Systematic approach

Srila B.R. Sridhar Deva-Goswami Maharaj discusses the importance of developing a clear and systematic understanding of the nature of reality and the path chalked out by our Gurus.

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In a scrutinising way we are to find the differences between the layers of knowledge. They are, Bhū, Bhuvah, Maha, Jana, Tapa, Satya, Virajā, Brahmaloka, Vaikuṇṭha, Goloka. These are the layers of different position and different planes of charm. Ultimately we are charmed by something and become a slave to that. Everything has got its own specific charm, and we are to compare and to dismiss and accept, eliminate and accept. We are to understand what is the peculiarity of Bhūloka, and then what is Bhuvaloka, Mahaloka, Janaloka, Tapaloka, and Satyaloka within the jurisdiction of exploitation. Gradually exploitation is being lessened, decreased. In Satyaloka there is a slight attraction for pleasure, for exploitation. There is the least exploitation in Satyaloka. There is more concern for the eternal position of the soul, independent of material acquisition and enjoyment. They do not like the enjoyment of these material things; they are more self-sufficient. They are ātmārāma: they find more pleasure in the perception of their own self. Ramanti means the fixed pleasure, and where? In their own soul. More or less they can find the nature of their own soul, and they are satisfied with that. They are ātmārāma, self-satisfied. That is found in Satyaloka mostly. They can realise the position of their own soul, so they have no material body. No exploitation is necessary to preserve this material body, and they are charmed by the beauty of their own soul and more or less engaged there. Ātmārāma: who is finding pleasure in their own self, their eternal self. Then:
ātmārāmāś cha munayo nirgranthā apy urukrame
kurvanty ahaitukī bhaktim ittham-bhūta guo hari
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 1.7.10)
[“Those who are self-satisfied and unattracted by external material desires are also attracted to the loving service of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, whose qualities are transcendental and whose activities are wonderful. Hari, the Personality of Godhead, is called Kṛṣṇa because He has such transcendentally attractive features.”]
Those that are self-satisfied, that are found in the last extremity of this exploiting world, who are not dependent on the exploitation of this material world, they have got some charm over their plane, and they find Hari there. Hari is such that can attract the attention of those that are self-satisfied. Ātmārāma is a conception of liberation, liberation from the exploiting tendency of the environment. If they feel attraction for some other thing, then that thing must be superior to the human self; otherwise how is it that the attention of those that are self-content can be drawn to something else? That must be finer. So it is a proof that Hari is not this side of the world, but on the higher side. They feel causeless attraction for Hari. Then the ecstasy which we can get in association with Hari must be of a higher degree than what we find in our own self.
prāyea munayo rājan nivttā vidhi-edhata
nairguya-sthā ramante sma guānukathane hare
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 2.1.7)
[“O King Parīkṣit, mainly the topmost transcendentalists, who are above the regulative principles and restrictions, take pleasure in describing the glories of the Lord.”]
These are the proofs that Hari is not this side, within the natural production, as the Śaṅkarites, māyāvādīs say. It is nirguṇa, it is beyond this world. They do not care for satya, raja, tama [the modes of goodness, passion, and ignorance]. They are posing as such, and still they find satisfaction in the discourse about Hari. So Hari must be on the higher side.
tasyāravinda-nayanasya padāravinda
sva-vivarea chakāra teā
kobham akara-juām api chitta-tanvo
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 3.15.43)
The scent of the tulasī which has contact with the holy feet of Nārāyaṇ disturbed these peoples who are ātmārāma, the chatuḥsan [four kumāras], who are self-sufficient, self-satisfied. Their attention is attracted by the sweet scent of the tulasī which has got contact with the holy feet of Nārāyaṇ. That snatched away their attention, so that must have some superior position. In this way it is proved within reason that Vaikunṭḥa is over Brahma, and not this side  of Brahma, as the Śaṅkarites, māyāvādīs, argue.
Śukadev also says:
pariniṣṭhito ’pi nairguya uttama-śloka-līlayā
ghīta-chetā rājare ākhyāna yad adhītavān
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 2.1.9)
“Oh Mahārāj Parīkṣit, you all know that I am well established in nirguṇ Brahma. My position has proved that I am beyond the charm of this mundane world. Cent per cent I have no charm for any material temptation, and still I have some special charm to hear about the līlā of Kṛṣṇa, Vṛndāvan. My attention was forcibly snatched towards that, so that must be on the other side, on the higher side of this world. That is not among the pleasing attractions of this mundane world. This is the sweetness, the elegance, of that Kṛṣṇa-līlā: it is aprākṛta [appearing humanlike, yet divine], it is adhokṣaja, transcendental. This is the proof: that those that have got no charm, the least charm for this mundane pleasure, are reverentially attracted towards those similar things that are very high on the other side of the Brahma, Parabrahma world, and not this mundane world.
Hallucination is dangerous: it may draw our attention to any side and every side. These are the sound calculations towards the transcendental līlā of Kṛṣṇa and we must strictly stick to this sort of judiciousness and judgement. Otherwise we may be misled, misguided. Who is Christ, who is Mohammad, who is Śaṅkara, who is Rāmānuja, and who is Chaitanya? What is their position and what are their subtle differences? We are to measure by these standards of subtle knowledge.
With great scrupulousness and discrimination we are to follow and examine all these specialties of these different layers or planes of existence. Otherwise, puzzled and perplexed, we shall accept anything and everything  in the name of anything and everything, We must make a strong, systematic, study, and the differences between the different layers of thought must be very accurately understood, improved, and followed. Otherwise we are in danger. At any moment anyone may say, “Oh I have finished all these things, it is all nothing! What Charvak says, that is well and good.” This reaction may come.
Generally, we must try to understand the nature of three planes: the plane of exploitation, the plane of renunciation, and the plane of dedication. Then we are to calculate. If you understand the proper evaluation of these planes in general, then in fine points you can also try to calculate how much renunciation, how much exploitation, how much dedication is mixed with it, and then make an evaluation. We must be well versed in the intrinsic knowledge of these three planes first, and then understand the gradation, and how the development is possible, in a mathematical way. Then we cannot be removed from our present fixed position. Otherwise, if we are uncertain, anyone may try to convince us and we will fall prey to their whimsical representation. No stability: today I am a Chaitanyite, the other day I am a Śaṅkarite, the other day I am a Buddhist, another day a Muslim, and another day I am an atheist.

Problems & Solutions

If the living being is not guided by their belief in the inner world, or knowledge of dharma, they cannot follow the path of peaceful co-existence. This means that there is no possibility of peace in the negative world until the living being enters into connection with the positive world. When one is in connection with the positive world then one realises the insignificance of ‘small and great,’ ‘profit and loss,’ ‘happiness and distress,’ and ‘victory and defeat’ found within this negative world.

The following article was prepared from a lecture by Śrīla B.R. Śrīdhar Mahārāj in December of 1955 in Sri Nabadwip Dham, and published in Sri Gaudiya Darshan, Vol 01 1955-56, by Śrīla B.S. Govinda Mahārāj. 
The present honourable Prime Minister of India, Śrī Jawaharlal Nehru, has suggested ‘peaceful co-existence’ as an antidote to the principal problems faced by today’s extroverted state of world affairs. Everyone accepts that due to the overzealousness of warmongering nations there is a chance of complete annihilation of world peace. If the policy of ‘peaceful co-existence’ is followed to the point, then there will be no necessity of spending millions to finance defence machinery, armies nor will there be a need to invest millions in maintaining the department of defence to protect the country. Instead, if that money is utilised in developing other activities for the country then the nation will become prosperous and the ordinary citizens of the country will be able to live in peace. If the above policy attains more prominence then the necessity of a police force, which is kept for the welfare of the common people, will also reduce—this is a fact. Although it may seem impossible to the human intellect at present, it is a clue to peace and Indian politics.
Now it needs to be seen what is the origin of the aforementioned policy? It is easily discernable to an impartial acute observer—its origin lies in a belief in the world within us, in other words, a belief in the Supreme. If the living being is not guided by their belief in the inner world, or knowledge of dharma, they cannot follow the path of peaceful co-existence. This means that there is no possibility of peace in the negative world until the living being enters into connection with the positive world. When one is in connection with the positive world then one realises the insignificance of ‘small and great,’ ‘profit and loss,’ ‘happiness and distress,’ and ‘victory and defeat’ found within this negative world.
When one studies the history of spirituality, one finds that the mahātmās, who were expert in spiritual topics, instead of focusing on making permanent arrangements to stay in this mortal or external world, utilised their entire endeavour in obtaining ‘membership’ in the internal or eternal world. In such efforts they also achieved success. They only accepted whatever elements or products that were easily obtainable in this world for maintaining their lives. One has to bid goodbye today or some days later to this plane. If one makes permanent arrangement to stay in this temporary ‘hotel-like’ world, they will attain no permanent gain except for increasing the intensity of one’s misery. There are famous mahātmās in history who, in spite of obtaining a very long life spanning many yugas, considered it very negligible compared to eternity. Considering things in this way, they set an example by residing under a tree, absorbed in meditating on the eternal spiritual world. Even some mahātmās considered it a waste of time to collect clothes for the body and remained naked. This is the country of that great culture. Therefore it needs to be seen what are our problems and what are their respective solutions. Needless to say, the policy of ‘peaceful existence’ is only momentarily successful in alleviating the raging problems the world is facing, it is not a permanent solution. This is because the element that creates or forms our problems is the one that possesses the inclination to acquire knowledge and perform activity—namely the consciousness.
In reality, the necessity of food and clothing are not the prime problems. Countries that have sufficient food and clothing and immense wealth also cannot avoid problems. They do not have less problems and suffering. Presently America is the most prosperous country. But if we analyse America a little closer, you will find that those who are famous as the wealthiest amongst them, that are immersed in all sorts of worldly enjoyment, have the highest record of suicide amongst all the countries of the world.
Therefore it needs to be seen where the fault lies. It makes no sense for a person who is completely bereft of food to hope for food, or for one who is ultimately bereft of peace to hope for peace. Similarly, expecting solutions to problems from living entities who are always bogged down by problems is also futile. But the solutions to all problems have been given by the all-knowing Bhagavān Vedavyāsa through the medium of the sun-like purāṇa the Śrīmad Bhāgavata and the Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā which occupy the highest positions in saintly conclusions. Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad Bhāgavata have manifested to provide solutions to the most serious problems ever faced.
From the words of Mahātmā Bhīṣma we come to know that the great warrior Arjuna had the power to defeat a whole army of eighteen akṣauhiṇīs (horse battalions) in a moment—yet in spite of his being so immensely powerful and being capable of creating such massive destruction, he was perplexed in solving the problems that he faced. At that time Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā appeared.
On the other hand, when we see the position of one who was worshipped as the undisputed sovereign controlling the destiny of all his subjects—when he understood that he had been given seven days notice that he would depart from this world then one can imagine the grave problem confronting him. You will see that his problem far surpasses all other problems commonly faced by us. At that time, that which manifest to give him proper guidance was the Śrīmad Bhāgavata—that which eradicates sorrow, illusion and fear (śoka-moha-bhayāpahā).
Śrīmad Bhāgavata or Bhagavad-gītā have not cultured any sectarian concept. In a universal manner they have given us solutions. Even if we are enamoured by all kinds of problems, they have given us the thing that can give us real peace. For this reason these two suns are shining brightly in all countries for all times in their full splendour.
Take the case of Śrīmad Bhāgavata—when Parīkṣit Mahārāj was deeply concerned about the dilemma he was in after hearing various opinions from great men and sages, at that moment, by divine providence, Śukadeva arrived. The enquiry of Parīkṣit is not that of any particular group or class of people—it is not even confined to the human species—it is relevant to all conscious living beings. At that final moment he only had one question—what activity within this very short phase of time can lead to attaining supreme auspiciousness and transcendental peace? In what way is it possible to obtain the greatest benefit?
Parīkṣit was affected by this problem—the giver of the solution was Śukadeva. One is in an extreme crisis and the other is the solution-giver at that extremely critical situation. On this point there are similar comparative narrations in the Śrīmad Bhāgavata which you can understand in more detail.
Hearing Parīkṣit’s question Śrī Śukadeva, who is self-satisfied and worshipped even by the denizens of Brahmaloka, became satisfied and replied, “O King, this question of yours is not only relevant to you—this question is relevant to the entire world and it is a most pertinent one.
śrotavyādīni rājendra nṛṇāṁ santi sahasraśaḥ
apaśyatām ātma-tattvaṁ gṛheṣu gṛha-medhinām
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 2.1.2)
“O king, those who are engrossed in materialistic household affairs and are blind to knowledge of the self, find thousands of subject matters to hear about within human society.”
In this world from animals, birds, insects (both flying and non-flying), to the different levels of human beings—all are busy trying to satisfy their own requirements. Eating, sleeping, sense gratification, etc. is their requirement, and this requirement is the root cause of all problems. Yet all of them are ignorant of self-realisation (anātmavit). This is because one who is self-realised (ātmavit) only has one program. Those who have not seen themselves—those who have not learnt to see their actual requirement—they will only accept those things that they consider to be necessities. But those who know themselves, who know their actual necessity, will accept your question as the real question or the only question. The program of those who are anātmavit will always be ‘booked’ for eternity. That is because they are gṛheṣu gṛha-medhinām (engrossed in materialistic household affairs).”
The only program of the ātmavit is to be delivered from the clutches of ignorance. A person who has submerged under water—his only program will be to try to save himself. Despite all kinds of external endeavours that are made to improve this world—all such attempts still remain confined to the realm of mortality.
ajñānenāvṛtaṁ jñānaṁ tena muhyanti jantavaḥ
(Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā: 5.15)
“The living entities are bewildered because their knowledge is covered by ignorance.”
Entrapped in illusion and suffering miserably, those who are anātmavit do not achieve any result other than running from one body to another. Their consciousness is fully covered by ignorance and by identifying themselves with the material body, they revolve eternally, subjugated by birth and death. No immediate relief can be obtained in spite of increasing one’s wealth, followers or equipping oneself with more weapons. House and home, wealth, close relatives and dear friends—none of these things are mine. Even my body does not belong to me. Identifying one’s body as ‘I’ or ‘mine’—this is an animalistic mentality. While I continue to think of these things as ‘I’ or ‘mine’ I will surely continue to face problems. Birth, death, old age, disease—yet at that time I will surely be tricked into transmigrating from one body to another. Thus, in this way, for all eternity, one will never be able to discover the path that will deliver one from these problems.
The Bhāgavata has said, “You have not even learnt how to look at these problems properly. The way to look at these problems is svapne yathā śiraś-chedaṁ (like the cutting off of one’s head in a dream). The man who is sleeping, shouts in his dream, “I have been caught by a tiger!” He only needs to be woken up to solve the problem that he is facing. If he is woken up he will see that everything is fine. He will see that the hope of relief that keeps him absorbed day and night in innumerable programs—those are actually no one’s problem. Śukadeva has said, tvaṁ tu rājan mariṣyeti paśu-buddhih—this means that death is ‘animal conception.’ You can’t die! You won’t die! So many types of problems are not yours. Back to God—become situated in the self!
muktir hitvānyathā rūpaṁ sva-rūpeṇa vyavasthitiḥ
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 2.10.6)
“Liberation is the permanent form of the living entity after they give up their gross and subtle bodies.”
Reject any material form! You are a member of the spiritual sky. That which you are thinking is nectar—that is actually poison. What you are thinking is happiness, is sorrow; those things that you consider to be ‘mine’ and ‘yours’ are nothing. It is all ignorance.
asato mā sad gamaya
tāmaso mā jyotir-gamaya
mṛtyor māmṛtaṁ gamaya
(Bṛhad-āraṇyaka-upaniṣad: 1.3.28)
“From falsity, lead me to truth; from darkness lead me to light; from death lead me to immortality.”
Leaving behind ignorance, advance towards light. Make your journey from matter to consciousness—you will be saved from unnecessary garbage—“to make the best of a bad bargain.”
All philosophers that are searching for the self, both in the eastern and western world, say the same thing. All of them say— ‘instead of chasing the hawk outside, first try to touch your own ears.’(1) In the Vedas and other scriptures, various reformatory measures are mentioned for ignorant souls that are mentally deranged to guide them to become truly ‘self-centred.’ When the uncultured souls are disciplined through all these injunctions that will raise them to the plane of the ātma, then they will be able to realise their true identity.
yato yato niśchalati manaś chañchalam asthiram
tatas tato niyamyaitad ātmany eva vaśam nayet
Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā: 6.26)
“The nature of the mind is flickering and unsteady. However, one should always endeavour to control the mind from its wanderings and bring it back under the control of the ātma.”
All endeavours progress from ‘shadow’ to ‘substance,’ from ‘phenomena’ to ‘reality.’ It is a one-way journey and this is considered to be real bhūta-śuddhi (purification of the self). Once bhūta-śuddhi happens then everything is solved. Although with pure knowledge one can overlook or ignore one’s connection to this world, again one faces a problem regarding that other (spiritual) world which we try to conceive of from here. Therefore I will speak a little on this topic and conclude my speech.
We find various Āchāryas teaching various ways of how to undergo the journey from the mundane to the spiritual. From our perspective, a constellation of stars may look as if they are all on a single plane in spite of actually being many light years away from each other—similarly there are vast differences amongst the spiritual contributions of various Āchāryas. And if we understand them properly then we will fully realise the unique contribution of Śrī Chaitanyadeva. I have found the solutions to all these topics very beautifully from the Rāmānanda-saṁvāda portion of Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta. Under proper guidance if you read the eighth chapter of the Charitāmṛta you will be able to clearly understand all these things.
Depending on different levels of perfection there are also different levels of endeavour required to achieve them. On the basis of their individual realisations and dedication, Āchāryas have shed light in different directions with the intention of bringing auspiciousness to the lives of all souls. But due to the influence of the wonderful effulgence of Śrī Chaitanyadeva’s supreme magnanimity, other lights have paled into insignificance. The primeval Supreme Lord is the cause of all causes, full of eternity, bliss and knowledge and is the possessor of all opulence, and in order to distribute Himself fully, He Himself glorifies the process of achieving the highest goal attainable by a sādhaka and executes that Himself in order to teach others by His own example. Then only, by His mercy, one can realise Him as the svabhajana-vibhajana-prayojanāvatarī-Bhagavān (the original Supreme Lord whose goal is to come and distribute His own worship and simultaneously taste His own intrinsic ecstasy). Then we can make our lives successful by chanting the praṇāma-mantra spoken by Śrī Rūpa:
namo mahā-vadānyāya kṛṣṇa-prema-pradāya te
kṛṣṇāya kṛṣṇa-chaitanya-nāmne gaura-tviṣe namaḥ

“O most munificent incarnation! You are Kṛṣṇa Himself appearing as Śrī Kṛṣṇa Chaitanya. You have assumed the golden colour and You are distributing love of Kṛṣṇa. We offer our respectful obeisances unto You.” (Cc: 2.19.53)
We can briefly find a summary of the most vital essence of the ambrosial teachings of Śrī Chaitanya in the Rāmānanda-saṁvād.
Mahāprabhu, during His ‘human-like’ Pastimes asked, paḍa śloka-sādhyera-nirṇaya—“With the help of evidence from proper authorities, explain the goal for which one should engage all their endeavours.” This question regarding the ultimate goal arises in the heart of the living being due to good fortune accumulated over several lifetimes. In the first sūtra of the Vedānta philosophy, athāto Brahma jijñāsā, the Āchāryas have presented that conclusion in an elaborate and clear way. Here Mahāprabhu desires to listen to the answers to these questions in a straightforward manner from Rāma Rāya. Why?
sa yat pramāṇaṁ kurute lokas tad anuvartate
(Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā: 3.21)
“Whatever standard a great man sets, the whole world will follow.”
It is not a question of merely repeating something, but to prove it through śāstric reasoning with the help of authorised evidence. In the process of answering Mahāprabhu’s questions, Rāmānanda continued to raise various important theories and in this way he gradually concluded by arriving at the highest stage of achievement.
Rāya kahe, “Sva-dharmachāraṇe Viṣṇu-bhakti haya”: What is one’s true duty (sva-dharma)? It is performing one’s activities according to varṇāśrama. What is the sadhya (the ultimate goal)? It is devotion to Viṣṇu. Who is Viṣṇu? Viśvaṁ vyāpnotīti (He that pervades the entire universe). The knower of the field of activity (kṣetra-jña), namely the soul within the body, and the very soul of the soul, is Viṣṇu. He is the ‘owner;’ the internal substance of the whole cosmos. Aṇor aṇīyān mahato mahīyān (‘He is the smallest of the smallest and the greatest of the greatest’—Kaṭha-upaniṣad: 1.2.20). His satisfaction is the ultimate goal. Here, Rāya Rāmānanda has taken the side of the moralists (nīti-vādīs) and said that the ultimate way to attain devotion to Viṣṇu is by following one’s dharma according to varṇa and āśrama. However, Mahāprabhu said that realising one’s relation with the Lord through the medium of varṇāśrama is restricted within the boundaries of the material world—eho bāhya, āge kaha āra (“This is external, speak more!”). In other words “Such a process is meant for those who are preoccupied with externals. It is a long process. Therefore speak about the ‘direct approach’.” Then—
prabhu kahe, — “eho bāhya, āge kaha āra”
rāya kahe, kṛṣṇe karmārpaṇa—sarva-sadhya-sara

“The Lord said, ‘This is external, speak more!” Rāmānanda said, “To offer the results of one’s actions to Kṛṣṇa is the essence of all perfection.'” (Cc: 2.8.59)
prabhu kahe, — “eho bāhya āge kaha āra”
rāya kahe, —”svadharma-tyāga, ei sādhya-sāra”
(Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta: 2.8.61)
“The Lord said, ‘This is external, speak more!” Rāmānanda said, “Giving up one’s occupational duties according to the system of varṇāśrama is the essence of all perfection.'”
prabhu kahe, — “eho bāhya āge kaha āra”
raya kahe, —”jñāna-miśra-bhakti—sādhya-sāra”
(Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta: 2.8.64)
“The Lord said, ‘This is external, speak more!” Rāya Rāmānanda said, “The essence of all perfection is devotion mixed with knowledge.’”
Karma-miśra bhakti (devotion mixed with fruitive work), naiṣkarma (activities free of karmic reaction) and jñāna-miśra-bhakti (devotion mixed with empirical knowledge)—these are not the ultimate goal nor are they the means to achieve it. Although there is delineation of progressive advanced stages, each of them has a mood of considering oneself knowledgeable or a certain consideration of measuring oneself. Each of them is tinged by māyā. But then—
rāya kahe, —”jñāna-śūnya-bhakti sādhya-sāra”
(Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta: 2.8.66)
“Rāya said that bhakti devoid of jñāna is the essence of spiritual practice.” Then Mahāprabhu said, eha haya—meaning that, “Now the real path is being taken.” Jñāna-śūnya-bhakti (devotion free of knowledge) is the starting point of true devotion. Even in the Bible we see that the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge is the cause of fall down. “I want to understand everything!”—this tendency must be rejected. This is because the very intelligence to estimate is faulty by nature. What to speak of knowing Him with our tiny brains, we cannot even fully measure a small atomic particle! For this reason the Bhāgavata has given the following point, jñāne prayāsam udapāsya namanta eva jīvanti—your capability to grasp reality is very insignificant and limited. There are personalities who know about your real benefit innumerable times more than yourself! You simply need to hatefully reject (udapāsya) your desire to be ‘all knowing’ and embrace the path of namanta eva jīvanti (dedicating your life serving the Lord). You will see—just like being in an elevator or a lift, you will be raised to a position in Vaikuṇṭha. Whatever was binding you will become your obedient follower. And moreover, san-mukharitāṁ bhavadīya vārtām—once you learn to give a submissive hearing to this, you will see that your journey through eighty-four million species will be terminated. And where should you apply your hearing? You should hear from the one who can properly guide you. There should be ‘guidance proper’. Only this will save you. Whatever condition you are situated in (sthāne sthitāḥ), from there itself you attend. You will see that everything will become clear. This is because only the words of the Bhāgavata emanating from the lips of a sādhu can save us. For the one who follows this, in spite of the Supreme Lord being impenetrable, difficult to attain, and of an unconquerable nature, ultimately they can conquer Him. Throughout the Bhāgavata there are phrases such as, bhaktyāham ekayā-grāhyaḥ (“I am attained only by devotion”). Under the shelter of sādhu-saṅga and jñāna-śūnyā-bhakti, even ordinary people can attain service to the Supreme Lord, whereas without it, even an intellectual giant cannot. For this reason Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇ, in his commentary on the Vedānta, has proven the importance of sādhu-saṅga by citing various evidences. The sādhu is the ‘living source’. Even if one has no good quality, due to the influence of association of a sādhu one becomes sarvair guṇais tatra samāsate (“all good qualities reside with him”). Due to the influence of sādhu-saṅga even a very abominable person can become an instrument of service to the Bhāgavata. Seeing with an attitude of worship or service is Vaikuṇṭha-darśana.
Many, like Miss Mayo (2), in spite of having preached about the filthiness of such worship, have actually never experienced even a slight trace of true worship. They will be thousands and thousands of miles away from the proper understanding of worship. One who is able to approach it with a true mood of worship has nothing to fear. Fear itself runs away upon seeing such a person. One who takes shelter of such a worshipful attitude completely destroys all filthy sentiments and misconceptions—that very auspicious intelligence is the only way to be delivered from the bewildered consciousness that we are in.
We find this teaching in the Bhāgavata verse vikrīḍitaṁ Vraja-vadhū. Your misconception, your malady, your ‘heart disease’ of lust will be cured completely if you can take shelter of a worshipful attitude. Did those who composed the Liṅga-purāṇa and other texts not have even a little common sense like you? Did they have less knowledge and intelligence than you? But still they wrote—still they wrote for our benefit—from the plane beyond lamentation, illusion, and quarrel. Why? Their sole intention was to release us from the fear of the ghost of this material world—to permanently bury our ideology of enjoyment, to frustrate our materialistic mentality. Lest persons see Bhagavat-tattva from a mundane perspective, Śukadeva Goswāmī, who already had knowledge of Brahman (brahma-jñāna) and was completely self-satisfied (ātmārāma), warned the great assembly of principal religious leaders like Atri, Vaśiṣṭha, Chyavan, Agastya etc. when he introduced himself—“You all know that I am well situated in the realisation of the nirguṇa plane, therefore you should remember—if my mind becomes enchanted by the narrations of someone’s character and I become so attracted that I forget everything, then those stories cannot be about an ordinary mundane person who is full of lust. I never speak about things pertaining to this world. I am presenting to you the summum bonum, and without taking shelter of His feet, no auspiciousness can be obtained.”
tapasvino dāna-parā yaśasvino
manasvino mantra-vidaḥ sumaṅgalāḥ
kṣemaṁ na vindanti vinā yad-arpaṇaṁ
tasmai subhadra-śravase namo namaḥ
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 2.4.17)
“I offer my repeated obeisances unto the Supreme Lord, who is all-auspicious. Without offering their actions unto Him, neither the performers of austerities, nor the great givers of charity, nor the mystics, nor those who are expert in Vedic mantras, nor those who are most virtuous can attain any result without dedication to Him.”
Saying this, he established the transcendental platform of his dialogue. Therefore those who see Kṛṣṇa or His Pastimes with mundane intelligence, are not only deceived, but they also commit a great offence, and as a result they never obtain darśana of Śrī Chaitanya and their own identity remains concealed from them.
Bhagavān is supramundane (turīya-vastu). Everything about Him is satyam, śivam, sundaram (comprising of reality, auspiciousness and beauty). In every way Śrī Chaitanyadeva has declared to the world that His worship is beautiful, and the method of that worship is also so beautiful that any person can achieve it by following the path shown by Śrī Chaitanya—
govindābhidam indirāśrita-padaṁ hastastha-ratnādivat
(Siddhānta-ratnam 4)
“He that is known as Govinda, whose feet Lakṣmī takes shelter of, becomes like a jewel in the hand of His devotees.”
The Lord becomes just like his play-doll. And that itself is the highest manifestation of the supremacy of the all-powerful independent Bhagavān (sarva-tantra svatantra Bhagavān). For this reason Kavirāj Goswāmī has said, Kṛṣṇera yateka khelā sarvottama nara-līlā (‘The most attractive play of Kṛṣṇa is His human-like Pastimes’—Cc: 2.21.101). This is the ‘fullest adjustment’ of the Lord’s form—sarvottama nara-līlā—where His devotees, who have taken shelter of Him, see His ‘all-accommodating’ form as atulaṁ Śyāmasundaram (the incomparable Śyāmasundara) and completely serve Him eternally in five rasas. This is the very zenith of achievement.
yaṁ labdhvā chāparaṁ lābhaṁ manyate nādhikaṁ tataḥ
(Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā: 6.22)
“Upon gaining this, one thinks there is no greater gain.”
Śrī Chaitanyachandra has made that thing which is very rare to achieve into something which is very easy to achieve. That is why He is the most munificent and magnanimous. For this reason Śrīla Prabhodhānanda Saraswatīpāda has exhorted and appealed very earnestly to the souls of this world to take shelter of Śrī Chaitanyachandra’s feet by saying:
dante nidhāya tṛṇakaṁ padayor nipatya
kṛtvā cha kāku-śatam etad ahaṁ bravīmi
he sādhavaḥ sakalam eva vihāya dūrāt
chaitanya-chandra-charaṇe kurutānurāgam
(Śrī Chaitanya-chandrāmṛta: 8.90)
“Taking a straw between my teeth I fall at your feet and beseech you again and again, ‘O noble men, whatever you know, please cast it far away and cultivate attachment for the lotus feet of Śrī Chaitanyachandra.’”
(1) This refers to a Bengali proverb which advises a foolish man to first touch his ears to be sure that they are still there before running after a hawk, whom he thinks has stolen his ears.
(2) Katherine Mayo (1867-1940) was an American historian and political writer. Mayo became notorious for her book Mother India in which she denounced Indian culture and religion. The book was condemned by many for its racist tone and in a review of the book, Mayo was criticised by Gandhi as having the mentality of a ‘drain-inspector’.
Original Bengali text: Samasya O Samadhan (Pages 196-198_230-232 in Vol01_1955-56)
Special thanks to Swami B.K. Tyagi and Krishnendrani Devi Dasi for their assistance in preparing this article.

Voices in the community: Sao Paulo, Brazil

Between October 2014 and July 2017, in poor health and with insufficient funds, but with a strong desire to satisfy Sri Guru, Damodar Prabhu of Sao Paulo, Brazil boldly demolished his family home and built a beautiful temple in its place. In this in-depth interview Damodar Prabhu also speaks about his beginnings in Krishna consciousness, challenges faced in service life, and the special relationship he had with His Holiness Sripad B.V. Tapasvi Maharaj (Bhuvan Mohan Prabhu).

1 hour mp3 audio file
Portuguese and English with translation by Raseswari Devi Dasi.


Srila Guru Maharaj's Nature

Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmī’s style was very peaceful. Mahāprabhu chose Rūpa Goswāmī as the leader of His sampradaya, and so there is special honour for Rūpa Goswāmī. Śrīla Sanātan Goswāmī was very busy in Vṛndāvan, but Rūpa Goswāmī Prabhu was not so busy like Sanātan Goswāmī. Śrīla Dās Goswāmī was following Rūpa Goswāmī. Dās Goswāmī was also a shy-natured man. And Śrīla Jīva Goswāmī was exalted with his quality and qualification, both. He was a great fighter for the sampradāya. Śrīla Prabhupād Saraswatī Goswāmī’s nature was like Jīva Goswāmī.
Śrīla Guru Mahārāj’s nature was something like Jīva Goswāmī, and something like Rūpa Goswāmī. Guru Mahārāj liked to fight, that was his nature. Anywhere that any fighting was going on, he was the first to go there. Once Guru Mahārāj was sick in Badarik Ashram, and with Guru Mahārāj was a qualified party: they were big pandits with different types of qualifications, like Sanskrit. A paṇḍit come and debated with our paṇḍits while Guru Mahārāj was in the next room, sick with pneumonia. But our paṇḍits could not control that visiting paṇḍit. Then Guru Mahārāj sat up in his bed and said, “Who is talking, bring him to me.” They went to Guru Mahārāj’s room, and that man took an atheistic position for debating with Guru Mahārāj, but seeing the face of Guru Mahārāj, and hearing only one śloka from Guru Mahārāj, he fell down at his lotus feet.
That paṇḍit asked, “What is the proof that the ātmā exists? Is there any proof?” And Guru Mahārāj immediately told that man,
ātmāparijñāna-mayo vivādo
hy astīti nāstīti bhidārtha-niṣṭhaḥ
[vyartho ’pi naivoparameta puṁsāṁ
mattaḥ parāvṛtta-dhiyāṁ sva-lokāt]

(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 11.22.34)
[The speculative argument of philosophers — “This world is real,” “No, it is not real” — is based upon incomplete knowledge of the Supreme Soul and is simply aimed at understanding material dualities. Although such argument is useless, persons who have turned their attention away from Me, their own true Self, are unable to give it up.]
That man was shocked to hear this, because he knew that śloka, he confessed. He took the feet of Guru Mahārāj, “Mahārāj, the answer is coming timely to you, not to me. This is the difference from you and me. I do not want to debate with you.” He was a great paṇḍit, but he surrendered to Guru Mahārāj.
ātmāparijñāna-mayo vivādo hy astīti nāstīti
“It is existing or not?” This type of question always comes, but we are all seeing that it is existing. When the body dies, the spirit goes out from the body and the body is spoiled. What better example can you give than this? Within the body was a kind of spirit, and when it goes from the body, within three days it will be spoiled and gas will come from that body. It is proved, but still they are asking, “It is or not?”
Everywhere we see the quality and qualification of ātmā, in everything we see the presence of ātmā. I am talking with you, you are intelligent, I am also intelligent, and we are both talking diplomatically about everything; who is doing that? Who is the diplomat living inside? You want to defeat me, and I want to defeat you, but in which way, and who is holding that brain? And when it is going out from the body everything is useless. There will be only insects, and nothing else inside. After three days you will only get insects growing there.
Spoken by Srila Gurudev during his visit to Italy in September 2000

Voices in the community: Soquel, California

mp3 audio file
After years of extreme drug and alcohol addiction Hriday Govinda Prabhu left it all behind to embrace a life of exclusive service and dedication. He shares his heart-touching story in this interview.
“Where my parents failed, where the counsellors and the teachers, and the police officers failed and where I even failed myself because I was powerless, Krishna consciousness was the only thing with the potency to pull me from that muck and so now I owe it my life. I wouldn’t have a life without it. I have to give everything.”

The most secret power

Surrender is the most wonderful thing in the world, which makes it possible for the small to control the great, the smallest to control the greatest. It is only possible by this means: through love, through surrender.

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Devotee: Srila Guru Maharaj, in every activity there is a science, so I’m trying to
understand the science of faith.
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: What is the science of faith? The underlying principle of faith is this:
‘śraddhā’-śabde — viśvāsa kahe sudṛḍha niścaya
kṛṣṇe bhakti kaile sarva-karma kṛta haya

[“Sraddha means firm, confident faith that all duties are performed if one serves Krishna.”—Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: 2.22.62]
“If I do my duty to the centre, everything is done.” That is faith.
yasmin jñāte sarvam idam vijñātam bhavati
yasmin prāpte sarvam idam prāptam bhavati
[“Enquire into that upon knowing which, nothing further remains to be known. Try to achieve that upon gaining which, nothing further remains to be gained.”—Upaniṣads]
Faith covers the whole by accepting one. Apparently accepting a part, he can cover the whole; that is the peculiarity there. “If I can capture one the whole can be captured; if I love one the whole is loved. If I know one the whole is known.” If anyone has got that sort of conception then that is the seed of faith and he approaches on that path of faith. By approaching the centre, all the branches, all that has sprung from Him, is approached. Pouring water into the root the whole tree is fed. Putting food into the stomach the whole body can be fed. If one gets the key he gets the almirah, the iron chest. It is something like that. Such sort of faith, confidence, trust, is sraddha. That is faith. And he approaches in that way, otherwise, being a part, how can I claim the whole? Our inner necessity is to have the whole, but how is it possible? It is possible only through the heart.
Once in Bombay our Guru Maharaj gave an example of this: that a poor girl has got nothing but if she is married to a prince who has plenty, then through that tie of affection she may think that all the properties of the prince belong to her. It is something like that. Krishna has everything under His control, and we have nothing. But if we can establish a connection with Krishna through affection, if we can establish an affectionate connection with Him, then we can have everything thereby through Him.
This is the idea: to get the whole. By getting one to get the whole. By capturing the fort we capture the country. Capturing the controller we capture the whole that He controls. Bhakti is such an astounding thing that through sraddha, through bhakti, the small can control the big, an atom can control the centre. It is the speciality of devotion, sharanagati, surrender. Surrender is the most wonderful thing in the world, which makes it possible for the small to control the great, the smallest to control the greatest. It is only possible by this means: through love, through surrender. The smallest part, the particle, can control the whole only through faith, through surrender. He is so kind, he has such kindness in His heart. By humility, by our incapacity: “I am the most wretched, most fallen, so attraction should come to me. I’m the most negative, I represent the most negative aspect, so the positive should have His greatest attention for this negative.”
So, so much praise is shown for bhakti in the scripture. Bhakti can do what is impossible: it can control the high to the lower. This is affection, this is devotion proper. Devotion proper has such a characteristic, that the high is controlled by it. Suppose a general after conquering a country has come home and his young child takes him by his finger and draws him and he is following. A great powerful general can be controlled by a child. Why? Through affection. Affection, or love, or faith, is a wonderful thing which can control the big for the low.
Such a wonderful thing cannot ever be, not only discovered but even thought of; none can think also of such things. This is the real nature of faith, or devotion, or affection. Where it is present the big is controlled by the small. Bhakti is to be traced there. Where it is not seen there is no bhakti. Bhakti means this, that the big is controlled by the small. The inner thread is that of devotion, affection, surrender, and love. That is the real characteristic of bhakti. What a wonderful thing it is, and how powerful a thing it is. Strange, strange, strange.
ahaṁ bhakta-parādhīno, hy asvatantra iva dvija
sādhubhir grasta-hṛdayo, bhaktair bhakta-jana-priyaḥ
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, 9.4.63)
The Lord Himself says: “What can I say, Durvasa?” Durvasa was a big yogi. “What can I say Durvasa, I am already surrendered, I am committed, to My devotee. I have no independence of My own. I am already committed to My devotees and I can’t back out from that claim. So you’ll have to go to that Ambarish; your appeal to Me is futile, useless. It won’t work at all, it won’t fetch anything for you. I am already committed to My devotees, so you will have to go back to My devotee and to beg forgiveness there.” This is spoken by Narayan and it is not hyperbole but wholesale truth. It is not merely a show or poetry, it is truth, cent per cent.
ahaṁ bhakta-parādhīno, hy asvatantra iva dvija
sādhubhir grasta-hṛdayo, bhaktair bhakta-jana-priyaḥ
“This is My nature. My very nature is such, Durvasa, that I am committed to My devotees. I have no independence. ‘Iva’: and this is My voluntary contribution, or acceptance, or commitment. Though I am the Absolute My voluntary commitment is such by nature. What to do?”
That is bhakti. So we are out to find the most secret wealth or secret power the world has ever conceived, by which the smallest can control the highest, the greatest. That sort of learning, or tact, or whatever you may say, is possible. Mahaprabhu came with that most valuable thing. “What are you doing? You make yourself busy for nothing, or busy for rubbishes? Try to acquire this, this most valuable thread. Try to get this magical wand. Nothing so valuable has ever been discovered in the world. Take to this subtlemost power by which the smallest can control the highest, the greatest. This is love, this is love, this is faith, this is affection. So cultivate, give up everything and cultivate about this, search for this, search for Krishna, search for love, search for devotion. Die to live. This is self determination to the highest degree. Self determination, self realisation to the highest degree is to acquire such position. By humility we may be master.
tṛṇād api sunīchena, taror api sahiṣṇunā
[amāninā mānadena, kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ]

[“One who is humbler than a blade of grass, more forbearing than a tree, who gives due honour to others without desiring it for himself is qualified to always chant the Holy Name of Krishna.”—Sri Siksastakam, 3]
We will be able to conquer the whole by that sort of qualification, and not by jumping and capturing and carrying and looting and fighting.
Spoken by Srila B.R. Sridhar Maharaj on 5 January 1983 in Sri Nabadwip Dham

Open wide your heart

What are the waves of the infinite, what sort of wave will come to touch you from the infinite, the centre of infinite, of love, beauty? Wait and see. Be clear, open, unbiased.

For the satisfaction of Srila Gurudev and the Vaisnavas, we are happy to inaugurate this new series of excerpts from the talks of the Guardian of Devotion, our beloved grand-guru, His Divine Grace Sri Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Deva-Goswami.

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mayā tatam idaṁ sarvaṁ jagad avyakta-mūrtinā
mat-sthāni sarva-bhūtāni na chāhaṁ teṣv avasthitaḥ

na cha mat-sthāni bhūtāni paśya me yogam aiśvaram
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita 9.4–5)
“I am everywhere, everything is in Me; I am nowhere, nothing is in Me. I am not a madman. Try to have an estimation of Myself, Arjuna, what am I.” Has such a bold statement ever come in the world of philosophy? (Chuckling) “I am everywhere, I am nowhere, everything in Me, nothing in Me. Try to ascertain, what am I. This sort of straight, simple, and most perplexing, and impossible possible together. I am there.”
jñāne prayāsam udapāsya namanta eva
jīvanti san-mukharitāṁ bhavadīya-vārtām

Give up your attempt of measuring Him, but through faith try to approach. You are finite, so how much faith may you have about infinite? Very little. So don’t think that you will be deceived, that your faith will deceive you. You are a teeny person; what is the length and breadth of your faith? In the infinite anything is possible. So don’t be afraid of your blind faith when you come in the search of Krishna, infinite. Only faith can take you there, and no knowledge. It is clearly stated in Bhagavatam. Never approach with the instrument of knowledge. That will deceive you. But through faith Adhoksaja can come down. And if you doubt He may not care to come down to you.
Open, spread wide your heart to receive Him, and prepare yourself for what sort of wonderful lila He may come to show you. Be so much broad. And wait. What are the waves of the infinite, what sort of wave will come to touch you from the infinite, the centre of infinite, of love, beauty? Wait and see. Be clear, open, unbiased. Don’t go to measure with your teeny examples from this finite world of nasty nature.
tatra laulyam api mūlyam ekalam
Only your hankering can help you to have a touch of that magnanimous divine thing. If you go to challenge He will not care to come. What is the loss to Him? You are deceived. Go forward with your heart within.
jñāne prayāsam udapāsya namanta eva
jīvanti san-mukharitāṁ bhavadīya-vārtām
sthāne sthitāḥ śruti-gatāṁ
Brahma says “jānanta eva jānantu, those that say they know something, let them enjoy self-deception thereby, but manaso vapuṣo vācho vaibhavaṁ tava go-charaḥ, I could not enter into the very negligent slight point of your acquaintance. This is my finding.” Brahma says like that. “Those puffed up fools, they may talk about anything, they can know this, they can know that, everything can be known, let those fools dance with their foolish tendency. But I am sure that no instrument can have any slight touch of Him.” He is always new, always new, of new characteristic. He is infinite. Finite and infinite are of opposite character.
When we went to preach in Karachi the Arya Samaj thought, “We have got a prey, Vaisnavas are idolaters.” The president came to attack, and he told me, “If the finite can know the infinite then He is not infinite.” It came to my mind immediately, “If infinite cannot make Himself known to finite then He is not infinite.” Just opposite. He made a handshake, “Namaste.”
That is only our solace, that the infinite can make Himself known to the finite. And finite cannot know infinite. So we always foster that characteristic of the infinite, His grace. That should be our fare, our attitude. We have come not to deal with a limited thing. My aspiration is not so base, and mean. I have come in the relativity of the infinite so my behaviour must be according to that.
tṛṇād api su-nīchena
taror api sahiṣṇunā
amāninā māna-dena

The negative tendency should be increased to attract the positive. “I can’t stay without Your least connection.” With that we have to invite him. “I am din and poor and mean, I am so and so, the meanest fellow, there is no one meaner than myself.” That is the way.
Our Prabhupad used to give an example: in a fair it is seen that a bamboo post is there and it is smeared with oil and ripe plaintain fruit, so it is very slippery; and there is a man on the side who says that if one can climb up he will be given such a reward. And everyone, wherever he catches the pole, he comes down. He cannot go up. The aroha pantha [ascending path] is like that. We cannot go up. It is slippery. We can come down, but we cannot go up.
So we are brave enough to deal with such a thing, we have such audacity. But still the position is there, that it is possible by His grace, the line of His grace; He wants to distribute Himself in a particular line: srauta pantha, guru paramparya. Our necessity is exclusively there with the srauta paramparya, guru paramparya. The knowledge, and the bhajan, everything comes down from infinite to finite and never aroha pantha, from finite to infinite. That should always be the backbone of our movement. So whatever we shall go to do we shall look up to Gurudev, “If you do, it may be done. I have nothing, I am nowhere Sir, I am nowhere.”
Once I found in the history of Ramanuja that he had a sitting with a mayavadi pandit for fourteen days and could not defeat him; he came frustrated to Varadaraja [Deity of Lord Vishnu worshipped in South India], “What am I, I can’t defeat in discussion. For so many days I am trying to argue, but I am nothing, nowhere. I should not go on with my head erect as an acharya of the sampradaya.” He prayed at Varadaraja’s temple. And the next day, no sooner had he begun a slight talk, than that gentleman expressed his defeat. He clearly showed, “Yes, I have understood what you have said. I am wrong, and what you say is right.” Easily that man was defeated.
So, devotees are always expectant upward, “By Guru’s will: I have got nothing. Nothing. He may do through me. If I go to assert myself I shall not only be defeated, but I shall also be lost. But when I shall go to show even a proud attitude in the name of my Guru, and sincerely, then it will be bhajan. It will help me and others also.” The tendency will be to take power from above; the attempt of the acharyas will always be to bring things from above, from their guru. “By your grace.” Always dependent. He can never say, “I am in possession of the potency, power.” No.
jagāi mādhāi haite muñi se pāpiṣṭha
purīṣera kīṭa haite muñi se laghiṣṭha

[“I am more sinful than Jagāi and Mādhāi and even lower than the worms in the stool.”]
mora nāma śune yei tāra puṇya kṣaya
mora nāma laya yei tāra pāpa haya
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: 1.5.205-6)

[“Anyone who hears my name loses the results of his pious activities. Anyone who utters my name becomes sinful.”]
The conception of the ego of the negativity is so intense. “I am such. But Nityananda Prabhu is great, He is patita-pavan, and so I have got.”
ye yathā patita haya tava dayā tathodaya
tathā āmi supātra dayā
“I can claim because I am the most fallen. I think I realise that I am the most fallen. I have got the greatest claim for your grace, mercy.” That should be the attitude of a real devotee. As mean as one conceives, has a conception of himself, so great he is in the eye of the devotees. Dainya. Hankering, laulyam, hankering, arti, that is their wealth, the wealth of the devotees, it is there. “I am proud of the power of my Gurudev and never of myself.” That should be the attitude of the devotee.
Spoken by Srila Param Guru Maharaj, 28 February 1981, Sri Nabadwip Dham.

The pillar of success

 “Failure is the pillar of success.” This is an English phrase. “Failure is the pillar of success.” If I try I must get the success pillar. One time I fall down, and then for all time I will sleep? No.

Whatever is considered good and whatever is considered bad in this mundane world—everything is bad here. Maybe that is affection, or maybe that is enviousness. Maybe that is apparently good or bad, but everything is bad.
‘dvaite’ bhadrābhadra-jñāna, saba — ‘manodharma’
‘ei bhāla, ei manda’, — ei saba ‘bhrama’
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: 3.4.176)
[“In the material world, conceptions of good and bad are all mental speculations. Therefore, saying ‘This is good’ and ‘This is bad’ is all a mistake.”]
Srila Kaviraj Goswami expressed this very nicely. And Krishna very simply said,
mātrā-sparśās tu kaunteya śītoṣṇa-sukha-duḥkha-dāḥ
āgamāpāyino ’nityās tāṁs titikṣasva bhārata
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 2.14)
[“O son of Kuntī, the engagement of the senses with their objects produces the sensations of cold, heat, pleasure, and pain. But these effects are temporary—they come and go. Therefore, O Bhārat, you must endure them.”]
“It will come to you and you try to tolerate it. Don’t be foolish and don’t be hopeless.”
Hope is always in my front. We are seeing that now Krishna consciousness has spread all over the world by the mercy of our Gurus. It is not a lie; everybody knows now. Krishna consciousness is spreading all over the world, and how is it possible? Five hundred years ago, or maybe less than five hundred years but around four hundred and seventy years ago, Mahaprabhu said,
pṛthivīte āchhe yata nagarādi-grāma
sarvatra prachāra haibe mora nāma
“All over the world people will chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra.” And a hundred years ago Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur said that in Mayapur the Western devotees and Eastern devotees will dance and chant together in Nabadwip Dham. And we see that that is happening. Where is the lie? It is true, we can see that. Then we must follow their directives.
“Chant Hare Krishna” is only the primary teaching of Mahaprabhu. It is the primary teaching. After that there will be many things and we must face those tests. When we get the seed of the bhakti lata [creeper of devotion] we must protect that bhakti-lata-bij. Then nobody can check our fortune. Sometimes some blowing wind will come and give us some disturbance, but without disturbance how will our heart become strong? If you do not exercise then your body will not be strong. If you stay the same way from your birth, if you do not play with your hands and legs then your body will not become strong.
 “Failure is the pillar of success.” This is an English phrase. “Failure is the pillar of success.” If I try I must get the success pillar. One time I fall down, and then for all time I will sleep? No. And what fault is there? I am a faulty person, I am a fallen soul, we are always saying, “I am fallen soul”. Then if I am always fallen, what loss do I have? What I practise, that is my gain. In this way we must proceed to our destiny.
Srila Gurudev speaking in Govardhan, March 1991
This is a continuation of the post ‘Falling down, getting up’.

In focus: “Life-Nectar of the Surrendered Souls”

“Everything is covered in this book Prapanna-jīvanāmṛtam, and if you read it minutely you must stand in the plane of dedication.”

It is necessary to complete the first lesson, the second lesson, and the third lesson, then it is possible to understand the fourth lesson. Śrīla Guru Mahārāj gave those first three lessons in Śrī Śrī Prapanna-jīvanāmṛtam [Life-Nectar of the Surrendered Souls] as well as the fourth. If you read this book carefully, you will get everything.
Śrīla Guru Mahārāj has given there the meaning of śaraṇāgati, in particular in this following śloka:
bhagavad-bhaktitaḥ sarvam ity utsṛjya vidher api
kaiṅkaryaṁ kṛṣṇa-pādaikāśrayatvaṁ śaraṇāgatiḥ
[“Being governed by the faith that all success is achieved by serving the Supreme Lord, to abandon servitude to even scriptural injunctions and take exclusive refuge in the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa in every time, place, and circumstance, is known as śaraṇāgati, unconditional surrender.”]
What is śaraṇāgati? It is Bhagavad-bhaktitaḥ sarvam: it is not even necessary to serve any other god or demigod; through only the service to Kṛṣṇa we can get everything. Therefore we must take shelter at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. Service to Kṛṣṇa can give us everything and this type of faith is called śaraṇāgati. If you can memorise one śloka and put that in your heart, then from this one śloka you will get everything given in any scripture.
I tried before to know in one sentence what is śaraṇāgati. We know that śaraṇāgati is surrender, but that is not sufficient. Therefore I asked Śrīla Guru Mahārāj. He replied, “Have you not read Prapanna-jīvanāmṛtam?”
I said, “Yes Mahārāj, I have, but is the explanation there?” Then he quoted this same śloka, and this is the main thing.
Devotee: I heard that Śrīla Guru Mahārāj explained the difference between śaraṇāgati and ātma-nivedanam. Please explain to us what that difference is.
Śrīla Govinda Mahārāj: There are six kinds of śaraṇāgati. In Prapanna-jīvanāmṛtam this is explained and in each case there are examples and expressions of the feelings of other devotees. If you read this book you can understand. There Śrīla Guru Mahārāj explains the subject very clearly and very nicely.
Devotee: What is the meaning of ātma-nivedanam?
Śrīla Govinda Mahārāj: The following verse describes the six kinds of symptoms of śaraṇāgati. Ātma-nikṣepa means ātma-nivedanam.
ānukūlyasya saṅkalpaḥ prātikūlya-vivarjanam
rakṣiṣyatīti viśvāso goptṛtve varaṇaṁ tathā
ātma-nikṣepa kārpaṇye ṣaḍ-vidhā śaraṇāgatiḥ
[The six limbs of surrender are:
1) To accept everything favourable for devotion to Kṛṣṇa.
2) To reject everything unfavourable for devotion to Kṛṣṇa.
3) To be confident that Kṛṣṇa will grant His protection.
4) To embrace Kṛṣṇa’s guardianship.
5) To offer one’s self unto Him.
6) To consider oneself lowly and bereft.]
Devotee: What about nava-vidhā bhakti, the nine principal forms of devotion?
Śrīla Govinda Mahārāj: There are nine kinds of devotional practices: śravaṇam, kīrtanam, Viṣṇoḥ smaraṇam, pāda-sevanam, archanam, vandanam, dāsyam, sakhyam, and ātma-nivedanam [Hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord, constantly remembering the Lord, serving the Lord’s lotus feet, serving Him as a servant, worshipping Him, offering prayers, serving Him as a friend, and completely offering the Lord one’s very self.]. They are also included in śaraṇāgati, unconditional self-surrender. But śaraṇāgati is the first thing—and śaraṇāgati is the last thing. If you want to enter into transcendental knowledge, you must first take shelter of śaraṇāgati. This is the first lesson and this is the last lesson.
Everything is covered in this book Prapanna-jīvanāmṛtam, and if you read it minutely you must stand in the plane of dedication. Many examples are given there from the scriptures as well as from the devotees’ lives. It is divided into the six kinds of śaraṇāgati, part by part. It is a very valuable and nice book, no doubt, and everything is there including this verse spoken by Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu:
nāhaṁ vipro na cha nara-patir nāpi vaiśyo na śūdro
nāhaṁ varṇī na cha gṛha-patir no vana-stho yatir vā
kintu prodyan-nikhila-paramānanda-pūrṇāmṛtābdher
gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ
[“I am not a priest, a king, a merchant, or labourer (brāhmaṇ, kṣatriya, vaiśya, or śūdra); nor am I a student, a householder, a retired householder, or a mendicant (brahmachārī, gṛhastha, vānaprastha, or sannyāsī). I identify myself only as the servant of the servant of the servant of the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Lord of the gopīs, who is the personification of the fully expanded (eternally self-revealing) nectarean ocean that brims with the totality of divine ecstasy.”]
Devotee: Is it necessary to have gone through Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, and Chaitanya-charitāmṛta before reading Prapanna-jīvanāmṛtam?
Śrīla Govinda Mahārāj: No, it is not necessary. This is the first book of reading—and this is the last book of reading. Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā is also no doubt the first book of reading and the last book of reading, but there are many things there mixed in with bhakti.
In Prapanna-jīvanāmṛtam is found only bhakti, and nothing else. But in the Gītā is some description about karma, yoga, jñān, and many other things; that is why everybody likes Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā. The karmīs like it, the terrorists like Gītā, the yogīs like Gītā, Mahātmā Gandhi liked it, Jawaharlal liked it—everybody likes Bhagavad-gītā. The reason is that they each receive something from it to fulfil their own purpose. But in Śrī Śrī Prapanna-jīvanāmṛtam whatever is included is only for the purpose of devotion: the relationship between Kṛṣṇa and the jīva. It is a very pure devotional book.
Śrīla Swāmī Mahārāj said to his sister, “This Prapanna-jīvanāmṛtam is a very important and nice book. You have money, so please you spend some money for the printing of this Prapanna-jīvanāmṛtam.” Her name was Bhāvinī Didi. We called her Pishima or ‘Madan’s Mother’ and it was she who subsequently gave the money for the first printing.
Another of the very high type of ślokas there, is the following verse by Śrī Kulaśekhar:
nāsthā dharme na vasu-nichaye naiva kāmopabhoge
yad yad bhavyaṁ bhavatu bhagavan pūrva-karmānurūpam
etat prārthyaṁ mama bahu-mataṁ janma-janmāntare ’pi
tvat pādāmbhoruha-yuga-gatā niśchalā bhaktir astu
[“O Lord, I have no faith in religion, economic development, or sense enjoyment. May all these come to pass as they are ordained according to my previous karma. My earnest prayer is that birth after birth I may have unflinching devotion to Your lotus feet.”]
It is not very difficult to understand what Kṛṣṇa-bhakti is, but what is necessary is the mood of surrender. If you surrender then you can understand everything. But if you do not fully surrender, then many difficulties will come. There is no difficulty for the surrendered soul.
Excerpt from Golden Reflections, compiled from Srila Gurudev‘s talks.
Related reading: “New Year’s Resolution: Full Surrender”
Read the full text of Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamrtam online here
Download a pdf file of scans of the original book here