śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!

Rays of The Harmonist On-Line Edition

Year-1 & 14, Number 5
Posted: 23 June 2008 & 29 June 2021

Dedicated to
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 is the Most Severe Nāma-aparādha?
by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada

Question 1
How can one attain perfection within a single lifetime?

Answer: If one gives up one’s free will and fully surrenders to śrī gurudeva, and then performs bhajana without duplicity under his guidance, one will attain perfection within a single lifetime.

Question 2
By what means can one know Śrī Bhagavān?

Answer: One will have to hear with faith the kathā of Bhagavān coming from the lotus lips of śrī gurudeva. There is no way to know Śrī Bhagavān other than by whole-heartedly surrendering unto the lotus feet of śrī gurudeva. Only a person who does so can know Śrī Bhagavān.

Question 3
What is the most severe nāma-aparādha, or offence to the holy name?

Answer: To consider śrī gurudeva to be an ordinary human being is the most deadly offence, the most severe nāma-aparādha. By maintaining a conception of him as a mere mortal, one cannot attain auspiciousness, even in billions of births. A person with such a mundane conception of the guru will encounter various types of obstacles in bhakti and will be in danger of drowning in the ocean of material desires. Besides the lotus feet of śrī guru nothing can save us from the clutches of harmful association. The jīva is unable to surrender himself at the lotus feet of śrī gurudeva only because he considers śrī gurudeva to be an ordinary human being.

Question 4
What is the function of the ācārya?

Answer: The ācārya carries the message of Śrī Bhagavān. He comes to us to deliver the message of Vaikuṇṭha. One must accept that message of Vaikuṇṭha emanating from the lotus lips of śrī guru through ears imbued with a service mood. If there is full surrender, then by the mercy of the ācārya one can attain everything. No one besides the residents of Vaikuṇṭha can accurately deliver the message of Vaikuṇṭha. To learn about Calcutta, you must hear from one who has seen Calcutta. Only then can you receive true information about Calcutta.

Question 5
What is the real meaning of sannyāsa?

Answer: Performing uninterrupted bhajana of Hari is indeed real sannyāsa. The sannyāsa, or renunciation, of the devotees of Śrī Bhagavān is their rejection of sense enjoyment (bhukti) and liberation (mukti). The devotees renounce the desire for sense enjoyment and liberation, and take shelter of the lotus feet of Bhakti-devī.

Question 6
What is the function of the sādhu?

Answer: The function of the sādhu is to remain in touch with the Absolute Truth twenty-four hours a day. By association with such a living source, or living sādhu, and by hearing hari-kathā from him, one will inevitably develop faith in Bhagavān and one’s service attitude will also awaken. Indeed, one has to associate with a sādhu to become a sādhu. If we associate with a sādhu by surrendering to him, then, without a doubt, anything that is a hindrance will be eradicated. Indeed, the function of the sādhu is to remove the fear and anxiety of those who take shelter of him or associate with him, and to bring them happiness.

The association of a sādhu is likened to the action of a battery. The function of the sādhu is to make the people of the world, who are averse to Bhagavān, inclined towards Him. This alone is real compassion upon the living entity (jīve dayā). One’s eternal auspiciousness is inevitable if one takes sādhu-saṅga thoroughly. The sole indication that a person has accepted thorough sādhu-saṅga is that he will hear the kathā of the sādhu with submission and surrender to him, and pass his life accordingly, immersed in devotional service. The activity of the sādhu is to deliver conditioned souls like us from the clutches of māyā.

Question 7
What kind of perspective should we accept to assure our auspiciousness?

Answer: If we can see the whole universe as engaged in the service of Śrī Bhagavān, then we will never experience any distress.

We must hear kathā about how to serve Bhagavān from one who can show us Bhagavān and who is engaged in service to Him twenty-four hours a day. This is the only way to attain our eternal, spiritual well-being. With their eyes of devotion, the sādhus who are bhaktas, or devotees of Bhagavān, always see Śyāmasundara Kṛṣṇa within their hearts. Through the association and mercy of such sādhus, we also can see Bhagavān in our hearts.

We will constantly busy ourselves in service to Bhagavān without wasting even a single moment. We have to serve, remaining exclusively in the association of sādhus. By constantly remaining in such sādhu-saṅga, our aptitude for service will continuously be enhanced.

Bhagavān fulfils every desire of His surrendered bhaktas without fail, and He never rejects them – kṛṣṇa sei satya kare, jei māge bhṛtya (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā, 15.166). Only Śrī Bhagavān has the ability to protect us by giving us shelter. Other than He, no one else has such power. With such resolute faith, we can become free from fear and anxiety, and become happy and successful. Kṛṣṇa is the embodiment of auspiciousness; and therefore if we have complete faith in His nature to bestow auspiciousness, we will certainly attain such auspiciousness. Words cannot express the kind of great auspiciousness that is obtained by surrendering fully at the lotus feet of Bhagavān.

Question 8
Is the deity (śrī-vigraha) Bhagavān Himself?

Answer: Of course. The deity of Kṛṣṇa is Kṛṣṇa Himself: “pratimā naha tumi—sākṣāt vrajendra-nandana – You are not a statue; You are directly the son of Nanda Mahārāja” (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā, 5.96). The deity is the worshipful incarnation of Bhagavān. The lord (iṣṭa-deva) of the sādhu’s heart manifests externally as the deity.

Question 9
Where does a person find his guru?

Answer: Whoever Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the embodiment of compassion, chooses to send to you as your guru, that person alone will manifest before you externally as the mahānta-guru, the guru in the form of the foremost living sādhu. By the mercy of Bhagavān we will obtain a guru, and by the mercy of the guru we can attain Bhagavān.

A person will get a guru according to his particular destiny. People of different types vary in their disposition, and therefore Bhagavān, who is omniscient, sends them each a particular type of guru. There are those who want niṣkapaṭa-kṛpā, the real mercy of Bhagavān, and who depend entirely on Bhagavān for their eternal welfare. Being pleased with such simple-hearted, sincere persons, Bhagavān Himself manifests before them as the guru, to bestow mercy upon them. But for those who want kapaṭa-kṛpā, the deceptive mercy of Bhagavān, Bhagavān’s māyā, or external potency, will send them a ‘guru’ according to the particular disposition of their heart.

There is no impediment for one who is sincere. He will very quickly meet a bona fide guru.


Translated by the Rays of The Harmonist team
from Srila Prabhupadera Upadesamrta
Questions re-numbered for this on-line presentation


Srila Prabhupadera Upadesamrta
is a compilation of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada’s instructions in question-and-answer form.

Rays of The Harmonist On-line, Year 1 & 14, Number 5 by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License to ensure that it is always freely available. You may redistribute this article if you include this license and attribute it to Rays of The Harmonist. Please ask for permission before using the Rays of The Harmonist banner-logo.