sri sri guru gauranga jayatah!

Rays of The Harmonist On-Line Centennial Edition

Year 4, Issue 7,  Amāvasyā Special Edition
Posted: 28 July 2022

Dedicated to and Inspired by
nitya-lila pravista om visnupada

Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Māhārāja

Symptoms of Degradation

A letter by
Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Māhārāja

Appearing in English for the first time


Gurudeva smiling


Śrī Śrī Guru-Gauraṅgau Jayataḥ

Śrī Keśavajī Gauḍīya Maṭha
P.O. Mathurā (U.P.)
30 November, 1977

Mā Umā, 

I duly received your letter dated 15 November, 1977, and through it, came to know all the news. I hope that by the mercy of Hari, guru and Vaiṣṇavas you all are well in health and bhajana. Here, we have nicely observed the month of niyama-sevā (Kārtika), following all the regulations, performing kīrtana-kathā as per our aspirations, and also performing parikramā of Mathurā, Vṛndāvana, Govardhana, Nandagāon, Saṅket, Varṣāṇā, Gokula and so forth. Moreover, from time to time, pūjyapādaYāyāvara Mahārāja and other guru-varga stayed here and gave hari-kathā and instruction. All the brahmacārīssannyāsīs and many residents of Mathurā participated in the programs. All the maṭha residents are enthused and happy. Although my health is not very good, it’s okay. Sometimes I’m well and sometimes not.  

Unnecessary gossip about others (paracarcā) and acts of hypocrisy and deceit (kuṭīnāṭī) are symptoms of degradation. These disturbances are bound to occur if there is no taste for harināma and hari-kathā. Those who are desirous of progressing in hari-bhajana must keep distance from the association of anyone who indulges in paracarcā. If they don’t, the dirtiness of their hearts can also affect the hearts of those associating with them. Due to sukṛti (spiritual merit) resulting from previous lives, a jīva attains sādhu-saṅga. As a result of offences or anarthas, which suppress him, however, he unfortunately constantly engages in unnecessary gossip about others (paracarcā) instead of performing harināma and engaging in the hearing (śravaṇa) and chanting (kīrtana) of hari-kathā in sādhu-saṅga. As a result, he ends up criticizing guru and Vaiṣṇavas. He thus falls from [aiming for] his spiritual goal (paramārtha) and instead progresses towards the dense ditch of degradation. Even if such persons are cautioned about this, they regrettably become more and more aggressive. Therefore, it is proper to strive with utmost care for progress in hari-bhajana. By being always engaged in hari-kathā, in remembrance of Bhagavān and in harināma, one can be protected from these disturbances. You should not worry. Intelligently keep a distance from all such people and busy yourself in spiritual practice. If you are sincere and simple-hearted, Bhagavān will protect you from all these disturbances.

Convey my daṇḍavat-praṇāma to your mother. I am delighted to hear that she has purchased a shawl for [the deity of] Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. When I go to Bengal, I will bring it back with me. Next year, if I stay in Bengal in the month of Kārtika, you should observe the one-month niyama-sevā there [in Navadvīpa]. Whatever obstacles may come, remain engaged in hari-bhajana with determination, keeping the mind fixed. What else? Send news of Gārgī Dīdī’s well-being and news of others there. 

Accept my affectionate blessings. Thus I conclude.

Śrī Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa

Adapted from The Gaudiya Volume 23, Issue 10
by the Rays of The Harmonist team


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