sri sri guru gauranga jayatah!
Year 2, Issue 6, Amāvasyā
Posted: 21 June 2020
Dedicated to and Inspired by
nitya-lila pravista om visnupada
Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Māhārāja
Have At Least One Bandhu
Pithy Precepts of Śrīla Gurudeva
Excerpts from a hari-kathā given by
11 March 1993 Śrī Keśavajī Gauḍīya Maṭha, Mathurā
Upadeśāmṛta, Verse 4
If one knowingly or unknowingly is attached to unfavourable association and thus involves oneself in that association, the fruit of that will certainly manifest within him. Similarly, if one develops attachment to sādhusand takes their association, then the glories [glorious qualities] of that sādhu will enter within him. For this reason, one should only associate with sādhus, Vaiṣṇavas. By having a taste for unfavourable association, we’ll go into the deepest hell, but by associating with sadhus, we’ll attain bhakti and gradually progress. If one wants to have affectionate relationships with sādhus, then one is to interact with them in the following ways:
Dadāti. If an object dear to us is helpful to the bhajana of a Vaiṣṇava but is not in their possession, give it to them. We should give them those objects that are favourable for their bhajana.
Pratigṛhṇāti. When a sādhu-Vaiṣṇava who is affectionate to us mercifully gives us something, we should accept it. Nārada Ṛṣi says, “In my childhood, I used to visit the sādhus who came to our village to observe cāturmāsya-vrata. I used to carry their dry clothes when they went [to the river] to bathe and carry their wet clothes back. [For their honouring of prasāda] I would place leaf plates before them, having cleaned those plates, and then offer water into their water-pots. They then honoured prasāda. If any of the prasāda was particularly nice, they would lovingly instruct me, saying, “I have kept this for you. O son, take this.”
Nārada Ṛṣi says, “Simply by honouring that prasāda, I received auspiciousness, my heart became pure and bhāgavad-bhakti entered it. Had I not accepted their remnants, all that would not have been possible.”
Therefore, the remnants of Vaiṣṇavas, the hari-kathā emanating from their mouth, their foot-bathing water and their foot-dust – these things give great strength to our bhajana. This should never be doubted. Also, one should never develop such a hateful attitude that one thinks, “How could I possibly take their foot-dust?” Instead, in a hidden way, like Jhaḍu Ṭhākura, one should serve their foot-dust. So, pratigṛhṇāti – accept the prasāda (mercy) they give us.
Guhyam ākhyāti pṛcchati. One should offer [tell] the topics on one’s mind to the sādhus and śrī guru, whom one is to consider his bandhus, or well-wishing friends [guardian angels]. One should inquire from them only and one should hear only from them. We should have at least one such bandhu, parama-bāndhava (utmost well-wisher), to whom we can open our heart. We can accept his treatment and follow what he tells us.
We see that, among us, we do not make even one such bandhu. We say externally, “He Gurudeva, you are my bandhu,” but internally, there are so many things we aren’t able to reveal to him or to the bandhu. This is why we are destroyed. O brothers, you should have at least one bandhu. And if there are several, that is even better. Make at least one bandhu among guru-vaiṣṇavas. Show him all the bad things in your heart, show him that “these things are in me.” Mercifully, he will remove all those things and call Bhāgavan to sit there. The least bit of deceit will be like an abscess on your stools’ passage way.
Once, a person got an abscess on the private part of his body. Out of shame, he didn’t show it to anyone or tell anyone about it, not his mother, father, brother or sister. Gradually, after some days, that abscess turned into a fistula, big enough for his hand to enter. Now what could he do? It was uncurable. In this way, he died, all due to ordinary shyness. It is for this reason that we want a real bandhu, a real doctor, who we can completely trust and open our heart to. And he can take responsibility for us. One should ask for hari-kathā from him and hear from him.
Bhuṅkte bhojayate caiva. One should accept the prasāda given by him, and bhojate ca eva – one should affectionately offer him his favoured foodstuffs.
By this, his moods will be transmitted into our heart and all [unfavourable] things will be dispelled.
Translated by the Rays of The Harmonist team
[On the occasion of the Disappearance day of Saccidānanda Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, we are presenting his brief Upādeśāmṛta commentary on this verse, the Pīyūṣa-varṣiṇī-vṛtti.]
Upadeśāmṛta, Verse 4
Association That Nourishes Bhakti
dadāti pratigṛhṇāti / guhyam ākhyāti pṛcchati
bhuṅkte bhojayate caiva / ṣaḍ-vidhaṁ prīti-lakṣaṇam
Offering pure devotees items in accordance with their requirements, accepting prasādī or remnant items given by pure devotees, revealing to devotees one’s confidential realisations concerning bhajana, inquiring from them about their confidential realisations, eating with great love the prasāda remnants given by devotees and lovingly feeding them prasāda – these are the six symptoms of loving association with devotees.
Bad association is unfavourable to bhakti; therefore it is imperative to abandon such association. Those who are intent on progressing in bhakti should associate with pure devotees, who possess the power to free one from the tendency to fall into bad association. A description of the loving exchanges shared between devotees, which nourish one’s bhakti, is found in this fourth verse. Lovingly giving another devotee that which he requires and lovingly accepting those items that are mercifully given by other devotees, revealing one’s confidential realisations to devotees and hearing descriptions of confidential tenets (tattva) from pure devotees, lovingly serving devotees prasāda and accepting prasāda offered by devotees – these six kinds of exchanges constitute association with saintly persons (sādhu-saṅga) in its pure form. These six activities are the symptoms of love. One should serve sādhus by the performance of these activities