Please hear this heart-touching incident which shows that there is no limit to the compassion of our dear Srila Prabhupada-
It was the beginning of 1977. Prabhupada was in the Bombay temple. He was very sick. He had stopped all food intake – he was taking 1/4 a cup of orange juice per day. His body had only bones left – there was no flesh. And yet, he was insisting that he wanted to go to London. The doctors had given up responsibility. But as always, he was adamant.
At this time, one Pancaratrika Pandit from Bangalore named Sampat Kumar Bhattacarya came to know about Srila Prabhupada’s situation. So, he took a flight from Bangalore to Bombay – which in those days was a huge thing for a Brahmin priest – and met Prabhupada, and asked for a private meeting. Generally, nobody was allowed a private meeting, but when he said that he specially came by flight from Bangalore to meet Srila Prabhupada, he was allowed a private meeting. So, everybody was asked to go out, and they talked.
The conversation was like this: Sampat Kumar: ‘Swamiji, I am feeling very pained that you are suffering like this.’
Prabhupada (laying down, in broken words): ‘The whole world is meant for suffering. Dukhalayam asavatam.’
Sampat Kumar: ‘But still Swamiji, there are so many people depending on you. So when you suffer, they suffer.
Prabhupada: ‘What can I do?’
Bhattacarya: ‘Swamiji, I want to tell you something. In Vrindavan temple, they are having your deity on the altar. And all kinds of people are coming and praying to it and offering flowers to it, and you are still living. According to Pancaratra, when the Acarya is living, if he puts his deity on the altar, then all the sufferings people are having come to his body through the deity. So you please tell your disciples to worship your deity only after you leave your body.’
He was speaking as if he was giving some information to Prabhupada, which Prabhupada did not note.
Prabhupada: ‘I know. I came here to take their suffering.’
Bhattacarya was shocked. He was not giving any new information. This was well known to Prabhupada, and he was determined to suffer for others.
Prabhupada: ‘Do you have anything else to say?’
Bhattacarya: ‘Swamiji, if that is your wish, what can I say? I am only a priest.’
Prabhupada: ‘Even when I leave, I will keep continuing taking their suffering, and make them free so they can keep chanting Hare Krishna.’
(Told by HG Atma Tattva Das in a Bhagavad Gita class on 9.34 in Los Angeles on the 20th of March 1993)
Yes. Those who are spiritually advanced, their photograph and ordinary photograph is different. Just like here is statue of Kṛṣṇa. He’s not different from Kṛṣṇa. The original person Kṛṣṇa and this statue of Kṛṣṇa is the same. Similarly, a spiritually perfect person and his photograph is the same. Because it is in the absolute stage. In the absolute stage there is no difference. In the material stage there is difference. Is that clear?
We can see that Srila Prabhupada has not disappeared. He is very much here- for us- in every temple, in every devotee’s home and in the heart of his dear followers. We simply need to put our prayer at his lotus feet- he is a unique combination of mercy and potency.
I am posting a blog after a long gap. What better to start by reading some nectar from Srila Prabhupada. I am sharing a very instructing excerpt from a lecture Srila Prabhupada gave in Vrindavan in 1972. Please read it carefully.
Prabhupada– So, in devotional service there are three stages,” “The kanistha-adhikari, the madhyam-adhikari, and the uttama-adhikari, or beginning, middle, and advanced stages. In the beginning, kanistha-adhikari, the devotee engages in Deity worship, makes offerings to the Deity, cleans the floor, etcetera. This isn’t to say that Deity worship is lower than meditation. It’s just the beginning stage.
“Sometimes the kanistha-adhikari thinks that he has realized Krishna just because he has worshiped the Deity nicely, but he must make further advancement. When we say ‘Krishna,’ we do not refer to Krishna alone, but to all of His energies and paraphernalia. When we say, ‘The king is coming’ we don’t mean that the king is coming alone. His ministers, secretaries, queens, soldiers—everyone is coming. Similarly, Krishna is the root of all emanations, and when He comes, His devotees also come with Him. When we recognize Krishna’s devotees and pay them respects, we are further advanced. If a pure devotee comes, the pujari can immediately stop the aratik and go to receive him. Krishna is satisfied more when His devotee is worshiped. That’s a fact.
“Yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado yasya prasadan na gatih kuto’pi. The spiritual master is the representative of God because he’s engaged twenty-four hours daily in Krishna’s service. The spiritual master is considered as good as Hari because he’s Krishna’s most confidential servant. Worship of the spiritual master is not artificial or concocted: it’s recommended in all the Shastras. Advanced devotees accept this and treat the spiritual master accordingly.
“Although the spiritual master is offered respects like Hari, he doesn’t think himself Hari. He considers his disciples to be his spiritual masters. He thinks, ‘Krishna has sent me so many spiritual masters.’ He doesn’t even think of himself as a guru but as a servant to his disciples, because Krishna has given him the task to train them.
“When one is advanced, he can see the importance of other devotees. An advanced devotee never offends another devotee. That is a very serious offense. Therefore we address one another as ‘Prabhu.’ This should not simply be spoken with the lips. It should be realized. One should think of other devotees as his prabhus, his masters. Not that he should try to become master himself.
We should always be willing to offer respects not only to other devotees but to everyone. Everyone. Why? Because every living entity is originally a devotee of Krishna. Circumstantially, being covered by the modes of nature, he seems like a demon, but his original nature is that of Krishna’s servant.
“The process of bhakti really begins when one is self-realized. Before that, if one engages in Deity worship yet thinks that he is the body and does not give respect to devotees, he is at the first stage, kanistha-adhikari. Although seated on the material platform, he’s trying to improve his condition by following the directions of the spiritual master and Shastra.
“We should not remain perpetual neophytes. We should try to advance to madhyam-adhikari. On this platform, we distinguish between four different kinds of living entities: Krishna, Krishna’s devotees, innocent people, and atheists. We should not superficially say, ‘In my view, everyone is the same.’ Of course, that is the last stage, but because we are neophyte, this is not our vision. This vision of the maha-bhagavat should never be imitated. Imitation is artificial.
“In the second stage, that of madhyam-adhikari, one treats all types of men according to their position and tries to increase his love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead and also make friends with the devotees. He doesn’t envy the devotees. If a devotee is superior, we should take lessons from him; if equal, we should make friends with him; and if lower, we should try to help him.
“A madhyam-adhikari does not simply give respect to other devotees: he teaches others to become devotees as well. This means preaching. A preacher should approach others and say, ‘You’re wasting your life in material activities. You should become Krishna’s devotee.’ This is preaching. One should preach Krishna consciousness to the innocent. The atheists should be avoided because as soon as an atheist hears about God, he becomes envious and vicious.
“At the last stage, that of maha-bhagavat or uttama-adhikari, one doesn’t see devotees and nondevotees. He sees everyone as a better devotee than himself. Nor does he pretend to have this consciousness. No. He actually thinks like this. He’s naturally humble: he wants to pay respects to everyone, and he wants no respect for himself. If one wants respect for himself, he’s still at the secondary stage. The maha-bhagavat is ready to give respect even to an ant.
“When one attains this highest platform, there’s no more friend, no more enemy, no more preaching. The maha-bhagavat sees everyone engaged in the Lord’s service, with the exception of himself. This platform, however, should not be imitated. It must be sincere, not superficial.
“Those who are preachers must remain on the second platform, that of madhyam-adhikari. Even when a maha-bhagavat wants to preach, he must come down to that second platform. He cannot remain on the highest and preach. He plays the part of second-class devotee. For instance, in the Bible, Lord Jesus Christ said, ‘I have many things to say, but you are not qualified to understand them.’
There are many gems in the above excerpt. However I wish to focus upon if we could see how Srila Prabhupada expects every ISKCON devotee to graduate to the level of a madhyam-adhikari, he does not want us to become complacent in Bhakti, which affects many of us. He also instructs us what qualities an aspiring devotee should develop to come to the platform of a madhyam-adhikari.
There is nothing bad in being in a primary school, everyone has to go through it but one does not remain in a primary school, one graduates to secondary school. The same is true for Krishna consciousness as well.
And lastly, we heard how important it is to be engaged in preaching service, which attracts even a Maha-bhagavat or an uttama-adhikari to come down to the level of a madhayam-adhikari. Like Srila Prabhupada did.
In the next blog, I will share from the above-quoted lecture, Srila Prabhupada’s instruction on how to preach properly.
I wrote about why devotees suffer in my last blog. Today I am sharing how devotees can find purpose in pain. A lifeline which the devotees can use to turn the negative into an uplifting experience. We can see the suffering of devotees from many angles of vision, this is just one of the ways to look at it, based upon our level of faith.
Find purpose in pain
1. Kindergarten: As a wake-up call, to understand that this world is a place of miseries, this body is an instrument to receive pain, I won’t find happiness here.
This material world is certified by the Supreme Lord, the creator, as duḥkhālayam. Duḥkhālayam means “the place of miseries.” And how you can make it comfortable? Can you make it comfortable by your so-called advancement of science? No. It is not possible. But we do not know what is duḥkha, or what is suffering. Real duḥkha is, real suffering is, birth and death, old age and disease. But we have set aside. Because we cannot make solution of these things, we don’t care for it.
2. Primary school: Helps us get a sense of urgency. It helps us to wake up from a sense of complacency, which may cover us after we have spent some time in Krishna consciousness. Our real home is somewhere else.
Sometimes Krsna may put us into some difficulty just to purify us and force us to advance in Krsna consciousness. The devotee should always see his difficulty in this light, that Krsna is so kind upon me for creating this condition of struggling, thus He is relieving me of so many billions of lifetime of sinful reactions by this very insignificant and temporary condition of suffering something.
One who possesses good intelligence can deliberate properly and save himself from many dangerous conditions. In material existence there is danger at every step. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.14.58) it is said: padaṁ padaṁ yad vipadāṁ na teṣām. This material world is not actually a place of residence for an intelligent person or a devotee because here there is danger at every step. Vaikuṇṭha is the real home for the devotee, for there is no anxiety and no danger. Good intelligence means becoming Kṛṣṇa conscious.
3. Secondary school: Knowing something of nature of the material world and that Krsna is the cause of all causes devotees at this level stay focused on the goal and tolerate suffering
Everyone is suffering who has got this material body. That is the condition. If you have got material body, you must suffer. It is not the question of European, American or white, black. There is no such question. If you are animal or man, as soon as you have got this material body, you must suffer. This is condition. This is material condition. Therefore our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is not meant for, I mean to say, mitigating the so-called sufferings of the body. When there is body, there must be suffering. So we should not be very much disturbed by the sufferings of the body.
4. Graduate: They understand the philosophy and by their own experience they have realised that Krishna is sending them a message. Krishna wants us to learn something or develop some quality we lack. Devotees at this level gladly accept any suffering as the mercy of Krishna. They find purpose in pain.
A devotee is naturally so humble and meek that he accepts any condition of life as a blessing from the Lord. Tat te ‘nukampāṁ susamīkṣamāṇaḥ (SB 10.14.8). A devotee always accepts punishment from anyone as the mercy of the Lord. If one lives in this conception of life, he sees whatever reverses occur to be due to his past misdeeds, and therefore he never accuses anyone. On the contrary, he becomes increasingly attached to the Supreme Personality of Godhead because of his being purified by his suffering. Suffering, therefore, is also a process of purification.
5. Postgraduate: Give me more! The pain or suffering becomes an impetus to remember Krishna. We see it very clearly in the prayers of Kunti maharani, whom Srila Prabhupada called ‘the most intelligent woman’.
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.
Constantly remembering the lotus feet of the Lord means preparing for liberation from birth and death. Therefore, even though there are so-called calamities, they are welcome because they give us an opportunity to remember the Lord, which means liberation.
Irrespective of our level of advancement or consciousness, we should have faith in Krishna. We should know that nothing is happening by chance, there is a reason behind it and Krishna is in control.
Krishna does not like to see His sincere devotee suffer or become frustrated or depressed. He will not stand idly by in any such case, so do not fear on that account. Krishna has got some plan for you, always think in that way, and very soon He will provide everything to your heart’s desire.
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.
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.
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.
I hope and pray that the above compilation helps us to find purpose in pain, by turning our angle of vision. We should have firm faith that sincere and surrendered devotees do not receive karmic reactions rather they only receive Krishna’s mercy- bitter or sweet, both are good for us.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
p.s.- I will be happy to receive your comments or corrections.
These are difficult times and we see suffering all around us. Especially we have seen Indians suffer severely in the second wave of COVID and our heart and prayers are with everyone at this time of difficulty. However, we see devotees also suffer during such times and sometimes as neophytes we may wonder why devotees suffer, I am already under the shelter of Krishna. However, as per scriptures, a devotee’s suffering is not the same as that of an ordinary person, devotees do not suffer karmic reactions, they may look same but are completely different. A karmi eats grains and vegetables and a devotee also eats the same, however, there is a completely different effect on both. One is under the control of material energy whereas the other is under the control of Krishna. Hence mature devotees accept their so-called suffering also as the mercy of Krishna and great devotees like Kunti maharani pray for more suffering as it facilitates deeper remembrance of Krishna.
Today I came across the below conversation which may help us understand why devotees suffer.
Devotee: Srila Prabhupada, sometimes people argue that if there is no God, it doesn’t matter what I do, and if there is a God, then He is controlling everything and it still doesn’t matter what I do, because everything is predetermined anyway. In either case, I am free to do anything I like.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, but why do you suffer?
Devotee: Well, it’s all God’s plan. I suffer according to God’s plan.
Srila Prabhupada: No. It is not God’s plan that you suffer; you suffer because you violate God’s laws. He is controlling everything, but He has given you minute independence: you can either follow His laws or violate them. But you are so foolish that you do not understand you are suffering. Your position is like that of the cats and dogs, who also cannot understand that they are suffering.
Our point is that you are suffering because you have violated God’s laws, and if you become obedient to God you will not suffer. But you are such a fool, such a rascal, that you do not even know that you are suffering.
Devotee: But the devotees also seem to be suffering.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, but they are not suffering like the nondevotees. Material life, which is the cause of suffering, is like a disease, and devotees are giving up this diseased condition of life for Krishna consciousness. If you are suffering from some disease, you cannot expect to be cured immediately. But one who is taking the medicine is very intelligent. His sufferings will soon be gone. But these nondevotee rascals will not even take the medicine—Krishna consciousness—so they will continue to suffer. To man
And for the most part, devotees enjoy. Why are you always chanting Hare Krishna and dancing unless you are enjoying?
Devotee: Sometimes I get a sick stomach, too.
Srila Prabhupada: That’s because you have a material body. But your suffering is just like the movement of a fan that has been switched off. The fan is still moving, but the switch is off; so it will soon stop. Similarly, your suffering will soon stop, because you are acting on the spiritual platform. And after giving up this body, you will have a completely blissful life. As Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita [4.9], tyaktva deham punar janma naiti:
“After giving up the body, a devotee doesn’t take birth again in the material world.” You are not going to get another material body, full of suffering. That is your advantage.
But these nondevotee rascals are going to continue getting body after body, all full of suffering. They will have to accept one body and suffer, and then again they’ll have to give up that body and take another body and suffer. As long as one accepts a material body he will have to suffer, because having a material body means suffering. So those who are not Krishna conscious will change bodies one after another and continue to suffer the threefold miseries [those caused by the body and mind, those caused by other living beings, and those caused by natural calamities].
But devotees, even if they appear to be undergoing some suffering, will eventually give up the material body and remain in their spiritual body, free from all suffering.
Devotee: [taking the position of a materialist] That is simply your faith.
Srila Prabhupada: And it is your faith that you do not believe it. We are accepting the words of the Bhagavad-gita on faith, so we have a chance of getting promoted to the spiritual world. But you have no faith, so you are sure to continue suffering in the material world. We are at least willing to take the chance, but you are so foolish that you are not willing to take the chance. So your suffering is sure to continue.
Devotee: Indians often say, “Well, I will take the chance when Krishna wishes. His will is supreme, so whenever He wishes He will make me Krishna conscious.”
Srila Prabhupada: In the Bhagavad- gita [18.66], Krishna says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam sharanam vraja: “Give up all your nonsense and surrender unto Me. Become Krishna conscious.” So, Krishna wishes that you surrender to Him. Why don’t you obey His wish?
Devotee: Why does Krishna arrange for the pleasures of sense gratification if they only bring us suffering?
Srila Prabhupada: Again, the same answer: Krishna has given us minute independence—we can use our senses for either sense gratification or for serving Him, which is the real pleasure of the senses. The senses are meant for enjoyment, but if you try to enjoy your senses in a diseased way—by gratifying them—that is your misfortune, and you will have to suffer. You have to cure your disease by becoming Krishna conscious. Then you will enjoy unlimitedly.
We are not like the Mayavadis [impersonalists], who want to destroy the senses and become senseless. That is not our program. We want to purify the senses (sarvopadhi- vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam). Suppose a man cannot see because he has glaucoma. The mayavada program is that if your eye is giving you trouble and you cannot see, pluck it out. That is not our program. We want to cure the disease so you can see very nicely. So, our senses should be cured of the material disease by our practicing Krishna consciousness. Then we will be able to enjoy real sense pleasure by using our senses in the service of Hrishikesha [Krishna], the master of the senses.
(Morning walk, April 1975, Mayapur)
This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.
One morning Prabhupāda arrived in the park, stepped out of his car, and waited for the devotees who had come in another car to join him. Līlāvatī had difficulty getting out of the car because she had her baby, Subhadrā, in a carrier on her back. When she finally did get out of the car, Prabhupāda turned and laughed at her, saying, “Ah, burden of affection.” “Yes, Swamiji,” Līlāvatī replied. They all began to walk together along the path.
“So there are two ways to carry a baby,” Prabhupāda said, tapping his cane on the ground in time with his regular stride. “There is the monkey way and the cat way. Do you know this?”
“No, Swamiji,” said Līlāvatī.
“Well, which way do you think is better?” Prabhupāda asked her. “The monkey way or the cat way?” She couldn’t understand or imagine what he meant. Prabhupāda continued, “The monkey baby climbs on the back of the mother and holds on, and this is the way he travels. And the kitten is carried in the teeth of the mother. So which is better?”
Līlāvatī could still not understand which way could be better; they both sounded very difficult to her.
“Well,” Prabhupāda said, “the monkey baby is very small and very weak, and he is holding on to the mother by his own strength. But the kitten is being supported by the strength of the mother. So which way do you think is better?”
And then she understood. “The cat way is better.”
“Yes,” Prabhupāda said, “that is the difference between the yogī and the devotee. The yogī is trying to climb on the back of the Absolute Truth by his own strength, but he is very weak, so he will fall. But a devotee, he cries out for Krishna” – and as he spoke the word Krishna, Prabhupāda held his arms up high and looked up at the clear morning sky – “A devotee cries out for Krishna, and Krishna picks him up.”
A few days back I heard a lecture by Srila Prabhupada where Prabhupada spoke about an essential quality of any disciple- inquisitiveness. We make progress in Krishna consciousness by asking questions, clarifying our doubts. This is a Vedic principle and a key part of guru-disciple relationship. Srila Prabhupada famously said ‘asking questions is a sign of intelligence’. I am sharing part of the transcription of the lecture below –
People should be engaged always inquiring about progress of spiritual life. That is advancement. Bodhayantaḥ parasparam. There should be constantly discussion. So this is jijñāsu.
And to dissipate this ignorance, get out of this ignorance, one has to approach a person who is not abodha but bodha, budhā. Budhā bhāva-samanvitāḥ: one who has known what is the destination of life. That budhā . . . What is that? Bhajante ananya manaso budhā bhāva-samanvitāḥ (BG 10.8). So one has to approach a budhā.
Therefore Lord Buddha’s name is Buddha, from this bodha. He has understood everything. He was prince, and he never came out of the palace, and when he came out he saw one old man with a stick, with great difficulty walking. So inquired his servants, “What is this?” “This is old man. Everyone has to become like this.” That was the inspiration of understanding. “Why he should be like that? Why one should become old man? Why he should walk on sticks?” So these inquiries made him Buddha, Lord Buddha, by meditation. That is his pastime.
That means one should understand by nature study, why this man is diseased, why this man is old, why this man is suffering. Then bodhayantaḥ parasparam, then the inquisitiveness can lead him to the proper knowledge. And where to get that proper knowledge? That is guru. Tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet (MU 1.2.12). But if there is no inquiry, if one is dull like stone and tree, then how there will be inquiry?
So our education at the present moment is given just dull like stone and trees. Trees standing, cutting. No inquiry. “Why you are cutting?” He cannot. So dull. But this inquisitiveness should be enthused. People should be enthused to inquire: ādau gurvāśrayaṁ sad-dharma pṛcchāt. Sad-dharma pṛcchāt. That inquisitive must be . . . Guru means . . . To accept guru means the disciple should be very very eager to know. Sad-dharma pṛcchāt. Ādau gurvāśrayam. Why you accept a guru? “It is a fashion.” One should be very inquisitive: sad-dharma pṛcchāt.
And everywhere the same thing. Paripraśna. Tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā (BG 4.34). But don’t make inquiries cheap: “Ah, here is my guru, and he’s meant for answering all my questions. Let me go on questioning, questioning, questioning.” No.Sevayā: you must serve him. You must be ready to serve him. Then you have got right to make question. Otherwise not.
Two things. First of all, you must find out a person where you can fully surrender, praṇipātena. And then you can inquire, and the inquiry should be compensated by seva. Yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasāda. Sevonmukhe hi jihvādau svayam eva sphuraty adaḥ. The more you are inclined to render seva, the more the truth becomes revealed. yasya deve parā bhaktir, yathā-deve tathā gurau, tasyaite kathitā hy arthāḥ, prakaśante. It is a different science. The more you are inclined to render service, the more the spiritual truth becomes revealed.
And two things: if you are not inquisitive, don’t bother yourself to have a guru. Useless. There is no need. Tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta (SB 11.3.21). Tasmād, “therefore.” What is that? Jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam. If you are inquisitive about transcendental science, śreya uttamam.
I felt a bit embarrassed after hearing this lecture as I do not ask too many questions. I prayed to Srila Prabhupada to help me that I do not assume I have understood a particular point rather I should confirm it from senior devotees and develop the quality of inquisitiveness. At the same time I should be careful that I don’t treat senior devotees like an ATM machine to answer my questions at all the times, I should develop the mood to serve them as well.
Yesterday I came across an amazing insight into the Sankirtan mission of Caitanya Mahaprabhu by HH Bhakti Vidyapurna swami. Maharaj shared a unique insight into why Caitanya Mahaprabhu came, how those three internal reasons are divided into Sambandha, Abhidheya and Prayojana and much more. Here it goes-
The Sankirtan mission has three parts. They are the three parts why Lord Caitanya came. He came to taste:
The attraction to Krishna
What is gained by the experience of serving Krishna
What is the experience of love for Krishna
So the sambandha , abhidheya and prayojana , so you get Madana-mohana, Govinda and Gopinatha.
The Sankirtana as we define it generally is dealing with the Madana-mohana part. You are attracting others to Krishna. That is the within Madana-mohana, you are dealing with the Sankarshana aspect of establishing Krishna is God and we are not, so you are establishing that relationship and you are sparking that attraction, or Pradyumna aspect to Krishna. But once that is done, they take up the devotional service, but you still have to inspire that attraction. Because they are attracted this much now, but there is more to go: Krishna is unlimited. So it is eternally being inspired. So that Sankirtana mission is going on, that is doing it, so, therefore, you have your preaching, your festivals, these things, they are inspiring and creating more and more attraction. That is Caitanya, that is the life, that is the force. Then you have Vishvambhara, which means that you are cultivating and nourishing those that are in the process because they themselves have to be able to contemplate and take it deeper. And then in that they have to know the goal, you have Gaura. Because it is Radha-Govinda, means it is Radha and Krishna, worship of Radha and Krishna, that is what you are trying to get to. Then you see that is the complete mission. Because you have to have all those three.
By maharaj’s mercy we get a unique glimpse of how the Sankirtan mission has three aspects that relate to three aspects of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Please read it again carefully and I am sure we will get newer realisations.
Most of us, at least I can speak for myself, are struggling devotees, struggling to shuffle between our spiritual, family and professional life. We struggle, feel stretched and many times feel frustrated as well. The Acharyas are merciful, and understanding our condition, they leave in their footsteps, keys on how to build spiritual muscles and keep on progressing further in Krishna consciousness with enthusiasm, patience and tolerance. I am sharing one such key today. This is a verse from Srimad Bhagavatam and partial purport, highlighting how do we get spiritual strength.
As long as one has to accept a material body, with its different parts and paraphernalia, which are not fully under one’s control, one must have the lotus feet of his superiors, namely his spiritual master and the spiritual master’s predecessors. By their mercy, one can sharpen the sword of knowledge, and with the power of the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s mercy one must then conquer the enemies mentioned above. In this way, the devotee should be able to merge into his own transcendental bliss, and then he may give up his body and resume his spiritual identity.
It’s a packed verse and we can go on and on unpacking it however today we will look at only one key from it- spiritual strength. Now we will go to the purport which not only highlights this particular key so we do not miss out to ‘pick’ it up but it also tells us how to ‘operate’ this key to build our spiritual strength. Here it goes-
A significant word here is acyuta-balaḥ. The spiritual master is certainly very merciful to his disciples, and consequently by satisfying him a devotee gets strength from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu therefore says, guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāde pāya bhakti-latā-bīja:one must first please the spiritual master, and then one automatically pleases Kṛṣṇa and gets the strength with which to cross the ocean of nescience.
If one seriously desires to return home, back to Godhead, one must therefore become strong enough by pleasing the spiritual master, for thus one gets the weapon with which to conquer the enemy, and one also gets the grace of Kṛṣṇa. Simply getting the weapon of jñāna is insufficient. One must sharpen the weapon by serving the spiritual master and adhering to his instructions. Then the candidate will get the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
It is difficult to pull myself away from reading Srila Prabhupada’s purports. They seem like an unending ocean with precious gems spread all over. The only effort needed is to go a little deeper. We don’t find precious gems in the shallow part of the sea. As we delve deeper into Bhaktivedanta purports we can feel the mistakable presence of Srila Prabhupada, his gentle hand nudging and guiding us into newer and newer regions of the vast sea of Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhagavad Gita, CC or any other scripture he wrote for us. It is an amazing experience, and it’s accessible to all of us.
They are not my words, as I have repeatedly informed you that I am simply the bearer of the message from Lord Caitanya through the disciplic succession and I do not make any addition or subtraction.
Lover of God- this term evokes different feelings or images in our hearts. Who is a lover of God? What are his symptoms? How does he behave?
And do we know that all of us, yes each one of us, has love of God within our heart and the perfection of our spiritual life is get eternally and permanently reinstated as a lover of God!
Our present condition
By nature, we are lover of God, but here, being illusioned, we think God as our enemy and we don’t like God. We like this māyā.
(SP Lecture, January 9, 1967, New York)
Religion means to awaken that love
Religion means to awaken that Krishna consciousness. That is religion. Sa vai puṁsāṁ paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhokṣaje (SB 1.2.6). That is religion. Religion is not formalities and ritualistic ceremonies. Religion means how to awaken the normal condition, to become lover of God. That is normal condition. Love is there, but because we have no objective, because we have no instruction where to place our love we are loving so many things—up to the dog. Instead of God we are loving dog. Love is there.
(SP Lecture, September 6, 1976, Vrindavan)
An exchange between God and the living entity
The living entity is sanātana. Mamaivāṁśo jīva-bhūtaḥ jīva-loke sanātana. He is sanātana. God is sanātana. The exchange between God and the living entity is called sanātana-dharma or Vaishnavism. So we are teaching that. We are not teaching Hinduism, Muslimism, Christianism. We are teaching how to love God. That’s all. There is no question of proselytization. It is natural. We are, by nature we are lover of God. Just like father and son. The love is already there. It cannot be extinguished. The father and son may be separated for many, many years, but when they come together the affection immediately revives.
( SP room conversation, June 28, 1976, Vrindavan)
We broke this relationship!
Originally every living entity is unimaginably beautiful, intelligent, wealthy, and so strong that his spiritual body lives forever. But we foolishly give up this eternal, blissful situation because we are unwilling to meet the condition for eternal life. The condition is that one should be a lover of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna. Although love of Krishna is the most exquisite ecstasy, surpassing by millions of times the most intense pleasure of the material universe, we foolishly break off our loving affair with the Supreme Lord and artificially try to become independent enjoyers in the material atmosphere of self-delusion and false pride.
In the human form of life the highest achievement is to attain the platform of love of Godhead. Lord Caitanya did not invent a system of religion, as people sometimes assume. Religious systems are meant to show the existence of God, who is then generally approached as the cosmic order-supplier.But Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s transcendental mission is to distribute love of Godhead to everyone. Anyone who accepts God as the Supreme can take to the process of chanting Hare Krishna and become a lover of God.
A person who is completely free from sinful activities, such person can become a devotee, a lover of God. So this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is teaching to the human society how to become purified. There is no such restriction that “This man can be purified; that man cannot be.” No, there is nothing like that. Everyone can be purified if he desires to be so. So immediately we may not be able to purify. As it is prescribed—no illicit sex, no meat-eating, no gambling, no intoxication—it may not be possible because those who are accustomed, it is difficult to give up. Therefore the process is given very simple: “Chant Hare Krishna.” So purification is absolute. That is necessary. Without purification, you cannot understand God. But the method we are prescribing… Not we are prescribing; it is Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s prescription. We are simply propagating that “Chant Hare Krishna.
( SP Lecture, February 12, 1975, Mexico)
We can begin from any stage
Lust is only the perverted reflection of the love of God which is natural for every living entity. But if one is educated in Krishna consciousness from the very beginning, that natural love of God cannot deteriorate into lust. When love of God deteriorates into lust, it is very difficult to return to the normal condition. Nonetheless, Krishna consciousness is so powerful that even a late beginner can become a lover of God by following the regulative principles of devotional service. So, from any stage of life, orfrom the time of understanding its urgency, one can begin regulating the senses in Krishna consciousness, devotional service of the Lord, and turn the lust into love of Godhead—the highest perfectional stage of human life.
So this is the process, how to increase your attachment for Krishna. This bhakti-yoga or Krishna consciousness movement is nothing… We do not say that “You Christian, you are good. I am Hindu, I am bad.” Or “You are bad, I am good.” We don’t say that. We simply say that “It is your right now, this human form of body, how to love God.” That’s all. “You have loved so long dog. Now you try to love God.” That is our propaganda.
So we don’t criticize anyone. Simply we want to see whether he or she has developed his love of God. That’s all. So you can do it either as Christian or as Hindu, as Muhammadan. We don’t care for that. But we want to see you that you are actually lover of God. If you are not, then we tell you, “You try to love God in this way.” What is that? Śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ. Simply hear about Krishna. Simply chant about Krishna. Is that very difficult? If you have not yet learned how to love God, take this process, and you will learn how to love God. This is our propaganda. It is not difficult.
(SP Lecture, June 30, 1972, San Diego)
Heart of a Premi Bhakta
A bona fide lover of God could never forget Him, even in exchange for everything else. The devotee of the Lord cannot be happy in any circumstance without the Lord. In the absence of the Lord the devotee associates with Him by remembering His separation, and because the Lord is absolute, the devotee’s feeling of separation is transcendentally more relishable than direct contact. This is possible only when we develop genuine love for Him. In that state the devotee is always with the Lord by feelings of separation, which become more acute and intolerable in suitable circumstances.
(Light of the Bhagavata 42, Purport)
Premāñjana-cchurita. By prema… Prema means love. The ointment of love, when it is smeared over the eyes, then those who are devotees, santaḥ, saintly persons, they can see always Krishna within hisheart. Premāñjana-cchurita-bhakti. Antaḥ. And bahiḥ, so far experience, that he sees everything. One who is lover of God, he can see Krishna in everything.
Whatever he sees, he sees Krishna there, because he knows that “This thing is produced out of Krishna’s energy.” Take for example a flower. A devotee sees a flower produced by Krishna’s energy. He sees the beauty of flower, appreciating Krishna’s artistic sense. When he hears the sweet voice of a bird, he immediately understands that “Krishna is speaking so nicely through this bird.” This is called Krishna consciousness.
(SP Lecture, April 9, 1971, Bombay)
Lover of God
This relationship of attachment is very sublime. It requires time to understand, but there is a position where, instead of asking, “O God, please give us our daily bread,” you can instead think that God will die if you do not supply bread to Him. This is the ecstasy of extreme love. There is such a relationship between Krishna and His devotee Rādhārāṇī, the greatest devotee, the greatest lover of Krishna. Mother Yaśodā is His lover as a parent; Sudāmā is His lover as a friend; Arjuna also as a friend—there are millions and billions of different kinds of direct devotees of Krishna.
( KC- Topmost yoga system, chapter 2)
Among the gopīs, Srimati Radhika is the foremost. She surpasses all in beauty, in good qualities, in good fortune and, above all, in love.”
Among all the gopīs, Srimati Radharani is the most exalted. She is the most beautiful, the most qualified and, above all, the greatest lover of Krishna.
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura explains that unless one is directly empowered by the causeless mercy of Krishna, one cannot become the spiritual master of the entire world (jagad-guru). One cannot become an ācārya simply by mental speculation. The true ācārya presents Krishna to everyone by preaching the holy name of the Lord throughout the world. Thus the conditioned souls, purified by chanting the holy name, are liberated from the blazing fire of material existence. In this way, spiritual benefit grows increasingly full, like the waxing moon in the sky. The true ācārya, the spiritual master of the entire world, must be considered an incarnation of Krishna’s mercy. Indeed, he is personally embracing Krishna.
And as soon he becomes a lover of God… Just like I am Indian, but I have come to western countries to teach love of God. It is not that I am satisfied only in myself that I love God, that’s all right. But due to my love to God I love others also, because I am trying to teach them to love God, the same philosophy. So if people take seriously this movement, how to love God, then human society will be first-rate.
( Room conversation, September 5, 1971, London)
Therefore this love of God cannot be distributed by anyone unless he is empowered by God. No ordinary man can, if he’s not a lover of God.
(SP Lecture, August 26, 1971, London)
I hope the above compilation was satisfying and pleasing to the lotus feet of all the devotees. I pray that by reading the words of Srila Prabhupada we feel inspired to become a serious and sincere devotee, and also aspire to become an eternal servant of a lover of God.
Vrindavan – simply writing or speaking the name of dhama has a purifying effect on our consciousness. Recently I read a very unique talk by Srila Prabhupada where he spoke about the right understanding of being in Vrindavan and what did Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu teach us by His own example. How do we properly understand where is Vrindavan. Here it goes-
Hari Sauri: Prabhupada pointed out that Lord Caitanya could have remained at home as a big devotee but didn’t. He went out all over India to spread the holy names, and He instructed His followers to spread it all over the world. Prabhupada spoke strongly against the mood of many of the bābājīs in Vrindavan that one should never leave the place. And as he spoke I couldn’t help but be reminded of Nitaī dāsa’s recent criticism’s of ISKCON and Prabhupāda’s refutation of them.
“Pṛthivīte āche yata nagarādi grāma [Caitanya-bhāgavata, Antya 4.126]. ‘All over the world, as many towns and villages are there, this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement should be . . .’ “Not that ‘We are big, big gosvāmīs and bābājīs. We do not go out of Vrindavan.’ Caitanya Mahāprabhu says that pṛthivīte āche yata nagarādi grāma. And they have become very big Vaiṣṇava: ‘No, I don’t go beyond the limits of Vrindavan.’ “What is this nonsense? Did Caitanya Mahāprabhu say like that, that ‘You do not go beyond the limits?‘ A devotee, wherever he is, that is Vrindavan. That is Vrindavan tīrtha.
“A pure devotee can make any hell a tīrtha, a holy place. That is devotee. Tīrthī kurvanti tīrthāni [SB 1.13.10]. That was Bhagīratha. Gaṅgā was hesitating that ‘I shall go to the material world. “All sinful men will take bathing, and I’ll be overloaded with sin. Then how I shall get out of this accumulation of sins?’ So Bhagīratha said, ‘My mother, don’t hesitate. When a holy man will take bath in your water, then all the sins he will assimilate.’ Then she agreed.
So if we become holy man, actually, then immune. There is no difference. That is Caitanya Mahāprabhu. “These are bogus, that ‘I do not go out of Vṛndāvana.’ They are making Vrindavanlimited. Vrindavanis not limited. Wherever there is Kṛṣṇa, wherever there is a Rādhā Kṛṣṇa temple, that is Vrindavan. “Caitanya Mahāprabhu, once only He went to Vrindavan. Does it mean He was not in Vrindavan?
So this is Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s mission, that preaching must go on in hell and heaven. “We should be very much expert and follow the instruction of Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the simple instructions. Mukunda mādhava yādava hari bolena bolo re vadana bori. Simply chant the holy names of Lord, mukunda mādhava yādava. “This is Caitanya. Rise early in the morning. You go and preach, and work hard, day and night, and that is Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s . . . This song indicates.”
Prabhupada sat back and with a sideways tip of his head brought the short darśana to close. “Thank you.”
As the devotees dispersed, Surendra hung back to express his appreciation of Prabhupada comments. “As you rightly said that these Vaiṣṇavas, they want to become maṭha deśas, they want to become like kings. They don’t want to leave their empire and go out, working hard like you and spreading the message of Lord Kṛṣṇa.”
Prabhupada was happy that he had caught his mood. “Yes. That is our mission.”
“That is the right attitude,” Surendra continued. “Even if there is one bhakta, that is Vrindavan.”
Telling him that a bhakta creates Vrindavan, Prabhupada concluded,
“Kṛṣṇa says, ‘I do not stay in Vaikuṇṭha.’ Nāhaṁ tiṣṭhāmi vaikuṇṭhe yogināṁ hṛdayeṣu [Padma Purāṇa]—’Neither I stay at the core of the heart of the yogis.’ Tatra tiṣṭhāmi nārada yatra gāyanti mad bhaktāḥ—’When My pure devotee chants the glories of My . . . I immediately stay there. I immediately stay.’
“It’s not that He is packed up in some place. He’s all pervading. Therefore His name is Vāsudeva. Īśāvāsyam idaṁ sarvam. He’s everywhere. Electricity is everywhere. Only one who knows how to take the electricity . . .
“So Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s preaching and teaching, their effect you have to follow. Then our life will be successful. We don’t manufacture ideas. That is not wanted.”
[22. Biographies and Glorification of Śrīla Prabhupāda / A Transcendental Diary Volume 5 – Hari Sauri dāsa / Volume Five]
After reading the above discussion multiple times I contemplated whether I wish to continue to remain an enjoyer of dhama or should aspire to become a servant of dhama. Should I always think of myself going to Vrindavan or should I preach, as per the desire of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Srila Prabhupada, and make the glory and mercy of Vrindavan available to more souls. My miserly heart needs to expand. And who knows, by the mercy of Sri Guru and Gauranga, in some lifetime Sri Vrindavan dhama may appear in my dry heart also.
The appearance of the form of Kṛṣṇa anywhere, and specifically within the heart, is called dhāma.Dhāma refers not only to Kṛṣṇa’s form, but to His name, His form, His quality and His paraphernalia. Everything becomes manifest simultaneously.