under the common misconception that Anartha-nivrtti ends when one enters the stage of nistha. This is completely wrong. The truth is that there are various forms of anartha-nivrtti that extend even past the stage of rati or bhava into prema.

According to Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura in his Madhurya Kadambini, anartha-nivrtti is a stage that actually begins in bhajana-kriya when anarthas start to be eradicated. This process of eradication has five gradations: limited or partial (eka-desa-vartini), pervasive (bahu-desa-vartini), almost complete (prayiki), complete (purna), and absolute (atyantiki).

So at which stage of removing the anarthas should we hear about Sri Sri Radha Krishna's pastimes with the Gopis? Srila Prabhupada says at the earliest stage:” Another secret of success is that when one is very much sexually disturbed, he should think of Krsna’s pastimes with the gopis, and he will forget his sex urge"

But how and from whom should we hear? Srila Prabhupada tells us that in the Krishna Book: "The conditioned soul should hear the rasa-lila dance from an authorized spiritual master and be trained by him so that he can understand the whole situation; thus one can be elevated to the highest standard of spiritual life; otherwise one will be implicated. Material lust is a kind of heart disease, and to cure the material heart disease of the conditioned soul, it is recommended that one should hear, but not from the impersonalist rascals. If one hears from the right sources with right understanding, then his situation will be different. One must hear from disciplic succession. Anu means following, and anu means always. So one must always follow the disciplic succession and not hear from any stray professional reciter, Mayavadi or ordinary man. Anusrnuyat means that one must hear from an authorized person who is in the disciplic succession and is always engaged in Krsna consciousness."

Some devotees question whether Srila Prabhupada Himself would ever actually preach to devotees about higher lilas in the early stages. Well let me give you some examples that you may not have read before if you do not study the books very well.

The first example is Bhakta Bob now known as Brahma Tirtha. Here is a quote from “Perfect Questions Perfect Answers” where Srila Prabhupada gives some of the intimate details to an uninitiated bhakta. “Çréla Prabhupäda: Yes. Sometimes when Rädhäräëé would go out, Kåñëa would attack Her, and when She would fall down—"Kåñëa, don't torture Me in that way"—They would fall down, and Kåñëa would take the opportunity and kiss Her. [He laughs.] So, Rädhäräëé was very pleased, but superficially Kåñëa was the greatest rascal. So unless rascaldom is in Kåñëa, how could rascaldom be existent in the world? Our formula of God is that He is the source of everything. Unless rascaldom is in Kåñëa, how can it be manifest... because He is the source of everything. But His rascaldom is so nice that everyone worships His rascaldom.”

Then this quotation from Srila Prabhupada is from a lecture he gave in 1968 or 69 and was published as an article called the “The Highest Love” in the BACK TO GODHEAD magazine in 1970: “In unalloyed love of Godhead we have to engage our senses—sarvendriya, all the senses. This means that sex is also to be engaged in Kåñëa consciousness. The conception of God as a father or mother does not allow the engagement of one’s sex in the service of the Lord because there is no sex relationship with the father and mother. But in the conception of God as a lover, there is sex engagement also. Therefore, Caitanya Mahäprabhu gave the most perfect information of our engagement with the Supreme Lord. In other religious conceptions of life, God is at the utmost taken as the father or mother. Many worshipers in India take goddess Kali to be the representation of God. Of course, that is not sanctioned, but the belief is there, and also in the Christian religion the conception of God is as a father. But Caitanya Mahäprabhu informs us that one can even have sex engagement with the Lord. This information is Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s unique contribution. In this material world, sex engagement is considered to be the highest engagement, the greatest pleasure, although it exists only in a perverted form. No one, however, has conceived that there can be sex engagement in the spiritual world. There is not a single instance of such theology anywhere in the entire world. This information is given for the first time by Caitanya Mahäprabhu: one can have the Supreme Personality of Godhead as one’s husband, as one’s lover. This is possible in the worship of Radha and Kåñëa, but no one, especially the impersonalists, can understand Radha- Kåñëa. The impersonalist’s have no idea; they cannot even conceive that God has form. But Caitanya Mahäprabhu says that not only does God have form, but He has sex life also. This is the highest contribution of Caitanya Mahäprabhu.”

Now for the faint of heart you might want to skip this next section. Srila Prabhupada established ISKCON in April of 1966. Just 14 months later in June of 1967 Srila Prabhupada has the poems of Vidyapati published in BACK TO GODHEAD. The poems were translated into English by Deben Bhattacharya in his book “Love Songs of Vidyapati”. These poems were usually only read by a select few devotees of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Especially they were read in the Gambhira by Ramananda Raya and Swarup Damodara to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu at night. Here is just one of the poems Srila Prabhupada had published in BACK TO GODHEAD #13 in June 1967:

Exquisite today,

This sport of love,

As Radha rides on Krishna.

Beads of sweat glisten on her face

Like pearls on the moon,

A present to her

From the God of love.

With all her force

She kisses her lover's lips,

Like the moon swooping

To drink a lotus bloom.

Her necklace dangles

Below her hanging breasts;

Like streams of milk

Trickling from golden jars.

The jingling bells around her waist

Sang glory to the God of love.

I suppose if Srila Narayana Maharaja were to publish this poem or have it recited in public he would be severely criticized. So how does everyone feel about Srila Prabhupada publishing a poem like this for reading by the free love society of the 60’s in 1967 the “Summer of Love”? No objections? GOOD! I didn’t think so. Srila Prabhupada knew that this was the best medicine for the free love society and Srila Narayana Maharaja knows that Srila Prabhupada’s sincere disciples who have been chanting for over 30 years trying to practice anartha nivrtti now need this same medicine.

How about this quote from Srila Prabhodananda Saraswati Thakura in his Sri Vrindavana Mahimamrta 14th chapter 4th verse: “As Srimati Radha fatigued from the battle of conjugal pastimes, rests on the chest of Her lover, a certain gopi plunged in pure love serves Her. Even though he is destroyed by his senses and even though he cannot directly see any of these pastimes, a person who in his heart meditates on THIS GOPI becomes supremely fortunate.”

Even though a person is DESTROYED by his senses, in other words a wonton sense enjoyer whose senses have been destroyed by sense gratification. Even this person who cannot even begin to see any of these intimate pastimes should meditate on them because by doing so they become SUPREMELY FORTUNATE! I especially liked putting this quote into the article because I got it off the website in the shastra section. Maybe the editors at Sampradaya Sun should be reading these books that have been made available to everyone on their host website to look at before they post misplaced quotes about when one is eligible to take real sadhu sangha and hear the higher lilas. Does this mean that anyone who takes up this process will never fall? No it does not. However the ratio of persons whose spiritual life was resuscitated in relation to those rare few who have fallen away speaks for itself about the effectiveness of this process.

The best way to understand how effective the association of advanced Vaishnavas who properly train you to understand the higher lilas can be is to experience it for yourself. Srila Narayana Maharaja is making a tour of the US this summer. He will be holding festivals on the east and west coast. Come and hear the power of real Hari Katha from an exalted Mahabhagavat who is directly associating with Sri Sri Radha Krsna at every moment. Go to and look at the festival section on the right side of your screen and click on the festival near you.

In conclusion I would like to leave you with a verse from the Bhajana “SRI RADHA NISTHA” by Narottama Das Thakur.

tara bhakta sange sada, rasa-lila prema katha,

je kore se paya ghanasyama

ihate bimukha jei, tara kabhu siddhi nai,

nahi jena suni tara nama

"A person who stays in the company of the devotees who are always discussing the sweet, nectarine pastimes of the rasa dance (rasa-lila prema katha) is sure to attain Ghanasyama, who is dark like a monsoon rain cloud. A person averse to hearing these lilas will never attain perfection. I refuse to hear his name."

So anyone who wants to write an article saying that we should not hear the nectarine pastimes of the Rasa Dance should not put his name on it because following in the footsteps of Srila Narottama Das Thakura “nahi jena suni tara nama” I do not want to hear your name. Have a nice life Mr. who ever you are that misquoted all the acharya’s in his article.

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