His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
Among the nine practices of devotion (sravanam, kirtanam, smaranam, vandanam, dasyam, sakhyam, atma-nivedanam—hearing, chanting, remembering, offering obeisance, engaging in service as a servitor, as a friend, and self-submission), there are five practices that are the best (sadhu-sanga, nama-kirtana, bhagavata-sravana, mathura-vasa, sri-murtira sraddhaya sevana—one should associate with devotees, chant the Holy Name of the Lord, hear Srimad Bhagavatam, reside at Mathura, worship the Deity with faith).
ভক্তি-অনুকূল মাত্র কার্য্যের স্বীকার ।
bhakti-anukula matra karyera svikara
"Accepting what is favourable to devotion and rejecting what is not favourable to devotion."
We sing this in the morning every day—what is favourable to devotion (bhakti-anukul) and what is not favourable to devotion (bhakti-pratikul)? Guru Maharaj says that if Krishna Nam comes to someone's mouth, then sadhu-ninda, Vaishnav-ninda (offences to and criticism of the devotees and Vaishnavs) can never come from that mouth—the Holy Name of Krishna can never come to the mouth that sadhu-ninda, Vaishnav-ninda come from.
অসাধুসঙ্গে ভাই কৃষ্ণনাম নাহি হয় ।
asadhu-sange bhai krsna-nama nahi haya
"Brother, the Name of Krishna never appears in bad association: the letters of the Name may appear, but the Name never does."
(Sri Sri Prema-vivarta, 7.1)
The Holy Name of Krishna never appears in bad association.
সাধুসঙ্গে কৃষ্ণনামে—এই মাত্র চাই ।
sadhu-sange krsna-nama—ei matra chai
I desire only to chant the Name of Krishna in the association of the sadhus. There is no other way to conquer samsara.
(Sri Sri Prema-vivarta, 6.13)
The Holy Name appears only in good association (sadhu-sanga).
Atyahara, prayasa, prajalpa, niyamagraha, laulya, janasanga (অত্যাহার, প্রয়াস, প্রজল্প, নিয়মাগ্রহ, লৌল্য, জনসঙ্গ—too much eating, doing nonsense, talking nonsense, superficial attachment to rules and regulations, greed, associating with nondevotees)—these six destroy devotion. Atyahara means eating too much food, prayascha means hoarding, prajalpa means talking too much, niyamagraha means being uninterested, apathetic towards devotional activities and excited towards undevotional activities, etc. These are all obstacles to devotional activities,
Guru Maharaj said, "Wherever you are staying, whatever your situation is, in whatever circumstances I may be, I must protect my spiritual life." It does not matter whether you are staying, in a house or in a jungle—even on a train you can wake up early in the morning, do mangal-arati, engage in sravan-kirtan. These are limbs (parts) of devotions, and this is how devotion comes—bhagavad-bhakta-sangena parijayate (Brhan-naradiya Purana), if you associate with devotees you will get devotion.
What does association with devotees mean? How will you get association of your Guru? You will get the association of your Guru by serving your Guru. Those who follow Gurudev's words get association of Gurudev, those who follow devotees' words get association of devotees. There is no other way.
There is one quote (vani) of Prabhupad Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur. It is written very nicely there—if you do not follow the order of your Guru, then what you are doing is not service, it is service of maya. Serving your Guru means following the Guru, adhering to his instruction, otherwise if you do not follow your Guru, whatever you do, it will be service of maya—even if you visit all holy places, even if you practise all sixty-four types of devotion. Whatever you do you must do it with constant adherence to your Guru. These are Prabhupad's words. If you follow this, you will not fall into bondage, and even when you are in the state of perfection (siddha), you still must constantly adhere to our Guru. If you try to do some service without following your Guru, it will only be some fault, only offence will come. These are Prabhupad's words, I have it printed in English and in Bengali.
In his last days, Guru Maharaj said with much sadness, "You tried so hard to bring people from so many places to serve the Lord, and I have also travelled all over the world trying to bring people to serve the Lord, but finally how many people have come and how many have stayed?" This is what Guru Maharaj said, feeling sad, in his last days.
We must stay afloat till our last day, that is the main thing. Emotion and devotion look the same, but it is not the same. Somebody shows much devotion, sheds tears, rolls on the ground, but after a few moments all is gone. Devotion must be lasting—love for your service must be lasting. That is why we want to be always sincere.
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