śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!
Year 7, Issue 12 Dedicated to Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Posted: 10 January 2015
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda
Inspired by and under the guidance of
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda
śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!
Year 7, Issue 12
Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja
What is the result of engaging
in śrī nāma-bhajana?
by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda
Question 1: Should we render service to the devotees and to the Supreme Lord, with our own hands?
Answer: It is not ordinarily appropriate to have someone else do arcana (deity worship) and cooking on our behalf. However, it is acceptable to make an exception when someone is in a helpless situation or experiencing any difficulty. But if we become lazy about offering bhoga to Śrī Kṛṣṇa and only engage in feeding our own stomach as though that were the goal of life, then our inclination to serve the Supreme Lord shall definitely diminish.
It is not appropriate to act in a manner that is contrary to the core principle of the maṭha residents’ life – namely, rendering service with one’s own senses. The concept of “dravyam mūlyena śuddhyati – a commodity is purified by paying for it” can only be accepted in this context if a person is in some way incapacitated, but when one is capable, taking advantage of this consideration is shear laziness.
May our only goal be to endeavour solely for the pleasure of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Otherwise our practical life shall inevitably become full of Godless thoughts. Only by becoming God-loving can one be moved to cook for Kṛṣṇa and then offer His prasāda to the devotees; not otherwise. We should not become averse to serving the devotees for even a single day.
Question 2: On the occasion of śrāddha (oblations to one’s ancestors on the anniversary of their departure), is it appropriate to offer prasāda to our ancestors?
Answer: On the day of observing śrāddha, we offer mahāprasāda, the transcendental remnants of food offered to the Supreme Lord, to those who were devoted to harināma but have left this material world. It is not wise to offer anything but mahaprasāda as ‘piṇḍa’ (oblations of food offered to one’s forefathers).
Engaging in material activities (karma) leads to eventually experiencing their consequent results. But those who engage in chanting the holy names are not obligated to undergo the fruits of karma after leaving their body. Still, it is the duty of their kin to offer bhoga to the Supreme Lord on the day of their śrāddha, and afterward offer them some prasāda to assist in their spiritual well-being. It is also obligatory on that day to satisfy the devotees by offering them that prasāda and to perform harināma-saṅkīrtana.
Question 3: How can we, conditioned souls bound by material nature, establish our relationship with Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is transcendental to material nature?
Answer: We understand that it is impossible for us to establish our relationship with Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Nevertheless, the most benevolent Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa comes under our subordination by His own arrangement, simply out of His causeless mercy. Although the sun is extremely large, it is possible to visualize it by the knowledge born of our material senses with the help of a substance called bhūtākāśa (the material quintessence or ‘sky’). In the same manner, bhakti, or the loving devotional tendency of the living being which is the substance of the cidākāśa (the elemental substratum of transcendence or the transcendental ‘sky’), provides us the opportunity to establish our relationship with Śrī Kṛṣṇa so as to attain close proximity to Him and moreover, render service to Him.
Although the sun is enormous and located very far away, we are able to see it solely by its own merciful light. In the same way, only by the light of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s mercy – in other words by receiving the help and shelter of śrī gurudeva, who is the embodiment of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s mercy – can we gain the opportunity to establish a relationship with Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Everything is possible by the mercy of Bhagavān.
Question 4: What is the result of engaging in śrī nāma-bhajana?
Answer: By chanting the holy names of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the practitioner simultaneously cultivates his direct connection with Śrī Kṛṣṇa, eliminates the necessity of his undergoing karmic reactions and extinguishes his desire for liberation. All of the living being’s anarthas (undesirable tendencies) are gradually removed by the influence of chanting śrī nāma.
Śrī nāma is Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself. Not just Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself, but indeed śrī nāma is directly the form of the supremely original Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself (svayam-rūpa Śrī Kṛṣṇa). There is no other means to dispel our misfortune than engaging in śrī nāma-bhajana. Only the ecstasy of chanting the holy names of Śrī Kṛṣṇa (nāmānanada) can save us from the lure of mundane pleasure (jaḍānanda). I am Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s object of enjoyment (kṛṣṇa-bhogya). In my eternal form, if Kṛṣṇa becomes pleased with me and attracts me, then I will be enchanted by His divine eternal form.
Question 5: Is Śrī Caṇḍīdāsa a śuddha-bhakta (pure devotee of the Lord)?
Answer: Certainly. It is only because Śrī Caṇḍīdāsa is a pure devotee that Śrī Gaurāṅgadeva used to listen to his songs (kīrtanas). Śrī Caṇḍīdāsa’s heart had the disposition of transcendental service. A bhakta in the mood of service considers himself a follower of the beloved of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. There was no inelegant relation between Śrī Caṇḍīdāsa and Rāmī*. Śrī Caṇḍīdāsa is a loving devotee, a premīka-bhakta. He does not have even an iota of desire for his own pleasure. When materialists, who are unable to understand him, commit offences to him, they head for the hellish worlds. They are incapable of recognizing Caṇḍīdāsa’s transcendental position and have an imaginary worldly, sensuous perspective of him. They cannot perceive the real Caṇḍīdāsa, who is a śuddha-bhakta.
* Śrī Caṇḍīdāsa was initiated with Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa mantra, and as a result he practised his sādhana in gopī-bhāva. He never married. Rāmī was the companion of Caṇḍīdāsa in his worship (bhajana-saṅginī).
The devotees who serve in the mood of transcendental madhura-rasa in their aprākṛta form are not in a male body engaged in mundane enjoyment in this world. And the difference between a material female body and a transcendental body full of eternal bliss, which belongs to the realm of pure devotion, is as vast as the difference between heaven and hell. This is the unequivocal opinion of Śrī Caṇḍīdāsa, the pure devotee of the Lord.
If those who read the poetry of Śrī Caṇḍīdāsa or Śrī Vidyāpati renounce their ego of being the illusory master as well as their desire to enjoy within the material world, and engage themselves in the relationship of transcendental servitude to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, then the sublime understanding that Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the sole master in every respect and not an object of enjoyment will thoroughly manifest within them. Only then can they realize the true meanings of the kṛṣṇa-kathā of Vidyāpati and Caṇḍīdāsa. Only then shall they not cheat themselves out of their own spiritual welfare by conceiving of Vidyāpati as the upapati (romantic lover) of Lakṣmī or Caṇḍīdāsa as the upapati of Rāmī.
Question 6: Is it appropriate to indulge in curing oneself?
Answer: Even after seeing the multitude of miseries being suffered by worldly people, those who enter into worldliness cannot wish to indulge in the adventure of curing oneself unless they develop an intense desire to forgo all material pleasures.
Parents are available in every birth, but there is no certainty that guidance in attaining spiritual welfare will be available in every birth. Therefore, to achieve true welfare, it is auspicious to approach the right doctor and take shelter of him instead of engaging in curing oneself.
Question 7: Is it imperative to engage in service?
Answer: We shall continue to perform our duty: service to śrī guru and Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Then everything shall happen solely in accordance with Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s desire. Howsoever Śrī Kṛṣṇa inspires someone is acceptable to us. Śrī Vārṣabhānavī-devī Śrī Rādhā never gave up serving Śrī Kṛṣṇa out of fear of being criticized by society.
Translated by the Rays of The Harmonist team
from Śrīla Prabhupādera Upadeśāmṛta
Questions re-numbered for this on-line presentation
Śrīla Prabhupādera Upadeśāmṛta is a compilation of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda’s instructions, in question-and-answer form.