Excerpts from Letters by His Divine Grace
Question: In summary, I have the following questions:
Srila Govinda Maharaj replied: Please accept my humble dandavat pranams in remembrance of our Divine Masters Srila Guru Maharaj and Srila Swami Maharaj Prabhupad....
Your questions are very clear and relevant, and now I am happy to answer them, but first it is necessary to make ourselves in a little neutral position in order to see the facts (even though some of the facts you have not directly asked for in your questions).
Actually, in Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur's time there were many qualified disciples full with independent preaching capacity. I heard this from many sources, also that at any one time they were not unified. Srila Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur knew it very well, therefore he did not name one particular person as his successor. However, in a special gathering of his disciples one day before his disappearance he showed the hint of his desire through the hearing of the kirtan "Sri Rupa Manjari Pada" from Srila Guru Maharaj, and he instructed the devotees: "For the management of the missionary work you are to make a Governing Body with twelve persons, and the secretary of that Governing Body must be the present secretary Kunja Babu for as long as Kunja Babu will live."
He also gave some other instructions, but he did not directly appoint anyone as an Acharya of the Gaudiya Mission.
At that time Srila Guru Maharaj was no doubt very exalted and an undefeatable preacher of Krishna consciousness, but his nature was to always keep himself in the background. Also he wanted to serve the Vaishnavs very enthusiastically, but he himself did not want to take any position of Guru or a member of the Governing Body. Also through that nature and mood he never tried to come in the foreground of the Governing Body. He felt indebted to his few special godbrothers who helped him from the first time in his divine practising life: Sripad Vasudev Prabhu, Sripad Bhakti Sudhakar Prabhu (Professor N.K. Sannyal), Sripad A.V. Bhakti Saranga Goswami, Sripad Kesav Maharaj, Sripad Madhav Maharaj, etc.
Actually, Srila Guru Maharaj himself did not make Vasudev Prabhu an Acharya, also he was not in a position to have any right to do so, but when it was declared by that special group of Srila Saraswati Thakur's disciples that Vasudev Prabhu be the Acharya of the Gaudiya Math, Srila Guru Maharaj agreed and immediately felt relief that the responsibility of being Acharya did not come to him. Furthermore, when Sripad Kesav Maharaj heavily proposed his name in the Governing Body, he cleverly avoided that because actually Srila Guru Maharaj did not want to be involved in the management, only he wanted to stay as a humble preacher and friend to all the Vaishnavs. Earlier also, seeing the situation of his Mission, Srila Saraswati Thakur fully depended upon Krishna to select the future Acharya of his Mission. Actually, this was the fact at that time.
I read a letter of Srila Swami Maharaj where he apparently blamed Srila Guru Maharaj for appointing Sripad Vasudev Prabhu, but that was his own idea—and some of the devotees of the Gaudiya Math's idea—and there is some truth also. If Srila Guru Maharaj had wanted to take a strong managerial decision, then Sripad Vasudev Prabhu would not have been able to come out in the forefront easily, but Srila Guru Maharaj was of disinterested nature and he did not want to get involved with the management. Later it came out in front of all the devotees that Srila Guru Maharaj was the fittest person for the acharyaship, but by that time that thinking of the devotees was too late. When Vasudev Prabhu and Sundarananda Prabhu, Bhakti Sudhakar Prabhu and others tried to keep Vasudev Prabhu's ownership from the anti-group—and heavily tried to do so with violence—then Srila Guru Maharaj wanted to keep aloof, and he unhappily left that Mission. After that he wanted to stay alone with his bhajan life. This is the fact, but when Srila Guru Maharaj came out from the Gaudiya Mission, at that time more than 50% of the prominent devotees also came out from that Mission. We heard this from his divine godbrothers as well as Sripad B.S. Siddhanti Maharaj.
It was the idea of Srila Swami Maharaj and others, and, thinking in this way about Srila Guru Maharaj's position, Srila Swami Maharaj mentioned in his letter that if Srila Sridhar Maharaj had not stayed in favour of Vasudev Prabhu, Vasudev Prabhu would not have got that position. It was indirect support to Vasudev Prabhu's acharyaship.
Srila Swami Maharaj was a very respectfully intimate godbrother of Srila Guru Maharaj and I consider he has the right to say as he did, but we will see it as only his expression of clarification for his disciples in order to make his mission perfect.
I have no doubt that Srila Swami Maharaj wanted to give the position of acharyaship to Srila Guru Maharaj. And when Srila Guru Maharaj came out from that Gaudiya Mission he received his first preaching invitation from Srila Swami Maharaj in Calcutta as a measure of Srila Swami Maharaj's respect and friendship.
Srila Swami Maharaj wanted to start another mission headed by Srila Guru Maharaj—many times we have seen it. We can mention that his last proposal was that he wanted to take Srila Sridhar Maharaj as the President of the "League of Devotees" in Jhansi.
Actually neither of them were very much eager to take missionary acharyaship, but it later automatically came to them and they served that chair whole-heartedly, and they endeavoured to give full protection to that chair for the future preceptorial line.
I know that his letter was not criticism of Srila Guru Maharaj, but Srila Swami Maharaj expressed in that letter in the name of Srila Guru Maharaj for only cautioning the devotees. We can consider this as a past picture of the Gaudiya Mission, and Srila Swami Maharaj did not want a repetition of that picture.
My commentary is not as a disciple of them, it is simply impartial history. Actually we have no right to involve in that historical matter. What you say in your letter is one hundred per cent true: "We cannot fully know the arrangement of the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna, but we do see practically that insincerity will be rewarded with fall-down, and it is not the fault of the Gurudev, but rather the insincerity of the disciples that may lead to such discrepancies and problems."
In the time of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu it was His desire that everyone will chant a minimum of one lakh (one hundred thousand) Harinam. Some devotees chanted in that way, but mostly they could not do so. Srila Saraswati Thakur also instructed that to chant one lakh Harinam every day is very good, but that a minimum of sixteen rounds must be chanted. But when the Gaudiya Mission expanded all over India and disciples also came from all parts of the country, it was his consideration that an absolute minimum of four rounds must be daily chanted by everybody.
Srila Swami Maharaj realised everything about the Western world and scrutinisingly seeing their nature of devotion he gave the direction, "Everybody must chant sixteen rounds every day." However, everybody cannot follow that, therefore they are breaking their promise to Gurudev.
Srila Guru Maharaj duly considered it and expressed, "We must chant Hare Krishna mahamantra with full concentration for a minimum of four rounds if it is not possible to chant sixteen rounds or more," following his Gurudev's minimum guideline, and he gave much more importance to seva—that means serving the Lord through the satisfaction of Sri Guru and the Vaishnavs.
Nama-sankirtan is direct service to Harinam if it is perfectly done without offence. You know the sloka:
atah sri-krsna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih
Sri Harinam will reveal Himself through service to the Vaishnavs, and Srila Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur gave more importance to such service to Guru-Vaishnav. By his instruction to chant a minimum of four rounds it is indicated that as much as possible by the servitors they are to chant unlimitedly. And everywhere Srila Guru Maharaj said, "We need quality, not quantity." Also in Srila Saraswati Thakur's Patravali (Letters of Srila Saraswati Thakur) we can see in his letter to Srila Guru Maharaj that he gave more importance to the service of Sri Guru-Vaishnav, and that through such service they achieve the qualification of quality in their chanting. But if anyone can increase the quantity while keeping the quality, that is very, very good.
We can also see from another angle. When Gurudev gives Harinam initiation, at that time the disciple promises, "Yes, I shall chant such a specified number of rounds (whether four, sixteen, sixty-four, etc.)," but to fail to keep their vow will go in the category of offence against their Guru. In that way it is some relief to the devotees to have a minimum of just four rounds daily. On the whole, all Their Divine Graces have the right to adjust their instruction according to the environment, the situation and the capacity of the devotees. Anyhow, the vital point is that we are to chant Hare Krishna as much as possible— without offence, with sincerity and with love, and to serve Guru-Vaishnav and their maha-prasadam whole-heartedly.
About the four directives: we always mention them here in India, but on my recent world tour I sometimes did not mention them—I think that everyone in the West is conscious of the four directives. Also, those who are coming to me, they are not coming to me directly, but they are coming through some Vaishnavs. Those Vaishnavs are recommending them, that is I do not know anything about them but I am giving my service initiation to the recommended sincere seekers. (Actually the directives are not four, but five, and those four directives are living automatically within the fifth. However for the innocent newcomers we must advise that they follow the four directives, no doubt.)
But here is also some vital point that we must not forget (even though it may not be for public mass-distribution) is that the position of the real and exclusive devotee of Krishna is above the rules, and such devotees can come from anywhere and everywhere. And from another angle, we can say that the mercy of the great Vaishnavs can make anyone immediately into a good devotee. In this connection we can discuss the slokas of Srimad Bhagavatam and Srimad Bhagavad-gita, jata-sraddho mat-kathasu... and: api chet suduracharo.... Therefore we must try to consider everything in a harmonising way otherwise we may be offenders.
yasmin sastre-purane va haribhaktirna drsyate
"Do not hear any scripture which does not glorify Krishna-bhakti and Krishna's bhaktas. Even if Lord Brahma sits in front of you and recites any other type of scripture, do not listen!" It was for this purpose that Srila Swami Maharaj formed ISKCON. He wanted ISKCON to be a pure place of devotional association. Especially we are to avoid Vaishnav-aparadh.
Always there must be some imperfection in this world, but if ISKCON remains at least 60% pure, then carefully the devotees can serve there. 'Carefully' means that devotees will be careful to keep good association and to avoid those who have any tendency to be offensive or disrespectful to the Vaishnavs and Krishna-bhakti.
About myself, I can say clearly that I have made a promise to my Srila Guru Maharaj and at least I can say I am trying one hundred per cent to practise and preach according to his wish.
When travelling to our destination if we come across someone who is sick or injured and they beg assistance, naturally we will also try to give some assistance by way of relief-work.
When an ISKCON Acharya does some activities that even the material people will not do, then how can we agree? And in which way can the sincere seeker be faithful to that Acharya? Such seekers want no mundane things from ISKCON. They need the seeds of Krishna consciousness and the association of good Vaishnavs.
They need to have the seeds planted happily in the heart, and to get more and more inspiration to practise Krishna consciousness, and they can inspire others also by their example as good ISKCON devotees. But we cannot ignore the fact that inside ISKCON many of the leaders have proceeded in a very mechanical and mundane way.
You are putting a very hard question for me to answer about the ISKCON Mission. In those earlier days when Srila Swami Maharaj established the now exalted 'International Society for Krishna Consciousness' his Mission was always receiving proper nourishment through his divine association. Perhaps everything was not going fully perfectly, but on the whole we can say that his Mission was the only hope for the Western world to happily practise Krishna consciousness. It is true that after his disappearance some disturbance came in his beloved ISKCON Mission, and it is a very usual thing. In every mission everywhere it must be expected that when the exalted sun is going to set, some illusory environment will try to influence over all that mission. I cannot say that in Srila Swami Maharaj's time there was no influence of illusion, but by his divine power everything was immediately harmonised.
Everybody will try to make his Mission perfect, and I think all the auspicious and great Acharyas in this world tried to make their Missions perfect and spent their whole energy for that. And I have no doubt they were all the well-wishers of all jiva souls.
I think the ISKCON Mission is completely different from other missions: we can consider it as a God-gifted organisation for the super-benefit of the conditioned souls through His Divine Grace Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj. Srila Guru Maharaj said, "Srila Swami Maharaj is a Saktyavesa-avatara, otherwise no man can make such a mission all over the world within five years." In a very short time he widely gave the chance to receive the supreme goal of life: unalloyed devotion to Krishna in the line of Sriman Mahaprabhu.
In the time of Srila Swami Maharaj whenever news would come from any corner of the world of the many persons chanting the Hare Krishna mahamantra and practising pure devotional life, at that time I saw the face of Srila Guru Maharaj to be greatly exalted and he openly praised Srila Swami Maharaj's divine activities and glories in front of everybody. I also saw his similar divine expression whenever Srila Swami Maharaj would come and report his missionary news to Srila Guru Maharaj. They were both very great, and their basic discussion was very high and harmonious about spreading real Krishna consciousness.
Srila Swami Maharaj himself selected a few leaders for maintaining and spreading Krishna consciousness all over the world for his Mission—that was called the "G.B.C."—and he was proud of them. At that time my own feelings were nondifferent from ISKCON and I was very happy to see the mood of the devotees. I did not get the chance to mix with everybody— it was also not possible—but I was surprised to see the depth of knowledge of Krishna consciousness in those I saw. Actually, I received much nice impression and enthusiasm from them including Sripad Bhavananda Maharaj, Sripad Tamal Krishna Maharaj, Sripad Achyutananda Prabhu, etc. I still have many friends in the ISKCON society and they have a very good mood. They live within the preaching and practising life and I highly respect them.
But you know that after the disappearance of Srila Swami Maharaj many things have happened in that society. Not only that, but many of the great, great devotee personalities showed their very unfortunate form and that was painful for their followers and many of the followers of Srila Swami Maharaj, and it was very painful for myself also. Those confused persons eagerly sought secure shelter for their spiritual life, but they could no longer fully trust others in that society. At the same time they did not want to leave Krishna consciousness because in their hearts there lived the seed of Krishna consciousness planted by Srila Swami Maharaj.
Srila Swami Maharaj often said, "I am ISKCON." That means that all the property of Krishna consciousness—the Society he formed—was living with him, and he could not tolerate that any disturbance will come to his preaching life, and he would try to remove such disturbances by any means. But after His Divine Grace's disappearance, some wave of illusion in the form of ego immediately tried to spread bad influence. You know that many have been affected by that influence. By those infected persons' power many good souls were ousted, and Srila Guru Maharaj tried to give them some hope and shelter in the form of relief work. At present I am trying to serve his divine chair to the best of my limited capacity.
Actually Srila Swami Maharaj organised the ISKCON society so there can be practising of Krishna consciousness under proper guardianship, and that is the only goal of life for all conditioned souls. This is not only the preaching of His Divine Grace, but it is also the preaching of Sriman Mahaprabhu, His associates and the preceptorial line after Him. No doubt it has manifest in the world at large, especially in the West, through Srila Swami Maharaj, but the many disciples of Srila Saraswati Thakur and our Srila Guru Maharaj continued according to their own capacity to preach and practise Krishna consciousness. We see everywhere that each do not have the identical preaching method and mood of Sriman Mahaprabhu: trnad api sunichena taror api sahisnuna, amanina manadena... and they were not all free from Vaisnav-aparadh. Therefore many difficulties arise in every society, and even our society is not fully free from that.
We need to do good for ourselves and for others. We want to leave the ideal of mundanity and we must try to achieve the super-beneficial transcendental service-plane—which is really our life's goal—through chanting the mahamantra without offence in the association of devotees, and preaching. The chanting without offence is so very essential, and if that feeling does not come to us we will not get the proper beneficial results. I feel that this is very important for us now.
I heard a phrase in English from Srila Guru Maharaj, "The rank is but the guinea stamp, man is the gold for that." Actually an institution or sampradaya is like the guinea stamp but the real value is to be found in the quality of the gold—wherever it is to be found—otherwise only in its own particular country will the value certified by the guinea stamp be given.
In another way we can say, "Svadese pujyate raja bidvan sarvatra pujyate, qualified persons have value everywhere, but if a King is not qualified, he will only receive honour in his own kingdom." We can also see many nicely designed uniforms displayed in shop-windows. But we need to proceed to our destination and if we can understand whole-heartedly this importance we cannot sit back and wait for that. If we can have both the man and the designed uniform, that will be very good for us.
I am always trying to harmonise with all environments and I never advise anyone to make any disturbance or offence to others. I want to try to make everyone my friend, and I want blessings from all our sister-concerns. And if unknowingly I may make any offence to them, I always pray for their forgiveness. If I can proceed with this mood I must remain free form Vaishnav-aparadh.
Already everything has been given in the writings of the Goswamis, but the successive Acharyas distributed that same treasure but according to the receiving capacity of the aspirants. This process is always going on, whether in the West or the East, and in this way lakhs of people have come. Even Srila Saraswati Thakur did not give many things to us—because we are not qualified. Not only that, but Sriman Mahaprabhu Himself did not give such things, because they are not for mass-distribution. Therefore the conclusion is that they gave everything about Krishna consciousness no doubt, but not for everybody. Also all are not qualified to receive that. Therefore it is said,
antaranga laiya kare rasa-asvadan
I sometimes hear that disciples of Srila Guru Maharaj and myself, they are heavily preaching their conception akin to "throwing out the baby with the bath-water," but that is not my preaching. My preaching is to be humble, tolerant and to give honour to others, and that is the way of Mahaprabhu's teachings also. It is my prayer to everyone to try to take to heart the teachings of all our predecessor Acharyas for the real benefit and progress of everyone in a harmonious way. Everyone has come for Krishna consciousness and they have faith in that conception. To see them going away is very painful. I want to help them, and if anyone approaches me for help, it is my duty to try to help them according to my capacity.
In summary of the answers to your questions:
If anyone sincerely seeks with a full mood of hankering to search raganuga loving bhakti, we must encourage them, but we are not to disturb in any way the mission of others or the natural devotional environment.
Srila Guru Maharaj said that we are to have sympathetic dealings with nature and not to cause any disturbance, but along the way of spiritual advancement if we see that anyone is in trouble and they need help, or that their vehicle needs repair or they want a lift to their destination, or in any way they are in a difficult position and need help for their relief, we will try to help them as affectionate friends. Actually we all need spiritual progress within the line of Sriman Mahaprabhu as well as the Rupanuga-sampradaya, therefore we shall try to help each other in that line through our mood of service-energy, but we will never try to disturb others' service activities or missions.
5) And in answer to your last question: When I claim that I was perhaps the first mass-distributor of Back to Godhead door to door from 7 Sitakanta Banerjee Lane, Calcutta, then where is any difficulty for us to distribute the books of Srila Swami Maharaj if the B.B.T. gives chance to do that service? I can say that I think everyone headed by Srila Guru Maharaj and Srila Swami Maharaj would be very happy to see their books distributed side by side.
I may mention Your Grace as an example. You have approached me with thoughtful, sincere enquiry, and naturally I am trying to give proper reply and guidelines according to my capacity, but my English is very insufficient. I cannot express my thought fully through the English language, and I think my answer will invite more questions. That is, everything is not sufficiently expressed, but only briefly I have expressed my heart.
In this way, I cannot ignore all the sincere seekers and enquirers, but personally I consider Your Grace to be a qualified Vaishnav and merciful to the fallen souls such as myself.
I hope this letter meets you in steady practice of Krishna consciousness.
Again with my humble dandavat pranams,
P.S. My time is very short. If you want to ask any more questions, please try to see me. At that time we can sit together and discuss.
Question: Recently I came across the books of Srila B.R. Sridhar Maharaj and I find them to be a great source of inspiration in my devotional life. However, some of my friends who are disciples of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad are discouraging me from reading these books and associating with your disciples. I am in a dilemma and asking your help.
Srila Govinda Maharaj replied: You have been a devotee for several years but I do not know if you are aware of the intimate relation between Srila Swami Maharaj Prabhupad and our Srila Guru Maharaj. I was with Srila Guru Maharaj personally for maybe 42 years and saw his relationship with all the different devotees. For about ten years of that time the Kolkata branch of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math was in Srila Swami Maharaj's own premises next to his house. He would regularly come for many hours of discussions with Srila Guru Maharaj. Also at that time, by the instruction of Srila Guru Maharaj, I learned Bhagavad-gita from Srila Swami Maharaj. Also up until Srila Swami Maharaj's last days in this world he wanted Srila Guru Maharaj to be the head of his ISKCON Mission. Actually there are many things that the devotees do not know, therefore some misunderstanding has sometimes come.
Anyhow, by the grace of Srila Guru Maharaj, the position of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math is clear. It was always the wish of Srila Guru Maharaj not to disturb others' missions, but our mission is one of 'relief work' for the spiritual seekers. You are reading his books and associating with his devotees, that is, you can understand something of his exalted mood.
Question: You have much faith in my ability to manage, but I cannot see how it is possible to carry out your order, and I fear that if I continue, then the situation will get much worse. Please, Maharaj, remove me from this position and appoint someone else and I will try to serve that devotee. If it is your desire that I continue, then I shall have to try again, but I am deeply frustrated and feel hopeless.
Srila Govinda Maharaj replied: In our practitioner's life, for the time being many disturbing things and also frustration must come, but with our deep service intention and faith, by the mercy of Srila Guru Maharaj everything will be vanquished. Every morning in winter we shall not see the clear sun, as some days must be foggy, but we do not stop our duty because of that. Sri Krishna said in Srimad Bhagavad-gita:
matra-sparsas tu kaunteya, sitosna-sukha-duhkha-dah
What is necessary is only our capacity to tolerate. And this is also one kind of test. If I think of my own life's history, almost every day I have spent with anxiety in my service-life. But I am happy with that, that is I think that Krishna is taking something from my energy for His divine service by making me worried. When a good boy after trying hard fails his class exam, what does his father do? Does he oust him from the house, or give him nourishment to give him more enthusiasm? We must remember this.
alabdhe va vinaste va, bhaksyachchhadana-sadhane
Therefore we must try with our double energy to fulfil the desire of our Srila Guru Maharaj for the super-benefit of our spiritual lives.
Whatever is my duty is exclusively mine—I cannot give any share to anyone to make a massacre. If I know that only I can do the duty that has come to me, then I must do that. Those who can accept the challenge of service to Guru-Gauranga, they can do many things even beyond their capacity, by the grace of Their Lordships. Therefore don't you worry.
I can remember one phrase in Bengali poetry that says that even if the whole world leaves their service with a crying mood, I will not run, but I will try. Srila Guru Maharaj many times recited this story of Rabindranath Tagore:
yadi tora daka sune keu na ase tabe ekala chalo re
If nobody comes with you, you must proceed alone, without even a stick. It is necessary to be steady in your point of position of service. It is a very high thing, but for your attention I can say humbly, but beyond my jurisdiction, in remembrance of Srila Guru Maharaj: "Srimati Radharani cannot tolerate to give any other party Her divine, exclusive service share for Krishna." I think it is enough for your remembrance....
...We have got this very rare human body, intelligence, energy, and many qualifications for the service to Krishna, therefore we cannot allow ourselves to make a massacre of our service-mind in exchange for some part of the mundane.
Dear Prabhu, don't you be worried for any illusory environment. You must think that Srila Guru Maharaj is always with us, watching us, and taking care of us. It must be we will finally get a victorious service position by His divine mercy.
We are very fortunate, that is we are enlightened by Srila Guru Maharaj's and Srila Swami Maharaj's divine service life. After Sriman Mahaprabhu, this kind of wave of devotion has not come out until the time of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad. That wave has been blown all over the world by Srila Swami Maharaj and Srila Guru Maharaj in order to successfully smash the illusory environment; and now the whole world is chanting Hare Krishna. By hook or by crook they established Krishna consciousness, but if we think how much obstruction came in their lifetime, we must forget our own sorrow and difficulties. Srila Das Goswami said that when you are in a very much troubled position from your inner enemies—kama, krodha, lobha, moha, mada, matsarya—you chant loudly the name of your protector: the Vaishnavs. Pray to them for the protection of your spiritual divine life, and, if you are sincere, you must get help from them. Then I can only say, "Proceed, proceed, and proceed, and the foggy sky must timely leave your vision."
Question: We have read in a book from another temple that union is higher than separation and we are having some problems understanding the explanations given there. In the past we have always read in books by Srila Swami Maharaj Prabhupad and Srila Guru Maharaj that vipralambha, separation, is the highest mood in Krishna consciousness. How are these statements compatible?
Srila Govinda Maharaj replied: My feeling is that even after one thousand births more such persons as who wrote that statement will never be able to understand what is vipralambha and what is contained there. Mahaprabhu stayed twelve years in Gambhira tasting the separation mood of Srimati Radharani to Krishna extremely, and that is the super-expression of Krishna-prema. Such super-expression came out through vipralambha, otherwise it is not possible to taste Krishna-prema. We can get some idea of how deep it is, that Mahaprabhu took the Form of Radharani's bhava and kanti, and that is not the mood of union, but of separation.
Everyone, including even a child goat, in this mundane world knows what union is, therefore it is not necessary to teach anyone to enjoy: they already know, so it is not necessary to clarify that for anyone. But all the attentive energy is to be used for what? What is not known is the transcendental mood of separation. Why was such mood tasted by Mahaprabhu again and again? Mahaprabhu's feeling always returned to the tasting of that vipralambha—the mood of separation from Krishna. The subject matter of Mahaprabhu was to taste what deepest degree of feelings were felt by Srimati Radharani.
It is not possible to express by language the mood of separation that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu tasted in Gambhira, but Srila Krishna Das Kaviraj tried to show something in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Madhya-lila, second chapter. Throughout the whole of Chaitanya-charitamrita the mood of separation is present. And why do we say that this is the supreme mood of the play of the Supreme Personality of Godhead? Just what degree of bhava is in Srimati Radharani that Krishna appeared as Mahaprabhu in order to take Her mood and taste that? Who is the enjoyer? What is enjoyment? And who is being enjoyed through the mood of suffering?
Everyone knows enjoyment, especially conditioned souls involved with sexual enjoyment, and thinking it gives the highest happiness within this mundane world, but he who can say that the highest super-painful mood of separation can give the supreme feelings—the only one who can say that is Sriman Mahaprabhu.
One sloka expressed by Kaviraj Goswami about Madhavendra Puri's feeling of the mood of separation from Krishna is:
ayi dina-dayardra-natha he
This sloka was extremely expressed by Srimati Radharani, and through Her super-mercy Sripad Madhavendra Puri also tasted it at the last moment of his life. After that, only Sriman Mahaprabhu, and no one else, is qualified to taste it fully—this is the opinion of Srila Kaviraj Goswami.
You try to consider the following: What is it that Krishna cannot taste Himself? What was it that Krishna wanted to taste, that He appeared in the form of Mahaprabhu? Why did Krishna take the mood and colour of Radharani and what was His tasting matter? What did Krishna taste in the form of Mahaprabhu during His Pastimes here? What mood did Mahaprabhu show in Puri Dham, especially in His Gambhira-lila, and why did He faint to see Krishna in Kuruksetra in the form of Jagannatha? Why did Chandi Das write in one poem:
lakha lakha yuga hiye hiye rakhanu
(Meaning: Why did Radharani say She could not be satisfied by embracing Krishna for millions of millions of years?)
What mood is expressed here? What mood of tasting is given by Sri Kaviraj Goswami in expressing Mahaprabhu's Antya-lila in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita second part, second chapter?
That which Radharani tasted in separation of Krishna when He did not return but sent Uddhava to see Vrindavan, Mahaprabhu tasted that Vramara-gita in an intoxicated way continuously for twelve years like an extremely mad man. If such souls are foolish, then all the residents of Vrindavan, including the gopis, are foolish. Why did they not get straight into a chariot, like a taxi, and go just half an hour to Mathura instead of foolishly living in Vrindavan?
But if that author (of the book you mention) with his conception wants to taste the mood of union he will immediately become pregnant, then what will be for him?
What was it that Rupa Goswami expressed in a praising way about the mood of Krishna-prema in separation when he said—pidabhir nava-kala-kuta, etc. (Cc, 2.2.52)—the power of even a young cobra's poison is defeated by the Krishna-prema of separation?
Actually, I am not eager to give answer to this, but I am only remembering the mood of Srila Guru Maharaj and Srila Swami Maharaj. I extremely hate to give any answer to this question of childish mood of praising union. That is, everybody knows the position of union.
I know what hell is and I have some experience about heaven, but I do not know what is the destination of one who wants to criticise the dearmost associates of Radharani as well as Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanyadev. He has not even the smallest idea about Krishna consciousness, especially about the twelve years of Mahaprabhu's living in Gambhira, and the mood of Radharani tasted by Mahaprabhu, the nondifferent form of Krishna. Can you say what kind of destination awaits such a person? If the residents of hell see such a person they must be fearful of him and need to make a new hell for him.
We have taken refuge at the lotus feet of our Srila Guru Maharaj and therefore Krishna has been gracious to give us all protection from the concocted ideas of the foolish. If you read only Srila Guru Maharaj's books and try to serve only in his line, you will be joyful and worry-free, and very quickly you will make progress on your transcendental homeward journey.
Question: I am running a purely vegetarian restaurant, but a devotee quoted you as saying that devotional service and business should not be mixed. He also implied that it is not proper to offer foodstuffs to Sri Guru and Gauranga before serving it out. I have a little trouble to understand this. Please say something on this matter for us.
Srila Govinda Maharaj replied: Regarding your question I can say that everything depends on the mood of the devotee. The Mahabhagavata can see everything to be prasadam. But the scripture also says that to give mahaprasadam to those who have no faith is an aparadh. By way of example, Harinam can rescue everyone, but if you give it to someone who has no faith then it is an offence; in a similar way we can make aparadh to mahaprasadam. It all depends on the mood of those involved: if in a fully conscious way it is made and offered, then distributed to those with faith—that is very good.
Mahaprasadam means mercy, and we are not to give that in exchange for money, but we can give it in exchange for faith. However, I am not criticising Srila Swami Maharaj, that is I can harmonise it in another way: he wants to engage the whole world in the service of Krishna, and he has the right to break and make the injunctions, that is, he is a Saktyavesa-avatara. We can adjust the mood of Srila Swami Maharaj and the traditional rules in this way: where there is no other way to do service to Guru-Gauranga, the devotees are doing business, being employed, distributing books, selling cookies, etc. Also running restaurants is one kind of business. So I can harmonise in this way, that after cooking you first offer a little of each preparation to Sri Guru Gauranga, but not mix it back in with the remainder. Also, after taking for the maintenance of your family, you offer the profit money for the service of Sri Guru Vaisnava, and in this way no reaction will come to you. That is, I say it all depends on the mood in which it is done. The main thing is that your existence must stand in the plane of service. If anyone with sraddha wants that prasad, you can happily give it to him.
Question: In the purport of verses 5.24 and 25 of Sri Brahma samhita it is stated that the Gopal mantram has two aspects: 1) To fulfil the pure spiritual desires of pure devotees, culminating in Krishna-prema, and 2) To also fulfil the mundane desires of the mixed devotees. Considering myself a mixed devotee I am asking you if I may chant this Gopal mantra. I am already initiated into the Gayatri mantra which contains the Gopal mantra. May I chant this Gopal mantram like japa-mala, or in my mind incessantly?
Srila Govinda Maharaj replied: Regarding the Gopal mantram, you can refer to this verse:
bhoga-moksa vanchha chhadi' harinama gai re
When we chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra or meditate upon the Krishna or Gopal mantram without asking for anything except the transcendental service to Krishna under guidance of Sri Gurudev, that will be of real benefit for everybody, and what good things are needed for us will come automatically. But if any mundane desire comes and mixes with that devotional mood, that must hamper the pure devotion.
Srila Rupa Goswami said:
anyabhilasita sunyam, jnana-karmmady anavrtam
You can consult with that sloka and can understand what is what. It is in Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. Also Bhakti Vinod Thakur said,
bhoga-moksa vanchha chhadi' harinama gai re
You can chant the Gopal mantram constantly—that is no problem, but in this age of Kali-yuga, Harinam is the mahamantra and of all mantras is the best. Harinam is for everything, but the Gopal mantram is for meditation.
Question: I have been told that jiva souls who take birth in the mortal world but who later go back to Krishna's abode can also fall down again into the material world. Is this true? Also I hear from some that the jiva originally came from the spiritual world, but others say our origin is the marginal position. Dear Gurudev, please help me understand this.
Also, please clarify as to whether I may visit other missions if I find their members to be respectful to my Srila Guru Maharaj.
Srila Govinda Maharaj replied: If anyone from Vaikuntha comes to the material worlds it is generally only by the will of the Lord. It is, however, given in the scriptures that even a resident of Vaikuntha can fall down if they commit Vaishnav-aparadh, but that also can be seen to be by the will of the Lord as in the case of the gatekeepers, Jaya and Vijaya.
Srila Guru Maharaj was many times approached with this question and he illustrated clearly that our origin is the marginal potency of the Lord, the tatastha-sakti. If we become liberated from worldly bondage, as a matter of right we can enter the marginal plane, but only by grace can we enter the higher planes of Vaikuntha, Vrindavan, etc.
In other societies there are no doubt many good and respectful souls whose association is good, but it is also true that some have the tendency to criticise our Srila Guru Maharaj—and that is very harmful. To hear criticism of Sri Gurudev is very bad and must be avoided because it strikes at the foundation of spiritual wealth: faith in Sri Guru. From another angle, anyone running a mission certainly faces many problems to keep the unity, so we must always be careful to respect that. And if others may not want us to visit their Temple we will humbly agree to their wish and still keep our respect for those devotees.
Ideally we shall try to keep the association of those who are following our own track of Krishna consciousness. In this way various devotees are trying hard to make successful ashrams as places for our Math's devotees to associate happily.
Question: As you know, one devotee who was considered to be more senior has fallen away from your Mission here. Our question is how we can avoid similar misfortune befalling ourselves also?
Srila Govinda Maharaj replied: I am surprised to see the mood of that devotee: he has completely fallen down in the ocean of illusion, but you are all saved by the grace of Srila Guru Maharaj. We can understand that the cause for such fall-down is ego and offence to the Vaishnavs. You all please try to avoid Vaishnav-aparadh, and be careful from mundane ego.
I have seen in my short life many things: many up and down situations of the practitioner's life. Big, big personalities up to Brahmaloka have received difficulty in their practising life due only to the cause of Vaishnav-aparadh and egoism. Anyhow, our protector and saviour, Srila Guru Maharaj, is always bestowing his mercy to us and we must cross over that dangerous situation.
Question: As per your wish we plan to translate and publish books of Srila Guru Maharaj. We need funds for this, therefore we first wish to translate and publish a popular book introducing Indian philosophy. We are asking your permission for this.
Srila Govinda Maharaj replied: For your own continuing practising life and proper, happy, safe progress you must try to be devoted exclusively to your Guru for the satisfaction of the beloved Lord. In order to do that you need some certain line and track to happily proceed. Many things are good in this world, no doubt, but one with exclusive mood will always focus on his own track—that means the books of our Srila Guru Maharaj, his instructions, practising method, etc.—and we will follow that. But as a business for the purpose of maintenance we can consider presenting the books of others, as long as it is not harmful and that it does not differ from the conception of our Srila Guru Maharaj, but we cannot sell ourselves in exchange for anything in the mundane world. In this regard we can remember Srila Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur's advice that we must tolerantly try to serve Sri Guru-Gauranga despite whatever may come. Love or rupture or anything may come, but we are to proceed in our track—that is very important.
Question: I have an enquiry about the worship of the devas. Also, is it wise for us to conduct sraddha ceremonies for the non-devotees who have passed away?
Srila Govinda Maharaj replied: One who is a follower of the exclusive devotional line of Krishna consciousness as given by Srila Guru Maharaj as followers of the Rupanuga sampradaya, will not feel any necessity to engage themselves for the purpose of any other god or demigod. This is our clear line. As primary support for this Krishna-seva conception Srimad Bhagavatam says, "devarsi-bhutapta-nrnam pitrnam." This sloka supports that one has no other necessity than to engage in Krishna's service.
For one who lives as a grihastha, if they feel some obligation about the Vedic society rules for their departed ancestors, they have some allowance in this way: they can offer mahaprasadam, read from four or five holy scriptures in front of Vaishnavs, offer sixteen kinds of gifts to the Vaishnav Gurus, hold a fire sacrifice as Vaishnav-homa, congregationally chant the mahamantra, and make special offerings to the Deities, then offer that mahaprasadam for the satisfaction of the Vaishnavs, and afterwards offer that mahaprasadam to the departed soul for the spiritual benefit of that soul.
For the general people if they faithfully follow the Vedic culture they may be encouraged to become Vaishnavs.
Question: Should the Gayatri mantra be received by hearing through the right or left ear? I understand there is evidence in the scripture that says spiritual topics should be received through the left ear, but recently I heard you mention that the mantram should be received through the right ear.
Srila Maharaj replied: Regarding your question, I can say that generally the right ear is stronger than the left ear. It is true that King Puranjana heard through the right ear, the south pancala, that means the karma-kanda fruitive activities under guidance of the Vedas, and it is that plane that Puranjana entered. This is given in the sloka of Srimad Bhagavatam (4.25.50), but in that sloka another qualification is also given: that one can memorise very quickly—yati srutadharanvitah, just by once hearing one can immediately memorise. In addition, Madhava Acharya, our sampradaya Guru, said that through karma-kanda the jiva soul may get a super chance by the karma if by good fortune they get the opportunity of the super-servitor's devotees' service. The left ear is a little weaker and it is mentioned to be a symbol of jnana-kanda. In jnana-kanda there is virtually no chance to get any service to the Vaishnav devotees due to base ego. The final result they receive is nirvisesa-loka, but this position must be avoided. In jnana-kanda the main base is ego.
Also in some places we find the left ear is mentioned, but Srila Guru Maharaj instructed us to hear through the right ear, therefore we are following that process.
Question: I am living so far away from the central Math. How can I understand there is any value in whatever little service I can do from here?
Srila Govinda Maharaj replied: Here in Nabadwip so many activities are going on, but all is for the satisfaction of Srila Guru Maharaj. Also you can think that in the capital city of a country there are many duties that cannot be done there in the capital. The provinces, the smaller towns, and the villages all have their part to play in serving the centre. They grow paddy, vegetables, spin cotton, make fabrics and clothing, keep cows and produce milk, butter, yoghurt, as well as many other duties. In this way all over the world fortunate souls can engage in service to the central Mission of our Srila Guru Maharaj in unlimited ways. This varied service-life to the Centre is the basis of the whole spiritual world of joyful activity.
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