śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!

Rays of The Harmonist On-Line Edition

Year-4, Issue 10
Posted: 16 November, 2011

Dedicated to
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

Our Highest Duty

by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda


(Photograph of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda)


Question 1: What is our highest duty?

Answer: This human form of life lasts only a moment and it is extremely rare. Instead of wasting our time by engaging in wicked, offensive or wasteful activities, we should all engage our minds in hari-bhajana, abandoning everything else.

We have attained this human birth after many lifetimes, and this human form is the rarest form of life. It is not just rare, but extremely rare. Although it is a temporary designation, it is nevertheless known as paramārtha-prada – that which grants supreme, absolute welfare. Those who have discriminating intelligence, for as long as their human body permits the pursuit of spiritual life (sādhana), abandon all material activities, and without even a moment’s delay endeavour to achieve the highest benefit.

In order to attain the topmost benefit, one has to take shelter of the lotus feet of a bona fide spiritual master (sad-guru-pādāśraya). The true spiritual master, or sad-guru, does not speak in accordance with our fascination for material enjoyment, which is actually aversion to reality. Instead, he only speaks about our most prominent duty – in fact our sole, eternal duty – which is to engage in kṛṣṇa-bhajana.

The people of this world speak in accordance with our worldly inclinations, so they draw our attention and convince us to see them as beloved. But it is śrī gurudeva alone who does not wish to hurt me or indirectly sabotage my well-being as they do. He is truly distressed by my suffering, feels pain in my agony, is compassionate and my only and supreme friend. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam advises us to surrender unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master, who is a liberated soul, by giving up everything we have and taking single pointed shelter of his lotus feet.

Question 2: By what means can we achieve actual independence?

Answer: Apart from taking shelter of the lotus feet of Bhagavān, there is no other means to achieve independence and peace. Accepting our total dependence upon and subordination to the Supreme Personality of Godhead – who is adhoksaja (the transcendent Lord who exists beyond the purview of material sense) – under the guidance of the spiritual master, is the right use of our free will. This alone is full and true independence: the eternal dharma of every living being.

Question 3: How may one know oneself?

Answer: Although, constitutionally, I am a servant of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, I am presently unable to attain the eligibility (adhikāra) to be true to that station. Presently, I am incapable of achieving proximity to Śrī Kṛṣṇa and of understanding the truth about the Supreme Lord.

What is essentially required, therefore, is for me to dedicate all of my efforts to understanding that I am an eternal servant of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Without the association of devotees, and without surrendering to the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, it is impossible for someone to know himself solely by his own intelligence.

Question 4: What has Caitanyadeva done?

Answer: Śrī Caitanyadeva has given instructions so that every possession of every single person in this world can be engaged in serving the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Although Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is Kṛṣṇa Himself, He has come to understand Kṛṣṇa by accepting the mood of a devotee, and through His own conduct He has taught us how to serve Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu, who is the eternal associate of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, has glorified Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu in the following prayer:

namo mahā-vadānyāya kṛṣṇa-prema-pradāya te
kṛṣṇāya kṛṣṇa-caitanya-namne gaura tviṣe namaḥ

I offer praṇāma unto Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya, who is Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself. Having assumed the golden hue of Śrīmatī Rādhikā, He is most munificently bestowing kṛṣṇa-prema, the rarest of all gifts.

O Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya! You are mahā-vadānya, the embodiment of supreme munificence. You have not established so-called cathedrals of education (schools or colleges) or so-called orphanages, nor engaged in other pious, social welfare activities like digging wells or opening hospitals. But you have certainly established real cathedrals of transcendental education. You alone are the true shelter of the orphaned souls of this world. You alone have discovered the ocean of the nectar of devotion – bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu. And You have established the  Gauḍīya hospitals where patients are cured of the disease of repeated birth and death.

Your mercy is amandodaya – compassion that awakens absolute fortune exclusively, without granting any insignificant results or indirectly causing any harm or loss. Worldly compassion gives rise to inferior results, but your compassion brings all good fortune to the living beings. Hence you are mahā-vadānya, supremely munificent. You provide love for Śrī Kṛṣṇa completely and thoroughly. You are the worshipful recipient of the natural tendency to serve that is present in every soul. You have appeared in order to manifest Your mahā-vadānya-līlā – Your pastimes of supreme munificence – and thereby awaken the consciousness of all living beings.

O Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya! You are the Supreme Being with unlimited qualities (saviśeṣa) and You are the embodiment of the totality of sat, cit and ānanda. You are endowed with Your eternal name, form, qualities and pastimes. You are the personality who possesses the totality of power – Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Your potency that bewilders all the residents of this world is called bhuvana-mohinī mahā-māyā, and the possessor of that potency is Śrī Kṛṣṇa – bhuvana-mohana.

She who enchants even that bhuvana-mohana is known as bhuvana-mohana-mohinī – the supremely beautiful Śrīmatī Rādhikā. You are immersed in the moods and effulgence of Śrīmatī Rādhikā. In these pastimes of Yours, which are brimming with benevolence (audārya), Kṛṣṇa’s mood of being Rādhā-ramaṇa (the adorable paramour of Śrīmatī Rādhikā) is not present, for in these pastimes, Your heart is immersed in the mood of Śrī Rādhā Herself, who is the embodiment of complete, unalloyed service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

You are most benevolent because You bestow kṛṣṇa-prema. You are the embodiment of the topmost love, and You have appeared to bestow that love. You are Kṛṣṇa Himself.

Question 5: How can one attain sādhu-saṅga the association of pure devotees?

Answer: Only by attentively hearing hari-kathā can true sādhu-saṅga be achieved. By associating with sādhus, we can understand the fact that Kṛṣṇa is supremely powerful while this world is quite insignificant. Then, by gradually rendering service to Him under the guidance of pure devotees, we can attain firm faith in and attachment and love for serving Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The topmost goal of life is to attain love for service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa and love for Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself.

Translated by the Rays of The Harmonist team
from Śrīla Prabhupādera Upadeśāmṛta
Questions re-numbered for this on-line presentation

Śrīla Prabhupadera Upadeśāmṛta is a compilation of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda’s instructions in question-and-answer form.

Rays of The Harmonist On-line, Year-4, Issue 10 “Our Highest Duty” by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda, 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.