śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!

Rays of The Harmonist On-Line Edition

Year 10, Issue 6
Posted: 17 June 2017

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

Can Only Be Read by a True Bhāgavata

by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda



[All of the footnotes in this presentation originally appeared within the body of the text (as parenthetical editor’s notes). Some have been edited or adapted.]

In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.25.25) God has said: “By becoming close to true saints and listening, with a serving mood, to their accounts of My glories, which please the heart and the ear, one successively develops firm faith, then attachment and finally pure devotion to the path of liberation.” Special attention should be paid to the phrase “close to true saints.” Aside from this, it should be understood that pleasure for the heart and the ear does not refer to sense gratification for those apathetic towards serving God. Rather it refers to satisfaction of the transcendental senses of one who has a tendency for serving; it means busily endeavoring to offer service.

About sixty years ago (circa 1860 AD), there lived an Oriya paṇḍita, Gopinātha Miśra by name. He acquired a deep penetration into Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. There was a bhāgavata, or natural devotee of God, among those who heard Bhāgavatam from him. That bhāgavata, by turning away the current of wrong or mixed devotion, went on to become the source of the propagation of pure devotion [in this world].* It was he who laid the foundation of the true culture of the Bhāgavatam under the ‘Bhakti Maṇḍapam’ near the foot-print table of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu at the Temple of Śrī Jagannātha. It is under his following alone that true discourses on the Bhāgavatam and the pure chanting of the names of Hari have become possible in the present world. Hypocrites or insincere men cannot be his followers with evil intentions.

* The reference here is apparently to Ṭhākura Śrīla Bhaktivinoda.

The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam must be read in the company of true Vaiṣṇavas. Śrīla Svarūpa Gosvāmī Prabhupāda said, “Go and read the Bhāgavatam with a Vaiṣṇava.” The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam cannot be chanted through the mouth of a person who is not himself a bhāgavata, or true devotee of God. Such a person shall only thereby maintain an illusion in the mind of some others that Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is actually being chanted through his mouth. He is self-deceived and as such, he deceives others.

There are many who eat fish, who are wrongly attached to women according to the precepts of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, who do many things wrong in their household conduct and are attached to continuing to do those things; yet they introduce themselves as discoursers on Bhāgavatam. How can the Bhāgavatam, which is non-distinct from God Himself, dance upon their tongues? He who is of bad character, who is powerfully influenced by lust, and who hankers for fame and wealth, never actually reads the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, but rather, he simply gratifies his senses in a show of doing so. And this type of person recommends stopping any help from being given towards service to God that is being performed by those who always, authentically, read Bhāgavatam. He even recommends depriving the same of their railway fare*.

* Referring to railway fares meant for traveling in order to propagate God’s names and glories.

On the contrary, all should reverently serve the bhāgavatas (true devotees of God). The afore-mentioned pseudo-Bhāgavata readers often think, “Why should we not strangle and suppress those who censure our practice of satisfying our belly with Bhāgavata discourses, giving people initiations for money and keeping the deity forms standing*? And who are the true Bhāgavata readers, who serve God’s vigraha and convert people into true devotees?” When they find no proper reply to their derisive remarks made in support of their abominable practices, they say, “The true Bhāgavata readers, also, beg for money, which they rely on.”

* That is, the deities are there to earn money for them.

Rather, the truth is that every help is to be given to those who are genuine expositors of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and who serve the deity form of God. Everything is theirs, for they are not after enjoyment, they do not deceive themselves and others on the plea of offering service to God’s image, nor do they acquire the material fame of the phalgu-vairāgīs (shallow abnegators) who throw away the articles meant for serving God as no more than worldly.

If I am afraid to propagate the Absolute Truth because I think, if I were to do so without regard for a person’s tastes or for the current circumstances, I may fail to please people, then I shall be guilty of accepting non-Vedic principles while discarding the Vedic ones, and I shall become bereft of faith in God, an atheist and against the Vedas.

Adapted from The Gaudiya Volume 5, Number 6
by the Rays of The Harmonist team

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