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Initiations and other topics

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italytalk.jpgItaly - Morning Walk: July 6, 2010

Harernamananda dasa: Shrila Gurudeva, sometimes devotees wonder what is the meaning and significance of wearing Vaisnava dress, because it is a five-hundred-year-old tradition.

Shrila Gurudeva: If a person wearing red (saffron) cloth commits any sin, he will easily be caught. It is for this reason that our acaryas have given red cloth. Many kinds of person can dress in white, but if one engages in nonsense while wearing this red cloth, at once he will be caught.

Moreover, gerua ranga (saffron color) contains something mysterious. It gives something to the body that makes the wearer more able to resist kama (lust); that is why it has been given. But nowadays gerua is not real gerua; we use artificial gerua. [Gerua is a special stone which, when mixed with soil, produces the saffron color in cloth. -ed]

Harernamananda dasa: Some devotees think that it is not necessary to wear kurta, dhoti, or sari. They say that it is acceptable to walk around in ordinary non-devotee clothing.

Shrila Gurudeva: No. They are wrong. All of our acaryas were very, very careful. Ramanuja, Madhva, and Vishnusvami have all taken danda and this cloth. They discovered that this gerua ranga helps on so many ways.

This evening we will speak about Krishna's killing of Dhenukasura, Krishna's destroying Indra's pride, Krishna's chastisement of Kaliya, and perhaps Krishna's meeting the Yajna-patnis. (To a sannyasi) You, especially, can prepare to speak about Dhenukasura.

Shripad Asrama Maharaj: Shrila Gurudeva, it is stated , sampradaya-vihina ye mantras te nisphala matah. The mantra is meant for one to achieve the goal of bhava, and ultimately prema. If a kanistha-adhikari gives this mantra to a disciple, is there any effect?

Shrila Gurudeva: A kanistha-adhikari should not do so. He should take that person to a high-class Vaisnava to be initiated.

Shripad Madhava Maharaj: A kanistha can be a vartma-pradarsaka guru (the guru who shows the path; who brings the candidate to the bona fide, self-realized guru)

Shripad Asrama Maharaj: So, in a case where a kanistha-adhikari gives the mantra to a disciple, is there no effect?

Shrila Gurudeva: If he does this, what is there to say? Many kanisthas are doing this.

Shripad Asrama Maharaj: Somebody may say that because in some societies there are no high-class Vaisnavas, there is a need for kanisthas to give initiation.

Shrila Gurudeva: In fact, even those who haven't reached the level of kanistha-adhikari – those with no adhikari at all – are giving 'initiation.'

Shripad Sudhadvaiti Maharaj: So, the fruit is not bhakti?

Shrila Gurudeva: Millions of persons are doing this. Those with nothing, not even the qualification of kanistha, are doing this, and nothing can be done about it.

Shripad Sudadvaiti Maharaj: But will the fruit of this initiation be bhakti, or sukrti only? The disciples will not get bhakti; is this correct?

Shrila Gurudeva: The result will be nothing.

Shripad Shridhara Maharaj: Shrila Madhvacarya has not written any commentary to Brahma-vimohana-lila.

Shrila Gurudeva: Brahma was Shrila Madhvacarya's guru, so Madhvacarya considered, "My Gurudeva can have no fault." It is for this reason that he has not written a commentary to this pastime.

Shripad Shridhara Maharaj: Lord Brahma is our guru also, so how are we to understand this 'fault' of his?"

Shrila Gurudeva: Mahaprabhu was very liberal. He was not narrow-minded like the followers of Madhvacarya.

Shripad Madhava Maharaj: It was through Brahma that Krishna performed so many pastimes. Krishna was able to fulfil the Vraja gopis' desires, the mothers' desires, and the cows' desires.

Shrila Gurudeva: So many of Krishna's pastimes manifested from this one incident; so why should Shrila Shridhara Svami refrain from commenting on it? Why should Shrila Sanatana Gosvami or Shrila Jiva Gosvami leave this out?

Shripad Madhava Maharaj: Or Shrila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura.

Shrila Gurudeva: They did not avoid writing commentaries on this pastime.

Shripad Shridhara Maharaj: Brahmaji is our adi-guru. He is a great Vaisnava. Being a great Vaisnava, why could he not see the original cowherd boys and calves?

Shrila Gurudeva: He was influenced by some maya. [See Endnote 1] He was born from a lotus flower, so some defect must be there; that was the defect. [Endnote 2]

The influence of Krishna's maya was so much greater than the power of Brahma.

Shripad Madhava Maharaj: For one year even Baladeva Prabhu could not understand; what to speak of Brahma and Sivaji.

Shrila Gurudeva: Baladeva thought, "Why are all these things going on?" He told Krishna, "O Prabhu, without Your mercy, no one can understand Your pastimes. Even I cannot understand; what to speak of others?

Shripad Nemi Maharaj: Are the gopis with whom Krishna dances married to the same cowherd boys with whom He plays in the daytime?

Shrila Gurudeva: (To Brajanath dasa) What did he say?

Brajanath dasa: At the time of Brahma-vimohana-lila, all the gopis married the gopas. Then, after the lila was over, did they remain married to those gopas?

Shrila Gurudeva: No, no, no. They married only one time, not two. After that one time, they thought, "This is my husband." [See Endnote 3]

Shripad Suddhadvaiti Maharaj: Gurudeva, in the Upadesamrta of Shrila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaj, at the end of purport five, he says not to take a guru if he is not uttama-adhikari; he also says "Don't become guru if you are not uttama-adhikari." Then he says that both the kanistha-adhikari and madhyama-adhikari may also take disciples, but that such disciples cannot make much progress due to insufficient guidance. The question is this: Below which level would you say that one should not venture to take disciples? [Endnote 4]

Shrila Gurudeva: It is not written anywhere. But I think that, at the least, one requires the qualification of a madhyama-madhyama devotee in order to give initiation. [See Endnote 5]

Shripad Suddhadvaiti Maharaj: Does his giving of the diksa-mantra have the power to give divya-jnana?

Shrila Gurudeva: It is not as powerful as if Narada would give it. If Narada gives initiation, at once, in a second, divya-jnana will manifest. But we are not like him.

Shripad Nemi Maharaj: What are the symptoms of a madhyama-madhyama-adhikari, Shrila Gurudeva?

Shripad Madhava Maharaj: He is asking what is the qualification of a madhyama-madhyama? Is it ruci, or asakti, or nistha, or what?

Shrila Gurudeva: Up to asakti. And, if bhava comes...

Shripad Suddhadvaiti Maharaj: The definition of divya-jnana is that the guru is putting the form of Bhagavan in the heart by the mantra, like a seed. From that seed manifests bhagavat sambandha visesa jnanam ca [from Bhakti-sandarbha], meaning specific realized knowledge of one's relationship with Bhagavan. At which level can guru know this?

Shrila Gurudeva: If I know, and you know, why will that madhyama-madhyama not know? [Here, he is pretending to be like us, saying that he and we and the madhyama-madhyama guru may have varying degrees of knowledge of one's particular relationship with Krishna. -ed] However, realization of that knowledge will come at bhava. Without bhava, or rati, realization will not come; but even that level the realization will be as though 'covered with glass.'

Shripad Asrama Maharaj: So, does 'up to asakti' mean ruci? Is ruci not madhyama-madhyama? 'Up to asakti' begins from where? [From Pinnacle of Devotion, in the chapter entitled "The Role of Siksa-guru" (footnote to the word 'prema' in 'prema maitre, krpa, upeksa'): "Shrila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura writes in his Shrimad-Bhagavatam commentary that a madhyama-adhikari cannot have real prema. But by thinking of how the gopis loved Krishna, he may receive a shadow of their prema. Thus he achieves the level of asakti, attachment for Krishna."]

Shripad Suddhadvaiti Maharaj: Ruci.

Shripad Asrama Maharaj: (To Shripad Sudhadvaiti Maharaj) He didn't say ruci with his mouth. You said ruci.

Shripad Suddhadvaiti Maharaj: (To Shripad Asrama Maharaj) But it is understood in all sastra.

Brajanath dasa: Gurudeva said, "Asakti."

Shripad Shridhara Maharaj: If we look closely, we see that so many gurus take disciples although those gurus' anarthas have not gone. They have not passed anartha-nrvrtti, yet they are taking disciples. How can they do this?

Shrila Gurudeva: Nowadays there is no consideration of qualification at all – nothing. All are allowed to give, especially unqualified persons.

Shripad Asrama Maharaj: Shrila Gurudeva, you said, "Up to asakti." Do you mean nistha-ruci madhyama-madhyama, or only ruci-asakti madhyama-madhyama? [When Shrila Gurudeva said 'up to asakti,' he meant that the guru must have already reached up to the stage of asakti. He must already be on the stage of asakti. -ed]

Shrila Gurudeva: What is it that you continue to ask (ki sab)?

Shripad Asrama Maharaj: If one is not madhyama-madhyama and he gives diksa, what reaction will he receive?

Shrila Gurudeva: Good result (gati); there is no harm in this. Krishna will do what is needful.

Shripad Asrama Maharaj: No, I am not referring to the madhyama-madhyama. I am asking about one who is less than that.

Brajanath dasa: What is the result of an unqualified guru giving diksa?

Shrila Gurudeva: He should be qualified.

Shripad Asrama Maharaj: But what if he is unqualified? Then?

Shrila Gurudeva: What will be the result? You know.

Shripad Asrama Maharaj: Me? Oh, please; don't do this to me. Don't do this to me.

Shripad Suddhadvaita Maharaj: So madhyama-madhyama begins at ruci; yes?

Shrila Gurudeva: Do you know the meaning of mana (honor) and summana (honor, or respect)?

The desire for these things will grow. That unqualified person will thus think, "I am the only guru," and then he will fall down.


Devotee: How can I know that my relationship with my Gurudeva is growing?

Shrila Gurudeva: I have told this so many times. (To Shripad Padmanabha Maharaj) Please tell him.

Shripad Padmanabha Maharaj: Shrila Gurudeva was recently asked a similar question in Los Angeles, California. His answer was, "You will be happy. If you are developing your relationship properly, you will be happy."

Devotee: I received diksa-mantra from you a year ago. What is my service?

Shrila Gurudeva: You can serve according to your skill and qualification; preaching, distributing my books, reading my books – all these things.

Kamala-kanta dasa (of Germany): Shrila Gurudeva, is there some special significance in Romahasana Suta's being killed with a blade of grass?

Shrila Gurudeva: Kusa grass is very sharp, very sharp, like a knife.

Shripad Madhava Maharaj: If you don't hold it properly, it will cut you.

Shrila Gurudeva: And kusa was readily available there.

Shripad Madhava Maharaj: Baladeva Prabhu took the blade of kusa and simply touched Romaharsana Suta with the tip of its blade. In this way, Romaharsana was actually killed by Baladeva Prabhu's desire.

Shrila Gurudeva: Kusa is pavitra.

Shripad Madhava Maharaj: Meaning very pure; very auspicious.

Shrila Gurudeva: It was for all these reasons that Baladeva Prabhu killed him by the kusa.

Devotee: Why is paran (the breaking of the Ekadasi fast at a specific time on the dvadasi day, by eating some grain) so important? Why is it so important to break the fast within such a little time-span, which is sometimes only ten or fifteen minutes? Moreover, how were people able to do this before the days of watches?

Shrila Gurudeva: Oh, yes. If they don't know, there is nothing they can do; but if they know, they must do it within the proper time.

Devotee: Why is it so important?

Shripad Madhava Maharaj: If you don't follow, you lose the fruit of Ekadasi. This is mentioned in Hari-bhakti-vilasa and other scriptures. Ekadasi is tomorrow here; today in America.

Shripad Sajjana Maharaj: One day in Navadvipa, we had a time period of eight minutes in which to take paran. I had a watch, and I saw that the Bengalis were breaking their fast at exactly at the right time without watches.

Shripad Asrama Maharaj: I have a question on guru-tattva. Maharaj is asking me to ask this question. Yesterday you explained that if a kanistha-adhikari gives diksa, the result is zero. But it has been said that you previously mentioned that if the kanistha-adhikari who is giving diksa is himself taking siksa from a higher devotee, this system might be okay.

My question is this: What is the need for a kanistha-adhikari to give diksa if he can directly send that person to the higher devotee, and he himself just helps with instruction?

Shrila Gurudeva: The kanistha-adhikari should not give diksa. He should take the candidates to the uttama-adhikari.

Shripad Asrama Maharaj: Somebody said that you mentioned once before that this system may be okay. I just wanted it confirmed.

Shrila Gurudeva: But it is better to take them to the uttama-adhikari.

Shripad Suddhadvaiti Maharaj: What if there is no maha-bhagavat available in our sanga?

Shrila Gurudeva: Madhyama.

Shripad Asrama Maharaj: Madhyama; madhyama-madhyama.

Shrila Gurudeva: Madhyama is available everywhere.

Shripad Suddhadvaiti Maharaj: Everywhere?

Shrila Gurudeva: (To Shripad Suddhadvaiti Maharaj) You yourself can give diksa.

Shripad Suddhadvaiti Maharaj: Why are you cheating me now?

Shrila Gurudeva: Nemi Maharaj, and you, and all. One day you will have to give diksa; today or tomorrow.

Sannyasi: Next life.

Shrila Gurudeva: Better to start now.

Shripad Sudhadvaiti Maharaj: Double cheating now.

Brajanath dasa: They are inviting (meaning 'my observation is that they are anxious to start initiating').

Shrila Gurudeva: They can all do it.

Devotee: Gurudeva, how can I keep your presence with me, in my heart, at every moment?

Shrila Gurudeva: Oh, Nemi Maharaj, please answer.

Shripad Nemi Maharaj: First of all, we should follow Shrila Gurudeva's instructions. We should serve his mission and understand "saksad haritvena samasta sastrai." Gurudeva is like Krishna; he is within the heart. So, we can constantly cultivate the sense that he is always with us – associating with him within our heart and serving him within the heart.

Shrila Gurudeva: Are you satisfied?

Devotee: Yes

Shripad Nemi Maharaj: Yes, he's satisfied Shrila Gurudeva.

Devotee: Thank you.

Shripad Suddhadvaiti Maharaj: Someone asked this question: The cows have vatsalya-prema for Krishna. Are they higher than the sakhas, who have sakhya-prema?

Shrila Gurudeva: If those cows are vatsalya, then it may be. But first they should be vatsalya. They are unable to express themselves by words. The can simply think, "I want Krishna to be my son; then I will give Him my milk."

Are there any more questions?

Devotee: Gurudeva, since madhurya-prema is higher than sakhya-prema, how is it possible for somebody in sakhya-prema to be completely happy?

Brajanath dasa: He is asking: How can anyone with the mood of sakhya, or dasya, or vatsalya be fully happy, if the highest mood is madhurya-, or srngara-, rasa?

Shrila Gurudeva: None of you have any mood at all. When bhava comes, you will be able to see who you are and what is your eternal relationship with Krishna – but that realization is compared to seeing something that is covered by glass. When you attain prema, you will be able to see everything clearly.

Shripad Madhava Maharaj: Will the devotee be happy by his own mood even though he knows that vatsalya-rasa and madhurya rasa are higher than sakhy-arasa?

Shrila Gurudeva: He will realize his happiness when he reaches the stage of bhava.

Shripad Madhava Maharaj: Yes. But at that time will they think those in madhurya-rasa are higher, or will they be happy by their own rasa?

Shrila Gurudeva: First let bhava come; then talk.

Darsana after the walk

Shyamarani dasi: Shrila Gurudeva, this is Dina-dayal prabhu. He was initiated by you thirteen years ago, and just now came back. He is like Ananta prabhu for communication; and he is like Dilip, who was helping the members of your society to communicate with each other.

Shripad Madhava Maharaj: Very good. Good, good.

Shyamarani dasi: So now he has agreed to help us form a new Communication Seva-Team, to help the devotees to become leaders in communication, to train others so that everyone will feel encouraged to work together in harmony without conflicts, and to bring each other up to our highest potential of service to you.

Shrila Gurudeva: (To Dina-dayal dasa) Oh, you can do it.

Shyamarani dasi: We want to send a letter about this new seva-team to the sanga. We are wondering if you can say a few words encouraging...

Shrila Gurudeva: You can say.

Shyamarani dasi: Okay.

Shrila Gurudeva: I have no time.

Shyamarani dasi: You have already said so many things.

Shrila Gurudeva: I have told everything in my classes. So, he should do it.

Dina-dayal dasa: Shrila Gurudeva, thank you so much for your mercy, and I hope I can serve you as you desire.


[Endnote 1: The maya that influenced Brahma was yogamaya, not mahamaya: "When Krishna killed Aghasura, Lord Brahma saw Aghasura's soul enter into Krishna's lotus feet. He thought, "How wonderful this is! I want to see more sweet pastimes." That is why he thought of stealing the calves and boys.

In the meantime, Krishna was thinking about how to fulfill four wishes: (1) the desire of all of the teenage gopis; (2) the desires of the cows and mothers; (3) the desire of Lord Brahma; and (4) His own desire to taste the affection of these associates. As He was contemplating in this way, Yogamaya at once appeared to Him and said, 'Prabhu, you are thinking about tasting these relationships, so I will arrange for this right away.' This is why she caught hold of Brahma and brought him under her influence. She made this thought arise in him: 'I am Brahma. I should steal away the cowherd boys and calves. Then I will see what He will do. Maybe He will come to me and ask where they are.'" (from Walking With A Saint, Miami, May 24, 2008)]

[Endnote 2: The gopis said, "Brahma was born from the lotus-navel of Padmanabha Vishnu, so he is like that lotus flower. His intelligence is quite dull, because he has come from the stem of an inert lotus. How can demigods like Brahma know anything? They can pray to You and believe that You are the Supreme Lord. They can believe that You can create this entire universe in a second and then destroy it. They can glorify You like this, but we have known You from the beginning of Your birth, and we know You at this very moment. These demigods and yogis may pray to You for salvation, or they can pray to You that Your lotus feet may appear in their hearts. They should do so, because they are as foolish as anything. We are not like them, for we are very clever and intelligent." (from Origin of Ratha-yatra, Chapter 6, Krishna Meets the Gopis)]

[Endnote 3: At the time of Brahma-vimohana-lila, all the gopis married, or more specifically, were betrothed to, the gopas who were actually the expansions of Krishna. Later, the gopis considered as their husbands the original gopas, who had been kidnapped by Brahma. -ed]

[Endnote 4: "In this verse Shrila Rupa Gosvami advises the devotee to be intelligent enough to distinguish between the kanistha-adhikari, madhyama-adhikari and uttama-adhikari. A neophyte Vaisnava or a Vaisnava situated on the intermediate platform can also accept disciples, but such disciples must be on the same platform, and it should be understood that they cannot advance very well toward the ultimate goal of life under his insufficient guidance. Therefore a disciple should be careful to accept an uttama-adhikari as a spiritual master." (from Nectar of Instruction, Chapterh. 5 Purport] [This text does not say 'initiate.' It says 'accept disciples.' - ed]

[Endnote 5: Bilvamangala Thakura pays obeisances to Cintamani, who had inspired him to take shelter of Shri Krishna. What type of guru was she? A vartma-pradarsakaguru, one who says, "Come with me to a realized Vaisnava." The vartma-pradarsaka-guru shows the path. He may be kanistha, that is alright; but the initiating guru should not be less than a madhyama-adhikari.

What are the symptoms of madhyama-adhikari? You need to know these symptoms before accepting a diksa or siksa-guru. If you do not see these symptoms, then do not accept a person as guru. Otherwise, there will be so many difficulties in your devotional life. If that guru falls down, your life will be ruined and you will cry bitterly.

The first symptom of the bona fide guru is this:

tasmad gurum prapadyeta
jijnasuh sreya uttamam
sabde pare ca nisnatam
brahmany upasamasrayam
Shrimad-Bhagavatam, 11.3.21

Any person who is seriously desirous of achieving real happiness must seek out a bona fide spiritual master and take shelter of him by initiation. The qualification of a spiritual master is that he must have realized the conclusion of the scriptures by deliberation and arguments and thus be able to convince others of these conclusions. Such great personalities, who have taken complete shelter of the Supreme Godhead, leaving aside all material considerations, are to be understood as bona fide spiritual masters.

Though all symptoms should be there in full, two are prominent. The first symptom is sabde pare ca nisnatam brahmany; the guru has complete knowledge of the scriptures. The second symptom is upasamasrayam; he is detached from material desires. He is always so happy serving Shri Krishna. If he is unhappy and feels that his life has so many problems, then he is not qualified to be guru. Haridasa Thakura was beaten in twenty-two marketplaces, almost to the point of death, but he did not consider this a problem. He kept chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna. Prahlada Maharaj was tortured by his father, yet he never felt he had a problem. Rather, he stood on the head of all problems.

A guru who chants and performs the nine processes of bhakti, and who has taken diksa but who laments that he has so many problems – that his wife has cheated him, his children are not with him, he cannot manage or make money, or that he has no computer or no sufficient material facility – should be rejected at once.

The third symptom of guru is that he is realized in Krishna-bhakti. Without having this realization, because he still has material desires, he is bound to fall. Besides these three symptoms, a madhyama-adhikari will have four additional qualities. The uttama-adhikari is of course superior and offers a superior result in bhakti, but such a guru is rare in this world. In the absence of such an uttama-guru, the madhyama-adhikari can be accepted as a siksa or diksa-guru.

But one should see whether or not he has the following four qualities:

1) prema –He has love and affection for Krishna. (Gurudeva's footnote to this word: Shrila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura writes in his Shrimad-Bhagavatam commentary that a madhyama-adhikari cannot have real prema. But by thinking of how the gopis loved Krishna, he may receive a shadow of their prema. Thus he achieves the level of asakti, attachment for Krishna.)

2) maitre – He shows friendship towards and offers...(etc.) (from Pinnacle of Devotion, Chapter entitled "The Role of Siksa-Guru")]

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