The Shelter of Faith

“The real beginning of the real life of a real devotee.”

Srila Sridhar Maharaj discusses the levels of theistic development presented in the Ramananda Samvad.

yat karoṣi yad aśnāsi yaj juhoṣi dadāsi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kuruṣva mad-arpaṇam
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 9.27)

Whatever is within you, good or bad, must be thrown with the object of your service.

kāma kṛṣṇa-karmārpaṇe  krodha bhakta-dveśi-jane
lobha sādhu-saṅge hari-kathā
(Srila Narottam Thakur)

It may be adjusted in such a way: I have got anger, and that anger should be utilised in favour of the service of the Lord. Krodha bhakta-dveśi-jane: I may use my anger against those who have come to attack the devotees. The diplomatic knowledge I have got may also be utilised for service. So many tendencies are in my mind and from that stage, when I want a wholesale transformation within my mental system, I shall try to adjust them and utilise them in connection with divine service. In this way, to make the best of a bad bargain: whatever one has got he may try to utilise as much as possible for the service of the Lord, and that way he will be able to purge them out very soon and very easily.

yat karoṣi yad aśnāsi yaj juhoṣi dadāsi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kuruṣva mad-arpaṇam

Sarva-dharmān parityajya is the next higher stage, and then to become one with chetan, soul: brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā. Brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā stage is jnana-misra-bhakti (devotion mixed with knowledge), and yat karoṣi yad aśnāsi is karma-misra-bhakti (devotion mixed with worldly activity). Sarva-dharmān parityajya is going from karma-misra to jnana-misra.

Then real bhakti begins with jñāne prayāsam udapāsya namanta eva: independent of any connection with karma and jnan, to only take the help of ruchi, taste. Whatever my condition may be, if I have got taste and I have got the connection of a sadhu, that will take me up very strongly and very safely in the right direction. Sadhu-sanga is all important, and my taste to hear from the lips of a real sadhu, where real God consciousness has begun. My taste for real God consciousness, Krishna consciousness, is the most valuable thing. That taste will take me upward and everything else will go away in no time.

Mahaprabhu says, “Here it is, this is the beginning.” From other stages we can fall back, but if we have got real taste in real Krishna consciousness we are safe. Eho haya, āge kaha āra: “Yes, it is. It is the real beginning of the real life of a real devotee.” It is here. The disciple has real taste and he is fortunate enough to have real relation with real God consciousness. All other qualifications and non-qualifications are ignored.

jñāne prayāsam udapāsya namanta, jīvanti san-mukharitāṁ

Now faith has given shelter to this disciple and he is safe. Faith has begun in its original form, its real form here, above calculation. Calculation, using our knowledge to draw a comparison of the goodness of this world and that world, is a very weak thing and not truly reliable, but faith is real, faith has got its real characteristic, and here Mahaprabhu sanctioned, “Yes, here it begins. The life of a devotee proper begins here. Yes, cross the line of danger, of maya.”

The calculation cannot be relied on and can’t help us to reach the proper place. Sukrti and sraddha, of the nirgun plane, are independent. Sakala chhāḍiyā bhāi, śraddhā-devīra guṇa gāi: firm faith is the most valuable thing to attain, not knowledge and not energy. Energy—this money, men, worldly wealth—and knowledge are both futile. Only sraddha, faith, which is our inner function, can help us. Why? Knowledge means doubt. Knowledge means that in the background there is doubt, suspicion, and through elimination and acceptance we want to calculate, “This is good, this is bad, this is the symptom for the badness and goodness.” It is not automatic. Knowledge has the possibility of suspicion on the background: “I may be deceived. I shall have to understand.” He is in the plane of a treacherous atmosphere, so he is suspicious and must calculate and find out what is true, what is untrue, all these things. He is living in the plane of suspicion, doubt. That is what knowledge means. But one who has faith has reached such a plane where no treachery is possible, where there is no room for any suspicion. In that country suspicion is not to be found; those living in that soil do not know what cheating or deception is. There are simple dealings there, in the plane of faith. There we have come to the real soil, such a safe plane where calculation is not necessary.

Sakala chhāḍiyā bhāi, śraddhā-devīra guṇa gāi, this connection is the happiest for the soul, when we have connection within us of faith, and also the genuine party, my Guru. Mahaprabhu says, “Yes, here it is, now go further.” Otherwise, before that, “Eho bahya, this is superficial, this is superficial, go ahead, go forth. Eho bahya, eho bahya, eho bahya, eho bahya—now here it is, go, make further progress!” Jnana-sunya-bhakti: that is sraddha. Sraddha cannot be exploited. Real sraddha, yo yach-chhraddhaḥ sa eva saḥ (17.3), will take us to a particular place. There is the guidance of the supreme. None can seduce one who has got real sraddha. Through faith, innate attraction, you will understand the real thing: “My heart feels very confident here.” He may be an illiterate, he may be a poor person devoid of all worldly resources, but the heart will select his company automatically. In the selection of a friend the heart will guide him surely; he may not know, but that company, that devotee will seem to be very congenial to him. Na hi kalyāṇa-kṛt kaścid durgatiṁ tāta gachchhati (Bg 6.40): that is the greatest solace for us, that ignorance—not ignorance proper but illiteracy or something like that—that cannot stand on our way.


yat karoṣi yad aśnāsi yaj juhoṣi dadāsi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kuruṣva mad-arpaṇam
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 9.27)

“Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer in sacrifice, whatever you give and whatever vow you may keep—do everything as an offering unto Me.”

sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śuchaḥ
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 18.66)

“Abandon all duties and surrender to Me alone. I will liberate you from all sin. Do not despair.”

 brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā na śochati na kāṅkṣati
samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 18.54)

“The joyful-hearted, enlightened soul who has attained his divine nature neither sorrows nor desires. Seeing all beings equally, he comes to attain transcendental loving devotion for Me.”

jñāne prayāsam udapāsya namanta eva
jīvanti san-mukharitāṁ bhavadīya-vārtām
sthāne sthitāḥ śruti-gatāṁ tanu-vāṅ-manobhir
ye prāyaśo ’jita jito ’py asi tais tri-lokyām
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 10.14.3)

“In whatever position they may be, those who give up the endeavour for knowledge, surrender to the sadhus, and dedicate their lives bodily, verbally, and mentally to their talks of the Lord, can conquer the Lord, who is otherwise unconquerable.”

kṛṣṇa-bhakti-rasa-bhāvitā matiḥ
krīyatāṁ yadi kuto ’pi labhyate
tatra laulyam api mūlyam ekalaṁ
janma-koṭi-sukṛtair na labhyate
(Srila Rupa Goswami’s Padyavali)

“Pure devotional service in Kṛṣṇa consciousness cannot be had even by pious activity in hundreds and thousands of lives. It can be attained only by paying one price — that is, intense greed to obtain it. If it is available somewhere, one must purchase it without delay.”

pārtha naiveha nāmutra vināśas tasya vidyate
na hi kalyāṇa-kṛt kaścid durgatiṁ tāta gachchhati
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 6.40)

“Oh Arjuna, there is no loss for the unsuccessful yoga practitioner as he is not denied the happiness of the heavenly plane in this world, nor is he denied the chance of the fortune to see the Supersoul in the transcendental realm. This is so, oh dear one, because a person who performs virtuous actions never suffers an ill fate.”

sakala chhāḍiyā bhāi, śraddhā-devīra guṇa gāi,
yā̐ra kṛpā bhakti dite pāre
(Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur)

“Casting everything else aside, oh my brother, sing the glory of Sraddha Devi, by whose grace we may receive devotion.”