[This year, August 10, 2012 is the disappearance day of Srila Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja. In honor of this special day, we have re-edited this lecture given by Srila Gurudeva on May 5, 1996 in Holland, his first tour to the West. To hear the lecture, please click on this link: Audio]
bhajami radham aravinda-netram
smarami radham madhura-smitasyam
vadami radham karuna-bharardram
tato mamanyasti gatir na kapi
["I worship Radha who has lotus eyes, I remember Radha who has a sweet smile, and I speak of Radha who is melted with compassion. There is nothing else for me. She is my life and soul." (Sri Visakhanandadabhidha-stotram 131, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami)]
First, I offer my heartfelt expressions of devotion at the lotus feet of my Gurudeva, nitya-lila pravista om visnupada astottara-sata Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja. I am also offering my so much sraddha, honor, at the lotus feet of my siksa-guru, Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja, and also to Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.
By the causeless mercy of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, we are seeing so many devotees. Holland is a little country, so I could not fathom that I would meet so many devotees here. It is by the grace of Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja, who came to fulfil the desire of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and especially the desire of his Gurudeva, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Thakura Prabhupada.
The entire world knows Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura as 'Prabhupada,' and any devotee can know his own bona fide Gurudeva by that title.' After the disappearance of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, his disciples gave him a special kind of honor, as they did not want any acarya other than him to be addressed as Prabhupada in India. The disciples of Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja called him Prabhupada, and there is certainly no harm in that. Any self-realized guru in our line can be addressed by this word. When we say, "Jaya Prabhupada," we think of our entire guru-parampara, from top to bottom. If any guru who is a disciple of Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura feels that "This honorific title is used for our Gurudeva so I should not use it," this is another thing. Otherwise anyone can use this title. 'Srila Gurudeva,' 'Srila Prabhupada,' 'Sripada' – all these titles are used for Gurudeva.
When I came here to Holland, especially today, I was overjoyed to see you all.
Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja came to the West penniless, on the Scindia Navigation ship, with an old and torn cloths, a 'worn and torn' Gita, and three volumes of Srimad-Bhagavatam – this was his only luggage, along with one pair of karatalas and two mantras: "Sri Krsna Caitayana, Prabhu Nityananda, Sri Advaita, Gadhadhara, Srivasadi Gaura bhakta vrnda," and "Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare." Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's prediction was that "Very soon, a day will come that devotees will preach My nama: 'Krsna,' 'Rama,' 'Hare,' 'Gaura' – and this chanting will go to each and every village of the world."
Srila Svami Maharaja, and for that matter Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and all His followers, did not come to this world for any worldly gain. He did not come for rupees, or guilders (Dutch money), or pounds. He came to give the real treasure of Sri Caitanaya Mahaprabhu to everyone; not just devotees, but anyone to whose ear the maha-mantra would go to, whether that person is a tree, grass, animal, man, god, or goddess. Wherever it would go, it would reach everyone's ear and take them towards Krsna, towards God.
He not only came penniless, with not a single coin, but there was no one to give him svagatam (welcome) when he arrived. He came alone. Actually Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Radha-Krsna were with him, and his Gurudeva and guru-parampara were with him, but this was not seen externally. Everyone saw that he was alone, but he was not alone.
It seems that he sometimes felt alone on the ship, but actually he knew that Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, the entire guru-parampara, Radha-Krsna and Their whole family, the asta-sakhis like Lalita and Visakha, and also Rupa-manjari and all the manjaris, and the entire Vrndavana-dhama were helping him there.
He made such a platform throughout the world, in each country, that now so many devotees with mrdangas and karatalas, and singing "Hare Krsna" and "Haribol," are receiving me now. Tears come when I think that in these countries there was not a single devotee. There were, of course, many people in the different countries from India, but there were no ekantika-vaisnavas (a pure devotee fixed in the worship of Radha-Krsna). There may have been worshippers of Narayana, Dvarakadhisa, Ramacandra, and Laksmi-Narayana. There may have been pure Vaisnavas, as Ramanujacarya and his followers were pure Vaisnavas, but there was no pure worship of Vrajendra-nandana Syamasundara.
Here, two or three-hundred devotees were waiting for me with mrdanga and karatalas, but throughout the world there are perhaps hundreds of thousands. I am overwhelmed by this. What a miracle he performed in a very few years, and if he had more time he would have performed so many more miracles.
When he came, there were so many obstacles. Practically everyone was not only eating eggs and fish, but also cows; and they were busy drinking and making merry. They had no awareness of Krsna; no idea who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Rather, they had their own conception of God and were simply praying to Him, "God, give me bread and butter." That's all; not more than that. He played such a good role that, in a short time, devotees like you began to worship Radha-Krsna, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and Gaura-Nityananda Prabhu.
I knew him from the very beginning, when he first came to Mathura, as he was a friend of my Gurudeva. One day he told me a story: "When I took initiation from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Thakura, he told me to preach in Western countries in the English language." He said that he would frequently come to meet with his Gurudeva, and once he read a verse from the Srimad-Bhagavatam:
harisye tad-dhanam sanaih
tato 'dhanam tyajanty asya
["The Personality of Godhead said: If I especially favor someone, I gradually deprive him of his wealth. The relatives and friends of such a poverty-stricken man then abandon him. In this way, he suffers one distress after another."]
For one who takes shelter of Krsna, Krsna takes away everything and that devotee becomes a street beggar. Then, if he doesn't give up Krsna at that time, Krsna proceeds to give him everything.
He told me, "I was so afraid that Krsna would take everything from me. I was worrying 'What would I do? I am living with my wife and children, and am a manager of Bengal Chemicals.'" He was the manager at that time, and if he would have stayed there longer he would have become the owner. But he left that managerial seat and came to Alahabad, where he made his own co. and made his own medicines. He built a very good business and opened a factory, and so many persons were engaged in helping. But soon that factory failed and was given to others, at which time he began his medical shop which also failed. He then engaged in selling his own medicine, alone, which at first sold but then also failed. Krsna would not allow it to continue.
He then came to our Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha in Mathura, penniless, and I honored him there, and I had also met him before, in Calcutta where I also gave him so much respect and honor. I used to prepare cappatis with ghee and vegetables for him, and he was so pleased with me. We became bosom friends.
At that time, I was Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja and he was Abhaya Caranaravinda. I told him, "You are so qualified. Please take sannyasa at once, without delay." It was at that same time that he told me that story, saying, "I was fearing that everything would be taken away from me and that I would become a beggar. I see that I am becoming more and more of a beggar, and at last, if I take sannyasa, I will become a street beggar."
At that time my Gurudeva came from Navadvipa, and they embraced each other. I told Gurudeva that I had requested Abhaya Caranaravinda to take sannyasa, and then he also requested him to take sannyasa, and to preach everywhere. A devotee of about 90 years old named Sanatana prabhu, a disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, came and said to him, "You are fearing. I am 99 years old. If you take sannyasa, I will also take sannyasa." Then he said, "Yes, I will take sannyasa."
Thus, on the good occasion of Purnima, (Visvarupa Mahotsava), he took sannyasa. I made his danda myself, and I wrapped the cloth around it. I made his utariya (upper sannyasa garment), and I also showed him how to wear the sannyasa cloths. Guru Maharaja came and performed the fire-yajna, and Krsna dasa Babaji Maharaja came and sang kirtana with so many brahmacaris.
Then he became Bhaktivedanta. On one hand I was Bhaktivedanta first, but he was also Bhaktivedanta first, as his Guru Maharaja Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura had given him the nickname: Abhava Carana Bhaktivedanta. In bhakti he was senior to me, and in sannyasa he was junior to me.
When we met, he would often request me to perform kirtana: "Jaya Radhe, Jaya Krsna, Jaya Vrndavana," "Hari haraye nama-krsna yadavaya namah," and especially, "Sri rupa-manjari pada sei mora sampada, sei mora bhajana-pujana."
Some persons say that he did not preach raganuga-bhakti, but what is more raganuga than this bhajana – "Sri rupa-manjari pada sei mora bhajana-pujana" This is the best kirtana of ragatmika (Krsna's personal associates), what to speak of raganuga (those who are following in the footsteps of those associates). Ragatmika is not sadhana-bhakti, as is raganuga. It is performed only in Goloka Vrndavana, not here in this world.
Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja came for this purpose: that from vaidhi-bhakti we will develop through sadhana-bhakti to bhava-bhakti and then to prema-bhakti. He has not only come to clear the jungles and for harinama. He wanted the people of the world to realize the identity and meaning of harinama. He did not want them to chant harinama without any rasa. He wanted them to become so attached to chanting Hare Krsna that they would not be able to ever leave it, and he wanted their taste and attachment to increase continually.
Now we are chanting and remembering, but it is a rare devotee who has tastes that chanting. If any taste will come, that devotee will not be able to leave krsna-nama. Rather, his devotion will develop to become bhava-bhakti.
Srila Svami Maharaja has not only come to clear away jungles and thorns. He has come to give this. He had very little time, and when he was going to give it, Krsna called him and said, "Your task is finished. Come on, come on. Come and serve Me here with Radhika."
He called me to his bedside a few days before his divine departure and, I don't know why, he said, "Excuse me for whatever I have done wrong." I replied, "You have not doing anything wrong." "I have done some wrong; I know that, He objected, "To preach encourage the Westerners I have said, 'Living in Vrndavana, my god-brothers are simply taking their meals and sleeping.' I said this only to give inspiration to those devotees of mine who did not know the abc's of bhakti. I know that my god-brothers are so qualified. If they were not qualified, why did I take sannyasa from Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja? I also respected Srila Sridhara Svami. Why I respect them as my siksa-gurus if I had considered that they are not superior to me. I respected them so much. Please excuse me, and request my god-brothers to excuse me."
I told him, "What you have done is not an offense. You did it for preaching, and to teach your disciples. It is not anything to be excused. You did a marvellous thing. All the Gaudiya Vaisnavas, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and Radha-Krsna are pleased with you by the miracle that you have performed in the western countries – a place of flesh-eaters and wine-drinkers. They were like beasts, and you have turned them into good devotees. We are so proud and indebted to you for this work."
He ordered me, "You should do the rest of my work. Perform my samadhi ceremony and viraha-mahotsava, and teach my devotees how to develop in bhakti, so that they do not remain on the same level they are at present.
I told him, "I have to say something to your disciples."
He at once called his senior devotees. He called Tamal Krsna Maharaja, who was perhaps his secretary at that time, and he called Bhavananda Maharaja, Jayapataka Svami, Bhagavan dasa, Hamsaduta, Brahmananda, and about 100 other disciples. When they came I told them, "Do not think that he will die. He will be in our guru-parampara forever. When he leaves, you will think that he is no longer on this planet, and then you will quarrel with each other and disrespect Vaisnavas. I am telling this to you all of you."
Then he told them, "You should patiently hear, and make a record of this."
And then I continued, "Do not quarrel among yourselves. Rather, come in the line of Svamiji, to fulfil the tasks for which he has come to this world, and try to develop in this line."
Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami has said that if we want to do bhakti, then we must respect all Vaisnavas, gurus, those who live in Vrndavana-dhama, even those brahmanas who are not pure devotees, and even those of other sampradayas:
gurau gosthe gosthalayisu sujane bhusura-gane
sva-mantre sri-namni vraja-nava-yuva-dvandva-sarane
sada dambham hitva kuru ratim apurvam atitaram
aye svantar bhratas catubhir abhiyace dhrta-padah
["O my dear brother, my foolish mind, taking hold of your feet, I humbly pray to you with sweet words. Please give up all pride and quickly develop deep, loving attachment for the spiritual master, Sri Vraja-dhama, the residents of Vraja, the Vaisnavas, the brahmanas, your diksa-mantras, the holy names of the Supreme Lord, and the shelter of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna, the eternally youthful Divine Couple of Vraja." (Sri Manah-siksa, Verse 1)]
We must obey these principles. These principles are of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, our guru-parampara, and Svamiji. He has never said to disrespect any Vaisnava. If we want bhakti, it is imperative that we give respect to Vaisnavas.
Srila Krsnadasa Gosvami Maharaja has said that Gurudeva is also in the category of Vaisnava. Srila Rupa Gosvami is our siksa-guru, Krsna is our siksa-guru, Caitanya Mahaprabhu is our siksa-guru, and Nityananda Prabhu is our siksa-guru. Siksa-guru is not less than diksa-guru. Try to understand all these facts. Diksa-guru is not less than siksa-guru and siksa-guru is not less than diksa-guru. Both are equal if they are qualified. If they are not qualified, then they are not guru.
If diksa-guru is not giving proper honor to Vaisnavas, then he is not even a devotee. His name should be cut from the list of devotees. We must try to give honor to Caitanya Mahaprabhu's followers – and even to the followers of Ramanujacarya, and those who are serving Laksmi-Narayana and Dvarakaidsh, although not the same respect as we give to ekantika-bhaktas of Krsna. We should give honor to the devotees of Krsna who are chanting and remembering, and at the same time try to know the gradations of devotees. If one is serving only Krsna, and if one is serving Radha-Krsna conjugal, and if one is very near and dear to Srimati Radhika, who will be given more honor? Of these three gradations of devotees, who is superior?
We should try to understand these gradations, otherwise we will see that Krsna, Caitanya Mahaprabhu, ordinary bhaktas, Srila Rupa Gosvami, Srila Haridasa Thakura, a Ramanuja bhakta, and a Dhruva-bhakta are all the same. We need to differentiate. A kanistha-Vaisnava cannot differentiate, and therefore our gurus have not come only to tell us, "You should not remain third-class kanistha-Vaisnavas."
It is essential that we hear all these things and develop in our bhakti, so that we can clearly understand who are kanistha-Vaisnavas, who are madhyama-Vaisnavas, and who are uttama-Vaisnavas – who are conditioned souls and who are above conditioned life. Srivasa Pandita and Gadadhara Pandita came to this world, but they are not sadhana-siddha. They are eternal associates of Krsna. Haridasa Thakrua was both Brahma and Prahlada Maharaja.
But who was Rupa Gosvami? He was Rupa-manjari. In this lila, Rupa Gosvami used to take the foot-dust of Haridasa Thakura and Srivasa Pandita, but he is far, far, far superior to them. We should know all these truths.
Who preached more the heartfelt conceptions of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in this world? Rupa Gosvami or Haridasa Thakura? Haridasa Thakura spread the holy name, and he was namacarya, but Rupa Gosvami was Mahaprabhu's life and soul. He gave us all the books that were the heart of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, such as Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu and Ujjvala-nilamani.
How can we know all these truths without good association? If someone bans this and tries to stops others from going to qualified Vaisnavas, how can they themselves develop? Chanting alone will not suffice. Only hanting under the guidance of any good Vaisnava can take us to perfection. Mayavadis chant, "Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Hare Hare, Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare." What is the difference between them and pure devotees?
If anyone chants, "Hare Krsna Hare Krsna" with no association of rasika-tattva Vaisnavas, they will only go to Vaikuntha, not Goloka Vrndavana. If we chant harinama under the guidance of those pure devotees in Rupa Gosvami's line, in no time we will realize something, and our hearts will taste that name.
Many persons call out, "Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare." Some say that Hare is Hari, Krsna is that Krsna who took birth in Mathura (Vasudeva Krsna), and Rama is Ayodha Rama. Others say that Krsna and Rama are Krsna and Balarama.
Our guru-parampara has not given this idea. Our guru-parampara has given the idea that the three names are one. Krsna is Hari and Krsna is Rama. If any devotees worship equally two Gods, or two different manifestations of Krsna, their bhakti will be ruined. When Krsna takes our sins and offenses, He becomes Hari. After that He gives a momentary darsana, as He gave in His form as Narayana to Narada. Narayana then disappeared and Narada began to weep. Narayana said, "By this body, you cannot have My darsana. This body cannot bear the meeting of Krsna. After leaving this body, when you have your siddha-deha (spiritual form) of Vaikuntha, your body of eternity, bliss and knowledge, then you will realize Me and you will never again die and come as a conditioned soul."
When all sins go away, Krsna gives his sweet darsana and takes our mind and hearts. In this regard, He is Hari. He lives everywhere, in all hearts, so He is Rama. Without Krsna, we cannot live for a moment.
Rupa and Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami have told us that in this connection that Hare is not Hari. Hare is Hara. Radhika is Hara, which means that She steals the mind and heart of Krsna. When calling out to Hara, Her name becomes in the vocative and becomes Hare. Hare Krsna is Radha-Krsna. Rama means Krsna playing with Radhika. In rasa, He becomes Rama. Here Rama is Krsna, or in other words Radha-ramana Rama.
Each syllable has so many good meanings. There are 32 syllables, 16 names, 8 pairs, and one in each group. Separation and meeting are both present there. Hare Krsna Hare Krsna and Hare Rama Hare Rama indicates meeting. Krsna Krsna Hare Hare and Rama Rama Hare Hare indicate separation.
If we chant with this taste, and also take association from our superiors, then all perfections can be attained and we will never be able to give up harinama.
There are so many gifts that Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja wanted to give you all, but he went away and there was no one who could give you this. Perhaps he called me to give some things to you all, so that you will become qualified. Then you will never give up bhakti and chanting, and you will always be absorbed in hearing hari-katha.
He has written so many truths in his explanation of Gita. At that time there were very rare devotees who could understand higher things, so he also wrote many truths in a hidden way. Otherwise, his readers would not have been able to understand.
Try to develop your bhakti so you can take everything from him. He has written so many things in his books, but it is rare to find someone able to understand and receive. Our guru-parampara, Krsna and Srimati Radhika, Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and Nityananda Prabhu have perhaps called me here, and if I will give something to you and help you, then I will see that I am successful in this tour. I pray to Them all, that they will bestow their mercy on me so that I may express to you all these hidden truths.
At first, I was so much fearing that I would have no proper English language to give anything. My English is so poor. I am so fallen, as it states in the prayer beginning Trnadapi. I am not able to express all these things to you, but you are so qualified that even if I speak in 'worn and torn' English language, you will still understand.
I want to help you all, without any desire for gain.
[Looking at some of the individual devotees in his audience:] Oh, I know Navadvipa dasa so well. He is my right-hand man. And what to speak of Vrnda and Brajanath prabhu; I was a penniless person, and they have dragged me here. I never dreamt that I would go to the West. I never desired to give up Vrndavana and come here. But I think I have come to Vrndavana, to Vrnda, and Brajanath is in Vrndavana also. There are two Tunga-vidyas here, and Vrndavana-vilasini is so marvellous. So many devotees are here. I am so happy to come here. I am thinking that I am still in Vrndavana. I am never out of Vrndavana.
I pray to you all that you will give your company, so that we may give energy and impression to those who have left Iskcon but are still chanting the holy name. We should try to call all devotees – those who are kanistha Vaisnavas and those who are madhyama Vaisnavas. All should be called, and we should embrace them and give them respect. A person who is superior has so much mercy for those who are juniors. Have no envy at all.
If anyone is doing anything opposed to us, we should be like Haridasa Thakura and Prahlada Maharaja. Thus, we can preach the mission everywhere.
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
Gaura-Nityananda Prabhu ki jaya!
Guru-parampara ki jaya!
Sacinandana Gaurahari ki jaya!
Radha-Krsna ki jaya!
Gaur-premanande! Hari, haribol.
If you have no obstacles, then all of you please meet me everywhere I go to preach. With four mrdangas, and like at the time of Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja, with kirtana and the same inspiration and enthusiasm. Now it is noon, so you can perform arati and take prasadam. Svamiji and my Gurudeva used to call me to sing sweet kirtanas. Now I am invalid, but when I see you, I have inspiration to chant Hare Krsna.
Editor: Syamarani dasi