Be Strong and Straight
His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
I am going for preaching to the Bankura Temple. We will take prasadam in the afternoon at the temple, and in the evening there is a programme outside the temple, in a village near Bankura; and the next day there will be an anniversary (Deity installation) festival at the temple. They make this festival every year, but this year they could not make it at the usual time because of the pandemic situation. The Bankura Temple has the Kaikhali Deities installed—Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharva Radha-Raman. Bankura is about fifty kilometres from Bardhaman, it is the village where Sripad Bhakti Kiran Giri Maharaj stayed and it is also very close to the birthplace of Srila Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaj.
The house where Sripad Giri Maharaj stayed in Bakura, was later given to Gurudev. Somebody had also donated some nearby land to Sripad Giri Maharaj, but he could not do anything with that land, and it was soon possessed by some local gundas. I managed to rescue that land and it is now used as a cultivation land. It is a very nice piece of land, more than five-six acres. The house where Sripad Giri Maharaj lived, was subsequently occupied by a school teacher who later met with Gurudev and decided to give it to him. Gurudev said he was too old and could not do anything with the house, so he requested the school teacher to transfer the land in my name. Now this land is a very good temple, our Bankura Temple. There are four-five cows now there, and also the cultivation land. Rasaraj Prabhu from Ukraine stayed there and did the puja for more than six months last year, starting shortly before Gaura Purnima. He liked it there and wants to come there again....
The people in that area are very simple-hearted, not like here in Kolkata—here, people show one thing and have something else inside. There, the people are very simple-hearted. So, there is an outside programme tomorrow night, the anniversary festival, and after that I will make programmes in the nearby area of Bankura and Bardhaman, both districts together. I will be going out for preaching for the next five days.
[Addressing one of the devotees:] Where have you got the golden chain on your neck from? Oh, it is headphones... OK, good. I thought you have forgotten your Tulasi beads and are wearing a golden necklace now.
Devotee: No, the Tulasi beads are around my neck, it is just headphones.
OK. But I am thinking you'd probably like to have a golden necklace...
Devotee: No, it is not really my style...
OK. It is necessary to be a brahmachari. Stay in brahmachari life, it is good. The problem is that it is very difficult to stay as a brahmachari in the West. There are too many kamini-kanchana (temptations of women and wealth), are there not? Yes... Yes! Kamini-kanchan is there. If they see saffron clothes, they start joking...
[Addressing another devotee:] I know that *** has already left the temple because he wants to be a householder. I want to see you live as a proper householder. It is necessary to live a proper householder life.
When you live at the temple, you engage only in sravan, kirtan, you take prasadam, and when you live in your house, you must engage yourself in the same way—even if you live as a householder, you should still do everything that we do at the temple. As a householder, you must provide income for the family—you must go to work or do some business, and when you earn money, you must give something to the temple, you cannot use everything for your family only. This is the duty of every householder. Help the temple according to your capacity, and you must also join the temple programmes at the weekend or when you have time. You must do something to maintain your spiritual practice.
It is not a problem if you get married, but it is necessary to be properly married, do not just move in and live together. This is illegal and it is not good. It is necessary to get properly married. I do not like it when you take a wife, use her, and then throw her away. I do not like such things. I know many devotees do that—they change wives or husbands in the same way that they change their clothes every day. I am saying harsh words, and not everybody can digest it, but Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj used even worse words, the words that I cannot even repeat. He would always say, "Rascals!" I cannot use this word, but I have heard from our Srila Gurudev that Srila Swami Maharaj would use it.
It is necessary to harmonise with your wife or husband. Stay with your husband/wife until death. That is good. If you get married, it is not a problem. I am not saying that it is illegal or prohibited to get married. You can have a householder life. I have just said that it is very difficult to keep a brahmachari or sannyasi life in foreign countries, especially when you are young. I know it is very difficult. Moreover, I have seen one old devotee who got married many times, and his last wife (he has already died) was younger than his granddaughter! They do not think. In their old age they have children, but if they die when the child is five-six years old, who will take care of this child? They do not think about it. A sixty-seventy year old man gets married and makes a baby, he does not think who will take care of that baby when he dies. They think everything that happens, happens by the wish of the Lord!
[Addressing a devotee:] I see how much service your father, Sripad Sajjan Maharaj, does for the temple—he lives here and does a lot of service. As his son, you must become an example for others too.
Question: What rites should be performed for devotees when they die? Should they be cremated with the kanthi-mala and japa-mala?...
Before cremation, you must bathe the body properly with water, then smear (massage) some ghee on the body, put on tilaks, the kanthi-mala should be there, etc. It is not necessary to keep the japa-mala with the body—do not cremate the body with the japa-mala (you can keep that mala and remember that devotee, that will be good). Other than that, everything can be used—kanthi-mala, tilaks, etc. This is how we do it. I saw many devotees leave their bodies in Nabadwip in Gurudev's time, and this is what Gurudev told to do. I saw this is what devotees did. The body can be cremated with the kanthi-mala if that is the question.
Are there any other questions?
Question: If a devotee leaves the temple or leaves their service, is it because of the offences they have committed or is it because of their lack of faith?
Because of seva-aparadh. Sometimes, we say that somebody basically left because of this or because of that, but actually Gurudev says that when somebody leaves it is natural—some seva-aparadh comes and they leave their service. This is the work of Maya Devi. Maya Devi always wants to take us and use us in her own service. This is Maya Devi's duty. So, whenever somebody leaves their service, it happens only because of seva-aparadh. When seva-aparadh happens, then service automatically leaves. That is why I tell everybody—if you have got an opportunity to do some service, do not leave that service, always continue doing your service.
One time, I was very disturbed in Nabadwip (it happened in Gurudev's time), and I left the temple and went to Bamunpara (Gurudev's birthplace). At that time there were no mobile phone, so nobody could reach me. I stayed away for one day, twenty-four hours, and I felt too much disturbance—too many bad things came to my mind. At night, I dreamed Gurudev was calling me back, and I went back to the temple in Nabadwip the next day. This happened in my life only once—I left my service for twenty-four hours (I had no service in Bamunpara, but I left Nabadwip and went there that day). Those twenty-four hours were a very difficult time for me—not just one Maya Devi, so many Maya Devis attacked me at that time. This is my experience. I can share that with you. When I left my service, I felt so much disturbance... It was a kind of an exam for me—Gurudev was testing me, and the question is whether I passed or failed it. Anyhow, I came back to Nabadwip within twenty-four hours...
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