Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupada
Question 1: Is it appropriate to approach śrī guru and Śrī Gaurāṅga with a return ticket in hand?
Answer: Never. Those who have come to the matha with a return ticket in hand do not wholeheartedly desire to attain Śrī Bhagavān. Would one who truly loves Śrī Bhagavān ever want to go away after coming to His lotus feet? Once one’s self-conception (abhimāna) of being the servant of Śrī Bhagvān has awakened, how can one leave that direct service to His lotus feet and again busy oneself in serving māyā?
Those who have attained divine knowledge (divya-jñāna) do not and cannot ever come to serve their most cherished Lord (iṣṭadeva) with the intention of returning back. But if someone considers himself to be the master or the doer; if he has other near and dear ones who are dependent on him; if he gives importance to his relation with things or persons other than the Supreme Lord; or if he identifies with the illusory designations of this material world like ‘husband’, ‘father’, ‘scholar’, ‘fool’, ‘affluent’ or ‘poverty stricken’ instead of realizing his true identity as the servant of śrī guru; then he abandons serving the Supreme worshipful Lord and, intoxicated with the ego of being the servant of his wife, son, daughter or the like, he faces anxiety and distress in his life.
This is why the scriptures have used the word abhi-gamana (approaching with full surrender) instead of the word gamana alone (simply going to him) in their instructions on approaching śrī gurudeva, who is the non-different manifestation of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The word abhi-gamana implies that there is no question of return – that is, one takes complete shelter. As it is said in Śruti, “tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigaccet – to learn that transcendental knowledge, one must approach śrī guru with full surrender” (Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 1.2.12).
Question 2: How should one preach to others?
Answer: Different people undergo different types of misery, so it is necessary to treat each person individually. If the disease is not diagnosed properly, it is not feasible to ensure that the right cure is given and that the disease will go away. Therefore, a ‘platform speaker’ cannot render much benefit to those undergoing this plethora of miseries, although he can be of some use.
For the last forty years I have not been able to find even a single person. Those who have come to me listen to hari kathā for one moment, but in the next moment they are unwilling to relinquish their dependence on their own understanding, prior knowledge and intelligence.
The people of this world are searching for popularity. In fact, it can be said that no one is actually searching for the Absolute Truth. Those who pose as preachers of religion are busy safeguarding their own position in society by saying whatever pleases the audience, so as not to make them angry. One cannot win ‘popularity’ by speaking or listening to the real truth. That is why we are not interested in the so called support of those who are averse to the Absolute Truth.
Question 3: Is it possible to render service on your own; that is, without the association of devotees?
Answer: How can a person engage in devotional service without associating with those who themselves have already engaged in such service – being appointed by the Supreme Lord – if he relies on his mental speculation or if he remains in the association of non-devotees? Those who wish to attain dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣa are not true servants of the Lord. Nor are those who imitate the performance of service but in reality just want that most worshipful entity – the Supreme Lord – to serve and satisfy their own senses. How can one render true service to Bhagavān in the association of such people?
Common people, conditioned souls, cannot become inclined to serve Śrī Kṛṣṇa on the strength of their own intelligence, nor by following the advice of other people at a similar stage of consciousness, nor through discussions with them. These conditioned souls are too attached to their worldly families and too committed to serving them. They are always occupied in the day to day affairs of this material world. Consequently, the scriptures advise us to abandon the company of such people, for they are averse to Śrī Kṛṣṇa and to serving Him. On the other hand, the sādhu (saintly person) remains connected to the Absolute twenty four hours a day. Only by the association of such a sādhu will the tendency to render service awaken in one’s heart. That genuine sādhu is one who, with the tool of his words, can destroy all the miseries experienced by anyone who comes in contact with him, who can knock down their erroneous mental speculations, and who can deliver them from their attachment to this material word.
By what means does one associate with such a sādhu? Through one’s ears. Associating by any other means may end up in du-saṅga – bad association. However, if a person does not listen submissively, if he is too controlled by his false ego, he may still be deprived of the good association of a genuine sādhu in spite of engaging his ears in listening to him.
Question 4: Can we achieve spiritual welfare through any means other than chanting the holy names of Lord Hari?
Answer: How can it be? Chanting of the holy names of the Lord Hari is the yuga-dharma, the constitutional activity prescribed for this yuga. The denizens of a particular yuga cannot achieve any benefit if they neglect the yuga-dharma. The most benevolent Śrī Bhagavān has made this provision for the benefit of all. If we discard śrī harināma-saṅkīrtana and follow another process, how will we achieve any benefit?
To consider that there may be an alternative to śrī harināma-saṅkīrtana is to follow the path of argumentation. To imagine that there is an alternative to śrī harināma-saṅkīrtana is actually a totally mundane line of reasoning. Those who consider the performers of śrī harināma-saṅkīrtana to be part of a particular sect, and who believe that chanting and listening to harināma is not the single most effective path for deliverance, are trying to measure the immeasurable – the transcendental – and are violating the advice and instructions of the Supreme Lord.
Therefore, such doubters belong to the community of people following the ascending process. In other words, they are representatives of māyā and are part of the community of non-devotees. It is not appropriate to try to exhibit supremacy over the Supreme Lord, as it simply leads to one’s complete annihilation and utter inauspiciousness. It is said in the scriptures:
harer nāma harer nāma harer nāmaiva kevalam
kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva nāsty eva gatir anyathā
In this Age of Kali there is no other means, no other means, no other means for self-realization than chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name of Lord Hari.
Translated by the Rays of The Harmonist team from Śrīla Prabhupādera Upadeśāmṛta, a compilation of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda’s instructions, in question-and-answer form
Approach Sri Guru and Sri Gouranga with a One-Way Ticket
BY: SRI VRINDAVAN DA
Jul 30, 2016 — SRIDHAM MAYAPUR (SUN) — By Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda.
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