AFFECTIONATE GUIDANCE: CHAPTER ELEVEN
Emotion or Devotion?
Devotee: I want to know if it is okay to read the higher books by the Goswamis, describing the intimate pastimes of Radha and Krishna?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: We are not doing that. In my forty-two years with Srila Guru Maharaj I never once heard him give permission for that to us. I know many of the books you are speaking of very well, that is my position was somewhat different. Srila Guru Maharaj is a paramahamsa Vaisnava and I was his personal servant up until about 1983, when I engaged some others for his personal service. At that time my seva responsibility increased in such a big way that I was unable to always serve Guru Maharaj in person, still I was always looking after his health.
From 1973 I was treating Srila Guru Maharaj as his doctor. Guru Maharaj was so ill that all the doctors had said that no medicine could work in his body, and they were sure that within a few days or a week at most he would leave his body. Of course Guru Maharaj's body is a siddha body, but still all the most qualified doctors said that it was beyond their capacity to treat him. Then, one day, I was taking my bath and I was crying, and I called to Lord Siva, "Oh Lord Siva, you have said that I am your son, and really I feel that I am. You are the master of all medicine, so please my Lord give me some medicine for my Guru Maharaj."
After my desperate prayer I heard the name of a medicine, as if from the air. At first I thought I had mistaken the sound of the water from the shower as the name of the medicine, so I prayed again. "Please let me hear that name again so that I may be sure." And again the sound of that medicine came. I knew that medicine because at that time I was practising as a doctor of homeopathy to the people, but until now I had never treated Srila Guru Maharaj. This was because firstly I was not always staying with Guru Maharaj, and secondly I had never considered myself to be a very good doctor. I was able to give some help to the poor but I felt that was as much as I could do.
In any case after hearing the name of the medicine from Lord Siva, I felt very free in my mind and I knew that Guru Maharaj will not leave us now. In the meantime Hari Charan Prabhu called me on the telephone, "Srila Guru Maharaj is sinking fast, he has no pulse, only a slight heartbeat, and no blood pressure." I told him, as a matter of fact, "Prabhu, don't worry, I have just now been given a medicine by Lord Siva, give it to Guru Maharaj and he will be cured. I am coming right away."
I took the last train to Calcutta, which was late, and arrived at the Math at about 12 o'clock midnight, and when I arrived I saw Guru Maharaj sitting in his chair and taking Prasadam with his own hand. I asked Guru Maharaj, "What has happened? Hari Charan Prabhu told me you were sinking." And Guru Maharaj replied, "Yes, I was but Hari Charan Prabhu gave me the medicine that you told him, and now you can see."
Then his pulse came back and blood pressure became normal, and Guru Maharaj said, "From this day you will be my doctor." All of Guru Maharaj's doctors consented, but still I was thinking that Guru Maharaj is so great that somebody will chastise me, "Why are you not calling the doctor, why are you treating Guru Maharaj?" I was a little afraid and still I could not consider myself as a very good doctor. Then Guru Maharaj said, "All the doctors have already said that no medicine can work for me, so now happily you can treat me."
So I became Guru Maharaj's doctor, and after that his main illness was a chronic headache. He had suffered from this headache from the age of seventeen, and from twenty-two it became very strong. When Guru Maharaj was suffering with this headache he could not eat anything. Only he would take water and constantly be throwing up. Sometimes this would last for three days, sometimes six days, and sometimes up to twelve days. So I began researching, and finally I told Guru Maharaj, "Maharaj, now your headache must go. I can treat you and forever it will be gone." All the homeopathic doctors who had treated Guru Maharaj had prescribed nux-vomica and administered it from thirty to 'MM' potency but none had had the desired effect. As they had all prescribed this same medicine, I concluded that nux-vomica must be Guru Maharaj's constitutional medicine. I then went to an allopathic doctor and asked him what is the dosage of nux-vomica mother tincture in allopathy. It was eight drops maximum, so I decided to give Guru Maharaj five drops. When the first signs of the headache came I administered the five drops of the mother tincture and the headache was reduced to a standby position. I was confident that now this headache will go because previously no medicine could check it.
The only other medicine that could give Guru Maharaj relief from this condition was cafergot, a type of ergotamine. Ergotamine is a very serious drug, and through taking this, all of Guru Maharaj's health problems came, but it was the only relief possible before now. After about two or three hours again the headache came and so I gave Guru Maharaj one-fourth dose of the ergotamine, and again after about another six hours the headache returned and I gave the nux-vomica. In this way alternating between the two, and then after twenty-four hours I stopped the ergotamine and continued with the nux-vomica along with Lord Siva's medicine, and two other homeopathic medicines I had selected. That headache was then completely gone forever and so in this way I was the doctor to Srila Guru Maharaj. Still if I was not at the Math I left instruction that if the need arose then the allopathic doctor should be called.
Once Guru Maharaj was suffering from bronchitis and so Hari Charan Prabhu called the top doctor of Nabadwip, the president of the district medical board. He came, and after seeing Guru Maharaj prescribed some medicine. Guru Maharaj flatly told him, "No, I will not take your medicine. Govinda Maharaj is my doctor and only after he comes and says, will I take your medicine." Then, the doctor was very angry and said, "Then why did you call me?" Guru Maharaj said, "I did not call you, Hari Charan called you." So the doctor asked Hari Charan Prabhu, who explained, "I called you because Srila Govinda Maharaj said I should."
The doctor replied, "Do not call me again, if Guru Maharaj will not take my medicine then why should I come?" And angrily the doctor left. When I arrived, I asked Guru Maharaj what had happened and he told me the events, so I went to see the doctor. When I reached there the doctor was still angry and he said, "Oh, Govinda Maharaj, you have come. It is not necessary to come. I shall not go with you. I shall not see Guru Maharaj as my patient."
I told him, "You must continue to see Guru Maharaj."
"Why should I come, he will not take my medicine.
"No!" I said, "He will not take your medicine, that is the truth. That is because you yourself have said that your medicine will not work on him. I am calling you because I am not a very good doctor and you are the best doctor in all of Nabadwip, and if you will examine Guru Maharaj and give your diagnosis and prescription, then immediately I can understand from your medicine what homeopathic medicine I should give instead of that. This is why I call you, and you have love for Guru Maharaj, so you must come."
Then the doctor was quiet and said, "Yes, if that is the cause, then I shall come." Anyhow this was the history. I could not always stay with Guru Maharaj and so I engaged some others for that. But before that, Guru Maharaj had no other servant, and so we heard many things during our association. And not only that, it was the desire of Guru Maharaj to tell something about the Pastimes of Krishna, of Radharani, and others, so we heard from him, but always he told us in a very cautious way. Never did he tell us to read Ujjvala-nilamani or similar books, but some things he told us, and I know many slokas from Ujjvala-nilamani, Vidagdha-madhava, Lalita-madhava and others. That is, Guru Maharaj had me study kavya (Sanskrit composition), and it is necessary to read these verses to understand the many varieties of Sanskrit metre, language, beauty, alankara, etc. But I can say it is a special case, it is not for all. These books are no doubt the supreme books of our sampradaya, but they are not for all and everyone's reading. If anyone will read these books then they will become prakrta-sahajiya, and what will be for them? We do not want that our brother and sister become that, so we must be very serious about our practising life.
You have left everything; your culture, your allegiance to country, community, your habits, everything you have left to try and practise Krishna consciousness, so you will have to be serious. And you also need the result. To only practise, that is not your life's goal, you need the end result—Krishna consciousness—and how will you get that result? It is necessary to first understand this.
We are chanting Hare Krishna but we have not become perfect. Why? We must research this. Why is it not happening, why is the feeling not coming inside? If it were merely a cheating matter then it would be no problem. But it is not a cheating matter, it is proven in the scriptures of India: the Veda, Vedanta, Upanisad, Purana, five thousand years of culture, and there are munis and rsis who have all got the result. If you study the scriptures like Mahabharat you will say that all the advices are very good and you will see that so many have gained the result. Then why are we not getting the result? The time has come for us to know why.
Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj Prabhupad has come to this world, Srila Guru Maharaj has come, Srila Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur has come, Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur—their books and everything are with us, all the property of Sri Chaitanyadev's sampradaya is with us, but it is not fruitful to us. Why is this? It is necessary to know. We do not want to cheat anybody, we want to do something good for others, and if we cannot do anything good then at least we will not do anything bad to others. So we must be serious about our practising life, and that means we must follow the directives given by Srila Guru Maharaj. Before approaching the rasa-tattva, the serious, high Pastimes of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna we must prepare ourselves for that, otherwise that will not give us the perfect sentiment.
In Srimad-Bhagavatam it is written (10.33.39):
vikriditam vraja-vadhubhir idam cha visnoh
"If you hear the Pastimes of Krishna with the Gopis, especially the Rasa-lila, etc.—which have been revealed in this mundane world by the grace of Krishna—if you hear with full faith from a bona-fide Guru or Vaisnava, and if you subsequently describe that to others, then you will get the topmost supreme devotion to Krishna. The conjugal play of Krishna with the Gopis in Paramour Love—which He tastes in a variety of ecstasies—if you hear that, then your heart disease of lust will be expelled forever." So why is it that when we contemplate that lila we are getting difficulty and we are going to a hellish position? This we must research carefully, and that knowledge has been given by Bhaktivinod Thakur and especially by Srila Saraswati Thakur. Srimad-Bhagavatam has declared that the lust will be driven out of the heart, and one's consciousness will come to the level of Krishna-prema— bodily consciousness will be forgotten and that will be overtaken by prema consciousness.
One must get that position. So why are we not getting it? Harinama is transcendental vibration non-different from Krishna. We are chanting the Hare Krishna Mahamantra, but in which way shall we chant? The Mahamantra manifests Himself by appearing in your heart and dancing on your tongue, but if Harinama is transcendental, then I cannot chant with my mundane tongue. This is the truth, the mundane cannot play with the transcendental. Only when the mundane becomes itself transcendental can it come in touch with the transcendental Name. It is very clear, so somehow or another we must make ourselves transcendental.
There is a very nice analogy of the moon. The moon is always in the sky but sometimes it is obscured by the clouds. Sometimes we can see it and sometimes we cannot. So the position of Harinama is like that. Like the cloud we are always coming and going, and according to our standard of chanting, sometimes Harinama may reveal a glimpse and sometimes He will remain covered, then finally He will reveal himself in our hearts. We are getting some result, then we can say "Yes, it is the truth." But if we get nothing then we will become hopeless and think, "Why should I spend my time for that?" But behind that we will have to see that the reason is because I cannot chant properly.
We can see that in every religion there is the chanting of the Lord's Name in one form or another, so they cannot all be wrong. So we can understand that there is great benefit in chanting the Lord's Name. There is no doubt. And further, in the scriptures of India it is recorded that if you chant this particular mantra then you will get this particular result, another mantra another particular result. The ancient rsis and munis have discovered and proven this. A rsi is he who can discover something in the field of Vedic religion, a 'Ph.D' of religion, and a muni is he who is successfully practising the Vedic religion.
The rsis and munis are all chanting the Lord's Name. Lord Siva, Lord Brahma, the demigods and gods, all are chanting the Lord's Name. Then inside of the chanting, like the nux-vomica, there is medicine for us. This Krishna-nama is a form of Krishna, and if you chant the Holy Name of your Lord, then you must get the result. So what is the process to chant properly?
Sriman Mahaprabhu has given the three-fold process: humility, tolerance, and honouring others. If we cannot chant properly then in some way we are not following that process. It is our ego. We are getting some result, no doubt, otherwise we would give up chanting Harinama. Also, Bhaktivinod Thakur has said that if we cannot avoid the Namaparadha, offence to the Name—and in all probability we will not be able to avoid—but if our intention is to try to avoid that, then we should pray to Harinama, "Oh Harinama, I cannot properly chant Your holy form, so please reveal Yourself within my heart and purify me." And Bhaktivinod Thakur has said, "Chanting, chanting, chanting, chanting—somehow, in any way, we need to get the attention of that Holy Name." In this way we must get the desired result. I can say it is so. Otherwise if it were only cheating then I would have left it long ago. My nature is like that. I do not want to cheat anybody, I cannot beg from anybody, and I cannot cheat others. But sincerely I say to you, that you will get that result if you chant in this way, following the process of Mahaprabhu, and carefully guarding against making any offence to the Vaisnavas.
Then we should pray to Sri Harinama, "Oh, my Lord you are transcendental, and I am living within this mundane world. I am jiva-soul, and so I am also transcendental by nature, but due to misuse of my finite independence I am covered by illusion, covered by ego. Please be kind upon me. Oh Harinama, give me Your mercy and reveal Yourself within my heart." This must be our mood of prayer.
I heard from Srila Guru Maharaj, that when his Godbrother, Srimad Parvat Maharaj was a young boy he used to live in the house next door to Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur. He told us, "In my young age, I heard every night from about 2 a.m. until the morning, Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur would chant the Mahamantra on his rooftop, but you could hear that his chanting was more like calling, a heartfelt call to his Lord." So we must be serious about our chanting, and we must make obeisance to Guru and Vaisnava. We should know our Guru as perfect, but who is a Vaisnava, that we do not know, and to what extent one is a Vaisnava, that we also do not know. Someone may be twenty-five percent, another seventy percent, and another may be one hundred percent, or only five percent, we do not know. But we should know that everybody has some good qualities whether they are a demon or a saint, but who is a Vaisnava we do not know.
So we must give honour to all and be respectful to everyone and be surrendered to the will of God, then the Vaisnavas must be kind to us. That is the process given by Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur. It may be hard to follow that, but if we really need the true result, then we must proceed only in this way. And proper adjustment will be constantly required. Suppose someone will kick my father in front of me. If I will tolerate that and be humble, then he may kill my father. My father is to be protected by me. I am his young son, and he is old and weak, therefore it is my duty to protect him. So what is humility and what is tolerance, everything will need to be adjusted. And Srila Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur has given that adjustment. He says that to just make some show of being very humble, lower than a blade of grass, will not be sufficient. Of course that is the fact, but some substance must be within your heart, and that must be the perfect substance. In every situation you must have some realisation. Should someone abuse your Guru in your presence, then what will you do? If you think, "I am very humble and I shall be tolerant to him," then that is not real trnad api sunichena. We find the proper response in the person of Sriman Mahaprabhu who preaches this philosophy. When Sridhar Swami, the original commentator of Srimad-Bhagavatam, was insulted by Vallabhacharyya, then Mahaprabhu said, "Oh, you do not give recognition to Sridhar Swami? Who will not give respect to their swami, they are a prostitute."
prabhu hasi' kahe,—"swami na mane yei jana
(Chaitanya-charitamrta: Antya-lila, 7.115)
Then everywhere there is harmony, some adjustment, and with full consciousness we shall try to chant the Hare Krishna Mahamantra. Under proper guidance we can read everything. We have a right to read, but that must be under the guidance of a perfect person who knows fully that plane, then no offence will come to us in any way, and we shall not become prakrta-sahajiyas.
Knowledge just for its own sake has no real value and will not give us our real goal. I recently met one old friend in New York, he is a disciple of Srila Swami Maharaj Prahupad and famous as a pandit. He is accumulating much scriptual knowledge and learning, and he is constantly questioning me, and all very taxing, complex, scriptual questions. Finally I told him, "Prabhu, what are you doing? You are questioning me and I am giving you answers, but then are you proceeding or are you
remaining in your present position? If you think you are getting any benefit from me, then why are you not coming with me? Why are you remaining here? Come forward with me, otherwise why spend my time?" I asked him, "Are you satisfied with my answers?"
He replied, "Yes, Maharaj, I am very satisfied."
"Then what will you do with my answers? If that does not reflect in your life, than all your questions are useless, and all of my answers are useless to you. My time is wasted and your time is wasted. If you are satisfied with my answers then why are you not coming with me?"
Then he replied, "Oh Maharaj, I have no money, I cannot come right now."
We must be very serious in our practising life, then I can give you a guarantee that you must get your goal. You are in the line of Srila Guru Maharaj, you have the mercy of Srila Swami Maharaj and Srila Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur, then you must get it, but you must be very conscious about your practising life. I have seen many in our line who think they are proceeding very happily and practising very happily, but they are not seeing themselves through my eyes.
Once, I said, "What is devotion and what is emotion? Are you under emotion or are you under devotion? You cannot see." Hearing this Sripad Janardan Maharaj said, "Oh Maharaj, you are chastising me."
Actually it is not to chastise anyone, I want to be serious for everyone and for myself also. Already sixty-four years of my life have passed and how much longer I shall live I do not know. If we are under emotion, then we must leave that and try to go to devotion. Heart and soul I am trying. Guru Maharaj gave me some service. Previously in the time of Guru Maharaj whatever service I did he would digest. If I did right or if I did wrong, he is digesting that and my service is getting some position, but now all my good and bad is coming to me, and so I must be even more serious. And all the devotees are really very good, otherwise why are they coming in the line of Krishna consciousness? Then I must be serious for them also. I must teach them, "Please come this way, don't go that way." That is my duty given by Srila Guru Maharaj, and if I can do that seriously and with all sincerity, then they will get the result, I will get the result and visvam purnam sukhayate—the whole world will be benefited.
Section 1 — 'Siddhanta'
Section 3 — 'Our Devotional Line'
|"HUMILITY, TOLERANCE, GIVING HONOUR TO OTHERS | HUMILITY, TOLERANCE, GIVING HONOUR TO OTHERS"|
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