[From the lecture series on mahat-sanga]
Badger - May 23 2004
Tridandisvami Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja
We are now explaining mahat-sanga (the association of great, self-realized souls). How glorious is the mahat!
Quoting the words of Pariksit Maharaja, Srila Sanatana Gosvami states in his Sri Brhad-Bhagavatamrta:
rahuganaitat tapasa na yati
na cejyaya nirvapanad grhad va
na cchandasa naiva jalagni-suryair
[My dear King Rahugana, unless one has the opportunity to smear his entire body with the dust of the lotus feet of great devotees, one cannot realize the Absolute Truth. One cannot realize the Absolute Truth simply by observing celibacy [brahmacarya], strictly following the rules and regulations of householder life, leaving home as a vanaprastha, accepting sannyasa, or undergoing severe penances in winter by keeping oneself submerged in water or surrounding oneself in summer by fire and the scorching heat of the sun. There are many other processes to understand the Absolute Truth, but the Absolute Truth is only revealed to one who has attained the mercy of a great devotee. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.12.12)]
By his mercy, Jada Bharata told King Rahugana, "O Rahugana, neither tapasya (austerities) nor varnasrama dharma (following the rules and regulations of the four social and spiritual orders of life), nor a mind one-pointed in worship of Bhagavan will help you attain pure bhakti. After some time the mind will reject that worship. Vedic karma, that is, obeying ones husband, father, mother, and other superiors will also not help you, and neither will the acceptance of sannyasa, the renounced order of life.
A sannyasa is also known as a niragni, which means he does not cook for himself. Rather, he begs small amounts of prasadam at householders' homes. Srila Sanatana Gosvami lived in this way, so he is an example of a niragni. Nowadays, however, even grhastas do not have the opulent meals that sannyasis have. Not only do modern sannyasis have many varieties of fruits, vegetables, and other edibles to enjoy, but they also have so many people cooking for them. Ladies cook for them - and not only one at a time, but several.
Worship of Varuna, the god of the waters, Surya, the Sun-god, Candra, the Moon-god, Agni, the Fire-god, Vayu, the Air-god, Indra and the many other demigods can also not give us bhakti of Lord Vasudeva Krsna (Krsna, the son of Nanda Maharaja).* [See endnote 1]. Regarding the austerity of being surrounded by fires in the scorching heat of Summer, or being submerged in water in Winter, this also cannot help you attain bhakti. The yogi Saubhari Muni entered the water of a river for many years, but he did not achieve spiritual enlightenment. Rather he became like an animal. He lost control of his senses and married thousands of princesses.* [See endnote 2]
The word "agni" in the above-mentioned verse means being surrounded by fire. Many rsis (sages) practiced this, but they could not attain pure bhakti. If there is no connection to Lord Krsna's associates - mahat-sanga - one cannot realize the Absolute Truth and attain pure bhakti by any means. Anything less than sadhu-sanga will not give perfection. On the other hand, if one takes bath in the dust of the lotus feet of pure sadhus, he easily attains it.
The essence of all this hari-katha is that without the causeless mercy of mahat, the perfect devotee, we cannot attain krsna-bhakti. If one neglects the maha-purusa guru - siksa-guru - pure Vaisnava - he cannot have krsna-bhakti even after hundreds of thousands of births. On the other hand, if one performs austerity under a mahat-purusa's guidance, he can very easily attain it.
Visvamitra became a Brahmarsi (exalted brahmana) by serving Vaisistha, and later on he went to Janaka Puri and other places with Sri Rama and Sri Laksmana. He always remembered the lotus feet of Vasistha, and by his mercy he was able to serve Lord Rama.
Once, Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura sent my Guru Maharaja, Srila Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja, to Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja. At that time Babaji Maharaja was residing in a municipal latrine, continually chanting, "Hare Krsna Hare Krsna." He had made his abode there, and in the evening he would come out and beg some prasadam. He would not eat or drink anything for days at a time, and would only chant. Many important persons of the world, like the magistrate, would come to see him and offer him various facilities. They would say, for example, "We can offer you a better place for doing bhajana." Srila Babaji Maharaja would reject all their proposals and say, for example, "I am sick. I cannot open the door."
Nowadays the consciousness is different. We invite the Prime Minister of India; movie stars of Bombay, and similar famous personalities to our festivals, considering that the presence of such persons will make the festivals successful. The situation is so different now.
Without mahat-sanga no one can attain the spiritual power to do bhajana. We have discussed so many histories to illustrate this, so that you can have strong faith in mahat-sanga. Only foolish persons, those who want to go to hell, will neglect mahat-sanga. By such neglect their lives will be ruined forever.
If you will serve the mahat and take bath in the dust of his lotus feet, you will automatically be freed from gramya-varta (mundane talk), and hari-katha and uttama-bhakti will come to you. Here in New Vraja, at this hari-katha festival, there is mangala-arati in the early morning. After that there is bhajanas, and then a class, and simultaneously there is the morning walk which is like another class. Then there is another class. Then there is prasadam, wherein all devotees chant:
maha-prasade govinde nama-brahmani vaisnave
sv-alpa-punya-vatam rajan visvaso naiva jayate
["Persons who are not very highly elevated in pious activities cannot believe in the remnants of food (prasadam) of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, nor in Govinda, nor in the holy name of the Lord, nor in the Vaisnavas." (Mahabharata)
Then there is another class, and this is fifth class. Then, before you go to sleep, Krsnadasa (the expert singer of devotional songs who travels with Srila Maharaja) sings and dances, and makes you all dance. If you go to India to hear his singing, that will be a great expense - and most of you will not be able to go at all. But he has mercifully come here to you.
After hearing the instructions of Jada Bharata, Maharaja Rahugana told him:
kim janmabhis tv aparair apy amusmin
na yad dhrsikesa-yasah-krtatmanam
mahatmanam vah pracurah samagamah
["This birth as a human being is the best of all. Even birth among the demigods in the heavenly planets is not as glorious as birth as a human being on this earth. What is the use of the exalted position of a demigod? In the heavenly planets, due to profuse material comforts, there is no possibility of associating with devotees." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.13.21)]
King Rahugana became happy and satisfied. He prayed, "You are very kind. You are causelessly merciful. Now I have come to know that this human life is best among all the 8,400,000 species of life."
We should not waste our time in mundane talk and other mundane ventures, because in this special human birth we can attain bhagavat-bhakti through the association of a mahat-purusa (self-realized soul). Indra and other demigods cannot do this. Sometimes Brahma and Sankara can have mahat-sanga, because they are also mahat-purusa, but for other demigods it is practically impossible to have this. Rather, they pray to Lord Krsna, "I want to be in a human form, to serve a mahat-purusa".
You are very fortunate to have come in this line, and fortunate that you are trying to serve Sri Krsna. Especially those who have met Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja - for even one second - are very fortunate. Those who have met him, or my Gurudeva Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja, or Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura - knowingly or unknowingly - their life will be successful. In this human form bhakti can develop from sraddha (initial faith) to rati (the preliminary stage of love of God), from rati to prema (pure love), and in prema up to maha-bhava, radha-dasyam (the highest attainment of love). And, to attain this Vraja-bhakti, there are special kinds of maha-purusas, like Raya Ramananda, Sri Svarupa Damodara, Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami and Srila Rupa Gosvami.
What is the use of birth as Lord Brahma; what is the use of birth of demigods like Indra, Kuvera, Yamaraja and Vayu? There is no need of such births. Some persons tell me, "I want to become wealthy, and with that money I can serve." Don't have these desires. These desires are not okay. Whatever you already have, try to engage in the service of a mahat-purusa. If you do not have anything, you can simply offer Lord Krsna tulasi leaves. If Krsna is satisfied, Vaisnavas will also be satisfied. There is nothing more valuable than tulasi - but if you have great wealth, don't take tulasi to Thakurji (the Deity) with a desire to cheat Him. Don't think, "I'll keep the wealth and I'll give Thakurji the tulsi leaf." Don't have an idea to cheat.
The demigods are always engaged in sense gratification. Apsaras, beautiful celestial maidens, like Menaka and Urvasi enjoy with the residents there in the heavenly planets, and those residents cannot come out of the trap of sense gratification. On the other hand, great devotee-kings on this Earth like Janaka Maharaja and Prahlada Maharaja were ruling in their kingdoms, but they had nothing to do with those kingdoms. They were always serving in mahat-sanga. So if you are a grhasta (family person) there is no harm in that. Always try to serve Vrajavasis and hear hari-katha in mahat-sanga.
Mahats sometimes go on tour here and there, to sacred holy places like Kanya-kumari, Ranganatham, Ganges, Prayag, Bhadri-narayana, Hrsikesa, Yamunotri, Gangotri, Dvaraka, and Ayodhya. They do not go for their own purification, but to give some power to all the tirthas. They do not go for themselves, but for the benefit of all human beings. The holy places (tirthas) become covered by a layer of materialistic activities, by the accumulated sins of those who bathe in their waters. By the merciful touch of the pure devotee, they become free from this layer. The holy place or holy river is always pure, and its influence is certainly there for those who visit it; but it is very difficult to see its real glories.
The influence of the association of the mahat-purusa increases the influence and power of the holy places. Without the influence of the mahat, the holy places seem completely covered. The tirthas become more powerful when the pure devotees go there and take bath. Their lotus foot-dust purifies the holy places even further, and they become more powerful in purifying others.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, "The ocean is the husband of all the holy rivers, but when Srila Haridasa Thakura's lotus feet touched the ocean, it became a maha maha maha tirtha". This is the exalted nature of the mahats. They always engage their heart and mood in serving the lotus feet of Lord Krsna. If millions of dollars come to them they are not affected by that, just as the ocean is not affected when river waters enter into it. And if everything - all their wealth, health, possessions, family, fame and popularity disappears in a moment, they don't care or remember what they lost. Maha-purusas are very rare - very rare. They preach all over the world by kirtana and nama-sankirtana, and they have unconditionally surrendered to nama-sankirtana - who is a person - who is Sri Krsna Himself.
Not all teachers and preachers are mahat-purusa. How will you know who is actually such a personality? Without the mercy of Lord Krsna you cannot know. By the Lord's mercy you can have some realization of the glories of that great soul.
In the seventh Canto Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sri Prahlada Maharaja says:
naisam matis tavad urukramanghrim
sprsaty anarthapagamo yad-arthah
niskincananam na vrnita yavat
["Unless they smear upon their bodies the dust of the lotus feet of a Vaisnava completely freed from material contamination, persons very much inclined toward materialistic life cannot be attached to the lotus feet of the Lord, who is glorified for His uncommon activities. Only by becoming Krsna conscious and taking shelter at the lotus feet of the Lord in this way can one be freed from material contamination. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.5.32)]
Do you know the history of King Mucukunda? Who is he?
[Sripad Bhaktisar Maharaja:] Mucukunda was a king who was employed by the demigods to fight against the demons. Over many ions of years he fought and defeated the demons. When the war was over he was offered a benediction. He said, "I would like to sleep, undisturbed. If anyone disturbs my sleep, I should have the power to burn him to ashes by my glance."
At the time Jarasandha was attacking Mathura, Mucukunda had been sleeping in a cave. Jarasandha was attacking with a Yavana king named Kalayavana. To complete this pastime, Lord Krsna pretended to flee from the battlefield, and Kalayavana was chasing Him. Krsna was leisurely walking away. No matter how fast Kalayavana ran, he couldn't catch up to Him. Finally Krsna disappeared into that cave. Kalayavana also went inside, and he couldn't see clearly. He saw someone lying on the ground and thought, "Krsna, you are tired, hiding and lying on the ground, and you are afraid of me". He went over and kicked him. Of course this wasn't Krsna but King Mucukunda. Mucukunda looked at Kalayavana, as flames shot from his eyes and burned him to ashes. When King Mucukunda came out of the cave with Krsna, he saw that many millions of years had passed, and now everyone had become small because it was a different time and age.
[Srila Narayana Maharaja:]
bhavapavargo bhramato yada bhavej
janasya tarhy acyuta sat-samagamah
sat-sangamo yarhi tadaiva sad-gatau
paravarese tvayi jayate matih
["When the material life of a wandering soul is coming to an end, O Acyuta, he may attain the association of Your devotees. And when he associates with them, there awakens in him devotion unto You who are the goal of the devotees and the Lord of all causes and their effects." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.51.53)]
Truly, when you meet any mahat-purusa, you can think, "My journey in this world is soon going to be finished." But who will know this fact? A mahat-purusa can think like this, or a person who is on the doorway of becoming a mahat. Such persons can realize this, but others cannot. Prahlada Maharaja can think like this when he sees a mahat like Sri Narada Muni. Great devotees like Vidura and the Pandavas can also think like this.
Here, Mucukunda is praying to Lord Krsna. "O, Acyuta (infallible Lord), Your associates are mahat. They are akincana (without material possessions). If they are poor or rich, they do not claim any property or person as their own. They only claim You as their own. When, by causeless mercy - not by luck - a person gets the association of your pure devotees, he can know that, "My journey in this world is about to be finished."
Valmiki was a very famous robber and cruel person. When he received the mahat-sanga of Sri Narada Muni, his life was at once completely changed.
But even Sri Narada - or even Lord Krsna - cannot help a person who commits Vaisnava or guru-aparadha. This mercy will not go to him. It is very hard for Krsna to help the mahat-aparadhi, vaisnava-aparadhi or guru-aparadhi. Vaisnava aparadha is more dangerous than guru-avagna (disobedience or neglect of Sri Guru). We are somewhat careful in connection with Guru, but we are not careful with pure Vaisnavas who may not necessarily be one's Guru. We can criticize them at any moment, to please others.
If a mahat-purusa has come and we are taking bath in the dust of his lotus dust, the endless chain of birth and death will go away - as an incidental result. This is because the mahat will forcibly take our heart and engage it in serving Hrsikesa, Lord Krsna, the master of all our senses.
Try to be very diligent regarding mahat-sanga. Even if your entire wealth will be spoiled by coming for mahat-sanga or sadhu-sanga - here or anywhere else - don't care for that wealth. Don't care for your job or anything related to it. Let it go - no harm. Then you can develop a strong faith in this. Some persons think, "Today I must leave the association of the pure devotee, because otherwise I will lose my job". Thus, they leave sadhu-sanga, mahat-sanga. What is this? It is ignorance. And those persons are mahat-ignorant.
[*Endnote 1: " When the best of the Vasus, named Drona, and his wife Dhara were ordered to increase progeny by Lord Brahma, they said unto him, 'Dear father, we are seeking your benediction. When we take birth again within the universe, may the Supreme Lord Krsna in His most attractive feature of childhood absorb our whole attention. May our dealings with Him be so powerful that simply by hearing of these childhood activities of His, anyone will very easily cross over the nescience of birth and death.' Lord Brahma agreed to give them the benediction, and as a result the same Drona appeared as Nanda Maharaja in Vrndavana, and the same Dhara appeared as mother Yasoda, the wife of Nanda Maharaja."]
[*Endnote 2: "Saubhari Rsi was engaged in austerity, deep in the water of the River Yamuna, when he saw a pair of fish engaged in sexual affairs. Thus he perceived the pleasure of sex life, and induced by this desire he went to King Mandhata and begged for one of the King's daughters. In response to this request, the King said, 'O brahmana, any of my daughters may accept any husband according to her personal selection.'
"Saubhari Muni thought, 'I am now feeble because of old age. My hair has become grey, my skin is slack, and my head always trembles. Besides, I am a yogi. Therefore women do not like me. Since the King has thus rejected me, I shall reform my body in such a way as to be desirable even to celestial women, what to speak of the daughters of worldly kings. Thereafter, when Saubhari Muni became quite a young and beautiful person, the messenger of the palace took him inside the residential quarters of the princesses, which were extremely opulent. All fifty princesses then accepted him as their husband, although he was only one man. Thereafter, the princesses, being attracted by Saubhari Muni, gave up their sisterly relationship and quarrelled among themselves, each one of them contending, 'This man is just suitable for me, and not for you.' In this way there ensued a great disagreement.
"Because Saubhari Muni was expert in chanting mantras perfectly, his severe austerities resulted in an opulent home, with garments, ornaments, properly dressed and decorated maidservants and manservants, and varieties of parks with clear-water lakes and gardens. In the gardens, fragrant with varieties of flowers, birds chirped and bees hummed, surrounded by professional singers. Saubhari Muni's home was amply provided with valuable beds, seats, ornaments, and arrangements for bathing, and there were varieties of sandalwood creams, flower garlands, and palatable dishes. Thus surrounded by opulent paraphernalia, the muni engaged in family affairs with his numerous wives. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 9.6.40-46)]
Transcribers: Vasanti dasi
Typist: Anita dasi
Editor: Syamarani dasi