CENTENARY ANTHOLOGY : PART 2
Srila Guru Maharaj—His Holy Teachings
All Glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga
Hearing to See
By Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj
Man proposes and God disposes. Proposal is directed upwards, and disposal comes down. The waves of suggestion and acceptance are all the Lord's lila.
naiva tasya krtenartho, nakrteneha kaschana
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita 3.18)
"In this world, a self-realised person who rejoices in the soul does not accrue piety by the performance of actions, nor does he incur sin by abstaining from duties. Amongst all living entities, from the highest life-forms of the planet of Lord Brahma down to the world of immobile organisms, he never depends on anyone for any personal demand whatsoever."
For one who is self-realised, any and every wave is welcome for he is able to read the deeper meaning.
rte 'rtham yat pratiyeta, na pratiyeta chatmani
(Srimad Bhagavatam 2.9.34)
Srimad Bhagavatam asks, "What is the conception of maya?" Rte 'rtham yat pratiyeta—what seems to us to be the right reading of the environment, is actually not so. Arthesu abhijnah—the meaning and purpose of every incident is known to Krishna. Many events are harmonised together and are for the purpose of serving Him. But when there is localised interest there is a clash. Imperial and universal interests clash with provincial and local interests. Arthesu abhijnah. He alone can know why each straw is moving to this side or that. He is the only knower of everything.
Only He knows what purpose is served by the grass bending in the wind to this side, and not that. All these movements taken together in harmony, go to Him. Arthesu abhijnah svarat. He is not responsible to anything or anyone.
The universal meaning of every event and incident, even the movement of a piece of straw, is all-purposeful and all-meaningful to the Absolute. It all contributes to the absolute satisfaction of Krishna. That is the meaning of the phrase, rte 'rtham yat pratiyeta.
Arthesu abhijnah. Artha means universal. And what is the real purpose of every movement? It is for the one Universal Absolute. That absolute current goes towards the satisfaction of Krishna. But that reading is not possible by the superficial jivas. The jivas cannot read or conceive the real meaning of everything. The jiva will have a different reading of the circumstances, but that will be superficial, and that is maya. We may interpret in our own way the reason for an earthquake, or a storm, or anything, but that reading is from our local interest—the real meaning is hidden. This is maya, and on the basis of that we are performing so many activities. All our interpretations are from the plane of local interest, so give it up!
sarva-dharman parityajya, mam ekam saranam vraja
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita 18.66)
Give up your local interest and identify yourself with the current of that plane of universal interest.
rte 'rtham yat pratiyeta, na pratiyeta chatmani
Without knowing the real meaning, what we feel and read is the wrong reading of the environment—it is maya. We miss the universal purpose, and from local interest we read, "Oh, this is for this purpose, this is for that purpose." But this is local interest. What we conceive, feel, trust and believe, is not in consonance with the universal reading: it is maya. Even our belief is within the realm of maya. Our conceptions will have no standing in the interest of the Absolute. What we read in the local interest, we will not find if we go to read from the universal interest.
Our disease of local interest and conception will be cured and removed when we see that everything is meant for Krishna and we become one with that interest.
rte 'rtham yat pratiyeta, na pratiyeta chatmani
That feeling, that conception, is known as maya, "what is not." It is apparent, but not real. What is not real, that is maya. Even what I think to be real, is not so. Ma-ya—ma means 'no', and ya means 'what'— "what is not." Apparently it seems to be, but the fact is, it is not so: that is maya. In such a plane we eliminate the infinite interest and instead we see things by measuring according to our own interest. We measure everything only from the angle of vision and standpoint of our own selfish interest. In this way we ignore the infinite representation, position, duty, and service. This is maya.
Yathabhaso yatha tamah—light and darkness both exist. The absence of truth is not truth: it is tama, darkness, ignorance, mistake, and error.
aham evasam evagre, nanyad yat sad-asat param
"Brahma, it is I, the Personality of Godhead, who was existing before the creation, when there was nothing but Myself. Nor was there the material nature, the cause of this creation. That which you see now is also I, the Personality of Godhead, and after annihilation what remains will also be I, the Personality of Godhead. O Brahma, whatever appears to be of any value, if it is without relation to Me, has no reality. Know it as My illusory energy, that reflection which appears to be in darkness. Please know that the universal elements enter into the cosmos and at the same time do not enter into the cosmos; similarly, I Myself also exist within everything created, and at the same time I am outside of everything. A person who is searching after the Supreme Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead, must certainly search for it up to this, in all circumstances, in all space and time, and both directly and indirectly."
(Srimad Bhagavatam 2.9.33–36)
The ontological base of the whole Srimad Bhagavatam is contained within these four slokas. The Lord is present everywhere in a direct or indirect way.
One in the uttama-adhikara (highest) stage makes no attempt to preach. Distribution of propaganda is for those in the madhyam-adhikara (middle) stage. It is there to take everyone from the narrow conception to the bright conception—from the improper to the proper conception, sambandha-jnana—and they will carry out their activities accordingly.
siddhanta baliya chitte na kara alasa
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta, Adi 2.117)
To engage us more earnestly towards service sometimes hearing is necessary. To hear just for the sake of hearing, is luxury. But hearing for engagement, that is proper hearing.
The master calls, "Oh you, please bring me a glass of water." But the student remains sitting. "Did you hear me?"
"Yes, I heard." But still he remains sitting tight—that sort of hearing won't do!
There is a saying amongst the sahajiya section: "Gurudeva asked for a glass of water, but I am engaged in Harinama. 'No, Gurudeva, I'm engaged in Harinama.'" This is self-deception.
Especially in the beginning, the importance will be the consideration of urgency. In Gurudeva bhajan will be present as service in a higher degree, not in us. By serving him I can partake in the higher quality of kirtan, and that can come within me and improve the quality of my bhajan. Sadhu-sanga and Nama-kirtan are important. Nama-kirtan has been recommended, but not without the association of the sadhu. That sadhu will be the higher, superior quality devotee, and sadhu-sanga means serving him. Sanga does not mean just bodily association but sanga is possible only through the serving attitude—not by opposite dealing or idlely sitting. Sanga means sat-sanga.
dadati pratigrhnati, guhyam akhyati prchchhati
"(1) Offering gifts in charity; (2) accepting gifts in charity; (3) revealing one's mind in confidence; (4) enquiring confidentially; (5) accepting prasad; and, (6) offering prasad."
These are the six kinds of association with a sadhu. Higher association is only possible with a serving attitude, otherwise there is no sanga. Lower association means exploitation and enjoyment, but higher association can only be achieved through service. By proper association the quality of your service will increase, so sadhu-sanga—sadhu-seva—is of most importance.
The Gaudiya Math stresses the importance of sadhu-sanga—serving the sadhu. Whatever you do by the command of the higher devotee will, through him, surely connect you with a higher conception of the Absolute. Whatever you do, do with that connection from above and carry out his order.
We have the experience of one sannyasa Godbrother who, leaving the order and engagement of his Gurudeva, went to the holy place of Badarik Asram, and our Guru Maharaj punished him for that. So, we can see that without the order from above, even going to the holy places may be punishable.
Without sadhu-sanga we cannot connect with the higher level. Therefore even chanting the Name may not be Vaikuntha-nama.
atah sri-krsna-namadi, na bhaved grahyam indriyaih
(Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.2.234)
So the universal necessity is to learn and acquire a serving attitude, and if that is applied to Nama-bhajan, or any bhajan, that will be of great help to you.
Jihva means the tongue, and namadi means the nama, rupa, guna and lila. On the tongue the Lord's name (nama) will appear; within the eye, His form (rupa); within the mind, His qualities (guna); and in the heart, His pastimes (lila): all these will come down to you, and everything about you will connect with that Vaikuntha-tattva.
So it is not just a question of increasing the quantity, but the quality must be present. To be real bhakti, sevonmukha and seva presuppose surrender, and all this presupposes sadhu-sanga. It all originates from the association of a sadhu. From the positive direction it can come to us, so we must be thankful to that positive source. The Lord is there, but His grace is coming through His agents. So His agents should be welcomed and dealt with properly.
Whatever we can collect with our energy we should devote towards sadhu and sastra. Sadhu and sastra are our two friends everywhere.
My Guru Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad, one day explained what is a sadhu, and what is karma. He then proceeded to explain that if a sadhu orders, "Bring me a flower," but when you bring the flower he says, "No, now bring me some water," and you object, "No, you ordered a flower and I brought it. Please accept this flower," that will be karma.
The sadhu is free. To thrust upon him his previous desire will be karma. At every moment he is free, so to follow his past will, will be karma. Always you are to be expectant for the immediate need.
In the battlefield, if the General orders the army, "March this side," then after noticing the circumstances to have changed he says, "No, go this other way!" Then it won't do for the soldiers to object by saying, "No! You have already ordered us to go in this direction."
Similarly the sadhu and Guru are always free, and their order should be taken in such a way. It is not that we shall stick firmly to their first order, but they are living and independent.
On being asked to do a particular service, one disciple told our Guru Maharaj, "I need to know my programme of what to do at least one week in advance." But Srila Prabhupad replied, "But I received the order only five minutes ago, so how could I inform you earlier?" So, it is not a dead matter.
Of course, the beginners will not be able to accept that. They will receive their specific instructions just as a young boy is given the duty to every day practise writing the alphabet, "ABC... ". That is a particular stage, but then he will be taught how to spell by using those letters in a certain way. And presently at every moment he will be using the letters in many ways according to the necessity of writing. The order may come to take down a dictation, to write this and that. Just repeating "ABC... " is not sufficient.
So, in the beginning of devotional life the student is asked, "Do this thing. Do that thing." But when he will come in connection within the living substance he will be prepared in such a way for a new order to come, and he will have to follow that with all alertness.
When I was in Vrindavan I had a desire to meet with one sadhu who was the most famous and respected siddha-babaji of that place. I had the chance to stay with him for a few days but my Srila Prabhupad, after circumambulating Vraja Mandal, told me he was a kanistha-adhikari. He explained that this babaji was only copying as a student what are accepted as the practices of a sadhu. He was following the stereotyped direction. He was chanting the Lord's Names, doing madhukari, fasting, reading Srimad Bhagavatam, and performing the various formal duties recommended for the beginners, but he was not coming in contact with the living thing. He was simply undergoing training. He was simply following the training period.
In the armed forces when the new recruits are in the training period, they are asked to do something repeatedly, "Do this! Do this! Do this!" So they engage themselves in that way.
The kanistha-adhikari does not know the spirit and therefore cannot connect with the living substance. He therefore is in the preparatory life of a devotee and he will repeatedly engage in those practices.
Anyhow I had already gone to see this babaji two or three times in the evening. I sat there silently. He had many disciples there who respected him, with two or four staying by his side. Nobody said anything to me and he could not tell that I was from the Gaudiya Math. I tried my best to read him.
On one occasion that I saw him, it was the holy Nrsimha-caturdasi day, and a reading from Srimad Bhagavatam was begun. He recited, and sometimes he spoke about various things. I continued my watch over his activities, movements, etc. As I watched him it was sometimes as if I was noticing Guru Maharaj indicating to me that babaji's nature.
After two or three days I came up with the conclusion that this man was trying his best from this plane to go up. But our Guru Maharaj has come down from there and has a living programme with a purpose to fulfil. He does not belong to this world, but he has come from the spiritual world with some order. Our Guru Maharaj has come down with something positive to give to the world. He has some order and plan: "Go and do this!"
But that babaji was trying his best to follow what has been recommended in the Scriptures. We can read about Rupa, Sanatan, and others, and accordingly have some idea and try to practise that. But that is theoretical practising: "This has been recommended, let me practise all these things and then I will get my desired result." One who follows in this way is a kanistha-adhikari. But the desired end and living result will come by working under the direction of Gurudeva and sadhu who are already members of that plane. And that is not theoretical, but practical. The difference is there in the practical necessity.
In this way I had also come to the conclusion, later to be confirmed by Srila Guru Maharaj, that this babaji was a kanistha-adhikari.
Soldiers are sometimes ordered to do ordinary things—not only fighting but also shovelling, clearing jungle, and many other duties. When marching against the enemy, whatever duty will come in their front, they are to do that. The circumstances are practical and living. It is not mock-fighting, but a real fight, and at every moment they are not always fighting. The preparation to a fight has more value than fighting in a mock-fight during a training period, even though the mock-fight seems like real fighting.
When the soldiers in the actual field find it necessary to do some other duties such as clearing the jungle, making a bridge, or a path etc., that will have more value than a practice fight in peaceful circumstances.
Of course the position of the General—of the Gurudeva—is all-important: he must be real, not a sham or imitation. If the sadhu or Gurudeva is genuine, to clean up his stool and urine may fetch more than worshipping the Deity. That is because such activity has a practical connection. So, under the guidance of a real Acharya, whatever we do—whether it be cooking, looking after the cows, personal service, or so many other duties—that will have more value than my independent reading of Srimad Bhagavatam. That is possible because the Acharya is actually leading spiritual life and he has his mission to do, and if we can help him that will fetch some higher result for us. And I will be paid by his coin, and not by any gross thing.
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