Compiled from Discourses
First Discourse: Descent of Knowledge
Many births we have had in this world and many are awaiting us, but we have not yet found a solution to birth and death.
Because we have energy we must do something, whether good or bad. Energy is our soul's potency: willing, feeling, and thinking are present there, so we must do something; but if we do wrong then the result will be bad, and if we do right then the result will be good. Therefore it is necessary to realise what is wrong and what is right; and this human body is the main body, the main birth in which we can realise a solution. We have had many births but there was actually no chance for such realisation, however now we do have some opportunity. If we have good association then we can realise what is good for us in this life as well as for our future living, also we will understand something of what we have done before—all these things we can realise in this birth. To get a human body is very rare but it is almost essential for the substantial advancement of the jiva (soul), and that chance is now in our own hand.
labdhva su-durlabham idam bahu-sambhavante
All religions stress the importance of the human birth. Each have some mention that in this birth we can finalise our future. We also express this, but there are some differences between our goal and theirs. Most say that if you do good, goodness will wait to reward you in the future. But Vaisnavism is eternal: a non-stop flow up to Goloka Vrindavan.
Svalpam apy asya dharmasya, trayate mahato bhayat—if you try to do something truly good, that will bring an eternal result. Now we have achieved this human body, therefore we are to try as hard as possible for our goal, and in doing so we can neglect our material duties.
There is some difference between beast and man, and we are to realise this within our understanding. But only realisation cannot give us everything—there must also be some power: some strength of mind, strength of the eternal soul, etc., and that comes through the Guru and the Vaisnavas. We are to associate with those who are practising in proper consciousness. With their association our devotional strength will grow more and more. That is called sadhu-sanga, the association of a good person, a sadhu.
sadhu sanga krsna nama ei matra chai
Wherever we shall go and whatever we shall practise, it is always necessary to take the help of an expert, otherwise we can make mistakes and do wrong. There are many things before us, but we are to be able to utilise everything properly. There are many electrical components but only an expert can use them properly in order to make a machine to record and reproduce sound, a cassette player. Similarly, everywhere and in all circumstances we need the help of experts in that field—and this is the main principle for our proper advancement. But we are to discern who is actually an expert and who is not. Actually we cannot understand what is the nature of someone's knowledge, feeling, transcendental property, etc., but only we can pray to Nityananda Prabhu and Mahaprabhu that by Their mercy we may gain good association. According to the purity of our prayer, They may grant us that.
Sometimes we may feel hopeless and sometimes we may be very enthusiastic. When we see the chanting of the Mahamantra and the dancing of the devotees all over the world we feel very enthusiastic. But if we notice that there is some improper realisation behind that chanting and dancing—that they have received much, but cannot utilise it properly—we must feel hopeless. Sometimes a devotee may ask question after question about something we consider to be a simple point, and we wonder why he cannot understand. But he is questioning because for him it is not very simple, and when we see he still cannot understand despite repeated questions and answers, we may sometimes feel very hopeless. Everywhere in Srila Guru Maharaj's books and Srila Swami Maharaj's books there are advices and descriptions for our benefit, and if you can capture the essence and understand that properly, you will receive everything. The only cause of not capturing that essence is a deficiency of transcendental knowledge. Our deficiency lies there, and our necessity is to take the help of an expert.
yaha, bhagavata pada vaisnavera sthane
This verse says that in order to understand Srimad Bhagavatam properly we are to hear it from someone who is fully established in devotional service and we are to fully surrender to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Why is this advice given in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita? The point is that everything is recorded in Srimad Bhagavatam but we are unable to receive it, therefore it is always necessary for us to take good association.
We do not want money (kanak), we do not want women (kamini), and we do not want fame (pratistha). All over the world the living entities are running to try to achieve these things. Even a very unqualified person who perhaps is only a collector of fodder for the cows, also strives for these. When he goes home to his house, he is "father"—he has a wife and receives some respect from her. He may not receive respect from others but he receives respect from his family. He also has money. He may not have as much as others but even with his 10 rupees per day wages he tries to enjoy. Similarly, everywhere and in every life, kanak, kamini, and pratistha are available to some degree. But that is not actually our goal of life. Life's goal should be to achieve transcendental knowledge. Through transcendental knowledge we can proceed to our destination.
Srila Prabhupada Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur—Srila Guru Maharaj's Gurudeva—was happy to see many of his disciples organising their own maths, institutions, and temples, and doing much construction work to make the various buildings. But he also gave some warning, "We did not come into this world in order to be storemen, builders, carpenters, etc. Actually, our duty is to serve Sri Guru, the Vaisnavas, and Bhagavan: this is our main duty, and we are expanding with institutions, buildings, etc. because we want to attract other jivas—other souls."
If devotees will not stay in the Math then what is the use of so many bricks? If devotees will not be happy with their service duties then what shall we do with all these jobs? Therefore it is very essential for the conditioned souls to have the association of one who can guide their mind in a transcendental way. We are to search that special association.
It is not always clear in our sampradaya who is the Guru of many of even the great Acharyas. Who was the Guru of Rupa Goswami? Who was the Guru of Raghunath Dasa Goswami, of Gopal Bhatta Goswami, of Prabodhananda Saraswati, etc.? It is known but it is not always readily evident in the Scriptures; this is because our Guru-parampara comes through the line of Siksa-gurus. The Mantra-guru is therefore sometimes little known and even the name of the Mantra-guru of a great Acharya may not be mentioned anywhere in the Scriptures. Who is the Mantra-guru of Baladeva Vidyabhusana? It is not generally known, but perhaps it may be discovered if we carefully scrutinise the Scriptures. However, we can readily see that Baladeva Vidyabhusana follows Visvanath Chakravarti and therefore it is accepted that Visvanath Chakravarti is his Guru—this is the Siksa-guru line.
We may not know who is the Guru of Gaura Kisor Das Babaji Maharaj or who is the Guru of Jagannath Das Babaji Maharaj, but from the line of Siksa-gurus we can see that after Baladeva Vidyabhusana comes Jagannath Das Babaji Maharaj.
When we see street lights lit up along a bridge we can understand that the electric current is flowing along a particular path. Similarly it is necessary to see the living link.
We are not servants of one thing or another, but we are servants of our master. If he will say, "This is very good," we shall also say, "Yes, this is very good." And if the master will say, "Those items are not good," then we shall hate those things!
In other words, we are servants of our master. What he considers to be good, we shall similarly consider as good. Srinivas Acharya showed his nature in this way, and also we can see this in all the other great devotees.
Yam evaisa vrnute tena labhyas. In the Upanisads it says that the meaning of transcendental knowledge is that it comes down from the upper level. That knowledge is not my servant. I shall worship that, I need that, and I shall go wherever it is possible to receive that. Only it is available from one who is a master of that line, and if such a master is satisfied by my service he may give that transcendental knowledge to me. I have no other way to receive it.
In Jaiva Dharma by Bhakti Vinoda Thakur there is a description of how one mayavadi sannyasi developed servitorship to the devotees. He came to Premdas Babaji Maharaj and asked many questions, and by hearing the replies he could understand the Babaji's property really to be transcendental. He was very learned and thought, "I am educated and have great knowledge in many fields, but of that type of knowledge I have nothing." He then surrendered to Premdas Babaji Maharaj who invited him to stay in his ashram. The sannyasi followed his instructions and gradually transcendental knowledge also came to him.
Bilvamangal Thakur was a great expert in the mayavada section—the teachings of Sankar Acharya. But he came into the service-line of Vaisnavism and received the mercy of Krishna. Bilvamangal Thakur directly could feel that everything changed not only externally, but also internally. Everything—his willing, feeling, thinking—fully changed. The following sloka is composed by him:
"I was master of advaita-marga: always with my full knowledge I remained on my seat of honour, but one cowherd boy came and took me from that simhasana and made me His servant—a servant in the mood of a woman: dasi krta gopa vadhu vitena."
Actually, all jivas have the female form. They are sakti, potency—jiva-sakti. The form of potency is service, and the best form for service is the female form. It will not simply appear by meditation, but it will come to us only when that knowledge itself will descend into our hearts. At that time everything will change.
There is an example I like to recite: One day, while Gaura Kisor Das Babaji was walking along the road, some small boys threw stones at him thinking him to be a madman. However, Babaji Maharaj reacted by telling Krishna, "Oh, Krishna, what are You doing? You are disturbing me very much, therefore I shall go to Mother Yasoda and tell her of this incident. She will chastise You, and You will take notice of her chastisement!" Gaura Kisor Das Babaji did not think the boys to be throwing the stones, but his mood was fully different: he thought, "Krishna Himself is doing this, not those boys." In this way, when we become Krishna conscious a wholesale change will come from within, but at the present time we cannot chant Harinama properly. Why? Because we have abhiman, ahankar: ego. When that screen of ego is withdrawn we shall find our real form and we shall be able to see everything properly. Srila Bhakti Vinoda Thakur said, Krishna nama dhare kata bala, hrdaya haite bale jihvara agrete chale sabda rupe nache anuksan. ["The Name of Krishna possesses so much power. It speaks from within my heart, moves on the tip of my tongue, and constantly dances there in the form of transcendental sound."]
Similarly in Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu we find:
"He will dance in my heart and He will dance on my tongue—that is real Krishna-nama."
A higher stage is also possible, some essence of which has been given by Sanatan Goswami. Generally we want to mix with the residents of that spiritual world, but Sanatan Goswami does not want such things; his is quite another plane of conception.
In his earlier days Sanatan Goswami many times asked questions to Mahaprabhu for his satisfaction. But in a laughing mood Mahaprabhu would avoid his questions. Sanatan Goswami would directly ask, "In Kali-yuga is there any incarnation of Krishna?" And Mahaprabhu would reply to him in a playful way, "Oh, Sanatan, you are very naughty...," and would avoid the answer.
Later, when in Vrindavana, Rupa Goswami wanted to offer his Guru, Sanatan Goswami, some sweet-rice. He thought, "My Gurudeva likes sweet-rice. If I can secure some milk, sugar, raisins, nuts, etc., I shall be able to make some sweet-rice, offer it to Krishna, and then to my Gurudeva." A little later, a young girl, perhaps twelve or fourteen years of age, came to Rupa Goswami's bhajan-kutir in Kadam Kandi, near to Nandagram. She told him she had come under instruction from her parents and the villagers. She mentioned they had given her some ingredients and asked her to take them to Rupa Goswami in order for him to make sweet-rice to offer to Krishna.
Rupa Goswami was surprised. He reflected, "Just this morning I wished for these things and now they have come automatically." He happily accepted the items and immediately went the kilometre or so to Sanatan Goswami's bhajan-kutir in Nandagram and invited him, "Prabhu, today please come to my bhajan-kutir and take some prasadam."
Sanatan Goswami happily accepted the invitation and so Rupa Goswami made very nicely the various preparations including the sweet-rice.
Sanatan Goswami came there around noon and he saw the many fragrant and nice preparations. While taking that prasadam Sanatan Goswami thought, "I have passed maybe sixty years but I have never tasted such fine types of prasadam, I wonder in what way this has been made." He was very brilliant like our Srila Guru Maharaj, so he then asked Rupa Goswami, "Rupa, in which way did you make these preparations? The ingredients are also very expensive and difficult to obtain. How were you able to secure such things?"
Rupa Goswami said, "Today in the early morning I was thinking that I would like to offer you especially this type of sweet-rice. Presently one girl came saying she was from the nearby village of Javat. She gave me the ingredients and asked that I prepare and offer them to Krishna."
Sanatan Goswami was a little puzzled as he knew practically every house and all the members of each family in Vraja Dham.
Everyone considered Sanatan Goswami as their family judge. If any quarrel would come within a family they would consult with him and abide by his decisions. In this way he was very well-known especially in Nandagram, Javat, Varsana, etc. His assessment of a situation was always very accurate, and everyone respected him as the lord and judge of their family. In this way Sanatan Goswami knew all the people of Javat, but Rupa Goswami did not.
Sanatan enquired further to Rupa regarding that girl and asked from which family she had come. Rupa Goswami could only say, "She told me she came from Javat, but she did not mention any particular family."
Sanatan Goswami then went to Javat and enquired as to whose family had supplied such fine ingredients. Finding that the ingredients had not come from anyone's house in that village he lastly decided that it was Srimati Radharani Herself who had served Rupa Goswami by supplying the ingredients. He was very sad and approached Rupa Goswami, "What have you done? It is not good to want to fulfil your wish. I searched the whole of Javat village but what was brought this morning did not come from anyone's house there. I am one hundred per cent sure that Srimati Radharani Herself came to you and brought these things, otherwise it is impossible to make this very special kind of prasadam. I have often accepted your cooking in the past and I have tasted many kinds of prasadam prepared by you, but on this occasion what have you done? Your wish is not good. Whom we want to worship, and whom we always search for in order to worship, She came and served us." Sanatan Goswami was very unhappy and he left that bhajan-kutir.
Rupa Goswami was also very sad, "Oh, my Gurudeva was not satisfied." A servant was seated in front of Rupa Goswami and he witnessed the great separation and sadness that came to Rupa Goswami. His sadness in the feeling of separation was so high that his body became very hot, his breathing stopped, and his hairs all stood on end. That is a very exalted level of consciousness, and for now we are to worship that, but only from afar. We want to go there and we want to serve. There are many different levels of service, and if we make ourselves qualified to accept that, then the exalted service mood will itself appear inside our very form.
In front of us are many things that draw us away from service, but we have received a very good Guru. Now the ball is in our own court. We have everything in that we have the seed of Krishna-prema through Srila Swami Maharaj and Srila Guru Maharaj. Just to receive the seed is a very fortunate thing, and really we have that: there is no haziness there—it is brighter than sunlight. Therefore, with full consciousness we shall try to gain transcendental knowledge. That seed is in our hand and we shall try to nurture it properly.
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