śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!
Year 9, Issue 11
Posted: 1 January 2016
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
Nāma Prabhu – my Lord, the Holy Name
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was quite indifferent to the observance or non-observance of caste distinction as understood by people in general. It appeared outwardly, in the eyes of non-devotees, that He accepted instead the popularly practiced social customs in order to keep the non-devoted people, who are already self-deceived, all the more spiritually blinded. For otherwise wantonness would prevail in the society, kept inert with the ideas of social practices relating to worldly attachments, and further nuisances would be rampant in the world, along with the disturbance caused in the understanding of such attached people.
But He never allowed any caste-prejudice among His devotees. He never accepted food from non-devotee brāhmaṇas. On the other hand, He accepted it from the hands of Vaiṣṇava brāhmaṇas who chanted a lākha (one hundred thousand) hari-nāmas (names of God) daily. He would accept food cooked by Sanodiās in whom He found devotion to God, although they were culturally so untouchable that a brāhmaṇa could not even drink water offered by them. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu considered them as touchable as pure brāhmaṇas.
Again, He snatched away and ate rice mahāprasāda from Śrīla Dāsa Gosvāmī (Raghunātha). He propagated the teaching that to judge a Vaiṣṇava according to the caste of his birth, and to consider mahāprasāda mere rice and curry that can be contaminated by a lower caste – is a severe spiritual offence. He propagated this teaching by making jagat-guru Śrī Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu, who is not different from His own self, take food cooked by His devotees born of any caste.
The present day system of caste distinction is prevalent among the Smārta social orders, whose conceptions are rendered inert under principles of worldly attachment. That worldly caste mindedness and the social wantonness introduced by the Brāhma-samāja, are both the product of malevolence, or a spirit of spitefulness. The Smārtas as described above and the so-called brāhmaṇas both cherish antagonism against one another under the spirit of mutual spite and relation.
But the Vaiṣṇavas are free from any malicious spirit. All their activities are directed toward service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and do not lead to their respective worldly enjoyments like the activities of the aforesaid mutually hostile groups of society. According to Vaiṣṇava consideration, activities that have no relation to serving Śrī Kṛṣṇa are extremely contemptible, though they may be highly praiseworthy in the opinion of ordinary, worldly-minded people.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu directs us to practice devotion to Hari as part of a system of daiva-varṇāśrama (divine social order) that is based on devotion. In the present age, the practice of religion has come under the sway of the vitiated society. Śrī Caitanyadeva has commanded that society should ever remain under the control of the religion of pure devotion. It is then that the society will have its true value as being favourable to the practice of serving God; otherwise it will be the contra-divine society worthy of asuras, or people with demonic characteristics.
We have received the teachings that Śrī Gaurasundara has given to this world via the mantra we were given while we sat at the lotus feet of śrī gurudeva. What śrī gurudpāda-padma has given us is not an ordinary mantra; it is the mahā-mantra. Mantra absolves us from the function of the mind. But mahā-mantra is the name of God. That Name wields so much power that we cannot expect similar results from any other thing. That name is vaikuṇṭha-nāma.
Although it is apparently similar to sounds in various languages around the world, which are born out of the three modes of nature (triguṇas) and which possess limitations (kuṇṭhā), the Name has its own speciality. Even the slightest glow (abhāsa) of that vaikuṇṭha-nāma burns away all sins; it should be chanted continuously as it does so. By uttering vaikuṇṭha-nāma, man is already present in Vaikuṇṭha, in the highest type of piety, and he becomes eager for the attainment of paramārtha (the highest blessedness). Māyika, or kuṇṭha, name (which has limitations) has no such effect.
Our luck is so bad that we are unable to develop attachment to the All-Powerful vaikuṇṭha-nāma; we engage in other talks instead. The words we use from worldly languages to accomplish all sorts of worldly things, to fulfil all of our other desires and to interact with other cultures, may serve us and come under the control of our sense-activities. Those words may be engaged in the fulfilment of our desires, but vaikuṇṭha-nāma is entirely different.
Gaurasundara has said, for our good, in the verse beginning ‘tṛṇādapi sunīca...’ (Śikṣāśtaka 3), that the real meaning of the Vedic mantra ‘ahaṁ brahmāsmi’ is “that which the jīva becomes after attaining the final stage [of perfection].” Other sounds carry us away in the current of ambition and evil desires, but vaikuṇṭha-nāma sets us running along the path of serving Kṛṣṇa, and spreads His full influence and complete, benevolent dominion over us. I bow down to Nāma Prabhu, and I fall first of all at the feet of śri gurupāda-padma, who gives Nāma Prabhu away, and who is therefore the most bountifully munificent donor.
Adapted from The Gaudiya Volume 5, Number 2 & 3
by the Rays of The Harmonist team