Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
The GBC Meets With Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
Mathura, India: May 29, 1993
The following is Part Two of one of numerous darsanas (informal meetings) held by Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja for some of the ISKCON gurus and other senior ISKCON devotees. To download or hear the audio file of any of the hundred or so darsanas, please visit www.purebhakti.tv.]
[Question:] Does the type of bhakti attained by an aspiring devotee depend on the kind of association that candidate gets?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] It depends on whether or not the candidate has greed. Does he have any special greed or not?
[Question:] No greed.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] In that case an uttama-bhagavata *[See endnote 1] will generally not associate with him, except by causeless mercy. Generally only a madhyama-adhikari *[See endnote 2] will do so. If the aspiring devotee has no greed, he will not realize who is an uttama-bhagavata, madhyama, or kanistha.*[See endnote 3] Sri Krsna will arrange the appropriate association according to one's qualification. First a kanistha Vaisnava will associate with him, and then the madhyama-adhikari will associate with him. First he will get faith in the association of devotees and the performance of devotional practices, and then he will again get good association (sadhu-sanga). Then he will go to a bona fide self-realized guru and, taking shelter of him, he will perform visrambhena-guroh-seva (intimate service). Then, by chanting "Hare Krsna" and engaging in the practices of bhakti beginning with hearing, chanting, remembering Krsna and serving His lotus feet (sravana, kirtana, visnu smarana), all unwanted habits and thoughts (anarthas) will disappear.
Then gradually, what is actually in the aspiring devotee's heart (his svarupa, or constitutional form and transcendental nature) will reveal itself. Covered fire still gives heat, and if that fire is covered by very thick dust, the dust will be warm. Similarly, a person's svarupa (constitutional form and nature) will gradually come out. However, if the candidate does not have elevated sadhu-sanga, greed for realizing his svarupa will not manifest.
By one's previous samskaras (impressions on the heart created by previous devotional activities) and spiritual advancement, Krsna will arrange for him to have the proper association - according to his heart - and svajatiyasaya-snigdha rasika siddhanta-vit bhaktas (pure, self-realized devotees, who know fully all the knowledge in the Vedic scriptures, and who are established in the mood of one's svarupa, the mood for which one aspires) will associate with him if he is sincere and qualified for that.
Then by hearing topics of Srimad-Bhagavatam and the Gosvamis' books from the pure devotee, gradually pure greed for raganuga-bhakti *[See endnote 4] will come. Then, when there is greed, at once ruci (relish in chanting and the other processes of bhakti) will come, and then gradually the devotee will be able to have proper association with an uttama-bhagavata. By this association raganuga-bhakti will come; otherwise vaidhi-bhakti will come. By the association of vaidhi *[See endnote 5] madhyama-bhaktas, the aspiring devotee will only have vaidhi-bhakti, not raganuga-bhakti.
He will fear raganuga-bhaktas, thinking, "I am unqualified. Moreover, what he is telling is not good. He is saying that Krsna is not well-behaved (sadacari) and He indulges in luxurious living. Why does Krsna kiss all the gopis and perform the rasa-dance with them? I want to hear from, and take shelter of, a guru whose character is like that of Sanat, Sanatana, Sanandana, and Sanaka Kumar. Those who speak about Krsna with the gopis are offensive, so I should not hear from them."
This person will say, "My guru has said not to read the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam or the books of Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami." In this way he will try not to associate with a raganuga-bhakta. A person with such consciousness will never go to the rasika Vaisnava (A devotee who is most expert in relishing transcendental mellows).
On the other hand, those who have greed will jump over all obstacles, just as the gopis crossed the barriers of proper etiquette according to social customs (sadacara). We will also neglect these things, and any material society, to advance in bhakti.
Sri Krsna and Gurudeva will judge when a person is qualified to have the true association of an uttama-bhagavata. Gurudeva is saksad-haritvena - he has connection with Krsna. By their mercy, Gurudeva and Krsna will arrange what sort of uttama-bhagavata should associate with him. Krsna decided what type of guru Gopa-kumara should meet. He told Srimati Radhika to arrange this, and She did so. She sent Krsna Himself, who manifested in the form of the devotee Jayanta, to Gopa-kumara, and Jayanta gave His association to Gopa-kumara. Srimati Radhika gave the association of an uttama-bhagavata in sakhya-rasa (the mood of a cowherd-boy). She did not arrange an uttama-adhikari of madhurya-rasa (an associate of Krsna in the mood of a beloved gopi), because Gopa-kumara was not of madhurya-rasa. He had the constitutional mood of sakhya-rasa, and the mantra he received from his guru was therefore of sakhya-rasa.
If Gopa-kumara's svarupa had been that of madhurya-rasa, Srimati Radhika could have sent him Rupa Manjari, Rati Manjari, or any other gopi like them. For Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu selected Radhika's most intimate friend Lalita (in the form of Sri Svarupa Damodara Gosvami), and He placed Raghunatha dasa Gosvami's hands in her (his) hands. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu directly arranged this.
For Srila Haridasa Thakura, Mahaprabhu said, "Please do not enter My Gambhira. You will not understand My pastimes there. Rather, execute strict sadacara and chant the holy names, ‘Hare Krsna.'"
Krsna gave our Prabhupada, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja, to the people of the entire world, who are all very low. But our Prabhupada is the highest uttama. So how can you explain that he gave his association to them?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] He gave his general association, not his special association. He mostly came for the general masses, not for special persons. Later on, when any of those persons will advance in bhakti, he will come and associate with them in a special way, in a special form, and with a special mood. For example, he has entered my heart, and I am giving a special thing. Actually he is giving it. Do you understand?
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu did not especially preach about the special moods of raganuga-bhakti to the general population. He gave it only to certain persons. He gave general Krsna-prema to all, even to elephants, at which time they began to chant loudly, "Krsna Krsna." What did He give to the elephants? Did He utter "Radhe Radhe"? If He would have given them gopi-prema, they would have loudly chanted "Radhe Radhe." We see in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta that all the forest animals were chanting "Krsna Krsna," so it seems that He gave them the opportunity for general Krsna-prema.
[Question:] What is that ‘general' Krsna-prema?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] ‘General' in this instance means they had performed no sadhana-bhajana. They had only received the glance of Mahaprabhu.
He gave them general rati.*[See Endnote 6] He may have given them suddha-sattva (bhava-bhakti, the stage of devotion just prior to prema). After that, sthayi-bhava (one's permanent, specific relationship with Krsna) would come, and after that, vibhava, sattvika, and vyabhicari (the ingredients of rasa) would come. Then they would enter into their special relationship with Krsna. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave them a certificate of BA graduate, saying in essence, "Now you are eligible to enter into general love for Krsna. Every door is open for you. You can enter this door, this door, or that door." For Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami and Srila Rupa Gosvami, Mahaprabhu said in essence, "Oh, come on, come on. Go through this special madhurya door, the gopi door." On the other hand, for the elephants and all other animals and ordinary persons, He announced, "Haribol, Haribol. All your anarthas have gone and you will soon have Krsna-prema."
[Question:] Suppose a devotee has faith that if he just follows Srila Prabhupada's instructions to chant sixteen rounds, follow the four regulative principles (no illicit sex, no gambling, no intoxicants including coffee, tea, or cigarettes, and no meat, fish, or eggs), and preach Krsna-consciousness, then, at the time of death Prabhupada will come and give him mercy and he will go back to Godhead.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] This is not how mercy manifests. If he, or any bona fide, self-realized guru, wants to extend his mercy to someone, he will manage that devotee's life in such a way that after the devotee's death, the devotee will have good association in his next birth. This is great mercy. By good association in his next birth, he will chant sixty-four rounds of harinama daily. He will have some greed to hear Krsna's sweet pastimes, then his anarthas will disappear and he will advance up to the stage of ruci (taste in chanting and other devotional activities).
Then, again he will take birth. In his next birth he will go up to asakti (spontaneous attachment for Krsna), and then he will attain bhava (transcendental emotions just prior to prema, or pure love for Krsna). After some time, again he will take birth and be situated in bhava (suddha-sattva). After that he will have svarupa-siddhi (perfection of one's original, constitutional position in relation to Sri Krsna, or in other words the realization of one's original and eternal relationship with Krsna), and then he will take his next birth in prakata Vraja (the Vraja in any of the universes in which Krsna has descended and is performing His pastimes). *[See endnote 7]
Then, after entering prakata Vraja and associating with the nitya-siddha ragatmika bhaktas (the eternal associates of the Lord who are serving Krsna in the relationship that he, himself, has just entered), he will go back to Godhead, back to home. Only at this time will he enter Krsna's abode. Entering Krsna's abode is not like eating a rasagula (an Indian candy). The mercy of your Gurudeva and all of our Gaudiya acaryas manifests in this way. By and by, they take the aspiring devotees to the Lord's divine abode.
[Question:] Then what is krpa-siddhi (the stage of perfection achieved by the causeless mercy of Krsna, Guru, and the Vaisnavas)?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] This is krpa-siddhi (krpa means ‘mercy' and siddha means ‘spiritual perfection.] Perfection cannot be achieved by sadhana (execution of the rules and regulations of the scriptures) alone. By sadhana alone, you cannot have association of any of the three types of maha-bhagavata Vaisnavas. *[See endnote 8]
Here is an analogy. A host may supply the ingredients for cooking to his guest, but the guest must cook. Supplying the ingredients is mercy (krpa) and cooking is sadhana in this example. Krpa-siddhi is compared to the host giving the ingredients and also doing the cooking for the guest, wherein the guest just has to eat. Everything being ready in the kitchen, the host will bring cooked preparations and give it to his guest. But the guest will have to go through the motions of eating; the food will not be eaten automatically. Similarly, taking good association and under his guidance engaging in the activities of sadhana-bhakti and developing to the advanced stages is also krpa-siddha. Does anyone have an example of krpa-siddha?
[Question:] At the end of Brhad Bhagavatamrta, when Gopa Kumara is talking with the Mathura brahmana: when he tells his story the brahmana is not fully convinced, so then he embraces him, and at that time the brahmana becomes overwhelmed with Krsna-prema.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] At first the Mathura brahmana knew all the siddhanta (conclusive philosophical truths), but he had no realization. When Gopa-kumara placed his hands on the brahmana's head, the brahmana realized the truth of what he had heard.
Another instance is that the creator of this universe, Brahma, heard everything from Lord Narayana, but he had no realization. But when, by Lord Narayana's glance, he received mercy, then he realized. This is krpa-siddha. The aspiring devotee will have to hear harikatha in the association of pure devotees. This is krpa-siddha. Although one is receiving mercy, he still has to do something.
The serpent Kaliya had not done any sadhana-bhajana at all, but Krsna placed His foot on that serpent's head. Kaliya was biting Krsna, and he was trying not to allow a place on his hoods for Krsna's feet. He was protesting, but Krsna forcibly placed His foot on his head. This is another example of krpa-siddha. What had Kaliya done to achieve this mercy? He had been living in the sacred land of Vraja for a long time, he had sanskaras (impressions on his heart) from his previous lives' sukritis (spiritual pious activities), and he had heard harikatha from his wives, who were devotees.
[Question:] So you are saying that when one gets krpa-siddha without having performed special practices, he will only be a general type of siddha?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] No. I was saying that even for receiving krpa-siddha, he will have to do something. For example, Ramacandra gave His krpa, mercy, to the Dandakaranya Rsis , after which they at once went to prakata-lila, where Sri Krsna was performing His pastimes in the Vrndavana manifest in this material, world and took birth in the womb of gopis. This was krpa-siddha - that they were placed in the wombs of gopis. But after that...
[Question:] They had to get association?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Yes. Their husbands tried to prevent them from going to join Krsna's rasa-lila. Then, because of their association with Krsna's ragatmika associates and Krsna's own mercy upon them, Krsna personally came to them through the medium of His flute-song. They took Him into their hearts and embraced Him there, and after that they were able to join His rasa-lila.
[Question:] I have a specific example. It is a common thought in ISKCON, which the ISKCON devotees say was emphasized by Srila Prabhupada: we should do our vaidhi-sadhana and especially preach. Because of the importance of these activities, even if we are not cultivating raganuga-bhajana, or even if we don't have the association of a rasika-vaisnava, still, by his krpa or mercy, Prabhupada will give us that Vraja-bhakti.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] You will have to do what he has told you. He has told you to chant krsna-nama and preach. But what will be the effect of doing that?
sakala-sadhana-srestha ei panca anga
krsna-prema janmaya ei pancera alpa sanga
"These five limbs of devotional service (associating with pure devotees, living in a holy place where Krsna performed His pastimes, hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam from pure devotees, chanting the holy names, and serving the Deity in the temple with faith) are the best of all. Even a slight performance of these five awakens love for Krsna." (Caitanya-caritamrta, Madya-lila, 22.129)]
Do you understand? Automatically prema will come. If you plant a seed in the earth, what will be the effect?
He has not given the fruit to any of you. He has given only the seed, and he has told you, "Keep the seed in the earth and pour water on it. You need only do this." What will be the effect? It will grow, and it will blossom, after that the fruits will appear and become ripe, and then we will see those beautiful, tasteful fruit. So he has given the seed, and those who are sincerely following will automatically get the result - but with time. Our Gurudeva, Srila Bhakti-prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja, has also not vividly and directly told all the details regarding what would happen next in our bhakti. Still, by practicing what he told us, all the stages have come automatically.
Your Gurudeva has not directly told you to come to me. Why are you coming? Are you violating his order? Of course not.
So gradually, if one is sincere, the appropriate association for each stage of development in bhakti will come. For example, a girl will eventually get married. Her parents have not told her that a boy will come, but a boy will come automatically. If one goes to the forest and chants, if he has some faith, it is certain that he will automatically chant more then sixteen rounds and afterwards he will have some taste in chanting. There is no need to tell him that he should chant with taste. You have been told that you should distribute his books, like Bhagavad-gita. By doing this, one day you will ask what is inside. One day you will ask, and if you are sincere, you will try to follow the instructions in the book:
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." (Bhagavad-gita, 18.66)]
For ordinary persons, Your Gurudeva, Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja, has said to chant the holy name and follow the path of bhakti along with all the scriptural injunctions. Then later, after his divine departure, some of his disciples may associate with other pure devotees and continue developing their bhakti to the elevated stages.
But some other persons have said, "I will strictly follow Prabhupada. I will not associate with others or hear from them. I will not read Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto Ten, and I will not read any books other than those written by Prabhupada. I will not chant more than sixteen rounds, even if someone cuts off my head." Will such a person make progress towards Vraja-bhakti? Are these your Prabhupada's order? Has he said, "Do not read Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu"? Has he ordered you never to see Sri Ujjvala-nilamani or Stavavali? Did he say that you should not read or chant Radha-krpa-kataksha-stava, otherwise you will go to hell? Has he told you not to read Vilapa-Kusumanjali? *[See Endnote 9] Has he told you to go to Narayana Maharaja?
We should know what his ambition was, and what he has actually told us. He has told us not to stay at one point. If a man has greed to advance in bhakti, he will not hear the restrictions of others. Suppose a father is supporting his daughter. He feeds her and sends her to school, and he is spending so much money and energy on her. Then, when she comes to age of twenty or twenty-five, can he stop her from falling in love with a man if she falls in love? Can he do anything? No. Why? Because this is natural for her. There is no stopping it. Similarly, in the realm of bhakti, after chanting, associating with pure devotees, and serving the Deity of the Lord, greed for Krsna's pure devotion will automatically come.
sadhu-sanga, nama-kirtana, bhagavata-sravana
mathura-vasa, sri-murtira sraddhaya sevana
"One should associate with pure devotees, chant the holy name of the Lord, hear Srimad-Bhagavatam, reside at Mathura-mandala and worship the Deity with faith and veneration. (Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, 22.128)]
[Question:] One last question for now: Srila Jiva Gosvami has said that one's devotion will develop according to the amount of mercy he gets. So, what will determine the amount of mercy?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] It depends on who will give mercy. How much mercy, and what kind of mercy, a disciple receives is not in our hand. Sri Krsna will see what kind of mercy a disciple can digest, and what is best for him, and then He will bestow mercy. He can bestow upon one the mood of friendship (sakhya-rasa). He can bestow upon someone bhava (transcendental emotions). He can bestow upon someone His mercy in such a way that anarthas (offences, material desires and anxieties) will disappear and suddha-bhakti will manifest.
There are so many various kinds of mercy, and the greatest mercy is greed for Radha-dasyam. This is the most beautiful mercy of all, for by that mercy one can become maddened in prema. Even the breeze coming from that mercy can madden a sincere soul, and what to speak of when prema actually manifests in his heart.
Endnote 1: The most advanced devotee sees within everything the soul of all souls, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna. Consequently he sees systematically everything in relation to the Supreme Lord and understands that everything that exists is eternally situated within the Lord. (11.2.45)
Endnote 2: An intermediate or second-class devotee, called madhyama-adhikari, offers his love to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is a sincere friend to all the devotees of the Lord, shows mercy to ignorant people who are innocent and disregards those who are envious of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 11.2.46)
Endnote 3: A devotee who faithfully engages in the worship of the Deity in the temple but does not behave properly toward other devotees or people in general is called a prakrta-bhakta, a materialistic devotee, and is considered to be in the lowest position. (11.2.47)
Endnote 4: "The original inhabitants of Vrndavana are attached to Krsna spontaneously in devotional service. Nothing can compare to such spontaneous devotional service, which is called ragatmika bhakti. When a devotee follows in the footsteps of the devotees of Vrndavana, his devotional service is called raganuga bhakti. (Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 22.149
*Endnote 5: "Those who have not attained the platform of spontaneous attachment in devotional service render devotional service under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master according to the regulative principles mentioned in the revealed scriptures. According to the revealed scriptures, this kind of devotional service is called vaidhi bhakti. (Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 22.109)
*Endnote 6: Bhava or rati is of five types: suddha, priti, sakhya, vatsalya, and priyata. the first type, suddha rati, is of three type samanya (general), svaccha (clear), and santi (the sthayi bhava of santa-rasa). Here, Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja is speaking about samanya (general) rati.
*Endnote 7: The mature devotees, who have completely executed Krsna consciousness, are immediately transferred to the universe where Krsna is appearing. In that universe the devotees get their first opportunity to associate with Krsna personally and directly. (Krsna, chapter 28, paragraph 6)]
*Endnote 8: Siddha-mahapurusas are of three types: (1) bhagavat-parsada-deha-prapta (those who have obtained perfected spiritual bodies as eternal associates of the Lord), (2) nirdhuta-kasaya (those who have thrown off all material impurities) and (3) murcchita-kasaya (those in whom a trace of material contamination still lies dormant).
Bhagavat-parsada-deha-prapta After giving up the gross material body, those who have perfected themselves through the practice of bhakti obtain sac-cid-ananda spiritual forms, which are just suitable for the service of the Lord as associates (parsadas). Such persons are the best of all uttama-bhagavatas.
Those who, although still residing within the gross material body made of five elements, have no trace of material desire (vasana) nor any material impressions (samskaras) within their hearts are called nirdhuta-kasaya (those who have thrown off all material impurities). They belong to the intermediate class of uttama-bhagavatas.
Those siddha-mahapurusas pursuing the path of bhakti in whose hearts there remains a trace of desire (vasana) and impressions (samskaras) based on the material mode of goodness are known as murcchita-kasaya. Due to influence of their bhakti-yoga, these desires and impressions remain in a dormant or unconscious state. As soon as there is a favourable opportunity, their worshipful object, Sri Bhagavan, somehow causes their desire to be consumed and attracts them to His lotus feet. Such elevated souls belong to the preliminary stage (kanistha) of uttama-bhagavatas.
Devarsi Narada is an example of the topmost uttama-bhagavata. Sukadeva Gosvami belongs to the intermediate stage of uttama-bhagavatas (nirdhuta-kasaya). Sri Narada in his previous birth as the son of a maidservant is an example of the preliminary stage of uttama-bhagavatas (murcchita-kasaya).
The association and mercy of these three kinds of maha-bhagavatas is the cause of the manifestation of sraddha. (Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu)]
*Endnote 9: Sri Sanatana Gosvami Prabhu, the teacher of the science of devotional service, wrote several books, of which the Brhad-bhagavatamrta is very famous; anyone who wants to know about the subject matter of devotees, devotional service and Krsna must read this book. Sanatana Gosvami also wrote a special commentary on the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam known as the Dasama-tippani, which is so excellent that by reading it one can understand very deeply the pastimes of Krsna in His exchanges of loving activities. Another famous book by Sanatana Gosvami is the Hari-bhakti-vilasa, which states the rules and regulations for all divisions of Vaisnavas, namely, Vaisnava householders, Vaisnava brahmacaris, Vaisnava vanaprasthas and Vaisnava sannyasis. This book was especially written, however, for Vaisnava householders. Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami has described Sanatana Gosvami in his prayer Vilapa-kusumaïjali, verse six, where he has expressed his obligation to Sanatana Gosvami in the following words:
"I was unwilling to drink the nectar of devotional service possessed of renunciation, but Sanatana Gosvami, out of his causeless mercy, made me drink it, even though I was otherwise unable to do so. Therefore he is an ocean of mercy. He is very compassionate to fallen souls like me, and thus it is my duty to offer my respectful obeisances unto his lotus feet."
Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami also, in the last section of the Caitanya-caritamrta, specifically mentions the names of Rupa Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami and Srila Jiva Gosvami and offers his respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of these three spiritual masters, as well as Raghunatha dasa. Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami also accepted Sanatana Gosvami as the teacher of the science of devotional service. Srila Rupa Gosvami is described as the bhakti-rasacarya, or one who knows the essence of devotional service. His famous book Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu is the science of devotional service, and by reading this book one can understand the meaning of devotional service. Another of his famous books is the Ujjvala-nilamani. In this book he elaborately explains the loving affairs and transcendental activities of Lord Krsna and Radharani. (Adi-lila 5.203 purport by Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja Prabhupada)]
-- Harikatha Team, April 2009