Tridandisvami Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
Darsan for ISKCON Gurukula Alumni
January 15, 2010
[During Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja’s week-long Hari-katha festival in Sao Paulo, Brazil, one day just after his morning walk, he gave his audience to about twenty Gurukula alumni, and other devotees as well. The following is a transcription of that darsan:]
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Where is Prema-prayojana?
Prema-prayojana, how are you?
[Prema-prayojana dasa (formally a sannyasa disciple of Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja named Aranya Maharaja):] Okay, Gurudeva, by your grace I could come here.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Your wife has divorced you?
[Prema-prayojana dasa:] No.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] I want that she should divorce or you should divorce. I have not left my hope that you will again return back.
[Prema-prayojana dasa:] By your grace, at the last moment before the festival I got the ticket.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] That is okay, but I want divorce. Either you or she should divorce. *
[Prema-prayojana dasa:] But in many lectures you told everyone, “No divorce.”
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Last night after your class, I remarked something. Did you understand?
[Prema-prayojana dasa:] Yes. “Apane na kaile dharma sikhana na yaya, ei ta’ siddhanta gita-bhagavate gaya.” [“Unless one practices devotional service himself, he cannot teach it to others. This conclusion is indeed confirmed throughout the Gita and Bhagavatam.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 3.22]
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Don’t lose your life. Be totally towards me. Why, I don’t know – being such a learned scholar, knowing everything; and still you fell in the dark well. We have given you a rope. Please hold on to it.
[Sripad Madhava Maharaja:] Now the gurukulis can ask their questions.
[Brajanath dasa:] Let them come forward.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Have the ISKCON leaders told you that if you go to see Narayana Maharaja, then don’t return to ISKCON?
[Devotee:] No, Srila Maharaja, they have not said this.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Are you attending my classes?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Yes, you should attend. ISKCON cannot give you what we are giving.
[Devotee (initiated by Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja):] Gurudeva, I have a question. We are supposed to always respect our parents in every way. I would like to know what kind of attitude we should have if our parents are not favorable, or even committing offenses, towards you lotus feet.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Do you know Prahlada Maharaja? He remained very tolerant, even though his father tried to kill him. At least your father is not saying that he will kill you. It is better to wait and tolerate their behavior, but don’t be derailed. Be very strong like Prahlada Maharaja – more so than Prahlada. Of course you cannot be more tolerant than he was; yet try.
What do the ISKCON Gurukulis want to say?
[Devotee:] Srila Gurudeva, many of us boys and girls were born and raised on a farm close to here. We went to Gurukula there, and lived there during our childhood. Today the place is very disgraced, as so many devotees who have lived there for many years have no taste in bhakti and are offensive to you.
Within our hearts we like that place. Whenever we return there from another place, we feel as if we are going back home. Is there anything we can do to change the attitude of those devotees? Is it right to do anything to change them?
[Prema-prayojana dasa:] To affect the community there?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Four books have been published about my relationship with my siska-guru, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja (Their Lasting Relation, My Siksa-guru, Priya-bandhu, and Our Gurus – One in Siddhanta, One at Heart), as well as a book of his letters to me (Letters From America). You should try to read them.
[Prema-prayojana dasa:] When those who are against Gurudeva read these books and understand his relationship with Srila Prabhupada, they may change.
[Sripad Madhava Maharaja:] And Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja wrote the letters in his own handwriting, and in those letters he told about their relationship. *
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] In truth, they do not have the respect for Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja that I have. They cannot properly glorify him as I do. They know practically nothing of his real glory. They cannot even explain the definition of bhakti. Can you explain it? You have been there for so many years. I know you don’t know it.
If you want money, then be in ISKCON, and if you want bhakti, then strictly come to me. I will give you bhakti.
There is one thing more I want to say. About a month and a half ago, a delegation of the ISKCON GBC members – Sripad Gopal Krsna Maharaja, Sripad Lokanatha Maharaja, Sriman Bhadri-narayana dasa, Sriman Ravindra-svarupa dasa, and Sriman Anuttama dasa – came to me (in Govardhana) and said, “We have done so many wrong things. Please excuse us, please excuse us, please excuse us. We want to have the same relationship with you that we had before.”
I told them, “I am very happy to hear this. I am ready. I would like to be able to enter your mathas (temples) and speak hari-katha, and you should come to my classes in my mathas and attend my festivals everywhere. We should be together in that way.
I said, “You know that your Gurudeva took sannyasa in Sri Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha. I am witness to this. At the time of his sannyasa ceremony, I taught him how to wear his sannyasa cloth, I prepared his danda, and I assisted him in all other ways. I have had a relationship with him since 1946.”
You should know that almost ninety percent of the sannyasis of ISKCON have entered grhastha life, and many even went against ISKCON and took a lot of money. On the other hand, it is very rare for my sannyasis to fall down – only a few have fallen. He is practically the only one. (Pointing to Prema-prayojana dasa) He is the black sheep of my sannyasis.
[Sripad Madhava Maharaja:] But he is not against bhakti. He is not against devotee and devotion. He is in line. .
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] I appreciate him, because although he has somewhat gone down, he is very strong in siddhanta and is always following me wherever I go. Whereas in ISKCON, so many sannyasis gave up the path of pure bhakti. I hope he will soon come back [to sannyasa, and be wholly mine].
[Prema-prayojana dasa:] I am here.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Have you no shame? Are you not ashamed?
[Brajanath dasa:] Now more Gurukulis have arrived.
(To Gurukulis) You should deeply think about whether you want money or pure bhakti. If you want pure bhakti, then attend my classes at any cost.
[Devotee:] We are so young, and there are so many things in the world that pull us. Maya is very strong. What is your advice for us to keep strong and develop in bhakti?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] If there is a strong rain-shower, you can be protected by a big umbrella. Do you understand? Similarly, if you take shelter of a pure Vaisnava, then you can very easily be protected from maya.
[Devotee:] Gurudeva, what will happen if there is no association where we live?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Without good association you will not attain pure bhakti. You can chant the holy name, but it is very difficult to chant properly without good association.
[Devotee:] What should we do if we are not in good association?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] You should all come under the umbrella of a powerful Vaisnava at once.
You should know that all of my Western sannyasis and thousands of my brahmacaris are from ISKCON, having lived there for twenty-five, twenty, ten, or five years. They became so much attracted by hearing my classes that they came to me and joined.
[Devotee:] Yesterday I had a dream, and you were in it. I was very scared in that dream, and I woke up with that feeling of fear in my heart. I want to ask if being scared is a normal feeling? I was scared because all my close, intimate friends, and the people who I really, really care about and who are important in my life, are in ISKCON. I am afraid that once I accept your lotus feet, I will be very much discriminated against by them.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] In your childhood and when you became more grown up, did you not have a deep connection with your father, mother, sister, and other relatives?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] And now you have even more of a relation with the ISKCON leaders and other devotees. Do you understand?
Similarly, you can again give up your present relationships for better ones by coming to me. Everyone wants success in their life, and the most successful thing is pure bhakti. If you want bhakti, especially pure bhakti, then come to me.
Do you know the definition of bhakti? I know that you cannot explain it:
anyabhilasita sunyamjnana karmadi anavritamanukulyena krsnanusilanambhaktir uttama
["The cultivation of activities that are meant exclusively for the pleasure of Sri Krsna, or in other words the uninterrupted flow of service to Sri Krsna, performed through all endeavours of the body, mind and speech, and through the expression of various spiritual sentiments (bhavas), which is not covered by jnana (knowledge aimed at impersonal liberation) and karma (reward-seeking activity), and which is devoid of all desires other than the aspiration to bring happiness to Sri Krsna, is called uttama-bhakti, pure devotional service." (Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.1.11)]
Can you bravely come to my evening class? All of you?
[Brajanath dasa:] They have all been coming, every day.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Come to my class this evening, and there we will define pure bhakti. In pure bhakti there is no anyabhilasa, no desires other than the desire to please Krsna. (To Prema-prayojana dasa) Please explain this verse in brief.
[Prema-prayojana dasa:] Srila Gurudeva is saying that it is important to understand the definition of pure bhakti. In brief, the meaning of the verse is this: Pure bhakti is the continuous, unbroken cultivation of all activities of the body, mind, words, and spiritual feelings which are meant exclusively for the benefit of Sri Krsna, which are completely free from all other desires, and which is not covered by karma (fruitive activities), jnana (knowledge to get liberation), yoga, and other things.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Almost all the ISKCON leaders are anyabhilasita, which means that they have desires other than the desire for bhakti. They want money – and also bhakti. Their status may be called bhakti, but it is “adhama-bhakti,” meaning the lowest class of bhakti. I request you all; don’t lose your valuable time. Try to achieve pure bhakti.
Thank you all.
[*Endnote – Sastra forbids a sannyasi (one in the renounced order of life) to again become a householder. Still, the editors of this harikatha article had reservations about publishing this section of the darsana. They expressed their concerns to Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, who replied, "Why should you publish my words only when I give praise? My entire talk with Prema-prayojana must be given in print. I have chastised him. A guru has the power to chastise, and others will learn if it is given in print.]