The last verse which Arjuna speaks in Bhagavad Gita, has many gems for us.
नष्टो मोहः स्मृतिर्लब्धा त्वत्प्रसादान्मयाच्युत।
स्थितोऽस्मि गतसन्देहः करिष्ये वचनं तव।।18.73।।
Arjuna said: My dear Krishna, O infallible one, my illusion is now gone. I have regained my memory by Your mercy. I am now ﬁrm and free from doubt and am prepared to act according to Your instructions.
Now let us try to churn this verse.
My dear Kṛṣṇa: Krishna is our dear friend , suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānāṁ , actually Krishna is our only real friend, and He never let’s His devotee down.
O infallible one:Krishna is known as Achytua .
He never fails in His affection for His devotees, and thus He is addressed herein as infallible…..In all circumstances, He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Krishna is absolute and remains so under all conditions, Krishna is glorified in every single form or lila he manifests. Whether he takes birth inside a prison in Mathura and present Himself as a fully decorated newly born baby with four arms in front of his wonderstruck parents, or while playing games with his cowherd friends in Vrindavan or stealing butter from the homes of gopis, or running away from battle- ‘Ranchorh’, even when he manifest Himself as a stone, Shaligram, He is the same Krishna. Like an actor Krishna comes in various guises, sometimes as a bird (swan), as an animal (boar), as a fish or what’s more dramatic than bursting out of a pillar as half lion-half man! His supreme position is never challenged, He is the infallible master in all circumstances.
my illusion is now gone: What is my present consciousness? Am I still living under an illusion even after being in the movement for so long. Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport – In illusion the living entity is serving in this material world. He is bound by his lust and desires, yet he thinks of himself as the master of the world. This is called illusion.
Am I living a life where I think that I am the controller, I am the master and I am the enjoyer? Am I gradually developing the consciousness of being a servant of Krishna, which should be my only identity, rest are simply the services Krishna has given me.
The best way to destroy illusion is by daily reading Srila prabhupada’s books. How much is my daily reading?
I have regained my memory: Have I regained me memory as an eternal servant of Krishna? What is my consciousness while interacting with my family, my colleagues at work, …
Srila Prabhupada gives us a very simple solution to revive our lost memory
One’s memory of Kṛṣṇa is revived by chanting the mahā-mantra, Hare Kṛṣṇa. By this practice of chanting and hearing the sound vibration of the Supreme Lord, one’s ear, tongue and mind are engaged. This mystic meditation is very easy to practice, and it helps one attain the Supreme Lord.
How sincerely am I trying to chant my 16 rounds?
by Your mercy: We should know by now that we cannot succeed by our own efforts alone. However if our efforts are sincere, and honest, then it will attract Krishna’s mercy. The two finger principle-
Thus although mother Yasoda, in her attempt to bind Krishna, added one rope after another, ultimately she was a failure. When Krishna agreed, however, she was successful. In other words, one must be in transcendental love with Krishna, but that does not mean that one can control Krishna . When Krishna is satisfied with one’s devotional service, He does everything Himself…He reveals more and more to the devotee as the devotee advances in service.
Krishna says in BG 15.15 mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca, from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness.
Everything- remembrance, knowledge, forgetfulness is coming from Krishna, everything is in the lotus like hands of Sri Govindadev!
I am now ﬁrm: to make progress in bhakti we need to be firm in our enthusiasm, determination and patience! Without them it will be difficult to make progress. We have to be firm in following the process given by Srila Prabhupada, follow four regulative principles, try to chant 16 sincere rounds, everyday read Srila Prabhupada’s books and regularly associate with devotees who are senior than us.
and free from doubt: One way to become free from doubt is by asking questions. Asking questions is a sign of intelligence. We should clear our doubts without hesitation or feeling embarrassed in front of others. Arjuna asked so many questions from Krishna in Bhagavad Gita. Srimad Bhagavatam is all about questions and answers. This is the way to clear our doubts.
Guru Maharaj once told us that even if you do not have any question and may think I have understood everything, still we should ask question so that we can verify if I have understood correctly!
and am prepared: Our primary method to prepare ourselves is by regular Sravanam kirtanam but we should not forget the golden rule which Srila Prabhupada repeated multiple times sevonmukhe hi jihvādau.
To associate with the holy name and chant the holy name is to associate with the Personality of Godhead directly. In the Bhakti-rasämåta-sindhu it is clearly said, sevonmukhe hi jihvädau svayam eva sphuraty adaù [Brs. 1.2.234]. The holy name becomes manifest when one engages in the service of the holy name. This service in a submissive attitude begins with one’s tongue. Sevonmukhe hi jihvädau: One must engage his tongue in the service of the holy name. Our Krishna consciousness movement is based on this principle. We try to engage all the members of the Krishna consciousness movement in the service of the holy name. Since the holy name and Krishna are nondifferent, the members of the Krishna consciousness movement not only chant the holy name of the Lord offenselessly, but also do not allow their tongues to eat anything that is not first offered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
(CC Adi 8.16p)
to act: Bhakti means action, action in knowledge and with love. That is why Srila Prabhupada translated bhakti as devotional service not devotion. Love means reciprocation, which naturally culminates in loving service. My actions, coupled with the consciousness with which I am doing it, will attract Krishna’s mercy.
according to Your instructions: To advance in Krishna consciousness we should receive instructions from our diksha/shiksha guru. Generally we may not receive any direct instructions from our guru because we may not have the qualification to follow them. We can, however, prepare ourselves to receive direct instructions by following the primary instruction given at the time of initiation – chant 16 rounds offenselessly!
In the Bhagavad-gétä (18.66) Lord Krishna instructs His disciple Arjuna, “Just surrender unto Me, and I shall protect you from all sinful reactions.” And Arjuna accepts Krishna’s instruction with the words kariñye vacanaà tava: “I will do as You say.” (Bhagavad-gétä 18.73) If we follow Arjuna’s example, we will be in direct contact with Krishna, and we will be able to surmount all difficulties in both our spiritual and material life. We hear the instructions of Krishna via the unbroken chain of disciplic succession (guru-paramparä). Acceptance of these instructions is called çikñä, or voluntarily following the instruction of the spiritual master. The independent nature of the living entity is that he does not want to follow the instructions of another living being, however pure. But when one voluntarily agrees to obey the orders of the spiritual master, one is following the orders of Krishna, and thus one’s life becomes perfect.
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)
I could not post the blog for a long time as life turned a bit busy, please forgive me for this laxity.
Yesterday morning I read the very beautiful, and famous, verse from Srimad Bhagavatam and now sharing the same with you.
This particular chapter, SB 10.14, describes the Brahmā ji’s prayers to Lord Kṛṣṇa. Brahmā ji first praised the beauty of the Lord’s transcendental limbs and then declared that Krishna’s original identity of sweetness is even more difficult to comprehend than His opulence. And only by the devotional process of hearing and chanting transcendental sounds received from Vedic authorities can one realize the Personality of Godhead. It is fruitless to try to realize God through processes outside the scope of Vedic authority.
Brahmā ji is praying to Lord Krishna:
My dear Lord, devotional service unto You is the best path for self-realization. If someone gives up that path and engages in the cultivation of speculative knowledge, he will simply undergo a troublesome process and will not achieve his desired result. As a person who beats an empty husk of wheat cannot get grain, one who simply speculates cannot achieve self-realization. His only gain is trouble.
O almighty Lord, in the past many yogīs in this world achieved the platform of devotional service by offering all their endeavors unto You and faithfully carrying out their prescribed duties. Through such devotional service, perfected by the processes of hearing and chanting about You, they came to understand You, O infallible one, and could easily surrender to You and achieve Your supreme abode.
Then comes the gem of a verse wherein Brahmā ji reveals that to go back to Godhead a devotee simply has to patiently tolerate his past karmic reactions in this lifetime, while sincerely & seriously practicing Krishna consciousness! This may sound too good to be true or too easy but these are the words from Srimad Bhagavatam, Amala Purana, spoken by Brahmā ji, who also happens to be the head of our sampradaya. Srila Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura said that this verse describes Bhakti.
tat te ’nukampāṁ su-samīkṣamāṇo
bhuñjāna evātma-kṛtaṁ vipākam
hṛd-vāg-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te
jīveta yo mukti-pade sa dāya-bhāk
My dear Lord, one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy upon him, all the while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds and offering You respectful obeisances with his heart, words and body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful claim.
In his purport Srila Prabhupada too reveals an ‘inside’ secret as to how even those apparent karmic reactions are also actually a favour by the most merciful Krishna. Many of us may have read this verse before but as we read and reread it our conviction for the scientific process of Krishna consciousness, and the amazing journey we are in, goes few notches higher. It also helps us appreciate how compassionate is Krishna towards His devotees. And that only is Krishna silently working to get us back home but He is very much looking forward to see us soon.
Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī explains in his commentary that just as a legitimate son has to simply remain alive to gain an inheritance from his father, one who simply remains alive in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, following the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga, automatically becomes eligible to receive the mercy of the Personality of Godhead. In other words, he will be promoted to the kingdom of God.
The word su-samīkṣamāṇa indicates that a devotee earnestly awaits the mercy of the Supreme Lord even while suffering the painful effects of previous sinful activities. Lord Kṛṣṇa explains in the Bhagavad-gītā that a devotee who fully surrenders unto Him is no longer liable to suffer the reactions of his previous karma. However, because in his mind a devotee may still maintain the remnants of his previous sinful mentality, the Lord removes the last vestiges of the enjoying spirit by giving His devotee punishments that may sometimes resemble sinful reactions. The purpose of the entire creation of God is to rectify the living entity’s tendency to enjoy without the Lord, and therefore the particular punishment given for a sinful activity is specifically designed to curtail the mentality that produced the activity. Although a devotee has surrendered to the Lord’s devotional service, until he is completely perfect in Kṛṣṇa consciousness he may maintain a slight inclination to enjoy the false happiness of this world. The Lord therefore creates a particular situation to eradicate this remaining enjoying spirit. This unhappiness suffered by a sincere devotee is not technically a karmic reaction; it is rather the Lord’s special mercy for inducing His devotee to completely let go of the material world and return home, back to Godhead.
A sincere devotee earnestly desires to go back to the Lord’s abode. Therefore he willingly accepts the Lord’s merciful punishment and continues offering respects and obeisances to the Lord with his heart, words and body. Such a bona fide servant of the Lord, considering all hardship a small price to pay for gaining the personal association of the Lord, certainly becomes a legitimate son of God, as indicated here by the words dāya-bhāk. Just as one cannot approach the sun without becoming fire, one cannot approach the supreme pure, Lord Kṛṣṇa, without undergoing a rigid purificatory process, which may appear like suffering but which is in fact a curative treatment administered by the personal hand of the Lord.
So we can appreciate how unique is our journey in Krishna Consciousness. How even the aspiring devotees remain under the direct shelter of the lotus feet of Krishna. We just need to remain sincere & serious, practice tolerance and be simple hearted. Then there is no faster route back to Godhead.
Now it is up to us to decide if sincerity, simplicity and tolerance are too high a price to pay for gaining the personal association of Lord?
I read verse 4.42 from Bhagavad Gita today morning and its amazing purport where Srila Prabhupada not only gives us the summary of the whole chapter 4 but also gives us many keys to open different levels of transcendental knowledge. The chapter itself is titled transcendental knowledge. I am sharing the same. Please chew it slowly.
tasmäd ajïäna-sambhütaà håt-sthaà jïänäsinätmanaù
chittvainaà saàçayaà yogam ätiñöhottiñöha bhärata
Therefore the doubts which have arisen in your heart out of ignorance should be slashed by the weapon of knowledge. Armed with yoga, O Bharata, stand and fight.
The yoga system instructed in this chapter is called sanätana-yoga, or eternal activities performed by the living entity. This yoga has two divisions of sacrificial actions: one is called sacrifice of one’s material possessions, and the other is called knowledge of self, which is pure spiritual activity. If sacrifice of one’s material possessions is not dovetailed for spiritual realization, then such sacrifice becomes material. But one who performs such sacrifices with a spiritual objective, or in devotional service, makes a perfect sacrifice. When we come to spiritual activities, we find that these are also divided into two: namely, understanding of one’s own self (or one’s constitutional position), and the truth regarding the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One who follows the path of Bhagavad-gétä as it is can very easily understand these two important divisions of spiritual knowledge. For him there is no difficulty in obtaining perfect knowledge of the self as part and parcel of the Lord. And such understanding is beneficial, for such a person can easily understand the transcendental activities of the Lord. In the beginning of this chapter, the transcendental activities of the Lord were discussed by the Supreme Lord Himself. One who does not understand the instructions of the Gétä is faithless, and is to be considered to be misusing the fragmental independence awarded to him by the Lord. In spite of such instructions, one who does not understand the real nature of the Lord as the eternal, blissful, all-knowing Personality of Godhead is certainly fool number one. Ignorance can be removed by gradual acceptance of the principles of Kåñëa consciousness. Kåñëa consciousness is awakened by different types of sacrifices to the demigods, sacrifice to Brahman, sacrifice in celibacy, in household life, in controlling the senses, in practicing mystic yoga, in penance, in forgoing material possessions, in studying the Vedas, and in partaking of the social institution called varëäçrama-dharma. All of these are known as sacrifice, and all of them are based on regulated action. But within all these activities, the important factor is self-realization. One who seeks that objective is the real student of Bhagavad-gétä, but one who doubts the authority of Kåñëa falls back. One is therefore advised to study Bhagavad-gétä, or any other scripture, under a bona fide spiritual master, with service and surrender. A bona fide spiritual master is in the disciplic succession from time eternal, and he does not deviate at all from the instructions of the Supreme Lord as they were imparted millions of years ago to the sun-god, from whom the instructions of Bhagavad-gétä have come down to the earthly kingdom. One should, therefore, follow the path of Bhagavad-gétä as it is expressed in the Gétä itself and beware of self-interested people after personal aggrandizement who deviate others from the actual path. The Lord is definitely the supreme person, and His activities are transcendental. One who understands this is a liberated person from the very beginning of his study of Bhagavad-gétä.
This is a gem of a purport and is so potent that one can achieve liberation simply by carefully studying and applying its essence.
HG Bhurijana Prabhu divides this purport into five sections in his book Surrender unto me. Inspired from those titles I am adding little comments.
The Goal of sacrifice (Part 1)
Sacrifices themselves are not the goal. They are means to achieve a goal. The same sacrifice could result in a material or spiritual goal depending simply on the consciousness with which we are doing it.
Today is Ekadasi. Many people in India keep Ekadasi fast, some out of family tradition, some have heard or read about the unlimited piety it brings but devotees keep it simply to please Krishna. So the same sacrifice will culminate in different results for the different people though the act of sacrifice is apparently the same. So our purpose should always be spiritual. Srila Prabhupada writes
One who performs such sacriﬁces with a spiritual objective, or in devotional service, makes a perfect sacriﬁce.
2. Two levels of spiritual knowledge
a) understanding of one’s own self (or one’s constitutional position), and
b) the truth regarding the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Srila Prabhupada gives the synopsis of this transcendental knowledge in his purport of BG 4.35
For want of sufﬁcient knowledge in the absolute science, we are now covered with illusion, and therefore we think that we are separate from Kṛṣṇa. Although we are separated parts of Kṛṣṇa, we are nevertheless not different from Him. The bodily difference of the living entities is māyā, or not actual fact. We are all meant to satisfy Kṛṣṇa. By māyā alone Arjuna thought that the temporary bodily relationship with his kinsmen was more important than his eternal spiritual relationship with Kṛṣṇa. The whole teaching of the Gītā is targeted toward this end: that a living being, as Kṛṣṇa’s eternal servitor, cannot be separated from Kṛṣṇa, and his sense of being an identity apart from Kṛṣṇa is called māyā. The living entities, as separate parts and parcels of the Supreme, have a purpose to fulﬁll. Having forgotten that purpose since time immemorial, they are situated in different bodies, as men, animals, demigods, etc. Such bodily differences arise from forgetfulness of the transcendental service of the Lord. But when one is engaged in transcendental service through Kṛṣṇa consciousness, one becomes at once liberated from this illusion.
3. Transcendental nature of Supreme Lord
In the beginning verses of this chapter Krishna spoke how He first gave this transcendental knowledge to sun-god, Vivasvān, millions of years ago and it was being passed down via parampara but then it got lost. And how Krishna, unlike Arjuna, remembers all His previous births. Then Krishna declares in BG 4.6
Although I am unborn and My transcendental body never deteriorates, and although I am the Lord of all living entities, I still appear in every millennium in My original transcendental form.
Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport
In spite of such instructions, one who does not understand the real nature of the Lord as the eternal, blissful, all-knowing Personality of Godhead is certainly fool number one.
4. The Goal of sacrifice (part 2)
They are so many different kinds of sacrifices mentioned in vedas and , Srila Prabhupada, writes
All of them are based on regulated action. But within all these activities, the important factor is self-realization. One who seeks that objective is the real student of Bhagavad-Gita.
Even big big jnanis and yogis, what to speak of normal people, get bewildered as to what exactly self realisation means. Actual self realisation means God realisation. They may sound different but are firmly inter-linked.
Self realization means God realization, and God realization means self realization. Just like to see the sun means to see oneself, and to see oneself means to see the sun. Self realization depends completely upon God realization, or else it is not complete. One must know his relationship to the Absolute Truth to fully know his position. The mayavadi school simply discerns spirit from matter, but that is not Ultimate Knowledge. One should know the different manifestations of the spirit also. The highest manifestation of the spirit soul is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna.
(letter to Vilasavigraha Prabhu, 22nd Jan 1969)
5. Properly learning transcendental knowledge
One should learn this knowledge from a bonafide spiritual master coming in the authorised line of disciplic succession. Krishna says in BG 4.2
This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost.
Arjuna, Krishna’s friend & devotee, also an eternal associate of Krishna, become an instrument to give this knowledge to the whole world. Similarly Srila Prabhupada, not only a great devotee of Lord Krishna and one of the greatest acharayas in last hundred years, coming in the line of exalted Gaudia vaishanavas, also an eternal associate of Krishna, became an instrument to spread this transcendental knowledge worldwide.
Why it is so important to hear this from a bonafide spiritual master?
Srila Prabhupada writes
he does not deviate at all from the instructions of the Supreme Lord as they were imparted
So the message is passed on ‘as it is’ without any deviation or personal interpretation. That’s why ISKCON’S version of Bhagavad Gita is called Bhagavad Gita As it is.
And what will be the result of following all the above points sincerely?
Srila Prabhupada writes at the end of his purport
One who understands this is a liberated person from the very beginning of his study of Bhagavad-gītā.
It is simply our good fortune that we have somehow taken shelter of Srila Prabhupada’s lotus feet and are trying to become Krishna consciousness. Where else can one read a verse from one of the begining chapters of Bhagavad and not only get the summary of the whole chapter but if one applies it with proper faith then one can get liberation at this stage itself! This is the potency of reading Bhaktivedanta purports.
I feel unqualified to understand, receive or apply this knowledge!
The qualification required to unlock the wealth in Prabhupada’s purports is simply our faith, sincerity and seriousness to become Krishna consciousness. That’s all, not how much knowledge I have or how much austerity I can perform or even my lifestyle before coming in touch with the devotees. None of this matters. What matters is how sincerely I desire and wish to change now. Our past is not a hindrance.
We all know that when bed sheets gets spoiled and strained ( say sheet used by small babies on which they have passed urine etc.). These strains on the sheets doesn’t go despite all the washing and scrubbing. But an experienced and intelligent mother knows that by hanging these sheets daily in the bright sun not only the sheet get germ free but they will also gradually becomes strain free. Similarly when we come in touch with this transcendental knowledge then not only our past karmic reactions are gone but gradually our consciousness starts becoming pure and we can make rapid progress in self realisation despite what all may have been our past life (or lives).
This is the potency and the result of regularly, and carefully, studying Srila Prabhupada’s books. Everything will get gradually revealed in our heart by his mercy and potency. This is our simple, proven and bonafide process for receiving all transcendental knowledge.
Sometimes this question gets popped up in discussions ‘why did Srila Prabhupada speak so much against mayavada and voidism?’ He went head on against both the philosophies. For many of us who were brought in a broad minded liberal mindset (read hodge-podge) such sharp criticism, coming specially from a highly evolved spiritual personality, may seem a bit out of place.
Srila Prabhupada’s pranama mantra itself boldly declares his intention, and scope, in no uncertain terms.
I offer my respectful obeisances unto His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who is very dear to Lord Krishna, having taken shelter at His lotus feet. Our respectful obeisances are unto you, O spiritual master, servant of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami. You are kindly preaching the message of Lord Chaitanyadeva and delivering the Western countries, which are filled with impersonalism and voidism.
HG Bhurijana Prabhu, in a recent class, shared an interesting pastime during a program in Japan, when Srila Prabhupada, did not let a mayavadi sanyasi speak for too long, starting a impromptu Kirtan in the middle of his speech, much to the bewilderment of the audience. Srila Prabhupada, later, shared with his disciples that he could tolerate the mayavadi sanyasi for some time but when he started speaking that Supreme Lord has no form, no senses, can not talk and so on, then Prabhupada could not tolerate it any more! HG Bhurijan Prabhu said that such is the love Srila Prabhupada has for Krishna that he could not tolerate anyone speaking that his beloved and most beautiful Lord does not possess any beauty, any form, any taste, etc. It simply showed his level of attachment to Krishna.
Being freed from attachment, fear and anger, being fully absorbed in Me and taking refuge in Me, many, many persons in the past became purified by knowledge of Me — and thus they all attained transcendental love for Me.
Krishna is saying that once one gets free from attachment, fear & anger, and being aware that He is the Supreme Lord and everyone is His part and parcel, surrendering unto Him, then one become fully absorbed in Him. And the result of such an absorption, based on knowledge (not just sentiments), is that one will attain transcendental love for Krishna, our final goal.
Srila Prabhupada begins his purport to the above verse : It is very difficult for a person who is too materially affected to understand the personal nature of the Supreme Absolute Truth.
Srila Prabhupada then goes into detail, in the same purport, and explains the three popular philosophies prevalent in western countries
Materialists: People who are attached to the bodily conception of life are so absorbed in materialism that it is almost impossible for them to understand how the Supreme can be a person. Such materialists cannot even imagine that there is a transcendental body which is imperishable, full of knowledge and eternally blissful. In the materialistic concept, the body is perishable, full of ignorance and completely miserable. Therefore, people in general keep this same bodily idea in mind when they are informed of the personal form of the Lord. For such materialistic men, the form of the gigantic material manifestation is supreme.
Mayavada : Consequently they consider the Supreme to be impersonal. Generally, because they are too materially absorbed, the conception of retaining the personality after liberation from matter frightens them. When they are informed that spiritual life is also individual and personal, they become afraid of becoming persons again, and so they naturally prefer a kind of merging into the impersonal void. Generally, they compare the living entities to the bubbles of the ocean, which merge into the ocean. That is the highest perfection of spiritual existence attainable without individual personality. This is a kind of fearful stage of life, devoid of perfect knowledge of spiritual existence.
Voidism: Furthermore there are many persons who cannot understand spiritual existence at all. Being embarrassed by so many theories and by contradictions of various types of philosophical speculation, they become disgusted or angry and foolishly conclude that there is no supreme cause and that everything is ultimately void. Such people are in a diseased condition of life.
So, surprisingly, the rāga-bhaya-krodhā (attachment, fear and anger) Krishna is speaking about are not exactly how we understand these terms, in reality they mean
attachment to material life
fear of a spiritual personal identity
the conception of void that arises from frustration in life
How do I get free from them?
To get free from these three stages of the material concept of life, one has to take complete shelter of the Lord, guided by the bona ﬁde spiritual master, and follow the disciplines and regulative principles of devotional life.
Srila Prabhupada then writes the complete road map, from faith to Prema, via Krishna consciousness
“In the beginning one must have a preliminary desire for self-realization. This will bring one to the stage of trying to associate with persons who are spiritually elevated. In the next stage one becomes initiated by an elevated spiritual master, and under his instruction the neophyte devotee begins the process of devotional service. By execution of devotional service under the guidance of the spiritual master, one becomes free from all material attachment, attains steadiness in self-realization, and acquires a taste for hearing about the Absolute Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. This taste leads one further forward to attachment for Kṛṣṇa consciousness, which is matured in bhāva, or the preliminary stage of transcendental love of God. Real love for God is called prema, the highest perfectional stage of life.” In the prema stage there is constant engagement in the transcendental loving service of the Lord.
So this is the role Srila Prabhupada is playing in Krishna’s (actually Mahaprabhu’s) plan for mass liberation, to save the suffering souls in kali-yuga by
freeing us from material attachment, rāga (sense gratification)
freeing us from the fearfulness of one’s individual spiritual personality, bhaya (mayavada)
freeing us from the frustration that results in void philosophy, krodhā (voiodism)
Prabhupada through his books, instructions and lectures gave the suffering humanity a complete, and solid, path leading to the highest stage, Krishna Prema, Love of Godhead, ultimately leading to the abode of the Supreme Lord- Goloka Vrindavana. All his activities, all the resources which came by his side, were used by him in Krishna’s service, till his very last breath. Prabhupada walked the path Krishna planned for him, similar to how Arjuna followed Krishna’s instructions and fought the war in Kurukshetra, which Krishna had already planned. Both of them became an instrument in Krishna’s hands with no self interest or self desire. This movement is popularly known as ‘Hare Krishna’ all over the world, he did not name it after himself. So all over the world people became aware of Krishna’s name but who is Srila Prabhupada!
Therefore I do not find a greater person than he who has no interest outside of Mine and who therefore engages and dedicates all his activities and all his life — everything — unto Me without cessation.
Srila Prabhupada writes in the purport of above verse :
In this verse the word sama-darśanāt means that he no longer has any separate interest; the devotee’s interest and the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s interest are one. For example, Lord Caitanya, in the role of a devotee, also preached the same philosophy. He preached that Kṛṣṇa is the worshipful Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and that the interest of His pure devotees is the same as His own.
Prabhupada again bashes up the mayavada theory!
Sometimes Māyāvādī philosophers, due to a poor fund of knowledge, define the word sama-darśanāt to mean that a devotee should see himself as one with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is foolishness. When one thinks himself one with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, there is no question of serving Him. When there is service, there must be a master. Three things must be present for there to be service: the master, the servant and the service. Here it is clearly stated that he who has dedicated his life, all his activities, his mind and his soul — everything — for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord, is considered to be the greatest person.
The word akartuḥ means “without any sense of proprietorship.” Everyone wants to act as the proprietor of his actions so that he can enjoy the result. A devotee, however, has no such desire; he acts because the Personality of Godhead wants him to act in a particular way. He has no personal motive. When Lord Caitanya preached Kṛṣṇa consciousness, it was not with the purpose that people would call Him Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead; rather, He preached that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and should be worshiped as such. A devotee who is a most confidential servant of the Lord never does anything for his personal account, but does everything for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord. Therefore it is clearly stated, mayi sannyasta-karmaṇaḥ: the devotee works, but he works for the Supreme. It is also stated, mayy arpitātmanaḥ: “He gives his mind unto Me.” These are the qualifications of a devotee, who, according to this verse, is accepted as the highest of all human beings.
So in a way Srila Prabhupada became the hand of Krishna. This hand went to the lowest depths on this planet. And to save us he had to smash the very foundation of senseless material gratification, mayavada & voidism, to free us from material attachment, fear and anger. Thereby delivering and uplifting millions of souls from the very bottom of the pit to the highest platform of Vaishnavism.
In a sense guru is like the hand attached to the body of God, Who is all existence, all intelligence, and all bliss (sac-cid-änanda-vigraha). With His hand, God rubs His own feet. The hand of God is His own limb. In this case God is serving Himself. God Himself appears as the guru in order to teach how to serve Himself. Our Gurudeva is also one with the body of God. There is God to be served, there is also God who serves; God as object and God as support. Mukunda is God to be served, He is the object God. The most beloved of Mukunda, Çré Gurudeva, is serving God, the support. There is no one so dearly loved by God as our Gurudeva. He alone is the best beloved of the Lord.
Scriptures are revealed according to the time, place, circumstances & qualification of the audience
Prabhupada: That I’ve explained many times: a pocket dictionary and international dictionary. You cannot say that pocket dictionary is no dictionary, but it is meant for a certain class of student. And international dictionary is meant for a certain class of student. They are all student. Was Christ… What was spoken by Christ, that is also God consciousness, but that was meant for a certain class of men. And what class of men they were? They’re not even perfectly civilized. Because Christ was explaining God consciousness, that was his fault, and they crucified him. What class of men they were? Judge. His only fault was that he was explaining God, and they crucified him. The reward was crucifixion. So what kind of class of men they were? The status of that society, just try to understand. Therefore what spoke…, what was spoken by Lord Jesus Christ, for them, that was sufficient. But when Bhagavad-gétä is spoken to a person like Arjuna, that is different thing. So we have to speak according to the time, according to the circumstances, according to the audience.
Bhagavad Gita is the highest standard of God consciousness.
Don’t you see that here only a few persons are attending? Why? They cannot understand this Kåñëa science, Kåñëa consciousness. It is not meant for all classes of men. It is highest standard of God consciousness. Love. Love of God. So there is also teachings of love of God, undoubtedly. That is the difference. The same thing. Always try to understand. The small pocket dictionary for students while in the primary stage, and international dictionary for higher students, postgraduate students—the both of them are dictionaries. But it is meant for somebody, it is meant for somebody.
What would the test of such a high scripture?
And the test is phalena paricéyate. Phalena paricéyate, you have to understand. Suppose you are traveling in a forest. So many trees are there. But you cannot understand what is this tree, what is that. But as soon as you see the flower, “Oh, here is apple. Oh, this is apple tree.” Just like the other day you were telling me, you never saw apple tree? Yes. Now, as soon as you saw the apple, you understood, “This is apple tree. Oh!” The test of any scripture is how one is developing love of God. Phalena paricéyate. If you find that following some religious principles you are developing your love of God, then it is perfect. It doesn’t matter whether it is Bible or Koran or Bhagavad-gétä. It doesn’t matter. We have to see what is the fruit. If the fruit is that people are developing love of Godhead, then it is perfect. Don’t try to understand whether this is good, this is good, this is bad, this is… No. Try to understand by the result. Just like the same way: if you see the fruit, then it is first class.
Love of Godhead should be the goal of all practitioners of every religion.
So it doesn’t matter whether it is Bible or Gétä. If you can develop love of Godhead by reading Bible, it is first class, and if you can develop love of Godhead by Bhagavad-gétä, it is first class. And if you do not, then either it is Bible or the Koran or Bhagavad-gétä, it has no effect for you. So it is up to you. Not by comparison, but by your own activities. If you actually follow the instruction given by Lord Jesus Christ, you will also develop love of Godhead. There is no doubt. Similarly, if you follow the instruction of Kåñëa, you will also develop. So it is up to you. You try to follow.If you do not follow, simply try to make a comparative study “This is good” or “This is bad,” “This is bad” or “This is good,” that is called çrama eva hi kevalam [SB 1.2.8]—simply laboring. Why comparative study? Just see how much you are developing love of Godhead, that’s all. Phalena paricéyate. “Whether it is apple is there, that’s all right; never mind what is this tree. I’m concerned with the apple.”
One should therefore learn Bhagavad-gītā from a devotee of Kṛṣṇa, not from mental speculators. This is a sign of faith. When one searches for a devotee and fortunately gets a devotee’s association one actually begins to study and understand Bhagavad-gītā. By advancement in the association of the devotee one is placed in devotional service, and this service dispels all one’s misgivings about Kṛṣṇa, or God, and Kṛṣṇa’s activities, form, pastimes, name and other features. After these misgivings have been perfectly cleared away, one becomes ﬁxed in one’s study. Then one relishes the study of Bhagavad-gītā and attains the state of feeling always Kṛṣṇa conscious. In the advanced stage, one falls completely in love with Kṛṣṇa. This highest perfectional stage of life enables the devotee to be transferred to Kṛṣṇa’s abode in the spiritual sky, Goloka Vṛndāvana, where the devotee becomes eternally happy.
( BG 8.28p)
Today is Gita Jayanti, the most auspicious day when Sri Govindadeva spoke Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna. So it may be a good day to surrender ourselves to this transcendental scripture containing the very words spoken by the Supreme Lord Himself. And we may vow that from this very day I will become a humble servant of Sri Bhagavad Gita. I will serve my master by reading it daily. I will also serve by carefully studying Bhagavad Gita under the guidance of a pure devotee of Krishna and finally I will serve all humanity, considering every single soul to be my fellow brother, by sharing and distributing it without any prejudice or miserliness, by not hoarding the knowledge with myself. Let me pray, and then endeavor hard, to become the servant of the servant of the servant of the Pure devotee, Srila Prabhupada, who shared with us the very essence and purpose of Bhagavad Gita for the benefit of all humanity.
yatra yogeśvaraḥ kṛṣṇo yatra pārtho dhanur-dharaḥ
tatra śrīr vijayo bhūtir dhruvā nītir matir mama
Wherever there is Kṛṣṇa, the master of all mystics, and wherever there is Arjuna, the supreme archer, there will also certainly be opulence, victory, extraordinary power, and morality.
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.
As devotees when we move into a little more serious phase of our Krishna consciousness slowly but surely most of us develop a taste for to a very sweet and unique limb of bhakti – Vandanam, Prayer to Supreme Lord.
Offering worship to the Supreme Lord by praying means remembering His transcendental qualities, pastimes and activities.
(KB, chapter 87)
The Lord has unlimited transcendental qualities and opulences, and one who feels influenced by the Lord’s qualities in various activities offers prayers to the Lord. In this way he becomes successful.
Initial mood of our prayer and its futility.
People generally pray for material benefits: “O God, give us our daily bread. Give me nice position. Give me nice wife, nice following or this or victory,” so on, so on, so on, simply for material enjoyment. My Guru Mahäräja used to say that if we pray to God for all these nonsense things, it is just like a man goes to a king and the king says, “Whatever you want you can ask from me,” and if the man says, “Kindly give me a pinch of ashes.” It is like that. If we ask from God for some material benefit, it means that I am asking from a king a pinch of ashes. When king says that “You ask whatever you want,” he can say, “So give me half the kingdom.” That should be the prayer. And why a pinch of ash? Similarly, it is our foolishness. When we ask for bread, “O God, give us our daily bread,” that means I am asking. The bread is already there. Why for you? For everyone, for all living entities, the bread is already there given by God. Eko yo bahünäà vidadhäti kämän. The elephant is not going to the church for praying, “Give me food.” He is supplied in the jungle food. A tiger is supplied food. Even ant is supplied food within the hole. Who is going to supply food there? How they are eating? How they are living? How they are begetting children? The same thing is there. Ähära-nidrä-bhaya-maithuna—everything is there in the ant, in the elephant. Who is supplying their necessities? So this is not the problem, these rascals. They are simply perplexed with this problem, how to eat, how to sleep, how to defend. This is already fixed up according to your karma. You simply try—save your time—how to advance in Krishna consciousness. That is your own business. Otherwise you are spoiled. And so far these things are concerned, that how to eat, how to sleep, how to have sex life, and how to defend, this is already arranged. You cannot make betterment in this way. That is already fixed up. Prakåteù kriyamäëäni guëaiù karmäëi sarvaçaù [Bg. 3.27]. According to your lot, according to your karma, you have been fixed up that “You shall eat like this, you shall sleep like this, you’ll have sex life like this, and you will be able to defend like this, not more than that.” That is not possible. That is called destiny. So by destiny this is already fixed up. Don’t spoil your life for these things.
(Lecture, London, 20th August 1973)
What if I don’t even know How to Pray!
So here Prahläda Mahäräja says, éçvarasya mahi gåëämi: “I shall glorify the Lord.” “Oh, you are a child, sir. You are five years old. How you can glorify?” Yathä manéñam! “It doesn’t matter I am child! Whatever I have got, I shall express my feelings, ‘O God, O Lord, oh, You are so great.’ ” That’s all right. How you can describe or understand His glories? That is not possible. He’s unlimited. But whatever limitation you have got, if you express feelingly, “My God, My Lord,” that will be accepted. That will be accepted. So Caitanya Mahäprabhu therefore teaches us how to pray. This prayer is na dhanaà na janaà na sundarià kavitäà vä jagadéça kämaye [Cc. Antya 20.29, Shikshasta 4]. Everyone is praying to God with some interest. That is also good. If you go and pray to God, “Give me some money” or “Give me some relief,” “Give me a nice house, nice wife, nice foodstuff,” that is also good. But not so good as one is praying to God that “I don’t want any money I don’t want any number of followers. I don’t want any good wife, nice beautiful wife.” “Then what do you want?” “I want to serve You. That’s all.” Finish your prayer. That is the best prayer. “You are so good, You are so nice, You are so great that I want to be engaged in Your service. I am serving these rascals. They are not satisfied, I am not satisfied. Now I have come to You. Please engage me in Your service.” That is the last word of prayer.
(Lecture, Montreal, 18th August 1968)
The Lord is always seeking the opportunity to reclaim the fallen souls to His abode, the kingdom of God. We should always feel very much obliged to the Personality of Godhead, for He is always anxious to bring us into the happy condition of eternal life. There is no sufficient means to repay the Personality of Godhead for His act of benediction; therefore, we can simply feel gratitude and pray to the Lord with folded hands.
Our Prayers to Krishna produce Tangible Results!
We practically see that many sinful persons enter the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and after preliminary purification become most repentant for their previous illicit activities. They are shocked when they realize how they gave up the personal association of God to pursue the useless forms created by mäyä; therefore they wholeheartedly pray to the spiritual master and Lord Krishna to be engaged eternally in transcendental devotional service. Such a repentant, eager mentality is most auspicious for spiritual advancement. The Lord certainly answers the prayers of a repentant devotee desperate to escape the clutches of illusion.
What mood should we aspire for?
For a devotee there is no concern for this life or the next life because in any life he does not desire elevation in material prosperity or a high-grade or low-grade life. He prays to the Lord, “My dear Lord, it does not matter where I am born, but let me be born, even as an ant, in the house of a devotee.” A pure devotee does not pray to the Lord for liberation from this material bondage. Actually, the pure devotee never thinks that he is fit for liberation. Considering his past life and his mischievous activities, he thinks that he is fit to be sent to the lowest region of hell. If in this life I am trying to become a devotee, this does not mean that in my many past lives I was one-hundred-percent pious. That is not possible. A devotee, therefore, is always conscious of his real position. Only by his full surrender to the Lord, by the Lord’s grace, are his sufferings made shorter. As stated in Bhagavad-Gita, “Surrender unto Me, and I will give you protection from all kinds of sinful reaction.” That is His mercy. But this does not mean that one who has surrendered to the lotus feet of the Lord has committed no misdeeds in his past life. A devotee always prays, “For my misdeeds, may I be born again and again, but my only prayer is that I may not forget Your service.” The devotee has that much mental strength, and he prays to the Lord: “May I be born again and again, but let me be born in the home of Your pure devotee so that I may again get a chance to develop myself.”
In multiple lectures Srila Prabhupada advises us to chant this particular verse from Siksatakam as our daily prayer to Krishna.
“O son of Maharaja Nanda [Krishna], I am Your eternal servitor, yet somehow or other I have fallen into the ocean of birth and death. Please pick me up from this ocean of death and place me as one of the atoms at Your lotus feet.”
This is a very deep and advance verse but at our neophyte level it teaches us an invaluable key to pray ‘I am an eternal servant of Krishna who is seeking reinstatement in His service’.
Difficulties turn into opportunity!
We have also heard of prayers of Kunti maharani. She prays this when all the troubles of a royal princess- being made to live in jungles, continuously struggle to stay alive, endure her son’s and daughter-in-law constant humiliation, see the death of so many loved ones, seemed to be finally over. As Krishna is preparing to leave for Dwarka, she prays to Krishna:
“I wish that all those calamities would happen again and again so that we could see You again and again, for seeing You means that we will no longer see repeated births and deaths.”
Many of us will hesitate to pray like her but Srila Prabhupada offers us a very safe platform to pray when difficulties come in the life of a devotee.
A devotee does not consider a dangerous position to be dangerous, for in such a dangerous position he can fervently pray to the Lord in great ecstasy. Thus a devotee regards danger as a good opportunity. Tat te’nukampäà susamékñamäëaù. When a devotee is in great danger, he sees that danger to be the great mercy of the Lord because it is an opportunity to think of the Lord very sincerely and with undiverted attention. Tat te ‘nukampäà susamékñamäëo bhuïjäna evätma-kåtaà vipäkam (SB 10.14.8). He does not accuse the Supreme Personality of Godhead for having let His devotee fall into such a dangerous condition. Rather, he considers that dangerous condition to be due to his past misdeeds and takes it as an opportunity to pray to the Lord and offer thanks for having been given such an opportunity. When a devotee lives in this way, his salvation—his going back home, back to Godhead—is guaranteed.
Finally: I Am Yours!
One is immediately freed from the clutches of māyā if he seriously and sincerely says, ‘My dear Lord Krishna, although I have forgotten You for so many long years in the material world, today I am surrendering unto You. I am Your sincere and serious servant. Please engage me in Your service.
It is My vow that if one only once seriously surrenders unto Me, saying “My dear Lord, from this day I am Yours,” and prays to Me for courage, I shall immediately award courage to that person, and he will always remain safe from that time on.
A few months back I had the good fortune to get association of a senior Vaishanava. During the lecture one line that really touched my heart was the advice that we should daily pray to Prabhupada to ‘make me an instrument of your compassion in this very life time’. It was seemingly a simple statement but it touched my heart and I started following it since then. Just by praying like this daily to Srila Prabhupada had some effect on my dull consciousness, inspired me to some act and brought newer realisations.
I searched for this topic and found some very inspiring statements in scriptures, and particularly by Srila Prabhupada. I pray that below quotes will help every single follower of Srila Prabhupada to aspire to become his instrument of compassion in this very life time.
What was Srila Prabhupada’s mood?
The author of Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, very humbly submits that he is just trying to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness all over the world, although he humbly thinks himself unfit for this work. That should be the attitude of all preachers of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, following in the footsteps of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. We should never think of ourselves as great preachers, but should always consider that we are simply instrumental to the previous ācāryas, and simply by following in their footsteps we may be able to do something for the benefit of suffering humanity.
Pradyumna: “The author of Bhakti–Rasamrita–Sindhu, Srila Rupa Goswami, very humbly submits that he is just trying to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world, although he humbly thinks himself unfit for this work.”
Prabhupäda: Yes. Every Vaishanava, that is Vaishnava Sadachara, humble. Tṛṇād api sunīcena taror api sahiṣṇunā . Although Vaishnava knows everything, still he presents himself very humble, lower that the straw, humbler than the tree. Tṛṇād api sunīcena taror api sahiṣṇunā, amāninā mānadena, the devotee does not claim any so-called popular respect, false respect. They go on with their Krishna consciousness movement. If anyone wants some honor, he gives everyone honor. For him, he does not want any honor. What honor he’ll take? This material honor. Prahläda Mahäräja, when he was offered benediction by Lord Narasimhadeva, “You take any kind of benediction.” So Prahläda Mahäräja replied, “My dear Lord, I am born of a father, passionate, and I am always greedy about material opulence, naturally, because my father was like that. You are offering benediction. I can ask from you any kind of material opulence. I know that. But, what I shall do all these material opulences. I’ve seen my father was so strong materially, that when he was angry even the demigods trembled. He was so powerful. Now everything is finished within a second by You. So what is the value of this material opulence? Why shall I ask you all these nonsense. Kindly engage me, kindly engage me in the service of Your servant, that I want.” This is devotion. They don’t want anything. Kindly engage me nijunkaman ätmä däse. That is the prayer. So the devotees, they do not want anything material. They are not captivated by so-called followers. No. Na dhanaà na janam, janam means followers, na dhanaà na janaà na sundaréà kavitäà vä jagadéça kämaye [Cc. Antya 20.29, Shikshastaka 4]. What is this false power? Ekaç candras tamo hanti na ca tara sahasrasaù. If one disciple is enlivened with Krishna consciousness, he can work as the moon. Otherwise so many foolish followers, what they’ll do? Just like stars. Thousands and millions of stars, they cannot do anything. One moon is sufficient. Ekaç candras tamo hanti na ca tara sahasrasaù. So this Krishna consciousness movement, it is not required that everyone will be follower. That is not possible, because it is very difficult. But still, if one follower, sincere follower is there, it will go on. It will go on. Nobody can stop it. Go on.
Pradyumna: “That should be the attitude of all preachers of the Krishna consciousness movement, following in the footsteps of Srila Rupa Goswami. We should never think of ourselves as great preachers, but should always consider that we are simply instrumental to the previous acharayas.”
Prabhupäda: Yes, we should not be very much proud that “I have created wonderful.” Why? What wonderful? What? I am not a magician that I can create wonderful. Sometimes people, they give me so much honor. “Swami ji, you have created wonderful.” I do not feel that I have created wonderful. What I have done? I say that I, I do, I’m not a magician. I do not know how to create wonderful. I have simply Bhagavad-Gita, presenting Bhagavad-Gita as it is, that’s all. If there is any credit, this is only credit. Anyone can do it. The Bhagavad-Gita is there, and anyone can present Bhagavad-Gita as it is. So it will act wonderful. I am not a magician. I do not know the tricks of magics and the yoga-siddhi, I am creating (visual expression) like this. (laughter) I have no such power. Neither I do it. So I, my only credit is, I do not want to mix with this pure Bhagavad-Gita teaching, any rascaldom, that’s all. That is my credit. And whatever little miracle has been done, only on this principle. That’s all. Go on.
Pradyumna: “…and simply by following in their footsteps we may be able to do something for the benefit…”
Prabhupäda: Yes, the same thing. Our purpose should be to satisfy our predecessors.
tädera caraëa-sevi-bhakta-sane väsa
janame janame more ei abhiläsa
We cannot deviate from the path of the previous äcäryas. We must strictly follow. That is the qualification. We must follow their instruction. Therefore I repeatedly say to my students that “You chant Hare Krishna mantra sixteen rounds, and follow the regulative principles. Your strength is there.” … just like Himalayan mountain, nobody can push it. Very simple thing. It is so powerful. Yaha hoite sarva-siddhi haya. This is Caitanya Mahäprabhu’s request. Don’t deviate from the instruction. Then you will stand as strong as the Himalayan mountain. Very simple thing. Anyone can do. We are asking, following the footsteps of predecessor, Rupa Goswami, Caitanya Mahäprabhu. Caitanya Mahäprabhu’s instruction to Rupa Goswami, Rupanuga. Therefore we are called Rupanauga. Anuga. Anuga means following. Going, following the footsteps of Rupa Goswami. So as the, Rupa Goswami is following his predecessor, Caitanya Mahäprabhu, so we have to follow our predecessor. Then we will be successful. There is no doubt about it. Nobody can do any harm. Kaunteya pratijänéhi na me bhaktaù praëaçyati [BG. 9.31]. If you stick to the principle of following the footsteps of previous predecessor, evaà paramparä-präptam [Bg. 4.2], don’t add anything, don’t subtract anything, present as it is and keep your spiritual strength intact, then the preaching will go on. Nobody can disturb you.
That’s all. Thank you very much.
(Lecture, on NoD, Bombay, 9th January, 1973)
By the grace of Srila Prabhupada (BSST) the preaching work is going on nicely and the most important factor is that I have got a number of youthful American and European disciples who are helping me very seriously. As you know the western boys and girls are educated and trained up in practical life. They are spreading this movement better that any Indian could do. So whatever success is there, it is due to them; I am simply instrumental in giving them direction.
(Letter to HH B.S. Turya Shramy Maharaja, 8th April 1970)
Pray, but also act on it!
Arjuna is a great devotee of Krishna. Just imagine, he’s talking personally with Krishna, and Krishna is personally helping him. How much exalted he is! But still, Krishna is advising to work. Krishna never said, “Oh, Arjuna, you need not fight. You sit down silently. Actually, He was doing everything. At last He said, nimitta-mätraà bhava savyasäcin: “You are simply instrumental, and I am doing everything.” So Krishna does for the devotee everything, but it does not mean that he will sit down. It is not. This is not our Krishna consciousness movement that idle, creating some idlement. You must work for Krishna’s sake. That is the program.
(Lecture, New Vrindavana, 7th September, 1972)
Do we have a choice?
A conditioned soul is instrumental in the hands of the external energy, guëa-mayé mäyä, or the illusory energy of the Lord, and in the liberated stage the living entity is instrumental to the will of the Personality of Godhead directly. To be instrumental to the direct will of the Lord is the natural constitutional position of the living entity, whereas to be an instrument in the hands of the illusory energy of the Lord is material bondage for the living entity. In that conditioned state, the living entity speculates on the Absolute Truth and His different activities. But in the unconditioned stage the living entity directly receives knowledge from the Lord, and such a liberated soul acts flawlessly, without any speculative habit. The Bhagavad-Gita (10.10-11) confirms emphatically that the pure devotees, who are constantly engaged in the loving transcendental service of the Lord, are directly advised by the Lord, so much so that the devotee unwaveringly makes progress on the path home, back to Godhead.
And the result…
It is possible that some extremely powerful personality, within or without the universe, may sometimes show more power than the Lord Himself. Still the pure devotee knows that this power is a vibhuti delegated by the Lord, and such a delegated powerful living entity is never independent. Sri Hanuman ji crossed the Indian Ocean by jumping over the sea, and Lord Sri Ramachandra engaged Himself in marching over the bridge, but this does not mean that Hanuman ji was more powerful than the Lord. Sometimes the Lord gives extraordinary powers to His devotee, but the devotee knows always that the power belongs to the Personality of Godhead and that the devotee is only an instrument.
Beware! Don’t become proud.
Brahmä, who is only an assistant in the modes of creation, wanted to remain in his actual position as an instrument of the Lord instead of becoming puffed up by the false prestige of thinking himself the creator. That is the way of becoming dear to the Supreme Lord and receiving His benediction. Foolish men want to take credit for all creations made by them, but intelligent persons know very well that not a blade of grass can move without the will of the Lord; thus all the credit for wonderful creations must go to Him. By spiritual consciousness only can one be free from the contamination of material affection and receive the benedictions offered by the Lord.
Remain humble for whatever may receive
The devotee always thinks of himself as instrumental for anything successfully carried out, and he declines to take credit for anything done by himself.
Devotees of the Lord are engaged in the specific duty offered by the Lord, and such duties are successfully carried out without hindrance because they are ordained by the Lord. The credit of success goes not to the doer but to the Lord. But persons with a poor fund of knowledge take the credit of success into their own accounts and give nothing to the credit of the Lord. That is the symptom of the nondevotee class of men.
Although he’s doing all these things he knows that “I am not doing. Krishna is doing. I am simply instrumental. I am simply instrument.” That is the perfection.
(Lecture, New York, 27th August, 1966)
The devotees and associates of the Lord are completely surrendered souls. Thus they are transcendental instruments in the hands of the Lord and can be used in any way the Lord desires. The pure devotees also enjoy such pastimes of the Lord because they want to see Him happy. Devotees of the Lord never assert independent individuality; on the contrary, they utilize their individuality in pursuit of the desires of the Lord, and this cooperation of the devotees with the Lord makes a perfect scene of the Lord’s pastimes.
Once one of the disciple asked Srila Prabhupada: “Prabhupada, are you in my heart ?”
Prabhupada replied “If you let me in!”
So this is a big question. Are we prepared to do that?
Last year there was an incident where I received a major chastisement because of not having properly understood the unique position of Srila Prabhupada. Well, I thought I understood his position but unknowingly and subtly I got led in way that would have meant exactly the opposite! The repercussion for me was polite but very grave, something I had never experienced in my spiritual or even in my material life. It was something I would carry whole life as it taught me a little what is meant by Guru Nishtha (firm faith in spiritual master).
Few days back I stumbled on a very unique correspondence between Srila Prabhupada and one of his most sincere disciples, HH Tamal Krishna Goswami, which I had read almost one a half years back but for some reasons I had saved it. Here, Srila Prabhupada also shares his present and previous life and explains the position of a spiritual master. As I read it again and again I understood a little better why the reaction I received was so severe and why must I be thankful for it till eternity.
Reading it, I also realised the importance of taking a break from the ‘auto-mode’ in our spiritual life and contemplate on important issues surrounding us.
I am sharing the same correspondence below and I pray that the readers get the intended message. I am first sharing the letter which HH Tamal Krishna Maharaj received from Srila Prabhupada and then his thought process and contemplation. This correspondence also shows the level of simplicity and openness which existed between Srila Prabhupada and his disciples. I have taken the liberty to highlight some portions, here it goes.
Prabhupada’s next letter arrived. Srila Prabhupada said:
Los Angeles, California, June 21st 1970
My Dear Tamal,
Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 18th June, 1970, sent by Special Delivery Air Mail.
Krishna philosophy is understood as it is stated in the Vedas:
yasya deve para bhakti yathadeve tatha gurou
tasya ete kathitha hi artha prakasante mahatmanah
“One who has got unflinching faith in the Supreme Lord and similar faith in his Spiritual Master to him only the imports of Vedic knowledge become revealed.”
A Spiritual Master is always liberated. In any condition of His life He should not be mistaken as ordinary human being. This position of a Spiritual Master is achieved by three processes. One is called sadhan siddha. That means one who is liberated by executing the regulative principles of devotional service. Another is kripa siddha, one who is liberated by the mercy of Krsna or His devotee. And another is nitya siddha who is never forgetful of Krsna throughout his whole life. These are the three features of the perfection of life.
So far Narada Muni is concerned, in His previous life He was a maidservant’s son, but by the mercy of the devotees He later on became siddha and next life He appeared as Narada with complete freedom to move anywhere by the grace of the Lord. So even though He was in His previous life a maidservant’s son there was no impediment in the achievement of His perfect spiritual life. Similarly any living entity who is conditioned can achieve the perfectional stage of life by the above mentioned processes and the vivid example is Narada Muni.
So I do not know why you have asked about my previous life. Whether I was subjected to the laws of material nature? So, even though accepting that I was subjected to the laws of material nature, does it hamper in my becoming Spiritual Master? What is your opinion? From the life of Narada Muni it is distinct that although He was a conditioned soul in His previous life, there was no impediment of His becoming the Spiritual Master. This law is applicable not only to the Spiritual Master, but to every living entity.
There are thousands of examples explained in our books that the conditioned soul is never affected with the material body. It is said in the Vedas asamga ayam purusa, which means the living entity is always unaffected with matter. Another example is given that the reflection of the moon on water appears to be moving, but actually the moon is not moving, it is fixed up. So any living entity is like that. His reflection on the material body appears to be changing, but the spirit soul is fixed up, therefore this movement is called illusion.
Liberation means liberation from this changing condition. So far I am concerned, I cannot say what I was in my previous life, but one great astrologer calculated that I was previously a physician and my life was sinless. Besides that, to corroborate the statement of Bhagavad Gita “sucinam srimatam gehe yogabhrasta samyayate” which means an unfinished yogi takes birth in rich family or born of a suci or pious father. By the grace of Krishna I got these two opportunities in the present life to be born of a pious father and brought up in one of the richest, aristocratic families of Calcutta (Kasinath Mullick). The Radha Krsna Deity in this family called me in 1966 to meet Him, and therefore last time when I was in Calcutta, I stayed in that temple along with my American disciples. Although I had immense opportunities to indulge in the four principles of sinful life because I was connected with a very aristocratic family, Krsna always saved me, and throughout my whole life I do not know what is illicit sex, intoxication, meat-eating or gambling. So far my present life is concerned; I do not remember any part of my life when I was forgetful of Krsna.
Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
Upon reading this letter I was stunned as if jolted by an electric current. Literally I lost strength and had to sit down. As I sat alone in the temple, my mind reeled. I had not at all been prepared for such a letter.
Again I reread it to be sure that I had understood Prabhupada’s mood rightly. He was firm and straightforward in his defence of the spiritual master’s absolute position. I had committed a great blunder, which Srila Prabhupada by his causeless mercy had not tolerated. When previously I had committed the indiscretion of asking permission to chant the names of the gopis, he had only mildly replied that there was no need. But there was no such indulgence in this letter. The matter was far too serious. I had raised a question about his previous life and whether he had been subjected to the laws of material nature. Prabhupada sensed a doubt inherent in my questioning. If such doubt existed and was not at once quelled, my spiritual life would be undermined at its very foundation. Considering the gravity of the subject, Srila Prabhupada’s mood was extremely tempered.
I tried to examine my motives. Why had I asked such a question? I had been studying the life of Narada Muni from the First Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam. From my reading I had gotten the impression that at one time he was an ordinary, conditioned soul. That had led me to wonder about Srila Prabhupada’s previous life and whether he had also been conditioned at some previous time. But I felt no uncertainty about Narada Muni’s infallibility, nor of Srila Prabhupada’s. Narada Muni was traveling from planet to planet liberating the entire universe by spreading the glories of the Maha-Mantra, and Prabhupada was doing the same in this world on his behalf. Srila Prabhupada was actually my life and soul, and I meant exactly as I had written in a previous letter; everything I had, including myself, was his to do with as he wished. Surely Srila Prabhupada knew the depth of my sincerity. Then why such a strong letter?
I concluded that Prabhupada was taking no chances. If there was even a pinch of distrust for his transcendental position that unsealed flaw would one day crack my spiritual life.And like a fire, it had to be put out at once, thoroughly. Left to its own ways, doubt, like fire, could consume everything in its path. Unflinching faith in one’s spiritual master was the key to success in spiritual life. Lord Caitanya, though the Supreme Personality of Godhead, explained that total faith in His spiritual master’s words was the cause of His achieving success in the matter of chanting Hare Krsna. In contrast, a faithless disciple loses the thread of devotional service and eventually his lips cannot even form the shape of the holy names of the Lord.
My question had arisen in regard to Narada Muni’s previous life: Was it wrong to think of him as ordinary at the time? Prabhupada’s answer was clear: “In any condition of his life he should not be mistaken as ordinary human being.” Just as when we think of famous wealthy men of the world like Rockefeller or Ford, we may hear of their early struggles when they may even have been poor. But that does not cloud our vision of them as being fabulously wealthy. Rather, their early life is precursory as the fertile ground in which the seed of their good fortune was sown. Their present stature does not allow us to view them as ever having been ordinary poor men. How much more so in the case of great liberated souls, as evidenced by the wonderful activities of Narada Muni, who began as a maidservant’s son! His were not the activities of an ordinary low-class boy; otherwise why would the author of the Bhagavatam, Srila Vyasadeva, have bothered to include the incidents of his previous life? Such narrations are of the utmost interest because they ultimately resulted in his becoming the great transcendentalist Narada Muni. Therefore the spiritual master is always liberated, and none of his activities-present or previous-should ever be thought of as ordinary.
The Vedic literatures are full of examples of great personalities who took their birth in seemingly common circumstances. The great devotee Vidura, though born in the womb of a sudrani, enlightened the great king Maharaja Yudhisthira. Haridasa Thakura, a Muslim by birth, was elevated as the namacarya for the whole world. The prayers of Kunti devi, a woman, are revered by great liberated sages. And there are hundreds of other similar examples. If one’s birth in this lifetime is not a criterion for judgment, then what to speak of one’s previous life? I could answer Srila Prabhupada with certainty that one’s past in no way hampered one’s becoming a spiritual master. Srila Prabhupada, both in his lectures and his books, has made this very evident. In Teachings of Lord Caitanya he explains this point clearly:
Whatever position one may have, if he is fully conversant with the science of Krsna, Krsna consciousness, he can become a bona fide spiritual master, initiator, a teacher of this science. In other words one can become a bona fide spiritual master if he has sufficient knowledge of the science of Krsna, Krsna consciousness. The position does not depend on a particular position in society or on birth. This is the conclusion of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and it is in accordance with the Vedic injunctions….In ancient days there was even a hunter named Dharma, who became a spiritual master for many people.
My question had betrayed an even more basic misunderstanding about the identity of the soul in regard to the body. To demonstrate that the soul is unaffected by its material surroundings, Prabhupada cited the example that the moon appears to move in its reflection on water, despite its actual steady position in the firmament. That apparent movement is factually the rippling effect of the water, not the movement of the moon itself. The Bhagavad Gita and other Vedic literatures contain numerous statements confirming the soul’s transcendence over matter:
Those with the vision of eternity can see that the soul is transcendental, eternal, and beyond the modes of nature. Despite contact with the material body, O Arjuna, the soul neither does anything nor is entangled.
The sky, due to its subtle nature, does not mix with anything, though it is all-pervading. Similarly, the soul, situated in Brahman vision, does not mix with the body, though it is situated in that body. (Bg. 13.32-33)
My question was most inappropriate, because the spiritual master, as the direct manifestation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s mercy feature, is never considered within the category of ordinary conditioned souls. Lest any doubts linger after citing the conclusions of scripture, Srila Prabhupada put his personal life before me as evidence. Though, connected with a wealthy aristocratic family, he had had immense opportunity for sinful life, throughout his whole life he had never indulged in intoxication, meat-eating, nor engaged in gambling or illicit sex. Most strikingly, Srila Prabhupada stated that throughout his whole life he was never forgetful of Krsna. In fact, Krsna was personally protecting him and had saved him on numerous occasions. Srila Prabhupada said that the Radha-Krsna Deity in his family’s Calcutta home had personally called him back to Calcutta. These were unusual admissions for Srila Prabhupada to make. Due to his natural humility as Krsna’s pure devotee, he rarely spoke of his own purity and intimate relationship with Krsna. But his prodding disciple had now forced these statements out.
And the evidence was clear for all to see. As Narada Muni was krpa siddha, having been liberated by the mercy of Krsna and His devotees, Srila Prabhupada as much as admitted to his own exalted position as a nitya-siddha devotee of the Lord. By his own statements, he had never, ever forgotten Krsna, not even in his last life, as the calculations of one great astrologer revealed.
I felt ashamed that I had ever asked Srila Prabhupada such a question. What I did not know at the time was that Srila Prabhupada’s lengthy response was not prompted merely by my thoughtless query. In America some of his disciples had committed serious discrepancies in regard to this very same matter. Srila Prabhupada had reason to suspect that some of his Godbrothers in India, due to envy, were influencing his disciples to doubt in his bonafidity. I was completely unaware that such a thing was going on. I had thought Prabhupada’s letter to be an isolated issue, when in fact it had been written at a highly sensitive time when an actual attempt was being made to minimize his position as the founder-acarya of ISKCON.
Srila Prabhupada’s instructions, because they are based on Vedic conclusions, do not become irrelevant due to the passage of time. The transcendental stature of the spiritual master, irrespective of birth or other social considerations, will always be accepted by learned men. Srila Prabhupada’s life should be seen as the performance of a great transcendental personality who appeared on the stage of Kali-yuga. Though he himself is timeless and could have been equally well suited to any one of the ages, he never lost sight of the historical significance of his appearance. As sastra-caksus, he always rested his words and deeds upon the authority of the Vedas. Yet as the great preaching acarya for this age, he spoke and acted considering fully the needs of the generations yet to come. The legacy of his appearance in the form of his books, his disciples, and the worldwide institution of ISKCON will be able to nourish all spiritually minded men through the duration of this age.
Only the poor-hearted, the materialists, the envious, could fail to find sufficiency in ‘Srila Prabhupada’s magnanimous gifts. For such unfortunates, his books will remain a mystery, his disciples an enigma, his spiritual institution a material organization.
(Biographies and Glorifications of Srila Prabhupada-Servant of the Servant-The European Yatra-Le Sankirtana Parisien-Tamala Krsna Goswami)
So as his followers and grand children we must develop absolute faith in the mercy and potency of Srila Prabhupada, this alone is sustaining ISKCON and its ever increasing members. Srila Prabhupada is the primary shiksha Guru of all ISKCON devotees. Therefore, we must first carefully study all his books, not just merely read them, and we will find how he has given the essence of Mahaprabhu’s and previous acharayas teachings. Finally, we should daily beg and pray to receive association of those devotees whose pure heart have Srila Prabhupada’s lotus feet in them. Only then we can make our life successful in this very lifetime.