His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
Question: Can we address someone who is not initiated as "Prabhu" and greet them saying "dandavats"?
সকলে সম্মান করিতে শকতি
sakale sammana karite sakati,
"Gurudev! Please give me such power that I can give appropriate honour to everyone."
Give respect to everybody, according to their qualification. Somebody may be happy if you tell them "Prabhu", and somebody may not understand it—you can tell them "Babu" ("Sir") instead then, they will understand it. If it is a devotee, you can tell them "Prabhu", but if it is somebody who does not know anything about Krishna consciousness and you call them "Prabhu", they may be disturbed or unhappy about that, then it is better to say "Sir", "Babu", etc. Generally, we say "Prabhu" ("Lord", "Master") to devotees who know that they are servants of the Lord, servants of devotees. The Lord Himself says, "You are worshipping Me, but the worship of My dearmost devotees is greater than My worship!" Sri Hari-bhakti-vilas also says that when we celebrate Lord Nrisinghadev's appearance, we recite the prayer that says that Lord Nrisinghadev appeared to remove the sadness of Prahlad Maharaj, "Prahlada-klesa nasaya ya hi punya chaturdasi pujayet tatra yatnenahareh prahladam agratah. It is proper to first worship Prahlad before worshipping Lord Nrisinghadev because the holy fourteenth lunar day of the bright fortnight has appeared in order to remove the distress of Prahlad." So, on Nrisingha-chaturdasi day, we first worship Prahlad Maharaj, then only we worship Lord Nrisinghadev. Also, when Srila Vrindavan Das Thakur composed Sri Chaitanya Bhagavata, he started it with this sloka (1.1.10),
eteke karila age bhaktera vandana
"I have therefore offered my prayers first to the devotees, as this is the key for attaining perfection."
First we must worship devotees, then we can succeed in whatever we are about to do (in Srila Vrindavan Das Thakur's case it was composing Sri Chaitanya Bhagavata). We must first worship the devotees of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Without paying obeisance to devotees, without glorifying devotees, Krishna-kirtan and Krishna-katha will not come to your tongue. First glorify devotees, then Krishna-katha will come to your mouth or tongue. That is main thing. However, the problem is that we hear so many times,
vaisnavera guna-gana karile jivera trana
"Singing the glories of the Vaishnavs rescues and protects the jiva soul. I heard this from the mouth of sadhus and my Guru."
We have heard the glorification of Vaishnavs hundreds of times, but we are still unqualified and so unfortunate because we cannot glorify devotees.
Question: You have told many times that when you were taking sannyas Srila Gurudev told you to "Serve my devotees, serve my Mission, serve my Deities." Was this originally instructed by Srila Sridhar Maharaj?
Gurudev may have heard it from Srila Sridhar Maharaj. When Gurudev wanted to give me sannyas, I told him I had no qualification, I did not understand the meaning of sannyas, then how was I to take sannyas? At that time, Gurudev told me that the meaning of sannyas means "you will serve my devotees (followers), serve my Deities, and serve my mission." Gurudev told this directly to me, and there is another thing that Gurudev told everybody.
sri-krsna-kirtane yadi manasa tohara
"If you are intent on chanting the Name of Krishna, then, with great care, become qualified to do so."
trnadhika hina, dina, akinchana chhara
"Give up your false ego, and always consider yourself lower than grass, poor, needy, and mean."
vrksa-sama ksama-guna karabi sadhana
"Practise tolerance like a tree. Give up vengeance and nurture others."
jivana-nirvahe ane udvega na dibe
"Do not trouble others for your own upkeep, and forget your own happiness in the course of helping others."
Gurudev applied what Mahaprabhu said in His Siksastaka to the meaning of tridandi sannyas.
trnad api sunichena taror api sahisnuna
"One who is humbler than a blade of grass, more forbearing than a tree, who gives due honour to others without desiring it for himself, is qualified to always chant the Holy Name of Krishna."
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, 3.6.239)
Be humble, tolerant, and give honour to others. Gurudev applied this to sannyasis, as well as all other devotees.
Basically, tridandi sannyas means to be humble, tolerant, and give honour to others. However, I am bound to say that sometimes they take sannyas or take saffron cloth, and their ego becomes very big, they become proud, and start thinking, "I am a sannyasi! I am the boss! Everybody will serve me!" It is very sad to hear this, but some sannyasis behave like this. They think, "I am a sannyasi, everyone will serve me!" but they forget that when they took sannyas, it means they became captains of this society, so they must go forward and be first to fight against maya. It is necessary to realise this. I see that sometimes after taking sannyas they become very 'fat' (get very much pratistha) and start thinking, "I am the boss, everybody must serve me! I am a sannyasi, and all the householders are second grade. We sannyasis are the first class, brahmacharis are the second class, and grihasthas are the third class of people. The third class people must always serve the first class people!" This is what they think, but it is very sad to hear this. They forget that they must serve more. This is what Mahaprabhu teaches. Mahaprabhu Himself distributed prasadam. Some sannyasis say, "Why should I distribute prasadam? Everybody must give prasadam to me!" But Mahaprabhu showed that He Himself distributed prasadam to all the devotees on the disappearance day of Srila Haridas Thakur, and not only on that day, He did it on many other days as well—many devotees would come at the time of Jagannath Ratha-yatra and take Jagannath prasadam, and Mahaprabhu personally served prasadam to everyone.
This is a very difficult matter. When we take sannyas, we forget that we are servants of devotees—some start thinking, "I am the master of devotees! I am controller, I will control everything!" It makes me very sad.
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