On Association:
Rotten Potato and Secular Affairs

His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj
Kolkata, speaking online to
devotees in Kharkiv (Ukraine),
2 June 2019, part 1

 

How are you all? It is very nice to see you. I am very happy, very glad to see you all after so many days. By the mercy of Gurudev, we are still here. You are continuing nicely, going to preach sometimes, also practising properly, following Krishna consciousness properly. I am very happy to see you all and to see your mood. By the mercy of Gurudev, by the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, preaching is going on very nicely all over the world. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said,

পৃথিবীতে যত আছে নগরাদি গ্রাম ।
সর্ব্বত্র প্রচার হইবে মোর নাম ॥১২৬॥

prthivite yata achhe nagaradi grama
sarvatra prachara haibe mora nama

"My Name will be spread in every town and village of the world."

What Mahaprabhu told is already happening now—in every corner, in every house; and Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur told, "Make a temple in everybody's heart." You practise properly, with heart and soul, you chant the Holy Name, you take prasadam, and you give honour to Vaishnavs and devotees—this is the main thing in our life. Always avoid offences—dham-aparadh, seva-aparadh, Vaishnav-aparadh, etc. Offences are obstacles in our spiritual life, so we must avoid them. Also, it is necessary to practise the nava-vidha bhakti (nine types of devotion) properly: sravanam, kirtanam, smaranam, pada-sevanam, archanam, vandanam, dasyam, sakhyam, atma-nivedanam (hearing, chanting, remembering the Lord, serving the Lord's lotus feet, worshipping the Deity of the Lord, offering obeisance, rendering service as a servitor, as a friend, and self-submission).

Always keep sadhu-sanga, good association, and always avoid bad association. These are the main things in our spiritual life. It is true even in the material sense also. I remember, I have told one phrase to a devotee here in India today. They asked me, "Maharaj, why are you not mixing with such and such person? Why do you not speak to them?" I replied with a material analogy. Suppose you have good potatoes and you have one rotten potato—if you keep that one rotten potato with the good potatoes, then all the potatoes will get rotten; you must take the rotten potato out and throw it away, then the rest of the potatoes will be saved. So, sometimes we also must do that—we must avoid bad association, bad things, bad elements. We must remove bad thoughts from our heart. Do you understand?

Sometimes, externally, we have to give respect to devotees, it is necessary, but there is one thing you must remember. It is applicable for both sannyasis and householder devotees, and this is something we must be careful about. It is Mahaprabhu's teaching, and we can learn something from the example that He showed. I read about it in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita.

It says there that Ramananda Ray is the most powerful man under King Prataparudra, and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu showed him His Rasa-raj Maha-bhav form on the bank of the Godavari in South India. When Mahaprabhu told Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya that He wanted to go to South India, Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya told Him, "Prabhu, there is one devotee living near the bank of the Godavari, his name is Ram Ray, or Ramananda Ray. Meet with him." When Mahaprabhu met with him and discussed Krishna-katha, Krishna's pastimes, Radha-Krishna's pastimes, etc., then He understood that what Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya had said was correct.

So, what I was going to say is this. The name of Ramananda Ray's father is Bhavananda Ray, and Bhavananda Ray had five sons, which means Ramananda had four brothers, and one of his brothers' name was Gopinath Pattanayak. 'Pattanayak' is a title—Gopinath was a tax collector, like a customs officer, collecting tax from people in Odisha.

One day, Raja Prataparudra's elder son made some mistake and, not being able to tolerate it, Gopinath pointed out this mistake to him. King Prataparudra's son got a little angry because he thought, "Gopinath works under my father, and I am the king's son, so why is he not following my instruction?" A few months later, that son of King Prataparudra used his power and influence and announced to everybody that Gopinath Pattanayak was a thief because he had stolen some money from the treasury, and he declared that he had to get punishment. What punishment did he want to give him? He declared that Gopinath would be hung. He made a big scandal about him, spreading much propaganda against him.

When devotees of Mahaprabhu heard that, they became very sad because they knew Gopinath Pattanayak was a devotee, a pious person—he always chanted the Holy Name, always thought about Mahaprabhu, and now the son of the king was telling a lie that Gopinath Pattanayak was a thief. Disturbed by the news of his punishment, devotees went to Mahaprabhu and prayed, "Prabhu, Prataparudra is Your follower. If You tell Prataparudra, he will solve this problem and cancel the sentence—Gopinath Pattanayak is not guilty, he is innocent!" Mahaprabhu was silent. He did not want to interfere with the kingdom matters, so He finally said, "I am a sannyasi, why will I get involved into this?" He did not want to become involved in this matter.

Two-three days later, the day when Gopinath Pattanayak was to be executed came, and everybody again came to Mahaprabhu and pleaded, "Prabhu, please, You must interfere! You must speak to the king. We are very sad this punishment is going to happen." In the meantime, when Gopinath Pattanayak heard about his sentence and even on the day when he was about to be executed, he was chanting the Holy Name, chanting Radha-Krishna's Names, and he was not afraid of anything because he knew he was not guilty, so why will he be afraid? When devotees approached Mahaprabhu again that day, Mahaprabhu said, "All right, you should all pray to Jagannath—Jagannath can save him, so if Jagannath wants, He will save him."

Then, somehow King Prataparudra got to know that his son was going to execute Gopinath Pattanayak. He was surprsised, "I am the king and I do not know anything about this!" He called for a committee and asked, "What is the fault of Gopinath Pattanayak? Did he actually steal the money or not?" The committee investigated and reported to the king that Gopinath Pattanayak was actually innocent, he was not a thief. Then, King Prataparudra announced that it was a false allegation against Gopinath Pattanayak. He released Gopinath Pattanayak and said, "Your job will stay with you, you will continue working for my kingdom, and I am giving you a promotion and a raise—you will now get double the salary you used to get!"

From this, we can understand this: Mahaprabhu is the Lord Himself, but He becomes a sannyasi and as a sannyasi He teaches that we should not interfere with any kind of family matters or any other kinds of material affairs. Family people too should not interfere with any kinds of material affairs. This is the lesson that we get from Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, from Mahaprabhu's pastimes. We must understand it and try to follow it.

 

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