THE BENEDICTINE TREE OF DIVINE ASPIRATION: CHAPTER TWO
The following address was given at the Lauden Nelson Center,
Respected devotees, my dear God-brothers and sisters, honourable gentlemen and ladies, by your mercy I have come here for meeting with you all, and I want to spend some time with you to speak about Krsna consciousness. I am not so learned and especially I am very poor in English, but you have much affection for me and you are always my well-wishers, so I shall try to express something about Krsna consciousness.
Why have I come here to the West? Previously, a great general in the line of Krsna consciousness, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, felt a great necessity to preach Krsna consciousness, especially in the Western world. He could not wait to do that, and as soon as possible he tried to come. And he came alone. But what is that feeling he had? Actually what did he want to do, and why? My connection also is with that consciousness, and I can say it is the topmost necessity for the conditioned souls. One who can understand this cannot tolerate living without giving something of that consciousness. That was Srila Prabhupada's position. He was always feeling compassion for the conditioned souls who are suffering so much in this mundane world. Conditioned souls cannot understand what is good for their real life, their eternal life. That feeling brought him to the West. No doubt, his Gurudeva, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, ordered him to preach in the West, but Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur gave that order to all the devotees also.
The feeling to do good for others was deeply in the heart of Srila Swami Maharaj. He had no money and not so much experience, but he had eagerness, affection, and a full, good heart. With a full, good heart, he could not tolerate the deficiency of knowledge and Krsna consciousness in the jiva-souls, and he tried as soon as possible to come to the West. He tried so hard to give Krsna consciousness, and during the first year he suffered in many ways, but his eagerness and his deep feelings gave success to his preaching Krsna consciousness.
He started alone, but—eko 'ham bahu syam—"I, the One, became many." This is an aphorism of the Upanisads. Bhagavan, the Supreme Lord, was alone first and then He became many, and with His heart of Love He manifested Himself in millions of Forms. Similarly, Srila Swami Maharaj, whose heart was filled with Divine Love, wanted to distribute Krsna consciousness. His feeling was that it was an extreme necessity for the conditioned souls, and if they didn't get it, what would they take? And in which way would they live?
Actually he was very disturbed and could not understand why the conditioned souls were running around in the illusory environment. His feeling was very strong. He wanted to give something, and he gave it first in the Western world.
I have come to meet with you all—my friends and your families. I have received mercy from you, therefore I can come. 'Mercy' means your affection. Affection has attracted me to meet with you, and this affection has grown through Krsna consciousness. Otherwise, I live in India and you live in America—we live so far apart. But attachment, attraction and affection have all grown through Krsna consciousness, and thus I have a chance to come here and meet with you. What can I give to you? You have all material things. But Krsna consciousness has no end. We can only start and we can only proceed, but we will find that there is no end. It is infinite. Krsna consciousness is infinite.
There are several kinds of Relationships in Service to Krsna, and feelings are also infinite there. Our connection with the Infinite is always giving us that infinite position. And our service mood will also always work infinitely in that Infinite World. That is Goloka Vridavana. Some may consider the ultimate plane to be Paravyoma or Vaikuntha, but the underlying necessity is to practise Krsna consciousness, and that is our life's goal. Our real form is transcendental, not destructible, and there is much possibility to get a position in the Service World. We have that type of possibility and form. If, in any way, any auspicious soul can connect us with that Transcendental World, we will get everything there. This feeling was in the heart of Srila Swami Maharaj. He tried in many ways to begin his mission in India, but lastly he thought, "My place is in the West, and I can try to do something there."
All religions are always showing us something. Some are showing heaven, some are showing Vaikuntha, and some are showing Goloka. But all religions are trying to take us upwards, not downwards. That is the nature of religion.
Everybody has some eagerness to know what Indian religion is. But actually religion is not for India and not for America; religion is for the jiva-soul. Jiva-souls have permanent existence which is thinking, feeling, and willing, and jiva-souls are eternal. They have the Religion of Service to Krsna, their Lord, and service to the Transcendental Plane. There we find all happiness, all ecstasy, all beauty, charm, and Divine Love. Whatever we want in this mundane world within our conditioned position—beyond that, in the Transcendental World, that Divine Love is always waiting for us, waiting to embrace us. That is the actual position, and one who can understand this cannot live without giving that gift to others. That is Krsna consciousness.
Once we wake up and get connected with that consciousness, we can never leave it. We must proceed stage after stage up to Vrajadham, Goloka Vrndavana. That is the Religion of all the jiva-souls.
Many auspicious mahatmas, or great religious teachers, come from time to time, and their goal is to try to take us up over this illusory environment. Some religions want to take us to heaven, some religions want to take us to Brahmaloka, some want to take us to Vaikunthaloka—all of them want to take us to a higher level. But ultimately all the Scriptures and the very intimate servitors of Krsna come down into this mundane world to show us our highest life's goal, which is Service to our Divine Lover, Lord Sri Krsna. One who has that feeling will surely give us connection with Krsnaloka. That is the nature of the sadhu. Sadhus do not want to enjoy anything, but they are always trying to give enjoyment to others—not mundane enjoyment, but transcendental joyfulness, happiness, ecstasy. The description of Krsnaloka or Goloka Vrndavana is very nicely given in Brahma-samhita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, and other Scriptures that are trying to give Divine Knowledge to us and trying to make us qualified servitors in that Divine Plane.
So I have come to meet with you all not for any mundane enjoyment or for giving or taking anything mundane. You are my Godbrothers, Godsisters, and spiritual relatives.
Actually the atma, the soul, is coming from a vast power, and we are part of that. In that way, we are all relatives. When a particular sadhu came from India and addressed the people, "Brothers and sisters of America...," everybody was charmed to hear it. We really are all brothers and sisters related with each other in a higher way, and everybody has some existence with a relationship to each other in their eternal form—that is caitanya-jivatma—and everybody has a service relationship with our Divine Lover, Lord Sri Krsna. In that way we are all related. We must try to help each other to progress in the line of Krsna consciousness, and then we will easily proceed to our destination. That is the advice of the Scriptures.
In this way, I need your association. You are giving me much affection, but not for mundane enjoyment, and not for taking or giving something mundane. By your association perhaps I can give some hope to you all to try to proceed to your destination. I can say what is your own property, what is the wealth of your soul. I must try to help you, and you also can give me hope and encouragement for that Transcendental Service. That is my hope. You have many things in this mundane world, but the real necessity is the mood of practising Krsna consciousness. That has no end, and it is increasing in an ever more beautiful way. With heartfelt energy you please try to proceed, and you can preach this Krsna consciousness to others for their benefit. I shall try to help in that way, and if you have any questions about Krsna consciousness, I will try to give an answer.
My English is very poor, so I cannot give a formal lecture. It is very difficult for me to give that. But it is very easy for me to give answers about Krsna consciousness. I have received some mercy from my Srila Guru Maharaj and Srila Swami Maharaj, and for a long time I am connected with their movement. Also, it is my duty to everybody. If I can help you to feel satisfied in Krsna consciousness, then I must feel satisfaction in my service. So if you have any questions you can ask them, and I shall be very happy.
Question: We became attracted to Krsna consciousness by a great soul, but sometimes we may not go fully, all the way. What can help us to continue to the goal without leaving it halfway?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: This is a very good question. Thank you for your attentive question. It is not only your question, it is the question of all of us. We surrendered unto the Lotus Feet of Sri Krsna and tried to proceed to our destination, but many obstructions are coming in our life, and we are feeling many disturbances, thus it seems that we cannot proceed to our full destination. There are two factors: one, if we surrender fully to the Lotus Feet of Krsna, Krsna will see us. That is one hundred percent certain. In the Scriptures it is said,
sakrd eva prapanno yas
(Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamrtam, 9.4)
Lord Ramachandra said this about Bibhisana. Everyone wanted to oust Bibhisana. Bibhisana was the brother of Ravana, and Ravana was the enemy of Ramachandra, so everybody thought that Bibhisana must have come as a spy. But Ramachandra said, "Maybe he is a spy; maybe not. But since he took shelter of Me, I must protect him, and I must give him assurance that he will not be ousted."
So when we took shelter, whether there was any deficiency in us or not will be the first question. Otherwise, in the middle of the way, why are we leaving Krsna consciousness? Many may leave and stop practising, or somehow some disturbance may come to them. But what is the process to leave or oust that disturbance? The process is here: Krsna Himself says,
satarm prasangan mama viryya-samvido
What we need are good friends and association, then we can proceed happily. And the other factor is that if our surrender is perfect, then from the upper level faith will come to us and protect us. If someone is fully surrendered to Krsna in His form as Guru or sadhu, then Krsna will certainly protect him. He must protect him. But it is also sometimes a factor of time as to when Krsna will accept that devotee or how much time He will spend for him. But we should not feel hopeless because of that. When the time actually comes we shall surely understand. It may be a very short time—just in front of us—or maybe a long, long time. But what is time? Maybe a few births can also come and go in that time, but that is also a very meagre thing. In relation to infinite time it is most insignificant. From Krsna we get our hope, and this is a one hundred percent assurance. But while we are waiting for that position of liberation from this mundane environment, and when we want to proceed to our destination, this is when the association of Krsna's devotees will be most helpful. Such association can give relief and nourishment to our mind and soul.
Lord Kapiladeva told His mother, Devahuti, "Mother, please don't worry. You are a woman and have no ability to read the Vedas, and you cannot practise yoga and so forth, but don't worry. I am always satisfied with My servitors who are engaged twenty-four hours a day in My Service. You just try to get their association. Through their association your practising life will happily progress." That means with sravanam, kirttanam, vandanam, etc. The Lord says, "If you hear from My servitors about Me, and in their association you happily chant the Hare Krsna Mahamantra* [See Appendix II] and My Glories, you will get much nourishment for your practising spiritual life. Then, ultimately you will get strong, firm devotion, and strong attachment to My Transcendental Form." It is necessary for the practitioners to get real sadhu-sanga, association of the real saints.
It is possible to get sadhu-sanga in two ways: from sastra-bhagavata (the holy books), and bhakta-bhagavata (the saintly persons). When there is no saint—when we do not find a real sadhu and his association—at that time we can take help from the holy books. In this age, that will be very helpful for the practitioner. Our Guru Maharaj and Srila Swami Maharaj have both given many holy books for our practising life's instruction. If we read those books, we will get much strength and nourishment, and we can proceed very happily to our destination.
So if a living sadhu is not in front of me, I must try to read his books. And another thing we can do is take the direct association of Krsna—that is, by way of His Holy Name. That is the Hare Krsna Mahamantra. This method is only for this age of Kali-yuga. It is not for other ages. In Kali-yuga it gives a very good chance to the conditioned souls. Krsna Himself appears in His Name, in the form of the Mahamantra. The Hare Krsna Mahamantra and Krsna are nondifferent. All the Scriptures teach this to us.
The Name and the Person are the same. They are both transcendental and eternal. Then if we try to chant that Holy Name with faith and respect and without offence* [See Appendix III], then we must get the direct association of Krsna, also our mood of service to Krsna will increase.
So these three methods are immediately in front of us. If we can get all three, that is very good; but in any case we must serve the Hare Krsna Mahamantra, chant Hare Krsna, and try to get His holy association. And for our practising life, if we cannot get the association of a holy person, a sadhu, then we can still read the holy books. This is the hopeful process to reach our destination.
Question: When Srila Prabhupada came to the West, he distributed Krsna consciousness in a very broad and free way. Over the years, many of us have developed what might be considered not very good habits, such as putting pictures of Radha-Krsna on the wall without offering any worship to Them; saying "Haribol" without any reverence, etc. Should we in the West now try to make a change in our attitude?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: If Srila Prabhupada would have immediately given what he wanted to establish in the West, everyone would not have been able to digest it. In a very broad way, Srila Prabhupada tried to distribute Krsna consciousness in the West. He selected a process when he gave Krsna consciousness, and he gave some conditions. "You want to chant Hare Krsna? Will you follow four directives [no gambling; no intoxication; no illicit sex; and no meat eating]?" "Yes." So he gave you the Mantra and instructed, "You must chant sixteen rounds, and you must follow the four directives. If you want to live the life of a brahmacari you can stay in the Math, or if you like you can stay in the Math in grhastha form." That chance he also gave. He knew the Western world's activities, in which way it was going, and the West and India are not the same. Indian culture and Western culture are very different. In India, in meetings, ladies are always seated on one side, and gents on the other side. But it is not like that in the West. Here in America, and in Australia, I see everywhere so many ladies driving cars—not only cars, but big, big trucks as well. Easily they are driving, and with a very free mind. They have a culture in which everybody is giving respect to everybody. I have seen it in Australia especially. We were standing in the road, and a lady was going by in a car very fast. Although she did not know us, and we did not know her, still she gave us some attention and some honour.
Anyway, the cultures of India and the United States are not the same, also the lifestyles are not the same. Prabhupada considered: "If I try to give them the Indian way, they will not be able to take it." So he gave some method whereby you must follow the four directives. The four prohibited acts here are very common. Everybody is drinking liquor. Maybe those who have some disease don't, but everybody else does. Father, mother, wife, sons, and daughters—all are drinking something at the same dinner table. And for mixing of the sexes, everybody has freedom; they can mix almost without restriction. There is so much freedom in the West, and when Prabhupada saw that, he decided to establish the four directives. He thought, "If they can follow these, they will become advanced in the line of Krsna consciousness."
Regarding the sixteen rounds, he considered: "They do not know about Krsna-nama, Hari-nama." So he said, "You first practise chanting Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare. Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. Practise! Practise! Then, you will understand what is behind that."
When I first heard that Mantra in my youth, I was very small, only twelve years old at that time. I did not know Sanskrit, but the Mantra is manifest in the Sanskrit language. Brahmanas may give mantras for meditation, but if asked the meaning of the mantra, they generally reply, "It is not necessary to know. Just meditate on what I have told you, and the mantra will reveal the meaning in your heart." That was their advice. And it is true for the Mahamantra that it is transcendental, and He will be revealed in our hearts.
Srila Swami Maharaj advised every one, "Chanting sixteen rounds daily is the minimum amount of chanting. But in this way the habit will come to you to chant. First you will get that habit, then your practising life will become very easy. And when the searching tendency grows in your heart, you must try to search out what it is, and you will receive help from the upper level. That is the main process." Prabhupada did not always tell everything to everybody, but he did ask everyone, "Will you follow the four directives?" "Yes, sir." "You will chant Hare Krsna?" "Yes." "Very nice. Now here—take these beads and go on chanting sixteen rounds daily." In this way he engaged everyone.
Krsna is very merciful. He does not just look at the devotee's external activities. Krsna wants the heart of the devotee. He wants to see if there is love and affection along with the service for Him. Krsna wants that. He is not looking to see if you are American or you are Indian. Krsna does not want to know where you were born in this world. Krsna only wants your love, your affection, and your attachment for Him with full faith and sincerity. And wherever He finds it, Krsna will give His mercy. But it is not always coming through the practising process. The practising process will only help us. If I say, "Haribol', Haribol," an outsider will also see me, and he will imitate, saying "Haribol." In that way, some samskara (acquired tendency or notion) will come to them.
There is practically no comparison between Western and Eastern samskara, but you have the right to practise Krsna consciousness, and they have the right to practise Krsna consciousness. Krsna consciousness is completely separate from all cultures and customs. Krsna consciousness is the only necessity for the jiva-souls. Prabhupada tried to give that to the Western world.
There are many differences we see between Indian and Western cultures. I remember one devotee who was connected with Krsna consciousness for fifteen years. He is a disciple of Srila Swami Maharaj. When he met with me in Nabadwip, he had a bag with him and he requested, "Maharaj, I shall go to Calcutta for three or four days; can I keep my bag in your room?" I told him, "Yes, Prabhu, you can." So he kept his bag in my room. I left, and I did not see where he put it. Then when I came back, I saw that he had placed it near the door. I noticed one pair of big shoes just inside his bag. Suddenly it came in my mind, "Is there anything holy inside the bag?" So I took out the shoes and I saw the Srimad-Bhagavatam, and the Bhagavad-gita also. Then I became puzzled, and I took it this way: I apologised to Krsna, "He does not know what is what. You please forgive his offences, and forgive my offence for not preventing this from happening."
After four or five days that boy came back, and I said to him, "Oh Prabhu, what have you done? You kept your shoes upon the Bhagavatam and Gita. That is very bad." But he replied, "No, Maharaj, I have not kept my shoes in my bag. Somebody else put them there." I said, "No, Prabhu, nobody else is coming in my room, only you came. Nobody touches anything in my room. Everything is kept here in a very methodical way. Only I know what is where, and nobody ever touches anything. You have done this." But he very strongly denied it, "No, Maharaj, I could not have done that. I have been practising Krsna consciousness for fifteen years. I know what is what. I could never do that!" Lastly, because he has so much affection for me, and he thought I was angry with him, he began to cry. While he was crying, I embraced him.
I told him, "Prabhu, I believe you have not done it. You are saying that you have not done it, and I believe you. Now be happy! Don't cry." Hearing this, he was very happy and stopped crying. He then wanted to show his respect and affection for me, so he fell down to offer dandavat pranams, full dandavats. But at that time he was chanting on his beads. So where would he keep his beads? He is expert—fifteen years in Krsna consciousness. But immediately he put his chanting beads on top of his shoes! Therefore by this example you can understand what is samskara.
He put his beads right on top of the big, big shoes. He was thinking, "This is the highest place. If I put them on the ground, that is offensive, so some higher place is necessary." Seeing that his shoes were higher, he put his beads there.
I told him, "Oh Prabhu, what have you done? Don't do this." Then he was very upset. And he said, "Oh Maharaj, I am a mleccha. Forgive my offences. I do not know what is what. Please forgive my offences."
Then again I embraced him and told him, "Who am I? Krsna will surely forgive you. Krsna knows what is what. You have much affection for Krsna consciousness; that is your qualification, and that is the highest qualification. Krsna is not seeing where you are putting the Tulasi beads, but I must see, because I am cultured by Indian philosophy. But Indian philosophy or Western philosophy will not give liberation, and they will not give Devotion. Actual Devotion and liberation will come from the heart. And that heart you have. So don't worry, Prabhu." Then I embraced him again and I told him one sloka from the Scriptures:
murkho vadati visnaya
(Sri Chaitanya Bhagavata, Adi 11.108)
Krsna is enjoying the mood of devotion, and not anything of this mundane plane. And there are two processes of practising life. One type completely tries to follow the directives of the Vedas, but does not know their actual meaning. All the rules, regulations and directives of the Vedas are taking us to the mood of Devotion. And Krsna is very merciful to one who has the mood of Devotion. But one who has no mood of Devotion can do anything, however holy it may appear, but Krsna will not recognise it.
I explained the meaning of that sloka to him, and he was very happy. I also told him, "Never do this again. It is offensive, but not for you. It is offensive for me; that is, I know it is not good. You do not know. Therefore Krsna will forgive you, but He will not forgive me if I allow it. Krsna knows that I am familiar with, and accustomed to, the proper habits from my childhood, but you are not habituated in this way. You are thinking that shoes are higher than the ground, so you kept your beads upon the shoes. In that way you are very innocent."
Sometimes a small baby passes stool on his mother's lap while she is eating, but the mother does not cast the baby off her lap. The mother cleanses the baby and gives it much attention and nourishment. So Krsna is like our mother and our father. Krsna is always very affectionate and merciful. He has much love, and we have tiny love. He is always searching for the jiva-soul and thinking, "When will he come home?"
Krsna gives the jiva-souls their freedom, and He will not take back that freedom. With freedom the jivas can finish their material existence through Divine Service to Krsna. And for that He gives them freedom. But He is expecting service, expecting love. He has much love, and He wants to reciprocate with the jiva-souls. Therefore Krsna will not see any bad in us. We just need the heart-felt desire to serve Krsna, then Krsna will see only that.
We must try to follow some rules and regulations, and that is good, but it is not the all-essential thing. It is essential for the peace of society. Srila Guru Maharaj said that the system of varnasrama is 'proper adjustment with the environment' and 'sympathetic dealings with nature.' That is varnasrama. We need sympathetic dealings with nature, ourselves, and others. But even if we cannot do that, Krsna will never be angry or throw us out if He sees that we have the proper mood of devotion and service. That is the answer, Prabhu, to your question.
Question: How should we picture Krsna in our mind while chanting? And how should we see ourselves in relation to Him so that we can remain Krsna conscious?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: Once, when Srila Guru Maharaj was giving Hari-nama-diksa to someone, they asked, "What should we think about when we chant Hare Krsna?" Guru Maharaj said, "It is not necessary to think of anything. You should just know that the Hare Krsna Mahamantra is a transcendental Mantra. If you can give proper nourishment to yourself and to that Mantra, He can be revealed to you in your heart. Proper nourishment means that you must avoid the ten kinds of offences. And during your chanting time, you must pray to the Holy Name, 'O Hare! O Krsna! Please be revealed in my heart.'"
The Mantra is couched as a calling unto the Lord. Hare Krsna means Radha-Krsna, but it is not necessary for you to know a literal meaning. You only need to know that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and He appears in this mundane world in the form of the Hare Krsna Mahamantra, He can appear in the heart of each of us with His full Form; He has that capacity. Krsna's Holy Name is nondifferent from Him, so I shall only pray to the Hare Krsna Mahamantra, "Please appear in my heart, and dance on my tongue." It is not necessary to think about anything else. This lesson we learned from Srila Guru Maharaj. You are living within the mundane world so your tongue is also mundane, and a mundane thing cannot chant the Transcendental Name.
Krsna's Name, Krsna's Form, Krsna's Qualities, and Krsna's Pastimes—all are transcendental, but we are living with mundane consciousness in the mundane world. Here we cannot properly chant Krsna-nama. It is not possible. Mundane and transcendental cannot mix, but the mundane may be transformed in contact with the transcendental. And we must pray to Krsna: "Please make me transcendental and show Your Form in my heart and dance on my tongue. That is my prayer." When Krsna will reveal Himself in our heart, then we can feel, we can see—we can become transcendental. This was Srila Guru Maharaj's answer.
Question: I was in a park, and a devotee gave me a book from which I learned the Hare Krsna Mahamantra. I began to chant and feel detachment from the world, but I never received any instructions or authorisation to chant by any higher Vaisnava. Now I think I may be making offences. What shall I do? What is the proper way to go?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: The proper way is that you have somehow gained some divine connection, and that is by the mercy of Krsna. You are attracted to chant Krsna-nama, so inspiration is coming to you from the upper level and giving you some light.
An incident happened in the life of Dhruva Maharaj, who also had no Guru. His mother told him, "If you want the wealth for which you are seeking, go to Laksmipati—Narayana, Visnu. Try to satisfy Him." So he went to the jungle. He did not know how to perform tapasya (penance) and he did not know what is what, but because his mother told him, "Just try to meditate on Narayana," he tried to do that with faith and determination. He became absorbed in thinking, "I must try to satisfy Narayana." In that way he tried to meditate, and Narayana, who has His existence within everybody's heart, immediately understood what Dhruva wanted. At that time He told Narada Muni, "Narada, this boy wants My connection, but it is only possible through the proper channel, and you are the proper channel for him." That is Disciplic Succession; we consider this the proper channel. The Mantra comes down through heart-to-heart transmission, and in that way it is manifest in the heart of a devotee. Some special mercy may always be available, and somebody can get that. Still, it is also necessary to accept a direct connection with the Transcendental World, and that is coming in the line of Disciplic Succession. This is the advice of the Scriptures. So Narayana said to Narada, "Go and initiate him with the Mantra." Therefore Narada initiated Dhruva Maharaj, and through that Mantra Dhruva received the darsana (he beheld the Divine Form) of Narayana.
Narayana does not want to break His own rule. When one feels attachment and attraction to the Holy Name within one's mind, that is certainly not offensive, but it will be offensive if you do not know the proper process to chant the Hare Krsna Mahamantra. There are ten kinds of offences, and it is necessary to receive the Mantra from a proper channel. You can read the Mantra in a book or you can hear it from anybody, but that will not be very effective. Still, some effect must be there. Anybody can hear it and he will be affected. That is called namabhasa, the hazy Name. That abhasa can come to you. The Holy Name is never inauspicious; it is a very auspicious thing, no doubt. But it is necessary to connect with a qualified person who will give you the transcendental seeds of that Mantra, and also give you advice on how to chant Hare Krsna.
I can advise you to avoid the ten kinds of offences, and that will be very fruitful for you. But it is necessary to take advice. A teacher is always necessary, whether we reach a very junior class, a senior class, or a higher class. Even if we want to eat something, there also a teacher is necessary. Guidance is always necessary! Guidance is always good for everyone; this is the answer.
Question: I would like to see a centre for Krsna consciousness develop in Santa Cruz, but there seem to be two camps: the camp of Srila Sridhar Maharaj, and the camp of ISKCON. Do you have any suggestions how to bring these two camps together?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: I have come here without any sectarian campaign. I am living within that consciousness where my instructors, my Gurus, are playing freely. And both of them—Srila Sridhar Maharaj and Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj—are my Gurus. Srila Sridhar Maharaj is my Instructor Guru and my Diksa-Guru (Initiating Guru). And Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj, by the mercy of Srila Sridhar Maharaj, is also my Instructing Guru. So I only want to practise Krsna consciousness. I have no party feelings. I do not know who is living in this party, and who is living in that party, who is living in India, and who is living in America. I have no differentiating mind. We want to practise Krsna consciousness—this is what we have received from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur. This is our Preceptorial Line. In that Line, I am so fortunate to have two Gurus, and many others also. But two are super-instructors and Gurus, and I am trying to follow their directives and their process. I am preaching this to my friends and to whoever has some faith in me. My process is to preach, and not to say that this Prabhu or that person is better.
The process is humility, tolerance, and giving honour to others. This process was given by Mahaprabhu. You know that sloka, the third sloka of the Siksastakam. The proper chanting qualification is that you must be humble—humility must be your property; you must be tolerant, and you must give all honour to others. Through these three things, one can easily avoid Vaisnava-aparadha. Vaisnava-aparadha is the greatest obstruction to chanting the Hare Krsna Mahamantra. The Mahamantra is coming from the upper level, and through the Vaisnavas it is coming down. Through the Pancatattva—Sri Krsna Chaitanya, Prabhu Nityananda, Sri Adwaita, Sri Gadadhara, and Srivasa Thakur—the Hare Krsna Mahamantra is distributed in this mundane world. But if you make any offence to Them, the Mahamantra will not be happy with you, and He will not manifest Himself in your heart. Mahaprabhu said we must avoid Vaisnava-aparadha, and also the other nine kinds of offences to Harinama. Very easily we can avoid them.
What is necessary, nose or breath? If we have no nose, it may be tolerable, but if we cannot breathe we shall die. What is our life? Our life is for practising Krsna consciousness. That is what we need. For every jiva-soul, the most important thing is that we need to practise Krsna consciousness. What our identification is—that is not so important. Whether someone is Srila Sridhar Maharaj's disciple or Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj's disciple is not so important.
The important thing is we need to practise Krsna consciousness under the guidance of a good Vaisnava who has the aforementioned three qualifications; who has developed real feelings about Krsna consciousness; and who is expert at giving us Transcendental Knowledge about Sri Krsna. We must invite his association into our life. We will always try to get good association. A devotee may be in ISKCON, or he may be in Srila Sridhar Maharaj's Maths, but what is important for me is sadhu-sanga, and wherever there is a sadhu, I shall try to get his association. A sadhu will not differentiate between this camp or that camp. He will differentiate between the levels of devotion. Wherever there is pure devotion, he will be attracted there.
My business is like that. I want to make everybody my friend and well-wisher, not my enemy. This has always been my tendency since childhood. I always bow down to everybody. I shall not make any offence to any Vaisnava. Even if a devotee is not in our Sampradaya—he may be in the Ramanuja Sampradaya or any other Vaisnava Sampradaya—but I am afraid to make any offence to him.
There is no question about ISKCON. If anybody has that type of feeling, that party spirit, then I must ask him to leave that feeling. Avoid that type of mentality, and come and chant the Hare Krsna Mahamantra which was given by Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-GoswamI Maharaj, or given by Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj. They did not want to make a sectarian party, so why are we eager to make a party? We want to harmonise with everything. So we can easily harmonise both of their societies.
But 'society' means many people. People have many faults, many difficulties. The ego is the worst enemy for everybody. We must avoid false ego. What will I lose if I give honour to others? If I am humble and tolerant, all good qualities will come to me. Mahaprabhu said that with this qualification we shall try to chant Hare Krsna, and then we will gain real feeling for that transcendental Harinama Mahamantra. The Holy Name is nondifferent from Krsna, so it is a good practice not to think in the line of party spirit. It is our life's goal to practise Krsna consciousness without offence to Harinama; and wherever that is possible, we are slaves of that place.
What is our life's goal? And what am I here for? If I can do something good for others, then I shall feel that my mission is successful. Otherwise, so much money is being spent, and that money came through the energy of the devotees. I shall not be happy if my mission is not successful. And what is my mission? To meet with my friends and their families. And if I get the chance to preach Krsna consciousness, then I shall try to preach in an independent way. That is my mood. I shall be very happy if by my association anybody will feel inspired to proceed in the line of Krsna consciousness. Even if it is only one man, then still I shall be very happy. Then I will feel that my mission is successful.
We all need to practise Krsna consciousness, and whichever way it is possible, we shall try to follow in that line. Many missions are going in the line of party spirit. Sometimes they are doing good, and sometimes they are doing many wrong things. Actually, we have no line in that sense. But what is our life's goal—we must first keep that, and then without disturbance to the environment and others, we can proceed. It is necessary to see the goal. And if it is possible to make everything harmonious, then that is very good. That will give us more inspiration, and that will give us more attachment and attraction for each other. That would be very good, but actually it is very difficult to do. I can control my own ego, and maybe I can control a few of my friends' egos, but I cannot control everybody's ego. And because our ego is our worst enemy, it is questionable how much total harmony is possible.
Another consideration is that Krsna does not want to give Prema-bhakti to just anybody. Krsna wants to give mukti, liberation, but He does not want to give Bhakti, Devotion, indiscriminately. Even though His devotee is freely distributing the seeds of Bhakti, Krsna sometimes tries to avoid that because He becomes controlled by one who becomes His devotee.
So a reaction may come to the mind of the general seeker in such a way that he may leave Krsna consciousness. But we must go on practising Krsna consciousness even though Krsna may not want to give it, because if a devotee wants to give it, then Krsna cannot do anything. However, when the devotee is no longer present, Krsna may try to hide it. Krsna is not foolish! Krsna may sometimes try to avoid freely giving out consciousness of Him. That is the nature of spiritual transactions.
In the Scriptures it is said, muktim dadati karhicit sma na bhakti-yogam. This is the reason why there is some disturbance coming in every society. When a devotee wants to leave, Krsna feels that He has no right to check that. Devotees randomly distribute Krsna consciousness, but after that, one must practise. The devotee who gave you the seed will not come and practise Krsna consciousness for you. Then in the practitioner's life there may be some fault, and Krsna may be avoiding him. Faults are coming, and the practitioners are going away from the track. Then the examination is failed, and one is disqualified. When boys run in a race, everyone has a lane to stay in. And if anyone goes out of his own lane, he is disqualified. But with the proper help from the genuine Vaisnavas, we will always remain on the right path.
Srila Guru Maharaj always tried to harmonise everything. The whole Gaudiya Mission, and the heads of other missions, came to him from time to time and took advice from him—even his enemy group. 'Enemy' means those who were abusing him. On one occasion one person who was the head of an opposition camp, came to see Srila Guru Maharaj, and Guru Maharaj asked him, "Why are you coming to see me? You are living in an opposite camp." And that person replied, "Maharaj, you are not a party man. Your strong common sense, super intelligence, and disinterested (detached) nature always attract me and this is why I am coming to see you. Talking with you, I always feel very happy. That is why I am coming to you."
I am a disciple of that Srila Sridhar Maharaj, and I have also grown with that consciousness. I am feeling everybody is my friend. And if they are not my friend, then I want to make them my friend. I do not want to have any enemies.
I have many friends in the ISKCON society, and some of them are very good friends. In Srila Guru Maharaj's God-brothers' societies and my own God-brothers' societies, many devotees are very affectionate to me, and actually I am living by their mercy. They are affectionate and merciful, and when I am getting their affection and mercy, I am thinking that my practice of Krsna consciousness must go on in a happy way. So, following in the footsteps of Srila Guru Maharaj, I am trying to harmonise with everything. That is my mood.
(Verses in glorification of Srila Govinda Maharaj)
II: Chanting the Mahamantra
III: Dasa-vidha Namaparadha
(The Ten Offences to the Holy Name)
|HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE | HARE RAMA HARE RAMA RAMA RAMA HARE HARE|
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