Tridandisvami Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
Vrndavana, India: September 19, 1992
Syamarani dasi: In your recent discussions on Jaiva-dharma, Chapter 21, you mention that Vrajanatha and Vijaya-kumara understood that they could only attain perfection by getting diksa from an uttama-adhikari. Our god-brothers in ISKCON may not be uttama-adhikari [*See Endnote], but they are giving diksa. How will their disciples achieve perfection? By sending them to you for further guidance?
Srila Gurudeva: Diksa-guru must be qualified; Or, siksa-guru must be qualified. We cannot achieve perfection without a qualified guru.
Syamarani dasi: 'Qualified' refers to an uttama-bhakta?
Srila Gurudeva: Certainly he must be more advanced than us. He must be more advanced than that sadhaka.
Syamarani dasi: What would be the general procedure, then, for the disciples of our god-brothers?
Srila Gurudeva: They will gradually develop in this birth, and then in the next birth, and then in the birth after that.
Syamarani dasi: What about the situation wherein the diksa-guru is madhyama-adhikari, but that madhyama guru can direct their disciples to an uttama siksa-guru? In that case, can the disciple attain perfection even with a madhyama diksa-guru?
Srila Gurudeva: Krsna will arrange everything.
Syamarani dasi: How does Krsna work it out?
Srila Gurudeva: He sees what is needed in the disciple's heart. If the disciple is a sadhaka, then Krsna will make arrangements. If the disciple is not a sadhaka but only a disciple – simply thinking "I am a disciple," but not following bhakti, then Krsna will not do anything.
Syamarani dasi: What do you mean by the word sadhaka?
Srila Gurudeva: Those who have greed are sadhaka. ["When transcendental devotional service, by which love for Krsna is attained, is executed by the senses, it is called sadhana-bhaki, or the regulative discharge of devotional service. Such devotion eternally exists within the heart of every living entity. The awakening of this eternal devotion is the potentiality of devotional service in practice" (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya-lila, 22.105).]
Syamarani dasi: If a sadhaka can connect with a siksa-guru who is an uttama-bhakta, they can attain perfection in that way?
Srila Gurudeva: How did you come to me?
Syamarani dasi: By your mercy and our Prabhupada's mercy.
Srila Gurudeva: How?
Syamarani dasi: By Aditya's mercy (a god-sister).
Srila Gurdueva: Who made this arrangement?
Syamarani dasi: Krsna.
Srila Gurudeva: Then certainly Krsna will make whatever arrangement is required.
Jagatarini dasi: What do you mean by 'disciple'?
Srila Gurudeva: He calls himself a disciple, but he has no greed. He is not seriously doing anything for his advancement in bhakti.
Jagatarini dasi: It is just a formality? He is not serious and not interested in advancement?
Srila Gurudeva: He does not actually want to improve.
Syamarani dasi: So, even if one's diksa-guru is madhyama, and he has a siksa guru who is uttama...
Srila Gurudeva: Madhyama Vaisnavas are of so many varieties – basically there is madhyama-kanistha (a beginner madhyama), madhyama-madyama (an intermediate madhyama), and madhyama-uttama (an advanced madhyama). Madyama-uttama is about to become uttama; this will do. He will be a rasika Vaisnava – very interested in Krsna's pastimes with the gopis.
Without lobha, genuine spiritual greed, we cannot go forward an inch. There should be real greed, and we should judge whether or not our greed is real. If a person has greed for anything, he will not consider whether the process to achieve that thing is right or wrong. He will only think, "I must have it."
He is not discouraged if all common persons are telling him not to strive for that objective. Rather, upon the appearance of true spiritual greed he will see how the gopis attained that raga, or spontaneous attachment, for Krsna – how Rupa Gosvami, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, and Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura were situated in raganuga-bhakti and reached the level of svarupa-siddhi and vastu-siddhi. [they are Krsna's eternal associates, but as an example for us they played the role of conditioned souls advancing. –ed] He will see how the Srutis achieved gopi-bhava, and determine, "I will also have to do this. Beg, borrow or steal, I will have to adopt their methods." Spiritual greed will not come just by reading books.
If we have some greed to enter this type of bhakti, we will have to adopt the method of Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, and Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, and especially Srila Rupa Gosvami.
[(This paragraph is taken from later in the darsana:) When a person has greed, he will not question about other things. He will only question how he can attain his desired goal. Suppose I see a very beautiful picture that is with you. There is no concern for me regarding how it came to you, how you collected it, or what is its price value. My question, or concern, is how to collect it from you – by theft or by giving anything, by hook or by crook, I will have to take it. If I have so much greed for that picture, my question or concern will be only on this point.]
The ruci, or taste, of a person with such greed will not go to anything which is not helpful.
Syamarani dasi: Their taste will not go where?
Srila Gurudeva: It will not go that thing which is not helpful in the development of raganuga-bhakti. Do you understand?
Syamarani dasi: Right now I no longer have a taste for painting, because I don't see how it is helpful.
Srila Gurudeva: A natural taste will come for anything which is helpful for raganuga-bhakti. Such devotees will not need to ask anyone, "Should I do this, or not?" The presence or absence of taste will determine what to do and what not to do.
If anyone tells something which is not helpful for raganuga-bhakti, they will think this to be very painful for them. For example, if you are extremely thirsty and a man gives you very warm salty water, as is found in Mathura and Vrndavana, will you drink it?
Syamarani dasi: No.
Srila Gurudeva: Similarly, a raganuga-bhakta will only adopt those things that are helpful for development in raganuga-bhakti. If someone forcefully says to you, "You should do this," you will think that it is a harassment; you will feel difficulty.
Syamarani dasi: You were speaking to our god-brothers about how the spiritual master comes and eats what his disciples offer to him. You were also speaking about the occasion when the guru is not uttama. I forgot what you said at that time. Can you please explain this again? Can the disciple offer prasadam to a madhyama diksa-guru, and will that madhyama guru be able to take it and pass it up the disciplic succession? Or...?
Srila Gurudeva: Initiated disciples should always believe, "My Gurudeva is uttama, and very near and dear to Krsna. Krsna will like whatever he will do. He is most dear to Krsna."
Syamarani dasi: But some persons thought that Bhavananda and Ramasvara and other ISKCON gurus were uttama. Later those persons found out they weren't, and felt cheated.
Srila Gurudeva: They should consider what kind of guru someone is before taking initiation from him.
Syamarani dasi: Even if the gurus are not actually uttama, it is okay for the disciple to think that they are?
Srila Gurudeva: If we are giving everything of ourselves unto the lotus feet of Krsna, He will surely give us connection with a good guru. If we are not so qualified and we have so many material desires, then Krsna will make different arrangements. After that, the disciple will gradually develop, and later on he will be able to think who is a proper guru or not. He will then take initiation again.
Jagatarini dasi: We saw so many unqualified people who took diksa from Prabhupada.
Srila Gurudeva: But they had no doubt in Prabhupada. Those who are performing activities of bhakti will gradually develop, and those who were not qualified and left Prabhupada will go to hell. At the same time, there are persons who left Prabhupada but still have the faith that he is bona fide. For example, Bhavananda left hari-bhajana, but if anyone asks him whether his guru is pure or not, he will say, "My guru is pure." I think that whoever has not committed offenses at the feet of guru will again return to the path of bhakti.
Jagatarini dasi: It is a weakness of heart that they could not complete the process? I'm asking this because you just said that if one is sincere he will get a good guru, and if he is insincere, he will not. But sometimes it seems that one who appeared to be more sincere had some difficulty, and one who seemed insincere got Prabhupada. It seems that it is difficult to criticize and say that those who got Bhavananda were all insincere.
Srila Gurudeva: When the disciples of Prabhupada were initiated and joined the movement, at that time their faith was good. If they would have had regular, qualified Vaisnava sanga, this mishap could not have come about. For example, after Prabhupada's departure Bhavananda and Ramesvara and others became free in their preaching – their mixing with ladies and gentlemen and materialists. There was no control, so they began to do what they liked. There was no one to regulate them, so they had no fear.
Syamarani dasi: Nowadays, many of the devotees coming into ISKCON and taking diksa from our god-brothers are understanding that their gurus are not on Srila Prahbupada's level of uttama, but that they are on some level of madhyama. Is it okay for them to think that their guru is on some level of madhyama?
Srila Gurudeva: They should think, "My Gurudeva is really a Vaisnava, and by surrendering to him, we can attain the service of Radha and Krsna." If they do not regard their guru in this way, they will not be able to obey their holy master, and gradually they will go down. If they think, "My guru is really a Vaisnava, bhagavat-svarupa (a manifestation of the Supreme Lord), they will gradually go up. Then, when their heart becomes so sincere, Krsna will arrange the right person as guru.
Jagatarini dasi: Perhaps the disciples' madhyama guru is ahead of them, and if he is advancing and advancing, then he will be able to guide them to some proper course?
Srila Gurudeva: Guru is akhanda-tattva. If a guru says, "Chant harinama," this idea is not of that gurudeva. It is of Srila Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta Svami. And actually, this idea came from his guru, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and actually this idea came from his guru. At last, the origin is Krsna, and from Krsna comes Baladeva Prabhu.
Krsna is akhanda-guru; Baladeva akhanda-guru. We should obey our spiritual master and think that he is obeying Krsna and Baladeva, the root gurus. We should think that, "In this way, I am obeying Baladeva Prabhu." Guru is a manifestation of Baladeva Prabhu.
If we see that our guru is different from Baladeva Prabhu, Rupa Gosvami, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja, then we should do namaskara (offer respects) to him, and have no further relation with him – if there is a difference. And if there is no difference, we should treat him as a manifestation of Baladeva Prabhu.
Syamarani dasi: But hundreds or thousands of ISKCON devotees now think, "My Gurudeva is madhyama". This is because of all that happened in ISKCON.
Srila Gurudeva: Do you think your Gurudeva is madhyama?
Syamarani dasi: No.
Srila Gurudeva: Why?
Syamarani dasi: Because he has the words and characteristics and symptoms of an uttama-adhikari.
Srila Gurudeva: You are coming to me. What do you think about me? Do you think I am uttama or kanistha?
Syamarani dasi: I think you are uttama.
Srila Gurudeva: I'm telling you that I am kanistha-adhikari.
Syamarani dasi: I don't believe it. None of us here believe it.
Srila Gurudeva: You are not believing?
Syamarani dasi: No. Because you have the laksana (symptoms) of an uttama.
Srila Gurudeva: Oh, you know the laksana of an uttama?
Syamarani dasi: Well, you seem to.
Srila Gurudeva: [laughing with some sarcasm, as only an uttama-bhakta, or madhyama-uttama, can actually recognize such symptoms with realization] You are so qualified.
Jagatarini dasi: A disciple cannot really see on what level his guru is situated. You have said on other occasions that he has not got the qualification to judge.
Srila Gurudeva: Why are you bothering about these things? You have connection with a real guru, so what problems are with you?
Syamarani dasi: None. But we are surrounded by people in ISKCON who have these problems and are asking these questions.
Srila Gurudeva: They should work out their problems. Why are you wasting your time with this? I am also travelling in so many places, and I am not bothered. I believe in akhanda-guru-tattva – purna-guru-tattva (the full, complete, undivided principle of guru).
Syamarani dasi: How do we avoid purusa-bhava (the false ego of thinking "I am the doer") when we are preaching and lecturing to audiences?
Srila Gurudeva: By thinking, "I am a servant, or maidservant, of Krsna. I am preaching to give pleasure to Krsna. I am preaching so that Krsna may be pleased and our gurudeva may be pleased." With this conviction, purusa-bhava will not come. Being very simple, with prema, love and affection, we should preach and serve; as Lalita does, as Rupa Manjari does, as Rupa Gosvami does.
How many disciples did Rupa Gosvami have? How many sisyas (initiated disciples) did Srila Sanatana Gosvami have?
Syamarani dasi: Unlimited. Millions.
Srila Gurudeva: Millions?
Syamarani dasi: I mean, in the spiritual world.
Srila Gurudeva: Srila Rupa Gosvami did not accept any sisyas. He only had one , namely Srila Jiva Gosvami; no other. But he preached and wrote so many books, and anyone who was actually connected with him became like him – with no purusa-bhava.
November 29, 1992
Syamarani dasi: We sing nikunja-yuno rati-keli-siddhyai to the spiritual master. ["Sri Gurudeva is always present with the sakhis, planning the arrangements for the perfection of yugala-kisora's amorous pastimes (rati-keli) within the kunjas of Vrndavana. Because he is so expert in making these tasteful arrangements for Their pleasure, he is very dear to Sri Radha and Krsna. I offer prayers unto the lotus feet of Sri Gurudeva." (Sri Gurvastakam, Verse 6)]
If the spiritual master is not siddha (perfect in self-realization), but he is sadhaka (a devotional practitioner aspiring for pure devotion), is there any benefit in singing that song?
Srila Gurudeva: So much benefit. Baladeva will take all these things.
Syamarani dasi: Even if the disciple thinks that the words of the song are going directly to his sadhaka guru, still, Baladeva is taking it?
Srila Gurudeva: Krsna and Baladeva are the root-guru. As akhanda-guru (complete guru), They will take the worship. So, no harm.
A Few Sastic Considerations on Uttama, Madhyama, and Kanistha Adhikari Devotees:
sarva-bhutesu yah pasyed
bhutani bhagavaty atmany
The most advanced devotee sees within everything the soul of all souls, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sré Krsna. Consequently he sees systematically everything in relation to the Supreme Lord and understands that everything that exists is eternally situated within the Lord.
arcayam eva haraye
pujam yah sraddhayehate
na tad-bhaktesu canyesu
sa bhaktah prakrtah smrtah
"A person who is very faithfully engaged in the worship of the Deity in the temple, but who does not know how to behave toward devotees or people in general is called a prakrta-bhakta, or kanistha-adhikari."
balisesu dvisatsu ca
yah karoti sa madhyamah
"The madhyama-adhikari is a devotee who worships the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the highest object of love, makes friends with the Lord's devotees, is merciful to the ignorant and avoids those who are envious by nature."
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 22.64
sraddhavan jana haya bhakti-adhikari
'uttama', 'madhyama', 'kanistha'—sraddha-anusari
"A faithful devotee is a truly eligible candidate for the loving service of the Lord. According to one's faith, one is classified as a topmost devotee, an intermediate devotee or an inferior devotee.
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 22.65
sastra-yuktye sunipuëa, drdha-sraddha yanra
'uttama-adhikari' sei taraye samsara
"One who is expert in logic, argument and the revealed scriptures and who has firm faith in Krsna is classified as a topmost devotee. He can deliver the whole world.
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 22.66
sastre yuktau ca nipunah
praudha-sraddho 'dhikari yah
sa bhaktav uttamo matah
"'One who is expert in logic and in understanding the revealed scriptures, and who always has firm conviction and deep faith that is not blind, is to be considered a topmost devotee in devotional service.'
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 22.67
sastra-yukti nahi jane droha, sraddhavan
'madhyama-adhikari' sei maha-bhagyavan
"One who is not very expert in argument and logic based on the revealed scriptures but who has firm faith is considered a second-class devotee. He also must be considered most fortunate.
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 22.69
yahara komala sraddha, se 'kanistha' jana
krame krame tenho bhakta ha-ibe 'uttama'
"One whose faith is soft and pliable is called a neophyte, but by gradually following the process he will rise to the platform of a first-class devotee.
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 22.70
yo bhavet komala-sraddhah
sa kanistho nigadyate
"'One whose faith is not very strong, who is just beginning, should be considered a neophyte devotee.']