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.
One hears so much about renunciation in our movement and many times as grihasthas (householders) we become confused as to what is actual renunciation for us and how can we practically apply it in our daily life. I searched on this topic and found some gems which I am sharing below.
We should be aware that as long as we remain attached to material enjoyment we will not be able to remain properly fixed in the process of bhakti yoga. As householders our goal should be progressive renunciation of material enjoyment and not the dry renunciation from family life as practiced by jnanis or yogis, that is not our path. It was Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, a great disciple of Lord Caitanya, who said that Caitanya Mahaprabhu descended to teach detachment from whatever does not foster devotional service to Krishna.
What exactly is renunciation?
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said:
One who is unattached to the fruits of his work and who works as he is obligated is in the renounced order of life, and he is the true mystic, not he who lights no fire and performs no duty.
What is called renunciation you should know to be the same as yoga, or linking oneself with the Supreme, O son of Pandu, for one can never become a yogi unless he renounces the desire for sense gratification. (BG 6.1-2)
According to above definition, a renunciant is not simply someone who gives up external duties. A renunciant is one who gives up all personal, selfish interests, while at the same time working for Krishna’s interest.
Although these verses from the Bhagavad Gita appear to address renunciation by the yogi, they also apply to the a devotee. The yogi and the bhakta both practice renunciation, but in different ways. Both renounce sense gratification, and both restrain the senses. The yogi, however, does this by sitting down in a solitary place, controlling his breath, and refraining from all activity. The devotee, Srila Prabhupada explains, has a different method: “A person in Krishna consciousness has no opportunity to engage his senses in anything which is not for the purpose of Krishna.” In other words, a devotee is always renounced because he always engages in devotional activity.
If we are serious about going back to Godhead in this lifetime, then we must seriously apply the principles of renunciation and devotion. We have a certain amount of “business” to accomplish in the human form of life, and heading the list is the business of becoming detached from material desires. If we don’t become detached in this life, we will have to return in another life to continue. Prabhupada writes, “We should be determined to finish our duties in executing devotional service in this life. We should not wait for another life to finish our job.”
Devotional renunciation is easy and pleasant. All we have to do is refrain from sinful activity and, rather than avoiding activity, engage ourselves in acts of devotion. Our lives will become so filled with Krishna consciousness that we will have little time to worry about becoming attracted to the material world. Srila Prabhupada writes, “The more the activities of the material world are performed in Krishna consciousness, or for Vishnu only, the more the atmosphere becomes spiritualised by complete absorption.… Matter dovetailed for the cause of the Absolute Truth regains its spiritual quality. Krishna consciousness is the process of converting the illusory consciousness into Brahman, or the Supreme.” (Bhagavad Gita 4.24, purport)
Srila Rupa Gosvami taught yukta-vairagya,the principle of using even material things in Krishna’s service. He explains in Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu that yukta-vairagya is superior to its opposite, phalgu-vairagya, or artificial renunciation.
The Sanskrita word, phalgu, is also used to describe an underground river. What appears to be only a dry riverbed sometimes disguises that under the earth a river continues to flow. This is called phalgu. Srila Rupa Gosvami compares renunciation that neglects to use everything in Krishna’s service to such a river. Although the artificial renunciant appears to be detached from material activities and worldly things, internally a strong desire for these things still flows. That is why this form of renunciation is considered incomplete.
By practicing yukta-vairagya, we accept the body as material but not as the ultimate source of corruption. We concentrate on the soul, but we also take care of the body. After all, the body is a useful vehicle for carrying us from one Krishna conscious activity to another. Yukta-vairagya, or renunciation in Krishna consciousness, entails satisfying the needs of the senses simply and offering everything to Krishna. In this lies real happiness.
I am now copying a collection of purports taken out by HG Srimati Mataji in one of her books, to get a taste of mood of our param Guru Srila Prabhupada and Lord Himself, when He came as Caitanya Mahaprabhu, on the topic on renunciation for householders.
As for detachment from children, wife and home, it is not meant that one should have no feeling for these. They are natural objects of affection. But when they are not favorable to spiritual progress, then one should not be attached to them. The best process for making the home pleasant is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. If one is in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he can make his home very happy, because this process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is very easy. One need only chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare, accept the remnants of foodstuffs offered to Kṛṣṇa, have some discussion on books like Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, and engage oneself in Deity worship. These four things will make one happy. One should train the members of his family in this way. The family members can sit down morning and evening and chant together Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. If one can mold his family life in this way to develop Kṛṣṇa consciousness, following these four principles, then there is no need to change from family life to renounced life. ( BG 13.8-12p)
The brāhmaṇa begged Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu, “My dear Lord, kindly show me favor and let me go with You. I can no longer tolerate the waves of misery caused by materialistic life.”
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu replied, “Don’t speak like that again. Better to remain at home and chant the holy name of Kṛṣṇa always. (CC Madhya 7.126 -27)
It is not advisable in this Age of Kali to leave one’s family suddenly, for people are not trained as proper brahmacārīs and gṛhasthas. Therefore Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu advised the brāhmaṇa not to be too eager to give up family life. It would be better to remain with his family and try to become purified by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra regularly under the direction of a spiritual master. This is the instruction of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. If this principle is followed by everyone, there is no need to accept sannyāsa. In the next verse Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu advises everyone to become an ideal householder by offenselessly chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra and teaching the same principle to everyone he meets. (CC Madya 7.127 p)
“Instruct everyone to follow the orders of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa as they are given in the Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. In this way become a spiritual master and try to liberate everyone in this land.”
This is the sublime mission of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Many people come and inquire whether they have to give up family life to join the Society, but that is not our mission. One can remain comfortably in his residence. We simply request everyone to chant the mahā-mantra: Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. If one is a little literate and can read Bhagavad-gītā As It Is and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, that is so much the better. (cc Madhya 7.128+p)
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu further advised the brāhmaṇa Kūrma, “If you follow this instruction, your materialistic life at home will not obstruct your spiritual advancement. Indeed, if you follow these regulative principles, we will again meet here, or, rather, you will never lose My company.”
This is an opportunity for everyone. If one simply follows the instructions of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, under the guidance of His representative, and chants the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, teaching everyone as far as possible the same principle, the contamination of the materialistic way of life will not even touch him. It does not matter whether one lives in a holy place like Vṛndāvana, Navadvīpa or Jagannātha Purī or in the midst of European cities, where the materialistic way of life is very prominent. If a devotee follows the instructions of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, he lives in the company of the Lord. Wherever he lives, he converts that place into Vṛndāvana and Navadvīpa. This means that materialism cannot touch him. This is the secret of success for one advancing in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. ( cc Madhya 7.129+P)
So we learnt that the as householders we should
Focus more on devotional service rather than on renunciation. ( more focus on positive, less on negative)
Real renunciation means renunciation from material sense gratification.
We should try to use everything we have (wealth, family, etc.) in the service of Lord.
Finally, by sincerely following the process given by Mahaprabhu, and the instructions of our acharayas, we must pray daily for their mercy, aspire and then take practical steps to make our present life successful by trying our best to finish all our ‘business’ in this very lifetime only, family life is not an impediment.
Last Saturday was a very special day as HG Madhavananda Prabhuji, along with his kindhearted wife KrishnaKunda Mataji, purified our home. Prabhuji stayed only for day but he enlightened all of us with his deep insights into Krishna consciousness.
During the discussions at home Prabhuji asked do I know why do we offer chappan bhoga (56 dishes) to Krishna ? I replied in negative. After a while Prabhuji searched and came back to share the mystery of offering chappan bhoga to Lord.
When Krishna lifted Govardhan mountain for seven days he couldn’t eat anything . After seven days when the whole lila was over, Brajawasis were very happy and they offered Lord Krishna food for what he had missed throughout those seven days. Mother Yashoda used to feed Krishna eight times a day. Hence the number became 7 x 8 = 56
So they made fifty-six different things for Lord Krishna and offered Him as a token of their love and gratitude. Thus began the tradition of offering “Chhappan Bhog” to Supreme Lord on festive occasions.
All glories to Govardhan Lila!
Although Prabhuji was very tired, his next day was a hectic same day return trip to Vrindavan, yet he agreed to our request to visit the deity installation ceremony at the home of Shyamvihari prabhuji.
We entered the packed home of Shyamvihari Prabhuji, everyone was dancing to the kirtan by HG Sriniket prabhuji. We took darshan of very beautiful Nitai Gaura Sundar.
Madhavananda Prabhuji spoke very briefly, less than 30 minutes, but Prabhuji mesmerised everyone with his deep thought process and made everyone think too. I am sharing some nectar.
Prabhuji first sang a beautiful bhajan by an anonymous vaishanava called Krishna Das. I request readers to kindly read it carefully and absorb the English translation of each para carefully as the whole session was based on it and these lines will get quoted again.
adoña daraçi mora prabhu nityänanda
nä bhajinu hena prabhura caraëärabinda
I pray that Lord Nityananda will not look at my sins, I did not worship the Lord’s lotus feet.
häya re nä jäni mu-i kemana asura
pä”ä nä bhajinu hena dayära öhäkura
Alas! I did not know. What a demon I was. I did not worship Lord Nitai, the Lord of mercy.
häya re abhägära präëa ki sukhe ächaha
nitä-i baliyä kena mariyä nä yäha
O my unfortunate heart! Will you ever become happy? Why do you not call out, “Nitai!”, and die.
nitä-ira karuëä çuni päñäëa miläya
häya re daruëa hiyä nä darabe täya
When they hear of Lord Nitai’s mercy, even the stones melt. O my cruel heart, you do not melt when you hear His glories.
nitä-i caitanya aparädha nähi mane
yäre täre nija prema-bhakti kare däne
To persons who do not offend Lord Chaitanya, Lord Nitai gives the gift of spiritual love and devotion.
tära näma la-ite nä gale mora hiyä
kåñëa-däsa kahe mu-i baòa abhägiyä
Alas! The Lord’s holy name does not rest on my throat or in my heart. Krishna Das says: I am very unfortunate.
After the above prayer, Madhavanand Prabhuji started the session by first quoting the below verse
vande sri-krishna-caitanya-nityanandau sahoditau
gaudodaye pushpavantau citrau san-dau tamo-nudau ( cc Adi lila 1.2)
I offer my respectul obeisances unto Sri Krishna Caitanya and Lord Nityananda, who are like the sun and moon. They have arisen simultaneously on the horizon of Gauda to dissipate the darkness of ignorance and thus wonderfully bestow benediction upon all.
Prabhuji explained that Gaur Nitai have arisen simultaneously and it is difficult to say who among Them is the Sun and who is the moon. Sun and moon are very auspicious and hence whatever auspicious qualities are there in Sun and moon are there in Gaura Nitai. Prabhuji mentioned that sun drives away all darkness but Gaura Nitai drives away darkness even from those parts which are sheltered from the sun. If we are sitting in a closed room, with all doors and windows locked, then no sunshine can enter that room but if someone gets mercy of Gaura Nityananada then even the dark cave of our heart become illuminated!
The Sun also purifies everything, even the most contaminated things like urine and stool too get purified under the sun. Similarly we also hide the most contaminated things in our heart which are comparable to urine and stool. The sun can not purify things in our heart because sun can not see them but the mercy of Gaura Nityananada can purify all the contamination in our heart! Similarly moon helps things grow and in the same way Gaura Nitai help our bhakti creeper, `bhakti lata beeja’, to grow and it is very very cooling, it helps extinguish the fire of this materialistic life.
Prabhuji said, as we are installing Gaur Nitai deities, we must understand what does it mean by worshiping Gaura Nitai ? They didn’t come into this world to be worshiped as Deities. We have to follow Their mood. Prabhuji sang the famous line
uttama adhama kichhu na kaila bichara,…
Lord Nityananda never discriminates whether one is uttama or adhama, most elevated or most degraded. Gaur Nitai do not see any designations, who is an Indian, who is an western, who is a brahmin, who is a mallecha. They give Their mercy to every one. And this is really Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mercy, this is really Mahaprabhu’s movement and this is what we want! Our purpose is not to just make their deity and worship them, our purpose is that we want Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Sri Nityananda Prabhu to appear in our hearts! So are we getting that ?? Gaura Nitai gave everyone Krishna Prema ! Prabhuji then asked the devotees to raise their hands who among them has received Krishna Prema ! When no one raised their hand then Prabhuji pushed devotees to think why are we not receiving it ? Madhavananda Prabhuji quoted from the same bhajan to say that Nityananda Prabhu is my Lord. Why ? Because He is adosha-darshi, He doesn’t see any faults and that is exactly what I want because I am full of faults.
Prabhuji then added that our mind should be always focused on Krishna internally, while still remaining in our particular ashram externally, and quoted the below verse
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu continued, “Within your heart you should keep yourself very faithful, but externally you may behave like an ordinary man. Thus Kṛṣṇa will soon be very pleased and deliver you from the clutches of māyā.
Prabhuji said that by following how Mahaprabhu is suggesting, by living our lives as per our whatever be our position in the society, while internally remaining oblivious to them, then we can really chant the name of Nityananda and Gaura!
Prabhuji then asked `So what is the symptom that we have received the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu ?’
That when a stone hears about how merciful Nityananda Prabhu’s is, the stone melts. But
My heart, harder than a stone, it won’t melt ! I am so unfortunate. Why won’t it melt ? What am I doing wrong ?
nitä-i caitanya aparädha nähi mane
One might say that I am doing some offenses, but you say that, Nitai and Gaura, They do not consider any offence, rather
yäre täre nija prema-bhakti kare däne
They give nija prema bhakti, They give Krishna Prema. So what I am doing wrong ?
Madhavananda Prabhuji then asked how do we worship Surya Deva ? By showing a burning Ghee wick. Similarly how we worship Ganga Devi, by offering her Ganga water.
So how should we worship adosha-darshi Nityananda ?
Prabhuji then stated strongly that this is what the author of this bhajan is saying that I am not worshiping Nityananda Prabhu, because worshiping Nitai means that I do not find fault in others!!
Prabhuji quoted Srila Prabhupada who wrote in his purport to cc Adi8.62 `It is a qualification of a Vaishnava that he is adoṣa-darśī: he never sees others’ faults‘.
Prabhuji said that on this day we should think why Gaura Nitai have not entered our hearts yet ? Why is that this ecstasy of love of God is not touching me ? Because I am not really worshiping Them! I am doing something external. I am waving some incense, I am ringing the bell, I am offering some prayers. Prabhuji said this is fine, that is all very pious, but that is not why Gaura Nitai came. They came, like the sun and the moon, to dissipate the darkness of ignorance of this world. First of all we have to open our heart to Them. And we do that by giving up the propensity to criticise or fault find in other people.
Prabhuji said that if we are busy with finding faults in others then we are not worshiping Nityananda. Rather we are working for Chitragupta (assistant of Yamaraja, who keeps the account of everyone’s mistakes and sinful activities). To work in the court of Nityananda Prabhu means we must give up fault-finding and the propensity for bearing grudges.
Prabhuji said that in our lives we all have a choice, a decision to be made — which court do we want to work for? Do we want to assist Citragupta by being a pāpagaṇanām, a counter of everyone’s faults in the court of Yamaraja? Or do we want to give up finding others shortcomings and work in the court of Lord Nityananda?
The choice is ours.
Prabhuji spoke something very interesting on the Kripa Shakti of the Lord, which I will write later.
Q : How do we define an Uttama, madhyama and Kanishtha Adhikari ?
Ans : Sri Chaitanya Mahāprabhu teaches Sri Sanatana Goswami :
CC Madhya 22.64: “A faithful devotee is a truly eligible candidate for the loving service of the Lord. According to one’s faith, one is classified as a topmost devotee, an intermediate devotee or an inferior devotee.
Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport:
The word śraddhāvān (faithful) means understanding Kṛṣṇa to be the summum bonum — the eternal truth and absolute transcendence. If one has full faith in Kṛṣṇa and confidence in Him, one becomes eligible to discharge devotional service confidentially. According to one’s faith, one is a topmost, intermediate or inferior devotee.
CC Madhya 22.65: “One who is expert in logic, argument and the revealed scriptures and who has firm faith in Kṛṣṇa is classified as a topmost devotee. He can deliver the whole world.
CC Madhya 22.66: “‘One who is expert in logic and in understanding the revealed scriptures, and who always has firm conviction and deep faith that is not blind, is to be considered a topmost devotee in devotional service.’
CC Madhya 22.67: “One who is not very expert in argument and logic based on the revealed scriptures but who has firm faith is considered a second-class devotee. He also must be considered most fortunate.
CC Madhya 22.68: “‘He who does not know scriptural argument very well but who has firm faith is called an intermediate or second-class devotee.’
CC Madhya 22.69: “One whose faith is soft and pliable is called a neophyte, but by gradually following the process he will rise to the platform of a first-class devotee.
CC Madhya 22.70: “‘One whose faith is not very strong, who is just beginning, should be considered a neophyte devotee.’
Q : Describe the qualities of the above three class of devotees.
CC Madhya 22.71: “A devotee is considered superlative or superior according to his attachment and love. In the Eleventh Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the following symptoms have been given.
CC Madhya 22.72: “‘A person advanced in devotional service sees within everything the soul of souls, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Consequently he always sees the form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the cause of all causes and understands that all things are situated in Him. (SB 11.2.45)
CC Madhya 22.73: “‘An intermediate, second-class devotee shows love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is friendly to all devotees and is very merciful to neophytes and ignorant people. The intermediate devotee neglects those who are envious of devotional service. (SB 11.2.46)
CC Madhya 22.74: “‘A prākṛta-bhakta, or materialistic devotee, does not purposefully study the śāstra and try to understand the actual standard of pure devotional service. Consequently he does not show proper respect to advanced devotees. He may, however, follow the regulative principles learned from his spiritual master or from his family who worships the Deity. He is to be considered on the material platform, although he is trying to advance in devotional service. Such a person is a bhakta-prāya [neophyte devotee], or bhaktābhāsa, for he is a little enlightened by Vaiṣṇava philosophy.’ (SB 11.2.47)
A: Where does a Vaishnava stands ?
CC Madhya 22.75: “A Vaiṣṇava is one who has developed all good transcendental qualities. All the good qualities of Kṛṣṇa gradually develop in Kṛṣṇa’s devotee.
CC Madhya 22.76: “‘In one who has unflinching devotional faith in Kṛṣṇa, all the good qualities of Kṛṣṇa and the demigods are consistently manifest. However, he who has no devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead has no good qualifications because he is engaged by mental concoction in material existence, which is the external feature of the Lord.’
CC Madhya 22.77: “All these transcendental qualities are the characteristics of pure Vaiṣṇavas, and they cannot be fully explained, but I shall try to point out some of the important qualities.
CC Madhya 22.78-80: “Devotees are always merciful, humble, truthful, equal to all, faultless, magnanimous, mild and clean. They are without material possessions, and they perform welfare work for everyone. They are peaceful, surrendered to Kṛṣṇa and desireless. They are indifferent to material acquisitions and are fixed in devotional service. They completely control the six bad qualities — lust, anger, greed and so forth. They eat only as much as required, and they are not inebriated. They are respectful, grave, compassionate and without false prestige. They are friendly, poetic, expert and silent.
CC Madhya 22.81: “‘Devotees are always tolerant, forbearing and very merciful. They are the well-wishers of every living entity. They follow the scriptural injunctions, and because they have no enemies, they are very peaceful. These are the decorations of devotees.’
All glories to Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita.
All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
As I read Srila Prabhupada’s book a little more carefully now, I marvel at the depth of his writings and realise the amount of gems scattered in every single page of his translations and commentaries. This inspires me to write more about them rather than my own baby realisations. I also feel that writing about my own self is not exactly a very Vaishanava thing to do. However being shameless I will still share them from time to time but if you will all allow me then I would like to write more about what Srila Prabhupada left us as a legacy for next 10,000 years.
Some devotees have requested me to take up questions from readers, I have no qualification to answer them but if you have some questions then you can mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave them in the comments and I can try my best to serve you by replying after verification from a senior devotee. We can make a separate page for them on the website if it becomes regular. Here is another gem from Srila Prabhupada.
Q: Why does ISKCON advocates worship of Krishna to the exclusion of the demigods ?
Ans: Srila Prabhupada answers this question in his purport of SB 4.31.14, this verse is also quoted by Mahāprabhu in cc madhya 22.63 to Sri Sanatana Goswami.
Translation As pouring water on the root of a tree energizes the trunk, branches, twigs and everything else, and as supplying food to the stomach enlivens the senses and limbs of the body, simply worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead through devotional service automatically satisfies the demigods, who are parts of that Supreme Personality.
Srila Prabhupada writes in his Purport
Sometimes people ask why this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement simply advocates worship of Kṛṣṇa to the exclusion of the demigods. The answer is given in this verse. The example of pouring water on the root of a tree is very appropriate. In Bhagavad-gītā (15.1) it is said, ūrdhva-mūlam adhaḥ-śākham: this cosmic manifestation has expanded downward, and the root is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
As the Lord confirms in Bhagavad-gītā (10.8), ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavaḥ: “I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds.” Kṛṣṇa is the root of everything; therefore rendering service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa (kṛṣṇa-sevā), means automatically serving all the demigods.
Sometimes it is argued that karma and jñāna require a mixture of bhakti in order to be successfully executed, and sometimes it is argued that bhakti also requires karma and jñāna for its successful termination. The fact is, however, that although karma and jñāna cannot be successful without bhakti, bhakti does not require the help of karma and jñāna. Actually, as described by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṁ jñāna-karmādy-anāvṛtam: [Madhya 19.167] pure devotional service should not be contaminated by the touch of karma and jñāna.
Modern society is involved in various types of philanthropic works, humanitarian works and so on, but people do not know that these activities will never be successful unless Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is brought into the center. One may ask what harm there is in worshiping Kṛṣṇa and the different parts of His body, the demigods, and the answer is also given in this verse. The point is that by supplying food to the stomach, the indriyas, the senses, are automatically satisfied. If one tries to feed his eyes or ears independently, the result is only havoc. Simply by supplying food to the stomach, we satisfy all of the senses. It is neither necessary nor feasible to render separate service to the individual senses. The conclusion is that by serving Kṛṣṇa (kṛṣṇa-sevā), everything is complete. As confirmed in Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 22.62), kṛṣṇe bhakti kaile sarva-karma kṛta haya: if one is engaged in the devotional service of the Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, everything is automatically accomplished.
All glories to Sri Chaitanaya Charitramrita.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
By the mercy of Sri Guru and Gauranga I was able to visit Sri Mayapur Dhama and then to Jagannath Puri this week. I can write pages and pages about my experience there and am sure the same will be the case with most of us who travel to Dhama and come back with varied realisations and observations. I will try to summarise my experience in brief at both the Dhams in short.
Sri Mayapur Dhama
I had gone, for the first time, to Mayapur, almost the same time last year with Shyam Sundar Prabhu. We had planned to go again together and I was looking forward to it. Few weeks before the trip Prabhuji told me that he may not be able to go as he may not get leave from the office. My first internal reaction was to drop the trip and go with him only whenever he could make it. Prabhuji pushed me to go alone or find some devotee but I dragged my feet. He, then, suggested that why don’t I take my family, I wasn’t sure whether they would be willing to come or not. Prabhuji pushed me. I prayed to Srila Prabhupada and asked my wife if we can all go to Mayapur and as a carrot I suggested that from there we can all go to Jagannath Puri and we can all stay in their favorite resort there, Coco palms. She agreed at one go, making my heart leap in the air, it was nothing short of a miracle for me. Later, she also suggested to bring her sister along with us, who too joined us.
Lesson for me :
a. Trust advise from devotees who are close to me, have faith in them and then use my own intelligence to walk that path.
b. Praying to Srila Prabhupada, even for selfish devotional reason, always helps. All I need is to have faith in him.
For a change we went by an overnight train to Kolkata from Delhi. One reason was of course budget as the ticket prices went too high for my budget and secondly I was advised by Guru Maharaj to travel by train more often. The 2 Tier Rajdhani was comfortable and we reached Kolkata on the dot and there was a cab waiting for us from Mayapur, which I booked via internet the same morning from temple.
We took the longer route via Kalna and it took us almost 5 hours. As we came nearer to Dhama the air changed and suddenly everything looked and felt pure, the air, the scenery, it was so refreshing just to be here. As we took the final sharp left/ U turn from the railway tracks towards ISKCON my heart beat went faster and with great anticipation I crossed many of our previous Acharya’s home, Yoga Pith and finally under the shelter of Srila Prabhupada at ISKCON gates.
All glories to Sri Mayapur Dhama.
There was an initial confusion about the availability of room and I was even getting mentally ready to stay outside the Ashram but then so many devotees came to help and within 20 minutes instead of no room I had choice of rooms in different buildings !
a. This lessons holds me good whenever I visit any Dhama. I try to remain in complete surrender to the Dhama, atleast as far as my boarding and lodging goes :). I know Dhama doesn’t need a shudra like me still I have complete faith in my heart that with a mood of surrender mercy flows, howsoever long may be my list of disqualification.
b. I must learn to go out of my way to help any devotees and never to be indifferent to the smallest of the requests I receive.
It was simply transcendental to take the darshan of Pancha Tattavas & Sri Radha Madhav and then sit down and hear HH Radhanath Maharaj doing Kitan, pure bliss. It was tough for me to leave the temple and look after the needs of my family but I did that nevertheless. ISKCON Mayapur wore all the looks of a festive atmosphere, getting ready for a transcendental climax.
It was a bumper harvest for me as far as seeing so many Sanyasis at a single place and also getting association of senior devotees from Delhi who are usually very busy.
I could meet HG Amogh Lila prabhu. I shared with him how I have recently been diagnosed with a serious disease, by one of the most experienced Sanyasi `doctor’, in which my heart is becoming harder and I am running after only `Jnana’. Prabhuji prescribed some `medicine’ to get a cure from this dreaded disease, the crux of which was that I must serve out of my comfort zone. Prabhuji said all my devotional activities are centered around my own comfort zone and I must take some activity which make me uncomfortable or is not to my taste ! And then cheering me and bringing me instantly out of my sulky mood he declared that this disease, of having a hard heart and only running after knowledge, and so many other disqualifications are indeed my qualification to get mercy of Gaur Nitai. In seconds Prabhuji snapped me out of my depressive mood which I was having ever since I was diagnosed with this particular disease. He also instructed me on many practical aspects of my spiritual and material life.
All glories to HG Amogh Lila Prabhu.
I could also grab some quality time from HG Rukmini Prabhu who again gave me practical advice on how to progress in my spiritual journey. It was after a long time that I could open my heart to him without the constraint of time. He instructions to me
1. Improve my chanting
2. Not to write blogs in the office hours ( which I am breaking right now for this blog as I will forget most of my learnings)
3. Serve the local centre more.
4. Donate more. Prabhuji said that I have to ensure that in some way my body, mind and words are being used in the service of the Lord. He also added that the `moha’ of money is more difficult to give up and that I should work on it.
5. Spend more time with family members, take guidance from mature Grahstha devotees to ensure a proper balance.
By the causeless mercy of Lord I got association of so many devotees. I met Karuna Prabhu and Nityananda Ashray Prabhu and Bimlaprasad Prabhuji from Punjabi Bagh temple, they were all there with a large no. of new congregational devotees. They took pity on me and took me and my family along with them for next two days on various trips around the Dhama.
The lecture Rukmini Prabhuji gave at the Rajapura temple was so very grounded and yet profound in its basic understanding of offering Bhoga to deities.
a. I must open my heart to my shiksha gurus and admit, without any shame, my shortcomings. I have seen Shyam Sundar Prabhuji practicing it and it took some courage for a weak person like me to start practicing it.
b. I must constantly endeavour to improve `internally’, just improving the externally won’t help me much.
c. I should remember to beat my mind three times a day with a broom because it convinces me every time that I am doing fine as a devotee and do not need any help from devotees.
And then as a bonus I had a great time at whatever Kirtans I could attend, eyes of HH Radhanath Maharaj fell on me purifying me instantly, HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj met for a brief 30 seconds purifying me further, and finally I could take darshan of Guru Maharaj (more of that I would write separately).
Each Mangal Arti and Kirtan was special and so was the special maha Abhishek of Pancha Tattavas on 3rd March.
Hundreds of devotees rubbed and collected chandan and also brought Ganga Jal for the Maha Abhishek.
On the last day we heard a wonderful SB class by HG Dravida Prabhu. Prabhuji gave us a gem of a verse to meditate upon while praying to Lord. Here it goes.
tvayi me ‘nanya-visaya matir madhu-pate ‘sakrt
ratim udvahatad addha gangevaugham udanvati
O Lord of Madhu, as the Ganges forever flows to the sea without hindrance, let my attraction be constantly drawn unto you without being diverted to anyone else. (SB 1.8.42)
Shyam Sundar Prabhu, Murari Prabhu and myself have taken timeshare accommodation in an upcoming building in the complex for 60 days in an year. Initially I was wondering that apart from these 4-5 days in March when would I ever go to Mayapur. But on this trip I felt that even all the 60 days could be less as my attachment for MahaPrabhu and Sri Mayapur Dhama grows exponentially.
Dormant devotional service to Kṛṣṇa is within everyone. Simply by associating with devotees, hearing their good instructions and chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, dormant love for Kṛṣṇa is awakened. In this way one acquires the seed of devotional service. Guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāde pāya bhakti-latā-bīja.”
Q: Who is an Aryan ?
A: One who chants the Holy name is an Aryan.
Srila Prabhupada translates the below verse from SB 3.33.7 quoted in CC madhya 19.72 as
“‘My dear Lord, one who always keeps Your holy name on his tongue becomes greater than an initiated brāhmaṇa. Although he may be born in a family of dog-eaters and may therefore, by material calculation, be the lowest among men, he is still glorious. This is the wonderful effect of chanting the holy name of the Lord. It is therefore concluded that one who chants the holy name of the Lord should be understood to have performed all kinds of austerities and great sacrifices mentioned in the Vedas. He has already taken his bath in all the holy places of pilgrimage, he has studied all the Vedas, and he is actually an Aryan.'”
This verse was quoted by Vallabha Bhaṭṭācārya when MahaPrabhu tells him not to touch Roop and Sanatana Goswami as he is a high caste Brahmin.
Srila Prabhupada explains in the purport of SB 3.33.7
“The word juhuvuḥ means that the chanters of the holy name have already performed all kinds of sacrifices. Sasnuḥ means that they have already traveled to all the holy places of pilgrimage and taken part in purificatory activities at those places. They are called āryāḥ because they have already finished all these requirements, and therefore they must be among the Āryans or those who have qualified themselves to become Āryans. “Āryan” refers to those who are civilized, whose manners are regulated according to the Vedic rituals. Any devotee who is chanting the holy name of the Lord is the best kind of Āryan. Unless one studies the Vedas, one cannot become an Āryan, but it is automatically understood that the chanters have already studied all the Vedic literature..”
Q: How does one know what does Krishna wants us to do ?
A: By surrendering to a bona fide representative of Krishna.
Srila Prabhupada explains in cc madhya 19. 167
“The criterion is that a devotee must know what Kṛṣṇa wants him to do. This understanding can be achieved through the medium of a spiritual master who is a bona fide representative of Kṛṣṇa. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī advises, ādau gurv-āśrayam. One who is serious in wanting to render pure devotional service to the Lord must take shelter of a spiritual master who comes in the disciplic succession from Kṛṣṇa. Evaṁ paramparā-prāptam imaṁ rājarṣayo viduḥ [Bg. 4.2]. Without accepting a bona fide spiritual master coming in the disciplic succession, one cannot find out the real purpose of devotional service. Therefore one has to accept the shelter of a bona fide spiritual master and agree to be directed by him.”
I was very fortunate take darshan of his HH Janananda Maharaj at Sumeet Prabhu’s home today in Gurgaon.
Maharaj is a very quite, simple, deep and yet an affable sanyasi. Taking his darshan I felt as if I had taken a dip in holy water of Ganga river.
Maharaj asked if I have some question, but more than my silly questions I wanted to hear Krishna katha from him. Being less intelligent, questions do not come easily to me and most of the time I forget them when asked so by a senior devotee. Hence when I meet devotees my only interest is to listen to the pastimes of devotees, Krishna, Mahaprabhu, acharayas, their realisation etc. and hoping against hope that this will make my heart soft and I may absorb something.
Fortunately for me, one devotee asked Maharaj a question and as Maharaj replied so patiently, I asked something which was bothering me as a supplementary question.
My puzzle was that Ramananda Raya quoted the verse brahma-bhutah prasannatma (BG 18.54) as higher than sarva-dharmān parityajya (BG 18.66), in his discussions with Mahaprabhu (cc madhya 8). I understood the logic of verse 18.66 being referred to as sanyas which is still within the material world, and also that devotion with knowledge is superior to devotion with rituals and that brahma-bhutah platform is out of the material world, etc. But, I knew that something was amiss in my understanding, and I could not get it. I read the purports (cc madhya 8.65) again and again, but could not get the understanding from my own endeavor. I asked Maharaj to kindly clarify the same to me and Maharaj’s reply not only solved this puzzle but another question as well which I had forgotten since long.
Maharaj replied that yes the Brahma-bhutah platform may be a very high spiritual platform but devotees do not aspire for it. He explained that the distance doesn’t matter what matter is that what are our intentions (consciousness). He gave a very good example. He said consider that two people are walking towards Delhi. The first person is more closer to Delhi than the second. But the first person wants to plant a bomb in the city where as the second person is coming to serve the city. So even if the first person is nearer to Delhi but because his intentions are bad hence being near doesn’t qualify as being any useful.
Maharaj further added that similarly being a simple-hearted devotee of the Lord in the material world is a far better situation than being a spiritually elevated person going towards impersonalism with his own knowledge because there are more chances of the former going back to Godhead and serving The Lord personally than the latter.
Maharaj’s above reply also solved my other unsolved question `What is the status of those devotees who worship Lord Krishna with devotion and love but without much knowledge ? ‘
Maharaj’s merciful reply cleared the fog in my mind like a bright sun in Delhi’s winter.
During the morning class today Guru Maharaj spoke about how we can take the example that In the field of atheism and Buddhism Sankracharya sowed the seeds or a base of Vedas. To dig we have to go down, in the reverse direction , so Sankracharya made the base by digging in the reverse directions, which is impersonalism, then the four Vaishanava acharya build the temple on that base. Finally MahaPrabhu came and established the Deities of Sri Radha Krishna in that temple. Guru Maharaj also informed us that MahaPrabhu took two points from each of the four Sampradayas.
During the question answer session, after the lecture, one devotee asked Guru Maharaj what were the two points that MahaPrabhu took from each of the Sampradaya. Guru Maharaj remembered a few of them and replied that he doesn’t remember each of them. He asked HG Ganganarayan Prabhu but he couldn’t recollect them.
As Guru Maharaj went to answer the next question, I searched on the internet on my phone and in 10 seconds I had all the 8 points. First hunch ; should I raise my hand and tell Guru Maharaj that I have searched the answer for him. Somehow I felt it would be wrong to do so. Instead I gave my phone, with the that page opened, to a senior devotee sitting next to me , he took my phone with a little surprise and became happy after I pointed to the opened page and he read the contents. He then handed my phone to HG Ganganarayan Prabhu and I could see that he too became happy reading the contents. Prabhuji then went to Guru Maharaj and handed the phone to him informing him about the contents. Guru Maharaj too was happy to receive it , he praised HG Ganganarayan Prabhu for finding them so quickly. He then shared the contents with everyone.
I realised that I felt very happy when each of the devotee became happy reading the contents on my phone. I was most happy when Guru Maharaj glorified HG Ganganarayan Prabhu for finding the answers so quickly. Surprisingly, for a character of my person, I didn’t feel envious that it was me who found it, I felt very happy from inside that prabhuji was glorified and some how I played a small part in it.
And lastly I got a hint how we can I please Krishna and Guru by being servant of the servant of their devotees. And it made me three times more happy ! I had read these lines many a times in the past but didn’t know the feeling and today by the causeless mercy of Vaishanavas I got a little taste of the same.
I pray at the lotus feet of devotees to continue to be merciful to a fallen neophyte like me.
All glories to the merciful Vaishanavas.
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I always used to wonder why do we mostly describe Krishna having three potencies. Yes, Krishna explains in Bhagavad Gita that he has three energies but somehow I always used to wonder why only three. It is also true that that He has unlimited energies and they are only divided in three main energies. But again three !!
I was reading Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita today morning and I got a beautiful explanation
Sri Ramananda Raya describes it in cc m 8.154
sac-cid-ānanda-maya kṛṣṇera svarūpa
ataeva svarūpa-śakti haya tina rūpa
“Originally Lord Kṛṣṇa is sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha [Bs. 5.1], the transcendental form of eternity, bliss and knowledge; therefore His personal potency, the internal potency, has three different forms.
Verse 155 connects it with the three main energies.
ānandāṁśe ‘hlādinī’, sad-aṁśe ‘sandhinī’
cid-aṁśe ‘samvit’, yāre jñāna kari’ māni
“Hlādinī is His aspect of bliss; sandhinī, of eternal existence; and samvit, of cognizance, which is also accepted as knowledge.
My silly question got evaporated in no time. The key was sac-cid-ānanda.
When I started reading reading Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita few months on my i pad it was an eye opener for me, for the extensive detail about each topic I wanted to read more. First I thought let me finish reading Srimad Bhagavatam and then I will read these topics but my interest got better of me and I would read them on my ipad atleast once a week. I also asked HG Rukmini Krishna Prabhu who gave me permission to read it without stopping my regular reading of Srimad Bhagavatam.
I brought Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita book set from Vrindavan during Kartika. After moving into the new apartment though I had kept them in the bookshelves but I didn’t open their cling film packing. I don’t know what came over me last evening and I opened all the books from their film. Priti, my wife, told me not to open as they will get dirty with dust. I told myself that if they are open I, or someone else, will read them and I didn’t bring them home to keep them as show pieces. I also remembered how Pooja mataji told me to read Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita while Guru Maharaj was having Lunch Prasadam at their home few weeks back. I felt nervous but still it was a very good feeling to read the great scripture to Guru Maharaj. In a strange manner the books seemed to be getting suffocated in their cling films. I ripped open all the cling films from both Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita and Srimad Bhagavatam set.
Somehow I got up extra early today morning and had spare time, the answers I got while reading Sri Chaitanya Charitamrit were amazing. And I still read on my ipad. While writing the above lines I was wondering what happened today morning and how did I get so many realisations. I wrote 8 Q&A like above on my ipad from just two verses. And I realised that the mercy came via opening the great scripture and they let their potential out while calmly sitting in the book shelves. I realise how these scriptures are non different from the spiritual potency of the Lord and can communicate with us.