śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!
Year-4, Issue 3
Posted: 22 April 2011
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda
Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Inspired by and under the guidance of
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda
Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Under the Guidance of Śrī Guru
by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda
Question 1: What is the specific difference between perfection in chanting mantra (mantra-siddhī) and perfection in devotion to God (bhakti-siddhī)?
Answer: Perfection in chanting mantra (mantra-siddhī) leads to liberation from material entanglement. Only then does the devotee begin to perform pure devotional service (śuddha-bhakti). In other words, he comes to the stage of immovable resolve in the performance of devotional service (niṣṭhā-bhakti), wherein he begins engaging in true devotional practice (sādhana-bhakti). But before this stage is reached, one passes through the stage of sādhana-kriya, also known as bhajana-kriya – the stage of spiritual development through practising the activities of devotional life.
agre mukti tabe karma-bandhan nāśa
tabe se haite pāre śri krsnera dāsa
Caitanya-bhāgavata (Madhya 17-104)
On achieving the perfection of the mantra, the sādhaka first attains liberation. At that time, his worldly, false ego no longer exists. Only from that time on does he attain the fortune of offering selfless service to Bhagavān, exclusively for the His pleasure. This alone is true servitorship (śuddha-dāsya), or pure devotional service (śuddha bhakti).
Mantra-siddhī results in liberation, and bhakti-siddhī leads to prema. Only the devotee who has attained the stage of prema can be called a perfected devotee (siddha-bhakta), or a mahā-bhagavatā.
While mantra-siddhi results in liberation, even nāma-ābhāsa (a semblance of the holy name) on its own can grant liberation. Śrī kṛṣṇa-nāma is worshipped by the clan of liberated souls. It is said in scriptures:
kṛṣṇa-mantra haite habe saṁsāra-mocana
kṛṣṇa-nāma haite pābe kṛṣṇera caraṇa
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi-līlā 7.73)
By chanting the kṛṣṇa-mantra [i.e. gopāla-mantra], one obtains freedom from material existence; but by chanting kṛṣṇa-nāma, one obtains Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet directly (i.e. kṛṣṇa-prema).
Question 2: Should one give up the association of those who are greedy for money?
Answer: Money is the root cause of anarthas (that which diverts us from the true purpose of life). Money can only lead to auspiciousness if one is capable of using it to serve the Supreme Lord. Otherwise, money will only cause inauspiciousness, or further entanglement in material existence.
Therefore, those seekers of the truth who are engaged in hari-bhajana should not be enticed by the perishable wealth found in this world. What is actually required is greed for supreme eternal wealth – paramārtha (the ultimate purpose of life).
One who truly wishes for the well-being of his soul must never be attached to material wealth, for if someone is attached to material wealth, he cannot be attached to paramārtha – supreme, eternal wealth – and as a result, his life will pass in vain. Kindly bless me that for the remaining days of my life I will never have to see the face of such persons, who are averse to Bhagavān due to being full of greed for money.
Question 3: Is it beneficial for everyone to serve collectively and cooperatively?
Answer: Yes. We should all become one in purpose and cooperatively serve Śrī Hari under the guidance of śrī guru. It is imperative that brotherhood be maintained among all of us and that we remain engaged in serving Śrī Hari in the association of bhaktas who are guru-niṣṭha. We must all remain forever engaged in serving Lord Hari and śrī guru just to please them.
When the living entity becomes busy chasing after selfish pleasure, he forgets about service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and as a result, he suffers. Therefore, it is always beneficial to remain engaged in service with a surrendered mood.
Question 4: Is the experience of worldly misery actually a manifestation of Bhagavān’s compassion?
Answer: Everything is the compassion of He who is the embodiment of compassion. “It is all for the best.”* Everything Bhagavān does, He does for our welfare, only. Wherever the embodiment of compassion may place someone, and whenever He may place them there, that person should stay there at that time with a smiling face and accept the gift or the chastisement of the Lord.
* This saying appeared in English in the original Bengali article.
All the benedictions or punishments conferred by Bhagavān are for our benefit only. When the material energy (māyā-śakti) of Bhagavān rewards us, we tend to cherish it. And when she chastises us we consider it a source of pain. But the devotees even honour her chastisement, considering that its purpose is to help them achieve the Lord’s mercy. With a smiling face they accept it with patience and see it as the manifestation of the Lord’s blessings.
Those who are unable to perceive that worldly inauspiciousness is in fact the mercy of Bhagavān are invariably unsuccessful in their continual search for happiness and progress in this world.
Question 5: Why is it that not all those who live among the devotees are good people?
Answer: Although it is a fact that where light is present, there is no darkness, on the back of any illuminated object, darkness can still be found. Wherever we find light, some darkness, however little, also exists; wherever there is virtue, there also exists the necessity for the presence of some evil, albeit in a covered form, for the splendour of light cannot be shown without the presence of darkness; the importance of learning can only be perceived in the presence of foolishness; and were there to be no distress, we could not realize the reason for which happiness exists at all.
Question 6: Is it necessary for our life to be an exemplary one?
Answer: A devotee should always be cautious that his own exemplary character is not seen to be otherwise by people in general. Those with tender faith (komala-śraddhā) face trouble at every step and are unable to perceive someone’s inner moods. They can only take external forms and actions into consideration.
Question 7: What is our ailment?
Answer: Accumulating material sense objects unrelated to Kṛṣṇa just for the purpose of indulging in selfish pleasure is our primary ailment. We experience pleasure through the mundane rasa of sense objects, but we do not experience pleasure in the names of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the topmost sense object, or in serving Him. This is our misfortune.
Just as a person suffering from jaundice does not like the taste of crystallized sugar cane (miśrī), on account of our attachment to material sense gratification, which keeps us averse to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, we do not experience any taste in chanting Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s sweet names, or in serving Him. When the body is infested with poison, even honey tastes bitter.
And yet, the only cure for jaundice is sugar candy. By regularly eating sugar candy, jaundice gradually subsides, and then one starts to relish the sweetness of the candy. In the same manner, by regularly chanting śrī kṛṣṇa-nāma and performing devotional service, whether willingly or unwillingly, our aversion to Bhagavān will diminish and our attachment to material objects will be cut away. It is then that one starts to realize the sweetness of serving Bhagavān. At that time, the sweetness of śrī kṛṣṇa-nāma will manifest on its own, and we will be initiated through our transcendental senses into our eternal service to the transcendental viśaya-vigraha (Godhead, or the originating object of love).
Question 8: What is the duty of a devotee who is faced with worldly discomfort?
Answer: Everything is the desire of the Supreme Lord. So if we undergo some trouble, we should simply be tolerant, since there is no other way than to wait for the mercy of the Lord. Lord Śrī Nṛsiṁhadeva always protects the devotees from all kinds of difficulties. Therefore, as soon as we are situated in the realm of bhakti, no concern for our sustenance and protection will remain. Upon surrendering to Bhagavān, all the disturbances in the material world subside.
Translated by the Rays of the Harmonist team
from Śrīla Prabhupādera Upadeśāmṛta
Questions re-numbered for this on-line presentation
Śrīla Prabhupādera Upadeśāmṛta is a compilation of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda’s instructions in question-and-answer form.