śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!
Year 6, Issue 7
Posted: 25 August 2013
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
The Difference Between Offensiveness
and Weakness of Heart
by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda
Question 1: Is the surrendered soul bound to attain the topmost welfare?
Answer: Most definitely. The very same moment we surrender, our welfare is confirmed, as if it is already in our hands. One’s welfare is ensured when one becomes dependent upon the principal owner. Until we are surrendered, or to the extent we are not surrendered, we are simply embracing discomfort for ourselves.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa has not brought us to this world to inflict pain upon us. But by utilizing our independence improperly, we have by our own actions chosen inauspiciousness and our own distress. As soon as we develop faith in His benevolent words, our false ego of being the doer shall be dispelled forever. Then we shall no longer make a mad dash to celebrate our bravado in the field of karma. Instead, we shall surrender unto His lotus feet in order to truly listen to Him.
Question 2: What are the symptoms of a surrendered soul?
Answer: The prime symptom of a surrendered soul is that he has relinquished any notion of being the doer. Renouncing this notion and exclusively accepting Śrī Kṛṣṇa as one’s maintainer and guardian is the constitutional characteristic of surrender (śaraṇāgati). For one who is surrendered, there is no need of being the doer. When the conception of being a fully protected and maintained maidservant of Śrī Vṛṣabhānu-nandini appears in our heart, then no other worldly identifications, which are all insignificant in comparison, can overpower it.
“I am dependent on Śrī Kṛṣṇa.” Unless one develops this identification, true surrender, or truly taking shelter (āśraya), has not yet occurred. Prior to this, it is natural to maintain the ego of being the doer.
Question 3: Is human birth greater than birth as a demigod?
Answer: Yes. Definitely. Thus, even the demigods desire to be born as humans. The demigods are so immersed in enjoying sensual pleasures that they are not able to accommodate the thought that their future is a veritable arsenal of distress. They are always engrossed in the intoxication of enjoying temporary pleasures. Since they remain demigods for a fixed duration only, upon exhausting the fruits of their good deeds they are bound to take birth again on the earthly planet.
Human beings tend to care about their futures more than any other form of life does. The demigods live a much happier and more carefree life than humans do, and they are able to engage in material pleasures for a longer duration, but then in the end, they face difficulties. The demigods are surrounded with the virtues of high birth, opulence, fame and so forth, and so they constantly seek to augment their opulence.
We consider them to be great because they have more avenues for enjoying pleasure. But despite this inferiority to demigods, humans have the special advantage of being able to weigh the long-term benefits and misfortune an action may bring. But if a human imitates the demigods and remains engaged in simply furthering his opulence, he too becomes unable to consider his true welfare.
Compared to demigods, humans have a greater opportunity to engage in bhagavad-bhajana and associate with the sādhus. On this basis, human birth is understood to be actually superior to birth as a demigod.
In human life various difficulties arise at every moment, reminding us that this world and all its pleasures are in fact of a temporary nature. But for demigods, whose life is comparatively full of uninterrupted sensual pleasure, realization of the temporary nature of the world is not easily attained. Thus, by taking birth as humans we are granted these interruptions in pleasure and, consequently, we can make preparations for our true welfare by correctly identifying what is actually, ultimately beneficial, and distinguishing it from what is not.
Question 4: Who is our most benevolent friend?
Answer: There is no truer or more benevolent friend in this world than he who causes us to become attracted to chanting the holy names of the Lord. All of the charity done by a million philanthropists, each as great as Karṇa*, seems very ordinary and small when compared to the immense benevolence of those who engage in preaching the glories of the holy names.
* C.f. Mahābhārata. Karṇa is renowned as the most charitable character in Mahābhārata. He famously donated his armour, which was a part of his own flesh, to Indra without hesitation.
Question 5: How may one attain Kṛṣṇa’s mercy-potency?
Answer: When someone surrenders exclusively unto the lotus feet of śrī gurudeva, then śrī gurudeva transmits Kṛṣṇa’s potency into the heart of that disciple. Thereafter, this kṛpa-śakti, or mercy-potency, is nourished by the disciple’s sincere service, and it gradually destroys all of his anarthas (meaningless impediments to attaining bhakti) and misfortune. But if he stops rendering service or if he becomes wholly uninspired in his service, then his anarthas will regain their prominence and Kṛṣṇa’s potency will gradually diminish within him. If a person wants a seed to become a strong tree, he must carefully water it until it germinates, and then protect it from being assaulted by the environment while it is still tender and young. In the same way, it is essential to nurture Kṛṣṇa’s potency within the heart – the potency received from śrī gurudeva – by constantly engaging in bhajana.
Question 6: What is the difference between offensiveness (aparādha) and weakness of heart (hṛdaya-durbalatā)?
Answer: A person with “weakness of heart” (hṛdaya-daurbalatā) and a person with offensiveness (aparādha) do not exactly fall into the same category. Although, in due course of time, weakness of heart may transform into offensiveness, he who is still in the former stage feels antipathy towards base cravings which lead to sin and towards making offences. He is unable to give up committing sin or making offences despite knowing that they are extremely wrong. But he who is an offender does not even consider these things to be wrong. He thinks that whatever actions he performs are good and that his own understanding of the world is correct, and that those who are true sādhus are mistaken if they disagree.
A person suffering from weakness of heart must not accept that his base cravings (kāmana) have any value, and he must not actively relish them. Rather he should discard them out of disgust. It can then be understood that Kṛṣṇa’s mercy is truly upon him. Otherwise he will be cheated out of receiving Kṛṣṇa’s mercy.
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.