We Are One Family

Tridandisvami Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
Los Angeles, May 30, 2000

[Dear Respected Harikatha Readers,
Please accept our humble obeisances. Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja’s words, being one with the words of Krsna and sastra, are ever-fresh. Therefore, whereas in the following lecture he teaches the ISKCON devotees the real meaning of ISKCON, so in application to his own sanga, he is at the same time teaching its real meaning of the International Pure Bhakti Yoga Society:]

Gurudeva graveI pray to my siksa-guru, my friend, and also my sannyasa god-brother. I have so many kinds of relations with him - so many. We used to talk, sitting on the same bed, or the same chair, and joking about so many things. Though I treated him as my siksa-guru, he never saw me as a disciple. He told me, "Our relationship is transcendental." I was so fortunate that as his last request for my service he told me, "Give me samadhi." I am so much obliged to him, because he gave me so many services.

I know that he has not established anything new. He gave the same eternal Krsna consciousness, but with an English name. It is coming from Krsna Himself; He is the root. In this world, in this ISKCON, Brahma is the first acarya. Then, Brahma's son Narada, who is also Brahma's disciple, is the second ISKCON acarya. And Narada's elder brothers and teachers, the four Kumaras, are also ISKCON devotees.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu are also the real ISKCON. We should try to know that we are all in one family. Anyone who is following even a little bit, who is chanting and remembering Krsna in the line of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu – they are ISKCON. They may be in saffron cloth and sannyasa apparel, or they may be in the grhastha asrama, with or without family, alone, or anywhere. All are in ISKCON. That is why the follower of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Srila Rupa Gosvami, has instructed us to honor all devotees who are in ISKCON, from top to bottom: kanistha-adhikaris, madhyama-adhikaris, uttama-adhikaris, and also uttama uttama uttama adhikaris. We have to respect every one; otherwise we are not ISKCON devotees.

krsneti yasya giri tam manasadriyeta
diksasti cet pranitam ca bhajantam isam
susrusaya bhajana-vijnam ananyam anya-
nindadi-sunya-hrdam ipsita-sanga-labdhya
(Nectar of Instruction, Text 5)|

["One should mentally honor the devotee who chants the holy name of Lord Krsna, one should offer humble obeisances to the devotee who has undergone spiritual initiation and is engaged in worshiping the Deity, and one should associate with and faithfully serve that Pure devotee who is advanced in undeviated devotional service and whose heart is completely devoid of the propensity to criticize others."]

Srila Rupa Gosvami never said that we should only respect our god-brothers, or that we should only respect those in his own line. Never. Whoever is serving Radha-Krsna, anywhere in this world, we should honor that person. Even beginners who accept that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and who also want to serve Radha and Krsna are to be honored. If one is not initiated, but he is not offensive and is not associating with mayavadis, he should also be considered as an ISKCON devotee; but as a kanistha-adhikari. Those who have given up all nonsense anarthas and misconduct, and who are not criticizing anyone – not even those who are fit to be criticized – and are always chanting and remembering Krsna, are madhyama-adhikari. There are so many categories in madhyama-adhikari: madhyama-kanistha, madhyama-madhyama, and madhyama-uttama, and we should try to respect these madhyama-adhikaris according to their degree of devotion.|

We should also honor those who are superior, who are serving Radha-Krsna in astakaliya-lila. They have no time to criticize anyone. Offering pranama to all, paying respect to all, they think that everyone is serving Radha-Krsna. They are more than Prahlada Maharaja. We should understand that they are maha-bhagavatas.

krsna-bhakti-rasa-bhavita matih
kriyatam yadi kuto 'pi labhyate
tatra laulyam ekalam mulyam
janma-kotibhis sukrtibhair na labhyate
(Caitanya-caritamrta. Madhya-lila, 8.70)

We should honor such a devotee, whether or not he is a disciple of our Gurudeva. He may be of the Syamananda-parivara, the family or disciplic succession of Syamananda Prabhu, or he may be of the Narottama-parivara, or he may be of the Bhirabhadra-parivara, that is, Jahnava-parivara; no harm. Wherever he is, we should understand that he is a maha-bhagavata.

I know personally that Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja, my siksa-guru, used to give proper honor to all. Although I was not initiated by him, oh, how he used to honor me. I was not qualified to sit with him in the same line, but still, he used to take me in his lap like a child. When he would see me he would say, "O, you should sing; I like your singing."

He used to play the mrdanga. I know he was a first-class singer. You can hear on his cassettes that he used to sing in a pathetic tune (a tune revealing his intense separation feelings for Radha-Krsna), coming from his heart. And the hearts of anyone hearing him sing these songs would be melted. This is real kirtana. 'Pasu pakhi jhure pasana vidare, suni jara guna gatha.' Srila Locana dasa Thakura sings, "By the mercy of Gaura and Nitai, even the animals and birds cry and the stones melt. Simply my heart has not melted."

Srila Rupa Gosvami has given instructions that we should try to properly respect all kinds of Vaisnavas. Rupa Gosvami knows the heart of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and your Prabhupada was a Rupanuga Vaisnava. Only very rare persons know what is Rupanuga; very rare. But one day we will have to know. Without knowing what is Rupanuga, we cannot advance. If we do not know all these things, we cannot even become madhyama-adhikari.

Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja came to this world with a mission of ISKCON – Vaisnavism. What was that? It is the same mission as that of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Who is Mahaprabhu? The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna Himself. But He is also more than that; He is not only Krsna. He is the combination of both Srimati Radhika and Krsna, and therefore He is not only Krsna; He has combined with Srimati Radhika, His power.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu used to always be absorbed in Radha's mood. Krsna did not have Radha's beauty and Her intrinsic mood. Radhika has adhirudha-mahabhava, and even more than that. Krsna's mood goes up to mahabhava, but beyond that – how to serve and to please Krsna – He does not know. He will have to learn by going to the school of Visakha-devi, and sometimes to Lalita-devi. Without the help of Lalita and Visakha, He cannot relish the mood of Srimati Radhika. So this was the mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu – to give these things. Krsna Himself could not do this, but when He took the beauty and the intrinsic mood of Radhika, then He could relish everything in Gambira under the guidance of Svarupa Damodara (Lalita) and Ramananda Raya (Visakha). And what was Gadadhara Pandita doing? He was watching to see if Mahaprabhu was playing His role perfectly or not. If He was making some mistake, Sri Gadadhara Pandita, in the mood of Radhika, would 'twist the ears' of Krsna, He would say, "O, You are doing wrong; You should it do like this." When Mahaprabhu was singing: 'barahapidam nata-vara-vapu,' Gadadhara Pandita quickly came and said, "O, You should do it like this:

barhapitam nata-vara-vapuh karnayoh karnikaram
bibhrad vasah kanaka-kapisam vaijayantim ca malam
randhran venor adhara-sudhayapurayan gopa-vrndair
vrndaranyam sva-pada-ramanam pravisad gita-kirtih

["Wearing a peacock-feather ornament upon His head, blue karnikara flowers on His ears, a yellow garment as brilliant as gold, and the Vaijayanti garland, Lord Krsna exhibited His transcendental form as the greatest of dancers as He entered the forest of Vrindavana, beautifying it with the marks of His footprints. He filled the holes of His flute with the nectar of His lips, and the cowherd boys sang His glories." (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 10.21.5)]

He was perspiring, His heart was melting, and His tears were falling like heavy rain. There was some defect in Krsna, and Gadadhara Pandita therefore instructed Him.

To think that Krsna had taken away the beauty and intrinsic mood of Radhika and had become Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and that Gadadhara Pandita had thus become Rukmini, is quite wrong. It is not like this.

Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja came for the same object and mission as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu – for the jivas to be given raga-marga. They should know who Srimati Radhika is, and what are all these moods.

When he came to New Jersey, Boston, and New York, however, he realized that he had to cut so many jungles. If the land is not fertile, how can this seed of bhakti be given? The jungles were very dense and wild, with so many wild beasts, dangerous animals and poisonous snakes. It took time, and at the same time he kept everything reserved in his books. He told his disciples to read about the life and character of Prahlada Maharaja, Citraketu Maharaja, and others. He had so little time, because the bell rang. Krsna called him, "I cannot be without you. I need your service. Please come at once." He was then bound to go to his Prabhu. One may say that he has given everything in his books. Yes, he has given everything. But you will have to go deep, with the help of any pure Vaisnava:

yaha bhagavat pada vaisnavera sthane
ekanta asraya kara caitanya carane
(Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila 5. 131)

A so-called Vaisnava cannot give you these truths. If one is not following, what will be the result? You will not understand. No one can be in the same class for twenty or twenty five years, or for his whole life, or forever. If he is not advancing, improving, then he must fall down; and that is now becoming the fact. Prabhupada's disciples came with so much honor to serve Krsna. This desire was there, and they are engaged in so many services.

However, they don't have any way to advance now, and that is why their whole way is blocked. Where will they go? They are sure to go down.

We should not always remain in the kanistha-adhikari stage. There should be a way to go up to something superior, but our minds will not go there. We should try to make advancement through someone who is superior, through those who are practically serving, whose minds are there, who knows Prabhupada's mood, and who know the very deep process of Srila Rupa Gosvami and Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami that he has written about in his books. We should try to go very deep.

You can see in the sloka:

tan-nama-rupa-caritadi-sukirtananu-
smrtyoh kramena rasana-manasi niyojya
tisthan vraje tad-anuragi jananugami
kalam nayed akhilam ity upadesa-saram
(Nectar of Instruction, Text 8)

Srila Svami Maharaja has explained the mood of Rupa Gosvami so well. If a person has many worldly desires and is full of anarthas, no harm. If he has some greed to serve Radha-Krsna in the line of Rupa Gosvami, he can do so. He can think of Radha-Krsna. He can sing, "Radha-Krsna prana mora yugula kisora," and also, "Rupa raghunatha pade hoibe akuti, kabe hama bujhabo se yugala piriti". What is the meaning?

Prema-prayojana dasa: When will I become eager to follow in the footsteps of Srila Rupa Gosvami and Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami? Only then will I be able to realize what is the priti, the love and affection between Radha and Krsna.

Srila Gurudeva: How will this be possible? By the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu. 'Ara kabe Nitaicandra.' Nityananda Prabhu's mercy is essential. I have heard Srila Svami Maharaja sing this song: 'parama karuna, pahu dui jana, nitai gauracandra; saba avatara sara siromani kevala ananda kanda.' Even in the beginning we realize the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu. But why has Srila Narottama dasa Thakura prayed to Rupa-Raghunatha? Srila Rupa Gosvami is the heart of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Sri Rupa-Raghunatha can give the service of Radha-Krsna. Nityananda Prabhu can also give it, but not in the shape of Baladeva Prabhu or Nityananda Prabhu. He can give it in the shape of Ananga-manjari. Rupa Gosvami is Rupa-manjari. He can give all the moods to serve Srimati Radhika.

We should try to know these truths and advance from kanistha-adhikari to madhyama. Then we will never fall down. A taste will come, and when that taste comes in chanting, remembering, and hearing hari-katha, then Krsna will manifest in the heart and purify it. We will become madhyama-kanistha, madhyama-madhyama, madhyama-uttama, and then maha-bhagavata-kanistha. So, we should try to know all these things, and try to have all these things.

First we should try to have taste. How will it come? If you are not always associating with a high class of Vaisnavas, even your chanting and remembering will not do. Srila Sukadeva Gosvami has therefore given the process: First sravanam, and then kirtanam, and then serving and meditating. Sravana, hearing, should be done. Srila Rupa Gosvami and Srimad-Bhagavatam have both told:

dharmah svanusthitah pumsam
visvaksena-kathasu yah
notpadayed yadi ratim
srama eva hi kevalam

["Duties (dharma) executed by men, regardless of occupation, are only so much useless labour if they do not provoke attraction for the message of the Supreme Lord." Following a system of religion that does not awaken one's Krsna consciousness, or God consciousness, is merely a waste of time and labour." Srimad-Bhagavatam, 6.16.43]

Srila Gurudeva: What is the meaning?

Syamarani dasi: If someone is following all the principles of varnasrama, following all the regulations, and following the Vedas, but he doesn't have any taste for hearing from the topmost sadhus...

Srila Gurudeva: Even if he is chanting and serving in so many ways; even if he is reading the books, but...

Syamarani dasi: If he doesn't have any taste for hearing from pure sadhus about the sweet lila and glories of Krsna, then all of his activities come to zero.

Srila Gurudeva: Yes. You should always know this. Chanting alone will not do. It will not be first-class, or pure. If you are hearing hari-katha, then your chanting of the Holy Name will be pure. The Holy Name is always pure. 'Purna suddha nitya mukta vinatva nama namine.' The Nama is always Krsna Himself. They are not different. But we cannot realize this. We must always be hearing from realized souls.

Narada can tell anyone, any creature, even just by looking at him, "O, may you now become a high-class maha-bhagavata." Simply by telling someone this, he can make that person become like himself. A madhyama-bhagavata cannot do this. He will give his association and hari-katha. A kanistha-adhikari can only say, "You should come to my Gurudeva; you should come to this pure devotee." He can only say this much. On one hand all this is mercy, but Narada can at once say, "O, Krsna-prema should come, and you should dance and sing." He has the capacity to say that, because he has controlled Krsna in his heart by his services. He is therefore a maha-maha-maha-bhagavata.

I request everyone to remember that we are in the one family of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja's mission was to give this vision. He came to these western countries where there was no sign of bhakti, where all were engaged in sense gratification. The people were always accustomed to take beef and so many other abominable things.

Mercifully, in a year or two, he changed the whole world. It was a miracle. He translated so many books, and by his mercy he accepted so many disciples who were very powerful at that time. He inspired them and engaged them through his teachings everywhere he went. He made them all so powerful that you cannot imagine it.

I know that in France and other areas Bhagavan Prabhu was so famous. He made a big school, New Mayapura, where there were more than three hundred devotees and also a big gosala. You cannot imagine. However, when I went to see that place two years ago, I saw that all the land and trees were weeping. There was no life there; it was like a desert. When Srila Svami Maharaja used to sing there, he was weeping in ecstasy. But what became of it all after he left? So I request Bhagavan also, "You cannot be happy in this world, my dear friend Bhagavan Prabhu. This world can cheat you. You will never be happy. You should therefore have strong faith in your Gurudeva. He was not any ordinary person; he was transcendental. He came from there, for the enlightenment of all."

jnane prayasam udapasya namanta eva
jivanti san-mukharitam bhavadiya-vartam
sthane sthitah sruti-gatah tanu-van-manobhir
ye prayaso 'jita jito 'py asi tais tri-lokyam

["Lord Brahma said, 'O my Lord Krsna, a devotee who abandons the path of empiric philosophical speculation aimed at merging in the existence of the Supreme and engages himself in hearing Your glories and activities from a bona fide sadhu, or saint, and who lives an honest life in the occupational engagement of his social life, can conquer Your sympathy and mercy even though You are ajita, or unconquerable.'" (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 10.14.3)]

All have seen that in this world there is no happiness. There are so many problems and problems. These problems are like poisonous snakes, and death is like a tiger. We cannot say when we will die. Problems are coming one after another, like very large waves of twelve feet and even twenty feet. So I request you all, not to come down. Try to have a taste in the Name and in hari-katha. And, when you hear that a good, bona fide devotee is coming and giving classes, you must certainly attend. This will bring you a taste in all devotional activities. All your paths will be thus open, and then you can go up very soon and very easily. You will see that your Guruji is smiling and saying, "Oh, I am very lucky that you have come. Now let us all serve Radha and Krsna."

So we should be like a family – not thinking that we are enemies. There should be no fear at all. Why fear? If we want to serve Radha-Krsna in the same line as our predecessor acaryas, why fear? Helping each other, therefore, we should follow the mission of Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, our Gurudeva, and Srila Rupa and Sanatana Gosvamis; and be happy. Then we may see that ISKCON will be changed. I went to so many places in the world, and I saw that nowadays hardly anyone honors ISKCON leaders, or their god-brothers, or even third class devotees. Hardly anyone honors anyone. That is why they are losing so much. If they properly respect each other, and also chant and remember, they must change.

Gaura Premanande!

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