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Special On-line Edition for the appearance day of
Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja
śrī śrī guru gaurāṅgau jayataḥ
Year-5, Special On-line Edition
Posted: 6 January 2013
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda
Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Inspired by and under the guidance of
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda
Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Begging for Forgiveness
by Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Śrī Śrī Guru Gaurāṅgau Jayataḥ!!
C/O Śrī Urukrama Dāsādhikārī
Cāṅdanī-pāḍā, PO – Siūḍī (Vīrabhūma)
Date: 22 October, 1970
My respectful greetings,
By the causeless mercy of my most venerable śrīla guru-pādapadma and Śrī Śrī Gaurasundara, I am well in at least one regard. You have inquired about my wellbeing, but I could not sort out what to write in response. Is it my physical, mental, or spiritual wellbeing you want to know about? I was not sure what you desired to know, so I have told you only about my physical wellbeing. A soul bound by illusion (māyā) cannot maintain even physical and mental health, what to speak of spiritual health. Liberated souls have perfect spiritual wellbeing at all times, and therefore, their physical and mental wellbeing is automatically inherent. The prime inquiry for every embodied soul should be about spiritual wellbeing; all other subjects are secondary.
You have sought forgiveness for an offence. In my view, you have not committed any offence nor have you made any mistake, nor are you at fault, nor am I displeased with you. And yet, some unseen hand has created interference in your feeling that I am affectionately watching over you. I do not consider you to be responsible for this, but at the same time I have conducted myself at all times in such a way that I am surely also free from this responsibility.
There is no question about whether or not to forgive you, because I have not accepted that you are at fault in any way. The affection I have always had for you is still intact, but you are unable to understand this. The affection of Vaiṣṇavas is transcendental and never artificial. It endures throughout all time – past, present, and future. In trying to ascertain the cause of this affection, you are, perhaps, presently imagining many things and consequently undergoing much distress. However, I know one thing for sure – in my life I have never knowingly arranged to harm anyone.
If, despite this, people still misunderstand me, I will not be held responsible by guru and Bhagavān; I will not be answerable for the misconceptions of others. I do not doubt anyone’s goodness and honesty, but I also wish to see that no one misunderstands me. Therefore I am telling you clearly: although you are trying to discover that I have some deep crack in the reservoir of my affection for you, in fact, I have always been and will always be beyond such a possibility. For me, my affection for you in the present is as it was before, and thus it will always remain in the future.
I was especially delighted to receive your letter. I was even more overjoyed to see that you declared that you simply had to write to me and that you could not have done otherwise. The affection I have for you will remain for all time. Though I am far away, the affection with which I look on you will never be absent. Though your companions may talk critically about me, the indwelling Lord within all beings will never be satisfied to keep me away from you. I could see that your state of mind is reflected in your letter. By the expression of the genuine, natural simplicity of your heart, you have surrendered yourself unto to me. You are immensely intelligent, and I see you know very well how to garner affection.
The saying that a daughter’s birth is the birth of sin is not true. You wrote, “A mother and father suffer such detriment for the sake of their daughter!” I say, “Their daughter tolerates so much misery for the sake of her parents!” You are not the reason your parents have misgivings about your associating with me. They have created those misgivings on their own. Perhaps they will understand this someday. You wrote, “If not for you, there would not have been all these troubles.” This is not logical. No one can answer for anyone else.
In this world, human beings experience the results of their own karma, and Śrī Bhagavān arranges for us to experience it. He has created my situation just so I may listen to people criticizing me, and He has sent someone into this world to criticize me. Souls in this world are always found in one of these positions. Some follow the example of a renounced mendicant and tolerate everything while maintaining faith in the Supreme, knowing that human beings suffer the results of their own actions. Others, considering themselves lords, enjoyers, perfect, invincible, and materially happy, become arrogant and thus utterly deluded. This world is the learning ground for human beings of un-awakened consciousness. All is well if we can adopt the lessons we learn throughout our time here. Otherwise, grave misfortune will befall us.
Instead of saying someone else is at fault, if we simply accept that ‘I have done something wrong’, everything will be so much easier. With that kind of attitude, in most cases, it is seen that the likelihood of us getting into arguments and quarrels with others is comparatively very slim. Trying to prove that guru and Vaiṣṇavas are at fault, making them stand in trial as the accused, can never be of benefit to the sādhaka kaniṣṭha-adhikārī (the practicing, beginner devotee). By doing so, one will fall from one’s spiritual practice and imprison oneself in the worst possible position, with no other destination.
Sādhakas and sādhikas must therefore put great care and effort into relinquishing all offences to śrī nāma, to the dhāma, and to Vaiṣṇavas, and try thereafter to properly perform hari-bhajana. Simply uttering the words “forgive me” does not truly cause it to happen. If one does not repent internally and experience regret, one’s heart will not be purified. The fire of remorse can incinerate all mistakes and transgressions within a moment, leaving the sādhaka free of sins and offences. That is truly what is meant by begging for forgiveness.
The antics of sahajiyās are neither humility nor the true form of begging for forgiveness. Once the true form of begging for forgiveness arises, the mind becomes overwhelmed, the heart melts, and a sort of frenzy awakens therein. It has very specific signs, which have been extensively described in scripture. Mechanical habits cannot be called faithful devotion; nor is devotion merely sentimental. It is the instinctive propensity of the soul.
You two are sitting there, appearing as though your cow just died, and I am wondering when I will be able to produce laughter in you. Upon assuming the responsibility Bhagavān has placed upon me, I have called out to Him for help: “Please save me, O Madhusūdana!” I do not know when Śrī Bhagavān will give me the chance to be reunited with you. I know that my desires accomplish nothing. Unless my own desires are aligned with the desires of Kṛṣṇa, no result will come from them.
I am delighted to know that you have successfully passed your secondary school [12th grade]. Now, when you pass your degree exam successfully, there will be more cause for celebration. But stay sharp and remember, “Do not let your upādhi (degree) become a vyādhi (disease).” This is the Vaiṣṇava attitude. Unless the soul relinquishes its material designation (upādhi), its natural ego as the servant of Kṛṣṇa will not arise. “Jīva kṛṣṇa-dāsa, e viśvāsa, korle to’ ār duḥkho nāi – once the soul believes himself to be the servant of Kṛṣṇa, he experiences no further misery.” It follows that he must honour his spiritual designations and titles. Worldly status is an illusory opulence. The soul is only benefited by honouring his Vaiṣṇava status.
Literacy is made worthwhile by attaining bhakti. Otherwise, it is no more than the labour of beasts. Why should people learn to read? Only to know devotion to Kṛṣṇa. Without that, what use is there for knowledge? Knowledge goes only as far as Godhead. The real knowledge is that which fixes one’s intelligence in Him. If you maintain dedication and attachment for Śrī Bhagavān, you will find esteem and worth in your studies. There are no conceptions superior to the conceptions found in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. It is the king of devotional literature, the essence of all the Vedas, and the natural commentary on the primeval gāyatrī-mantra. One must become well-founded in its teachings. This is the ultimate object of aspiration for the sādhakas and sādhikas. May you have bhakti, may you be an exemplary figure of womanhood in your home and community. This is my affectionate wish and blessing. May Śrī Bhagavān bring you auspiciousness.
Things shall only become favourable [at your home] if your parents’ views shift, but I have no control over that. Now that you have received and read my letter, certainly your doubts have been dispelled. I may be able to go to Sundaravana sometime in mid January. I hope your family members are well and healthy.
I conclude thus.
Forever your well-wisher,
Śrī Bhaktivedānta Vāmana
[Translated from Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja’s Patrāvalī
by the Rays of The Harmonist team]
Next Issue – Year 5, Issue 13: “Those who should not live in the maṭha”, 1 February 2013
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