What kind of Vaisnava are you?
By Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur
—Traducido por Srila Jayapataka Swami—
To control the mind is certainly the crux of all yoga systems, including the system of bhakti–yoga or Krishna consciousness, which is the only practical yoga system in the present age. Indeed the Bhagavad–Gita states that one who has controlled the mind has already reached the Supersoul, and that the controlled and uncontrolled mind are, respectively, the best friend and the worst enemy of the conditioned soul. Vaisnava Ke? is a Bengali poem, written by His Divine Grace Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, containing revelations and practical guidance regarding the types of nonsense deviations which may continue to be proposed by the mind to distract a devotee until he reaches the level of pure devotional service.
The devotees and friends of ISKCON became aware of the value of these practical instructions of Vaisnava Ke? (“What Kind of Devotee Are You?”) when translations and commentaries on ten of its verses by His Holiness Jayapataka Swami were published in serial form in the periodical ISKCON World Review. From that time many devotees, including the publishers of this present volume, desired that Vaisnava Ke? together with its translation and commentary, be published in the form of a complete book so that its lessons could be repeatedly studied and reflected upon. One GBC member recently remarked that its publication was “long overdue”.
Therefore, it is the humble desire of the publisher, to present this book for the pleasure of our predecessor acaryas, especially our spiritual master His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness who frequently quoted from the verses of Vaisnava Ke? in his lectures and books; His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, the author, as well as the Vaisnavas all over the world.
This book is most pertinent and relevant for those who are trying to advance in Krishna consciousness at the present moment. We must frankly admit that our own wicked minds” may have, from time to time, proposed just the kind of deviations mentioned in Vaisnava Ke?. Many devotees have left full time preaching and service in the Krishna consciousness movement for precisely the types of reasons and rationalizations offered by the mind which are described in this book. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura has very kindly plainly described all these subtle matters in great detail. He has also given pragmatic advice as to how the aspiring devotee may remain absorbed in the sankirtana movement of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu without becoming yet another casualty to the attacks of the wicked mind” which many mistake to be their actual self, rather than their real nature as the eternal spirit soul.
It may also be noted that in presenting his strong challenge to the mind, dusra mana! tumi kisera vaisnava?, which Srila Prabhupada has translated as My Dear Mind, what kind of devotee are you?”, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura refers to a Vaisnava or devotee according to his definition as “one who is situated in his constitutional position”, ie. unalloyed devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna. His intention is that we may not allow our minds to imagine that we are on a very elevated platform in devotional service while at the same time performing activities which are seriously detrimental to our own spiritual advancement and the advancement of the united preaching mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
His Holiness Jayapataka Swami Maharaja has nicely translated the text and given an illuminating commentary based on his realizations and practical experience as a dedicated preacher in the Krishna Consciousness movement all over the world for the past twenty years. The commentary is supported with extensive quotes from the books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Jayapataka Swami has kindly allowed the publisher to produce this book in its present form.
The publisher prays that this book may be of practical benefit to devotees all over the world, as in all cases of whatever individual weakness or collective disunity there may be, the lone accused is none other than our own rascal mind”.
Jakarta, 8th Feruary 1988
Appearance Day of
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura
What kind of Vaisnava are you?
With the purpose of invoking all auspiciousness, I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of His Divine Grace A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who is the servitor of His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. He has carried Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s transcendental teachings to towns and villages all over the world and out of His mercy has delivered the impersonalists and voidists of the Western world. By his mercy a lame man can climb over mountains, a deaf and dumb man can become a great orator and a blind man can see the stars. Let His Divine Grace’s merciful glance be upon us in the humble execution of completing the translation and writing purports to “What Kind of Devotee Are You?— – written in the Bengali language by His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.
Let me offer my recpectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, my “grandfather” spiritual master, on whose order the ‘sublime science of devotional service’ was brought to the Western world by Srila A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Seeing the dangers a devotee faces in this age of Kali, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura has mercifully written “Vaisnava Ke?“. Careful study of this book will protect devotees practising devotional service to Lord Krishna from the dangers of being misled by maya, the material illusory energy, off from the path of pure devotion.
Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the Vaisnava devotees of the Lord who are like desire trees in fulfilling the desires of pure devotees of the Lord. By their inspiration “Vaisnava Ke?” is being presented in the English language with its title taken from Srila Prabhupada’s own translation of the first stanza, ie. “What Kind of Devotee Are You?”
Let me offer my respectful obeisances to Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Most Munificent Avatara and Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha-Madhava, the Supreme Form of the Absolute Truth. Let Their rain of mercy be upon the execution of this sublime study of the science of devotional service, so that aspiring devotees may quickly attain the shelter of Their lotus feet.
“What Kind of Devotee Are You?” has been referred to frequently in the writings of Srila A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. It gives a unique view of a devotee’s introspection while traversing the path of devotional service. Devotional service is a unique science where often what appears to be the truth to the uninitiated is actualy the opposite, i.e., nescience. It seems perfectly natural that retreating from the bustling activities of everyday life is in fact the best environment for pursuing spiritual life. However, for a practitioner of bhakti-yoga, leaving the association of like-minded transcendentalists to practise nirjana-bhajana, or solitary worship, can have a suicidal effect. Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has warned of this many times in his writings. The following verse from What Kind of Devotee Are You? is just one example:
This nirjana-bhajana, which is the silent worship of the Supreme Lord, is not possible for a neophyte devotee. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura never advised a neophyte devotee to go to a solitary place to engage in devotional service. Indeed, he has written a song in this connection;
dusta mana, tumi kisera vaisnava?
pratisthara tare, nirjanera ghare
tava hari-nama kevala kaitava
“My dear mind, what kind of devotee are you? Simply for cheap adoration you sit in a solitary place and pretend to chant the Hare Krishna maha–mantra, but this is all cheating.” Thus Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura advocated that every devotee, under the guidance of an expert spiritual master, preach the bhakti cult, Krishna consciousness, all over the world.” (SB. 28.33 )
There are many ways in which a practising devotee’s mind can subtly influence and bewilder the intelligence, entrapping even a seasoned devotee in the spider-like webs of illusion. Devotional service is easy to perform, but it is also easy to be diverted from the path of pure devotional service if one is not careful. The human intelligence is the most gifted in this earth, and the final test to applied intelligence is directing one’s life towards self-realization. The body and mind are both mechanical in their function, although one is gross and the other subtle. A bhakti-yogi, or practising devotee, is already engaging his body in various activities of devotional service, but that is not enough. To achieve sucess in devotional service he must also train and educate the mind in devotional reasoning. This is done by spiritually enlightened intelligence. The necessity of uplifting and guiding the mind is expressed by Lord Krishna himself in the Bhagavad-Gita As It Is.
A man must deliver himself with the help of his mind, and not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well. For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his mind will remain the greatest enemy. For one who has conquered the mind, the Supersoul is already reached, for he has attained tranquillity. To such a man happiness and distress, heat and cold, honor and dishonor are all the same.” (Bg. 6.5-7)
What Kind of Devotee Are You, is uniquely presented as a devotee talking or preaching to his mind. Through penetrating statements to the mind, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura vividly and practically illustrates various ways the mind falls down from pure devotional service. The personal dealings with the mind portrayed in What Kind of Devotee Are You demonstrate the above mentioned statement from the Bhagavad–Gita whereby the mind can be a friend or an enemy to the advancing devotee. The essential need to conquer the mind’s subtle and gross deviations from the path of pure devotion becomes more and more evident with each progressive verse. The ultimate goal of pure devotion and the ideal activity for pure devotees is taught to the mind in the concluding verses.
The importance of association with devotees for steady progress in the practice of bhakti-yoga may be easily underestimated. Devotees are trained to practise devotional service individually and to be self-sufficient in many aspects of spiritual life. A neophyte devotee, or someone who is bewildered by false pride, may easily take association of devotees cheaply. Due to having an untrained mind, an aspiring devotee may not realize that association with devotees is an essential aspect of Krishna consciousness that should not be neglected if one wants to be a pure devotee of the Lord. Just as a sea-going vessel requires some reference points, either radio transmission, stars, the sun etc., in order to chart its course across the ocean, similarly a devotee needs the association of devotees of Lord Krishna in order to cross over the ocean of repeated birth and death to achieve pure love of Godhead. Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada confirms the importance of association of the devotees as he explains in the following words his purpose in establishing the Krishna Consciousness society:
A devotee sees all living entities with spiritual vision and does not discriminate on the platform of the bodily concept of life. Such qualities develop only in the association of devotees. Without the association of devotees, one cannot advance in Krishna Consciousness. Therefore, we have established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Factually, whoever lives in this Society automatically develops Krishna consciousness. Devotees are dear to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and the Supreme Personality of Godhead is only dear to devotees. On this platform only can one make progress in Krishna consciousness.” (Bhag. 4.12.37, Purport)
To live and practise devotional service requires a humble state of mind. A devotee is compelled to surrender in different ways while serving in the association of devotees In his mind, a person may consider that he is a pure devotee, theoretically considering himself to be fully surrendered, but his humility and tolerance are put to the test when directly rendering service in the association of devotees. Although this may sometimes cause a strain on the false ego, it can actually be beneficial for the advancing devotee. Eventually when he surrenders he will become fixed or steady in devotional service in various circumstances. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave His instruction for devotees’ attitude in the third verse of the Siksastaka, which he advised all devotees to keep in their hearts at all times.
One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige, and ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.” (Siksastaka Vs.3)
A devotee once asked Srîla A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada the question, “How can a devotee be humble?” to which he replied, “By being humble!”. If a devotee fails to be humble, then according to Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s statement in verse 3 of the Siksastaka prayers how will it be possible for him to constantly chant the holy names of the Lord? Therefore, devotional service is known to be difficult for persons with an inflated false ego, or an uncontrolled mind. Even great and austere yogis find devotional service difficult to perform if they have not conquired their false ego Due to material illusion one can easily mistake pure devotional service for something material and material energy for pure devotional service if one doesn’t know the science of devotional service.
Devotional service can only be understood from a devotee: only a devotee can know Lord Krishna. To be assured of success in devotional service, the Vedic literatures recommend: mahajana yena gatah sa pantha, that one should follow the footsteps of the great devotional authorities or mahajanas. Srila A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada specifically told the devotees of the Krishna Consciousness Society he founded that they should follow in the footsteps of Dhruva Maharaja, who followed in the footsteps of the twelve mahajanas, who desired to always remain in the association of devotees. However, the principle of always serving Lord Krishna in the association of devotees is universal.
The significant point in Dhruva Maharaja’s statement is that he wanted the association of pure devotees. Transcendental devotional service cannot be complete and cannot be relishable without the association of devotees. We have therefore established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Anyone who is trying to be aloof from this Consciousness Society and yet engage in Krishna consciousnesss is living in a great hallucination, for this is not possible. From this statement of Dhruva Maharaja it is clear that unless one is associated with devotees, his devotional service does not mature; it does not become distinct from material activities. The Lord says, satah prasangan mama virya-sanvido bhavanti hrt-karna-rasayanah kathah (SB. 3.25.25). Only in the association of pure devotees can the words of Lord Krishna be fully potent and relishable to the heart and ear. Dhruva Maharaja explicitly wanted the association of devotees. That association in devotional activities is just like the waves of an incessantly flowing river. In our Krishna Consciousness Society we have full engagement twenty-four hours a day. Every moment of our time is always busily engaged in the service of the Lord. This is called the incessant flow of devotional service.” (SB. 4.9.11)
The process of Krishna consciousness is not man-made. It has been introduced into this world by the Lord Himself, assisted by His eternal associates and confidential devotees. Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, made His advent 502 years ago as Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, in the form of a Devotee. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu inaugurated a massive bhakti movement of devotional service in India. Lord Caitanya predicted that His non-sectarian movement would give love of Godhead to all conditioned souls, regardless of their material designations or background, and would spread throughout the entire world – to every town and village. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu revealed that preaching the glories of the Lord’s holy name was confidential service and an intimate expression of pure love of Godhead. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu expressed His desire that sincere devotees of the Lord assist Him in distributing love of Godhead as follows:
I am the only gardener. How many places can I go? How many fruits can I pick and distribute? It would certainly be a very laborious task to pick the fruits and distribute them alone, and still I suspect that some would receive them and others would not. Therefore I order every man within this universe to accept this Krishna consciousness movement and distribute it everywhere. I am the only gardener. If I do not distribute these fruits, what shall I do with them? How many fruits can I alone eat? By the transcendental desire of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, water has been sprinkled all over the tree, and thus there are innumerable fruits of love of Godhead. Distribute this Krishna consciousness movement all over the world. Let people eat these fruits and ultimately become free from old age and death.” (Cc.Adi 9.34-39)
Although Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s instructions were not at all ambiguous, He also personally demonstrated how to preach. There is sometimes confusion as to the spiritual position of preaching compared to the practice of solitary worship, and for which type of devotee each process is applicable. To a layman it might appear that someone engaged in various activities of Krishna consciousness is actually engaged in performing material activities. On the other hand a solitary meditator overtly appears more spiritual due to the visible austerities and the serenity in which he lives. A definitive version on the real position of preaching the glories of the holy name of Krishna as well as the practice of solitary worship is provided in What Kind of Devotee Are You?
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvata Thakura has written What Kind of Devotee Are You? as a beacon light to pilot aspiring devotees out of maya’s ocean of nescience. What Kind of Devotee Are You? is a palatable lesson in humility and tolerance.Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura had taken a vow to chant one billion names of Krishna, and he performed difficult devotional penances, but subsequently he took to preaching the glories of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Sri Sri Radha-Krishna as the most appropriate and intimate devotional service performable in the present age.
As the greatest religious reformer of his time, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvata Thakura could see how in the name of solitary worship devotees were being lost to maya. Although sometimes the tone of What Kind of Devotee Are You? may be critical, the reader should understand that it is actually out of compassion and mercy that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura is writing and not out of the materialistic fault-finding propensity. Srila A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada confirms the deviations being practiced in the name of solitary worship in Srimad–Bhagavatam 4.29.1b, Purport.
In this way people who do not preach are criticized. There are many Vaisnavas in Vundavan who do not like preaching; they chiefly try to imitate Haridasa Thakura. The actual result of their so-called chanting in a secluded place, however, is that they sleep and think of women and money. Similarly, one who simply engages in temple worship but does not see to the interests of the mass of people or cannot recognize devotees is called a kanistha-adhikari:
arcayam eva haraye pujah yah sraddhayehate
na tad-bhaktesu canyesu sa bhaktah prakrtah smrtah (SB. 11.2.47)
There are many books which explain the importance of being a devotee, and how to practice bhakti-yoga. What Kind of Devotee Are You? is considered a priceless devotional jewel as it is a rare book specifically for devotees who are or have been practising bhakti-yoga. It explains not only the advantages of practising devotional service, but also how to remain in devotional service after becoming a devotee. What Kind of Devotee Are You? is suitable reading for devotees who have just begun practising devotional service as well as for seasoned devotees. Both can benefit from knowing the subtle tricks of maya which are often able to mislead devotees from the path of pure devotional service. Moreover, for persons who want to know how to recognize pure devotees, What Kind of Devotee Are You? will be a treasure they will want to read again and again.
From the first time I read What Kind of Devotee Are You? in the original Bengali language, it struck me how important these instructions are for the present-day devotees who are struggling to practise Krishna consciousness in the modern age of Kali. When I read some casual translations of What Kind of Devotee Are You? during evening classes using the original Bengali name Vaisnava Ke? there was such a response that His Holiness Mukunda Maharaja published the first ten verses of Vaisnava Ke? in ISKCON World Review. Both godbrothers, disciples and other devotees kept asking me for the remaining verses, but other devotional services took precedence, and the work remained incomplete. When His Grace Gaura Mandala Bhumi dasa Adhikari encouraged me and offered to produce the first copies as a donation for the Sri Mayapur Srila Prabhupada Samadhi Mandir, I surrendered and completed the remaining work.
I must also admit that I felt myself quite inadequate for such a work as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura is the most erudite Vaisnava scholar whose poems are filled with such depth of meaning that I could only hope to scratch the surface of the ocean. However, due to the blessings of the Vaisnavas and my beloved spiritual master His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, I offer this humble attempt to present a complete translation of What Kind of Devotee Are You? with a commentary following the teachings of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. As a bird can never fly to the limits of the sky, I have only explained as much of What Kind of Devotee Are You? as my realization would permit. I offer this to my spiritual father Srila A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and to my spiritual grand-father Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, on this sacred Vyasa-puja Day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.
Written February 8, 1988
Appearance Day Vysa-puja Celebration of
His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura
—What kind of Vaisnava are you?—
By Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur
dusta manah tumi kisera vaisnava?
pratisthara tare, nirjanera ghare,
tava hari nama” kevala akaitava”
dusta-wicked, sinful; mana-mind; tumi-you; kisera-what kind of; vaisnava-Vaisnava; pratisthara-fame or position; tare-on account of; nirjanera-solitary; ghare-in a room; tava-your; harinama-chanting of the Hare Krsna maha–mantra; kevala-only; kaitava-cheating.
(by His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada)
My dear mind, what kind of Vaisnava are you? Simply for false prestige and a material reputation you sit in a solitary place and pretend to chant the Hare Krishna maha–mantra, but this is all cheating.
What Kind of Devotee Are You? is one of the rare original writings of His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, the spiritual master of the Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami, who is famous as ” Srila Prabhupada”. Srila Prabhupada has made frequent references to the important instructions contained in What Kind of Devotee Are You?. He has instructed those aspiring to advance along the path of devotional service to train the mind to guard against the dangers of desiring not to remain in the association of devotees. Here in the following purport from the Srimad Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada quotes What Kind of Devotee Are You? to warn us against the mental deviations of hypocrisy and illusion which can lead one to fall down from pure devotional service.
“…..when disciples are grown up and are able to preach, the spiritual master should retire and sit down in a solitary place to write and execute nirjana-bhajana. This means sitting silently in a solitary place and executing devotional service. This nirjana-bhajana, which is the silent worship of the Supreme Lord, is not possible for a neophyte devotee. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura never advised a neophyte devotee to go to a solitary place to engage in devotional service. Indeed, he has written a song in this connection:
dusta mana, tumi kisera vaisnava?
pratisthsra tare, nirjanera ghare,
tava hari-nama kevala kaitava
“My dear mind, what kind of devotee are you? Simply for cheap adoration you sit in a solitary place and pretend to chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, but this is all cheating.” Thus Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura advocated that every devotee, under the guidance of an expert spiritual master, preach the bhakti cult, Krishna consciousness, all over the world.” (SB. 4.28.33)
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura is a great self-realized soul whose mind is eternally on the transcendental platform. He is taking the part of a conditioned soul addressing his mind-actually for instructing us how to train our minds because, as conditioned souls, we have dusta mana, or uncontrolled minds. The purpose of the yoga process is to control the mind. For one aspiring for self-realization the controlled mind is the best friend and the uncontrolled mind is the worst enemy.
One must deliver himself with the help of his mind, and not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well. For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his mind will remain the greatest enemy. For one who has conquered the mind, the Supersoul is already reached, for he has attained tranquillity. To such a man happiness and distress, heat and cold, honor and dishonor are all the same. Bg. 6.5-7
The method of controlling the mind is given in the Bhagavad-Gita. This has been very systematically explained by the spiritual masters following Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The mind must be engaged in unmotivated and uninterupted devotional service to Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The mind should be absorbed in constantly meditating upon and serving the Lord’s lotus-feet. Devotional service is the only real means to effectively control the mind.
However, even experienced persons engaged in devotional service are sometimes misled by the subtle illusions seated in the mind. Therefore, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura has kindly explained how one aspiring to advance along the path of Krishna consciousness should control his mind, and avoid the various traps of illusion that the untrained mind may fall into.
The spirit soul guides the mind through the intelligence. The intelligence in turn is guided by the instructions of the spiritual master. Thus the intelligence can properly train the mind for making steady progress in Krishna consciousness. The mind must be made aware of the strict standards of pure devotional service. Once trained, the mind will not accept less than pure devotional service.
The bhakti-yogi aspiring to advance in Krishna consciousness must always survey his mind to insure that it is not straying to some dangerous place off the Krishna conscious path. This constant care is essential as spiritual life is as sharp as a razor’s edge. Even a slight deviation due to carelessness can place us in the gravest danger.
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura asks his mind, “What kind of a Vaisnava are you? Are you a devotee at all? Why does he ask this question? This is for our benefit-to teach us how to purify the mind, to locate the impurities in the mind and to eradicate them. This is the secret of how to win the eternal service of Lord Krishna. We cannot win Krishna simply by offering him gifts, for everything belongs to Him. Krishna cannot be won even by performing a great service, for all energy and ability stems from Him alone. All we can offer Him in all our activities is our pure devotional mentality. The Lord is known as bhavagrahi janardana, or “the Lord who accepts the devotional attitude of His devotee.
One must remain constantly engaged in devotional service, but the mentality in which one is serving, not the mere activity, is a deciding factor. For example a surgeon, while operating, may cut someone open with his surgical knife. A criminal, while robbing, may stab his victim, also cutting him open with his knife. Certainly the mentalities differ. The surgeon is trying to save the life of his patient and is paid handsomely for his work. On the other hand the criminal is severely punished for his work. Both have cut flesh with a knife, but their work is evaluated according to the mentality in which it was performed.
The same principle applies in devotional service. Two different devotees may perform a similar service to the spiritual master and Krishna but achieve different ends from their service. The definition of pure devotional service is,”performing favorable service to Krishna free from the desire for sense gratification and the desire for accumulation of knowledge.” Therefore our mind must be constantly checked for deviation, and when we find that our mind has deviated, we must take steps to purify it. Through this process we can progress very quickly.
Lord Sri Caitanya taught Srila Rupa Gosvami that a devotee must water the creeper of devotional service through the process of hearing and chanting the Hare Krishna maha–mantra. The Lord also instructed that a devotee must remove all weeds in the form of unwanted habits and mentalities which are disturbing to the growth of the devotional creeper. If we allow weeds to grow unabated they will sap our vital spiritual energy. Therefore, the combination of both these activities of watering the devotional creeper and weeding out the unwanted habits are essential for our progress in devotional service.
The question is being addressed to the mind, “My dear mind, what kind of Vaisnava are you? This is the process of weeding contaminations which have polluted the consciousness. The mind is specifically asked,”Why are you pretending to chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra in a solitary place when your actual motive is to obtain false prestige and a material reputation for being a ‘great devotee’. You know that this is all cheating! One must purify the mind from all forms of cheating and hypocrisy.
The previous acaryas, or liberated spiritual masters, warn against leaving the association of Vaisnavas for some independent or solitary program. Our mind may provide an apparently ” Krishna conscious” motive for leaving the Krishna conscious society of devotees, but such actions are unacceptable. The judgement of the previous acaryas is that the desire to leave the association of devotees to perform some solitary program is due to desires for fame, position,material importance, false prestige, material independence due to an enjoying attitude, or sense gratification.
By surrendering unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His representative, the bonafide spiritual master, one actually enjoys the maximum liberty that one is capable of enjoying. This is because one is freed from karmic reactions, past and present, being under divine protection. However, a person leaving the authorized association of devotees to perform some independent “devotional service” is only cheating himself and others. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains this clearly in the following purport to the Srimad–Bhagavatam.
“The significant point in Dhruva Maharaja’s statement is that he wanted the association of pure devotees. Transcendental devotional service cannot be complete and cannot be relishable without the association of devotees. We have therefore established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Anyone who is trying to be aloof from this Krishna Consciousness Society and yet engage in Krishna consciousness is living in a great hallucination, for this is not possible. From this statement by Dhruva Maharaja it is clear that unless one is associated with devotees, his devotional service does not mature; it does not become distinct from material activities. The Lord says, satam prasangan mama virya-samvido bhavanti hrt-karna-rasayanah (Bhag. 3.25.25). Only in the association of pure devotees can the words of Lord Krishna be fully potent and relishable to the heart and ear. Dhruva Maharaja explicitly wanted the association of devotees. That association in devotional activities is just like the waves of an incessantly flowing river. In our Krishna Consciousness Society we have full engagement twenty-four hours a day. Every moment of our time is always busily engaged in the service of the Lord. This is called the incessant flow of devotional service. (SB. 4.9.11)
To live in a Society of devotees is difficult when the mind is uncontrolled. Through Krishna conscious association one’s mind is purified through encouragement and chastisement. If one lacks humility and the mind is uncontrolled, chastisement will be intolerable. Therefore, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu requested us to wear the third verse of His Siksastaka prayers around our neck constantly and thus to remain in a humble state of mind.
“One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than a straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige, and ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly. (Siksastaka Vs.3)
If one is not in the above state of mind, there is the danger of desiring to leave the association of the devotees. The mind can find a false excuse for leaving, but this is on the basis of false-ego and not in true devotion. If one wants the topmost ripened fruit of the perfection of life in this lifetime then one should kindly heed the following warning: “Disobey your mind when it tells you to leave the association of devotees in Krishna consciousness! Purify the mind with the medicine of transcendental instruction.
Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu descended from the spiritual world to introduce the harinama sankirtana movement in this universe for the deliverance of all the fallen souls. His teachings are to cooperatively preach the glories of chanting Krishna ‘s holy names. His teachings do not recommend practicing Krishna consciousness as a solitary effort, but rather that one should become perfect in the association of devotees and work for the spiritual upliftment of others. The “Sankirtana Movement”, which is authorized for this age signifies that many persons assemble together and cooperatively they congregationally chant: Hare Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. The preaching of the glories of the Holy Name is also to be done cooperatively along with other devotees of the Lord. In the Caitanya-caritamuta Lord Caitanya has called everyone to His side, saying:
I am the only gardener. How many places can I go? How many fruits can I pick and distribute? It would certainly be a very laborious task to pick the fruits and distribute them alone, and still I suspect that some would receive them and others would not. Therefore I order every man within this universe to accept this Krishna consciousness movement and distribute it everywhere. I am the only gardener. If I do not distribute these fruits, what shall I do with them? How many fruits can I alone eat? By the transcendental desire of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, water has been sprinkled all over the tree, and thus there are innumerable fruits of love of Godhead. Distribute this Krishna consciousness movement all over the world. Let people eat these fruits and ultimately become free from old age and death. (Cc. Adi 9.34-39)
Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s purpose was to teach by His own example how to practice Krishna consciousness. Although He is the full incarnation of Lord Krishna in the form of “Devotee”, and is personally capable of single-handedly delivering all the unlimited millions of universes—He has humbly requested everyone to join Him in distributing the divine fruits of “Love for Krishna”. What higher proof is there that there is no other alternative for achieving perfection in Krishna consciousness other than practising devotional service in the association of devotees and preaching the glories of Krishna’s holy names. This is the declared purpose for which His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
A devotee sees all living entities with spiritual vision and does not discriminate on the platform of the bodily concept of life. Such qualities develop only in the association of devotees. Without the association of devotees, one cannot advance in Krishna consciousness. Therefore, we have established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Factually, whoever lives in this society automatically develops Krishna consciousness. Devotees are dear to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and the Supreme Personality of Godhead is only dear to devotees. On this platform only can one make progress in Krishna consciousness. (SB. 4.12.37 Purport)
The conclusion is that one should not allow the mind to cheat him of the priceless jewel of Krishna consciousness by inducing him to leave the association of the Krishna consciousness society for any reason. A materially contaminated mind will persistently attempt to convince: “Don’t stay with the society of devotees—come outside. Everything will be better.” One must always be on guard against this subtle trick of maya to rob the priceless Krishna consciousness from an unsuspecting victim.
Preaching Krishna consciousness is the ultimate shelter for the followers of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Preaching Krishna consciousness is non-different from Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu— it is an extension of His own transcendental pastimes. Those who have deviated from the path of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and yet want to cheat themselves and others that they are still, in fact, true followers of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu or otherwise genuinely on the bonafide spiritual path create distorted philosophies and unauthorized systems to substantiate their false claim. They criticize the real followers of Lord Caitanya and the authorized process of Krishna consciousness being bewildered by their materialistic minds and false egos. The first verse of “What Kind of Devotee Are You?” is more than a nuclear blast destroying these misconceptions to ashes. Therefore, His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has repeatedly referred to this verse of his writings to protect all sincere seekers and followers from these fatal dangers along the path of Krishna consciousness. Here is one quotation from the Srimad-Bhagavatam purports where the readers have been warned against the dangers of leaving the association of devotees and becoming critical of those preaching Lord Caitanya’s sankîrtana movement.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura therefore sings…
“My dear mind, what kind of Vaisnava are you? Simply for false prestige and a material reputation you are chanting the Hare Krishna mantra in a solitary place.” In this way people who do not preach are criticized. There are many Vaisnavas in Vrndavana who do not like preaching; they chiefly try to imitate Haridasa Thakura. The actual result of their so-called chanting in a secluded place, however, is that they sleep and think of women and money.” (Bhag. 4.29.1b)
There is only one place where the minds of all people of all parts of the world can meet, and that is at the lotus feet of Sri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His authorized representatives. Any other material meeting place” is a pilgrimage place for crows”. The minds of paramahamsas” or pure devotees of the Lord meet at the Lotus Feet of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The purified transcendentalists who accept the Lord’s mission as their topmost goal of life are always taking shelter of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, like swans playing amongst the lotus flowers in clear nectarine waters. There the mind is ever at peace bathing in the unending flow of transcendental ecstacies.
jasera pratistha, sukarer vistha,
jana na ki taha mayara vaibhava”
bhaviya ki kaja, anitya se saba
jasera-of the material realm; pratistha-fame; sukarer-of a pig; vistha-stool; jana na ki– do you not know?; tatha-that; mayara-of the illusory material world; vaibhava-wealth; kanaka-gold; kamino-women; divasa yamini-all day and night; bhaviya-thinking; ki kaja-what benefit; anitya-temporary; se-those; saba-all.
(by His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada)
My dear mind, why are you so proud of being a Vaisnava? Your solitary worship and chanting of the holy name of the Lord are based on a desire for cheap popularity, and therefore your chanting of the holy name is only a pretension. Such an ambition for a cheap reputation can be compared to the stool of a hog, because such popularity is another extension of the influence of maya.
My dear mind, while making a show of chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra in a solitary place, you are simply meditating day and night about enjoying beautiful women and accumulating more wealth. What spiritual value does your solitary chanting have? On the pretext of performing solitary worship you are actually entangled in temporary material activities!**
*First two stanzas translation quoted from KRISHNA Vol.3, pp.248-9
**Translation by HH. Jayapataka Swami
Purport: His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura is showing how to purify the consciousness through direct and strong preaching to the mind. One should reveal to one’s intelligence all the material polutions that are in the mind and study the problem in depth to wake up to the reality of the situation. Then one should purify the mind by spiritual instruction and devotional service without delay. By avoiding to purify the mind the consciousness will become more and more polluted and subsequently harder to rectify.
This verse reveals the mentality which naturally develops in those who leave the Krishna consciousness movement. Even though the mind in this case has camouflaged the actual deficiencies by apparently altruistic spiritual motives, these smoke-screens” are penetrated by Krishna conscious analysis. The so-called “pure desire” to make separate, solitary advancement in spiritual life free” from the intimate association of other surrendered Vaisnavas in a type of secluded devotion” is exposed as a cover for various mayas or material contaminations. These manifest in the form of desires for position, fame, prestige and self-respect on one side and desires for wealth and enjoying beautiful women and sense gratification on the other. By being thoroughly honest with oneself the real state of affairs is revealed. If someone helps one to see these contaminations he is the greatest friend for there is no greater friend than one who saves his friend from the mayas or illusions which can destroy or make one lose the precious jewel of Krishna consciousness!
The first symptoms of spiritual disease addressed are desires for material importance which are seated in the mind and based on the false-ego. This is a natural symptom for conditioned souls, but is not at all appropriate for one who knows the higher spiritual values of life. This material world naturally puts one in a competitive mood, not only in the human species but in animal life as well, because bare survival means that one form of life is food for another.
In human society the constant struggle for existence also manifests as the battle to succeed” in life. In material vision success” means to amass wealth, fame, followers, influence, prestige and power. These qualities spring from the material mode of passion and keep us prisoners of material desire. The process of Krishna consciousness is meant for elevating one above material bondage to the transcendental platform of eternal blissful knowledge. Therefore, Krishna conscious devotees have been advised by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu to pull out the weeds” of material desires and bad habits from ones life in order to make unimpeded progress in Krishna consciousness.
Being situated in one’s heart and being watered by sravana-kirtana, the bhakti creeper grows more and more. In this way it attains the shelter of the desire tree of the lotus feet of Krishna, who is eternally situated in the planet known as Goloka Vrndavana in the topmost region of the spiritual sky…Sometimes unwanted creepers, such as the creepers of desires for material enjoyment and liberation from the material world, grow along with the creeper of devotional service. The varieties of such unwanted creepers are unlimited. Some unnecessary creepers growing with the bhakti creeper are the creepers of behavior unacceptable for those trying to attain perfection, diplomatic behavior, animal killing, mundane profiteering, mundane adoration and mundane importance. All these are unwanted creepers. If one does not distinguish between the bhakti-lata creeper and the other creepers, the sprinkling of water is misused because the other creepers are nourished while the bhakti-lata creeper is curtailed. As soon as an intelligent devotee sees an unwanted creeper growing beside the original creeper, he must cut it down instantly. Then the real creeper of bhakti-lata-bija grows nicely, returns home, back to Godhead, and seeks shelter under the lotus feet of Krishna. (Cc.Madhya 19.154,158-161)
Therefore, the Krishna conscious devotee abandons all desires and attachments to possessing personal fame, influence, power, prestige, followers, and sense gratification. He fixes his mind in the transcendental understanding that he is the eternal servant of the servant of the servant of Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The devotee constantly tries to purify the mind of material contaminations—even the faint aroma of materialistic mentalities. That is the qualification of a pure devotee—to be able to distinguish between a Krishna conscious and a materialistic mentality. This is explained by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada as follows.
All these obstructions have been described in this verse as unwanted creepers. They simply present obstacles for the real creeper, bhakti-lata-bija. One should be very careful to avoid all these unwanted things. Sometimes these unwanted creepers look exactly like the bhakti-lata creeper. They appear to be of the same size and of the same species when they are packed together with the bhakti-lata creeper, but in spite of this, the creepers are called upasakha. A pure devotee can distinguish between the bhakti-lata creeper and a mundane creeper, and he is very alert to distinguish them and keep them separate. (Cc.Madhya 19.159 Purport)
Caution is essential. Even though someone has entered spiritual life and has been practising devotional service, still they can be entrapped by maya in her subtle and gross forms and become victims—sometimes without realizing it. Even devotees who have renounced the results of fruitive activities and have a desire to become pure devotees of the Lord may fall into these various traps of maya. Within the society of devotees one may hanker for more recognition, or a higher position and become implicated in offenses to other devotees and material desires. How these desires may pollute the heart, even within the society of devotees, and what the proper humble attitude of the devotee should be, are explained in the following quote:
A devotee on the topmost platform of devotional service thinks that he is not rendering any devotional service. He thinks that he is poor in devotional service and that his body is material. On the other hand, those known as the sahajiyas foolishly think that their material bodies are transcendental. Because of this, they are always bereft of the association of pure devotees, and thus they cannot behave like Vaisnavas. Observing the defects of the sahajiyas, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has sung as follows in his book Kalyana-kalpataru:
ami ta vaisnava ei buddhi ha-ile
emani na haba ami
pratisthana asi hrdaya dusibe
nije srestha jani’ ucchistadi-dane
habe abhimana bhara
tai sisya tava, thakiya sarvada,
na la-ibe puja kara
“If I think I am a Vaisnava, I shall look forward to receiving respect from others. And if the desire for fame and reputation pollutes my heart, certainly I shall go to hell. By giving others the remnants of my food, I shall consider myself superior and shall be burdened with the weight of false pride. Therefore, always remaining your surrendered disciple, I shall not accept worship from anyone else.”
Srila Krishna dasa Kaviraja Gosvami has written:
premera svabhava–yahih premera sambandha
sei mane, –krsne mora nahi preme-gandha’
“Wherever there is a relationship of love of Godhead, its natural symptom is that the devotee does not think himself a devotee. Instead he always thinks that he has not even a drop of love for Krishna.” (Cc. Antya 20.28)
A devotee must beware of the above mentioned pitfalls to protect his spiritual progress. One may even falldown to gross envy and greed, lusting after another devotees spiritual position in devotional service. One may think, “Why does he have that responsibility? Why don’t I have it? I am as good as he is, or better! I cannot tolerate this any longer!” In this mentality it is easy for one to unnecessarily criticize devotees and to leave the association of devotees compelled by material envy, lust and greed. Thus one falls into illusion and forgets the orders of the spiritual master. His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has warned about the dangers of prematurely leaving the association of devotees for solitary practice of Krishna consciousness, even in the holy dhama of Vrindavana. The following quotation refers to the present verse in “What Kind of Devotee Are You?” to warn against these dangers in Krishna consciousness.
One who goes prematurely to Vrndavana to live in pursuance of the instructions of Sukadeva Gosvami again falls a victim to maya, even while residing in Vrndavana. To check such unauthorized residence in Vrndavana, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvata Thakura has sung a nice song in this connection, the purport of which is as follows: “My dear mind, why are you so proud of being a Vaisnava? Your solitary worship and chanting of the holy name of the Lord are based on a desire for cheap popularity, and therefore your chanting of the holy name is only a pretension. Such an ambition for a cheap reputation can be compared to the stool of a hog because such popularity is another extension of the influence of maya. (Krishna Ch. 89)
Due to envy the living entity falls down from the spiritual world into this material world. Five of the six vices, namely lust, greed, anger, madness, and illusion can be dovetailed in devotional service, but the sixth vice, namely envy, cannot. Envy has nothing to do with bhakti and cannot be utilized in devotional service. Rather, devotional service is the process of eradicating all envy and material desire from the heart and fixing the pure consciousness in a spiritual service attitude” to the Supreme Lord. Thus one’s desires and mentality becomes one with the Lord’s as there is complete harmony with His desires. Entering into devotional service in the association of devotees marks the beginning of one’s devotional life. Even after one has renounced the desire for accumulation of wealth and enjoying sense gratification and beautiful women, the subtle desires for fame, adoration, distinction and followers proves to be a formidable hurdle that one must cross over to reach perfection. Even in the association of devotees, the uncontrolled mind may mislead one into feeling envy for fellow devotees who are possessing positions of greater responsibility. One driven by envy and greed may endeavor to enhance his external position in devotional service, and fall into unnecessarily criticising fellow devotees. Even though there are unlimited opportunities for devotional service, the materially infected mind may become restless and fall down into an envious attitude, failing to see good qualities in devotees holding a superior position of responsibility.
All these pitfalls have been warned against, and all devotees aspiring perfection should be careful to avoid these dangers on the path back to Godhead. A pure devotee is careful not to lose his concentration in Krishna consciousness. Constantly depending on Krishna and the spiritual master, the devotee engages himself in unbroken, unmotivated devotional service. This forms the basis for achieving love for Krishna and there is no higher duty. This is confirmed in the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
Translation: The supreme occupation (dharma) for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely satisfy the self.
Purport: But devotional service to the Supreme Lord, which leads one to eternal, blissful and all-cognizant life, is called the superior quality of occupation. This is sometimes polluted when mixed with the inferior quality. For example, adoption of devotional service for material gain is certainly an obstruction to the progressive path of renunciation… Therefore devotional service to the Lord must be pure in quality, i.e., without the least desire for material enjoyment. One should, therefore, accept the superior quality of occupation in the form of the devotional service of the Lord without any tinge of unnecessary desire, fruitive action and philosophical speculation. this alone can lead one to perpetual solace in His service. (Bhag. 1.2.6)
When a devotee loses his renounced attitude and becomes disturbed by desires for position or followers, he falls down from the pure platform of Krishna consciousness and becomes filled with anxieties. One’s faith in the Lord is confused and one falls down into feeling jealous of another devotee or unenthused to perform devotional service. In that mentality the attitude of devotional service becomes sour and one loses the shelter of the lotus feet of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as one’s offenses increase. Therefore, one should remain fixed in his renounced attitude of devotional service to avoid these dangers.
If the devotee fails to recognize the symptoms of material desire, the next stage of implication in material life manifests in the mind by taking one away from the association of devotees. A devotee leaving the association of devotees is a serious act. The intelligence would certainly have been trained to a certain extent, to avoid this type of falldown, but the mind is expert in presenting apparently Krishna conscious reasons for living separately. One foolishly thinks that by being independent of the strict association of the Krishna conscious society one may be more peaceful in devotional service or be free to act to fulfill one’s material motives which otherwise he was unable to do due to Krishna conscious association. At this time it is convenient to find fault in one’s spiritual authorities in order to have a rationale for leaving their authorized association for one’s separate program. All these actions have been condemned in this verse as nothing but different manifestations of pratistha—the dangerous upasakha or undesirable creeper of ambitions for cheap reputation, followers, fame and sense gratification. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu has cautioned devotees in his teachings to Rupa Gosvami, as mentioned above, against this treacherous weed.
tomara kanaka, bhogera janaka,
kanakera dvare sevaha madhava”
kaminira kama, nahe tava dhama
tahara–malika kevala yadava”
tomara-your; kanaka-gold; bhogera-of enjoyment; janaka-producer; kanakera dvare-by wleath; sevaha-serve; madhava-Sri Krishna; kaminira kama-lust for beautiful women; nahe-not; tava-your; dhama-place; tahara-its; malika-owner; kevala-only; yadava-Sri Krishna.
My dear mind, you are attached to wealth and due to mayas influence you want to use your money simply for the gratification of your material senses, but by this you will get no eternal satisfaction. You should use the wealth at your disposal in the service of the Lotus Feet of Lord Madhava [Krishna], and then only can you experience transcendental bliss from wealth.
Your lusty desires to enjoy beautiful women are not an abode where you can find real shelter! The Supreme Lover is Yadava [Krishna]. He is the Supreme Enjoyer and actual Owner of everyone’s love. Offer all your love and devotion to Lord Krishna and you will be completely satisfied.
His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvatî Thakura is imparting appropriate instructions to the mind. The mind requires satisfying instructions, which are given here: This wealth, O mind, to which you are so attached does not belong to you. You have no right to enjoy it because it is not your property. There is only one rightful enjoyer of all your treasured possessions and that is Lord Madhava, Sri Krishna. If you really want to be happy, engage your wealth in the service of Lord Sri Krishna, Lord Madhava.” (Madhava is a name of Krishna describing Him as the killer of the Madhu demon. In other words Krishna removes obstacles from the path of the devotee.)
The transcendentalist is careful in dealing with wealth because it is the enemy of those who desire to enjoy it. By misusing wealth, one immediately comes under the control of the stringent law of karma and is bound to the wheel of repeated birth and death. By properly using wealth, however, in the service of Madhava, who is the real enjoyer and proprietor of wealth, then Madhava, the killer of the Madhu demon, kills the demon of material attachment in the heart. When the demon of attachment is killed, then wealth is no longer dangerous. Therefore the transcendentalist scrupulously ensures that wealth is employed for no purpose other than the service of Lord Madhava. He sets aside only the minimum needed for maintaining the body and soul together. He employs all accumulated wealth in the service of the Lord. Thus he cannot be caught in maya’s web.
bhayah dvitiyabhinivesatah syad
isad apetasya viparyayo ‘smrtih
tan-mayayato budha abhajet tam
Fear arises when a living entity misidentifies himself as the material body because of absorbtion in the external, illusory nergy of the Lord. When the living entity thus turns away from the Supreme Lord, he also forgets his own constitutional position as a servant of the Lord. This bewildering, fearful condition is effected by the potency for illusion, called maya. Therefore, an intelligent person should engage unflinchingly in the unalloyed devotional service of the Lord, under the guidance of a bonafide spiritual master, whom he should accept as his worshipable deity and as his very life and soul. (SB. 11.2.37)
When a living being attempts to enjoy separately from the Lord he enters mayas web. Just as an unwitting insect flies into a spider’s web and, just as by struggling, the fly becomes increasingly entangled, so the unwitting living being becomes increasingly implicated in illusion the more he struggles to implement his independant plans. On the other hand, just as a baby spider crawls nonchalantly across the web, so the devotee who is linked with Lord Madhava, the original author of illusion, remains free from material entanglement. By personal devotion and dedication of all one’s wealth to Lord Madhava’s service, one can easily be liberated from the web of illusion.
Kaminira kama, nahe tava dhama, there is no shelter in sexual activities, nor should one dwell in the kingdom of concupiscent desires. Sex enjoyment is an attempt to imitate Krishna’s position, and it entangles one more and more in this material world.
mahat-sevam dvaram ahur vimuktes
tamo-dvaram yoistah sangi sangam
mahantas te sama-cittah prasanta
vimanyavah sunudah sadhavo ye
One can attain the path of liberation from material bondage only by rendering service to highly advanced spiritual personalities. These personalities are impersonalists and devotees. Whether one wants to merge into the Lord’s existence or wants to associate with the Personality of Godhead, one should render service to the mahatmas. For those who are not interested in such activities, who associate with people fond of women and sex, the path to hell is wide open. The mahatmas are equipoised. They do not see any difference between one living entity and another. They are very peaceful and are fully engaged in devotional service. They are devoid of anger, and they work for the benefit of everyone. They do not behave in any abominable way. Such people are known as mahatmas.
ye va mayise krta-sauhrdartha
na priti-yukta yavad-arthas ca loke
Those who are interested in reviving Krishna consciousness and increasing their love of Godhead do not like to do anything that is not related to Krishna. They are not interested in mingling with people who are busy maintaining their bodies, eating, sleeping, mating and defending. They are not attached to their homes, although they may be householders. Nor are they attached to wives, children, friends or wealth. At the same time, they are not indifferent to the execution of their duties. Such people are interested in collecting only enough money to keep the body and soul together. (SB.5.5.2-3)
In the mode of ignorance the living being is overwhelmed by animal impulses for satisfying the sex urge. In the mode of passion he accepts the scriptural regulations which prescribe responsible marriage and sex control for begetting children. In the mode of goodness, he accepts vanaprastha life and husband and wife live without sexual contact and together engage in spiritual practices, such as visiting holy places, reading Krishna conscious literature, serving the spiritual master and preaching the glories of Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s Sankirtana Movement. Householders in Krishna consciousness should associate primarily on the platform of goodness, and once a month only, for procreation, they may have sexual contact. By this they will keep practically free from the influence of passion and ignorance. Sex must be kept to a minimum. In materialistic society sex-life is unrestrained without any thought for responsibility. Those who engage in homosexuality, bisexuality, bestiality, etc. are in the lowest modes of ignorance, far lower than ordinary married people who are materially responsible. Responsible married people are in the mode of passion, but those who simply try to gratify their sexual organ are in gross ignorance, they are lower than animal life, because as human beings they should know better. But by following the Vedic regulations one is elevated from the mode of ignorance, to passion, to goodness, and finally to transcendence.
punsah striya mithuni-bhavam etah
tayor mitho hrdaya-granthim ahuh
janasya moho ‘yam aham mameti
The attraction between male and female is the basic principle of material existence. On the basis of this misconception, which ties together the hearts of the male and female, one becomes attracted to his body, home, property, children, relatives and wealth. In this way one increases life’s illusions and thinks in terms of ‘I and mine’. (SB. 5.5.8)
In the vanaprastha stage the husband and wife should not visit holy places desiring elevation to the heavenly planets, but should instead engage in pure devotional service. By this transcendental engagement all poison in the fangs of the venomous serpent of sexual attraction will be removed so that even though in the association of the opposite sex one will be unaffected by the sex impulse. The sex impulse cannot be controlled from the mode of ignorance, or passion, but only by activities in the mode of goodness or in transcendence. Sexual intercourse is like putting ghee on a fire; for a moment the fire dies down, but then again flares up. Sexual control cannot be achieved without positive spiritual practice and spiritual association. In the spiritual world there is also sex-life, but it is nothing like the material version. Uncontaminated conjugal love is called in Sanskut madhurya-rasa. The gopis are the lovers and Krishna is the only beloved, the only master, the only husband. If one wishes to enjoy pure love, the pure ‘sex’ which is not of this material world, but of the spiritual world, then one must not become a victim of materialistic sex desire, but rather with purified consciousness one must engage in the service of Yadava, Krishna. Only then can one understand the standard of real love in all five relationships: santa-rasa (neutrality), dasya–rasa (servitorship), sakhya–rasa (friendship), vatsalya–rasa (parenthood) and madhurya-rasa (conjugal love).
Do not try to imitate the Lord; serve Him and fully realize what is pure spiritual love.
na pela ravana” yujhiya raghava”
vaisnavai pratistha, tate kara nistha,
taha na bhajile labhibe raurava
pratistha asa-desire for fame; taru-tree; jaca-material; maya-illusion; maru-desert; no-not; pela-received; ravana-Ravana; yujhiya-fighting; raghava-O Ramacandra, vaisnava-Vaisnava; pratistha-situation; tate– in that; kara–nistha-become fixed; taha-that; na-not; bhajile-if one worship; labhibe-will obtain; raurava-hell
My dear mind, beware of your desire to attain material reputation. It is misleading you with its attractive vision like an oasis of green trees, but it is simply a mirage in the desert of this world of repeated birth and death. It will cause your utter spiritual destruction. Remember how Ravana, the powerful demon, was bewildered due to false pride and in spite of all his efforts to achieve temporary material prominence he was destroyed by Raghava (Lord Ramacandra).
The only position you should desire is to become a true Vaisnava, a pure devotee of the Lord. Give all your care and attention for obtaining this! If instead you neglect to purely worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, due to your offenses, for all your hard endeavors your life will simply be hellish.
Fame, position and material acquistions appear beautiful to a person under the grips of material desires. Together they loom before him like a beautiful garden of enjoyment. The materialistic person longs to go there and enjoy all the varieties of pleasures. He thinks: If I had this position, if I had this wealth, if I had this fame, then I would be truly happy.” But in fact when he arrives there the mirage vanishes and he finds only a dry, waterless desert. Being thirsty, he wants to be satisfied and chases the mirage, imagining that position, wealth and fame will bring him happiness. For all his endeavour, however, for all his running after the false oasis of happiness, he only achieves the sand of the desert-like material world.
yaih sva-dehah smuto ‘natma
ta enam atmasat kutva
slaghayanti hy asattamah
Sannyasis who first consider that the body is subject to death, when it will be transformed into stool, worms or ashes, but who again give importance to the body and glorify it as the self, are to be considered the greatest rascals. ” (SB. 7.15.37)
vrata-tyago vator api
asramapasada hy ete
It is abominable for a person living in the guhastha–asrama to give up the regulative principles, for a brahmacari not to follow the brahmacari vows while living under the care of the guru, for a vanaprastha to live in the village and engage in so-called social activities, or for a sannyasi to be addicted to sense gratification. One who acts in this way is to be considered the lowest renegade. Such a pretender is bewildered by the external energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and one should either reject him from any position, or taking compassion upon him, teach him, if possible, to resume his original position.” (SB. 7.15.38-39)
The real position of happiness is to be a Vaisnava, a servant of the servant. Sometimes a devotee desires a position as a temple manager, a sannyasi, or more, but his desire is not pure; he is desiring a position rather than the service of Krishna, not understanding that he should let Krishna pull him up to any position necessary for performing his service. Krishna is no fool; He knows perfectly well if a certain devotee intensely desires to perform a wonderful service for Him. A devotee should carefully assess if increased responsibility will help his devotional service. He should not attempt to seize position falsely, thinking; This will help my service” No one should independantly make unauthorized endeavour. If a devotee completely fixes his mind and channels his energy into increasing and purifying his devotional service Krishna will automatically give him unlimited opportunities for service.
ayi nanda tanuja kinkarah
patitah mah visame bhavambudhau
kupaya tava pada-pankaja
O son of Maharaja Nanda (Krishna), I am Your eternal servitor, yet somehow or other I have fallen into the ocean of birth and death. Please pick me up from this ocean of death and place me as one of the atoms at Your lotus feet” (Siksastaka Vs.5 on Cc.Antya 20.22)
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has used the appropriate analogy of cream. Cream naturally rised to the top of the milk, and similarly, if the devotee’s desires are pure, light and free from all material cntaminations, that pure desire will pull one higher and higher in devotional activities. There is no need to be misled; one should exclude all other desires except one – to be the servant of the servant, in other words, to be a pure Vaisnava. For a devotee, even mukti, liberation, is not important. Mukti is already achieved if a devotee is pure. Pure devotee” means, as Caitanya Mahaprabhu has indicated, a devotee with no extraneous desires:
na dhanah na janah na sundarih
kavitah va jagadisa kamaye
mama janmani janmanisvare
bhavatad bhaktir ahaituki tvayi
O Almighty Lord, I have no desire to accumulate wealth, nor do I desire beautiful women, nor do I want any number of followers. I only want Your causeless devotional service birth after birth. (Siksastaka Vs.4 on Cc.Antya 20.29)
In this material world world everyone is hankering for riches (dhanah) and good family (janah). Leaders are aspiring for popular votes (janah means followers as well as family). And everyone hankers for a beautiful obedient wife (sundarih kavitah). These are the aspirations of material life. Caitanya Mahaprabhu declares, however, that He does not want these things-na dhanah na janah na sundarih. This is bhakti -love. When a devotee is free from all such material desires, he becomes fit for executing pure devotional service. He then achieves real mukti.
The sincere devotees works to cleanse his heart. The heart is always yearning for money, women, prestige. It yearns to be a leader, a minister or even a guru. Therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu has instructed –ceto darpana marjanah– first cleanse the heart! This is again stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam: By regular attendance in classes on the Bhagavatam and by rendering service unto the pure devotee, all that is troublesome within the heart is reduced practically to nil” (S.B. 1.2.18). A devotee must daily read and hear Srimad-Bhagavatam and Bhagavad–Gita. Then his heart will be cleansed and he will understand his relationship with Krishna, and by acting in that relationship his life will be perfect.
brahma bhutah prasannatma
na socati na kanksati
samah sarvesu bhutesu
mad-bhaktih labhate parah
One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments or desires to have anything. He is equally disposed toward every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me” (Bg. 18.54)
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.” (Cc.Madhya 19.166)
kara kena tabe tahara gaurava ?
vaisnavera pache, pratisthana ache,
ta’te kabhu nahe anitya-vaibhava”
harijana dveie-hate for the devotees of the Lord; pratisthasa-desire for material fame emposithon; klesa-sufering; kara-do; kena-why; tabe-then; tahara-its; gaurava-feel pride; vaiinavera pache-following behind the Vaisnava; pratisthana-desire for spiritual position; ache-there is; tate-in that; kabhu nahe-never; anitya-impermanent; vaibhava-wealth.
My dear mind, what kind of Vaisnava are you? In the name of solitary worship you are simply engaged in criticising and committing offenses against the vaisnavas. You have become envious towards the pure devotees of Lord Krishna. Instead of tasting the nectar of being a real Vaisnava you are simply suffering due to your desire to gain flickering material prestige and position. Then, in spite of your fallen condition, why do you remain so proud of your solitary worship?
Now you should try to be a real Vaisnava. To be a pure devotee of Krishna is actually the most glorious position anyone can achieve! If you really desire to achieve perfection, then give up this practice of solitary worship and in the association of devotees practise pure unmotivated devotional service. In the sincere practice of pure devotional service there is no influence of maya.
The mind must be controlled and made to act as a friend, helping one to advance on the path of Krishna realization. When the uncontrolled mind becomes infatuated with the desire for attaining egotistic prominence, even within the society of devotees, it immediately becomes dissatisfied:
kuina-bhakta–niskama, ataeva santa”
Because a devotee of Lord Krishna is desireless, he is peaceful. Fruitive workers desire material enjoyment, jñanis desire liberation, and yogis desire material opulence; therefore they are all lusty and cannot be peaceful.” (Cc. Madhya 19.149)
If a devotee, even after renouncing desire for gross sense gratification and fruitive activity, becomes careless and is swayed by desire for superficial importance and material position, he immediately feels dissatisfaction. Although this dissatisfaction alone is certainly the cause of untold suffering, should he, under pressure from his materialistic desires, grow envious of exalted souls, his situation becomes especially dangerous. In this way the uncontrolled mind leads him from material suffering to actively offending the Vaisnavas, and he proceeds along the royal road to destruction.
dvarah naSanah atmanah
kamah krodhas tatha lobhas
tasmad etat trayah tyajet
There are three gates leading to this hell– lust, anger and greed. Every sane man should give these up, for they lead to the degradation of the soul.” (Bg. 16.21)
abhisandhaya yo hihsah
dambhah matsaryam eva va
sahrambhi bhinna-dug bhavah
mayi kuryat sa tamasah
Devotional service executed by a person who is envious, proud, violent and angry, and who is a separatist, is considered to be in the mode of darkness.” (SB. 3.29.8)
Caitanya Mahaprabhu has therefore warned that offending a Vaisnava is the gravest error one can commit…
If the devotee commits an offense at the feet of a Vaisnava while cultivating the creeper of devotional service in the material world, his offense is compared to a mad elephant that uproots the creeper and breaks it. In this way the leaves of the creeper are dried up. (Cc. Madhya 19.156)
When a devotee living in a Vaisnava society becomes infatuated with material desires, Krishna mercifully subjects him to circumstances and lessons in order to instruct and protect him. To properly receive such instructions from senior Vaisnavas and to understand such situations are due to the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. A devotee should always chant Hare Krishna in a humble state of mind, as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has enjoined:
tunad api sunicena taror api sahiinuna
amanina manadena kirtaniyah sada harih
One should chant the Holy Name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than a straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige and ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the Holy Name of the Lord constantly.” (Siksastaka Vs.3)
But rather than showing humility and accepting the truth of the situation, the mind, infatuated with the desire to achieve importance, imagines no wrong in its envious attitude towards the real devotees of the Lord and reacts with false pride when shown that its path is mistaken. This pride is the symptom of falldown from spiritual life. Therefore, a devotee should be very careful to train his mind in avoiding this dangerous path and learn instead to be humble and sincere.
This does not mean, however, that one must be desireless. Desires are not absent in devotional service, but they are purified in the fire of transcendental knowledge. In other words, one should desire to be a servant of the servant of the servant of Krishna. The pure desire to attain this most exalted position contains within it multifarious activities for one’s upliftment. To achieve the mercy of Lord Krishna one must be fixed in a constant endeavour to execute the various activities of devotional service. That desire and the subsequent activities involved in achieving the goal of pure devotional service do not have even the slightest tinge of material contamination. Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is eternal; He is possessed of unlimited transcendental qualities and is surrounded by transcendental associates and paraphernalia. The devotional service of the Lord, or even the desire to achieve the position of devotional service following in the footsteps of authorised devotees, is purely situated on the transcendental platform. The expert transcendentalist, by fixing his mind on that transcendental platform through proper engagement of the mind in the devotional service of the Lord, is surely successful in this life in his practice of Krishna Consciousness.
Since devotional service is the highest perfection the intelligence can pacify the mind from its natural proclivity of desiring insignificant material objects, including material fame and position. The Caitanya Caritamuta instructs a devotees how to fix his mind in the absolute truth.
eita parama-phala ‘parama-purusartha’
yanra age tuna-tulya cari puruiartha
To taste the fruit of devotional service at Goloka Vrindavana 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.” (Cc. Madhya 19.164)
se hari-sambandha, sunya-mayagandha
taha kabhu naya jacera kaitava”
ubhaye janiha mayika raurava
se-that; hari–sambandha-relationship with the Lord; sunya-free from; mayagandha-from the influence of materialism; taha-that; kabhu naya-never; jadera-material; kaitava-cheating; pratisTha–candali-heartless woman in the form of longing for fame; nirjanata-jali-net of desire to perform solitary worship; ubhaye-both; janiha-know it; mayika-of illusory material existence; raurava-hell.
My dear mind, why are you so proud of being a pure devotee of Krishna? A pure devotee of the Lord performs favorable devotional service in his constitutional relationship as an eternal servitor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna. A pure devotee’s desire to serve Lord Krishna is completely pure and without the influence of even a trace of material motives. Your practice of solitary worship is simply cheating, but actual pure devotional service is ever free from material duplicity and hypocrisy stemming from the material cheating propensity.
My dear mind, beware of both the pratistha- cancali, the treacherous witch who enchants and bewilders devotees with the desire for cheap popularity; as well as the nirjanata-jali, the deadly net of solitary worship, which traps devotees in maya’s illusion when they leave the association of devotees to perform solitary devotional service. Know it that both are different aspects of the most hellish material existence known as Raurava.
The impersonalist philosophers are fond of accusing the devotees, bhakti-yogis, of being mere sentimentalists and that the process of bhakti-yoga is too simple. Yet these impersonalists are unable to execute devotional service themselves. This is because the performance of devotional service requires freedom from duplicity. Other paths of self-realization are external or mechanical, but unmotivated devotional service to the Lord purges the mind of all duplicity and propensity to cheat. However, if a devotee externally performs devotional service, but rather than working to please the spiritual master and Krishna, he instead aims for position or fame, then he will never be satisfied by his service, but will be victimized by the prostitute of material desire. Caitanya-caritamuta gives details of how gradually a devotee is overwhelmed by material desires and mentalities like a plant in a garden is smothered by weeds if not cared for properly. However, just as a properly tended garden yields fruits, devotional service properly tended with care according to the following advice shall certainly produce the most nectarean fruit.
kintu yadi latara sange uthe ‘upasakha’
bhukti-mukti-vancha, yata asankhya tara lekha
Sometimes unwanted creepers, such as the creepers of desires for material enjoyment and liberation from the material world, grow along with the creeper of devotional service. The varieties of such unwanted creepers are unlimited.”
‘nisiddhacara’, ‘kutinati’, ‘jiva-hihsana’
‘labha’, ‘puja’, ‘pratisthadi’ yata upasakha-gana
Some unnecessary creepers growing with the bhakti creeper are the creepers of behavior unacceptable for those trying to attain perfection, diplomatic behavior, animal killing, mundane profiteering, mundane adoration and mundane importance. All these are unwanted creepers.”
seka-jala paña upasakha badi’ yaya
stabdha haña mula-sakha badite na paya
If one does not distinguish between the bhakti–lata creeper and the other creepers, the sprinkling of water is misused because the other creepers are nourished while the bhakti-lata creeper is curtailed.”
prathamei upasakhara karaye chedana
tabe mula-sakha badi’ yaya Vrindavana
As soon as an intelligent devotee sees an unwanted creeper growing beside the original creeper, he must cut it down instantly. Then the real creeper of bhakti–lata–bija grows nicely, returns home, back to Godhead, and seeks shelter under the lotus feet of Krishna.”
‘prema phala’ paki’ pade, mali asvadaya
lata avalambi’ mali ‘kalpa-vuksa’ paya
“When the fruit of devotional service becomes ripe and falls down, the gardener tastes the fruit and thus takes advantage of the creeper and reaches the desire tree of the lotus feet of Krishna in Goloka Vrndavana.” (Cc.Madhya 19.158-162)
Failing to achieve his desired position in the society of devotees, he grows increasingly envious and takes the next step on the path of darkness. Under the influence on his illusioned mind, he leaves the association of devotees and takes shelter of independent action.
Sometimes a devotee imagines that solitary chanting of Hare Krishna, outside the association of other devotees, will bring spiritual advancement. But factually, due to being alone, the immature devotee falls more and more under maya’s control. Sitting in a solitary place, the restless mind wanders over the objects of the senses and his chanting becomes simply imitation. Influenced by tamo guna, sleep sets in, and by numerous tricks maya leads him further and further from the shelter of Krishna. The separatist attitude to leave association of devotees, envy towards a devotee, pride in one’s abilities or possessions, anger and intolerance towards other devotees, and the violent acts of impeding another person’s practice of devotional service must all be renounced in order to achieve pure devotional service.
abhisandhaya yo hihsah
dambhah matsaryam eva va
sahrambhi bhinna-dug bhavah
mayi kuryat sa tamasah
Devotional service executed by a person who is envious, proud, violent and angry, and who is a separatist, is considered to be in the mode of darkness.” (SB. 3.29.8)
In the association of other devotees a devotee is protected from the influence of maya. Therefore, to associate with devotees properly is a great science. Caitanya Mahaprabhu has instructed that to attain pure love for Krishna a devotee must be conversant with the science of Vaisnava behavior. Therefore vaisnava acara or vaisnava vyavahara, to live and interrelate in a devotional society according to the standard of Vaisnava etiquette, is an essential refinement that every aspiring devotee must learn and practice.
When the mind grows envious of other devotees and poses questions such as: Why do I not have such a postion myself? Why have I not been recognised? How can I achieve my desired aim?” it is a signal that the mind is gradually becoming allured by the witch-prostitute of desire for material importance. By submitting to these allurements a devotee suffers terribly. On the other hand, by staying properly situated in devotional service, he experiences his anandamayo’bhyasat, pure blissful spiritual position free from material suffering or anxiety. Feeling anxiety while in the association of Vaisnavas means the mind is impure. If an aspiring transcendentalist becomes bewildered by apparent contradictions in devotional principles and gets caught in the net of false desire to abandon the association of Vaisnavas, he neglects the orders of his spiritual master, and devotional service is eventually destroyed due to his hellish mentality.
kirtana chaciba, pratistha makhiba”,
ki kaja chuciya tadusa gaurava
madhavendra puri, bhava-ghare curi,
na karila kabhu sadai janaba
kirtana-chanting the Lord’s name; chaciba-I wil give up; pratistha-fame; makhiba-I will smear on my body; ki kaja– what effect; chuciya-seeking for ; tadusa-this kind of; gaurava-grandeur; madhavendra puri-Madhavendra Puri; bhava–ghare curi-imitating; na karila kabhu-never did; sadai-always; janaba-knowledgable.
My dear mind, you want me to give up the congregational chanting of Lord Krishna’s holy names to practice solitary worship. Then you want me to annoint myself with the material desires for temporary position and cheap fame! How can you consider these illusory activities of maya to have even the slightest spiritual value or glory in them?
Don’t commit the offense of falsely imitating the devotional service of the great spiritual master Madhavendra Puri. He was never a false imitation, but was a fully realized liberated soul. He travelled to spread the glories of Lord Krishna and continuously chanted the holy name of the Lord without the slightest desire for cheap popularity and reputation. Kindly remember his great transcendental qualities.
Madhavendra Puri was never imitating when he chanted in solitude. He was fully in a liberated state. Sometimes inexperienced devotees try to substantiate acting independantly by citing the example of an exalted soul like Madhavendra Puri, who would sit all day and night and chant. Also, he would worship in the company of a few devotees. But he was totally absorbed in love for Radha and Krishna, already on the transcendental platform of devotional service, already situated in his eternal relationship with Krishna. He never imitated someone. Everything he did was natural, part of his eternal relationship with Krishna. He was visable, but he was not a citizen of this universe. He was a citizen of the spiritual world. The mind must be trained to not imitate, but to perceive our level of devotional service. The Caitanya Caritamuta and the Nectar of Devotion give detailed explanations of the symptoms of the various levels of advancement in Krishna consiousness. These transcendental literatures advise us to study these symptoms to see what level we have achieved. By anubhavas of secondary symptoms that are visible in our service, mental activies and enthusiasm we can see our position. If we are still attracted to material objects, then any imitation of liberated souls, such as Madhavendra Puri, will create havoc in our spiritual life.
So the mind is challenged, How can you foolishly propose that I give up chanting and associating with devotees? This simply means that you are becoming falsely proud. You want to think that you are so advanced that you don’t need to live with the devotees, that you are beyond the need for association. But, in fact, you are only hurting yourself, wasting the opportunity to be Krishna conscious.”
Pride is cheating oneself and others. To practice devotional service we must give up false pride. Devotional service is the easiest yoga in all but one aspect. It demands no rigourous physical and mental feats. But it does demand complete sincerity and straight-forwardness and the renunciation of false pride. For many people that is the most difficult task. Some very austere and learned people find it impossible. It is too great an austerity for them. They are too attached to their position. They want to be aloof and cannot surrender their minds to Krishna.
But the sankirtana movement can destroy this false pride, and therefore we should never give it up. By our congregational chanting all anarthas (unwanted attitudes) in the mind will be cleansed away. As they are removed, our real perfection will be achieved. It is not something that one should imitate, but it will come spontaneously from the heart. Nitya siddha kusna prema sadhya kabhu naya, sravanadi suddha-citta koraye udhaya. Caitanya–caritamrta describes that pure love of Godhead can never be obtained externally, but it is internally present within us. It is simply covered over. By clearing the contamination covering the heart that love of God will arise. But how do you cleanse the heart? By sravanadi-by hearing and chanting Krishna’s name, Krishna’s fame and Krishna’s activities. The sky may be overcast, but as the sunlight rises above the clouds, the clouds are driven away. So similarly when the dirt that clouds our heart is cleansed away, then our pure love for Krishna is manifest.
Everyone in the world is already Krishna consious. In the context of this understanding, we don’t convert anyone. It is just a question of removing the covering. Krishna says in the Bhagavad-Gita that everyone is Krishna conscious, but that there are different stages of ignorance. Some are covered like the embryo in the womb, some are like smoke covering a fire and some like dust on a mirror. Living beings like animals in the gross mode of ignorance are like the child in the womb—completely covered. Those who are in the mode of passion are like the smoke covering the fire. The fire is there, but because of the smoke we cannot see it clearly. And others, who are only slightly covered, are like the dusty mirror. By wiping off the dust you can see things as they are.
So everyone is already a member of this movement. Everyone is already internally related to Krishna. It is only a question of purifying the mind of all materialistic contamination. Then, freed from all materialistic misconception, we can realize Krishna as our eternal master and shelter.
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
tomara pratistha,— sukarer vistha”,
tara-saha sama kabhu na manaba
matsarata-vase tumi jadarase
tomara-your; pratistha-fame; sukarer-pig’s; vistha-stool, tara–saha-with that; sama-like; kabhu na-never; manava-I do not compare; matsarata-pride; vase-under the control of; tumi-you; jadarase-in enjoying material sense pleasure; majeche-you are submerged; chadiya-giving up; kirtana-saustava-excellence of chanting the Lord’s names.
My dear mind, your desire for cheap reputation can be compared to the stool of a hog. You are proud of being a Vaisnava, but your actual behavior is less than an ordinary civilized human being! Controlled by envy towards true Vaisnavas, you have secretly been relishing trying to squeeze out some temporary material happiness by gratifying your material desires. How do you remain so proud in spite of your hypocrisy, after having abandoned the eternal nectar of the Hare Krishna sankirtana movement?
Now the mind has left the association of devotees due to jealousy: due to thinking that some other devotees are getting more facility and recognition. In this way the mind is being envious and finding fault with the devotees. Although the mind’s desire is, in fact, to enjoy material sense gratification, it must adjust to the contradiction that it has already entered into devotional service and surrendered to the spiritual master. In order to do this, the mind must find fault—this is wrong, that is wrong—to make an excuse for leaving devotional service in association with devotees to practice solitary worship. This rationalization gives an external excuse for the mind to separate itself from the association of devotees, but actually this entangles the devotee in offenses and covers pure devotional service with ignorance.
abhisandhaya yo himsam
dambham matsaryam eva va
samrambhi bhinna-dug bhavam
mayi kuryat sa tamasah
Devotional service executed by a person who is envious, proud, violent and angry, and who is a separatist, is considered to be in the mode of darkness.” (SB. 3.29.8)
Therefore, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura chastises his mind, You nonsense mind, why are you wandering away? You want mundane importance, but what is the use of your temporary importance? It is not better than stool–stool of a hog.”
I recall how once I went to a Christian mission near Mayapur. One Christian brother lived there and he showed me around the farm, including the prize pigs which provided pork for the Bishop. He claimed that these pigs were cleaner than any other animal on the farm, including the cow. I replied, “How can you say that? Pigs eat stool!”
But look at their pens” he said. They are perfectly clean. Whenever they pass stool they go outside their cage. Other animals pass stool wherever they stand. This proves they are cleaner”. Anyway, that was his theory. We, however, know how pigs are so dirty because they eat stool. That shows how putrefied they are. So Srila Bhaktisiddhanta compares the desire for material position to pig stool, and when the mind is greedy for such sense of importance, it is carried away by illusion. Even persons in the renounced order of sannyasa become bewildered by the illusion of maya, therefore one must be very careful on the path of self-realization.
yaih sva-dehah smuto ‘natma
ta enam atmasat kutva
slaghayanti hy asattamah
Sannyasis who first consider that the body is subject to death, when it will be transformed into stool, worms or ashes, but who again give importance to the body and glorify it as the self, are to be considered the greatest rascals.” (SB. 7.15.37)
The Bhagavad-Gita advises us to train our minds. We should take advantage of our human intelligence to train the mind. The mind will go anywhere if we allow it. Controlling the mind means repeatedly bringing it back to Krishna. Then we are safe. In Chapter 10, text 9 of the Bhagavad-Gita Krishna says, The thoughts of My pure devotees dwell in Me, their lives are fully devoted to My service, and they derive great satisfaction and bliss from always enlightening one another and conversing about Me.” In his purport Srila Prabhupada explains, Pure devotees, whose characteristics are mentioned here, engage themselves fully in the transcendental service of the Lord. Their minds cannot be diverted from the lotus feet of Krishna. Their talks are solely on the transcendental subjects…Their hearts and souls are constantly submerged in Krishna, and they take pleasure in discussing Him with other devotees. In the preliminary stage of devotional service they relish transcendental pleasure from the service itself, and in the mature stage they are actually situated in love of God. Once situated in that transcendental position, they can relish the highest perfection which is exhibited by the Lord in His abode.”
The mind of the pure devotee cannot be diverted from the lotus feet of Krishna. For the spontaneous devotee, the mind automatically goes to Krishna. In material life, our mind spontaneously goes to maya. Therefore we must, by our intelligence, bring the mind back again and again to Krishna until enough of the contamination covering our consciousness is gone, we can experience the natural taste for Krishna and gradually the mind is fixed on Krishna. When the consciousness is thus transcendentally situated one attains devotional service.
na socati na kanksati
samah sarvesu bhutesu
mad-bhaktim labhate param
One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments or desires to have anything. He is equally disposed toward every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.” (Bg. 18.54)
Even then, however, we must be careful that the mind does not come out of control and dwell on material desires such as the desire to become prominent, to be worshipped, to have some position, or to envy other devotees. These are very dangerous. These thoughts isolate one from the society of devotees. One begins to see devotees as enemies and gradually withdraws from their association.
The pure devotee sees everyone as part of Krishna. He sees no separateness. The devotee in the intermediate stage sees all the devotees as friends and Krishna as his eternal master. He delivers Krishna’s mercy to the innocent. But this vision is lost when one’s mind becomes uncontrolled. Then one begins to resent the devotees.
So therefore we are advised to train our minds. If we see our mind going off, we must stop it. Where are you going, you nonsense mind? You come back here. What are your doing?”
Some people might ask, “Why is this person talking to himself? Has he gone mad?” It is like a computer. All the experiences that we have had are stored in our subsconscious mind, even impressions from previous lives. We should be aware of the subtle nature of the mind. We should see where the mind is going in a bad direction. Then we must take the mind and analyse it. Why you are thinking like this? Don’t you know that by such thinking you are going to cause us both trouble?” In Manah Siksa (‘Prayers to the Mind’) Verse 4, Raghuaath dasa Gosvami advises the mind what to beware of:
asadvrata besya visuja matisarvasaharani
katha muktivyaghrya na sunu kila sarvatmagilani
api tyaktva laksmipati-ratimito gyomanayanim
vraje radhakusnau svaratimanidau tvam bhajam manah
Listening to mundane gossip and discussions that are not about Lord Krishna or for rendering devotional service to the Lord are very dangerous prostitutes. A devotee’s most cherished possession is his attraction for hearing and chanting the glories of Lord Krishna. This prostitute in the form of gossip and rumors comes and distracts the mind of the devotee and robs the devotee’s attraction for rendering pure devotional service.
The desire for liberation is like a tigress who is capable of devouring completely the devotional service of even a pure devotee.
Both of these dangerous elements must be avoided at all cost. One should not even listen to the discourses regarding liberation. However, even attachment for listening about the glories of the Lord of Laksmidevi (Lord Narayana) should be kept at a distance. If the attachment and attraction for Laksmi-Narayana is stronger then one will ultimately take shelter in Vaikuntha, and not be able to reside in Goloka Vrindavana or Vrajadhama.
In Vraja pure love and attachment is completely for Sri Sri Radha-Krishna. Pure love for Radha-Krishna is the greatest treasure, therefore you should worship Their Lordships eternally in pure devotion without interuption.”
The great acaryas pray to the mind, to influence the mind to realize the real spiritual priorities of life. In this way they analyse and train the mind, because if the mind is untrained, its tendency will be to always think along material lines. So devotees train the mind, purify it by chanting Hare Krishna and by consciously avoiding the pitfalls. Bhaktivinoda Thakura also prays to Lord Krishna to help in purifying the mind as follows:
gopinatha, kemone hoibe gati
prabala indriya, bosi-bhuta mana,
na chare visaya-rati
gopinatha, hudaye bosiya more
manake samiya, laho nija pane,
ghucibe vipada ghora
gopinatha, anatha dekhiya more
tumi husikesa, husika damiya,
taro’he samsrti ghore
O Gopinatha, how shall I make any advancement when my mind has come under the control of the powerful senses and does not abandon its attachment to materialism?
O Gopinatha, after sitting down in the core of my heart and subduing my mind, please take me to You. In this way the horrible dangers of this world will disappear.
O Gopinatha, You are Husikesa, the Lord of the senses. Seeing me so helpless, please control these senses and deliver me from this dark and perilous worldly existence.” (Verses from Gopinatha (from Kalyana-kalpataru) by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura)
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said that when a devotee wakes up in the morning he should beat his mind with a shoe a hundred times. Since the mind tends to be very puffed up, it must be beaten to keep it in the proper humble state. In the evening the mind should be beaten with a broomstick another hundred times. The mind is like a wild animal captured from the jungle, it is never fully dependable. If it gets the chance it will run off into the jungle again. Similarly, if the mind is not kept on a tight rope, it will wander off into material engagements and inadvertantly one will lose the jewel of Krishna consciousness.
The systematic practice of devotional service is the practical means to express our desire to serve and surrender to the Lord. A devotee must gradually rise above the mechanical practice of devotional service to the state where one’s devotion is unflinching. This comes from thinking, feeling and willing to serve Krishna. One must have a strong desire to achieve complete perfection in love of Godhead. When this devotion becomes established all good qualities take shelter of the devotee.
yasyasti bhaktir bhagavaty akiñcana
sarvair gunais tatra samasate surah
harav abhaktasya kuto mahad-guna
manorathenasati dhavato bahih
All the demigods and their exalted qualities, such as religion, knowledge and renunciation, become manifest in the body of one who has developed unalloyed devotion for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vasudeva. On the other hand, a person devoid of devotional service and engaged in material activities has no good qualities. Even if he is adept at the practice of mystic yoga or the honest endeavor of maintaining his family and relatives, he must be driven by his own mental speculations and must engage in the service of the Lord’s external energy. How can there be any good qualities in such a man? (SB. 5.18.12)
Even if a devotee finds that he is still filled with undesirable qualities, he should not lose heart. The process is gradual, and being able to recognize one’s defects is a good sign. One must continue sincerely rendering devotional service according to the advice of sadhu, sastra and guru.
tai dusta mana, nirjana bhajana,”
pracaricha chale kuyogi-vaibhava”
prabhu sanatane, parama yatane,
siksa dila yaha, cinta sei saba
tai-therefore; dusta -wicked; mana-mind; nirjana-solitary; bhajana-worship; pracaricha-you are preaching ; chale-by trick; kuyogi–vaibhava-a cheatiag false yogi’s influence; prabhu sanatane-to Sanatana Gosvami; parama-very much; yatane–care; siksa -teaching; dila-gave; yaha-what; cinta-think of; sei-those; sabe-all.
My dear rascal mind, now it is evident why you have been spreading the glories of solitary devotional service. You have been acting against the Vaisnava principles and simply cheating to hide the real facts. You have acted just like a false yogi whose only purpose is to mislead and cheat others. To save yourself from this illusion you should remember and carefully study the teachings that Sanatana Gosvami has so mercifully given in this regard for practising devotional service properly in Krishna consciousness.’
Now the mind has completely gone off the path of pure devotional service being mislead by material desires for mundane importance and false prestige. You have followed the paths of the false gurus and given up the sankirtana movement for solitary worship.” Sanatana Gosvami advises yukta-vairagya—using everything in the service of Krishna, not superficial renunciation. Here the mind is covering all desire for wealth, power and prestige with a thin covering of apparent renunciation, thinking, I’ll practice Krishna consciousness by myself. I do not need the devotees, I can have my own movement with my friends.” This type of mental concoction is very dangerous. Leaving the association of devotees and associating with worldly people is like drinking poison for one who wants to develop pure love of Godhead.
satyam saucam daya maunam
buddhih srir hrir yasah ksama
samo damo bhagas ceti
yat-sangad yati sanksayam
tesv asantesu mudhesu
sangam na kuryac chocyesu
(If, therefore, the living entity again associates with the path of unrighteousness, influenced by sensually minded people…) He becomes devoid of truthfulness, cleanliness, mercy, gravity, spiritual intelligence, shyness, austerity, fame, forgiveness, control of the mind, control of the senses, fortune and all such opportunities. One should not associate with a coarse fool who is bereft of the knowledge of self-realization and who is no more than a dancing dog in the hands of a woman.” (SB. 3.31.33-34)
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has advised that for a devotee to think he is advancing outside the Krishna conscious association of devotees, is only a hallucination. Bhakti-yoga is a science of self-realization, and it should be practiced according to the approved methods. Then a devotee is assured of success. The Srimad-Bhagavatam details the proper way to discuss transcendental subject matters.
satam prasangan mama virya-samvido
bhavanti hrt-karna-rasayanah kathah
taj-josanad asv apavarga-vartmani
sraddha ratir bhaktir anukramisyati
In the association of pure devotees, discussion of the pastimes and activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is very pleasing and satisfying to the ear and the heart. By cultivating such knowledge one gradually becomes advanced on the path of liberation, and thereafter he is freed, and his attraction becomes fixed. Then real devotion and devotional service begin.” (SB. 3.25.25)
When a person comes to the temple and begins chanting and serving, he makes progress in Krishna consciousness. But sometimes, due to lack of resolute determination, the mind starts to create options to living within the society of devotees. It suggests that by leaving the association of devotees one can perform more austerities, read the scriptures more, etc. But once outside the society of devotees, the mind becomes stronger. It does not say, Now you can read more”, but goes to the next stage, Now no one is watching, you can smoke, you can break the regulative principles, you can sleep, etc…” The mind begins following the dictates of the senses rather than of the intelligence. Association of devotees helps the devotee to control his lust, but once he leaves this protective association his lust becomes difficult to control. Desires increase beyond limit. Bhagavad-Gita explains how lust is the enemy of pure consciousness.
avutam jñanam etena
indriyani mano buddhir
etair vimohayaty esa
jñanam avutya dehinam
Thus the wise living entity’s pure consciousness becomes covered by his eternal enemy in the form of lust, which is never satisfied and which burns like fire. The senses, the mind and the intelligence are the sitting places of this lust. Through them lust covers the real knowledge of the living entity and bewilders him.” (Bg. 3.39-40)
Intelligence is spiritualized by hearing from the guru, the scriptures, and the Vaisnavas. When our mind attempts to materially distort our intelligence with impressions from previous births and activities, we must reject it! No! Mind, you are again echoing the story I have heard before. You want me to chew the already chewed!” You have seen the sugarcane juice stands on the roadside. They put the sugarcane throug crusher the first time, then, folded in half, it goes through again. Then it is folded four times, then eight times. Finally it becomes a ball of pulp, but they crush it again to squeeze out the last few drops of sugarcane juice. Then they discard it to the side. Although there is no juice left, sometimes a madman picks it up and tries to suck it. The happiness of the material world is like that, punah punas carvita carvananam. Chewing the same thing again and again. Therefore, since the intelligence is higher than the mind and dull matter as explained in the Bhagavad-Gita, it should be purified and used to engage the mind and senses properly in Krishna consciousness.
indriyani parany ahur
indriyebhyah param manah
manasas tu para buddhir
yo buddheh paratas tu sah
The working senses are superior to dull matter; mind is higher than the senses; intelligence is still higher than the mind; and he (the soul) is even higher than the intelligence.” (Bg. 3.42)
In the modern society they are encouraging that everyone go shopping for sex, saying that men should enjoy a hundred women and women should have a hundred relations with men. But in reality no one is satisfied, rather they must suffer so many unwanted incurable diseases. This is the result of chewing and chewing the same thing.
So the Vedas advise directing everything towards the spiritual goal. Control the mind. Limit the mind. If the mind produces a nonsense idea–smash it!!. Beat it with shoes and brooms. That is the purpose of intelligence. The judge will not accept, “My mind told me to shoot the man because he called me a bad name.” No, you must use your intelligence to evaluate that retaliation to name calling should be limited. That is intelligence–the power to reason. A person may be agitated and the mind may say, Smash him!” But although you feel the influence of anger, you control it because of the consequences.
In spiritual life we must also regulate the mind. If we completely deprive the mind, it may radically erupt at some point. Sometimes Westerners attempt to imitate austere yogis who only eat leaves in a remote place of pilgrimage. But when confronted with an opportunity to enjoy, they immediately dive into it. Their senses leap out. Devotees, however, fill the mind and senses with Krishna by chanting, hearing, and feasting on Krishna prasadam; their lives are a constant festival. This satisfies the senses and one becomes truly peaceful.
Saubhari Muni meditated for 10,000 years under the water, but because he criticised the great devotee Garuda, he lost all the pious results of his austerity. Eventually, upon seeing two fish combining together, he became agitated to get married. Coming out of the water, he was covered with barnacles and weeds and his body was wrinkled, but by mystic power he transformed his body into the form of a handsome young man. He then married 51 princesses simultaneously. By his austerities he was suppressing his desires, but his offense removed that shelter. That is the danger and difficulty of practising austerity without devotional service. In Krishna consciousness we engage the senses. We train the senses, keeping them on a tight leash, like someone training an animal, to only act for Krishna. Also the mind must be more and more fixed on Krishna by patience and determination. That is samadhi, thinking only for Krishna. By listening attentively to our chanting, we can start to experience deep appreciation and love for Krishna.
Of course, Narottama dasa Thakura prayed for a short-cut. He said, I am so unfortunate, I am so unhappy. It is so difficult for me to control my mind. So Lord Nityananda, please just flood me with ecstasy. Flood me with Your mercy. Then I will be so attracted by the taste of the love flowing from Your lotus feet that automatically my mind will be absorbed.” This is the devotee’s short-cut. If we can get the mercy of Lord Nityananda, then very quickly we taste the ecstasy of pure love for Krishna. Then the mind is easily controlled. This quality of devotional service where one is detached from mundane things and attached to Lord Krishna is explained in the following verse:
anasaktasya visayan yatharham upayuñjatah
nirbandhah kusna-sambandhe yuktah vairagyam ucyate
prapañcikataya buddhya hari-sambandhi-vastunah
mumuksubhih parityago vairagyam phalgu kathyate
When one is not attached to anything, but at the same time accepts everything in relation to Krishna, one is rightly situated above possessiveness. On the other hand, one who rejects everything without knowledge of its relationship to Krishna is not complete in his renunciation.” (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 2.255-256)
By relishing happiness from Krishna, we can remain transcendental to all mental and sensual disturbances. Once Arjuna visited the heavenly planets and a beautiful heavenly society girl approached him for union. But since he was a devotee, he could control his mind. He looked down at her feet and addressed her, Your are like my mother.” She desired a lusty relation, but he wanted to avoid that. So by considering her to be like his mother, his mind was not disturbed by lusty thoughts. Of course she was furious. But there was nothing she could do. Therefore a brahmacari is advised to see every woman as his mother. This helps to control the mind. Srila Prabhupada once described an Indian sadhu who tried to better the scriptural injuction to see every woman except your wife as a mother. He tried to see his wife as a mother as well. His concoction was to get some cheap worship from the public, to have them think, This is something new, something amazing. He must really be a sadhu.” But that process is only a concoction.
Srila Prabhupada has so kindly given us the perfect process for attaining peace of mind. We must take up the immediate task of tackling the mind and controlling it, for by controlling the mind we’ll be peaceful and happy.
sei du’ti katha, bhula’ na sarvatha
uccaih svare kara hari nama-rava”
phalgu” ara yukta”, baddha” ara mukta,”
kabhu na bhaviha, ekakara saba
sei-these; duti-two; katha-topics; bhulo-forget; na-do not; sarvatha-in any circumstance; uccaihsvare-in a loud voice; kara-do; hari nama rava-chanting of the holy name; phalgu-false renunciation; ara-even; yukta-linked with Krsna; baddha-bound in material nature; ara-even; mukta-liberated from material entanglement; kabhu na-never; bhaviha-consider; ekakara-one form; saba-all
My dear mind, you should never, under any circumstances, allow yourself to forget the two instructions of Sanatana Gosvami. Constantly engage yourself in loudly chanting the glories of the holy names of Lord Krishna!
Never consider dry renunciation and yukta-vairagya (appropriate renunciation) to be equal. Do not confuse actions appropriate for a conditioned soul with the activities of an eternally liberated soul. Never think that everything is one without difference.
After exposing the foul play of the mind in desiring to perform solitary practice of Krishna consciousness, now further instructions are being given on performing practical authorized devotional service. Note how His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura has told his mind to always engage in loudly performing sankirtana glorification of the holy names of the Lord”. This activity is for those advanced in Krishna consciousness and not for the neophytes. The neophyte devotees or kanistha adhikari devotees want to retire untimely from preaching activities and hallucinate that they are on a more elevated platform of devotional service. This is explained in the Caitanya-caritamuta purports as follows.
Everyone is eligible to become Krishna’s devotee. One simply has to be trained according to the approved process. It is the work of Krishna’s confidential devotees to turn everyone into a Krishna bhakta. If the confidential devotees do not take up the task of elevating everyone to Krishna consciousness, then who will do it? Those who claim to be devotees but do not engage in Krishna’s service to elevate all living creatures to Krishna consiousness are to be considered kanistha-adhikaris (people in the lowest stage of devotional service). When one rises to the second platform of devotional service, his business is to propagate Krishna consciousness all over the world. Those who are active in the Krishna consciousness movement should not remain in the neophyte stage but should rise to the plaftorm of preachers, the second platform of devotional service. Devotional service is so enchanting that even the first-class devotees (uttama-adhikaris) also come down to the second platform to preach and render service to the Lord for the benefit of the whole world.” (Cc.Madhya 24.205 Purport)
In this tenth verse Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s instruction to the mind is to be constantly engaged in the loud” harinama sankirtana or congregationally chanting the glories of the holy name of Krishna. There are two kinds of sankirtana which are authorized. First there is the sankirtana performed by many devotees together playing on mudanga drums and karatala cymbals while chanting loudly the Hare Krishna maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. This is also accompanied by dancing. That form of vocal, audible sankirtana can be heard throughout the surrounding neighborhood, and with amplification, it can be heard for a mile or more. Another form of sankirtana known as the buhat mudanga or greater drum” sankirtana, is the distribution of transcendental literatures glorifying Lord Krishna and His holy names. When literatures authorized in the line of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu are distributed amongst the general public, they glorify the holy name for an unlimited distance. Books may go thousands of miles to rescue fallen souls from the illusion of materialistic life. Even in remote places, such as military camps, prisons, frontier outposts and distant countries, the books of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada have reached the hands of open- minded seekers of truth and dramatically improved their lives.
The word uccaihsvare” is given in the Bengali verse. This means literally loudly sung”. What is the real significance of this reference to loudly singing” the glories of the Lord? When one sings loudly, then many can hear the vibration. Conversely, when one sings softly then only a few are able to hear. Therefore, loudly singing” refers to broadcasting the glories of the Lord’s holy names in such a way that many are able to receive the message. In this context, the distribution of transcendental literature can be understood as a means of performing a loud” sankirtana as many persons are able to receive the transcendental message by reading the books on Krishna consciousness. For example, by reading these transcendental literatures, many have been able to understand the spiritual purpose of life, have started to chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, and have experienced a change in heart which has awakened the devotional qualities which were lying dormant within their hearts. Therefore, both the expansive distribution of transcendental literature as well as the loud congregational chanting of the holy names of the Lord are to be considered as loud” sankirtana and are to be performed by all devotees of Lord Caitanya.
The mind has been advised to never forget the two instructions” given by Lord Caitanya to Sanatana Gosvami. What are these two instructions? Referring to the Caitanya-caritamuta we find that the following two verses comprise the two principal instructions to Sanatana Gosvami.
vundavane kusna seva, vaisnava acara
bhakti-smuti- sastra kari’ kariha pracara
Establish devotional service to Lord Krishna and Radharani in Vrindavana. You should also compile bhakti scripture and preach the bhakti cult from Vrindavana.”
yukta-vairagya-sthiti saba sikhaila
suska-vairagya-jñana saba nisedhila
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu then told Sanatana Gosvami about proper renunciation according to a particular situation, and the Lord forbade dry renunciation and speculative knowledge in all respects.” (Cc.Madhya 23.104-105)
Basically, the two instructions are to preach pure devotional service to Lord Krishna, and to perform yukta-vairagya” or proper renunciation according to time, place and circumstance while avoiding dry renunciation and speculative knowledge. ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) has been created by His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada to fulfill these two instructions. It is the responsibility of all sincere practitioners of Krishna consciousness to follow the methods given by Lord Caitanya to the six Gosvamis. This has been explained by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami as follow:
This Krishna consciousness movement continues the tradition of the six Gosvamis, especially Srila Sanatana Gosvami and Srila Rupa Gosvami. Serious students of this Krishna consciousness movement must understand their great responsibility to preach the cult of Vrindavana (devotional service to the Lord) all over the world. We now have a nice temple in Vrindavana, and serious students should take advantage of it. I am very hopeful that some of our students can take up this responsibility and render the best service to humanity by educating people in Krishna consciousness.” (Cc. Madhya 23.104)
The importance of engaging in preaching activities is placed above all other activities in Krishna consciousness. However, one must be pure in order to be empowered to preach transcendental knowledge. Therefore, one must also be renounced from gross materialistic activities. Renunciation is often thought to be the abnegation of the senses or some type of bodily suffering one must endure. In pure devotional service real renunciation is giving up one’s enjoying attitude” in which one sees everything in terms of ones own physical, mental, or intellectual satisfaction. A pure devotee acts simply for the satisfaction of Lord Krishna. For the satisfaction of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the devotee is prepared to do anything— even to accept birth again in the material world if there is devotional service the Lord desires of the devotee in this miserable place. One type of austerity is the austerity of cooperating together with other devotees for performing a service which is dear to the Lord.
In this verse, the devotee has been instructed to engage in widespread sankirtana. For both types of sankirtana, either the congregational chanting or the distribution of transcendental literatures, a cooperation or team-work is required.
Book sankirtana” requires that books be written, edited, published, shipped and distributed. To achieve this, many people must cooperate together, working as a team.
Similarly chanting sankirtana” with mudanga drums and karatalas requires the cooperation of all participants. Caitanya Mahaprabhu especially appreciated His devotees cooperating for the purpose of spreading the glories of His holy name.
Devotees have been instructed in this verse by the words bhulo na sarvvatha” never to forget these two instructions of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. To act independently and make a show of chanting Hare Krishna or to practice devotional services with the end of achieving personal salvation, or for satisfying one’s personal desires for material fame, position, distinction or adoration have been condemned here as the actions of a conditioned living entity. Pure devotional service is already on the liberated platform because it has nothing to do with material activities. Pure devotional service is unconditional and favorable to the Lord’s desire. Since it is Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s desire that His devotees preach cooperatively the glories of the holy names of Krishna, pure devotees unhesitatingly perform this activity at all times under all circumstances. The thought that an individual will in his own way” spread Krishna consciousness outside of the sankirtana movement authorized by the previous acaryas is inconceivable for a pure devotee of the Lord. There is no alternative for one who wants to achieve perfection in Krishna consciousness in this lifetime other than to remain within the shelter of the Krishna consciousness movement and cooperatively work together for the satisfaction of Guru and Gauranga!
The dangers of leaving the association of Vaisnavas are more than may meet the eye”. In addition, another fatal danger is waiting to devour the unsuspecting devotee, namely mayavada, or the impersonal conception. The mayavada philosophy states that everything is one”, denying differentiation between God and the living entity. One may fall down into the misconception that one is equal with the Lord Himself, which makes one an offender and one falls from the path of devotional service.
It may seem an impossibility for someone practicing devotional activities to be situated in the impersonal mayavada conception, but it is quite common. It is possible even for a devotee to fall into mayavada contamination by committing offenses to the Supreme Personality of Godhead or His pure devotees. Therefore one must always keep the mind alert against any tinge of the characteristics of dry renunciation”, mental speculation or offensive mentality towards the dedicated servitors of the Lord, lest one fall down from the devotional path into the horrible abyss of impersonalism. Someone may be a brahmana by qualification, and be very pure and strict in regulative activities, but actually be a mayavadi or impersonalist and have an offensive mentality towards the Supreme Lord Krishna and His devotees. This is explained in the Caitanya Caritamrta as follows:
The Absolute Truth is realized in three phases— impersonal Brahman, Paramatma and the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan. All of these are one and the same truth, but Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan consitute three different features. Whoever understands Brahman is called a brahmana, and when a brahmana engages in the Lord’s devotional service, he is called a Vaisnava… A brahmana can chant the Hare Krishna mantra on the platform of namabhasa, but not on the platform of pure vibration. When a brahmana engages in the Lord’s service, fully understanding his eternal relationship, his devotional service is called abhidheya. When one attains that stage, one is called a bhagavata or a Vaisnava…
A brahmana may be a very learned scholar, but this does not mean that he is free from material contamination. A brahmana’s contamination, however, is in the mode of goodness. In the material world, the three modes are goodness, passion and ignorance, and all of these are simply different grades of contamination. Unless a brahmana transcends such contamination and approaches the platform of unalloyed devotional service, he cannot be accepted as a Vaisnava. An impersonalist …sometimes…imagines a form of the Lord (saguna-upasana), but such an attempt is never successful in helping one attain complete realization…
Unless one is a fully qualified brahmana, he cannot advance in the spiritual science. A real brahmana is never envious of Vaisnavas. If he is, he is considered an imperfect neophyte. Impersonalist brahmanas are always opposed to Vaisnava principles. They are envious of Vaisnavas because they do not know the goal of life…
We can actually see that in this age of Kali many so-called brahmanas are envious of Vaisnavas. The Kali-contaminated brahmanas consider Deity worship to be imaginative: arcye visnau sila-dhir gurusu nara-matir vaisnave jati buddhih. Such a contaminated brahmana may superficially imagine a form of the Lord, but actually he considers the Deity in the temple to be made of stone or wood. Similarly, such a contaminated brahmana considers the guru to be an ordinary human being, and he objects when a Vaisnava is created by the Krishna consciousness movement…
Similarly, a Vaisnava does not belong to a particular caste; rather, his designation is determined by the rendering of devotional service.” (Cc. Madhya 15.277)
To rise up to the level of a Vaisnava, a brahmana must be completely free of all envy towards the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His devotees. If one is envious, then he is not a Vaisnava, he is not even a qualified brahmana—he is to be considered an imperfect neophyte”. Therefore to remain fixed on the platform of unalloyed devotional service and to avoid mayavadi contamination one must remain free from an envious nature against the Vaisnavas. One must remain transcendental to the three modes of material nature.
But it is seen practically, however, that the living entity in the material world is compelled to act in the three modes of material nature being conditioned by the laws of karma or cause and effect. These reactions force him into a variety of predicaments, births, deaths, diseases, etc. Sometimes he feels happy, and sometimes he feels sad. All this is described in Caitanya-caritamuta. Sometimes a living entity is elevated to the heavenly planets to enjoy extended, blissful material happiness with almost no obstacles. But then he is dragged again into hellish misery. Thus he fluctuates between happiness and distress. As in medieval times, when the king would punish criminals by dunking them in the river, then lifting them for air at the last moment, so the material energy forcibly dunks the conditioned soul into the waves of material suffering, brings him up momentarily for a breath of air, then dunks him down again into the swirling currents of repeated birth and death.
Therefore, when in contact with the material world, the living entity faces serious dangers. The mayavadis imagine that, because it is temporary, this world is only illusory. Based on this conclusion, they assert that the living entity is actually God, and when this material illusion is dispelled, he will remember his identity as God. They fail to explain, however, how illusion can overcome God Almighty. If their speculations were correct, it would mean that illusion is greater than God! Therefore, because in effect, they say that illusion is greater than God, they have earned the name, mayavadi— Maya means illusion”, and vadi” means one who propagates the theory of.” Actually mayavadis are in illusion because they have failed to understand their relationship as eternal servitors of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Lord of maya, this illusory energy.
daivi hy esa guna-mayi
mama maya duratyaya
mam eva ye prapadyante
mayam etam taranti te
This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.” (Bg. 7.14)
One must remember always that this material energy is the divine potency of Krishna, and that Krishna is personally reassuring the conditioned soul that anyone who takes shelter at His lotus feet through devotional service is delivered. With this conviction in the words of Krishna and the spiritual master one should engage in unalloyed devotional service in the society of Vaisnavas, avoiding all offensive and envious mentalities. Before the erring mind leads one astray, the mind should be corrected and firmly kept on the course of pure devotional service.
Remembering the instructions of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu to always be engaged in propagating the glories of Krishna’s holy names for the upliftment of the fallen souls is the only shelter for the fallen soul aspiring perfection in this present Age. The alternative passages are actually traps of maya which will lead one to fall into the pit mayavadi conceptions or into entanglement in materialistic activities under the three material modes.
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has so kindly given the world a spiritual society in which every thought, word and deed can be engaged in yukta–vairagya —pure devotional activities offered to Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It was the humble desire of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada that by his contribution of Krishna consciousness given to the world, people at large would become eternally happy in Krishna consciousness, thus solving all the problems of their lives. This is the mood of compassion in pure devotional service which inspires the pure devotees of the Lord to preach Krishna consciousness.
A bona fide devotee of Lord Krishna is always pained to see the fallen condition of the whole world. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura used to say, There is no scarcity of anything within this world. The only scarcity is of Krishna consciosness.” That is the vision of all pure devotees. Because of this lack of Krishna consciousness in human society, people are suffering terribly, being merged in an ocean of nescience and sense gratification. A devotee onlooker is very much aggrieved to see such a situation in the world.” (Cc.Adi 13.67)
chadiyache yare, sei ta’ vaisnava
sei anasakta”, sei suddha bhakta”,
samsara tatha paya parabhava
kanaka-kamini-desire for fame and women; pratistha-baghini-tigress of desire for fame; chadiyache-has given up; yare-who; sei-he; ta-certainly; vaisnava-Vaisnava ei-he; anasakta-unattached to materialism; sei-he alone; suddha bhakta-pure devotee; samsara-material world; tatha-in this manner; paya-gets; parabhava-defeat.
The desire for enjoying cheap fame and material distinction acts like a ferocious tigress who devours one’s Krishna consciousness. Similarly dangerous are the desires for enjoyment of wealth and women. Someone who has transcended both of these materialistic desires through devotional service is indeed a real Vaisnava.
Someone with such Krishna conscious characteristics is truly unattached to material life. He is actually a pure devotee of Lord Krishna! The material bondage to the repetition of birth and death is easily defeated by a pure devotee of the Lord like him!
Three genera of tigress are mentioned here: (1) the desire to accumulate wealth and material acquisitions; (2) the desire to have a beautiful, obedient wife, or to associate with beautiful women; and (3) the desire to achieve material importance and position. The tigress is famous as one of the most ruthless animals. Although the lion is popularly considered the king of the cats, many say the tiger is the real king, because it is far more ruthless than the lion. Be that as it may, the tiger is unquestionably dangerous. Tigresses especially have no mercy. They are always hungry, and spotting a victim they immediately strike. Thus these three powerful desires are compared to three perilous tigresses confronting an aspiring transcendentalist.
Wealth, women and fame–these desires can devour devotional service. Just as a tigress rips out the heart of her prey, so these desires can rip out the heart of devotional service. Therefore caution must be used. Advancement in Krishna consciousness requires renouncing these three desires. Whoever abandons the desire for materialistic achievement is an actual Vaisnava.
The position of a Vaisnava is extremely exalted, for it indicates a firm connection with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Visnu, Krishna. Vaisnava is a descriptive term indicating one is already on the transcendental platform. A Vaisnava’s qualification is that he has given up desire for wealth, sex enjoyment and material importance. To serve Krishna, one must be qualified as a Vaisnava. Therefore, without giving up these desires, no one can serve Krishna.
Sometimes someone, appearing to aspire for Krishna consciousness, joins ISKCON and displays tremendous enthusiasm for performing service. He eagerly does anything asked, and obsequiously takes dust from the feet of Vaisnavas. After a short time, however, he steals something and runs away. In this connection, A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has quoted an old Bengali proverb: ati bhakti corer lokkhon,” or excessive devotion warns of a thief.”
People in general have illusory attachment for wealth, sex- life and material position; it is only to be expected. So when a spiritual aspirant joins the Hare Krishna movement, it can also be expected that he will retain some gross or subtle attachment for these things. A sincere candidate, understanding the falsity of these desires, seeks to renounce them. He battles against this illusion by overcoming his urges and engaging himself in devotional service. Whenever his mind promotes these ideas, he rejects them and fixes his thoughts on devotional service. It is undoubtedly a struggle, particularly in the beginning, but by pushing on, he invokes the mercy of the spiritual master and Krishna. Thus it is understood that a new devotee appearing fully spontaneous and devoid of any trace of material desire and heralding his own purity is more than likely a bluffer with a perverse material motive.
The instruction that no one can qualify for devotional service without giving up these illusory desires should not discourage or frighten a devotee, for these ambitions fall away automatically as devotional service matures. Attachments may linger, but a devotee must learn to see their uselessness. He should be cautious and deal with objects of attachment according to the instructions of the spiritual master and the scriptures. Freedom from desire for wealth is best attained by employing one’s accumulated wealth in the service of Krishna. To free oneself from attachment to beautiful women, one should practice either celibacy or regulated householder life in full Krishna consciousness. By the practice of brahmacarya (complete celibacy) or guhastha-brahmacarya (qualified celibacy, householder life with sex only for procreating), one becomes immune to the inordinate desire for sex-life. This immunity is cultivated by loudly chanting and engaging in the sankirtana movement, preaching the message of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the glories of His Holy Name, and remaining in the association of strong devotees.
The desire to gain position is deep-rooted and subtle. In this material world everyone is hankering to be important. His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has pointed out how even rickshaw drivers have a sense of importance. One rickshaw driver considers himself more important than another because he pulls faster. Another driver thinks that because he gets the same money with less work, he is more important. A third driver thinks that he is best because he earns more by cheating his passengers. And a fourth imagines himself a wonderful singer, expert in striking up beauteous melodies while pulling the rickshaw. So in some way or another, everyone feels himself to be very important. As that feeling expands, one hankers for the position of a minister, a king, a guru or whatever. These feelings expand in different ways according to the individual. Thus in this material world everyone is jostling for a position of importance according to one’s own desire.
A Vaisnava’s position is, however, that of the servant of the servant of the servant of the Lord. This humble mood of service many times removed is the qualification for acceptance by Krishna. The pure devotee is unattached, free from all the above-mentioned desires. Such a devotional yogi not only gives up desires, but he offers all of his desires to Krishna. Abandoning worldly desires, he develops positive desire to satisfy the transcendental senses of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna. The devotee understands that Krishna is the owner of all wealth, the male enjoyer in all conjugal exchanges, the perfect target in all relationships of love, and the pivot of all fame and glory. Therefore the faithful devotee directs all his energy towards Krishna, taking the focus away from both his material body and his individual spiritual self. He completely fixes his vision on the Lord. Krishna naturally reciprocates and glorifies His devotee, abundantly showering him with wonderful gifts in gratitude for his love. Still the devotee is unattached to these gifts and this reciprocation increasingly inspires him in his intense effort to offer everything to Krishna. When a devotee has such an intense desire to offer all material opulence to Krishna, it becomes spiritualized. This frees the transcendentalist from attachment, and he becomes–nay, he is–a pure devotee.
The quest for spiritual perfection is like a war in which the devotee battles against the illusory energy. When a devotee becomes detached and pure, the material energy accepts defeat. Standing with folded hands, she offers her obeisances: Congratulations! Now you have achieved the success of life. Now you have taken shelter at the lotus feet of Krishna. Now I am defeated, because you are beyond my purview, no longer within the range of my attack. So you have won!” This is just like when an intercontinental ballistic missile warhead can penetrate the enemy’s radar and defensive missiles, and then detonates on target and defeats the enemy.
Everything has its limit in the material world; even the material nature herself is limited. One who is situated in pure devotional service is beyond the range of illusion and outside the control of material nature. Maya is also a devotee of Krishna whose duty is to keep the criminals in jail. She never releases anyone unless they become a pure devotee of Krishna. But when someone becomes pure, she gladly accepts defeat, because her whole purpose is to help people surrender to Krishna. This is her success. She expertly keeps the living entity in illusion until he understands that he is the eternal servant of Krishna, thus preventing the criminally minded living entities from creating havoc in the completely harmonious spiritual world.
yatha yogya bhoga, nahi tatha roga
anasakta” sei, ki ara kahaba
visaya samuha sakali madhava”
yatha yogya-as is necessary for surviving; bhoga-enjoyment; nahi-is not; tatha-in that way; roga-a diseased condition of materialistic consciousness; anasakta-detached from sense gratification; sei-he; ki ara-what more; kahaba-can be said; asakti-attachment; rahita-without; sambandha-relation; sahita-with; visaya-objects of the senses; samuha-all; sakali-all; madhava-Krsna.
Material facilities and gratification of the senses experienced while acting for self-preservation or in the faithful execution of one’s duties in Krishna consciousness are not the cause of fall down into materialistic consciousness. Rather, such a purely engaged devotee is truly detached from sense gratification, what more shall I say?
The pure devotee acts in Krishna consciousness without attachment to the objects of the senses, remaining conscious of his relationship as the eternal servitor of Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The pure devotee is fixed in his attachment to rendering pure devotional service to the Lord and thus he sees all apparently material objects of sense enjoyment as non-different divine energies of Lord Madhava (Krishna), ie. they are seen in terms of how they can be utilized in the devotional service to Lord Madhava (Krishna) and not according to their material sense-gratificatory value.
This verse further clarifies the qualities of a pure devotee of Lord Krishna and warns us against falsely condemning a pure devotee who is appropriately situated in authorized activities of devotional service. A living entity in this material world cannot avoid sense enjoyment in the normal course of events. In maintaining the body and soul together, a pure devotee is considered properly situated even though a certain amount of enjoyment is experienced by his senses. While in devotional service in this material world, there are unavoidable or natural activities which give gratification to the senses.Such activities are performed in a regulated, appropriate manner. Such controlled activities, not in excess, are not in opposition to the principles of devotional service.This regulated gratification of the senses should never be considered materially contaminated just because it is related to the material senses.
Practically engaging the senses in devotional service and controlling them through regulation is the practical means of being unattached in this material world. One cannot live in this material world without eating and sleeping, and the Vedic literatures have also sanctioned regulated family life for pure devotees. The criterion is not whether a sense perception is or is not gratifying, but whether the senses are engaged in an authorized manner in devotional service. If so, there is no material defect in these activities. This is confirmed by all the Vedic literatures. A devotee of Lord Krishna cannot be criticised for unavoidable pleasure experienced by the senses during the proper execution of his devotional service. Jagadananda Pandit has commented on yukta-vairagya as follows:
sakalei kariben yukta-vairagya-asraya
knsna bhajibena bujhi’ sambandha niscaya
sambandhanirnaye haya alomvana bodha
suddha-alomvan haile haya premer prabodha
preme knsna bhaje sei baper thakura
premasunya jiva kevala chacera kukura
knsnabhakti ache ja’r vaisnava se jana
gnha chadi’ bhiksa kare na kare bhajana
vaisnava baliya ta’re na kare ganana
Everyone should take the shelter of yukta-vairagya! By engaging in the authorized renunciation of practicing devotional service to Lord Krishna, a devotee will certainly realize his relationship with the Lord.
By realization of one’s relationship as a servitor of Lord Krishna, one becomes a surrendered soul to the Lord. By pure surrender and dedication one realizes pure love for Krishna, or Krishna prema!
Any person who worships Lord Krishna in pure love is worshipable even by his material father. On the other hand, a living entity without any love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead is worthy of as much respect as a dog. Whoever has devotion to Krishna is a Vaisnava (whether a householder or renunciate). However, if someone renounces hearth and home and becomes a mendicant wandering from house to house begging, but performs no devotional service to Krishna, that person is never considered a vaisnava.” (Prema-vivarta by Jagadananda Pandita )
A pure devotee is protected from material illusion by remaining unattached to material sense gratification, seeing everything in relation to Krishna, and engaging everything in Krishna’s service according to the instructions of the spiritual master. He uses everything in the service of Krishna, including what is materially enjoyable and what may not be enjoyable, and therefore realizes everything as non-different from the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna. This is real oneness with God”—engaging everything in Krishna consciousness places everything on the same absolute platform of spiritual quality. In the Bhagavad-Gita (4.24) Lord Krishna describes:
brahmarpanam brahma havir
brahmagnau brahmana hutam
brahmaiva tena gantavyam
In a fire sacrifice, the performer of the sacrifice, the act of offering ghee into the fire, the ghee being offered into the fire, the fire itself and the sum total of the whole sacrifice, all are situated on the transcendental platform. As everything in touch with an electrical current becomes electrified, so everything in touch with the service of Krishna becomes transcendentalized.
The sacrifice of chanting the Holy Names of the Lord, sankirtana-yajña, brings everything connected onto the transcendental platform.Even the drums and musical instruments used in the sacred chanting are considered transcendentalized. Therefore it is an ancient tradition that before performing the sankirtana-yajña, the devotees offer flower garlands and sandalwood pulp to the mndanga drums, karatala cymbals and to the devotees participating in the sacrifice of chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. The ceremonial drums and cymbals are worshiped as they are used exclusively in the sacrifice of chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, and thus they are considered as sacred paraphernalia of the sacrifice. So whatever is connected with a transcendental sacrifice, or devotional service of the Lord, even if it is apparently material, is understood as being on the transcendental platform and therefore worshipable. This ceremony clearly acts as a living example to instruct that activities performed according to the spiritual principles of Krishna consciousness, even activities that are apparently material, are never contaminated like normal material activities. Srila Rupa Gosvami has given clear instructions in this regard:
iha yasya harer dasye karmana manasa gira
nikhilasv apy avasthasu jivanmuktah sa ucyate
One who engages his mind, words and activities in the service of Lord Krishna (Hari), also utilizing any material objects in that service, is never to be considered materially bound. He is spiritually liberated even while living in this world because he is doing everything for Krishna.” (Bhakti-rasamnta-sindhu 1.2.187)
This is real detachment —to remain attached in pure devotion to Lord Krishna and to be always conscious of one’s relationship as an eternal servitor of the Lord. In this purified consciousness all apparent objects of enjoyment are experienced as non-different from Lord Krishna by the pure devotee due to the powerful influence of bhakti-yoga.
Running away from the society of devotees and seeking shelter in a secluded place when one meets with awkward situations or conflicting personalities may outwardly seem to be an act of detachment but is, in fact, an actual sign of material attachment. Real detachment includes tolerating those difficulties that may arise while one is engaged in activities for the higher purpose of serving and satisfying Lord Krishna. Just as a devotee accepts enjoyable material objects or favorable situations in Krishna’s service without yielding to the temptation to exploit them merely for sense pleasure, one must on the other hand tolerate the unavoidable unpleasantries which are liable to be experienced while living in this material world.
A pure devotee must remain detached when a beautiful member of the opposite sex comes within vision. It is natural for the physical body to agitate for sensual enjoyment. But a devotee avoids falling prey to running after gratifying these physical desires. For instance, a preacher tries to engage conditioned souls in Lord Krishna’s devotional service, considering their plight in conditioned life. Even if a conditioned soul is phsysically very attractive, the preacher avoids thinking of gratifying the senses by constantly bringing the mind back to Krishna consciousness. Having the correct outlook and the proper surrendered consciousness, a bhakti-yogi can surmount any difficulty, even one which would be an unbearable temptation to the most self-controlled yogi of another yoga path. A pure devotee can face every obstacle and use everything to enhance his service to Krishna. Therefore, factually, pure devotion has no material obstacles. There is no situation which the material energy can conjure up that can interrupt a devotee’s devotional service if he simply keeps the mind fixed in pure devotional service. This is possible for a humble devotee who remains always dependant on the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
In this poem, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura is specifically addressing the mind because of its potential to create difficulties for the aspiring devotee. If the mind is colored by the enjoying mood, then the aspiring devotee loses clarity of vision and begins to desire wealth, women, or position. Therefore the mind must be protected from deviating from devotional service to avoid contaminating the consciousness. When the mind is properly controlled through devotional service, nothing external can impede one’s progress back to Krishna.
Lord Krishna is also known as Madhava because he protected His devotees from the attacks of the Madhu demon. Similarly, Lord Madhava will protect the aspiring devotee from attacks of the illusory energy if he remains attached to the Lord’s pure devotional service and Krishna conscious association. In such association everything is non-different from Lord Krishna because everything is under the shelter of His lotus feet. A pure devotee sees everything in relation to Lord Krishna, Therefore, for the devotee the objects of this material world are no longer objects of enjoyment, but are realized as Lord Krishna’s divine energies available for utilization in His pure devotional service. In this way the devotee sees everything in relation to Lord Krishna. The Lord then delivers His surrendered devotees beyond the entanglement of His material energy.
daivi hy esa guna-mayi
mama maya duratyaya
mam eva ye prapadyante
mayam etam taranti te
This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.” (Bg. 7.14)
se yukta-vairagya”, taha ta’ saubhagya
tahai jadete harira vaibhava
kirtane yahara, pratistha-sambhara”
tahara sampatti kevala kaitava”
se-this; yukta–vairagya-renunciation for Krsna’s enjoyment; taha-that; ta-indeed; saubhagya-good fortune; tahai that alone; jadete-in the material world; harir-the Lord’s; vaibhava-display of wealth; kirtana-in the chanting the Lord’s names; yahara-whose; pratistha–sambhara-heaps of desire for fame; tahara-its; sampatti-wealth; kevala-only; kaitava-cheating.
The devotee who engages his material possessions in the service of Lord Krishna while regulating his material activities of sense gratification according to the injunctions of the revealed sastras (refer to previous verse) is actually a yukta-vairagi or a devotee situated in full and appropriate renunciation. He is certainly most fortunate. Even while living in the midst of the material world, whatever opulences he possesses and whatever actions he performs are all aspects of the spiritual opulence and potency of Hari (Lord Krishna), the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
However, if someone is outwardly chanting the holy names of the Lord, or even if he is externally engaged in kirtana, or preaching the glories of the holy name, but actually is motivated by pratistha desires, ie. is under the control of desires to enhance his own material reputation or temporary position, then whatever apparent opulences or influence he may have achieved by his efforts are simply the products of cheating, and therefore simply temporary products of maya, the illusory energy.
In this verse Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura glorifies the pure devotee described in the previous verse and discusses the false position of someone who tries to make a show of devotional service simply for achieving material gain. By these instructions the mind is being further trained to remain sincerely fixed in pure devotional service by avoiding falling prey to maya’s deceptions. Maya induces one to put forward a show of devotional service to cleverly disguise material motivations and the desire for pratistha.
The pure devotee is glorified because he utilizes material energy in the service of Krishna, knowing Krishna as the all-perfect transcendental Lord of all energies. He understands that because Lord Krishna is perfect and transcendental, when he uses the material energy in His direct service, that energy is spiritualized. Such a person is glorified as a yukta-vairagi because he is always absorbed in Krishna consciousness. Srila Rupa Gosvami has defined yukta-vairagya in the following verse:
anasaktasya visayan yatharham upayuñjatah
nirbandhah kusna-sambandhe yuktah vairagyam ucyate
A person who remains unattached to objects of the senses, only engaging in sensual activities in proper moderation, i.e.. not more than required to maintain the body in a healthy state, and is constantly absorbed in pure transcendental loving service, seeing all things in relation to Lord Krishna is considered to be situated in yukta-vairagya.” (Bhakti–rasamrta-sindhu 1.2.255)
One can practice yukta-vairagya in any stage of life, whether one is in the renounced order of life, or in household life. A vaisnava sannyasi, or devotee in the renounced order of life, engages in yukta-vairagya by following in the footsteps of Sri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu:
After accepting sannyasa, Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s aim was to reach Vrindavana. He was unlike the Mayavadi sannyasis, who desire to merge into the existence of the Absolute. For a Vaisnava, acceptance of sannyasa means getting relief from all material activities and completely devoting oneself to the transcendental loving service of the Lord… For a Vaisnava, the renounced order means completely giving up attachment for material things and engaging nonstop in the transcendental loving service of the Lord… For a Vaisnava sannyasi, renunciation means not accepting anything for personal sense enjoyment. Devotional service means engaging everything for the satisfaction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. (Cc.Madhya.1.91 Purport)
A householder can also practice yukta-vairagya, although due to living with wife and family the situation is somewhat different. As a householder, a certain amount of activities related to maintaining the material bodies of family members, as well as social responsibilities, cannot be avoided. If a householder properly absorbs himself in devotional service he too is considered situated in yukta-vairagya. A perfect example for householders to follow is Advaita Gosvami.
This is the ideal householder’s life. The husband and wife live together, and the husband works very hard to secure paraphernalia for worshiping Lord Krishna. The wife at home cooks a variety of foodstuffs for Lord Visnu, and the husband offers it to the Deity. After that, arati is performed, and the prasada is distributed amongst family members and guests. According to the Vedic principles, there must always be a guest in the householder’s house… According to Vedic principles, a householder, before taking lunch, should go outside and shout very loudly to see if there is anyone without food. In this way he invites people to take prasada. If someone comes, the householder offers him prasada, and if there is not much left, he should offer his own portion to the guest. If no one responds to his call, the householder can accept his own lunch. Thus the householder’s life is also a kind of austerity. Because of this, the householder’s life is called the guhastha-asrama. Although a person may live with his wife and children happily in Krishna consciousness, he also observes the regulative principles followed in any temple. If there is no Krishna consciousness, the householder’s abode is called a grhamedhi’s house. Householders in Krishna consciousness are actually guhasthas—that is, those living in the asrama with their families and children. Sri Advaita Prabhu was an ideal grhastha, and His house was the ideal grhastha–asrama. (Cc.Madhya 3.41)
One who does not know the science of bhakti-yoga may doubt how a householder devotee who has abundant material possessions can be considered renounced. Although living in the midst of the material energy, a pure Krishna conscious householder utilizes everything properly in the loving service of Krishna. He does not exploit it for unauthorized sense gratification. Therefore, the householder is actually a yukta-vairagi. When something is used in the transcendental service of Krishna, how can it be considered an illusion or an impediment to one’s advancement in Krishna consciousness? Therefore, where is the question of material contamination when everything is spiritualized? Only when objects of the senses are used for material sense gratification and not for satisfying the Lord can they obstruct devotional service and be considered illusory, products of maya. However, one who uses Krishna’s material energy exclusively in the devotional service of Krishna is already a liberated soul even while living in the present body. That person is not entangled by the modes of material nature.
iha yasya harer dasye karmana manasa gira
nikhilasv apy avasthasu jivanmuktah sa ucyate
A person acting in the service of Krishna with body, mind,.intelligence and words is a liberated person even within the material world, although he may be engaged in many so-called material activities.” (Bhakti-rasamuta-sindhu 1.2.187)
A person aspiring to practice Krishna consciousness should understand the concept of yukta-vairagya as opposed to the common concept of renouncing materials things as false products of material energy. This is called phalgu-vairagya and is an imperfect process of renouncing the material energy. The impersonalist transcendentalists renounce the material energy as illusion, maya, neglecting its proper utility. This is because they fail to see the material energy’s relation to Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This form of renunciation is described as incomplete by Srila Rupa Gosvami:
vairagyam phalgu kathyate
On the other hand, one who rejects everything as material without knowledge of its relationship to Krishna is not as complete [as yukta-vairagya] in his renunciation.” [This incomplete renunciation is known as phalgu-vairagya.] (Bhakti-rasamuta-sindhu 2.256)
Sometimes it is seen that a new person joining the Krishna consciousness movement is also in this particular illusion. He gives away all of his possessions to his relatives and friends, erroneously rejoicing on how he has become free of his material burdens and perfect in his renunciation of the material world. Actually, instead of coming to the Lord empty-handed, he should have offered some of his hard-earned money in devotional service, thus purifying the activities of his material life.
Srila Rupa Gosvami personally set the correct standard of renunciation when he joined Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s movement. He gave 50% of his material possessions for the service of Lord Krishna and the Vaisnavas, 25% for his family members, and 25% was kept for possible emergencies. Householders may also keep something aside in case of emergency; this is not considered to be material attachment, as long as the householder employs his other possessions in the devotional service of the Lord according to the above formula authorized by Srila Rupa Gosvami. New persons joining an asrama of the Krishna consciousness movement may also follow this formula for being properly situated in yukta–vairagya.
Up to now the illusions mentioned are somewhat easy to recognize, as they are readily distinguishable from pure devotional service if one has a basic understanding of the science of Krishna consciousness. It is more difficult to recognize the other type of person mentioned in this verse: the so-called devotee who chants kirtana while maintaining material desires for achieving personal name and fame, or someone who preaches the glories of the Lord with the underlying aim being to enhance his own material position. The very nature of these mayas make it difficult to distinguish. One may easily criticize a sincere devotee for being in illusion, and praise a devotee who is actually in the grips of maya. If this is improperly interpreted it could discourage one from preaching as others might accuse that it is all for personal interest. His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura will more clearly define the nature of a real preacher in future verses. A basic quality of any pure devotee is his submissiveness to the orders of the previous spiritual masters in the disciplic succession. Maya will test a devotee’s sincerity to preach in an approved manner fulfilling the order of the Lord and His representatives. If a preacher distorts the Krishna consciousness philosophy, preaches the unauthorized mayavadi or sahajiya philosophy, blasphemes or makes offenses against other Vaisnavas for winning over followers, or whimsically deviates from the injunctions of the Vedic literatures or the instructions of his spiritual master, this indicates a diseased condition which may be due to an attack of pratistha. Pratistha and related desires are described as obstacles in the path of pure devotional service in Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s teachings to Rupa Gosvami in the Caitanya-caritamuta. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu advised all devotees to irradicate these desires as they are life-stealing weeds” which can systematically smother and drain the life from the priceless devotional creeper” or bhakti-lata“. The primary weeds discussed by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu are mentioned below:
nisiddhacara”, kutinati”, ‘jiva-himsana’
labha”, puja”, pratisthadi” yata upasakha-gana
Some unnecessary creepers growing with the bhakti creeper are the creepers of behavior unacceptable for those trying to attain perfection, diplomatic behavior, animal killing, mundane profiteering, mundane adoration, and mundance importance. All these are unwanted creepers.” (Cc.Madhya 19.159)
Persons practicing devotional service must be on guard against these unwanted creepers. Outwardly a person may be practicing religion, but if one is contaminated by any of the abovementioned material desires, he will be contaminated by the illusory energy.
The unwanted creeper of pratistha or the desire for mundane importance was particularly mentioned in this verse by Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. Mundane importance generally includes or is accompanied by the desire for mundane adoration and mundane profiteering. The desire for pratistha can be very subtle, and therefore in some cases it is difficult to recognize at first. Maya tests the devotees by offering attractive material allurements of position or gain. If the devotee falls into the trap he loses the priceless jewel of pure devotional service to Lord Krishna. If a person abandons his dedication to the bonafide spiritual master for something else, it is to be understood that the person has been infected by some maya poison such as the desire of pratistha. There are also many pseudo-religionists and professional people who in the name of religion actually spiritually harm innocent persons by engaging them in unauthorized spiritual processes or by teaching things other than pure devotional service to their followers.
There are many religious propagandists who do not know how the ultimate problems of life can be solved, and they also try to educate people in a form of sense gratification. This is also jiva-himsana. Real knowledge is not given, and religionists mislead the general populace. As far as material profits are concerned, one should know that whatever material profit one has must be abandoned at the time of death. Unfortunately…people waste their time amassing material profit which has to be left behind at the time of death. Such profit has no eternal benefit. Similarly, adoration by mundane people is valueless because after death one has to accept another body. Material adoration and title are decorations that cannot be carried over to the next body. In the next life, everything is forgotten. (Cc.Madhya 19.159 Purport)
Professional kirtana groups and self-motivated persons make propaganda which may even appear to be preaching the glories of Krishna’s holy name, but since it is contaminated by the desire for material gain or for enhancing their own name and fame, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura has condemned such chanting. Chanting or preaching motivated by desires for an improved material position of followers, wealth and sense gratification is denounced as kaitava, or cheating. The real process of Krishna consciousness, bhagavata-dharma, has nothing to do with any cheating process. The second verse of Srimad-Bhagavatam declares: dharmah projjhita kaitavo’tra. Krishna consciousness is bhagavata-dharma religion free of all cheating or kaitava dharma. It is pure because one’s mind, words and deeds are purely dedicated in the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna.
The intelligence must be educated to distinguish between pure devotional service and mixed or contaminated devotion. Then by the intelligence the mind must be purified from the contamination of all types of conditional devotional service.
Although polluted with material desires a pseudo-devotee may outwardly appear to give his body and words, but his mind dwells elsewhere. His inner intention is not for satisfying Lord Krishna but for achieving an object of personal enjoyment. Such a person is an insincere devotee and is herein condemned as a cheater.
But the devotee of sincere heart, through proper Krishna conscious utilization of his material possessions, is a true yukta-vairagi, he is a soul liberated from the law of karma. His mind, words and activities are properly directed towards satisfying Lord Krishna. The great spiritual master Narottama dasa Thakura has written that he desires to associate with such pure devotees of Lord Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu no matter whether they are in the householder asrama or in the renounced order of life. On the other hand, a self-styled great devotee” who is internally polluted with material motives, is a cheater and his association should be avoided.
His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada advised the devotees at the world headquarters of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness at Sridhama Mayapur on how they should remain pure in their desires. His Divine Grace advised that if the ample facilities of the project are utilized for preaching to the visitors, i.e.. for the satisfaction of Lord Krishna, then they will surely achieve pure love for Krishna as the result. However, if one utilizes the world project’s facilities with the motive of one’s personal comfort and enjoyment one will recieve that material comfort and enjoyment as a result, and not love of Godhead. The purport is clear. Devotional service should be performed in an attitude of service and surrender to Lord Krishna. It would be simply cheating oneself from pure love of Krishna to engage in devotional service for any other reason.
visaya-mumuksu”, bhogera bubhuksu,”
du’ye tyaja mana, dui avaisnava”
kusnera sambandha”, aprakuta-skandha,
kabhu nahe taha jadera sambhava.
visaya-material world; mumuksu-one whodesires liberation from; bhogera-enjoyment; bubuksu-one who desires to enjoy; duye-both; tyaja-reject; mana-O mind; dui-both; avaisnava-not Vaisnava; kusnera-of Krsna; sambanbha-relation; aprakuta-non material; skandha-chapter; kabhu nahe-never; taha-that; jadera-materialism; sambhava-origin.
My dear mind, due to your false pride you sometimes think, “I am liberated from all attachments to this material world!”, and other times you think, “I am an expert enjoyer of material sense gratification!” You must reject both these mentalities as both outlooks are totally “non-Vaisnava”.
Instead you should remain fixed in your relationship as an eternal servitor to Lord Krishna, performing unmotivated devotional service. This pure devotional service belongs to the spiritual world which is far beyond the influence of this material world of birth and death. While thus purely engaged in Krishna consciousness it is not possible for the material illusion or material contamination to remain.
Srila Rupa Gosvami taught in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu that a devotee should accept what is favorable and reject what is unfavorable for devotional service. To avoid the two types of material tendencies mentioned in this verse, a devotee should test his devotional service attitude on a regular basis. This verse warns the mind against attachment to one’s ability to enjoy the material nature, whether in one’s past, present or future, or attachment to renunciation of the material world and to merging into the spiritual effulgence of the Lord. Both are unfavorable for devotional service. A devotee’s understanding of what is favorable or unfavorable for devotional service must be constantly tested with sadhu, sastra and guru to insure that pure devotional service is not being compromised or replaced with material values. A devotee’s reference point is his relationship with Lord Krishna. Attachments for past, present, or future sense enjoyments, or liberation devoid of devotional service are having the material world as their reference points. To perform unbroken and unmotivated devotional service while depending completely upon the mercy of Lord Krishna is a proper attitude of pure devotion.
Conditioned souls are strongly attracted to this world of material enjoyment and naturally hanker to increase personal wealth, position and sense gratification. Since this natural tendency is due to material conditioning, and is not a spiritual quality, a devotee must weed out these material desires when they arise in the mind. Even the subtle satisfaction one may gain by remembering acts of sense gratification, even in one’s dreams, should be avoided as far as possible if one wants to develop spontaneous devotional service to Lord Krishna. The Bhagavad-Gita explains how material attachments increase to lust, anger, illusion and fall down due to meditating on the objects of the senses. Therefore to achieve pure devotional service one must carefully monitor the thoughts and subtle attachments of the mind. At the same time, by enthusiastically rendering devotional service, chanting the holy names of Krishna, the devotee’s mind becomes steady as he develops a higher transcendental taste in devotional service. This is clearly explained by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita.
One who is able to withdraw his senses from sense objects, as the tortoise draws its limbs within the shell, is firmly fixed in perfect consciousness. The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness. The senses are so strong and impetuous, O Arjuna, that they forcibly carry away the mind even of a man of discrimination who is endeavouring to control them. One who restrains his senses, keeping them under full control, and fixes his consciousness upon Me is known as a man of steady intelligence. While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger rises. From anger, complete delusion arises, and from delusion, bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost one falls down again into the material pool. But a person free from all attachment and aversion and able to control his senses through regulated principles of freedom can obtain the complete mercy of the Lord. For one thus satisfied [in Krishna consciousnes], the threefold miseries of material existence exist no longer; in such satisfied consciousness, one’s intelligence is soon well established. (Bg. 2.58-65)
However, when someone becomes frustrated in material pleasure, he may desire liberation from personal existence, thinking to merge into the existence of the Lord. This is an aspect of attachment and aversion” as mentioned in the Bhagavad-Gita verses above. Therefore, such a desire for liberation is spiritually incomplete, as it lacks relationship with Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Aspiring for liberation from material pains and pleasures is simply a negative reaction to this imperfect world. Ultimately, it will be an impediment for attaining the highest perfection of life, unless one’s attachments are eventually transferred to Lord Krishna by cultivation of pure devotional service. Pure Krishna consciousness is obstructed by simply desiring to end the prison life of repeated birth and death without desiring to engage in positive service to the Lord. The desire for liberation eventually distracts one from the higher goal, although in the beginning it may serve some useful purpose to detach the senses from irregulated sense gratifacion, and to engage them in bhakti-yoga practice. When someone released from prison acts improperly, breaking the law, he is again incarcerated. But if he is properly trained and subsequently established in proper social behaviour, then there is little chance of returning to the prison house. Similarly, proper action for a transcendentalist is action in devotional service as it is above the three modes of material nature. Therefore, liberation which does not include an understanding of pure devotional service is not permanent as it is not complete. Eventually the impersonally liberated souls will return to the material world unless they take shelter of devotional service. This is explained in the Bhagavad-Gita as follows:
The impersonalits and the yogis attain liberation only after much trouble and many, many births. Even then, the liberation they achieve—merging into the impersonal brahmajyoti of the Lord—is only partial, and there is the risk of returning again to this material world. But the devotee, simply by understanding the transcendental nature of the Lord, attains the abode of the Lord after ending this body and does not run the risk of returning again to this material world. (Bg. 4.9, Purport)
Therefore, a devotee fully trained to act in transcendental consciousness as a servitor of the Lord, has no fear of falling back into the material world. Lord Krishna has assured this in no uncertain terms:
ananya-cetah satatam yo mam smarati nityasah
tasyaham sulabhah partha nitya-yuktasya yoginah
mam upetya punar janma duhkhalayam asasvatam
napnuvanti mahatmanah samsiddhim paramam gatah
For one who always remembers Me without deviation, I am easy to obtain, O son of Prtha, because of his constant engagement in devotional service. After attaining Me, the great souls, who are yogis in devotion, never return to this temporary world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the highest perfection.” (Bg. 8.14-15)
In this verse, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura is demonstrating how the devotee must train his mind to recognize these two enemies to devotional service, namely, the desire for liberation, and the desire for material enjoyment. A devotee, in all sincerity, must give up these two desires within himself as well as avoid intimate association with persons who harbor them. Purifying oneself from such non-devotional desires, one should simply desire to serve Lord Krishna in pure devotion. This is how the mind should be trained. One should never allow the mind to be preoccupied with thoughts of liberation or sense gratification, through the method of constantly engaging the mind and senses in Radha-Krishna’s devotional service.
One should not make the mistake of thinking that such service is material because it employs one’s material mind and material body in the devotional service. Such service is transcendental because it is in connection with Krishna, the transcendental Lord. Rather, as explained in previous verses, to externally give up material activities and to retire to a secluded place for isolated yoga practice, while maintaining material desires, is completely removed from spiritual activity. Again, renunciation with the intent to merge into the Lord’s effulgence is merely a negation of material activity, leading to incomplete liberation. These mistakes are great disturbances in achieving pure love for Krishna.
For the devotee, liberation is very easy. Simply by engaging his mind and senses in Lord Caitanya’s sankirtana movement, he is immediately elevated to the transcendental platform. One should be fixed in faith with the knowledge that the process of hearing, remembering, and serving are transcendental. There is not the slightest touch of the material nature in them. One is completely sheltered by transcendental potency while performing these spiritual activities. This is a confidential secret of bhakti-yoga, the topmost of all yoga systems.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Those who fix their minds on My personal form and are always engaged in worshiping Me with great and transcendental faith are considered by Me to be most perfect. (Bg. 12.2)
Self-realization is the greatest of all sciences. A devotee should be fully conversant with all aspects of this great science to avoid pitfalls and obstacles to his progress. Superficial or incorrect understandings stemming from hasty, erroneous conclusions are due to false pride in one’s material logic, rather than reliance on higher spiritual authority. This can cause extensive delays in one’s progress in Krishna consciousness. To avoid these dangers a devotee must carefully train his mind as detailed in this verse.
His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has given the essence of these teachings in practical instructions. His life is a living example. He has utilized automobiles, jets, P.A. equipment, printing presses, computers, etc. in the service of Lord Sri Krishna. He has demonstrated the principle that when something is directly engaged in devotional service, it bears not even the aroma of material pollution. The devotional service of elevating people to their original God consciousness, Krishna consciousness, in the present day and age can utilize unlimitedly material objects in devotional service, as demonstrated by Srila Prabhupada. Anyone who criticizes a bhakti-yogi for utilizing material objects in the service of the Lord does not know the essence of the spiritual science.
To understand activity in spiritual life one should study the lives of pure devotees who have achieved perfection in Krishna consciousness. The Srimad-Bhagavatam, Caitanya-caritamuta and other authorized Vedic literatures are filled with examples from the lives of great realized devotees. In this regard, the reader may also study the life history of His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in his biography, Srila Prabhupada Lilamuta. Through the examples of devotees who have achieved perfection one may learn how to properly renounce material things, as well as how to always maintain attachment to Lord Krishna through pure devotional service. The devotional process recommended in the present Age of Iron” is sankirtana-yajña or the sacrifice of glorifying the Lord’s holy name and fame. Devotional service has been made easier to perform in this Age through this process of chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Therefore, for this Age, practical renunciation can be easily achieved by utilizing all varieties of material paraphernalia for expanding the glories of the Lord’s holy names, and upliftment of the members of human society to their original blissful consciousness.
mayavadi jana”, krsne tara mana,
mukta abhimane se ninde vaisnava
vaisnavera dasa, tava bhakti-asa,
kena va dakicha nirjana-ahaba
Mayavadi jana-those who say the world is illusion and the Absolute Truth is impersonal; krsne tara-other then Krsna; mana-mind; mukta abhimane-thinking themsleves liberated and proud; se-he; ninde-criticizes; vaisnava-the Vaisnavas; vaisnavera dasa-servant of the Vaisnavas; tava-your; bhakti-divotion; asa-aspiration; kena va-why then; dakicha-do I call; nirjana-solitary; ahaba-battle.
The Mayavadi’s (impersonalist’s) mentality is totally separate from Krishna consciousness. Although they are fallen souls conditioned by the material nature, due to illusion they imagine they have achieved liberation from material birth and death, and due to their false pride they commit the greatest offense of blaspheming pure devotees of the Lord.
My dear mind, you are a servant of the servant of Lord Krishna! Certainly your desire is to achieve pure loving devotional service to Lord Krishna! Then why do you call me to be trapped in this deadly cage of solitary devotional service (nirjana bhajana)? Why do you want me to imitate the Mayavadi impersonalist’s practice of making a false show of renunciation and committing offenses against the pure devotees of Lord?
An intelligent person who comprehends that the material body is subject to birth, death, old age and disease, will gradually realize that this temporary body is covering the spirit soul. He can understand that the spirit soul is experiencing suffering in this material world due to identifying with the bodily covering. When such an intelligent man understands he is an eternal spirit soul, he will naturally desire freedom, or liberation, from the gross body and the subtle mind.
Such realizations are about the limit of individual speculative thought; further knowledge is only possible through the Vedic wisdom and the shelter of a bonafide spiritual master. The Mayavadi impersonalists have not reached beyond this conclusion. They perceive the material world as a place of suffering and thus they want to be free from its bondage. They have learned from the Vedas that beyond this temporary material world there is the eternal existence, but they do not know the real nature of this spiritual existence. They assume the spiritual reality to be without form, qualities or activities. This error in their conception is natural as no one can understand the higher spiritual truths by mere mental speculation. One must have proper spiritual guidance to understand the Vedic wisdom.
However, although Mayavadi’s (impersonalist’s) liberation in the Absolute Truth is limited, their false pride knows no bounds! Mayavadis unfortunately become puffed up with their knowledge, not knowing it is merely a limited and imperfect understanding. Mayavadis state jagat mithya, brahma satya, or, the material world is false, the Absolute Truth is real. Therefore, Mayavadis further wrongly conclude that since the material world has form, anything else with form is false. The concept that the material world is false” is erroneous since it opposes the Upanisad’s explanation of multifarious energies of God parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate. All energies of the Lord are true since He is the Absolute Truth. Indeed, the material energy is also not actually false, but rather simply temporary in its form. This seems to be confirmed by the Mayavadi’s slogan eka brahma, dvitya nasti, or, alone Brahman exists, there is nothing else,” but in practice impersonalists consider the material energy to be false while they consider themselves to be God.
This is the ultimate in false pride: to consider oneself to be the Supreme Absolute Truth! Although Mayavadis are conditioned souls with many defects, through their mental speculation they consider themselves to be God. Then through further speculation they consider the Forms of the Incarnations of Godhead to be products of material energy, which conceptually places the Incarnations of Godhead practically on a lower level than themselves. Thus they commit many offenses against the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is for these and many more reasons that the impersonalists are considered not only falsely proud and ignorant of the path of pure devotion to the Lord, but generally offensive to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The impersonalist Mayavadis often consider themselves to be liberated, even while they are under the control of the illusory energy. On the other hand, impersonalists wrongly consider the devotees of the Lord, who are liberated and always under the shelter of the internal spiritual energy of the Lord, to be in illusion. Therefore, they also commit countless offenses against the devotees of the Lord due to their imperfect conceptions. The impersonalist cannot comprehend the spiritual quality in how pure Vaisnava devotees ride in cars, publish books on the Supreme Personality of Godhead, build palatial temples for the Lord, and engage in their works of devotional service through the devotional process of yukta-vairAgya (proper renunciation). Being bewildered by the material illusion, the impersonalists practice the superficial dry renunciation of phalgu-vairagya and criticize the pure devotees, imagining the Vaisnavas to be materially engaged. This is all due to their imperfect understanding of spiritual energy and the Absolute Truth.
Although, under the circumstances, it is understandable that impersonalist Mayavadi philosophers criticize the Lord and His pure devotees, in this verse the devotee asks his mind why it is imitating the impersonalists? The mind also finds excuses to criticize pure devotees of the Lord. The bewildered mind of a devotee may also eulogize the imagined benefits of leaving the association of pure devotees for some independant program of so-called devotion or bhajan”. Since a real pure devotee is a servant of other Vaisnavas and is fixed in the singular desire to achieve pure devotion, how does the idea to leave the associaton of devotees enter the mind? The obvious source of this idea is maya, the illusory energy. It is certainly contrary to every principle of pure devotion! His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura has kindly again revealed another subtle pitfall a devotee maybe mislead into by the untrained materialistic mind. A devotee aspiring to achieve pure devotion must always be cautious against this trap of maya!
It is stated in the Srimad–Bhagavatam (5.5.2) that if one actually wants to be liberated, he must render service to the devotees (mahat-sevam dvaram ahur vimukteh); but one who associates with materialistic people is on the path leading to the darkest region of existence (tamo-dvaram yositam sangi-sangam). All the devotees of the Lord traverse this earth just to recover the conditioned souls from their delusion. The impersonalists do not know that forgetting their constitutional position as subordinate to the Supreme Lord is the greatest violation of God’s law. Unless one is reinstated in his own constitutional position, it is not possible to understand the Supreme Personality or to be fully engaged in His transcendental loving service with determination.” (Bg. 7.28, Purport)
A pure devotee desires nothing except Lord Krishna’s devotional service: it is a devotee’s only interest. A devotee is devoid of false pride. A true devotee also never declares himself a direct servant of Krishna. He serves the Lord through the via media of the spiritual master or guru. The devotee serves and respects other devotees as well. A true devotee cannot imagine trying to serve the Lord abandoning the order of the spiritual master and the association of the sincere servitors of the spiritual master. A pure Vaisnava engages himself as a servant of the servant”, knowing that not only Lord Krishna, but also the potencies and personalities associated with Him are all transcendental.
SERVICE OF THE LORD’S DEVOTEES
chadiya vaisnava seva nistara peche keba
Narottama dasa Thakura, a great acarya in the line of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, asks, How can one who has given up the service of the Lord’s devotees ever achieve deliverance?” The mentality of a pure devotee is to be always absorbed in the service of other devotees. Envying other devotees is out of the question. A devotee is humble and constant in service to his spiritual master and the Vaisnavas. If one gives up this attitude of serving guru and Vaisnava”, then there is no hope for his deliverance—this is the real meaning of Narottama dAsa’s statement.
In this verse the defiant acts of the mind are challenged, Why would a pure devotee ever call upon others to leave the association of devotees?” In other words, the author is confronting the mind, Mind, why are you trying to induce me and others to leave the association of devotees? Why are you acting like an envious fault-finder and thus leading me astray? Why are you trying to cheat me into believing that this is the attitude of a pure devotee? A pure devotee certainly does not have any desire to serve the Lord separate from the association of other devotees!”
In this regard, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada repeatedly expressed his dissatisfaction that the sacred order of His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura to push on the preaching mission of Krishna consciousness cooperatively was not being heeded by his beloved godbrothers and other followers and grand-disciples of his spiritual master. Srila Prabhupada explained in the Caitanya-caritAmuta how this offense to their spiritual master had made them ineffective in spiritual life.
At first all the followers of Advaita Acarya shared a single opinion. But later they followed two different opinions, as ordained by providence.
The words daivera karana indicate that by dint of providence, or by God’s will, the followers of Advaita acarya divided into two parties. Such disagreement among the disciples of one acarya is also found among the members of the Gaudiya Matha. In the beginning, during the presence of Om Visnupada PaRamahamsa Parivrajakacarya Astottara-sata Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, all the disciples worked in agreement; but just after his disappearance, they disagreed. One party strictly followed the instructions of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, but another group created their own concoction about executing his desires. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, at the time of his departure, requested all his disciples to form a governing body and conduct missionary activities cooperatively. He did not instruct a particular man to become the next acarya. But just after his passing away, his leading secretaries made plans, without authority, to occupy the post of acarya, and they split in two factions over who the next acarya would be. Consequently, both factions were asara, or useless, because they had no authority, having disobeyed the order of the spiritual master…
Therefore, we do not belong to any faction. But because the two parties, busy dividing the material assets of the Gaudiya Matha institution, stopped the preaching work, we took up the mission of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura and Bhaktivinoda Thakura to preach the cult of Caitanya Mahaprabhu all over the world, under the protection of all the predecessor Acaryas, and we find our humble attempt has been successful.” (Cc.Adi 12.8)
His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada always wanted to preach the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in the association of devotees, but unfortunately he was asked to leave the institutions of his god-brothers, due to no fault of his own. His preaching was very attractive to the congregation and his vision of expanding Krishna consciousness very broad. Unfortunately, due to their own reasons, Srila Prabhupada was asked to kindly make his own preaching mission.
In response to Abhay’s [His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s] letter, Bhaktisaranga GosvAmi’s secretary, Ramananda, wrote a letter full of flowery praises of Bhaktivedanta Prabhu, but with the intent of dismissing him from his position with the Gaudiya Sangha.”
Our society, at the present circumstances, has a little ideas. We hope, with all your qualities, very soon you will become settled independently and fulfilling the desires of Srila Prabhupada [His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura], start preaching very widely.”
…So after living as a dutiful member in the AsRamas of Kesava Maharaja and Bhaktisaranga Maharaja, Abhaya was again on his own.” (Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta, Vol.1,Ch.8,p.177-178)
When His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada reached America and established his preaching mission in the Western world, he still maintained the same pure desire to cooperate with the other followers of his spiritual master according to his instructions and the principles of pure devotion. Srila Prabhupada wrote from New York City to the principal institution in India to authorize him as a branch of their institution.
November 8 [1965, New York City]
Prabhupada wrote to his godbrother Tirtha Maharaja, who had become the President of the Gaudiya Matha, to remind him that their spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, had a strong desire to open preaching centers in the Western countries… If the leaders of the Gaudiya Matha would consider opening their own branch in New York, Srila Prabhupada would be willing to manage it. (Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta Vol.2,Ch.3,p.29-30)
Unfortunately Srila Prabhupada’s request was not accepted and he had no choice but to continue preaching Krishna consciousness alone. Through His Divine Grace’s preaching many fallen souls were delivered and gradually turned into devotees. One would think that this was an adequate attempt to cooperate and serve with the Vaisnavas, but the pure devotee always aspires to fulfill the order of his spiritual master and to cooperate with other devotees. Although A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s preaching drive around the world continued unabated, simultaneously his attempts to forge a cooperative effort with the disciplic descendants of his spiritual master continued throughout his lifetime. Before Srila Prabhupada returned to India in 1970 he requested room in the principal temple for bringing his foreign followers to attend Lord Caitanya’s birth celebration festival, but his request was denied. Finally there was no other recourse but to purchase land separately and build a facility so that his disciples from around the world could visit and serve Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s sacred Birthplace at SridhAma Mayapur. When in 1972 His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada arrived in SridhAma Mayapur to inaugurate the new center of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, the first thing he did was send his disciples, including the translator of this work, to invite all the followers of his spiritual master to a meeting at the new ISKCON world headquarters. When they all assembled on Srila Prabhupada’s invitation, he payed his humble obeisances to them and begged them to re-unite and cooperate. He said:
It is the desire of our beloved spiritual master His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura that we all cooperate together. Let us work as one! Let us reunite! Now I have many sincere followers from various foreign countries. I will provide you with vehicles, give financial aid to finish your incomplete temple constructions, and give foreign devotees to accompany your preaching parties. Let us all work together as Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura desired!
In spite of this sincere and humble appeal, his offer was not accepted. In private one head, Acarya, of a temple explained, Your stature as a preacher and devotee is so great that if we re-unite with you our position will be diminished by your side. Who will care for us when they see and hear you? Better to be the head of 200 followers than second-place in the midst of thousands.” Srila Prabhupada was disgusted by this frank admission of personal interest separate from Krishna’s interest. Although thereafter Srila Prabhupada did not call any more mass meetings to re-unite the mission of his spiritual master, he personally would individually request his god-brothers whenever he met them. His Divine Grace’s repeated attempts to engage the cooperation of a dear sannyAsi god-brother, in preaching Krishna consciousness overseas, and the frustration and heartbreak he experienced when these attempts too were rejected was yet another chapter of Srila Prabhupada’s unending attempt to fulfill his spiritual master’s desire that his followers serve cooperatively together.
His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s repeated warning to his followers was to learn from the mistakes of the Gaudiya Matha” institution, and thereby to not make the same mistakes. Srila Prabhupada said that the test of how much his followers loved him was to what extent they cooperated together. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness was founded on this principle of cooperation as embodied in the teachings of His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada wanted the International Society for Krishna Consciousness to have the same spirit of cooperation as the original movement of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Srila Prabhupada repeatedly wrote in his books that the International Society for Krishna Consciousness was a branch of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s spiritual tree. This carries with it a clear responsibility to maintain the universal spirit of unity and cooperation of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s sankirtana movement.
PRESERVING DEVOTIONAL ATTITUDE
The materialistic conditioned life is a life of burning desires, fears and lamentations in attachment of material sense gratification. After putting out that fire, one must avoid being devoured in the fire” of the impersonal liberation which burns up one’s individuality and devotion, a type of spiritual suicide”. This would be tantamount to jumping from the proverbial frying pan into the fire”! Lord Caitanya’s teachings have condemned the desire for merging in the Supreme as the worst form of cheating!
tara madhye moksa-vancha kaitava-pradhana
yaha haite kusna-bhakti haya antardhana
The foremost process of cheating is to desire to achieve liberation by merging in the Supreme, for this causes the permanent disappearance of loving service to Krishna.” (Cc.Adi 1.92)
Having attained devotional service to Krishna, one must remain in the proper service attitude towards the devotees of the Lord, guarding against any desires which can obstruct one’s advancement. The mind must be purified from the desire for personal aggrandizement in the society of devotees. If a devotee falls into this type of maya, his service attitude is lost. To justify his wrongful actions, his mind becomes unnecessarily critical of pure devotees. Ultimately, driven by his own envious and uncontrolled mind, he soon finds himself bereft of the purified association of the devotees, having left for a situation more agreeable to the dictations of his false ego.
The devotee of Lord Krishna has no desire other than serving Krishna… If one understands Krishna, he immediately becomes desireless (niskama), because a kusna-bhakta knows that his friend and protector in all respects is Krishna, who is able to do anything for His devotee. Krishna says, kaunteya pratijanihi na me bhaktah pranasyati: “O son of Kunti, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes.” Since Krishna gives this assurance, the devotee lives in Krishna and has no desire for personal benefit. The background for the devotee is the all-good Himself. Why should the devotee aspire for something good for himself? His only business is to please the Supreme… Avasya raksibe kusna visvasa palana. Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that he is desireless because Krishna will give him protection in all circumstances. It is not that he expects any assistance from Krishna; he simply depends on Krishna just as a child depends on his parents. The child does not know how to expect service from his parents, but he is always protected nevertheless. This is called niskama (desirelessness). (Cc.Madhya 19.149, Purport)
Although someone who is simply meditating upon his own personal benefit is not a pure devotee of Krishna, due to false ego and the illusory energy he considers himself more advanced than pure Vaisnavas. Thus bewildered by the material illusion, he may leave the association of devotees and think to himself, I am self-sufficient chanting solitarily by myself!” Another trap is that maya, the illusory energy, may even trick a senior devotee engaged in preaching by suggesting the following thoughts: Now the spiritual master is gone! Now I may have my own private movement with many faithful followers who worship me. I am free and independent to do whatever I desire. I am more advanced and intelligent than the others, I don’t need anyone else’s help to preach around the world. Why shall I cooperate with the foolish devotees who blindly follow the previous guru’s instructions. I have personally understood the real meaning of Krishna consciousness!” However, if a devotee prefers intellectual discussions over dynamic preaching he may fall prey to maya’s offer for enjoying Krishna’s pastimes rather than serving the desire of Krishna and the spiritual master. In this case, influenced by maya, the devotee may consider as follows, These neophyte devotees simply spend their time discussing the preaching and expanding the sankirtana movement of Lord Caitanya. This is all external and elementary, whereas I am always absorbed in thoughts of Radha and Krishna’s confidential pastimes. I am most advanced. These neophyte devotees are wasting their time preaching to unrefined living entities. When they become advanced they will follow me instead, to enjoy our exclusive high level devotional discussions away from the hassles of preaching to the mundane people.” These are just a few examples of the way the contaminated mind can bewilder a devotee from the path of pure devotion.
The mind is so treacherous that due to false pride, a devotee can easily be cheated if not careful to follow the previous Acaryas in the disciplic succession. Considering himself the best devotee, he loses his attitude of pure devotional service and subsequently his mentality becomes offensive to pure devotees. His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has pointed out that even the desire to become the best devotee is also a type of maya. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is His own best Devotee. Srimati Radharani is Krishna’s best devotee—no one else can have that position. One should rather in all humility try to be a sincere servant of the servant of the best devotees of the Lord. One should simply desire to satisfy Krishna and His devotees. The notion of becoming best” may be tinged with material desires. A devotee must learn from the spiritual master what Krishna wants, and with determination endeavor to satisfy Krishna through devotional service.
The criterion is that a devotee must know what Krishna wants him to do. This can be achieved through the medium of the spiritual master who is a bona fide representative of Krishna. Srila Rupa Gosvami advises, adau gurv–asrayam. One who is serious in wanting to render pure devotional service to the Lord must take shelter of the spiritual master who comes in the disciplic succession from Krishna. Evam parampara-praptam imam rajarsayo viduh… The first business of a pure devotee is to satisfy his spiritual master, whose only business is to spread Krishna consciousness… yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasadah: if one can satisfy the spiritual master, Krishna is automatically satisfied. This is the success of devotional service… This process is completely manifest in the activities of the Krishna consciousness movement. It has been actually proved that the entire world can accept devotional service without failure. One simply has to follow the instructions of the representative of Krishna. (Cc Madhya 19.167, Purport)
It is natural to endeavour for a high standard of service in carrying out the order of the spiritual master, but one should never, due to envy, obstruct another devotee who is performing devotional service. There is no room for envy or exclusivity in Krishna consciousness. The simple example cited in this regard is how Lord Rama chastised the great devotee Hanuman, who at the time was engaged in throwing mountain tops into the ocean for making a bridge for Rama’s army to cross over to Lanka, for telling a spider to move out of the way, while he engaged in throwing small dust particles into the ocean to assist Lord Rama. Lord Rama said, Don’t be proud! The spider’s devotional service is just as satisfying to me as yours. He is serving Me according to his capacity. You are serving Me according to your capacity.”
Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu is satisfied to see more people being engaged in devotional service. A Vaisnava is described as the rarest of all transcendentalists, but this does not mean that he doesn’t want the community of Vaisnavas to increase. When he sees more and more people engaged in serving for the satisfaction of Krishna, his joy increases, because he knows this is pleasing to the Lord. He only desires the satisfaction of Krishna. Pure devotees of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu are described by the word gosthyAnandi, which means one who feels increasing transcendental ecstasy in devotional service to the Lord by seeing the expansion of the society of devotees.”
If the mind does become bewildered and neglects the essential principles of devotional service, it is considered the greatest misfortune for a devotee. Normally, once having tasted the essence of pure devotional service, no one will give it up. The mind normally can lose appreciation for devotional service, after having appreciated, it only by carelessly committing vaisnava-aparadha or offenses to Vaisnavas. Other offenses to the Holy Name, the Holy dhama, or the worshipable Deities of the Lord can also have disastrous effects.
Once purified and experiencing the pure ecstasy of devotional service, the mind considers material enjoyment as very insignificant. If it is seen that a devotee loses appreciation for devotional service, he either was not surrendering his mind fully in devotional service, or is suffering the effects of offenses. The symptom of someone who was not fully absorbing the mind is that although externally the devotional practices go on, internally the mind is not actually surrendering to Krishna. For a long time one may be able to control his words and actions through force of will power, but this is external. Ultimately one must surrender the mind and one’s desires to the Lord. When one has no other desire than serving the Lord in pure devotional service, one’s mind is properly situated. Then one can begin to taste the full nectar of devotion.
His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s prayer to the mind states clearly that these teachings are well known to the mind, since devotional service is not a new subject. Therefore, he is astonished that the mind is engaging in criticism of pure devotees, imitating the mayavadis. He asks the mind, kena va dakiche nirjana ahaba?—”Why are you calling me to the battlefield of solitary worship? Instead of the peaceful situation of proper association with devotees, solitary worship of Krishna is described as a warfront—a place where maya can attack the devotee easily, and does! Anyone who leaves the shelter of association of devotees is placing himself in a most vulnerable position to be attacked by maya. The dream of a peaceful retreat to solitude is actually the camouflage covering of a battle with maya, a battle that most devotees lose, unless they return to the protective shelter of vaisnava association.
Therefore, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu has warned the devotees to avoid offending other vaisnava devotees of the Lord, and especially the spiritual master. These offences can isolate a devotee from pure devotional service and association. Offenses to devotees have been described by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu as mad elephant” offenses because, like a mad elephant, they can trample down the garden of one’s devotional creeper. Even an advanced devotee who has achieved ecstatic devotional service can fall down from his position by offending a devotee of the Lord, or by carelessly allowing weeds” or unwanted desires and practices to accumulate in the heart. Desires such as wanting to leave the association of devotees to practice so-called secluded worship of Krishna” fall within the category of weeds” in the heart. The cure for weeds” in the heart is to pull them out by the root!
The mind should be trained, as demonstrated in this verse, to avoid all alluring invitations of maya to leave the shelter of guru and vaisnava! A mind which is contemplating these alternatives is contaminated. Purify it by reading, hearing and preaching the message of the Holy sastras, Srimad-Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-Gita. The mind becomes completely purified by serving the spiritual master in a surrendered mood along with other devotees, engaging in the activities of the sankirtana movement. If the mind is trained in this pure attitude of devotional service–then one will experience the highest eternal ecstasy of pure Krishna consciousness.
ye phalgu-vairagi”, kahe nije tyagi”,
se na pare kabhu haite vaisnava”
haripada chadi’, nirjanata badi”
labhiya ki phula, phalgu” se vaibhava
ye-who; phalgu–vairagi-false renunciate; kahe-says; nije-himself; tyagi-renunciate; se-he; na pare kabhu haite-can never be; vaisnava-a Vaisnava; haripada-the lotus feet of the Lord; chadi-rejecting; nirjanata-solitary practices; badi-I increase; labhiya-obtaining; ki phala-some result; phalgu-false; se-this; vaibhava-accumulation.
Someone, who falsely renounces objects as material, which can actually be utilized in devotional service to Lord Krishna, is known as a phalgu-vairagi. Due to false pride, he claims to be a great renunciate. However, by his practice of dry renunciation, a phalgu-vairagi is never able to become a Vaisnava, a pure devotee of Lord Krishna.
Discarding the eternal shelter of pure devotional service to the lotus feet of Guru and Lord Krishna, the phalgu-vairagi may practice what may appear to be Krishna consciousness in his separate or solitary “home” away from the Krishna consciousness association of the society of devotees, but what transcendental result does he achieve for all his efforts? Whatever so-called Krishna conscious result he is achieving is simply a form of material illusion with no actual eternal Krishna conscious value!
The phalgu-vairagi is one who has falsely renounced. A phalgu-vairagyi may either be an impersonalist who renounces the material world for achieving liberation, or may be a devotee who has separated himself from the association of the devotees in a show of renunciation and so-called solitary worship”.The phalgu-vairagi’s renunciation is superficial and is not pleasing to guru and Krishna.
The impersonalist phalgu-vairagi proudly boasts, I am the most renounced! Others are materially attached. I have given up so many material things. I am liberated.” The impersonalist phalgu-vairagi’s outlook is devoid of devotional service. His reference point is the material world. What to speak of being a Vaisnava, he is not even complete in his renunciation. Even great sannyasis are considered phalgu-vairagis if their renunciation is not in devotional service to Krishna.
According to Srila Rupa Gosvami, since Prakasananda Sarasvati was not engaged in the Lord’s devotional service, his sannyasa is to be considered phalgu-vairagya. This means that since he did not know how to use things for the Lord’s service, his renunciation of the world was artificial. (Cc.Madhya 17.116, Purport)
Sometimes, someone practicing devotional service may also be a phalgu-vairagi if the devotional service is performed in neglect of the orders of the spiritual master, or if, being bewildered by false-ego, one considers himself to be one of the eternal associates of the Lord. Such a devotional” phalgu-vairagi may also leave the association of devotees thinking of himself, I am a great devotee. I am most pure in my devotional service. Others are impure and unworthy to associate with me. Therefore I can no longer associate with them! I am renounced and advanced in my realizations while others are neophytes, therefore I am practicing Krishna consciousness independently. “The phalgu-vairagi’s artificially inflated and false pride of being a so-called advanced” Vaisnava enable him to whimsically deviate from the orders of his spiritual master. He is actually devoid of real pure devotional service, although due to false ego he considers himself the purest of devotees!
The varieties of phalgu-vairagis and their excuses for avoiding surrender to authorized programs of devotional service are virtually unlimited, but the basic characteristic of mental speculation and dry renunciation are the most common. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught that proper renunciation in devotional service should be practiced.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu then told Sanatana Gosvami about proper renunciation according to a particular situation, and the Lord forbade dry renunciation and speculative knowledge in all respects. (Cc.Madhya 23.105)
The imagined peace of mind a phalgu-vairagi feels is far removed from the bliss of Krishna consciousness.Actually such an attitude is in complete opposition to the devotional mood of serving and satisfying Krishna. Lord Krishna taught that He is more pleased when his devotees cooperate together in devotional service. Rather it was Lord Sri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s special request that all persons should cooperate together to spread the Krishna consciousness movement all over the world.
I am the only gardener. How many places can I go? How many fruits can I pick and distribute?
Here Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu indicates that the distribution of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra should be performed by combined forces. Although He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He laments, How can I act alone? How can I alone pick the fruit and distribute it all over the world?” This indicates that all classes of devotees should combine to distribute the Hare Krishna maha-mantra without consideration of the time, place or situation. (Cc.Adi 9.34)
Real renunciation means to do that which is pleasing to the Lord. The Lord has taught that the priority for the present day and age is to cooperate together to propagate the message of Lord Krishna to the conditioned souls. This process of sankirtana yajña, or congregational chanting of the holy names of the Lord, is a cooperative effort to glorify the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Devotees who do this are the most dear to Lord Krishna. Krishna guarantees their success!
For one who explains this supreme secret to the devotees, pure devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me. There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear. (Bg. 18.68-69)
Renunciation does not mean to renounce the association of devotees or the order of the previous spiritual masters! The mind can be so treacherous that it may become envious of sincere devotees, and simply become absorbed in pointing out the so-called defects of others. This offensive attitude may enable the mind to sufficiently bewilder the intelligence that one then considers it auspicious to renounce devotional service, thus causing one’s spiritual annihilation. All these activities may outwardly appear to be renunciation, but they are simply steps of regression from the spiritual platform back to material conditioned life. The real standard of renunciation has been described by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu in the Caitanya-caritamrta by quoting the Bhagavad-Gita.
One who is not envious but is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself a proprietor and is free from false ego, who is equal in both happiness and distress, who is tolerant, always satisfied, self-controlled, and engaged in devotional service with determination, his mind and intelligence fixed on Me—such a devotee of Mine is very dear to Me.”
He for whom no one is put into difficulty and who is not disturbed by anyone, who is equipoised in happiness and distress, fear and anxiety, is very dear to Me.
A devotee who is not dependant on the ordinary course of activities, who is pure, expert, without cares, free from all pains, and not striving for some result, is very dear to Me.”
One who neither rejoices nor grieves, who neither laments nor desires, who renounces both auspicious and inauspicious thing—such a devotee is very dear to Me.”
One who is equal to friends and enemies, who is equipoised in honor and dishonor, heat and cold, happiness and distress, fame and infamy, who is always free from contaminating association, always silent and satisfied with anything, who does not care for any residence, who is fixed in knowledge and who is engaged in devotional service–such a person is very dear to Me.”
Those who follow this imperishable path of devotional service and who completely engage themselves with faith, making Me the supreme goal, are very, very dear to Me.” (Bg. 12.13-20)
The process of yukta-vairagya is a science. Those who are interested in advancing in Krishna consciousness should carefully study the difference between yukta-vairagya and phalgu-vairagya. Surrendering to Lord Krishna and engaging in His service is very easy to perform, but it is not a whimsical matter. One must act strictly according to the guidance of the spiritual master and the Vedic literatures. The system of surrender is described as follows:
anukulyasya samkalpah pratikulyasya varjanam
raksisyatiti visvaso goptutve varanam tatha
atma-niksepa-karpanye sad-vidha saranagatih
The six divisions of surrender are the acceptance of those things favorable to devotional service, the rejection of unfavorable things, the conviction that Krishna will give protection, the acceptance of the Lord as one’s guardian or master, full self-surrender and humility.
One who is fully surrendered is qualified with the six following characteristics. (1) The devotee has to accept everything that is favorable for the rendering of transcendental loving service to the Lord. (2) He must reject everything unfavorable to the Lord’s service. This is also called renunciation. (3) A devotee must be firmly convinced that Krishna will give him protection. No one else can actually give one protection, and being firmly convinced of this is called faith. This kind of faith is different from the faith of an impersonalist who wants to merge into the Brahman effulgence in order to benefit by cessation of repeated birth and death. A devotee wants to remain always in the Lord’s service.In this way, Krishna is merciful to His devotee and gives him all protection from the dangers found on the path of devotional service. (4) The devotee should accept Krishna as his supreme maintainer and master. He should not think that he is being protected by a demigod. He should depend only on Krishna, considering Him the only protector. The devotee must be firmly convinced that within the three worlds he has no protector or maintainer other than Krishna. (5) Self-surrender means remembering that one’s activities and desires are not independant. The devotee is completely dependant on Krishna, and he acts and thinks as Krishna desires. (6) The devotee is meek and humble. (Cc.Madhya 22.100 )
A devotee becomes expert in purifying the mind from desiring anything separate from Krishna’s desire. The devotee knows that no matter how sweet it may appear, one attains only the bitter fruit of material reactions. The devotee purifies his mind of all aspects of gross sense gratification and phalgu-vairagya, as he knows both can keep him in material illusion. An expert devotee never takes any reasoning of the mind at face value, but instead always evaluates the minds proposals according to the advice of the previous acaryas, the sadhus, and the Vedic literatures. By regular practice of unmotivated devotional service and systematic eradication of all undesirable elements from the mind, a devotee is left with pure ecstatic consciousness. The importance and process of purifying the mind is explained in detail in the purport to Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s Gundica-marjana pastimes of cleansing Lord Jagannatha’s temple.
In commenting on the cleansing of the Gundica temple, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was personally giving instructions on how one should receive Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, within one’s cleansed and pacified heart. If one wants to see Krishna seated in his heart, he must first cleanse the heart, as prescribed by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in His Siksastaka (ceto-darpana-marjanam)…
If the devotee at all wants to cleanse his heart, he must chant and hear the glories of the Lord, Sri Krishna (srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah). This is a simple process. Krishna Himself will help cleanse the heart because He is already seated there. Krishna wants to continue living within the heart, and the Lord wants to give directions, but one has to keep his heart as clean as Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu kept the Gundica temple. The devotee therefore has to cleanse his heart, just as the Lord cleansed the Gundica temple. In this way one can be pacified and enriched in devotional service. If the heart is filled with straw, grains of sands, weeds or dust (in others words, anyabhilasa-purna), one cannot enthrone the Supreme Personality of Godhead there. The heart must be cleansed of all material motives brought about through fruitive work, speculative knowledge, the mystic yoga system and so many other forms of so-called meditation. The heart must be cleansed without ulterior motive. As Srila Rupa Gosvami says: anyabhilasita-sunyam jñana-karmady-anavutam. In other words, there should not be any external motive. One should not attempt material upliftment, understanding the Supreme by speculative knowledge, fruitive activity, severe austerity and penance, and so on. All these activities are against the natural growth of spontaneous love of Godhead. As soon as these are present within the heart, the heart should be understood to be unclean and therefore unfit to serve as Krishna’s sitting place. We cannot perceive the Lord’s presence in our hearts unless our hearts are cleansed.”…
Impersonal speculation, monism (merging into the existence of the Supreme), speculative knowledge, mystical yoga and meditation are all compared to grains of sand. They simply cause irritation to the heart. No one can satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead by such activities, nor do we give the Lord a chance to sit in our hearts peacefully. Rather, the Lord is simply disturbed by them. Sometimes yogis and jñanis in the beginning take to the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra as a way to begin their various practices. However, when they falsely think that they have attained release from the bondage of material existence, they give up chanting. They do not consider that the ultimate goal is the form of the Lord or the name of the Lord. Such unfortunate creatures are never favoured by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for they do not know what devotional service is…
By His practical example, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has shown us that all the grains of sand must be picked up thoroughly and thrown outside. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu also cleansed the outside of the temple, fearing that the grains of sand would again come within.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura explains that even though one may become free from the desire for fruitive activity, sometimes the subtle desire for fruitive activity comes into being within the heart. One often thinks of conducting business to improve devotional activity. However, the contamination is so strong that it may later develop into misunderstanding, described as kuti-nati (faultfinding) and pratisthasa (the desire for name and fame and for high position), jiva-himsa (envy of other living entities), nisiddhacara (accepting things forbidden in the sastra), kama (desire for material gain), and puja (hankering for popularity). The word kuti–nati means duplicity. As an example, one may attempt to imitate Srila Haridasa Thakura by living in a solitary place. One’s real desire may be for name and fame—in other words, one thinks that fools will accept one to be as good as Haridasa Thakura just because one lives in a solitary place. These are all material desires. A neophyte devotee is certain to be attacked by other material desires as well—women and money. In this way the heart is again filled with dirty things and becomes harder and harder, like that of a materialist. Gradually one desires to become a reputed devotee or an avatara (incarnation).” (Cc.Madhya 12.135, Purport)
Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu not only cleansed the Gundica temple once, but several times, each time more minutely than before. The first cleansing was of sand, pebbles, leaves and twigs. The second cleansing was by sweeping dust and dirt away. The third cleansing was with water to wash away stains and fine dust. Then finally Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu cleaned the filth and grime from the cracks in the stone flooring. Each cleansing demonstrates how carefully and meticulously a devotee should purify the mind and consciousness while cultivating pure devotional service.
To give us practical instructions, Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu cleansed the temple twice. His second cleansing was more thorough. The idea was to throw away the stumbling blocks on the path of devotional service. He cleansed the temple with firm conviction, as is evident from His using His own personal garments for cleaning…”
Even though all dirty things may be cleansed away, sometimes subtle desires remain in the mind for impersonalism, monism, success and the four principles of religious activity (dharma, artha, kama and moksa). All these are like spots on clean cloth. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu also wanted to cleanse all these away.”
By His practical activity, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu informed us how to cleanse our hearts. Once the heart is cleansed, we should invite Lord Sri Krishna to sit down, and we should observe the festival by distributing prasada and chanting the Hare Krishna maha–mantra. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu used to teach every devotee by His personal behavior… Thus the cleansing of the Gundica-Mandira was conducted by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to let us know how the heart should be cleansed and soothed to receive Lord Sri Krishna and enable Him to sit within the heart without disturbance.” (Cc.Madhya 12.135)
If a devotee considers doing anything separate from Krishna’s desire, he is in a spiritually diseased condition. One can only obtain the bitter fruit of material reactions by neglecting to act for the satisfaction of Krishna. Outwardly putting on a show of renunciation in devotion while actually acting out of the false ego for materially contaminated reasons is one of the subtle stumbling blocks by which maya deviates even experienced devotees. A sincere transcendentalist who wants to achieve pure love of Krishna in this life cannot allow his mind to be poisoned by such hypocrisy and deceit no matter how sugar-coated” with so-called spiritual reasons it may externally appear. As a devotee progresses in devotional service he must be very cautious to guard his mind from being misled from these subtle tricks of maya.
A devotee is naturally fearless of death due to dependance on the protection of Lord Krishna. Nevertheless a devotee is afraid of the contaminations of the material world which may lead him away from the path of devotional service. Srila A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada praises this fear as the transcendental opulence of a devotee. A person aspiring to attain pure devotional service to Lord Krishna, or a devotee desirous of achieving the perfection of life, i.e.. pure love for Lord Krishna, should fear the contaminating influence of the illusory material energy. This is lucidly explained in the following quotation.
A pure devotee is always transcendentally situated because of executing nine different processes of bhakti-yoga (hearing, chanting, remembering, serving the lotus feet, worshiping, praying, serving, befriending and surrendering completely). Thus situated in devotional service, a devotee, although in the material world, is not in the material world. Yet a devotee always fears, “Because I am associated with the material world, so many contaminations affect me.” Therefore he is always alert in fear, which gradually diminishes his material association.
Symbolically, Mother Devaki’s constant fear of Kamsa was purifying her. A pure devotee should always fear material association, and in this way all the asuras of material association will be killed, as the sad-garbhasuras were killed by Kamsa. It is said that from the mind, Marici appears. In other words, Marici is an incarnation of the mind. Marici has six sons: Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Mada and Matsarya (lust, anger, greed, illusion, madness and envy). The Supreme Personality of Godhead appears in pure devotional service. This is confirmed in the Vedas: bhaktir evainam darsayati. Only bhakti can bring one in contact with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Supreme Personality of Godhead appeared from the womb of Devaki, and therefore Devaki symbolically represents bhakti, and Kamsa symbolically represents material fear. When a pure devotee always fears material association, his real position of bhakti is manifested, and he naturally becomes uninterested in material enjoyment. When the six sons of Marici are killed by such fear and one is freed from material contamination, within the womb of bhakti the Supreme Personality of Godhead appears. Thus the seventh pregnancy of Devaki signifies the appearance of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. After the six sons, Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Mada and Matsarya are killed, the Sesa incarnation creates a suitable situation for the appearance of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In other words, when one awakens his natural Krishna consciousness, Lord Krishna appears. This is the explanation given by Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura. (SB. 10.2.8)
Even when Lord Krishna appeared in His form, Devaki, Krishna’s mother, was fearful that the evil King Kamsa might come to kill Krishna. Overcome by yogmaya, Krishna’s internal potency, in motherly affection she forgot Krishna’s unlimited potency as the Supreme Personality of Godhead and considered Him dependant on her. Overwhelmed with fear, she prayed to Krishna to assume the form of a normal baby, thinking that she would not be able to hide Lord Krishna while in that form should King Kamsa come. Although it is not possible for any demon to kill the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Devaki, overwhelmed by motherly love, prayed as follows.
I understand that this transcendental form is generally perceived in meditation by the great sages, but I am still afraid because as soon as Kamsa understands that You have appeared, he might harm You. So I request that for the time being You become invisible to our material eyes. (Krishna, Ch.3)
A pure devotee of Lord Krishna sees the Krishna consciousness movement as non-different from the Lord. The pure devotee is totally absorbed in expanding and protecting the Krishna consciousness movement, seeing it as a personal service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is a symptom of spontaneous pure devotional service. By serving the Krishna consciousness movement in this intimate way, a devotee increases his love for Godhead more and more. His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has revealed his own deep personal involvement and total devotion to the Krishna consciousness movement in the mood of Devaki’s devotion to Lord Krishna in the following statements.
Sukadeva Gosvami continued: Thereafter, having seen that her child had all the symptoms of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Devaki, who was very much afraid of Kamsa and unusually astonished, began to offer prayers to the Lord.
The word suvismita, meaning astonished,” is significant in this verse. Devaki and her husband, Vasudeva, were assured that their child was the Supreme Personality of Godhead and could not be killed by Kamsa, but because of affection, as they thought of Kamsa’s previous atrocities, they were simultaneously afraid that Krishna would be killed. This is why the word suvismita has been used. Similarly, we [His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada] are also astounded upon thinking of whether this movement will be killed by the asuras or will continue to advance without fear. (SB. 10.3.23)
…According to this verse, it is the duty of the mahatmas to chant the Hare Krishna mantra and try to spread it all over the world to the best of their ability. Unfortunately, society is in such an uncivilized state that there are so-called mahatmas who are prepared to kill cows and children and stop the Hare Krishna movement. Such uncivilized activities were actually demonstrated in opposition to the Hare Krishna movement’s Bombay center, Hare Krishna Land. As Kamsa was not expected to kill the beautiful child of Devaki and Vasudeva, the uncivilized society, although unhappy about the advancement of the Krishna consciousness movement, cannot be expected to stop it. Yet we must face many difficulties in many different ways. Although Krishna cannot be killed, Vasudeva, as the father of Krishna, was trembling because in affection he thought that Kamsa would immediately come and kill his son. Similarly, although the Krishna consciousness movement and Krishna are not different and no asuras can check it, we [His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada] are afraid that at any moment the asuras can stop this movement in any part of the world. SB. 10.3.22
Pride is the first symptom of spiritual falldown. When a devotee becomes proud, he ceases to fear the material energy and imagines himself advanced in devotional service. Thus he considers himself sufficiently advanced to become independant from the order of the spiritual master and the association of the devotees. This puts him firmly under maya’s control and he is then fallen from the path of pure devotional service. A devotee should fear being falsely proud; should fear the contamination of the material illusion. Krishna conscious fear is the safeguard which protects the devotee from many pitfalls on the path of pure devotional service. Pride causes the devotee to be careless and vulnerable.
One should not confuse the fear experienced by a devotee with that of a materialist. The devotee’s fear of maya helps him to cling to Krishna’s lotus feet, and Krishna, in turn, bestows fearlessness upon His devotee. Therefore the devotee’s fear of maya and utter dependance upon guru and Krishna gives transcendental ecstacy to the devotee. Fully in transcendental knowledge the devotee is free of the fear of death. However, the materialist’s fear is based on insecurity and fear of death. Kamsa was terrified out of fear of his imminent death. Sometimes people boast that “I am not afraid of death!”, but that is artificial. Everyone in this material world is naturally afraid to die unless they have developed their dormant Krishna consciousness.
In the Bhagavad-Gita Krishna declares, “I am all-devouring Death.” No one escapes death: no scientist, no philosopher, no high and mighty king, no powerful politician, no do-gooding welfare worker. No one has ever escaped death in this material world. No matter how materially powerful a person might be, he cannot defeat death. Therefore death is the realization of God for the atheist. The atheist denies the existence of God, but he is forced to realize the unconquerable potency of God when death overcomes him.
Although death is fearful for the materialist, for the pure devotee it is the time to return to Lord Krishna. The devotee doesn’t die, but merely gives up his material body and painlessly attains his eternal spiritual body. Thus the pure devotee’s only fear is to forget Lord Krishna due to material contamination. A pure devotee, therefore, fears phalgu-vairagya as a subtle trick of maya. Phalgu-vairagya, whether in the form of dry renunciation of material objects devoid of devotion, or the renunciation of the association and service of pure devotees for performing so-called nirjana-bhajana” is categorically rejected by pure devotees. Phalgu-vairagya is a spiritual disease that devastates the Krishna consciousness of the persons who fall under its influence. After contracting the phalgu-vairagya disease, it is almost impossible to become a pure devotee in this lifetime. Therefore, His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura strongly advises the readers to remain properly fixed in yukta-vairagya, and never to give up the association of the Lord’s devotees nor to give up devotional practices approved of by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, being bewildered by the influence of phalgu-vairagya.
radha dasye rai’, chadi bhoga-ahi,”
pratisthasa” nahe kirtana-gaurava”
radha-nityajana”, taha chadi’ mana
kena va nirjana-bhajana-kaitava
radha-dasye-in the service of Radharani; rai-remaining; chadi-give up; bhoga-ahi-snake of enjoyment; pratisthasa-desire for material position; nahe-is not; kirtana gaurava-the glory of kirtana; radha nitya jana-being the eternal servant of Radha; taha-that; chadi-give up; mana-O mind; kena va-why then; nirjana–bhajana-solitary worship; kaitava-cheating.
My dear mind, now, with determination, let us remain eternally in the service of the servant of the servant of Srimati Radharani, the spiritual Embodiment of the purest love for Krishna! Give up every last trace of attachment for the vicious snake of material desire for sense gratification (subtle or gross). Give up all desires for achieving cheap fame or some position of temporary material importance through chanting the Holy Names of Krishna, as with these material desires one cannot realize the transcendental glories of congregational chanting of the Holy Names of Lord Krishna in sankirtana.
My dear mind, completely give up these illusory attachments and totally surrender yourself in the service of Srimati Radharani’s eternal devotees! Why shall we leave the transcendental association of confidential devotees to engage in the cheating process of solitary worship (nirjana bhajana)?
Religious people sometimes feel that they must serve God directly, saying that there is no need to serve a spiritual master. This however indicates an incomplete understanding of the nature of the Supreme Person. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is never alone; He has associates, devotees, friends, and parents, who all assist Him. And since He is Supreme and they are all His servants, they are also in a supremely glorious position.
In the material world, if we want favors from a political leader, we must curry the favor of those surrounding him. Achieving the favor of the Lord’s dear ones is also the easiest way to achieve the favor of the Lord, the perfection of life. There is no one dearer to the Lord than His eternal consort, Srimati Radharani. Radharani is so dear, Her love is so confidential, that greatly learned usis and munis sometimes hesitate even to mention Her Name. Her Name is so confidential and sacred that they fear they might offend It by using It inappropriately. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam Sukadeva Gosvami referred to Srimati Radharani not by name, but by mentioning that the topmost gopi was best able to worship Lord Krishna. He used the word gopi and other words, which gave a hint that it indicated Radharani. However, in other Puranas Her Name is directly given as Srimati Radharani, the hladini-sakti of the Lord. She is the dearmost devotee of the Lord, so naturally those who assist Her are accepted as confidential associates of the Lord and recipients of special favor. In this verse Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada intimates that participating in the glorious sankirtana movement of Caitanya Mahaprabhu is an intimate service to Srimati Radharani, a service She greatly appreciates.
There are two states of being for the jiva. One is to be fixed in Krishna Consciousness, the service of Srimati Radharani and Lord Krishna, and the other is to be busy with material enjoyment. In Krishna consciousness a living being wants to serve the Lord, but in material consciousness he wants to be served by others and to make the Lord his order supplier. Religious people in the material modes pray to the Lord for daily provisions — Lord, give us this day our daily bread”— and for so many other material benefits. They do not realize that serving the senses of the Lord is inconceivably more satisfying than begging the Lord for material boons. Moreover, the Lord automatically takes care of His devotees even without their asking. Real spiritual life is as sharp as a razor’s edge. The sankirtana movement is so spiritually pure that by remaining in its fire our consciousness will be refined to immaculate purity. This is the wonderful quality of the sankirtana movement. Through its association we gradually become free from all attachment to anarthas or unwanted things. But beyond these attachments remain subtle shades of enviousness which also must be purged or they will carry the devotee away from devotional service.
These subtle shades of perverse mentality also spring from the enjoying mood. The desire for prominence, such as the impersonalist’s dream of becoming God, also manifests in the character of a devotee who is not completely purified. Hankering to obtain an important” position in devotional service or to be the best devotee” is materially tinged and is described in this song as ‘pratisthasa’ (great importance).
These contaminated desires have no place in the glorious sankirtana movement of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. When the service attitude prevails, everyone tries to increase the Lord’s ecstasy and expand the service of the other devotees. This competition is spiritual, it is competition to see who can satisfy the Supreme Lord the most. When a devotee performs his own service the Lord is undoubtedly pleased, but when that devotee branches out and begins to help others in their devotional activities, the Lord is doubly and triply pleased. The devotee who understands this becomes a servant of the other devotees, following the mood of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who said: gopibhartuh padakamalayor dasadasanudasa”. I want to be the servant of the servant of the servant of Lord Krishna, the master of the gopis.” A devotee should maintain this humble attitude of being a servant of the servant and give up all desires for personal enjoyment.
The introductory slokas of the Srimad-Bhagavatam state that Bhagavata-dharma, constitutional duty in relation with the Lord, is the only dharma which is completely free from kaitava, the cheating propensity: dharma projjita kaitavotra. Bhagavata-dharma’ contains no hint of hypocrisy, being pure and complete dedication of all energy to the Lord.
To consider the sankirtana movement to be material is a great mistake. A devotee must have full faith that participants in the sankirtana movement are directly favored by Sri Sri Radha-Madhava and are eternal associates of the Lord and His devotees, radha-nityajana. By observing the sankirtana associates of Caitanya Mahaprabhu we can be fully assured of this fact. Svarupa Damodara, Ramananda Raya, Gadadhara Pandita, Pundarika Vidyanidhi: all are eternally liberated souls who descend to assist Caitanya Mahaprabhu. That sankirtana movement is continuing and those fallen souls who participate become eternally connected with the Lord.
This sankirtana movement is especially dear to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is Radha and Krishna combined. When Sri Krishna accepts the mood of Srimati Radharani, He appears as Sri Caitanya and engages in sankirtana. Thus we can understand how dear sankirtana is to Srimati Radharani and how pure this form of worship is.
Sankirtana means complete glorification”. The word is derived from two Sanskut words, samyak (complete) and kirtana (glorification). Thus the method by which the Lord is completely glorified and by which people can come into contact with His devotional service is known as sankirtana.
The sankirtana movement of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is meant to engage everyone in glorifying the Lord. Why do people waste their time glorifying foolish mortals such as cinema stars, tennis players, footballers, politicians and so forth who are ultimatly destined to occupy a six by two foot wide hole in the ground? Glorification should be reserved for the One who is glorifiable, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Some, of course, will oppose the sankirtana movement. They will hanker for glory themselves and resent the glorification of Lord Krishna and His devotees. Krishna’s devotees never demand praise, but because they try to glorify Krishna, He enjoys making special arrangements to see that they are properly glorified. In this way there is competition. The devotee does not consider himself worthy of praise, but sometimes, because it increases the sankirtana movement, he may tolerate it.
Bewildered by a desire for prominence in the society of devotees, a devotee will sometimes subtly leave the beaten track. He does not abandon devotional activities, knowing that such action would be an obvious mistake, but is nonetheless bewildered by illusory desires. His mind tells him: These devotees are not qualified, they have so many faults, they are making so many mistakes in performing this sankirtana movement.” In this envious mood he leaves, either alone or with a small group of similarly minded people, to set up an independent program.
Their program may be to propagandize or they may just sit and chant Hare Krishna by themselves. Others sometimes say, Oh, he hasn’t fallen down, he’s still chanting”, about such devotees. But in this regard, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura states that neglecting the association of devotees completely dedicated to spreading the glories of Krishna in the mood of His purest devotees, Srimati Radharani and Her associates, is nothing but cheating.
By this mentality one cheats oneself and is cheated by maya, the illusory material energy. Maya’s whole business is to divert the mind from the service of Krishna. If the gross allurements fail, she will employ more subtle ones.
Lord Ramacandra’s father, King Dasaratha, had three wives, Kaikeyi, Kausalya and Sumitra. King Dasaratha satisfied them by begetting offspring. Kaikeyi was the proud mother of Bharata and Kausalya was the mother of Lord Rama. Lord Ramacandra was the natural heir to the throne, but a politically motivated person poisoned the mind of Kaikeyi to think that her son, Bharata, should instead be crowned king. By maya’s subtle influence this good and faithful queen became envious and malicious and was responsible for Lord Rama’s banishment to the forest for fourteen years.
In the same way the witch Maya comes to lure away devotees from the sankirtana movement. If she cannot attract them with gross allurements she will turn to subtler ones. But if the devotee is deeply in the mood of preaching and distributing the mercy of Caitanya Mahaprabhu to the fallen souls, maya is unable to touch him. He is completely protected by the great, liberated souls who are under the shelter of the internal potency of the Lord. Only if a devotee relinquishes that protection by stepping off the path can maya touch him. Therefore, just as Ravana assumed the guise of a sannyasi to lure Sita out of the protective circle made by Laksmana, so maya assumes the guise of more advanced consciousness, either sahajiyaism, mayavadism or a sense of pratisthasa, great importance, in order to lure the devotee away from Krishna consciousness.
Maya tempts, Do come out, formulate your own program or perform solitary bhajana“. Without real knowledge, many devotees are thus exploited and lured away into various forms of illusion. And once losing the association of devotees, they fall from their positions, having lost their shelter, and become more and more implicated in erroneous affairs.
They first become implicated in matsara-vasa, they gradually become envious. After that material desires, jadarase, increase and they start to enjoy the material world, giving up the beautiful nectar of the sankirtana movement.
An aspiring devotee must be careful to avoid these tricks of maya. By remaining active in preaching Krishna consciousness together with the other Vaisnavas in the sankirtana movement of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, by being tolerant like a tree, and by being more humble than a straw in the street, devoid of all false prestige, and ready to offer all respects to others, one can always chant Hare Krishna and remain engaged in the sankirtana movement. This is the secret formula that Caitanya Mahaprabhu ordered the devotees to wear in a locket around their necks. When a devotee begins to desire respect for himself or feels uncomfortable seeing another Vaisnava respected, he immediately becomes intolerant and proud. This syndrome has affected so many devotees. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura has expounded these nineteen verses to teach the devotee how to train his mind in the actual mood of devotional service. The aspiring devotee should appreciate the glory of those who have dedicated their lives to the sankirtana movement, how they are under the direct shelter of the eternal consort of Krishna, Srimati Radharani.
Clinging to these valuable instructions, a devotee should always hanker for the association of those engaged in the sankirtana movement and absorb himself in their association.
pratistha-bhiksuka ta’ra nahe saba”
prana ache tanra, sehetu pracara,
pratisthasa hina -kusnagatha” saba
vrajavasi gana-the inhabitants of Vrindavana; pracaraka-preacher; dhana-wealth; pratistha bhiksuka-beggars for fame; tara-they; nahe-are not; saba-dead bodies,without life; prana-life; ache tanra-they have; se hetu-for that reason; pracara-preaching work; pratisthasa hina-devoid of desire for material fame; kusna-gatha-songs; saba-all.
The Vrajavasis’ (eternal associates of Krishna in Vrindavana considered by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu to be the best and most perfect devotees) personal treasure is preaching the glories of Lord Krishna. They are always glorifying Krishna. They never desire any cheap popularity or temporary material position, which is hankered after by the living dead. These eternally liberated devotees perform the confidential service of preaching the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His Holy Name, because they possess real compassion and the eternal life of Krishna consciousness. Completely free from all motives for personal material reputation and temporary influence, the pure devotees are completely and irrevocably bound to Lord Krishna through ties of loving devotional service.
Vrajavasi gana means the residents of Vrindavana who are intimately connected and completely surrendered to Krishna. During Krishna’s appearance 5,000 years ago the residents of Vrindavana were totally absorbed in hearing and chanting Krishna’s glories at every moment, even while dreaming. This is the qualification of a Vrajavasi gana. A Vrajavasi gana is not a person who physically lives in Vrindavana or Mayapur but whose thoughts are far away from Krishna’s service, but rather those pure devotees whose minds are always absorbed in satisfying Krishna and His devotees. These pure souls are actually the residents of the eternal dhama, Vrindavana, because the Lord takes shelter in their hearts.
They are not attracted to simply sitting in the holy dhama or to separating themselves from the devotees for making an independent program based on false prestige and lack of surrender. The symptoms of one who is Krishna conscious is that he will always be absorbed in expanding the sankirtana movement of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He will see his real wealth as the distribution of the holy name to all the fallen souls and thus is always in the transcendental consciousness of satisfying the Lord’s most cherished desire. Conversely, those who desire to enhance their own temporary importance, always remain dissatisfied because they are deflected from the real aim of life, which is to satisfy Krishna, and are trying instead to satisfy the false desires seated in their own minds.
These prayers are directed to inspire the mind to shed all extraneous desires and focus on the real purpose of life.
The real devotees who preach and distribute the mercy of the Lord everywhere should never be compared with those who hanker for personal prestige, just as the living can never be equated with the dead. Those who give up preaching are actually dead men, being devoid of any spiritual life.
The division between spiritual and material life is distinct and sharp, like the edge of a razor. If our mentality even slightly deviates from the desire to satisfy guru and Krishna and wanders towards desiring our own material satisfaction, we immediately qualify as dead men, since material activities have no permanent result. They simply bring about repeated birth and death in the material world. Such achievements are nothing more than the decorations on a dead body.
The pure devotee desires only to become the servant of the servant of the Lord, he cares for nothing else. In his effort to achieve this position, he always begs the superior authorities for their mercy and tries to fulfil the desires which they express. His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada knew that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu wanted the Krishna consciousness movement to spread all over the world:
puthivite ache yata nagaradi grama
sarvatra prachara haibe mora nama
Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual master, His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, the author of Vaisnava Ke?, ordered him to carry the message of Caitanya Mahaprabhu to the English speaking countries of the world. So His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, in a humble mood of service and dedication, brought this message to the Western countries. By his sincere attempt, he found a place in the hearts of people throughout the world and taught the ways and means for them to take up Krishna consciousness.
Srila Prabhupada knew that it was Lord Nityananda Prabhu’s prediction and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s desire that the birthplace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, which had remained hidden for hundreds of years by the flooding of the sacred Ganges river, would be developed into a spiritual city filled with pure devotees of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. A massive temple in honor of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would be built in the city’s center by devotees from all over the world to commemorate the Lord’s glories and benedictions upon them all. Thus Srila Prabhupada started the Sri Mayapur project to satisfy the desire of Lord Nityananda. On the disappearance day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura at Mayapur in 1975/76, Srila Prabhupada spoke on the significance of this project. He explained how one of our previous acaryas, Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji, had discovered the exact location of Lord Caitanya’s birthplace and how Bhaktivinoda Thakura had begged door-to-door for funds to build the first temple there. He told how Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura had constructed the yoga-pitha temple, and how he tried to expand the glories of Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s birthplace for the benefit of the fallen souls. Srila Prabhupada thanked his followers, the members of ISKCON, for accepting the responsibility for developing the birthplace of Caitanya Mahaprabhu as the previous acaryas desired.
To satisfy the previous acaryas by always remaining in the position of the servant of the servant of Krishna is the essential principle. Attempts to leave the sampradaya and the asociation of devotees are made by those who are spiritually dead and bankrupt of all good fortune. The desire to secure material position and prestige in a spiritual society renders one spiritually dead. Instead of becoming a humble servant of the servants of the servants of the Lord, one begins to criticize other devotees and even the great souls who have dedicated their lives for preaching the glories of the Lord.
prana ache tanra, se hetu pracara,
pratisthasa hina – kusnagatha saba
In the above lines, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura clearly explains the position of those who are preaching. Because they are spiritually alive and full of genuine compassion for the fallen souls, they are empowered by the Lord and favoured by Srimati Radharani. She accepts them as Her dearmost intimate associates through the chain of disciplic succession. They enthusiastically preach the glories of the Lord to bring the fallen souls back to Krishna’s Lotus Feet. They have no desire for material prominence but only desire to see the glories of the Lord expanded unlimitedly. Sometimes persons contaminated by impersonal philosophy or envious of other devotees criticize the members of ISKCON. They indignantly question: Why are they pushing their books? Why are they preaching in the streets? Why are they approaching people everywhere?” Unfortunately they fail to see that the people being approached actually appreciate this preaching effort. Otherwise, how could 110 million books have been distributed in the brief period of fifteen years? People appreciate ISKCON’s books written by His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. People appreciate ISKCON’s festivals and millions flock to them all over the world. But still, envious people who are bewildered about the real nature of spiritual life cannot understand that such preaching is uncontaminated by material desires and is based only upon expanding the glories of the Lord. They cannot tolerate that Krishna’s glories are expanding everywhere because they are envious of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and so they criticize.
One who realizes the true principles of Krishna consciousness sees that expanding the glories of the Lord by mass congregational chanting and distributing purified foodstuffs and spiritual literature is transcendental to the material world. These activities are never affected by dry and empty criticisms, and are personally executed by Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates and go on expanding day by day. This is the great sankirtana movement which is eternally going on in one universe or another and is also taking place in the portion of Goloka Vrindavana where Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates reside.
Those who have understood the highest principles of spiritual life and who have achieved pure love of God, Krishna-prema, can comprehend the confidential subject matters related to the sankirtana movement. They perceive the essence of the Lord’s mercy coming down through the sankirtana preaching. Idle bystanders, misled by a materially polluted mentality, cannot understand the real essence of the Krishna consciousness movement. Especially in this Kali-yuga, spiritual life is based on the sankirtana movement, the essence of which is preaching. As Srila Prabhupada said:
BOOKS ARE THE BASIS
PREACHING IS THE ESSENCE
UTILITY IS THE PRINCIPLE
PURITY IS THE FORCE
sridayitadasa, kirtanate asa,
kara uccaih svare harinama-rava”
kirtana-prabhave, smarana svabhave,
se kale bhajana-nirjana sambhava
sri dayitadasa-Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura; kirtanate-for kirtana; asa-having aspiration; kara-please perform; uccaih-svare-in a loud voice; harinama-rava-chanting he holy names of the Lord; kirtana-prabhave-by the influence of kirtana; smarana-by remembrance of the Lord; svabhave-by the nature of; se-that; kale-time; bhajana-worship; nirjana solitary; sambhava-possible.
This Sri-dayita dasa (His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura – the humble servitor of the all-merciful Srimati Radharani) simply desires to be absorbed in the nectar of spreading the glories of Lord Krishna’s holy names. My dear mind, now let us loudly chant the holy names of Krishna so we can continuously remain in the ocean of transcendental nectar. The congregational chanting of the holy names of Krishna awakens the transcendental quality of natural spontaneous loving remembrance of Lord Krishna (including the Lord’s form, qualities and pastimes). At that moment the confidential realization and pure practice of “solitary” loving devotional service to Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha-Krishna is possible.
Engaging in intense glorification of and meditation on the transcendental glories of Lord Krishna and His holy names is the ultimate purification of the mind for achieving the highest Krishna conscious perfection. The harinama sankirtana process of congregational chanting of the holy names of Krishna is complete and perfect. It can uplift a soul from the lowest stages of material conditional life to the highest perfection of confidential loving service to Sri Sri Radha-Krishna.
His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura has shown the process of purifying the mind by utilizing higher transcendental intelligence. His Divine Grace has shown us how the impure mind, bewildered by the false ego, can compel a devotee to leave the association of pure devotees to engage in so-called solitary worship” or nirjana-bhajana. He has also forewarned all devotees how maya, the illusory energy, allures a devotee who is not sufficiently experienced by tempting the impure mind in various ways with subtle and gross desires and by implicating the devotee in offenses to pure devotees of the Lord, thereby entangling the devotee in conditional material life.
A devotee can safely cross over the most dangerous obstacles in the path of Krishna consciousness, simply by remembering the instructions of these nineteen verses. By realizing these practical lessons, the aspiring devotee can understand the real standard of pure devotion to Krishna. By self-analysis, with the aid of these teachings, a devotee can ascertain the level of personal purity and advancement in Krishna consciousness, and make the necessary corrections to safeguard against the hidden pitfalls on the path of Krishna consciousness. The Lord has advised us to purify the mind by cutting off the false ego with the help of transcendental instruction.
You should consider how, by the influence of My illusory energy, these three states of mind, caused by the three modes of nature, have been artificially imagined to exist in Me. Having definitely ascertained the truth of the soul, you should utilize the sharpened sword of knowledge, acquired by logical reflection and from the instructions of sages and Vedic literatures, to completely cut off the false ego, which is the breeding ground of all doubts. All of you should then worship Me, who am situated within the heart. (SB. 11.13.33)
Since Krishna consciousness is beyond the material world, by definition it is beyond the range of mental speculation. Therefore there is a very real danger of inadvertantly introducing unauthorized mental concoctions and mistaking them for real spiritual truths. Learning by simple trial and error is not adequate to produce the desired result, but if the science of bhakti-yoga is understood from self-realized sages and the Vedic literatures, success is assured.
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura and his beloved disciple, His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, are sages” or bona fide spiritual masters whose instructions are transparent windows to the spiritual world. Where blindly following can cause mishap, one is protected by carefully comprehending the instructions of the previous spiritual masters and the Vedic literatures using reasoning and logic. Logical reflection on the teachings of Krishna is recommended, while mental speculation based on material conceptions and blind sentiments are forbidden. On the long journey back to Godhead, who but a fool would travel without a map, without a guide? However, when a devotee has a bonafide spiritual master and the Vedic literatures as his guide and yet instead listens to his false ego, that is even more foolish. Certainly His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura wrote this beautiful spiritual poetry out of his causeless compassion for protecting advancing devotees from some possibly not so well known yet common dangers on the path of Krishna consciousness. Readers would do well to study and review these lessons repeatedly and carefully safeguard their spiritual life.
Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught His followers that real spiritual instruction must be taught by example. In this concluding verse, the author explains that his own desire is simply to chant the holy names of Krishna, and in his practical life he demonstrated a life of extensive preaching of the glories of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was the first spiritual master of bhakti-yoga to send preachers to the Western world for distributing this ancient science of God consciousness. His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada came to the West on the order of Thakura Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, and he also practically demonstrated a personal and public life dedicated to glorifying the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Loud chanting may be vocally, through publications, or even by electronically aided means. Loudness does not only mean decibel level, but also signifies the number of persons who hear the transcendental vibrations. In this regard, publication and distribution of the transcendental Vedic literatures is considered a more effective means of reaching many conditioned souls. Preaching the glories of the Lord through distribution of transcendental literatures has therefore been described as the Buhat Mudanga, which signifies great chanting”. This expansive preaching spirit is simultaneously an expression of the pure devotee’s personal ecstacy in love of Godhead for glorifying the Lord, as well as his causeless mercy and compassion for the fallen souls suffering repeated birth and death in the material world.
In the first verse of this work, the mind was chastised for desiring to chant Hare Krishna in a solitary place. Physically running away from the association of devotees to some secluded place for chanting while the world is burning in the fire of materialism and forgetfulness of God consciousness is cheating—cheating oneself and cheating and depriving the fallen souls from the oppurtunity to receive God consciousness. To prematurely want to go into seclusion is artificial and superficial renunciation, although there may come a stage in a devotee’s life where nirjana-bhajana, or worshipping Lord Krishna in a solitary place is permitted. Great spiritual masters would often spend the last days of their lives in a solitary holy place in total concentration on the Lord. His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada expressed his desire in this regard by quoting the first verse of this work in his Srimad-Bhagavatam commentary. His lesson also teaches devotees the appropriate time for nirjana-bhajana.
My dear mind, what kind of devotee are you? Simply for cheap adoration you sit in a solitary place and pretend to chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, but this is all cheating.” Thus Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura advocated that every devotee, under the guidance of an expert spiritual master, preach the bhakti cult, Krishna consciousness, all over the world. Only when one is mature can he sit in a solitary place and retire from preaching all over the world. Following this example, the devotees of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness now render service as preachers in various parts of the world. Now they can allow the spiritual master to retire from active preaching work. In the last stage of the spiritual master’s life, the devotees of the spiritual master should take the preaching activities into their own hands. In this way the spiritual master can sit down in a solitary place and render nirjana-bhajana. (SB. 4.28.33)
In 1977 A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, at the age of 82, suffered illness repeatedly and became in a physically weakened state. He decided to discontinue his travelling around the world and take shelter of Vrindavana dhama, the sacred place of Lord Krishna’s pastimes. He listened and chanted Hare Krishna and meditated on the transcendental pastimes of Krishna, throughout the day and night. However, Srila Prabhupada remained in the association of his loving disciples, who assisted him during his final pastime by chanting, very softly and sweetly, the Hare Krishna mantra 24 hours a day. Srila Prabhupada said that this was his nirjana-bhajana“, and that his sannyasi disciples, including the translator of this work, had to take over the responsibility of traveling and preaching all over the world, as he would not be able to travel any more. This great spiritual master had taken shelter of Lord Krishna in Vrindavana during the last days of this life.
Although A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was quietly absorbed in meditating on the transcendental qualities of Lord Krishna in the association of intimate Vaisnavas, hearing the chanting of the holy names of Krishna, simultaneously, the translation of transcendental literature written for the welfare of the fallen souls all over the world, continued every day. Srila Prabhupada explained that writing books on the glories and pastimes of Lord Krishna was his personal ecstasy in love of Godhead. In this way A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada passed the final 5 months of his life in Vrindavana, worshiping Lord Krishna in the mood of separation of nirjana-bhajana.
Lord Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Who, although He was the incarnation of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, was in the mood of a devotee of Krishna, spent the final years of His pastimes in this world tasting the nectar of Krishna’s pastimes in the association of a few confidential devotees. This is explained in Caitanya-caritamuta:
While Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu thus resided at Jagannatha Puri (Nilacala), He was continuously overwhelmed, night and day, by separation from Krishna. Day and night He tasted transcendental blissful songs and verses with two associates, namely Svarupa Damodara and Ramananda Raya. He relished the symptoms of various transcendental emotions such as jubilation, lamentation, anger, humility, anxiety, grief, eagerness and satisfaction. He would recite His own verses, expressing their meanings and emotions, and thus enjoy tasting them with these two friends. Sometimes the Lord would be absorbed in a particular emotion and would stay awake all night reciting verses and relishing their taste. (Cc.Antya 20.3-7)
Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s above-mentioned solitary discussions of Lord Krishna’s pastimes is also known as nirjana-bhajana. Therefore, nirjana-bhajana has its place in devotional service. Although it is not unusual that at the end of life many great devotees use the last days for fully concentrating on Krishna, this aspect of devotional service is frequently misunderstood and thus improperly or prematurely adopted, hence causing disturbances in the practice and propagation of Krishna consciousness. As explained in detail in previous verses, the prakuta sahajiyas, materialistic devotees, try to imitate Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s final pastimes in Jaganath Puri, and they often declare the loud chanting of Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, preaching the glories of the Lord, and studying the Vedic literatures (even those related to bhakti-yoga) to be external and unnecessary. They sometimes put on an outward display of devotional ecstacy, but simultaneously show symptoms of gross material attachment.
A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada spent more than a decade in Vrindavana translating Srimad-Bhagavatam and other Vedic literatures into the English language in preparation for his voyage to the Western world. During this time, amongst many realizations of the truths of Krishna consciousness, Srila Prabhupada was able to observe the actual practices amongst the so-called advanced devotees” who were trying to practice nirjana-bhajana in Vrindavana. Some of these realizations have been recorded in a poetic work written in Bengali language entitled Vrndavane Bhajana“, or Devotional service to Krishna in Vrindavana.” This work clearly illustrates the many discrepancies and the dangers of prematurely retiring from preaching Krishna consciousness for a so-called life of nirjana-bhajana. The author of this work hopes to later publish this confidential work for devotees. The following excerpts from Vundavane Bhajana illustrate the neophyte nature of prematurely avoiding preaching the sankirtana movement as instructed by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Sometimes those who haven’t actually seen a real Vaisnava, devotee of the Lord, say that devotees are inactive, but actually a Vaisnava, or pure devotee, is always active, being constantly engaged in the service of the Lord. The neophyte kanistha devotee has no spontaneous enthusiasm or compassion for the conditioned souls. Therefore he doesn’t engage in this service. Rather, the neophyte is inspired by the respect given to renounced devotees living in solitary places, and with a desire to get similar respect and recognition the neophyte tries to practice nirjana-bhajana in a solitary place. Why don’t they remember how Lord Nityananda was offered all respect by the society of devotees when He gave love of Godhead to (the drunkard criminals) Jagai and Madhai, even after they beat Him. It was Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the bearer of the sudarsana cakra, Who was going to punish Jagai and Madhai for their offenses. This was how those inimical to Vaisnavas became conquered. 
Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s teaching was to teach others while personally practicing the teachings oneself. Neglecting this instruction and artificially retiring to some separate solitary place is the action of a person who is actually cheating himself. At the time Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu was present there was only one Jagai and Madhai”, but now the world is filled with Jagais and Madhais”. All devotees should follow in the footsteps of Lord Nityananda, but instead, even the so-called family descendants of Lord Nityananda (Nityananda-vamsa) are simply busy in increasing the number of cheap followers. They eat well, and live in luxury without any anxiety or care—but it is not proper for a vaisnava to be without compassion to deliver the fallen souls. If anyone has any doubts in this regard, simply read the Madhurya Kadambini by Visvanatha Cakravarti and his siddhanta or conclusions in this regard. 
Ahaituki bhakti is self-manifested, it is nitya-siddha or an eternal spiritual quality present in the heart, but it remains hidden until awakened. A madhyam-adhikari devotee situated on the more advanced platform of devotional service has mercy upon non-devotees and awakens their natural devotion to the Lord. This compassionate nature of the pure devotees makes even the Lord always attracted to His devotees. Being attracted by the wonderful qualities of His pure devotees, Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, allows Himself to be controlled by their love. Real vaisnavas can awaken the spiritually sleeping world and out of their causeless mercy convert sinful persons into devotees of the Lord. 
Therefore, the pure devotees of the Lord do not renounce preaching the glories of the Lord to engage in nirjana-bhajana or solitary worship. This is a cheating tactic that neophyte kanistha adhikari devotees employ to fool worldly people who don’t know what real spiritual life is. In Vrndavana I have seen famous vaisnavas”, so-called spiritual leaders, dressed up with various symbols of the vaisnavas, but when a foreign Christian missionary padre” personally visited Vrindavana and met all these so-called spiritual masters and inquired from them about the real nature of Lord Krishna’s transcendental pastimes, they didn’t explain to him the truths about Lord Krishna and devotional service. This is because they are actually neophyte kanistha adhikari devotees who cannot properly understand the real conclusions of the Vedic literatures. In the name of nirjana-bhajana, solitary worship, they are simply searching where to beg their daily capatiis and dal (bread and soup). (Vundavane Bhajana Translation of Verses 17-20 )
Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and no one can do what He did. Just as it is not authorized for the followers of Lord Jesus Christ to blindly imitate Lord Jesus and crucify themselves as a means of salvation, so similarly the followers of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu should not artificially imitate His final pastimes of nirjana-bhajana. Nor is it possible for anyone to duplicate Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s ecstatic madness in love of Godhead.
Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave clear instructions to his followers how to practice the Krishna conscious bhakti-yoga system. Since Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the Supreme Enjoyer, it is appropriate if He enjoys listening to His pastimes with His intimate associates. Devotees following Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu have a different obligation, and that is to carry out the instructions of Lord Caitanya and certainly never to blindly imitate Lord Caitanya. A devotee is the enjoyed, and thus should try to satisfy and give pleasure to the Lord by following His instructions. During His pastimes in Jagannatha Puri, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave the following instructions to his confidential devotees.
In great jubilation, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “My dear Svarupa Damodara and Ramananda Raya, know from Me that chanting of the holy names is the most feasible means of salvation in this age of Kali. In this age of Kali, the process of worshiping Krishna is to perform sacrifice by chanting the holy name of the Lord. One who does so is certainly very intelligent, and he attains shelter at the lotus feet of Krishna. In the age of Kali, intelligent persons perform congregational chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead who constantly sings the name of Krishna. Although His complexion is not blackish, He is Krishna Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons and confidential companions.” Simply by chanting the holy name of Krishna, one can be freed from all undesirable habits. This is the means of awakening all good fortune and initiating the flow of waves of love for Krishna. (Cc.Antya 20.8-11)
Love of Krishna is easily available by following the instructions of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and practicing chanting the holy names of Krishna in sankirtana. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught His direct disciples like the six goswamis, who in turn compiled these instructions in the form of different literatures. Subsequently the generations of spiritual masters following the six goswamis were engaged in distributing and explaining the literatures containing the teachings of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Narottama dasa, one of the great acaryas of the disciplic succession, wrote a verse praising the confidential devotees of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu as actually being the energies of the Lord. He explained that some of these energies were engaged in compiling the teachings of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu as the transcendental Vedic literatures, and other devotee energies were engaged in distributing these transcendental literatures. Narottama dasa considered both to be most intimately engaged in the confidential service of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The spiritual masters coming in the disciplic succession from Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu manifested pure love of Krishna while absorbed in their devotional service of writing or distributing the teachings of Lord Caitanya. Real followers of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu shall be wise to follow in the footsteps of the perfected spiritual masters in the disciplic succession and uninteruptedly remain engaged in loudly chanting and hearing the glories of the holy names of Krishna, and avoid committing offenses by artificially imitating Lord Caitanya’s or Haridasa Thakura’s solitary worship.
The spiritual life of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was totally dedicated to following the teachings of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and therefore is an ideal example. A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was always absorbed at every moment in the sankirtana movement of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and thus tasting nectar at every step. A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s biography is filled with practical examples of this.
Srila Prabhupada trained his disciples to take up more responsibility to prepare them to manage the worldwide Krishna consciousness movement in his physical absence. He also desired to free time for himself to complete his writing and translation of important Vedic literatures which would serve as spiritual foundations for hundreds or thousands of years to come.
Srila Prabhupada’s expressed objective was to complete the entire 60 volume Srimad-Bhagavatam series during his lifetime. Considering that he wrote while traveling all around the world and managing a worldwide religious movement which is an almost impossible task, it was miraculous that he was able to personally write and oversee the publishing of 30 volumes of Srimad Bhagavatam, as well as another 60 volumes of other translations and commentaries of the Vedic literatures.
A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada continued his marathon translation work on a daily basis until the day before his departure from this mortal world. His request to his followers was for all the teachings of Lord Caitanya to be translated and published in all of the languages of the World and be distributed to the people in every country of the world. This enthusiasm and dedication for glorifying the Supreme Personality of Godhead widely demonstrates the proper attitude of a pure devotee engaged in the confidential devotional service to the Lord.
In this concluding verse, after having purified the mind with so many pertinent instructions in the previous verses, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura is expressing his faith and determination for loudly chanting the holy names of Krishna according to the teachings of Lord Caitanya. The mind may become distracted by many different ideas for practicing Krishna consciousness colored by different impure desires. Therefore, after purifying the mind with transcendental knowledge, the devotee can fix the mind on the instructions of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu , as they are, and fully engage himself in hearing, chanting and, to the best of one’s ability, in spreading the glories of the holy names of Krishna all over the world.
Even after all these beautiful lessons, if the mind is still thinking about when it should give up the loud sankirtana chanting of the holy names of Krishna and become absorbed in remembering the loving pastimes of the Lord, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s statement completely eradicates this doubt: kirtana-prabhave, smarana svabhave, se kale bhajana nirjana sambhava“, The congregational chanting of the holy names of Krishna will awaken in you the transcendental quality of natural spontaneous remembrance of the Lord (including the Lord’s form, qualities, and pastimes). At that time you will be able to realize and practice confidential loving devotional service to Their Lordships Radha-Krishna.” By these transcendental instructions it is clear that it is not by practicing separate or solitary devotional service that one becomes realized, but that by engaging in the loud chanting and preaching of the glories of the holy names of Krishna one becomes truly advanced in devotional service and thus achieves pure love of Krishna.”
One of the unique qualities of Bhakti-yoga is that the process and the goal are non-different. The process or practice is devotional service and the goal is pure devotional service. Since the sankirtana movement of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu is a pure representation of bhakti-yoga, it is only natural that the process and the goal are also the same. Externally both a neophyte and a liberated soul are engaged in chanting the holy names of Krishna, the difference is in the internal realization of the chanting, and not in the outward practice. The beginner in devotional service may not experience transcendental ecstacy and thus may chant the holy names of Krishna mechanically or out of a sense of duty, but as the devotee advances stage by stage in Krishna consciousness, without apparent cause he becomes detached from sense gratification and gains transcendental knowledge. Simultaneously, the devotee’s spontaneous remembrance and attraction for Krishna increases as well. Thus by the practice of sankirtana, loud chanting of the holy names of Krishna, the devotee will become irrevocably established in pure love of Krishna, of this there is no doubt.
OM TAT SAT
Post view 64 times from March 2020