Blind following

Hare Krishna dear devotees,

As we come into the world of ISKCON we may feel we have come into the world of swans , where purity is flowing incessantly and everyone seems destined to make very fast spiritual progress. This is, of course,  true to a very large extent. However, as with any large organisation, it is very difficult to check the credential of each and every person and imposters may slip in, a wolf in a sheep’s clothing. As aspiring devotees it is best be cautious and certainly not give our common sense a long vacation and fall into a well by following blindly.

Both blind following and absurd inquiries are condemned.

(BG 4.34p)

In the current contaminated environment it is best to remain alert and if we observe something which is out of normal then we must question it, in a gentle and polite manner, and if we are not satisfied by the reply then we should bring it to the notice of local temple authority. And do not let anyone hide behind a holier than thou curtain. Similarly as we start confiding in others, opening our heart, we must check their credentials via someone whom we can trust and do not blindly assume that just because someone sings very nice bhajans or is at a senior administrative position in temple or a popular preacher then he must be a pure devotee and can be trusted blindly.

Do not do blind following : Blind following means: “Oh, there is a swami. So many thousands of people are following. Let me become his disciple.” This is called blind following…. You do not know. But because everyone is going, “Oh, let me become his disciple.” This is blind following, without any knowledge, blind following.

(SP Lecture, 12th Jan, 1969, Los Angeles)

As one joins the world of ISKCON then one may have many anarthas ( impurities) and not so pure motivation as well. One may join the society for power, women, money, fame, etc. ISKCON is like a desire tree and may even fulfill it. Krishna also says in BG 7.16

catur-vidhä bhajante mäà janäù sukåtino ‘rjuna
ärto jijïäsur arthärthé jïäné ca bharatarñabha

O best among the Bhäratas, four kinds of pious men begin to render devotional service unto Me—the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.

Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport : When these four kinds of persons come to the Supreme Lord for devotional service and are completely purified by the association of a pure devotee, they also become pure devotees. As far as the miscreants are concerned, for them devotional service is very difficult because their lives are selfish, irregular and without spiritual goals.

So some people may join ISKCON for money, power,  or any other personal sense gratification but as an iron, put into fire, gradually develops all the characteristics of fire. Similarly even people with impure, but NOT sinful, motivation, start practicing devotional service, associate with pure devotees they then gradually become purified of such impure desires. However clever imposters, who are in fact sinful, may take advantage of such broad mindedness and exploit the simple hearted devotees to fulfill their ulterior and sinful desires.  We should be always cautious that we do not fall into the company of  these miscreants, hiding in the garb of a devotee. 

To obey the imperfect person means just like a blind man following other blind man. So what benefit he will get? If one blind man is begging help from others, “Please help me in crossing the road,” if another blind man comes and he says, “Yes, come on with me,” so what will be the result? Both will be crushed by accident.

(Srila Prabhupada in discussion with Hayagriva dasa)

And we may even come across devotees who may not be imposters but we can see that they are carrying a very heavy burden of anarthas, a strong desire for personal sense gratification. How should we deal with such devotees?

One who approaches the Supreme Lord to render devotional service, but who is proud of his personality, envious of others or vengeful, is in the mode of anger. He thinks that he is the best devotee. Devotional service executed in this way is not pure; it is mixed and is of the lowest grade, tämasaù. Çréla Viçvanätha Cakravarté Öhäkura advises that a Vaiñëava who is not of good character should be avoided. A Vaiñëava is one who has taken the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the ultimate goal of life, but if one is not pure and still has motives, then he is not a Vaiñëava of the first order of good character. One may offer his respects to such a Vaiñëava because he has accepted the Supreme Lord as the ultimate goal of life, but one should not keep company with a Vaiñëava who is in the mode of ignorance.

(SB 3.29.8p)

Such a miscreant is not a vaishanava but a  Kali-Cela

In this Age of Kali there are many mundane persons in the dress of Vaiṣṇavas, and Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has described them as disciples of Kali. He says, kali-celā. He indicates that there is another Vaiṣṇava, a pseudo Vaiṣṇava with tilaka on his nose and kaṇṭhī beads around his neck. Such a pseudo Vaiṣṇava associates with money and women and is jealous of successful Vaiṣṇavas. Although passing for a Vaiṣṇava, his only business is earning money in the dress of a Vaiṣṇava. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura therefore says that such a pseudo Vaiṣṇava is not a Vaiṣṇava at all but a disciple of Kali-yuga.

(CC Madhya 1.220p)

Some suggestions

 

  1. Do not do follow anyone blindly.
  2. Keep common sense handy at all times.
  3. Strictly maintain all basic moral and social protocols under all circumstances.
  4. Householders should take counseling from successful and senior householder devotees.
  5. Matajis should strictly avoid meeting male preachers without the presence of any adult male member of the house.
  6. No phone counseling between matajis and male preachers.
  7. Matajis should cultivate relationships with senior matajis for personal issues.
  8. Progress in devotional life together as one family and not enforce our personal standards, howsoever high or right it may seem, on other family members who may not be able to follow it at their present stage. Encourage but do not impose.
  9. Remain conscious and sensitive for any out of ordinary signs at home. Gently share and discuss your concern with your partner.
  10. Daily pray to Krishna to protect your family. ( The grahastha ashrama , our home, is an island of sanity, an ashrama, a support system for our spiritual life,  compared to the madhouse outside, we should always pray to protect it)

 

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

 

Your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Do devotees suffer karmic reactions?

7th April, 2017. Gurgaon.

Hare Krishna dear devotees,

I could not post the blog for a long time as life turned a bit busy, please forgive me for this laxity.

Yesterday morning I read the very beautiful, and famous, verse from Srimad Bhagavatam and now sharing the same with you. 

This particular chapter, SB 10.14, describes the Brahmā ji’s prayers to Lord Kṛṣṇa. Brahmā ji first praised the beauty of the Lord’s transcendental limbs and then declared that Krishna’s original identity of sweetness is even more difficult to comprehend than His opulence. And only by the devotional process of hearing and chanting transcendental sounds received from Vedic authorities can one realize the Personality of Godhead. It is fruitless to try to realize God through processes outside the scope of Vedic authority.

Brahmā  ji is praying to Lord Krishna:

My dear Lord, devotional service unto You is the best path for self-realization. If someone gives up that path and engages in the cultivation of speculative knowledge, he will simply undergo a troublesome process and will not achieve his desired result. As a person who beats an empty husk of wheat cannot get grain, one who simply speculates cannot achieve self-realization. His only gain is trouble.

O almighty Lord, in the past many yogīs in this world achieved the platform of devotional service by offering all their endeavors unto You and faithfully carrying out their prescribed duties. Through such devotional service, perfected by the processes of hearing and chanting about You, they came to understand You, O infallible one, and could easily surrender to You and achieve Your supreme abode.

(SB 10.14.4-5)

Then comes the gem of a verse wherein Brahmā ji reveals that to go back to Godhead a devotee simply has to patiently tolerate his past karmic reactions in this lifetime, while sincerely & seriously practicing Krishna consciousness! This may sound too good to be true or too easy but these are the words from Srimad Bhagavatam, Amala Purana, spoken by Brahmā ji, who also happens to be the head of our sampradaya. Srila Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura said that this verse describes Bhakti.

tat te ’nukampāṁ su-samīkṣamāṇo
bhuñjāna evātma-kṛtaṁ vipākam
hṛd-vāg-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te
jīveta yo mukti-pade sa dāya-bhāk

My dear Lord, one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy upon him, all the while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds and offering You respectful obeisances with his heart, words and body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful claim.

(SB 10.14.8)

In his purport Srila Prabhupada too reveals an ‘inside’ secret as to how even those apparent karmic reactions are also actually a favour by the most merciful Krishna. Many of us may have read this verse before but as we read and reread it our conviction for the scientific process of Krishna consciousness, and the amazing journey we are in, goes few notches higher. It also helps us appreciate how compassionate is Krishna towards His devotees.  And that only is Krishna silently working to get us back home but He is very much looking forward to see us soon.
Purport

Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī explains in his commentary that just as a legitimate son has to simply remain alive to gain an inheritance from his father, one who simply remains alive in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, following the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga, automatically becomes eligible to receive the mercy of the Personality of Godhead. In other words, he will be promoted to the kingdom of God.

The word su-samīkṣamāṇa indicates that a devotee earnestly awaits the mercy of the Supreme Lord even while suffering the painful effects of previous sinful activities. Lord Kṛṣṇa explains in the Bhagavad-gītā that a devotee who fully surrenders unto Him is no longer liable to suffer the reactions of his previous karma. However, because in his mind a devotee may still maintain the remnants of his previous sinful mentality, the Lord removes the last vestiges of the enjoying spirit by giving His devotee punishments that may sometimes resemble sinful reactions. The purpose of the entire creation of God is to rectify the living entity’s tendency to enjoy without the Lord, and therefore the particular punishment given for a sinful activity is specifically designed to curtail the mentality that produced the activity. Although a devotee has surrendered to the Lord’s devotional service, until he is completely perfect in Kṛṣṇa consciousness he may maintain a slight inclination to enjoy the false happiness of this world. The Lord therefore creates a particular situation to eradicate this remaining enjoying spirit. This unhappiness suffered by a sincere devotee is not technically a karmic reaction; it is rather the Lord’s special mercy for inducing His devotee to completely let go of the material world and return home, back to Godhead.

A sincere devotee earnestly desires to go back to the Lord’s abode. Therefore he willingly accepts the Lord’s merciful punishment and continues offering respects and obeisances to the Lord with his heart, words and body. Such a bona fide servant of the Lord, considering all hardship a small price to pay for gaining the personal association of the Lord, certainly becomes a legitimate son of God, as indicated here by the words dāya-bhāk. Just as one cannot approach the sun without becoming fire, one cannot approach the supreme pure, Lord Kṛṣṇa, without undergoing a rigid purificatory process, which may appear like suffering but which is in fact a curative treatment administered by the personal hand of the Lord.

So we can appreciate how unique is our journey in Krishna Consciousness. How even the aspiring devotees remain under the direct shelter of the lotus feet of Krishna. We just need to remain sincere & serious, practice tolerance and be simple hearted. Then there is no faster route back to Godhead.

Now it is up to us to decide if sincerity, simplicity and tolerance are too high a price to pay for gaining the personal association of Lord?

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga

All glories to Srila Prabhupada

Your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Transcendental Knowledge

Hare Krishna dear devotees,

I read verse  4.42 from Bhagavad Gita today morning and its amazing purport where Srila Prabhupada not only gives us the summary of the whole chapter 4 but also gives us many keys to open different levels of transcendental knowledge. The chapter itself is titled transcendental knowledge. I am sharing the same. Please chew it slowly.

tasmäd ajïäna-sambhütaà håt-sthaà jïänäsinätmanaù

chittvainaà saàçayaà yogam  ätiñöhottiñöha bhärata

TRANSLATION

Therefore the doubts which have arisen in your heart out of ignorance should be slashed by the weapon of knowledge. Armed with yoga, O Bharata, stand and fight.

(BG 4.42)

PURPORT

The yoga system instructed in this chapter is called sanätana-yoga, or eternal activities performed by the living entity. This yoga has two divisions of sacrificial actions: one is called sacrifice of one’s material possessions, and the other is called knowledge of self, which is pure spiritual activity. If sacrifice of one’s material possessions is not dovetailed for spiritual realization, then such sacrifice becomes material. But one who performs such sacrifices with a spiritual objective, or in devotional service, makes a perfect sacrifice. When we come to spiritual activities, we find that these are also divided into two: namely, understanding of one’s own self (or one’s constitutional position), and the truth regarding the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One who follows the path of Bhagavad-gétä as it is can very easily understand these two important divisions of spiritual knowledge. For him there is no difficulty in obtaining perfect knowledge of the self as part and parcel of the Lord. And such understanding is beneficial, for such a person can easily understand the transcendental activities of the Lord. In the beginning of this chapter, the transcendental activities of the Lord were discussed by the Supreme Lord Himself. One who does not understand the instructions of the Gétä is faithless, and is to be considered to be misusing the fragmental independence awarded to him by the Lord. In spite of such instructions, one who does not understand the real nature of the Lord as the eternal, blissful, all-knowing Personality of Godhead is certainly fool number one. Ignorance can be removed by gradual acceptance of the principles of Kåñëa consciousness. Kåñëa consciousness is awakened by different types of sacrifices to the demigods, sacrifice to Brahman, sacrifice in celibacy, in household life, in controlling the senses, in practicing mystic yoga, in penance, in forgoing material possessions, in studying the Vedas, and in partaking of the social institution called varëäçrama-dharma. All of these are known as sacrifice, and all of them are based on regulated action. But within all these activities, the important factor is self-realization. One who seeks that objective is the real student of Bhagavad-gétä, but one who doubts the authority of Kåñëa falls back. One is therefore advised to study Bhagavad-gétä, or any other scripture, under a bona fide spiritual master, with service and surrender. A bona fide spiritual master is in the disciplic succession from time eternal, and he does not deviate at all from the instructions of the Supreme Lord as they were imparted millions of years ago to the sun-god, from whom the instructions of Bhagavad-gétä have come down to the earthly kingdom. One should, therefore, follow the path of Bhagavad-gétä as it is expressed in the Gétä itself and beware of self-interested people after personal aggrandizement who deviate others from the actual path. The Lord is definitely the supreme person, and His activities are transcendental. One who understands this is a liberated person from the very beginning of his study of Bhagavad-gétä.

This is a gem of a purport and is so potent that one can achieve liberation simply by carefully studying and applying its essence.

HG Bhurijana Prabhu divides this purport into five sections in his book Surrender unto me. Inspired from those titles I am adding little comments.

  1. The Goal of sacrifice (Part 1)

Sacrifices themselves are not the goal. They are means to achieve a goal. The same sacrifice could result in a material or spiritual goal depending simply on the consciousness with which we are doing it.

Today is Ekadasi. Many people in India keep Ekadasi fast, some out of family tradition, some have heard or read about the unlimited piety it brings but devotees keep it simply to please Krishna. So the same sacrifice will culminate in different results for the different people though the act of sacrifice is  apparently the same. So our purpose should always be spiritual. Srila Prabhupada writes

One who performs such sacrifices with a spiritual objective, or in devotional service, makes a perfect sacrifice.

2. Two levels of spiritual knowledge

a) understanding of one’s own self (or one’s constitutional position), and

b) the truth regarding the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Srila Prabhupada gives the synopsis of this transcendental knowledge in his purport of BG 4.35

For want of sufficient knowledge in the absolute science, we are now covered with illusion, and therefore we think that we are separate from Kṛṣṇa. Although we are separated parts of Kṛṣṇa, we are nevertheless not different from Him. The bodily difference of the living entities is māyā, or not actual fact. We are all meant to satisfy Kṛṣṇa. By māyā alone Arjuna thought that the temporary bodily relationship with his kinsmen was more important than his eternal spiritual relationship with Kṛṣṇa. The whole teaching of the Gītā is targeted toward this end: that a living being, as Kṛṣṇa’s eternal servitor, cannot be separated from Kṛṣṇa, and his sense of being an identity apart from Kṛṣṇa is called māyā. The living entities, as separate parts and parcels of the Supreme, have a purpose to fulfill. Having forgotten that purpose since time immemorial, they are situated in different bodies, as men, animals, demigods, etc. Such bodily differences arise from forgetfulness of the transcendental service of the Lord. But when one is engaged in transcendental service through Kṛṣṇa consciousness, one becomes at once liberated from this illusion.

3. Transcendental nature of Supreme Lord

In the beginning verses of this chapter Krishna spoke how He first gave this transcendental knowledge to sun-god, Vivasvān, millions of years ago and it was being passed down via parampara but then it got lost. And how Krishna, unlike Arjuna, remembers all His previous births. Then Krishna declares in BG 4.6

Although I am unborn and My transcendental body never deteriorates, and although I am the Lord of all living entities, I still appear in every millennium in My original transcendental form.

Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport

In spite of such instructions, one who does not understand the real nature of the Lord as the eternal, blissful, all-knowing Personality of Godhead is certainly fool number one.

4. The Goal of sacrifice (part 2)

They are so many different kinds of sacrifices mentioned in vedas and , Srila Prabhupada, writes

All of them are based on regulated action. But within all these activities, the important factor is self-realization. One who seeks that objective is the real student of Bhagavad-Gita.

Even big big jnanis and yogis, what to speak of normal people, get bewildered as to what exactly self realisation means. Actual self realisation means God realisation. They may sound different but are firmly inter-linked.

Self realization means God realization, and God realization means self realization. Just like to see the sun means to see oneself, and to see oneself means to see the sun. Self realization depends completely upon God realization, or else it is not complete. One must know his relationship to the Absolute Truth to fully know his position. The mayavadi school simply discerns spirit from matter, but that is not Ultimate Knowledge. One should know the different manifestations of the spirit also. The highest manifestation of the spirit soul is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna.

(letter to Vilasavigraha Prabhu, 22nd Jan 1969)

5. Properly learning transcendental knowledge

One should learn this knowledge from a bonafide spiritual master coming in the authorised line of disciplic succession. Krishna says in BG 4.2

This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost.

Arjuna, Krishna’s friend & devotee, also an eternal associate of Krishna, become an instrument to give this knowledge to the whole world. Similarly Srila Prabhupada, not only a great devotee of Lord Krishna and one of the greatest acharayas in last hundred years, coming in the line of exalted Gaudia vaishanavas, also an  eternal associate of Krishna, became an instrument to spread this transcendental knowledge worldwide.

Why it is so important to hear this from a bonafide spiritual master?

Srila Prabhupada writes

he does not deviate at all from the instructions of the Supreme Lord as they were imparted

So the message is passed on ‘as it is’ without any deviation or personal interpretation. That’s why ISKCON’S version of Bhagavad Gita is called Bhagavad Gita As it is.

And what will be the result of following all the above points sincerely?

Srila Prabhupada writes at the end of his purport

One who understands this is a liberated person from the very beginning of his study of Bhagavad-gītā.

It is simply our good fortune that we have somehow taken shelter of Srila Prabhupada’s lotus feet and are trying to become Krishna consciousness. Where else can one read a verse from one of the begining chapters of Bhagavad and not only get the summary of the whole chapter but if one applies it with proper faith then one can get liberation at this stage itself! This is the potency of reading Bhaktivedanta purports.

I feel unqualified to understand, receive or apply this knowledge!

The qualification required to unlock the wealth in Prabhupada’s purports is simply our faith, sincerity and seriousness to become Krishna consciousness. That’s all, not how much knowledge I have or how much austerity I can perform or even my lifestyle before coming in touch with the devotees. None of this matters. What matters is how sincerely I desire and wish to change now. Our past is not a hindrance.

How?

We all know that when bed sheets gets spoiled and strained ( say sheet used by small babies on which they have passed urine etc.). These strains on the sheets doesn’t go despite all the washing and scrubbing.  But an experienced and  intelligent mother knows that by hanging these sheets daily in the bright sun not only the sheet get germ free but they will also gradually becomes strain free. Similarly when we come in touch with this transcendental knowledge then not only our past karmic reactions are gone but gradually our consciousness starts becoming pure and we can make rapid progress in self realisation despite what all may have been our past life (or lives).

This is the potency and the result of regularly, and carefully, studying Srila Prabhupada’s books. Everything will get gradually revealed in our heart by his mercy and potency. This is our simple, proven and bonafide process for receiving all transcendental knowledge.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada. 

your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Who is a Bonafide Guru?

guru

Reporter: But the bad gurus…
Çréla Prabhupäda: And what is a “bad” guru?
Reporter: A bad guru just wants some money or some fame.
Çréla Prabhupäda: Well, if he is bad, how can he become a guru? [Laughter.] How can iron become gold? Actually, a guru cannot be bad, for if someone is bad, he cannot be a guru. You cannot say “bad guru.” That is a contradiction. What you have to do is simply try to understand what a genuine guru is. The definition of a genuine guru is that he is simply talking about God—that’s all. If he’s talking about some other nonsense, then he is not a guru. A guru cannot be bad. There is no question of a bad guru, any more than a red guru or a white guru. Guru means “genuine guru.” All we have to know is that the genuine guru is simply talking about God and trying to get people to become God’s devotees. If he does this, he is genuine.

Science of Self Realization, Chapter 2 (SSR)

A bonafide guru honestly accepts and faithfully serves the authority of the disciplic succession represented by the Founder-Äcärya of ISKCON, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupäda.

The founder-äcärya of the sampradäya is the principal çikñä-guru for that disciplic succession. Speculations that contradict his teachings are to be immediately rejected. Only a saintly devotee who has understood the teachings of the principal çikñä-guru is eligible to be a dékñä-guru for others. If one thinks that he can be initiated by an unauthorized guru or a Mäyävädé into these teachings, he errs severely. He will never attain Kåñëa consciousness.

HNC 6.2126

All bona fide representatives of Çré Vyäsadeva in the chain of disciplic succession are to be understood to be gosvämés. These gosvämés restrain all their senses, and they stick to the path made by the previous äcäryas. The gosvämés do not deliver lectures on the Bhägavatam capriciously. Rather, they execute their services most carefully, following their predecessors who delivered the spiritual message unbroken to them.

ÇB 1.1.5p

The guru does not manufacture a new process to instruct the disciple. The disciple receives from the guru an authorized process received by the guru from his guru. This is called the system of disciplic succession (evaà paramparä-präptaà imaà räjarñayo viduù [Bg. 4.2]). This is the bona fide Vedic system of receiving the process of devotional service, by which the Supreme Personality of Godhead is pleased. Therefore, to approach a bona fide guru, or spiritual master, is essential. The bona fide spiritual master is he who has received the mercy of his guru, who in turn is bona fide because he has received the mercy of his guru. This is called the paramparä system.

ÇB 8.16.24p

A bonafide guru is fixed in serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead as servant of the servant.

A Vaiñëava never thinks that he has a direct relationship with Kåñëa. Lord Caitanya says, “I am the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant—a hundred times the servant of the servant—of Kåñëa [Cc. Madhya 13.80].” We have to agree to become the servant of the servant of the servant. This is the process of disciplic succession, and if one wants real, transcendental love of God, then he has to adopt this process.

SSR Ch. 8

A spiritual master’s qualification is that he is brahma-niñöhä, which means that he has given up all other activities and has dedicated his life to working only for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kåñëa.

Kåñëa Book Ch. 87

A bonafide guru hears from the disciplic succession.

Some spiritual teachers say, “In my opinion you should do this,” but this is not a guru. Such so-called gurus are simply rascals. The genuine guru has only one opinion, and that is the opinion expressed by Kåñëa, Vyäsadeva, Närada, Arjuna, Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu, and the Gosvämés.

SSR Ch. 2

An actual guru is çrotriya, one who has heard or received perfect knowledge through paramparä, the disciplic succession.

ÇB 7.5.31p

Perfect knowledge is called paramparä, or deductive knowledge coming down from the authority to the submissive aural receiver who is bona fide by service and surrender.

ÇB 1.2.21p

A bonafide guru has realized the conclusions of scriptures.

The qualification of a spiritual master is that he must have realized the conclusions of the scriptures by deliberation and arguments and thus be able to convince others of these conclusions. Such great personalities who have taken shelter of the Supreme Godhead, leaving aside all material considerations, are to be understood as bona fide spiritual masters.

NOD Ch. 7

A spiritually advanced person who is authorized to act as the spiritual master speaks as the Supreme Personality of Godhead dictates from within. Thus it is not he that is personally speaking. In other words, when a pure devotee or spiritual master speaks, what he says should be accepted as having been directly spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the paramparä system.

CC Antya 5.71p

Whatever position one may have, if he is fully conversant with the science of Kåñëa, Kåñëa consciousness, he can become a bona fide spiritual master — an initiator or a teacher of the science.

TLC, Ch. 31

A bonafide guru does not behave whimsically.

One who is in the line of disciplic succession cannot manufacture his own way of behavior. There are many so-called followers of the Vaiñëava cult in the line of Caitanya Mahäprabhu who do not scrupulously follow the conclusions of the çästras, and therefore they are considered to be apa-sampradäya, which means “outside of the sampradäya.”

CC Ädi 7.48p

 

One who is now the disciple is the next spiritual master. And one cannot be a bona fide and authorized spiritual master unless one has been strictly obedient to his spiritual master.

ÇB 2.9.43p

 

If one is seriously interested in Kåñëa conscious activities, he must be ready to follow the rules and regulations laid down by the äcäryas, and he must understand their conclusions. The çästra says, dharmasya tattvaà nihitaà guhäyäà mahäjano yena gataù sa panthäù (Mahäbhärata, Vana-parva 313.117). It is very difficult to understand the secret of Kåñëa consciousness, but one who advances by the instruction of the previous äcäryas and follows in the footsteps of his predecessors in the line of disciplic succession will have success. Others will not.

CC Ädi 8.7p

 

A bonafide guru is selfcontrolled.

One who is not self-controlled, specifically in sex life, can become neither a disciple nor a spiritual master. One must have disciplinary training in controlling speaking, anger, the tongue, the mind, the belly and the genitals. One who has controlled the particular senses mentioned above is called a gosvämé. Without becoming a gosvämé one can become neither a disciple nor a spiritual master. The so-called spiritual master without sense control is certainly the cheater, and the disciple of such a so-called spiritual master is the cheated.

ÇB 2.9.43p

 

A person who has full control over the senses and mind is called a gosvämé or gosäïi. One who does not have such control is called a godäsa, or a servant of the senses, and cannot become a spiritual master.

CC Ädi 7.13p

 

A bonafide guru is an uttama-adhikäré.

The guru must be situated on the topmost platform of devotional service. There are three classes of devotees, and the guru must be accepted from the topmost class. The first-class devotee is the spiritual master for all kinds of people…… The guru is a qualified brähmaëa; therefore he knows Brahmanand Para-brahman. He thus devotes his life for the service of Para-brahman. The bona fide spiritual master who accepts disciples from all over the world is also worshiped all over the world because of his qualities. Lokänäm asau püjyo yathä hariù: the people of the world worship him just as they worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead. All these honors are offered to him because he strictly follows the brahminical principles and teaches these principles to his disciples. Such a person is called an äcärya because he knows the principles of devotional service, he behaves in that way himself, and he teaches his disciples to follow in his footsteps…… The mahä-bhägavata is one who decorates his body with tilaka and whose name indicates him to be a servant of Kåñëa by the word däsa. He is also initiated by a bona fide spiritual master and is expert in worshiping the Deity, chanting mantras correctly, performing sacrifices, offering prayers to the Lord and performing saìkértana. He knows how to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead and how to respect a Vaiñëava. When one has attained the topmost position of mahä-bhägavata, he is to be accepted as a guru and worshiped exactly like Hari, the Personality of Godhead. Only such a person is eligible to occupy the post of a guru.

CC Madhya 24.330p

One should not become a spiritual master unless he has attained the platform of uttama-adhikäré. A neophyte Vaiñëava or a Vaiñëava situated on the intermediate platform can also accept disciples, but such disciples must be on the same platform, and it should be understood that they cannot advance very well toward the ultimate goal of life under his insufficient guidance. Therefore a disciple should be careful to accept an uttama-adhikäré as a spiritual master.

The uttama-adhikäré, or highest devotee, is one who is very advanced in devotional service. An uttama-adhikäré is not interested in blaspheming others, his heart is completely clean, and he has attained the realized state of unalloyed Kåñëa consciousness……Out of many such Vaiñëavas, one may be found to be very seriously engaged in the service of the Lord and strictly following all the regulative principles, chanting the prescribed number of rounds on japa beads and always thinking of how to expand the Kåñëa consciousness movement. Such a Vaiñëava should be accepted as an uttama-adhikäré, a highly advanced devotee, and his association should always be sought……When a person realizes himself to be an eternal servitor of Kåñëa, he loses interest in everything but Kåñëa’s service. Always thinking of Kåñëa, devising means by which to spread the Holy Name of Kåñëa, he understands that his only business is in spreading the Kåñëa consciousness movement all over the world. Such a person is to be recognized as an uttama-adhikäré.

NOI Text 5p

 

Note :The above content is copied from An Ocean of Gaura’s premämåta-kåpä – An elaboration on Srila Rupa Goswami’s Sri Upadesamrta by H.G. Srimati Mataji. We can download the book CLICK HERE

In the next blog I will quote a heavy check list on what is meant by a bonafide Guru by Srila Bhaktisdhanta Sarasvati Thakura.

 

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

 

Who is a Rupanuga?

Hare   Krishna,

5th December, 2016. Gurgaon

rupanuga_-rupa_goswami

The word Rupanuga

The common Gauòéya Vaiñëava understanding is that the word rupanuga was first used by Çréla Raghunätha däsa Gosvämé in the last verse of his Çré Manaù–Çiksä:

manaù-çikñä-daikädaçaka-varam etaà madhurayä

girä gäyaty uccaiù samadhi-gata-sarvärtha-tati yaù

sa-yüthaù çré-rüpänuga iha bhavan gokula-vane

jano rädhä-kåñëätula-bhajana-ratnaà sa labhate

These eleven excellent instructions to the mind grant all spiritual benedictions. A person who stays with the devotees, follows Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé,and with a sweet voice loudly sings these eleven verses, understanding all their meanings, will attain the matchless jewel of direct service to Çré Çré Rädhä-Kåñëa in the forest of Gokula. (12)

Çréla Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura wrote a commentary on this work entitled Bhajana-Darpaëa-Bhäñä and so he was obviously very aware of its subtleties and depth. Later he wrote Çré Çré Rüpänugä-bhajana darpaëa (A Mirror Reflecting Worship which Follows in the Footsteps of Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé). In this work, which is the fourth chapter of Géta-Mälä, Çréla Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura uses the word rupanuga numerous times.

Many years later, Çrépada Ananta Väsudeva Parävidyäbhuñana Prabhu, a brilliant disciple of Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Öhäkura, composed praëäma-mantras for Çréla Jagannätha däsa Bäbäjé, Çréla Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura, Çréla Gaura Kiçora däsa Bäbäjé and Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Öhäkura.

He used the word rupanuga in his glorification of both Çréla Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura and Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Öhäkura:

namo bhaktivinodäya sac-cid-änanda-nämine

gaura-çakti-svarüpäya rüpänuga-varäya te

I offer my respectful obeisances unto Saccidänanda Bhaktivinoda, who is a transcendental energy of Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu. He is a strict follower of the Gosvämés, headed by Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé.

 

nama oà viñëu-pädäya kåñëa-preñöhäya bhü-tale

çrémate bhaktisiddhänta-sarasvatéti nämine

I offer my respectful obeisances unto His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté, who is very dear to Lord Kåñëa having taken shelter at His lotus feet.

 

mädhuryojjvala-premäòhya-çré-rüpänuga-bhaktida

çré-gaura-karuëä-çakti-vigrahäya namo ’stu te

I offer my respectful obeisances unto you, the personified energy of Çré Caitanya’s mercy, who delivers devotional service which is enriched with conjugal love of Rädhä and Kåñëa, coming exactly in the line of revelation of Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé.

 

Until today, these praëäma-mantras have remained the standard within both the Gauòéya Maöha and ISKCON.

 

Some Thoughts from Çréla Prabhupäda

Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu is none other than the combined form of Çré Rädhä and Kåñëa. He is the life of those devotees who strictly follow in the footsteps of Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé.

CC Ädi introduction

Rüpa Gosvämé and Sanätana Gosvämé are the most exalted servitors of Çrématé Rädhäräëé and Lord Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu. Those who adhere to their service are known as rüpänuga devotees.

CC Madhya 8.246 p

The present Kåñëa consciousness movement is based on the authority of Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé Prabhupäda. We are therefore generally known as rüpänugas, or followers in the footsteps of Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé Prabhupäda.

NOD Preface

In Våndävana there are präkåta-sahajiyäs who say that writing books or even touching books is taboo. For them, devotional service means being relieved from these activities. Whenever they are asked to hear a recitation of Vedic literature, they refuse, saying, “What business do we have reading or hearing transcendental literatures? They are meant for neophytes.” They pose themselves as too elevated to exert energy for reading, writing and hearing. However, pure devotees under the guidance of Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé reject this sahajiyä philosophy. It is certainly not good to write literature for money or reputation, but to write books and publish them for the enlightenment of the general populace is real service to the Lord. That was Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté’s opinion, and he specifically told his disciples to write books. He actually preferred to publish books rather than establish temples. Temple construction is meant for the general populace and neophyte devotees, but the business of advanced and empowered devotees is to write books, publish them and distribute them widely. According to Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Öhäkura, distributing literature is like playing on a great mådaìga. Consequently we always request members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness to publish as many books as possible and distribute them widely throughout the world. By thus following in the footsteps of Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé, one can become a  rupanuga devotee.

CC Madhya 19.132 p

 

The author of Bhakti-rasämåta-sindhu, Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé, very humbly submits that he is just trying to spread Kåñëa consciousness all over the world, although he humbly thinks himself unfit for this work. That should be the attitude of all preachers of the Kåñëa consciousness movement, following in the footsteps of Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé. We should never think of ourselves as great preachers, but should always consider that we are simply instrumental to the previous äcäryas, and simply by following in their footsteps we may be able to do something for the benefit of suffering humanity.

NOD Introduction

We have to follow the footsteps of Rüpa Gosvämé, rupanuga. Then we can understand Lord Caitanya. And if we get favor of Lord Caitanya, we can very easily understand Kåñëa. This is the process.

Lecture on ÇB 1.2.20, August 23, 1972, Los Angeles

To Be a Follower of a Rupanuga

Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé, after retiring from his minister’s seat in the government, went to Våndävana and lived beneath a tree, like Mahäräja Påthu. Since then, many people have gone to Våndävana to imitate Rüpa Gosvämé’s behavior. Instead of advancing in spiritual life, many have fallen into material habits and even in Våndävana have become victims of illicit sex, gambling and intoxication. The Kåñëa consciousness movement has been introduced in the Western countries, but it is not possible for Westerners to go to the forest and practice the severe austerities which were ideally practiced by Påthu Mahäräja or Rüpa Gosvämé. However, Westerners or anyone else can follow in the footsteps of Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Öhäkura by living in a temple, which is transcendental to residence in a forest, and to vow to accept kåñëa-prasäda and nothing else, follow the regulative principles and chant sixteen rounds daily of the Hare Kåñëa mantra. In this way, one’s spiritual life will never be disturbed.

ÇB 4.23.5 p

If you simply do as I am doing, not avoiding anything which may have to be done for pushing on Kåñëa’s movement, remaining always stuck up very tightly to the footsteps of Rüpa Gosvämé, then without any doubt you will remain always fresh and enthusiastic for working very energetically on Kåñëa’s behalf, without any falldown.

Letter to: Puñöa Kåñëa, Bombay, 29 December, 1972

Last Will and Testament of A Rupanuga

by Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Öhäkura

Spoken on 23rd December, 1936 and translated from the Bengali by Çréla Prabhupäda.

I have most probably given many people troubles in the mind. Some of them might have thought about me that I am their enemy because I was obliged to speak the plain truth for service and devotion towards the Absolute Godhead. I have given them all those troubles only for the reason that they may turn their face towards the Personality of Godhead without any desire for gain and with unalloyed devotion. I hope one day or other they may understand me rightly.

I advise all to preach the teachings of Rüpa-Raghunätha (disciples of Lord Caitanya) with all energy and resources. Our ultimate goal shall be to become the dust of the lotus feet of Çré Çré Rüpa Raghunätha Goswäméns. You should all work conjointly under the guidance of your spiritual master with a view to serve the Absolute Knowledge, the Personality of Godhead. You should live somehow or other without any quarrel in this mortal world only for the service of Godhead. Do not please give up the service of Godhead in spite of all dangers, all criticisms and all discomforts. Do not be disappointed, for most people in the world do not serve the Personality of Godhead; do not give up your own service which is your everything and all, neither reject the process of chanting and hearing of the transcendental Holy Name of Godhead. You should always chant the transcendental Name of Godhead with patience and forbearance like a tree and humbleness like a straw.

We wish that this mass of our body of flesh and blood may be sacrificed at the altar of preaching the Saìkértana movement (congregational chanting of the Holy Name of Godhead) propagated by Lord Caitanya. We are not desirous of becoming a hero of work or a reformer of religion, but our reality may be identified with the dust of the Lotus Feet of Çré Rüpa and Raghunätha for that is our everything. The flow of the transcendental tide of the attraction of devotion will never be blocked, and you with all your energy shall devote yourself for fulfilling the desire of Çréla Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura. There are many amongst you who are well qualified and able workers. We have no other desire whatsoever.

There are certainly many difficulties while we are in this mortal world but it is not our business simply to be overwhelmed with those difficulties or to try to overcome them only. We must know even during the duration of our present life, as to what we shall gain after overcoming all those difficulties of life and what shall be the mode of our permanent existence. We must make an adjustment of all things that evoke our love and hatred and for those things that we want and do not want. Attachment and detachment of this mortal world will engage us more and more as we become farther and farthest from the Lotus Feet of Çré Kåñëa. When we are able to transcend the position of attachments and detachments of this mortal world and be attracted with Holy Name of Godhead, it is then only we can understand the import of the transcendental service of Çré Kåñëa, the Personality of Godhead. At the first instance the subject Kåñëa is startling and perplexing to us. Every one who is called by the name “man” is more or less struggling knowingly or unknowingly to eliminate those invading elements which are baffling our conception of eternal need. It is our only duty to enter into the kingdom of eternal need.

We have no love or hatred for any one in this world. All arrangements made in this world are but temporary. There is, therefore, unavoidable necessity for that ultimate need for every one in this world. You should attain the transcendental loving service of the objective, being situated in concerted action for that one aim. Let there be a constant flow of the ideas and thoughts as conceived by Rüpa Goswämé and his followers. We shall not at any time show our slightest dejection for the seven tongued Saìkértana movement.* If we have undaunted faith in it we shall then only achieve all perfections.

You should all therefore preach with fearlessness and with utmost energy the message of Rüpa and Raghunätha under the guidance of the followers of Çré Rüpa.

 

Note : The above content is copied from An Ocean of Gaura’s premämåta-kåpä – An elaboration on Srila Rupa Goswami’s Sri Upadesamrta.

This wonderful book has been compiled by H.G. Srimati Mataji (Vrindavana) and her team. I strongly recommend all the devotees to kindly to click the below link and download this amazing book. It is a careful study guide for all the aspiring Rupanugas and for every one who is interested in studying Sri Upadesamrta, Nector Of Instructions, seriously.

An Ocean of Gaura’s premämåta-kåpä

 

All glories to all the Rupanugas.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

 

Is today the end or beginning of Kartika?

Hare Krishna.

14th November, 2016. Gurgaon.

kartika-month

Today is the last day of Kartika. Different devotees would have had different experiences and realisations in this Kartika. But for some fortunate devotees it will be the beginning of a full year of Kartika! Yes, it is indeed very rare and only some fortunate souls receive the mercy and inspiration to observe it properly for one full year (or a life time).

In one of the verses in Stavamala, Srila Rupa Gosvami, describes Srimati Radharani as Kartiki-devi. She is the presiding deity of this month. In Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu, he describes Kartika Vrata as the Urja vrata. Urja means power, strength and empowerment. Who is the source of this urja, power and spiritual strength? Urjesvari, Srimati Radharani.  So this is the month we can receive spiritual strength, empowerment to increase our qualification for service and power to make rapid progress in bhakti. So most devotees observe Kartik vrata to somehow please Srimati Radharani.

Does this mercy departs on the last day of Kartika?

Let us hear what Srila Prabhupada has to say on it:

You have asked about the specialness of the month of Karttika, and the answer is that it is a special inducement for persons who are not in Krsna consciousness to perform some devotional service. For persons who are doing nothing in Krsna consciousness, it is an indirect inducement to take to devotional service in earnest seriousness, every moment is Karttika. In this connection, there is a good example that sometimes a store gives a special concession to attract new customers. But for those who are already customers there is no need of a special sale. They will purchase at any cost if they know the important value of the goods. Similarly, those who are pure devotees do not aspire for any concession, and out of spontaneous love try to engage themselves in devotional service twenty-four hours each day, three hundred and sixty five days every year, without any stoppage.”

(SPL to HH Jayapataka Swami, 30th January, 1969)

For pure devotees every day of the year is Kartika.  But what about us? Those who are yet to develop, and bestowed upon, a spontaneous love for Radhe Shyam. What  if we did not/ could not keep any vow this Kartika or what if we feel disheartened because somehow we failed to keep our vows. Not everything is lost for us. We still have a ray of hope and a very bright ray, mercy of Srimati Radharani. It would not end on the last day of Kartika, provided we take some last minute action, today.

We are aware that mercy of Srimati Radharani is readily available in Kartika. Today being the last day, we can take a vow to improve upon any of the areas where we are spiritually weak and/or continue to keep what we started in Kartika. We should earnestly pray to Srimati Radharani to please help us in that area and we take a vow to continue our vow till the beginning of next Kartika. So that it finally becomes part of my daily service. We will show our sincerity and seriousness by trying to keep that vow for Her pleasure, not to collect some pious credits or flaunt some numbers. This will please Her. This would be a proper cultivation and utilisation of Kartika. We are not looking at Kartika as some quick fix solution. Our goal should be to cultivate bhakti, spontaneous love for Radhe Shyam.

I repeat what I quoted few weeks back that the temple will be packed all through the Kartika but it is practically empty a day after Kartika, that should not be the condition of our heart. Whatever mercy we received this month should propel us ahead in bhakti. Not that Kartika is gone and we are back to the same old routine, not the best of the attitude to please Srimati Radharani.

Also at our stage it is best to keep austerities away and take vows which are based on direct limbs of bhakti.

śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ sakhyam ātma-nivedanam (SB 7.5.23)

Some suggestions I am thinking for myself:

Endeavoring to carefully hear the Holy Name during my japa.

Daily read one chapter of Bhagavad Gita (takes 10-12 minutes)

Daily read Srimad Bhagavatam (HG Vasisesika Prabhu recently shared that it takes reading just 41 pages daily to complete Srimad Bhagavatam in one year! I could not believe it.)

Daily offer lamp to Tulasi Devi

Daily read the translation of Tulasi Arti after singing it.

Daily read the translation of any of the mantras ( pranam mantras, prasadam prayer, …)

Start daily Guru Puja at home

The list is endless and we can pick wherever we think we need improvement: our hearing, reading, improving relationship with Holy Name/ devotees/ guru.

radha-shyamsundar-vrindavan-kartika-darshan-gopastami

Let us look at the lotus feet of Radha Shyamsundar and pray to Them, beg Srimati Radharani and we take our vow to continue what we started in Kartika or start afresh today with a new vow to please Her lotus feet. Today is the last day of Kartika to show Srimati Radharani that we indeed have some desire to please Her and are willing to walk the talk. 

Radharani’s mercy doesn’t end on the last day of Kartika. It’s ongoing!Let us aspire for it.

All glories to Kartika month.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Kartika doesn’t end on the last day of Kartika!

Hare Krishna.

25th Oct, 2016. Gurgaon.

kartika-month-radha-madhava

There so many benedictions for the month of Kartika and we get constant reminders via email, messages on mobile and so many other mediums. The list grows only bigger by the day.

“In the month of Kartik, which is very dear to Sri Hari, one who bathes early in the morning attains the merit of bathing in all places of pilgrimage. Anybody who offers the Lord a ghee lamp in the month of Kartik, O brahmana, becomes free from all kinds of sins, such as killing a brahmana, and he goes to the abode of Lord Hari.”

(Brahma Khanda)

There is no other month equal to Karttika. There is no other scripture equal to Vedas. There is no other place of pilgrimage equal to Ganges, therefore, the month of Karttika is very dear to the Vaisnavas .

(HBV, 16/39,40 quoted from Skanda Purana)

 

A very senior vaishnava shared (most of the below content is also from the same senior vaishnava) that there are five essential limbs of Kartika. They are very simple but very important. During the month of Kartika:

  1. One should rise early in the morning for the pleasure of Lord Hari
  2. Take a morning bath early
  3. Serve and worship Tulasi
  4. Offer a ghee lamp
  5. At the end of the vrata celebrate a festival. ( Which means kirtan and prasadam distribution)

Of course because it is Kartika, month of Lord Damodara, so daily chanting of Damodarastkam is also a must.

Sri Sri Damodarastakam is sung during Kartika, also known as month of Damodara. As quoted in the Sri Hari Bhakti Vilasa,”In the month of Kartika one should worship Lord Damodara and daily recite the prayer known as Damodarastaka, which has been spoken by Sage Satyavratra and which attracts Lord Damodara.

 (Sri Hari Bhakti Vilasa 2.16.198)

 

So it a very very powerful month.

Now let us hear a different point of view from Srila Prabhupada.

You have asked about the specialness of the month of Karttika, and the answer is that it is a special inducement for persons who are not in Krsna consciousness to perform some devotional service. For persons who are doing nothing in Krsna consciousness, it is an indirect inducement to take to devotional service in earnest seriousness, every moment is Karttika. In this connection, there is a good example that sometimes a store gives a special concession to attract new customers. But for those who are already customers there is no need of a special sale. They will purchase at any cost if they know the important value of the goods. Similarly, those who are pure devotees do not aspire for any concession, and out of spontaneous love try to engage themselves in devotional service twenty-four hours each day, three hundred and sixty five days every year, without any stoppage.”

(SPL to HH Jayapataka, 30th January, 1969)

 

Isn’t this a very interesting angle on what all we have been reading since past many days. We should be certainly aware of what Srila Prabhupada wants to convey- for a serious and sincere devotee. Being the Kaliyugians, or a dyed in the wool karmi like me, we have a tendency to forget the preciousness of what Srila Prabhupada has given us and actually how dynamic and how powerful every single little tiny thing is. Let us read some other quotes from Hari Bhakti Vilasa.

 

Just by offering obeisances to Lord Hari even once, a devotee can attain His transcendental abode.

(HBV 8.367)

Even if one offers obeisances with duplicity, all of his sinful reactions that have accumulated during hundred of previous lives are at once eradicated.

(HBV 8.370)

Know for certain that in Kali-yuga, drinking Lord’s caraāmta is the best atonement for all kinds of sinful activities. Just by drinking caraāmta , one’s body becomes purified.

(HBV 9.26,51)

One who worships the lotus feet of Lord Hari with offerings of tender tulasī  leaves never returns to this miserable world after attaining the abode of supreme Lord.

(HBV 7.322)

Lord Keshava becomes pleased with a devotee who prepares a garland of tulasī  leaves and manjaris and then offers it to Him. Indeed, He awards such a devotee residence in the spiritual world.

(HBV 7.340)

Those who offer incense to the Supreme Lord achieve prosperity in this life and enter the spiritual world in the next. Just as the incense smoke rises, the devotee who offers incense everyday advances towards an exalted destination as a result of his devotional activities.

(HBV 8.25)

The purification one achieves by bathing in hundreds of millions of holy places can be achieved simply by smelling the remnants of incense offered to Lord Hari.

(HBV 8.30)

Lamps give us vision and upliftment. The more a devotee offers lamps to the Lord, the more he makes advancement.

(HBV 8.70)

Lust, anger and pride that born of ignorance, as well as one’s material entanglement, are destroyed simply by worshipping the Lord with a beautiful ghee lamp.

(HBV 8.303)

Now the most interesting thing is that all the above benedictions are not for Kartika but these are for everyday of the year. Can we see and appreciate how strong and potent devotional practices Prabhupada has given us. Everything about Krishna consciousness process is cintamani but we are blind, slow fools and just can’t see it. And so we have to be encouraged with strong, fruitive type ‘incentives’ like Kartika. That’s why Prabhupada is saying that for the awake devotee every day is Kartika. These are common everyday things in our devotional life. Prabhupada has got us do them every single day. Even if I am a rascal still I get unlimited benefits.

The process Srila Prabhupada has given us is very powerful. So if we become aware of what we have got then every moment is Kartika for us, every moment benedictions are being showered on to the devotees. If every moment we are conscious then every moment we are gaining in a similar way as we are supposed to gain in Kartika!

This brings us to the point that we have to approach Kartika with intelligence. Let us hear some questions and see what is our heart’s response to them.

Q: Kartika is here, am I performing vratas because I want pious credits or I want prema bhakti?

Q: Am I going to approach it as a ‘process wala’ or as a personalist?

Q: Do I want to love Radha Damodar or I want to ‘use’ Their mercy?

The answers are quite obvious for any sincere and serious devotee.

So we should also be aware of subtleties. We should not get caught up in the externals or too many activities in Kartika, or the numbers. Of course, we do the things which are the essence, the five things that we discussed in the beginning. We do the things we are very attached to. But we can think of what are my weaknesses in my devotional life.

Is it something about my relationship with devotees?

Is it something about my relationship with my guru?

Is it something about my relationship with the Holy Name?

What are my weaknesses? I am going to work on them this Kartika.

And we use the mercy of Radhika to help us with that. We can speak to Her about that and don’t let it finish with Kartika. Radharani’s mercy doesn’t end on the last day of Kartika. It’s ongoing!

So if we use the month to facilitate building a relationship which is based on the realisation of our needs in our Krishna consciousness. And we actually want to meet those needs. And we are depending on her mercy then it illuminates our hearts. In this way Kartika can be very very special.

So we should not try to approach Kartika as some quick fix or as a process. The temple will be packed all Kartika but it is practically empty a day after Kartika. That should not be the condition of our heart. Because if we are actually wanting to use Kartika to develop our attachment to Radha-Shyam, then mercy during Kartika should be propelling us, pushing us in Krishna consciousness- after the Kartika! Not that Kartika finish, all done and dusted and back to the same old routine! Next year, Next special! Not a very healthy mentality.

f we are careful and intelligent then we will realise that is it is such a rare opportunity. It is said that Radharani has no eyes for anyone other than Krishna but this month she has an eye for all of us fallen conditioned souls. Are we going to talk numbers to her? We should be wanting to develop our relationship with Her and Her devotees.

What does this means?

As her aspiring servants should we be worried about pious credits or cultivate bhakti? Proper cultivation means that it should be inspiring to continue AFTER the Kartika has finished.

I found an amazing quote by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura  which speaks of similar essence for sincere and serious devotees.

What should one specifically think of, on an each Ekädaçé?

“On each Ekädaçé, one should think, how much advancement I have made since the last Ekädaçé. If one finds that he has not made any advancement or rather he has degraded then one should think bad association as the cause of this, and thus he should endeavor to give up that association.”

(Sajjana Toñaëé 4/5)

(Quoted from Bhaktivinoda Väné Vaibhäva)

So I have shared whatever little I heard and I hope, and I pray, that it helps us not to let this Kartika end on the last day of Kartika but rather propel, and inspire, us to continue after Kartika. Now that would indeed be very pleasing to Srimati Radharani.

 

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

 

Your servant,

 

Giriraj dasa