Vienna, Austria: September 19, 2002
Tridandisvami Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja
[This lecture was delivered by Parama-pujyapada Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja on the Appearance Day of Sri Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura, at the Sri Krsna Caitanya Mission in Vienna, founded by Prapujyacarana Sri Srimad Bhakti Vaibhava Puri Maharaja. Srila Narayana Maharaja and the 150 devotees in attendance were extremely pleased by the exceptional degree of hospitality exhibited by the devotees from this matha. Srila Maharaja remarked that these excellent displays of Vaisnava etiquette, and the beautiful, well-organized facility, are ideal examples for all Vaisnava preaching centers.
In this lecture, Srila Maharaja tells about the life and character of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and explains the essence of the teachings in the Thakura's writings:]
I offer millions of dandavat pranamas unto the lotus feet of my Gurudeva,
Nitya-lila-pravista Om Visnupada Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami
Maharaja. My dandavats to Parama-pujyapada Prapujyacarana Om Visnupada
Sri Srimad Bhakti Vaibhava Puri Maharaja, and to our guru parampara.
Today we are observing the auspicious Appearance Day of Srila Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura. He is considered to be the Saptama (seventh) Gosvami, and he has written more than one hundred very authorized books in many languages. He has especially given us two very important gifts. He discovered the birthplace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and he gave us Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada.
I want to tell you about an extraordinary kirtana that he wrote and sang; Harinama Tuwa, Aneka Swarupa (O Harinama, You Possess Unlimited Forms). Perhaps we have no idea of the very deep meaning of this kirtana. The analogy is given of a mango seed; we don't see that within the mango seed there is a tree, full with branches, leaves and fruits. The entire tree exists within that seed. If you plant that seed in the earth and water it properly, a very beautiful tree will gradually grow from it.
A large tree with many branches, leaves, beautiful sweet fruits, and manjaris will emerge. Cuckoo birds may sit on the branches and sing; "cuckoo, cuckoo." Everything is within that seed, but when it is still in a seed form, all this is not apparent to us. It will take some time for us to see the complete tree.
Similarly, guru gives sabda-brahma (transcendental sound, or Bhagavan in the form of sound) in the holy name, Hare Krsna, but we have not realized anything yet. We chant because Gurudeva has told us to do so. After some days, if we don't see any result, we become disheartened and give up our chanting. We think, "Oh, there is nothing there." On the other hand, if a sad-guru gives harinama to any strong devotee, that devotee will have so many realizations by following the process of bhakti. He will see Krsna's pastimes in the seed of the holy name and think, "Oh, Krsna is taking birth from Yasoda". He will think, "Nanda Baba is supporting and nourishing Krsna. Krsna is very restless. He is stealing butter from different gopis and is wrestling with Baladeva Prabhu."
All the pastimes of Krsna are present in the holy name, and a pure devotee can see them all. If the disciple can realize the meaning of this kirtana, he will develop a real taste and never fall down. But he must develop some taste.
A devotee may receive harinama from his gurudeva and begin chanting, but if one is not becoming free from anarthas and is not developing a taste, he will give up chanting and his devotional service as well. There are many examples of persons who have been renounced sannyasis for 20 or 30 years; such persons may even have initiated disciples. However, after years of service to his gurudeva, he may conclude, "I'm in a dilemma; I have not realized anything. Everything that I believed to be true is false. I'm giving up my sannyasa and my chanting and remembering; I will no longer cheat others. I'm going to marry and start a real life."
Many have fallen because they have no faith in their gurudeva or the holy names. Without this faith, one cannot realize that Srimati Radhika, Krsna, and rasa are all present in the seed of this name, Hare Krsna. All the pastimes of Krsna described in this song (Hari Nama Tuwa) are present within it; all the Vraja-lila, Mathura-lila, Dvaraka-lila, and Goloka Vrndavana lila are there.
Moreover, new pastimes, which have not been written in Srimad Bhagavatam, can be discovered in this song. Our gosvamis discovered so many pastimes, and other gosvamis, like Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, may come and reveal more and more.
You should aspire to be like our gosvamis. Have full faith in your guru and continue chanting. Don't be satisfied with chanting only 16 rounds. This is not sufficient to control your restless mind, which is wandering here and there and thinking of worldly things. Chant 64 rounds or 128 rounds with strong faith, and then you will realize all these truths. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has said that very strong faith is required.
The Thakura has written thousands of songs like, "yasomati nandana vraja-varo-nagara, gokula-ranjana kana" and "bolo hari hari, mukunda murari, rama krsna hayagriva." All of the important pastimes of Krsna are within these songs, and if you sing them with faith and honor, these pastimes will be revealed to you. We should try to sincerely follow Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. He gave us a treasure chest of realized transcendental literature, and that is why he is called the Seventh Gosvami.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura took birth in Ulagrama in the Nadia district, very near to Mayapura and the birthplace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. His father passed away when he was very young, and he was raised in his maternal uncle's house in Ulagrama and later on he was brought to Calcutta. He studied in Calcutta and was brilliant from his boyhood. He began writing poetry when he was very young, and among his early books was Sri Prema-pradipa.
He was very friendly with the family of Rabindrinatha Tagore. The members of the Tagore family were very learned, but they became brahma-vadis, and joined the Brahma Samaja. They wanted to establish the philosophy of the Brahma Samaja, which was based on a mixture of beliefs from the world's major religions. In his book Prema-pradipa, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura opposed the philosophical principles of the Brahma Samaja.
During this time, the Thakura visited different universities in Calcutta, where he lectured and gave classes that were widely appreciated. He was also writing many articles about Sri Krsna and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. After some time, he left Calcutta and went to live at his grandfather's home in Orissa. His grandfather was a teacher, and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura also became a teacher while living there.
After that he went to Jagannatha Puri and was appointed deputy magistrate for that district. The government, recognizing Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura's abilities and high qualifications, assigned him the additional post of supervisor of the Jagannatha Temple. His management style was very strong and was appreciated by the inhabitants of Jagannatha Puri. Many significant events took place while Bhaktivinoda Thakura was there. The members of one group offered him a bribe of 300,000 rupees and told him, "We want to put a statue of a dog on the top of the Jagannatha Temple." They wanted to prove that there is no difference between Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra, and a dog or a cat. These people thought, "All living beings are Brahman and are equal. If Ganesh, Sakti, and Siva are Brahman and are worshipped, why not worship a cat, or a dog? They are all the same Brahman." To show that there is no difference between God and the ordinary jiva, this group wanted to put a statue of a dog on the top of the Mandira. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura refused to accept the enormous bribe and he forcefully rejected their request. To prevent the spread of this mayavada philosophy, he also instructed the residents of Jagannatha Puri about the life and teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
In Orissa there was a powerful yogi named Bhibiksena, who wanted to enjoy rasa-lila like Krsna. He was a siddha yogi with long matted locks; and when he would shake his head from side to side, his locks would stand on end and flames would shoot out from his hair. He openly declared throughout Orissa, "I am Sri Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. I have come to enjoy my lila (pastimes)."
Many of the young ladies and girls of Orissa, beguiled by this yogi's display of mystic powers, desperately wanted to sing and dance with him on the purnima (full moon) night. As a result, the husbands of these ladies, as well as many high class and educated people, filed a court case against the yogi. The government assigned Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura to manage the case.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura went to see that yogi, who, although he had not heard from anyone, knew who the Thakura was, and why he had come. The yogi calmly told him, "Oh, you are Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the deputy magistrate. You have come to file a court case against me, but you cannot, for I am Krsna Himself. I have come here to engage in the rasa dance, and during the next full moon night I will do so. No one, not even the government, can oppose me. Soon I will fight against the entire government and drive the British out of India. Then I will become the emperor of all India."
This was a very serious matter and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura replied sternly, "I know that you are a siddha yogi, but you are not God, and your powers are insignificant. I have come to tell you to renounce your false claims and give up your plans to engage in the imitation rasa dance. I am giving you seven days to retract your statements. If you do not, I will arrest you and file a case in court against you."
The yogi answered, "You cannot arrest me. Try to do what you can against me, but I will not change my plans to do the rasa dance."
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura returned after seven days, accompanied by the police inspector and his men. He told the yogi, "I have come to arrest you if you do not change your plans."
The yogi replied arrogantly, "Oh, you still don't know me? I am the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna. I must perform the rasa dance. I will not change my plans."
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura ordered the police, "Arrest him!" When they tried to capture the yogi, he shook his head from side to side, and long flames flew from his matted locks. The police inspector and his men were very frightened and quickly ran away, dropping their guns and clubs in their haste to escape. Left alone to deal with the yogi, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura leapt forward, grabbed Bhibiksena by the hair, and forcibly cut off his matted locks with a pair of scissors. The Thakura subdued him and took him to the criminal court of Orissa in Puri, where a date was fixed for a hearing.
The Thakura was accustomed to awakening in the night at about 12:00 am, performing bhajana, and writing transcendental poems until 4:00 am. He would sing and recite slokas from Gitavali, Saranagati Kalyana Kalpataru, Srimad Bhagavatam, the writings of Rupa Gosvami, Yamunacarya (the guru of Ramanujacarya) and other Vaisnava authors. Deep in the night he would recite and sing these slokas, totally absorbed in his bhajana, and after that he would write his decisions and judgments for various cases.
Early in the morning of the day that he was to hear the case, the Thakura was beset with severe stomach pains that were so intense that he could not do his work. His wife was alarmed and exclaimed, "Why are you giving trouble to that yogi? By his curse, you may die!" The Thakura answered, "Oh, I will not die. The pain is here only for the moment. It will pass."
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura went to the court that morning and summoned the yogi to appear. Bhibiksena was insolent and spoke a warning to the Thakura: "Do you remember last night? I sent you so much pain." The Thakura dismissed him saying, "I know what you did, but your powers are insignificant. You cannot intimidate me." After that, the yogi was not able to do anything to harm him. By his example, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura demonstrated that if anyone is chanting the holy names of the Lord, all kinds of disease, magic, and other negative influences can be checked.
He then addressed the yogi: "If you decide not perform the rasa dance, and if you behave like a common citizen and renounce your claim to be Krsna, I may be lenient in my judgment. Otherwise, you will have to spend six months in prison, doing hard labor. That puffed up yogi would not comply, and thus, he was sent to prison, where he died from a self-imposed fast. This is an example of how Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura expertly administered in the district; and there were many other incidents while he was in Puri.
Over time, the Thakura was transferred to many other provinces. He was sent to Krishnagara, Bihara, and also served in Vrndavana. While in Vrndavana, he went to Radha Kunda and Surya Kunda. At Radha Kunda, he met Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja, who was 144 years old at that time. He was so old that the lids of his eyes would droop over his eyes in heavy folds. In order to see, he would lift the skin from over his eyes, and peering at someone from beneath these folds, he would say, "I am like an old turtle." Despite his apparent aged condition, he could dance with great energy when he sang devotional songs, and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura would associate with him whenever he could.
While Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was at Radha Kunda, the disciples of Jagannatha das Babaji Maharaja complained to him about the instructions they were receiving from their Gurudeva. They told him, "We have given up our houses, our children, fathers, mothers, wives, and our positions. We have left everything to do bhajana and to remember asta-kaliya-lila. We have left everything, but our Gurudeva is telling us to grow brinjals (eggplant) and other vegetables and flowers for Thakurji. We did not come here to grow vegetables, flowers and fruits. Sir, should we return to our homes? We don't know what to do."
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura told them, "You should try to serve your Gurudeva and follow his orders. You are chanting Hare Krsna, but you are full of anarthas (impurities) and cannot chant suddha-nama (the pure name). You may chant for thousands and thousands of births and not accomplish anything. It is good and proper that you follow your Gurudeva's instructions. You cannot remember the pastimes of Krsna while you are contaminated by these anarthas. If you try to remember the asta-kaliya-lila before you are purified, the desire for young women and other material things will rise in your heart. You will soon give up your bhajana to become involved with women and you will return to worldly life. Most Radha Kunda babajis are doing just that, mixing illicitly with widows and having children with them; they are not doing any real bhajana.
"Do not fall down like them. You should follow your Gurudeva's orders; engage your energy in growing fruits and vegetables to offer to Thakurji or to a pure Vaisnava. You should also chant the holy name, Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna. Real paramarthika (transcendental) impressions and sukrti will come into your heart, and you will be able to truly follow your Guru. Then, as chanting, remembering, and performing kirtana cleanse these anarthas, all the pastimes of Krsna will automatically enter your hearts. Don't follow the example of the Radha Kunda babajis. They don't know Vaisnava etiquette. They don't even know how to clean themselves after using the latrine. They certainly don't know any krsna-tattva, maya-tattva, or jiva- tattva. Ignorant persons who have left their homes arrive here knowing nothing about siddhanta. These babajis will cheat them, and for only two rupees, give them a false siddha name and a false siddha-deha. They will say, 'Now you are a gopi; your name is Lalita or Visakha.' This is abominable."
In his Jaiva Dharma, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has written everything about the authentic process to become a paramahamsa. Jaiva Dharma is the essence of the Vedas, Upanishads, Srimad Bhagavatam, and the writings of Sri Rupa Gosvami, Sri Raghunatha das Gosvami and our guru-varga. Asta-kaliya-lila is described for those that are advanced, but how does one become qualified to understand it? One must systematically study Jaiva Dharma from beginning to end, starting with the first part where there is a description of the material world, and proceeding through a study of Dasa-mula and all the tattvas.
By following Jaiva Dharma properly, your anarthas will gradually disappear and you will be able to practice bhakti as exemplified by the two disciples, Brajanatha and Vijay Kumara. They practiced first in Navadvipa and then in Puri, and they were completely conversant with all the teachings of the important literatures by our guru-varga, including Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu and Ujjvala-nilamani. They had realized all the stages of prema: vibhava, anubhava, sattvika, vyabhicari, etc. Thus they received real diksa, and they were blessed with a vision of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, dancing with Lord Nityananda and all of their associates.
Brajanatha's uncle, Vijay Kumar, was a paramahamsa who had renounced his worldly life and was remembering asta-kaliya-lila on the seashore. As unlimited waves appear one after another on the seashore, so it is in the ocean of rasa. Krsna is that ocean of rasa, and the innumerable waves are the different bhavas (spiritual emotions) experienced by the devotee, such as: bhava, anubhava, sattvika, vyabhicari, uddipana, and alambana.
Anyone can become qualified to understand asta-kaliya-lila by attentively and respectfully hearing Jaiva Dharma. Without this knowledge, one cannot become qualified, but one must start from the beginning. Hearing with honor will help one to develop strong faith in gurudeva and to follow his instructions. We should be eager to do so. Don't jump to the top of the rasa tree; begin from the root. Follow the process Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has given in Jaiva Dharma. Serve your gurudeva; have strong faith in sad-guru and Vaisnavas; and always be in good Vaisnava association.
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has written that the ultimate goal of life is described in the Srimad Bhagavatam:
aradhyo bhagavan vrajesa-tanayas tad-dhama vrndavanam
ramya kacid upasana vraja-vadhu-vargena va kalpita
srimad bhagavatam pramanam amalam prema pumartho mahan
sri caitanya mahaprabhor matam idam tatradarah na parah
["The Supreme Personality of Godhead, the son of Nanda Maharaja, is to be worshiped along with His transcendental abode, Vrndavana. The most pleasing form of worship for the Lord is that which was performed by the gopis of Vrndavana. Srimad-Bhagavatam is the spotless authority on everything, and pure love of God is the ultimate goal of life for all men. These statements, for which we have the highest regard, are the opinion of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. We are not interested in anyone else's opinion."]
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura says that Vrajendranandana Sri Krsna is complete. He does not refer to Krsna as Vasudeva-nandana or Devaki-nandana. Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and as He is supreme, Vrndavana is also supreme. Vrndavana is not made of earth or clay or any material elements; it is cinmaya-bhumi, a fully transcendental place.
The aradhana (method and mood of worship) of the gopis is extremely high. Among Krsna's associates in Vrndavana, the aradhana of the gopis gives Krsna the highest pleasure. The mood of the gopis is supreme, and supreme amongst the gopis is Radhika. Radhika's mood is so high that even Krsna cannot experience or understand it. To relish the mood of Radhika, and to taste radha-pranaya mahima (the excellence of Radha's love for Krsna), He came in the form of Sri Sacinandana-Gaurahari.
Srimad Bhagavam is the highest pramana (evidence) that explains the love of the gopis for Krsna. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught that krsna-prema is the highest goal. The goal of our life should be to achieve prema, transcendental love and affection for Krsna. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught that the prema of the gopis is the highest and that we should aspire to follow in their footsteps.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has written Dasa-mula, which is an elaboration of the above-mentioned verse by Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura. It contains ten ontological truths in condensed form. By understanding these truths, one can realize the true meaning of Lord Caitanya's teachings:
amnaya praha tattvam harim iha paramam sarva-saktim rasabdhim
tad-bhinnamsams ca jivan prakrti-kavalitan tad-vimuktams ca bhavad
bhedabheda-prakasam sakalam api hareh sadhanam suddha-bhaktim
sadhyam tat-pritim evety upadisati janan gauracandrah svayam sah
In addition to the above, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has given us a practical means to achieve our goal of krsna-prema in two lines. He has encapsulated all the truths of the Vedas, Bhagavatam, Upanishads, etc., in two lines:
krsnera samsara koro chadi anacar
jive doya krsna-namasarva-dharma-sara
["Carry on your worldly duties, but in relation to Krsna, and give up sinful behavior. Show compassion to all fallen souls by loudly chanting the holy name of Krsna. This is the essence of all forms of religion." (from the song Nadiya-Godrume) ]
What is the meaning of this verse? This verse is meant for both tyagis (renunciates) and grhastas (family men). Whatever you do, do it to please Krsna. Krsna manifests as diksa-guru, siksa-guru, Vaisnava, and all of the associates of Krsna and Caitanya Mahaprabhu. We must not neglect others while serving Krsna. If you have honor for Krsna but not for Baladeva, not for diksa-guru, and not for siksa-guru, your bhakti will be diminished. So the word Krsna in this verse has so many deep meanings. It means Krsna and all of His associates and tadiya-vastu (those persons and things that have relation to Him), like Tulasi-devi, hari-nama, maha prasada, etc.
mahaprasade govinde nama brahmani vaisnave,
svalpam punya vrtam rajan,visvaso nava jayate.
["Those who have very few pious activities to their credit can never develop faith in mahaprasada, in Sri Govinda, in the holy name of the Lord, or in the Vaisnavas." (Caitanya Caritamrta Antya-lila 16:96 purport from- Skanda Purana)]
These are all Krsna, but some are visaya Krsna (Krsna as the object of love), and some are asraya Krsna (the servant of Krsna who is the abode of that love). We offer more honor to asraya Krsna than visaya Krsna. If we serve Mother Yasoda and the gopis more than Krsna, Krsna will be pleased.
yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado
yasyaprasadanna-gatih kuto 'pi
dhyayam stuvams tasya yasas tri-sandhyam
vande guroh sri-caranaravindam
["By the mercy of the spiritual master one is benedicted by the mercy of Krsna. Without the grace of the spiritual master no one can make any advancement. Therefore I should always remember the spiritual master. At least three times a day I should offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of my spiritual master." (Sri Gurvastakam)]
You should worship your guru, but the guru should be a genuine guru, not a garu (an animal). A guru should follow all the rules and regulations of the Vaisnavas. He should chant the holy name and have love and affection for his disciples. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura states that to please Krsna, one must behave like a Vaisnava. All advancement in bhakti depends on pleasing Krsna and his associates. This means to serve guru, Vaisnava, the dhama, the holy name, and all that are related to Krsna.
"Krsnera samsara koro chadi anacar." This means that one will have to renounce anacara, that which is unfavorable to the Vaisnavas, and one must follow Vaisnava acara (proper conduct). Sri Sanatana Gosvami has elaborately delineated the principles of proper conduct in the Hari-bhakti-vilas.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has also written about the ten kinds of
nama-aparadha, and 64 kinds of other aparadha, including dhama-aparadha and
seva-aparadha.. These aparadhas must be avoided. Follow the 64 angas (limbs) of bhakti. Among them, nine kinds of bhakti are considered more important: sravanam, kirtanam, smaranam, pada-sevanam, arcanam, vandanam, dasyam, sakhyam, and atma-nivedanam. Among these, five are more important: sadhu-sanga, nama-kirtana, bhagavat-sravana, mathura-vasa, and sri murti-sraddha sevana. Of these, three, sravanam, kirtanam and smaranam, are most important. Among them, kirtana is the best; "param vijayate Sri Krsna sankirtana." Sankirtana is the essence of bhakti.
Jive doya means to have mercy upon the living entities. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has ordered us: Tell them that they are spirit souls; they are not this physical body. They are part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, but they have forgotten this. Now they should engage in the process of bhakti-yoga and be happy. To turn anyone's interest or tendency toward Krsna, is more valuable than establishing thousands of schools, hospitals, public gardens and performing charitable works. We should try to help others.
Srila Rupa Gosvami has written in Sri Upadesamrta:
smrtyoh kramena rasana-manasi niyojya
tisthan vraje tad-anuragi jananugami
kalam nayed akhilam ity upadesa-saram
["The essence of all advice is that one should utilize one's full time, twenty-four hours a day, in nicely chanting and remembering the Lord's divine name, transcendental form, qualities and eternal pastimes, thereby gradually engaging one's tongue and mind. In this way one should reside in Vraja (Goloka Vrndavana dhama) and serve Krsna under the guidance of devotees. One should follow in the footsteps of the Lord's beloved devotees, who are deeply attached to His devotional service." (Upadesamrta, verse 8)]
This is the essence of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura's life and teachings.
Editorial Advisor: Brajanatha dasa
Transcribed and edited by Janardana dasa
Assistant editor: Syamarani dasi