śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!
Year-1, Issue 11 & Year 14, Issue 12
Posted: 17 December 2008 & 24 January 2022
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda
Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Inspired by and under the guidance of
Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja
What Śrīman Mahāprabhu Gave Is the Highest Benefaction
by Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Prabhupāda
Question 1: How will we attain service to Śrī Bhagavān?
Answer: The day we realize that śrī gurudeva – who is sevā-vigraha, the embodiment of service – is non-different from Śrī Caitanyadeva, we will obtain service to Śrī Gaurasundara. On that day we will obtain the fortune of performing confidential service to Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Govinda. Only when we realize that the mahānta-gurudeva, or foremost of Vaiṣṇavas performing the function of guru, is a direct personal associate of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanyadeva, will the transcendental pastimes of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Govinda manifest in our pure and spotless hearts.
Question 2: How will we understand the subject matter of Vaiṣṇava philosophy?
Answer: A person may be a great scholar or a great thinker, but until he accepts the shelter of an ācārya, whose character is the very embodiment of Vaiṣṇava philosophy, he cannot embrace the philosophy of Vaiṣṇavism within his heart. It is stated in Gītā (4.34):
tad viddhi praṇipātena
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ
Acquire this knowledge by offering prostrated obeisances to a guru who imparts transcendental knowledge, by asking him relevant questions and by rendering service to him. Those who have seen the truth, who are expert in the imports of śāstra, and the jñānīs who have realised the Absolute Reality, will enlighten you with that knowledge.
In other words, if anyone possesses the three qualities of unconditional surrender, honest enquiry and a serving temperament, he can understand Vaiṣṇava philosophy. When someone who possesses these three types of dakṣiṇā, or genuine offerings of submission, presents himself before an ācārya, the ācārya instructs him on the philosophical truths of Vaiṣṇavism. No type of mundane, or material, dakṣiṇā ever tempts the instructing ācāryas of Vaiṣṇava philosophy.
Question 3: Is the gift of Śrīman Mahāprabhu the highest benefaction?
Answer: Indeed. There is no higher benefactor than Mahāprabhu and His devotees, nor will there ever be. In the name of benevolence, other types of altruism cause harm, whereas the benevolence of Mahāprabhu and His devotees is truly the eternal and supreme benevolence. Such benevolence does not last only for two to ten days. It is not a temporary charity that causes pain and misery after some time. Nor is it a benevolence by which one party is benefited while the other is harmed, as when one country benefits at the expense of other countries. Others are distressed for the sake of my temporary happiness; and when others are happy, I feel no enjoyment. For my own convenience I can ride on a horse-drawn cart, but the horse is inevitably inconvenienced.
Mahāprabhu and His associates never deceived humanity at large by propagating this type of mundane benevolence. Their contribution, their benefaction, offers the paramount benefit to all living entities – at all the times and in all circumstances. Their benevolence does not benefit one particular country and harm another. Their benefaction is for the whole universe. Therefore, Mahāprabhu and His associates never propagated narrow-minded, communal and temporal benefits. The benevolence of Mahāprabhu never resulted in injustice to anyone. It is therefore known as amanda-udaya-dayā – compassion that never causes harm or injustice to anybody but bestows the highest auspiciousness. For this reason it is said that Mahāprabhu is greatly munificent (mahā-vadānya) and His devotees are magnanimous to the highest degree (mahā-mahā-vadānya). This is not a story or tale, nor is it mere poetry or a literary work; it is the subject matter of the highest truth.
Mahāprabhu’s compassion is complete, and all other types of compassion are limited and deceitful. All other avatāras, such as Matsyadeva (the fish incarnation), Kūrmadeva (the tortoise incarnation), Varāhadeva (the boar incarnation), Lord Rāmacandra, and even Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇacandra, have bestowed Their compassion only upon those who surrendered to Them, and They annihilated those who were antagonistic to Them. Mahāprabhu, however, bestowed His compassion even to those who were antagonistic to Him, such as the Chand Kazi and the followers of Buddhism in South India. He never hesitated to distribute His amanda-udaya-dayā.
Question 4: How will I know that I have gained sambandha-jñāna?
Answer: Sambandha-jñāna is obtained by the mercy of śrī gurudeva, who bestows transcendental knowledge. The day one realizes one’s eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa (sambandha-jñāna) by the mercy of Śrī Gurudeva, one will understand, “Kṛṣṇa is my only eternal master, and I am His eternal servant. Service to Kṛṣṇa is indeed my eternal occupation.”
Kṛṣṇa is the sovereign emperor of the whole universe as well as of all the transcendental Vaikuṇṭha planets, which lie beyond this universe. Therefore, no one can refrain from worshipping Him. There is no advantage, however, to worshipping Him indirectly. Those who worship the sun god or Gaṇeśa or Kṛṣṇa’s Śakti-devī are in fact worshipping Kṛṣṇa’s shadow potency, for no one exists independently of Kṛṣṇa. Someone who worships the shadow potency is unable to gain knowledge and realization of his own eternal, constitutional form (svarūpa-jñāna) or of his eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa (sambandha-jñāna).
Translated from Śrīla Prabhupādera Upadeśāmṛta
Questions re-numbered for the monthly on-line editions
CC-BY-SA Rays of The Harmonist No.19 (Gaur Purnima 2009)
Śrīla Prabhupadera Upadeśāmṛta is a compilation of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda’s instructions in question-and-answer form.