śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!
Year 7, Issue 4 Dedicated to Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Posted: 19 May 2014
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda
Inspired by and under the guidance of
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda
śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!
Year 7, Issue 4
Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Who is Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī?
by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda
Question 1: What is the easy way to achieve the Supreme Lord?
Answer: The only way to attain bhagavad-bhakti is by associating with those devotees who are engaged in serving the Supreme Lord. The devotees have accepted that rendering service to Śrī Bhagavān is the essence of life, and that this is conclusive. They always engage in discussing the name, form, qualities and pastimes (nāma, rūpa, guṇa and līlā) of the Lord and consider this the sole substance of their very lives. Only by associating with devotees who perform service to the Lord simply to please Him can one attain spiritual welfare.
The devotees do not attempt to secure their own pleasure by pretending to serve the Lord. They have no desire for personal happiness, either in the present or in the future, nor do they have desires for bodily or material comforts, nor liberation. They are always engaged in serving the Supreme Lord from the core of their hearts. Their inclination to serve does not heed any impediments at all.
The devotees are always full of love and affection for the Supreme Lord and His devotees. They have no desire to satisfy their own body, their sons, daughters or wife, nor their home, relatives or friends. The devotees are always surrendered to the Supreme Lord only. They consider Him to be the only essence of their life. And the Supreme Lord, too, who is the essence of all essences, is bound by their love and considers such devotees to be the only essence of His own life.
By rendering service to the grantha-bhāgavata (sacred literature consisting of the Lord’s glories recorded and narrated by exalted devotees) and the bhakta-bhāgavata (the exalted devotees themselves) one can attain the Supreme Lord very easily.
bhaktir bhavati naiṣṭhikī
By continuous service to both Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and the mahā-bhāgavata devotee, inauspicious desires are almost completely destroyed, and irrevocable devotional service (naiṣṭhikī-bhakti) is awakened to Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is praised with transcendental prayers.
Question 2: Is it beneficial to donate one’s wealth toward the construction of śrī mandira (the divine temple of the Lord)?
Answer: Compared to the plan of spending a substantial amount of one’s wealth to construct a home for one’s own comfort and enjoyment, the beautiful concept, borne of proper intelligence, of using that wealth to serve Bhagavān, śrī guru and the Vaiṣṇavas, or to construct a temple for serving Bhagavān, is so praiseworthy and so extremely beneficial that it cannot be expressed in words.
Those who use their wealth to construct a temple for Śrī Viṣṇu never have to visit the abode of the god of death, Yama. Instead, they are taken to Vaikuṇṭha (the abode of transcendental and eternal peace and joy) by the messengers of Viṣṇu. Yama and his servants carry the orders of the devotees of Bhagavān upon their heads.
Question 3: Who is Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī?
Answer: Although Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī was the dāsa (servant) of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, his deepest self-conception was as śrī rūpānuga – the kiñkara of Svarūpa-Rūpa. He is the Raghu of Svarūpa, he is the dear one of the dear one of Śrīman Mahāprabhu, and he is the dear most of Svarūpa-Rūpa. Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī is an extremely dear servant of Śrī Śrī Radha-Govinda and serves Them eternally in the association of Śrī Rūpa Mañjarī.
Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī did conceive of himself as the dāsa (servant) of Śrī Caitanya, but he constantly nurtured his deepest self-conception of being the kiñkara of Śrī Svarūpa Dāmodara and Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. Who else has described the most confidential service to Śrī Vṛṣabhānu-nandini as deeply as he has?
Question 4: How should gṛhastha devotees perceive their home (gṛha)?
Answer: Gṛhastha devotees should keep in mind that their house belongs to Śrī Kṛṣṇa and they are staying there as His adopted dependent, like an obedient dog in the house of His master. “Bhāla-manda nāhi jāni sevā-mātra kari, tomāra saṁsāre āmi viṣaya- praharī – I do not know what is good or bad; I simply perform service to You. I am a caretaker of the property in Your abode” (Śaraṇāgati 2.5.5). Accepting Śrī Kṛṣṇa as the master of the house, one should serve Him by dedicating everything one has to Him.
Those who have solemnly pledged to remain absorbed in worldly life (gṛha-vrata) do not maintain a worshipful attitude towards Śrī Hari and śrī guru. They see śrī guru and śrī vigraha as ordinary entities in the same category as any other. Only those who give up the mentality of being gṛha-vrata and offer everything in service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa can truly chant kṛṣṇa-nāma. Without giving up worldly attachment, without offering everything in service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, without becoming a belonging of śrī guru and Śrī Kṛṣṇa, it is not possible to truly chant śrī kṛṣṇa-nāma.
Question 5: Where should we invest our śraddhā?
Answer: Giving up all topics of this world, we should establish our faith and trust utterly and completely in the words of śrī guru, for without the mercy of śrī guru, anarthas cannot be dispelled and true auspiciousness cannot be attained. Hence, we should know śrī guru to be the only cause for us to attain Śrī Bhagavān and our sole nitya-bāndhava (one who is eternally bound to us by affection and thus cannot give us up).
[The following text in bold appeared in English in the original Bengali publication.]
The word śraddhā means full confidence in the words of śrī guru. We have no faith in the words of so-called gurus or religious reformers or pretenders. Simply by associating with a saintly guru, all inauspiciousness is dispelled and we can attain śuddha-bhakti. Therefore, we should have implicit faith in śrī guru in order to approach and serve the Absolute Person.
A sādhu is he who will relieve me from all puzzling doubts. A sādhu will give me the highest good. I should make friends with a real guru, who is really wishing for my highest good. If perchance we meet a real guru, then we must be saved and must be able to reach our goal. He will always supply and enrich us with transcendental knowledge and service.
Question 6: What is the difference between anusaraṇa (following) and anukaraṇa (imitating)?
Answer: Just as truly following the teacher’s guidance (anugatya) and ingratiating oneself through flattery are not the same, similarly, following (anusaraṇa) and imitating (anukaraṇa) are not the same, although many succumb to illusion in their consideration of the two. To dress up as Śrī Nārada in dramas is imitation (anukaraṇa); to follow him in truth and proceed on the same path of bhakti that he displayed and practised is following (anusaraṇa). Pretentiously imitating mannerisms is anukaraṇa; truly and sincerely proceeding on the path of the mahājanas (great, transcendental personalities) is anusaraṇa.
Often we believe that we are following, but in actuality we end up imitating. Following (anusaraṇa) indicates one’s own practice and behavior. Following (anusaraṇa) cannot take place simply through imitation (anukaraṇa), which is like the distorted reflection of an activity. Externally, the activities performed while engaging in both anukaraṇa and anusaraṇa seem to be the same, just as the outward appearance of fool’s gold (iron pyrite) and pure gold are for the most part identical.
To be clear, anukaraṇa is synonymous with pretension. A tendency exists in our hearts for such pretension, and it has been called vipralipsā; the tendency to cheat or delude others. That tendency leads us to deceive others for the purpose of accumulating pratiṣṭhā (prestige) and the like. But imitating the śrauta-pantha, the path of bona fide, authorized hearing, does not result in true following (anusaraṇa). And since imitating does not result in following, imitating has no value at all.
Question 7: The name of Bhagavān as well as hari-kathā, which describes His glories, are manifestations belonging to Vaikuṇṭha, so how can they be attained within this material world?
Answer: The holy names of Bhagavān mercifully descend into this world from transcendental realms. Śrī arca-avatāra (the incarnation of the Lord as His deity), śrī nāma-avatāra (the incarnation of the Lord as His name) and śrī guru-avatāra (the incarnation of the Lord as His bona fide representative) descend into this world and bring hari-kathā, the message of Godhead, with them.
These three are non-different. Śrī arca-avatara and śrī nāma-avatāra are viṣaya-jātiya-bhagavān (the recipient or beneficiary of worship), and śrī guru-avatāra is aśraya-jātiya-bhagavān (the giver of worship). In other words, by accepting the aśraya (shelter) of śrī guru, or the bona fide ācārya (spiritual preceptor), we fulfil our search for viṣaya-vigraha Kṛṣṇa (Kṛṣṇa as the embodiment of the object of worship).
And yet there is an important distinction to make at this point: since Śrī Rādhā is aśraya-vigraha, Her name and Her vigraha are also aśraya-jātiya-bhagavata-vastu.
There is no difference between Bhagavān’s name and Bhagavān Himself as there is between a mundane name and the entity it names.
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.