His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
Question: My father was cremated, but in our country they do not allow us to throw ashes into the sea. What should I do with the ashes?
Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur once wrote a letter to his disciple. The disciple was asking, "My father has died. What should I do? How should I make the sraddha ceremony?" Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur replied that brahmans, smarta-vadis, follow the rules and regulations of Hinduism, and if they make the sraddha ceremony for some soul, that jiva soul will again have to come to some mother's womb (matrik kuksi grha, মাতৃক কুক্ষি গৃহ)—they have to be born again. If, however, the sraddha is done properly, according to the rules of Vaishnavism (if you give prasadam to Vaishnavs, offer prasadam to the father's soul, etc.), then the jiva soul will not have to come again to any mother's womb.
I was writing a book about sat-kriya, sat-dipika yesterday, and I am printing a copy of that letter of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur there. He wrote that letter when he was in Puri, in Sri Purushottam Math. The book is going to be published in a few days. So, if you do the sraddha ceremony properly, following Vaishnavism way, it is better for everybody.
Srila Janardan Maharaj: When Srila Govinda Maharaj was asked about giving prasadam to the father or mother, he asked, "Did they take prasadam when they were alive? If they do not accept prasadam, how will you offer it to them?"
Oh, that is another question. I am talking about devotees, not non-devotees.
Srila Janardan Maharaj: Also, Srila Govinda Maharaj said that calling Vaishnavs and giving them prasadam in honour of the departed soul was more important than the sraddha ceremony.
Yes, that is called Vaishnav-seva. I mentioned that.
Are there any other questions?
Question: If devotees have everything for their spiritual life, why do we then lose desire to serve?
Because some bad elements come. Actually, when a boy is admitted into a school, it does not mean he has passed the final exam. He has to study first, he has to practise. Those who want to pass the final exam and get a good result, must study, must give their attention to studying—they must study properly, attentively, concentrating their mind, their everything on the studies. In the practising life it is also like that. It is not only taking initiation. There are so many things that come after initiation,
আদৌশ্রদ্ধা ততঃ সাধুসঙ্গোঽথ ভজনক্রিয়া ।
adau sraddha tatah sadhu-sango 'tha bhajana-kriya
"In the beginning there is faith, then good association, then practising life. After that, the offences gradually go away, faith becomes stronger, taste comes, then attachment, then there arises affection and love. This is how love to God comes to those who practise Krsna consciousness."
(Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhuh, 1.4.15-16)
This is the process. It is necessary to practise properly. Sravanam, kirtanam, smaranam, archanam, pada-sevanam, vandanam, dasyam, sakhyam, atma-nivedanam (hearing, chanting, remembering, worshipping, serving lotus feet, offering prayers, engaging in service as a servitor, as a friend, and self-submission). If you practise all this properly, you will increase—not lose—your spiritual life.
One time, Gurudev told me, "Be very careful! You are a brahmachari, and you are walking on a thread—you can fall down at any time!" You are walking on a sharp blade, your leg is on a sharp knife and you can cut your leg at any time. Brahmachari life, sannyasi life is like that—if we are not careful about our spiritual life, we can fall down at any moment.
So, we sometimes do not understand why we lose our faith, why we lose our Krishna consciousness, why we cannot give our heart, mind, everything to the service of the Lord, why we cannot concentrate our mind on the service of the Lord—this happens because some deficiency is there. There is practising deficiency. We make many offences—offences to the service (seva-aparadh), offences to the Vaishnavs (Vaishnav-aparadh), offences to the holy places (dhama-aparadh), offences to the Holy Name (Nama-aparadh). So many bad things come, that is why we can lose our faith, lose our Krishna consciousness life and go away from service.
Another thing is that once a devotee came to Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur and said, "Prabhupad, I cannot practise properly!" Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur said, "It means you have something, it means you have started practising." If somebody says, "I have become a devotee, I am already a devotee, I have so much devotion," then you can understand that they have nothing—empty vessels make the most noise.
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