‘sādhu-saṅga’, ‘sādhu-saṅga’ — sarva-śāstre kaya
lava-mātra sādhu-saṅge sarva-siddhi haya (CC Madhya 22.54)
“The verdict of all revealed scriptures is that by even a moment’s association with a pure devotee, one can attain all success.
One must be very meek and submissive and try to live peacefully by lending the ear to the speeches of the transcendentally self-realized soul who speaks on the message of Bhägavata-dharma, or the religion of glorifying the Supreme Lord and His devotees. To glorify a great man is a natural instinct for living beings, but they have not learned to glorify the Lord. Perfection of life is attained simply by glorifying the Lord in association with a self-realized devotee of the Lord.* The self-realized devotee is he who surrenders unto the Lord fully and who does not have attachment for material prosperity… It is imperative, therefore, that one sincerely seek the association of pure devotees and hear them patiently and submissively from any position of life. (Srimad-Bhägavatam Introduction)
The best association is the service of the devotees of the Lord, and by that association one can become the highest qualified man by the grace of the Lord’s pure devotees. As we have already seen in the life of Srila Närada Muni, he became the topmost devotee of the Lord simply by the association of pure devotees of the Lord. By birth he was the son of a maidservant and had no knowledge of his father and no academic education, even of the lowest status. But simply by associating with the devotees and by eating the remnants of their foodstuff, he gradually developed the transcendental qualities of the devotees. By such association, his taste for chanting and hearing the transcendental glories of the Lord became prominent, and because the glories of the Lord are nondifferent from the Lord, he got direct association with the Lord by means of sound representation… Therefore the Bhägavatam always recommends the association of the mahat, or the great soul, for opening the gate of salvation. (SB 2.10.41p)
..a pure devotee, who is preparing to transfer himself to the spiritual kingdom, is also freed from the association of the three modes of material nature. We have to seek the association of such devotees. For this reason we have begun the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. (SB 3.25.24p)
Let me share a recent experience. We were very fortunate that HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj visited Gurgaon temple on 25th December 2015. During the lecture Maharaj asked how many devotees read Bhagavad Gita daily. Many hands went up, but quiet less as a percentage considering the hall was packed with devotees. Maharaj then spoke about the importance of reading Bhagavad Gita daily and asked everyone to read at least one verse daily and then emphasised ‘with purport’. Now, since 2 years, I have been posting one Bhagavad Gita verse and its purport daily on a few whatsapp groups meant for preaching. Initially I would carefully read it myself but as time passed it became more or less a duty to post it so either I would read it hurriedly or just read the verse skipping the purport entirely. I would read the purport carefully only when someone in those whatsapp groups would ask a question from the purport. Sitting there in front of HH Gopala Krishna maharaj it really hit me that I am posting Bhagavad Gita verse daily for others to read but I am myself skipping the same. I thanked Maharaj in my heart, sought forgiveness from Srila Prabhupada, and promised that from now onward I will diligently read these daily verses I am posting. Now I have made it a point that even if I am in a hurry while posting the verse in the morning and can’t read it that particular time, I do not read anything else till I have read the daily verse. Suddenly reading the daily verse carefully has become a priority for me and it is enriching my minuscule devotional life. This is simply the result of association of a pure devotee, Maharaj’s words hit straight at my heart.
…the conclusion is that everyone can become a sädhana-siddha, a devotee of the Lord, simply by association with the pure devotees. ( SB 2.3.15p)
I was a preparing for a brief session on the second chapter of book `Essence of Bhagavad Gita’ last two days on material miseries, namely adhyaatmik, adibhautik and adidaivik kleshas. As I was preparing for the class I thought that this particular session is getting more heavy in negativity. Some times we also hear that we have no solution to them and the only way is to tolerate them. I wrote about these three miseries in my last blog on how one can attain peace. But some piece seemed to be missing in my heart.
Hence it was a great coincidence that yesterday morning I read some wonderful verses in Bhagavatam, SB 3.25.23, 24 & 25 and their enlightening purports by Srila Prabhupada on this very same topic. They showed how simple and easy the process to overcome material miseries really is. It is we who have no faith in it. This chapter is very aptly named `The Glories of Devotional Service’.
Engaged constantly in chanting and hearing about Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the sādhus do not suffer from material miseries because they are always filled with thoughts of My pastimes and activities.
Who can overcome the three miseries of the material world.
Sadhus or devotees of the Lord to overcome three miseries of the material world.
Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport that There are multifarious miseries in material existence — those pertaining to the body and the mind, those imposed by other living entities and those imposed by natural disturbances. But a sādhu is not disturbed by such miserable conditions because his mind is always filled with Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and thus he does not like to talk about anything but the activities of the Lord. Mahārāja Ambarīṣa did not speak of anything but the pastimes of the Lord. Vacāṁsi vaikuṇṭha-guṇānuvarṇane (Bhāg. 9.4.18). He engaged his words only in glorification of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Sādhus are always interested in hearing about the activities of the Lord or His devotees. Since they are filled with Kṛṣṇa consciousness, they are forgetful of the material miseries. Ordinary conditioned souls, being forgetful of the activities of the Lord, are always full of anxieties and material tribulations. On the other hand, since the devotees always engage in the topics of the Lord, they are forgetful of the miseries of material existence.
So what should we do to overcome these miseries ?
ta ete sādhavaḥ sādhvi sarva-saṅga-vivarjitāḥ
saṅgas teṣv atha te prārthyaḥ saṅga-doṣa-harā hi te (SB 3.25.24)
O My mother, O virtuous lady, these are the qualities of great devotees who are free from all attachment. You must seek attachment to such holy men, for this counteracts the pernicious effects of material attachment.
Prabhupada writes Kapila Muni herein advises His mother, Devahūti, that if she wants to be free from material attachment, she should increase her attachment for the sādhus, or devotees who are completely freed from all material attachment…… A person may be materially very rich, opulent or respectable, but if he at all wants to transfer himself to the spiritual kingdom, back home, back to Godhead, then he has to be freed from the puffed-up condition of material possessiveness, because that is a false position.
A pure soul who is prepared to be freed from this material entanglement must first of all be free from the association of the three modes of nature. Our consciousness at the present moment is polluted because of association with the three modes of nature; therefore in Bhagavad-gītā the same principle is stated. It is advised, jita-saṅga-doṣāḥ: one should be freed from the contaminated association of the three modes of material nature. Here also, in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, this is confirmed: a pure devotee, who is preparing to transfer himself to the spiritual kingdom, is also freed from the association of the three modes of material nature. We have to seek the association of such devotees.
Where to find such association?
Prabhupada say ‘For this reason we have begun the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. There are many mercantile, scientific and other associations in human society to develop a particular type of education or consciousness, but there is no association which helps one to get free from all material association. If anyone has reached the stage where he must become free from this material contamination, then he has to seek the association of devotees, wherein Kṛṣṇa consciousness is exclusively cultured. One can thereby become freed from all material association’.
How is it possible?Give an example.
Prabhupada explains ‘Because a devotee is freed from all contaminated material association, he is not affected by the miseries of material existence. Even though he appears to be in the material world, he is not affected by the miseries of the material world. How is it possible? There is a very good example in the activities of the cat. The cat carries her kittens in her mouth, and when she kills a rat she also carries the booty in her mouth. Thus both are carried in the mouth of the cat, but they are in different conditions. The kitten feels comfort in the mouth of the mother, whereas when the rat is carried in the mouth of the cat, the rat feels the blows of death. Similarly, those who are sādhavaḥ, or devotees engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness in the transcendental service of the Lord, do not feel the contamination of material miseries, whereas those who are not devotees in Kṛṣṇa consciousness actually feel the miseries of material existence. One should therefore give up the association of materialistic persons and seek the association of persons engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and by such association he will benefit in spiritual advancement. By their words and instructions, he will be able to cut off his attachment to material existence’.
Just reading these verses and their nectarean purports filled my heart with a feeling of spiritual bliss and more faith that as we progress in our devotional journey and take shelter of the lotus of Lord and His devotees then all miseries of the world become the size of mustard seeds. We must continue to seek and serve such devotees of the Lord and make our life successful.
My little session too ended on a positive note last evening as I now know of an assured solution to these three seeming insurmountable problems.
Kindly accept my good wishes for Gaur Purnima and Holi.
I had the good fortune, or some sukriti, to be able to attend the sanyasa diksha of HG Ganganarayan Prabhuji, who is now HH Bhakti Prema Swami, at Ujjain yesterday. He is the first disciple of HH Bhakti Charu Swami to get sanyasa diksha. I took darshan of guru maharaj, that too on Gaur Purnima day, and association of so many senior vaishnavas and then saw an exceptionally qualified devotee & disciple becoming a sanyasi. So it was all extra extra bonuses for my parched soul.
I didn’t have the good fortune to get too much association of HH Bhakti Prema Maharaj but whenever I have met maharaj in the past he always gave me something- to act upon, to contemplate or to follow. I have never met him without receiving some form of mercy from him. Maharaj is very humble in nature, does wonderful Gaur katha & deep explanations of vaishnava bhajans, in other words maharaj is adorned with the finest of vaishnava qualities. Maharaj is a qualified MBBS doctor who surrendered to his spiritual master in his very first meeting with him.
HH Bhakti Prema Swami accepting greetings after receiving his sanyasa diksha,
HH Bhakti Prema Maharaj later meeting devotees in his room
I could get association of HH Bhakti Prema Maharaj who met devotees and answered their questions with ease and in a style we could all absorb it.
HH Bhakti Charu swami maharaj too met devotees briefly and informed, to the delight of all the present, that there is going to be a mid year retreat in Rishikesh, India, this year. Hari Bol !
Later, I was fortunate to meet so many senior devotees from all over the country. At one such time I was in association of HG Mukunda Priya Prabhuji and other devotees from Surat, all listening with rapt attention to HG Parashurama Prabhuji’s witty anecdotes. During the conversation Prabhuji asked `who is a vaishnava?’, we all knew that something different was coming our way. Prabhuji then narrated a very nice story which I am sharing below.
Many years back there was a disciple in Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya, at Srirangam, who once asked Parasara Bhatt `what are the true qualities of a Vaishnava? Parasara Bhatt did not give a direct answer and instead instructs this devotee to go to Tirupati and ask this question from Ananta Acharya. The devotee, after several days of travel, reached Tirupati. After reaching there he met Ananta Acharya and asked the same question. To his surprise, Ananta Acharya ignores his question. When the devotee observes that Ananta Acharya didn’t reply he feels that may be he is not qualified to ask such a question or may be didn’t ask the question in a submissive mood and he needs to become more humble. He then start serving the temple and devotees. After some time there was a festival in the temple and a lot of devotees were attending it. Ananta Acharya saw this devotee sitting down and waiting to honour the prasadam. He asked the devotee to first serve all the other devotees before taking his prasadam. The devotee readily gets up and enthusiastically serves till the last guest was fed.
After the festival was over Ananta Acharya called this devotee and told him that he will now reply to his question. He answered that a true Vaishnava is like a crane, like a hen, like salt and like you. The devotee thanked him but he could not understand its real meaning. He comes back to Parasara Bhatt, narrates him the whole story and then requests him to explain its meaning to him. Parasara Bhatt, of course, understood it all and explained as :
Crane: A crane stands on one leg for hours and keep looking in the water. If he sees a small fish, he let it pass but as soon as he sees a big fish he immediately catches it. Similarly a Vaishnava does not want to hear the talk of mundane people who are like small fish but he is eager to feast on the wisdom of great devotees who are like a big fish. Also a crane’s colour is white, symbol for purity and pure goodness. In the same way the heart of a Vaishnava is always completely pure and his actions are always for the good of others. Another quality of a crane is that during the change of season a crane flies hundreds of kilometers to a new country/region. Similarly when a Vaishnava sees that a place in which he is living is full of material dealings, he will leave that place and seek the association of true devotees elsewhere.
Hen: A hen goes to garbage bins which are full of rubbish and picks out some very wholesome seeds, it eats them and feeds them to the kids. Similarly, a Vaishnava is Saragrahi, he is only concerned with the essence not with other things. So a vaishnava picks up the essence of all the shastras, filtering out the rest, and gives the same to others as well.
Salt: When we taste a delicious preparation, we usually glorify different items but not the salt. Actually it is the salt which brings out the flavour in any preparation but no one talks about it, it remains hidden. Similarly a true Vaishnava is forever willing to do great service and yet he doesn’t want any glory for himself and wants to remain hidden. As as in order to give flavor to the preparation, the salt is willing to melt and completely willing to give up its identity, similarly, a Vaishnava too is willing to give up everything just to serve the devotees.
You : It means that like you served other devotee, a vaishnava always serves others.
What a beautiful way to explain the characteristics of a Vaishnava! I really liked the comparison of vaishnava with the salt.
HH Bhakti Prema swami has all the above four attributes in generous amount.
It was an impromptu trip, which I hastily planned after speaking with Murari Prabhuji. We, myself and Shyamsundar prabhuji, spent less than 6 hours in Ujjain and almost 24 hours in the train journey but my soul felt satiated due to association with so many vaishnavas, from the beginning to the very end of my trip.
All glories to our illustrious guru parampara.
All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
P.s.: A new page has been added on our blog called `Srimad Bhagavatam teaches’ where I have posted all my notes from Srimad Bhagavatam in Q&A form here. I request you to kindly visit this page by clicking the link below and give your feedback and guidance on how to improve it.
If your car is moving, don’t forget whose push started it to get it going. Similarly, always remember the different gurus that got you moving on the path of devotion. HH Mahanidhi Maharaj
As the year 2014 comes to I feel inspired to share and thank the devotees who helped me and inspired to take baby steps in Krishna consciousness. I, then, remembered how I had written a blog in Jan 2013 ( click here to read the same) and I thought let me take the same format and list down my own 24 gurus.
Let me recount that Shri Dattatreya had twenty-four teachers from nature as he told King Yadu…. The earth, air/breeze, sky, fire, the sun, pigeon, python, sea, moth, elephant, ant, fish, Pingala the courtesan, arrow-maker, infant/playful boy, the moon, honeybee, deer, bird of prey, maiden, serpent, spider, caterpillar and water are my twenty four preceptors.
Here is my list for 2014, this is not in any particular order, I am writing as I remember them.
HG Rukmini Krishna Prabhuji, Delhi : He is and would always remain my shiksha guru and guide, whatever little I am today in my spiritual life is all thanks to him. Every time I listen to Prabhuji’s class I can see the quality of preparation behind it. I learn from prabhuji how one must always prepare well for his class, picking a topic and expanding on it and ensuring that devotees take home some learning from each class.
ShyamSundar Krishna Prabhuji , Gurgaon : Prabhuji remains a very dear friend cum guide. I feel so inspired by his level of service. Prabhuji serves the local ISKCON centre very well. The amount of effort he pitches in, with the right attitude, and how he helps devotees in time of their need is very inspiring for me. On top of that prabhuji has a unique knack to ask open ended questions to make any class or discussion interactive.
ShyamVihari Prabhuji & Shyamangi Radhika Mataji, Surangi Mataji, Parmeshwari Mataji and so many other devotees : What a feeling they have to serve their Guru, small things like who is going with Maharaj, lack of a back pillow in a class, a foot mat, they all have very good bhava to serve guru. I can only pray to them that by their association I too get same bhava to serve senior Vaishanavas.
Mukundapriya Prabhuji, Surat : I personally experience how Prabhuji served Guru Maharaj in Gurgaon. Prabhuji will just sit outside Maharaj’s room like a servant, no questions, no comments, just there as a dedicated servant. I felt very inspired and try to copy the same feeling while serving Guru Maharaj.
5. Mukunda Prabhji., Ujjain : Prabhuji is a senior and very humble devotee. He visited us this year and bowled us over with his humility and honesty by sharing his challenges in spiritual life and asking advice from devotees half his age. Prabhuji acted as if to teach us this attitude. He showed me that I should never feel shy about asking help about any challenge I may face. I acted on it and got benefited.
HG Vidurpriya Prabhuji, Delhi : Prabhuji is a senior preacher and has such an affable personality and everyone loves him. The quality I learn from him is `no envy’. He is always pleased to hear glorification of everyone and there is never a tinge on envy in him.
HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj : I respect him so much. There was a recent incident where I personally realised how merciful and compassionate Maharaj is towards all. My day is simply made when Maharaj’s merciful eyes fall on my fallen body and soul.
Tulasi Maharani : She is my guru in many ways, for the time being I can just say that the reciprocation and the mercy I received from her taught me to inculcate similar feelings for others, which I have yet to even start. I became aware of so many offenses I did while serving her initially, and I am sure I still don’t serve her properly, but she reciprocated just on some tinge of right feeling in my heart.
Rasikakeshava Prabhuji, Gurgaon : Prabhuji is one of the more sincere devotees in our small town. Prabhuji came to our home on way to his office, he works in a MNC co., I was surprised to see him wearing tilak to office. It was light and not as thick and bright we usually wear to temple but it was there and Prabhuji inspired me to follow the same. Now, most of the days I wear a very light tilak to office, no longer water, all thanks to him.
Dhama : I wrote about my experience few weeks back on how dhama reciprocates when we try to serve than trying to enjoy its potency for our ownself. Its a big learning for me and I pray that always remember it. I learnt that I can serve dhama by serving devotees in the Dhama and visit as a guide for new people rather than just about me and Dhama.
HH Bhakti Vijnana Mahaaraj : I love Maharaj and his style of explaining complex topics. It was only after hearing Maharaj’s lecture on how chanting purifies scientifically that I looked inside my own heart and pushed myself to improve my chanting. It was his seminar where I realised the potency of chanting. My chanting will never be the same, even on the worst of the days. I have written two unfinished blogs sharing what I learned in two seminars but they are turning out to be too long and
Kirtana : I am not a very Kirtan person, I sure like them but lecture is always my first love. This year, after a gap of two years, I again attended the Barsana retreat by HH Sacinanadan Maharaj, for two days only. When I reached I found that it was the day of the 12 hour kirtan. At first I felt sad as I thought O! I missed all the lectures/katha and now one day will only be kirtan. Maharaj immediately put everyone in to the right mood to be absorbed in the kirtan and then it was one superlative performance after another. Later, how the kirtan ended for me is a topic for another blog in future. Let me share my chanting improved 200%, atleast for the time being. And what a feeling, it was if my anarthas were falling like huge sheets of glass, I could literally hear them breaking. I will never forget that experience my whole life. I will never undermine the potency of Kirtan, ever. Kirtan is my new guru.
Asit Prabhuji, Gurgaon : Prabhuji is one of the most senior and respected devotee in Gurgaon and teaches Vaishnava etiquette by his own example. So many incidents in the past one year which were eye openers for me. I feel so fortunate that we have a devotee with such high standard of manners which we can copy wholeheartedly.
HG Damodar Prabhuji, Vrindavan : Prabhuji is very sweet and does very nice katha and more sweeter Vaishanava bhajans. Prabhuji gave me the taste to hear and learn Vaishanava bhajans, I always look forward to his class and it is because of him only that I fell in love with `Hari haraye namah krishna Yadvaye namah’ and other Vaishnava bhajans.
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta : I had so much hankering for knowing more and more and would collect all sort of books. I would read them for few days then jump to a new one. This continued till I read Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta . It was as if this is what my soul was searching from eternity. If I ever learn Bangla language, it will be only to taste its verses.
Guru’s words : What a guru. I learnt the hard way what is the consequence when I ignore instructions of my guru and also learnt in a very pleasant manner what are benefits when I cling to every single word of my guru, the results are many times disproportionate to my service. I have taken the words from a guru or instructions from a senior devotee as a separate personality whom I must server if I want to progress more than what I deserve.
Servant of the servant: I went to serve guru maharaj during the recent Kanpur temple opening. After reaching the temple I found that two senior god brothers have already arrived with the same intent. Instead of being happier I at first felt a tinge of sadness in my heart as I thought that I will not get the opportunity to serve Guru Maharaj but then I let it go as I thought that these devotees are more qualified to serve guru maharaj than me and it is better only that they serve Guru Maharaj well rather than my service, which is basic at best. Then it dawned upon me that I can learn from them by serving them instead. I tried my best to serve them and I came back even happier than serving guru maharaj directly. I realised that this is my right position, servant of servant and I also realised that it is more pleasing to my soul. So now whenever I have the opportunity I try to serve those devotees who are serving Guru Maharaj, I feel happy to be a small inconsequential devotee who is assisting the direct servants in their service to guru. I never knew that being servant of the servant could be more satisfying than serving directly.
Kartika month : This was the first year where we sang Damodarashtakam almost every evening at home. Result… very nice reciprocation, I got so many realisations and for the first time I learnt to meditate on the form of Lord while singing. I have realised that kartika month too is my guru and when I serve him, the reciprocation and learning are huge.
19. HH Tamal Krishna Goswami Maharaj : I hear maharaj’s seminar on Damodarashtakam since last 2 years and it has left a lasting impression on my heart. It was only after hearing his prodding questions that inspired me to go a bit internal and improve my Sadhna Bhakti.
Time : I learned how flexible time is actually. I did hear in a lecture that time can contract and expand but realised it only this year. I found so many times that while chanting, in the kirtan, the time stops, literally. I realised that as we go from gross to subtle and further subtle levels we can easily experience it. Time teaches me to put my heart into everything I do and then time takes a back seat.
Association of Guru Maharaj :I love to relish just being near him. I feel that I am already participating in Lords pastimes. Days seem longer, just guru’s association in itself seems to be perfection for me.
Srila Prabhupada : I got the service to send one Prabhupada quote to our local temple devotees, Initially I would cut and paste from ISKCONdesiretree and later I pushed myself to pick one from whatever I read that day. This habit continues since many months. It gave me unshakable faith in the writing of Srila Prabhupada as I realised how easily I am able to get quotes from almost every second verse and how they are absolute in themselves and need no explanation nor depends on some time, place or circumstances, unbelievable. I learn from Srila Prabhupada everyday. He is my eternal shiksha guru.
Association of devotees : Another guru. I have started considering `association of devotees’ as a personality who cools my soul. Innumerable times I have benefited spiritually by just being in the association of devotees. So many devotees showered their mercy on me this year, HG Madhavananda Prabhuji, Amitab Krishna Prabhu. I had to open my introvert and dry heart and they poured their mercy in it and making it more malleable.
Hearing Krishna Katha : Today I consider Krishna Katha as independent person and non different from Krishna Himself in many ways. This guru gives something rare…. greed for Krishna.
sādhu-saṅge kṛṣṇa-nāma-ei-mātra cāi
saṁsāra jinite āra kona vastu nāi
Other than sadhu sanga and the name of Krishna, nothing else is needed to cross over the ocean of birth and death.
As I wrote in my last year blog that apart from these 24 gurus, I have a special half moon in my life, my spiritual master. He is my lord and my master, there is nothing that I have learnt from my own capability or ability, everything has happened due to the sheer causeless mercy of my spiritual master. I have understood that my eternal svarupa is to be his servant’s servant. Goal of my life ? What can I do to please him.
According to the deliberate opinion of all revealed scriptures, the spiritual master is non different from Kṛṣṇa. Lord Kṛṣṇa in the form of the spiritual master delivers His devotees. (CC Ādi 1.45 )
Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is identical with the Vedic hymn known as the Kāma-gāyatrī, which is composed of twenty-four and a half syllables. Those syllables are compared to moons that arise in Kṛṣṇa. Thus all three worlds are filled with desire. (CC Madhya 21.125)
My mind was in an agitated state since last almost one week. It was mostly to do with some glaring shortcomings which manifested out from my heart, most glaringly during this most holy month of Kartika. Seeing all these anarthas inside my heart first shook me as I thought I had left them for good. I went gloomy for a couple of days and then it took a simple verse and one line in its purport to calm my agitation. The verse was BG 2.70 from Bhagavad Gita sent by HG Padmalocan Prabhuji from Singapore.
Translation: A person who is not disturbed by the incessant ﬂow of desires – that enter like rivers into the ocean, which is ever being ﬁlled but is always still – can alone achieve peace, and not the man who strives to satisfy such desires.
Although the vast ocean is always ﬁlled with water, it is always, especially during the rainy season, being ﬁlled with much more water. But the ocean remains the same – steady; it is not agitated, nor does it cross beyond the limit of its brink. That is also true of a person ﬁxed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. As long as one has the material body, the demands of the body for sense gratiﬁcation will continue. The devotee, however, is not disturbed by such desires, because of his fullness.
I realised that as long as I have this material body, desires will continue to come (and test me), rather than feeling morose I should see what my reaction is and even if I am able to catch my faults a little later it is still better than not being aware of them. I am in a practicing stage and it is a big mistake on my part to
1. assume that my anarthas have started reducing and things are getting better.
2. become complacent in my sadhna bhakti and think all is well
3. not to pray every single day to previous Acharays to protect me from Maya.
4. drill deep inside me that on my own I can not achieve anything in the spiritual life.
5. keep on practicing to be always be in the mood of a servant and remain humble with everyone be it my family, office, not just devotees.
6. And lastly I should stay away from any arguments/debates with Mayavadis at this stage.
What desires I had and what happened will take a lot of unnecessary space but you will get the clear idea as I post below prayer. It was all primarily to do with material desires, expecting honour, unnecessary urge for knowledge, lack of time for spiritual reading and a general frustation with the material life. As I searched in my mind for a prayer today morning, fit for my current state of mind, I somehow remembered the Manaḥ-śikṣā by Srīla Raghunatha Dasa Gosvamī. I love this prayer, HG Damodar Prabhu took few classes in Gurgaon and they were all eye openers for me and by some causeless mercy I remember it. They are also favourite of HH Sacinanadan Maharaj and I still remember his vivid description of verse no. 7 in one of Maharaj’s retreats. I am copying verses 5, 6 & 7 below along with a brief commentary which I am copying from whatever I read or heard from the senior devotees, they are not my realisations.
verse 5 Translation “Lust, anger and so on are a band of dacoits who assail one suddenly on the open road of material life. They have bound my neck licentiously with the torturous, dreadful ropes of wicked deeds and are thus killing me.” O mind, speaking in this way, you must grievously cry out to the powerful and merciful devotees who are the protectors of the path of devotion leading to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the killer of Bakāsura. Hearing your piteous cry, they will surely protect you from such a condition.
The contamination of our heart can only be removed by the influence of association with Vaiṣṇavas who are free from all the pride and after we get their mercy then the heart can very easily be cleansed of all disturbances.
HG Damodar Prabhu told us that we should cry aloud for Srila Prabhupada under such situations. I had forgotten it and I did it today and will pray that I remember this instruction for the rest of my worthless life.
Verse 6 translation O wicked mind, although you adopt the path of sādhana, you imagine yourself purified by bathing in the trickling urine of the great donkey of full-blown deceit and hypocrisy. By doing so, you are simultaneously burning yourself and scorching me, a tiny jīva. Stop this! Delight yourself and me by eternally bathing in the nectarean ocean of pure love for the lotus feet of Śrī Rādhā-Krishna.
Overt or covert deceitfulness and hypocrisy which are present in a devotee, even after adopting the path of sadhana, are compared to the urine of a donkey. Considering oneself to be engaged in bhajana while remaining devious and hypocritical at heart is like considering oneself pure by bathing in the filthy, burning urine of a donkey. We should carefully disregard this danger.
As a Sadhaka we should learn to become honest with our own self. Otherwise, by resorting to deceitfulness, he is sure to slip down. Some examples of such manifestation: indulging in sense enjoyment on the pretext of sādhana-bhakti, serving wealthy and influential materialists instead of unpretentious devotees, accumulating wealth beyond one’s needs, having great enthusiasm for futile, temporary enterprises, indulging in illogical arguments on the pretext of cultivating knowledge, making an external show of strict adherence to rules and regulations but remaining inwardly attached to material subjects, preferring the association of philanthropists, mundane scholars, yogīs and materialistic people to that of resolute, loving devotees.
Instead One is here advised to bathe in the ocean of nectar that consists of divine spiritual transformations born out of love for the lotus feet of Sri Radha Giridhari.
Verse 7 Translation O mind, how can pure divine love appear in my heart as long as the shameless dog-eating, outcaste woman of the desire for prestige is audaciously dancing there? Therefore always remember and serve the immeasurably powerful commanders of the army of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the beloved devotees of the Lord. They will at once banish this out-caste woman and initiate the flow of immaculate vraja-prema in your heart.
The desire for prestige is an audacious, dog-eating, out-caste woman. The desire for honour and distinction is called pratiṣṭhāśā. Although all other anarthas may be dispelled, the desire for prestige is not easily removed. From this, all kinds of deceit and hypocrisy arise and are gradually nourished. The desire for prestige is called shameless, for although it is the root of all anarthas, it fails to acknowledge its own fault. It is also called cāṇḍālinī, a female dog-eater, for it is engaged in eating the dogmeat of fame.
A sadhaka yearns to be recognised as virtuous, benevolent and free from all sin. The sadhaka thinks, “I am a devotee of Krishna, I understand things clearly, and I am not interested in any material enjoyment.” In this way he nourishes the desire to expand his fame.
As long as the desire for honour and distinction has not been driven from the heart, deceit will remain; and until one becomes free from deceit, he cannot obtain pure, unalloyed divine love.
The words prabhu-dayita in this verse means those who are extremely dear to Lord Krishna. The word `atula’ means “that which has no comparison”. The word sāmanta means “a general or commander of an army”. Always serve the powerful generals of the army of Krishna’s devotees. Their mercy is unparalleled and they are very dear servitors of Lord Krishna. The divine rays of hlādinī-śakti are reflected in the hearts of pure Vaiṣṇavas. From their hearts, these rays of hlādinī-śakti are transmitted into the hearts of other faithful sādhakas, thus dispelling the anarthas of wickedness, deceit and hypocrisy and manifesting love for lord Krishna. The embrace of pure Vaiṣṇavas, the dust from their lotus feet, the water that washes their feet and their instructions are all fully competent to cleanse our heart. Therefore in the Padma Purāṇa, worship of the Vaiṣṇavas is declared to be even higher than the worship of Bhagavān:
[Śrī Mahādeva said:] O Pārvatī, the worship of Śrī Viṣṇu is the highest of all different types of worship. But even superior to that is the worship of His devotees.
In Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya-līlā 16.60–1) it is said:
The dust of the lotus feet of devotees, the water that washes their feet and the remnants of their prasāda – these three are very powerful. By honouring these three, one attains love for the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. This has been proclaimed in all the scriptures again and again.
Hence the above verse concludes that the beloved devotees of Lord Krishna are the incomparably powerful generals of the Lord’s army. By serving them all anarthas are eradicated very easily and it also generates the divine love for Sri Radha Krishna.
I request all serious devotees to please read and meditate on this most wonderful prayer by Sri Raghunath Dasa Goswami. Please read or hear its commentary by a senior devotee, there are many lectures/ seminars on Iskcondesiretree on it, it will be difficult to understand its complete meaning by our own effort.
So after going through many waves of agitation my mind is now peaceful. And after thinking and reading this wonderful prayer made me aware to always remain alert for attack from the material desires and in case of such feelings I need to cry out to my guru and Srila Prabhupada… loudly ! And to further protect myself I must serve vaishanavas to the best of my ability and I should always remain hungry for their association.
All glories to the most merciful devotees of Lord Krishna.
All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I was sharing yet another mercy of Tulasi maharani at our home with ShyamSundar prabhu yesterday morning. While continuing our conversation over phone, as usual, our discussions went over from one topic to another and in the end we discussed how some devotees should have done such and such thing better and then the conversation ended. After ending our conversation I realised that from sharing a realisation and mercy I went into a judging mood about other devotees and that shows very poorly on my consciousness that even after reading and hearing so many instructions on this regard how easily I get into gossiping about devotees, prajapala. I immediately sent an SMS to ShyamSundar Prabhu requesting him to please stop me whenever I start discussing other devotee. In fact, I added that we should not even discuss other devotees behind their back. He heartily agreed. I felt much lighter.
In the evening I was deleting old mails from my phone when I saw that in one of the mails was a seminar done by HG Radheshyam Prabhuji and Chaitanya Charan Prabhuji, Pune. The title of the topic, you guessed it – Prajalapa !! Godsend for me ! I heard the complete lecture on my way to and from office and it contained a wonderful learning for me. I am writing some part of it for the pleasure of devotees and I hope and pray to Srila Prabhupada that I too will learn something from this lecture.
The seminar started with HG Radheshyam Prabhu’s lecture. Prabhuji started with giving a general view of what is prajalapa and what is not prajalpa.
Prabhuji then glorified how Nectar of Instructions is a great guide book for all serious devotees as it teaches sadhaks the control of the senses, avoiding the unfavourable, accepting the favourable things in bhakti and how to know different levels of Vaishanavas and how to associate with them. Prabhuji then defined some terms
Prajalpa means useless talk.
Jana sangha means association of non devotees.
Prabhuji then quoted the famous second verse from NoI
atyāhāraḥ prayāsaś ca prajalpo niyamāgrahaḥ
jana-saṅgaś ca laulyaṁ ca ṣaḍbhir bhaktir vinaśyati
One’s devotional service is spoiled when he becomes too entangled in the following six activities: (1) eating more than necessary or collecting more funds than required; (2) over-endeavoring for mundane things that are very difficult to obtain; (3) talking unnecessarily about mundane subject matters; (4) practicing the scriptural rules and regulations only for the sake of following them and not for the sake of spiritual advancement, or rejecting the rules and regulations of the scriptures and working independently or whimsically; (5) associating with worldly-minded persons who are not interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness; and (6) being greedy for mundane achievements.
Prabhuji then explained how Srila Prabhupada and Srimad Bhagavtam use very strong words against prajalpa.
Prabhuji then added that when a Jiva comes into this world he does jana sangha, the result is laulayam- Material greed. He then does prayaas, works very hard. For what purpose ? for atyahaara to collect more than what he needs. For doing prayaas in jana sangha he does prajalpa !
Prabhuji then explained that we have to use our intelligence to say that not everything minus Krishna is parajalapa. Prabhuji explained how Sri Sanatana Goswami would often go to villages and talk to brajawasis and ask them about their health, how did the crops do and their general well being. The brajawasis too considered Sri Sanatana Goswami as their Guru because his inspiration brought them more close to Krishna. So such talk may sound mundane but it was not mundane talk.
Prabhuji gave some examples and stated that we should not behave like a crazy person at home – saying that I won’t talk anything else other than Krishna or don’t talk prajalpa with me to our family members, and we should be level headed. Level headed means that we behave according to time, place and circumstance. That means we ask children how are they doing in their studies, we ask well being of our family members, we help in all the daily chores of the home, etc. That is what Lord Caitanya told Raghunath Das Goswami that You manage your business externally, meditate on Krishna internally. That means externally we should look like a ‘karmi’ a materialistic person, speaking, behaving with our friends and relatives for the sake of pleasing them but internally we should meditate on Krishna. So we can do general talking with our friends and relatives and that may be considered all right but in the name of being practical a devotee should not go the extreme of becoming completely materialistic.
Srimad Bhagavatam is very strict on not using our senses for mundane things and Prabhuji quoted some very strong verses from Bhagavatam in this regard.
Prabhuji spoke how these days people want to speak every topic under the sun except spiritual topics. Prabhuji said that we are living in the times of media madness where so much global gossip through internet, TV, radio, all this is going on. So while living in the material world we should not develop tendency to do prajalpa with friends and relatives but at the same times among devotees we should know how to speak according to time, place and circumstances. Prabhuji said we can talk directly about Krishna, we can speak indirectly about Krishna (temple management issues, etc.) but there should not be any useless talk.
Prabhuji said that prajalpa is a very important topic because our tongue and mind are connected. The tongue has two activities, eating and speaking, so we should only eat prasadam and speak only glories of Krishna. And because tongue and mind are connected so if we speak about Krishna our mind gets filled with remembrance of Krishna. Similarly if we speak nonsense with tongue then the mind gets filled with nonsense. That is why we should try to speak about glories of Krishna, pastimes of Prabhupada, share with others what we have learned, etc. instead of using the tongue to vibrate useless things like gossip.
It was then the turn of HG Chaitanya Charan Prabhuji to speak.
Prabhuji started his lecture by stating that the path of virtue and path of vice is always open in all the times and similarly the path of prajalpa is also there throughout the ages, but in modern times there are three main differences :
Gossip is culturally glamourised. General knowledge about things which are absolutely irrelevant to people is glamourised today. There is a term called information junkie, it defines a person who knows a lot of junk information. Much of the information we acquire is useless but because of the social standards which are there, whenever there is a discussion between some people everybody basically wants to show of how `aware’ I am of current situations. So there is a culture of glamourisation of knowledge that is irrelevant if not harmful. That comes because everyone starts thinking that this is very good as I know so much.
Intellectually rationalised. This means that a person starts thinking that this knowledge must be useful for me. There are so many things I need to know. In the past the knowledge was primarily for action and application. People would learn about farming, how do you dig, how do you plough, etc. So knowledge was always connected with its utility, its functionality. Never before in the history of humanity people had so much information about which there was no action to be done.
Say we say how many daughter so and so film star has, how does this matter to anyone ! When we acquire so much knowledge not only does it swamp our mind but it also makes us feel helpless. E.g. a bomb exploded in Iraq or an American ambassador was killed in Africa or there was a hurricane in America. Now if we think how much information we read in daily newspapers is going to change what we are going to do on that day, or the next day or the next month, very little. So all the information we acquire its utility for us is near zero. But somehow oh, you should be aware of current affairs.' Prabhuji said certainly we should not be completely ignorant of the things, but is not that everything which happens everywhere, we need to keep abreast of it. So its intellectually rationalised oh! I have to be up to date, specially where general knowledge is just generaltrivial’ knowledge.
Technologically facilitated. Even 100 to 150 years ago news would travel at the speed of the fastest transport available. But from the invention of the telegraph onwards the availability of irrelevant news has increased so much that now, because of the internet, within moments we get information from every corner of the world. So what does this news do ? Sociologist say that news in nothing new, it’s the same old things are happening to new people !! What are things that happen in this world ? There is birth, old age, disease, death, someone loses, someone wins, someone has some happiness and someone has some distress, its the same old thing happening to new people and we call that news. Actually there is nothing new about the news. But because news from everything is so easily available that our tendency for prajalpa becomes technologically facilitated.
One last consequence of this information bombardment ? As we said that when we are living in a society where information to action ratio is so low, we have so much information and so little action, and the consequence of this carries over into our spiritual life where we also want to acquire a lot of information but we don’t do any action about what we already know ! So we go on- what is said in this book, what is said in that book, what is said in that book. Prabhuji narrated an incident when HH Jayadvaita Maharaj was once asked a question. He was asked 3-4 things, what does this, this and this things mean ? Maharaj replied `that’s not a question that’s a quiz, next questions please !’ Prabhuji added, sure, we can be philosophically inquisitive and learn information but the point is here that often because of our infatuation with information we forget the application of the part and we just think that spirituality is about acquiring more and more information.
And over the period of time we will start feeling oh! there is no new information available in Krishna consciousness philosophy, whatever information is there, I know about it. And then we will start getting bored. But the boredom in because there is no newness. The information is for action, the action is developing a relationship with Krishna. So when we use the information in Krishna consciousness for developing a relationship with Krishna, the newness in Krishna consciousness will come not from the newness of the information but from the newness about our connection with Krishna. As we deepen our relationship with Krishna we are able to connect with Him deeper and deeper. And that will bring newness in our life.
HG Radhesyam Prabhuji later narrated how as recent as in Lord Chaitanaya’s time, devotees would talk only about Krishna while doing general things like plucking flowers, etc but. now it is just mundane talk, cricket scores, office gossip, basically awakening the material emotions of people instead of awakening their spiritual emotions.
Chaitanya Charan Prabhuji cautioned that in the name of avoiding prajalpa we should not become insensitive, we must follow general society courtesies and greetings. We should not get into unnecessary mundane discussions or gossips. What is to be given up is that information which is not relevant to our immediate material life, job, etc. or to Krishna consciousness.
HG Radheshyam Prabhuji said as devotees we should we careful about not wasting too much time debating topics on which we have no control like christian conversion or controversial topics like whether jiva fell from Vaikuntha or from Brahmjyoti, and so on. Whenever we have some doubt we should go to authority and they clarify the subject to us. By talking among fellow devotees nothing good will come out of it and one may start to have doubts in his mind mind about the whole philosophy itself. What good will come out by a discussion among two ignorant people, who do not know beyond each other’s level, will it help ? We should go to someone wise. Otherwise it is prajalpa discussing and arguing among our own selves. We should find and then go to senior devotees and sanyasis in ISKCON who know about such subject and get answer to our questions rather than indulging in such talk among ignorant people. So useless talk is just not about mundane discussions with general people but it could be among devotees also and we should avoid it.
Prabhuji then quoted BG 9.14
satataṁ kīrtayanto māṁ yatantaś ca dṛḍha-vratāḥ
namasyantaś ca māṁ bhaktyā nitya-yuktā upāsate
Always chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion.
Prabhuji added that when we waste our time in gossip then we are disapproving Krishna’s statement that My devotees always chant My glories, i.e., if we claim ourselves to be a Krishna devotee.
Prabhuji discussed in detail how in when Prabhupada was on this planet then in free time everyone would read Krishna book or talk about Srila Prabhupada or Krishna or discuss how to increase preaching.
Later, Chaitanya Charan Prabhuji said in a lighter vein that ISKCON is like a Kalpataru, whatever we want from it we will get it. If someone comes here for money he will get money, if someone come for power he will get power, if someone comes for prestige then in which organisation people come and offer obeisances to you! If somebody wants controversy then he will get more controversy than what is there in the material world! BUT if we want Krishna then we will get Krishna also. So all these controversial issues are there but ultimately it is up to us what do we want ? If we keep our focus clear on why I have come to Krishna consciousness then we will steer clear of all these things. There are so many intellectual misconceptions in the society, within and outside the movement also, so protecting our faith is our responsibility.
Prabhuji further explained that it is not that any argument is irrefutable, all arguments are refutable. But just like when a war is going on and there is an elephant warrior from the other side and there is a foot soldier from this side. The foot soldier will get crushed. So right now we are all like foot soldiers. So if we hear someone talking about fall of Jiva or sidha pranali and if we want to learn about these things then we can go to our own elephant warrior and not try to fight that elephant warrior, we will get crushed. So generally speaking if anyone starts propagating any ideas then that person will have some sort of logic, some sort of reasoning, and we when we are discussing we will not be able to find what is the flaw in it, although there will be lot of flaws in it, just like a foot soldier can not fight with an elephant warrior.
For example if we see Madhava sampradaya, they refute mayavada philosophy. So they have to know about mayavada to refute mayavada to but for first 20 years of their training they would never read any mayavadi books, they would read only refutations of mayavadi philosophy written by their acharayas, so they would be equipped for refutation but they would not be exposed directly. And after 20 years of education when they are deeply rooted, thoroughly convinced, they have understood the tactics of the false arguments, then they would study the opponent books. And then they can refute that also. So this is a time-honoured strategy. So we are not avoiding or dodging issues, we are protecting our faith so that we can become equipped to deal with issues when the need arises and if the need arises. So if we have already heard some controversy then we can go to some authority and discuss that and get the answers. But just circulating misconceptions or discussing with ignorant only weakens our faith and then it drags us down.
Prabhuji added that Maya attacks us in two ways, one is doubt and the other is desires.
Doubts attack us at the level of our intelligence. Desires attack us at the level of our mind.
So when the doubts attack us at the level of our intelligence then intelligence becomes weak and then the mind takes over. That’s how we get lost.
In the end of first part HG Radheshyam Prabhuji said in our free time we can discuss what new learning we had recently, what tactic some other region is employing to increase preaching, discuss a new lecture we heard, a sanyasi we served, we can also talk
about health of the devotees and their concerns. A good question we can ask other devotees is how do they cope up when maya attacks them.
Part II of the lecture was on arguments, I am giving a very brief summary as the blog has become very long.
Chaitanya Charan Prabhuji quoted the below famous verse from Mahabharata which Srila Prabhupada regularly quoted
Dry arguments are inconclusive. A great personality whose opinion does not differ from others is not considered a great sage. Simply by studying the Vedas, which are variegated, one cannot come to the right path by which religious principles are understood. The solid truth of religious principles is hidden in the heart of an unadulterated self-realized person.
Prabhuji emphasised that Absolute truth can not be understood just by logic and arguments, that’s why logic is considered inconclusive.
Prabhuji gave examples of how Sri Caitanya Mahāprabhu defeated Prakashananda Sarawati and later Sarvabhauma in Puri. In both the cases Mahaprabhu first entered the heart and then His opponent’s head. So at first His humility touched their hearts and then He touched their head and was able to transform their lives.
Similarly we should not try to win over people by mere arguments. We should first see if the other person is open to listen to us and if not then we should see if there is any way we can open his heart and then give him the arguments. And if not then we should leave him alone and just pray for him.
Debating with outsiders.
When we meet some other people who claim to have scriptural knowledge or they claim to know a lot, then they present something and we present something and it goes on and on and on. And if we find that this person is just not ready to learn then at that time it may be a good idea to just leave it that. Because if in the process of arguing or debating we lose our temper or become angry then that anger will further alienate that person. Either it will make him feel victorious oh I have defeated that person and makes him think he is right or it will alienate that person as he may think that these people are so narrow-minded or so self-righteous about their ideas.
On the other hand if we find that things don’t work out then just end on a cordial note. We can say that you have some spiritual ideas and I have learned something else from my spiritual master. This is what my spiritual teachers have taught me is the conclusion of the vedic scriptures. Now ultimately you are a free soul and if this is what you want to believe then my best wishes are with you. And leave it that. Now at the least what has happened he has felt that devotees are gentlemanly people, they agree to disagree. Sometimes we have to leave it that.
Prabhuji added that Material life teaches us in two ways one is the spiritual master, he teaches us gently, warmly, gives us instructions, and the other is the school of hard knocks, maya, beats down a person. Eventually everyone has to come to Krishna. So later on when they learn from the school of hard Knocks, when they find out that their own intellect is not solving their problems, it still keep them in illusion, then at that time if they still have positive appreciation for devotees they will come to devotees, take shelter of lotus feet of Krishna. In general people who are intellectual have lot of pride, so when they meet another intellectual person who is very humble then It charms them, they may not admit it but it charms them.
Debate among devotees.
Prabhuji discussed this is in detail for 15 minutes, the summary was that we should avoid it and only if necessary for practical purpose or management then we must do in private. Prabhuji also stated that few things we can understand quickly, few after some debate and discussion, few things we can understand only after years of service and realisation and then again few things we may never understand as we are finite and Lord is infinite. Also different devotees can have different definition of success.
Prabhuji cautioned that gossip with devotees or non devotees takes our mind away from Krishna only for some time but debate among devotees creates aversion towards devotees and that is even more harmful. So in former case one is allured away from Krishna but in the later case we are repelled away from Krishna. So devotees should avoid such debates. Debates are useful only if they help people develop their conviction.
Readers can download and hear these wonderful lectures by clicking Part I and Part II
All glories to the wonderful preachers of ISKCON.
All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Q: What is the process to achieve the ultimate goal of life-love of God ? Please explain each step in this process.
Ans : Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu describes the symptoms of emotion and love and the awakening of one’s original loving relationship with the Lord, as well as the characteristics of a devotee who has actually attained that stage, in Madhya Lila chapter 23.
CC Madhya 23.9: “If, by good fortune, a living entity develops faith in Kṛṣṇa, he begins to associate with devotees.
CC Madhya 23.10: “When one is encouraged in devotional service by the association of devotees, one becomes free from all unwanted contamination by following the regulative principles and chanting and hearing.
CC Madhya 23.11: “When one is freed from all unwanted contamination, he advances with firm faith. When firm faith in devotional service awakens, a taste for hearing and chanting also awakens.
CC Madhya 23.12: “After taste is awakened, a deep attachment arises, and from that attachment the seed of love for Kṛṣṇa grows in the heart.
CC Madhya 23.13: “When that ecstatic emotional stage intensifies, it is called love of Godhead. Such love is life’s ultimate goal and the reservoir of all pleasure.
Srila Prabhupada quotes Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, who summarizes this growth of love of Godhead as a gradual process.
A person becomes interested in devotional service by some good fortune. Eventually he becomes interested in pure devotional service without material contamination. At that point, a person wants to associate with devotees. As a result of this association, he becomes more and more interested in discharging devotional service and hearing and chanting. The more one is interested in hearing and chanting, the more he is purified of material contamination. Liberation from material contamination is called anartha-nivṛtti, indicating a diminishing of all unwanted things. This is the test of development in devotional service. If one actually develops the devotional attitude, he must be freed from the material contamination of illicit sex, intoxication, gambling and meat-eating. These are the preliminary symptoms. When one is freed from all material contamination, his firm faith in devotional service awakens. When firm faith develops, a taste arises, and by that taste one becomes attached to devotional service. When this attachment intensifies, the seed of love of Kṛṣṇa fructifies. This position is called prīti or rati (affection) or bhāva (emotion). When rati intensifies, it is called love of Godhead. This love of Godhead is actually life’s highest perfection and the reservoir of all pleasure.
Thus devotional life is divided into two stages — sādhana-bhakti and bhāva-bhakti. Sādhana-bhakti refers to the development of devotional service through the regulative principles. The basic principle for the execution of devotional service is faith. Above that, there is association with devotees, and after that there is initiation by a bona fide spiritual master. After initiation, when one follows the regulative principles of devotional service, one becomes freed from all unwanted things. In this way one becomes firmly fixed and gradually develops a taste for devotional service. The more the taste grows, the more one desires to render service to the Lord. In this way one becomes attached to a particular mellow in the Lord’s service — śānta, dāsya, sakhya, vātsalya or madhura. As a result of such attachment, bhāva develops. Bhāva-bhakti is the platform of purified goodness. By such purified goodness, one’s heart melts in devotional service. Bhāva-bhakti is the first seed of love of Godhead. This emotional stage is there before one attains pure love. When that emotional stage intensifies, it is called prema-bhakti, or transcendental love of Godhead. This gradual process is also described in the following two verses, which are found in the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.4.15-16).
ādau śraddhā tataḥ sādhu-
saṅgo ‘tha bhajana-kriyā
tato ‘nartha-nivṛttiḥ syāt
tato niṣṭhā rucis tataḥ
athāsaktis tato bhāvas
sādhakānām ayaṁ premṇaḥ
prādurbhāve bhavet kramaḥ
CC Madhya 23.14-15: “‘In the beginning there must be faith. Then one becomes interested in associating with pure devotees. Thereafter one is initiated by the spiritual master and executes the regulative principles under his orders. Thus one is freed from all unwanted habits and becomes firmly fixed in devotional service. Thereafter, one develops taste and attachment. This is the way of sādhana-bhakti, the execution of devotional service according to the regulative principles. Gradually emotions intensify, and finally there is an awakening of love. This is the gradual development of love of Godhead for the devotee interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.’
Q: What are the nine symptoms which manifest in one’s behaviour when the seed of ecstatic emotion for Krishna fructifies ?
CC Madhya 23.18-19: “‘When the seed of ecstatic emotion for Kṛṣṇa fructifies, the following nine symptoms manifest in one’s behavior: forgiveness, concern that time should not be wasted, detachment, absence of false prestige, hope, eagerness, a taste for chanting the holy name of the Lord, attachment to descriptions of the transcendental qualities of the Lord, and affection for those places where the Lord resides — that is, a temple or a holy place like Vṛndāvana. These are all called anubhāva, subordinate signs of ecstatic emotion. They are visible in a person in whose heart the seed of love of God has begun to fructify.’
Love of God is transcendental to liberation [mukti], and thus it is called the fifth stage of spiritual realization, above the stage of liberation. (Srimad Bhagavatam Introduction)
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Yesterday, 25th May, turned out to be a day when I realised the power of prayer by devotees.
I was suffering from a bad throat since last 2 days and 24th evening was worst. When I woke up around 6am on 25th morning I felt terrible. I could not speak and even the simple task of getting up from the bed proved to a big effort. I felt very hungry and extremely thirsty. I drank some warm water, then I somehow remembered that Atma Prabhu had told me to take Neem capsules regularly, which I stopped some time back, so I took one capsule as well. I checked my temperature it was 101.3F. As it was Dwadashi so I waited for 6.50am and then I had some hot ginger lemon water with honey. I started coughing continuously and had green colour phelgm, confirming that I had an infection.
The hot concoction I drank gave me some relief and I slowly started chanting my rounds. But after less than an hour I felt too tired and stopped my chanting. I watched Mayapur.tv for some time and listened to HG Madhav Prabhu singing soulfully at a retreat. I also took crocin and later had my breakfast. I felt cold and had to take a quilt in the hot summer weather. I checked the fever again it was almost 102F now and my cheeks seem to be oozing heat. It was almost 9.45am. My wife was pushing me since yesterday to see a doctor and get antibiotics but today being a Sunday all the doctors were closed. I myself didn’t have any energy or a will to see the doctor. I took my bath.
In the meantime I got a call from HG Shyam Sundar Prabhu, who broke the sad news that HG Advaita Hari Prabhu left his body in Kolkata few days back. I had the good fortune to meet Prabhuji twice and I clearly remember his sweet and affectionate long talks. He was always most helpful to everyone in Mayapur. He was disciple of HH Jayapataka Swami, serving as chief finance officer and deputy director of Mayapur. He was currently involved in corporate preaching in nearby regions of Mayapur and Kolkata. Shyam Sundar prabhu narrated me how Prabhuji took such good care of HH Janananda Maharaj that maharaj declared that he will now come more often to Mayapur only because of Sri Advait Hari Prabhu. Shyam Sundar Prabhuji also made a very good statement that unlike `karmis’ when devotees leave this world what we miss most is their association. I pray to Lord Sri Krishna that He may give HG Advaita Hari prabhu a service in His eternal abode.
HG Advaita Hari Prabhuji
As we spoke for some time, Shyam Sundar Prabhu found out from my constant coughing that I was not very well. After the call was over I received a message on the Bhagavad Gita whatsapp group, which we run, and when I opened it, to my embarrassment, I found that due to a strong brotherly affection Prabhuji had posted a message to the group that I am not well and devotees should pray for me. I immediately messaged him back and requested him not to post such messages for me and that too for a simple cough and fever. I then added, for some effect, that if he really wants to pray for me then he should pray for my spiritual life that I should get attached to the holy name. Prabhuji’s reply stumped me as he spoke `Prabhuji I am praying for your material body so that you can serve the devotees and preach !‘
After this posting I received messages from some devotees and I told all of them that I am fine and just a little under the weather. By this time it was past 11am, I felt very tired and dozed off again.
I woke up around 3.30pm and felt a little different. It took me a few seconds to realise that I actually feel much better. In fact I felt as if I was almost recovered. I ate my lunch. I seem to have regained most of my energy, there was minimal cough- phelgm was now whitish and no tiredness at all. I was most surprised at this sudden transformation. I, then, remembered the message Prabhuji had posted on the whatsapp group and I realised that some merciful devotee(s) prayed for me and their prayers did the work instantly, it was like magic. I had my energy back, I played with my kids for some time and then called up Shyam Sundar Prabhu and shared with him this unique experience. He too was very surprised and happy to hear it. I thanked all the devotees mentally and in my state of happiness forgot to even thank Shyam Sundar prabhu as I knew that he would have been the first one to pray for me. Thank you so much to all the devotees.
What are my realisations –
1. Well, first of all, I must ensure that I serve all the devotees, specially the senior ones, to the best of my ability and regularly take the benefit of their association, life is too short and unpredictable to wait or to be lazy.
2. I would never underestimate the power of prayers by devotees.
3. I regularly receive messages, mails and requests for praying for a devotee or a devotee’s relative who is not well. If such requests are one to one then I make it a point to chant an extra round or pray to Srila Prabhupada for him/her. But many a times when it is a forwarded mail or a mail copied to many devotees then I skip it as well, there are many excuses which my lousy mind makes up. So I promised myself that from today onwards whenever I will receive such a request I will make sure that I pray for that devotee, I will never skip it.
3. And lastly, I realised that the real purpose of reading all the scriptures, and gaining knowledge, is to convince my own self that I should feel attached to Krishna and His devotees.
Regarding your questions are the Spiritual Master and the Grand Spiritual Master consciously aware of the prayers of a sincere devotee who prays in love to Them?—the answer is that no conscious prayers go in vain. They are transmitted positively. (By Srila Prabhupada, Letter to Mahananda, Los Angeles, 1970)
Thank you respected devotees for showing me the right way and improving my consciousness to always pray for others. I will not forget it.
It was Ekadeshi and in the evening Guarav and Subir Prabhu came home to meet me after a long time, in fact first time after I shifted in the new home. Shyam Sundar Prabhu too joined in and we had a nice Ishtagoshti going.
We discussed so many topics and after sometime, after a quick evening arti, I read the following verse from Srimad Bhagavatam.
After arriving there, all of them took bath, and with the water of this place of pilgrimage they offered their respects to the forefathers, demigods and great sages and thus satisfied them. They gave cows to the brāhmaṇas in royal charity.
Srila Prabhupada starts the purport as below
Amongst the devotees of the Lord there are several divisions, mainly nitya-siddhas and sādhana-siddhas. The nitya-siddha devotees never fall down to the region of the material atmosphere, even though they sometimes come onto the material plane to execute the mission of the Lord. The sādhana-siddha devotees are chosen from the conditioned souls. Out of the sādhana devotees, there are mixed and pure devotees. The mixed devotees are sometimes enthusiastic about fruitive activities and are habituated to philosophical speculation.
As I completed reading the full purport and was going to the next verse Shyam Sundar Prabhuji asked me sweetly ‘ Prabhuji first please explain this verse to us ‘. I had not really understood the above lines from the purport and so I read them again loudly. Shyam Sundar Prabhuji asked what is the difference between a Nitya Sidha and a pure Sadhna Sidha and whether a Sadhna Sidha can become a Nitya Sidha ? I replied that I have not idea and I would not like to speculate. HG Vidurpriya Prabhuji taught, with his own example, not speculate when we don’t know the answer. He told us, jokingly, that speculation is like breaking one of the regulative principle, no gambling ! We all discussed it for some time and then it was time to call a devotee for help. I called up HG Karuna Prabhu, who was in train coming back from Mayapaur to Delhi. Prabhuji explained us very nicely. He replied that Nitya Sidhas are eternal servants of Krishna and no one can ever take their place, e.g. Yashoda mayi, Nanda maharaj and so on. On the other hand Sadhna Sidhas are conditioned souls who can reach the same platform as Nitya Sidha, i.e., serving Krishna in the spiritual sky, by virtue of their devotional service but they do not and can not become Krishna’s eternal servants.
Fully Satisfied, by that time I had also checked on reference from Srila Prabhupada and found the below informative piece by His Divine Grace.
There are two kinds of devotees, three: nitya-siddha, sadhana-siddha, krpa-siddha. These things are described in The Nectar of Devotion. Nitya-siddha means they are eternally associate of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They are called nitya-siddha. And sadhana-siddha means one is fallen in this material world, but by practice of devotional service according to the rules and regulation, injunction of the sastra, direction of guru, in this way, one can reach also the same position as the nitya-siddha. This is sadhana-siddha. And there is another. That is Krpa-siddha. Krpa-siddha means… Just like Nityananda Prabhu. He wanted that these Jagai-Madhai must be delivered. There was no sadhana. They never followed any rules and regulation. They were thieves and rogues, very fallen condition. But Nityananda Prabhu wanted to show an example that “I shall deliver these two brothers. Never mind they are so fallen.” That is called krpa-siddha. So we should always remember there are three categories: nitya-siddha, sadhana-siddha and krpa-siddha. But when they become siddha, perfect, by any process, they are on the same level. There is no distinction.
(Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.7 Mayapur, February 27, 1977 )
It is amazing how each of Srila Prabhupada’s purports contains such complete and rich information. It seems each of purport his has keys to so many spiritual informative vaults. It is sad that I still read each verse in a hurry, without absorbing and relishing each single sentence carefully.
And lastly again the point of Sadhu Sangha. I again realised how in the company of intelligent devotees like Shyam Sundar Prabhu, Gaurav prabhu, I learn 10 times more. Shyam Sundar Prabhu ask questions so tactfully and intelligently. He changes the discussion completely, engaging devotees and making a simple discussion so much more interactive. He cajoles devotees to open up in a very subtle way, always asking open-ended questions. No doubt Prabhuji is so successful in both the material as well as the spiritual world.
The day ended with sumptuous Prasadam by my wife, Priti. It was one of the best ekadeshi prasadam I had and that too with such good company. I really wish and pray that I can have such association every single day for the rest of my life.
sadhu-sanga sadhu-sanga sarva sastre kaya lava matra sadhu sange sarva siddhi haya
The verdict of all revealed scriptures is that by even a moment’s association with a pure devotee, one can attain all success. (CC. madhya22.54)
Dormant devotional service to Kṛṣṇa is within everyone. Simply by associating with devotees, hearing their good instructions and chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, dormant love for Kṛṣṇa is awakened. In this way one acquires the seed of devotional service. Guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāde pāya bhakti-latā-bīja.”
Q: Who is an Aryan ?
A: One who chants the Holy name is an Aryan.
Srila Prabhupada translates the below verse from SB 3.33.7 quoted in CC madhya 19.72 as
“‘My dear Lord, one who always keeps Your holy name on his tongue becomes greater than an initiated brāhmaṇa. Although he may be born in a family of dog-eaters and may therefore, by material calculation, be the lowest among men, he is still glorious. This is the wonderful effect of chanting the holy name of the Lord. It is therefore concluded that one who chants the holy name of the Lord should be understood to have performed all kinds of austerities and great sacrifices mentioned in the Vedas. He has already taken his bath in all the holy places of pilgrimage, he has studied all the Vedas, and he is actually an Aryan.'”
This verse was quoted by Vallabha Bhaṭṭācārya when MahaPrabhu tells him not to touch Roop and Sanatana Goswami as he is a high caste Brahmin.
Srila Prabhupada explains in the purport of SB 3.33.7
“The word juhuvuḥ means that the chanters of the holy name have already performed all kinds of sacrifices. Sasnuḥ means that they have already traveled to all the holy places of pilgrimage and taken part in purificatory activities at those places. They are called āryāḥ because they have already finished all these requirements, and therefore they must be among the Āryans or those who have qualified themselves to become Āryans. “Āryan” refers to those who are civilized, whose manners are regulated according to the Vedic rituals. Any devotee who is chanting the holy name of the Lord is the best kind of Āryan. Unless one studies the Vedas, one cannot become an Āryan, but it is automatically understood that the chanters have already studied all the Vedic literature..”
Q: How does one know what does Krishna wants us to do ?
A: By surrendering to a bona fide representative of Krishna.
Srila Prabhupada explains in cc madhya 19. 167
“The criterion is that a devotee must know what Kṛṣṇa wants him to do. This understanding can be achieved through the medium of a spiritual master who is a bona fide representative of Kṛṣṇa. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī advises, ādau gurv-āśrayam. One who is serious in wanting to render pure devotional service to the Lord must take shelter of a spiritual master who comes in the disciplic succession from Kṛṣṇa. Evaṁ paramparā-prāptam imaṁ rājarṣayo viduḥ [Bg. 4.2]. Without accepting a bona fide spiritual master coming in the disciplic succession, one cannot find out the real purpose of devotional service. Therefore one has to accept the shelter of a bona fide spiritual master and agree to be directed by him.”