(Holland, July 9, 2000)
You should go with me to the river Godavari, in the South, where Raya Ramananda and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu are sitting and discussing krsna-prema. Mahaprabhu is asking questions and Raya Ramananda is answering.
This is a very important section of Sri Caitanya Caritamrita. So many dialogues are in Caitanya Caritamrta, like that of Srila Rupa Gosvami and Mahaprabhu, Srila Sanatana Gosvami siksa, Raya Ramananada and Mahaprabhu samvada, Mahaprabhu and Srila Haridasa Thakura, Mahaprabhu and Sarvabhauma
Bhattacarya, and Ratha-yatra prasanga. These are principle subject matters. In Srimad Bhagavatam, there is Gopi-gita, Brahmara-gita, Venu-gita, etc. If we will take out all these topics from Srimad Bhagavatam, what remains? Nothing. Similarly, if we will take Raya Ramananda samvada from Caitanya Caritamrta, we will loose everything.
You should know that if you want to become a very high class of devotee, then come and hear all these things, try to follow, and realize something. If you are not really following and not hearing very attentively, you cannot be a high-class devotee. So try to hear very carefully. If there is any doubt, you can come and ask us, no harm. But try to realize these topics, because you have come from very far away places to hear.
We should know what is bhakti. Can you explain its meaning in a very condensed form?
Aranya Maharaja: Srila Gurudeva has asked me to describe the meaning of bhakti. If we want to know what is bhakti, then we have to bow our heads at the lotus feet of Srila Rupa Gosvami, because he has given a definition of bhakti, devotional service. Many definitions have appeared in so many Puranas, and even in Srimad Bhagavatam, but the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared in the heart of Srila Rupa Gosvami and inspired him to write the most beautiful and comprehensive definition of bhakti ever before seen:
silanam bhaktir uttamam
What is uttama bhakti, transcendental devotional service? It is the continuous, unbroken cultivation of all of our endeavors performed by the body, by the mind, by words, and by spiritual sentiments, which are favorable to Krishna and which are completely devoid of all other desires except the desire to please Krishna. Those endeavors are not covered by karma (reward seeking activity), by jnana (the cultivation of knowledge), by moksa (liberation), and they are also not covered by yoga or tapasya, austerities.
Srila Narayana Maharaja: Again repeat.
Aranya Maharaja: In a very simple sense we can understand what bhakti means; that all the activities of the body, the mind, the words, and the sentiments of the heart, are all flowing in the service of Krishna-uninterrupted and unmotivated-like a flowing of honey from a jar. If you pour honey from the jar, it will flow in a very thick stream. It will not be broken. The tendency of the heart is going without any impediments. All is in the service of Krishna, in the activities which are favorable to Him. There are no desires other then serving Krishna. This devotion is not mixed with karma (fruitive activity), jnana (philosophical speculation), yoga or tapasya. This is called uttama-bhakti, or transcendental loving service.
Srila Narayana Maharaja: Thank you. This is a barometer, a machine to judge whether this bhakti is in our hearts or not. You should take this meaning of bhakti and then think and judge yourself whether you have pure bhakti or not. In pure bhakti there is no interruption, like honey flowing from there to earth continuously-24 hours-not breaking and only to please Krishna, by all the activities of body, mind, soul, and mood. There should be no karma, no jnana-nothing. Here Krishna means Krishna and His associaties. Are you following? You can judge. If not, then how will krsna-prema come? If you are not doing so, what will happen? You will achieve only worldly position. You can go to heaven and your miseries will be somewhat subsided, but nothing more. You cannot hope for krsna-prema. You will not attain even Vaikuntha or Dvaraka, what to speak of Vrindavana, Vraja Mandala?
You should try to remember this sloka, and daily take this scale and think, "What have I done to serve Krishna today?" Then you can know and practically go towards serving Krishna.
What are we doing now? We are doing something other than pure bhakti. This will all be clear from Raya Ramananda samyada. First of all we should know what is sadhya and sadhana.
Syamarani dasi: Sadhya is the first thing to know, before knowing what is sadhana. Sadhya means perfection, and that sadhya is prema-prayojana. Prayojana is the sadhya or the goal of life, and that is krsna-prema-serving the prema of Srimati Radhika for Krishna. Sadhana is the process to reach that goal. Without knowing the goal, there is no question of adopting a process to reach it. If I know that my goal is money, then all my endeavors will be towards getting that money. If I know that my goal is prema-prayojana, then I will seek out a bona fide rasika spiritual master and, hearing from him, take to the actual process.
Srila Narayana Maharaja: If our goal is to take milk, what is the process? You should buy a cow with a calf, and milk it. You will have to make that milk hot, add some sugar, and then you can drink it.
First you should fix your goal. What do you want? In Sri Caitanya Caritamrta and in Srimad Bhagavatam it is written: Aradyo bhagavan vrajesa-sutayo, tad dhama vrndavana. The aim and object of the whole universe, for all kinds of souls, is krsna-prema. Prema pumartho mahan. What is prema? Krishna also has prema, but we don't want His prema. In this world we have so much prema, love, for so many things, but these are material. This 'love' will give you so much pain and suffering. We don't want that either. We want the prema that is in Srimati Radhika. This is our main object, whether we know it or not, and this is confirmed by all sastras, and all acaryas in our line. What are you doing to achieve this high class of love for Krishna? You are doing so much effort for your position, for money, and for being happy in this world. You will have to be a beggar for this real love. The gopis left everything and became niskincana, akincana. Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami was the son of a king, and what did he become? A street beggar. Sri Rupa Gosvami and Sri Sanatana Gosvami were a high class of prime minister and private secretary of the king. They were very influential. What did they do? They left it all. So you should know krsna-prema-prayojana, and then take the process to achieve it. This is sadhana.
I think there are very rare persons here who are practicing sadhana in the bhakti line. What is bhakti-sadhana? First make your goal: "I want to achieve bhava, rati". Then, by your senses, you are practicing to manifest that mood. Then it will be sadhana, otherwise not. What are we doing? We are always making money, money, money. Yudhisthira Maharaja, Arjuna, and Uddhava were not doing what we are doing. They were trying to achieve prema like the gopis. We should try to follow them. We should not be like Dhruva, nor even like Prahlada, nor even like Hanuman, nor even like Uddhava. We should be like the Vrajavasis. That is called raganuga-bhakti. If you are doing this, then it is sadhana, otherwise not. Otherwise you are doing a semblence of sadhana, sadhana abhasa, and not even that.
There are two kinds of sadhana: rati-sadhana and prema-sadhana. Those who have achieved rati will do sadhana for prema, and those who have not achieved rati will do sadhana for rati. Then it is sadhana. Otherwise, what are we doing? Simply: A is for apple, B is for banana, and C is for cat. You are not studying high philosophy in the university. Uttama-bhakti is like university study. Try to know all these things. You will have to be like Raghunatha dasa Gosvami.
Here Mahaprabhu is telling:
prabhu kahe, -"pada sloka sadhyera nirnaya"
raya kahe, - "sva-dharmacarane visnu-bhakti haya"
["Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu ordered Ramananda Raya, 'Recite a verse from the revealed scriptures concerning the ultimate goal of life.' Ramananda replied, 'If one executes the prescribed duties of his social position, he awakens his original Krishna consciousness.'" (BBT)]
Aranya Maharaja: Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, Madhya Lila chapter 8, text 57: translation by Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada:
Srila Narayana Maharaja: I always want to follow the explanation of Srila Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada. I am in his line. Don't think that I am not in the same line. Some are saying this, but I think they themselves are not in the same line. Otherwise, how can they fall down and give up the devotional line? Those who are in this line, following their Gurudeva, who are transcendental personalities, cannot fall down. Never, never, and never. We are trying to follow him, and you should also try to follow him.
Aranya Maharaja: "Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu ordered Ramananda Raya to recite a verse from the revealed scriptures concerning the ultimate goal of life. Ramananda replied that if one executes the prescribed duties of his social position, he awakens his original Krishna consciousness."
Srila Narayana Maharaja: Any purport?
Aranya Maharaja: "In this connection, Sri Ramananda Raya stated in Vedanta Samagraha, that devotional service, is naturally very dear to the living entity. Indeed it is life's goal. This devotional service is supreme knowledge or Krishna consciousness, and it brings detachment from all material activities. In the transcendental position, a living being can perfectly acknowledge the superiority of serving the Supreme Lord. The devotees attain the Supreme Lord only by devotional service. Having such knowledge, one engages in his occupational duty, and that is called bhakti-yoga. By performing bhakti-yoga, one can rise to the platform of devotional service. Human society should be divided into four divisions: brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya and sudra, and everyone should always engage in his occupational duty. The Lord says that those engaged in their occupational duty can attain perfection simply by rendering devotional service to the Lord while executing their particular duty."
Srila Narayana Maharaja: Here he is telling that one can serve Visnu by his Varnasrama dharma, as in Indian Vedic culture. There is the dharma of a grhasta, brahmacari, vanaprastha, and sannyasi. There is also the dharma of the brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, and sudra. In India things are made in such a way that ones duties become like a platform to do bhajana. This is not so anywhere else in the world.
Who is Visnu? He is a fraction, the smallest fraction or part of Krishna. From Krishna comes Baladeva, then Mula Sankarsana, Maha Sankarsana, Paravyoma Narayana, then Karanadakasayi Visnu, Garbhodakasayi Visnu, and then Ksirodakasayi Visnu, who is always everywhere. He is that Visnu to whom sastra refers in this verse about Varnasrama.. But why is it mentioned in relation to the grhastha asrama? A grhastha may think, "If Visnu will be pleased, He will give us money, and He will give us mukti. Simply by pleasing Him, He can give us heavenly forms and all kinds of happiness. He can do so many things." The aim, therefore, is not to please Him, but to take something from Him.
We serve cows. Why? To take milk. If that cow will not give milk, we will not serve. Similarly, they are serving Visnu for what purpose? For liberation, for happiness on the heavenly planets, or for happiness here. Mahaprabhu said, "This is not actually an internal thing. It is external. You should say something further."
Pundarika can you explain Gita Samsara? All of you should always remember this story. Are you following this story? Some of you are yawning and some are sleeping. Don't sleep. I have come to give very good, sweet nectar. If you sleep, what will I do? I will take that nectar and return to India-to Vrindavana. So don't sleep. You should listen to this very powerful story.
Pundarika prabhu: Once there was a guru and disciple. The disciple was serving his guru in many ways. He was also becoming educated in different scriptures and getting trained in following Vedic culture. He was especially studying Bhagavad-Gita. Every day he would take lessons and make notes, and he would very sincerely try to understand what his gurudeva was trying to say in his explanation of the philosophy of Bhagavad-Gita. In due course of time, when his courses were completed, he bowed down to his gurudeva and requested his blessings so that he could go out and preach the message of Bhagavad-Gita in different parts of the world. His gurudeva was very happy to hear this and said, "Very good, but make sure that whenever you are in trouble, you will please remember me. Every day you must serve Bhagavad-Gita before trying to preach to others. Try to take the essence of Bhagavad-Gita in your life. In this way your life will be successful." Taking blessings from his gurudeva, the disciple traveled from village to village, preaching the message of Bhagavad-Gita. After some time he decided to stay for some days near a village.
Srila Narayana Maharaja: There was a beautiful river and beautiful forest.
Pundarika prabhu: He decided that he would stay there for a few days and daily give classes on Bhagavad-Gita. When local people heard that one nice sadhu had come, they were all very inspired to hear the philosophy of Bhagavad-Gita. They came every day and heard patiently. They also brought some gifts so he could maintain himself. He was thus very peaceful and happy.
Sometimes he would go to the river to take bath, or to some nearby places, and he would spend time out of his cottage. After some days he noticed that the corners of some of the pages of his Bhagavad-gita had been bitten by a rat. He became very distressed and thought, "Oh, this transcendental literature is my life and soul, and now a rat is eating it." At that time a person came to the village and saw that the sadhu was in anxiety. After inquiring about the cause, he advised him, "I have a solution. If you keep a cat with you, this rat will not come." The sadhu was very happy to hear this, but he did not know where to find a cat. The man said, "Don't worry, I will arrange a cat for you."
On the next day this man brought the cat. There was no more a question of rats, but there was another problem: the cat needed to drink milk. Now the sadhu was in anxiety about how to maintain the cat. The same man returned and said, "Oh, I know what is your problem. I advise you to get a cow. A cow will give you milk every day, and the cat will be healthy. Then you will have no problems."
Srila Narayana Maharaja: "You can also take the milk yourself; no harm."
Pundarika prabhu: The sadhu was very happy because he had a cat and now he would get a cow. That cow would give milk, and everything would be OK. After a few days, the sadhu was again not very happy. He was again in some anxiety. That cow had to eat grass. There were also a few calves. If he would not look after them, the calves would drink all the milk, and nothing would be left for the cat. Now he was in great anxiety. The same man came again and said, "Now I am actually trying to understand the real solution of your problem. Now you are actually in great trouble." The sadhu replied, "Yes. In order to maintain the cat, and in order to maintain the cow, and in order to maintain the calves, my time is more and more spent with these animals. I am spending less time with my Bhagavad-Gita."
The man said, "Yes, the actual solution is to get married. Then all the problems will be taken care of. Not only will your wife take care of your animals, but she will also take care of your clothes, and she will prepare nice food for you. You will not have to bother about anything. At night she will massage your feet, and you will have more time to read Gita. She can inspire you to read more Bhagavad-Gita, and she can ask questions and you can answer them."
The sadhu was very happy to hear the solution, and he asked, "How will I get a wife? Who would want to marry me?" The man said, "Don't worry about that. I will help you. I know a girl who is just suitable for you. She is fit for you in all respects. She will understand your mind, your heart, and your needs. She will very nicely serve you. Sometimes she will quarrel with you; no harm." The sadhu decided this was very good, and thus the man arranged a wife.
That wife was looking after things. After few days, however, the sadhu realized that his wife was not pleased in many ways, and again he was in anxiety. Gradually, in due course of time, there were children, and now the wife said to her husband, "All day you read Bhagavad-Gita. How will I take care of my children? I have to do so many things and I am supposed to read Bhagavad-Gita? This is not the way to do things." The fact was that the man was hardly reading Bhagavad-Gita at all. Now he kept his Bhagavad-gita in a cloth on the shelf and was instead completely engaged in household life - taking care of children, one after another, year after year.
One day when his gurudeva was travelling nearby, he came upon this place. He knew that his disciple was near this village, so he decided, "Let me go and see how my disciple is doing. Let me see how is his Krishna consciousness." There was no small cottage now. Instead there was a house, with many animals like cows and cats running around, and some children playing. One of the small children came over and he inquired, "There used to be a sadhu here?" The child replied, "I don't know, but my father and mother live here." He took him into his house. Gurudeva saw that his disciple was surrounded by children and wife, and completely entangled in household affairs.
The disciple was so happy to see him. He paid his obeisances, falling flat at his feet. Then he gave him an asana and welcomed him very nicely.
Gurudeva was simply looking at his disciple. He asked, "What is this? Where is your Bhagavad-gita? I gave you Bhagavad-gita, you were understanding the philosophy, and you were preaching so nicely. What is all this? What has happened? Are you not reading Bhagavad-gita?"
The disciple replied, "Gurudeva, it is a long story. I only tried to follow the instructions-to accept the essence of Bhagavad-gita in my life. In order to do that, this happened."
The guru said, "How is that?"
The disciple described the whole story, but what was the mistake in that story? His Gurudeva had previously told him, "Whenever you have any problem or are in trouble, come to me and I will help you." What did the disciple do instead? The first time he had a problem, he did not come to his guru. Instead, he was looking for solutions somewhere else. His advisors were people who were completely engrossed in the material conception of life. Although they had no idea of anyabhilasita sunyam and they were not qualified to advise, he had relied on them. Taking their instructions, he ended up like them. His Gurudeva again inspired him, and then asked, "Now what do you want? Do you want this life? Do you want to be like this, or do you really want to follow the instructions of Bhagavad-gita and come with me? Don't waste your precious human form of life."
The disciple said, "Yes Gurudeva, I am ready. Whatever you tell me, I will follow without any doubts. I will give my life completely to you. I surrender to you 100 percent." Gurudeva told him to give up his family life and come with him to preach the message of Bhagavad-gita.
Srila Narayana Maharaja: You should always remember this story. Are you following this story? Your Gurudeva gave you harinama initiation. And what did he say? Did he tell you to give up your sannyasa or your brahmacarya and marry? He has never told you this. A sadguru will never order in this way. So why are we doing all these things? We are entangled is so many ways, trying for material positions. We are giving up chanting and remembering - sravanam, kirtanam, visnu smaranam, pada-sevanam, arcanam - and following this Varnasrama dharma.
Prabhupada established Varnasrama dharma in Gita Nagari, and here, and there, but what did he want? He wanted to establish something so that devotees may go there and get a high class of association. Instead, they became entangled there, as Pundarika explained.
You should try to realize all these things. Mahaprabhu said, "It is external."
prabhu kahe,--"eho bahya, age kaha ara"
raya kahe, "krsna karmarpana--sarva-sadhya-sara"
["The Lord replied, 'This is external. You had better tell Me of some other means.' Ramananda replied, 'To offer the results of one's activities to Krishna is the essence of all perfection.'" (BBT)]
Ramananda Raya then.sited a sloka from the Gita,
yat karosi yad asnasi
yaj juhosi dadasi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya
tat kurusva mad-arpanam
["Ramananda Raya continued, 'My dear son of Kunti, whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer in sacrifice, whatever you give in charity, and whatever austerities you perform, all the results of such activities should be offered to Me, Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.'" (BBT)]
Syamarani dasi (reading from Caitanya-Caritamrta Madhya-lila 8. 65): "The Lord replied, "This is external. You had better tell Me some other meanings.'"
Srila Narayana Maharaja: Simply to be grhastha will not do. If one is in the grhastha asrama, then he should be like Srinivasa Acarya, or Srivasa Pandita. Be like Yudhisthira, Arjuna, Bhima, Nakula, Sahadeva, and Draupadi, like the Yaduvamsis, and moreover like the gopis.
The gopis were also householders, but what kind? They always did everything for Krishna. Their life and soul was always for Him. They were always chanting and remembering Him. If they were cleaning their houses they were singing, "Govinda Damodara Madhaveti, Govinda Damodara Madhaveti." If they were putting their children to sleep, they did not say "Oh, sleep." They were singing, "Govinda Damodara Madhaveti, Govinda Damodara Madhaveti." If they were doing anything in the house, like cleaning, sweeping, or anything else, they were singing, "Govinda Damodara Madhaveti, Govinda Damodara Madhaveti."
In the morning they used to teach parrots to say, "Govinda Damodara Madhaveti, Govinda Damodara Madhaveti." While cooking they sang, "Govinda Damodara Madhaveti, Govinda Damodara Madhaveti." While churning yogurt they sang, "Govinda Damodara Madhaveti, Govinda Damodara Madhaveti." Nothing else but, "Govinda Damodara Madhaveti, Govinda Damodara Madhaveti."
You can be grhastha like this. Do not be the type of grhastha about whom Pundarika told in this story. If you give up chanting and remembering, and instead you are simply going to work to maintain your life, what will happen? You will be always entangled. Even if you cannot chant and remember Krishna, try to sing, "Govinda Damodara Madhaveti."
Syamarani dasi: "Ramananda replied, 'To offer the results of one's activities to Krishna is the essence of all perfection. O, son of Kunti, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering to Me.'"
Srila Narayana Maharaja: Mahaprabhu said this is also external. Why? What is the harm if you want to offer the fruits of your activities to Krishna? It is very good. You can pray like this, "O Krishna, whatever austerities I have performed, whatever chanting and remembering I am doing, please accept it." If you are going to Govardhana parikrama, you can pray, "Krishna, I am offering the fruits of my Govardhana parikrama to You."
But, what did Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu say? Can you tell?
Aranya Maharaja: He said there is some fault in this. What is that? There is so much false ego in this. 'Aham mameti.' I and mine; I am the proprietor. Something belongs to me and out of my causeless mercy, I am giving that to Krishna.
Srila Narayana Maharaja: Do you understand the falsity there? "I am servant of Krishna, I have offered myself at the lotus feet of Krishna. I am Krishna's." What meaning is that? You are not the doer, so how can you offer anything to Krishna? You should offer yourself. Then everything is offered to Krishna. Then nothing remains. Do you understand? What did I say?
Devotee: You said that we have nothing to offer. We should offer ourselves to Krishna first, then everything is offered to Krishna. So I have nothing to offer but myself.
Srila Narayana Maharaja: If you are going to offer Krishna all the fruits of your activities, what will be the harm?
Devotee: I am not the doer, I am not the proprietor.
Srila Narayana Maharaja: Yes. Who is the proprietor?
Devotee: Krishna .
Srila Narayana Maharaja: Your father may give all kinds of property to you. Later you cannot say, "I am donating something to my father." You cannot do that because all that you have belongs to him. You can only serve. You should try to realize all these things. You are not the doer. Krishna is the full proprietor of everything. You should offer yourself like Prahlada Maharaja did. He offered himself. Nrsimhadeva told him, "I will give you a boon." Prahlada said, "I have not served You to get something. If I have any desire for a boon, please take it away." Then Nrsimhadeva told him, "Still you should ask." Prahlada said, "Please forgive my father." The Lord said, "Oh, I have done that already. You should ask for something else." Prahlada answered, "The fruits of my bhakti should be divided and distributed to all. Everyone should go to the transcendental world. I want to be here to suffer for their sins." Lord Nrsimhadeva replied, "You have defeated Me. Anyone hearing these pastimes will be liberated."
Still, the gopis are more surrendered, so much so that they are in the top list of surrendered souls. They are so surrendered that they can even put their feet on the head of Krishna. If the gopis or the sakhas take something, they will not offer it to Krishna. Why? They have offered themselves. There is nothing more to offer.
After this Ramananda Raya said:
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah
["Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear. " (BBT)]
Srila Narayana Maharaja: This is Bhagavad-Gita As It Is, by Srila Swami Maharaja. You should try to realize what Mahaprabhu is telling.
Syamarani dasi (reading from Cc. Madya-lila 8.70): "'After giving up all kinds of religious and occupational duties, if you come to Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and take shelter, I will give you protection from all of life's sinful reactions. Do not worry.' In this connection, Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami instructs in his book Manah-siksa:
na dharmam nadharmam sruti-gana niruktam kila kuru
vraje radha-krsna pracura-paricaryam iha tanu
saci-sunum nandisvara-pati-sutatve guru-varam
mukunda-presthatve smara param ajasram nanu manah
He has thus enjoined that we should not perform religious or irreligious activities as prescribed in the Vedas. The best course is to engage always in the service to Lord Krishna and Radharani. That is the perfection."
Srila Narayana Maharaja: He is saying 'Radharani.' Why is he taking the name of Radharani here? Some persons say we should not utter the name of Radharani, but Srila Swami Maharaja has done this everywhere. Those who say this are not in his line. He never said that we should not read 10th Canto and that we should not hear rasa-lila. What has he told? A lusty person who cannot give up his lust can hear 10th canto, especially the rasa-lila, from a highly elevated devotee. Then lust may go; otherwise it cannot go. Rasa-lila is more powerful then any other lila. If one is not hearing this, but instead always reading in Mahabharata how Bhima, Dhusasana, Arjuna, Karna, and Bhisma Pitamaha were always fighting, it will not do. Aways hear Srimad Bhagavatam, and then lust and everything will go automatically. It is very powerful.
Here Mahaprabhu is saying that the essence and purport of Bhagavad-gita is external. It is not sufficient. Why? Because the essence and the purport of Bhagavad-gita goes up to saranagati. Saranagati is only the door of devotion and love.
By reading Bhagavad-gita, you will be qualified to read Srimad Bhagavatam. Bhagavad-gita is a book of primary school and Srimad Bhagavatam is for post-graduates. If you do not read Bhagavad-gita, you cannot understand Srimad Bhagavatam. This is the basic platform. Bhagavad-gita is also essential to make a platform. After this you can make a very sweet building of Vrindavana, where you can serve Radha and Krishna.