Shri Shrimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
Badger, California: June 8, 2000
Shriman Mahaprabhu is giving His mercy to Shrila Rupa Gosvami by instructing him from beginning to end about the bhakti creeper. This teaching is the highest aim and object for a devotee; there is nothing beyond this. If a person has even a little taste for this – not even taste, even nistha (strong faith) – his life will be changed. This is the fruit of high-class association.
If you are beginning this bhakti process, the symptoms will be klesa-aghni (destruction of all miseries) and subhada, (the manifestation of all good qualities), and worldly desires will go. You can judge for yourself, keeping your hands on your heart, and check your own pulse, to see whether or not, after repeated hearing, your material desires have lessened or gone. We still desire to taste the objects of sense gratification.
Is the wish coming to be like this?
bhaktih paresanubhavo viraktir
anyatra caisa trika eka-kalah
prapadyamanasya yathasnatah syus
tustih pustih ksud-apayo 'nu-ghasam
["Devotion, direct experience of the Supreme Lord, and detachment from other things – these three occur simultaneously for one who has taken shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in the same way that pleasure, nourishment, and relief from hunger come simultaneously and increasingly, with each bite, for a person engaged in eating. (Shrimad-Bhagavatam, 11.2.42)"]
I have explained many times that there are three things: bhakti (devotion), paresanubhavo (realization), and viraktir (detachment from the world) that happen simultaneously. If you are regularly hearing all these bhakti topics, practicing bhakti in accordance with what you have heard and chanting harinama, but experiencing no detachment from worldly things, it means you have no care. You don't like the practices, and therefore so many desires remain. Bhakti-devi is very powerful, like Krishna Himself, but she cannot do anything. Try to understand this; if bhakti is actually present, then detachment, some taste, and some satisfaction is there, and the soul will be always happy.
If this is not taking place, it means that there are some loopholes in your practice. You will have to discover what they are, and gradually give them all up. This is called nistha, or strong faith – understanding these things and behaving according to your intelligence for your future benefit. It may be that you have some defects, but you may still have attained nistha. "Problems may come, but I will increase my faith and perform bhakti, by chanting and engaging in all the other processes, gradually giving up all worldly desires." This is nistha.
This is where we should begin – hearing again and again. Don't try to increase your worldly affairs. If you are increasing your worldly affairs, then you are not following. Gradually go up. I am not saying that you should give up your family life, but try to be like the associates of Mahaprabhu and the associates of Krishna.
eita parama-phala 'parama-purusartha'
yanra age trna-tulya cari purusartha
["To taste the fruit of devotional service in Goloka Vrindavan is the highest perfection of life, and in the presence of such perfection, the four material perfections—religion, economic development, sense gratification and liberation—are very insignificant achievements." (Shri Chaitanya-caritamrta Madhya-lila 19:164).]
Trnatulya means 'dry straw.
'suddha-bhakti' haite haya 'prema' utpanna
ataeva suddha-bhaktira kahiye 'laksana'
["When one is situated in pure devotional service, he develops love of Godhead; therefore let me describe some of the symptoms of pure devotional service. (Shri Chaitanya-caritamrta Madhya-lila 19:166). ]
Only suddha-bhakti, pure bhakti, can give prema. The other types of bhakti that we have nowadays, such asaropa-siddha bhakti, karma-misra bhakti, jnana-misra bhakti, and yoga-misra bhakti, that is, doing bhakti with the desire for opulence, wealth, a beautiful wife and children, and so on will not attract prema to come. You will have to give up these other desires forever. Then you can think of achieving this prema, otherwise not.
I will explain more about suddha-bhakti:
anyabhilasita sunyam jnana-karmady anavrtam
anukulyena krsnanusilanam bhaktir uttama
(Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Purva-vibhaga 1.1.11)
["The cultivation of activities which are meant exclusively for the pleasure of Shri Krishna, or in other words, the uninterrupted flow of service to Shri Krishna, performed through all endeavours of the body, mind and speech, and through the expressions of various spiritual sentiments (bhavas), which is not covered by jnana (knowledge aimed at impersonal liberation) and karma (reward-seeking activity), and which is devoid of all desires other than the aspiration to bring happiness to Shri Krishna, is called uttama-bhakti, pure devotional service."]
Always remember this sloka, and wear it as a necklace. This necklace is very precious. In the three worlds there is no necklace more valuable than this sloka; so try to remember it, and always follow it. Rupa Goswami composed this verse in a poetic manner on the inspiration of Mahaprabhu.
Put your hands on your heart and judge yourself whether or not you are performing uttama-bhakti (first-class bhakti), or even second-class, or even third-class bhakti. You can judge for yourself, and if it is okay, very good. If there is any defect, try to repair, to reform, and do more. This is the way; there is no other way.
Shrila Rupa Gosvami has taught us to first take the association of pure devotees, sadhu-sanga, and then guru-padasraya (taking shelter of a bona fide guru). He explains that there are sixty-four kinds of bhakti, and the first is sadhu-sanga. By sadhu sanga, a desire may come to serve Krishna. Then that aspiring devotee will search, "Where should I buy that seed of bhakti?" Then, by the help of the guru from whom he is hearing (sravana guru), he will know who is the best devotee – that personality who knows his heart and can help him. He will meet that guru who knows his heart. The guru's innermost heart and mood is similar to the mood of the aspiring disciple's own soul. That aspiring devotee will feel, "That guru is far more advanced than I, but somehow our inner hearts are similar – I have something in my soul that is similar." That guru will be more advanced than oneself, he will be a liberated soul, and he will be kind to devotees. You will have to surrender to him and follow him. Then you will receive initiation.
There was once a devotee who wanted to receive initiation from a bona fide guru. The guru read his face and immediately knew everything about his heart. The guru told him, "You should come to me tomorrow after taking bath, and I will initiate you." The next day, in the early morning, that devotee went to the Ganges, took bath, and was then coming to the guru. In the meantime, Gurudeva told a good sweeper, "You should take some dry leaves and dust. Don't throw it on his head or anywhere on his body. Throw it from a little far away, but close enough for some dust to touch him. But be very careful. He may run towards you and give you a slap. So be very careful. As soon as you throw the dust, you should run from there."
Meanwhile, the devotee was on his way to take initiation, thinking, "Oh, I am now pure. I have taken bath and put on tilaka." While he was on his way, the sweeper was nearby.That sweeper emptied his basket, and some dust touched the aspiring devotee and he became angry. He picked up a stick and chased the sweeper. But the sweeper ran away and he could not catch him.
Then he came to Gurudeva and said, "Gurudeva, I am going to take bath again and return. Please give me initiation." Gurudeva replied, "Oh, you should wait one more year and learn to control your anger."
At the time of initiation, Gurudeva tells you to keep your index finger out of your bead bag. Why? Because this denotes anger: "I will punish you!" "I will shoot you!" "I will break your legs! Do you know who I am?!" Anger is our enemy; we should try to realize this.
Next year the aspiring disciple took bath in the Ganges and was on his was to receive initiation from his Gurudeva. In the meantime, Gurudeva instructed the same sweeper, "This time you should put more leaves and dust in your basket, and when he comes, throw them a little closer to him so that they touch his body. But be careful; he may attack you." So, while the devotee was on his way to Gurudeva, after taking bath, the sweeper emptied his basket and some leaves and dust touched his body more so than the previous year.
That aspiring disciple became very furious, with red eyes, but he did not chase the sweeper with a stick. Instead, he simply considered within his mind, "You are the problem. You are the wall between my guru and I." He took bath again, and then returned to Gurudeva. But Gurudeva told him again, "Come back in one more year."
Then, in the third year, he took bath in the Ganges and made his way to see his Gurudeva. Gurudeva instructed the same sweeper to throw the entire basket on the devotee's head when he would pass by, and told him, "But be careful. There is no poison now, but his 'hoods' will come (as a serpent who raises his hoods but does not bite). Be careful.
As the aspiring devotee went by, the sweeper threw the whole basket on his head. This time he did not become very angry. He further thought, and then fell at the lotus feet of the sweeper and told him, "You are refining me. Now I realize this is the management of my Gurudeva, as a trick, to reform me. You are my first guru. Now I will go to my Gurudeva." He turned to take bath again, but his Gurudeva said, "Come now. I will initiate you. You are not impure now."
So, even if you take one hundred baths, apply tilaka, and so on, but you have not removed your lust, anger, and worldly desires, then millions of baths will do nothing. The fish are always living in the water, but if they touch you, there will be some bad smell on your body. You will be impure. A bath alone will not do.
Try to remove all lust: "Oh, I'm married, but I'm not satisfied. Oh, I should leave this lady. This lady is not so helpful." Next, next, next. Ten times. Twenty times. And ladies are also like that. This lust, anger, and so many worldly desires – these things are not pure. Try to give up all these things, at which time bhakti will come. Bhakti will know, "I am seeing this type of person – with so many lustful desires." I can see. Shrila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja used to see, but still he wanted to help everyone. But bhakti-devi – more than anyone, more than Krishna, because Krishna has invested all His power in her. She will decide whether or not Krishna will enter someone's heart or not. You cannot deceive Bhakti-devi. You cannot cheat her. You can never cheat Her. So try to be as I have requested.
Rupa Gosvami is teaching:
anya-vancha, anya-puja chadi' 'jnana', 'karma'
anukulye sarvendriye krsnanusilana
["A pure devotee must not cherish any desire other than to serve Krishna. He should not offer worship to the demigods or to mundane personalities. He should not cultivate artificial knowledge, which is devoid of Krishna consciousness, and he should not engage himself in anything other than Krishna conscious activities. One must engage all one's purified senses in the service of the Lord. This is the favorable execution of Krishna conscious activities. (Chaitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 19.168)
There should be only one desire: how to serve Radha-Krishna, and Their associates. Anya-vancha means that any desire which is not related to pleasing Krishna should be given up. I may ask any devotee who has gone to the bathroom to taken bath, "Why are you taking bath?" What is the fact?"
We should take bath for Krishna. How? "I've gone to the bathroom and then I have taken bath, I will be fresh. I will serve Krishna. I will chant "Krishna." It is really done to please Krishna.
This mood to please Krishna should be there, rather than simply thinking, "I will be pure by merely taking a bath." By taking bath alone, you will not be pure even in thousands upon thousands of births.
But you can be purified very soon in high-class association. You should depend on this, and on chanting and remembering. Anya vancha, anya puja. Who are you worshipping? What to speak of worshiping demigods like Indra, and Varuna, or others like Ganesh or Sankara, I have seen so many very beautiful golden Ganesh's in devotees' houses on the altar of Krishna. Why? They are thinking, "Oh. He will give wealth and then I will serve Krishna." Why do you want all this? This is anya vancha, desires other than to please Krishna. Try to give up all material desires. I know that not all of you can take this idea. Only those who are very fortunate can do so.
Prem-prayojana das: Is worship of Dvarakadhisa included in anya puja?
Shrila Gurudeva: Yes, Dvarakadhisa, and even Narayana. But this does not apply to worship of Nanda Baba's Narayana. Nanda Baba would pray, "O Narayana. Please give me some wealth with which I can serve Krishna. O Giriraja Govardhana, please give me many things to satisfy [my son] Krishna." His worship is pure. For pure devotees, even if they are worshipping a blade of grass, their worship is helpful for krsna-bhakti. They have no desire at all, except to serve Krishna, to please Krishna, and to please the devotees of Krishna.
All of you should all try to be like this. If you have any self-interest, bhakti will not come. She will send her duplicate with a very cheating mood, who will say, "Here is karma-misra-bhakti, jnana-misra-bhakti, and all sorts of mixed bhakti. They will satisfy you. These other types of bhakti will satisfy you by giving you so much wealth and reputation." You will become involved in those things, and bhakti will go away forever. Try to realize this. Be very, very careful. Some devotees think, "I'm chanting and remembering; this is enough. Why should I bother to do anything more? Why accept a high-class guru? I'm reading books and I've heard so many topics. I can worship Krishna myself. I can chant Krishna myself. No need to offer myself at the lotus feet of any guru. Oh, I've seen so many gurus who have fallen down, so I will no longer trust any guru."
Then what will happen? It is an offense to think that in the entire world there isn't even one pure devotee. There must be one. This world cannot be without a pure devotee; it would go to hell. You can pray to Krishna for that.
Shrila Rupa Gosvami has instructed first to accept a bona-fide guru, and then follow his instructions on how to develop in bhakti. Our relationship will develop and gradually offenses will go. Then you can serve your gurudeva like a friend, sad-bandhu. Sad-bandhu means 'bosom friend.' In this world, an elevated devotee can serve his guru like a bosom friend. Otherwise, if one is no so advanced, he may do something wrong and commit offenses.
At our stage we have to serve our guru in opulence, with great awe and reverence, not neglecting or disobeying his order. Suppose guru says, "You should chant sixteen rounds per day; and remember all the mantras I have given, and you must follow the process I have given." If his disciples are not following, this is an offense, which will decrease his bhakti to the point that he will give up.
So always be careful. If one is not accepting guru due to his fear that so many gurus are falling down, that person is chanting and remembering, having belief in Krishna, and he is not committing any offenses, something is still lacking. He should be careful. He should pray to Krishna, "Please send me a guru in the category that Rupa Gosvami has instructed us about, "He will take birth in the home of a devotee, and have a chance to have a guru. He will have to come into this process, whether he is completing the process in this one birth, in hundreds of thousands of births, or in millions of births. He will have to enter this process one day.
So why not follow and begin from now? Why lose all this time?