His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
Question: Is it important to study the meaning of slokas and scriptures?
Yes, it is necessary to understand the meaning of slokas otherwise if you read some sloka and do not understand the meaning, then how will you understand the sloka? It is necessary to read the meaning. Some slokas are written in Sanskrit, like in Srimad Bhagavad-gita or Srimad Bhagavatam, and when you read it, it must be clear to you what you are reading. Not everybody can understand Sanskrit, but the Bengali meaning or the English meaning is there, you must read it. Even when we sing kirtans from our kirtan guide also, we cannot understand all Bengali kirtans, but the meaning is there—if you can read the meaning and understand the meaning, then you can easily take the essence of the kirtan into your heart and understand everything. We sing so many songs, but if we do not understand the meaning, then we will be just singing and singing without understanding.
One time, I asked a Bengali devotee who sings the bhoga-arati kirtan every day, "You sing, 'Yasomati ajna peye Dhanistha anita'—what does 'Dhanistha' mean?" He was surprised. He thought that somebody had got Yasomati's order and brought Dhanistha—he thought Dhanistha was some kind of prasadam. I told him, "No, it is the name of a gopi!" You see? He sings this kirtan every day, but he does not know the meaning of Dhanistha. We may not understand so many words in the songs, so we must see the meaning, then we can easily digest and understand it. We must understand every word. If you sometimes cannot understand the meaning of the word in English or Bengali, you can look it up in a dictionary. You must understand the meaning properly. There is so much meaning in slokas. For example,
তদ্বিদ্ধি প্রণিপাতেন পরিপ্রশ্নেন সেবয়া ।
tad viddhi pranipatena, pariprasnena sevaya
"You will be able to attain knowledge by satisfying the divine master with submission, relevant inquiry, and sincere service. The enlightened souls who are learned in scriptural knowledge and endowed with direct realisation of the Supreme Absolute Truth will impart divine knowledge to you."
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita, 4.34)
What is the meaning of this sloka? You should understand it. Pranipat means full surrender; pariprasna means honest enquiry, asking good questions (there are many types of questions, but it is necessary to make honest enquiry); and sevaya means service temper, it is necessary to have a service temper. If you cannot understand the meaning, then how will you learn?
Question: You always say that we should ask our guardian, but sometimes the guru is not present near us and we cannot ask him directly, and sometimes I also think that I do not want to bother you.
No, there is not bother. Sometimes, if we cannot understand something, we can open our mind and ask our guru. Otherwise, actually we can easily understand what our Guru wants through our service mood. In my own life, I understood what Gurudev wanted through my service. Sometimes, some contradiction would come, then I would ask Gurudev. However, one day, I remember, when some contradiction came and I asked Gurudev about it, Gurudev gave me a very heavy answer. I asked Gurudev, "I am facing a problem, some situation has come up, what should I do?" and Gurudev answered, "I have kept an Alsatian dog downstairs to do its job, but that Alsatian dog cannot do its duty, it does not understand its duty—it becomes afraid and comes to me. What am I to do now?" Then I understood what Gurudev wanted. Such situations can come sometimes. Also, I have seen that Gurudev is durdarsi, he can see from far...
Question: How can we avoid quarrelling and fighting? So many things are happening now here in the USA...
Fighting is not good. That has always been there. We are now in 2020, but we still differentiate who is Italian, who is Chinese, who is Brazilian, who is Indian, who is Pakistani, etc. In our vision, we do not discriminate anyone, we cannot hate anybody—everybody, every living entity has a jiva soul, so we do not come to discriminate who is black, who is white, who is a sannyasi, who is a brahmachari, who is a lady, who is a man. This is not our line. We must always avoid discrimination. Devotees' mood is to always tolerate everything.
In previous times also, there were so many brahmin names—Bhattacharya, Chaterjee, Banerjee, etc. Anyone who had a brahmin thread was considered a brahmin. But if you remove that brahmin thread, what is the difference between that 'brahmin' and other people? People proudly think they are brahmins just because they wear a brahmin thread, but if somebody cannot give up their brahmanical pride, how can they be a brahmin?
Discrimination is not good. We must not see who is Indian, who is Brazilian, who is Japanese, who is Chinese, we must control ourselves. Even here in India, there is some problem with China now—China always possesses Indian land, and India shows tolerance. It is necessary to always tolerate and to speak with each other fairly otherwise if we start fighting, we will lose so many people and so much money. What will we gain by that? Those who cannot understand it always want to fight, want to quarrel with each other, they kill each other, etc. It is very bad. Our line is that you cannot hate any Vaishnav, any devotee. Sometimes we hate devotees, sometimes we criticise devotees, it is all an offence. We should avoid offences, avoid quarrelling. We must always harmonise the situation. If two men are fighting, one man should be quiet, then the fight will automatically stop. If somebody provokes, provokes, provokes, you must always keep quiet, then the person will automatically stop doing it. If you provoke somebody and they provoke you, then hands will join in fight, and when hand is not enough, then sticks will come. Someone should keep quiet.
Question: What if somebody says something bad about my Guru, how can I tolerate that and keep quiet?
If you can stop the person, you can do it, otherwise you must run away from that place. Never listen to guru-ninda or vaishnav-ninda (criticism or offence of the Guru or Vaishnavs). Never. It is very bad for your practising life. We do not associate with those who criticise others, we always avoid their association.
Question: In Sri Guru and His Grace, there is a chapter Initiating Spiritual Masters where it says that there are three classes of devotees, and the first class devotee is the devotee who sees Krishna in everything. So, if somebody speaks bad about our guru-parampara, speaks nonsense, or does nonsense, how do we see Krishna in that?
Those who are pure devotees can see Krishna everywhere—those who are pure devotee cannot hear what the person is saying, that nonsense talk will not even enter their ears.
Question: Once, Srila Prabhupad said that we must not try to become a maha-bhagavata, that we should not try to see Krishna everywhere, we should apply some discrimination.
Of course. But being a maha-bhagavata is not bad. The Guru is a maha-bhagavata, but he comes down to the middle position. There are three classes of devotees—kanistha-adhikari, madhyam-adhikari, and uttam-adhikari. The Guru has to come to the position of a madhyam-adhikari to be able to see that you are his disciple and he is your guru because those who are uttam-adhikari see Krishna everywhere.
যাঁহার দর্শনে মুখে আইসে কৃষ্ণনাম ।
yanhara darsane mukhe aise krsna-nama
"When you see somebody and Krishna comes to your mouth, then you should know such a person as an uttam-adhikari."
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Madhya-lila, 16.74)
When you see a devotee and 'Krishna' comes to your mouth, then you must know that this is a pure devotee. This is the main thing.
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