I understand your anxiety in writing such a letter as you are single-handedly maintaining the Varanasi Matha.
“krame krame pāya loka bhava-sindhu-kūla”
(Gradually one can cross this material world, CC M 16.237)
Optimism, enthusiasm, Krishna-seva, service to the devotees and Sri Nama- kirtanaare beneficial for advancement. If all our endeavors are focused on fulfilling Krishna’s desires, then maya’s allurement will never be able to captivate us. Always engage in hearing, chanting and reading the books of the mahajanasand the “Gaudiya” magazines, so that there will be no laziness in the matter of accepting the philosophy.
Discuss hari-katha with the devotees who are with you and as you advance in your bhajana you will start realising your fallen condition. You must be aware of this phrase – “the most advanced devotee considers himself the most fallen.” Always endeavor for the well being of your subordinates, as by doing so we make advancement in our own bhajana.
Krishna-seva, vaishanava-seva, and Sri nama-kirtana, may appear to be separate activities but all three have the same purport.
“By nama sankirtana, Krishna-seva and vaishanava-sevaare possible.
By vaishanava-seva, Krishna-kirtana and Krishna-seva are possible.
By Krishna-seva,nama sankirtana and vaishanava-sevaare possible.”
The proof is – sattvaṁ viśuddhaṁ vasudeva-śabditaṁ (SB 4.3.23)
By studying Sri Caitanya Caritamrta one can perform Krishna-seva and nama sankirtana . By studying Srimad Bhagavatam in good association one gets the same result. By Deity worship all these three activities are performed. By nama-bhajana these are performed immaculately.
Engage your past history in judging what is favorable for your bhajana. That is, know that what is unfavorable is just a pre-condition of what is favorable. When an unfavorable situation gives rise to difficulties, those same difficulties lead to a favorable situation for bhajana. Every visible object in this world is an ingredient for Krishna’s service.
Lack of service attitude illusions our mind and engages us in sense enjoyment. With the rise of transcendental knowledge in our heart we start seeing everything in this world in connection with Krishna. Only then will the poisonous fruit of desire for distinction not be able to swallow us.
“The restless stream of life flows towards the ocean of death” ⎯ such realisation makes us engage in hari-seva in every step of life. For this reason, what brings pleasure to Krishna should be accepted by us with satisfaction. If Krishna’s happiness is in disappointing us, then such disappointment should be accepted.
“Whatever sufferings I undergo in Your service that is my ultimate pleasure” ⎯ this is the realisation of a Vaishnava. Try to follow this carefully. When our anarthas are exposed in the service of Krishna, then those same anarthas become the main cause of all auspiciousness for us. Thakur Bilvamangala’s past history, Sarvabhauma’s incident, Prakashananda’s bad argument – all such anarthas ultimately became the cause of their complete surrender to the service of Krishna. So, don’t worry for your past anarthas. Present anarthas can be subdued by hearing and chanting. Our lives are short, so till death we should engage in Hari seva without hypocrisy. This you should be careful about. Following in the footsteps of the mahajanas is our only bridge to auspiciousness.
“ahaṁ tariṣyāmi duranta-pāraṁ” (CC M 3.6) ⎯ discuss this Sloka. I have read your letter to Sri Bhaktivilasa Thakur, he has expressed his satisfaction.
I hope everybody out there is engaged in hari kirtana and vaishnava seva with enthusiasm. Offer my heartfelt greetings to all of them accordingly.
Because of my past karma sometimes I am fit and sometimes indisposed. When I think I am fit, I became disinclined to bhajana and as a result I start considering other advanced devotees to be inferior to me. So, considering my situation, Krishna always keeps me in different sorts of sufferings, pains, sickness and problems. Then only I try to realise the meaning of the sloka “tat te ’nukampāṁ su-samīkṣamāṇo…” (SB 10.14.8). When I am not properly engaged in Krishna’s service I want to quarrel with people. When I am engaged in service to Krishna people attack me.
are doing well.
(Srila Prabhupada Patravali (Vol-1))
(There are multiple gems in this letter and if we repeatedly read this letter and contemplate on each point then we can find multiple keys to many closed doors in our spiritual journey. )
Today is the appearance day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, the spiritual master of Srila Prabhupada.
Few weeks ago a senior Vaishnava shared a revolutionary article by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, which I am sharing with you below. It is deep and very insightful and can give us key(s) to make a very rapid progress in Krishna consciousness by changing our outlook towards the world and our selves.
“The world stands in no need of any reformer. The world has a very competent person for guiding its minutest happenings. The person who determines that there is scope for reform of the world, himself stands in need of reform. The world goes on in its own perfect way.
No person can deflect it even the breadth of a hair from the course chalked out for it by providence. When we perceive any change being actually effected in the course of events of this world by the agency of any particular individual, we must know very well that the agent possesses no real power at any stage. The agent finds himself driven forward by a force belonging to a different category from himself. The course of the world does not require to be changed by the agency of any person. What is necessary is to change our outlook on this world.
This was done for the contemporary generation by the mercy of Sri Caitanya. It can only be known to recipients of his mercy. The scriptures declare that it is only necessary to listen with an open mind to the name of Krishna from the lips of a bonafide devotee. As soon as Krishna enters the listening ear, he clears up the vision of the listener so that he no longer has any ambition of ever acting the part of a reformer of any other person, because he finds that nobody is left without the very highest guidance. It is therefore his own reform that he is increasingly able to realize, by the eternally continuing mercy of the Supreme Lord.”
(Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur in The Harmonist, May 1932, issue no. 11)
At first go it may look like going against the preaching spirit of the devotees, but the above golden lines are like the light from the spiritual lighthouse by which all of us, preachers included, can seek the right direction, remain grounded and persist on the right track. If we carefully read above lines repeatedly, and contemplate on them, then we can unlock many a closed doors that may be blocking our progress in Krishna consciousness and receive profound wisdom available via disciplic succession.
As I sat relishing the above lines, trying, unsuccessfully, to seek entry to the above, the famous verse from Sri Isopanisad came into my consciousness.
The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the Complete Whole is also complete in itself. Because He is the Complete Whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance.
(Sri Isopanisad, invocation)
Srila Prabhupada imbibed this very mood!
“Actually I am not worthy of any one of the words spoken by you but all of them are due to my Spiritual Master Who was so kind to me. In fact I am a worthless person because my Spiritual Master ordered me to take up this work in 1922 but I did not carry his order until 1958, when I was obliged to carry out His order by His arrangement only. This means although I was not very enthusiastic to carry out His order He forced me circumstantially to accept it. So this is His special mercy upon me and I always think about this with gratitude to this exalted personality coming directly from Vaikuntha World and we had the great fortune to meet Him. I think that is the only credit on our part that we happened to meet Him by some ‘ajnata sukriti’ or unknown auspicious activities. He is so kind upon me that when I came to your country, where I was completely unknown, He sent to me some good souls like you unsolicited. So I accept you all as assistants or representatives of my Guru Maharaja Who is still helping me because I am so feeble and unworthy. Anyway, the business which we have taken to work together is neither your business nor my business as far we are personally concerned, but it is the business of Lord Caitanya and His bona fide servants like my Guru Maharaja. Therefore it is the duty of all of us to execute it as nicely as far as possible within our capacity. In other words, we shall just try to discharge our responsible duties faithfully and seriously, then all facilities will come for our help.”
(Srila Prabhupada Letter to Hayagriva dasa, January 1, 1970)
“My Spiritual Master has given me the instruction to spread this movement all over the world and you are my good disciples, are helping me do this. Without your good help I could not have done anything, so practically you can take all the credit for spreading this Krishna Consciousness movement and fulfilling the prophecy of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. If there is some incident and I claim that no one is cooperating with me or no one will work with me, that is my defect, not theirs. The Vaisnava devotee must think like this. We should not find fault with others and criticize and go away, that is not the Vaisnava way. Better we should always be willing to offer all respects to others and consider them as our superiors always.”
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, August 26, 1972)
This is the ‘safest’ way to make real progress!
Devotee: You must be higher than the paramahamsa stage, Prabhupada.
Prabhupada: I am lower than you. I am lower than you.
Devotee: You are so beautiful. You are paramahamsa, but still, you are preaching to us.
Prabhupada: No, I am lower than you. I am the lowest of the all creatures. I am simply trying to execute the order of my spiritual master. That’s all. That should be the business of everyone. Try best. Try your best to execute the higher order. That is the safest way of progressing. One may be in the lowest stage, but if he tries to execute the duty entrusted upon him, he is perfect. He may be in lowest stage, but because he is trying to execute the duty entrusted to him, then he is perfect. That is the consideration.”
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Surat, December 19, 1970)
Srila Prabhupada’s secret- he knew who was actually doing it !
“Therefore sometimes, when people say in India, ‘Swamiji, you have done wonderful.’ And yes, I do not know. I’m not a magician. But, so far I am confident that I did not adulterate the words of Krishna. That’s all. That’s my credit. I did not like to take the position of Krishna. I remained a servant of Krishna, and I spoke what Krishna said. That’s all. This is my secret. So everyone can do that. There is nothing magic. The magic will act as soon as you become a pure devotee of Krishna. The magic will be done by Krishna, not by me or you. He will do it.
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Los Angeles, May 19, 1972)
These eleven excellent instructions to the mind grant all spiritual benedictions. A person who stays with the devotees, followsÇrélaRüpaGosvämé,and with a sweet voice loudly sings these eleven verses, understanding all their meanings, will attain the matchless jewel of direct service to Çré Çré Rädhä-Kåñëa in the forest of Gokula. (12)
Çréla Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura wrote a commentary on this work entitled Bhajana-Darpaëa-Bhäñä and so he was obviously very aware of its subtleties and depth. Later he wrote Çré Çré Rüpänugä-bhajana darpaëa (A Mirror Reflecting Worship which Follows in the Footsteps of Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé). In this work, which is the fourth chapter of Géta-Mälä, Çréla Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura uses the word rupanuga numerous times.
Many years later, Çrépada Ananta Väsudeva Parävidyäbhuñana Prabhu, a brilliant disciple of Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Öhäkura, composed praëäma-mantras for Çréla Jagannätha däsa Bäbäjé, Çréla Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura, Çréla Gaura Kiçora däsa Bäbäjé and Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Öhäkura.
He used the word rupanuga in his glorification of both Çréla Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura and Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Öhäkura:
namo bhaktivinodäya sac-cid-änanda-nämine
gaura-çakti-svarüpäya rüpänuga-varäya te
I offer my respectful obeisances unto Saccidänanda Bhaktivinoda, who is a transcendental energy of Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu. He is a strict follower of the Gosvämés, headed by Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé.
nama oà viñëu-pädäya kåñëa-preñöhäya bhü-tale
çrémate bhaktisiddhänta-sarasvatéti nämine
I offer my respectful obeisances unto His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté, who is very dear to Lord Kåñëa having taken shelter at His lotus feet.
çré-gaura-karuëä-çakti-vigrahäya namo ’stu te
I offer my respectful obeisances unto you, the personified energy of Çré Caitanya’s mercy, who delivers devotional service which is enriched with conjugal love of Rädhä and Kåñëa, coming exactly in the line of revelation of Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé.
Until today, these praëäma-mantras have remained the standard within both the Gauòéya Maöha and ISKCON.
Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu is none other than the combined form of Çré Rädhä and Kåñëa. He is the life of those devotees who strictly follow in the footsteps of Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé.
Rüpa Gosvämé and Sanätana Gosvämé are the most exalted servitors of Çrématé Rädhäräëé and Lord Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu. Those who adhere to their service are known as rüpänuga devotees.
The present Kåñëa consciousness movement is based on the authority of Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé Prabhupäda. We are therefore generally known as rüpänugas, or followers in the footsteps of Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé Prabhupäda.
In Våndävana there are präkåta-sahajiyäs who say that writing books or even touching books is taboo. For them, devotional service means being relieved from these activities. Whenever they are asked to hear a recitation of Vedic literature, they refuse, saying, “What business do we have reading or hearing transcendental literatures? They are meant for neophytes.” They pose themselves as too elevated to exert energy for reading, writing and hearing. However, pure devotees under the guidance of Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé reject this sahajiyä philosophy. It is certainly not good to write literature for money or reputation, but to write books and publish them for the enlightenment of the general populace is real service to the Lord. That was Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté’s opinion, and he specifically told his disciples to write books. He actually preferred to publish books rather than establish temples. Temple construction is meant for the general populace and neophyte devotees, but the business of advanced and empowered devotees is to write books, publish them and distribute them widely. According to Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Öhäkura, distributing literature is like playing on a great mådaìga. Consequently we always request members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness to publish as many books as possible and distribute them widely throughout the world. By thus following in the footsteps of Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé, one can become a rupanuga devotee.
The author of Bhakti-rasämåta-sindhu, Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé, very humbly submits that he is just trying to spread Kåñëa consciousness all over the world, although he humbly thinks himself unfit for this work. That should be the attitude of all preachers of the Kåñëa consciousness movement, following in the footsteps of Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé. We should never think of ourselves as great preachers, but should always consider that we are simply instrumental to the previous äcäryas, and simply by following in their footsteps we may be able to do something for the benefit of suffering humanity.
We have to follow the footsteps of Rüpa Gosvämé, rupanuga. Then we can understand Lord Caitanya. And if we get favor of Lord Caitanya, we can very easily understand Kåñëa. This is the process.
To Be a Follower of a Rupanuga
Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé, after retiring from his minister’s seat in the government, went to Våndävana and lived beneath a tree, like Mahäräja Påthu. Since then, many people have gone to Våndävana to imitate Rüpa Gosvämé’s behavior. Instead of advancing in spiritual life, many have fallen into material habits and even in Våndävana have become victims of illicit sex, gambling and intoxication. The Kåñëa consciousness movement has been introduced in the Western countries, but it is not possible for Westerners to go to the forest and practice the severe austerities which were ideally practiced by Påthu Mahäräja or Rüpa Gosvämé. However, Westerners or anyone else can follow in the footsteps of Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Öhäkura by living in a temple, which is transcendental to residence in a forest, and to vow to accept kåñëa-prasäda and nothing else, follow the regulative principles and chant sixteen rounds daily of the Hare Kåñëa mantra. In this way, one’s spiritual life will never be disturbed.
If you simply do as I am doing, not avoiding anything which may have to be done for pushing on Kåñëa’s movement, remaining always stuck up very tightly to the footsteps of Rüpa Gosvämé, then without any doubt you will remain always fresh and enthusiastic for working very energetically on Kåñëa’s behalf, without any falldown.
Spoken on 23rd December, 1936 and translated from the Bengali by Çréla Prabhupäda.
I have most probably given many people troubles in the mind. Some of them might have thought about me that I am their enemy because I was obliged to speak the plain truth for service and devotion towards the Absolute Godhead. I have given them all those troubles only for the reason that they may turn their face towards the Personality of Godhead without any desire for gain and with unalloyed devotion. I hope one day or other they may understand me rightly.
I advise all to preach the teachings of Rüpa-Raghunätha (disciples of Lord Caitanya) with all energy and resources. Our ultimate goal shall be to become the dust of the lotus feet of Çré Çré Rüpa Raghunätha Goswäméns. You should all work conjointly under the guidance of your spiritual master with a view to serve the Absolute Knowledge, the Personality of Godhead. You should live somehow or other without any quarrel in this mortal world only for the service of Godhead. Do not please give up the service of Godhead in spite of all dangers, all criticisms and all discomforts. Do not be disappointed, for most people in the world do not serve the Personality of Godhead; do not give up your own service which is your everything and all, neither reject the process of chanting and hearing of the transcendental Holy Name of Godhead. You should always chant the transcendental Name of Godhead with patience and forbearance like a tree and humbleness like a straw.
We wish that this mass of our body of flesh and blood may be sacrificed at the altar of preaching the Saìkértana movement (congregational chanting of the Holy Name of Godhead) propagated by Lord Caitanya. We are not desirous of becoming a hero of work or a reformer of religion, but our reality may be identified with the dust of the Lotus Feet of Çré Rüpa and Raghunätha for that is our everything. The flow of the transcendental tide of the attraction of devotion will never be blocked, and you with all your energy shall devote yourself for fulfilling the desire of Çréla Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura. There are many amongst you who are well qualified and able workers. We have no other desire whatsoever.
There are certainly many difficulties while we are in this mortal world but it is not our business simply to be overwhelmed with those difficulties or to try to overcome them only. We must know even during the duration of our present life, as to what we shall gain after overcoming all those difficulties of life and what shall be the mode of our permanent existence. We must make an adjustment of all things that evoke our love and hatred and for those things that we want and do not want. Attachment and detachment of this mortal world will engage us more and more as we become farther and farthest from the Lotus Feet of Çré Kåñëa. When we are able to transcend the position of attachments and detachments of this mortal world and be attracted with Holy Name of Godhead, it is then only we can understand the import of the transcendental service of Çré Kåñëa, the Personality of Godhead. At the first instance the subject Kåñëa is startling and perplexing to us. Every one who is called by the name “man” is more or less struggling knowingly or unknowingly to eliminate those invading elements which are baffling our conception of eternal need. It is our only duty to enter into the kingdom of eternal need.
We have no love or hatred for any one in this world. All arrangements made in this world are but temporary. There is, therefore, unavoidable necessity for that ultimate need for every one in this world. You should attain the transcendental loving service of the objective, being situated in concerted action for that one aim. Let there be a constant flow of the ideas and thoughts as conceived by Rüpa Goswämé and his followers. We shall not at any time show our slightest dejection for the seven tongued Saìkértana movement.* If we have undaunted faith in it we shall then only achieve all perfections.
Note : The above content is copied from AnOceanofGaura’spremämåta-kåpä – An elaboration on Srila Rupa Goswami’s Sri Upadesamrta.
This wonderful book has been compiled by H.G. Srimati Mataji (Vrindavana) and her team. I strongly recommend all the devotees to kindly to click the below link and download this amazing book. It is a careful study guide for all the aspiring Rupanugas and for every one who is interested in studying Sri Upadesamrta, Nector Of Instructions, seriously.
Q: Why don’t we (or the sanyasis in ISKCON) wear the white dress as was worn by the six goswamis ?
Answer : Srila Prabhupada said
One who is qualified as a brāhmana, he has to observe the four āśramas:the brahmacārī-āśrama, the grhastha-āśrama, the vānaprastha-āśrama and the sannyāsa-āśrama.
The ksatriyas have to observe three āśramas: brahmacārī, grhastha and vānaprastha.
And the vaiśyas, two āśramas: brahmacārī and grhastha.
And śūdra, only one āśrama – grhastha.
A śūdra is never offered sannyāsa. Only the brāhmana is offered. So in Śankara-sampradāya, strictly, unless one is born in brāhmana family, he’s not offered sannyāsa. He’s not given sannyāsa.
So far we are concerned, we also offer sannyāsa to the brāhmana, and not to the śūdras. But according to quality we create brāhmanas. Not that we are offering sannyāsa to the śūdras, No. The principle is: sannyāsa can be offered only to the brāhmanas. So one may not mistake that we are offering sannyāsa to the mlecchas, yavanas, as they complain. Some of my Godbrothers, they criticize like that, that I am offering sannyāsa to the mlecchas, yavanas. This is wrong idea. This is nārakī-buddhi.
Actually, a Vaisnava is above this varnāśrama-dharma. But we don’t claim that we have become perfect Vaisnava. We are not so impudent. We want to remain under the Vaisnava. Otherwise Vaisnava means… In Caitanya-caritāmrta you’ll find the Vaisnava is paramahamsa. Vaisnava has no saffron cloth. Vaisnava is white cloth because Vaisnava is paramahamsa.
But we don’t claim the position of Vaisnava. We want to remain servant of Vaisnava. Therefore sannyāsa order is below the position of Vaisnava. Sannyāsa order means still in the material classification. But this Vaisnava is paramo nirmatsarānām satām. Dharmah projjhita-kaitavo ‘tra paramo nirmat… [SB 1.1.2]. This Vaisnavism is meant for paramo nirmatsarānām, paramahamsa.
Sa gunān samatītyaitān brahma-bhūyāya kalpate [Bg. 14.26]. Vaisnava position is not very easy thing, (He is) above all qualities. Therefore Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Thākura introduced not to become an imitation of Rūpa Gosvāmī. Rūpa Gosvāmī, Sanātana Gosvami, the Gosvāmīs of Vrndāvana, they are paramahamsas.
And in Vrndāvana you’ll find so-called bābājīs, they have imitated the dress of Rūpa Gosvāmī—half loincloth—but a bidi in the mouth. What is this nonsense? Rūpa Gosvāmī used to smoke bidi? Not only that. You’ll find in Vrndāvana so many Rūpa Gosvāmīs are making bidi. Have you seen in the Gopīnātha Bazaar? They’re making trade – bidis – and shameless. Therefore my Guru Mahārāja introduced this.
Of course, sannyāsa is there in the Vaisnava… All the ācāryas, they were sannyāsis, but later on, it got so degraded that these bidi-smokers, gānjā-smokers, they imitated Rūpa Gosvāmī. Therefore to purify, Guru Mahārāja introduced this sannyāsa system, below the paramahamsas, not that by artificial means I become a paramahamsa, No.
[An excerpt from a lecture given on the Srimad Bhagavatam 1.8.41 in Mayapur, West Bengal on October 21, 1974]
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.