Toulouse, France: July 6, 2002
Shri Shrimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaj
[From July 2 to July 7 2002, three hundred devotees gathered from France, Germany, England, Italy, and America to hear the hari-katha of Shri Shrimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaj in Toulouse, France. Every evening he gave class from Chaitanya Charitamrita, leading up to the topic of Shri Rupa-siksa, and within that, he discussed the topic of the seed of the bhakti creeper. He specifically requested that his lectures on this subject be published.]
[Shripad Madhava Maharaj:] Shrila Gurudeva has ordered me to explain the verse:
brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva
guru Krishna prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija
By the causeless mercy of guru and Krishna, the devotional practitioner can receive the seed of bhakti.
[Shrila Narayana Maharaj:] Who will receive the seed?
[Madhava Maharaj:] The sadhaka.
[Shrila Narayana Maharaj:] Why did you say sadhaka? Anyone can receive it.
[Shripad Madhava Maharaj:] By the combined causeless mercy of Guru and Krishna, any living entity can receive the bhakti-lata-bija. In this verse, "guru Krishna" has two meanings: It means "by the combined mercy of Shri Guru and Shri Krishna," and it means that Guru is a manifestation of Krishna. Guru and Krishna are non-different, and this is confirmed in the Chaitanya Charitamrita:
guru Krishna-rupa hana sastrera pramane
guru-rupe Krishna krpa karena bhakta-gane
["According to the revealed opinion of all revealed scriptures, the spiritual master is non-different from Krishna. Lord Krishna, in the form of the spiritual master, delivers His devotees." (Cc Adi 1.45)]
By the causeless mercy of asraya-bhagavan (the spiritual master), the living entity can receive the bhakti-lata-bija. This bhakti-lata-bija is the desire to serve Krishna. How will this desire to serve Krishna manifest in the heart? It manifests by hearing hari-katha from the bona fide Guru and bona fide Vaisnavas. If we try to hear Krishna's pastimes with faith from Gurudeva, and also from pure Vaisnavas, the desire to serve will appear in the heart. I'd like to give some examples from the pastimes we have heard from our Gurudeva and from the Vaisnavas:
One time, Krishna and His sakhas like Shridama, Madhumangala, and others were wrestling with one another, and eventually Shridama came out the winner and Krishna was clapping alone. Seeing this, the sakhas asked Him, "Krishna, why are You clapping so much?" He replied, "Because I defeated Shridama in the wrestling match."
Meanwhile, Durvasa Rsi, who was sitting and watching the whole scene, couldn't decide whether Krishna was the Supreme Personality of Godhead, or just a mundane boy. He watched in amazement as the boys debated with Krishna. Shridama challenged Him, "Krishna Kanhaiya, how can You say that You defeated me? All the sakhas are eyewitnesses; they all saw that You were on the ground on Your back, underneath me. Therefore I am the winner." Krishna replied, "But My nose was pointing up, and he whose nose points down is the loser; so you are the loser!"
Just then they saw that a Baba was sitting nearby and staring at them. Being causelessly merciful, Krishna, along with Shridama and the other sakhas, desired to give him His darsana. He said, "Let us ask this Baba; he saw everything." Then, approaching Durvasa Rsi He said, "Baba, I am the winner and Shridama is the loser. Is it not?" Durvasa simply sat there and remained silent, for he was completely bewildered by what was taking place. Shridama then said, "Baba, please speak the truth. Don't lie like Krishna; please don't lie. I am the winner and Krishna is the loser. It is not fitting for a saintly person to lie. If you lie, the sin of lying will strike you."
Durvasa Rsi remained sitting, and staring, and now he was also somewhat trembling. Coming very close and looking at him, Krishna said, "Why aren't you replying? Are you dumb?" Shridama added, "Baba why are you not replying? Are you deaf?" In his bewilderment Durvasa Rsi tried to say something, but he could only stutter, "What should I sayI don't know what to say " Now Krishna told Shridama, "Oh! This Baba is bogus! He doesn't know anything." Krishna pulled on the beard of Durvasa Rsi and said, "O Baba! Are you dumb or are you deaf? Why aren't you answering us?" Shridama joined Him, and also pulling on Durvasa's beard said, "Yes, are you deaf or are you dumb?" The sakhas finally said, "Let us go. He doesn't know."
By being in good association and hearing hari-katha like this from a bona fide Guru or Vaisnavas, one will gradually develop the desire to be the friend of Krishna, to play with Him as one of His sakhas. This is very good. Now I will repeat another pastime:
Mother Yasoda had given Krishna a bath, and few moments after being bathed and dressed very nicely by His mother, Krishna rolled on the ground and made His clothes dirty. After that He came to her, demanding to be picked up. She told Him, "No. I shall not touch You. You are dirty; You are a naughty boy. I have just given You a bath and dressed You so nicely, but You went and rolled on the ground. I shall not touch You."
Narada Muni had been watching the whole scene and thought to himself, "How fortunate is Mother Yasoda! The Supreme Personality of Godhead wants to come and sit in her lap, and she is chastising Him, saying, 'No. Don't come and touch me. You are a naughty, dirty boy.'"
By hearing this type of hari-katha from Guru and Vaisnavas, one may gradually develop the desire to serve Krishna like Mother Yasoda and Nanda Baba. This desire is called Krishna-seva-vasana, and it is the bhakti-lata-bija.
Now I want to give one last example. Once, Krishna wanted to console Shrimati Radhika and to apologize for upsetting Her due to His notorious activities. He came to meet with Her, but She told Him, "Hari hari jahe, Madhava jahe. Madhava kaitava badham. O Hari, You should go away from here! O Kesava, go away! O Madhava, go away from here!" The manjaris of Shrimati Radhika can also chastise Krishna. Without their permission, Krishna is not allowed to enter Radhika's kunja.
The desire to serve the Divine Couple in a mood of Radhika's manjaris is also called Krishna-seva-vasana. How does it come? By being in good association and hearing pastimes like these from Shri Guru and Vaisnavas, the greed or the desire to serve Krishna can enter the heart of the sincere disciple by their mercy. This is the desire to serve Krishna: Krishna-seva-vasana, and it is the bhakti-lata-bija.
I have given 3 examples of how Krishna-seva-vasana comes by good association: in friendship (sakhya-rasa), in a paternal mood (vatsalya-rasa) and in the mood of a paramour lover (madhurya-rasa). If someone who hears these pastimes develops the desire to serve Krishna in any one of the relationships, we should know that he has been given the bhakti-lata-bija by the causeless mercy of Shri Guru and Krishna. This is the meaning of guru Krishna prasade paya, bhakti-lata-bija. If anyone obtains this bija, his life will be successful.
[Syamarani dasi:] Shrila Gurudeva has ordered me to give the translation and meaning of this verse.
After taking births within the millions of species of life from a time immemorial, the living entity finally meets the spiritual master and receives the seed of bhakti from him. The spiritual master does not plant the seed himself; rather he gives it to the disciple who then becomes like a gardener, mali-hana, and plants the seed in his own heart. The disciple then nurtures and nourishes the seed by watering it with the process of hearing and chanting under the guidance of the Guru, and in this way the seed begins to sprout.
This verse has many beautiful deep meanings. It is stated in Chaitanya Charitamrita:
nitya siddha Krishna prema sadhya kabhu naya
sravanadi suddha citta koraye udaya
["Pure love for Krishna is eternally established in the hearts of the living entities. It is not something to be gained from another source. When the heart is purified by hearing and chanting, this love naturally awakens." (Cc Madhya 22.108)]
It's not that the spiritual master is giving a seed of something that is not already in the heart of the living entity. Nitya siddha Krishna prema: Krishna prema is already lying dormant, latent within our hearts, in the same way that the seed of any tree or plant has everything about that tree or plant already within it in potency. For instance, a mango seed has within it the tree, its branches, leaves, flowers, fruit, and even the flavor and aroma of the fruit. Everything is already there in potency. Similarly, Krishna-bhakti, Krishna-prema, is already in our hearts in seed form. Our entire spiritual form, services, dress, hairstyles everything is there. This is also stated in the verse:
jivera svarupa hoya Krishna nitya dasa
krsnera tatastha sakti bedhabeda prakasa
The living entity is eternally Krishna dasa, and therefore everything about him is already there. We are eternally qualitatively the same as Krishna and quantitatively different from Him. If Krishna-prema is already there in a dormant state as a seed in the heart, what then is meant by the statement: the spiritual master gives the seed? In answer, the acaryas have given us the example of a certain planetary constellation called svati-naksatra. When the rain comes at the time of this constellation, it has a special effect on different living entities. For instance, the oysters within the ocean have the potency to produce pearls, but unless the rains of the svati-naksatra fall onto the water in which the oyster lives, the pearl is never developed. Likewise, an elephant has the potential to produce a gaja-mukta (elephant pearl), and if that particular rain falls on the elephant, this pearl appears. Another example is the cow; when this rain falls onto the hoof of a cow, gaurocana, a yellow-gold pigment that is used in unguents, appears. Also, the snake has the potential to produce a jewel, and this happens when the svati-naksatra rains fall on its head.
Similarly, every living entity has an eternal relationship with Krishna in one of the five rasas. This relationship is eternal; but it cannot be developed without the inspiration of the spiritual master. It is he who gives "the seed" of inspiration, and teaches the disciple how to water it by proper hearing and chanting.
When the seed first begins to sprout, the first two leaves that manifest are called klesaghni and subhada. Upon the appearance of these two leaves, all kinds of klesa, sufferings, such as ignorance, attachment, envy, and fear begin to fade away. At the same time, all kinds of subhada, good qualities, appear, like trnad api sunicena: humility, offering respects to others, and not desiring any for oneself. The seed that produced these two leaves is called sraddha. In Chaitanya Charitamrita there is a very nice verse:
sraddha sabde visvasa kahe sudrdha niscaya
krsne bhakti kaile sarva karma krta haya
["Sraddha is the confident, firm faith that, by rendering transcendental loving service to Krishna, one automatically performs all subsidiary activities. Such faith is favorable for the discharge of devotional service." (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu-bindhu 1.3.41)]
Simply by engaging in the service of Krishna, everything is accomplished. Every desire that I have in this material world, including the desires for liberation and for mystic powers, is fulfilled by bhakti, in the same way that the leaves and branches of a tree are automatically watered by watering the root of the tree. The belief in the above statement is called sraddha. As Shripad Madhava Maharaj said, the tendency to serve Krishna, Krishna-seva-vasana, is inspired in the heart by the Guru.
An expert gardener is able to know the characteristic quality of a seed just by looking at it; he will know what kind of tree will grow from it, what kind of water is needed, and how much sunlight it should have. He can also expertly nourish that seed so that one day it will become a healthy tree. Similarly, the expert spiritual master can look in the heart of any living entity not only the heart of his disciple, but of every living entity in any species and he can tell what type of seed of bhakti is there and what kind of relationship he has with Krishna. The spiritual master can also nurture that relationship and actually give the perfection of Krishna-prema by his guidance.
[Shrila Narayana Maharaj called out to a devotee in the far rear of the hall, who had been hearing a simultaneous translation of the class in German:] What was the gist of all that has been said? You can speak in the German language. Speak loudly so I can hear. I know German somewhat. What is bhakti-lata-bija?
[Then, after hearing the devotee try to repeat, Shrila Narayana Maharaj continued:] That means you are not hearing.
[Shrila Narayana Maharaj then addressed Sundara Gopal dasa:] Give the gist of what was said in two or four lines.
[Sundara Gopal dasa:] Taking birth within the millions of species since time immemorial, the living entity may become extremely fortunate to come into contact with a pure devotee. For this, he must have performed some sukrti, such as celebrating Janmastami or other good activities. When this sukrti matures in his heart, he will come to the pure devotee and have natural faith to hear the hari-katha that is coming form his lotus mouth. The potential to serve Krishna in a particular relationship is dormant within the heart of every jiva, and when the living entity listens to hari-katha from a pure devotee, the seed of bhakti may enter his heart. He may develop Krishna-seva-vasana, the tendency to serve Shri Krishna.
[Shrila Narayana Maharaj:] What is the result of that vasana (desire)?
[Sundara Gopal dasa:] The result is that bhakti creeper will begin to flourish
[Shrila Narayana Maharaj:] He will think, "Oh my life will be successful."
[Sundara Gopal dasa:] He will take initiation from a bona fide spiritual master and his life will be supremely successful.
[Shrila Narayana Maharaj:] He has this conviction: "By serving Krishna, all the other activities of my life will automatically be accomplished:
sraddha sabde visvasa kahe sudrdha niscaya
krsne bhakti kaile sarva karma krta haya
["Sraddha is the confident firm faith that by rendering transcendental loving service to Krishna, one automatically performs all subsidiary activities. Such firm faith is favorable for the discharge of devotional service." (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu-bindhu 1.3.41)]
What is the meaning of this verse?
[Sundara Gopal dasa:] To have sraddha means to have the firm conviction that by serving Krishna, nothing else needs to be done. Just as when you water the root of a tree there is no need to water the leaves: it will flourish by watering the roots. Similarly, by serving Shri Krishna and Guru, there is no need to perform any other activity.
[Shrila Narayana Maharaj:] Can that devotee, without effort, maintain his life? Will money come or not? Will he be able to nourish and support his family simply by that sraddha? If he is serving Krishna and making no effort to support his children, will that support be accomplished or not?
[Sundara Gopal dasa:] Krishna promises in Gita that He will maintain that person who engages all his energy in His service, and in the service to his Gurudeva.
[Shrila Narayana Maharaj:] Very good, thank you. From today on, you should all try to have the firm belief that by serving Krishna your lives will be successful, and that your maintenance and everything else will automatically be taken care of. With this firm belief, you will not need to do anything except chant and remember Krishna. I am repeating these very important topics again and again, in order that you may come to realize them. Try to realize this: if you are serving Krishna, your whole life will be successful; you will not need to do anything for your worldly necessities. In this way, instead of doing anything for your maintenance, you will perform all devotional activities: sravana kirtanam Vishnu smaranam pada sevana.
[Shrila Maharaj now calls out to another devotee at the back of the hall, Akhilesa dasa:] Stand up and tell the purport of all that we have discussed. You are German, so speak loudly [the devotee begins to speak softly.]
[Shrila Narayana Maharaj:] Speak more loudly like a lion. Speak as I do, otherwise I will erase your name from the list of those who are German. [Germans should be bold]
[Akhilesa dasa:] At the beginning of your class you spoke on the verse from Chaitanya Charitamrita: brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva, wherein it is described that the living entity is wandering throughout the universe and taking birth among the 8,400,000 different species of life. Then, by great good fortune he meets the spiritual master who gives the seed of bhakti-lata
[Shrila Narayana Maharaj:] What is that seed?
[Akhilesa dasa:] The desire to serve Krishna.
[Shrila Narayana Maharaj:] This is the inner symptom. What is the outer symptom?
[Akhilesa dasa:] The outer symptom is that he has sraddha and accepts initiation from a bona fide spiritual master.
[Shrila Narayana Maharaj:] Not only this. He has firm faith, sraddha, in the words of Guru, Krishna, and sastra. With this faith will come the desire to serve. Moreover, he will think, that whatever has been stated by them is all right, that there is nothing wrong in their words."
[Akhilesa dasa:] Then he begins to cultivate the bhakti-lata, becoming an expert gardener
[Shrila Narayana Maharaj:] What does a soul do when he receives this bhakti-seed?
[Akhilesa dasa:] He plants it in his heart, and gives it the proper nourishment of hari-katha and good association.
[Shrila Narayana Maharaj:] Very good. You should know that Gurudeva gives the seed of bhakti, the bhakti-lata-bija, but if he sees that the field of the devotee's heart is not fertile, it will not be possible for the creeper to sprout what to speak of bear fruit. If the aspiring devotee examines himself, he will also see whether or not the field of his heart is barren, and whether or not there are only stones on that barren land. [*See Endnote 1] He must therefore first of all plow his heart, making it soft, and he must apply fertilizer; otherwise it is not possible that a creeper can sprout there. He must remove the stones by plowing, and when he sees that the land is now fertile, he will put the seed of the desire to serve Krishna in his heart. [*See Endnote 2]
Due to unlimited material desires, the heart has become like stone. How can the devotee remove them? Sukrtis are accumulated by serving Hari, Guru, and Vaisnavas, and it is by these sukrtis that the disciple will have the desire to give up all unwanted anarthas. Lust is the greatest anartha. The devotee should remove it at once; he must take it out.
Strictly follow the regulative principles; no smoking, gambling, meat eating, illicit sex, etc., and give up duplicity and hypocrisy at once. These anarthas are like holes, and whatever water the devotee collects to nourish his seed will come out again through these holes, without having touched the bhakti-lata seed. The gardener should first of all make the necessary arrangements. He should repair the holes and then remove the rocks from his heart, and in this way he can plant the seed of bhakti. [*See Endnote 3]
What will he do first? Sravanam, sravanam, sravanam. He will first of all hear continuously from a bona fide guru, and after some time, when he becomes expert in hearing, he can try to do kirtana to speak. Who is actually performing kirtana? Vyasadeva, Sukadeva Gosvami, and others like them. One should hear just like Pariksit Maharaj heard Bhagavatam from Shrila Sukadeva Gosvami. This is sravanam kirtanam. These nine limbs, sravanam, kirtanam, Vishnu smaranam, etc. are important, and out of these nine, five are prominent:
sadhu-sanga, nama-kirtana, bhagavata-sravana
mathura-vasa, Shri-murtira sraddhaya sevana
["One should associate with devotees, chant the holy name of the Lord, hear Shrimad-Bhagavatam, reside at Mathura and worship the Deity with faith and veneration." (Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya 22.128)]
sakala-sadhana-srestha ei panca anga
Krishna-prema janmaya ei pancera alpa sanga
["These five limbs of devotional service are the best of all. Even a slight performance of these five awakens love for Krishna." (Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya 22.129)]
If anyone engages in these five practices, beginning with sadhu-sanga, and if within sadhu-sanga he performs, nama-kirtana, bhagavad-sravana, mathura-vasa (residing in Mathura, Vrindavana, Navadvipa or any other holy tirtha) and Shri Vigraha-seva, he will quickly attain Krishna-prema. If he is committing offences, however, this is very dangerous for him, and Krishna-prema will not appear in his heart.
The gardener takes the seed, plants it in his now fertile heart, and waters it. He won't pour too much water in the beginning, by chanting, "Goopi goopi goopi."[*See Endnote 4] This is too much water, and by over-watering the seed in the beginning, it will not sprout; it will rot in the ground instead.
One should study the character and activities of Shri Prahlada Maharaj, Jagai-Madhai, Shrila Haridasa Thakura, Shriman Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu, and Shrila Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami. This is the appropriate water for the seed.
The seed will become totally rotten if you try to water it in the beginning by hearing the confidential secrets of asta-kaliya-lila, like rasa-lila and other pastimes enjoyed by Radha and Krishna in the groves. So be very careful. The qualification to hear these topics will come automatically if you sincerely follow the process; but in the beginning stage, one should gradually try to develop sraddha, nistha, ruci, asakti, rati, and so on. Don't hear all these confidential pastimes before you have attained these stages.
There are two kinds of sraddha: one is worldly sraddha, worldly faith, and the second is transcendental faith. Worldly sraddha is always komala, shaky and very weak. On the other hand, if one has transcendental sraddha (like Haridasa Thakura) he will think, "Even if you cut me into thousands of pieces, I will not give up my chanting and my worship."
You can now judge for yourselves if you have transcendental sraddha or not. Without transcendental sraddha you cannot develop; therefore, from today you should promise, "No matter how many problems may come; even if the greatest problems come to me, I will never give up my chanting and remembering Krishna." Only by having a mood such as this will the bhakti seed sprout; otherwise it will take a very long time. Sadhu-sanga is always required, for without it your faith will always be weak and you will eventually give up following the process. If you don't follow the process, even if your bhakti-lata-bija has already sprouted it will eventually dry up.
I will come tomorrow for one half hour, in the early morning [just before his departure], to explain many things.
[Devotee:] You said that when transcendental sraddha comes, one doesn't care if he is cut into pieces; he will still chant and remember. But you also said at another time that when transcendental sraddha first appears, one serves out of fear and respect, and duty, according to sastra, and he considers that if he doesn't serve he will go to hell. My question is: how can the sraddha of one who serves Krishna out of fear and duty be strong enough to be called transcendental?
[Shrila Narayana Maharaj:] Without transcendental sraddha, you cannot develop in your bhakti, and therefore you must first of all come to that stage. Until transcendental sraddha has developed, sraddha will be mixed; it will be both worldly and transcendental. However, by practice under the guidance and association of Gurudeva, transcendental sraddha will gradually develop, and at the same time worldly sraddha will gradually disappear. When full transcendental faith has developed, you will be like Haridasa Thakura.
[Devotee:] In Jaiva dharma it says that everything is coming by chance; so does 'bhagyavan,' good fortune, mean chance?
[Shrila Narayana Maharaj:] It can be said that the atomic jiva has fallen by chance, that we get Krishna's mercy by chance, and you are gathering sukrtis by chance. But the word "chance" has a deep meaning.
Krishna is Guru, and He is very merciful. He is called caitya-guru. As caitya-guru, He inspires the devotee from within: "A Vaisnava has come. You should go and inquire from him." He will inspire, and the devotee will go. As well as inspiring the devotee from within, He will also appear externally, as the Guru. In our current conditioned state, we do not see this; we merely see it as chance. But this "chance" has really come by the management of Krishna. All chance is managed by Krishna; He is the root of all chance. It may be said that these opportunities come about by chance, but actually, no worldly language can express transcendental ideas. Worldly words cannot touch proper sentiments or convey proper siddhanta; there are bound to be mistakes.
[Devotee:] Shrila Gurudeva, please kindly tell us: on which level do we have transcendental faith? Is it nistha, ruci, asakti, or what?
[Shrila Narayana Maharaj:] It will begin from the beginning and slowly increase. As your ignorance and anarthas are removed, faith becomes stronger. At the stage of ruci faith is very strong, and it is then transcendental. Something of transcendental faith or bhakti is somewhat in all devotees, and as much as you continue to hear in the association of Vaisnavas, meditate on what you've heard, and try to go deeply in these topics, your sraddha will increase and gradually all anarthas will disappear. Bhakti is there at the beginning, but it is at the lowest point. Then by chanting, hearing and remembering Krishna in sadhu-sanga, the scale of transcendental sraddha will gradually increase and simultaneously worldly sraddha will decrease.
[Devotee:] Shrila Gurudeva. Can you please give the definition of duplicity and hypocrisy?
[Shrila Narayana Maharaj:] If what is in the heart is different than what comes from the mouth, it is duplicity. If in our hearts we want to have some position, to cheat others, or to make money, but outwardly we are saying, "Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna," that is duplicity.
Someone may say, " I can give you Krishna-bhakti; I have a passport and visa for Goloka Vrindavana. Pay me at least ten thousands Euros and I will give them to you." This is hypocrisy and duplicity. If we say, "They should quarrel, and I will get worldly gain by that," that is duplicitous. Duryodhana wanted that there be war, so that he would get the royal throne. Similarly, if we think that we should engage in arguing and quarreling with others, or engage others in quarreling, so that we will be worshiped and given a special position, then we are duplicitous. Duryodhana was duplicitous, but the Pandavas had no duplicity.
Transcriber: Radhika dasi
Editors: Syamarani dasi and Premavati dasi
Typist: Bimala dasi
[*Endnote 1 Before the disciple's desire to serve Krishna is present in the real sense, the spiritual master carefully removes his obstacles, anarthas, and misconceptions. This is what is meant by plowing the field. Then, after the field is fertile, the spiritual master will give the seed. The aspiring disciple may want to plant the seed before this process has been completed, but that seed would not fructify. Therefore the disciple first hears from the spiritual master how to overcome his obstacles in the form of anarthas, etc.)
[*Endnote 2 Descriptions of this can be found in the Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya-lila Ch.12: Cleansing of the Gundica Temple)
[*Endnote 3 These represent different stages of the heart of the conditioned soul.
[*Endnote 4 This refers to those who artificially imagine a relationship with the gopis, or imagine that they are themselves realized in their gopi identity, but connect themselves instead with worldly sentiments. "Goopi" simply means there is no spiritual meaning to such a person's imagined connection with the gopis, although he is chanting, "Gopi, Gopi."