In your recent prayers, you asked me, “My dear Krishna, mahatma is a common title these days. We have so many self-styled mahatmas in India. Then I see that many people fall from their spiritual quest or abandon it because they had chosen to follow someone only because of his appearance or popularity. Later the so-called mahatma didn’t behave as a genuine advanced spiritual teacher resulting in a crisis of faith. Can you please let me know whom we can call a mahatma and what are the external symptoms of such a personality, so that we can recognise one and try to get his association?”
I’m pleased with your question as asking questions and clarifying one’s doubts is a sign of intelligence. Different people with different levels of consciousness may call someone mahatma based on their own understanding or inclination. However, a mahatma cannot be manufactured by rubber-stamping an ordinary man. A mahatma is a rare soul, someone who is very dear to me. I’m happy to share with you my definition of a mahatma and his external symptoms-
O son of Pṛthā, those who are not deluded, the great souls, are under the protection of the divine nature. They are fully engaged in devotional service because they know Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, original and inexhaustible.
satataṁ kīrtayanto māṁ yatantaś ca dṛḍha-vratāḥ namasyantaś ca māṁ bhaktyā nitya-yuktā upāsate
Always chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion.
I hope this gives you a better understanding of who is a mahatma. His preoccupation is only in spreading my glories hence he is always engaged in my service. Please associate with such mahatmas. I regularly send them to your planet to help all of you so that you can return back to me in a simple, natural and sure manner.
We frequently hear that such and such exalted Vaishnava is an eternal associate of Krishna or Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Some other terms used for an eternal associate of Lord are Sangi or pāriṣada. Let’s hear from Srīla Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura what is the real significance of being called an eternal associate of Lord and what is the qualification needed to be called one.
The Gauḍīya: Ṭhakura [Narottama dasa] Mahāśaya writes, gaurāṅgera saṅgi-gane, nitya-siddha kari māne, se yāya brajendra-nanda pāśa: “Anyone who is preaching the saṅkīrtana movement is an associate of Caitanya Mahāprabhu.” So whom should we accept as gaurāṅgera saṅgī, Lord Gaurāṅga’s associates or companions?
Srīla Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura: Only those who support Śrī Gaurāṅga’s mood of separation are actual associates of Gaurāṅga; they are His saṅgī. Those who fulfill Gaura’s mission, who serve His inner desire, are His associates. Those who eternally remain present with Gaurāṅga in order to serve Him are gaurāṅgera saṅgī.
While traveling in South India, Śrīmān Mahāprabhu converted people in village after village to Vaiṣṇavism, but those who did not engage constantly in His mission –who did not associate with Mahāprabhu at all times by dedicating everything to Him –how can they be called His “associates”?
The word saṅgī derives from the word saṅga, which means “one who approaches completely.” Those who did not associate with the Lord constantly cannot be called His saṅgī. They can be called His bhaktas, but not His saṅgī.
Another word for saṅgī is pāriṣada. Even though Ṭhākura Narottama did not appear when Śrīmān Mahāprabhu was having His pastimes, he is still Śrīmān Mahāprabhu’s saṅgī because he appeared in this world only to fulfill Mahāprabhu’s mission and is eternally absorbed in His service –totally overwhelmed by Mahāprabhu’s internal mood. He nourishes the Lord’s mood of separation and is therefore a nitya-siddha devotee.
I hope we understood a little bit about the exalted position of someone who is an eternal associate of Lord- someone who is sold-out to the mission of Krishna, dedicating everything for Krishna’s service.
The above would also imply that there is a window of opportunity available for every soul to go back to Godhead and become an eternal associate of Lord by following the path shown to us by previous acharyas – Narad, Dhruv Maharaj, Prahalada Maharaj, our own acharya – Srila Prabhupada. What is needed is a burning desire and a heart that is sold out to the service of Sri Guru and Gauranga. Srimad Bhagavatam says-
O Lord, who resemble the shining sun, You are always ready to fulfill the desire of Your devotee, and therefore You are known as a desire tree [vāñchā-kalpataru]. When ācāryas completely take shelter under Your lotus feet in order to cross the fierce ocean of nescience, they leave behind on earth the method by which they cross, and because You are very merciful to Your other devotees, You accept this method to help them.
This human form of body is a most valuable boat, and the spiritual master is the captain, guru-karṇadhāram, to guide the boat in plying across the ocean of nescience. The instruction of Krishna is a favorable breeze. One must use all these facilities to cross over the ocean of nescience. Since the spiritual master is the captain, one must serve the spiritual master very sincerely so that by his mercy one will be able to get the mercy of the Supreme Lord.
Recently I read an article written by Srila Bhaktivinod Thakura on the famous quote from Bible ‘Love God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, with all thy soul’. This amazing article not only gives us a proper understanding of how ‘To Love God’ means different to different people at different levels of consciousness but he also beautifully explains in brielf the whole Gaudiya Vaisnava philosophy. Here it is –
To Love God
It was Christ Jesus who first said “Love God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and love man as thy brother.” This is an absolute truth indeed; but different men put different interpretations to this noble expression. The expressions of all great men are nice but somewhat mysterious. When understood they bring the truth nearest to the heart otherwise they remain mere letters that ‘kill’. The reason of the mystery is that men, advanced in their approach to the Deity, are in the habit of receiving revelations which are but mysteries to those that are behind them. The stages of progress are very much the same as the circles of spiritualism which, though not true themselves, explain a great deal about the gradual development of the soul.
We have understood some spiritualists to maintain that matter when sublimated converts itself to spirit. This theory is indeed against any inward conviction. Matter is matter, and spirit is spirit; one of them cannot form the other. Spirit is certainly of a superior existence; though we cannot fully understand in our present state of material imprisonment, what relation Spirit does exactly bear to matter, space and time.
Metaphysics apart, we decide that the human soul rises higher and higher and can understand things of which we have no idea at present. Subject to this important rule, Christ Jesus of Nazareth received and uttered the words quoted above.
To readers who are a little above the scale of ordinary men, these expressions of Jesus teach that man should love God with all his heart (meaning the affections of the heart perceivable in all children as opposed to hate), with all his mind, (meaning the intellect which knows as opposed to ignorance of good things), with all his soul (meaning that principle of the human constitution which worships the Almighty and feels its own immortality), and with all his strength (meaning all active work). To the inspired, however, more things and better and more sublime meanings appear beneath these holy words of the inspired Jesus. He teaches man to love God and not to know, infer, hate, or think of God. He tells us that man in his absolute state is not the intellect or the body but is the pure soul itself.
The essence of the soul is wisdom and its action is love absolute. The absolute condition of man is his absolute relation to the Deity in pure love. Love then alone is the religion of the soul and consequently of the whole man. The pupil asks here, “What have I to do with the heart? — My heart loves ‘to see the sun smile, to eat the sweetest dish and to see a dance.’ Jesus profoundly replies “Yes, you must love God with all thy heart, your heart now runs to things other than God, but you must, as you train a bad horse, make your feelings run to the loving God.” This is one of the four principles of worship or what they call in Vaisnava literature, santa rasa.
Then the pupil says, “My Lord, the intellect takes me elsewhere from God, that is, it wants to take me to positivism; please instruct me what am I to do?” “Yes,” replies Jesus, “You must love God with all your mind, that is, when you perceive, conceive, remember, imagine and reason, you must not allow yourself to be a dry thinker but must love. Love alone can soften the dryness of the intellect, you must develop the intellect on all good and holy things by means of love of truth, spiritual beauty and harmony.” This is the second phase of Vaisnava development which passes by the name dasya rasa.
The pupil then inquires whether development of the affections and the intellect is quite enough for him. Then says the Lord “You must love God with thy soul also, that is, you must perceive yourself in spiritual communication with the Deity and receive holy revelations in your sublimest hours of worship.” This is called the sakhya rasa of the Vaisnavas — the soul approaching the Deity in holy and fearless service.
The disciple apprehends that he will be lost in such a position and will be unable to act. Then the Saviour tells him these words, “You must love God with all thy strength or will — you are wrong in concluding that you will loose your active existence — you will get it the more. Work for God and work to God, proceeding from no interested views but from a holy free will (which is alone the strength of man) and identifying with pure love, it will fully engross your attention.” This is a description of bhakti in general.
Then Jesus proceeds to tell us, “You must love man as thy brother.” From this is inferred the fourth phase of love which is a feeling that all men are brothers and God is their common Father. This is vatsalya rasa in its first stage of development.
Bhakti (love) is thus perceived in the very first development of man in the shape of heart, then in the shape of mind, then in the shape of soul and lastly in the shape of will. These shapes do not destroy each other but beautifully harmonize themselves into a pure construction of what we call the spiritual man or the ekanta of Vaisnava literature.
But there is another more sublime truth behind this fact which is revealed to a few that are prepared for it. We mean the spiritual conversion of the soul into a woman. It is in that sublime and lofty state in which the soul can taste the sweetness of an indissoluble marriage with God of Love. The fifth or the highest stage of Vaisnava development is this, which we call madhurya rasa, and on this alone the most beautiful portion of the Vaisnava literature so ably expatiates.
This phase of human life, mysterious as it is, is not attainable by all, nay, we should say, by any but “God’s own“. It is so very beyond the reach of common men that the rationalists and even the ordinary theists cannot understand it. Nay, they go so far as to sneer at it as something unnatural. Oh God! Reveal Thy most valuable truths to all so that “Your own” may not be numbered with the fanatics and the crazed and that the whole of mankind may be admitted as “Your own.”
(Reprinted from a Journal of Tajpur dated Friday, 25th August, 1871)
I hope we liked the illuminating peek, which Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura mercifully allow us, into a heart which is sold-out to the teachings and instructions of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. We may scratch our head at some of the above topics, fortunately, our way of gaining access into higher topics is by first praying and then reading it repeatedly.
In response to my last blog ‘Turning distress into an opportunity‘, I received a few calls from devotees on taking shelter of Krishna in times of distress. In all the calls the crux was the same- Should we trouble Krishna with our material problems? Shouldn’t bhakti should be practiced without any motivation. My response was- of course bhakti should not be motivated, which means we practice bhakti for no other purpose than to please Krishna. But when faced with challenges in our lives then whose shelter should we take? Should we place our faith in Krishna’s hands or should we put it in the hands of some demigod, doctor, lawyer, money deposits, etc.?
As a small child depends exclusively upon his father similarly we, aspiring devotees, should practice keeping our faith only in Krishna. We do whatever else needed to be done but we should have the firm faith that the final decision is in the hands of Krishna and hence take shelter of Krishna only. Of course, as a dependent servant, we accept with love whatever Krishna finally decides to do about it.
This morning I read a beautiful verse from Srimad Bhagavatam and in his purport, Srila Prabhupada speaks about the importance of taking shelter of Krishna. I am sharing the same with you all of you.
Everyone, including the rulers of the various planets, was extremely distressed because of the severe punishment inflicted upon them by Hiraṇyakaśipu. Fearful and disturbed, unable to find any other shelter, they at last surrendered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu.
“The sage who knows Me as the ultimate purpose of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities attains peace from the pangs of material miseries.” The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, is actually the best friend of everyone. In a condition of distress or misery, one wants to seek shelter of a well-wishing friend. The well-wishing friend of the perfect order is Lord Sri Krishna. Therefore all the inhabitants of the various planets, being unable to find any other shelter, were obliged to seek shelter at the lotus feet of the supreme friend. If from the very beginning we seek shelter of the supreme friend, there will be no cause of danger. It is said that if a dog is swimming in the water and one wants to cross the ocean by catching hold of the dog’s tail, certainly he is foolish. Similarly, if in distress one seeks shelter of a demigod, he is foolish, for his efforts will be fruitless. In all circumstances, one should seek shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Then there will be no danger under any circumstances.
There are innumerable examples – Gajendra, Kunti Maharani, Pandavas, all the Vrajavasis practiced it -Nanada Maharaj, gopas and the gopis. In all their challenges, they would call out only one person- Krishna!
Nanda Maharaj took shelter of Krishna
While Nanda Maharaja was returning home, he considered Vasudeva’s warning that there might be some disturbance in Gokula. Certainly the advice was friendly and not false. So Nanda thought, ”There is some truth in it.” Therefore, out of fear he took shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is quite natural for a devotee in danger to think of Krishna, because he has no other shelter. When a child is in danger, he takes shelter of his mother or father. Similarly, a devotee is always under the shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but when he specifically sees some danger, he remembers the Lord very rapidly.
Since it was almost night and all the inhabitants of Vrindavan, including the cows and calves, were very tired, they decided to take their rest on the riverbank. In the middle of the night, while they were taking rest, there was suddenly a great forest fire, and it quickly appeared that the fire would soon devour all the inhabitants of Vrindavan. As soon as they felt the warmth of the fire, they immediately took shelter of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, although He was playing just like their child. They began to say, ”Our dear Krishna! O Supreme Personality of Godhead! Our dear Balarama, reservoir of all strength! Please try to save us from this all-devouring and devastating fire. We have no shelter other than You. This devastating fire will swallow us all!” Thus they prayed to Krishna, saying that they could not take any shelter other than His lotus feet. Lord Krishna, being compassionate upon His own townspeople, immediately swallowed up the whole forest fire and saved them.
Ordered by King Indra, all the dangerous clouds appeared above Vrindavan and began to pour water incessantly, with all their strength and power. There was constant lightning and thunder, blowing of severe wind, and incessant falling of rain. The rain seemed to fall like piercing sharp arrows. By pouring water as thick as pillars, without cessation, the clouds gradually filled all the lands in Vrindavan with water, and there was no visible distinction between higher and lower land. The situation was very dangerous, especially for the animals. The rainfall was accompanied by great winds, and every living creature in Vrindavan began to tremble from the severe cold.
Unable to find any other source of deliverance, they all approached Govinda to take shelter at His lotus feet. The cows especially, being much aggrieved from the heavy rain, bowed down their heads, and taking their calves underneath their bodies, they approached the Supreme Personality of Godhead to take shelter of His lotus feet. At that time all the inhabitants of Vrindavan began to pray to Lord Krishna. ”Dear Krishna,” they prayed, ”You are all-powerful, and You are very affectionate to Your devotees. Now please protect us, who have been much harassed by angry Indra.”
We come into Krishna consciousness with a spiritual goal. Most of us are also looking a one-stop solution for all our material distress and anxieties and from one angle it is right to turn to Krishna for our material problems because Krishna is our only protector and shelter.
It is always challenging when devotees are visited by distress, but we can take these times to examine how much we’re able to apply the knowledge we have gained from reading and chanting.
What is Distress?
Extreme anxiety, sorrow, or pain.
Krishna advises us to tolerate distress without getting disturbed
O son of Kuntī, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.
Even well placed devotees get surprised and bewildered when distress hits them. Why me? Why now? How can I go through it? How can I help others who may be going through it? We can see it from multiple angles.
Uttama (good) – philosophical understanding
There are two kinds of activities, namely pious and impious. By executing pious activities one can gain facilities for higher material enjoyment, but due to impious activities one has to undergo severe distress. A devotee, however, is not interested in enjoyment or affected by distress. When he is prosperous he knows, “I am diminishing the results of my pious activities,” and when he is in distress he knows, “I am diminishing the reactions of my impious activities.” A devotee is not concerned with enjoyment or distress; he simply desires to execute devotional service. It is said in the Srimad Bhagavatam that devotional service should be apratihatä, unchecked by the material conditions of happiness or distress.
Ati Uttama (better): An impetus to remember Krishna
The word hari conveys various meanings, but the chief import of the word is that He (the Lord) vanquishes everything inauspicious and takes away the mind of the devotee by awarding pure transcendental love. By remembering the Lord in acute distress one can be free from all varieties of miseries and anxieties. Gradually the Lord vanquishes all obstacles on the path of devotional service of a pure devotee, and the result of nine devotional activities, such as hearing and chanting, becomes manifested.
Sarvottama (best): Krishna is curing me with bitter juice
The fact is that everything is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, manifested in varieties of energy. Ekam evādvitīyaṁ brahma. There is no second existence.
Those who are truly vipaścit, learned, are those who have reached the platform of understanding and observing the Supreme Personality of Godhead in any condition of life. Premāñjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena santaḥ sadaiva hṛdayeṣu vilokayanti (BS. 5.38). Learned devotees accept even conditions of distress as representing the presence of the Supreme Lord. When a devotee is in distress, he sees that the Lord has appeared as distress just to relieve or purify the devotee from the contamination of the material world. While one is within this material world, one is in various conditions, and therefore a devotee sees a condition of distress as but another feature of the Lord. tat te ’nukampāṁ su-samīkṣamāṇo (SB 10.14.8).
A devotee, therefore, regards distress as a great favour of the Lord because he understands that he is being cleansed of contamination. Teṣām ahaṁ samuddhartā mṛtyu-saṁsāra-sāgarāt (Bg. 12.7). The appearance of distress is a negative process intended to give the devotee relief from this material world, which is called mṛtyu-saṁsāra, or the constant repetition of birth and death.
To save a surrendered soul from repeated birth and death, the Lord purifies him of contamination by offering him a little distress. This cannot be understood by a nondevotee, but a devotee can see this because he is vipaścit, or learned. A nondevotee, therefore, is perturbed in distress, but a devotee welcomes distress as another feature of the Lord. Sarvaṁ khalv idaṁ brahma. A devotee can actually see that there is only the Supreme Personality of Godhead and no second entity. Ekam evādvitīyam. There is only the Lord, who presents Himself in different energies.
Those devotees who are in proper shelter, whose consciousness has evolved and who are steady and enthusiastic in their determination to advance in Krishna consciousness. Such devotees see all distress simply as a mercy of Sri Guru and Gauranga upon them. They have firm faith that Krishna knows what is best for their spiritual progress.
Can I align my consciousness like this?
This is obviously a very high and evolved consciousness but there is very simple and sublime spiritual solution for it. If we have a desire to see all challenges and distress in our life simply as a mercy of Guru and Krishna upon us then one of the option, shared by HG Srimati mataji, is to daily sing the bhajan gopinath, mama nivedana suno by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. By humbly praying for it and then singing this bhajan our consciousness will slowly but surely evolve, our heart will soften and then we can gradually come to realise that all distress is simply mercy of Srila Gurudeva upon me and one welcomes it with all his heart.
Today is Bhadra Purnima, a very auspicious and special day for all the devotees of lord Krishna.
Today is Visvarupa- mahotsava , the date on which Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s elder brother, Visvarupa, took sannyasa, the renounced order of life. We hear from Caitanya Caritamrta –
After this, Jagannātha Miśra got a son of the name Viśvarūpa, who was most powerful and highly qualified because He was an incarnation of Baladeva.
Viśvarūpa was the elder brother of Gaurahari, Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. When arrangements were being made for the marriage of Viśvarūpa, He took sannyāsa and left home. He took the sannyāsa name of Śaṅkarāraṇya. In 1431 Śakābda Era (A.D. 1509), He disappeared in Pāṇḍarapura, in the district of Sholapur. As an incarnation of Saṅkarṣaṇa, He is both the ingredient and immediate cause of the creation of this material world. He is nondifferent from Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, for the aṁśa and the aṁśī, or the part and the whole, are not different. As an incarnation of Saṅkarṣaṇa, Viśvarūpa belongs to the quadruple manifestation of catur-vyūha. In the Gaura-candrodaya it is said that Viśvarūpa, after His so-called demise, remained mixed within Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu.
Sri Narayana said to Brahma, O saintly brahmana! among all of my festivals, the celebration of the appearance of Srimad Bhagavatam is the best. I am subdued by persons who with devotion and love hear, decorate and worship Srimad Bhagavatam, with clothes, ornaments, flowers, incense and lamp during festivals, just as a chaste wife subdues her husband.
So Bhadra Purnima is a great day to gift Srimad Bhagavatam to someone close to us, including bringing Srimad Bhagavatam in our own home. We can also start reading Srimad Bhagavatam from today and even dedicate ourselves to read at least verse from SB daily. There are multiple ways we can serve the lotus feet of Srimad Bhagavatam this Bhadra Purnima and reap the benediction Krishna has kindly left for us.
Srila Sanatana Goswami prays to Srimad Bhagavatam ( and we can pray the same) –
O Srimad-Bhagavatam, I offer respectful obeisances unto You. By reading you one attains transcendental bliss, for Your syllables rain pure love of God upon the reader. You are always to be served by everyone, for you are an incarnation of Krishna.
O Srimad-Bhagavatam, O my only friend, O my companion, O my teacher, O my great wealth, O my deliverer, O my good fortune, O my bliss, I offer respectful obeisances unto you.
O Srimad-Bhagavatam, O giver of saintliness to the unsaintly, O uplifter of the very fallen, please do not ever leave me. Please become manifested upon my heart and my throat, accompanied by pure love of Krishna.
Sixty years ago, on this very day, Srila Prabhupada took sannyasa for us. He accepted the order of sannyasa from Sri Srimad Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Maharaja on September 17, 1959 at the Kesavaji Matha in Mathura.
I was sitting alone in Vṛndāvana, writing. My Godbrother insisted to me, “Bhaktivedanta Prabhu, you must do it. Without accepting the renounced order of life, nobody can become a preacher.” So he insisted. Not he insisted; practically my spiritual master insisted. He wanted me to become a preacher, so he forced me through this Godbrother: “You accept.” So, unwillingly I accepted.
Abhay sat on a mat of kuśa grass beside ninety-year-old Sanātana, also to receive sannyāsa that day. Sitting opposite the two candidates, Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja, Keśava Mahārāja’s disciple, prepared to conduct the ceremony of mantras and offerings of grains and ghee into the fire. Akiñcana Kṛṣṇadāsa Bābājī, Abhay’s Godbrother, known for sweet singing, played mṛdaṅga and sang Vaiṣṇava bhajanas. Sitting on a raised āsana, His Holiness Keśava Mahārāja presided. Since there had been no notices or invitations, only the maṭha’s few residents attended.
Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja chanted the required mantras and then sat back silently while Keśava Mahārāja lectured. Then, to everyone’s surprise, Keśava Mahārāja asked Abhay to speak. Abhay had not expected this. As he looked around at the gathering of devotees, he understood that the common language was Hindi; only Keśava Mahārāja and a few others spoke English. Yet he knew he must speak in English.
After Abhay’s speech, each initiate received his sannyāsa-daṇḍa, the traditional head-high staff made of four bamboo rods bound together and completely enwrapped in saffron cloth. They were given their sannyāsa garments: one piece of saffron cloth for a dhotī, one for a top piece, and two strips for underwear. They also received tulasī neck beads and the sannyāsa-mantra. Keśava Mahārāja said that Abhay would now be known as Bhaktivedanta Swami Mahārāja and that Sanātana would be Muni Mahārāja. After the ceremony, the two new sannyāsīs posed for a photo, standing on either side of their sannyāsa-guru, who sat in a chair.
Keśava Mahārāja didn’t impose any strictures on Abhay; he simply encouraged him to go on preaching. Yet Abhay knew that to become A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami did not mean merely that he was giving up family, home comforts, and business. That he had done five years ago. Changing from white cloth to saffron cloth, from Abhay Bābū to Bhaktivedanta Swami Mahārāja, had a special significance: it was the mandate he had required, the irrevocable commitment. Now it was only a matter of time before Bhaktivedanta Swami would travel to the West as Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī had ordained. This was Bhaktivedanta Swami’s realization of his new sannyāsa status.
“The Krishna consciousness movement is not that we are asking everyone to become a sannyāsī like me, and give up everything. No. That is not our program. You act as a brāhmaṇa, as a kṣatriya or a vaiśya or a śūdra. It doesn’t matter. But you try to satisfy Krishna. That is the program.”
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Bombay, December 30, 1972)
Srila Prabhupada’s special relationship with Bhagavatam
When asked, “Are you going to America?” Srila Prabhupada replied, “No, Srimad-Bhagavatam is going to America—I am going with it.”
In your recent prayers, you asked me ‘My dear Krishna what can I do to become dear to you.’ This thought in itself is very commendable so I’m sharing with you what qualities I would like in my children. If you try to sincerely inculcate these qualities then there is no doubt that you will become very dear to me.
One who is not envious but is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself a proprietor and is free from false ego, who is equal in both happiness and distress, who is tolerant, always satisﬁed, self-controlled, and engaged in devotional service with determination, his mind and intelligence ﬁxed on Me – such a devotee of Mine is very dear to Me.
He by whom no one is put into difﬁculty and who is not disturbed by anyone, who is equipoised in happiness and distress, fear and anxiety, is very dear to Me.
My devotee who is not dependent on the ordinary course of activities, who is pure, expert, without cares, free from all pains, and not striving for some result, is very dear to Me.
One who neither rejoices nor grieves, who neither laments nor desires, and who renounces both auspicious and inauspicious things – such a devotee is very dear to Me.
One who is equal to friends and enemies, who is equipoised in honor and dishonor, heat and cold, happiness and distress, fame and infamy, who is always free from contaminating association, always silent and satisﬁed with anything, who doesn’t care for any residence, who is ﬁxed in knowledge and who is engaged in devotional service – such a person is very dear to Me.
Those who follow this imperishable path of devotional service and who completely engage themselves with faith, making Me the supreme goal, are very, very dear to Me.
Today I am sharing a wonderful verse and its stunning purport which touches, or should touch, the very core of every devotee’s heart and soul as this purport accommodates the very essence of Gaudiya philosophy and in a very simple to understand language. This unique purport has the potency to bestow upon any sincere and serious devotee a set of master keys to access and open multiple closed doors within our heart. What better day than Radha Ashtami to try to open the close doors within our heart. All the best!
jīvañ chavo bhāgavatāṅghri-reṇuṁ na jātu martyo ’bhilabheta yas tu śrī-viṣṇu-padyā manujas tulasyāḥ śvasañ chavo yas tu na veda gandham
The person who has not at any time received the dust of the feet of the Lord’s pure devotee upon his head is certainly a dead body. And the person who has never experienced the aroma of the tulasī leaves from the lotus feet of the Lord is also a dead body, although breathing.
According to Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, the breathing dead body is a ghost. When a man dies, he is called dead, but when he again appears in a subtle form not visible to our present vision and yet acts, such a dead body is called a ghost. Ghosts are always very bad elements, always creating a fearful situation for others. Similarly, the ghostlike nondevotees who have no respect for the pure devotees, nor for the Viṣṇu Deity in the temples, create a fearful situation for the devotees at all times. The Lord never accepts any offering by such impure ghosts.
There is a common saying that one should first love the dog of the beloved before one shows any loving sentiments for the beloved. The stage of pure devotion is attained by sincerely serving a pure devotee of the Lord. The first condition of devotional service to the Lord is therefore to be a servant of a pure devotee, and this condition is fulfilled by the statement “reception of the dust of the lotus feet of a pure devotee who has also served another pure devotee.” That is the way of pure disciplic succession, or devotional paramparā.
Mahārāja Rahūgaṇa inquired from the great saint Jaḍa Bharata as to how he had attained such a liberated stage of a paramahaṁsa, and in answer the great saint replied as follows (Bhāg. 5.12.12):
rahūgaṇaitat tapasā na yāti na cejyayā nirvapaṇād gṛhād vā na cchandasā naiva jalāgni-sūryair vinā mahat-pāda-rajo-’bhiṣekam
“O King Rahūgaṇa, the perfectional stage of devotional service, or the paramahaṁsa stage of life, cannot be attained unless one is blessed by the dust of the feet of great devotees. It is never attained by tapasya [austerity], the Vedic worshiping process, acceptance of the renounced order of life, the discharge of the duties of household life, the chanting of the Vedic hymns, or the performance of penances in the hot sun, within cold water or before the blazing fire.”
In other words, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the property of His pure, unconditional devotees, and as such only the devotees can deliver Kṛṣṇa to another devotee; Kṛṣṇa is never obtainable directly. Lord Caitanya therefore designated Himself as gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ, or “the most obedient servant of the servants of the Lord, who maintains the gopī damsels at Vṛndāvana.” A pure devotee therefore never approaches the Lord directly, but tries to please the servant of the Lord’s servants, and thus the Lord becomes pleased, and only then can the devotee relish the taste of the tulasī leaves stuck to His lotus feet. In the Brahma-saṁhitā it is said that the Lord is never to be found by becoming a great scholar of the Vedic literatures, but He is very easily approachable through His pure devotee. In Vṛndāvana all the pure devotees pray for the mercy of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, the pleasure potency of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is a tenderhearted feminine counterpart of the supreme whole, resembling the perfectional stage of the worldly feminine nature. Therefore, the mercy of Rādhārāṇī is available very readily to the sincere devotees, and once She recommends such a devotee to Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Lord at once accepts the devotee’s admittance into His association. The conclusion is, therefore, that one should be more serious about seeking the mercy of the devotee than that of the Lord directly, and by one’s doing so (by the good will of the devotee) the natural attraction for the service of the Lord will be revived.
(Note: Some doors, having rusty locks, may not open in one go, however if we pray to Srimati Radharani and then read the above purport three times then we may be surprised to hear within our heart the sound of those rusty locks opening up this Radha Ashtami.)
During my initial days I heard HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj’s name often. I also had the good fortune to attend some of maharaj’s lectures at Punjabi Bagh. I was new and had no idea about Maharaj’s stature. I just knew that whenever maharaj would visit ISKCON Punjabi Bagh Temple, there was always more activity and extra enthusiasm in the devotees. But then the same was also the case when some other senior Sanyasis would come to the temple. I know maharaj was special but how special I didn’t know. I found maharaj’s lectures very simple, yet he had a special potency with which he will drill that simple message deep in my heart. HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj came across as a very humble and sincere sanyasi. That was my initial impression.
As I progressed a little in my spiritual journey and saw Maharaj, my respect for him grew by each day. Every time I would see maharaj, I would somehow try to get his attention in a polite manner. I would see Maharaj at Vrindavan, often at the mangal arti. As I heard more about HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj from my Guru Maharaj and other sanyasis my respect and greed to meet him grew every day.
Last year I was fortunate to receive a small gift from Maharaj, along with many others devotees, for service during the Book distribution Marathon, as HG Rukmini Prabhuji called me and introduced Maharaj to me, Maharaj told me that he would like to speak to me. Few months later I got a chance the meet maharaj for few minutes at Punjabi Bagh temple. In that meeting HH Gopal Krishna Maharaj asked me about myself and how I became a devotee. When I shared that one of my friend gave me Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad Gita and my life changed. In a very innocent manner maharaj smiled and replied how by simply reading Bhagavad Gita his life changed, this shows the potency of Bhagavad Gita ‘as it is’ and the need to distribute it. Maharaj asked me the name of the person who gave me Bhagavad Gita. Then to my utter shock Maharaj said he would like to meet my friend and thank him!
(p.s.- Maharaj did meet that friend, Mukul Harmilapi, after a few months and thanked him personally!)
I still hankered for a personal meeting with Maharaj but no such chance came as whenever I saw him he was always surrounded with devotees and I knew I stood no chance to catch maharaj’s attention among so many senior and sincere devotees.
Then on the day before Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance day I saw Maharaj twice in Vrindavan. First as I carried the Palanquin carrying Srila Prabhupada deity, Maharaj walked right in front of me for some time. Then the same day as I was assisting in serving lunch to senior devotees in the Balaram hall, in walked maharaj! I was so happy just to see maharaj walking in. Maharaj took prasadam. he ate very light. I tried to serve some vegetables and later some sweets but maharaj did not took anything else, but for me I had served Maharaj.
I saw maharaj many times during Kartik at Vrindavan. Strange as it may sound but every time I see Maharaj my hankering to meet him personally grows and I like him more and more at a personal level. Without actually knowing maharaj I seem to develop faith and relationship with Maharaj.
I also hear with awe as Sumeet Prabhu would explain me regularly his meetings with maharaj, he seem to meet maharaj every other month with ease, his family was close to Maharaj. While we were speaking about various sanyasis and glorifying them, we again came back to discuss HH Gopal Krishna Maharaj. We remembered how HH Janananda Maharaj glorified maharaj the other day at Vrindavan, when we went to meet him. He said sanyasis like HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj, Bhakti Charu Maharaj, Jayapataka Maharaj, RadhaNath Swami are all pure and special souls and without special mercy of Srila Prabhupada they can’t do what they are achieving. He specially glorified Maharaj as maharaj handles all the tricky challenges in Russia and is also in change of all the big temples being constructed, still has strong Sadhna Bhakti and time for deity worship.
I remember HG Rukmini Prabhuji telling us early this year in one of the lectures that when asked what is Maharaj’s secret, HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj replied ‘Strong morning Program‘ ! A simple statement which underlines Maharaj’s message and instruction for all of us.
Sumeet Prabhu told me a very interesting incident. When his father was not initiated, he helped HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj to get a bank loan sanctioned from IOB Bank where he used to work. During one of the meetings Maharaj glorified his father, thanked him and folded his hands as a matter of respect. Later Summet Prabhu’s brother, who was maharaj’s initiated disciple, told Maharaj that maharaj should not have offered so much respect to his father as it was their duty to serve in this spiritual movement. Maharaj replied that there were many reasons why he did it
1. His father has not surrendered to Maharaj, only the son.
2. His father was an elder person in age and therefore must be respected as per material world norms
3. He helped in Prabhupada’s mission which is the savior of mankind; such people who help in this process should be profusely thanked
4. By showing etiquette of folding hands, it creates softness in heart and respect for ISKCON.
We can learn so much from maharaj as to how to practice humility and Vaishanava etiquette. I thought that I uselessly read books and try to find how to become humble when I can listen to Maharaj’s pastimes and learn directly from his behavior.
Few weeks back I found courage to request HG Vidur Priya Prabhuji to please request Maharaj to visit our new home and bless us with his lotus feet. Sumeet Prabhu told me that it is very difficult because Maharaj has a very busy schedule and also as Maharaj has thousands of disciples in Delhi/NCR so it becomes difficult to please each disciple. Hence maharaj meets everyone at the local temple only. Logical, but I was hankering for his mercy. I thought some day I may get lucky. And as a bonus the hankering keeps Maharaj in my thoughts.
( p.s. – By the mercy of devotees, HH Gopal krishna Goswami Maharaj finally showered his mercy upon us as maharaj visited our new home on Diwali eve. Maharaj was the first person to enter our new home, we shifted after maharaj’s visit)
I will try to please HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj by trying to serve devotees at Gurgaon and Punjabi Bagh temple with whatever little efforts I can do.
Today morning I received a message from wordpress that today is the 6th anniversary of our blog site, forthepleasureoflordkrishna.com. It was a surprise for me as I felt that I started writing only 2-3 years back.
I tried to recall what prompted me to start writing a blog. It was a sharp urge within me to start writing. Before starting this blog I had never written anything in my whole life. I did my schooling from a Hindi medium school so my command over English language was quite poor and remains so even now. I was also shy and introvert. Still I felt a continuous urge to start writing. I did not know anyone in my circle who could help me so I searched on internet, found a site which gave step by step instructions on how to register a name for blog and start writing. It was a simple procedure even for a novice like myself.
I also checked the day when I wrote the first blog. The first blog is dated 23rd Aug 2013. The day before, 22nd August was the day Srila Prabhupada left for US and 21st August was Balaram Purnima, appearance day of Lord Balaram. I do not remember anything about the date but in all probability I would have started written the blog on 21st or 22nd August and would have posted it on 23rd August, without realising that the blog would show the date I posted rather than the one I started writing.
Today I also opened the first blog I wrote, reading it brought a smile on my face as I realised that I named this blog based on a SB lecture I heard from HG Rukmini Krishna prabhu, temple president of ISKCON Punjabi Bagh. In those days I used to go to ISKCON Punjabi Bagh temple twice a week, I would drive from Gurgaon to Delhi, hear Prabhuji’s lecture, honor prasadam, quickly change my clothes in the car and then rush to office, which at that time was a short drive from the Punjabi Bagh temple. Whatever little progress I have made in my spiritual journey is simply a gift from HG Rukmini Krishna Prabhu.
I remember my initial excitement when I started writing blogs on ISKCONDESIRETREE and seeing how many devotees have read it, they would show the no. of views on the blog. I did not know how many people are reading my main blog site as I did not know how to get access to this data. Once in a while it would show my blog as the blog of the month on ISKCONDESIRETREE and like a small kid I will approach HG Rukmini Krishna Prabhu and proudly show my ranking to him. Prabhuji was happy to see me finally engaged in some service and encouraged me like an affectionate father. Thank you so very much Rukmini Krishna prabhu, your approval and encouragement inspired me to continue to write.
Many devotees helped me in this effort. The foremost was my dear friend Shyamsundar Krishna prabhu, then Sumeet Gupta. He was happy to see me writing blogs and always left a comment for each blog I would post. He would call me after each blog and discuss it. Whenever I would seek his advice would give honest opinion on how to write properly. He knew my limitations but still encouraged to write. He also wrote a couple of blogs on this site. His encouragement meant a lot to me. Thank you Shyamsundar Krishna Prabhu, I will remain forever grateful to you for so many ways you helped me in this service.
Later I also started copying my blogs on dandavats and felt encouraged that I am able to serve more devotees. It was a big encouragement for me to see my blogs published on the same platform where articles written by so many senior devotees were published. Thank you dandavats team for posting my childish blogs. Then something changed again.
Due to pressure at office I suffered from lack of time. At the same time the wordpress software got updated multiple times, it became more complicated for me to write on blog, simple writing tools got vanished from the menu. My enthusiasm dwindled. I did not even renew site’s name, as a result the site went off the internet for few months. I was in double mind as to whether to continue to write on not.
Then I requested a very sincere and dear devotee in our group, Ronnie Prabhu, to help me out and he came forward. From finding small tools- how to justify a para, how to highlight a word in color, he would help me at any odd hour of the day. He also changed some settings and within few weeks the daily readership jumped 50%. All his efforts encouraged me to continue writing. Now for all practical purpose it is Ronnie prabhu is running this blog site, keeping tab on when to renew various registrations, which plugins to use, etc., for which I had no clue. I am simply writing, all the back-end is being managed by him. Thank you so very much Ronnie prabhu for all your support.
However it is all of you dear devotees and readers whose personal replies and comments on the blog kept me going. Without your response and encouragement this service would have stopped long time back. Thank you dear readers. Please feel free to leave your comments on the blog, write directly and give suggestions to improve the service.
Last but not the least I am most grateful to the lotus feet of My guru maharaj, all my shiksha gurus and to the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada, without their mercy there would be no inspiration, no writing and no blogs.
My spiritual journey started by reading Srila Prabhupada’s books. It is his lectures which inspire me to read his books carefully. It is Srila Prabhupada’s mood which inspires me to share the knowledge with everyone. And it is the potency of Srila Prabhupada’s purports which which attract visitors to this blog site. It is simply my own shortcoming that I am unable to present his teachings ‘as it is’. Thank you Srila Prabhupada. On the occasion of your appearance day yesterday, I did not offer anything. I am now offering this blog site at your lotus feet. I pray and hope that this small service be somehow pleasing to you and your followers.
How have we done so far?
You be the judge. Here are few statistics, some are a surprise even for me. Till date we have posted 271 blogs, an average of 3.7 blogs per month. A total of 95,121 visitors from 170 countries visited the blog. The highest number are from India (59,944) and USA (46,146) and lowest from Ethiopia and Haiti (1 each). The number of times all the blogs have been viewed is 1,62,043. Currently the average view per days is 148. We have 482 subscribers. On August 23rd, two days before this Janmashtami, we had the highest ever single day viewership of 796 views. The top three blogs, not counting the home page, are Krishna’s flutes (9,058 views), Demons in Krishna’s pastimes (3,364 views) and Sambhanda Abhidheya and prayojana (3,313 views).
With your kind blessings we will try to post more nectar from Srila Prabhupada’s purports. We are also trying to upload Srila Prabhupada’s entire audio lectures, properly indexed to each verse, on the site, which you we will be able to easily link via a free app with your smartphone and hear Srila Prabhupada’s indexed audio lectures at your own convenience. Kindly bless us that we can continue this service. Thank you once again dear readers.